Celebrating this precious life.

 

Ceremonies, Mindfulness Meditations, Mentoring and Facilitation of Conversations about Life, Death and Dying

Supporting people to celebrate, communicate and connect – fostering curiosity and an intention to deeply listen and talk honestly with clarity and integrity.

Resources, experiential sessions and practical tools and practices that support you to live life fully, honouring the mourning and celebrations that life brings; and nurturing a sense of connection and belonging, compassion and inner peace especially when it feels like you are walking on the wild side of life!

Contact Wendy

Upcoming!

In Conversation with Wendy Haynes

Poetry is leading the way for me at present. Calling me in the night and early morning—a conduit for the various layers of undoing, sense-making, ritual practice, deep listening, being and giving that this life has offered up… especially recently. You are welcome to join me and Asher Packman from The Fifth Direction on Monday 22nd August, at 7:30pm AEST (Sydney, NSW) In conversation and of course, some poetry. Click here to sign up as a member (free to join). Go to their event page to get the link.

I will also be hosting a monthly Women’s Elder Wisdom Circle for The Fifth Direction, beginning in September. (Available for Premium members)

 

Get Your Affairs in Order—free information to assist you to plan and discuss death and dying. Click here.

Loving Kindness Meditation and Ongo 2.0

28 September 2022

I am constantly amazed by the offerings given to the world by Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence authors, Catherine Cadden and Jesse Wiens Chu.  I extend their invitation to join us online. The short video meditation is a gem that is beautifully crafted together. Catherine and Jesse write: Dear friends,  The Ongo…

Read Blog

The Long Now—Bunya Time

28 September 2022

The Long Now   I have joined the faculty at The Fifth Direction! I’ll be hosting the Elder Wisdom Circle online every fourth Monday of the month at 7.30pm (Sydney, NSW). You are most welcome to join me in the company of a beautiful group of women. Thank you to…

Read Blog

Funeral for a Child

15 September 2022

One of the hardest ceremonies to write is that for a young child. This little girl died from unknown causes and, as you can imagine, caused a tidal wave of shock and grief in this young couple’s life. Here are some excerpts I wrote for the ceremony. I have changed…

Read Blog

The Hannafords

12 September 2022

An Old Coffs Harbour Family The Hannaford family contacted me as  they had a last minute change when planning the funeral ceremony for their beautiful mum, Neta. The minister they had hoped would conduct the funeral service had a family matter arise. We met Friday evening for the ceremony on…

Read Blog

How clear, how lovely bright…

12 September 2022

Celebration of the Life of Heatherbelle Lee I cannot remember where I first met Heatherbelle over two decades ago; and yet I can say with certainty that her smile was present every time we saw each other. In her last week, she requested I visit to discuss ‘death and dying’…

Read Blog

Dead Awkward Conversation

3 September 2022

“Have you got a story burning a hole in your bottom drawer or a pile of writing that sounds better spoken? Do you want to deliver presentations without slides or are you learning to perform your poetry? Learn to combine writing with public speaking. Whatever you call your text, it is…

Read Blog

Four Funerals and a Poetry Slam

1 September 2022

It’s been a beautiful and busy week with four funerals and a poetry slam. Last week on Wednesday 24th August the McMaster family said goodbye to Roslyn. These are some of the words of remembrance before I closed the ceremony. Roslyn’s kind, thoughtful and supportive nature will be how you…

Read Blog

In Conversation and Poetry

15 August 2022

Poetry is leading the way for me at present. Calling me in the night and early morning—a conduit for the various layers of undoing, sense-making, ritual practice, deep listening, being and giving that this life has offered up… especially recently.  I joined  Asher Packman from The Fifth Direction on Monday…

Read Blog

Dying to Know Day

13 August 2022

On a sunny Sunday morning in the local community garden, 40 people gathered to yarn up Death and Dying. Gumbaynggir man, Micklo Jarrett engaged us enthusiastically with his deep infectious laughter, embodied Gumbaynggirr language and the story of the tree of life. After his Welcome to Country in language he…

Read Blog

Forgiveness

5 August 2022

The wonderful poet, David Whyte hosts a series of talks every second month, called the Three Sundays. In the last session of The Three Sunday’s in July he read the poem, Forgiveness from his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. This inspired me to use his…

Read Blog

Home Death—A Haibun

4 August 2022

Home Death—A Haibun   (Prose and Haiku) The young woman was a mother of four children—her drawn, pale skin tight on the small frame that was once full of energy. The breast cancer had slowly crept into every soft curve of her body. Her mind, at this moment of the…

Read Blog

The Peace of Wild Things

1 August 2022

The Peace of Wild Things The Peace of Wild Things—written and read by Wendell Berry When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down…

Read Blog

Online Mourning and Celebration Circle Monday 8th August 7pm-8.30pm AEST

31 July 2022

Using guided practices from the mindfulness, Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence and Celebrating This Precious Life programs, we will come together online to share our Mourning and Celebration Circle. Mourning… the loss of a beloved family member, friend, pet, member of the community… or the loss of a job, a change of situation, financial…

Read Blog

Dropping Into Life: The invitation at diagnosis and through recovery

30 July 2022

Mel Greblo from The Coterie Global invited me to join her in Conversation. The end of 2021 for Wendy Haynes brought with it a stark and unexpected diagnosis—a rare ovarian cancer. The dawn of the new year would be marked by radical surgery to remove the tumour and learning whether the cancer…

Read Blog

Acknowledgement of Country

27 July 2022

Acknowledgement of Country I give thanks for the beauty and support of the land upon which I get to live, work and play— and support ways of conciliation by giving voice to my knowing of whose land I am on—the Indigenous people have been connected to Country for tens of thousands…

Read Blog

Naming Ceremony for Clara Rose

27 July 2022

Naming/Welcoming Ceremony for Clara Rose Yesterday, I conducted an enactment of a naming ceremony for the participants of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants National Conference in Adelaide. Michael Elwood, one of the conference team, invited his daughter, Diana and her husband, Nathan and their beautiful daughter, Clara Rose, to…

