Something shifted in me after that first Squam experience, yes. Something hard and cold and opaque fell away from my heart. That doesn’t mean that everything fell into place though. It still hasn’t a full two years later. All I could really see was that I wasn’t allowing myself to shine. I was hiding. And I was really, really good at it.
This part of me was trying to bust out for a while. It is what attracted me to Squam in the first place, and it got me to fill out the forms, and mail them. However, when the walls I had built up over so much time started cracking, a new me didn’t just bust right through it smiling and dancing and taking over the world. It has taken much work to unravel what I had buried so deeply. Most of the time I feel like I am still on the first step. It is the hardest. Honoring myself. Not a pretty picture of myself like I had been practicing. Not a new being perfectly aligned with my wants and needs. My self. As I stand here today. Get ready, world, to meet the real me.
The conversation can move beyond issues like, is my child behaving in class to a more https://writemyessay4me.org/ meaningful discussion about learning
First let it be said that summarizing a Squam Art Workshops experience is about as easy as capturing the grand canyon in a photograph. It has been done, for sure, but as much as I want to share the magic with friends, and family, and here, it is never going to be quite as good as the real thing. It is just so much bigger than I can represent within any kind of reasonable parameters.
That being said, it is worth it to share a glimpse. It was my third time, and it was as electrifying as the first.
I got a ride up with A and Z, two first-time Squammies, who graciously answered my plea for a ride on the Squam Message Board (now the Squam Community site). We met at a coffee shop near North Station in Boston. We had an instant connection and (of course!) were completely randomly assigned to the same cabin. After much hugging we were on our way.
It was a lovely drive up, filled with conversation and complete with a stop at, The Common Man for lunch, Pattern Works and the grocery store in Center Harbor, NH for supplies (knitting needles, yarn, wine, more wine). The weather flipped back and forth between sunny or raining, or sunny and raining (several rainbows spotted).
At registration there were more hugs, this time from the amazing women of Squam: Elizabeth, Jen, Michelle, Christine, and Lauren
. Teacher Maya Donenfeld was there too (whose blog first introduced me to Squam), and the ever-dazzling official Squam musician Jonatha Brooke. I hope they know what it means that they are all there to greet us as we come in off the open road. They must all have one million and one things to do, and yet there they are, setting the tone, with open arms and hearts – you belong here too.
My cabin this Spring was named “Nirvana”. I mean, can you be more apt? The Rockywold-Deephaven Camps (RDC) are utterly gorgeous and being at Squam in that setting, well it is about as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine. I met our other cabin-mates, unpacked (I am an unpacker), and settled in before dinner and an evening welcome at the playhouse.
And Ohhh, the women I lived with for those five ethereal days. This may be the most difficult thing to explain about Squam. Most of us strangers upon arrival, we left as friends. I miss them still, two weeks later. Miss our morning fires, swimming in the freezing lake (it really was very cold), chatting at dinner, circling at the end of the day, sharing frustrations and joys, jokes, and tears of laughter. It is more than lingering, it can be everlasting.
My class on Thursday was with a wild woman who already had my heart long before we met face to face, Pixie Campbell. My experience with her offering, Soulodge, and this class will be a post (many posts) in itself so here I will be brief. Pixie led us through the day shamanic journeying, walking and taking in the forest and the lake, pulling cards and runes as we opened our hearts to the universe and listened to what it had to tell us. It even more heightened the spirit of self-discovery that Squam always represents for me. In that stillness, and in the listening, I made life-altering discoveries about myself and remembered dusty pieces of my heart. It was a gift to be in a circle with the other participants and watch and hear their experiences unfold. To be with Pixie was dreamlike.
Jonatha Brooke performed that evening at the playhouse (every evening after dinner there is something wonderful happening there). She performed a bit of her play My Mother Has Four Noses. Up on the stage she tells the beautiful and heart-wrenching story of caring for her mother as she lives and dies with Alzheimer’s disease. She intersperses her beautiful songs on guitar or piano and images of her mother on a projector. I brought some knitting with me (as most do at Spring Squam) and barely knit a stitch. By the end the tears were flowing. I left feeling so thankful that she shared that story with us. It is not often told and it is so often lived.
