Have you ever involuntarily held your breath and you didn’t even realize it until you slowly exhaled? It’s kind of felt like that for the past four years.  Then, as a health care expert I follow on Twitter said, “we get all the good news in one week.”

We have certainly had moments of joy in the past four years. Last summer, I wrote about how badly we needed the US Soccer Team to show us how to celebrate our wins, while facing huge challenges. They brought the country together, if even for a moment, while fighting for their own equal pay. It seems like a lifetime ago. But looking back on what they were able to accomplish and indeed celebrate resonated with me right now.

Historic Moment

The history of women running for the nation’s highest offices is long and fraught with racism and sexism. When Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, articles mentioned Charlene Mitchell, Charlotta BassShirley Chisolm, and Carol Mosely Braun and others that paved the way for the historic pick.

Now, Kamala Harris will be the first female Vice President, the first Black Vice President, the first Indian-American Vice President, the first bi-racial Vice President.

In her own words, “While I may be the first, I won’t be the last.”

As the tense days of watching electoral maps wrapped up, I slowly exhaled little by little and allowed myself to revel in the good feelings. It was exciting to see the dancing in the streets and the recognition of Black voters in Biden’s speech. I got a thrill texting all my friends the words, “MADAM VICE PRESIDENT.”

Challenges Remain

No, the work isn’t over. The U.S is polarized and divided. Globally, the pandemic has not abated and cases of COVID-19 are rising. Small business owners have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. Companies owned by women, people of color, LGBT, and people with disabilities have struggled to keep employing two thirds of U.S. workers and to keep going.

At the same time,  I know from my organizing days, and from being an entrepreneur, that if you don’t celebrate your wins, it’s hard to be motivated to keep fighting. Small businesses are pivoting and innovating. Because of their flexibility, they are creating new opportunities.  While there is still an uphill battle in fighting the pandemic, they have found reserves that are giving me hope that if we can stay alive, we can thrive.

Hope for a Vaccine

That hope, the lights at the end of the tunnel, are what keep people you going when the future looks bleak. Another example of news to celebrate is that Pfizer announced very positive results in its COVID-19 vaccine trial, with preliminary data showing their vaccine may be more than 90% effective. Moderna’s vaccine is boasting a 94% effective rate. 

Again, the work is not over. The trials need to be completed, distributed, and the battle for credit has already begun. Heather Cox and I will open the second season of our Business UNusual series starting in January because even with a vaccine small businesses still face tremendous pressure in this new environment.

As the holidays near, the days turn cold, and we all suffer from the restrictions of COVID-19 and what we’ve lost. This hope is what is going to keep us safe, keep us wearing masks, and protecting our loved ones from this virus.  Without hope that we will see the end of these days, it could be a time of  people forgetting the protocols, hugging grandma, and wishfully “getting back to normal.” With a little hope, we can hold on for a little longer until it’s truly safe.

So in this month of gratitude and being thankful, l wish you joy, hope, and a break from the challenges so we can reserve and restore our energy for what’s ahead.