My most recent wedding ceremony took place in the cozy back patio space at the Duck & Bunny in Providence, RI.

When I met with the bride and groom to talk about their intentions for their ceremony, they said that they really wanted it to feel like a big party with a wedding in the middle, rather than having the wedding ceremony be the main event. And I think that is just what we were able to create; a nice short and simple wedding ceremony wrapped by a lovely afternoon party.

Before the ceremony started (I always arrive about an hour early to get settled in and coordinate with other vendors) I spent some time inside the Duck & Bunny, enjoying the cozy, sweetness of the place while the bride and groom greeted each of their guests personally as they arrived.

And then it was out to the back patio where the ceremony took place.

After the ceremony, I stuck around to hear the groom’s young son give his (flawless!) best man’s speech and then as I exited through the restaurant, I paused to take one last photo of the bride’s beautiful homemade paper flower bouquet.

It was a relaxing afternoon at a lovely venue and I am grateful that I got to be a part of it.

{ 0 comments }

At each wedding I perform, I always find myself pulling out my iPhone to photograph some of the sweet details of the ceremony and reception site and so today I thought I would start a new feature here on my blog: scenes from a wedding.  In it I will include a few photographs from each wedding with a short description of the ceremony.

Come, join me with a peek into my latest wedding ceremony…

This past weekend I had the honor of officiating a Hindu-Western Fusion Ceremony.

The bride’s family took the lead on the Hindu traditions and I served as a guide to give guests an overview of what to expect and then took over and led the Western portion of the ceremony.

The ceremony began when the groom arrived and his family and friends led his car into the estate while drums played. It was one of the most festive and celebratory greetings I have ever been witness to. Shortly after, the bride arrived and walked down the petal-covered aisle, barefoot, as is customary in Hindu ceremonies.

During the the first part of the ceremony, the bride and groom exchanged Garlands and walked the Seven Steps of Marriage. The bride’s family sang blessings.

As the bride and groom removed their garlands and put on their shoes, I took over the ceremony, leading a traditional Western wedding ceremony, where the bride and groom exchanged their “I do’s,” were pronounced married and had their first official kiss as husband and wife.

It was absolutely beautiful from start to finish and it was an honor to be part the day.

(Setting: Wetherledge Estate in Jamestown, RI)

{ 0 comments }

I begin (again)

by eringoodman on May 23, 2014

in breathing space, energy management

A photograph on the wall at my doctor’s office.

It was part of my annual exam.

A simple question that followed the typical discussion about my anxiety and depression and how I am doing with managing my moods.

“Do you meditate regularly?” she asked.

I wanted to jump in and say, “Oh yes, of course I do,” but before answering I mentally scanned the previous months.

“Not exactly regularly,” I said. “But I do meditate. Er…I mean I know how to meditate and I have taught others how to meditate and I’m very mindful in my day to day life but ummm…I’ve been busy…” my voice trailed off.

I knew where this conversation was going. And I knew I needed to face the truth. I have not been practicing what I teach. I’ve let busy slide in and tucked my yoga mat and my meditation cushion away, waiting for the perfect circumstances to arrive so I could pull them back out.

“You really should be meditating daily,” she said. “Just 20 minutes each day is enough to tell the nervous system that it is safe to relax, which has a ripple effect on all the body’s systems.”

I took my scripts for various blood work and my first mammogram (I just entered my 40s last month!), but it was the prescription for meditation that really stuck with me.

In the coming days, I made an effort, not to sit for 20 minutes, but to pause for micro-meditations throughout my day, to catch myself reaching for my cell phone to fill a void with Facebook or Instagram. I reminded myself that it is the breath that leads me into a meditative state and revisited my own guided meditations on Three Deep Breaths.

Slowly, I am finding my way back to my seat, remembering how good it feels to commune with my own quiet, inner knowing.

Slowly, I begin (again).

How about you? Do you meditate regularly? Tell us about your experience with meditation (or your hesitation to try it) in the comments. Let’s inspire each other!

{ 12 comments }

Why I go to church (this week)

by eringoodman on March 9, 2014

in essays+reflections

This morning I attended my beloved Unitarian Universalist church.

This may not seem significant, or blog-worthy, except that it’s been well over a year since I have attended Sunday services and so today I found myself reflecting on what I love about being part of a UU church community.

I love the energy of gathering.

Today, despite “losing an hour” of sleep, I arrived early and sat in the center of the gathering energy — the welcoming committee at the door greeting each arrival, the choir rehearsing one last time before service starts, friends hugging and catching up. It’s such a beautiful energy of excitement and anticipation.

