Dearest ME: Psst, hey Laura-Lynn, wake up.
Laura-Lynn: Ugh, who’s that? What do you want? I’m trying to sleep.
Dearest ME: It’s your inner thoughts, your Higher Self, your conscience…you know, the smart intuitive part. Your Dearest Me. I’ve got a great idea, a defining moment kind of idea.
Laura-Lynn: Why do you always get these at 2:00 am? Why can’t you just come up with this stuff in the shower like everyone else?
Dearest ME: It’s the only time your mind is quiet enough for me to get any real thinking done. Anyway, I think you should go to that Squam Art Workshops thing in June that you read about on that knitting website, Ravelry. It’s just the sort of thing to knock you out of your comfort zone and spark your creativity. I know, I know, you’ll say…you can’t afford it right now, it’s your 15th wedding anniversary and you don’t want to leave the hubby, the dog and bunny for that long, it’s also your birthday and you want to spend it with friends, you won’t know anyone there, you hate to fly and it’s a 10 hour drive, and you are already taking time off at the end of the month to spend time with your siblings at the beach. Blah, Blah, Blah. You know what? You are basically just afraid. Scaredy cat.
Laura-Lynn: Really? This is the tactic you want to take? So you think bullying me at 2:00 am is going to work?
Dearest ME: No, probably not. How about this? You’ll get to meet the Yarn Harlot, learn cool knitting and embroidery techniques, stay on a beautiful lake and get to be crafty 24-7 with no need to feel guilty that you’re not at the office, or weeding, cleaning and doing laundry. Later in the week, the hubby can fly up to that Brewfest in Boston he was excited about and you can pick him up on your drive home and celebrate your anniversary. Everyone wins!
Laura-Lynn: hmm, I’ll sleep on it…if you let me.
Being in my early forties, a solid upstanding citizen, married and employed in the financial industry, I felt the need to protect my quiet, demure reputation (not that I really know what that means) and be very careful about who I told about my secret adventure into the woods of New Hampshire to go to what was dubbed by my family as “knitting camp”, no matter that there were other interesting things going on like yoga, quilting, sewing, carving, woodworking and mask making. I didn’t want to be judged for seeking out the deeply personal joy of being surrounded by creative people - people who get just as excited over color, paint, texture, fabric and yarn as I do. Plain and simple, I wanted to have unapologetic fun and trade in my every day work attire for my beloved tie dyes.
For me, attending Squam Art Workshops was not just about the amazing classes and gorgeous location on Squam Lake, it was also about challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone for the chance to experience something new and different. I was proud of my decision to overcome my anxieties and go. I was proud that I ventured 10 hours north alone by car to meet strange women in a strange land, to share a room with some random chick and a cabin with many random chicks. Oh sure, I had my doubts. What if I wasn’t creative enough? What if I didn’t like the food? What if I was too old? What if I was too young? What if my roommate was awful and an axe murderer? What if I forgot a vital crafting tool? And the worst of all, WHAT IF I RAN OUT OF YARN? OMG, am I really in my forties and acting like this? Short answer: yes, indeedy. To save you from having to skip to the end, I’ll tell you, none of those bad things happened. What did happen was this…
-After finally locating what I thought was my cabin, I yelled up to the girls who sat knitting and drinking beers on a huge screened-in porch overlooking Squam Lake. “Excuse me, what cabin is this?” The reply was clear and concise. “You’ve reached Nirvana, baby.” As I looked at the sign on the side of the cabin that read “Nirvana,” I knew I was in the right place for so many reasons.
- My roommate confessed to googling me. She didn’t find much, but I am sure she was happy to see that there were no ax murderer stories with my name attached. We giggled about being nervous and the fact that our beds were really, really close together in our tiny room and then settled right in like an old, married couple. She was a wonderful blessing.
- The food was amazing. Being a vegetarian, I wondered if I was going to be eating peanut butter and jelly all week. (I brought my own PB&J just in case.) I even lost weight because there was so much great, healthy food. No worries, there is also a sundae bar.
- I loved my classes, meeting the Yarn Harlot and learning about lever knitting, turning my photography into embroidery and taking a meditative journey.
- The evenings were a wonderful time for all the Squammies to come together at the big barn to listen to entertaining stories, songs and speakers.
- My bed was comfy and the down comforter was cozy and had no musty smell like I feared. I fell asleep listening to the wind in the pines and the loons on the lake.
- I had time to venture into town with a new-found friend to explore unique bead, gift, yarn and quilting shops.
-I had the guts to jump into the freezing cold lake on my birthday - fully clothed, screaming and laughing the whole time. It was captured by my cabin mate on her iphone and posted on the SAW website.
-My phone worked just fine even in the depth of the woods and although I took a break from communicating with most people back home, I got lots of Happy Birthday and Anniversary wishes via text. I felt loved. I talked to my hubby daily and sent him pictures of the sun rising over the water, my tofu dinner and the Harlot holding up his homebrew that he sent as a gift.
- My favorite time was late in the evening laughing, knitting and talking with my 12 new friends as we huddled around the fireplace in our cabin. New friends - who I still keep in touch with on Ravelry and Facebook. Friends - who I hope to stay with the Nirvana cabin again next June. I guess you are never too old to make new friends.
- Best things I brought…an open heart to experience whatever was going to happen, my camera and bug spray.
- Thing I wish I had brought…less stuff. I didn’t starve, had plenty of warm clothes and what I didn’t have someone else would have given me.
- Best thing I did to prepare…joined the yahoo group. It made me realize I wasn’t the only one wondering what to expect and what to bring.
- Thing that surprised me… I wasn’t homesick and the joy I experienced at Squam has stayed with me. It’s not constantly present, but I can sneak the memories out of my back pocket when I need a little bit of unapologetic fun.
- Thing I was glad I did when I got home…filled the journal I received in my SAW gift bag with memories and photos. I put little treasures I found or was given into a vine basket on my coffee table, so I can recapture moments of Squam bliss (aka. Squam after-glow) from a piece of yarn, a pin, my name tag, a twig, a pine cone, a ribbon, or a note.
People speak of being surrounding by the magic of Squam Lake, the camaraderie, the feeling of community and shared interests, the desire to be happy and light and make friends. This was my exactly my experience too. My unique joy. My days of play. My story. My Squam.
Thank you Dearest Me for waking me up at 2:00 a.m., to Elizabeth for fostering a safe place of peace, support and creativity and to my fellow cabin mates for yelling, “Honey, your home!” every time I walked in the cabin door.