Letters from Me, Day 13: Stephanie A. Peterson West, Uncasville, CT

Dear Stephanie,

Girl, I have loved seeing you get brighter and brighter each and every day.

You've always been lovely. You were genuine and happy when we were growing up, albeit with a sarcastic side, which was very endearing. And as we grew, graduated college and started our lives, you still knew how to have fun and cared deeply for those around you.

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But lately, your joy and sweetness has just skyrocketed to new heights. And it is truly marvelous. Your light shines so bright these days, and it's refreshing to get a taste of that whenever we connect, via Facebook, phone call or in person.

And I couldn't be happier for you. 

You've found, fallen in love with and married a man who loves you very much. He cares for you in new ways all of the time, and you two have kept the romance alive for years, through two kids and new jobs and transitions galore. You seem so happy together. I love seeing your date night pictures, where you indulge in wonderful food and craft beer together. I love seeing your family photos, and the way he looks at you. I can tell you two have come into your own. I remember your wedding so fondly. What a lovely setting for a November wedding. And what a beautiful party it was. Dinner and dancing and cake that made our mouths water. It was a night to remember.

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Now, almost 6 years later, you're the proud mother of not one, but TWO perfect little people: William and Audrey, your prides and joy, for the rest of your life. It brings me such joy to watch them grow, even though the world has us so far apart and circumstances don't always bring us together as often as we'd like. I'm so excited for this fall, when we will all be in one place, once again, to celebrate and dance and eat and drink and laugh and play for a night, a weekend, a few days. I hope to spend many hours with you and your family, soaking in all of the moments and personalities and quirks that I don't know and can't get from keeping up with the Wests online.

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I wish you all the best on your journey, Stephanie. Your journey as a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a woman - and all of the paths and ups and downs that come along and between those things. You are learning to put yourself first, because you know that is how you can take care of your family the best. You are giving your body and mind the attention they deserve, and you are doing so with the enthusiasm of a young person. 

It reminds me that that's what we are - we're still young people...young people who are coming into the prime of our lives, when we are the smartest, have the most energy, are the most fit because we are treating ourselves right and being the best we can be. 

You inspire me. 

You inspire me to get out and run, to cook healthy dinners for Dylan and myself, to plan my week with my health in mind. You inspire me to smile. You inspire me to be great, to work hard and to pay attention to the things I need. I may not have seen you for many months, but you inspire me each and everyday.

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I wish you good health. I wish you success in your career. I wish you fortune in your pursuits. I wish you happiness and joy, from your family, your friends, your children, your pets. I wish you great love your whole life long. I wish you peace of mind and heart. And most of all, I wish you the knowledge that you are exactly where you are and exactly who you need to be, this day and everyday. 

Love,

Amanda