Killing should…

Life has been pretty hectic.

On top of all the personal stuff, my new project is now going full steam ahead.

I’m focused, writing, planning, thinking and creating like a maniac!

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In the middle of it all, my dear friend asked me to give feedback on a written draft.

My first internal response: ugh, what a drag, i’m so busy and exhausted, and not up for focusing my limited mental energy on this.

So i asked about her timeframe and let her know i’d need a couple of days.

It felt like i should do it.

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Then i had this internal dialogue. (as I do, lol!)

“Sarah, you’re writing this material about self care, setting boundaries, being able to say no, practicing what you preach might be a good idea!”

Perhaps this was a test for me to set limits?

On the other hand, I have been saying ‘no’ more often recently.

Especially to the non essential stuff.

It sat in the back of my mind for a few days…

The shoulds kept rolling around.

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Then another thought stream, if i were to do this, what might be a positive motivation rather than feeling obligated and dutiful?

I love this friend to bits and love supporting her to reach her goals. She has done so much for me over the years. She’s also had a really big couple of months and is having a stressful week.

This one thing, although inconveniently timed, would really help her out.

After I’d shifted my thinking to a more positive motivation, my energy lifted.

I opened the document and editing it was a breeze.

It even allowed me to appreciate the knowledge and skills i’d gathered over the years.  A little unexpected boost!

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Being generous is easy when we’re feeling good and giving something that doesn’t mean that much to us, but the challenge is when we’re not feeling up to it.

Then it is truly a gift of ourselves.

My friend and I try hard for authenticity and honesty in our friendship.

So the best bit, when we talked afterwards, I got a chance to let her know it wasn’t great timing but i did it because she is precious to me.

Our text convo went like this:
• “I almost messaged to say I wasn’t in the head space but it was for you! Means you’re special! Hugs sx”
• “How good does that make me feel. Thank you again.”

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We all know that the headspace in which we approach a task makes a difference to the experience, but how often do we actively manage our thinking?

Should, must, duty and obligation can feel like draining energies. I’m trying to delete them from my list of motivators.

Even if i do feel obliged, and i plan to say yes, then I’ll try to find a constructive motivation, particularly when it’s challenging.

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When we do something for others, it can be such a gift to let them know we’re doing it, not from duty or obligation, but because they mean so much to us.

Feels good huh?

Wishing you a day of good energy flow!

Big love
sarah

 

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Fragments of joy, part two…

When working, i put in 100%. I often went above and beyond, over-creating the role and making it stressful. The focus was always external, giving to others until the well was truly dry.  My needs got lost in the process, and there was very little left in the tank for fun and pleasure.

One great strategy taught by a friend was to always to have the next holiday, break or pleasurable activity planned for yourself. When she got back from holidays, she would book in the next long weekend or half day for a haircut and some pampering, whatever was needed. This could be a month out, but it was something to look forward to. She did it when she first got back when her energy was up and she was feeling good.

My partner is doing really long hours at work on a complex project at the moment, so we organised a weekend escape for some pampering and fun.  Here’s some of the lovely adventures we had in Sydney.  Should you find yourself in town, you might enjoy some of these options. Would love to hear about some of your special secret places in Sydney or other destinations!.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHEESE:

On the first night, we stopped in at Provenance Food & Wine Bottega Del Vino and they were giving out samples of this gorgeous French cheese Petit Délice des Crémiers

French cheeseOMG this cheese was so tasty with champagne and crackers!!

BREAKFAST AT YELLOW

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The mornings spent drinking coffee and cooked brekkie in the sunshine. This historic old gallery and artist’s squat on Macleay Street has been converted into a delightful cafe. Particularly recommend the homemade bacon, homemade butter and jam, and fresh coffee.

SUNNING IN LIZZY BAY PARK, OVERLOOKING THE BOATS ON SYDNEY HARBOUR

IMG_20140621_110206_357Many of the Sydney harbourside suburbs have these delightful tiny parks that you can sit and enjoy the greenery, sunshine and the views.

