“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted it to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” – Donald Miller
I’m perpetually good at categorizing myself with really crippling words. I tell myself that I’m not adventurous. That I’m not brave. That I’m not an artist. I like to hide behind the comfort of the safe little life I’ve been creating for myself, but I’m realizing that I’m tired of telling myself about the things I am not (which are false, by the way), and I’m terrified of the thought that I really might be creating a small life. So I’m doing something about it.
Last week, I took Don’s advice and I left. I packed my bags and I flew across the country to spend five days in the woods of New Hampshire at Squam Art Workshops.
Not knowing a soul, I took a step of faith and ran from my comfort zone into a world completely unlike my boxed, neat little existence. And yet, in a way, it wasn’t so unlike me. I take more risks than I realize, though I tell myself and others that I’m not much of a risk-taker. Regardless of the stories I tell myself (true or otherwise), there I was on the other side of the country with a large group of strangers, and as I was trying not to panic, I recalled this advice: “Strangers are merely friends you haven’t met yet.”
And goodness, how true that was this week! In a manner typical to the strange things that tend to happen in my life, I found upon arrival that I had been switched to a different cabin. And although I’m sad that I didn’t get to interact with the ladies in my original cabin, I know that I ended up in Brae Cove for a reason. I have heard that Elizabeth has a gift for putting people together, and I can attest to the truth of this. The women who I am happy to now call friends were instrumental in making my time at Squam exactly what it needed to be. They brought such kindness, openness, and encouragement not only to me but to one another. And for being a group of returning friends, I was blessed that they welcomed me into their group without hesitation. Nicola, Stacee, Lily, Liz, Lisa, Karen, Kerry, Sharyn, Maureen, and Donna, I am so glad to have shared this experience with you!
Aside from meeting so many lovelies, I took fantastic classes as well – Cupcakes (baking and food styling/photography) with Helene Dujardin, and Pages and Paint (mixed media painting/collage and journaling) with Sarah Ahearn. Both women are brilliant and so lovely, as artists and as teachers. I made delicious cupcakes from scratch and received insight from Helene on how to improve my photography and play with a new photography genre.
Having never really painted, I was stretched wonderfully in Sarah’s class and have a new desire to further explore this medium.
And on Saturday, I had the opportunity to take a No-Stress Storytelling workshop with Camille DeAngelis, who is a dear. She provided us with tools and inspiration and let us go explore. It was fantastic to take the time to be inspired and let things go with my writing, and I’m now preparing to participate in NaNoWriMo again in November.
I have many more thoughts to process about Squam, so I will save those for another post, along with more pictures.