Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rituals Are Not Just for Celebrants


By Elaine Voci, Ph.D., Certified Life Cycle Celebrant

I love rituals, don’t you?  They have been around forever: rituals have been core elements of the customs and traditions of indigenous peoples over the eons.  Rituals can be found everywhere in modern life, too, and are often associated with religious and spiritual practices.  Rituals have even recently become a new interest area for workplace research and have been shown to strengthen desirable employee behaviors, to create a sharper mental focus on goals, and to help foster a sense of belonging – all factors that contribute to increased productivity.  An article published by the Harvard Business Review Blog Network showed how “rituals make us value things more.”( https://hbr.org/2013/12/new-research-rituals-make-us-value-things-more/ )

As a Celebrant, one of my favorite tools in my vocational kit are rituals, rites of passage and ceremonies.  As someone said at our graduation ceremony, “Celebrants have never met a ritual they didn’t love.”  But rituals are also treasured by other people who appreciate creating and celebrating meaningful life events.  I recently read an article about a new idea called “Ritual Salons.”  These events bring ritual enthusiasts together with groups of friends and colleagues to create and utilize rituals for everyday life.  Here’s how the salons are described by the author, Daren Polito, “My salons are a laboratory where about ten friends and I explore creating rituals, doing one together and then discussing its impact over a potluck dinner.”  (http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/blogs/posts/the-ritual-space/) I plan to adapt this great idea to my practice, and will be glad to share my experiences with you on this blog later in the spring.

As January arrives, one of my favorite rituals in our Web-based world is watching on television as the New Year is rung in across the globe. It’s a thrilling spectacle that brings me a direct experience of being connected to One Humanity.   It never fails to choke me up with emotions of gratitude, awe, and joy.  May I take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful year of rites, rituals and ceremonies – and,  from my heart to yours,  have a Happy New Year!!


Elaine Voci is a life coach, specializing in career coaching, in private practice in Carmel, IN and a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute class of 2014 where she concentrated her studies on funerals.  A published author of five books, she has loved rituals and ceremonies since she was a girl. This blog showcases – all the many ways meaning and purpose can be found through rituals, rites and ceremonies.  It’s written for fellow Celebrants and for all others who place a value on meaningfulness in daily life experiences, and who delight in marking those passages that bring us through our milestones and adventures of the spirit

Please direct all request, comment or concerns about our CF&I Blog to our Social Media Manager ~ Marcia Almeida, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant. at  celebrantsocialmedia@gmail.com

 Or to the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s director, Charlotte Eulette at:charlotteeulette@celebrantinstitute.org or call us at (973)746-1792.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Spirituality & Health Magazine


   | 

Assortment of buttons on wood

By: 
Cristina Kollett  

Sustenance Rituals to Replenish the Well 

Sponsored Content from Celebrant Foundation & Institute 

Life-Cycle Ceremonies book cover
If you’re like me, mid-January is the season of the post-holiday crash. During the winter holiday season rituals abound, but afterward I’m faced with a dry well. Once a holiday or great event is over, how do we refill that ritual well? How do we return refreshed to our lives, to new plans and older plans already underway?

One-Step Moments of Mindfulness

Sustenance rituals are little moments of mindfulness we can use to catch our breath and find our center. I think of them as elements of personal maintenance, ways to take care of and reconnect with ourselves. Here are a few easy ones you can work into your daily routine:
  • Take the stairs. You can make a walking meditation out of taking the stairs. This can be especially helpful at the end of your workday. Feel the rhythm of each step you take. With each step, leave behind some of the troubles of your day and think about getting closer to the comforts of home or some activity you’re looking forward to. By the time you have reached the bottom step, you may feel a little less burdened—and ready to reenter the world.
  • Get some light. Many of us suffer from the winter blues, and if you work long hours, odds are that you don’t ever get as much sunlight as you would like. So make some time to step outside. Take a walk during your lunch break or look out the window. It’s an easy way to literally brighten your day.
  • Sort it out. The simple act of sorting can be a way to bring symbolic order to chaos. So sort your socks. Or dump your change jar and sort the coins. I sometimes sort a mason jar of buttons as a tool for mindfulness. Putting things in their place can be very calming.

