At the close of every year, I like to take a moment to review the past 365 days in terms of achievements. Not big things like winning a Nobel Prize or getting married, but the smaller gains in life such as how many times I managed to visit the theatre, how many books I made time to read, or new films I saw. Did I travel somewhere unfamiliar, whether within the UK or further afield? Did I cook new dishes, improve my vocabulary or enrich my general knowledge with intriguing exhibitions, talks or conferences? Did I meet new people who expanded my horizons? For, I find, these are the mini milestones that add up to a feeling of a year fully experienced and truly well lived.
It’s too easy to focus only on the attainment of lofty goals, which can leave you feeling like you’ve fallen rather short in life. Whereas, with a ‘baby-steps’ assessment of a year gone by, I can reassure myself that time has passed profitably, rather than just passed. In my opinion, those big life strides are better viewed in retrospect, and in five-year chunks, using the round markers of age as your guide. In other words, are you roughly where you thought you wanted to be at 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and so on? If not, rather than defaulting to sob, sulk or blame, is it possible to reason why? Did you take a deliberate detour, or have you gone astray? More importantly, can you course-correct to a path that leads where you want to be before the next half decade snaps at your heels?
I muse on these things now not only because the end of the year beckons, but also because 2014 heralds the 25th anniversary of ELLE Decoration! And to launch our celebrations, you’ll find reprinted within this January issue a selection of some of my very favourite stories from our archive: a sampler that captures our unique standpoint on timeless style, beautiful basics and iconic homes. And today, a quarter of a century on, I’m immensely proud to think we’ve not only stayed true to the original ethos of the title, but we’ve also evolved, matured and come of age. Sometimes, how far you’ve come can only really be measured by looking at the journey from where you began.
So, I’m hugely excited for all the possibilities of the new year ahead, both personally and professionally. Certainly, we have great plans for ELLE Decoration, as we share with you this particularly special anniversary year. After all, as in magazines, so in life, the only way is forwards: it’s called evolution.
First published as my Editor’s Letter in the January 2014 edition of ELLE Decoration UK