TOFU BURGER WITH PEANUT SAUCE, AT BADDE MANORS CAFE ON GLEBE POINT ROAD www canberravegan blogspot comImage from http://www.canberravegan.blogspot.com

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In the late 1980’s, when the Sydney adventures first started, I would often stay with family in Glebe and Newtown. There was nothing better than rummaging through the shops and soaking up the atmosphere on King Street and Glebe Point Road and the surrounding areas. They have changed over the years, there are less of the creative arts and unusual shops, but they are still beautiful. Badde Manors is a classic cafe, it was a wee welcome home – love it!

LOCAL FILM SCREENING, MORTARS, IN PARRAMATTA

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This film is interesting. Iqbal Barkat, a local film director, tells the story of a widow living on an isolated property next to an army base. She is seeking compensation for the damage to her house by disposal of armaments. A refugee man, who is lost and traumatised arrives on her land, and she offers him sanctuary. It explores their evolving relationship and attempts to communicate and connect. Delightful film.

CHAMPAGNE AT ‘LOVE TILLY DEVINE’ WINE BAR IN DARLINGHURST
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I love these hidden away gems in the back alleys of our big cities. A warm and cosy bar, great for conversation and laughter.

TAKE AWAY VIETNAMESE DINNER FROM MISSCHU

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HILDA RIX-NICHOLAS EXHIBITION AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY

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We went on sunday morning. The gallery is attached to a church, so we wandered through the exhibition to the reverberating sounds of ‘How great though art”. I suspect Hilda was a bit of a kindred spirit, she studied art in France before world war 2 and travelled to North Africa painting as she went. Her story was marked with tragedy, losing her mother, sister and husband in quick succession when she was young. The paintings created during this time are vivid and colourful. Our artists are such a treasure!

OPENING THE DESK TOP LOCK AT MY SISTER’S OFFICE

Finally, an unexpected treat. After moving bags of books across town, my partner was able to jimmy the lock on my sister’s desk and open it. To our surprise, the key was locked inside! An unexpected puzzle!

IMG_20140621_130137_386So wherever you find yourself, take time for whatever brings you joy and pleasure. It’s self nurturing and you totally deserve it!

We’d love to hear some of your tips and adventures in colour, sensation and joy!!

Wishing you many, many joyful moments in your day.

Much love
sarah

 

Thoughtful kindness makes a day…

I just heard this delightful story about my friend Mich.

Her 90 year old neighbour Norma, is celebrating her 68th wedding anniversary today.

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Sadly her beloved husband passed away four years ago and she misses him terribly.

So today, my friend surprised her with a bunch of flowers and a happy anniversary card, left on the doorstep for when Norma got home.

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Norma was delighted and popped in to tell Mich that she made her day.

Best of all, to be able to make Norma’s day, made Mich’s day as well!

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I’m so proud of Mich’s beautiful kind heart!!

Don’t you love the happy feeling you get from such spontaneous and thoughtful kindness? In it’s purest form, there is a beautiful exchange of loving energy.

Both giving and receiving is a wonderful blessing!!

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Wishing for you unexpected kindness and the opportunity to give the same to others

Loving communities start with us, so thank you Mich for the inspiration!!

Much love

Sarah

 

The gift is the passion…

All of the stories in my blog posts are retold with permission.

One of the blessings of working in community services and teaching is the people one meets. Rarely did I come across someone who wasn’t wise, passionate about social justice and cared deeply for others.  Here’s an example: during a lunch break one day, a gorgeous, wise colleague told me a story about her daughter.

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Her daughter was tremendously talented at physical activity, sport in particular. Anything she tried was highly successful. Hers was a restless passion, not unusual for her age, every couple of years she moved from one thing to the next. My friend was feeling rather down, as her daughter had been a State champion in one sport and had to decided to give it away.

In a reflective moment, my friend said the most amazing thing:

“I suppose the gift isn’t the talent is it? It’s the passion!”

She was exactly right. For many years I had thought that being naturally talented was the important thing, but really it’s the passion.  To pursue and keep pursuing that thing, whatever the natural talent, that is the true blessing. Of course, I mean something that is not destructive to self or others, however you may define this.

Here are a number of beautiful examples of passionate people in my life.

