Sunday, December 28, 2014

Breaking the Seal

One year ago, I made a vow to attend a retreat hosted by Squam Art Workshops (SAW). This I promised after completing an online class via SAW where I learned random weaving and was completely swept up in the teaching style and encouragement. Me. Weaving. Randomly. Don't judge me.

The night of December 4, 2013, I felt a bit lighthearted and tricked out a canning jar to act as both a reminder and a savings vehicle for me to attend one of the SAW retreats in person. It would take a bit of doing, since these are held in the woods of central New Hampshire and I live, well, no where near there. But I could work toward it.

The first night after making the jar when I filled it with all the coin and currency
I had in my car and in my wallet that night
. (Hmm, I've painted the table since then.)
I sent the picture to the founder of Squam, thinking she might find it amusing. At the time, I did not know if anything would
come of it, but I placed the jar on the windowsill above my kitchen sink where it would be a daily reminder of something I wanted. Of course, I could always move it if the thought faded. Or seemed too distance. Or an unexpected bill needed to be paid.

Surprisingly, it remained on the sill for a year, getting a bit more packed with money as the days passed. The last several weeks saw me having to forcibly shove any additions into the narrow slot I cut in the top. I had just taken the leap of shoving a $20 bill into the top of the jar on the morning that I received an email from SAW, stating that pre-registration for the 2015 retreats had begun and full registration would open on January 5, 2015. Oh, sings my soul and pass the margaritas! 

Since that day, I have spent the last few weeks pondering which classes I would take during my retreat in the woods. With my final decisions made, my registration forms complete, and an envelope addressed, it was time to break the seal.
My Squam jar with a full belly.
Seal broken.

Nearly ready for the post office on January 5.
A couple months ago, I watched an interview with author Elizabeth Gilbert who retold a story that was shared by one of her readers. Year ago, before divorce was as common as it is now, a young wife and mother found herself at the age of 26 with four children, ages 3 months to 7 years. Her husband had just walked out and never returned to their lives. After the dust settled, this mother realized that her life would not always be this way -- alone, poor, overwhelmed. She grabbed a coffee can and put it high on a shelf in her closet where her kids would not find it, and every week she put a bit of money in it. She told herself that she was already poor, so a dollar into the coffee can would not break them. And she saved for years.

After all her children were grown and on their own, she gathered up all her coffee cans and bought a ticket on a ship. She had always wanted to see the world, and she finally boarded that ship that took her to faraway places she had always dreamed of seeing. It started with a coffee can.

Now, my journey to this retreat is not nearly as profound a journey as the woman in Liz Gilbert's story, but it is something I have wanted a long while. I never realized the power of a simple jar sitting on a window sill that quietly called to me everyday, reminding me to stay focused and keep working toward the goal.

Whatever your goal, your dream, your wish, grab a coffee can, a canning jar, a shoe box and get started. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and planning the trip of a lifetime starts with a single coin. 

A single coin won't break you. It may not even be even be missed. Why not tuck away all those single coins in one place and watch them make magic? Magic that takes years to happen is still magic.

The now-empty Squam jar will go back to the windowsill to gather more and more before the actual trip begins. I did not miss one coin. 


  1. Congratulations, that is beautiful! And I can see from the classes form that you are going to the same season I am - it's my first squam too! I look forward to meeting you there.

  2. Yay, Kelly! Look forward to meeting you, too.

  3. I wish you the Best. Squam. Ever. Although I think you're already there.

    1. Thank you. The whole "opening of th jar" had me on Cloud 9.

  4. I cannot stop smiling!! You are now officially a 'squammie' - congrats!

    1. Oh I love hearing that. A moniker that makes me very happy :-)

  5. I've got my jar going, only, as you know, it's a cookie barrel since I'm factoring in visas, international flights, layovers :-) It may take a while but coin by coin, I'll be hangin' lakeside with you one day. Checking pockets before going in the wash is quite lucrative around here - I saved a $10 from hubby's jeans the other day - it's now in my jar and hubby is none the wiser!

    1. Oh, Xan, I LOVE that! Bit by bit, it will happen. It WILL happen, and I'm looking forward to that day so very much. xoxo


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