Two Cent's in your Mail

Saturday, April 21, 2012

 "We Did It Our Way"

When Carl and I were married, we chose to have an Irish Handfasting Ceremony instead of the "traditional" wedding vows that most couples use today. Some people did not understand what this meant, and others were absolutely fascinated by it when we told them what we planned on doing. Anytime I tell anyone how we got married, they are surprised, and interested by it, and ask so many questions. After explaining all of it, and the reasons why we did it, every single person's response has been so overwhelming, and just amazing. Most of the women cry, lol. The beautiful woman in Grand Cayman who registered us for our papers told us not only did she cry, and was she so touched by our vows, but she emailed our ceremony to her daughter. She said she "felt" our vows to the very core of her heart. She said that she knew our wedding was not just a ceremony, but it was a true marriage. When someone tells you that, it is truly an honor. I was crying right there in the Georgetown office, and it was so emotional, and we hadn't even said one vow yet. :-)

Below is just a small explanation of what an Irish Handfasting is, and the history of the ceremony. Why it began, how it began, and how it has sculptured and molded the ceremonies of modern times. Yes, Pagan ceremonies were the FIRST ceremonies. :-) Yes, they were spiritual, beautiful, and yes, they were a binding contract between a man and a woman, before churches, before religion, before all of the nonsense began. I am so proud to be Irish. So proud that my heritage is so strong, so rich in culture and history, with color, diversity, and blarney. :-) It's good to be Irish.

Handfasting is an old Irish ceremony of commitment. The ceremony formalized a relationship, whether an engagement, a trial marriage, a permanent marriage, or optimistically, a marriage over several lifetimes. This Celtic ceremony of unity, whatever the terms, represents the intention of two (and nowadays sometimes more) people to make their lives together and ideally to love and cherish one another.

The Celtic harvest festival, Lughnasa, celebrated on August 1, was greeted with great anticipation not only because it expressed gratitude for the harvest, but because by the end of it, many couples had formed, were handfasted, and went off for a year of marriage to renew their vows the following year---that “year-and-a-day”---or not, as the case may be.

Though handfasting goes back to the mists of ancient times in Ireland, as do the Brehon laws, when marriages were not always what today we think of as “traditional,” it was practiced even in Christian Ireland. There were not always priests around to perform the wedding ceremony, and love, like time, prefers to wait for no man. It was not even a requirement that the marriage be witnessed for it to be legally binding once the couple had performed the ceremony.

Under Brehon law, there was an understanding that marriages didn’t always work out, and incompatible couples needn’t stay together, but the care of children, division of property, and inheritances were serious matters, and provisions were made under these sophisticated laws.

Irish wedding ceremonies are rife with symbolism, and handfasting is no exception. In handfasting, the wrists of the couple are bound together with a ribbon or cord. Each partner holds the hands of the other---right hand to right hand, left hand to left---their wrists crossed. The ribbon is wound around the wrists over the top of one and under and around the other, thus creating the infinity symbol. It is said that this ritual is the origin of the term “tying the knot.” The vows are spoken and the celebration commenced.

In a Celtic ceremony, everything has meaning: the music, the flowers, the braids in the bride’s hair, the rings---now often Claddagh rings---and even the use of evergreen garland around the doorways.

Though some may think that the symbols used in these ancient rituals are somehow anti-religious, make no mistake; they may be hold-overs from pagan times, but they are valid representatives of the things we humans hold precious. They speak to the collective unconscious, to the inner person. Do you shake hands? Does a suitor ask for the hand of a woman in marriage? And when we marry, do we promise to love the other forever…and a day?

The following is our ceremony, word for word, as it was written by myself, with the two lines added lines by Joy Basdeo, those that are required by law in the Cayman Islands. I had sent her what I had written by email, a few weeks before we were to fly to Grand Cayman for our Wedding/Honeymoon. I expected a response with some corrections and a polite reply. Her response was surprising, heartwarming, and genuine. I count my blessings every time I think of the moment I found her website. She was so warm, and kind, and so wonderful to us. She was very respectful of our wishes for the Handfasting, and performed our ceremony as if she had done hundreds of them before. I highly recommend that anyone going to the Caribbean to be married to contact Joy. Our pictures were taken by the beautiful Yvette McField.  

