Category Archives: Life

Finally marriage equality in Australia

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Wow, what a momentous day! I was sitting on the couch in my lounge room, nervously awaiting the news as to see how Australia had voted. With my new little baby on my lap, I was thinking about the future. My children’s future. I hope, for a lot of people, this was a moment in their lives that they will remember forever. Something just so memorable, a moment in time that we measure things by. Similar to when people ask if you remember what you were doing when you heard that Princess Diana died. (For those playing along at home, I was working my Sunday shift at the Reject Shop in the Bourke Street Mall)

I want my children to be whoever they are, loved and secure in knowing that they can just be themselves. Having people marry whomever they want was important for me. I hope that a lot of people felt that same feeling of joy that I did that day.

I held my breath and shed a few tears when I watched the result and a text message from my best friend came through saying, ‘I knew that people would do the right thing!’

I tried to explain my feelings that day to a friend. It was like being a support person at a funeral. It was like I was there to support a grieving friend and although I knew the person who had died, it was not like they did. I felt their pain but I could never understand it fully. The tears were for my LGBTIQ friends. The tears were for their relief, their victory, their losses, their acceptance. For them. But boy, was I honoured to be able to watch that and support them.

I was cross at the cost of the plebiscite. So many other things that $22 million dollars could have helped. Not to mention the cost to people that I love. Having them feel like they were ‘less than’ because people who’s business it isn’t, got to say if their relationship was acceptable. (Now that’s something for a totally different blog or rant)

As a celebrant, I thought that it would take longer to make it happen. I thought that even once it was passed through the parliament, we would have to wait a long time for amendments to the Marriage Act. I felt all that new paperwork to figure out, training etc would take forever before we could conduct a same sex marriage. I was so pleasantly surprised and excited to get my ‘celebrant nerd’ on and sit and check out all of the new paperwork when it was released.  I was lucky enough to be doing my ‘Ongoing Professional Development’ after the law changed so we could ask a lot of questions to the trainers and find out any queries that our colleagues may have thought also.

I’m really excited to be stating the new monitum in a few days time. But that is another blog all together.

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She succeeded

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My Nan passed away a few weeks ago. She decided that she didn’t want to have a funeral. The last few family members that have passed away I have conducted the funeral and I have had to work out my own way of saying goodbye as I haven’t been able to attend the funeral like a normal guest. Conducting the funeral is a very different mind set. With the other funerals I’ve sat and wrote about them and looked at photos and thought a lot about what I would say. As it turns out I said a lot of the things that I sat down and wrote at our family get together, so that was a great way for me to share my memories.

I was thinking about my Nan’s life and all of the things that I remember about her and all of the things that she did. There are lots of things that I remember about Nan and always will. The first thing that came to mind was her sense of Family and her love for her own. There is never a moment I’ve doubted the love that she felt for any of her children, born of her or not, any Grandchildren, born of her children or not, or anyone she considered part of her family. The love was the same for all of us and it was endless.

I’ll always remember Nan’s love for people, always thinking about others, praying for someone, being on the phone supporting others.  I remember my stepdad, Jimbo’s, running joke with Nan. For a while when they first moved to Merbein and the phone wasn’t connected yet, Nan couldn’t walk past a payphone. She would either need to use it or break into sweats of withdrawal!

Another huge thing was her love for animals, and their love for her. I cannot remember a time, or if it was it wasn’t for long, where she didn’t own an animal. It may have been hers and my Pa’s or one that they found or that found their way to Nan. I’ll always remember Nan with animals on her lap.

No one could really rival Nan’s love for shopping in my whole life and hers, I’m sure.  Even when she was too sick to do much else, she would always find something nice in Millers.

Nan loved a good eye roll, a tut, and I got my love of the word ‘Strike’ from her. When I was chatting with other members of the family they don’t really remember her saying it. It’s funny as my sister and I say it all the time now, and remember hearing her say it a lot.

There are little things that I remember and I don’t know why. I remember when I stayed with Nan and Pa in Merbein and being introduced to the Phantom of the Opera.  I remember the time that she purchased a brand new leather jacket that I thought looked so cool. I remember the time that for no reason she brought me a little trinket that says “a friend walks beside you” something that I always think of. I remember walking into the Mildura centre Plaza and being proud to see Nan at her job in Target.

