One year ago today, I typed my first editor’s note. Now, 24 columns later, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief at having made the one-year benchmark. No one will be surprised to hear that 2003 was a rough year for this airline and its employees. And even though — thanks to its awesome advertisers and an even more awesome staff — this magazine is a profitable one (which surprises people to know almost as much as the fact that we’re published every two weeks), our fate was no different from that of all the employees you read about: layoffs, pay cuts, job security fears, and constant changes.

But through all of that, every day was made brighter and easier thanks to the incredible staff that creates this magazine. Every one of these people is a living example of the rising productivity numbers you hear about in the news, yet they go about their jobs with energy, commitment, and creativity that’s hard to beat. In the last 365 days, about 30 editors, designers, salespeople, and assistants have produced some 2,400 excellent pages. And trust me, without these fine people, you wouldn’t be enjoying the magazine that you hold in your hands today. The good news is, things in our halls feel a little better and a little more prosperous every day. So here’s hoping we can only continue to go up from here.

Just like the April 1 issue last year, this is our annual Europe issue. This time around, Jamie Oliver, perhaps better known as The Naked Chef, keeps his clothes on as he shows us around his hometown of London. We also take a closer look at all of the beautiful cities you can visit thoughout France thanks to American’s codeshare agreement with SNCF, the French rail system. With just one point of purchase, you can go from the U.S. to Paris and on to cities such as Avignon, Tours, Montpellier, and a dozen others. We also visit Scotland’s first national parks, and bring together the latest and greatest goings on in Brussels. Your next trip to Europe will be so much the better after reading our stories.

But, of course, Europe’s not all we know about. We’ve got some great stories on the latest ways home builders are taking advantage of the environment, and some speedy little cars for under 30K that may not be as pretty as a Porsche but are just as fast (the extra 30 grand is obviously the cost of the cool factor). We also have an interesting story on a 15-minute workout you can do in your office. While this sounds somewhat suspect, there are lots of people who it’s worked wonders for. And at the end of the day, if it gets you to do some form of exercise, then that’s a good thing.

One of my favorite stories is on Jacob Gelt Dekker, an entrepreneur in Curaçao who has dreamed up some amazing things for the island’s economy, and through a combination of timing and sheer determination has been very successful. What makes it my favorite story is his success, as well as his outlook on getting things done. It reminds me that believing in what you do and having a positive attitude can help you achieve just about anything.

Luckily, I get to work with people just like Dekker every day. And I’m no doubt the better for it — as is this magazine. Thanks to you for continuing to pick us up every time you fly, and thanks to my terrific co-workers for making this job and this magazine the best they can be.