Squam: Into the Mystic

Squam Sunrise

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a week of bliss in New Hampshire. Squam Art Workshops, run by Elizabeth Duvivier and Forrest Elliot, provides an opportunity to learn new methods in knitting and other fiber arts, and/or, mixed media art.  But, it turns out, these retreats offer so much more.  Into the Mystic was a first time offering, smaller than the traditional Squam get togethers, enabling participants to engage in all of the activities.  We also had abundant free time to hike up a mountain, swim in the crystal clean lake, or simply lounge on the porch to soak in the serenity of this amazing place.

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I spent a glorious day with Misty Mawn, drawing and painting.  Encouraged to make loose and free marks, as well as to let go of judgment and expectations, we lost track of time in the act of art making. This is Misty teaching a lesson in drawing and painting faces. Her work has such soulful expression – it was such a treat to watch her process. I experimented with creating faces and found it freeing to work on so many at once.  Here are the beginnings of my faces:

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Our other art workshop was with Phoebe Wahl.  I did not know what to expect from this course, as the description was a little vague.  We made animals from scraps of fabric stitched over twisted wire frames, without the use of patterns or templates, but just building as we went.  Note the finished elephant in the foreground of the photo below.IMG_1047Phoebe’s demonstration bear turned into a cow! The way in which she worked, cutting, stitching, filling with fiber, stitching some more, adding identifying elements as she went along, was exquisite! Viewing the developing work of the other students as I looked up from my own project was inspiring.  I made a dragonfly which I decorated with beads.  It was so much fun to stitch.  Below are some of the many stunning figures created by the talented students, with Phoebe’s cow in the foreground, as well as my dragonfly.IMG_1064

Meghan Gombos lead four absolutely amazing yoga sessions, each focused on a different Hindu deity. The focus, through story, chanting, and the asanas (yoga positions) brought clarity and purpose into the practice. After each session I felt energized and intensely relaxed at the same time. My body has been craving this intense physical expression, just as my emotional and psychological self has desired the connection with spirit that a true yoga practice can enable. Meghan’s encouragement, creativity, and well balanced classes reminded me of my love of yoga and how much I have been missing longer sessions.

Elizabeth is a writer and lead the participants in writing sessions throughout the week. We delved into soul expanding questions in our journal writing. Sitting in circle enabled us to share our thoughts and writings, if we wished, with the other participants. Over the course of the week, we had built up such connection and trust, that the sharing came freely with much laughter and a few tears. I came away with deeper insight into who I am at this point in my life, what is important to me, and what I want to take from this week back into my life.  I felt myself move deeply into my Artemis self (another story for another time), and for that I am grateful.

I came to Squam for the classes, but it was the interaction among all of the other attendees that made this week one of unconditional acceptance that I will never forget. The women who journeyed with me throughout this mystical experience on the lake, were, each and every one, goddesses of kindness and love, creativity and brilliance, joy and perseverance. I have created friendships and connections that will be held in my heart the rest of my life.

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(To see more images from my time at Squam, see my Instagram photos.)