There are experiences in life that change us. A rite of passage takes a life changing experience out of the body, out of the secret, so that it can be seen clearly and moved through.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Around the US this has been one heck of a winter and slowly but surely we are being released into Spring. This season is so often associated with rebirth in the Northern hemisphere as flowers, insects, and animals bloom and grow before our eyes. It is a perfect time to get out side and notice nature awakening.
If you feel a change in your own life at this time of year, you are not alone. Many of us have mood shifts that closely follow the seasons. It isn't just about how much sunshine you get (although that is a huge factor) it also has to do with our life patterns and emotional states reflecting the changes in the natural world.
I invite you to use Spring as a season of rebirth to clean out what you no longer need and refresh your inner resources. It has come time to shake off that snow and start opening your heart up to the newness and possibility that awaits.
Here are a few simple rituals you can do on your own or with your family to welcome in the Spring spirit.
1. Start a mini-Garden
It doesn't have to be fancy but planting a few seeds and watching them grow might be a great comfort and joy in the Spring season. Try saying your favorite poem or prayer as you plant the seeds and repeat it every time you water or adjust your little garden. The seeds will grow right along side your prayer.
2. Go for a Daily Walk
Take a spin around your neighborhood or office building once a day. If you practice going on the same path at the same time everyday you will begin to notice the changes in the world. Pick one of your favorite Spring themed pieces of music to join you on the walk. It is a time just for you to breathe clean air, be outdoors, and reflect on the new opportunities in your life.
3. Have a Spring Fling
The Spring Equinox is Thursday, March 20th. If you manage to catch that date make it a very special day. Try to do something just outside of your comfort zone; something kind of a little crazy. Please stay safe and responsible, but maybe you need to jump in Barton Springs that morning or have a bonfire at the beach. Take a risk! Maybe you will look silly or feel weird but you can call it your "Spring fling" and chalk it up to the season. Perhaps you will discover something new?
4. Clean and Sort
Okay, this one often gets a bad rap but there is no feeling quite as wonderful as eliminating clutter. Take a day to clean out your closet and donate items you no longer need or want; or get around to sorting through that pile of papers. Eliminate some un needed stuff that has just been in your way. Then when you are done reward yourself somehow. Take a deep breath. Notice that by clearing the old you have made room for the rewarding new.
5. Photograph the Changes
Set an intention to take at least one photograph a day of something "new". Do it for at least 15 days and see how many changes you have collected. After the 15 days are up, print the photo graphs and use them in an art project. Write a short story using each photo as a sentence, or use a big canvas and collage them into one painting, or make a photo album of Spring 2014; whatever works for you! See if you notice how these small changes add up into some bigger changes.
6. Paint or Play with Eggs
No need to celebrate Easter if that isn't your thing, but eggs are a perfect symbol of Springtime and the potential for rebirth. However you want to doit, work with eggs. Go to a farm and collect them, paint them. or turn them into cascarons and have a confetti fight! Enjoy yourself! The world is all shinny and new.
7. Make a Springtime Playlist
Making a playlist is one of my favorite Expressive Arts activities. It is a musical collage of your thoughts, hopes, feelings, and struggles that you can turn on when ever needed. Use Spottify or itunes to craft a mix of your favorite songs that you want to play for yourself this Spring. Listen to them as the mood calls you. This is your time to defrost.
Those are just a few ideas to play with ritual at Springtime. Use them and adapt them to work for you. If you have ideas or want to share how you used these ideas comments are much obliged. Or just pass this list on to someone who you think might need a bit of meaning making in their life. Remember this Spring that "to everything there is a season, and a tme to every purpose under heaven". Live it up.
End of life and bereavement work is not something that gets a lot of focus. So often those who work in hospice and palliative care are wondered at. I frequently get asked why do I continue to volunteer for hospice and work with clients at end of life. Well, as hard and real as it might be working with death and dying is filled with joy, beauty, and life. Here is a list of some of the best little tidbits of wisdom uncovered in my recent hospice volunteer training.
Focus on the Beauty
Often hospice work is filled with unpleasant sights, smells, and thoughts, but if you walk into each situation looking for the beauty you will be able to do what you need to do. Notice the person before you; their eyes, their smile, the flowers at the bedside. Pay attention to the beauty and it will grow.
Follow the Undercurrent
Instead of getting caught up in the details of the situation, try to see if you can hear what the emotional message is. For example, some one might say "my daughter is always complaining that I watch too much television". What are the unspoken messages of that comment? That is what we should respond to; the undercurrent of each communication.
All Grief is Unique
Everyone grieves differently. There is no perfect pattern for healing. It looks different, feels different, sticks different, is DIFFERENT. So, all we can do is just observe and support people in their unique process.
Also, bereavement comes from a latin word that means "to be robbed". (just a neat fact)
Being Still is an Art
Seriously. Try to say nothing and be still. It isn't easy, but leaving space for the other person will be the greatest reward.
Never expect a thank you. Find the gratitude for your service in the service itself.
All Pain is Non-Physical
I could write a whole blog post about this one. Hospice and palliative care has a goal to lessen suffering, but it is not an easily obtained because suffering is a complex experience. The pain felt from a broken leg is not the injury, rather it is the perception of the injury in the brain. So pain, like grief, is a unique internal response to an outside stimulus. Once again, everyone's pain is different.
We Teach People How to Treat Us
Everyone who spoke to us in the training mentioned "good boundaries". It is important to be able to know where you stand, why you are there, and what the limits are of your service. We will treat people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves.
Ask your Self Hard Questions
What would be the hardest things for me to have to give up in my life? How might I handle having to die? Who would I want to be my power of attorney? What is a risk I need to take, right now? By asking myself hard questions...all the hard questions I can think of...I am growing empathy, and understanding for others and myself.
Don't stop someone else's tears by saying "it will be okay" or giving a pat on the shoulder. See if you can lovingly hold a space in your heart for the other person while you witness tears. Tears comfort us by releasing chemicals and hormones. They are a necessary part of healing and sometimes the best thing to do is cry.
The Only Way Out is the Door
This was presented as a quote from Hellen Keller. It seems to sum up a lot of what goes on at end of life, and in all life transitions. Walking through that door can be terrifying, painful, lonely ...but at some point we simply can no longer stay where we are and we have to move on to what ever comes next.