Milestones of a Vision by Karen VanDenBerg

REcovery Illustrated

Laid off after thirty-one years with one company, newly sober again, and not sure what I wanted to do when I “grew up,” I had a vision. I love to write, and I love recovery, so I decided to start a magazine. The idea to start a recovery magazine with zero experience in publishing or graphic design seemed preposterous. However, I couldn’t shake it. I fell in love with the idea of loving my job!

issue 1 12 step gazette californiaIn March 2013, I was trying decide whether or not to move forward with this unshakable dream. My pros and cons list was the extent of my business plan, but I knew that funding would be important. I told myself, and a few others, if I could raise the money I needed by the end of the week, it would be a “go.” In my mailbox that day was a check for exactly the amount I would need to get this magazine off the ground, and I made a commitment. That was the first milestone I achieved.

July-August 2014
July-August 2014

Initially, my vision was to have a local magazine for the Inland Empire that would publish events, advertise local businesses, and profile local people. However, by July 2014 we expanded into Orange County, San Diego County, Palm Springs and the San Gabriel Valley. We had increased our print run from 1,500 to 5,000. Printing more than 5,000 magazines was another significant milestone achieved.

July/August 2015
July/August 2015

We changed the name to Step 12 Magazine in early 2015 so we could own the website domain and social media identities. We took 1,000 copies of the magazine to the AA World Convention that year and poof, we weren’t just in California anymore. None of these milestones were in my business plan because I had no business plan. I truly flew by the seat of my pants and was caught regularly by my Higher Power. I prayed “bless it or block it” on a regular basis and tripped over unexpected milestones without seeing them coming.

Jan/Feb 2016
Jan/Feb 2016

I finally got some help in December 2015, when Roni came on board. This was a thrilling milestone to reach. She gently began to convince me to improve some of the formatting and finally convinced me that two spaces after a period is no longer the standard. Subscriptions increased and sponsors began to see the value. We were able to make a donation to New Creation Behavioral Healthcare Foundation’s treatment scholarship program—a milestone of giving back that I hope we continue to improve upon.

issue 22 coverWe now have subscribers all over the country, and we distribute to facilities nationwide. When we exceeded 10,000 copies in print, I almost fainted. That was a milestone I never expected to see. I had laughed in the ear of the printer who told me the cost of printing would be lower once I hit the 10,000 copy volume. “Ha, ha, like that’s ever going to happen,” I said, while my head was saying, “wouldn’t that be amazing?”

In 2013, I had a crazy vision and gave birth to a magazine. We have gone from 20 pages in our first issue to 68 pages today. We’ve gone from 1,500 issues in print to 15,000 and have become self-supporting! What a huge exciting milestone this is!

REcovery IllustratedStep 12 Magazine has matured and gotten “married” to Serene Scene Magazine. She’s changing her name to Recovery Illustrated and is moving forward with her purpose as a beacon of hope for the recovery community; whether someone is in a twelve step program, smart recovery, celebrate recovery, or just on the fence. The new name will “illustrate” our diversity better (pun intended), but our mission remains the same. Now, we’re actually going to set goals and milestones so we don’t trip over them when we get there.

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