The United States of You: Fear to Joy (Part II)

Week two of our summer camp began today and we have 9 girls with us for the week. This time around we have three returning campers and SIX new girls. We were all a little nervous and had butterflies in our stomachs as we circled around the table on the lawn, getting to know each other bit by bit and collaborating on a mural scrolled across the table. 

When Ruth asked the girls at the end of the day before our final yoga poses if anyone had encountered any of the emotions we focused on today - fear (anxiety, curiosity, wonder) to joy, Nico raised her hand and said she was afraid this would be a boring camp, too much like school, but she discovered it wasn't. And she continue, she was "worried we would only do like one project, but we did like A MILLION!" She yelped with her hands pressed to her cheeks, her features expressing utter joy. 

I'd say we're off to an excellent start.


The United States of You: From Unstable to Stable

Day 4

How do we feel when we are unsteady? We tremble. We wobble. Our breath is rapid and shallow. We are unsure and fearful of falling or failing. Our legs shake. Our voices shake. 

We stabilize ourselves by drawing tighter at our core. By planting our feet firmly on the ground and gazing straight ahead. We are mindful of our breathing. In and out. In and out.

Today we journeyed from unstable to stable by:

  •  Firmly planting our feet and hands on the ground to attempt a Double Dog Dare pose in yoga. (We did it!)
  • Using liquid alcohol inks to marble tile squares for coasters or trivets.
  • Completing our Happiness Quilt.
  • Letting Tal and Maddie - our oldest campers - take the reins and teach us all how to make elves (and dogs and cats and pigs) out of Sculpey polymer clay.


In and out. In and out. Minds clear. Breath strong. Bodies tall and steady. Looking straight ahead. No longer afraid.

Overheard sometime this afternoon: 

“I felt most stable when I was making my magnificent clay dog. I love the way he turned out.”

“I felt most stable when I was outside in the yard searching for bunnies.”

“I felt most stable when I was giving someone else one of my tiles as a gift.”

“I felt most stable when we were in the Double Dog Dare pose and my leg was lifted straight up in the air, toes pointed, breathing easy.” 

“I felt most stable when I was lying in the grass on my back in the sun.”

The United States of You: From Anger to Devotion

Day 3

For Wednesday's camp theme, we focused on transforming potentially fraught situations into focused, committed, and patient action. A particularly challenging yoga pose in the morning - Lean on Me - invited us to share weight and balance with a partner to rise up from our feet. (A lot of giggling was involved.) We were also treated with a special visit by writer, artist, and storyteller Christine Mason Miller, founder of the SwirlyGirl brand, and author of Plant Your Dreams and Miracles Will Grow, Ordinary Sparkling Moments: Reflections on Success and Contentment, and Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World. Christine led a book-assembly and collage activity and the girls spread out to every corner of the studio to work on their pages. 

After lunchtime, Christine facilitated a creating writing activity in which our strong selves addressed our vulnerable selves, giving advice and offering guidance about how to maneuver through difficulty. The weather cleared and we made our way outdoors, practicing the ancient art of Ebru, or paper marbling. We floated paint on paper using droppers and other tools to maneuver the colors, and watched as new shapes emerged from our movements. 


As we wound up our projects for the day, one of our campers, Tal, sang for us! She'd brought her guitar and played some of her favorite songs as well as an original one she'd composed on her own. We all sat on our yoga mats, blissed out by her singing, inspired not just by her self-confidence, but by her devotion to music - the desire to learn, the hard work of practicing, and the courage of sharing. We finished the day with the deeply restful and restorative Yoga Nidra meditation, which allowed us to come back to our own bodies, hearts, and minds and celebrate all of the ways our contributions are important to the whole. 


The United States of You: Our Fifth Chakra

Day 2

Our fifth chakra is the chakra central to our communication. The throat. It's the one that governs our expression, and it's the gateway between our heads and our hearts. We can keep our throat chakra unblocked and in balance by expressing ourselves creatively, by being true to ourselves without losing sight of the world around us. We balance our fifth chakra through storytelling, writing, poetry, and making music and art. 

Today we kept our throat chakra in balance by:


  • Making laughter milkshakes in yoga and shouting "yes" and "no" while moving between cat and cow poses. 
  • We experimented with writing messages in white crayon on white paper and then allowing others to "reveal" our message with watercolor paint. Dream big. Don't rush. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
  • Writing stories using paint chip colors as inspiration and then making collages to go with the story. At the end of the day each of the girls got the opportunity to read their story out loud and share their words and images with the group.
  • Making squares for a "Happiness Quilt" our friend, Munira Bootswala is helping us put together. Eventually more squares will be added by members of the community and we will begin to map the happiness around us.
  • Putting together fantastical headdresses made of feathers and dried flowers and shells, ribbon and lace and pom poms.
  • The most gorgeous "Om" breathed at the end of the day just as the sun peered back through the clouds.


Our Fifth Chakra is important. It teaches us that we can say things cruelly, or clearly.

We can blame or we can take responsibility for ourselves.

We can be centred and grounded, or head over heels.

The United States of You: Fear to Joy

Day 1Brave Girls Art Summer Camp has begun! Six campers joined us this morning, four who have been with us previously and two new campers. Some of us were nervous and shy. Others were excited and bold. Everyone was ready to dive in, but also feeling a little reserved, getting oriented and meeting new people.

The United States of You. How do we manage our feelings? How do we sit with them, even when they're uncomfortable, and let them settle around us? How do we witness and engage them to shift from negative to positive? From fear and anxiety to courageous joy?

This is what we did today: 

  • A collaborative acrylic paint mural (which we'll revisit later in the week when Christine Mason Miller arrives)
  • Liquid watercolors in a squirt gun and a sheet of paper tacked to an easel in the yard
  • Quiet moments alone in the caravan to think about what we'd like to take home with us at the end of the week. Not the physical things - the paintings and projects - but the feelings we'd like to carry with us into the rest of our summer (and maybe even the rest of our lives)
  • Crafting cardboard plants and flowers to put inside hand-painted wooden pots
  • Sun prints
  • A giant collaborative mandala
  • The gentle breeze on our faces as we ate lunch in the park
  • Yoga led by Ruth, during which a few of us* might possibly have reached a state of yoga nidra (lucid sleeping), among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness
    ahem Amy raises hand and waves it

Collaborative muralFoliage for mandalas

Courageous joy achieved!


Avah and Ruth with watercolor guns!