Transformation on the Lake

I recently returned from an almost a week-long trip in New England, where I was staying cabinside-lakeside at Squam, a gorgeous art retreat that attracts people from all over the country. This trip was particularly significant for me because I was giving my first book talk, to possibly over 200 people, and my book, my baby, had just been released and was hot-off-the-press.

Its hard for me to even put into words what my experience was like. First off, the week was not without magic and serendipity. Five delicate and stately lo moths were found basking outside our cabin. The moth is a symbol of transformation, has the ability to find light in the darkness, and is an optimist or opportunist, that uses intuitive powers to help guide its way. These light-green fuzzy and delicate creatures appeared as a gentle message and blessing to all of who witnessed them. Their unique beauty and presence were most certainly a gift from the mystery that is life.

So here I was in new territory– a place I had never been. I have taught many classes in my life, but never given a ‘public speech’, yet alone one based on my own life story and creative process. I was also feeling nervous with the idea of ‘this not being my perfect crowd’. Don’t get me wrong, everyone there was absolutely lovely, but the Fall session at Squam is more aligned with my work, that being process, exploratory and spirit-based creativity. Spring is more for knitters- so I being somewhat new on the scene was not sure that I would be ‘seen’. I also did not teach this time, so I would not have my loving and loyal students there in the talk, so I felt somewhat alone in this process, and I had to dive deep within me to find courage and the ability to do it. It felt like an edge, one that I had to walk through with bravery and a lot of self-coaxing.

But the retreat had started off with so many sweet notes. The bonds of friendship that are made at a place like Squam are completely unique and life-long. Immediately I felt drawn to my cabin-mates Thea and Tory from New York. I also got to spend some delicious dock time with Michelle and Jen, to huge-hearted magic makers whom I am coming to adore more and more. Then of course there is the bright and beautiful Elizabeth, the master magic maker herself of Squamlandia, who is full of such deliciousness and earnest charisma.

Goofing off with Thea Coughin & Amy Gretchen down near Longhouse, my most favorite spot at the camp.

So after a few days of sun-soaking and boat-making (with Ann Wood, totally fabulous) I was preparing for my nerve-wracking talk. I was to share the limelight with the darling Maya Donenfield, who just came out with her own book, Reinvention. Maya and I decided to bond on the dock, where we would share our plans for the talk, and then in celebratory (or cleansing) fashion, jump into the cool waters of Squam-lake and rebirth ourselves anew, much like the symbol of the small group of lo moths, who were outside our cabin waiting for our return. We did, and bonded very much over similar life paths of separation (divorce) and transformation that can come from such big life changes. As we jumped into the cool crystal blue, which felt like a luscious lapping mother of life itself, I felt a deep sense of calm within. I knew the talk would be just fine if I stayed true to myself, my story, and just spoke from my heart. It did go fine, in fact, my publisher said that’s the most books she has ever sold at this fair. Such a release and feeling of accomplishment when I was signing books for people, whether they were given as a gift to someone or just inspired by what they saw. I am humbled and elated from this process. It was especially sweet to see my book waiting for me at my local indie bookstore when I returned home, where I will have a booksigning party next month. But really, I must say that Squam is a truly magical place, that seems to include transformation and moving closer to the light, that omnipresent guidance, within and all around.

Thank you Elizabath & Co for such a radiant and blessed time… see you in September.

Heirloom boats from Ann Wood‘s class hanging in the cafeteria.


How sweet to come home and see my book featured in our local indie bookstore, Malaprop’s. We are planning a book-signing party celebration in July. Stay tuned.

9 thoughts on “Transformation on the Lake

  1. I loved reading this – I feel like everyone has this same type of experience at Squam when it’s their first time doing something, whether it’s a particular session or even a new class where we’re pushing through our own boundaries. We get lost in our heads for what seems like forever but is really the briefest of moments because the minute you take a breath and really let Squam in, it’s like a warm hug to your soul, your spirit is tucked in and you just know it’s going to be wonderful. Support is so readily given by everyone and the magic is so tangible that you can never really go back and describe it to someone that hasn’t been because it won’t do it justice.
    On that note, I can’t wait to take your class at Squam in the fall (and really dive into your book when it arrives!). Be well!

  2. WOW WOW WOW – the photos are exquisite! Thank you for sharing this.Beautiful post. I am inspired and ordering your book right now. Its just what I am needing. Thank you thank you.

  3. Oh thanks you all. Honestly it could have been the most scared I had ever been in my life… just because it was *so personal*… but in the end it was like magic, very Squam-like. And I so look forward to you in my class… in a way, counting the days til Fall.

  4. Totally proud and in awe of you, old friend! Thinking of all those years ago…how you so much inspired my creative journey. It makes me so happy to know that the inspiration will continue in huge huge waves and reach eons of people with your book. Sending big hugs and congrats to you and so much admiration and love.
    Kelly Rae

  5. It was so nice to meet you before your talk, Alena, and to bring your book home with me. Even though I am a knitter, I thought I’d end up in September’s session…but June is what worked out. So be assured there is a lot of crossover! (I’m hoping September works out for next year.) Congratulations again on your book!

  6. Amy, so nice to meet you too! One thing I did not mention in the post is that yes, there is a lot of cross over – and you all knitters were so lovely and gracious! I was very touched. It was a wonderful lesson for me *to trust*.

  7. WOW WOW WOW – the photos are exquisite! Thank you for sharing this.Beautiful post. I am inspired and ordering your book right now. Its just what I am needing. Thank you thank you.

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