Driven by a deep passion and creativity, Humanist Celebrant Zena Birch travels the length and breadth of the globe marrying couples who are fortunate enough to choose her to translate their personal love story into a bespoke wedding ceremony filled with heart and soul.
1. What is your name and where do you live?
Zena Birch, I live just outside of London to the north in a little village with the countryside in every direction but London a 30 minute train hop away. But my job as a humanist wedding celebrant sees me travelling all over the place so I call any clean bnb/hotel and occasional shepherds hut my home too!
2. What is your favourite soulventure?
To avoid being trite and say every adventure I have had, I had to really stop still and reflect. Which was an excellent thing to do, so thank you for asking me the question.
I think the most extraordinary soulventure I have had was an expedition to Antarctica I went on Christmas before last. I had dreamt of following in the footsteps of Shackleton since I was an 8 year old girl pouring through my mum’s ‘Readers Digest – Discovering the Wonders of the World’ book. It dawned on my late 30 year old self that these adventures only happen if you make them happen. 20 months and many payment instalments later and I landed in Buenos Aires for a whistlestop and astonishing 3 days of exploration, tango, moped riding and fine wine. I boarded a smaller plane bound for Ushuaia and after one of the hairiest landings in the history of my own plane travel found myself in one of the Hotels of the World at the foot of the Andes and Patagonia. The following morning I boarded M/V Sea Spirit – a boat smaller than I had expected to take on the roughest stretch of sea on the planet, but I kept remembering that Shackleton had crossed these waters, post disaster, in nothing more than a slightly adapted wooden lifeboat, so sucked it up and listened to our safety briefing! What followed was more than I could ever have imagined. I was part of the sea kayaking crew so was able to get a lot more up-close-and-personal to the penguins, seals, whales and icebergs than I would have on foot. I subsequently climbed the highest point on our trip in my dry suit, forgetting to take off my splash skirt I was so excited – making me the hottest I had ever been in the coldest part of the world once I reached the summit. I camped overnight on the ice after digging my own ice ‘grave’, I spent far too many hours in a hot tub on the top deck I didn’t know about until we boarded, and I was humbled over and over and over again by the vastness and majesty of this planet. Icebergs have my fascination and awe forever more and I jumped off the boat and swam for a full 28 seconds (without a dry suit!!) in the Southern Ocean (temp 0.5 degrees). All in all it was a pretty damn epic soulventure and I came back changed in my very soul.
3. What’s something that no-one would guess about you?
That I’ve never read a single Jane Austen?
4. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A quiet promise from the universe that no terrible disease or affliction will end my love affair with life.
5. If you could be doing anything, anywhere, right now, what and where would it be?
I do my best to revel in the moment day to day, to find something enjoyable in the ordinary and even in the drudgery of daily chores. But if I could teleport my best friends to be with me at any moment I would do that. So many of my heartheld friends live too far away, I love them living in different parts of the world and treasure our commitment to friendship, but a teleport machine would seriously help with my planning.
6. Of what are you most proud?
That when I get kicked down I get back up again.
7. Who do you most admire and why?
My mum. She has been through so much sadness, pain and difficulty and yet she has a wicked smile that refuses to be dampened. She taught me to dream and has never hindered my dreaming, even when it hasn’t been in her best interest. She showed me how to love and let go and I will be forever grateful.
8. Best kiss of your life?
Ah, now this question has just sent me off on a revelry of daydreaming! I am unashamed to say that there have been many best kisses. Kissing is a truly spectacular thing. After a lot of thought I am going to go with – a first kiss. The nature of a first kiss, not a specific kiss with any one in particular. The build up, the electricity, the doubt and hesitation followed by that moment when you know it is going to happen…any…second….now. A first kiss is like conversation in another tongue (if you will pardon the expression!). As you kiss you slowly start to understand it, explore it, navigate your way towards a whole language you didn’t know before. It is the first step in intimacy. It is full of vulnerability and strength and bravery. It is electric and it should always be savoured and revelled in.
SO MANY!!! I would like to learn Latin American Spanish so that I can explore more of South America. I would like to do a part time course in Geology. I would like to study grief counselling. I would like to learn how to sail. I would like to learn how to rock climb properly. Man alive this list goes on and on.
10. Woods, mountain, city or sea?
11. If you could say one thing to lots of people, what would it be?
12. What makes you happy?
Freedom. Friends. My dog. Love.
13. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
A sneaky afternoon matinee at the cinema on a Tuesday.