Lessons for saying goodbye from JM Barrie

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.”

~ JM Barrie,

Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up

James Matthew Barrie, a child during the Victorian Era, grew up to write one the beloved tale of Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up. As a child James’ older brother, David, died during a tragic ice skating accident. To aid his mother in her grief James – aged 6 – would wear his brother’s clothes and whistle in a similar way to the way his older brother had before his death. James and his mother found ways to grieve together, and shared the happy thought that David would remain a boy forever and never leave her.

Death, of course, is such a final goodbye, especially in such a tragic experience as losing one’s child to a traumatic, unexpected situation. Grief is hell, we all know that. But what about regular goodbyes?

I’ve never been one who is good at saying goodbye. Back in the late 2000s I worked at a large financial institution helping people give their money away to charities. The organization was moved out of state – twice – and my husband and I decided to stay here in New England (both times). It was a series of goodbye after goodbye. Most days when I knew someone was departing the office I would find my way to the kitchen for a coffee, or suddenly need a bathroom break. I don’t like the finality of goodbye. The awkward hugs, the “Let’s stay in touch” comments you aren’t sure have much meaning.

Maybe it’s my Pisces sun – flowing from situation to situation, like a fish swimming upstream and not getting too focused on what’s behind me. Maybe my empathic heart can’t stand the finality of knowing I might see someone again. Maybe everyone feels the same way and I’m way over thinking this.

I don’t know.

I met an amazing number of wonderful people working at that financial institution. Though it’s been five years since I stayed in Boston and they all moved away, I’m still friendly with many and would definitely high five them if I saw them walking down the street.

One person in particular has become a dear, dear friend. And later this month he’s moving on to another adventure out of state and I’m so fucking sad.

This friend become one of my immediate BFFs upon meeting each other. In any other circumstance our lives never would have crossed paths. We’re in different age categories, we have different lifestyles, and we DEFINITELY don’t read the same books (winky face, friend).  My heart knows I worked at that institution because the universe knew we needed each other.

I’ll never forget a day this friend was going through an extremely difficult situation and CALLED ME. I almost didn’t answer – who CALLS PEOPLE? But I did because I knew that he needed me. I sat on my bed and we talked for a long time. He reminded me what it meant to be a good friend to someone, to really help them.

We had adventures, too. Only with this particular friend would witchy, vegetarian, animal welfare activist, New Englander feel comfortable going to the State Fair of Texas. What an experience. We had deep friend cheesecake and saw a famous giant cowboy statue thing that burned down a or so year later. I sat shiva with this friend for the first time in my life when another person we both know had to say goodbye to her father. He even attended Baby Girl’s birthday party wearing a tutu because it was a mermaid/fairy/pirate party and he wouldn’t want to pass up a good theme.

This friend was also among the first I spoke to after a traumatic event in my life last fall. There was no judgement, and I knew I could share and over share and ask for help when ready. And he was there.

Today we had lunch, this friend and me. I was nervous of course – I wanted to hide in the bathroom and ignore the goodbye. But I know I would have regretted not saying goodbye. It was a quick get together – I have a tendency to always run late and had to work in the afternoon – but it was perfect. The sun was shining, the food was amazing, we went to a bookstore, and I got to hug my friend and make plans to stay in touch when he’s settled in during his next adventure.

Yes, a huge part of me feels like a giant part of my life is hoping on a plane and I’ll never see it again. But at the same time, we didn’t say goodbye. Goodbye is too final. I’ll always have this friend in my life, and can’t wait to go out and visit him for another crazy adventure in a place I’d never expected to go.

Love you, friend. I can’t wait to eat seven cakes and fourteen pancakes when you’re settled. -rk


Trans Rights are Human Rights

American politics are in complete chaos – still. I’ve had to deactivate my facebook. I refuse to listen to the news. My sensitive soul can’t stand the policies being put in place that harm people I love. From the theft our our nation’s public lands by hungry investors, to using military force to block refugees from finding help in the “land of the free”, to women’s rights being put at risk every day, to men saying it’s a scary time to be alive because sexual predators are being named for who they truly are.

It’s a scary time.

A number of years ago a baby was born in our family. I am so grateful to have been among the first people in the world to welcome this baby. I was able to visit at the Birth Center and hold the baby (and proceed to almost drop the baby, which my husband teases me about still to this day.). The day this child was born is a day I will never forget. I remember how I wore my hair, the shirt I wore. I recall the scent of the cozy room. The mama’s tired, but so-full-of-love face. The sweet little baby’s eyes as they sleepily began to take in the world.

A few months ago this baby – now a teenager – shared with us that he is a trans man. We’d called this baby a “she” their whole life, not realizing. When we learned the news, we welcomed this person with warm arms. We hope to be sure to help him know he’s loved. To help him know know that being you is more important than trying to be someone you aren’t to make others comfortable.

Weeks after we learned this news, the current American administration announced it would CHANGE THE DEFINITION of gender.

