Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Heart Within the Holidays




"Learning to choose loving rituals that work in your family, that are meaningful, relaxed, realistic and reasonable, is as important and as individual as each of us."


Traditions and rituals enrich our lives. According to our iPhone friend Siri, “a ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place and performed according to set sequence. A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.” 

The Holidays, especially Christmas, is a perfect example of rituals within traditions. There are family rituals that my mother performed to ensure our Christmas was special. She was a talented crafty lady who made many of our gifts. Baking began at least a month ahead of the 25th. There were so many cookies and squares and each of us had our favorites – like the decorated shortbreads or the cinnamon nut fingers. These delectables were kept in giant round tins that in days gone by had held reels of film. The homemade pies — scrumptious! Just mention butterscotch or lemon meringue on Christmas Eve and they would magically appear after you were stuffed with turkey. 

As a military family, we moved around a lot so home was wherever our PMQ (permanent married quarters) was! I admired the fact that mom kept in touch with several hundred people and took great pride in getting beautiful cards mailed with personal notes written in each. It became her custom to write one letter choc full of the family news over the past year to include in each card and my computer savvy Dad would copy it and print labels. We had a special Christmas drink my mother devised consisting of Welch’s grape juice and ginger ale. Countless hours were spent crocheting angels, bears and stars for the tree and stringing popcorn garland. Eating After Eights mints and snacking on Planter’s cashews while playing board games — pretty much a once a year specialty!

Mom’s passion for the festivities was passed down to me — some rituals I continued and some I created when I had children. Some of our best memories are tied to the repetition of these activities, like the setting up of the nativity scene or the assembly of the rotating brass angel candles year after year. Learning to bake the popular recipes for my family, sending cards, and heading to church Christmas Eve became cherished rituals. We looked forward to activities like traveling to my parents for the holidays, going to senior’s homes with my father and brother to play guitar and sing carols, and shopping for and making gifts for each other. But my favorite rituals always involved my children, presents they had wished for were only opened after their stockings and they ate their breakfast. Oh the anticipation — to relish their priceless delight on magical Christmas mornings.

These rituals, and so many more, have touched my heart, have formed fond memories for my daughters and continue to build our family connections. My three year old granddaughter is becoming familiar with some of the rituals our family still does, from decorating our homes to baking special treats. We are also endeavoring to instill in her the heart within the holidays by doing for others — gifting our time or our treasures in our community. Learning to choose loving rituals that work in your family, that are meaningful, relaxed, realistic and reasonable, is as important and as individual as each of us.

Marilyn Dion is a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, owner of Woven Words Ceremonies and the Canada East Alumni Mentor for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.

The Celebrant Foundation & Institute (CF&I) is the preeminent online educational institute that teaches and certifies people as modern day ritual and ceremony professionals called Life-Cycle Celebrants®. Founded in 2001, the educational nonprofit organization headquartered in Montclair, NJ, is a member of the International Federation of Celebrants. To date, the CF&I has graduated nearly 1000 Life-Cycle Celebrants® who preside over 50,000 ceremonies each year throughout the world. To learn more about the CF&I, visit www.celebrantinstitute.org
Watch January 2017's Weddings with Zita (Zita Christian) with featured guest Elisa Chase, CF&I Academic Manager, discussing Ceremony, Rituals and the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.  

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 call us at (973)746-1792.  Visit us at http://www.celebrantinstitute.org/?p=business Non-profit Educational Organization

Celebrant Foundation & Institute

Official Member of the International Federation of Celebrants



Celebrant Foundation & Institute Facebook:   www.facebook.com/CelebrantInst
Blog:  The Celebrant Troubadour:  www.celebrantfoundation.blogspot.com
Magazine Celebrancy Today:
Twitter:  @CelebrantInst


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 www.celebrantInstitute.org.


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Resilience Art: A Grief Coloring Book Using Ritual and Music to Help You Grow is published by Mascot Books. During December, you can pre-order a copy and save 20%! The discount code is "coloring book"
To pre-order go here: https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/self-help-diy/resilience-art-grief-coloring-book-using-ritual-music-help-grow/.

"Dr. Elaine Voci's books aren't just books. They are emotional experiences and spiritual journeys. Resilience Art provides readers with Elaine's personal and professional life lessons combined with modern research to inspire and inform them that grief is highly individual, and that resilience is a part of their natural birthright. They are shown how to use the coloring book and incorporate intentional rituals and a selection of their favorite music to help them grow, and to integrate their loss. Locally, Elaine offers Resilience Art Workshops to accompany her unique book, adding value to and for readers beyond the boo"k.
- Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD, PAHM is an author of 13 books, entrepreneur, pharmacist, podcaster, women’s advocate, and preceptor in the Indianapolis, IN area.


