I love the ritual of New Year’s resolutions. I enjoy contemplating how I’ll lose the ten pounds, complete my novel, get up an hour earlier to do yoga, or become superorganized like my mother and daughter. I’ve found that writing down my wishes, dreams and promises for the coming year is the helpful reminder I need to stop procrastinating and remain fully engaged in my life. I often forget that each day is brand-new and rich in opportunities to do whatever we dream of doing-even better this time.

In the coming year, along with the wishes and goals I have for myself, my family and my world-good health, more love, and definitely an end to war and violence-are some equally ambitious goals I have for this magazine. We’re closing 2003 on a high note: For the first time in our history, Essence has been named by Advertising Age, one of the bibles of the publishing industry, to its prestigious A-List.

We’re among a select group of ten magazines singled out this year for outstanding performance in circulation, subscriptions, newsstand sales and advertising revenues. No one person can claim credit for this achievement. Every staff member and contributor deserves applause, including our writers and columnists and our hardworking editorial, design and ad-sales teams.

And a special shout-out to Gregory Boyea and Edgerton Maloney, two terrific brothers who have long been guardians of our busy mail room.

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But this wouldn’t have been possible without you, our readers. Every time you pick us up at a newsstand, renew your subscription or read us at your girlfriend’s or at the hairdresser, you take a leap of faith that the experience will be worthwhile. You expect us to deliver, to show that we know what you’re going through. In the months ahead we’ll do our best to keep you coming back. We want every issue to pique your interest and speak to your heart. We know that our bond with you is everything.

That’s why I’m resolving in 2004 to listen to you even more carefully, to pay even greater attention to your needs. We resolve to keep finding smarter, more original ways to strengthen our bond with you. But I have one small favor to ask. Will you help me keep my resolution by writing or E-mailing me to let me know how you think we’re doing? What is it you like and don’t like about us? What do you want to see more of? What could you do without? Who is your favorite columnist or writer? Is there a recent item that made a lasting impression on you, helped you make up your mind about something, or even changed your life?

I should let you know that while I promise to read every letter addressed to me, I can’t respond personally to all of them. I appreciate the brother from Texas and the sister from Maryland who every few days drop me chatty critiques of our content, current events and celebrities-no response expected. I am grateful to them, and to everyone who has written to me this past year. And to all you wonderful readers who helped make Essence a winner, here’s to you and to our best year ever!