“Each of us has the capacity not only for great happiness
but also for bringing great happiness to others.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Good Citizens
One good way to start off a summer day is to take a long walk along the seashore, so the dogs and I hit the beach early this morning. They swam until they could swim no more and then– back to the office where the windows are wide open to the breezes that remind me why paperweights were once so very fashionable and how sweet the first Monday of August can be.
I am truly savoring this month as once September hits it is gonna be a flurry of hells bells until flurries of snow descend on the streets in November and I wake up thinking, summer? is over?
For many of us, even under the best circumstances, it is a challenge to stay in the present moment. For me, it is a particularly demanding proposition as so much of my work is about planning things months and years in advance. I practice mindfulness but it is an easy thing to allow fearful or negative thoughts to slide in when I am developing new ideas and new programs. Since they haven’t happened yet, why not imagine the worst, right? They won’t be any good. Nobody will like them. Blah. Blah. Blah.
This is the nature of any creative endeavor. It really doesn’t matter what you are putting your heart into– if your heart’s in it, YOU are in it and therefore, exposed– vulnerable.
So imagine how sweet it was to receive an email from Stephanie Guimond who came to the very first gathering in 2008. Stephanie writes, “I’ve been meaning to send this to you for a while. It’s an artist profile of yours truly, done by a local film student earlier this year for his mini-documentary assignment. It only took 59 seconds for Squam Art Workshops to come up, and it tells the story of how re-discovering art was a turning point in my life.”
What’s not to love about that?
In her first post Alyssa wrote that she after coming home from the June session, she took stock of her work situation and decided to make a change.
“Being at Squam for those five days, doing nothing but being myself in a wonderful setting with friendly people and gracious teachers, no distractions from the outside world, just a fun community of like-minded people… needless to say, coming home was a bucket of cold water to the face. Yes, it’s called “work” for a reason, but it took the easy, peaceful joy of Squam to bring home just how wretchedly unhappy I was in my job, with the company, with my managers, with my clientele. With the mess my life had become, personally and professionally. . . . Fortunately, the universe smiled upon me, and I was able to connect with a mentor working at a different company in a different town, and he made a spot for me on his team. Yes, I have to leave the town I grew up in and move 1500 miles from everyone I know, but as far as being scared and nervous goes, this is the happiest, most excited scared-and-nervous I’ve ever felt. I feel 1000% better. I want to get up in the mornings again, and I’m excited every day.”
I can honestly say that when I read her post all my worries and insecurities and nagging doubts about my work for the year ahead flew out the window. If the space, community and experience of Squam helps one person to reconnect with their best self, then I am totally, completely and utterly happy– to. my. toes. It really doesn’t matter if I fall on my face or make whopping errors (because hello– I will for sure), but I don’t care. It’s all part and parcel of the bigger picture.
So when Marti added into the discussion about her experience, well–
“As I read your post I wondered if you had been reading my thoughts. While I haven’t taken the same specific steps that you have, I feel like attending Squam awakened some of the same discontent you describe above. Maybe not discontent, but the realization that things don’t have to be or stay this bad.
The simple idea that was introduced early on with regards to, “Do whatever you need for yourself to make this weekend what you need it to be” was so simple and yet so revolutionary. The enormous amount of pressure it relieved was unbelievable. I hadn’t even realized how tight I had let the noose around my neck get. Just knowing that if I needed something different I had permission to change it was….relaxing, empowering, life changing–take your pick. Within 24 hours of being at Squam I emailed my mom and sister and said, “This place has already changed me as much as a place can change a person in 24 hours.”
Anything I write will sound like so much mush so how about another couple photos from this morning instead?
Kids, you done split this old girl’s heart wide open– so many thanks!