We are gathered here where the sun meets the sky, the sky meets the water, and the water meets the land to witness and bless the vows of Carl and Penny, as they are joined in marriage.

In marriage, two people share all their dreams and goals, their weaknesses and strengths. In marriage, two people share all the joys and sorrows of life, and all the supreme pleasures. In marriage, two people share all their emotions and feelings, all their tears and laughter.

Marriage is the most fulfilling relationship one can have, and the love that you share as husband and wife is beautiful, forever.

Carl and Penny, to this celebration you bring the fullness of your hearts as a treasure to share with one another. You bring the dreams that bind you together. You bring that particular personality and spirit which is uniquely your own, and out of which will grow the reality of your life together. We rejoice with you in this outward symbol of an inward union of hearts; a union created by friendship, trust, respect, and love.

Today you wish to be joined in marriage. I am required to ask you if you know any reason why you many not be lawfully married to each other, to declare it now.

Since no reason has been declared, please take each other by the right hand.

Carl, do you take Penny as your wife, to be your friend and companion, to share your life and your love through all the days of your lives? (Carl~I do)

Penny, do you take Carl as your husband, to be your friend and companion, to share your life and your love through all the days of your lives? (Penny~I do)

Carl and Penny, you both have already weathered many challenges together. You have met them with humor, understanding and compassion. In careful consideration of both the beauty and the obligations assumed when lives are wed, we are here today to rejoice and celebrate one of life’s richest gifts~ the love you share.

These rings are the token of the vows you will say to each other, and the promises you will make. They are circles of wholeness, perfect in form, may these rings always glow in reflection of the love you share and the pledges made to each other. Please take your rings and put them on each other’s left hands.

May your rings always reflect the love you share, and forever remind you of this day, this hour, and this moment. Now will you repeat your vows to each other. Penny, will you say what you have prepared for Carl.

I choose you to be my husband. To live with you, and to laugh with you. To walk by your side, in love with kindness, with loyalty, with honor and respect. I promise to always cherish you as my companion, my confidant, and my best friend. From the dreams in our hearts to our dreams coming true. From each of our yesterdays to all of our forever’s, I give all the love of my heart to you, and to you only.

Will you love him and keep this pledge on your hope of Tir Na nOg? (Tear-nan-oak) Penny~I will

I choose you to be my wife. To live with you, and to laugh with you. To walk by your side, in love, with kindness, with loyalty, with honor and respect. I promise to always cherish you as my companion, my confidant, and my best friend. From the dreams in our hearts to our dreams coming true. From each of our yesterdays to all of our forever’s, I give all of the love of my heart to you, and to you only.

Officiant~ Will you love her and keep this pledge on the hope of Tir Na nOg? (Tear -nan-oak) Carl~I will

Officiant binds the hands with the Hand fasting cords.

 Anam Cara

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. The old Irish term Anam Cara is translated as soul friend. When you have an Anam Cara, you are joined in an ancient and eternal way with the person who is a friend of your soul. There is a deep sense of belonging and recognition. You are understood as you are and you are at home. When you feel understood, you can release yourself into the trust and shelter of another person’s soul and they can release themselves into you. This kind of soul love is the most real, substantial and powerful form of human presence because it is the place or threshold where human presence and divine presence move in and out of each other.

