Thursday, July 27, 2017

a blessing way


Last month, I had the honour of hosting a Blessing Way for my most cherished and beautiful friend, Stephanie. Because Steph was pregnant with her second babe, we wanted to do something special to commemorate that, but a traditional shower didn't feel quite right. So we decided on a Blessing Way.

https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/

If you have never heard of a Blessing Way, you are not alone. Much google searching was conducted on my end before this special event took shape. In short, a Blessing Way it is a celebration of life and love, pregnancy and motherhood, in a tranquil, sacred and love-filled space. It has evolved from First Nations traditions centered around healing, creation, harmony, and peace, in appreciation for and in honour of the Mother-to-be. 

The purpose of this Blessing Way was to nourish, nurture, support and encourage Steph while affirming her wish for a beautiful, gentle and peaceful birth experience.


It took me some time to compile all the bits and pieces for this special day - scouring the depths of the Internet and pulling what I felt was the best of everything shared. And so, I figured I would compile all the bits and pieces here on my blog in case planning a Blessing Way may be in your near future.

--

In lieu of traditional gifts, we asked guests to bring the following items:
  • A crystal, gem or stone that is special to them, reminds them of Steph, or is symbolic of the birthing journey.
  • A handwritten prayer, letter, poem, song lyric, affirmation or inspirational quote. For those who felt comfortable, we took turns sharing our words of love with the group and collected each sentiment afterward to be held in Steph's keepsake box.
  • Something little for Steph's Nurture Basket (ie: bath goodies, candles, tea, a journal, comforting clothing (slippers, soft socks, a wrap around scarf...) lotions, body oils etc...)


We opted to have the Blessing Way over brunch. Delicious, nourishing food is a large symbolic part of the ceremony, so we choose items that were known to be comforting for Stephanie, and kept the menu entirely vegan and gluten-free to accommodate any food sensitivities.

We served:
  • cinnamon buns
  • fruit skewers
  • spinach, mushroom and potato tart with plant-based feta
  • guacamole and tortilla chips
  • quinoa salad
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • fresh squeezed orange juice
  • a kombucha tasting bar with a variety of kombucha from local brewers in Vancouver and Calgary.
     
https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/

https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/


Because I live in Vancouver, and Steph is in Calgary, we decided to have the blessing at her home. In most cases, this is likely not the most ideal venue as it can cause the mama-to-be unnecessary stress of having to clean up before/after, but I made sure to be available to take care of that, and tried my hardest to stop Steph from doing too much (though she was not a very good listener on that front. ;) ). That said, some women may feel more calm or comfortable in their own homes- ultimately, it's a personal choice, but one to navigate and explore with courtesy.

Below is the script we used, outlining the purpose and rituals performed throughout the ceremony.

PURPOSE || It is estimated that globally, 255 babies are born every minute. That’s 4.3 women becoming mothers; bringing their babies earthside every second of every day. To acknowledge and name that power and flow of energy is to become part of it.

And so, the purpose of this Blessing Way is to weave an intricate web of connection, joining us altogether beyondthis days events. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, we are rallying our
collective energy around Steph, sharing unconditional love, nurturing and support to guide her
through this next transition, while affirming her wish for a beautiful, gentle and peaceful birth.

Each of the rituals we will participate in were rooted in the power sisterhood- we are stronger
together, and our connection and love will be with Stephanie and this new babe from this day
forward.

We began by forming a circle – creating a contained space of support for Steph.

RITUAL || feather crown – the crown symbolizes the physical transformation that takes place in pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and marks Stephanie as a sacred vessel. Jen made a beautiful crown that Steph wore throughout the ceremony.

RITUAL || foot soak – cleansing for the transition – washing away the burdens felt or any fears or anxieties the mother may be experiencing about birth and motherhood. The foot soak was made up of dried herbs and flowers, Himalayan bath salts, and mild essential oils.

https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/

RITUAL || blessing – Weaving the web of love and support through positive affirmation.

Sharing – Those that felt comfortable shared their prayer, letter, poem, or affirmation out loud to Steph while she soaked her feet

Wishes for the baby – everyone filled out a well wishes card for the new babe, and the group shared any wishes that really spoke to them. (You can download a PDF version of the card I made HERE)

RITUAL || binding bracelet – a way to symbolically show the mother that she is supported and always connected. That she is in the thoughts of her closest friends and family as she prepares to bring her baby earth side.

We wrapped the tread around each guests writs twice, starting with the mother and then passing it along to next guest. When it got around the group, we cut the thread and each person tied the thread to their wrist.

