They say bad habits are hard to break, while good habits aren’t. For me, it’s been a mixed bag since retiring.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl. That’s not necessarily a good habit. And for as long as I was working, mostly at this newspaper, I’ve needed to wake up early. That’s considered a good habit. Since retiring, though, I’ve been turning in early, and waking up later, and it hasn’t been difficult to adjust.

But the last weekend of February is at hand, and this war-horse is working up a lather. For readers of the Bulletin since 1990, the last Sunday in February (except for the time we published a section a day for a full week) has meant something special is finally at hand.

That something special is the annual section called “Horizons.” The beat goes on.

Life is funny. It has always been a challenge for the newspaper staff to produce major sections like “Horizons,” and when I decided to step away from my job at the Bulletin, I said to myself, with a note of gladness, “I won’t have to produce another one of those ever again.”

Now that the publication date is near, I find myself saying, with a note of sadness, “I won’t have the opportunity to produce another one of those ever again.”

The current news staff did invite me to contribute some stories for the section, which I appreciate, even though I didn’t write as many as I at first thought I could. I went to bed too early each evening, and stayed asleep too late each morning, to do more. I didn’t have the energy of the newsroom to inspire me.

Doing the interviews and writing the stories are just one part of such projects. I say that, knowing just how much of a challenge it is for staff reporters to produce them, while simultaneously generating a quality local newspaper six times a week — plus electronic media updates between press runs.

By definition, overcoming challenges is not easy. But there is great satisfaction in meeting those challenges and in doing so as a member of a team. Projects like this have multiple parts. Beyond writing stories, there are also other tasks that include decisions on themes, designs, scheduling, sales, production, accounting and distribution. Every member of the newspaper staff is involved in some way.

So, while I don’t exactly wish upon myself the “opportunity” to face those deadlines, I do miss the feeling of accomplishment after the completed section is in readers’ hands.

When the Bulletin published its first Horizons in March 1990, staff members then didn’t realize what was ahead. It proved to be a monumental undertaking. When we were told it was to become an annual project, publication was scheduled for the end of February. No one wanted to give up spring break in order to tend to the inevitable last-minute details.

This will be the 25th year the Bulletin has published “Horizons.” I’m amazed by its longevity, but even more amazed at the high quality of work that’s been done over the years. In a 40-year career, I’ve been proud of countless newspapers the Bulletin has produced, but looking back now, copies of “Horizons” sections are chief among the tangible sources of pride I hold in retirement.

The intangible things, however, make me even more proud. They are the dedication and skills of the people who worked so hard to produce the sections, and the support of the people who allowed us to tell their stories — in both articles and advertising.

And there’s one more thing I’ve always liked about “Horizons.” Its arrival is another sure sign of spring.

Gene Deason is a former editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. He may be contacted at