The grace we say clears our hearts and guides the children and welcomes the guest, all at the same time...Anyone can use a grace from their own tradition (and really give it meaning) --or make up their own. Saying some sort of grace is never inappropriate, and speeches and announcements can be tacked onto it. It is a plain, ordinary, old-fashioned thing to do that connects us with all our ancestors.
~ Gary Snyder

I love the tradition of saying grace before a meal. Growing up, my family said this traditional Catholic grace:

Bless us, O Lord,
for these Thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty
Through Christ our Lord

Now that I have my own family, we just have a simple toast at the beginning of the meal to pause, look in each other's eyes and clink glasses. But as Thanksgiving draws close, I've been thinking about all the ways to say grace and how many traditions celebrate gathering around a bountiful table on any day of the year. I am reminded just how much I have to be thankful for and I am inspired to focus on gratitude every single day. Here are a few favorites quotes and prayers I've plucked from around the world. Have a joyful and wonderful Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
We offer thanks. Amen.
~Grace by Ralph Waldo Emerson

i thank You God for most this amazing
day...for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
~ e.e. cummings

We return thanks to our mother, the Earth,
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.
~ Iroquois Prayer

Thank you, God, for this good life,
And forgive us if we do not love it enough.
~Garrison Keillor

This ritual is One.
The food is One.
We who offer the food are One.
The fire of hunger is also One.
All action is One.
We who understand this are One.
~ Hindu Blessing

May the love that is in my heart
pass from my hand to yours.
~ Traditional American Grace

In this food, I see clearly
The presence of the universe
Supporting my existence.
~ Serving Food by Thich Nhat Hanh

May I, together with all beings,
Enjoy the pure taste
Of kind mind, joyful mind, big mind.
~ Tassajara Grace by Edward Espe Brown

O Lord that lends me life
lend me a heart replete with thankfulness
~ William Shakespeare

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart
~ Seneca

When you eat bamboo shoots, remember the farmer.
~ Chinese Proverb

Be present in all things and thankful for all things
~ Maya Angelou

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that happiness is gratitude doubled by wonder. 
~ G.K Chesterson

All that we behold is full of blessings.
~ William Wordsworth

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

~ Meister Eckhart


Poems: Your Topic Your Price

We met William the Poet at the University Farmer's Market last weekend as he was tapping away at his typewriter. In addition to collard greens, cranberries, squash, and apples, who doesn't need a fresh poem from the market? I introduced William to Georgia, a bitty few weeks old, and asked him to write a poem for her. And he did.

For more information on William, you can watch a great clip here from our local news. You can also order a poem postcard for yourself, if you have a hankering for a customized ode to anything under the sun. Thank you William!


Introductions All Around

Though she be but little she is fierce.
~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

I am so happy and proud to introduce my daughter Georgia Elizabeth!

Now that she is snuggling here at home with me after a scary start in the world, I can finally write about her. 

She arrived on October 20th, a week after her due date. We had hoped to avoid a repeat c-section, but after many hours in labour she began showing signs of distress so we moved to surgery. When she was born, she didn't cry out and they whisked her past me to the NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit) as she needed oxygen. I didn't get to hold her for seven excruciating hours. When I was finally allowed to go to her and hold her skin-to-skin, she looked beautiful and was stabilizing quickly. But because I had spiked a fever during delivery, they were concerned about a possible infection so they put her on a seven-day course of antibiotics. She was hooked up to an IV and monitors for her heart, her blood pressure and her temperature. They had to give her a spinal tap to check for meningitis. Thankfully, she latched and we got off to a good start nursing. Then, when she was 48 hours old and just beginning to pink up, she started spitting up bile. To check her intestines, they ran an x-ray which came back abnormal so her doctor decided to transfer her immediately by ambulance to a bigger hospital for more tests to check for a possible twisted intestine - in which case they would have to do surgery on her tiny little body. Christian and I followed the ambulance in our car, stunned and terrified. But within several hours the tests came back negative and the doctors told us she was going to be okay. She had to complete her course of antibiotics and stay in the NICU for the rest of the week, but then we would be able to take her home. 