Read Blog

Diversity, Inclusion and Inspiration

26 July 2022

Diversity is the mix, inclusion is making the mix work.  Andres Tapia Diversity, Inclusion and Inspiration was the theme for the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrations National Conference in Adelaide this year. As the main speaker, I offered the following story.* “Imagine you are hosting a dinner party. Every guest…

Read Blog

Leaves of Love

25 July 2022

Blessings from the celebrant community At the recent Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants National Conference held in Adelaide, I conducted an enactment of a naming ceremony. The celebrants participating were encouraged to write a blessing for the family prior to the start of the enactment. I invited them to imagine…

Read Blog

A Natural History of Love

25 July 2022

A Natural History Of Love —Diane Ackerman “Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful. It has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble,…

Read Blog

Introduction to Mindfulness and NVC

22 July 2022

John Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as: ‘Awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.’ At a very difficult emotional period in my life, my sister in law, Terry, sent me this link to a talk by John Kabat-Zinn. I researched the…

Read Blog

Dying to Know Day 8th August 2022

20 July 2022

Monday 8th August is the National Dying to Know Day. “An annual campaign that empowers Australians at all stages of life to live and die well.” You can find lots of amazing events and gatherings on their 2022 events page, some from the Groundswell Project Australia and others from individuals, organisations…

Read Blog

Matariki

12 July 2022

Matariki – Ritual of Reverence and Respect On this starry, cold winter’s night in Australia, with the moon nearly full I joined The Celebrant School in New Zealand to participate in an online ceremony for Matariki. In New Zealand, the appearance of Matariki (the Pleiades) marks the start of the…

Read Blog

Upcoming Events

10 July 2022

I am slowly making my way back out into the world after a period of recovery, rest and retreat and wanted to invite you to join me at three gatherings where I’ll be sharing stories of my experiences with Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence, Mindfulness… and some of my poetry. Some of…

Read Blog

Dropping into Life

28 June 2022

Dropping into Life: The invitation at diagnosis and through recovery As a guest facilitator of the Renew and Rise Festival last year I was delighted to be a part of an inspiring and creative team. The online festival was hosted by Mel Greblo, a dear friend and colleague. Mel has invited…

Read Blog

The Impermanence of Being Here

23 June 2022

The Impermanence of Being Here—this was my first choice that I performed at the Bellingen Readers and Writers Poetry Slam 2022. My first ever poetry performance, my first ever poetry slam.  I know that may sound strange given that I’ve read lots of poetry at lots of ceremony and for…

Read Blog

Poetry Slam—Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival 2022

11 June 2022

Bellingen Readers Writers Festival 2022 If I had known what a Poetry Slam was, I wouldn’t have performed. One of my Bellingen friends suggested that I enter the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival Poetry Slam. The rules looked straightforward—three, three minute poems, no props, no music. I signed up without any…

Read Blog

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

6 June 2022

A popular song for funerals and this week it was chosen to commence the funeral ceremony for Greg Blain. The family chose the version played by Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’ole. In this video, at 2.37minutes you can see the paddle out organised for Israel’s scattering of ashes—a very moving expression of…

Read Blog

Come join me at the AFCC National Conference in Adelaide

1 June 2022

I am honoured to have been invited by the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (AFCC) to speak at their 2022 National Conference—Sunday 24th July to Wednesday 27th July 2022. The Conference will open on Monday 25th with dancer, writer, stockbroker, family man, Li Cunxin as the Keynote Speaker—The Power of Story. After Li…

Read Blog

Gentle Waves, Slow Time

28 May 2022

I’m resting on Gunggandji Country—a small island just off Cairns. A week to rejuvenate with my beloved. This weeks practices have focused on body and breath awareness. A previous spinal neck injury has flared up causing considerable pain—it’s at times like these that I bow down to the skills that I…

Read Blog

Join me at the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival 10-12th June 2022

25 May 2022

It was an act of grace signing up for poet, Mark Tredinnick’s ‘What the Light Tells’ Poetry Masterclass late last year. Completing his inspiring workshop series is responsible for me being a part of this years Bellingen’s Readers and Writers Festival. I’ve signed up for the Poetry Slam on Friday…

Read Blog

The Creative Oasis

4 May 2022

Tonight I was working online with a fabulous group of inspirational, brave, creative, willing and responsive celebrants from the The Celebrant School, Te Wänanga Korowai Aroha in New Zealand. Kathrine from The Celebrant School organised three sessions that I facilitated online called the Creative Oasis—writing practices for celebrants. The participants shared notes,…

Read Blog

Tears, Grief and Forgiveness

28 April 2022

The sky is a mass of pink cotton-balls as the evening closes in—the lorikeets have gone their way and there is a solitary bird singing just outside my window. I sit here in my lounge room as the chill sets in and I wrap my scarf around my neck. I’ve…

Read Blog

21st Birthday Celebration

23 April 2022

21st Birthday Celebration Celebrant, Kathrine Fraser, joined the Writing Oasis run by The Celebrant School – Te Wānanga Korowai Aroha in New Zealand. As the guest facilitator, I created activities and prompts to help develop ceremony openings. Kathrine shared what she wrote for her son, Martin for his 21st birthday celebration…

Read Blog

Goodbye Cancer

10 April 2022

Love my Cancer Goodbye! Last Thursday I was in Sydney to see my Gynae-Oncologist, Dr Rhonda Farrell, who confirmed that my Inhibin B blood count, which indicates the presence of the Granalosa tumour cells, is now under 10 which is within the normal range.  In January, just before the surgical…

Read Blog

Keening on the Isle of Harris

6 April 2022

Peggy and I met in Sandy Beach here in northern NSW and the brisk wind came in from the south as the season turned. The lorikeets feasted on the autumn blossoms. Peggy had been given three weeks to live.  With my pen in hand taking notes for her funeral ceremony,…

Read Blog

What Would Love Want Me to Do?

