strange but sacred

“We are not some early Dell Computer Operating System, here to be de-bugged. We are not some new product for sale, here to be perfected. The goal is not to become an immaculate golden orb. The goal is to return to a place of kindness, where you can be gentle with yourself and others, no matter what arises. This requires, I think, a friendly sort of loving humor about who you are and who we all are. Why does the Dalai Lama have such a twinkle about him? Because he gets it. He gets that it’s kind of funny, how we are. Even when it’s terrible. The whole thing is…very, very strange. And that’s OK.
It’s strange, but it’s sacred.”- Elizabeth Gilbert

Good morning and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Yes, it is my birthday today and I am feeling the love which I sincerely hope YOU ARE TOO as that has been my express wish this week.


In a comment on my last post, Megsie shared a link to the Elizabeth Gilbert piece I have excerpted above. I like feeling that we are all coming to this same understanding and that to heal the hate within is to heal the hate without. Or, in a sweeter phrasing, to find a way to love ourselves exactly as we are is the path to love others just as they are.

No one said it is easy, but the dividends are better than any investment you have ever made. Promise.

There are two things I want to share with you today.

One – hie thee to dock and join me and COLLEEN ATTARA as she shares the story of how she left a high-powered job at CBS to pursue her heart’s calling. One aspect of her journey that I cherish is that she loved every step of the way – even as one path ended and another began, she stayed present with what she was doing and finding the pleasure in each bit. You can listen HERE, enjoy!

Two, I have another letter for you from SEPTEMBER 2011. This one clocks in at nine handwritten, double-sided pages and it was written on pale pink paper and arrived in a pale pink envelope!

C’mon now, we all know how much I love peony pink! . . .


I want to share the whole letter with you, but of course that is not possible for many reasons not least because that would be over-sharing. What I can share with you is below.

Plus? There is an update at the bottom from where Suzy is now, five years later.

photo credit SHIRLEY GERBER
photo credit SHIRLEY GERBER

Dear Elizabeth,

I intended to write and send this way back in October but I was busy processing for some time, tryng to figure out exactly what I wanted to tell you. I struggled to put my inaugural Squam experience into words. Not only were the right words not coming, nor could I ever do Squam justice on the page, but it almost seemed like to write about it would be to cheapen it, sink its buouant magic like a lead-filled balloon. . . .

. . . Finally, I told myself not to bother because you had no doubt heard the exact same thing 17,889 times already. But then I reminded myself that one should always bother.

(ED note: YES, thank you!! I would never know otherwise . . 🙂

. . . I don’t know, maybe I’ve been meeting the wrong women all my life, or perhaps you entice some special souls to Squam (I’m inclined toward the latter), but I felt accepted into the fold from the get-go. I am very self-conscious (again, not that you’d know — I am good at sticking a smile on my face and hiding it) . . . .

My cabin mates, classmates, teachers and other Squammies were so kind, and generous, enthusiastic and open, interesting and interested, fun, caring, penetrating, patient . . . There was such a vital, supportive, good energy pervading every molecule of the atmosphere, I could scarcely believe it.

It was like I was thriving in an alternate universe or on some fantastic drug –

  • “you look happy– what are you taking?
  • “I’m on Squam”

This is so trite but I can’t say it any other way: I felt seen. Seen and heard. Seen for who I actually am, and really and truly heard. And valued! . . . .

Can you imagine what that felt like? It’s akin to discovering a whole new dimension.

It is the best gift I can conjure.

September 2011 photo credit: THEA COUGHLIN
September 2011
photo credit: THEA COUGHLIN

. . . we assembled for the group photo. The woman who took it said something about the magic of Squam and how the first-time Squammies didn’t know it yet, but would transform in the coming year. And I believed her. I knew in the deepest depths of me that these few days had changed my life. I wasn’t sure how or why, just that I would not be leaving here the same person who’d arrived a mere three days earlier. And in a profound way, too — I wouldn’t be changed merely for having learned some artistic skills, met new people, or had a few new experiences. This was far, far deeper than that, and something I knew I’d have to sit with and chew through.

But I remember standing there, awaiting the click of the camera shutter, feeling the sun on my face, the warmth of the people around me, the joy suffusing my consciousness and, after hearing the woman’s prediction of transformation, a frisson of inspiration and anticipation. . . .

Again, you’ve probably heard these very same things over + over from other attendees. Maybe it’s narcissistic or self-aggrandizing, but I feel it’s important you hear them from me. Even if it’s all the same stuff that has lost its potency from hearing it so often, I feel I must re-relay it to ensure you know just how important this thing is that you (YOU!) created. You, your creation (and me, post-Squam) are proof that if you gather the right people together at the right time, in the right conditions, magic happens. . . .

As far as I’m concerned, the pink unicorns are alive and well and roaming the grounds of RDC as I write . . . Suzy



UPDATE from Suzy February 2016:

. . . within weeks of my visit to Squam in September 2011, I got pregnant and my life has been pretty intense since… I finished writing my novel, had two boys (now 3.5 and 18 months respectively), survived three bouts of serious depression (turns out having babies ain’t so great for my brain chemicals), moved etc. etc. … Those few days spent at Squam had a huge impact on me and although several years have elapsed, I still feel the ripples from my time there. I hope to return some day, but with the weak CAD and a hefty new mortgage, I’m honestly not sure when. In the meantime I have my memories and boy, are they sweet. My boys fill me with rapture (…and frustration… among many other things!) and make me happier than I could have imagined.
I am forever grateful our paths crossed in this lifetime. I hope we meet again at some point.

:: :: :: :: ::

In so many conversations, workshops and circles this past year ONE theme has dominated: to save the world, we gotta love ourselves first. And so, I am using my birthday as an excuse to pour the love on me as giving and recieving is the same circle and I want you to feel ALL this love rippling out to YOU.

I am still loving on this post that Susan Tuttle did last year for a prompt my soul sister Susannah requested about aging.

Self-Love Fest why I love getting older

Popularity– women have a tremendous need to be liked which drives a terrible need to please in an effort to be in the circle. We have all felt what it’s like to be outside the circle which sucks. In some religious traditions the worst punishment offered is to be shunned, because it does cut the heart most deeply. What I offer to you today is that YOU ARE THE CIRCLE. Love on you. Go inward. Do not seek the love outside of yourself. Love on YOU and all the love will come rolling up to your doorstep.

Trust me.

Hey! You’ve done the self- hate thing– you know what that’s like– why not try a 12 month project of loving on YOU. Just for the hell of it? What have you got to lose? (You know, besides the anxiety and depression and buckets of self-loathing. . . ?)

And now to wrap up what has been the biggest bloggins extravaganza I have ever participated in, it’s true this whole week has been nothing but Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green and the whole wild loving crew that show up at my Pandora Motown station. They ARE the emissaries of love, for me.

But this morning, as I come to you after a deep meditation, candles and incense burning, my heart a happy pink ranunculus – share with you the song that is actually playing right now.

oh my beloved, kindness of the heart,
I bow to you

bisous, Elizabeth

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