Art on the NICU walls at Swedish Hospital

That night, in the hospital room where Christian and I slept two floors below our daughter, I wept. I wept with relief, I wept with gratitude, I wept with love for my daughter. Then I wept for all the babies alone in their NICU bassinets, I wept for all the families who didn't hear good news from the pediatric surgeons, I wept for all the families waiting to take their children home from the hospital, I wept for all the single mothers who didn't have supportive partners, I wept for all the non-English speaking families trying to navigate the U.S. health care system, I wept for all the kind nurses and doctors who cared for these babies, I wept for families all over the world without proper medical care, I wept for all the parents who lost a baby and all the babies who lost a parent. I wept for all the unfairness and tragedy in the world. I wept for love and I wept for happiness. I wept because we were going to take our healthy daughter home with us to live a wonderful life.

Art on the NICU walls at Swedish Hospital

Throughout everything Georgia endured that first week and all the fear Christian and I experienced, we also felt we had the best possible care from all the doctors and nurses at both Group Health Hospital and Swedish Hospital. So many little kindnesses helped to ease the most terrible week of my life.

A great big thank you to:

  • My midwife Sally Avenson and her midwifery student Claire who were my strong and steady birth team, along with Christian and the nursing staff at Group Health.
  • My mother for staying in town with us for three weeks.
  • Catherine and Jason for hosting Xavier for his first - and wildly successful - slumber party the night we transferred hospitals.
  • Melinda for bringing food to the hospital for Christian and I, giving me a aromatherapy hand massage and then taking Xavier home to play with her son.
  • The many other emotionally and physically nourishing meals lovingly prepared by friends and neighbors.
  • The double rainbow I saw out my window for appearing right after I heard the frightening news Georgia had to transfer hospitals for more tests. It felt to me like it appeared just for me as a good omen. (Can I thank a rainbow? Why not.)
  • Dr. Badura for counseling Christian not to google anything about her possible condition.
  • Nurse Kate and Nurse Casey for giving me firm and positive pep talks before we followed Georgia's ambulance. 
  • Nurse Lori for working at both hospitals and walking down the hallway at 11:30 pm just when I most needed to see a familiar and smiling face.
  • Nurse Valerie from Group Health for serendipitously taking a tour of Swedish Hospital and stepping out of a crowd to hug me and cry with me when I fell into her arms to tell her that Georgia was going to be okay.
Nurse Alice taking such good care of Georgia
  • Nurse Alice for helping Georgia immediately when she was born and caring for her in the NICU during her first night at Group Health Hospital. Alice put Georgia into my arms for the first time. She also works at Swedish Hospital and was our nurse the second-to-last night in the hospital when Georgia was able to room-in with me. I was again so happy to have a familiar face. Alice actually picked up an additional shift to be with us again the following night before we went home from the hospital. I cried when we hugged her goodbye.
  • My husband for being such a strong rock during that emotional week. He was the logistics and communications man.  He is my foundation.
  • Xavier for being such a good brave boy. You already are the best big brother.
  • And to all of you for your calls, emails, texts, presents, flowers and love sent over the past few weeks. We felt the love and it carried us through.
Whew, birth...what an epic, crazy, beautiful, scary and intense journey. Thankfully my daughter came through healthy and hearty. Georgia and I are both now enjoying the "fourth trimester" as she sleeps, nurses, poos, and goes back to sleep again. She makes all these sweet little snuffling, sighing, grunting, cooing noises. She guzzles milk like she is doing keg-stands. She is nonplussed as Xavier goes about his general rowdy toddler play and doesn't mind when he rubs her head, kisses her eyes and not-so-gently squeezes her in hugs. Her personality at this point is remarkably relaxed, given what she's been through. She gazes at us all with the calm eyes of heaven. She's a keeper.

And Georgia, meet everybody. I can't wait to introduce you in person to all the wonderful people who love you.