3 April 2022

I’ve been in Sydney this last week staying at McMahons Point—a place I am not familiar with. Each day I would set out, rain or shine, and follow my heart, the sun, the path, a twist or turn, an interesting house, a beautiful tree and see where it would take…

Read Blog

Foundations of Mindfulness

29 March 2022

As I recover from the amazing journey that I have had with ovarian cancer, I am feeling stronger in the body yet my energy is still called upon to meet the day to day challenge of tiredness. I have been turning towards my practices and decided to focus daily on…

Read Blog

Writing Oasis and Mindfulness Programs for March 2022

27 March 2022

Writing Oasis I have been frustrated over the years by writing workshops that haven’t met my expectations. This, tonight, exceeded them by light years. Amazing tutor, beautiful content and inspirational fellow students. Feeling like I just won Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket right now! Loved the learning & encouragement from this…

Read Blog

Where Do I Have Agency When It Comes To War?

17 March 2022

Where Do I Have Agency When It Comes to War? My dear friend, spiritual director and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) colleague, Pam Winthrop Lauer attended a call with one of my NVC teachers, Miki Kashtan. Where Do I Have Agency When It Comes To War—Antidote to Helplessness: Notes from a call…

Read Blog

For the Love of Nana…

10 March 2022

Tributes from Grandchildren to Their Beloved Nana The love between a grandparent and a grandchild can be richly encompassing and nourishing. Jenny loved and adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Here are the three beautiful tributes that were shared on the day of Jenny’s graveside funeral—spoken with tears of love…

Read Blog

Grandma, can you tell me what is going on?

9 March 2022

There is Room at the Table for Everyone We all have something we can bring to the table whether it is joining the front lines of actions or keeping the home fires burning. We each have a unique way of showing up in the world and finding our way to…

Read Blog

Time to Say Goodbye to Jenny

4 March 2022

Farewell Jenny and Stan Eleven months ago, I conducted the graveside ceremony for my friend’s elderly father, Stan Szewczyk. The stories around the dinner table as we gathered to create the ceremony were filled with lots of laughter and good memories and inevitably, tears for this transition they all knew…

Read Blog

Living with Uncertainty

28 February 2022

With the current crises happening around the world and, more locally, with the intense flooding along the east coast of Australia, it can be a challenge to stay connected to what nourishes and supports us. As I was walking the headland this morning with my partner I felt deeply tired…

Read Blog

Worry, worry, worry

26 February 2022

I sit and write at my table that overlooks my garden. It’s raining a lot. Here in Gumbaynggir country and all up and down the east coast of Australia, we are in the midst of torrential downpours, flooding, big seas and strong winds. There are intermittent breaks in the rain…

Read Blog

What the Light Tells

23 February 2022

I have been enjoying participation in the Poetry Masterclass, What the Light Tells, with acclaimed teacher and poet Mark Tredinnick during my recovery time. It’s been an inspiration. Each week we have learnt a few different forms and I have stretched my brain around Iambic Pentameters, beats and rhyming words—sonnets, haiku,…

Read Blog

A Gate to Walk Through

9 February 2022

I’m humming along this new path of resting after my surgery a few weeks ago. I am bone tired, at times, which supports me to embrace the rest with a sense of gratitude for the love and care that is being showered upon me, which is richly nourishing and healing….

Read Blog

The New Moon

1 February 2022

Sowing Seeds For as long as I can remember, I have sown seeds in my vegetable garden in the first week of the new moon. I used to buy the moon planting charts yet, the truth is, I didn’t take too much notice of the elaborate astrological computations as to…

Read Blog

Welcome Home

29 January 2022

In the Hands of Grace Five weeks ago, I was sitting on the steps, in the small circular grassed amphitheatre at the front of the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. I had just seen my Gynaecological Oncologist, Associate Professor Rhonda Farrell, I called my partner to let him know that I…

Read Blog

Honouring Thich Nhat Hanh – An Inspiring Teacher

22 January 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk died yesterday, aged 95. I smiled with gratitude and felt a warmth in my heart for this beloved teacher. I sat and watched my breath. I am aware that I am breathing in. I am aware that I am breathing out. Thay’s…

Read Blog

The Results are In

22 January 2022

‘Hello Wendy!’  The joyful sound of Rhonda’s voice made me smile.  ‘It was a Granlosa cell tumour confined to the ovary.’ My surgeon continued the message, ‘Great news, the rest of the lab tests came back negative. You won’t need any more treatment, just follow up tests and regular checkups….

Read Blog

A Flat Line in a Vast Space

21 January 2022

Flat Line The dictionary* describes a flat line as: To show a horizontal line on the monitor of an electrocardiogram or an electroencephalogram, indicating no electrical activity. Informal To die. To be in an unchanging condition Flat lining best describes the strangeness in me last night and upon my first waking. As someone who, on most mornings, gets out of bed with a sense of anticipation and welcoming in…

Read Blog

Resting Under the Power of Trees

20 January 2022

Day Six. Found a park bench to rest under some trees. The grey sky, cool wind, spitting rain and new growth remind me of the Snowy Mountains yet I find myself here in Sydney. Resting as if in the wilderness. Surgery demands it of me. Rest can be an elusive…

Read Blog

Music for the Soul

19 January 2022

The body is doing well. I still ache however today I stopped the pain meds and there is ease. I am in a quiet place and feel blessed to have the resources to rest. There are four nice scars, healing on the points where the surgeon entered to do truly…

Read Blog

Flowers in a Box

18 January 2022

I heard the delivery man call out from the gate. Is your name Wendy? He handed me a beautiful floral oblong box, not too dissimilar to a narrow, small hand decorated cardboard coffin. I laughed and cried when I opened it up to reveal a vase full of budding sunflowers and…

Read Blog

Getting My Bearings, Finding East

17 January 2022

The sun set in the west over Botany Bay once again last night and, without fail, this morning the sun rose on its own accord over the Pacific Ocean. There can’t be too many patients who wander around the corridors, compass in hand, in the early hours looking for an…

Read Blog

The Dark Night

16 January 2022

The third day blues. Inevitable. A doctor friend called it the day of reckoning. A restless night with bad dreams, fear, pain, questioning with periods of drifting off to sleep and light dozing so as not to completely wake me up, rather keep me that ‘dark night’ space. I sit…

