love

PSA from Thunderstorms (and a free power up ceremony)

There is nothing like a Texas thunderstorm. The hot wind knocking at oak trees and beating rain on rooftops are powerful reminders of the force of nature.

Thunderstorms can cause a great deal of destruction; knocking down trees, damaging road ways, flooding homes, and even in extreme cases taking human lives.

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However, the flip side of a storm is that it quenches a dry and thirsty earth, supplying the landscape with new life and refreshing water.

The overall message of the storm is a simple one; power can be destructive and/or it can be rejuvenating. Much like a thunderstorm, we each have the ability to do both great harm and great good in this world with our thoughts and actions.

I think that we all need to be taught (or reminded) just how magnificent we are. We need to be told from the very beginning and everyday there after that we are indeed powerful. Often we get the opposite message, we are told we are not enough, that we are at the whim of circumstance and fate. But this is a lie, no matter how the world has tried to disempower us, each of us is a remarkable being capable of moving mountains.

You are powerful. I am powerful. We are powerful. The way we think, move, and relate has an impact on the world around us.

Take a second…notice your own power. Just bring your awareness to it. Where is it in your body? In your thoughts? How does it manifest? Get to know it…please.

Because most importantly, we are not actually thunderstorms. We are conscious beings and we have choice in how we put our power to use. We can use the agency and magnificence we have how ever we like.

What will you choose? How will you take action in the world, in your own life, in your body. What ever you choose, please do it consciously from a place of truly knowing who you are and what you are capable of, because if you come at life “disempowered” you are destined to wreak havoc.

There is another way.

When we become aware of, embrace, and respect our personal power then we can (each of us) water the earth with our powerful love.


The following is a brief ceremony you can do to get in touch with your own power

POWER UP

  • read the whole ceremony before you start and make an amendments that you like

  • Start by picking the right time to do this ceremony. perhaps during a thunderstorm?

  • Make sure you dress in something that makes you feel very much like “you”.

  • Pick a space where you already feel safe and empowered. This could be in your home or workplace, just make sure you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes.

  • Gather: a candle, a lighter or matches, a piece of jewelry or a stone that you like and can wear or carry with you as needed, something sweet to eat and some favorite music of yours…perhaps a power ballad?


    dim the lights and light a candle.

    As you light the candle invite in protection and resource to guide you. You can say something like “I open to my resources and my wisdom. I am safe and protected in this space.”

    Allow your self to sit in front of the flame of the candle and look into it.

    Contemplate. Ask yourself these questions one at a time and sit quietly until you get a reply to before you move on to the next. Feel free to read the list as you go or even to briefly write the answers that come to you down in a journal.

    How am I like this light?

    What parts of me get lit up easily?

    How do I feel and think when i am lit up?

    How do I act when I am lit up?

    What holds me back from feeling lit up or empowered all the time?

    How can I lovingly move those limits out of the way for now?

    What does it feel like to be limitless?

    What would change if I could limitless all the time?

    Do I want that?

    Take the piece of jewelry or the stone and hold it over the flame as you say the following or something like “ This is mine and mine alone. I fill it now with light and resource. Let it radiate, let the heat of my own power warm it. This is mine and mine alone. May it warm me on cold days. May it remind my wandering thoughts of their own power. May it slow my actions towards wisdom. This is mine and mine alone. I am limitless.”

    Take a deep breath

    Feel the power of your own body, your thoughts, and your emotions as they are right now. Know that what ever you feel is enough and it is real.

    Feel gratitude as you put the jewelry item on or place the stone in a safe pocket to be carried with you as needed.

    Prepare to close your ceremony. Say this or something like it “I close this time in gratitude. I am safe and protected always.”

    blow the candle out.

    watch the smoke until it dissipates.


  • Afterwards and as you clean up eat something sweet or listen to some empowering music. Maybe a dance party?






Symbol in Ceremony

My favorite thing in this world might just be a good symbol. Defined by Webster, a symbol is "a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract." 

The abstract is inherently hard to grasp, and so we humans have developed a complex language of symbols and metaphors to help us make sense of the biggest parts of our lives. I often tell the people I work with to look for the symbols, because having a symbol follow you through your experience can really enrich the meaning making. A couple that I recently had the honor of working with embodied this philosophy perfectly. 
 