I love the ritual.

Our church service begins with the sounding of a singing bowl. I love that the bustle of gathering instantly quiets as the bowl is sounded, the energy of gathering giving way to the energy of settling and being present. Without words, information is conveyed that it is now time to begin our worship service.

I love the community.

Announcements at the beginning of service, flyers hanging on the bulletin board in the community room. I love the people and their interests and all of the magical events and gatherings that spin out of this vibrant community.

I love the choir.

Whether I’m singing in the choir or sitting back in the audience, tapping my toes and taking in the beautiful music, I love how the presence of a choir elevates the mood and invites sacred transcendence into the room.

I love the religious education program.

I love that the RE program is a place for children and youth to be seen and celebrated for who they are and that they are exposed to the world’s major religions and spiritual thinkers while being encouraged to follow their own path.

I love that all are welcome.

I love being part of a UU church where all are welcome. I love the huge rainbow flag that hangs by the front door and all it represents as well as the fact that everyone who gathers together is encouraged to follow (and share about) his or her own personal spiritual path.

I love coming home.

People often refer to our church community as family and for me the experience is much the same. I love that our church is a place of eternal welcome, where I can slide away for a few weeks (or several months) and always be welcomed back with open arms and a warm embrace.

* * *

All of this is true, my friends. And yet, I still wander and go for long stretches without attending services.

Why?

Because sometimes I don’t feel like going to church. Sometimes I’d rather take a hike or attend a yoga class or snuggle up on the couch with my children. Sometimes life gets crazy and getting to church becomes one more thing that has to be done, one more day that an alarm must be set, and I find other ways to nurture my spirituality.

I find ritual in making a pot of tea and transcendence in the way the light hits the floor and community in a Sunday afternoon potluck.

For me the important thing is not how I nurture my spirituality (and that of my children) but that I do make space to nurture our spirituality — at home, in nature, or with our church community.

How about you, my friends? Do you go to church (temple or synagogue) regularly, occasionally or not at all? How is this working for you and your family? Please share and inspire us with your words.

 

{ 11 comments }

My take on the LEGO movie

by eringoodman on February 9, 2014

in essays+reflections, mixed media

 

On Friday night, with our obligatory $5 bag of popcorn in hand, we settled into the back row of the theater, which my seven-year-old thinks are the very best seats.

We were there — along with the rest of the packed theater — to see the LEGO Movie.

Prior to going, I had watched the trailer and had heard from my son how very awesome the movie was going to be. I was excited to be there with him on opening night and had an  open mind about the movie, which I’ll admit would not be one I would see if it weren’t for the gentle prodding of my son for weeks leading up to the release.

Over the years, my beloved son has helped me to stretch out of my comfort zone with his love for video games and all things “shooting.” A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Dave and Buster’s, I even joined him for a few rounds of a zombie shooting game, which previously I would have not allowed.

(We started with a “no shooting games” rule, which was later adapted to “no shooting humans” so a game that involves shooting ghost-like skeletons or animated robots is now on the approved list.)

Remaining conscious of the impact of violence, even animated violence, while at the same time respecting our son and his interest in being part of pop culture is a fine line – one that we are walking with great care.

And so there we were, on opening night, at the LEGO  Movie and when the theater darkened and the no cell phones reminders came on, the excitement was palpable.

Everything was great. The movie was hilarious and the children’s laughter in the theater was a balm to the soul. And then about 15 minutes in, the “bad guy” entered and things got a little, shall we say, intense.

I am a Highly Sensitive Person and I realize that I experience on screen violence in a way that is more intense than the average person, but still the basic story line of the movie is Armageddon in LEGO land.

It was animated. It was LEGOs. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder why the movie had to be so violent.

Are we not yet making the connection between the diet of increasingly violent images that we are feeding our children and our distraught over the increase of violent actions taken by teenagers and young adults?

* * *

So what was my son’s take on the violence in the movie?

The next morning, I initiated a conversation about it to see how he had been affected by the hundreds of explosions  and all the shooting throughout the movie.

Me:

“I was a little surprised by how violent the movie was. There was a lot of  ‘blowing up’ that happened. What did you think of that?”

His response:

“Seriously, mama? It’s LEGOs. If you blow them up you just put them back together again. No big deal.”

The truth — as it often does — probably lies somewhere in the middle of “no big deal” and “way too violent” and each family will have to make a decision that is right for them, but I do think this is a conversation worth having.

Your turn. Did you see the LEGO movie this weekend? What do you think?


{ 8 comments }