Here I am, once again, wanting to find a way to synthesize and share all that transpired at the lake last week.
Maybe for our 10th anniversary I will collect each of my post-squam recollection posts and put them all here together for a full scope review as, without going back and re-reading what I have written in the past, it feels to me that there are two central motifs:
- words, bless them, are inadequate when trying to convey this experience
- birth and death
Whoa. That’s a bit too deep, even for me.
1. Here’s the thing – it is magical and I am okay with that. There are too many moving pieces to know what particular combination sets someone’s heart aflame.
- Was it the woods, the light in the leaves, the pine needles scattered on the path?
- Was it the lake, the quiet hush of her strong presence, her sparkling invitation to renew, to refresh?
- Was it the conversations? The reconnection to your own preferences and rhythms?
- Was it a particular class or teacher that helped everything fall into place?
- Surely it was some alchemy woven from these or other tangible and intangible elements that combined to be the exact spirit cocktail each of us needed.
2. Birth and Death? Seriously, Elizabeth– are you gonna go there? Um, yes. I am.
You see, I have come to understand what is going on here in these woods.
We have created a place for transformation, a place for shucking off all that no longer needs to be a part of our life and welcoming in what we want more of in our life.
We do this simply, easily — with love, light and safety all around us. And yet, many times there are tears, laughter or both as we see the relationship die, the job end, the path we were so sure was ours dissolve to reveal our true calling.
It’s big and I am ready to own it.
A personal highlight was the story I shared in Playhouse on Wednesday night.
In it, I shared the struggle I have had all my life with confidence and self-esteem. In the month leading up to the retreat I was filled with dread. DREAD. The thought of sharing this story triggered panic and anxiety. And, through every moment of those days, I kept breathing and kept walking until I stepped right out to the edge of change.
I did get up on stage.
I did share that story.
And you know what?
Confidence and self esteem can bite my sweet ass.
Each year the focus I bring to the week is different –largely dependent on wherever I happen to be in my journey. This year our theme was “we are part fire, part dream.”
Forrest and I made a painting for each cottage with those words and Mindy blew us all away with the most extraordinary Dream Catcher that she created with 200 paper feathers for each one of us to write out a wish and pin it to be carried off in the breeze.
June 2015 Squam was a vision manifested thanks to Forrest, Mindy & Nina. Or, as I like to say the Nina, the Forrest and the Santa Mindy . . (you know the Nina, the Pinta & the Santa Maria). Because these three helped carry me onto new ground; they sailed me into a whole new country.
Thanks to them, I did not tote one sewing machine, I did not string one twinkle light, I did nada on the whole “event management” of what it takes to bring this gathering into being. My fingers never touched a walkie-talkie.
Instead, I was free to offer four yoga classes — an absolute joy for me, offer two Writing Your Own Myth classes — an extraordinary experience with 24 courageous, intuitive beauties that expanded my own myth and, be in the deepest of ease and joy all week.
In fact, if Forrest had a dollar for everytime someone said to me “Wow, Elizabeth – you look SO relaxed!” He would be jetting off to Paris for un tres long sejour.
My gratitude knows no bounds. My joy knows no bounds.
There was a most amazing Story of Yarn with Clara Parkes in the Playhouse Friday night whose ripple effects are going to put some wonderful changes out into the world.
There were the most heart-centered, generous teachers offering one delicious class after another.
And, as I was now visiting this land of green leaves, sparkling water, pine and woodsmoke for the first time in my life (sure it looked familiar, sure I spoke the language – but I assure you I had never truly visited before) – I began to see and experience what people had been telling me all these years.
It’s magic. All around us. Shimmering magic.
It’s okay if you don’t believe me. It’s not something I can prove anyway.
All I can tell you is words fall short, but below I will share links to people’s posts where they do a better job of illuminating what it was like.
ALL PHOTOS & VIDEO thanks to FORREST ELLIOTT
As always, I will continue to update this list as the posts roll in so feel free
to check back in a few days for more glimpses into the beauty that was June 2015.
