Dear Gwen, 

The other week we were at the High School you're going to attend in the Autumn. They were doing a welcome night, with tours and information, and when we were sitting through the introduction talk, I found myself getting choked up. I can't believe that we're looking at the start of 4 years of high school already, then you're off to college! I have to remind myself to take each day as it comes, because 4 years is still so much time for memories and adventures; but its hard knowing how fast it will go. I never would have believed how fast 14 years would go if you'd tried to warn me back in those newborn days, but its really been a wild, all too short, flash of time. This is the way of life, but the weight of you (sooner then I want) not being here everyday is a heavy one to hold at the moment. You are just such a fun, amazing human! 

All of which doesn't mean that I don't still count down to bedtime sometimes, because it can sometimes be exhausting to be so utterly wrong about everything (😉 all in good fun, my love!), but never has the expression "the days are long, but the years are short" felt so relevant. Even you feel that so truly, but I can't even put into words how much more real it becomes with each passing year, milestone, decade.

This week has been stressful, because picking classes for your first year of HS carries so much weigh, and guides the rest of the years, but I'm not worried: you are such a thoughtful kid, and you will make so much of whatever path you end up on; the individual classes, they aren't the be all end all of your experience. There is so much to look forward too, and despite my hangups about our time left, I cannot wait to see all that you get to do in this next stage. 

That said, we're still here finishing up Middle School, so I have to remind myself not to get too far ahead. You're still busy with school work (continuing to rock out honor roll status for the entirety of MS), band (percussion - tried out for and made the audition band for next year), orchestra (violin), D&D groups with your friends (3 different games currently!), while ripping through your favorite book series (currently Warrior Cats and Wing of Fire... love that fantasy genre!). You still love creating all sorts of amazing things with your Legos, and we've been diving into watching some of your Dad's and my favorite old movies. You still love water, and were in your element when we camped at a hot springs a few months ago. And you happily point out, regularly, that you've surpassed me in height (at least 6 months ago now, and you are now between 5'3.5" and 5'4", so a good 1 - 1.5" taller then me!!). 

You still love all things magical/fantasy. Anything Star Wars (related or adjacent), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and you've added the Librarians to your favorite shows list, as well as Psych (found the pineapple!) and Monk. You still love the colors black and red. And your favorite foods are ramen, steak, rice, tacos, chicken nuggets, and french fries. Oh, and ice cream! All the ice cream! You love animals with a passion, and just like the rest of us, still miss Daisy fiercely. You're looking forward to another week of horse camp this summer too! I also have to note, amusingly, that this is the year you gave up on long sleeved shirts other then hoodies. 😆 Its all t-shirts, all the time for you.

This past year have held some big changes, and I have so much appreciation for how much you've taken them in stride. Even better, you've been so great about being open with your questions, fears, concerns. I hope you always come to me when you need advise or just someone to listen... or at least, are always so open with someone you trust. You're lucky to have amazing friends that fit that description (Clarissa, Maggie, ZaZa, Axel, and Sophia, to name just a few).

Gwen, sometimes it is just so terrifying raising a teenager. There are so many ways that you are being bombarded with messages, ways that didn't exist when I was a teen; messages about what makes you popular or worthy, promoting new drugs, new spins on old sick beliefs. Its enough to make my heart pound and my head ache. But everyday you remind me of how compassionate you are, how wise and discerning, and I can only hope that the foundation we've laid for you, and the re-enforcing of it that we do over the next few years is enough. Enough to keep you safe, enough so that you always know you are enough. 

Most of all, no matter how much more you grow, how far you wander, or how much life changes around us, know that my love for you is unending, unchanging, yet ever growing. And I will always be here. 

"Best Gwen ever",


Patience and Prayer

Editor's Note: The hole I was in lasted 2 weeks+, and ended slowly (in steps) when I found movement and routine again. A reminder of just how important those things are to me and my mental health! 

