Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Celebrating Caregivers
by Sandra M. Monahan, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant
It happens suddenly: a family member or loved one is stricken with a medical or emotional problem that will require short or long term assistance – and you or someone you love is immersed into the world of caregiving.

Indeed, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said, "There are four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers." Given that February is recognized as American Heart Month, this is a time to celebrate those engaged in caring from those who cannot care for themselves.

The strength and compassion provided by caregivers is vital and precious. The patchwork of services is hard work that includes loving, giving and sharing. Going on and on, without respite for seemingly endless days, is all part of the challenge. While relief can be found through many spiritual and human service organizations, many caregivers have no support system.
One way we can help answer the caregivers inner cries for ongoing strength is to provide a Seeds of Caregiving experience. This ritual offers both recognition and an awakening to the importance of their work.
Seeds of Caregiving Ritual Gathering
Invite the caregiver(s) to an atmosphere of tranquility yet richly surrounded by the colors of earth.
Prepare Seeds of Caring packets along with potting soil and containers for the planting. Soil will placed in the pots, seeds gently pressed into soil and lightly watered. Through each step of the ritual planting add tender words of recognition. (For example: stability, centering, appreciation, self-care, wholeness, support, strength.)
For thousands of years, seeds have been planted into the earth’s soil for many purposes. The vegetables nourish us, and the flowers bloom and beautify our land. Caregivers must also be nourished in strength and beauty to continue assisting those in need with improved lifestyles and activities.
The careful creation of these plants is symbolic of the gentle caregiving provided on a daily basis. When a moment of fortitude is needed, the plant can serve as a reminder of how significant caregiving work is, and the deep enrichment it provides for those close to the heart.
What if we are here simply to be beacons for one another? I step up for a stranger one day; maybe a stranger steps up for me the next. That’s all life is. Opportunities for our beacons to shine. Everything else is just filler.
Sandra Monahan
TEACHES: CF&I Master Life Cycle Celebrant Certificate Program
Sandra M. Monahan, Founder and President of Weddings Without Worries, Wexford, PA earned the designation of Master Life-Cycle Celebrant in 2012 and has achieved four other CF&I Certifications. The mainstay of her services includes creating and officiating personalized wedding ceremonies and also those for all of life's rites of passage. She has been a celebrant since 2005, and serves as Co-facilitator for the PA-Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter Group in addition to being past chairperson for Weddings and Military and Veteran's Committees. As a Minister/Director for Universal Brotherhood Movement, Sandra has ordained many Celebrants for UBM and offers her mentoring skills across the country. Sandra has also achieved the accreditation of Master Wedding PlannerTM with the Association of Bridal Consultants and is an adjunct instructor for Penn Foster Career School in the ABC Wedding Planner Certificate course. An affiliate partner with Etiquette Survival, she has presented numerous seminars across the country teaching Etiquette and Social Graces for personal, business and children programs
~Originally published by Spirituality & Health, Jan/Feb 2011

Monday, May 9, 2016

Graduation, A Rite of Passage Still Today

May is the month of numerous graduation ceremonies, a time when a graduate’s personal star shines more brightly in the sky as we mark the passage of time and progress in life. Most cultures consider graduation from high school a major milestone and one of the last remaining “rites of passage” in modern societies. 
During the early 20th century, the Belgian anthropologist Arnold Van Gennen observed that all cultures have prescribed ways for an individual and society to deal with emotionally charged transitions from one phase of life to another.  In today’s world, we have graduation ceremonies with a commencement address, where diplomas are awarded to each graduate with a handshake, and are typically followed by parties where graduates receive gifts of money and the well wishes of invited guests.

But if we look below the surface we can see 
that graduation ceremonies are more than just a celebration of earning a diploma. If the ceremony was only about that achievement, then the rite itself would feel more joyful than it usually does. Smiles on graduation day are always blended with tears and a melancholy nostalgia. Graduation takes on special significance in our culture as the one transition where we honor the exciting, challenging, and painful process of “letting go” that begins before high school even starts. The teenager must let go of a childhood and the safety of dependence, and the parents must let go of the emotional anchor around which they oriented a great deal of their lives.   

It is vital that we honor more than just the student and more than just education at a
graduation ceremony; we need to celebrate the special journey that each graduate is making of growing up.  A journey destined to each finding out who they are, what they are naturally good at doing, how they can go into the world and support themselves, and most of all, that they are lifelong learners born with a unique set of skills and gifts to share in this world and leave it a better place than when they arrived. 

Here is a blessing you can share with a high school graduate close to you this May; it comes from the beautiful book, To Bless the Space Between Us, by the gloriously gifted poet, John O’Donohue. I have excerpted his poem titled, “For Your Birthday”…

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother
Who loved you before you were,
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be…

Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be…
Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days…

May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.

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 call us at (973)746-1792.  Visit us at

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. - ElaineVociLifeSkillsCoaching, LLC. 

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