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A week before sending this issue to the printer, a small group of us gathered around a conference-room table, putting the finishing touches on these pages.

After seven months of development, this final magazine of 2018 is the culmination of countless hours of work by 20 incredibly talented team members and numerous freelance writers and artists from around the country. As I reviewed the pages, looking for the tiniest of details to refine, I was reminded of the individual effort, talent, and knowledge that come together to form a cohesive collection of information in every issue.

The amount of coordination and communication that it takes to pull ­together each issue amazes me, even after 13 years of having a front-row seat to the process. And while there are thousands of publications that do this, I’m proud that we’re able to do what we do while staying committed to our mission:

Empowering people to become their healthiest, happiest, most authentic selves, and supporting their enjoyment of a balanced, sustainable, deeply satisfying way of life.

Every word of this mission statement is intentional, and while it’s our outward-facing promise to you, our readers, it’s also the guiding light for how we operate as a team. As I think of all that this year has thrown at us, a few words in the statement stand out as especially important in our collaboration:

Empowering. We support and encourage each other as we do the work of making a magazine and as we face the obstacles and opportunities that life puts in front of us as individuals. There have been several of these in 2018, including scary health diagnoses, new-home purchases, the birth of babies, the loss of loved ones. We’ve got each other’s backs and we’re helping one another navigate these challenges.

Authentic. This is about being real — no gimmicks, no hype. Most of the stories you read here are based on things that we ourselves, or people we know, have experienced (see, for instance, “Understanding Arthritis,” or “The Good-Enough Holiday”). This is real life and we’re experiencing it right along with you.

Balanced. When life throws a curve ball, you adjust to the pitch as best you can. This isn’t about all or nothing; it’s about finding a sense of equilibrium that allows you to keep moving forward, even if it’s different from how you thought it would be. When Jane ­Meronuck, our rock-star production ­director, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, she had no choice but to adapt to her new normal. I’m continually in awe of how she has handled her situation. It’s been a difficult road, yet she still manages to stay true to her beliefs, values, and priorities, despite the unknown.

Sustainable and satisfying. It’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of us, but that’s also when we can lose sight of the bigger picture. So sustainability is about taking the long view. Being truly healthy requires putting ourselves, our passions, our interests, and our relationships first. We can create and share more of the things we love when we’re personally fulfilled.

These are the characteristics we advocate for as a team and that we strive for as individuals — and when I see all of them represented together in these pages, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. So much happens behind the scenes; in this issue and all the others, we put ourselves out there in hopes of helping you live up to your potential. I hope you can see that — and feel it, too.

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