This morning I headed out on my long walk with my phone tucked securely in my backpack. I'd gotten in the habit of listening to podcast or calling my Mom or my Babs to catch up. I love both of those things and what they feed me, but I realized that I needed something different today. So I walked and watched. Seeing squirrels doing their late summer work, wolf spiders venturing from their dens, a great egret making its journey. I listened to insects starting their final choruses, and birds singing their praises. I absorbed the surprisingly hot, late summer sun into my skin, and felt the slickness of the sweat it created along my spine. 

Mostly I noticed the thoughts that came up; the wanderings of my mind when left to its own devices. The grasshoppers brought to mind Mary Oliver, and led me inevitably to the question: "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?" I realized that this time of year I am often awash in impatience. I long to move past the heat and high energy of summer, and into the slowing coolness of autumn. I seek change and release, so find myself rushing and wishing away these last days before fall. As I found myself in my favorite strand of trees, I stopped to make an offering to Mother Earth, and the Goddesses Cerridwen and Madron (how interesting that I find myself most drawn to ones associated or known for Motherhood, as well as transformation). So often when we pray we ask, but I knew that this wasn't the time for request, but for thanks. I also made a promise ... the best offering I could offer was trust. I promised to trust in the divinity of perfect timing, to work on patience, and to use my own magic and divinity to support those of the Goddesses that support the Earth in her work. 

That timing is about more then just the autumn. Lately 13-year old words and 41-year old words find themself missing the mark, and sometimes I wish the days into evenings (and bedtimes...); but just as often I find myself lamenting that time passing, each day drawing us closer to lasts and goodbyes. While my desire to autumn is understandable (I think), each new autumn marks one year closer to Gwen's eventual departure, and as hard as this season of our relationship may be (at points, because there is also so much wonder in it), I can't bring myself to think too hard on the season when she no longer calls my home hers. Its honestly too much for my heart to even imagine. So in this season I make a promise of patience: for her, for the passing of time, and for me. I pray and work everyday magic with the guidance of Goddess from long ago times and far away places, knowing their distance only makes their wisdom more potent and knowing. 

And on Sundays I walk, covering distance, while being more present; savoring these sweet moments while they last. What do you pray for?


September 1

 I just opened my "Blogs" folder on a whim and was sad to see how many aren't there anymore... but I guess I'm not either. I caught up on a years worth of news from the ones that were left, and spent a moment being wistful for pre-2020 one last time. Fitting as Gwen just tested positive for COVID this morning. Three and a half years, it finally got one of us. 

Time keeps ticking by, and everything changes while so much stays the same. There is a Welsh word I learned recently, "Hiraeth," which doesn't have a direct English translation, but basically is a longing or homesickness, but even more so it's a sense of incompleteness that leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Its a deep aching for a place that you might not have even been yet. Go figure that the word I was looking for all along was hidden in the language of my ancestors. I long for a forever home to call our own, I long for Wales, I long for a settledness that I am missing. I probably shouldn't be blogging while I'm home with an isolating, sick teen... it apparently makes me melancholy! 

Don't get me wrong: I am grateful that I can easily be here for her. Some of those changes over the past year are releasing my Necrocartography job in preparation for a fuller yoga schedule starting next year. That extra time was a huge relief during our summer travels*, and even more so now. My doula client for September went at the very start of my on-call period, thus ensuring quarantining didn't keep me from attending her labor. And Labor Day gives us an extra day to recover (which she does seem to be doing now, 3 days in). Plenty to appreciate about in this whole mess. 

I also just appreciate that its September. While its still hot as Hades at the moment, this starts the counting down to the first days of Autumn, and our Mabon celebration; then October (my favorite month of the year) with our Anniversary, some camping over Fall Break, and Halloween of course. And so much more! I might have a touch of the ennui at the moment, but I know there is so much to be excited for. 

* for posterity: We drove about 913 miles the first day (over 13 hours), stopping at a random hotel before continuing on to Andy, Megan, and Wyatt's the following day. We stayed there two nights before heading to see my parent's amazing friends, George and Mary in the Finger Lake's area of New York. Then it was on to two night with Trav's Uncles in Massachusetts, before heading onto the Cape for 5 days. On to my Parent's place after that for 5 nights, then down Philly for the day. Spent that night with my Aunt & Uncle, before heading West. One night in a random hotel then it was on to Amanda Panda, Parker, and Penny's for two nights. After that we booked it home, and couldn't have been happier to be in our own beds!


