…try something new! Get out of your comfort zone and rise to the challenge of embracing a new hobby, or learn a new skill, or take a step on a different path.
And, if you’re a little afraid because others out there seem to be stronger, fitter, wiser or more intelligent than you, remember – a lone amateur built an ark but it took a whole team of professionals to design the Titanic.
The wedding law commission is looking to make changes to the laws which govern marriage – those which have been in existence since 1836. It is hoping to reform regulations which stipulate how and where couples can get wed. The commission was launched today and the consultation period will run until 3rd December 2020.
The current law on giving notice: A person must give notice that they intend to get married in person at their local registry office, where they must have lived for seven days. This notice is posted at the local register office.
The proposed law: A person will be able to give notice that they intend to marry remotely, and can choose their district. This notice will be published online and available to the wider public.
The current law on wedding types: Couples must choose between a religious and a civil ceremony. There is no option for a legal ceremony to cater for couples with differing beliefs, or beliefs that are non-religious.
The proposed law: The proposed changes would allow weddings conducted by non-religious organisations such as Humanists or by independent celebrants to be legally binding.
The current law on location: All couples must be legally married in a place of worship or a licensed secular venue. They are unable to get legally married outdoors, even in the garden of any aforementioned venue.
The proposed law: Legal weddings will be allowed to take place anywhere the couple chooses, including outdoors and in their own homes.
The current law on ceremonies: Civil weddings and some religious weddings must involve certain prescribed words. Religious elements are not allowed to be included in civil ceremonies.
The proposed law: There will be no prescribed words, allowing couples to have more flexibility deciding what form their ceremony will take. Civil ceremonies will be able to have religious elements in them if the couple desires.
Now is the time to modernise and improve the situation so please do respond to the consultation with your views by accessing the online form.
I found this on Facebook today…it is so beautiful and provides many profound answers to the question, ‘What Is Love?’ A team of professionals posed the question to a group of 4 to 8 year-old children, ‘What does love mean?’ Their answers were broader, deeper, and more enlightening than anyone could have ever imagined!
‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’ Rebecca – age 8
‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’ Billy – age 4
‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ Karl – age 5
‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’ Chrissy – age 6
‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’ Terri – age 4
‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’ Danny – age 8
‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.’ Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)
‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.’ Nikka – age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet!)
‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.’ Noelle – age 7
‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’ Tommy – age 6
‘During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’ Cindy – age 8
‘My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.’ Clare – age 6
‘Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’ Elaine – age 5
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’ Chris – age 7
‘Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’ Mary Ann – age 4
‘I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’ Lauren – age 4
‘When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.’ (what an image) Karen – age 7
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.’ Mark – age 6
‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.’ Jessica – age 8
And the final one from a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’
At the end of the film Cloud Atlas, Sonmi~451 is a clone a woman and she stands alone in front of a camera…
“Our lives are not our own,” she says.
Our world is very much obsessed with individuality, so much so that these words seem almost defeatist and lacking in ambition. At school, our children are pressured to achieve, to be stand out exceptional – life is a competition and being individual is promoted as protecting you from the failure of others. And being stand out exceptional can ensure you don’t suffer from the incompetence of our rule makers.
It is fabulous to be original, to be creative and to think for ourselves. But, I do not believe that we are meant to be islands. We should not be isolated from each other, super confident in our superiority and our ability to win and to survive whilst others are losing or suffering. The idea that, if we came first, we deserved it, but if we lost, it was just our terribly bad luck is not at all helpful. We need each other.
Where we were born can define us. To whom we were born sets our genetic code. We can be affected and infected by bugs and bacteria and yet we think we can change our destiny by competing and working harder and faster and stronger so that the lone fittest survive.
But this is not as it is. On this Saturday, as our teachers and our children prepare to head back to school, as some of you tie the knot, as we prepare for a bank holiday celebration with loved ones it is important for me to remember one of my favourite ideas, “I am because we are!”
I love this quote because it shows how our very existence, our core being is enriched because of the loving connections that we can develop.
“We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. Truth is singular. Its versions are mistruths. To be is to be perceived, and so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other.” DAVID MITCHELL
I don’t recall the exact date of the first time I came across Sir Ken Robinson but I distinctly remember the way he made me feel. I never met him in person, but it felt exactly like I had because his passion, his relentless quest to make a difference, his eloquence, humour, and his humility, despite being, as far as I am concerned, the greatest living expert on education, made him so human and relatable and he was my friend throughout some of the most uphill challenges of my life. Trying to get my fellow educational leaders to stand up against relentless measuring of children, using the tiniest measuring stick of standardised tests, was like trying to extract a tooth from a hen. Sir Ken himself said, “There’s a consistent mission in all I do. In a sentence, it’s to transform the culture of education and organisations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence.”
