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If Bill Cunningham went to Camp.

10-15-2015

liav-mainIf you haven’t seen the documentary about Bill Cunningham, you should. But I’m giving you a l’il spoiler alert — I’m about to tell you my favorite quote from the movie:

“Those who seek beauty are sure to find it.”

(Oh, Bill. Thank you.)

This post is not about Bill Cunningham. But his words have been echoing in my mind. And you’ll see why.

I recently returned from a camp for adults that I have been fortunate enough to attend the last two years. It’s called Life is a Verb (LIAV) Camp and it is the brainchild of author Patti Digh. (If you don’t know Patti, check out her website. You’ll love her deep compassion, insight, + quirky humor.)

Life is a Verb Camp is based in courage, creativity, and community. And here’s what I love best about it: everyone shows up expecting two things — love + magic. And we get heaps of both.

See that photo up above? That’s me on the left. In the middle is David Roche. David is an inspirational humorist and was the keynote speaker who opened Camp for us this year.  Here’s what his website says: “David has transformed the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights audiences around the world.”

David’s talk was powerful and heartfelt. And afterward, he stayed at Camp with us the whole time. Everyone fell in love with him. He had this wonderful confidence and zest. We loved his humor. We loved his life stories. Personally, I also LOVED his orange shirt.

But here’s what really sealed the deal for me about loving him: David and I were paired up during an improvisational workshop and he stood in front of me with presence and joy that were palpable. I could see in David’s twinkling eyes that he was ready for magic. He was looking for it. He was 100 percent in search of the beauty of the moment. And because of that, we had a blast. Every time I met up with David the rest of the Camp, it was the same way. He is undoubtedly a master at seeking beauty.

“Those who seek beauty are sure to find it.”

What you need to know is that I could be talking about any of the 100+ amazing souls who shared those days with me. Everywhere I turned, folks were chasing the sunsets, howling with laughter, shaking their tutu’d butts, or sharing quiet moments together. You might be likely to say, “Well, of course. You were at a gorgeous location doing all that creative stuff. Sure, it was easy to find beauty.”

Yes, and … (I learned that in improv class!) … remember what I said about “courage” being foundational at Camp? Well, I want to tell you that there were lots of times that folks were pushing against the edges of their comfort zones. They were stepping right into fear. And it isn’t all fun and games when we’re pushing into fear. (Maybe you know what I mean?!)

LIAV-bodyI co-led a workshop with Melissa Capers called “Body Image: From Fact to Truth.” In our workshop, participants would trace the outline of their bodies to capture the life-size “fact” of their physical selves. Imagine doing this yourself. People came face-to-face (And hip-to- hip. And stomach-to-stomach) with so much self-talk and judgments about their shape and weight. There was lots of anxiety and tears. This was not a light ‘n easy workshop.

But the “truth” part of the workshop was the invitation for participants to intentionally celebrate their beauty by embellishing their silhouettes with words and art that depicted their beauty. People asked themselves, “Where is the beauty?” Before too long, the tears and angst turned to smiles and giggles. And at some point we all launched into a rousing chorus of  “You are so beautiful.” Everyone was radiant.

We were looking. And we found it.

“Those who seek beauty are sure to find it.”

Oh, and see the woman in the top photo on the right? That’s Molly. Molly chose to share an incredibly personal and difficult story on stage in front of 100+ people. Her story was not pretty. But it was beautiful. And Molly just shone. She was willing to be completely authentic with us. She was willing to show up with her truth. She was willing to nudge fear out of the way and step into a wide open field of compassion. And wow-oh-wow, was that incredibly beautiful.

That kind of courage is its own seeking of beauty.

liav-groupI have to tell you something else. I had this entire blog post written yesterday afternoon. And I loved it. I saved it throughout the time I was working on it. Then I saved it again and shut down the computer. I knew I just had the very last line to write and it would be complete.

Last night at 10pm I turned on the computer, logged into Word Press and was ready to add in my last line and hit “publish.” I couldn’t find the saved draft anywhere. I looked and looked to no avail. It was gone. My heart sank and I got that awful feeling in my stomach. I’d put so much of myself into the post. I wanted to throw the computer at the wall.

But I didn’t do that.

You know what I did?

beach-line

I hopped over to the LIAV Facebook Group and posted what had happened. I confessed that I was feeling discouraged and could use a virtual hug. Within minutes, there was a whole thread of hugs from LIAV Campers all over the world. This morning when I checked that thread, dozens more sweet and supportive messages popped up to greet me and lift me up.

All I had to do was seek beauty and it was there — in the form of this big-hearted, that-sucks-but-we’re-here-for-you loving community. I’m not happy my blog post disappeared. But I am delighted that all those beautiful people appeared.

Keep seekin’ …

xo Sherry

 

smores-socksP.S. I hope you get the chance to join us at LIAV Camp someday. Maybe Autumn of 2016? But you don’t have to be at Camp to seek beauty. What is there in front of you right now? Maybe it is the taste of lime. Maybe it is the sound of children squealing as they ride their bikes. Do you see cotton candy clouds at sunset or your grandson’s lopsided smile? Can you hear the faint sound of music coming from a second story window as you walk by? Do you smell the eucalyptus? Maybe it is the s’mores socks someone sent you as a gift?

It’s there. It’s everywhere. Seek it out.

 

P.P.S. Bill Cunningham, thanks for coming to Camp with me!

with-pattyP.P.P.S Thank you to Patti Digh for listening to the call of beauty in the form of your vision to create a Camp like this. Thank you for seeking out a path to make it happen. Thank you for inviting us all in to this rare and gorgeous place that is rooted in courage, creativity, and community.

 

 

 

Beach dance “holding hands” photo copyright Davielle Antelline Huffman

 

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