First rite of passage: a celebration is in order!

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moving and grooving to the likes of Celia Cruz

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Ginny and I celebrating to Squirrel Nut Zippers

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Could this be a reprisal sing-along to Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am”?

“Everything is created from moment to moment, always new. Like fireworks, this universe is a celebration and you are the spectator contemplating the eternal Fourth of July of your absolute splendor.” – Francis Lucille

Nice. What a good quote. It feels magical and momentous, just like a good celebration. The culmination of a rite of passage with one 14 year old girl, and 9 committed, experience-laden, long-distance-driving women had to end with an all-out doozy of a fireworks show, not literally, of course.

I tailored the celebration to what I had (let’s see, some blue and red tissue paper, some pre-used paper luminarias, twinkly lights, and who was coming: “Karmyn, could you lead us in some riotous celebratory dancing?”) and we were off! Gyrating to the Gypsy Kings, holding hands to the Tarantella, and stepping the steps of the hava nagila. Then as a culmination, we rocked out and Irish danced to a collection of Ginny’s favorites that I had put together on a c.d..

We ate, danced, and made merry. The room of celebration (which took place in my backyard) was fully regaled with women feeling the fullness of life and community. And a girl, as they danced in her honor, looked on with amazement and wonder.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

 

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First rite of passage: honoring with food

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a feast of Indian cuisine

A daughter’s choices for what to lay out onto the groaning board may not be the same as her mother’s. Me, I enjoy a plethora of samplings from baklava to petit fours, and then a hearty helping of rich, red Italian food (or, should that be the other way around? No. Dessert really should be first.) My daughter, Ginny, would probably choose a plateful of sushi, some recently harvested loose leaf tea, and a whole host of Indian entrees from tikka massala to  aloo gobi. . . and that is exactly what we served on her first rite of passage that Saturday afternoon, with a few spanakopita on the side.

Preparing and serving food to another can be a way of honoring them as well. When we choose to nurture another’s body through good food, we also nurture their unique tastes when we let them share with us the things that bring their taste buds joy. It is like opening a window into their gastronomy, and sometimes it leads to opening doors into our own, as well as trips to markets and restaurants we didn’t even know existed in this world. (Yes, tikka massala is now one of my favorites; I crave that lovely, creamy, orangey-red sauce; I’d better stop, my mouth is salivating).

So to honor Ginny, age 14, at her first rite of passage, I snuck questions in and around our conversations, regarding her favorite foods. “I’m going to the store, honey. I’m not saying I’m going to get any of the things you say, but if you could pick anything out for dinner this week, what would you pick? I mean anything!?” (I’m sure there are other, even less obvious ways in and around the question.)

On the day of her rite of passage, the honoring of Ginny’s taste buds was in full swing; there was hot tea in antique cups, sushi in round sticky circles on a platter, crunchy triangles of Greek spanakopita, and a healthy offering of Indian food. And I have to say, every stomach was satisfied because every stomach seemed ready for the adventure.

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another cake from another celebration, but you get the idea! let it explode with enthusiasm!

First rite of passage: the language of symbols

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Japanese “Girl Day” doll balancing the buckets of life.

I found her on Ebay and she was absolutely beautiful. A Japanese “Girl’s Day” doll, bearing the face of a sweet child while hefting two watery buckets. She looked like a silken interpretation of the scales of justice. The doll was managing both youth and adulthood as well as balancing both beauty and hard work, all on her kimono-graced shoulders.

That’s her. I thought. That doll is my daughter at 14. Young. Determined. And yet, trying to figure out her life still blushing with the pink hues of childhood. I knew that when choosing this special gift, it painted a picture, created a symbol, of where she might be right now in her life. I also kept in mind when looking for that special something, her great admiration for all things Japanese. I knew this would be a winner.

On the day of the rite of passage event, along with the girl doll, there were also other symbols that gestured toward my daughter’s own uniqueness and the theme of “coming of age”: a collection of beads to string together “the stars and moons” of her life, a candle moving from room to room to gently reminding us all of the ongoing presence of light in our lives, and a swath of diaphanous fabrics draping around shelves and furniture, subtley nudging us toward thoughts of mystery.

A well-given, or well-placed symbol is a thing of beauty. It does not demand explanation, but when given, it brings rich layers of meaning into its form, shape, presence. The small acts of placing thoughtful gifts of your own awareness into the path of others, are offerings that are deep and lasting.

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Beads to string the “moon and stars” of your life.

First rite of passage: fashioning the invitation

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hand-crafted love

How do you fashion love and admiration into a 4 x 6 piece of cardstock? That was my dilemma. I wanted the invitees to know via a well-crafted invitation the importance and thoughtfulness I was carefully ladling into this delectable event, as well as their treasured contribution. An invitation, as most of you probably already know, is more than the words cradled on the inside. Just like a tasty morsel before the celebratory feast, it is the well-placed appetizer. An intentioned, beautiful invitation will be savored. I know, I have a number of them still mingled with keepsakes floating around my house that I randomly pull out to gaze on and re-roll around in my mouth in happy memory.

When crafting a good appetizer, or a good invitation, it’s always important to think about what you want it to embody. In the case of this first rite of passage, I wanted it to taste like beauty, home, the rich textures of womanhood, with a hint of mystery. I know that sounds like a lot of ingredients for a little invitation, but the presentation, or the first blush of a project, often paves the way for the love and intentionality that goes into the rest. Each card was hand crafted (there were only 9; the last a keepsake for a possible memory book from the event). The expense was time, not materials. Paper scraps, juicy vintage photos (actually copies of them), and inexpensive trinkets were the main contributions. And though they took some time to complete, the joy in knowing that each one would fly off to a glad recipient was more than worth it.

As you can see, I took photos of each of these little art pieces to remember the look of them as well as their significance in the entre of this new path of creating threshold experiences for my daughter and others. With a little glue, a meaningful quote or phrase, and a warmth imbued in a hand-scrawled signature, they were off, as was my imagination to what their journey could eventually bring back to my door . . .

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vintage mentorship