Everyone wore the bracelet until after Steph gave birth, Each time we saw the bracelet, we used it as a reminder to send extra love and positive light Stephanie's way.

https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/


RITUAL | | candle ceremony – Stephs candle was lit and passed around the circle. Each of us offered a word we wished for her (eg. “strength” or “endurance”) - when the candle got back around to Steph, she blew it out. When she went into labour, the candle was relit and each of the encourage words we had captured in the candle was released back to her.

https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/

We also each took a candle home that we lit when we heard that Stephanie had gone into labour. This symbolized our support and collective energy for Steph during this sacred journey bringing babe earthside.

I was so grateful to have the help of one of Steph's dearest friends, Jen, to help coordinate all of this. In addition to being a completely incredible human being and an amazing cook, she is also a very talented photographer that captured all of the beautiful photos shared in this post. I couldn't have done it without her, and I was so thankful on MANY occasions to have her as a soundboard when my brain was spiraling.

Thank you SO much, Jen! xx
https://www.facebook.com/JenaMariePhotography/

Baby Max was born gently at home on May 6, 2017 at 7:48am. Weighing in at 9lbs 13oz, Steph confirmed her status as Warrior Goddess as she delivered this little chunk. Although I was not able to physically be with Steph this time around (you can read my version of Myles' birth story here), having this deep spiritual connection from the Blessing Way was truly the next best thing. And Steph's mom texting me every 10 minutes throughout the night helped too ;)

I am beyond humbled and so very proud of you, Steph. You continue to inspire me with your dedication to being the most incredible mother to your sweet boys. I am thankful every single day that I have you and now Myles and Max to fill my whole heart. Thank you for giving me that. xx

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

xo ruby

I have created a lot of websites over the past few years, but none have been quite as special or meaningful to me as this one - xoruby.com is a sweet little shop my dearest friend Stacey deBoer and her beautiful daughter Ruby have started. A place where they can sell handmade bracelets, donating all the proceeds to the Alberta Chirldren's Hospital Foundation- an organization that has given so much to the deBoer family.

I am beyond grateful to have been able to help create a little space for Stacey and Ruby to share their story and sell these treasures. Feel free to pop by and order a bracelet or two- they can be made in a ton of different colours and can be sized for both adults and children. Plus, your purchase will go directly toward helping little warriors fighting too big of things. 






Friday, June 2, 2017

life lately...

whew - it's been a while! just popped by to share a few photos of what life has looked like lately...




Friday, February 10, 2017

snow day

vancouver is once again covered in heaps of snow. its been a cold, white winter this year, but thankfully someone in our family is loving it.

jeff took some photos and put together a little video of finn's adventure earlier this week. have a peek if you are so inclined. xx

Monday, February 6, 2017

immune support

i feel like i have been perpetually sick pretty much constantly for the better part of two years - so much so that i feel silly even telling people i'm sick because i know their internal reaction is most definitely 'again?' but between pneumonia last christmas, shingles this past spring, and a lengthy list of bed ridden cold and flu spells sprinkled in between, i am determined to support and rebuild my floundering immune system this year.


a few good things i am committing to incorporating/ continuing this season include:

probiotics
upwards of 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, so maintaining a proper balance of good to bad gut bacteria is essential for optimal immune function. i have always been extremely cautious and avoided the overuse of antibiotics, but have not been as diligent at rebuilding with probiotics. jeff and i recently went to whole foods (and spent an obscene amount of money INVESTED in our long term health) and picked up some good quality probitics for the whole family. we are also working to incorporate more fermented foods into our daily life. kombocha has always been an easy win over here, but other fermented foods - veggies, sauerkraut and kefir will also be added to the list- building up the good gut flora in all of us is top of my to-do list.

bone broth 
perhaps a bit of a food buzzword right now, bone broth has a deep-seated history in supporting immune function. thanks to the high concentration of minerals, bone broth works to heal and seal your gut (see above note on why that's important). in particular, chicken bone broth is proven to inhibit infection caused by cold and flu viruses (something that won't surprise our grandparents generation who rushed to make chicken soup whenever we got sick.) it also works to help us sleep better, fights inflammation, protects our bones and joints, makes our hair and nails grow stronger, and generally just makes us feel good. it's easy enough to make your own, or if you live in a larger city, your local health food store likely stocks it. you can drink bone broth on its own (i personally love this, but understand it's not for everyone) or use it in place of regular broth in any of your favourite recipes that call for some kind of stock.