In Closing

These all may seem like simple things. Perhaps some of them are things you already do. What makes it a sustenance ritual, though, is mindful action. Set a clear intention when you do these things, and then do them with purpose to take care of yourself. That will make these everyday actions that much more potent.

This piece is an excerpt from Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life (now available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle e-book). This book is a compilation of ceremonies and rituals written by experienced Certified Life-Cycle Celebrants® from all over the world, who share their wisdom along with some favorite rituals.

Cristina Kollett is a Master Life-Cycle Celebrant with certification in Weddings, Funerals, and Ceremonies Across the Life Cycle. She lives in New Jersey with her husband. Cristina can be reached by email at cris@inclusiveceremonies.com,  through her website, inclusiveceremonies.com or via the Celebrant Foundation and Institute at celebrantinstitute.org  

Sustenance Rituals to Replenish the Well | Spirituality & Health Magazine

Sustenance Rituals to Replenish the Well | Spirituality & Health Magazine

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Celebrant Troubadour: Sharing Your Passion for Storytelling: Finding Hi...

The Celebrant Troubadour: Sharing Your Passion for Storytelling: Finding Hi...: Sharing Your Passion for Storytelling:  Finding Hidden Treasure Where You Live                                               ...

Sharing Your Passion for Storytelling: Finding Hidden Treasure Where You Live



Sharing Your Passion for Storytelling:  Finding Hidden Treasure Where You Live

                                                  December 2015

Celebrants sometimes wonder how to grow their practice; they may be overlooking opportunities that lie in plain sight.  One such example can be found among the other storytellers in their area.  As Celebrants we share a love of storytelling with these folks and we can join organizations that provide opportunities for storytelling and not only spread the word of what we do, but also enjoy sharing stories with others that help sharpen our storytelling skills.

Indianapolis has one such incredible story to tell.  It began, as all good stories do, with a dream.  28 years ago, three people wanted to give the citizens of Indianapolis the gift of stories.  And those three people formed a movement that brought together countless individuals who donated time, talent and resources. Because they believed so passionately in their dream, the organization they founded, Storytelling Arts of Indiana, began with one annual event, the Hoosier Storytelling Festival.  Now there are monthly programs, and a total of 150 programs and events every year,that entertain, educate and inspire thousands; three of my personal favorites include:
  •       Helping families at a local children’s hospital take their mind off the pain and distress with weekly storytelling.
  •       Creating a place for elders to share their ageless wisdom in an ongoing program, the “As I Recall” Storytelling Guild, which meets at the Glendale and the Hancock County Public Library.
  •       Encouraging kids (of all ages) to tell whoppers at the Annual Liar’s Contest on the opening night of the Indiana State Fair each summer.


Why not explore your own community and discover where storytellers gather, and see if there are local organizations that promote storytelling?  You may find that your shared interest and skills can be of service to them, and that you can help grow your business organically by simply sharing stories at various community events.  Your involvement brings with it free advertising, and lets you piggyback on the marketing and promotional efforts being made for scheduled storytelling events; an added bonus is the new friendship and alliances you will make by engaging in one of the things we all love to do: to tell stories that matter, stores that are meaningful, and stories that inspire the human heart. By Elaine Voci, Ph.D.

 

               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 


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


hesitate to visit our website at www.celebrantinstitute.org   

Monday, November 23, 2015

What do a Celebrant, Hot Chocolate Run, and a wedding have in common?

Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage

What do a  Celebrant, Hot Chocolate Run, and a wedding have in common? ........... Massachusetts Celebrant, Megan Barber


Last week I got a call from someone asking if I could possibly officiate her wedding, which is coming right up, on December 6. She said it was kind of a crazy story, perhaps too complicated for a voicemail, and could I call her back. Intrigued, I called right away, and was delighted by what I heard. Jennifer is a friend of friends, and though we haven't connected much in the past, I'm sure we've met before at parties and community events. She and her fiance, Shawn, have this great idea to get married next month at a big fundraising event in our community: The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage.

The Hot Chocolate Run is a community celebration of SafePassage, the Hampshire County (MA) organization addressing domestic violence. Since 1977, Safe Passage has helped thousands of families achieve safety, build justice, and rebuild their lives in the wake of domestic violence. The Hot Chocolate Run has had an incredible impact on the lives of women and children affected by domestic violence and has helped Safe Passage respond to thousands of people in abusive relationships over the past ten years. The event has supported safe shelter, legal assistance, and critical counseling services for adults and kids who have lived with violence in their homes.