I remember her always saying “God Bless”, at the end of a conversation, end of a visit, or in your birthday card.

The past week or so I’ve thought a lot about Nan’s wonderful life and all that she had done and I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

‘To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!’

Nan you succeeded, Strike you succeeded over and over again.

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Being a Mum has changed my life.

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Being a Mum has totally changed my life. Not only in the most obvious ways, but in all aspects of life. The way I react to things, the way that I look at and deal with people, the way I think about and analyse things, even the manner in which I think of myself. The way I react to the news, the way I see my future and the way that I feel about some things in my past. All have changed.

In my celebrant work I meet many amazing people. People that I am better for knowing. How lucky am I, to meet and get to know these wonderful people that otherwise I might never have met. On one of these days I met a small boy who made me realise that becoming a mother had indeed changed me, in ways that people could never have told me or explained to me. I shed tears for this small boy that I met and spoke to for merely minutes. Knowing things about him that in the past I might have thought were sad, now as a mother, were heart wrenching. We sang some songs together, I just wanted to hug him and hold him close. Of course I did not do that. I smiled at him and asked him about his kindergarten.
On another day at my sons music class, I saw a mum who’s baby is being cared for by his Grandparents. This particular time she is there and their interaction saddens me. The way that he doesn’t really know her causes me to think about her for the rest of the day and long into the next. These things I would not have noticed before being a Mum, and if I did notice I probably wouldn’t have given it much more thought.
No one could ever have explained this to me, there are mushy poems out there about how you will look at and fall in love with your child, how you will never look at your partner the same way after you see his gentleness with your child, blah blah blah. Yep I understand all of that. Most people do. But no one tells you about the the deeper things that it will make you feel. They don’t tell you how you will cry about news stories that you wouldn’t have thought twice about before or the empathy you will feel towards another parents pain when something terrible happens to their child.
My sons Type 1 diabetes diagnosis took some of these things to the next level, the hospital visit and the diagnosis have changed a lot of things for me. The worry for him, the fear for him, and the gratitude that I feel knowing he is ok. I worry about this disease that he will live with for the rest of his life or until they find a cure. I worry about kids picking on him when he goes to school. Will he look after himself when he is a bit older and do all of these things for himself? (I worry a lot, lets be honest)  You only have to spend some time in the Royal Children’s Hospital to realise that this is by no means the worst that could happen to him. This is manageable and will be part of our ‘normal’ in no time, and it takes me back to the empathy I feel for those parents whose situation isn’t as manageable as ours.
I find myself telling myself on so many wonderful occasions to cherish this moment, remember this, ‘photograph this with your mind’ as I want to be able to draw on this memory in the future. It is a time that I feel full and complete and blissfully whole. I remind myself that this too shall  pass and I need to hold on to this memory in a special part of my mind. I’m really not sure how to do this effectively. How do we remember all these wonderful moments?

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Why I became a celebrant

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I have been asked on a number of occasions, why I became a celebrant. The main reason is that I was inspired, and not so much in a good way. I love a good wedding, (who doesn’t really?) and I have a degree in Photography, but wedding photography wasn’t really my passion. I love photography and I love a wedding but that was it. I didn’t like all of the things that go along with being a wedding photographer and lets be honest, it takes a love and an art to be a great wedding photographer, not every brilliant photographer is even a good wedding photographer. But I digress, back to the topic.

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I attended a wedding ceremony, and it was… I don’t want to say terrible, or horrific, or as one person said “the worst wedding I’ve ever been to”… But it had potential to be lovely, and it just wasn’t. It wasn’t the couples fault. There were things that clearly they didn’t think of or that the celebrant hadn’t  mentioned. I’m not too sure what the celebrant had to say either it may have been really nice things, but it wasn’t memorable and I couldn’t hear all of it.

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Firstly, the celebrant arrived early as any good celebrant should. They set up a table away from where the ceremony was being held and just waited. There had been no wedding rehearsal.  ( I know this as someone close to me was in the bridal party) the celebrant had the perfect opportunity then to tell the Groom and Groomsmen what would be happening, where they would need to go for the signing of the register, but none of this occurred. They just stood there.