He was clear about the unpredictability for which we should try to educate our youth – 2090 will potentially be the year my granddaughter retires. In this year of 2020, we have seen that we don’t even know what next month will look like, never mind what it will be like in seventy years time and I am certain that one of the most important tasks for her parents, and me, besides loving unconditionally, is to teach her to manage constant change, to encourage her to try and fail, to place importance on her mental well-being by pointing out the essential need for play, for art, for self-care, for the richest conception of her humanness.
In his speeches and presentations, he illustrated, always with humour and to the delight of his audiences, that children are exceptional but not one is an exception; they need time to move, time to dance, time to create, time to try out, time to appreciate their diverse, dynamic and distinct talent and intelligence.
Kids will instinctively take a chance on being wrong, as long as we don’t educate this trait out of them – you have to be prepared to be wrong in order to take a chance on getting it right, of coming up with something original and that is a tenet by which I think we all should live. If we are afraid of error, if we are afraid of change we will never try anything new. Our bodies are not simply the transport systems for our heads to move from one meeting to the next and our education system should not be a protracted drawn out preparation for university entrance – it should be education for life in all its colourful and challenging glory.
Sir Ken Robinson left our earthly realms yesterday but I for one will do my utmost to ensure that his inspiration and legacy lives on by promoting all arts and children’s creative capacity for the richness that they hold. Today, I will dance in his honour.
And, always, I will celebrate children for the hope that they are…
Rainy days and Wednesdays never get me down – well, at least not this week because today, I’ve got sunnier times that I am planning: a wedding ceremony scheduled for June 2021. I am beyond excited!
It is such an absolute honour to be invited to officiate at the nuptials of two people in love, ready to shout about it publicly. After all, that’s really the crux of the matter – a public announcement, followed by a celebration of the only thing that is truly important: love. So, although we keep our fingers crossed for the sunshine to come out on our wedding day, even if there is a downpour, it is not really a factor which can ever stop us from having the best time and even more importantly, in celebrating the start of a new life together.
I know that in many other aspects of our lives, rain stops play. Cricket for example…golf maybe…tennis! I’m not a participant in any of these games – at least not competitively, but I understand that the bad weather negatively impacts the ball. Potentially, rain alters the dynamics and moderate to heavy rain introduces a pressure difference between the upper and lower surface and that can cause the ball to break or sink more than normal. Combine this with the raindrops falling into the eye of the batsman and you have some challenging conditions, possibly even dangerous.
I am delighted to report that this never needs to be the case where love is concerned – in fact, rain can enhance play. It’s the metaphorical rainy days that make us truly appreciate the sunny ones. Trust me, I’ve lived in climes where there is wall-to-wall sunshine, and there are wall-to-wall mosquitoes to boot and wall-to-wall humidity and, on occasion, wall-to-wall sunburn. We love the seasons so much more when we take them as a whole and when we can be thankful for the richness of all their characteristics.
Love is balanced; love and choosing to be joined in it, and in matrimony can and will survive all kinds of weather, if you remember to be grateful for its myriad of characteristics. And the mixture of showers and sunshine can produce the most vivid and overarching spectrum of beauty.
It’s coming up to the two year anniversary of my Mother’s passing. It is no easier to accept the death, and especially not the means of her passing, although the space around the grief becomes easier and life, as they say, moves on. Bereavement leaves you with little other choice!
It’s not exactly with out her…she is frequently a part of conversation and a part of the laughter as we remember some of the hilarious things she said and did. She is in the ornaments and mementoes that she left behind for each one of her family; she is in the quirks and mannerisms and facial expressions of her off-spring and grandchildren – perhaps even in her great grandchildren; she is in the music that she loved to listen to, dance to and sing to and the lyrics that meant something to her; she is in the rhetoric that we subconsciously mimic; she is in the recipes from our childhood that we replicate; she is, though not tangibly present at family gatherings, festivities, wedding celebrations, birthdays, almost there – as if she is sitting in a corner from some matriarchal advantage point, watching and listening.
But most importantly she is in the decisions we continue to make throughout our lives. Her influence is just as strong after her passing as it was when we could hear her advice or feel her comfort – just as strong as it was when she was alive and with us. One of the upsides since her death is the way it has brought into much sharper focus how, when it comes to the end of our own days, we will have no regrets about how we expressed our love for each other; how we made efforts to resolve any different perspectives and how we respected and uplifted each other in good times and in bad.
It is also, obviously, almost two years since her funeral too. And we have no regrets at all about how we said goodbye to her. How we marked this last rite of passage with a ceremony that completely reflected and respected her life, her loves, her achievements, her decisions, her friends, her family, her mothering.
I’ve heard two stories of late that sorrowfully expressed regret about the funeral of a loved one; that, not just because of COVID, but because of a lack of care and time taken to craft this event, the ceremonies did not mark, in a way that was loving and respectful, the life of the deceased. In one service the name of the deceased was continually mispronounced and incorrect! It is, no doubt, more difficult with restrictions and increased legislation but it is absolutely possible to ensure that, throughout the rest of time, you will remember the funeral of your loved one for the fact that it was loving, respectful, personal and appropriately commemorative.
