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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Fall Squam, part 2

The table o’ writing prompts, before my workshop began.

(Fall Squam, part 1; recap on the official Squam blog.)

This week I’ve been feeling wonky in a good way, if that makes sense. Marie Manuchehri’s Squam workshop changed my life, but not at all in the way I expected it to. Looking back, I went into it Friday morning all blithe and giddy, like la la la, she will give me lots of pretty, shiny insights! (In case you would rather read on than follow Marie’s link first, she’s a psychic medium and energy healer in the Seattle area–and a tremendously kind and generous human being.)

Silly grasshopper. Insights don’t always make you feel good—at least not right away—and truly, it isn’t much of an insight if it doesn’t yank you out of the confines (emotional or otherwise) you’ve laid out for yourself. Sometimes you have to deal with the ugly stuff first, and the really amazing thing is that once you stop avoiding the ugly stuff and take a good hard look, it doesn’t seem so ugly anymore. Fear makes everything look dark and scary.

I know I’m being vague here, but you know I’m doing it on purpose, because this is private stuff. Let me just say this: you can always, always be more honest with yourself. Maybe it’s time to be brave, or maybe you’re not quite there yet, but either way you’ll eventually get your hands dirty digging for truth. I made “fortune cards” for my Saturday morning writing workshop, putting them face down on the table, and Crissy (who was in Marie’s workshop with me) chose my favorite Flannery O’Connor quote (thank you, Ann Napolitano): The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. In other words: it is what it is, so you might as well face it.

Thank you to everyone in that class—you were so patient with me, and helped me in the most surprising ways. And thanks most of all to Elizabeth, who I strongly suspect knew I needed to be there. Elizabeth is magical like that.


Okay, we’re done with the woo woo stuff. I don’t generally do a play-by-play of everything that happened at the retreat, but there are a few fun things I want to share. I also wanted to tell you that I really lucked out with my travel buddy: Alisha and I met on the Squam Community Board, and we drove up and back together, stopping at a hotel in Merrimack on Tuesday night. She is one of my new very favorite people, and I’m bummed we didn’t pause for a photo together. (On the upside, I can see her pretty much any time we like!)


On Thursday I went into Kayte Terry’s Color and Composition with zero expectations besides playing around with paper and fabric and having a lot of fun doing it–and I did. Kayte isn’t into rules and theory, and that suited me really well; I made friends with my exacto knife, and experimented with echoes and negative space and painting on pages torn out of an old dictionary. I’ll be posting a “part three” once I’ve had a chance to finish the projects I started in her class.


(That’s a pic of me and Kayte that Julia took with her nifty neo-Polaroid camera.) 

I went over to Long House after Thursday evening’s entertainment (Maya Stein and Jonatha Brooke) to see if Kath (a.k.a. Sweeneybird) wanted to play some Scrabble. I found her with a bunch of people I didn’t know yet playing Cards Against Humanity, and I joined in. It’s like Apples to Apples, except completely perverted. (Kelly would have loved it.)

Some of the tamer cards in my hand.

I used to be one of those people who is way too easily offended, so now I find myself getting even bigger laughs out of stuff like this to make up for all the time I wasted being prudish. This is no judgment on anyone who finds this game to be in poor taste; I totally see why you feel that way. But I had a LOT of fun.

Easterleigh, where I stayed this time.

Friday night Amiee, Jen, Karen and I went for a ‘swim’ off this dock–I use quotes because we just stood in the water, chatted, and looked up at the stars. That was one of my favorite moments.

The writing prompt table, happily picked over.

We only had an hour and fifteen minutes for the Saturday morning writing workshop, so I just gave everyone who showed up a little pep talk (make a beginning! any beginning! it doesn’t matter if you’re only talking about writing right now; I’ve been there!), then I showed them my collections of words and images and asked them to run with whichever they felt drawn to.


I also talked a little bit about the “mind mapping” technique and put my examples on display. You can read more about that in my Ideas, Part 2 post.


The lovely lady on the left chose my grandparents’ wedding photo outtake (my grandfather’s hand is hiding his face and my grandmother has this really odd expression on hers, which I’ve always found intriguing) and the shadow picture of me and Seanan in the Cotswolds. My photo and art postcard collection feels extremely personal, so I loved seeing which pictures the writers connected with on their own terms. (My friend and cabin-mate Julia, on the right, had just come from a Thai massage. I think we were all a little envious.)


Above and below are Amiee and Jen scribbling away–I feel so blessed they were in my cabin, and that we had plenty of opportunities to support and talk each other through the changes we’re looking to make in our lives.


By the way, if you took the workshop on Saturday but forgot to add yourself to my email list (or if you weren’t there, but are interested), leave me a comment and I’ll forward you the email of fun inspirational links I sent out this morning.

On Saturday afternoon, after Marie’s book talk, I walked up Rattlesnake on my own. I needed to burn off some excess energy and sit in solitude for a little while. What a view, eh?


I had a mission at the art fair Saturday night–to buy $20 worth of raffle tickets for a Squammie who couldn’t be there in person. Guess what? She won! (Third prize, a lovely vase from Gleena.) You know that if I’d bought those tickets for myself, I wouldn’t have won–and I say that as in ‘isn’t that marvelous?,’ not ‘wishing I were luckier.’ I already know I’m very, very lucky.


After the art fair I played Scrabble by the fire with Kath and Karen. I did not, however, get a photo with Karen. Next time!

Alisha and I had a great deal to talk about and ‘process’ aloud on the seven-hour ride home, so much so that we never once stopped talking apart from the occasional navigational stuff.


Slightly disconcerting, no? (The truck cab was being towed.)

Thank you to everyone this past week who smiled at me, listened to me, and let me listen. I’m so grateful!

7 Comments to Fall Squam, part 2

  1. guimond.steph's Gravatar guimond.steph
    September 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “Silly grasshopper. Insights don’t always make you feel good–at least not right away–and truly, it isn’t much of an insight if it doesn’t yank you out of the confines (emotional or otherwise) you’ve laid out for yourself.”
    Ah yes. I took Marie’s class on Thursday, and can relate fully. I enjoyed reading your account.
    Warm re-entry wishes to you,

  2. alisha@songbird-studio's Gravatar alisha@songbird-studio
    September 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    You summed it up nicely!! Grateful we are connected!!
    Much Love,

  3. crazyliberalkate's Gravatar crazyliberalkate
    September 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey I recognize that fabric!
    A stroke is never funny, so yes I am offended.
    What a fabulous view!

  4.'s Gravatar
    September 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    such a wonderful recap 🙂

  5. scott.elizabethv's Gravatar scott.elizabethv
    September 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Love your blog!!! The Squammie you bought the raffle tickets for is HIGHLY APPRECIATIVE…. the vase and accompanying pretties arrived today.

  6.'s Gravatar
    September 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    The evening “swim” was a highlight for me as well…that water is magical. I’m so very thankful that the ever wise and wonderful Elizabeth put us in the same cabin. 🙂

  7. scamperacross's Gravatar scamperacross
    September 22, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    The one bad thing about Squam for me is that I can’t clone myself so that I can do all the things that I want. I wanted to be in your writing workshop, but alas, had signed on for yoga (which I needed!).
    I also took Marie’s class on Thursday, so can totally relate to your post. And it was good to run into you (however briefly!) after her book talk. I remembered meeting you at Squam June 2011 at Barbara Delinsky’s talk.
    Happy memories!

Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.