Wrapping up Month #11 of Extreme Self-Care

So I’ll own up to it right off the bat.

I didn’t do my homework.

At least, I didn’t do it the way Cheryl suggested we do it in Chapter 11 of her book,

Extreme Self-Care

No treasure hunting. No ‘conversation’ with an object representing a buried interest or an aspect of myself I’d like to explore further. No dates with myself, playing with that newly excavated interest.


But I did stumble upon a realization or two all the same.

Easter Monday, I found myself with an empty afternoon stretching out in front of me. So I pulled out a story I’ve been wanting to rework before submitting it to a local online magazine and I spent the entire afternoon playing with it.

That might sound like no big deal. After all, I write all the time–this blog, a chapter book I’m currently working on–but there was something very delicious about those hours spent experimenting with different ways to convey the internal life of the story’s main character. Something deeply nourishing about dipping into my thesaurus and getting lost in the subtle nuances of words. I resurfaced hours later feeling satiated, full to the brim. Waves of satisfaction sloshed over me as I walked upstairs to reconnect with my family.

So why was this different from any other writing session?

While it’s true that I write every day, I rarely sink fully into the zone and let it take me where it will. There are too many other things to do in a day. Too many have-to’s and responsibilities and interruptions. A year or so ago, I decided to put my writing first, but as I reflected on the difference between my Easter Monday moodling and other writing sessions, I realized that I limit my daily writing to about an hour and a half each morning and then turn away to attend to the to-do list.

That ninety minutes is very focused. A lot of words make it to the page. Some time is spent reworking passages and rearranging ideas. But I never take the time to roll around in the words like a piggie in a fresh mud puddle, relishing in their shades of meaning. When I’m focused on output, there’s no time for meandering and meandering is where the joy lies.

That’s something I would like to change. More delicious mud-between-the-toes writing, please.

As I sat at my desk writing this, I looked up at my tattered thesaurus and noticed all the other books lined up with it.


and another light bulb went off


I love transformation and the tools for transformation, so many of which come in the form of books and I’ve spent years reading them and collecting them. But in the last year or so I have become more and more jaded. That negativity came to a head about a month ago when I dug a little deeper into a new healing modality I had stumbled upon and discovered some unsettling things about the motives and methods of its founders.

I was angry. I felt betrayed. It all sounded so good. How could I have been sucked in like that? What about all of the other healers and personal development coaches and authors I’ve been reading and whose words I’ve been taking to heart all these years? Are they just a load of phooey, too? Playing to a searching crowd who will lap up anything in order to feel better about themselves and their lives?

What is the truth?

The capital T Truth.

This whole mess sent the voice in my head, Ms Nasty, into overdrive:

Why do you keep buying these books, Maxine?  Why can’t you just choose one path to enlightenment and sink into it fully? Why this constant search for meaning? You are such a dilettante, always dabbling, never diving deeply.

Once Ms Nasty took hold she did not let go. She even followed me out of the province.

I spent a weekend with a friend attending an I Can Do It event in Vancouver, two full days of people sharing their wisdom. Big name speakers like Wayne Dyer, Caroline Myss, Doreen Virtue bookended lesser-known-but-up-and-coming authors. Years ago, I would have been thrilled to have been hearing some of these people speak at a live event. In the wake of my mini crisis of faith? Not so much.

In fact, I caught myself more than a few times sitting back in my seat, arms crossed and frowning. Think the Old Man Hecklers on the Muppet Show. That was me, although my snide comments didn’t make it past my friend’s ear.

 I did enjoy the weekend, but the best part, far and away, was hanging out with my friend, not hanging on the words of the Enlightened Ones.

It wasn’t until a week or so later, as I sat at my desk looking at the books in front of me, that it hit me.

The majority of speakers told of arriving in a deep, dark place in their lives and then resurfacing stronger and more capable with something tangible to offer the world. Each person found a different way to climb out of their own personal dungeon. Their tools were different, but the theme of transformation was consistent.

And it’s those tales of transformation that fascinate me.

Including the tools that people develop to effect that transformation.

With that a-ha moment blooming inside me, I moved from the row of books on my writing desk to all the other books crowding my bookshelves.

Including the row of writing books,

which lives directly above the shelf of ‘creating’ books.

Which led me back to this book:

colorful stitcheryI stood in the middle of my office for a long time, thumbing through the pages looking at all the colourful embroidery projects I was going to do ‘some day,’ especially the pillows that had caught my eye in the first place. Those pillows were the reason I bought the book.

That book has been sitting on my shelf for three years now and there are no beautifully embroidered pillows in sight.

I did not reshelve the book.

It came upstairs with me and, later that evening, I referred to it as I cut off an 18″ chunk from the too-long curtains in Stephen’s office. Today, I’ll add ‘pick up pillow forms’ to my trip-to-the-city list. Maybe tonight I’ll make a template of the floral design on the guest room duvet cover. And perhaps tomorrow I’ll dust off my sewing machine.

Step-by-tiny-step, the vision of plump pillows that has been percolating in my head for years will become reality.

So . . .

my take-home for Month #11 of Cheryl Richardson’s Extreme Self-Care is that I want to spend more time playing with words, sharing tales (and tools) of transformation, and creating with color. My palette this round is fabric and embroidery floss.

Who knows what it will be next time?

Not a bad take-home for somebody who didn’t do the homework.

This entry was posted in Sanctuary in a Crowded World and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Wrapping up Month #11 of Extreme Self-Care

  1. MJ says:

    Good one. They’re all good but this one was gooder!
    Love ya,

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