Officiant holds the ends of the cords~

May you be encircled in love and safety. May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again- May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Officiant removes Hand fasting cords, and holds them in her binder as she continues~

Let us rejoice this day in the marriage of Carl and Penny. Let us celebrate the love that brought them to this day, the love that has deepened through the years. May you continue to know its meaning and its mystery. May the enchantment which you hold for one another grow in strength and beauty, and may you be ennobled by the blessings that comes to those who truly love. May your home be a sanctuary of welcome for all who enter it, a place for growth, a place for music, a place for laughter. And when shadows and darkness fall within its rooms, may it still be a place of hope and warmth for all who enter it. May those nearest you continue to be enriched by the beauty and the bounty of your love for each other. May you live in peace and joy, and may you grow old together…on one pillow.

For as much as Carl and Penny have grown in knowledge and love of one another, and because they have agreed in their desire to go forward in life together, seeking an even richer, deepening relationship, and because they have pledged to meet life’s challenges together, in accordance with the laws of the Cayman Islands, and by the authority vested in me, I pronounce that Carl and Penny , are Husband and Wife, Anam Cara eternal.

Carl, you may now kiss your wife~

~Upper Heyford Elementary School, England~

" Upper Heyford High School was established in the Fall of 1966, in an old barracks where prisoners of war were sometimes held during World War II. Most of the students and faculty came from American bases in France after French President Charles DeGaulle withdrew his country from military involvement with NATO and told the American armed forces to leave.

There was an elementary school and a junior high school at Upper Heyford at the time, but high school students attended Lakenheath High School, staying in dorms during the school week and returning home on weekends. However, when the Americans who had been in France arrived at Upper Heyford and High Wycombe, there were far too many new students for Lakenheath to accomodate, and there wasn't time to build a new high school, so the old barracks were made available and became Upper Heyford High School. Maroon and white was selected as the school colors, and Rick Hunter '68 and Mike Brown '69, came up with the school nickname, the Hadites.

It wasn't pretty, and some of the roofs leaked when it rained, and we froze our butts off in the winter because half the pipe radiators in the classrooms didn't work, but it was ours!! We didn't even have a gym, we had to take a bus over to the base gym, or walk if we missed the bus, and we didn't have a football field... our home games were played on a field over at Croughton, but we were having the time of our lives, and many of my friends back then are still my best friends today!!

In the Fall of 1975, the school closed at Upper Heyford and was moved to RAF Croughton, but was still called Upper Heyford High School until the end of the Spring semester in 1982. Beginning with the Fall semester of 1982, the school officially became Croughton High School. With the end of the Cold War and reduction of American forces in Europe, CHS was closed in 1997, bringing an end to the Hadite legacy. The school may be closed, but our Hadite spirit lives on... "

~"Hash yer vasti haz save, hash anha varraggak yera ma lekhoon zhorre yeroon!"~

So, I know what you are thinking...probably actually saying, out loud, "what in the hell does that mean?"

“If you say that again, I will choke you with your own tongue!”

It is in Dothraki, the now real and recognized language from the popular book series, "A Game of Thrones". No, I am not some silly "Trekki" now, and all lost in a fantasy world created for an HBO television series. I was reading an article today, and came across some links, and discovered that the language was developed for the series. The creator is currently up to 3300 words, frantically working to be up to 5000 for season two. Upon reading this, there were some quotes of the language, and this was one of them. I love it.

Insomnia comes and goes with me. I have these periods of time where sleep just refuses to co-operate. No matter what I try, I find myself waking up every two hours, just drifting back and forth, or dreaming, then lying there, with eyes wide open. The exhaustion that it causes is not only draining, but frustrating, and stressful. Knowing that in a few short moments, I have to get up and get ready for work, regardless of how tired I am, is daunting. My body just seems to go into a robotic state, and what is really frightening, is that while driving in this worn out state, I will suddenly "wake up" realizing that I was dozing off in morning traffic. I roll down the window, turn on the air conditioning, full blast, and turn up my husbands stereo, with bass ass kicking speaker box, and try to annoy myself to the alert state that not only insures my safety, but that of the other crazy, overworked, over stressed commuters I am sharing the road with.