"Elaine’s eloquent writing brings her poignant experiences to celebrants and other readers together with meaningful storytelling, ritual, and solid research - all of which inspires us. As we move through and take part in this unique coloring book, a keen sense of awareness and gratitude for life resonates and stays with us. I especially love her beautiful way of encouraging those who grieve to gently trust their own process through the healing power of music and simple rituals. This vibrant and soul-exploring book, her latest work, is truly a gift to have, to hold and to share". - Charlotte Eulette is the International Director and co-founder of the pre-eminent Celebrant Foundation & Institute, a non-profit international educational organization that prepares people to become certified Life-Cycle Celebrants®.

#GriefArt #GriefColoring #GriefMusic #GriefRitual



Thursday, November 2, 2017

“Conscious Aging & Ceremonies for Seniors”






“Conscious Aging & Ceremonies for Seniors”
By Elaine Voci


By 2030, the US Administration on Aging predicts that there will be about 72 million people aged 65 and older which will represent 19% of the population.  The senior years of life can be a time of great spiritual, emotional and psychological growth, a time to celebrate a life, to harvest the wisdom of our years of experiences and a time to share our legacy and our stories with others.  Mixed messages from society about aging, how seniors are viewed and the value they bring can add confusion and challenges that lead to frustration.  As a friend recently said to me “Approaching a ticket booth and being automatically given a senior ticket to an event can feel like being handed a card that says “No longer relevant.”
In response to these societal attitudes and influences, a social movement referred to as Mindful Aging, or Conscious Aging, has emerged and it offers seniors support in being proactive about their own aging by:

  • 1.     Making a personal choice, using the will to change, and setting an intention to make positive, life-affirming changes and build daily mind-body practices that bring awareness and attention to what is life-giving and healthy.
  • 2.     Adopting daily habits of mindfulness, building new neural pathways and behaviors to strengthen resilience, create a healthy lifestyle, and an intentionally positive outlook as a senior citizen.
  • 3.     Seeking guidance from wise teachers, inspiring books, and getting together with like-minded peers, to strengthen the resolve to surrender to life gracefully while maintaining a positive self-image and dignity.
I would advocate for one more important element to be added to that list:  using the services of a Celebrant to help reframe self-limiting beliefs and cultural stereotypes; to harvest the meaning and wisdom of life experiences, and to enhance the sense of connection to others while recognizing our shared humanity in the aging process.  Because Celebrants are trained in the art of ceremony, they can design and facilitate meaningful rituals and celebrations to help support these mindful activities.  Here is an example is drawn from my own practice of how I was able to help and support a senior in need of a new and clear vision for her life:
My client was a woman who lost her husband to cancer in her sixties; after a few years of struggling to find meaning and purpose again, she sought me out for life coaching.  Once we had met for several months, I suggested that we do a ceremony at her kitchen table with the intention of allowing her to bless and release her former life and welcome her new life as a single older woman with conscious awareness of her choices.  Because she loved art, I included in the ceremony a Mandala art project, along with her statement of intention, and a life plan to celebrate.
In the center of the table was spread a mandala tablecloth, a variety of small votive battery candles and colored glass hearts, along with some of her favorite angel figurines and a small framed photo of her husband.  We opened the ceremony by me striking gently a Tibetan singing bowl and reading a short poem about New Beginnings by John O’Donohue.  We discussed the changes she had already been through, and how she had arrived at this point in her life, looking ahead to at least 20 more years of living.  I asked her to speak to her husband about this time of her life and to ask for his blessing and acknowledgment of her widowhood.  This conversation was emotionally freeing, and tender, recognizing that, while he would always be with her in spirit, she no longer had his living companionship.

I had asked her to prepare ahead of time a written intention statement that described how she wanted to age and live in the remaining chapters of her life.  I asked her to light the candles on the cloth and then read her statement aloud.  She wrote something along these lines, “I am a strong, courageous force for good in this life, talented in loving myself and others with benevolence and kindness to all.  What I say and do matters, so I choose to speak and act mindfully, with intention and purpose.”

She then colored and personalized a Mandala chosen from a Mandala coloring book which took about 20 minutes to complete, during which she shared thoughts and feelings as they arose.  I listened actively, asking for clarification when needed and encouraging her to express herself fully.  To companion with her, I also colored a Mandala page taken from the book.

When she was done coloring, I asked her how to describe how the Mandala drawing symbolized her intention statement and her vision of aging with purpose.  We discussed how she could let this drawing and her written intention statement continue to inform her plans going forward by placing them somewhere in her home where she could access them regularly, even daily.