Jennifer explained that she and Shawn had met several years ago through the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage. Jennifer first participated in the run in 2004, and remembers that after the race she started complaining to a friend about how it had been managed. The friend proactively suggested, "Instead of complaining, why don't you volunteer next time?"  So Jennifer did, and she became a critical volunteer and supporter every year since. Three years ago she met her fiance when she was working on the race and, as she says, "I took notice of a guy on social media named Shawn Reynolds who was running the HCR as his first 5K but was some how also a top fundraiser. He was incredibly funny and hot as a baker."  The two got together, and this fall Shawn asked her to marry him. She said she would.

When Jennifer called last month and asked me to be her officiant, I was thrilled. I love a good story, I love love, and I love hope and community and determination trouncing violence and isolation, which is exactly what the Hot Chocolate Run and this wedding are about.

So I'm very excited to be running in the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage next month. I'm running because I love to run, especially in cold weather; because I love marrying people (and how often do I get to go for a run with a couple I just married? Uh, never!); and because I whole-heartedly support Safe Passage and their crucial work in the community not just in the essential services they provide families, but also in their success in raising awareness across the board about domestic violence,which impacts all of us in one way or another.

If you'd like to learn more about Safe Passage, Jennifer and Shawn's story, and to support the cause, visit http://www.hotchocolaterun.com/about/

Megan Barber
Life-Cycle Celebrant
Holyoke, MA
(413) 320-2975
www.meganbarberceremonies.com

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

hesitate to visit our website at www.celebrantinstitute.org   


Thursday, October 29, 2015

“We Are All Storytellers”



“We Are All Storytellers”
By Elaine Voci, Ph.D.

Storytelling has a long history and is derived from oral traditions in which cultural mores and norms were passed from one generation to the next in the form of stories – stories that had a moral, or taught a value.  Did you know that the celebrant training curriculum of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute originated in storytelling?  And that there are storytelling classes offered at our school for celebrant.
(www.celebrantinstitute.org)

Storytelling is the basis of our life’s work as celebrants.  Around the world, ceremonies led by celebrants include stories to help people come to know each other on a deeper level.  Stories often use a special language style that is poetic, lilting, and inspiring.  Stories help us remember the past, and associated life lessons, whether they are told as part of a funeral, a retirement party, or a wedding.

There are so many characteristics of stories that it would fill a book, so I’ll focus only on three:
     1.  Stories bind us to all humankind, to the universal human family.  When wedding celebrants tell a couple’s love story to their family and friends during the ceremony, the story expresses a universal theme – such as the power of love to overcome obstacles, and the power of love to draw two people together under seemingly miraculous circumstances (are there ever any truly “accidental” meetings where love is concerned?).  We often quote the Persian poet, Rumi, who proclaimed more than 800 years ago, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they have known each other all along.”

      2.  Stories provoke curiosity and compel repetition.  Every ceremony is tailored to the unique life stories of the people being celebrated, recognized and/or remembered.  During funerals, for example, celebrants often include a familiar story from the deceased person’s life that many family members know, but that is not known to others in attendance.  The story has a dual effect: it comforts the family and it sparks curiosity in other guests to hear more about the person being memorialized, thus creating a unifying bond.   And as the story is retold after the funeral is long past, there is the bonus of a renewed enjoyment for the tellers and the listeners.

  3.  Stories promote healing.  Because story telling evokes right-brain imagination, tenderness and, therefore, wholeness, human beings find stories a source of comfort, reassurance, continuity, hope that results in the preservation of values and/or morality.  When a sick child is told a story, or an elderly person shares a story with an interested listener, something akin to magic occurs.  The child escapes from her bed and her illness and is carried away to a distant place where imagination rules experience and she is able to forget aches and pains for awhile.  The elderly person feels a similar transport to a time in the past when a different reality ruled, when they were younger, healthier, more agile and where ageism had not yet reared its ugly head.

