Friday, November 19, 2010

New blog location!


I've moved to a new blog location, and I hope you'll check it out (and follow me)!

Click here for the new address.


Rev. Jeri

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who gets married on Election Day?

If you're Roman and Misty Dawn, and November 2nd is the anniversary of the day you became a couple, then selecting Election Day -- Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 -- as your wedding date won by unanimous decision!

I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony this afternoon at beautiful William Land Park in Sacramento. Misty Dawn's youngest daughter, Samantha, was the delightful flower girl, while her oldest daughter, Angie, stood up for her as one of the bridesmaids. Sons David and Joseph joined their siblings in saying "We do" during the family vows, during which they were asked if they would do their best to respect and encourage their mother and Roman as parents.

Friends and family gave their vote of confidence as well, saying they would happily support the important institution of marriage and, more specifically, the happiness of Roman and Misty Dawn through the highs and lows of their life together.

Congratulations, Roman and Misty Dawn! You are definitely winners on the "ballot of love"!

Rev. Jeri

Monday, August 30, 2010

Karmère Winery - Un bel établissement vinicole

There are many beautiful wineries in the Sierra Foothills, and many of them are also wedding venues.

Yesterday I visited the beautiful Karmère Vineyards and Winery at 11970 Shenandoah Road in Plymouth, California.

Situated on a knoll overlooking the vineyards, Karmère is evocative of a French chateau, open and airy, with attentive staff and award-winning reds, blends and sparkling wines. (The Raspberry Sparkling Wine was my favorite; my wine-tasting companion loved the almond-flavored variety.)

Karmère is owned by Marilyn Hoopes and Todd Pickens, with the tasting room managed by their daughter, Hayley Hoopes. The name “Karmère” (Car-Mare) honors Marilyn’s mother, Karma Hoopes -- mère is the French word for mother – whose “spirit lives in all we do at Karmère.”

The beautifully landscaped terrace gardens and pavilion, with breathtaking views of the vineyards and winery, can accommodate up to 125 guests.

For further information, contact Hayley at (209) 245-5000 or

Or, better yet, go visit the winery, which is open from 11:00 until 5:00 Wednesday through Monday, holidays, and by appointment all year. Situated in the Shenandoah Valley, it's a short drive from Sacramento.

(Oh … and if you happen to see the winemaker, Dawn Martella, please tell her I said hello! She and her delightful husband, Dick, were married by me in May of 2003!!)


Saturday, August 28, 2010

In 50 years ....

"In 50 years, as they celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary ...."

I write personalized wedding ceremonies, with a lot of input from the couples. One of the questions I ask them is: "When you reach your Golden Wedding Anniversary (50 years), what do you want to look back on and celebrate?" (Naturally, if the couple is older -- like ME! -- I would ask about their Silver (25 years) Wedding Anniversary.)

I ask this question for many reasons.

First, and this is most important to me, I am planting a seed or "affirming" that they will still be married and celebrating in 50 years. I want the couple to think about their long, happy and durable marriage, not *just* the celebration of their wedding day.

This also tells the guests that the newlyweds plan to be married for many, many years. Hopefully, if the marriage goes through tough times the guests will remind the couple of their commitment to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary together.

And, on a practical note, I need a way to "end" the Love Story portion of the ceremony. So I talk about what the couple will look back on, and finish the section with "And they will look forward to many more years together as a happily married couple." Again, planting a seed / affirming their longevity in marriage!

Today, August 28, 2010, Levi and Emily got married at the beautiful Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, CA.

And on August 28, 2060, "as they celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, Levi and Emily expect to look at their close-knit family with pride, knowing their children and grandchildren were raised with love, laughter and strong values and have grown to be happy and responsible adults. ... They hope to be an example of a thriving partnership, marked with respect, kindness and growth, individually and as a couple...."

Emily and Levi already have a blueprint for their long-lasting marriage. Both were raised with the example of longevity, as their parents have all been married for more than 30 years. We acknowledged this accomplishment during the ceremony, publicly thanking Paula and Bill, and Jan and Mark, for their wonderful example. Their tearful smiles clearly said, "It has been worth it!"