Dear Gwen: The First Teenage Edition


This is going to be a little different then my normal letters, but I haven't been writing here as much and I want to make this a little more... just this moment. The past year has been weird, and wild, and wonderful. 

Parts have been so hard: we had to let Daisy go, which was the biggest loss you've experienced in your life so far. The closest people you lost were all when you were too young to really get it, and the more recent losses have all been much more removed. It's been a lot of emotion to move through, but I'm so proud of how you were able to talk about your range of emotions and process them, not just that day, but in all the days since. Its been quite the lesson in the rollercoaster that is grief, something that made you even more empathetic when we had friends experience deep losses since then. 

Your anxiety is still very much a part of your daily life, but one you continue to take in stride. You're open and honest, coming to us for help and reassurance; something I hope you continue to do ALWAYS! I think they thing that feels most wild to me about you becoming a teenager is it feels so close to adulthood, and so I find myself thinking more and more of the things I want you to take with you into your teenage years but also beyond. Even when you're off in college, working and living a life that you build yourself, I want you to know that your Daddy and I are going to be here to listen, to help you hash things out, and we're always on your team. But the way you handle these extra challenges in your life, well they make me feel pretty damn confident about the way you'll keep handling newer and bigger challenges... including using us and your friends to bolster you and help you find the way. 

This past year hasn't been all challenge though... or all sad/trying challenge! You've just recently taken on the new challenge of learning the violin, all while keeping up with your school work, continuing with percussion, and becoming the DM for your schools Game Club D&D game! You're also continuing with Girl Scouts and we're in the midst of cookie season! It has not been easy, but you're working hard and trying your best, being on top of your practicing, staying after school and putting in the work. Its busy and can be overwhelming sometimes, but you're making the most of it.

I'm sitting here at my computer while you're at school, staring into the distance and trying to look back over the past year and remember every little moment that I want to preserve. I know its not possible, but what I want to remember most about this time is the little things. I want to remember that this year you started going to the gym with me more regularly. That you still love skiing and horseback riding. I want to remember that while you definitely talk to me like a stereotypical movie teenager sometimes, you also still want me around to walk you to the bus in the morning and ask for extra hugs before bed at night. I want to remember that while you're shooting up like a weed (probably about 5'1" at this point!), and so long and thin, you're head still fits just right tucked against my neck and chin. While you might not always remember to just. get. yourself. some. water. in the morning, you will easily cook yourself some lunch on the weekends - grilled cheese, hamburgers, ramen, etc... your cooking abilities very much match your palate, and are expanding regularly! 

This year you starting taking over buying gifts for people for special occasions. Saving up and spending your own money on thoughtfully chosen items, that you know people will love. 

You are into fantasy of all kinds, especially D&D related... and we have watched Stranger Things together as a family, knowing that Season 4 would especially hold your interest. You still love creating amazing things with Legos, drawing, and have started learning Welsh with me on Duolingo! You love animals, the color red, and lighting pinon incense. We've been rollerskating/blading more, and you're getting really good. You're also still an incredibly voracious reader, powering through series after series. We read the Hunger Games Series together this year, and moved on the Ender's Game and its sequels now. You'll spontaneously break into song, and when you do its just as likely to be some Classic Rock piece as it is some 90s Grunge as it is something thoroughly Pop-ie and modern. 

I want to remember that while there are moments of annoyance, there are twice as many moments where you impress me with your humor, your love, your maturity. 

I feel like I'm forgetting everything I want to remember about this time, and everything that I want you to be able to look back and remember. But the truth is, its so hard to capture all the layers of YOU, and all the pieces that make this age so damn wonderful. This stage of balancing between child and adult, of growing, changing, and holding on to the parts of you that you want to take from one stage to the next. Just know that your Dad and I love you so damn much, and are eternally and endless proud of who you are, who you're becoming, all that you still have yet to show us about yourself. You are kind, loving, and care so hard for your friends and family. We are better for it. 

I'll end here for now baby (as for better or worse, you'll be my baby forever!), with this, "Best Gwen I ever had."