“The Trump administration is looking into restricting the definition of gender to be based on a person’s genitalia at birth…

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” a memo stated. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

~Peter Wade – Rolling Stone Magazine (

The American government wants to tell my loved one he can’t be who he knows he is. The American government says this child must accept a body that doesn’t feel like his own, must hide his true person from the world because it might make someone uncomfortable.

Screw that.

We can’t just sit back and do nothing, friends. We have to speak up for those we love. I know the government is corrupt. I know politicians can be assholes. I KNOW.

I know this, but we still need to vote. Here in Massachusetts we can vote Yes on 3:

“This law adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement.”

That’s it. The law would make it so that our friends, neighbors, loved ones can’t be discriminated against. If you’re a republican and want the government to get out of your way, you should support this ballot. If you’re a libertarian and believe in free will, you should support this ballot. If you’re a democrat and believe in human rights, you should support this ballot. If you’re an independent/not a party/any other category I’ve missed – you should support this ballot.

So, even if you don’t want to vote for elected persons, go and vote for this ballot measure. Leave the rest blank, no one will know. I don’t care.

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking you don’t “believe” in trans rights. You don’t think gay people should have rights. So this is for you: You most definitely know someone who is gay. Someone who is bi-sexual. Someone who is trans. They’re probably afraid to tell you because you’ve made your stance know. So, sit down and listen. 

Still think the government is such a mess you can’t support it? Think voting for this ballot isn’t enough?  I have great news for you: You can still help out.

I’ve been in touch with two local organizations supporting trans rights. You can support them financially. No cash to spare? Follow them on social media. Leave kind, loving comments. Spread the word about the incredible work they do to support our trans friends and neighbors.

ProjectOUT: Assistance, education, advocacy, & lifesaving gender-affirming services for the transgender and non-binary community. 

NAGLY: A space in Salem for LGBTQ youth on the North Shore of Massachusetts. 

Tomorrow is election day here in the States. Please vote.

Tag me @bookwitchsalem in your “I voted!” post on instagram, facebook, or twitter and be entered to win one of TWO prizes. You can choose from an animal (or human) Reiki session or a five card tarot reading. Winners randomly picked on Wednesday. #witchthevote #vote #yeson3 #transrightsarehumanrights


The Audrey Look

Recently I read my four and a half year old (that half is SO important!) “Just Being Audrey” by Margaret Carrillo and Illustrated by Julia Denos.

We were so late to bedtime because I made time to go to yoga for the first time since October (thank you for the Fleetwood Mac class, Rebel Yell!). L was a bit wacky, but held up pretty well for a four year old who is an hour behind bed time.

My babygirl listening to Matilda while coloring and snuggling with Poe. ❤

Early in the book she noted a house – an illustration of the house Audrey lived in while in hiding in Holland during World War II – and told me it was The Witch House here in Salem. She pondered the page for a bit and decided the illustrator must not have had a black marker, hence making it brown. Later, after much thought, she decided it wasn’t the Witch House at all because it was missing a gable.

Being her mama, I was thrilled my baby recognized an important historic building in our community and using her deductive reasoning to reason out why it wasn’t the same structure.

Aside from this book she’s never heard of World War II or Holland, so her reasoning makes perfect sense.

Later in the book Audrey moves to New York City to continue her acting career. L speaks up saying some day she might also move there, but makes note that she wants to be a veterinarian – not an actress. We talked about how people in NYC have pets and she could be a successful vet there for sure.

The book ends with pages about Audrey’s incredible work with UNICEF – an organization that saved her life during her own difficult childhood. At this point L asked me to stop reading to inquire about other books about Audrey. She wants to know about Audrey’s children and her love of cooking. About her unique style that so many replicate today.

I let her know we can find out more at the library, but was adamant we buy the books so she can have them as her own.

This made me so happy. I’m certainly not someone who feels great about consumerism and it’s impact to our economy and daily lives, but the fact that my baby hears about an incredible woman who travels the world to save the lives of children and wants to know every thing she can about this woman’s life makes me so happy – so proud.

Walk for HAWC

When in college, I participated in a program to provide peer to peer support for young women impacted by rape and domestic abuse. The thing I remember most was that on the last day of our training, one of the participants shared that she was a survivor. My heart dropped and I felt uncomfortable. I will always remember her face and her bravery.

Later, maybe ten years ago, I walked in my first Walk for HAWC (formerly Healing Abuse for Women & Children and now Healing Abuse & Working for Change – see note below).  Walkers spent a few moments at the town square at Old Town Hall, then walked together around our little downtown. There was a sense of community unlike any I’d felt prior, and only a few times since. So many representatives of our community had come together to stand up for individuals who were survivors of domestic violence.

I felt empowered.

