When I was packing for our trip to Egypt, I started packing lots of scarves as it is a good way to shield myself from the hot sun in addition to honouring the Muslim faith to cover up. I love wearing scarves anyway and it occurred to me as I piled them into my suitcase that they represented so many women in my life, having received many of them as gifts from friends and sisters, my mother and daughter as well as mentors.
For the Galabya party scheduled for one of the nights on the Nile cruise I packed a belt with jingles so lovingly shared with me at my good friend Marta's zoomba class. Having felt her energy so strongly through the months since she departed I thought it would be a perfect combo to the crystal headband I acquired so long ago at a Women's retreat with my daughter. The white scarf that came everywhere was what we wrapped around Gary's head for the party. It was one we had given to his mom and came back to us as few years ago. It would be fun to take all of them with us as we made our way on this epic journey to celebrate my 65th year. It's hard to accept that I am that age as my mind and body seems to think otherwise.
In the midst of it all the wooly lace shawl that would be considered too hot for Egypt was ceremoniously tucked into the corner of my suitcase as I whispered “you're coming with me”.
It was Elanis's shawl, a dear friend and mentor that left her body several years ago. This sits on my bedside chair to remind me everyday of the wisdom she shared and her wish to go consciously which I will aim for as well. Now I look at it with the memory of having sailed the Nile with her wrapped around my shoulders. The emotional remembrance of her with me on the Nile was a gift I gave to myself but I know she showed up for it too.
My sisters and mother had a huge part in developing my strength through the years and I am so grateful to have memories of them with me while I entered the pyramids and drank from the fountain of ancient knowledge. Thanks to this physical representation of them in the form of my scarves generously gifted to me over the years I bravely explored the streets of Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, the surrounding deserts and the river Nile.
As we drove through busy streets and listened to our female guides, I found the lives of Egyptian women to be incredibly different from my experience here of course with the cultural, religious and environmental influences that make up their world.
The insight that came to me was how fearless and strong Egyptian woman must be to survive what they were given. I see how driven and motivated they are to jump the hurdles of life and support their families to live more than just sufficiently. Their time here is so much more challenging than mine and I wish to acknowledge the shifts that are happening worldwide for women. I send blessings always.
I saw it in their eyes. Doing what they do to care for their families. I honour who they are and what they must go through.
I brought with me a First Nation's design scarf-like cover of beautiful turquoise and black, the perfect length for me again from my daughter. It was a lightweight wrinkle free material that served me well for dinner out. However, atop the 5 star hotel I can hardly feel my strength with the pulse of the city below us filled with the energy of women here that have shown me what it truly is to be strong.
I honour all indigenous women in Canada and worldwide on this day and always. That's what this design brings to me. The remembrance of all as one long before I came here.
We witnessed women on scaffolding cleaning and uncovering huge pillars at the temples we visited and when you look up and see their scarves blowing in the breeze you realize it's another restriction that they must face, another difficulty, another challenge to stay safe.
Not only are Egyptian women strong in holding tight to the bike that weaves through traffic but strong to sacrifice what they do to serve their families in a very challenged world. I know this is duplicated in so many other countries. We have evolved together across the globe in our own ways and I know we are all part of the change as we work to be even better. The strength of women in all countries are unmistakably needed to build and expand from this point forward. As I honour them, my wish is that women will be recognized for their important influence everywhere.