My class on Friday and Saturday was “Seeing the Everyday” with an amazing photographer and sparkling soul Amy Gretchen. Seriously, this woman’s smile lit up the whole room. And I left the class feeling so much more intimate with my camera. I had a Cannon AE-1 film camera that my folks got me in late High School and got to know it pretty well. My husband bought me a Nikon D5000 (Digital SLR) as a graduation gift when I received my MBA a few years ago and I never really took it off the auto settings…not even through the thousands and thousands of photos we took of my son during this past year. Since taking Amy G.’s class, I am walking around with my camera in one hand (trying to make it feel like an extension of my arm rather than a clunky distraction) shooting in manual, from different angles, and trying to capture those simple moments. I see a significant difference in the pictures I took pre- and post- Amy G. I feel pretty lucky to have been a part of her class.
Oh, and did I mention that in between these two life-altering classes I got to indulge in yoga with Michelle? I emerge from her classes feeling so centered, and so ready to take on the world. And we heard Maya Donenfeld and Alena Hennessy speak about writing their respective books.
Learning at Squam is like a tidal wave. I think that is another reason so many of us have so much trouble describing it. It takes days, weeks, until the next year’s Squam for all of it to sink in. The experiences I shared with my classmates, my cabin-mates, the stranger-now-friend sitting next to me at Jonatha’s performance, the chance encounters on the “commute” to and from class, this is where the real magic takes place. Each encounter is almost like a little miracle to me. Knowing that we really saw each other in those moments, and imprinted, and left a little spark behind. It is changing the world.
I could write another thousand words. Don’t worry, I will.
Goodness. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
I spent Wednesday through Sunday in the woods, by the lake, at Squam Art Workshops and I have so much to tell you. It will happen in due time. First I’ve got to get the pictures off of my camera. I took about a thousand of them in the joyful goddess Amy Gretchen’s class alone. On top of that, I need to let some things settle before my mind can find the words to put to it.
Right now I am focused on giving myself a gentle landing back into everyday life. In the past I haven’t been very good at it. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with everything I learned, establish those new relationships, read and absorb every attendee’s blog post/facebook update/flickr feed so I can relive the experience again and again, explain every revelation to my family and friends, all that and unpack, do the laundry, care for the little and my partner and the house, return to my desk job…last Fall in particular, I don’t mind admitting, I completely crashed and burned in re-entry. Skipping off the atmosphere between two very different lives. Way to undo all the good of a retreat, hotpants.
This year I am handling it much better. My life at Squam and my life at home are becoming less different, for one. But also, instead of feeling like I have an outstanding balance due to my daily life and the people in it, I am considering that my budget is balanced. I am taking it easy and squeezing every last bit of good out of it. Sure, my desk-job is super busy, in a way that could be overwhelming if I let it, but I’m taking each minute as I can (and probably not surprisingly it is all getting done). I am enjoying the quiet company of my family. The laundry will be cleaned. The stories and the pictures will be there when I am ready. ')}
There https://writemypaper4me.org/ are many reasons why a student may be struggling, and focusing on these areas in a dialogue with the parent can be far more productive than a discussion of why their child won’t do their homework or why they won’t sit still in class
Originally I thought I would have a weekly post about stuff that inspired me. Something like “I hearby commit that every Wendesday I will post links to other sites and blogs, artwork, quotes, poems, pictures of what I think Antipodes Arthouse will look like one day.” I am realizing that this doesn’t happen for me once per week. It happens completely irregularly. And also I’m into letting go of structure right now. So I will randomly offer “Lampo di genio”. In Italian it means “flashes of genius” or “sudden inspiration”. I love Italy and everything about it and it is half my heritage so I am going with that.
Here is the first.
“Being your true self is the most effective formula for success there is.”