Let me first say, I adore these two and working with them was an absolute pleasure. I know Sarah and Rafael through the local storytelling show Testify and so I have known for some time Sarah has found a lot of joy in and a deep connection to birds. As she and Rafael grew in love, he also grew to share her deep respect for birds of all types. Which is one of the reasons that they chose to hold their intimate wedding ceremony at a local bird sanctuary. Chaetura Canyon is located just a 25-minute drive from downtown Austin, and while the facility is only open for special events and Travis Audubon programs, I recommend that you attend one of their programs if you love natural beauty.

 

Once Sarah and Rafael made the decision to include birds in their ceremony by holding it at a bird sanctuary, my work was set. How could we build a unique ceremony that incorporated their love of birds without beating the subject over the head? The beauty of a good symbol is that it has many interpretations; many points of potential connection. By subscribing specific meaning to a symbol, you can very quickly remove all its power.

When using a symbol in your ceremony, the goal should be to offer it to the event as openly and loosely as possible so that the symbol can expand and grow right along side you.  

The task for me as their counselor/artisian/celebrant was to find out what the bird means to them and where they find personal connection to the symbol, and then to build slowly and carefully from there. We started by collecting images, songs, and words that spoke to how they felt for one another.
 

 Photo credit Lowell Bartholomee

Photo credit Lowell Bartholomee

As I listened to them, I began to get some clarity. Rafael seemed to me to be a deeply visual person -- he connected with the natural beauty of the bird, with its softness and its motion. Sarah is a writer (check out her funny and insightful blog), so she seemed to really meet the bird in its story, in its character. 

After sorting through all the media we had shared, we all landed on a short story that featured a bird and that felt right. Sarah wrote up a beautiful retelling of it and we included it as a reading in the ceremony. That was the only direct mention of birds in the whole ceremony and it (along with the beautiful setting) was just enough to honor the symbol out without pushing it in everyone's face. 
 

Much like a bird, the symbol sat quietly and peacefully in the milieu of the event. The result was a wedding ceremony beautifully tailored to fit a creative and insightful couple. It was a joy to be a part of, and I wish these two "lovebirds" tons of goodness as they build their life together.

The Soup Mama

*This story was written for a children's class on Self-Kindness. I would love to find an illustrator and editor to help self-publish it as a children's book. 

Once there was a family with lots and lots of children. The family was not wealthy

but they had plenty of love and all the children were happy because they

felt much loved.

There was a Mama who took care of all the children. Every night she gathered

together all the ingredients she could find to make soup, because a little soup

can feed a big group. She would cut up the potatoes, dice the tomatoes, brown

the onions, and add the water.

At supper time all the kids would sit around a big table and pass the soup pot.

They would each take a spoonful for their bowl and pass to the next kid. Every

night the pot would go around the table, and every night when it got back to

Mama it was empty. She would sit quietly and watch as her beloved children

laughed, talked and enjoyed the flavors of the soup.

 

Then, with full bellies, one of the kids would volunteer to do the dishes while the

others tidied the house for bedtime.

 

The next night Mama would once again gather ingredients for soup, because a

little soup can feed a big group. She would cut up the potatoes, dice the

tomatoes, brown the onions, and add the water. The kids would pass the pot and

by the time it got to Mama it was empty, so Mama would sit and soak up the joy of

her children as they laughed, talked and enjoyed the flavors of the soup.

 

It went on like this day after day for many years.

 

Then one day the littlest child grew old enough to notice the world.

“Mama” the Baby said, “you never eat any soup at dinner, don’t you get hungry?”.

The Mama laughed “of course I get hungry, Baby, and all the joy and love at our

table feeds my soul.”

“But Mama”, Baby asked “doesn’t your body get hungry?” (Baby had been

learning at school that all living things need nourishment to survive.)

Mama smiled. “Baby,” she said “I think it is time that you help me in the kitchen.

Will you help me make the soup tomorrow?”

Baby nodded yes. All the older brothers and sisters had helped at some

point, but this was the Baby’s first invitation to help.

 

The next night Mama called Baby to the kitchen as she started to gather the ingredients.

Baby watched as she cut up the potatoes and saw that as she cut them she ate

pieces of each one to make sure they were fully cooked. She handed Baby

some pieces to sample. The potatoes melted in Baby’s mouth.