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One of my sisters has always been academically successful. I remember in early primary school, my sister would arrive home from school with a new assignment and immediately start working on it, pursuing it methodically and with fervour. She has gone on to be at the top in her chosen field, medicine, and she recently told me:

“I was never motivated by success. I was never motivated by getting good grades or competing with others. The truth is that I had a thirst for knowledge and loved learning. This was my passion!”

A passion is a gift, but an enduring or lifelong passion is a blessing indeed!

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Another of my sisters is a successful art historian at one of Australia’s leading Universities. She has published many books and travels each year for research. She has secured research scholarships at some of the world’s top universities. But here’s the thing, my grandmother told the story of her as a little girl, whenever she visited, she would explore my grandmother’s china and decorative arts collection. Never for the purpose of acquisition, but to appreciate and admire the beauty of the fine china jugs, the tea sets, and other beautiful objects. What an amazing lifelong passion!!

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My dear brother, I think of him as the man with the magical ears! For as long as i could remember he has loved music, it feels like music flows in his veins. He plays numerous instruments and spent many years composing and arranging music. I feel so blessed to have him introduce me to jazz, classical and other great music. The work of fabulous jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespe, Chuck Mangione, etc. He introduced me to a whole world of magic and melody. When I’m really lucky, he still sends me compilations of music and suggestions for emerging musicians. Over the years, he has found innovative ways to weave his passion into his life, including music for community events, lighting for bands and photography at gigs.

I’m immensely proud of my siblings, particularly having seen first hand the years of hard work, dedication, courage and personal sacrifices that have gone into their success.

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Not everyone has a clear passion. I certainly didn’t seem to. For many years I felt lost and unsure of my direction and purpose, and the truth is, that’s ok.  It took me a long time to come to understand and accept myself. I’d spent many years closed off and numbing my passions. After loads of healing and spiritual work, I’ve faced my fear of failure and found the courage to pursue some passions. Here are some examples:

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At the end of my first Vipassana retreat, (total silence for 10 days, 12 hours per day of meditation), I was on such a high and so happy that I saw two paths unfold in front of me, one totally dedicated to the spiritual path, the other, going back home to my current life with spirituality woven throughout. This is my passion for spiritual development and following a reflective path.

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At my first quilting class, I distinctly remember sitting at the sewing machine, overcome with a wave of exhileration. In that moment I thought that I could do quilting for the rest of my life and couldn’t remember having been so happy. This is my passion for colour and creativity.

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Finally my garden, each day it calls to me and at the moment I am finding it hard to do anything else. The digging, weeding, mulching, planting, it’s so exciting to see the birds and other curious animals drop in to see what’s happening (and find snacks in the upturned soil). This passion involves creating habitat for the animals and a beautiful environment for healing, helping Gaia move back into balance. My garden reflects my passion for justice, love and beauty.

It’s ok to be restless or unsure of your passions, but the key is a willingness to play, explore and uncover them. To stop being afraid, (or despite being afraid), dedicating yourself to that which you love. Sometimes when we’re are truly blessed, we are able to derive an income from pursuing our passions, if not, then there’s other amazing and creative ways we can weave our passion into our lives.

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My partner has a lifelong passion for how things function, particularly metal work and vintage cars. He fixes computers for work and pursues his car restoration hobby in his spare time. I love supporting him to pursue his passion.

So here’s to you and your passions!!

Whatever they may be, let you find time for them and may you manifest them in your life on your own terms.

If your passion is unclear, then I wish for you time for play, exploration and experimentation. It may not be a thing that you do, it might be a love of justice, exploring ideas, socialising with friends, raising children, community building, caring for others or something else.

Whatever it is, enjoy it because you totally deserve it!!

Much love
Sarah

PS Here’s a photo my brother Tim wanted to include, it’s of the Australian Greens. He’s also passionate about environmental sustainability and social justice.

Tim Roberts photoImage by Tim Roberts

 

Crazy cravings…

One of the of the major priorities in my life these days is health. I’m not a naturally physically active person.  Some people I know go stir crazy if they haven’t exercised, well that’s not me, I don’t even watch sporting activity. While there have been many attempts in the past, they were not sustained.

