Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"come as you are... leave as you want to be"

I'm going to do my best to share my experience of Squam, but whatever I tell you I want you to multiply by 1000. Laura and I drove up to New Hampshire with great expectations, but had no idea how much it would change both of our worlds. The setting was so pristine, no photo will do it justice.

Envision gorgeous cabins perched over a lake made of glass, trails to your "classrooms" through birch and pine forests with woodland creatures peeking out. The sounds of loons echoing across the midnight water and whispering through your dreams.
Elizabeth, visionary and goddess of Squam, found the perfect location for such a rich and magical retreat. She thought of every detail, and I will be forever grateful that I could be a part of something so profound. Because there were no outside responsibilities or demands (no dishes and sweet children begging for my attention), each day would unfold in simplicity. Every meal was shared in a beautiful dining room overlooking the lake... every building overlooked the lake!

These were wonderful times for connection and an opportunity to build new friendships. After spending the last year and a half very attached to my computer for work and community, it was wonderful to meet people in real time. Although I feel grateful for this virtual revolution happening in the art and craft world, I miss looking into someone's eyes when I speak to them. I need this. We all do. The ability to communicate in the same creative and "bloggy" language, but also being face to face was delicious and satisfying. I felt like I had come home. In fact, my home/cabin at Squam was fittingly called Nirvana. Every night after the evening's event my housemates and I would gather in the the main room. Wine and chocolate would magically appear on the table. Laughter, deep discussions and truths were all shared with ease. Somehow, Elizabeth intuitively matched the twelve of us perfectly. I think she did this for each cabin! Amazing!

Some, but not all, Nirvana women at the Art Fair. photo coutesy of Laura Nelkin
We're all wearing our "Squam Glow"!

Our Nirvana nights became the sweetest part of each day. "We are better together." Marisa, my Nirvana mate said several times. So true. Teachers and students lived and worked alongside one another, there was no division... and it seemed to be the unspoken rule to check your egos at the door. This meant that we were all spending each moment being our most authentic selves. Whether we were listening, sharing or being totally silly... we were being true to our self, not some idea of our self. When you blog, only little snippets paint the picture of your identity. At Squam, I felt like I walked around as transparent as glass. Everyone could see right through to my core. In the real world, that would be terrifying... there it felt safe, natural and right. We all gave the very best to one another day after day... from our communicating to our creating. Powerful energy seemed to radiate from everyone... so many glowing faces bounding through the woods to their next class. I'll never forget going out to look for one of my students, who hadn't yet arrived for my burlap class. Skirting over rocks and through the trees came Donna carrying her heavy sewing machine and wearing a beamy smile. "I got lost in the woods with my sewing machine! When will that ever happen again?" she exclaimed. It was a funny and magical beginning to class. I'll have more tomorrow about the amazing women that attended my workshops and all that we learned together. If you're still with me... and want a little more, there is an incredible video about the week already available, thanks to Marlene. My post title is taken from this video that seems to say it all.

The soundtrack is by Jonatha Brooke, my new hero, who sang to us throughout the weekend and whose latest cd is the only thing I've listened to for the last 48 hours! Maybe it will give you a better sense than I can with words... click right HERE... and remember another Squam happens in September and then on to next June. I'd love this to be your story, too! Pin It

27 comments:

  1. it looks/sounds amazing. that lake is gorgeous for sure!

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  2. Holy smoke, you had Jonatha Brooke at your retreat????!!!!!! Lucky!

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  3. The lake of glass . . . the call of midnight loons . . . it sounds like pure poetry.

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  4. So lovely to have met you! Your notes one the Squam are so true and deep. Thank you!

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  5. I dream of opening such a place some time in the future. I loved the "check your egos at the door" line. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us.I bet your family is really happy to have you back home.

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  6. Oh what a great post! I especially love the dock photo. Gorgeous!

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  7. what a wonderful post!
    I shared this experience
    both last Sept. and this June Saturday - love seeing Squam magic through the eyes of others

    thank you

    xox eb.

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  8. It's hard to imagine as I gaze at your photos that I was a part of the Squam magic. We didn't get a chance to meet but we experienced the same beauty. Never have I been to a place where I felt so at ease with who I am. Thank you for your beautiful post. ~Kathy

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  9. All I can say is that I'm dying with the desire to have been there! Why can't you be in the UK?!?!?! I'm so happy for you (and jealous ;D) and look forward to more tales from your wondrous time!

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  10. It was so lovely to meet you...you made the entire Squam experience that much more sparkly for everyone.

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  11. I would love for this to be my story, too! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I just found out about Squam about a month ago, and living in New England, there is no reason for me not to go someday. . .
    Michelle

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  12. Wow. Maya, what an experience! I got a bit teary-eyed watching the Jonatha Brooke video capturing some of the essence of your experience. I'm so happy for you. It sounds like you are still coming down from Cloud 9! I look forward to seeing you soon.

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  13. wow Maya, you really described the experience beautifully! So wonderful to have spent time with you!

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  14. I live sooo close to this, and almost went this year. My best possible reason, though, required me to be available for his nighttime nursings :-)

    Your description of Squam is wonderful and inspiring...actually gave me goosebumps. I think I'll start saving my pennies for next June!

    Cheers!
    ~Michelle

    PS I've been reading here for a little while, but don't think I've ever actually commented. I Love your blog...thank you for all the inspiration it brings!

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  15. so so so happy to see that squam was just as magical and delightful in june as it was for me last september. being together is better... but it makes coming back to real life very hard. my husband coined the term "squamorse." the feeling of let down we get as we re enter regular life after the intensely beautiful and soul changing moments of squam.

    now... now you've got to reach out and squam someone. share that spirit.

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  16. Your words are perfect! Thank you for this amazing description of SAW--allowed me to re-live it! I will see you there again!

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  17. I thought that "come as you are..." was a tribute to our Nirvana cabin! Everything fits together so perfectly.

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  18. I think you found the words I was looking for -- thank you for this beautiful post! I, too, loved meeting you and look forward to getting to know you in this ephemeral digital world, hopefully to meet again on the shores of Squam! (and I'll bring Sarah again, too!)

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  19. Sounds so wonderful. I will add it to my life list.

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  20. Wow this sounds amazing. While Squam would be a bit far for me to travel, I definitely spent some time researching writers retreats in the Seattle area yesterday because of this post!

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  21. It looks and sounds wonderful. Hopefully someday I can attend!

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  22. Im so happy you did this....sounds like you had an amazing time!!! p.s. Love Laura's boots:)

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  23. so happy to have met you!!!! LOVE, adore, inspiring, beautiful, wonderful, are my words to describe you!!!!!!!!! .....xoxo Marisa

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  24. Oh how I loved reading your words about squam. I attended last year and arrived home a new person. There is something so magical about that lake and those trees. They whisper inspirational words of enourgment and soak up all your fears. Squam brought me out of my shell. People really saw me for the first time. And although I cannot make it to squam this year, just reading your words has opened up the flood gates for all my memories and has left me feeling happier, lighter, and more inpsired. I am ready again, to face the world. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  25. Wow, this sounds fantastic, I can't wait to participate in something like this in the future. I love your banner and your work, I've actually been here before after seeing you in Artful Blogging magazine. Looking forward to spending the next 6 weeks with you in the fish bowl!

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