There are times when my morning drive to work are the most peaceful of the day. Sunrise in the Las Vegas valley is often breathtaking. There have been a few recently that were so dramatic, I couldn't help but stare and wonder off into thoughts of how beautiful would they become if I was watching it from a beach front home with Carl and our pups in Grand Cayman. The smell of the ocean and the fresh air are so vivid in my memory, I can't help but smile, and a sudden and most welcome sense of peace overcomes me. Some would call it a "pipe dream" or mere "fantasy" to feel that we could ever be in the financial position to make such a move. I don't want to even concider that, because then, it would become a goal that would seem unreachable. I have been fortunate enough to witness a few sunrises in Grand Cayman, and they give me such a feeling of calm, of peace, love and pure happieness.

The memory of the sunrise the morning of our wedding day was such an event. I woke, not because of insomnia, but because I was rested, content, and happy. Carl was snoring quietly and rather gently, and I woke and went to the patio of our room, opened the door, and stared at the glowing sky. The soft and comforting sounds of the ocean were almost overwhelming. Our room over looked an atrium at the Hotel, with a small brook, some trees, and a collection of turles, quietly keeping watch over any activity passing them by. The sound of water is pure joy to me. I remember thinking that this couldn't be real, that I was actually standing there, at that moment, taking the sea air into my lungs and processing the thought that I sincerely never wanted to leave. Searching my brain over and over for any possible way for us to stay on that island, have the puppies sent to us, and watch countless, multiple, endless morning skies, evening skies, sun filled days....serenity.

I have always been very proud to be a true Las Vegas native. I remember getting into a very heated argument with a classmate in England over this very fact. I was 8 when my father was stationed at Upper Heyford Air Force Base, and I don't remember any other time in my childhood, other than the time in Arizona with my Grandmother and Aunt, that I felt happy, safe, and loved. I said that I was born in Las Vegas, and was immediately called a liar. I was furious, fiercely defending myself. Why would I lie? I find I have to have the same conversation as an adult, with countless tourists that ask me where I am from, and when I say "Las Vegas, born and raised" they always reply with, "no your not" or "really?" in disbelief like decent human beings don't actually LIVE here. One woman so boldly spouted off that she would "NEVER even think of actually raising children here." I was so offended by her, I had to walk away.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Don't close the door that can open your mind

"'s not a Museum for good people, it's a hospital for the broken."

My husband took a very brave, very personal, and very thought out step yesterday, and it will have consequences on his relationship with some members of his family that he loves very much. I am worried about this, not because of his decision, but because of how he will hurt because of their reactions.

"...the son of God never supported self-righteousness, not now, not then."

I take a very deep breath before I write my blog. I try to write exactly what I mean to say, so as to be very clear as to my meaning, my thoughts, my intent of expression. I don't want anyone reading and going, "what exactly does she mean by that?". Most of the time, people have said that I am very blunt, too honest, too quick to say what is on my mind, and I don't apologize for that. For many years, I wasn't allowed to speak, or to have an opinion, and then once I found my strength, I couldn't stop my voice from screaming through, trying to make up for lost years of desperation, isolation, loneliness, fear, and loathing of those that seemed to adore pushing me around. I had questions, so many questions, and when your not allowed to ask questions, your frustration level multiplies. I also never understood what exactly was wrong with asking questions. Why is this such a bad thing? Then, upon achieving my level of voice and independence, I discovered that questions bring about answers. Answers bring about knowledge. Knowledge brings about enlightenment. Know what happens next? Those that told you to shut up and be quiet...loose all of THEIR voice, their power, their control.

