I woke up one day and I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know how to move forward. I didn’t know what my life or my career were going to look like. This was even scarier than my diagnosis of breast cancer.
That day was just over a year ago, January 6, 2016, when I finished my radiation treatments.
Six months earlier, I had made the decision to step away from my practice as a homeopath and Bowen therapist so that I could focus on taking care of myself. I had been in practice for 20 years, and this diagnosis was my second wakeup call in just over a year.
From a homeopathic perspective, the diagnosis of cancer is illness at a very deep level. I knew that if I truly wanted to heal (not just recover, but heal deeply), I needed to be responsible only for myself. I couldn’t take care of others while I was healing.
I knew I needed to find a new way to be in the world, and that included my profession of caring for others. After 20 years in practice, I longed to combine my love of designing and hooking rugs with my experience helping women move forward with their own healing journeys. I knew I wanted my work to have a wider impact than just seeing patients on a one-to-one basis. I made the decision that I would not return to my practice and that I would allow myself time to heal before deciding how I would move forward.
So, like most people in my situation, I got busy with the business of receiving treatment. Along the way I learned some great tips for surviving and thriving through the treatment process, which I share in my book One Loop at a Time.
When my treatment ended, that’s when my healing really began.
I didn’t set out to make healing mats. I turned to writing and rug hooking as a way to process my emotions, to make sense of what I had just been through and what was ahead of me. When I read about a workshop on writing and yoga by author Sheree Fitch and yoga teacher Josette Coulter last January, my heart gave a little leap. I had just finished radiation for breast cancer that week. There was a snowstorm in the forecast. My stomach clenched at the thought of having to drive several hours to Tatamagouche and back.
But when I visualized being with a teacher I adored in a room full of women writing and doing yoga, I felt so happy. I knew I just had to be there.
That workshop was the beginning of my writing and imagining my whole new life. It was also the impetus for my Healing Mat series.
In the eight months following my treatment, I filled five journals and designed and hooked seven healing mats—Curvy Lines, Love Letter, Joy Releasing, Dancing Wildly with Joy, Breaking Open, Dancing in the Wind, and Abundance.
I wrote in my journal about each of the mats and about the inspiration for them. Although I had been hooking for about seven years by then, the design of these mats was something very new for me.
There were three things I did differently.
1. I developed a unique method of writing healing phrases on the linen around the mat.
2. I selected colors based on chakra color theory. (There is a chapter on chakra color theory in my book.)
3. I developed an original design method based on following the healing energy. In retrospect, I realized that this design method is very similar to the method I used to take the cases of my patients as a homeopath.
I’m now using my experience to help other women move from wakeup call to wellness through tapping into their creativity. I’ve become known as the Healing Mat Lady on Twitter and Facebook.
I teach Hook a Healing Mat workshops, do individual custom healing mat designs, and inspire women to take a step toward wellness through my speaking and writing. I published my first book, One Loop at a Time: A Story of Rug Hooking, Healing, and Creativity, through Full Circle Publishing.
People that I love to serve are women who have the feeling something is missing and have identified that there must be more to life. They realize life is short. They can get there because they have had a wakeup call, experienced grief or depression, are recovering from illness, or are at a transition point in their life. These women are ready to learn something new, to explore their emotions, and in the process, play a little.
Learn more about Meryl’s book One Loop at a Time: http://www.merylcook.ca/one-loop-time/
Learn more about Meryl’s Hook a Healing Mat workshops: http://www.merylcook.ca/healing-mats/