Read Blog

Celebrating this Precious Life

15 January 2022

Yesterday, as I lay outside the surgical theatre, I could hear the music inside, muffled voices and the preparation of things being moved about. I had requested to not have the pre-op sedation so I was lying on the bed fully conscious. I found my mind wandering as I looked…

Read Blog

Palanca – A Form of Prayer, Encouragement and Support

13 January 2022

Yesterday one of my colleagues who I got to meet in person very recently, sent me an email, ‘Good evening Wendy and my blessings for this New Year. With your upcoming surgery on 14 January I will Palanca for you all day.’ Marg is a woman of devotion  and this…

Read Blog

On the Path

13 January 2022

A normal blood test result of Inhibin B is under 10. Today my surgeon gave me news that my count is 9740 which is consistent with my lesion having a 95% chance of being a Granalosa cell tumour, a rare form of ovarian cancer. After yesterdays post, I feel into…

Read Blog

Trusting the Unknown

12 January 2022

The plane hurtled down the runway increasing speed as I watched the lush green mountains of Gumbaynggirr country rise up behind Coffs Harbour Airport. The plane wheels lift up off the ground and we are airborne. What strangeness is it that, without any hesitation, I put myself forward and pay…

Read Blog

Memorial Service for Robert Gonzales

6 January 2022

Remembering Robert Gonzales as playful inspiration, embodied compassion, still presence and one of the great teachers in my life. Robert initiated my understanding that compassionate Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and the living quality of presence was not only possible, it could also foster and enhance peace and connection within a community….

Read Blog

New Years Day Meditation – 1.1.22 7.30pm AEDT

31 December 2021

A very warm welcome to join in our community practice of breathing together. Of holding space, presence, awareness, cultivating peace together. Please feel free to join me at 7.30pm AEDT (Sydney, NSW) for half hour guided mindfulness practice holding the qualities of gratitude and opening to life, to intention, to presence. The…

Read Blog

Postponement of Programs – Unexpected Offering for 2022

30 December 2021

Happy New Year dear friends across the world! I am deeply grateful for your presence and support over this last year. We have laughed and cried together, shared practices, stories, inspirational writing and poetry and for some of you, we have walked together in wild places. I have felt nourished,…

Read Blog

Online Memorial Ceremony for Paul

20 December 2021

Family and friends gathered online with some nervousness wondering what would happen. It can be hard to show up to something you have no idea about. What will we do? How will we connect? Will it be safe? Paul’s partner had chosen a song to open the mourning and celebration…

Read Blog

Vale, dear friend, Misha Norland

6 December 2021

Beloved Misha What am I both mourning and celebrating? The richness and integrity of our conversations, his delightful open questions. Listening to his choice of music in the ‘hallowed’ space in the sacred middle space. The walks in the woods and Devon pathways. Misha’s big smile, wise words, quiet presence…

Read Blog

Welcome to Country? Respect, Responsibility, Reciprocity

5 December 2021

Don’t just talk it, live it. As a participant in We Al-li’s* program, Dadirri, Ancient Aboriginal Mindfulness Traditions, I was listening to the introduction by lead facilitator, Judy Atkinson.  A woman I greatly admire for her clear, direct, honest communication and passion for her work. She shared a pivotal moment…

Read Blog

Honouring the Life of Ria Gimbergh

3 December 2021

A Service Of Celebration And Thanksgiving For The Life Of Anna Maria ‘Ria’ Gimbergh Bob walked slowly over to the magnolia tree. He stood a while and looked up at the creamy white and dying brown flowers. With tears in his eyes, he walked slowly back and turned to me,…

Read Blog

Celebrating the Life of Brian Trethowan

2 December 2021

A Service Of Celebration And Thanksgiving For The Life Of Brian Trethowan “Brian lived a life that was blessed with a loving family, hard work, opportunities to grow and learn and, as with every person here, he had his challenges. There are many different stories here today, each one of…

Read Blog

Pauline Lancaster – Mum, Nan, Nanny Paul, Pauline

1 December 2021

Rani, Pauline’s granddaughter pre-recording this reading which was shared at the ceremony via the platform Zoom What is Dying?  by Bishop Charles Henry Brent I am standing on the seashore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object and I stand watching her…

Read Blog

Reflections from the Funeral Ceremony for Thomas ‘Tuck’ Hall

1 December 2021

Tuck Hall. A true blue gentleman While speaking with the family of the late Tuck Hall, his daughter, Jo brought out a small carving of a white cockatoo. She shared how much her dad had loved these birds. When I was leaving the family home of the Hall Clan, on…

Read Blog

A Blessing for a Couple Coming Together

29 November 2021

There were many beautifully written pieces as we engaged with the practices of the ‘Writing and Enthusiasm’ seriously playful, creating writing session this week. I’d like to share this one written by participant, Simone Wilkie. A Blessing for a Couple Coming Together This life will be a dance together, sometimes…

Read Blog

Gumbaynggirr Healing Smoking Ceremony, Water Blessing and Paddle Out.

20 November 2021

Nearly three months ago, Emerald Beach experienced the tragedy and shock of a fatal shark attack on one of the most perfect Sunday beach mornings. It was the 5th September, 2021, Father’s Day. The young man, Tim, who died on the beach, was not long married and his beautiful wife,…

Read Blog

Blessing for a Marriage

13 November 2021

Calling in the elements to remind us of what is already here. The gifts the come from listening to the forces that touch and guide us in the most subtle yet beautiful ways. The poet John O’Donohue offers this blessing. FOR MARRIAGE As spring unfolds the dream of the earth, May…

Read Blog

Meeting Grief and Bringing Comfort In

6 November 2021

When You Meet Someone Deep in Grief Slip off your needs and set them by the door. Enter barefoot this darkened chapel hollowed by loss hollowed by sorrow its gray stone walls and floor. You, congregation of one are here to listen not to sing. Kneel in the back pew…

Read Blog

Upcoming Events

31 October 2021

Mindfulness Meditation Quiet, still awareness supporting friendliness, kindness and peace. Every Tuesday 7pm AEDT – a guided mindfulness practice with a small group of people online. Click here to register and get the link. Holding Space: Honest Conversations Mindfulness, Grounding, Deep Listening and Self Empathy. Online – Thursday 18th November…