These attempts were also undermined by perfectionism and negative self talk which demolished any motivation – “you should be exercising more”, “you should be eating healthier”, “you’re not doing enough”, “you’re not good enough”,  “you shouldn’t, blah blah blah..” How frickin’ miserable!

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In the last six months, I have set the intention for this to change and to thankfully welcome optimal health.  Recently James Clear wrote a fabulous blog outlining a broader definition of health. He suggests health as containing four aspects:

  1. diet and exercise
  2. adventure and exploration
  3. art and creativity, and
  4. community and connection.

This definition is more holistic – considering the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and contextual layers of health.

For me, the quest for better health has been a spiritual journey. Each day, I revisit the intention, to create health in my life.  I have consciously shifted into an energetic space of just being and being healthy, and the rest is falling into place. I’m not saying it is easy, as it’s a step by step reaffirmation of this commitment. Most importantly, when there are slip ups, it’s about being kind and self compassionate, rather than harshly judging.

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Regular meditation and spiritual practice has helped me to become more sensitive and aware of the needs of my body. As we listen to our bodies, they’re incredibly good at telling us what we need. This includes listening to the needs of the heart and mind, and guidance from intuition. If you’re a spiritual person, you can ask for assistance from your healing teams in spirit as well!

Meditation helps to calm the critical voices and self analysis enables understanding. Seeking health has also been a journey into self love, self compassion and kindness. I am so grateful for my health, many dear friends experience compromised physical health and they have taught me, amongst many other things, to treasure this blessing.

As for physical exercise, I find it so much easier doing activities i love – gardening for hours, walking my dog max, dancing to some funky music, moving meditations, walking on the beach or mountains or other beautiful environments etc. When i blend pleasure and exercise, it’s so much easier!

A bit further along the path towards health, my body has started to crave the good stuff. Today there was an overwhelming urge to eat something green, broccoli in particular – go figure! Glad to find this broccolini on the discount shelf at the local fruit shop! Steam it, cover in butter, add a little pepper – yum!

BroccoliniAs health has become a priority in life, naturally more time and actions support this, which in turn creates this feedback loop of greater energy and more vibrant life force.

Today I’m making a bone broth recipe from one of my spiritual mentors Nicole Cody.  She has documented her inspiring and tough journey towards health whilst living with late stage lyme disease.

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This bone broth recipe is a great basic stock that can be used as the base for soups, pasta sauces and loads of other dishes. It’s full of nutrients and juicy flavours. I make it about once every fortnight. Tonight we’re using it to make this Tomato, bacon and lentil soup recipe.

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I’ll write more stories about my unfolding spiritual journey and Nicole’s mentoring in future posts, but in the meantime enjoy her gorgeous recipes…

Wishing for you vibrancy in your life. May you know love, connection, creativity, adventure and cherish the beautiful physical body that has been gifted to you.  May you know joy and freedom from pain.

Much love

Sarah

Btw – the soup recipe is awesome, very hearty and filling and oh so healthy!! Thanks nicole! :o)

The manic call of passion…

We’ve just come back from a holiday in Melbourne. We started with a family wedding and then spent a week at Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula.  We stayed at the holiday home of friends of the family, such a generous gift.

On the first night, i scoured a guide book to pick out things to do. For me, a good holiday is a fine art, a balancing act between doing nothing but relaxing and doing enough to get inspired and enjoy the adventure. Of course, finding this balance is a completely individual thing.

I have some friends who schedule activity from dawn til bed time, others who plan absolutely nothing. I like to have a list of possible activities and plenty of room for spontaneity and the unexpected! I love to be able to go with my mood, how i’m feeling, rather than expectations. For me, the whole point of a holiday is that it’s “our time” to be scheduled however we choose.

As per our usual holiday experience, food was a bit of a focal point and we loved time driving around the sites and relaxing on the beach. Here’s the pick of my favourites:

The Peninsula Hot Springs near Rye. We spent five hours floating around these springs one cold morning, wiith a break in the middle at their cafe. We loved the corn fritters and buttermilk pancakes with berries. Hot tip, arrive before 9am and it’s half price.

