Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetDear #AWP15,

Getting to you this year was a bit more hairy than usual. At the end of January my husband and I closed a business we had had together for the past 4.5 years. By the time April rolled around it had only been two months and we were still recovering–mentally, physically, emotionally, and–financially.

In spite of all that I have to say, I love you. I love you now more than ever. You really came through for me in a big way and I know no other way to show my gratitude than writing a letter to tell you just how much I love you.

#AWP15, how I love you, let me count the ways.

1. You and your social media high-fives.

Or I should say more specifically, Instagram high-fives. Your engagement with me and Under the Gum Tree blew. me. away. Not only did you like and follow the heck out of our feed (thank you for that), but your engagement was not passive, living in the virtual reality of digital mobile picture sharing la-la land. No. Your likes and follows translated–IRL!–to an in-person connection when you came by our table to let us know we had interacted on IG. I love you for that.

2. Your taste in art and your appreciation of it.

I always knew you had an artsy leaning, but I never knew just how artsy you were until Minneapolis. In case you missed the editor’s letter for the current issue of Under the Gum Tree, I wrote about the cover art and my initial hesitation of publishing it. Ultimately I decided to publish it because, what is art if not something that draws our attention to an important subject and causes us to think about it in a new way? And, dear #AWP15, you proved me right. Over and over you told me and my staff how awesome this cover is. This cover got your attention initially and ultimately I think it drew us closer. I love you for that.

3. Your taste in art, part deux.

Your reaction to the April issue’s cover art swept me off my feet, and your reaction to Under the Gum Tree in general seriously makes me want to go home with you. You talked about us on panels. You passed out our bookmarks all over the place and cleaned us out of that little freebie. Best of all, you bought us out. We sold every single current issue and back issue that we hauled all the way from California to Minnesota. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of baggage–so much baggage that I had to pack those magazines in my carry-on because of their weight. But that baggage didn’t phase you one bit and now there are copies of Under the Gum Tree scattered hither and yon, to who knows where all you lovelies have taken them. I love you for that.

4. You reminded me of my own mantra.

Best of all, you taught me an important lesson in being my best self: one who does not fear, one who takes risks, one who ignores everyone, and one who doesn’t worry what other people think. I have this mantra. Maybe you know it. It goes like this: Wear the red boots. It is a reminder to follow my heart. To do the thing I am afraid to do. To do the thing I worry might bring ridicule. And to do that thing–wear the red boots or, publish that art–regardless of the fear and ridicule. Before coming to Minneapolis for our visit I almost succumbed to fear. I was wavering on that cover art. And then as soon as we got together, you reminded me of why I do what I do. Your engagement on Instagram, your reaction to that cover, your reaction to the magazine, you and your big heart and your enthusiasm and your appreciation–you reminded me of why I wear the red boots. I love you for that.

#AWP15, we’ve come a long way, baby, and this was our best year yet. #AWP16, you have some big shoes to fill, and we are waaay past the “no expectations” stage. I’m in love with you and I’m counting on you. I’ll see you in L.A.–just look for me and my red boots.

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