You know how you sometimes think, “How did I get here?” I’m having one of those moments as I contemplate the 11 — 11! — years I’ve been part of the Experience Life team.
It sounds cliché, but it truly does feel like yesterday that I was on the phone with founding editor Pilar Gerasimo talking about an editorial internship with this new-to-me health and fitness magazine. I was at my parents’ farm in southwest Wisconsin, enjoying a week of downtime between graduation and my foray into the real world; Pilar was at her farm in western Wisconsin. We connected immediately over our rural upbringings and our passion for health and wellness.
A few weeks later, I found myself at a team meeting in her living room, getting to know some of the smartest, most passionate people I’ve ever met.
That summer, I balanced the internship with another job, all the while hoping that a full-time position at Experience Life would present itself. A few months later it did, and I jumped at the opportunity with a big, hearty “Yes!”
Looking back on the past decade, I can’t think of a single day I’ve regretted that decision. Sure, the team has changed and grown, and there have been some really challenging times. But I love what we do here at Experience Life — that what we put together each day is empowering people to change their lives for the healthier, and that it’s uniting people around the core values of health, happiness, and wellness.
I love that I’ve witnessed firsthand the evolution of what it means to be a magazine. I mean, I was here when ExperienceLife.com was born (it’s not quite up there with the birth of my daughters, but it was pretty exciting). I was here when we began doing social media, and when we launched our two apps. (The “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy” and the Experience Life app.) These platforms have opened new doors for connecting with all of you, and with thousands more who might not otherwise know we exist.
As the magazine has moved into new territory, so have I; it’s kind of like we’ve grown up together. Personally, I’ve experienced some of my greatest joys and successes (getting married, becoming a mother, getting certified to teach prenatal yoga) and some of my deepest sorrows (my dad’s emergency open-heart surgery, my 18-month-old nephew’s passing from a rare genetic disorder) in the company of this team that is really more like family. I’ve lived much of my adult life right here, with these talented individuals, and right alongside you, our devoted readers.
Professionally, I’ve been a fact-checker, senior editor, and digital director. Most recently, I’ve had the privilege of learning the ins and outs of publishing, and more important, the magazine’s values and mission, directly from Pilar, who’s not only a great leader but a dear friend and mentor. It’s bittersweet for me to write this letter, because it means she’s not. Since my very first day as an intern, however, Pilar has been empowering me to take on new challenges and find my own way.
So here we go.
I hope you’ll come along as we continue to bring you the in-depth, cutting-edge coverage of health and wellness topics you’ve come to expect from us. We may just throw in a few surprises along the way, too. It’s going to be amazing!
Photography by Chad Holder