mushrooms 
mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi ) have been highly prized in traditional chinese medicine for thousands of years because of their potent healing benefits. my girlfriend kristen turned me on to them a couple summers ago, and more recently, my friend katie shared with me what we now call 'magic mushrooms' for their ability to help heal whatever ails you. (THESE mushroom pills are an absolute MUST if sickness has been plaguing your household.) incorporating more medicinal mushrooms into your cooking routine is ideal, but if that's not something that sounds doable in your household, adding a mushroom powder (like this) into things like tomato sauces, soups, casseroles or even smoothies is a good way to mask the taste and still reap the benefits.

vitamin d 
sunshine is so important for vitamin d production, but for those of us living in raincouver (or other chillier/ less sun-filled parts of the world) accessing natural sunlight can be challenging during the gloomy, cold winter months. getting real about supplementing when the sunny days fade is super important. there is a wide spectrum of opinions on what adequate supplementation looks like, so spend a bit of time researching and find a level that feels appropriate for your needs (remembering that some is better than none in this case.)

ginger + garlic 
both broad spectrum anti-microbial agents and natures immune boosters, i am always looking for more ways to incorporate these two superfoods into our diet. smitten kitchen's recipe for 44 clove garlic soup is being added to the rotation, and i am still LOVING this recipe for turmeric milk that uses lots of ginger to cure and comfort whatever ails you.


mental health
we all know stress is a huge contributing factor to how effective our immune system functions. i wholeheartedly acknowledge the connection between the grief i have been working through over the past few years and my bodies ability (or inability) to function optimally. mental health is a key component to physical well-being. and so i continue to do the work, knowing it's a long journey and not an overnight fix. visiting my wonderful counselor as needed, trying my hardest to carve out moments for mindfulness (whatever that may look like) and taking a big step in upping my self-care routine (which, of course, encompasses everything that i have shared here and more.)

on guard essential oil  
also known as thieves oil, i am a HUGE advocate of doterra's on guard essential oil - a blend of wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon leaf, eucalyptus leaf and rosemary flower, on guard is a protective blend used to support the immune system and help kill off harmful bacteria and viruses.  you can use on guard in a few different ways to help keep germs at bay -
  • diffusing it into the air for aromatherapy purposes. doing this also helps kill airborne germs and viruses. 
  • using it topically - mix a few drops of on guard with some fractured coconut oil and apply to your wrists, souls of your feet, behind your ears and the back of your neck. we do this each morning as a preventative measure, and several times a day at the first signs of sickness. 
  • add a few drops to your natural cleaning products and use it on surfaces to rid them of germs and bacteria. (several drops mixed with equal parts white vinegar and water do the trick!)
  • doterra brand on guard oil is food grade, meaning it is safe to ingest. at the first signs of illness, soak some apple slices in water with a few drops of on guard oil and enjoy, or mix up this magical flu busting, detox cocktail:
    combine the following ingredients in your favourite mug, stir and enjoy-
    2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp honey
    1-3 drops on guard oil blend
    small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
    1 cup warm water
stay cozy, friends!



Saturday, January 21, 2017

why I march

Unity. Equality. Diversity. Solidarity. Acceptance. Feminism. Love.

These are a few of the big words that we have been talking about in our house this past week. Now more than ever, Jeff and I felt it was so important to share these words and this experience with Finn. To begin the conversation about the importance of being an ally and using your loudest voice to support those that are being silenced. 

One of the signs we made for the Women's March in Vancouver read 'The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable.' A statement that, sadly, feels a little too true lately. 

But to see the incredible number of people all over the world gather - to speak out, raise their voices, agitate, resist, and say 'this is not ok!' - well, that was a pretty incredible thing to be a part of. 

My cousin kori wrote a beautiful note last night that I felt hit the nail on the head-
It's our time. We're taking it back.
We will rise from the ashes of our great grandmothers you burned.
You cannot stop us, you can not hush us for we have remembered who we are and we have remembered that we are stronger together than we were separated.
We will never ever ever EVER again forget our beauty, our magnificence, our connection or our god given right to equality and a voice.
Us -- the women -- of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, colours -- we are uniting and we stand in our truth.
Thanks for pissing us all off, for it brought us back home together... look out world, it's going to be real and fucking POWERFUL.
WE ARE WOMAN, HEAR US ROAR.
Keep fighting the good fight, friends! We are ALL STRONGER TOGETHER. 


From the Women's March on Washington Website -

We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of any country.

The rhetoric of the past US election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us - immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, First Nations people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault - and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honouring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to the new US government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

HEAR OUR VOICE.

(photos by Jeff Thorburn | last photo by Katie Cubitt)


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

so long 2016


a few wonderful memories to bid farewell to this past year. i am vibrating with excitement for all that 2017 has in store, and hope to share more of those moments here. thank you for sticking with me all these years!

cheers! xo

you can view previous years in photographs (2011 - 2016) HERE.