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The good coffee with dark chocolate and berry muffins with lemon icing at Via Battista cafe at Mt Martha.  Totally irresistible!!

14 4 muffinsHanging out with one of my best mates Jane, who has just moved to Melbourne. Playing board games including Dr Seuss trivia; eating lots of good food; playing ukulele and our impromptu photo session at the Mt Martha beach boxes.

10320615_10152779404127678_4339151203260370930_nDrinks at a wine bar and seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema in Mornington. The ticket seller at the cinema had the best sense of humour! It’s a cracker of a movie! Hysterically funny, fabulous cast and acting, starring Ralph Fiennes and directed by Wes Anderson.

grand budapestAn afternoon at the Arthur’s seat auto museum – inspiring for my partner who has a penchant for vintage minis and morris 1100s.

auto museumInspiration for me? The fabulous Heronswood, the Diggers Club at Dromana. These permaculture gardens use heritage seeds which can be ordered online.

10007251_10152443142390992_2433039613436638751_n IMGP0030 IMGP0055And, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne. Landscaped gardens only using Australian native plants. They won a gold medal at the Chelsea Garden Show last year. (Yeah – that’s there bragging rights I say!)

IMGP0124 IMGP0130 IMGP0137 IMGP0135We also slept, read books, relaxed and did a lot of nothing. After much trial and error, I think we’re finally mastering the art of a good holiday, our style.

On the last night, I expected to have a really good sleep as I had every other night. Instead, I was awake from about 1am to 4am. My mind was alive. I was being shown images of each of the garden beds and nooks in my garden back home, along with ideas for the planting i could do from the gardens at Heronswood and Cranbourne.  I could feel the excitement and motivation building and i was bursting to get home.

This week? I’ve been heeding the manic call of passion. I attended to the “have to do” things, but cleared out my diary, donned overalls and boots, and headed outside.  (Thank you to my lovely friends who have been understanding about me not getting out this week!) I’ve spent each day pottering about digging out weeds, repairing irrigation pipes, potting up tubestock, researching citrus trees, pruning and fertilising etc etc. Here’s the before shot of the citrus orchard.

IMGP0006I’ve also had some beautiful encounters with nature spirits. I had a serious conversation with them about working together for the benefit of us all. Particularly, for all the native plants and animals who call our property home. I talked to them about my plans, asked about what’s important to them, and suggested we could work together. When I go into the stillness and listen, I can hear them more clearly. Here’s tawny frog mouths sleeping in our frangipani tree, one opened his eye as i approached – sprung!

IMGP0006I’m pleased with the progress. It’s a start, there is such a long way to go, but it’s one step at a time.  Being in the moment and working together makes it so much easier.  Here’s the orchard after some work this week.

IMGP0009I hope you find inspiration and listen to the manic call of passion in your life this week.

Much love

Sarah

 

A family wedding…

Last week we travelled down to Melbourne for a family wedding, and we were excited!

For me, weddings are an opportunity for a fabulous community celebration of love and connection in our lives. But it’s not always been like this for me.

I was raised in a feminist family and for many years was anti-marriage. As a social institution, marriage, particularly for women, has a very chequered history. The historic notion of women being property, firstly of the father and then ‘given away’ into the custodianship of the husband, has always grated. Particularly when i consider that in my culture, my female ancestors had little or no access to education or means to make an independent income.

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Women were unable to own or inherit property and were legally subject to the whims and mercy of their husband. There was no rape in marriage laws and ‘rule of thumb’ law meant men could beat their wives with a rod whose diameter was no larger than their thumb. This is just the start of my reservations about marriage as I believe these traditional notions of marriage were oppressive for men as well.

Our reservations about marriage were also about the injustice of gay and lesbian people not having the same legal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

Marriage has a long, diverse and complex history. Truth is, I’ve always struggled with gendered concepts around role, work, social status and expectations. It amazes me how ingrained and limiting these patriarchal beliefs can be. Feminism for me, represents freedom, not just for women, but for all people to be free of gender stereotypes and expectations, to create themselves according to their own truth, purpose and values.
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To strive for freedom and liberation, one first needs a conscious awareness of their own chains and limitations. But this isn’t a post about feminism, it’s about marriage, for me they are connected.

