If you have a fondness for nature, gardening, trees and the outdoors, a tree planting ceremony may be weaved into your wedding day. This happens during the wedding ceremony. A table has a potted tree and the couple adds soil and water. Music may be played in the background while the couple participates in the tree planting ceremony. Some words may be spoken relating the strength of your relationship to the strong roots of the tree.
Valentine's Day began in our home with exchanges of candy, a table decorated in love with sparkly hearts and morning "I love you's" for my husband and son. And that was just the start! Two couples were married in Flagstaff on February 14, 2017! Well, maybe more than that, however, I participated in two! Generally, I only marry one couple in a day, unless it's a special occasion, and I can't think of a better one than Valentine's Day! The first couple was of Cherokee descent and traveled from California to be married at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona. There were a number of family members present including a sweet flower girl and two adorable ring bearers. Due to all of the snow melt we've had, a spectacular pond had formed, complete with ducks and frogs. Their backdrop was stunning with the snow capped San Francisco Peaks (Sacred Name: Diichilí Dzil - Abalone Shell Mountain) and peaceful, glassy water. A gentle breeze blew and there was barely a cloud in the sky. The ceremony began with an ancient tradition of honoring the four directions and elements, Mother Earth and Great Spirit. It was such a privilege to smudge the bride and groom as well as several of the family members. The bride and groom brought their own sage and a sacred rattle that I was entrusted with to use for the ceremony. The couple of honor took part in drinking from a traditional Native American wedding vase and as they kissed to seal their commitment, all applauded!
As I was leaving Buffalo Park, a sweet young lady noticed me and asked if there had been a wedding. I explained how I had the privilege of marrying couples and she shared with me that her and her boyfriend were about to have a Valentine's Day walk at the park. I was wondering if he was going to propose! Once I was introduced to her boyfriend, she confessed that they had stood in front of the Buffalo and it was there that he first professed that he "liked her"! How adorable! I insisted on taking their picture in front of the Buffalo, so sweet!
The next ceremony was for a local Flagstaff couple and took place at Theatrikos in the Green Room! I had never been in there- so cool! This couple was so in the moment that they literally purchased their marriage license that morning, hired me by 10am, and were pronounced married by 2:30pm! Flagstaff locals have a way of pulling amazing gatherings together at the last minute. A number of their local friends gathered to celebrate with them, one of whom I actually knew. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures as we all stood cascaded on the steps outside of Theatrikos, again, with the magnificent mountain in the background.
Afterwards, I received a phone call from a lovely bride to be who was touched by the bio on my website, felt a kinship with me and knew that she wanted me to marry her and her fiance. This was such a wonderful Valentine's gift of acknowledgement.
To end this magnificent Valentine's Day, my sweetie and I went out to Salsa Brava for an intimate dinner and exchanged gifts. I unwrapped a beautiful bracelet which reminds me of water, and I definitely felt like I was living in the flow on Valentine's Day! As I told my husband, Ron, I felt like I was the Minister of Love on Valentine's Day!
I feel so blessed to live in Flagstaff - such a breathtaking setting, and also to be doing this work - if you can call it that!
I have found that I do best when I do what the wise one's say - Invite your grief to tea. It has much to teach us. There are so many things I grieve - the shift in my primary relationship, the aging of my children, the aging of my own body, the uncertain times we live in, even the change and growth of myself - "oh I used to be this person and now, I am this person, how interesting." It is all part of life and all part of the continuous loss of experiencing living. Does this mean I wallow? No, I do not. Well, maybe, sometimes - this often depends on my hormonal state - ha! ha! Ultimately, though, it means I simply honor that this is part of my experience of being a human being, what a glorious gift. Not all beings can feel emotion to the depths of which we humans can. Therefore, it is a gift. Difficult? Absolutely! Enriching? Without question! For I find that as I grieve, the gifts that come from it are humility, compassion, grace and gratitude. It is important though to not seek these outcomes as one grieves, although, it's a natural consequence, like, hey! what's my pay off? I find that empathy towards myself as I am grieving, such as "yeah, honey, this is hard" or "oh, you are such a good mom and you have given it your all" or "it is so hard to watch my brother or sister suffer" or simply, "I love you". These words of self compassion bring comfort to me. Also, if I call on my guides, angels or higher being for guidance, I find that they are there to comfort me as well. It is one of the mysteries of life - grief - and it takes so many beautiful forms. Have you invited your grief to tea recently? What did it tell you?
Many blessings on your journey dear one, Jen Paul of Life Passages.
As a child, I was always told, "You're so sensitive!" and this was not meant as a compliment - heh heh! Today, I've learned to embrace my sensitivity and capitalize on it. I recognize my sensitivity as a gift. For instance, when I walk into a room, I can "read" the energy of it. If people are excited, angry, sad, confused or whatever emotion might be happening, I can feel it and feel it on a very deep level - to the core of my being! I can then project love into that situation and that can create a feeling of satisfaction within me. I also find that I have an ability to bring people together and create a feeling of cohesion or togetherness rather than separateness. Of course, this depends on my ability to be "tuned in". If I am not in balance, then I will generally absorb whatever feeling is going on. And then, I become ill. Being sensitive, to me, means feeling deeply; easily capable of picking up on other's emotions; easily capable of absorbing other's emotions; and having the ability to ask the universe to transform those feelings. When I check in with myself, I often recognize that another's emotions are rattling around in my bones and psyche. This has also been called, being "empathic". For many years, I poo-pooed the word "empathic" and thought, oh, that's just a cop out to not feel one's own feelings. It's just another way to not take responsibility for one's feelings, a way of saying, "I'm carrying your feelings! If you would just take responsibility for your own stuff, I wouldn't feel this way!" Of course, that is coming from a victim stance. I've discovered that as I have made peace with being a "sensitive soul", I have also made peace with being an "empath". I do experience other people's feelings at a deep level. However, now, I can often identify those feelings as being separate from my own and then I can ask the universe to transform them into another realm so as to relieve the stress of those emotions. This is part of my purpose! Of course, I find that it is easier to do this with strangers or acquaintances than it is with members of my own household because I have my own set of desires and needs that I project onto my loved ones. In other words, I have expectations about their behavior. The more I can let go of my expectations and take care of my own needs, therefore, coming into the relationship filled up, the more I accept them. Learning to witness my loved ones pain without taking it on is a skill that I continue to hone. In order to continue to develop this ability as an "empath", I find the following practices to be key in my normal life routine: cleansing my body with sage or eucalyptus spray, chanting, daily meditation, walks in the woods, healthy eating and connecting with like minded people. This is the food for my "sensitive soul".
I would love to hear from you and learn about your experience as an "empath" or "sensitive soul"! I am so glad that you are a light in this world and I am happy to join you on your quest! In service and gratitude, Jen Paul
Jen Paul, Life Cycle Celebrant, Ordained Minister, Wedding Officiant, Life Coach, Death Doula