I’m in a year of experimenting and shifting and being a beginner. One of my main life skills is being a good beginner – moving  forward without a lot of attachment to outcome – being willing to act in uncertainty. From the perspective of feeling confident and comfortable The Squam Retreat is a terrible idea for me. The days are intense and challenge me in so many ways: I’m used to, and enjoy, being by myself. The idea of sharing a cabin with strangers for 4 days seems impossible. Teaching – speaking to a group – managing precious time for other people, all seem like giant mountains to climb. It was all so worth it – and then some. I had wonderful cabin mates and that was a big part of the experience – left to my own devices I would have missed that. Elizabeth Duvivier plans every detail of this experience thoughtfully, insightfully and expertly. I loved teaching- again. It got my wheels turning in new ways.  I loved getting glimpses of other peoples imaginations and processes. I think there is a moment in learning a new skill or technique when doors open in your imagination – possibilities emerge and you experience an elusive kind of flow and focus.  It’s inspiring and motivating to watch that unfold.

I came home exhausted and charged up at the same time. Four days out of my routine was valuable in so many ways.  I did things I was afraid of, learned more about my own rhythms, got a million new ideas and made friends. Real Friends. The experience left me with a New Year’s day kind of feeling – a map of things I need to pay more attention to, ways in which I should be challenging myself more often, ways I need to grow and ideas that I have been consistently resistant to that I don’t just need to consider but should be marching towards.  I did as much learning as I did teaching – from students and the class experience and from spending time with women who run creative businesses and run them beautifully.

little house

It was my second time at Squam  and the second time I was so engaged in the moment and the experience I forgot to record it. I’m so grateful to Andi Schrader for taking the wonderful photos below.  She also made this little house  – I love it and it is a perfect token of the experience.

Some glimpses of the botanical class through Andi’s lense:

botanical inspiration

andi's toadstools

suzan's mushroom


(more photos after the break)



jenn : botanical class

liz : botanical class

botanical class



  1. Love the photos. Being challenged by a different environment and pushing new limits is harrowing for sure but “the experience left me with a New Year’s day kind of feeling” is certainly well worth it! Looking forward to more thoughts and photos.

  2. Andi Schrader

    It’s good to read your warm reflections, Ann. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to teach and be an introvert in the presence of others! You and your work inspired me and I’m grateful to have taken your session. I’m also pleased you like the photos. Since I cannot hear the world very well, I see it through my lens which makes all the difference… I will look forward to seeing you again at some point (maybe in NYC!!) and sharing what I come up with as far as the clay/ fiber ships! Stay tuned. I just ordered the pattern. 🙂 Blessings,you…

  3. Always enjoy your posts. Way out here on the Prairie but share a kinda kindred spirit for creating. Love being alone and my job forces me to be social. To create full time and take opportunities to share with others through the internet and teaching “once in awhile” to get me out and about….well, it sounds rather nice. Thank you for sharing with us….deb

  4. Ooooh! I want you to come to my house in New Zealand! Are you going to make a pattern for the mushrooms so we can buy one? I have the bird and boat patterns and love them. And yes…I understand your feelings well. Even when I am away with my near and dear I yearn for home. I expect that at 66 I am older than your youthful self…so don’t expect things to change in a hurry!

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