I discovered Humanism back in the mid 90’s and immediately realised I’d found a philosophy that matched my own beliefs. Straightaway I immersed myself in the association. I became editor and producer of the journal. I helped organise events and activities. I handled the membership subscriptions. I even was the chairman for a short period.
Then, one day in 2010 the then director of ceremonies, Brian Whiteside, asked me if I’d ever thought of becoming a celebrant. I laughed. “What? Me? A celebrant? I don’t think so,” I said. But Brian saw things in a different light. He said, “I guessed that might be your answer, so hear me out.” Brian went on to outline the reasons he thought I’d be a good fit for the role.
I come from a background of creativity. I write poems and prose and Brian pointed out that I have a good way with the written word. He thought that script creation and writing would be easy for me. I said, “hmm, go on.” Not yet convinced.
He pointed out that I had the skills required to becoming a Humanist celebrant. Business discipline, dedication, computer skills, communication skills, a listener, thoughtful, considerate and determined. Since I ran my own graphic design business successfully, this was his reasoning. I was beginning to see where this was going, but still very much resisting.
With my acting on stage skills and experience he explained how that would aid me to stand up there in front a people to perform a wedding. It is true I have a love of treading the boards and really enjoy performing and entertaining.
I went away from that conversation saying I would think about it, but not really believing it. Anyway, long story short, I decided to give it a try and went through the accreditation process – with quite a degree of scepticism I have to admit. Nonetheless, my mentors could see through my self-doubt and accredited me, to my surprise. After my first nervous ceremony, I drove away thinking, wow, that was amazing. I wonder had I found my ‘calling’?
I had indeed found a new path for my career and future. Not one that would earn me millions – far from it – but one that would earn something far more valuable. That of self-fulfilment, joy and pleasure. Helping couples, families, and parents through vitally important times in their lives – Naming ceremonies; Weddings; Funerals.
I still run my graphic design business for sure. I didn’t want to lose that. I still enjoy it, but must admit that it has reduced in volume in my working life.
I grew up in South county Dublin, the youngest of four. Always described as ‘the baby’, shy, unconfident, and terribly self-conscious. I often look at myself now, standing up in front of hundreds of people, helping them feel happy emotions, generating laughter, creating warmth and inclusivity amongst a crowd of strangers, showing respect and raising the gravitas required, and I wonder where that nervous little boy went.
Truth is, he’s still within me, keeping me from getting too cocky, arrogant, and having ‘ideas above my station’ (I’m laughing). And what a joyful career I have. Helping others, supporting them and advising them, guiding them, and sharing building ceremonies that will live on in memories for many years to come. Always seeking new ideas, and learning new things. Never wanting to stick with the same routine, and being open to new discoveries.
This is me, this is who I am. Come meet me and let’s see the exciting things we can create together.