Read Blog

Holding Space for Honest Conversations

29 October 2021

Holding space… invites us to bring a mindful presence to our interactions. A space where we want to connect, we are interested in what is being shared and also, where we foster a sense of non judgement. It doesn’t mean that we always agree or have the same views. It means…

Read Blog

Ceremony Writers’ Collective Online Program – Writing and Inspiration

27 October 2021

If you are looking for inspiration to write ceremonies or a reading; or you just want to write for yourself about love, life and loss, you will be made most welcome. Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a celebrant to join. When writing ceremonies, there are occasions that…

Read Blog

After the storm, a fresh start

19 October 2021

Preparing for my upcoming session at the Renew and Rise Virtual Festival I contemplated how I could weave the threads of my work together. A rich blend of holding space for ceremonies, the honest conversations around death and dying, the mourning and celebration circles, online memorial services, non violent communication…

Read Blog

Acknowledgement of Country and Place

15 October 2021

Acknowledgement of Country A celebrant in New Zealand requested some ideas for a ceremony she was conducting. “I have an Australian groom, who has asked me if I am able to acknowledge the ground/land that his ceremony will be held on in Queenstown – like they do in Australia with…

Read Blog

Playback Theatre

26 September 2021

Playback Theatre. Standing shoulder to shoulder, feeling slightly hotter than is comfortable and breathing a little deeper to try and rein in the racing heart, I notice that my capacity to think is diminishing rapidly, which is not necessarily a bad thing given what is about to happen. I realise…

Read Blog

Coming to Ground

24 September 2021

Coming to Ground. Bear with me while I tell you about tiredness. It can creep up on you when you’re not watching or hit you like falling off a cliff. Let me tell you about the moment that I lay on the ground and completely let go to the earth…

Read Blog

Talking with Children about Traumatic Events

22 September 2021

Building Healthy Communities -Talking with Children about Traumatic Events I am caring for my 4 and 7-year-old grandsons this weekend, here in Emerald Beach, so I opened the conversation with my daughter about taking the children to the water blessing/paddle out tomorrow that will be held at Shelley’s Beach in…

Read Blog

Mourning and Celebration Circle

18 September 2021

Mourning and Celebration Circle – how it touches people’s lives. Helena, who lives in Portugal, emailed me after her friend and colleague, Sam, thought she might be interested in a mourning and celebration circle to honour her dearest friend and partner, Pedro, who had died unexpectedly two weeks earlier.  Pedro…

Read Blog

Online Memorial Service with breakout rooms

8 September 2021

Live streaming funerals and online memorial services are becoming a norm for many who are grieving the death of a loved one.  In Australia and New Zealand the lockdowns are still happening with ‘stay at home’ orders in many regions. In NSW, funerals are limited to ten guests. People cannot…

Read Blog

Gratitude for and from a Poet

8 September 2021

GRATITUDE for being alive, for being aware, for family, friends and community, for teachers, for poets – for David Whyte who writes, “Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and…

Read Blog

Mindfulness, Heart Conversations, Life and Death

30 August 2021

Mindfulness Meditation Quiet, still awareness supporting friendliness, kindness and peace in oneself. Every Tuesday 7pm AEST – a guided mindfulness practice with a small group of people online. Click here to register and get the link. Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence A path of wisdom, compassion and peace. The current programs have…

Read Blog

Grief as Water

25 August 2021

Amitaśūrī (pronounced “Ami-ta-shoori”), is an ordained Buddhist who has spent time as a Hospital/Healthcare Chaplain in England and Scotland. The following readings are crafted from the many threads that Amitaśūrī shared about her work and life as we engaged in a conversation about illness, life, loss, grief and death. We talked about…

Read Blog

Blessing For Presence

23 August 2021

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon. May you respond to the call of your gift and find…

Read Blog

Listening to the Inner Conversation

18 August 2021

I participated in a three month online Conversational Leadership program with the poet, David Whyte. earlier this year. David’s first invitation was to ask, ‘What conversations do you want to stop having?’ It struck a deep chord within. What conversations do I want to stop having? Having just finished 14 days…

Read Blog

Grief for an Unexpected Death

11 August 2021

If you would like co-create a personal reading for a ceremony of any kind please contact me. I offer my services freely and together we can find the words to express what is calling from the heart. Ranjitha and I worked on this reading together after a young family member died….

Read Blog

Wisdom of a Bear

4 August 2021

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.” Worldly Wisdom according to…

Read Blog

Welcome to the Ceremony

30 July 2021

I feel light of spirit as I share the good news. Module 2 in the inspiring series of creative writing support and prompts for the Ceremony Writers’ Collective has just been released. Welcome to the Ceremony, offers a daily writing prompt over 14 days to stir open the possibilities for crafting…

Read Blog

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin – Songs in the Heart

22 July 2021

Celebrating This Precious Life was indeed in the air with our special guest poet and musician, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin who joined us for one of the sessions of the current Death and Dying program. “Mesmerising Irish story-telling, song and profound, profound messages. Very touched by it all. Thank you.” “What an amazing…

Read Blog

Stimulus and Response in Relationship

15 July 2021

The stimulus and response in relationship is often lightning quick. “Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds.” This is the invitational…

Read Blog

Condolence Letters of Love and Care

7 July 2021

Condolence Letters of Care and Love Oftentimes, people are unsure of what to say to those who have experienced the death of someone very close to them. Carol, whose husband died unexpectedly, shared these two ‘love notes’ from neighbours that expressed to her a sense of connection, care and that…

Read Blog

Life is a Great Big Canvas

30 June 2021

Life is a great big canvas, with the possibility of many colours, strokes and styles emerging from the unknown. When a family contacts me to conduct a funeral ceremony the possibilities are endless as to what might happen. The openness, creativity, friendliness and engagement of Jane in her funeral planning…

Read Blog

What Death Means

23 June 2021

I mentioned in an earlier blog, that when I first became a funeral celebrant one of my favourite books was, A Book of Eulogies; edited with commentary by Phyllis Theroux. It was a gem for many different reasons. Examples of well crafted eulogies, stories and a chapter on, What Death…

