She Will Gather Roses

When I found out I was pregnant, I asked Anne Marie Belanger of Fait Pour Toi to make me a little blonde doll, hoping for a baby girl. Soon after, we found out we are having a girl! Xavier now carries "his" doll around and tells everyone proudly, "I'm having a baby sister. I'm bigger and stronger. I'm going to be a big brother."

She is due to arrive in the next two weeks and I am very ready to meet her. We've checked off all the practical preparations:  she has quite an extensive wardrobe assembled from gifts as well as boxes and boxes of adorable hand-me-downs sent from friends and relatives (and a few tiny pieces I couldn't resist buying her myself). Hospital bag is packed and we've toured the maternity unit. We've flipped her into head-down position with the help of some acupuncture and moxibustion. I've been doing sporadic prenatal yoga classes and our awesome midwife Sally is at the ready.

The most important preparation however is emotional. Some important women in my life gathered together to throw me a Blessingway and I am so very thankful. Planned mostly in secret by my dear friends Michele, Julie and Catherine (with some logistical help from Christian), a whole weekend was set aside for me to be surrounded by women who love me. What a gift.

First, the girls whisked me off to the Olympus Spa for a soak and a prenatal massage. Then we gathered for a slumber party at a swish hotel downtown for time to chat and laugh while Michele adorned my belly with henna with this intricate design she drew freehand!

Julie organized a candle-lit ceremony around an altar containing a flower to symbolize sweet conception, a shell to symbolize pregnancy and the water home that nurtures and protects life, a piece of lightning glass to symbolize the magic of nature, a gourd to symbolize transformation and an open seed pod to symbolize birth.

In the morning, we met up with more friends for brunch and all-too-rare girl time to chat, laugh and tell stories. Julie had asked all the guests to bring a quote or poem for me to assemble into a special keepsake box. She also included distant friends and relatives who sent in cards by email and post. As we read the thoughtful quotes and poems out loud around the table, we all shed happy tears.

This precious box of notes from very dear women in my life is such a treasure. It is a beautiful addition to the journal I've been keeping throughout this pregnancy, like I did with my first one. It has been important for me to record my emotional landscape while anticipating her arrival. Here is a recent lullaby I found to slip into it:

She Will Gather Roses
A Tsimshian Lullaby for Girls

This little girl
only born to
gather wild roses.
Only born to
shake the wild rice loose
with her little fingers.
Only to collect the sap
of young hemlocks
in spring. This woman-
child was only born
to pick strawberries,
fill baskets with
blueberries, soapberries,
elderberries. This
little girl was
only born to

gather wild roses.
~ Weave Little Stars Into My Sleep:  Native American Lullabies

We are all prepared for you, little one. Come when you are ready.


Five Years Hence

Happy First Day of Autumn! I love this season for the crispness in the air and that crackling anticipation of a new beginning. I get so excited to buy fresh blank notebooks and begin new projects. My birthday is in autumn, so it is also a natural time for me to spend a bit of time in self-contemplation to think about where I am along this life path and where I want to go next.

As much as I love to make lists, I've never really been a big long-term thinker. I'm more a short-term planner, as in what cultural events are on this month, what recipes should I try this week, what books are on deck...that kind of thing.

I gave this book 5: Where Will You Be Five Years From Today? to my husband a while back thinking it would inspire us to fill in our goals together. It has since sat on my shelf whispering reproachfully to me. While I have read the great motivational quotes within, we have yet to do the fill-in-our-goals part. However, going through some papers, I came across a list of things I wanted to do in life - dated exactly five years ago in 2009. I was astonished and pleased to see that here, five years later, I can check off many of the items. Five years has a way of seeming like a very long time and a very short time simultaneously. But during this particular chunk, from age 35-40 a lot of big stuff has happened:
  • Worked for Starquest Expeditions - traveled to Peru, China, Samoa, Australia
  • Traveled to Oaxaca for six weeks to study Spanish
  • Moved to Argentina for six months but ended up on an icebreaker sailing to Antarctica with One Ocean Expeditions which I continued for three seasons.
  • Got engaged
  • Traveled to Guadeloupe
  • Eloped to the courthouse on New Year's Eve
  • Moved to Canada
  • Got married again (to the same man) with family and friends in attendance in Vancouver
  • Honeymooned in Vietnam
  • Worked for Outstanding in the Field as the "Director of International Events"
  • Got pregnant
  • Had a miscarriage
  • Got pregnant again a month later
  • Pulled off a European Farm Dinner Tour for Outstanding in the Field - six dinners, six countries, three weeks.
  • Spent a month in Italy with Christian
  • Got laid off along with the rest of the company and scrambled to find a job whilst three months pregnant
  • Watched in awe as my body grew a human
  • Gave birth to my son
  • Took full advantage of Canada's very civilized year-long maternity leave policy 
  • Bought a house in Seattle and moved back to the United States
  • Started this blog
  • Traveled to Turkey, France, Hawaii, England, Gulf Islands
  • Got pregnant
  • Watched in awe as my body grew another human
     and in a few short weeks I am about to....
  • Give birth to my daughter
  • Turn 40 (How is that possible? I didn't think I would mind when it loomed far-off in the future. Now that is is suddenly upon me, I do rather mind.)
But looking back over the list, I realize I have well-earned 40 - not that I'm quite there yet - and I have packed quite a bit into these past five years. Perhaps writing that list helped plant some seeds which grow to fruition. That is the whole point of taking the time to physically write down your goals, according to the experts. What adventures await in the next five years? Time to write my Five Years Hence Plan.  Let's steer this ship.