The Herald Democrat has put its summer projects into overdrive, and transitions around the office have caused some changes in the distribution of labor.

After an unfortunate series of illnesses culminated in an unexpected week of bedrest, I decided it was time to take a little break.

Last week, my significant other and I packed up some of our belongings and headed for the hills — mountains, I mean — of Colorado. We spent the week in the heart of the Rocky Mountains exploring the terrain, dining Colorado-style and planning our next trip.

After an exhausting 13-hour drive, the raucous sound of live music filled our car as we pulled into town that Saturday night. Too tired to catch the set, we proceeded straight to our lodgings.

The dust settled only days later after we had sufficiently traveled the area to see what it had to offer. Being less than an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park and endless hiking trails of varying difficulties, we weren’t satisfied hanging around home base for long. The elevation — upwards of 9,000 feet in town — didn’t deter us from seeing the beauty of the tree-covered mountains, the stillness of the lakes or the torrent of streams and waterfalls.

It wasn’t until Wednesday or Thursday that I sat down long enough to watch the news, which is a bit unusual for me. My heart sank as reports of violent protests and vandalism filled the screen. Correspondents spoke with grieving mothers, the leaders of various movements and historians. I was shocked. A familiar feeling of apprehension rushed over me. All the while, a cool breeze whistled through the open patio door of our home-away-from-home.

Despite the way it often seems, life in America is never simple. All of our little conveniences can make the ride smoother, but turbulence along the way is a given.

That said, our journies don’t always have to be complicated, either. When we feel bogged down by the weight of it all, whether in our personal lives or in public affairs, it is necessary to take a step back and remember the things that are beautiful about this life, this country and our community. Use this knowledge to confront the grislier parts of our existence with hope and understanding.

Happy birthday Thursday to Alice Polk and Peg McClure, both of Sherman; Zachary Testerman of Denison; and Carol Puckett Barrett of Pollock, Louisiana.