Avril Ewing is an ordained wedding officiant and celebrant who specializes in creating romantic and heartfelt wedding ceremonies for couples who are ready to take that next step in their lives together. She also coaches couples as they plan their weddings and coaches officiants who want to grow their business and crush their yearly goals! At the start of 2020, Avril started the year with a record number of bookings. In March, things all came crashing down. She watched her industry and business get wiped out and felt the devastating loss. At the same time, she was steering her 12-year-old son through all of the uncertainty, online school, missing his Grade 6 graduation, school trips, and friends. However, a simple shift in mindset from panic to calm created a roadmap that Avril used to guide both her family and her business to success.
In this episode:
- Human Connection. Spending time with those with whom we allow ourselves to be close is vital to our many personal journeys.
- A Fantastic Book. Loving What Is by Byron Katie brings a new and positive perspective to the table about doing “The Work” to see how our troubling thoughts are often based on misunderstanding.
- The Right Path. If you are happy doing what you’re doing, nobody can tell you that you aren’t successful.
- Comparison Culture. Social media’s toxic side and something that should not be engaged with.
Connect with Avril:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Avril_Ewing_Officiant/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AvrilEwingOfficiant
- Website: https://avrilewingofficiant.com
Connect with Tiana and The Part-Time Jungle:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/parttimejungle/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parttimejungle/
- Website: https://theparttimejungle.com
*Thank you to Emily Mc., my amazing professional student intern, who wrote the show notes for this episode!
If you prefer to listen, check out Episode 40 of The Part-Time Jungle Podcast.
ADAPT, ADAPT, ADAPT
Avril is an ordained wedding officiant, and things were looking good during March of 2020–Avril got a record number of bookings for that month–so when the pandemic hit in March of 2020, her dreams came to a screeching halt. Through this, Avril also had to navigate her son through the difficulties that came with online school and missing out on that personal connection that is so vital to the development of teens and pre-teens.
GO WITH THE FLOW
One of the biggest pieces of advice that Avril has to offer is to go with the flow, she explains that this is how her family has gotten through these difficult and uncertain times. Avril also speaks about the stress that she felt after her business vanished before her eyes. She also works from home, so it was difficult to separate her work stress from her home life, especially when her husband moved into her office. Avril speaks about how her son was able to survive a record five months in quarantine without becoming bored. She also notes that her husband was not easily bored, either.
KEEPING IT POSITIVE
Avril talks about how pretending like nothing was wrong helped her, personally, get through the first lockdown. She adapted to her new daily life and figured that she should make the best out of it by keeping a positive attitude and spending time with her family. She notes that it felt like they were on summer vacation because of her mindset and because she looked ahead to weddings in 2021 when things had hopefully calmed down a bit.
NEW LEVELS OF EXPERTISE
After spending quarantine focusing on her business and learning new things, Avril received a letter from somebody. She was asked to verify something that the MPP said. With this new confidence and her business steadily growing, Avril gained more authority and trust among potential clients in her field. Because of her confidence, clients started to pick up on this and gain confidence in Avril as well. She notes that making people feel good about their experience is key to a successful business.
Avril realized that if there was no way to help her business during the lockdown, she would help herself by redirecting her energy. She spent more time outside, in nature, just to appreciate the Earth. She would have picnics with her family just to keep the human connection alive because who we choose to connect with is a vital part of who we are. Avril is also a big fan of crystals and aromatherapy, so this also helped her accept the reality that we have to let what happens, happen. This was a key part of her self-care journey because focusing on what we cannot change will result in us being more miserable than just sitting in the present.
A FANTASTIC BOOK
Throughout this episode, Avril expresses her love for the book, “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Though she says that listening to the audiobook is a whole different experience and that she definitely recommends that over reading the book visually. The audio version of “Loving What Is” includes coaching from the author herself, whereas that extra tidbit is not included in the physical book. This book also includes the author’s personal journey, and how she finds acceptance with people. Avril explains how this book is important to her, personally, because it got her out of a dark place in her life, when there was a lot of drama and uncertainty. The book provided that sense of stability and reassurance that we all need in our lives.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS TRULY MEAN?
