Squam Musings: Part Deux

One of my favorite moments that came out of attending the Squam Art Workshops last week in New Hampshire actually occurred while I was on my way home. On the plane from Boston back to Portland, Oregon, I sat by to two young men who were on their way home after running a half-marathon in Boston. The one sitting next to me asked (while I was reading the article on Squam in Taproot, ironically) if I had been on vacation or visiting friends in Boston, and I told him that, no, I had actually been attending an art workshop in New Hampshire. He looked surprised (or maybe intrigued?) and asked, “Oh, so are you an artist then?” And for the first time in my own recollection, I replied with a smile, “Yes, I am an artist.” And it felt really great to say it out loud, to a total stranger, and feel validated in that realization.

I am an artist.

The following is a little poem I wrote on the last morning while sitting in our screened-in porch and watching the sunlight sparkle on the lake. Below are some more photos from my journey. Enjoy!

Squam is…

this quirky little kingdom that is nothing like the real world,

                                                     yet how we wish the real world were more often.

perfect in its imperfection

a place of rest and acceptance

the lost hoping to be found

the found wanting to get lost

a lake filled with hope and untapped potential

the discovery of self

the start of a journey

the end of wishing you could…

                                 …and finally doing.

16 September 2012

My hope is that you will all one day find a place like this, where you can settle in and feel free to be yourself – as you were created, in all the ways that make you unique.

xo, me


The Wonder of Discovery: Squam Part One

“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.

Ready for cupcakes!

Helene and Calley

Testing my new skills

Having never really painted, I was stretched wonderfully in Sarah’s class and have a new desire to further explore this medium. 

Sarah and Kelley on the dock during Pages and Paint

My (almost) finished piece.

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.

My inspirations.

I have many more thoughts to process about Squam, so I will save those for another post, along with more pictures.

xo, me

August Afternoon

Something struck me this afternoon while I was working, and I just needed to get. outside. So I grabbed my trusty Canon and went to the backyard to see what I might see through my camera lens and hopefully soak up some of that summer sun and delicious light.

May your afternoon be a breath of fresh air and a splash of color. : )

Fighting Perfectionism

I am a perfectionist.

There, I’ve admitted it. It’s kind of freeing, in a way, to just let those words float there and be able to look at them and realize the absurdity of my reality. Why do we stretch for perfection in a world where it cannot ever be fully achieved? For some, it is an encouragement; a reason to keep pushing, pursuing a path of the best outcome possible.

But for me, my perfectionism is crippling much more than it is empowering. If I don’t believe that I can complete something in a manner that matches my ridiculous standards, I am likely to give up on it quickly and pretend that I never started it in the first place, or worse, I won’t ever begin at all. The first response is bad because it is deceitful, both to myself and others. The second is terrible because I’m stopping myself from living life to the full and growing in the process of making mistakes.

So, my current challenge to myself is to let myself make those mistakes, to not be perfect, and to let people know that I’m failing at things and that it’s okay. I’m putting my pride on the shelf. And I’m going to make some messes. And I hope that I’ll learn something excellent from them.

And if I start getting overwhelmed with my compulsive need to get things “just so” immediately, this guy will help remind me not to take life so seriously.


“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – JK Rowling, 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech

Stuff I Like: The Olympics

Good morning!

Since today marks the beginning of the London Olympic Games, I thought I would dedicate a post to my love of all things Olympics. If you know me at all, you might remember 2 years ago when I dropped off the face of the planet during the Winter Games in Vancouver. I spent more time watching sports in those two weeks alone than I probably had for most of my previous years combined. I’ve always liked the Olympics, but something really struck me in 2010. And I just could not get enough.

I couldn’t get enough of the athletes’ dedication to their sports, or the drive to represent their countries by doing what they love. I couldn’t get enough of the passion that poured from both Olympians and spectators alike. How for those two weeks, the world came together, and even though we were competing against each other, it didn’t carry the heaviness of conflict. We were all just people, joined together over our love for sport and country. And for Americans, it seemed like no one was concerned with what political affiliation you had or what your views on religion were (or were not) – we had a job to do, and that was to rally behind our team and scream for them until they won or we fell over from our efforts (or both!). We became patriotic once again, unified for a cause, and for those two weeks, we weren’t worried about what our neighbor was doing or who was voting for what candidate. We just loved our country and sports and we were part of a worldwide community that was doing the same thing.

I hope these next two weeks are a sweet reprieve as well. And a darn good sporting competition to boot!

Go USA! (And as the Visa commercial says, Go WORLD!)

Reframing Wonder: A Reboot

These introductory posts are THE. WORST. I hate them. I truly never know what to say.

But, this is a reboot of my personal blog, which I have held for several years elsewhere. I’ve entered a new chapter in my life called “Post-Grad,” and therefore felt a change would be refreshing.

So, why are we Reframing Wonder? Because it seems like, as adults (for me this especially true) it is FAR too easy to forget what it’s like to take delight in wonder. We no longer marvel at the things around us. It’s always busy, busy, busy, with no time for enjoying what’s right in the here and now. Always we must forge on toward the next item on our checklist, the next career aspiration, the next and newest whatever.

What happened to the gift of today?

That is what I am going to be asking myself in this new season of life. Want to ask it with me?

We might find some fun and maybe even (dare I say it?) JOY.