Checking In and Catching Up

I'm posting this picture today because I imagine us sitting in this lovely spot, just checking in and catching up. Nothing too profound or heavy, just a "what's new since last time we talked?" situation. We might admire this cool piece of art on the wall and I would sip a cup of hot water or peppermint tea. I love watching the people. I wish I knew what these two were talking about, and what point of connection brought them to this place, on this day, together.

I'm feeling better and better all the time. Partly because I'm having big breakthroughs in the health and wellness department, a subject on which I usually experience a lot of resignation--you know, putting up with things because I think they must just be my lot in life and not really having hope or an expectation that I could feel or be better. The resignation and the symptoms are both so nice to say good-bye to. My appreciation for the healers who care for us, mind, body and soul, is vast and deep.

It's also made such a difference to read this book on Jolie's recommendation and realize that some things I struggle with could have an explanation other than being straight-up character flaws. It's like finding a way into a new level of kindness toward myself that I was in sorry need of, and having someone bulk up my self-care tool kit even more.

I especially love what Elaine Aron had to say about the struggle to share new work that I shared about recently:

The difficulty, I believe, is that normally we artists work alone, refining our craft and our subtle creative vision. But withdrawal of any kind increases sensitivity--that is part of why one withdraws. So we are extrasensitive when the time comes to show our work, perform it, explain it, sell it, read reviews of it, and accept rejection or acclaim. . . . Much of the suffering of sensitive artists could be prevented by understanding the impact of this alternating of the low stimulation of creative isolation with the increased stimulation of public exposure which I have described.


It's hard to know what else to say about this right now because I'm still processing it pretty deeply, but it has made a big difference to do interviews around the web lately. It turns out that I have things to say, but I'm so close to new work by the time it comes out that it's hard for me to have the distance required to anticipate what others might wonder or ask or want to know about it. (Another one I loved doing was for Karen, who is graciously giving away Finding Your Voice to one lucky commenter.)

I am racing a bit against the looming summer vacation, trying to see how much I can get done before the girls are home for ten weeks and my solitude shrinks to a trickle. I'm working on the next Voice and Story Course, and cooking up all the good things I can for my students and friends at Squam in September.

So, that's what's happening over here. I'm dying to hear what's going on with you--jump on in the comments and tell me, and it will completely make my day.

More soon...

Update: I keep forgetting to mention that you can now find site updates on Facebook.


Through Someone Else's Eyes

Polaroid by Sarah Ahearn,

Susan and me, in class. Photo by the amazing Lisa Parks,

Photo by Lisa Parks,

One thing that came up over and over again at Squam by the Sea was the importance of telling each other what we see in one another.  So often our vision of ourselves can be distorted like a circus mirror by the past (think, The Ugly Duckling), by our own insecurities, blind spots or fears.

These were emotional conversations as we realized how hard it is to see ourselves with the same gentleness, compassion and love that others hold in their eyes when they come to rest on our faces.  I think this is why I spend so much time looking at the photos taken of me--there's something in my own eyes that I'm trying to adjust, there's a way I'm training myself to see the way they do.  To see that mysterious thing that's present through someone else's eyes.

To Stand Between Light and Dark

Just before sunrise on the Outer Banks, Horizon Perfekt, xpro Lomo Chrome film

Before I arrived in Nags Head, I had already heard about Jockey's Ridge State Park, and how the top of the ridge hosted great views of sunrises and sunsets.  From this high point on the island, you can see the sun rising over the ocean on one side of you, or the sun setting over more water on the other side.  The house I was staying in backed right up to the ridge.

On the last morning, I slipped out with a few last exposures in my camera and climbed to the top of the small mountain of sand to watch the sun come up.  We'd had a full moon, and it was still hanging high to the west even as the sky was dressing in morning light.

I got to the highest point and watched the horizon come alive with color.  Then the sun rose above the ocean, large and electric red and I stood suspended in between night and day.  I looked straight ahead in between the sun and moon and the light drew a line down the center of my face and frame.  To my right, crickets chirped loudly and to my left birds sang.  I tried to hold the paradox of having a foot in each world, of standing literally across the threshold of light and dark, night and day.

It was such a powerful moment for me, and such a visceral experience of my interior journey as I've worked to stand on the threshold of my own sun side and moon side, to own them both equally and integrate them into an awake and aware whole.  It's amazing to see and feel in my own body that there is a way to stand in the presence of the full moon and the rising sun, to hear at once the chorus of the songbirds and the crickets, to have light and dark draw their line down me and not be split.

By the Sea

There's nothing like walking through a New York City airport with pieces of your heart falling out of your pockets every time you bend over or turn too fast to make you wonder if Squam can still work its magic on you.  Or if you can still work your magic on it.

And there's nothing like losing your voice on the first day to make you wonder if you are truly the best person to lead a workshop called Finding Your Voice.

But so it goes, sometimes.

Luckily, just as speaking softly can prompt others to lean in a little closer, treading squarely inside your own tenderness can encourage others to take your hand and explore some corners and crevices of the heart together.

People talk a lot about Squam magic, and most of us have our own theories about how and why it rocks our worlds so deeply.

But imagine if for four days, people called out very gently, "I think you dropped something--is this little piece of heart on the floor yours?"  And the full moon kept you company in your sleepless hours and a real live hammock rocked you like a baby.

Imagine that you let your own dreams slip out in a quiet room or over sunset sand that they were received with careful cupped hands and eyes shining with love.

Imagine being seen and being loved at the same time, and the new futures that would rush up to your feet in that moment like a wave.

I imagine that you might call it magic, too.

You can see more of my Squam by the Sea photos here, or the group Flickr pool here.

What You Need to Know When You Come Home from The Lake

Yes, it was real. Even those moments that felt like they were happening to someone else.

Looking at the pictures always helps you believe this.

You really were that brave.

And you were loved for it. So deeply.

Nothing you gave went unnoticed--not one glance or gaze or word or smile.

It wouldn't have been the same without you.

And you aren't the same. So when you are fidgeting in your old life, feel the places where you need to expand.

It's okay to not know what to do next.  Laying down is always good for the not-knowing moments.

Remember how you were gentle with yourself, and choose to be gentle again.

Remember how you let yourself be seen, and practice being seen again.

Remember how you were loved, and practice loving yourself the way others loved you--without requirement.

Feel the earth quaking below your feet, and know that a hundred new futures were made. Fate is just adjusting.

Hold what happened there in a sacred place.  Build yourself simple reminders.

And when it is time, act boldly, with this lake of creative energy under your feet and this fire of belonging at your back. 

If there's anything you learned, it's that you're not alone. Not ever.