photo credit: Gudrun Johnston
“That moment of recognizing a kindred spirit is a profound one indeed. . . a deep knowing that this was only the end of the beginning. SQUAM ISN’T JUST A BEAUTIFUL LAKE, NOR IS IT MERELY AN EVENT OR A GATHERING. IT IS A FEELING AND A SPIRIT THAT WE ALL BRING WITH US TO THAT MAGIC PLACE, AND WE TAKE IT BACK WITH US TO ILLUMINATE OUR LIVES UNTIL IT IS TIME AGAIN TO GATHER ON THOSE NEW HAMPSHIRE SHORES.”
– OLIVIA WHITE
Once upon a time I tried to keep clear lines between what was going on in my life (personal) and business (Squam). Join me, won’t you, in a collective HA! Yes, oh so very funny, ha ha ha.
Maybe there is a way to keep such distinctions and I certainly salute those bright spirits able to compartmentalize so efficiently, alas – it is not my path. If it’s happening in my life, you will see it at Squam. Hence, the title of this post.
These past few years, my life has gone through a rather significant overhaul and the best way for me to sum it up is that “it’s a whole new movie.” Same person, same shoe size, same predilection to anthropomorphize dogs and yet? Having an entirely different experience of life.
As I observed during my remarks at opening ceremony last week, YOU are the star of your movie, YOU are writing the script — so for heavens sakes, make it good. OF course, that is easier said than done.
So often, we are Krusing along with an unrelenting current at our back as we race from bed to coffee, to work, school, groceries, laundry, bills to pay, emails to answer, before dropping back into bed so that we can wake up and do it all again. Add in kids, pets, vehicles, houses, yardwork, a last-minute bake sale– and it’s a wonder we ever get time to craft the story we want to live. It is very easy to get caught in an undertow where all we do is react.
The other day I was reading a recent issue of INC, magazine and liked what Arianna Huffington said about how we make recharging our cell phone a priority, but not our need to rest and play.
I won’t be the first to wonder how it is we are buried alive under all the stuff we think we need to make us happy.
This came into sharp perspective Friday night during Sarah Sousa’s beautiful poetry reading as we were reminded of the hard (hard!) labor of life in the 19th century grace a Esther Small’s diary (three hours to churn butter! eight months pregnant and lugging pots of hot water to wash heavy clothes, etc).
Seriously, people. Here we’ve taken that all out of the way and what do we do with all our extra time?
Enter Squam. Time to drop the paddles, drift, float get dreamy and write yourself a whole new script.
You might think I’m blowing smoke . . but take a read through the posts below and you will find whether back for their sixth Squam or their first, something has changed.
:: REFLECTIONS ::
*click on name to read the FULL post and keep
checking back as I will keep adding to this list as they roll in.
JENNY SCHNEIDER “Oh my….It’s already a little more than a full moon ago that I went to Squam Lake for my art retreat. And it has been one month trying to express that experience in words. But somehow words elude me. I guess I am worried that they won’t do the experience justice. Worse, I fear that they may take away its *magicalness*.”
SAM LAMB “I don’t know how to be brief about such an amazing adventure. Where to start? What to share? How to truly explain the experience? … There was canoeing, learning, drawing, great food, quiet moments on the dock, and most of all – this amazing sense of belonging. I was surrounded by strangers, but they felt like home.”
ASHLEY HIGGS “like many adults and scientists, both my age and my education have robbed me of any magical thinking, and as much as i love to write nonfiction, and to read fiction, writing fiction is a wholly uncomfortable, unnatural experience for me. i figured squam was as good a place as any to step outside my comfort zone.”
KAREN TEMPLER “I’d been seeing photos and hearing about Squam for the past few years, and longing to attend, and I can tell you the place is even more beautiful than the pictures.”
MARY-HEATHER ” The recaps I’ve read throughout the years were so effusive, with phrases like “magical experience” and “nurtured my spirit” and such, that it did cross my mind a few times: exactly how freakin’ “magical” could this thing really be?”
BRIENNE MOODY “It has been over a week since I returned home from my second annual trip to Squam Art Workshops. I’ve waited to blather on about it because the task of capturing the profundity of it all is staggering and because I am sure to fall short.”
CHRISTINE CHITNIS “Having a bit of time away from the kids and home really gave me a chance to reflect on how busy life has been lately, and to set some new intentions for myself, my family, my work and my creativity.”
RAVELRY “When we recapped our classes with each other, we all kept talking about how we knew we’d be reflecting on the things we learned for some time.”
MARTINA BEHM “It was such a great week – inspiring, laid-back, full of great, creative people, in the most relaxing atmosphere I have ever experienced, beautiful surroundings and great food. And it was over much too fast.”
KERRY LEMON “I’m back home now, full of gratitude and happiness for the greatest week.This photo completely describes my sensation of being at Squam, I buzzed with energy and inspiration and had so much fun!”
