photo by Finch Gallant

 On Thursday night, in the playhouse with twinkle lights climbing up tree trunks and swooping across barn beams, Maya Stein read her beautiful poem (below) before sharing a glimpse of what the Type Rider project was and continues to be.

Things to remember before the journey*

It begins when you begin. There is no such thing as too late.
There is no such thing as too early.
There is only right on time. You are always right on time.
Eat. Not just at mealtimes. Between and around and under them.
Feed yourself with more than just what will suffice. Feed yourself with what will nourish.
Ask for help. Not in the way of apology or guilt.
Not in the way that contorts you into the shell of your own power. Not in the way that drills your guts into the ground. Not in the way that divorces you from boldness. Ask for help in the way that expands you, that blushes you awake to your own life. Ask because asking is another kind of love and another kind of faith and another kind of courage. Invite imperfection. Know that the missteps and mistakes will become amusing anecdotes eventually and perhaps even teach you something further down the line or sooner, and that the places of wrongness and upset ultimately become the underpinnings of transformation, and that even disappointment offers a cure for inertia. Let go of the outlandish expectation that "whole" means "unbroken" or that you are only good if you get there twice as fast as anyone thought you would. Know intimately the bald tire that bursts, without warning, on an uneventful road, the error in judgment that leads to a locked door, the desert mirage that doesn't shimmer into fortune. The raw material of your defeat is pure gold, the bones that build you back, the song that sings you home, again and again. Believe in luck, in slim margins, in ludicrous hope, in the magical alignment of planets. Trust the pixie dust of stars, the winking moon, the magic hour that tilts sunlight into halo. Hear the soft prayer your body makes, waking to a snowfall, and how the rain leans you so close to yourself, you can feel your own heartbeat in your hands. The shiniest moments are hardly the only evidence that you were here, living your marvelous life. There are eddies of quiet, deep knowing that will gift you a thousand times more grace. Remember the path is full of detours, places and reasons to get lost, narrow passageways that tempt with risk, and long, wide fields of drowsy musing. No matter. The geographies that bridge you from here to there are flecked with breadcrumbs, small reminders of where you came from, river stones beneath the current, a muscle capable of so much flexion, your reach will startle you, the way you carry leopard equally with lamb, your conviction latticed with mystery, and all at once, inside of you the same blood threading your veins, the same breath holding you fast to this earthly heaven, this heavenly earth.  ~ Maya Stein

image above of Liz Coleman's earth art

as ever, beauty.  magic.  grace. gathered with us at the lake and we are all so grateful. 

Your blog posts are beginning to roll in and if you give me a heads up or send me the link via email-- I will get them posted here straight away-- so keep checking back.

bisous, e

*Maya is in the midst of printing this gorgeous poem on a limited edition broadsheet and it will be available at her site-- so don't miss it!!

**AND** we have just launched Thea's new Online Workshop :: Intuitive Lens :: We are taking her Spirit Session photography class here at Squam to the virtual realm. Yes! Join us!

:: :: ::

(as always, click on name to go to the full post)

"It is hard to describe the experience because there is nothing like it. You walk in full of anxiety, fears about inadequacy, and most times wondering what the hell are you doing here. Nevertheless, you are quickly cocooned by loving embraces of other women who feel exactly as you do, and almost as instantly as you settle into your cabin, the low cloud seems to dissipate.

There truly is no other word for it, but magical."

"In the end, for me, the sewing class, the photography class, and the writing workshop I took were only a smidgen of this experience. The classes were the springboard, and as lovely as they were, it's the personalities that filled those learning rooms, the dining hall, and the trails in between, that made those hours so memorable. It's the pieces that people openly gave of themselves, the intimate and late night conversations we shared as cabin mates and as strangers, and the unique contributions of every individual that made every passing minute worth savoring and remembering.

We are all teachers in our own way,
offerers of our own triumphant experiences
and revealers of our own despair.
When we connect, we have a chance to evolve,
and the seemingly impossible
doesn't seem so improbable anymore."

"We were all in the woods together. Some came in groups. Some wandered in alone. Many returned. So many strong circles of friendship. I stood inside circles and outside circles. Feelings of belonging and aloneness. And as close as we walked together in those woods, Squam is a very individual experience. Personal. I made many connections. Lasting friendships no doubt. But I also came face to face with me. The creative, driven and intense me. The adventurous and affirmative me. And because of Squam, I have returned a calmer, gentler version."

"The instant I walked in the doors to Longhouse for registration, I was greeted by nearly every person who was in my cabin last year. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces – I remember last year I was panicked before heading up to Squam, I was so nervous about throwing myself into a new environment not knowing a single person. Of course, now I know just how silly I was to have worried at all – you will not meet a more welcoming and supportive group of women in the world."

"I am incredibly cynical. I accept this about myself, so when I signed up for Squam I felt the cynicism kick in. I read reviews by previous attendees and just couldn't believe a retreat could be as transforming as everyone claimed. But it was, and I was happy to find my cynicism breaking down. And with that in mind, I am going to share pictures and talk about some of the things I encountered - but I feel like it's important to say that while this will help you see the beauty of the place, it's impossible to capture the amazing spirit of this retreat."