Then Mama started to dice the tomatoes. Baby noticed as she lifted a few

handfuls to her mouth to savor the sweetness of the red fruit. She gave Baby

bites of tomato too, they tasted so good.

As Mama started to brown the onions, Baby watched her lean over the pot and

smell their spicy sweet aroma. She carefully lifted Baby over the pot to smell. It

was so good.

When she added the water she poured herself and her Baby a big cool glass to

enjoy while the pot bubbled. They drank the water together and Baby felt revived.

Then Baby laughed as Mama dipped her big cooking spoon in to the pot and

pulled out taste after taste for them to share. Baby could taste the soup

ingredients melding together as they took the spoonfuls in to their mouths.

When the time came to share the soup, Mama and Baby were already full- just

from cooking.

 

That night Baby sat at the table with all the brothers and the sisters. Baby watched as

they laughed and talked and enjoyed the flavors of the soup.

 

“Mama” said Baby “Thank you for inviting me to cook with you tonight, I have

never felt so full”

 

And Mama just smiled and kissed Baby’s head, then she sat back and quietly

watched as her beloved children laughed, talked and enjoyed the flavors of the

soup.

 

Reflection:

What did Mama do to keep herself from getting hungry?

What do you think would have happened to the children if Mama had really not

been eating all those years?

Have you ever had the experience of having to make your own meal or do

something good for yourself?

I wonder how taking good care of ourselves can help others.

An Invitation to Gratitude

Life is so full at Thanksgiving. There are visits to make, people to see, turkeys to battle, and for some people shopping to be done. It isn't all easy and it isn't all fun. Today is my father's birthday. He is very sick right now and I am very pregnant and so we won't be able to see each other. 

Thinking back, he is the start of my Thanksgiving memories. He is the cook in our little family and so every year on this day the kitchen was his. My dad is an experimenter, a tinkerer, and so his meals were never repetitions but rather little works of art that he proudly shared with the people he loved. 

Not being with him today is painful. Not because it is our first our only Thanksgiving apart, but rather because I fear it might be his last as I have every year since 2012 when he received a bleak diagnosis. Couple that with the small little life growing inside me longing to meet its grandfather and well, the pressure is on.

Yes, life is full and it isn't always easy to find gratitude when day to day existence drags us into worry, doubt, and the fog of holiday traffic. So what can we do? What can I do, to draw out Thanksgiving?

Starting at the beginning, we might notice that gratitude is the goal today. It is now and always should be. When gratitude comes, it is followed by joy, peace, compassion, enlightenment, and basically all the good stuff. Thankfulness is what we all really want on our plates this afternoon because nothing is more filling than settling into how provided for we are...how deeply loved. 

Thanksgiving invites us to the table of abundance. It invites us to pull up a chair and delve in to the richness of living. That invitation is not an invitation to ignore our sorrows, but rather to look deeper in to them. To find the gift of the grief. 

So as I look deeper at the fullness of my own life today I see a pretty lucky woman, about to be a mother. I see myself at the center of loving family in an act of creation and extenuation of that family. I see my dad living on through the lessons I teach my son and I see the beautiful patterns of love in my life. I see connection, and I am grateful for it. 

That gratitude is a resting place as I move through today, missing my father and longing for my child. The good is there...always just one deep breath away and followed by the gifts of a very full life.

So join me, friend, at this table. Sink in to Thanksgiving, push yourself towards the chaos and take a breath. Life, full and abundant with all it's mystery, awaits you on the other side of this meal. 


5 Reasons to Hire a Celebrant

The truth is, anyone can officiate a wedding. You could pick a favored uncle, a dear friend, or even a court appointed judge to perform the ceremony. If you aren't sure of who to pick or how to pick someone look over my list of reasons to hire a celebrant. There are definite benefits to investing the time and money into a professional service.

Reliability

Your wedding day is not a day you want to spend worrying about details. Hiring me means the ball is in my court. I will have done the prep work and show up ready to be at service. I will not have stage fright, flub my lines, or forget my cues. I have done this many times before and I know what to do and how to do it.

Community Building

When I work a wedding or any other sort of special event I am available to all the people present for counsel, support, or even just casual chit chat. I see myself as a hostess and my job is to draw people into the moment. This is a skill that many family members or friends might lack but it is essential. The ceremony is important because it is witnessed, all present should feel welcome and excited to be a part of it.