Read Blog

It’s OK

14 June 2021

As I prepare a funeral ceremony with a 74 year old man, who is in palliative care, he shares a few stories with me. The retelling is slow as his mind wanders, yet I could sit for a long time even in the silence between the words. It is frustrating…

Read Blog

A Eulogy to Remember

9 June 2021

When I was learning to be a funeral celebrant over 20 years ago, one of my favourite books was, A Book of Eulogies; edited with commentary by Phyllis Theroux. (Scribner 1997). There are many yellow sticky markers throughout the pages noting favourite phrases and intriguing perspectives. I was inspired by the…

Read Blog

Dance: Moving to the Deep Rhythms of Your Life

2 June 2021

A Reading by Oriah “Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance, the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart, and I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make my…

Read Blog

You Matter

26 May 2021

In a world culture that is seemingly focused on big, bigger, biggest, best and bestest… this invitation is to come as you are. Whatever groove you are in, whatever dance you are dancing, whatever storm has caught you, creative piece you are creating or sunset you are watching, you are…

Read Blog

Leaving on His Own Terms

19 May 2021

The sun was shining across the wide expanse of ocean at Woolgoogla Beach – sparkling, magnificence to make one smile at the wonder of this natural landscape on our doorstep. It was a beautiful day for an ‘exit party’ as the Shorter family called it. The atmosphere was filled with…

Read Blog

Look to This Day!

12 May 2021

A Blessing by Kalidasa Look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course Lie all the verities and realities of your existence: The bliss of growth The glory of action The splendour of beauty For yesterday is but a dream And tomorrow only a…

Read Blog

A Ritual for Closure – After Divorce or a Separation.

5 May 2021

This couple’s story of their ritual of closure happened quite spontaneously after a few years of painful interactions and challenges. “We were engaging in yet another fight over the same issue that we had been unable to find connection and resolve over. I can still recall the moment very clearly….

Read Blog

Adrienne Rich – An Honourable Human Relationship

29 April 2021

Adrienne Rich, the American poet, essayist and feminist activist wrote prolifically about honest, alive and meaningful conversations encompassing love, loss and integrity. The following three quotes inspire an enlivening radical honesty to be a welcome mainstay in an ‘honourable human relationship’. Each of these have been used as part of…

Read Blog

Isa Lei, Farewell

25 April 2021

If you have had the pleasure of visiting a Fijian island, you may have heard the song, Isa Lei, that is often played as you board the boat to leave and wave farewell. I feel the mourning in this song and, in the same breath, feel the gratitude and love. …

Read Blog

Live a Life that Matters

19 April 2021

What does it take to live a life that matters? Karen was bold and funny, brave and honest and incredibly loyal to those she loved as a mother, sister, aunty, colleague and dear friend. She was a woman who lived life with authenticity and engaging in honest conversations. It was…

Read Blog

Elder – this is where your life has arrived

17 April 2021

There comes a time when all that has been lived, learned, loved and lost may need space for integration and to be honoured. A space to connect to that which has held you throughout all these adventures, struggles, challenges and … arriving home. A space to lean into the ‘quiet…

Read Blog

The Ceremony of Meeting, Sharing and Planning

9 April 2021

Walking into the front room, a middle aged woman, eyes blotchy and tired, stood up from the lounge chair and moved towards me. She falters as a wave of emotion washes over her face. She wants to see me and yet she doesn’t. She would rather her son was living…

Read Blog

Events for April 2021

31 March 2021

NOTE CHANGE to AEST – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA Online Mindfulness Meditation – Every Tuesday 7-7.30pm AEST Foster a sense of peace, presence and connection. To join click this Zoom Link at 7pm AEST on Tuesdays. Everyone welcome. Freely offered. Online Empathy Circles Freely offered. Language: English. For more information click here….

Read Blog

Children, Stars and Where The Wild Things Are.

20 March 2021

As celebrants we use many resources to write our ceremonies. In particular, the stories of our clients, our inner creative flow in response to these stories and also, the inclusion of readings, poetry and the inspired writing from others. A quote, like the words of wisdom from Aragorn, a character…

Read Blog

Circling in for the Bride

14 March 2021

Jane rang me five weeks out from her wedding with concerns that her marriage celebrant wasn’t returning her calls. They had paid a booking fee yet hadn’t met with the celebrant to lodge the notice of intent to marry form. Jane was concerned that they would miss the deadline and…

Read Blog

Welcome to Country

7 March 2021

At a recent funeral ceremony, the family had requested a local indigenous elder, Micklo Jarrett, to come and share a Welcome to Country. The rain was so heavy as I was driving to the venue that I nearly pulled over to wait for it to pass. Half an hour before the ceremony…

Read Blog

Events for March 2021

28 February 2021

Nourishing, inspiring and deeply connecting. Weekly meditation sessions, monthly empathy circles, two sessions of Celebrating This Precious Life – Honest Conversations about Death and Dying and NEW Celebrant Writing Group. See details below or visit  my Events page. Mindfulness Meditation – Every Tuesday 7-7.30pm AEDT A 30 minute, freely offered,…

Read Blog

The Weather Comes and Goes. Vast Spaciousness Always Present

24 February 2021

It’s been very stormy here in Gumbaynggirr country,  on the northern NSW coast. Thunderstorms and lightning, sunny breaks, heavy rain… quite unpredictable, wild and beautiful and, beyond all this weather coming and going, a vast spacious expansive sky. With so much uncertainty and many changes occurring in our outer world…

Read Blog

You Are All Stardust

16 February 2021

As I was crafting a ceremony for a young man who died unexpectedly from an illness, I was moved by his parents, Sarah and David*, sharing stories of their 22 year old son, Peter*, growing up. Aside from his love of nature and being outdoors he was into quantum physics….

Read Blog

A glass of tea, water, wine and champagne!

10 February 2021

It was hot and humid in the late morning sun on the beachside lawns. Mike and his guests were relaxing in the shade of the casuarinas to one side of the resort garden. Gemma’s mum came through from the reception area to let me know that Gemma had to make…

Read Blog

Stop and Breathe… it can take practice!

