The First Smile. It creeped in slowly, like the morning sun cresting over the horizon. First one corner turned upward, then the next. It wasn’t the kind of smile that bursts forth like a lottery-win smile. Rather, it was an unhurried beginning-of-a-dream smile, tentative and slow, suggestive of endless possibility. The gentle upturn was undeniable and it represented the spark of something new, an exciting journey, a wilderness of possibility. It would be a magazine by a Fayette Woman for Fayette Women. With newfound clarity of vision, she smiled.
The Get Ready Grin. She gathered her creative playthings: a new computer with new software, and a new picture for the new desk. A once-blank canvas transformed into a workspace, a dreamspace, a repository for ideas and words and pictures and meaning. Folders were labeled, binders were shelved, and a spreadsheet projected numeric goals. In the later hours, she would sit back in her chair and survey her space and realize that she’s doing it…somehow, some way, one hour after another. And with equal parts exhaustion and exhilaration, she kisses the workday goodnight with a smile.
The Pressure Pose. It had to be perfect… as perfect as she could possibly make it. She re-read every article and examined every photograph, once, twice, twenty-six times. This was the first publication, the debut brought to life in print, with love for the women of Fayette County. All she ever truly wanted was for her readers to love it as much as she loved working on it. Doubt would murmur, as doubt does, and she would shoo it away with optimism, courage, and a phone call to a trusted friend. The day finally came when she held her first issue as if it were her first grandbaby. And as her dream came to life for the first time, her soul smiled.
The Crunch and the Clench. The the unplanned disaster, the foundation shaker, the reason for Rolaids and a sleepless night or three. It’s having relied on someone who let you down, the inevitable miscommunication, and the fluctuations in business conditions. It’s all the agony and not one bit of ecstasy. It’s temporary defeat that makes anyone question if it is all worth it. It’s the season where she wished she could avoid the question “How’s the magazine going?” when she knew that it was nothing more than a pulse check to measure her success. And even though harder truthful answers were ready to leap from the edge of lips, her southern manners always presented a more genteel reply. In these testing seasons, she would listen to her dreamer’s voice that told her that she was worth every decision to persevere. With clenched teeth and freshly applied lipstick, she knew faking it until you make it always begins with a smile. The Milestones. There was the first year of issues, the first five years, the hundredth issue, and now the two hundredth. With every passing milestone, quicksand became concrete. She learned how to pare down the eighteen hour days. She discovered how to balance the demands of her business with the roles that she played before she became Editor-In-Chief. She learned to let go and trust others with a slice of her dream. Future possibilities intoxicate her as the hope for what is yet to come brings forth an eager smile.
The Celebration. Today she chooses to stand still at this pinnacle, claiming it both for herself and for the many others that have journeyed with her to this point. She surveys the landscape. Crests bathed in warm hues of triumph and accomplishment eclipse the cool shadows in the valleys of disappointment and discouragement. Countless names and faces of women decorate the pages of her dream and are forever etched on her heart. Indeed, the view is breathtakingly fantastic. She will not forsake one morsel of what this moment means. It’s every type of success she could have ever dreamed wrapped in her signature smile.