I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

Anne Rice

So, I was raised, well, no, wrong explanation. I was baptized, then dropped of for years to attend mass and CCD as a child. This is Catholicism. Most just participate now because that's what their parents did, and so, they do. The younger generation doesn't keep up with 90% of the Catholic beliefs or traditions anymore. My parents never attended church with us. The first time I recall being in church with my parents was at the funeral of my Grandmother Mills. My father was a nervous wreck, and my mother was plotting and planning the entire time. Churches always have made my father break out in a furious panic attack. He couldn't even attend my brothers wedding in Colorado without first throwing back a few 7 & 7's at the hotel. He was especially upset that the reception was going to be alcohol free, due to my sister-in-laws family and their religious views. This was, and is, hilarious to me. No alcohol to drink at a wedding, but wine is prevalent throughout the Bible. Jesus turned water "into wine", but drinking is a sin? Sigh...mass hypocrisy is a muck in organized religion. I always got into trouble for saying things like this, and continue to do so. Every Catholic mass that anyone attends there is a part where you receive the "body of Christ" which is a very dry wafer that you place on your tongue and allow to dissolve. In extensive service, or say, funerals or weddings, you also receive the "blood of Christ" and it is wine. You take a tiny sip from a chalice, and it is usually a cheap red wine, but still. This is still hilarious to me, because many churches have adopted this practice, and most religions say that alcohol is a sin. Make up your mind people. They preach that you are to be kind and forgiving, yet also preach that non-believers and "sinners" such as drug dealers, prostitutes, alcoholics, abusers, etc, will all certainly go to hell. Jesus befriended such people. He did not abandon them, he did not turn his back and banish them, mock them, hate them. Organized religion lost its way years and years ago, and according to today's standards and rules, would not even allow a person such as Jesus to attend their church. They would call him false, persecute him, shun him....sound familiar?

"...back to the point, one thing is vital to mention. How Jesus and religion...are on opposite spectrum's. See, ones the work of God, but ones a man made invention."

This young man in this video, is very talented, very insightful, and very in touch with how a great many people feel now about faith, organized religion, and how it has left a great deal of the worlds population jaded.

My husband was raised Mormon. He struggled with his upbringing in the church, and even at one point, had decided to go on his mission, but then found the more he studied and prepared for it, the more he knew it wasn't for him. He made the very brave decision to go to his Bishop and explain this, and not to go on his mission, and eventually, not attend church any longer. As he has gotten older, he has found that he doesn't have any connection to the Mormon church or its beliefs, and he came to a decision that he didn't want to belong or to be Mormon anymore. You can't just "not go" in the Mormon faith, you must "withdraw" and it is a long process. It is also quite intimidating and threatening, which I find very sad.

I just don't go to mass, and the Catholic church is alright with that. My childhood religion has many, many faults, and I am the first to admit that they have had hundreds of years of scandals, power struggles, and ridiculous eras of control of their members, rules that must be followed, etc. One thing that I will defend however, is that the Catholic church does not stalk or intimidate its members. It doesn't make members of the church turn their backs on family members who choose to leave the faith. It doesn't continuously send people to your front door to "convince" you that your decision is wrong, that your "lost", that you "must re-think" leaving, because there are consequences. It is horrible...what is going to happen to my husband. He knows that it is coming, and he is preparing, but it will still hurt him deeply, and in turn, hurt me deeply. I don't understand how a church can allow, and actually ENCOURAGE such behavior.

This is an actual line, straight from the paperwork, which is 6 pages long, that is required online, to withdraw membership from the Mormon Church. Now, resignation takes time, perseverance, and obviously, the time is to notify all of your family and friends, so that they, in turn, can contact you and try to talk you out of your "obvious, horrendous mistake". They even ask for your current address, so that they can send any Missionaries within your area to your door to have discussions with you. It clearly states that you must state in your letter that you "resign" from the Church, not just ask for your name to be removed from their records. I found this amusing, as I just had an incident regarding this issue...I will get into that in a moment. So, 6 pages for this, and it's a huge deal. They seriously recommend that you have your letter notarized, and they also HIGHLY, (yes, they have it capitalized) recommend that you send it Priority Mail, to receive a confirmation that it was delivered, because "it has been discovered that they are more likely to return your letter if you do not". Wow. Okay, so, it says that the church can choose to make this difficult and it has been known to take up to three months for this to be completed. This is all very threatening, and so serious. It is as if you will be sent to prison or something. My husband hasn't attended church for years, yet he must endure all of this to stop people from knocking on our door trying to "save" him. The visits almost always happen after a visit from a family member, or a serious phone call from one. Thanks family....

