Thursday, September 18

always shining*

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.


Blogger nina beana said...

ok- now you've got me crying. that part about jenica was the clincher.

i pretty much think you rock. seeing you made me ridonkulously happy. really.

September 18, 2008 at 3:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Georgia said...

Oh. I am so happy for you all!

And isn't Jenica the BEST EVER?!?!? And I mean, Evaarrrrr! I heart Jenica.

I wasn't even there and I have tears spilling down my cheeks just reading about it! Good happy tears :)

September 18, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so pleased to hear that you had such a wonderful experience. the photos you took radiate love. just beautiful.

September 18, 2008 at 5:35:00 PM PDT  
Blogger kelly rae said...

you were a highlight of this experience for me, denise. thank you for the release of joy after the release of tears. i so needed it.

you are da bomb, yo!

September 18, 2008 at 5:53:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Swirly said...

You were a beautiful light in a sea of sparkling lights...I saw you shine every time I saw you, and your presence made me glow that much brighter. I love you.

September 18, 2008 at 6:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Shaina Longstreet said...

i just discovered your blog through flickr, i know pretty much nothing about you or your story (yet!), but i am crying reading your words...
good tears.
inspiring tears.
thank you.
and i can't wait to get to know you better.

September 18, 2008 at 6:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger emily said...

it was such a delight to meet you at squam! i wish i hadn't been so shy :) i have been admiring your writing and photography for quite some time. you are so deliciously soulful! i love the language you use...words like embody, indulge, resonate, nurture. i find myself wanting to incorporate this language into the way i speak and write and EXIST. and your sense of gratitude is so evident in your photography. you draw a raw and beautiful truth from you subjects - they often look ethereal. i am so moved by your work!

September 18, 2008 at 6:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger kristen said...

me too, the happiest i've been in years.

September 18, 2008 at 6:52:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh you are just sweetness and light and goodness and kindness all wrapped up in gorgeosity and oh-- your eyes!


September 18, 2008 at 7:07:00 PM PDT  
Blogger jenica said...

so love this
so love you
so glad you saved me! ;-D


September 18, 2008 at 7:54:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Kathleen said...

next year
i am so there.
and i am so hugging you in person.

but for now
i have to hug you here.


so glad you had such a great time!
luckyluckygirls who got to meet you. xo

September 18, 2008 at 8:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger christianne said...

Denise, when I read this part of your story . . .

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 couldn't help thinking back to a post you wrote probably several years ago now. It was a post where you talked about what it meant for you to be an empathic human being, how much being in the near vicinity of another person can really impact you emotionally, how you can carry other people's feelings with you the rest of the day.

That's what I saw here, for you at Squam, through getting to watch these artists. It seems like you're saying that you got to really be with them in these creative moments as they explored what they could do because you were just being you: observing, loving, taking in, connecting to soul. I'm thrilled it was a pure and blissful experience in that way for you.

(BTW, I'm not sure, but that empathic post may have been the post that finally brought me out of delurking!)

September 18, 2008 at 10:13:00 PM PDT  
Blogger christine said...

Sheesh, I wish I could put in words my feelings the way you just did. I found myself getting such a lump in my throat when I read your post.

I so admire the beauty of your spirit.

September 19, 2008 at 12:45:00 AM PDT  
Blogger kelly barton art + design said...

i can just see you now, flitting around camp with your camera. i so loved watching you.

September 19, 2008 at 2:50:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love you so....

September 19, 2008 at 5:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

love love love.

September 19, 2008 at 6:23:00 AM PDT  
Blogger christine said...

I, too, felt a lightness of being last week (and wrote about it on my site). I am sitting here now, so happy to read your story and to have gotten to know you a little bit better. xoxo

September 19, 2008 at 7:22:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Hannah_Savannah said...

Oh wow, amazing.
It sounds so beautiful.
I found your website through some bloggin cross-linkage, I forgot which one. And your writing & photography combination is so beautiful to me.

Would you be aware of any squam-like festival in Europe?? (I am Dutch)

all the best

September 19, 2008 at 7:37:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Stacy said...

your quiet observations
your soft spoken gentleness
the way you capture the sexy in everyone...
your heart
you are exquisite in your passion

i love you


September 19, 2008 at 8:14:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile now and since I as yet have no blog of my own, there is no way for you to get to know me in return. However I wanted to share with you that everytime you allow me to read your words and glimpse into your soul, you inspire me. I have always yearned to be surrounded by creative sensitive souls and have always wished to discover a talent of my own. I am getting closer, I am still searching...

With your sensitivity and your love of nature and love all things artistic, with your ability to find those people whose souls reflect what is deep inside your own... you inspire me.

September 19, 2008 at 4:06:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey my name is Carla I'm from Brazil .. and I've just read your blog .. and I loved! really .. congratulations!! And I loved your dread girl .. wonderful hair! =D


September 20, 2008 at 2:40:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

so wonderful darling.

I am so glad I was able to experience Squam by your side.

It was life changing.

Love you

September 20, 2008 at 6:38:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

oh and could this photo be any more freakin amazing. You are really in the mojo zone baby. I am so thrilled about this rockin career choice. You are fabulous at it!


September 20, 2008 at 6:39:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the new direction that you've taken with your photography (photographing artists) is awesome... but then, I've always thought your talent at capturing the essence of people awesome. But your spirit really shines through with this new direction, a new energy :-)

September 21, 2008 at 1:19:00 AM PDT  
Blogger beth said...

I have hardly gotten through any SQUAM post without tears in my eyes...and sure enough, once again, here they come....this was beautiful !!

I don't think any of us ever thought we would have gotten what we did with this trip and now trying to share it with others, the feelings we now all hold, has not been easy....but you did !!!...

and your photos are AMAZING !

September 21, 2008 at 7:01:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Graciel said...

Your first photo of Kelly Rae dropped my jaw. It caused me to look at your photography website and the flicker stream. Every single photo was breathtaking and filled with emotion. You, Empathic Goddess, have THE GIFT to capture the soul of a person on "film". I don't know you, but am so proud of you for the courage it takes to work the gift and bless the world in your wake.

September 21, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM PDT  
Blogger gem said...

goodness...such a radiant post this is. i always feel so at home when i visit you here.

September 21, 2008 at 1:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger melissa said...

you are so beautiful, inside and out. i loved watching you all week...and loved getting all kinds of boho love too!

September 22, 2008 at 3:32:00 PM PDT  
Blogger changapeluda said...

you do have a way with words (yeah i got teary eyed)
and pictures (wow! all those chicks are beautiful)

when you DO have a kid
you are gonna have Sooooo
much lovely mama experience,
All Be Good.

September 23, 2008 at 9:53:00 AM PDT  

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