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The ceremony was in an area that was open to the general public, and it was a hot hot hot, stupid hot day. The celebrant didn’t speak to any of the people in the area and tell them that there was going to be a wedding taking place or to ask them if they would mind just staying out of the way while the ceremony was on. (It is always a good idea to think about the general public that might be around if you are getting married in a public place and check if their are permits that you need to get, as it is much easier to ask them to move on if you have booked the area)

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No one could hear the celebrant, the guests were standing a little way away from the ceremony (maybe 3-4 metres) and there was no PA system. I heard a bit of what was going on when I got up close to take photos. No PA system mixed with the fact that there were people in the area going about their day, made it almost impossible for guests to hear. I know a wedding is about the couple, but why have guests come along if you don’t want them to be witness to the promises that you make.

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The confusion that ensued when they had to sign the marriage register baffled me. I remember driving home and talking about it with my husband saying, if the celebrant had just explained it to the groomsmen when she first arrived they could have told the bridesmaids what was happening and it could have at least looked a bit seamless.  I was upset and annoyed that things weren’t perfect for the couple. I really hope that they thought that it was and they weren’t too upset or that people didn’t whinge and moan about it to them. I was also quite baffled that the celebrant would have been paid a considerable amount of money to do the job. She didn’t seem to love what she did or be excited or happy for the couple. I then told my husband that I thought I could do a better job than that. He responded saying ‘why don’t you? You love weddings’. The next week I started looking into the course, and the rest as they say is history.

I just want to make people’s day about them, and have the wedding that they want. I must admit I do love it when guests come and tell me that they thought the wedding was wonderful, or just really suited the couple. I love what I do and always want it to be the best for the people that have chosen me to be a part of their day.

A big thank you to all the photographers who have captured me doing what I love, and letting me use the photos. Check out some of their work.

Thank you to : Amy Schultz, Kirralee, Ateia Photography, and Sarah Churcher!

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Married at first sight

 

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A few weeks ago, on channel 9, Married at First Sight aired. I really wasn’t sure what it was all about. I had seen the advertisements for it and to be honest it made me angry. So I really wanted to know what it was all about. I had to watch it even if it made me more angry.

The ads led me to believe that these couples were to be married when they hadn’t even met. I wasn’t impressed. For many reasons.

Firstly, all of the talk that they were going on about that it was like other arranged marriages. I’m not to sure how people feel about arranged marriages and if they work, but I believe that most of the time when arranged marriages occur it is to do with the culture of the people getting married.

Secondly, I was confused as to how these people would be married. What about the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ and all of the other things that are required for a legal marriage. This annoyed me on many levels. As a celebrant, I believe that the ceremony and the promises that are made during a ceremony are special, sacred and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I was concerned that this show would be making light of this moment, or asking people that have never met, to make sacred promises to a perfect stranger.

One of the things that really bothered me is that something like this could be advertised and made to look like these people are actually getting married the first time that they meet. We live in a country where not everyone has the right to marry the person that they love, but we can make a show where two people who have never met can really ground my gears. Really? What part of this isn’t rubbing it in the face of all those people who do not have the right to marry their partner. To me it was poor taste. I thought how can we have a show where people marry who don’t know of each other and have never met, how can we let this show make a mockery out of marriage.

THEN I WATCHED THE SHOW.

OK, so it’s not a legal marriage. I feel that this wasn’t explained enough. It was kind of brushed over a couple of times and maybe the celebrants involved made it clear during the ceremonies and it was just edited out. Who knows, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt. I just thought that it was a bit rich. I’m not sure how I would have felt about doing the show if I was invited to do it, but I just wonder how the celebrants involved feel asking these people to make promises to people that they have never met, when usually the promises that they help people share are between people that are in love.

I like that there are experts matching people with potential partners and that they are using numerous different methods to do this. I like that the people that they are matching up so far seem to be people that are suited to one another and all of these things are great. It makes for an interesting television show. I just don’t know how I feel about these people ‘getting married’, I understand that they are getting these couples to move in together and live as a married couple, who doesn’t like a big party and what better way to meet all of the other sides family and friends, but do they need to make them fake married?

