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The Seven Days Wellness Issue, 2021


  • Kym Balthazar | Rev. Diane Sullivan ©️ Seven Days

Last year, the cover of Seven Days' annual Wellness Issue, published on January 15, 2020, depicted a young woman in an 802 tank top sitting in a serene, cross-legged lotus position inside a protective bubble. With her were a steaming mug of tea, a vial of CBD and other cozy-healthy accoutrements. Said bubble floated above, wait for it, a flaming dumpster. The image was not meant to be prophetic. We actually thought the world was a dumpster fire at the time.

In January.

We'll wait for you to stop laughing.

The subsequent months were ... well, they weren't good, folks. You were there, so we'll spare you the triggering rundown of 2020's Greatest Hits. Let's just say things devolved, and quickly.

This year, the Wellness Issue again arrives following a crippling run of strife and turmoil. We'd say "unprecedented," but if 2020 taught us anything, it's that precedents don't matter much, and things will — er, can — always get worse.


However, there are reasons for optimism if you're willing to let your guard down and see them. The very day this paper hits newsstands, January 20, president-elect Joe Biden becomes President Joe Biden, which might inspire hope at least among the majority of Americans who voted for him. Sally Pollak spoke to a number of local mental health experts — and one rabbi — on the importance of hope to our mental and emotional well-being and how to find that hope amid current events.

Speaking of reasons for hope, you've probably heard there are now several safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus. Ken Picard profiled a South Burlington man, Joshua Schupp-Star, who volunteered as a vaccine test subject. Schupp-Star feels fine and dandy, by the way.

During the pandemic, many have sought relief from stress by getting outside. A recent University of Vermont study confirmed that trend and found that women, in particular, have been enjoying the great outdoors in increasing numbers. Kristen Ravin interviewed local wellness author Aaron Hoopes on why it's important to reconnect with nature.

Other Vermonters have found relief indoors at local health clubs, yoga studios and fitness centers. 2020 was an especially tough year in the fitness biz. While numbers are still down, due to new health protocols and facility upgrades, many gym owners hope for a 2021 rebound.

In Winooski, Conscious Homestead founder Candace Jennifer Taylor is nurturing community and creating a "wholeness center" for BIPOC healing. Meanwhile, at the University of Vermont Medical Center, chef R. Leah Pryor promotes healing through food.

In Middlebury, a college chorus is raising voices and spirits — in person (page 30). How they accomplished that is no mystery: distancing, masks and limiting their time together.

There is, however, a mystery in Vermont's medical cannabis industry: Why do dispensaries charge an additional fee on purchases? Ken Picard looks into the matter in this week's WTF column.

Finally, friends are as important a component of wellness as eating well or exercising, especially in an age of isolation. Local artist dug Nap explores friendship — or lack thereof — in a new graphic novella.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Signs of Hope | Welcome to theWellness Issue"