CLICK on the NAME below to go to the FULL POST
BETH MILLER “This is one of the primary lessons of Squam. We are enough. Right here and right now, in this moment, we are enough. And yet, we are filled with potential at every point in our lives to do more and be more and catch our dearest dreams. In the midst of these lessons, I gained clarity.
Questions offered up for weeks and months were answered resoundingly in the affirmative, and that’s a gift. I do not believe my experience is unique. I think this was happening all around me, in the lives of my fellow “Squammies.” If we give ourselves the space and the freedom, the answers come.”
KERRY LEMON “So now I’m back home in my studio, tired, happy and so pleased I went to Squam again. I think it might just be my favourite place on earth. Here’s my name tag now hung proudly in my studio ready to remind me of new and old friends and a huge amount of creativity and fun.”
CHRISTINE CHITNIS “Sitting by the fire, knitting and talking about everything from why we create, to how we raise our children (and teasing each other mercilessly)…it is a magical thing indeed when you can connect so deeply with other women.”
SARAH SOUSA “The minute the workshop began, I felt like a fish in water. Leading this group of women seemed the most natural thing in the world. I wanted them to have fun, to write, to leave with poems and the potential for more poems. The nurturer in me wanted to shepherd them through the workshop and deliver them on the other side, enriched. And I think it worked! The feedback was astounding: “this was truly a gift”, “this workshop has blown open the doors for me”.”
NINA GILBERT “This Squam was a huge turning point for me, a real stepping into my power. I love how Bear encompasses a lot of dualities—-being an empath and an extroverted introvert, I get it.”
EMILY SCHOFIELD “If I could use one word to describe it, I choose authentic. I found I was able to let go of some people who I needed to stop carrying with me. I finally decided to let love into my life, accept it with grace. I took the daily writing prompts to heart, and had my own symbolic “letting go” ceremony.”
MINDY TSONAS :: photos
MINDY TSONAS “Each year I arrive on the dock another year wiser and deeper in my truth, and season after season my entries in the Journal pages have shifted and grown… from a longing to simply arrive… then a desire for integration and expansion… and now claiming my place in the narrative in a way I never expected, with new knowledge (as always) to be gained.”
KATE ATHERLEY “Seriously, the reports were all so uniformly glowing I wasn’t entirely sure that I believed them. (You know me, cynical city girl.) And then I went. Yup. They’re right. It really is that good.”
THEA COLMAN “Even a skeptic like me can’t help but surrender – you end up thinking and appreciating and slowing down. Before you realize it, you are looking around with new eyes.”
KATHY GUTTOSCH “And all of it was as wonderful, or surpassed my expectations (I know we were warned not to have any pre-conceived notions, but that is nearly impossible, you know?). I loved my classes: Drawn Together, with Kerry, and Found Poetry, with amazing poet Sarah Sousa. Loved loved loved. Both teachers put so much thought and preparation into their classes. Both classes challenged me and nurtured me, and I went away from each feeling a bit more confident, and more inquisitive and thoughtful regarding my drawing and writing.”
OLIVIA WHITE “It has been an overcast day in Los Angeles, and I’m now sitting at LAX waiting for my flight back to Melbourne to be called. It’s been a week since I left Squam Art Workshops and it’s only now that I’m able to write about the third Squam that I have been fortunate enough to attend. I’ve had to sit with the experience and let it percolate through me before I could even think about finding words to describe those five days in the woods of New Hampshire.”
DONNA WYNN “I am still processing all that I experienced at Squam last week, and I don’t want this feeling to end. I want to remember all that I did, all that I learned, all that I experienced and remember the wonderful people I met. I have attended two Squam by the Sea journeys and Squam in the City last fall, but nothing compares to the “original” Squam at Squam Lake in New Hampshire. It was by far the most beautiful retreat experience for me!”
RACHEL COOPEY “Elizabeth created Squam Art Workshops and I have never met a person so insightful and warm, she has put together an experience which seems to adapt itself to each individual, offering just what that person wants or needs and allowing them to create their own unique experience while still being part of a community. There is magic in those woods, my science loving brain is working hard to process that but it’s still true, Squam IS where the magic happens.”