Ok! I finally have five minutes between jobs to breathe. So I thought I'd sit down with my feet up (still rockin' the lovely swollen ankles) and jot down some initial thoughts about Squam.

For me, the experience was all about letting go of expectations, doing what was right for me, and holding myself accountable for shaping my own experience. I went into the whole Squam thing feeling overwhelmed and a bit nervous. It was my first time teaching and I truly do not believe that I am an "expert" at anything... so what business did I have to try to teach anyone anything?

So to battle that, I decided that my classes should be laid back (much more my style) and carefree. I would guide them to a certain extent, and I prepared hand-outs and fun ideas, but beyond that, I was just gonna wing it and see what happened.

Well, only one of my classes worked out the way I'd expected. The other two took on different forms (one because of my own exhaustion, a downpour, and a misunderstanding; the other because of an oversight on my part). But I think that once I let go of the thought of "this is not what I planned" -- it was ok. People seemed to enjoy them nonetheless and hey, I'm still standing, baby.

My Earth Art class was the one that went according to plan. I started by asking everyone to get comfortable and close their eyes, and I led them through a meditation (which I enjoyed leading!). I asked students to search for a word that they needed right now... something to keep in mind or work on or meditate on in their lives. And everyone managed to come up with really unique words, tailored just for them. I showed them examples of one of my favorite earth artists as inspiration, and people started sketching out ideas, forming their concepts, and wandering off into the woods for elements to work with.

When we were all finished late in the day, we went around to each person's installation and let them explain their word and how their piece embodied their concept. Everyone was super creative, insightful and just brilliant. (A+'s all around!!) It was all so low key, relaxing and fun. My favorite class I think. I would definitely teach this one again.

The next day was the Travel Journal class and I woke up feeling exhausted. Being pregnant and traveling and trekking all through the woods really wore me out. So I showed up, gave my spiel about the class, handed out examples, ideas and helpful tools, and then asked people if they wouldn't mind if I parked my bootie on a bench with the art supplies (and answers to any questions they had) while they embarked on journaling in the great wide open.

Thankfully everyone understood my tiredness and was totally happy to go with the flow. So that worked out great. After lunch though, it started raining, and where I thought there was going to be a van for us all to pile into to travel around to the little towns around Squam Lake, there was no van. So we all car-pooled, which didn't work out so great, unfortunately. But people still did what they wanted (journaled, shopped, ate together, went back to their cabins early for some much needed down time) and that was ok too. I had to really let go of expectations on that day.

The final class was Editorial Illustration. I had prepared lots of fun hand outs and the plan was for each student to do an illustration from sketch to final (or as much as we could fit in), but I didn't foresee that people needed reference material for tight sketches. (Duh!) So that idea was pretty much dead in the water.

Instead of doing an illustration, the class morphed into simple thumbnail concepting, and a whole lotta talking and Q&A. But really, I had a good time sharing what I know about illustration, and maybe people learned more by asking anything they wanted -- no holds barred. I felt like people asked really good questions and were more open than they normally would have been had they been under the gun to create a piece of art.

Once again... not exactly what I'd planned. But it worked!

I think Squam being my first teaching experience and feeling so tired from pregnancy, I didn't quite get all the good, mushy stuff out of it that other people got. But I'm not really an uber-mushy, sentimental person to begin with. I'm actually sort of a loner, and kind of keep to myself. It's just my nature... And I struggled with that for years. I always felt lesser or dumb because of how I am... so different from the others...

So truly and honestly accepting my nature on this trip was HUGE for me. I am really proud of myself for knowing that even if I experience things differently: my way is just fine too. Both ways are equally valid. And my heart didn't break this time. Hoo-rah.

(That all said, my own personal word for my Earth Art class was "Connect"... I'll explain more about that later perhaps.)

* * * btw: anyone who was in my Earth Art class who wants to share what they created, I'd love to post it here on my blog. Please email me your name, link to your website, your word and concept -- and hopefully some photos of what you created! Thanks!