Saturday, April 1, 2017

Planting for the Future

                        By Elaine Voci, Life Cycle Celebrant

April is the month in which we celebrate Arbor Day, an annual observance that recognizes the vital role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care.  It was first observed as a holiday in 1872 in Nebraska, but tree planting is a ritual as old as humans have been alive.
The tree is seen throughout history and literature as the symbol of life itself.  In the words of J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and the founder of Arbor Day, ““The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.”  He and his wife were settlers in Nebraska and both were lovers of nature; their yard was full of various trees, plants and flowers. 
When J. Sterling became the editor of the area’s first newspaper, he never missed a chance to spread his enthusiastic love for trees of all types.  His audience was receptive because fellow settlers missed trees and needed them to help provide a windbreak for their crops, building materials and shade for livestock and people. As we all know today, that without trees it would be hard for any living thing to breath; trees oxygenate our Earth.

In 1872, the Board of Agriculture accepted Morton’s proposal to set aside one specific day (Arbor Day) to plant trees; they created contests with prizes awarded to citizens who planted the most trees.  It was an overwhelming success and on April 10th over a million trees were planted in Nebraska!  There are now Arbor Day festivities observed across the United States, and in many other countries of the world.

Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day in Your Community

If you need inspiration, The Arbor Foundation has a great website ( with a list of ideas that include…
  • ·      Hold an Arbor Day ceremony and honor good stewards in your community.
  • ·      Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.
  • ·      Plant a tree.
  • ·      Write a story, produce a play, or present a skit about trees.
  • ·      Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up.
  • ·      Read a book about trees, such as The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
  • ·      Schedule classes on tree pruning, tree selection, tree identification and tree planting.
  • ·      Sponsor a poster contest, poetry contest or tree trivia contest.
  • ·      Volunteer with a local tree-planting organization.

Celebrants Can Help

Celebrants love to celebrate life, including trees; at my graduation in 2014, a group of us enjoyed an afternoon ceremony in which trees were honored and hugged with great love and respect. 

One of the first things a celebrant can help you with is to create sacred space with care and intention; then you may be asked to think about your favorite tree and what it has meant to your life. And what you can do to ensure that this tree remains alive and healthy for generations to come? How can you hold and give it special recognition on Arbor Day this year?  Skilled in the art of ceremony, a celebrant can help you create a ceremonial ritual that will fill yo47ur heart with love, and your soul with hope. Visit to find a celebrant in your area.  Happy Spring!


Elaine Voci is a life coach in private practice in Carmel, IN and a graduate of the Celebrant  Foundation & Institute .   Elaine is the Editor of the Celebrant Blog for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.

Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life 

How do you commemorate momentous events? Memorialize people who have shaped you? Draw support from those you hold dear? This primer offers methods for honoring the special occasions in your life with humor and grace. Its ceremonies help ground each day in the wholeness that supports our entire lives. Each ceremony has been vetted by a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® affiliated with the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, which offers training and support for celebrants worldwide. Visit us at

Please direct all request, comment or concerns about our CF&I Blog to our Social Media Manager ~ Marcia Almeida, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant. at    Or to the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s director, Charlotte Eulette at: 
call us at (973)746-1792.  
Visit us at

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Springy Spring Spring!

By Sacha Jones, Life-Cycle Celebrant

Don't we all get delightfully giddy at the beginning of spring? It's such an exciting time. More than new year (at least for me) there is a beautiful sense of new beginnings and hope. Seeds to plant, growth, change... metaphorical and actual. I'm still in the UK where spring gets a head start and I feel very blessed to experience it all twice. Pink tree-blossoms, daffodils, croci, tulips - all shining and doing there thing and bringing smiles to the masses. 

I always feel inspired when I come over here. Partly it's time away from home to reflect, partly it's the time of year - but mostly it's spending time with my lovely friends and family who are all doing really cool things and make me very excited about possibility. This is most certainly true in the kitchen (and garden)! As much as I love to cook (and we do all the time), I can get a bit lazy in terms of experimentation and branching out. Mostly this stems from my funny relationship with recipes (I am not so good at following directions and get a bit cross-eyed). So when I come across a really easy, really tasty AND healthy recipe all in one, (and I get a chance to try making it side by side the pros), I'm all about it!