Levi and Emily "will continue to be best friends, still deeply in love and inspiring each other. And they will look forward to many more years together as a happily married couple."

Congratulations to the newlyweds! While I doubt that I'll still be around for Levi and Emily's 50-year renewal of vows, I am confident they will celebrate! Probably with many of those who celebrated with them this evening as they began their journey as husband and wife!

So, on your Golden Wedding Anniversary, what do YOU want to look back on and celebrate?

Rev. Jeri

Friday, August 20, 2010

Love is such a big word ....

I'm in the business of Love.

As a Wedding Officiant, I have the honor of speaking the words that publicly acknowledge the love and commitment between two people.

As a Funeral Officiant (or "minister who presides over a celebration of life"), I have the honor of speaking on behalf of those who love the deceased, offering some comfort and inspiring hope.

As a spiritual teacher, I have the honor of connecting with people -- friends, family and, sometimes, near-strangers -- to remind them that they are spirits in bodies, loved and lovable.

As for myself ... well, lately I have been dong a lot of reading to remind myself of why I'm here. And it all comes back to one concept: LOVE.

Many years ago I realized that one of the main purposes of life -- for me, at least -- is to learn about love, how to truly love myself, and how to fully and unconditionally love someone else. (Of course, I had already experienced the unconditional love that a mother has for her children. And I knew there was more to it than that.)

Meeting Rich, my Anam Cara, was an important step on my path. Loving him, passionately, in good times and in challenges, was a HUGE opportunity for growth in my life. Even in the "bad times," I knew that how I "showed up" in our relationship was a hugely important step on my life path. And I made a conscious decision to show up and work through the times that were uncomfortable to me, because I knew our love was worth it, and because I knew it was something I had "come here to experience."

"Losing" Rich was another huge step, as I came to know, deep in my soul -- not just believe but KNOW -- that his love for me, and my love for him, goes on even though he no longer has a physical body.

Of course, what my soul knows and what my body experiences are not always exactly aligned. So I've turned to my own spiritual tools: Meditation, journaling, seeking out the counsel of my very wise friends, and reading. In this process, I have "remembered" many of my own spiritual truths; concepts that the Core of my Being has always known.

And ... I have been reminded that I am a spiritual teacher, and that it is good for me to share my thoughts with others. NOT that I have the definitive truth; however, maybe as I share my thoughts I will inspire, comfort and lift up someone. What more could I ask?

I write all this as a warning, of sorts, to the handful of people who read my blog posts. Periodically -- not all the time, but periodically -- I am going to write about those things that are deeply dear to my heart. Sometimes it may seem a little "raw." I won't apologize; it's where and who I am.

If the sharing of my thoughts helps or comforts someone, or causes them to search their own hearts and souls for their own truths, then I will feel as though I'm doing what I'm meant to do.

I will finish, tonight, with two thoughts.

As Kobi Yamada says, "Love is such a big word, it really should have more letters."

And in the immortal words of John and Paul, "All you need is love."


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Murphy Windmill or Bust!

Sometimes, the journey is more interesting than the destination!

Katie and I spent the day at Golden Gate Park yesterday. Our primary objective was to visit the de Young Museum to see the “Birth of Impressionism” exhibit, on loan from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I have twice visited d’Orsay, which is one of my favorite art museums, and I was eager to see these masterpieces again, and share the experience with my good friend. I was not disappointed. (If you have the opportunity to do so, go! Don’t delay; the exhibit ends September 6, 2010.)

I visit Golden Gate park periodically, most especially enjoying the museums around the Music Concourse. However, I had never explored the rest of the park, and I was especially eager to see the windmills at the west end of the park. We both have a sense of adventure and the day was cool but pleasant, so armed with map, camera and Katie’s iPhone GPS system, we decided to find the windmills.

We wandered through the Botanical Gardens first. Katie is a floral artist, and she easily identified the plants and flowers while I happily took photos of things I found pretty and/or interesting. (And in a future visit, I will plan to spend a lot more time in the gardens. But today, I was focused on seeing one of the windmills.)