"Having superstars like Lotta Jansdotter and Susy Pilgrim Waters in my classes was a bit daunting (to say the least), but of course, they were a joy to have in my class, as was every other person there. I think I actually like teaching!"

"I looked up the actual definition of the word Glamour. One of the definitions listed took me by surprise. It defined Glamour as “magic” or “enchantment”. Based on that definition, there is nothing more glamourous than Squam."

"I love looking forward to it and I love the after-effects - how it resonates and ripples through my spirit long after my return home."

"I flew 25 hours + to feel the magic, to meet other creatives, to learn new techniques and to meet my amazing teachers - Kelly Barton and Sarah Ahearn, to be inspired, encouraged and to hike a mountain and swim in a lake."

"it was a place for wishes to be set free"

"somehow it seems fitting that even after multiple trips, a couple of us traveling in together still got lost as if to emphasize familiarity does not lessen the possibility of wonderment and magic. Squam continues to enchant and inspire."

"It was such an amazing AMAZING event ! It is a new gift I will give myself every year in the fall. I had the best best BEST time . I feel recharged and ready for the rest of the year. It was such a gift. I had the most fullfilling new connections ever . My friend Sally of over 27 years .. well to get away together for a real vacation .. no words. We cried, we laughed, we discovered, we HEALED, we created new life long bonds. You ladies gave gifts that no words can convey. I am blessed. You have no idea how grateful I am. You are all Angels. Thank you from the deepest part of my heart." - email from KELLY HARNISCH

"i mean really…all of this goodness in a matter of days?!"

"Silly grasshopper. Insights don't always make you feel good--at least not right away--and truly, it isn't much of an insight if it doesn't yank you out of the confines (emotional or otherwise) you've laid out for yourself."

"It was both the experience of being seen—really seen—and also of having time, finally, after a whirling, confusing, busy summer, to finally sit alone at the end of a dock, listening to acorns fall into the lake from the trees above"

"I can't describe what it's like to wake up on these lakes."

"I don't know how to describe this year's Squam Art Workshops experience. Deep knowing. Willful surrender. Anchored exhilaration. These are the words that come to me as I type."

"To embrace the complete experience here, I also wanted to share about all the good things that kept me company, right along with the intensity. I offer you a Squam 2012 gratitude list..."

"Not knowing a soul, I took a step of faith and ran from my comfort zone into a world completely unlike my boxed, neat little existence. And yet, in a way, it wasn’t so unlike me."

"My hope is that you will all one day find a place like this, where you can settle in and feel free to be yourself – as you were created, in all the ways that make you unique."

"best. vacation. ever."

"I've been putting off my second Squam post because well . . . hmmm.  Maybe if I tell you I haven't switched my watch back to Pacific Standard Time even though I've been back for almost two weeks you'll understand my reluctance to share."

"Squam this year, was amazing."

"That’s what makes it powerful. I think every year students come to this class with pre-conceived ideas about how it’ll work for them… and they are always surprised by their process and thinking. It’s powerful to witness."

"A feeling of plenty, and plenty more to go around."

"truly. madly. deeply."

"I entered these same woods five years ago ~ shy ~ quiet ~ unsure of myself ~ not knowing who I was. This time I emerged ~ grounded ~ strong ~ glowing ~ with a strong sense of who I am. It is beautiful to look back on the journey."

"I'm still holding onto the goodness of that time."

"On Thursday I took Alena Hennessey’s Awaken the Muse class, and words can’t describe how wonderful it was. Alena created a warm, easy, safe place to create, leading us in breathing exercises, helping us to set our intention for the class, and providing music so we could wiggle our butts."

"When I say I learned as much as I taught I am being completely honest; it’s one of those things you’re supposed to say but I mean it. I learn so much about myself, about life, about the kindness of strangers, at Squam."

"I suppose that's how I found photography in the first place because i needed a way to express what I couldn't say in words. Squam has always been that, an experience too close to me that words cannot do it justice."

Squam love | Fall 2012 from Amy gretchen on Vimeo.

"I went reluctantly, fearfully into those woods, not knowing what to expect, knowing that I was not an artist, knowing that somehow I would be found out, that I would sit in the corner, and everyone else who was there “belonged”, they were artists, photographers, writers, but not me.  I was so very wrong, I did belong there, I was meant to be in those woods and make life-long friends, create art, write stories and learn more about myself."

"My life has been forever changed in in a matter of days and there is no possible way for me to squeeze it all in one post. . . . . each and every moment was perfect.  Magical."

"I've been trying to write for weeks about the magical time I had at Squam in the woods but words have failed to sum up the experience. If you have ever considered going but are afraid (like I was) - do it anyway! You will grow, you will refresh and you will connect, I promise you! . . .

There is an energy there like no other. Peaceful. Healing."

"Did I mention that Squam Lake is gorgeous? Sitting on the dock in the morning I saw others starting their day with yoga or a quiet cup of coffee while the Loons floated by. I have not tapped into my ability to truly meditate but being there was what I imagine that type of quiet to feel like."




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Kelli said:
I am forever grateful for this online version of Squam. Having visited Squam in the springtime, longing for a bit more...this venue doesn't disappoint. Tidbits of wisdoms, inspiration and love shared for all...thank you for holding this space. What an achingly beautiful poem!
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