2 February 2021

This 2 minute 40 second meditation is a useful for tool for cultivating a mindful presence so that when we need it in a tricky or challenging situation we have developed our ‘on the go’ mindfulness muscle. It’s a great way to check in, ‘What’s alive for you in this moment?’…

Read Blog

The Power of Deep Listening

27 January 2021

Dadirri – inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. “In the ceremonies we celebrate the awareness of our lives as sacred” Respected indigenous elder, Aunty Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann received the Australian Senior of the Year Award 2021. Her acceptance speech was very moving. You can listen to it here. …

Read Blog

One with the Ocean

25 January 2021

On Thursday, we came together as a community to say goodbye to Frank. Frank lived well, playfully and with passion. He was much loved by his wife, family and community. There were many beautiful reflections on his generosity, kindness and love of life, of being one with the ocean. One…

Read Blog

Remembering a Handwritten Ceremony

10 January 2021

From when I was first registered in 1995, way before Facebook was imagined, I used to take a photograph of every couple and had multiple, beautiful albums filled with photos and thank you cards. Today, as I decluttered filing cabinets and cupboards, I came across all the photo albums. Pages…

Read Blog

Mindfulness and Loving Kindness

5 January 2021

Life can be challenging, beautiful, stressful, crazy, ugly, divine. Sourcing an inner sense of wellbeing and peace often has to be cultivated, nurtured and nourished so that you can access this presence and stillness no matter what arises. Each week you are welcome to join me for a free online…

Read Blog

Death is Your Real Nature

2 January 2021

The statement ‘death is your real nature’ may make no sense. Yet, this concept is well-known in Vedic traditions offering great comfort to the living and dying.  It is said that the one of the main fears for humans is the fear of death. Not death itself, rather the thoughts…

Read Blog

Happy New Year!

31 December 2020

Happy New Year! This dragonfruit flower bloomed today as the dawn was breaking. Its glory may be short-lived yet I celebrated its beauty and offering to the world – to the bee’s, to our family and people who pass by and stop and gaze into the intricate and delicate cup….

Read Blog

Inspiring Wedding Ceremony Readings

20 December 2020

Wedding ceremony readings come in all shapes and forms and it can be a challenge to source one that speaks to you or the couple 100%. For a start, people use and understand the word love in many ways – love for another, love for the world, love for life,…

Read Blog

Befriending Death, Embracing Life

15 December 2020

Apparently, one of humanity’s greatest fears is ‘Death’ and, from my experience it is quite often a taboo topic enforced by unspoken social or familial codes or agreements that one should not be morbid or jinx or tempt fate or upset or …. fill in the gaps with whatever reasons…

Read Blog

The Trauma Hold for Times of Stress

12 December 2020

How to come back into the body under stress.

Read Blog

Peter and Lauren’s wedding

10 December 2020

Peter and Lauren had a beautiful afternoon for their rehearsal – blue skies and a cool breeze. Lauren’s mum, Angela, and her father, Derek, were going to walk with Lauren from the car to where the guests would be seated. At this point, her father would shake hands with Lauren’s…

Read Blog

Memorial Ceremony – Tenth Anniversary

7 December 2020

Planning a Memorial Ceremony Online. Mike’s wife, Shania and adult children, Tarn and Bryn and their close family friend, Sarah, organised an online memorial ceremony on the tenth anniversary of Mike’s death. Sarah took responsibility for all of the IT aspects, Zoom set up, invitations and emails. Friends and family,…

Read Blog

A Wedding Candle with Meaning

5 December 2020

Sonya and Brett had a small wedding candle decorated for each of their guests with different values or ‘universal needs’ written on the side – Joy, Peace, Belonging, To Matter, Respect, Fun, Trust, Love, etc. Each guest was given a wedding candle as they entered the ceremony venue. The usher…

Read Blog

On the Death of the Beloved

29 November 2020

Death and grief can touch us in many different ways. We can feel an openhearted, acceptance of the death of a loved one and then, without any warning, a song, a smell, a memory and we can be crying and aching to the core of our bones. Mourning the loss…

Read Blog

Handfasting Ceremony

2 November 2020

I was invited to conduct a handfasting ceremony on a beautiful farming property up on the Dorrigo plateau in northern NSW.  The garden, where the ceremony was held, was a maze of pathways that were an invitation to wander through the terraced beds of flowers and shrubs down to a…

Read Blog

Alternative Wedding Music

30 October 2020

Calling in all Guests – Alternative Wedding Music If you are looking for alternative wedding music, you might want to go for something very personal to call in your guests. This following wedding ‘processional’ was unique and a joy to listen to and be a part of. The excitement of…

Read Blog

Getting Your Affairs in Order

24 October 2020

Creating an Advanced Care Directive, writing a will… hard topics to broach? There is plenty of support to get you started and it’s amazing how many people actually find it’s a relief to talk about things that are super important to them. It can provoke questions and answers that can…

Read Blog

Special Teen Birthday Gift

14 October 2020

Birthday Gift for a Teen Finding a birthday gift for a teenager can be challenging when so much is happening in their lives. Their hormones and bodies are changing rapidly, priorities are shifting, relationships are developing; and they have a growing awareness and focus on their sense of self and…

Read Blog

Before I die…

13 October 2020

Artist, Candy Chang, created the first ‘Before I Die…’ wall on an abandoned house in New Orleans after the death of someone she loved that left her world shattered. For a long time, Candy struggled with grief and depression and she became acutely aware of how few people engaged with honest…

Read Blog

A Blessing For a Wedding by Rev. Carl Thitchener

1 October 2020

There are many joys and challenges to be welcomed in a marriage and this reading by Rev. Carl Thitchener captures the essence of what is needed. A blessing for a wedding can stir in the couple and the guests a sense of the sacredness of the journey and the mystery!…

Read Blog

Divorce Ceremony for Alinta

30 September 2020

Alinta needed understanding, acceptance and forgiveness and to move forward. This ceremony helped her.