It was a lovely walk; we talked about life, love, our children, some of our travel dreams, TV programs that make us laugh, and many other things. We periodically stopped to rest our feet and check our map. We didn’t always take the paved path; the “higher ground” was sometimes a dirt path, and we had to be mindful of potential “natural disasters” -- gopher holes and uneven terrain.

The paved path provided its own challenges: Bicyclists zipped by without warning, startling me as they came within inches of us. (The “ring-ring” of a bicycle bell would certainly have been appreciated.) Joggers tended to be more courteous, and usually said “Thank you” as we moved over to give them space. And, of course, Katie and I watched out for each other, as friends do.

Finally, we neared our destination. We knew we were close because we could see the ocean, and the map showed us that Murphy Windmill was just around the corner. I was eager to see a real windmill -- up close and not just from the window of a train in Holland.

We rounded the bend …

And found the scaffolding, barrier fencing, and the Public Works sign that said that the windmill was being renovated. If I hadn’t seen the picture on the sign, I would not have been able to identify this structure as a windmill.

Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I amused? Well, yes, that too. It was, after all, an adventure. And while I didn’t see exactly what I had expected, I got to experience many other things that made the journey worthwhile: Friendship and laughter, a long walk that made my grateful for healthy legs (and decent walking shoes), the opportunity to take pictures of many pretty flowers and a hawk resting in a tree, the fresh scent of eucalyptus trees, and the sense of adventure that comes from exploring someplace new.

And a reminder that while sometimes my path doesn’t take me where I think it should, if I appreciate and enjoy the journey, I will be blessed in many ways.

(PS: Next time, we’re going to look for the other windmill in the park. And we’ve already decided: We’ll DRIVE to it!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In sickness and in health ... and no more Life Flight!

Tom and Michelle met many years ago, when they were co-workers. Tom says he noticed this very pretty blond girl with a killer figure, who happened to be wearing Gilligan shoes and had holes in the knees of her jeans! Michelle says she appreciated Tom's happy-go-lucky attitude. And their first sushi date led to many others, as well as love, laughter and a realization they were soul mates!

So last year Tom took Michelle to dinner at their favorite sushi restaurant (Satori), where he ordered their favorite dish to share: Sashimi Mix. When the waiter set the plate down in front of Michelle, she pushed it over toward Tom but he pushed it back, insisting that she have the first bite. It was then that she noticed something sparkling in the wasabi, and just as she realized it was a diamond ring, Tom told her of his great love for her, and asked her to become his wife. Of course Michelle said "Yes!"

Being the unique individuals that they are, as they were helping create their wedding ceremony Tom and Michelle each chose to repeat different vows to each other. Tom's vows included these words: "... I promise ... to be available for you when you are in pain ... and ... to support and nurture you ...." Little did he realize that he would be asked to fulfill these vows in a very dramatic way PRIOR to their wedding day.

One of the activities Tom and Michelle enjoy doing together is riding quads. That's what they were doing on April 1st when Michelle crashed her quad into a tree, resulting in a Life Flight trip, ICU and a week's stay on the trauma floor with injuries to her liver and lung, a broken hip bone, several broken ribs and fractured vertebra.

Fortunately, she has recovered very well, and her sense of humor remains intact. (As she said, "... 'in sickness and in health' has taken on real meaning." And in her promises she did state that she would "do [her] best not to hit any more trees or take any more helicopter rides, unless the ride is purely recreational.")

Tom and Michelle spoke these vows yesterday, before family and many delighted friends, at the lovely Berghold Estate Winery in Lodi. Because Tom's two teen-aged daughters, Sarah and Haley, are an important part of their relationship, Tom and Michelle included some special elements in their ceremony: Family vows, a family sand blending ritual, and a special gift -- engraved necklaces -- given as a surprise to Sarah and Haley.

There was lots of love, plenty of laughter, and a few tears -- of joy -- as Tom and Michelle began their journey as husband and wife. I'm so proud to have been a part of their special day!

Congratulations and best wishes to this delightful family! (And Michelle? Please keep your promise!!)

Rev. Jeri