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Thank You, Carol!

by Debra Saxon

As Celebration Magazine celebrates our 11th anniversary, it is only befitting, to thank those who have helped and encouraged me along the way. But, we would not be here, right now, if it wasn't for my Fairy Godmother, Carol Cottle. And in case, you didn't know, the inspiration for CAROL'S CORNER.

In 2004, my life changed when I went from being a sales recruiter for Fortune 500 companies, to working in retirement communities. I started my career at a community in Plano, where I worked for many years.

At the beginning of 2011, I was recruited by another retirement community as the Marketing Director for the independent living side. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave where I was, but they made me a financial offer that would allow me to start Celebration. I had been saving my money for a while and knew that the pay increase would help me get there sooner.

Little did I know that this move would change everything.

My new job was interesting. I never really felt at home there, but the experience of working for a different company was worth the move. I was learning another side of retirement living, which I truly appreciated.

Then, I became friends with one of my co-workers, Carol Cottle.

Carol is the person who walks into a room, and you can feel the “soul” of the room change for the better. Her job was helping families move from their homes to the community and then through the different levels of care. She was intelligent, personable, and someone that I came to love instantly.

One day, after work, Carol and I were sitting and talking in the community’s lobby. Of course, I had my computer bag with me when she turned to me and asked the question that would instantly change my life forever.

She asked, “Debra, what’s in that bag of yours and what are you always thinking about?” she went on to say, “I can see your wheels turning…you are always thinking about something.”

I smiled, opened my bag, and handed her the marketing materials I had created for The Senior Center Magazine, which was to become Celebration Magazine. She immediately asked me why I was working in the community and not pursuing my own business. I told her that I was saving money to start my company, and that's why I took this new job.

She looked at the marketing materials, gave them back to me, and then asked me how much more I needed. I told her, “all I need is $4000 more.”

And then, we both got up and went home. I didn't give our conversation another thought.

The next day, I got up, got dressed, and headed to work.

I was sitting at my desk when Carol came into my office. Without saying a word, she handed me an envelope. I was puzzled and asked her what it was. She simply replied, “Open it!”

In the envelope was a check for $4000! I looked at her and said, “Thank you, but I cannot accept this,” and she replied, “You have to. You must start this magazine.” Honestly, for a woman who has a lot to say, I was at a loss for words for a few minutes.

When I came to my senses, I told her that I couldn’t repay her for a while. And with that, she said the words that I have lived by every single day, since I started this company.

Carol said, “Debra, this is not a loan. This is a pay-it-forward.” She went on to say, “Along your journey, give other people opportunities that they might not have if it weren’t for you.”

And the next thing I know, she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into our Executive Director’s office, and she said, “Mark, SHE QUITS, Debra is going to do something that she needs to do.” And, with that…. I became a magazine publisher.

Eleven years later, I still remember that day as though it was yesterday. My Fairy God Mother, Carol, remains one of the most influential women in my life and I am forever grateful for our friendship, and her belief in me.

And Carol, I have and will always continue to fulfill my promise to you, and pay it forward. xoxo

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