Have you watched it?  What do you think?

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Thank you to Love Journal Photography for the photos on the blog this week. Check out their website and facebook pages for more of their work.

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Embracing the Past

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Embracing the past is a concept that some people find hard to grasp. The past is sometime hard, and has had all sorts of hurtful and sometimes truly horrible things happen in it. Some people don’t want to talk about it or admit that some things have happened. They don’t talk about the past with their families and they don’t want it to come up in conversation. The past is sometimes wonderful and it has shaped you into the person that you are.

I find this a little strange, when people don’t want to acknowledge their past. I am a firm believer that your past helps you become the person that you are. You can’t improve or better yourself if you don’t learn from hurts, mistakes, wonderful people, terrible people, amazing events, life changing moments and experiences. I like to think that some of the most wonderful things in our lives wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t go through some of the terrible things. We wouldn’t have been lead to the road on which we stand if we didn’t travel down some interesting paths.

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Some of you might know I have had cancer, my first when I was just 24, and then again when I was 28. It changed my life, and I think it was one of the best things that happened to me. Some people can’t believe when I tell them this, but it changed my view and changed my way of thinking in some aspects.  It gave me experience on which I have drawn on and helped me gain experiences to help me to relate to other people. It has given me life skills that I have used again and again.  I wouldn’t change it. My favourite line from one of my favourite Pink song says “I wouldn’t trade the pain for what I’ve learned.” This is so true.  It’s made me who I am today, without all of the pain and the struggle I would be a different person. I am grateful for what the whole process taught me and I know a number of cancer survivors that feel  a similar way that I do about it all.

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I have also spoken to a few of my friends and they like to look at things in the way that if A,B or C didn’t happen in their life they would never got to meet their partner or be on the road that they are on. They can look back on some really tough times and see that, they happened, nothing can change that , but they have drawn on this experience and they have gotten  to a better place.
Some things that have happened to me in my life were terrible and excruciatingly painful at the time but when I look back now, I can see how they strengthened me and prepared me for things in my life that happened later. Things that I know without going through some of the previous hurt I would not have been able to handle what followed.

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Do you agree about embracing your past, are there things that you learned that make up some of your key values?

Thank you to my friend Michael Thomas for the use of his amazing photos on the blog this week. Check out his other work by checking out his website here and his blog here.

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Roles of a godparent

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What is the role of a godparent? What do you think that a godparent should do in the life of the child that they are the godparent to?

Recently my husband and I were honoured to become the godparents to our second godson, for me it is such a wonderful and special moment and am always proud to tell people stories about my godsons.

I know that people don’t always choose the title of godparent, they use others like mentor, or Guardian. It used to be that the godparent was part of the christian faith, and was responsible for overseeing the religious education for the child and caring for the child if they were orphaned. Nowadays it is not all about religion, it is about the people that the parents choose to take an interest in the child’s upbringing and personal development. It is not as often the people the parents choose if something were to happen to them. This needs to be stated in the parents will.

In this day and age what do we expect of a godparent? I posed this question to a few people lately and got various answers. Some of the people I spoke to told me that they don’t know who their god parents are, they are people that their parents used to be friends with. They are no longer friends with the parents and no longer in the life of the child.  A lot of people that I spoke with chose siblings for the god parents of their children for that reason. Others chose multiple people, and some long time friends that had already been in their lives for countless years. People that I spoke to said that the godparents that they have chosen for their child are not necessarily the people that they would want to raise their children if something happened to them.

I take being a god parent seriously. I think it is about being there for the child. Encouraging the child, and letting the child know that you are there for them. Allowing that child to know that they are loved and that they can come to you for help, advice and as a confidant. I know that the advice may not always be what the parent may give but sometimes this is a good thing to get different perspectives and  they can use you as a sounding board that might not be as emotionally invested in what they are asking about. I want to be the person in the life of my godsons that listens to them  when they speak and encouraging them, praising them when the do good things, reinforcing positive behaviour and teaching them right from wrong. I want them to know that they can come to me when ever they need to talk about anything, serious, funny, silly, any reason at all.

What do you think are the important roles of a godparent in the lives of their godchild? Are they the people that you want to raise your children if you were no longer around to do so?

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