Last week my two longest-running (not oldest!) besties - Sally & Sim, and I got together, and my heart was so very glad. (I can't believe we didn't take a photo!) All three of us are foodies with a palate for clean, healthy & delicious, so the menu Sim prepared for us was perfect. We mmm'd and oooh'd and yummed our way through lunch - gluten-free veggie "flat breads" with homemade pesto, hummus, avocado, salad-y bits and goat cheese and just so much good stuff. And to top it all off, gluten-free honey-sweetened chocolate cake with coconut yogurt and (honey sweetened) rhubarb compote! Mmmm! Hearts and bellies satiated, cheeks sore from smiling.

My personal tummy-health has meant I've been avoiding gluten and much reducing grain for about 14 years now. I don't usually go for the GF products in stores and have instead always gravitated to real food that is "free from" but sometimes I really want a vessel for things that sit so well on bread/toast. Most gluten free breads I find to be pretty gnarly (full of weird ingredients and absolutely require toasting), so to find something that checks all my boxes and tastes amazing, well... I have to share! Do give these a whirl, whether you tend towards gluten free eating or not. They are truly wonderful.

Turmeric Cauliflower Flatbread
1 head of cauliflower (use the whole thing, incl stem)
100 g (1 cup) almond flour or ground almonds
4 eggs (we found two was enough, so start with less and add more if you find it not wet enough
1 TBS turmeric powder
sea salt and black pepper to taste
how to:
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking tray with wax paper. Roughly chop the cauliflower and put in food processor and blend until you have got a fine rice-like texture. Place the cauli 'rice' in a mixing bowl. Add ground 
almonds, turmeric, salt & pepper - mix with your hands. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs with a fork. Use your hands to pull the dry ingredients towards the middle until everything is combined and you can shape it into a ball. It should be more loose and wet than a traditional bread dough. Transfer to the baking paper and form into a rectangular base by flattening the dough with your hands or spatula. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 23-25 minutes or until slightly golden and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Turn it upside-down and carefully remove the baking paper. Cut into bread-sized slices and store in the fridge (but eat some straight away for lunch, it's so good!) 

Beet Flatbread
(about) 3 medium raw beetroots, peeled
100 g (1 cup) almond flour or ground almonds
4 eggs (as above, play by feel)
1/2 tsp sea salt and black pepper

Use the same instruction as above. The dough is slightly more moist than when using cauliflower, but dries out perfectly when baked.

We made one of each, one on each baking tray but if you were feeling experimental you could stripe the different breads - orange and red alternating. You can also try this with broccoli and make a green one. Possibly a "sneaky" way to get your non-veggie eaters eating veggies too! I reckon this recipe is open to experimenting with different veggies so give it a go!

Serve with all your favourite sandwich ingredients.

Sim found this recipe in Green Kitchen Stories which is a pretty great food blog, lots of good recipes and adorable photographs! And it would be remiss of me to mention the desert without sharing the recipe... that honey chocolate cake was from Claire Ptak in the Guardian, and can be found here!

And if you missed it last week, please check out my 
 article Five Foods That Fight Stress in Next Tribe. Feel free to leave (kind) comments and check out the whole magazine. Lots of great articles and inspiration to be found.

Have a wonderful week, 
and giddy start to spring...
Lots and lots of love,
Sacha xxxx

Sacha Jones
Holistic Integrative Nutrition Wellness Coach, AADP
Lifecycle Celebrant & Officiant

Stiggly Holitics
Sacha Jones Ceremonies

Nourish Your Body
Nourish Your Soul 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ceremony Awakens – it’s a Spring Thing!

