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marian

Marion

An artist, teacher, public speaker and ceremonial priestess, Marian’s passion and mission is to change the way we face death.  She is the founder of a unique and timely new business , A Fine Farewell, that produces beautiful handmade burial and cremation shrouds.

We were truly fascinated by her story and knew you would be too, so we convinced Marian to take a little time out of her busy schedule to sit down and share her journey with us.   Here’s her amazing story in her own words…

“Once, in my twenties, a friend said ‘what if you could live your life in 10 year increments?’   We all thought about that for a while, wondering how it would work, what we’d have to give up, what we’d gain.  It was a ‘romantic’ idea in my twenties, but I was happily partnered with a small child and didn’t see how it would be applicable to me.  (The friend who’d originally posed the idea had neither partner nor children).    Still the idea stayed in my mind.    Fast forward to me now, at 55.  While it hasn’t been exactly  ten year increments,  I have, in fact, had a few different ‘career changes’ since then.

At 19, after Catholic grade school, high school and catholic college, I took a giant “left turn”, picked up a hitchhiker (I’d NEVER done that before!) and fell in love.   I quit school -and my plans to transfer and get a degree in drama, (hah! ‘drama’ was when I told my parents!’).  I moved into a hippie commune with my love.   I got pregnant, had my daughter at home, immersed myself in the studies of parenting, metaphysics, art, wicca, macrobiotics, herbal remedies, transactional analysis, natural foods cooking and general ‘groovitudinous’ living.

I had a great run with that but it fell apart in 1990-91.  Leaving my marriage, and moving to a small rural women’s community was a pretty big shift.  But there was an inner voice prompting this – a voice which I have come to recognize and trust.  (in retrospect, it was that same one that shifted me to the side of the road to pick up that hitchhiking hippie)  It always asks me to do things I can barely even think of, much less speak, but it’s quietly persistent and when I follow it, the world opens up in ways I couldn’t imagine.   (this does not preclude the 4:00 a.m. terror visitations….but I’ve learned to ride them out.)    My daughter decided to stay with her dad.   That was hard to ride out but it was the best option, given all the factors at the time.  It was a culturally ‘unsanctioned’ choice.  More lessons…and we got through our rough patch.   My 33 year old daughter and I have a wonderful relationship now.

After living at the women’s community, founding a Women’s Temple and running seasonal ceremonial events, that voice began to whisper again.  I couldn’t believe what it was saying.  “Move across the country, find a new home.”   “Get out of here!” was my response. But it was persistent.  And after several months, things at the community came undone and I could see it was time to go.

My two month trip across the country turned into a 10 month camping odyssey!   I learned that magic happens when I give up some of my agenda.  I also discovered, to my delight, that people really do want to be friendly, to be helpful, to assist a traveler along her way.   I landed in Ashland, Oregon and stayed for a time, fell in love and out of it, traveled to England for a long meditation retreat, and stayed on to work in the meditation center.  Then I got the idea to move to a community in Italy.   It was an artistic and spiritual community near the Italian Alps.   I spent a total of 7 months there, immersed in a ‘nucleo’ (family unit) with 9 others, 8 of whom  spoke little or no English.  (immersion language training!)  But no matter how I tried to shift the path I’d come to know— my wiccan/goddess/earth-based path — to fit into their teachings, ultimately it just wasn’t right for me.

Returning from this voyage, in 2001, I was exposed to the idea of “Natural Death Care” and the resonance I felt with these ideas led me to begin designing burial and cremation shrouds.   It’s been a long and meandering path but things are coming together nicely now, as the culture finally embraces the ‘green movement’.    I moved to Portland and am part of an awesome women’s entrepreneurial organization, The Savvy Collaborative, which has made all the difference in helping my business to grow.  I’m taking on more challenges with an art installation called “Over My Dead Body…Opening the Portal” (www.milepostfive.com) and an upcoming class called “Over My Dead Body…Creating a Sacred Burial Garment” .   Yes, I think you could say I’m “Flourishing”.   Writing about it helps me to stop and appreciate where I’ve been.”

We were dying to see what Marian’s thoughts were on our five famous questions.  Here’s what she had to say…

Who is your hero? My Hero…hmmm.   I have “serial heroes”.   Heroes  of the moment.   I’m inspired by people all the time and carry someone’s quote or actions in my mind for a period of time, emulating them.  So let’s see , who’s “up” right now?  I think it’s my friend ross.  (spelled  all in lower case)   She inspires me for her absolute commitment to trusting and following her heart… which has led her all over the world!  Also I admire her relentless intention to ‘find the gift’ in each situation.  She’s a great companion on the path, and a good support in remembering the power of words, reminding me to let go of old habits of diminishing speech and use my words to create my experience.  When we talk, I always come away feeling blessed!

What is your favorite quote? This changes over time, too, but a ‘repeater’ these last several months is: “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”   It’s from a poem called ‘The Mad Farmer Liberation Front’ by Wendell Berry.   I think I like most its implication of choice– the idea that one can choose to “BE” joyful.  And at the same time, it’s also like being given permission.  You know sometimes you get ‘down’ and then it’s hard to get back ‘up’ because it’s like ‘betraying’ your downer!  We get attached to the apparent ‘truth’ of our discouraging thoughts!  (aren’t we precious??)  This quote ‘busts’ that and says, “well ok, even if things are ‘as bad as all that’ – you still get to go ahead and be joyful! “

What keeps you flourishing? Dance!!!  Dance!!!   Connection with others (on or off the dance floor).   Making art for no reason.  And lastly, the fact that I am old enough to see that people can, and often do change.  Even the most stubborn situations or habits in my very own life have actually shifted with my own diligent attention.  This is huge, really.  This is something I just couldn’t know without being as old as I am.  So I am valuing myself at 55, for being 55…for the perspective it brings.  And did I say DANCE!

If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be and why? Shoes….hmmmm….  I always wear such dang sensible shoes…but  I’d love to be (and wear) a pair of handmade funky high heels…the kind with the heel not too high or too ‘skinny’.  Asymmetrically styled, two toned green and purple leather with an ankle strap.  And they’d be so comfortable that I could dance all night in ‘em.   Yeah…that’s it.

I can’t wait to… do more teaching and public speaking.  And to get my new class filled and begun!  It’s called “Over My Dead Body…Creating a sacred burial garment” !!    Starts Sept 3 runs for 8 weeks.    I also can’t wait ‘til we ALL can lighten up about Death!

Thanks Marian, we know you will “knock em dead” with all your creative endeavors!  If you would like more information about Marian’s upcoming workshop Over My Dead Body, creating a sacred burial garment, you may reach her at afinefarewell@yahoo.com or find more information on her website www.afinefarewell.com

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