my jen, my light at squam, canon digital rebel xti
I've started to write this post a hundred times but continue to pull back because I struggle with how it is even possible to put into words what I experienced at Squam. As I have waited to write this, others have written it before me and I felt like they were telling my story and I just couldn't describe it any clearer than that.
My place at Squam was unique in that I didn't take any classes and they were such a huge part of every day (9am - Noon and 1pm - dinner time). What I was able to do was roam around and observe during the times I didn't have a photo session with an artist (those sessions were scattered throughout the day). I spent a lot of time tagging a long with Thea, who was the event photographer and as she was taking photos of the teachers and students, I sat on the ground to watch (my favorite spot being near a fireplace) and observe these beautiful souls unfolding.
I was like the quiet one in the background watching students try a different stroke, pick up bubble wrap, cover it with paint and press it on a canvas. I was able to see spirits soar when something clicked and laughter when it got messy and they started over. It was a very emotional experience for me in that I wasn't caught up in what I was going through but more what they were experiencing and it was such an honor. I fell in love with people all day long. My heart was constantly filled with an overspilling of warmth and many many times, when I would get a chance to connect with someone one on one, it almost always resulted in tears and full body hugs.
I am not sure where to begin with the sharing and I am sure I will share bits throughout the next few weeks. I just know that while I was there, I was the happiest I have been in years. There was a lightness of being within me. I'm not sure if it was just being in the woods, which has been a healer for me all of my life or being surrounded by so many open, sensitive, generous, loving, MUSHY individuals at once. I think it was a mixture of both. I think another part was that right before the trip, I had let go of some very heavy, sad feelings about my fertility journey and was filled with this very unexpected peace and trust that it was all going to be okay. I spent time with a handful of pregnant women at Squam and where any other time that would have felt so very painful and isolating, I found myself wanting to celebrate them and photograph their bellies. I remember walking away from each of those moments with tears in my eyes and an urge to go jump in the cool water of the lake as a symbol of feeling cleansed of the muck.
I just want to thank each of you (and I write this with huge tears welling) for seeing me. Especially those of you that read my blog and approached me for the first time to tell me how my story has touched you. I mean, I was really nervous about that. Worried that each of you would only see me as this woman that was trying to conceive and just couldn't get pregnant. But instead, you told me all the other things you saw in me and that was so very empowering and needed and appreciated and full of more purpose for my life. Because my story is about so much more than my challenge in getting pregnant and YOU helped me to remember this. So, I walked with a lighter step and my heart opened a bit more and my fears fell off to the ground one by one and I truly was able to put my energy into my outrageously special sessions with some artists.
And can I tell you how much that meant to me? For someone who is going in the direction of photographing artists how wild is it to be surrounded by them 24/7 for four days straight? So inspiring to the core and it was so confirmed in my heart that this is the gig that's going to fill me up for a lifetime. For those of you that I wanted to photograph but didn't get the chance to, THANK YOU for being part of inspiring me, just by watching and observing your beautiful spirits.
This was a life altering time for me and for so many others. We all had our moments, our tears, our insecurities, our freak-outs and nerves and we all came together to remind one another that we're not alone and that those scary feelings are all part of where our art comes from...whatever that medium of expression may be.
Just like when we stumbled upon gorgeous and brilliant Jenica in the dark of the woods because she didn't have a flashlight and we placed our arms in hers and with our flashlight, led her back to her cabin. That is what we all did for one another. We led one another to our homes, our hearts, our passions, our dreams...with our own lights. A light that each of us has and each of us shared with one another. So unique, so bright and always shining if we allow it to.