By Dorry Bless

The great Sun Bear of the First People of our North American continent, reminds us how important ceremony is in life, he says,“When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in importance. Time takes on a different dimension, emotions flow more freely, the bodies of participants become filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches out and blesses the creation around them, old is made new, everything becomes sacred.”
Ceremony invites us to stop and smell the roses by setting apart time and space to experience the change inherent in life with dear family and friends surrounding us.  When we welcome life's transitional moments with great care and intention; this simple act offers us the rich possibilities of freedom and peace of mind.
Spring is on the wing, a time of renewal.  Here are the ingredients to activate ceremony in your life:
Blessing or paying homage -  of the space
Consider 'cleansing' the space or preparing it beforehand by smudging, lighting a candle, or chanting if you are so inclined.  You can also just sit quietly and state your intention either out loud or silently in your head.  Think about including friends or family members to join you in this task.  
Processional or entrance
How do you wish to enter the ceremonial space or cross the threshold -- in silence, to music, with great fanfare or would you feel more comfortable poised in the space ready to greet your guests.  Think about if you'd like a dear friend or your animal companion to escort you.
A Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant (modern day ritual maker welcomes all who gather, sets the tone, and explains the purpose of the ceremony, and begins to weave your personal story into her welcome.  Perhaps she an antique singing bowl or maybe you’d like your friends to shake tambourines.  
Opening Ritual
With ritual the ordinary merges with the extraordinary   Be creative -- use a favorite rock from your garden,  re-invent a family tradition (i.e., use grandpa's wine glass or craft a symbolic quilt).  Allow the ritual to speak for you and to you on a deeper level.
Whether classic or contemporary literature, poetry, song lyrics, prose, an excerpt from a favorite child's book or a scene from a favorite sitcom; these can be read by your Celebrant or dear family and friends.   Consider writing an original piece.  Choose readings that resonate for you.
This is the portion of the ceremony dedicated to honoring those who came before us, our ancestors  and loved ones with words, silence, song, lighting a candle or tossing stones into a stream so they return from where they came.  You might want to include your loved one’s framed photo and place it on the ritual table.
Family Member Honoring  
This is an opportunity to honor family members or other sung or un-sung heroes in your life with words and gestures.
Your Celebrant's Address
This is where your story is told.  It's your own hero's journey and it is often the centerpiece of the ceremony.   The tone might be serious, whimsical, humorous, educational or a combination of all of these.
If applicable, the Celebrant will pronounce the honoree (who the ceremony is for) with the new status they have attained, for example: Divorced/single, Married, Retired or New parents  or whatever the achievement may be.
Community Blessing
This is the portion where all in attendance are acknowledged with a reading or blessing; and/or they are invited to show their support for the honoree in unison with formal verbal decree or fun shout out.
Closing ritual
Here, you may choose to 'close' the ceremonial space with chimes, bell ringing, kazoo tooting, broom sweeping, blowing bubbles, passing out flowers to the guests, etc. Once again think about what pleases you and makes you smile!
The honoree(s) walks out of the ceremonial space followed by their Celebrant, attendants and finally their guests. The impact of the ceremony lingers – whether grand or small – and now is a part of the individual’s history (herstory) and  remains in their heart - always emotionally accessible.   
Bloom where you are planted!

Dorry Bless is a Certified Life-cycle Celebrant® and published writer practicing in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania ( She is member of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute where she received her certification in 2006. To learn more about becoming a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant go 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Embrace the Equinox

By Marguerite H Griffin 
On or about March 20 each year, daylight and darkness are nearly equal in all parts of the world. In the northern hemisphere, we embrace the vernal equinox as the beginning of spring. It’s is the time for spring cleaning and for letting go of the old and embracing the new. As temperatures gradually rise and spirits become buoyant, we recommit to New Year’s resolutions made in the darkness of winter and imagine moving forward to a brighter future.

In ancient civilizations, clocks and calendars made use of the sun’s
light to mark the seasons for sowing seeds and harvesting crops. Today, we may reflect on the seeds that we’ve planted and the work we’ve done in the gardens of our relationships, our families, and our life’s path. We can contemplate things lost and gained and consider how to make room for new growth.
• Examine those areas in your life where you may feel challenged, inert, or stuck.
• Consider first your external environment. Imagine how you’d like to make space for abundance, clarity, or simplicity.
• Consider your internal environment—your personal habits, practices, and proclivities. How are your dreams coming along? What would you like to have or create more of as spring progresses to summer?


Beginning again may be as simple as undertaking a new activity, one that will remind you of your commitment to growth. You might decide to keep a daily journal and review it at each full moon. Or you might want to take up a new hobby, assist with planting flower bulbs in a community garden, or participate in a meditation or yoga class.

Especially at transitional times, give yourself the gift of time. Include in that gift the permission to experience a new thing each day. You can top off your gift to yourself by listing those things for which you are already grateful. As you reconnect to the rhythm of your life, be open to sharing your experiences with others!

~~ * ~~

MARGUERITE H. GRIFFIN is a Life-Cycle Celebrant® with certification in Weddings and Funerals. She lives in Chicago and can be reached by email at or through her website, 

Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life 

How do you commemorate momentous events? Memorialize people who have shaped you? Draw support from those you hold dear? This primer offers methods for honoring the special occasions in your life with humor and grace. Its ceremonies help ground each day in the wholeness that supports our entire lives. Each ceremony has been vetted by a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® affiliated with the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, which offers training and support for celebrants worldwide. Visit us at

Please direct all request, comment or concerns about our CF&I Blog to our Social Media Manager ~ Marcia Almeida, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant. at    Or to the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s director, Charlotte Eulette at: 
call us at (973)746-1792.  
Visit us at