A Unique Ceremony

Imagine a ceremony that is entirely true to who you are. One that is built up of pieces of your story, culture, and beliefs. There is no limit to what a ceremony can be. It can be traditional, funky, edgy, ancient, comic, sincere, or silly. Multiple rituals can be combined and woven together. Words and poetry can be entirely your own or borrowed from anywhere and everywhere. This is YOUR ceremony it should be meaningful to YOU.

In the role of ceremony designer, I see my self as a quilter. I listen carefully to what my clients want and use my experience as a storyteller and theatre director to craft cohesive beautiful reflections of the hearts of my clients.

Meaningful Preparation

When I got married, my partner and I had pre-canna classes provided my the Catholic church. Although I am not Catholic and was not looking forward to them, I still treasure the classes and what they taught us. We had been together for nearly five years, but the pre-canna classes gave us both a chance to clarify our expectations, fears, and desires for married life. I can not over emphasize how important it is to take time before the ceremony to review what exactly you are doing and why you are doing it. It sets your next stage of life off on the right foot.

In the process I conduct, the ceremony planing is the class. As you make choices for your personalized ceremony, you will gain insight into what is important to you. Deciding what you want to say and how you want to say it will tell you so much about the ways you are growing and intend to grow. Also, ceremony planing hours will soon count as part of the Twogether in Texas program and will get you discounted marriage licence fees and privlidges!

Transition Support

My skills as a certified coach with a masters degree in expressive arts therapy are available to you as my client. You are not alone in the process of preparation. It will be a rich meaningful time for you to acknowledge and come towards your full potential. My nonjudgemental client led process is friendly and warm. In coaching sessions we enlist your own creativity and personal resources to manifest change in your life.

If you desire support beyond my expertise I am connected in the Austin counseling community and can provide you with excellent referrals. I care deeply for all my clients and desire their honest unfolding in what ever manner it comes. I do this work primarily because I love to watch people grow and transform as they move through life's passageways.

The Art of The Heart

Love is often not an easy topic of discussion. Valentine's day gets done up each year with flowers and boyfriends and candy. Romance,while important, is only a small portion of loving. I have wanted for a long time to do something that could bring people towards a larger understanding and appreciation of all the love in their life.

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So, this weekend I facilitated my second holiday workshop with local crafts woman, Amber Lackey. It was designed to creatively delve deeper into the themes of Valentine's Day. Hopefully allowing the participants to experience the holiday on a personal and meaning filled level. We started by discussing the heart as a sacred symbol, specially it's value in ancient cultures as the seat of wisdom and intuition. Then we held a guided movement meditation where participants had an opportunity to expand their abilities to listen to the intuition of their hearts. The meditation led to a creative experience in which we sewed together a heart for our selves. Each participant crafted a completely unique little token and packed it with symbols of love in their lives. The workshop culminated in a beautiful ending ritual, in which we passed our finished hearts to one another as a circle of support.

While the whole event was an utter joy to facilitate, the closing ritual truly moved me. I felt such responsibility as I received each heart and inspected it's tiny details. By observing the nuances and textures of the artwork I felt myself loving the artist. I learned something unexpected. This is how I love in the world. When I am actively loving I am I appreciating and giving thanks and noticing beauty.

Amber and I had worked long and hard to plan this event, but no where in my plans did I expect to learn something so valuable about myself. It was such a surprise that even as I facilitated the ritual I had tears in my eyes. I did not let myself get caught up in my own emotions, but I noticed them and allowed them to pass over me so that I could continue to do my job.

On numerous occasions when conducting certain rituals or ceremonies, I have felt tears or joy wash over me. There are moments when, as an officiant, the wedding or baby blessing, or vow renewal that you are guiding becomes personal. In those moments you step into the ceremony with the participants and you engage directly in the transformation. If handled correctly, the officiant's brief entanglement in the moment can deepen the ceremony and bring all participants closer in.

For me, it is a bonus; like receiving a tip or a great referral. I add it to my paycheck as an asset, a perk of the job. Because while facilitating and witnessing the transformation of others is quite enough, there is nothing quite like experiencing transformation yourself. I am so grateful to be able to be touched by the work I do; to be learning from teaching and growing from facilitating growth. It would be fair to say that I love my job, I love my clients, and I love being witness to the unfoldment of life's bounty.

(sorry for the cheesy fancy worded post...but hey, it is Valentine's)