I read the poem about a new beginning once more, and I asked her to describe the most meaningful insights she would take away from this ceremony.  As part of her awareness, she told her husband’s photo that she would never forget him, or their life together and that she would live with purpose in part because that is what she felt he would have wanted her to do.  We then closed the ceremony with a simple prayer of gratitude, and she turned the candles off, one by one, consciously.  We drank tea together and ate some small cakes I had brought, with music in the background that she had chosen, and we talked and reflected on how life calls us to our destiny, through sadness and joy, as part of our shared common humanity.  




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.



Elaine Voci 's NEW BOOK: Soul Sketches: How to craft meaningful and authentic eulogies. 










Coloring Book Using Ritual and Music to Help You Grow is published by Mascot Books. During December, you can pre-order a copy and save 20%! The discount code is "coloring book"To pre-order go here: https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/self-help-diy/resilience-art-grief-coloring-book-using-ritual-music-help-grow/.

"Dr. Elaine Voci's books aren't just books. They are emotional experiences and spiritual journeys. Resilience Art provides readers with Elaine's personal and professional life lessons combined with modern research to inspire and inform them that grief is highly individual, and that resilience is a part of their natural birthright. They are shown how to use the coloring book and incorporate intentional rituals and a selection of their favorite music to help them grow, and to integrate their loss. Locally, Elaine offers Resilience Art Workshops to accompany her unique book, adding value to and for readers beyond the boo"k.
- Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD, PAHM is an author of 13 books, entrepreneur, pharmacist, podcaster, women’s advocate, and preceptor in the Indianapolis, IN area.



"Elaine’s eloquent writing brings her poignant experiences to celebrants and other readers together with meaningful storytelling, ritual, and solid research - all of which inspires us. As we move through and take part in this unique coloring book, a keen sense of awareness and gratitude for life resonates and stays with us. I especially love her beautiful way of encouraging those who grieve to gently trust their own process through the healing power of music and simple rituals. This vibrant and soul-exploring book, her latest work, is truly a gift to have, to hold and to share". - Charlotte Eulette is the International Director and co-founder of the pre-eminent Celebrant Foundation & Institute, a non-profit international educational organization that prepares people to become certified Life-Cycle Celebrants®.

To pre-order go here:
https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/self-help-diy/resilience-art-grief-coloring-book-using-ritual-music-help-grow/.
#GriefArt #GriefColoring #GriefMusic #GriefRitual



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 www.celebrantInstitute.org.







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 
call us at (973)746-1792.  Visit us at http://www.celebrantinstitute.org/?p=business
Non-profit Educational Organization

Celebrant Foundation & Institute

Official Member of the International Federation of Celebrants



Celebrant Foundation & Institute Facebook:   www.facebook.com/CelebrantInst
Blog:  The Celebrant Troubadour:  www.celebrantfoundation.blogspot.com
Magazine Celebrancy Today:
Twitter:  @CelebrantInst



Resilience Art: A Grief Coloring Book Using Ritual and Music to Help You Grow is published by Mascot Books. During December, you can pre-order a copy and save 20%! The discount code is "coloring book"
To pre-order go here: https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/self-help-diy/resilience-art-grief-coloring-book-using-ritual-music-help-grow/.

"Dr. Elaine Voci's books aren't just books. They are emotional experiences and spiritual journeys. Resilience Art provides readers with Elaine's personal and professional life lessons combined with modern research to inspire and inform them that grief is highly individual, and that resilience is a part of their natural birthright. They are shown how to use the coloring book and incorporate intentional rituals and a selection of their favorite music to help them grow, and to integrate their loss. Locally, Elaine offers Resilience Art Workshops to accompany her unique book, adding value to and for readers beyond the boo"k.
- Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD, PAHM is an author of 13 books, entrepreneur, pharmacist, podcaster, women’s advocate, and preceptor in the Indianapolis, IN area.


"Elaine’s eloquent writing brings her poignant experiences to celebrants and other readers together with meaningful storytelling, ritual, and solid research - all of which inspires us. As we move through and take part in this unique coloring book, a keen sense of awareness and gratitude for life resonates and stays with us. I especially love her beautiful way of encouraging those who grieve to gently trust their own process through the healing power of music and simple rituals. This vibrant and soul-exploring book, her latest work, is truly a gift to have, to hold and to share". - Charlotte Eulette is the International Director and co-founder of the pre-eminent Celebrant Foundation & Institute, a non-profit international educational organization that prepares people to become certified Life-Cycle Celebrants®.

#GriefArt #GriefColoring #GriefMusic #GriefRitual