**Welcome to the She-Tribe Project's first round of six month guest bloggers, an opportunity for women's voices to inspire, share and create community through the written word. Please be sure to stop by our guest blogger's links to their websites/blogs etc. You won't be disappointed! Xo - Sarah**
|Squam 5 Photo by Ana, via Flickr|
One of the most important moments in the last year was when I packed my bags and headed off into the woods for my first Squam Art Workshop. This was very hard for me - and if you've heard of "Squam," I know you're thinking to yourself that hanging out by a lake for four days making art doesn't sound scary. But to me, it was much more than that.
I am a homebody, an introvert, and a cynic. It was a big leap for me to leave my home to spend four days living in the woods with a rather large group of unfamiliar women. Frankly, it sounded downright terrifying because it was so far out of my comfort zone. But I felt inexplicably drawn to it, so I signed up. When the day came to drive up to New Hampshire, I procrastinated. I took forever to pack my bags. I called my husband at work a bunch of times. Then I ran out of excuses, took a deep breath, and got in the car. I'm so glad I did.
I could go on and on about the many wonders of Squam, but in this post, I want to talk about the biggest lesson I learned there: giving yourself permission. This past June, I went back for my second Squam retreat. I stayed in a cabins with nine other women (a truly petrifying idea to this introvert, trust me) who have become wonderful friends. It's easy to bond at Squam because it draws a like-minded crowd, and it breaks down even the biggest of introverts. Now, we email each other reminders to stay "Squam Calm."
I recently found myself wondering, what is the essence of Squam Calm? Obviously being at a gorgeous lake taking creative classes all day produces a wonderful state of well-being, but it's more than that. It dawned on me that it's about giving yourself permission. Taking the time, and making the investment to go to an art retreat is a big act of giving yourself permission to do something for yourself. It's a chance to nurture yourself, and do exactly what you want. You can take your classes, or not. You can skip breakfast. You can go to the night events, or stay in your cabin by the fire. The whole time, you're encouraged to do exactly what pleases you and not feel guilty about it.
|Photo by Ana, via Flickr|
When you get back to the real world, there's a sense of guilt that creeps back in. You could spend an hour painting, but shouldn't you be doing the laundry, or balancing your checkbook or something? We get caught up in having to be "productive" or "responsible," and we stop giving ourselves permission to do the things we want to do, just for the sake of doing them.
So I am bringing Squam Calm into my life by continuing to give myself permission - to skip the laundry sometimes, to sit around watching bad movies while knitting myself another shawl, to sign up for a painting class, to take on too many sewing projects. I am giving myself permission to bring creativity for the sake of creativity back into my daily routine. And you know what? Every act of giving myself permission is completely energizing. It infuses me with new inspiration, and maybe I'm even a little less cynical. Calmer. Squam Calm.
What are you going to give yourself permission to do?
Ana is a pie-loving dream chaser. She owns a small creative business, Toil & Trouble, where she hand-dyes yarn and designs knitwear. Currently, Ana is embarking on a new journey as a Studio Manager, working to develop a creative hub and empower artists to pursue their craft. She was born in Brazil and traveled the world before settling in New England with her husband and two cats. Read more about her on her blog: .