More recently, I decided I was to go to grad school with the goal of starting a nonprofit that would merge my passion for helping animals and women impacted by domestic violence. I wanted to create a network of animal shelters who would offer shelter for the pets of women in domestic abuse situations. There are a number of practical reasons shelters can’t take pets, but there is also a huge amount of evidence that shows domestic abusers are very likely to use a pet as a manipulative tool to cause the person they abuse to stay. I wanted to help find temporary spaces for those pets so women could find shelter.

As sometimes happens, my plans changed; my career took another route. My passion, though hasn’t. I was fortunate in the last few months to help HAWC in unique ways. In the spring I was able to organize a Galentine’s Day event in support of the organization – ladies celebrating ladies! – and today I helped shoot a photobooth during the 2018 Walk for HAWC.

Though I haven’t walked in the Walk for HAWC in so many years (and didn’t even technically walk today), I felt the same sense of community, the same punch to my heart. It was pouring. It was gloomy. It was hard.

One person participating in the walk asked me to take her photo. She told me she was nervous. I told her the photo would be beautiful and to not fret. She chatted with me after the photo. She told me how moving the whole event was, how happy/sad/scared she was to be participating. Then she asked me to recycle a sign she held up in the photobooth and went to check out other booths at the event.

Later, while recycling the sigh she’d written for the photobooth I noticed that she’d written “I AM A SURVIVOR.”

My heart paused for a moment. I thought of her face, of her bravery, of her being at the event alone. I remembered the woman I’d met in college – another woman who survived domestic abuse and rape, another woman who was brave and spoke-up.

I have a million thoughts about the #metoo movement. I am so proud of the women speaking up. I am so sad so many women weren’t able to speak up in the past. I am scared for repercussions for women who speak up at the “wrong” time. I worry for those who can’t speak up yet.

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of sexual or physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. We must keep speaking up on their behalf – especially knowing that sometimes they can’t on their own. We have to keep supporting organizations like HAWC. We have to keep talking about this.

Please. Please. Please consider making a donation to HAWC in support of their important work. Can’t make a donation? They’re also looking for volunteers.

A quick note: I wrote this from my personal heart – the heart of someone who identifies as a cis white female. I want to be sure to note that HAWC welcomes individuals of all identities (hence their name chance). If you or someone you love needs support you can contact them here

Musings: Born Free, Joy Adamson

When I was a little girl, my family bought a lot of our books at yard sales (tag sales!) and flea markets. I still love a good used book! One of the most influential books I’ve ever read came from one of these days of shopping – Born Free, by Joy Adamson.  My copy is so old, a corner of the cover crumbled this morning when I picked it up. I remember reading it over and over – flipping through to see the pictures of majestic lions and people of a culture unfamiliar to my own. I had forgotten the main lion’s name was Elsa and can’t wait to tell my little one who is still obsessed with Frozen.

This book opened me up to a world of a powerful woman standing up for creatures without a voice of their own. It showed me that a woman can change the world, and she can do so by being caring, kind, and strong-willed. Adamson, and later an admiration for Jane Goodall, led me to grad school to learn how to write legislation that would protect animals – pets & farm creatures – from cruelty.  I haven’t finished grad school yet, and my life took me in another direction career-wise, but I am still inspired by women like Adamson & Goodall every day.

I was reminded of the importance of their influences on me as a young person today when this video of Portia giving Ellen her 60th birthday present. I sat there crying for a few minutes because of how wonderful this is. Not only because it’s so thoughtful and makes the world a better place, but because Ellen, too, makes the world a better place by being caring, kind, and strong-willed. Just over 20 years ago, Ellen found the bravery to announce to the world she was gay on TV! At the time 68% of people polled said gay marriage shouldn’t be legal. Ellen didn’t let that get in her way.

My birthday is coming up – in just ten days. It’s a big exciting one – I’m turning 35! I’m entering a new stage in my life – MID 30s! It’s a perfect time to sit and reflect on all the things I’ve accomplished and all the things I hope to do as an official person in my MID 30s! I’m so proud of the friends I’ve surrounded myself with, my education and my career, by beautiful home with an incredible husband and my sweet, wild child. It’s most definitely not the life I planned or the life I expected, but my heart feels warm knowing it’s mine, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m going to head into my birthday remembering to be caring, kind, and strong-willed, and remember that though life tosses us curve balls (often), things will always fall into place when the time is right.

Goodbye, Jaydon. Please help.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 8.52.13 PM.pngYesterday a child in my city was killed, accidentally, by a passing train. This child, who was 11 years old, was locally known as a hero. Jaydon, who, while fishing with a friend, noticed a non-responsive man floating in the ocean, swam out to bring that man to shore where others attempted CPR. The swimmer did not survive, but Jaydon’s selfless act was greatly appreciated by all in our city.

Thankfully, Salem has come together to help this family. Do you have time and capacity to assist this family? Please do: The city has established a fund at Salem Five Bank to assist the Dancy family. Donations in the form of check or money order can be sent to the Jaydon Dancy Fund, c/o Salem Five, 210 Essex St., Salem, MA 01970.