Big thanks to those of you who voted Rule of Pie a good place to get dessert in this year's Southern Illinoisan Reader's Choice edition. We're still sort of amazed that people visit our shop and say nice things about our pies and stuff. That was a huge deal for us before we opened. Like, what if we open and it sucks and people don't come in and think we suck? I don't know how else to put it. We were afraid of crippling debt, financial ruin, complete failure, and public shame and depending on the day, any one of those fears sat pole position. We're almost five years in, and if we're being honest, we still have doubts.

But I was encouraged to look through the paper and see so many local folks hustling, owning and operating their own stuff. It makes me proud, really. I know it can seem like we're all swimming upstream some times. Times are hard, jobs are sparse. Chicago gets to play fancy to places like Amazon's second headquarters, while downstate cobbles together economies, (and if we're all lucky gets to pick up tax bills for companies so large we view them as governments unto themselves). SIU's enrollment is down; Illinois is now a net exporter of students. Property taxes are relentless down here and--I'm sure you've noticed--there aren't any oceanfront views. If you gave me enough time, I could fill this screen full of noise. I wouldn't need very much time. In fact, anger is the cheapest emotion I produce and sometimes, you know, it's just so easy to start bitching about something or other. Some of us are naturals. Gifted, I'm telling you. So, saving that--I'm proud of our local business owners and entrepreneurs.

And to that point, if you've ever thought about being a local business owner, or entrepreneur, I want to encourage you. If you've got an great idea, but you're a really risk-averse person, I want you to know that you're gonna die one day. So quit overthinking it. We're all flying directly into the sun. Figure it out, man. Before you die, you might have kids. Those kids will be able to pinpoint the exact moment they realized that you realized your bright future left you. Don't live with regrets. Live recklessly before you do that. 

But, in all seriousness, if you're in the position of should I or should I not with some thing or some idea, I'll try to help you however I can. Sit you down, hear your story, and tell you I believe in you. Sometimes you need to hear that, even if it's a stretch and everyone knows so. And maybe that's not how faith works, exactly. It's not rooted in deception, but it can be unreasonable and I'll be damned if you don't have to borrow it every now and again. So if that's you, and you're reading this, borrow some of mine. I'm proud of Southern Illinois and it's gonna bounce back.