If you need any guidance at all on arranging a respectful and suitable farewell, please call. There is no obligation to take up my services but I make you an absolute promise to show you compassion and respect, so that you remember this time, now, and in years to come, in the most loving way possible.
Here is the latest information regarding restrictions at funerals:
Yesterday, I had the huge privilege of meeting some incredible women – role models from the oldest generation; those who grew up in different times and in a different climate, marrying during or post-war and having to deal with hastily arranged legalities during a tight forty eight hour emergency leave, getting permission from parents and designing speedy celebrations, with limited resources due to rationing.
Even after war had ended, everything was strictly rationed and the speed and ingenuity with which families rallied round was impressive – so full of love. Clothing coupons would be donated to access material for dresses, and treadle sewing machines would whir from tireless feet of Great Aunt dressmakers to ensure the bride and bridesmaids looked stunning. Donations of home grown veg from winter stores made up recipes for a spectacular wedding breakfast with potatoes, beetroot and fresh summer salads. Precious rations of butter and sugar enabled Mothers and Grandmothers to whip up celebration wedding cakes, with creative trimmings to adorn it and to make it personal.
Rationing for weddings allowed solely for an additional 2lbs of cooked ham – hardly the basis of a feast – yet somehow, meat rationing was supplemented with perhaps a fine cooked leg of lamb or a clutch of hard boiled eggs. Guests knew not to ask from whence these delicious ingredients had been sourced!
Brides were frequently worried that the grooms would not turn up and that they would be left, bereft at the altar! Not for reasons of cold feet, but rumours abounded that their platoon would have been instructed to regroup as they were commanded to a last minute posting. Or, transport from central stations had been curtailed, and grooms desperate not to let down their about-to-be brides, walked miles throughout the night to ensure they were there, next morning to say, ‘I do!’ Often, by the following day, they would be back with their regiments and sharing a barrack bedroom with forty ‘mates’ and not in the marital bed with a longed for wife!
The lady proudly displaying the photograph above told me that she was now ninety years of age! The image of her and her beloved husband has been carried around in her purse for seventy two years. What an incredible time in which to hold such dear memories of a day when a union – which was to see her through a lifetime of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren – five generations in fact – a day when a beautiful marriage union, was not necessarily made in heaven, but by an army of family, precious friends and a bride and groom who truly intended to live by their vows to each other.
A wedding day, at the start of a lifetime of love together, never to be forgotten!
It’s twenty three years since Robbie Williams bounced about in his glitzy dog collar, stretched to the max, star-spangled lycra and sporting an Axminster bear/ bare chest. Twenty three years! His song ‘Let Me Entertain You!’ still gets me up on the dance floor, whether kicking off my heels at an equally glitzy wedding (and, because of those twenty three years having whizzed by, I was at quite a number of those celebrations before the lockdown – the generation of siblings children tying the knot) jiggling about barefoot in the grass at a socially distanced family barbecue party, or alone in my own lounge in front of a YouTube version of it, recorded live in Sweden four years ago. If it’s good enough for Robbie, and he’s still rockin’ it two decades later, it’s good enough for me. And yes, I often dance in the house by myself…with the shutters open…so that passers by can witness this not so guilty, not so secret secret. Can’t say the same for my yoga sessions!
Life, as they say, is short. Life, as Robbie says, is too short for you to die – in other words to not live life fully with energy and stretched to the max fun and laughter. I am not at all melancholy about this short lifespan and nor should you be. It is this fact that makes it all the sweeter. Its why I dance…often…not just at weddings.
Just think about all the changes that have occurred since Rob wrote those lyrics – for a start, you couldn’t look me up in the yellow pages anymore. I bet most of you reading this won’t even know what the yellow pages are! It’s why I have a wedding website and a Google business address and social media accounts galore – they’re the new yellow pages and I am so grateful for them. I couldn’t have done anything to lift anyone’s spirits with a wedding celebrant business listing in pages jaune. On here, I can be your rock of empathy!
Robbie is bang on when he says, ‘your mind gets burned with the habits you’ve learned.’ It’s so easy to shy away from letting yourself go on a dance floor and it’s so easy to let ourselves be bombarded by messages that we should isolate, lockdown, be miserable, follow orders, stop having fun, don’t laugh because there’s no humour or anything to celebrate right now!
There is! Loads to celebrate. People are still falling in love. Loads more to laugh about. We can find humour in anything. (The first dance at my wedding was ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!’) And, we’ve got a list of dance tunes to organise so that when you can gather everyone together in the most entertaining wedding of the last two decades, everyone – as Robbie says – can really shake their tush!