Every story is our story and we are linked to humanity’s history and its future through shared stories that empower us, encourage us, and teach us what matters most in life. Not every profession can claim such an intimate relationship with stories that provide so much richness to the work being done.  We are a lucky tribe, indeed, to be counted among the storytellers of the world.  As one author wisely observed, “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, 
your gift.” (Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus)




Celebrant Blog:  November 2015

Celebrant Foundation & Institute Blog Editor ~ Elaine Voci, Ph.D.

Elaine is a Certified Life Cycle Celebrant and provides individuals and families in the greater Indianapolis area with personalized and unique ceremonies that mark life’s important transitions. She is also a Life Coach in private practice, specializing in career coaching, in Carmel, Indiana and the author of four inspirational and educational books.  She is proud and happy to be our CF&I Blog editor!  You can reach Elaine at elainevoci@gmail.com.

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

hesitate to visit our website at www.celebrantinstitute.org   







Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Celebrant Manifesto

Let me introduce myself …my name is Elaine Voci and I am a life coach, specializing in career coaching, in private practice in Carmel, IN and I am a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute class of 2014.  I am a published author of five books, and I write a monthly newsletter and blog for my clients and other readers.  When invited to write a blog for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, I gladly accepted.  Here is my blog for October 2015:

My Celebrant Manifesto
I was inspired to write a manifesto after reading a transcript of the most recent broadcast of “On Being” with Krista Tippett, featuring an article titled “The Monk Manifesto” by guest contributor Christine Valters Paintner (http://abbeyofthearts.com/) in which she spoke of living life with intention, and having a clear sense of purpose and personal mission.  These are topics that often come up with my clients in life and career coaching, and they are at the heart of my own career decisions, including the one to attend the Celebrant Foundation & Institute to be trained as a life cycle celebrant.  Here is what Christine’s article prompted in me:

Celebrant:  Someone trained in the art of ceremony

Manifesto: A public declaration of principles and intention, from the Latin for “clear”

My Celebrant Manifesto is, thus, a clear public expression of my commitment to live a compassionate, regenerative and creative life while working in the service of others.  Here are my commitment statements:

1.     I commit to finding time each day to be quiet and grateful for my gifts of creativity and compassion, and to resist the larger culture of constant noise, stimulation and emphasis on ‘doing’ rather than on being.

2.     I commit to offering hospitality by welcoming people who find me and seek my services to perform a ritual, rite of passage, memorial service, a wedding, a funeral and other celebrations of life that mark life cycles/milestones.
3.     I commit to kinship and fellowship with other celebrants to help create a community of soul friends with whom I can share my deepest feelings, longings, and aspirations, and with mentors who can offer wise guidance for my work.
4.     I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy discernment of how I use my energy and creative gifts, letting go of what does not nurture me or others, in order to flourish in my life and in my practice.
5.     I commit to bringing my best self, my fullest presence, to the sacred work I do, holding a heart of gratitude to express my service to the world with purpose and meaning.
6.     I commit to the rhythms of my celebrant career to honor times of quiet and renewal that allow me to grow, to reflect, to contemplate and to honor my own internal process of being and discovery, resisting the culture of busyness that would define and measure my worth only by what I do/produce.
7.     I commit to ongoing acts of service through my work as a celebrant, knowing that I have chosen this path of transformative human experiences to connect with others supportively to honor life’s milestones.

If you were to write a manifesto for your own career/life path, what would you declare as your guiding principles and intention?  How might you frame them in the context of your life and your work as a certified Life Cycle Celebrant?




 *Photograph courtesy of Celebrant Michele Davidson of Vancouver British Columbia http://www.moderncelebrant.ca/


Celebrant Foundation & Institute Blog Editor ~ Elaine Voci, Ph.D.

Elaine is a Certified Life Cycle Celebrant and provides individuals and families in the greater Indianapolis area with personalized and unique ceremonies that mark life’s important transitions. She is also a Life Coach in private practice, specializing in career coaching, in Carmel, Indiana and the author of four inspirational and educational books.  She is proud and happy to be our CF&I Blog editor!  You can reach Elaine at elainevoci@gmail.com.

Please direct all request, comment or concerns about our CF&I Blog to our Social Media Manager ~ Marcia Almeida, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant. at  celebrantsocialmedia@gmail.com
 Or to the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s director, Charlotte Eulette at:charlotteeulette@celebrantinstitute.org or call us at (973)746-1792.  
Don’t hesitate to visit our website at www.celebrantinstitute.org