water + imagination = poetry magic light

photo: Elizabeth Duvivier

build me a lodge and a road, that people may come hither and have rest.
Alice Mabel Bacon, 1887

It starts with a dream. Doesn’t it always? 130 years ago, a woman named Alice Mabel Bacon landed her canoe on the shores of Squam Lake and made the prayer above. Her wish became RDC which is where Squam Art Workshops happens. Clearly, Alice had a vision — but did she really know what her idea would lead to? Do any of us? Of course not, we can’t possibly know all the lives we touch — we can’t possibly know all the ways our actions, words, thoughts and energies ripple out to shift and create the world. All we know is that they do.

So, with this knowledge — that what you do MATTERS whether or not you ever get to see the how and the why — my best counsel to you is: live from your heart. That’s it– no need to read any further.

It all leads to to this one truth:
LIVE from your HEART.

Because if you do — when you do– your life rolls out in the most extraordinary ways that will feel sometimes odd, sometimes unexpected, often confusing, generally in direct opposition to what people around you are telling how you should live– but always, if you are living from your heart, you will always be on your right path. And being on our right path feels so good, so right, so true.

photo: Elizabeth Duvivier

I have told the story of how I began Squam so many times that I can’t do it again. What I can tell you is that the first September we gathered – 2008 – at the very end the way it was described was “puddling.” In fact, if you were to go to the Flickr folder from that year it is called “puddling at the Squam Art Workshops.” Ha. remember when Flickr was what we all used and how revolutionary it felt? I know, crazypants. Anyway, my point is we knew, collectively, that something was happening and the idea of butterflies —  having just completed a momentous transformation — getting water and nutrients for the journey ahead felt so apt.

This is why I am sharing the photo below that Amy Gretchen sent me from last week. The butterflies, they are healthy and strong.

photo:  Amy Gretchen

Of course, what I notice most in the photo above is that there is just one butterfly. This is so important to me as when I first conceived of the idea to offer a retreat for creativity, self-nurturance and play — I kept saying to myself, “there has to be at least one other woman like me who feels lost, confused, isolated, depressed, disconnected from her joy.” I was always ever focused on ONE woman.

photos above:  Amy Gretchen

I didn’t know who she was– but it turned out to be a lucky thing for me because as the years rolled on, I think I would have been crushed by expectations of providing the right recipe of nectar to the thousands of people who came. Since my goal was simple — to have just ONE person (Squam has always been open to everyone and we have always had men in attendance, every. single. year.) get what they needed– it kept me grounded and feeling strong in possibility.

Turns out, many people got the creative spirit refueling they needed.

Squam Art Workshops, September 2017
photo credit : Amy Gretchen

As you can clearly see, men and children are here as they have always been. They are in the minority, obvs, but that is because it is women who gather. Women gather to share ideas, learning, experiences — they gather to support, offer understanding and to have fun. It is an ancient calling and I am so honored to have been a part of this community for the past ten years. As I announced in December 2016, it is time for me to pass the torch to someone who can help this beautiful magic continue to send its sparks into the world, and– to grow it in more ways.

I had no idea who this person would be. And by May of last Spring– had resolved myself that perhaps there was no one coming. Maybe Squam would just go back in the box and I might revive it years down the road.

And then, Meg clambered down from the mountain.

photo (l to r): Elizabeth Duvivier, Amy Gretchen, Renee Callahan

The universe never fails to astound me with how it always has a plan and, at this time in my life I am far more in alignment with its magic than ever but even I got a rocked back on m y heels by HOW exquisitely this rolled out.

I first met MEG FUSSELL in March 2016 when I was visiting my dear friend Tif Fussell (who happens to be the mother of this young goddess). We were standing on the sidewalk in Carnation, WA — outside the doors of TOLT because Meg had just come down from hiking in the mountains and the fresh mud on her boots needed to be kept away from all that luscious yarn. The meet-up was warm, but brief and, at the time, seemed utterly random.

Looking back today — it unfolds just like a novel (as Joseph Campbell was wont to say).

One year later, in May 2017, I was prepping for the June gathering when I got an email from Tif. Meg had just graduated from Anake, a year-long wilderness program and was moving to Ipswich, MA to be with her boyfriend Cooper. Meg was going to drive Tif up to Squam but their flight was getting them in near midnight, would it be okay if she spent the night? As it happened, I was needing some extra hands on deck so I wrote back, “Sure! Hey, by the way, does Meg like to untangle twinkle lights and tote boxes?” Turns out, she does. Even better, both Meg and Cooper came for the week to help me. They were amazing, but I still didn’t catch on to what the universe was planning. It was only when Meg taught us all the song* her graduating class wrote and performed that I had one of those out of body moments– I saw her.

Neo! You’re the ONE.

I didn’t say that right away– as I didn’t want to scare her. But bit by bit– as we worked side by side morning to night for seven days, I inquired more about her vision for her future. Her background. And it was like there was this tiny bell going ding! ding! ding! as we found all the points of connection and I could see how perfectly her spirit, work ethic, interests and life experience lined up for her to be the one to lead Squam into its next chapter. Wowza.

photo credit: GERRI SMALLEY

I do especially like how Meg and I mirror the story of how RDC came into being. An older woman ALICE MABEL BACON founded Deephaven, but it was the younger woman MARY ALICE ARMSTRONG, the founder of Rockywold, and her family, who shepherded the camps into being as we know them today.  (Let’s just leave out the part where the older woman died soon after she established Deephaven  .  .  . m’kay?)  HA!

Instead, let’s take a look at this past week, the ultimate Squam! Because, oh dear lord– it was indeed. I am popping in a few photos here but if you truly want to sink into the magic– go enjoy the hundreds of photos and videos people have shared on INSTAGRAM– use the following hashtags to savor all the goodness:




My heart is SO full of gratitude. I have no words– in this moment, anyway. In the months ahead, let’s hope I find some words as  I will be reviving my old, long neglected blog and working on a book among other projects. As for the BIG June and September gatherings– it will be MEG you will want to connect with going forward and we will keep you apprised of all that as we make the transitions.

Just letting you know that this will be my last post here for the forseeable future.

peace, peace, peace

xo, Elizabeth

all photos above thanks to Amy Gretchen

*side note:  that morning in Greenwood Lodge where we were all squished in, legs dangling from the rafters, small children looking up in wonder from the front– all singing this sacred song– that morning? One of the top experiences of my life and all I ever dreamed of for Squam.

17 thoughts on “water + imagination = poetry magic light”

  1. I’m a mix of slightly brokenhearted that I wasn’t able in the end to attend this Squam, so happy for you to start this next chapter, and giddy to see what comes next. I plan to move heaven and earth to be there next year!

  2. Oh, what wonderful news! I too was brokenhearted that events prevented me from attending the “last” Squam. I am so so happy the brilliant thing with wings you created will continue, and hopefully you will be there to enjoy and maybe even to teach. Love, love, love to you always

  3. Yay! I’m so excited especially since after attending my first Squam last year, I decided I needed it in my life EVERY YEAR! The magic made there, and the ease of being in that space make it so special. Yay, Meg!


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