I got married just over two years ago. Why? So what changed? Well in a nutshell, me.

Our decision to get married started as pragmatic. We were approaching the 10th anniversary of our relationship and we wanted to throw a big party to celebrate. Most of our family live interstate and overseas and we realised that they were unlikely to travel for a party, but the big ‘M’ might motivate them! :o)

Truth is, we’d been cogitating on marriage for a few years. We had attended some lovely weddings in the preceding years and were warming to the idea. We decided to unpack the concept and redefine marriage on our own terms. In fact, we could just as easily not have married, but we embraced the concepts of joyous celebration.

At its very basic core, a marriage is an economic arrangement where two people agree to take financial responsibility for each other. Pre-liberation, when women were economically dependent, this usually meant men taking responsibility for women. When someone makes this kind of economic commitment to another person, it is a beautiful gift and in my mind should not be limited to opposite genders and some other constraints.  Sadly, Australian laws limit marriage to heterosexual couples only.

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Religion, culture, and social norms have layered meaning and expectations onto this social institution, particularly around gender roles, work, sexuality and the procreation of children. Couples now, have greater opportunity to redefine their relationships on their own terms (within existing cultural constraints). However, change is needed to the laws on same sex marriage, heterosexuals don’t own marriage.

Our marriage is an ongoing creation, but let’s look at our wedding itself. When it came to the wedding, we started with a blank slate. We threw out all the expectations, all the assumptions about what we should or should not do and created the event ourselves.

We came to understand the wedding as a public statement and celebration of what already was – our existing love and commitment to each other. We went further and saw it as a deeper spiritual ritual. We set the intention that the event was a gift to our community of family and friends. Our theme was “a celebration of love in our lives in all of its forms.”

Wedding program coverOur beautiful friend Narelle was the celebrant. She is very open and supportive of us. Many of our family and friends helped to organise the event. We are so grateful for their love and generosity! The ceremony took place on our land among the trees, birds and nature spirits. We created a magical ritual and cast a circle, we honoured the Aboriginal traditional owners and custodians of the land, and invited in the divine, our ancestors, elemental spirits and beings of light. The process honoured self love first, love and gratitude for our parents, love for our community, and romantic love for each other. We did a hand binding and exchanged rings and our own vows. We created and activated blessings for ourselves, each person present and their family, friends and community, and finally blessings for the earth and all beings.

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Now I understand the spiritual concept of the glowing bride. On the day, I became an open channel as an extraordinarily beautiful and joyful loving energy poured through. Throughout the whole ceremony and party afterwards this energy kept flowing. I set the intention for it to continually flow to all the people in attendance (and those who could not) and sent it out to the planet and all beings. We created an energetic mirror around us so that all the love, good thoughts and intentions that were sent our way were gratefully received and magnified 10 fold back into the lives of the sender. This was the spiritual gift to our community.

The focus for us was on celebration. We had a wonderful fun party afterwards at our family home. My parents were so generous in supporting us and hosting the event. We kept dancing and laughing til 5am, when we collapsed in a heap and watched the sunrise over the front deck. I can’t tell you how blessed and grateful we feel for such generosity from our community and our blessed memories.

_DSC6432 So i’m a convert to the joy and blessing of weddings, or parties, or whatever you choose to celebrate love and commitment. After you have organised and run your own wedding, there is a totally new appreciation for the gift of an invitation and just how special weddings can be. We’re loved the celebration of the family wedding, the fun and joy and the gift that we could give, without all the hard work!

The most important thing about a wedding is that it is a true and authentic expression of the couple. It can cost nothing or be massively expensive, most critical is the intention and meaning for the couple and their community.

A friend of mine, who is a wedding photographer, said to me recently, “it doesn’t matter how much a couple spends, one of the best wedding i’ve been to cost $100, what matters is the love in the room!”

I wish you celebration of love in your life in all its forms.
Know that we are blessed, truly!

Much love
Sarah