My first Squam. I walked into the lush woods. I followed pompoms and sun catchers and walked deeper in. And days after my return, I feel as if I am still walking slowly out of that forest.
Squam is a magical place. And like those woods, it is layered. Layered with people, history, colored paper and thread.
There were artists who write and writers that paint. And doctors and lawyers that left hospitals and offices to do both. So brave.
I came a bit undone in those woods. Unhinged emotionally. And unhinged creatively. Opened. Then sewed back together. And that is all good.
Color and Composition. Vintage pieces of paper. Old stamps. Brightly patterned fabric swatches. Amazing photos for inspiration. Watercolor pencils. Gouache. A nearby sewing machine used for the very first time. Tiny bits of paper and inspiration everywhere. Music softly playing in the background. Thank you Kayte Terry. Within 24 hours of being home, I was back at the sewing machine channeling your class.
Unconventional embroidery. Brightly colored threads. A pile of old pictures. Metal screen. A drill. Permission to color completely outside the lines. Vintage strips of colored fabrics. A old art box. Sewing into wood. Tiny bells. Chain stitches. Soft background voices of like-minded souls. Cal Patch, I brought a piece of your calm home with me. I am so grateful.
I met some amazing women. Woman who make the road by walking. Woman who risk. Who sing though tears fall. Woman who live their truth in words, color and most importantly, through action.
The Saturday at Squam was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 78. She died four and half years ago. I did not know I had so many tears left. She had lived in New Hampshire for a short time and loved it. I felt her everywhere. She was the wind that blew my hair from my eyes as I walked through those woods. She was the mossy hearts I found along the path.
We were all in the woods together. Some came in groups. Some wandered in alone. Many returned. So many strong circles of friendship. I stood inside circles and outside circles. Feelings of belonging and aloneness. And as close as we walked together in those woods, Squam is a very individual experience. Personal.
I made many connections. Lasting friendships no doubt. But I also came face to face with me. The creative, driven and intense me. The adventurous and affirmative me. And because of Squam, I have returned a calmer, gentler version.
If I could share one moment with you from Squam, I would have poet, Maya Stein read aloud to you. Because as much as I felt completely open and raw, there were threads that put me back together again. This poem by Maya is one of those threads. This is just a tiny piece of it, but a piece that I hold onto.
“Ask for help. Not in the way of apology or guilt.
Not in the way that contorts you into the shell of your own power. Not in the way that drills your guts into the ground. Not in the way that divorces you from boldness. Ask for help in the way that expands you, that blushes you awake to your own life.” -Maya Stein
So I am back. And my close friends would say I am strangely quiet. I am not really talking on the phone or doing email.
I am just processing this experience that was as lush as those woods.
And I am grateful for it.