COLLEEN ATTARA “Sometimes experiences are too rich, too full to write about. Squam is always like that for me. But I think the rawness that I feel as I drive away catches it all. The words that are spilling out as I leave and force me to stop for a moment so I can catch each and every one of them. I scribble quickly…”
ANA CAMPOS “Every experience I’ve had at Squam has been fantastic, but this one so far was my favorite.”
JENNIFER DOROTHY KAKUTANI “The deep, calming feeling that a shift had occurred in my life – I had found more amazing, creative and talented women to add to my tribe”
AMY CHRISTOFFERS “It was every bit as charming as promised but the best part – and the reason I was there – was the truly amazing people.”
AMIE PETRONIS PLUMLEY “Since I’ve been back home, I am feeling more focused, energized, creative, and patient — qualities I noticed were somewhat lacking before I left (especially the patient part!)”
CAL PATCH “oh Squam. you never fail to intoxicate, rejuvenate and educate me. this was my 9th (!) time at this creative gathering on a loon-filled lake in the woods of New Hampshire. i just read my account of my very first Squam experience and it all holds true to this day. it never gets old.”
DIANNE MACDONALD “First, my apologies, for this post will be full of expostulations on just how wonderful a trip to Squam can be. I know, I’ve been there, done that before, but it cannot be helped. Here goes for the third time.”
THEA COLMAN “It’s a bit overwhelming and it fills me with that lump in my throat that comes from knowing that it’s all part of something bigger. Something beautiful and earthy and connected – and based in what we do with the things we love to play with. And I was only there for a bit of socializing on Saturday night! Is it pathetic that I’m waxing all poetic about it after a few hours (and a few beers) or does it just speak to what Elizabeth has created? I’m going with the latter.
MONA LAPIERRE* “For five days and four nights I spend time with old and new friends who share one singular passion. A need to feed the creative soul. A safe environment to step out of my comfort zone and try something new and push my boundries. We are feed great food and have no worries except maybe waiting for the firewood boy to restock our wood bin. ( he was very cute). Each year I walk away with an ah ha moment, this year was no different.”
CHERYL RIEDEL “I have been trying to write about the experience for the past three days, but haven’t found the right way of stringing together the words to properly convey and commit those moments to the meaning I intend. . . .There are no simple words for it, and using metaphor is the only clumsy way in which I can imagine it might make sense.”
SUZANNE FRENCH “The creative energy and talent of the women there was indescribably inspiring. I came home excited and energized and so grateful for the people that I met… and feeling so so fortunate to have been able to luxuriate in a few carefree days of just making stuff in a beautiful part of the world. I’ll cherish the memory of sitting around in our cabin in the evenings… drinking wine and working on our various projects… and sharing stories and laughing our heads off! It really was magical.”
JENNIFER BELTHOFF “It was here where I was infused with inspiration and courage. I learned that I could do it. I saw myself through new eyes”
SARAH BURROWS “Too busy making stuff, crying with laughter and feeding my face to take many photos after my first walks in the woods apparently!”
MINDY TSONAS “Fresh back from the lake, and all I can say is…. ahhhhhhh! I spent most of my time channeling right in the brightness of the twinkle lights and togetherness and less time behind the camera, but I think you can tell from these few images that Squam was its usual luminous self.”
SARAH SOUSA “A group of the sweetest, smartest, craftiest and most enthusiastic listeners I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading to. This is not an exaggeration. My audience was stellar!”
AUSTEN GILLILAND “Sunday morning was clear and calm, the water like glass. I’d have loved to have stayed all day, but it was time to pack my suitcase, bid my housemates farewell and head back down the I-93. There’s always next year. I’m looking forward to it already.”
bonus post: PHOTO ESSAY
ANNA DIANICH “Squam is a beautiful lake with cute, rustic cabins sprinkled along it’s shores. Each lakefront cabin had it’s own dock and on Saturday the weather cooperated and we were able to sit and knit on the dock with our feet in the water, I even jumped in but quickly got out, the water was still very cold. Karen and I shared a cabin with two wonderful ladies and I really enjoyed the evenings sitting around our fireplace, each one of us chatting and laughing while busy on our handwork.”
HELEN STEWART PODCAST & PHOTO ESSAY
AMY HERZOG “It was so glorious, everything felt a little surreal. We breathed deep, and sank into peace, quiet, and the presence of fellow makers. My students were amazing, and the whole weekend was such a lovely island in time.”
STEPHANIE PEARL-MCPHEE “Postcards from Squam”
MAYA DONENFELD ” It was an honor to spend such focused and lovely time with these talented folks!”
JILL NEILL “Squam is all about mellow.”
TERRI SIMONDS “Squam’s magic this year was awakening my slumbering creativity. It stretched the limits of my photography and surprised me with an idea for a story. The supportive and loving environment whispers to the heart “Yes, you can do this!” And we fly.”