Read Blog

The Birthday Blessing

10 September 2020

Turning 16

Read Blog

Wedding Budget Planner

1 September 2020

For celebrants: I provided many easy resources on my website for wedding couples to access which helped to foster a sense of care and trust. The Wedding Budget Planner was an email I sent out with my information kit. Wedding Budget Planner Whether you are planning a simple gathering of…

Read Blog

Wedding, Naming and Funeral Songs

16 August 2020

Emotive wedding or funeral songs, a playful naming song…whatever tracks you choose for your ceremony, music is a key component because it can evoke our connection with joy, love, mourning and loss, stillness and movement –  the very essence of life and death. Stephen Hough (concert pianist and blogger) writes in…

Read Blog

Ceremony Candles for Every Occasion

16 August 2020

Ritual and Ceremony candles Ritual and ceremony candles have been around for years. Having visited more old churches, chapels and cathedrals in Europe, than my teenage son appreciated, I was touched by how many of them offer the invitation to light a candle to ask for support, offer gratitude or…

Read Blog

Wedding Checklist

15 August 2020

Wedding checklist – When, what and who to do list! Planning your wedding day can create more space and ease as you know exactly what’s what.

Read Blog

The Wedding Party

14 August 2020

The Wedding Party. What do they do? When? What’s the best way to make this wedding flow? Delegate. Read more.

Read Blog

Blessingway Love Letter to an Unborn Grandchild

13 August 2020

Couchy Creek Road – a letter/story written by indigenous woman, Beth Wrigley, to her yet to be born grandchild, on the occasion of her daughter-in-law’s blessingway ceremony. My dear little grandchild, There was a gathering at the river – a celebration of you growing so big in your mummy’s tummy….

Read Blog

Emma’s Naming Ceremony

12 August 2020

Emma’s Naming Ceremony was held at the popular Boambee Creek Reserve. John and Alicia arrived with John’s parents, Les and Val, and their close friends, Niki and Pete and their daughter, Jenna. It was to be a small gathering as Alicia’s parents and also. the godparents couldn’t attend. Pete recorded the…

Read Blog

It takes a village…to nurture a marriage. Wedding ideas to engage the support of your guests

11 August 2020

Wedding ideas to get your guests onboard for the journey. Gathering your family and friends around for the wedding ceremony can be awesome. Lots of love, laughter, dancing, hugging…it’s a community affair. Here are some great wedding  ideas to engage your guests in being advocates for your marriage, long after…

Read Blog

Humorous Wedding Vows

10 August 2020

What fun I have had writing a ceremony for a beautiful young couple getting married in a very small and intimate ceremony. I had 16 pages of heartfelt love letters to read – what a privilege to share in their appreciation and love for each other. They also wanted a…

Read Blog

Presents and Presence

9 August 2020

The presence of family and friends in the life of a couple and a family can be a true blessing. Having a community of close people who uphold and support them through all the changes, without judgement or pressure is a great gift. The demonstration of family and community support…

Read Blog

In Lieu of Flowers

8 August 2020

In lieu of flowers, I would wish for you to flower. I would wish for you to blossom, to open, to be beautiful.

Read Blog

How do you connect to yourself and others?

7 August 2020

Putting aside all ideas of right and wrong… and opening to connect, to really listen.

Read Blog

What is sacred union, love, marriage?

6 August 2020

What is Marriage? What is Love?

Read Blog

Funerals in times of Covid-19

5 August 2020

A drive-by funeral tribute

Read Blog

That early morning quiet space

4 August 2020

Waking in the peace of mindfulness

Read Blog

Crying for joy, for sadness, for remembering

3 August 2020

It was clear that the tears were not going to stop for a while…

Read Blog

Congratulations Sarah and Mike!

2 August 2020

Despite the long term obstacles of distance and time apart…

Read Blog

Wedding planner

2 August 2020

No matter what stage you are at in planning your wedding, I hope you find some valuable tips in my wedding planner to make your wedding flow with ease! Wedding Planner 6 to 12 months before the wedding Layout your wedding planner – go through this list and determine your…

Read Blog

Wendy and Roger’s celebration 2008

31 July 2020

In 2008, my partner and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary of being together. If you’re curious, there is no rhyme or reason for celebrating 11 not 10 years as is the custom in our western culture! Having been a celebrant for all of these years I had come to know…

Read Blog

Epitaph on a sun soaked rock

30 July 2020

I love walking and resting on sun soaked rocks… “Epitaph for a Romantic Woman” by Louise Bogan She has attained the permanence She dreamed of, where old stones lie sunning. What might be your epitaph?

Read Blog

Mindfulness of the hands

29 July 2020

Practicing mindfulness of the body can help us to regulate stress. Bringing your attention to each part of the body, like the hands, can draw our mind into being curious, alert and attentive to what is, as it is. Watching the sensations that come and go, that may be pleasant…

Read Blog

An Extra Day for Playing

28 July 2020

Create a plan for the lead up to your celebration day. Mark the day before your ceremony out of the diary. On that day, there will be no running about, picking up things, calling suppliers. Plan for an extra day for playing.  Leave the day before your celebration as free…

Read Blog

Divorce. Separation. Saying goodbye, I love you.

27 July 2020

Divorce. Happily Ever After? Divorce can be a challenging path to traverse. How do we say goodbye to one we have both fallen in love with … and out of love with? And how do we say goodbye with love, with respect? This is not an exercise in semantics of what…

Read Blog

Saying ‘I Do’ in the Rain

26 July 2020

The warmer, sunny winter days are perfect for outdoor weddings. I was chatting with a couple who were getting married in the local Botanic Garden – the ceremony was to be in a beautiful spot by the lake. I asked them what they had planned in case of wet weather….

Read Blog

Riley and Tristan’s Naming Day

25 July 2020

I had conducted El and Dave’s wedding ceremony and their daughter, Maia’s naming ceremony when they called me to discuss their son, Riley’s, naming ceremony.

Read Blog

Treasure Chests and Time Capsules for Wedding Ceremonies

24 July 2020

Meaningful rituals and ceremonies can offer support and a sense of belonging in both the positive and challenging times.

Read Blog

0