This is an actual paragraph from the instructions:

Warning: If you live with people who are members of the church, they will almost certainty be told about your resignation. That is true whether the person you live with is a spouse, a parent, a sibling or even if they are just a roommate. If a relative lives in the same ward, branch or state that you do, they will probably be told about your resignation.

Who's damn business is this? Faith is a very personal thing, and it is a choice. If my husband chooses to leave the Mormon church, that is his right, that is his choice, and no ones damn business. Quite frankly, he didn't CHOOSE to be baptized Mormon, it was chosen for him. It was the faith that his parents believed in. He wasn't asked, he was never asked what he believed, what he wanted, what he chose to believe in. He is an adult, and now, he has decided, and they all need to deal with it, and either love him, or loose out on being in his life. Their loss. Their stupid choice to give up their son, brother, cousin, grandson, for a group of people who tell them what to think, what to believe, and who they can love. Shame on them.

Too much emphasis is being placed on religion and how you MUST think as they do, or you are out. This way of behavior goes against every single Deity, God, and Prophet that ever walked the face of the earth. Kindness, forgiveness, love, humility, charity, all of these are almost non-existent in today's faiths. The false front is there, but the dark reality is that there are rules, regulations, guidelines, and out right banishment if you don't play they way you are told to.

 Earlier, I mentioned the bit about a name being removed from the Church. This is different from actually resigning. I read this to mean that your name will remain in the Church for the purpose of the levels of Heaven. I think this is there because of a recent discussion that I had with my mother in law, that in turn, became completely blown out of proportion by others, and in turn, resulted in me being shunned and the utmost enemy of my husbands family....again. My position of the discussion was that I did not agree with the Mormon practice of baptism of dead people, and those that were not Mormon in life, but for some reason, Mormons decide should be baptized into the Mormon faith after they have died. I find this practice appalling, offensive, and stated quite clearly, under no circumstances was anyone to do this to me, to which my mother in law told me, "who cares what you believe?" Um....I care. I don't believe the teachings of the Mormon church, so do not baptize me into a church that I do not believe in. This became extremely offensive as it went on, due largely to the fact that it was clear that it is about what makes the Mormon church feel better....not the person they are baptizing. Its not about's about MEMBERS. It's about what they are being told to do by their church, about going against another s faith and beliefs, yet all the while protesting that no one respects theirs. Don't worry about whether or not I'm gonna be in Heaven, your Heaven, any Heaven. Don't worry about me....let ME worry about me. Do NOT make a choice for me after I die that I did NOT make while I was alive. That is disrespectful, rude and WRONG.

Heresy (from Greek αἵρεσις, which originally meant "choice") is an accusation levied against members of another group which has beliefs which conflict with those of the accusers.

 Being called a Heretic is actually a compliment as far as I am concerned. It means, "free thinker." Thanks. :-)

I believe that it is more important to be a moral person that to spend your life being a person of faith. Faith is flawed, faith is something that man developed. Being a moral person and living to be a good human being is what matters, in my opinion. To accept others, to accept their diversity, as you want them to accept yours. To accept others opinions, beliefs and way of life as you want them to accept yours. Don't try to force people in your life to believe what you believe. Don't try to force them to do anything. Love is not about force, control, or ultimatums. What works for you, may not work for another. Allow everyone to choose their own color. If we all colored our pictures in gray, what would make us smile? Life is here to live, don't waste it by waiting to die, and missing out on those times with those you love. 

Sometimes, the ones you love never say it, and the way they treat you makes you wonder. As long as we are still here, breathing, and walking on this Earth, there is still time to change, to make things right. Hate, anger, and resentment all take too much effort. Love should be effortless.