10 Years: 10 Things That Make It All Possible

Posted on: January 8th, 2018

My life – as most people’s – could be divided into a series of chapters. Some have been short and sweet, others longer and filled with the highest highs and lowest lows. But the most rewarding chapter is the one I am still writing now. It has been 10 years of a ride I always dreamed of, but never really knew if I could start the engine and hit the accelerator.

In the fall of 2007, I was with a group of women – all I had never met before, except one –  and circled around a fire and wrapped in blankets we shared our aspirations. In that moment I knew it was a now-or-never decision for me, so I went home and told my husband of my plan to start a magazine. Instead of laughing at me or discouraging the idea, he just asked me if I could wait a few months before leaving my current position. I made it about three weeks before turning in my resignation. In April 2008, we started sending out our e-newsletter and by May the first issue of Orange Appeal was in the mail.

Every single day – even the most challenging and difficult ones – since then, I have been grateful for my decision. I am, without a doubt, working harder than I ever have, but the pleasure far exceeds any pain. I often start writing, emailing and planning at 5:30am. But I typically work when I want to, and take hours or days off on my schedule.

This would not happen – or be so rewarding – without a few key element:

  1. Family – from the initial support of my husband, Robert, to the ongoing collaboration with my daughter, Kate, they are my rocks in this world. My sister Wendy has been indispensable and always on my side. I look forward to at least another 10 years of this venture. To the rest of my family, thanks for being there and always coming up with positive comments.
  2. Friends – Many of you were there for moral support and others for financial support from the beginning. Not for a day have I forgotten what a contribution you have made. I will always be grateful.
  3. Girlfriends – My life has gotten richer every day by knowing you (some more recently). The heartfelt conversations, the laugh-out-loud chatter, and just knowing you are there keep me going. You are all ages – some young enough to be my daughter – but you have taught me those numbers don’t really matter.
  4. Stories – Celebrating the women in this community never gets old. Just when I think we have run out of sources, we find someone else who definitely has something to share. We are honored that you trust us to tell your story.
  5. Community – There is so much good here — it will always be our mission to highlight the nonprofits, organizations, events, and people behind them. Please continue doing what you do.
  6. Contributors – We know we cannot do everything ourselves. You add to what we start and build the layers that complement the look and feel of what we are doing. We value your input and output.
  7. Readers – None of this would happen without you engaging with us. Whether in print or online, whether it’s with your cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or a quick peek while you are at the office, we always want to connect with you in a meaningful way.
  8. Partners – From placing ads (some of you from the very first issue) to sponsoring events, your contributions have enabled us to stretch and grow. We are proud to be associated with such an esteemed group of businesses and practices.
  9. Speakers – For all eight years of the Orlando Women’s Conference you have participated and brought your voices to important issues and concerns. Any time we ask, you say yes. It’s very gratifying and humbling.
  10. Me – This may be overstating the obvious, but I am just as passionate about this as I was the very first issue. I continue to be amazed by all the sources and resources that motivate me to get up in the wee hours every day.

Happy New Year to you all!

-Christi Ashby