Personally, Avril believes that success can be determined by whether or not her family is happy and content. Success, to her, is seeing them enjoying life. She explains that everything else in life–trips, dinners out, and nice things–are luxuries rather than a factor that defines success. Avril says that as long as you have all that you need, you are successful. Gratitude is also a key factor when it comes to success, if you have all you need, but you long for more, you will never truly be satisfied, and therefore, not be successful.
THE RIGHT PATH
Avril relates her success with her business (pre-COVID) to Buddhism, where she mentions the Law of Least Effort. This law states that once you’re on the right path, things will move smoothly. So she stayed on the path that she had been travelling on. She also noted that her energy for her business was very high, which brought excitement to her career. She also knew that she was on the right path because she enjoys helping others, and coaching them through uncertain and exciting times.
STRIVE FOR THAT FEELING
She recounts that through her business, she feels gratitude towards the people who choose her to guide them. After each ceremony, she feels the new connections, and sometimes even gets new clients, but she also gets this feeling of accomplishment. Success is also a feeling, the feeling that you are on the right path, the feeling of doing what you love. As long as you are happy, nobody can tell you that you aren’t successful.
Through the beginning of the pandemic, Avril had to cancel multiple bookings. The people who gave Avril her license actually said that weddings were not allowed to be performed for at least two months. In May, restrictions were lifted, and up to 5 people were allowed to attend weddings. Some people were determined, though. So Avril told them how to set up the area that they wanted the ceremony in in their backyard. As instructed, they put up their twinkly lights, decorated their backyard, and they set up a laptop to have their ceremony stream live via Zoom so that their family members could be present. After that, laws changed again, and up to 100 people were allowed at weddings for the rest of the 2020 season. By September, wedding numbers were being cut again, this time to 25 people.
One thing to note about 2020 weddings was that many brides wore vintage wedding dresses with vintage colours. This was because the dresses they may have wanted were stuck on ships unable to get into the country or on racks at stores that weren’t allowed to open. Their vintage choices definitely put a unique spin on the year and will stand out among recent wedding dress statements.
EXPRESSING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
With COVID, Avril explained how she hasn’t been able to let out her negative emotions in a way that feels healthy to her. Given that she’s at home with her son and husband 24/7, she feels as if she doesn’t have the space to cry. Alone time is vital to the self, though Avril expresses how she has not had any alone time since mid-December, and as a result of this, has not had the space to let all of her negative emotions out. She copes with this by using her earlier tactic: deny, deny, deny.
The past year and a half have been full of learning opportunities, though Avril shared one about her own personal learning opportunity in relation to being a mother during the pandemic. “Comparison Culture”, as Avril calls it, is her biggest struggle in regards to motherhood. Seeing people post about their lives on social media brings this sense of competition and comparison that can be very toxic for oneself. Avril reminds us that what we see on social media is people posting at their best and that we should not compare our regular to their standards. She also relates to the struggle, mothers hold themselves up to unreasonably high standards, and Avril felt as if that were her biggest learning opportunity, to do her best, rather than what other people were doing.
Avril talks about how we all have things we need to redeem ourselves for. Sometimes, we need to sit back and look at our behaviour from another perspective and consider the damage we may have done. After recognizing this, we need to make the effort to change, whether that be through more personal reflection and practice or through our actions. Sometimes we need to face our problems head-on instead of weaving stories that serve as excuses. When it all comes down to it: apologize. This also sets a good example for children, whether they are your own or not, they need to know that adults are still learning, and that apologizing is better than deflecting the blame.
WE ARE ALL GRIEVING SOMETHING
During her time in the funeral industry, Avril learned that we all walk around with something weighing heavy on our hearts. Whether we realize it or not, we are all grieving the loss of something or someone. COVID makes our hearts a little heavier with grief because not only are we grieving over our own personal things, we are grieving over the time we’ve lost, the people we used to be, the people we’ve lost, the human connection that we crave, and the sacrifices we’ve had to make over the past year and a half. Avril advises us to go around with good intentions in our hearts, and treat people with love and kindness. We need to forgive ourselves for messing up because, at the end of the day, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. We are all seeking the forgiveness of others, but we must first start with seeking forgiveness within ourselves.
Thanks so much to Avril for this awesome conversation and thank YOU for tuning in!