Do you struggle to get everything done in a day, to find time for yourself? How do you cut through the overwhelm? We all know self care is important, but how do you wade through the to-dos and make the time you need to re-charge? It can be simple – really.

As I enter the third chapter of my life (I’m hoping I live to at least 90!) I am meeting other like-minded  women. We are no longer willing to be crazy busy doing things because we think we should. Whether you are at this stage of life, or just ready to get off the hamster wheel, maybe you can relate.

I’ve been writing and thinking a lot lately about simplifying life, about distilling it to what is most important. Last week I attended a workshop with my mentor and teacher Deanne Fitzpatrick called Tiny Landscapes. It was part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Festival.

We did a couple of exercises in the class that related to design and rug hooking, that I think could apply to how to simplify our lives. The first exercise was to look at a landscape and distill it to 3 to 5 simple lines. It was about deciding what is important and focusing on that to convey a feeling or an image.  From a design perspective, it was amazing how freeing it was to view a landscape in this way. We found that from this simple approach we could make beautiful landscapes that clearly evoked the feeling of a particular scene.  We didn’t need all of the clutter and extra detail.

The second exercise was to hook with our eyes closed! In doing this we tried to feel both of our hands working together. I must confess to loving this exercise! It spoke to me about learning to trust in our instincts and really taking time to feel.

This is my tiny landscape, designed by Deanne Fitzpatrick, hooked by Meryl Cook 8″x8″.

Writing exercise

Simplifying life is not always easy. When I am in a place of overwhelm and so busy my head is spinning and my body is getting exhausted, I have a writing exercise that helps me to move forward. This exercise is in my upcoming book One Loop at a Time, The Creativity Workbook.

These Things I Know & What Do I Need Right Now?

When life is moving quickly or you have hit an obstacle that you don’t

know how to get around, it can feel overwhelming. A writing exercise

that helps me when I am feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what

my next steps should be is another two-part exercise.

The next time you have an issue to work through, try your hand at this exercise.

Write your “These things I know” list and follow it with your answers to “What do I need right now?”

My “These things I know” list usually includes all the things I know for certain about the situation.  I recently had a big disappointment and was feeling rather fragile and shaky.  My list included not only the disappointment, but a list of what else is going well in my life right now.

Then “What do I need right now?” was this list: a good cry, breathe, drink water, breathe some more, pause and re-group.  And of course I sketched a mat design to express how I was feeling.  After this I was able to pick myself up and move forward again.

It’s simple – really.