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I’m so proud to introduce today’s guest in the attic—Joyce Mathers.

Joyce grew up in the northeast of Scotland and after falling in love with Australia while on holiday, returned here to live in 1990. She’s owned many businesses over the years—including a pub, a shoe store, a newsagent, a restaurant, and pop-up book stores—but now concentrates on her work as a Marriage and Funeral celebrant. She’s also a jazz singer with Joyce Mothers and Avenue and is married with two adult children.

You can find Joyce at her website and on Facebook, where she has a celebrant’s page and one for her band.

Not being a writer by trade, Joyce has courageously stepped out of her comfort zone and shared her story about what writing means to her. In this essay, she tells us how writing kept her connected with her Scottish family after she emigrated to Australia, and how important words are in her role as a celebrant.

“As a funeral celebrant, the old adage, ‘there’s a story in everyone’, is so true.”

~

What My Writing Means to Me

In the year 1990, I landed in Australia. I stood at Perth airport, stripped of the identity one wears when you are brought up in a small, close-knit village. I was just me. No-one knew my history. I didn’t have a label and I was ready to find out what I was all about, on my own. Well, not exactly on my own—I was with my family: my daughter, son, and husband completed our little unit. I was excited and scared at the same time. I realised that my choice to take my family to the other end of the world was a reality. Here we were. In the unknown. I was ready for the challenge.

What does my writing mean to me? Well, being away from my family and friends made me sit down on a regular basis and spew all my adventures, thoughts and daily Australian routines onto an airmail sheet of Basildon Bond. I wrote as I spoke, often finding my pen struggling to keep up with my manic thoughts. Desperate to share the positives that were going on in my life, banishing anything negative to the naughty corner never to be allowed freedom, until the stamp was finally licked, and the letter settled into the little red box. I received many letters of gratitude for sending such “newsy” letters—most enjoying the up-to-date news. So, my letter writing became (1) therapy as I reminded myself of the good in my Australian life, and (2) a gift to the receiver reminding them that they were important to me and I still wanted to be in their lives.

Now further down the track I use my writing skills to create ceremonies for the upcoming bride and groom or to say farewell to a loved one. Deciding to become a celebrant is something that I wish I had done years ago. I feel I have found my calling!

In terms of crafting a wedding, I have the most wonderful role of listening to the couple while they tell me their love story, what their dream of their perfect wedding is, and putting it all together for them to produce their ideal wedding ceremony.

As a funeral celebrant, the old adage, ‘there’s a story in everyone’, is so true. When I meet with a family and delve into the history of the loved one who has passed, you can see how much it is helping them in their grief as they meander through their lives often bringing many funny stories to the fore. My role is to create a funeral ceremony that will bring a family peace, and that will be respectful to the deceased person and give them a fitting farewell.

In all my writing as a celebrant, I love searching for the perfect reading, the perfect poem—the one that has that ultimate connection.  I spend hours poring through pages of books or the internet until I find the diamond in the rough. Like finding that four-leafed clover, or sitting on the beach and you find that one special seashell—the one that glints in the sun beckoning you to pick it up. Often, if I can’t find what I am looking for then I craft my own poem or reading which is extra special to the receiver. It’s an adrenaline rush when you find or create the material that is just right.

joyce-avenue-6-2

Joyce Mathers and Avenue

You can contact Joyce via her website or Facebook.

~

I hope you enjoyed Joyce’s essay as much as I did, and I hope it inspires others who don’t identify as writers to put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—and tell their story.

I have essays booked until 21st November, which means you have over a month in which to write one! I love reading them all, so please keep sending them in.

The topic is what writing means to you but I’m not strict about it. Nor am I strict about the word length, although 600-1000 words seems to suit best. I also offer a small gift as a thank you for your time.

Let me know if you’re interested via the ‘Contact‘ page above.

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(Published in the anthology, 'Jukebox', OOTA, 2013.)

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