When you open your heart to unicorns and dragons and magic, you leave yourself vulnerable and exposed. This means that you are in a perfect place to experience the extraordinary beauty of this life, but also to suffer the exquisiteness of its pain as well.

You can’t have one without the other, it seems. Two sides of the one coin. To move through both beauty and pain can be as excruciating in their own ways as the other. The thing is to draw upon the internal resources that we squirrel away for the good and the bad times, to allow the emotions to flow through us and to retain our sense of self at all cost.

Even though it might seem like the hardest thing in the world.

Full hearts and true

I’m sitting on the train and it is pulling out of South Station in Boston, taking me to the heaving metropolis that is New York City. The contrast between the last five days that I’ve spent at a lakeside idyll in New Hampshire and NYC couldn’t be more stark.

I’ve read about Squam Art Workshops for a few years now after I first became aware of the event via Susannah Conway’s stint there several years ago. The idea of secluding myself in the woods of New Hampshire for five days with like minded people sounded so blissful, but I honestly wasn’t ready to participate in Squam at that time. I was at the beginning of all the changes I’ve been through in the last few years, and not nearly far enough down that path to be able to truly appreciate what Squam could really mean.

By late last year, I knew that I needed to be at Squam in the northern spring of 2014, even if I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I wanted to find out for myself whether the magic that everyone wrote about truly existed – whether Squam involved as many unicorns as it seemed.


I arrived at Rockywold Deephaven Camps after a somewhat hair raising drive up from Boston determined to hold my mind and heart wide open to whatever the weekend may bring. In so many ways I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that some part of me was coming home. My first glimpse of the lake confirmed this as strongly as if it was tattooed on me.


After I threw my stuff down in my room in Maple Shade cabin, I opened the love letter that Elizabeth had written to all of the Squamees.

Now you are a blank slate – open and ready for this experience.

Whether this is your first trip to Squam or your sixth – you still need to breathe into THIS moment.

…And then? Follow your heart. Let it lead…. follow it wherever it wants to go. Do what feels good, what feels fun, what is exactly what you most want to do in this moment.

I wept. It was as if Elizabeth had looked into my depths and pulled out exactly what it was I needed to hear.

The next five days were a blur of tiny moments, revelations and soaring hearts. So much laughter, many tears, much love. I was touched and humbled by Narrative Truth, the photography class run by the stunning Amy Gretchen, and broken open and vulnerable by David Anthony Durham’s Story in a Day. The words “privileged” and “grateful” were my constant companions, creativity and inspiration whispering to my spirit all day and late into the night.

Despite the admonition from Elizabeth at the opening ceremony that we shouldn’t be expecting to find unicorns at Squam, in truth I was met by unicorns at every turn. Not the least of these were my beautiful cabin mates – Unicorn Cheryl, Unicorn Jen, Unicorn Christine, and Unicorn Ivy – and Unicorns Sera and Lauren. Late nights, in jokes, knitting and spinning (not me though!) were our cosy cabin evenings, as were constant calls of “No, we’re not going to talk about leaving …!”


Of course, the time came to depart. Following breakfast I introduced myself to Elizabeth so that I could thank her and say farewell. Odd, I know, but my timing was never the best. She stunned me by recognising my Instagram handle and she instantly could see how much my Squam experience had meant to me. That moment of recognising a kindred spirit is a profound one indeed.


Those brief moments with Elizabeth encapsulated Squam so precisely – connection, recognition, acknowledgment, and instant love. I drove away with yet more tears in my eyes, but also with a deep knowing that this was only the end of the beginning. Squam isn’t just a beautiful lake, nor is it merely an event or a gathering. It is a feeling and a spirit that we all bring with us to that magic place, and we take it back with us to illuminate our lives until it is time again to gather on those New Hampshire shores.

Until next year, Squam.

Sunday reflection #78


Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

Brene Brown

Sunday reflections #77

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday reflections #76


hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…

Van Morrisson

Sunday reflections #75


Only in complete silence, will you hear the desert.

Anonymous Bedouin



I miss this place, and I miss you guys. Life right now is about snatching precious starburst moments with beloved friends and family, as well as listening to my body and what it needs from me right now. Apparently what I need is a lot of sleep and plenty of caffeine. Yes, you’re correct – they do seem to be mutually incompatible.

I hope you are all well, and happy. I’m thinking of you.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers

%d bloggers like this: