If you’ve been following along, you know I wrote a book this year. A real, live book, published by Quarto Kids called Play Make Create, a Process Art Handbook and it’s number 1 in three categories on Amazon, which is totally amazing. But the journey to get to this place wasn’t so amazing so I thought I’d share my story here and maybe you might find some solace in my experience. I’ve also included pics from our recent book launch party at our new studio to lighten things up a bit. Thanks Brandilyn Davidson for capturing all these special moments.
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It can be really easy to get bogged down in all of life’s challenges and skip over the moments that are truly special. This past year has been one of my busiest and most challenging. It was year 3 of our brick and mortar, Meri Cherry Art Studio. We moved our location after months of planning and construction right after I wrote my first book, Play Make Create, a Process Art Handbook. And in between all those things I adulted like nobody’s business, juggling the kids, making lunches, managing emotions and logistics around family illness, all the things, like all moms know only too well.
There were times when I got sucked down so deep into fear and anxiety I really thought I might go insane, convincing myself of my worst fears. I had to lean in hard to my support system, including my family, my amazing team at Meri Cherry, my friends, my business coach and perhaps most of all, my therapist. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. We made it to the other side.
Play Make Create is out in the world and I couldn’t be more proud of it.
Writing a book is a tricky thing. I went into it determined to be amongst the rare unicorns who enjoy the process of writing a book. I have many friends who have written books and they always described it as painfully stressful. I wanted my experience to be different. I set my intentions and I was off to the races. Well, within about two months I was crying to my husband, Ev, procrastinating at every corner and semi miserable. It felt like so much pressure and the more I worked on it, the more there seemed still to be done. I had to dig so deep to get it done with so many other things on my plate, but alas, it did finally get done, after about six months and it was off to the printer.
That’s when the real fun began. I began to panic about EVERYTHING. Was it good enough? Did I remember to credit all the right people? Did I say all the things? Make the right choices? Did I over edit my photos and everything is going to look terrible? Panic became my new way of being and it wasn’t pretty. I started spending more and more time looking like a deer caught in headlights, and less time as a reliable member of my family. I was in a state of panic that wouldn’t quit and it scared the living daylights out of me.
Thankfully, I realized I needed more support (and so did Ev) and I started doubling down at the therapist office. I set some real concrete boundaries for myself. Did a ton of sessions with my “life coach” since birth, Erica Reitman, took the right vitamins, went to the acupuncturist, made healthy choices, and just got back on track. It took a minute. I’m not going to lie, but slowly things started to turn around. I think the biggest turn around moment was one night talking to my cousin Er, and I literally said to her, “I just want to feel the anxiety for two more weeks and then I’ll be better.” And she was like “WHAT THE F!!!! ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!” Uhhh, no, you’re not doing this for two more weeks. You get one more night, tonight! And when you wake up in the morning, you are going to be doing things a lot differently.” And I did. I heard myself say that out loud and realized how much of a choice I was making to sit in the fear and anxiety and let it ruin my life and rob me of one of the most incredible time periods of my life. SO much greatness was happening all around me and I was missing all of it.
So I had my night, and then I woke up in the morning and got my s$!@ together. My first homework assignment from Er was to print out a digital copy of my book at Fedex so that I could physically look at it every time I started to panic. That seemed to be one of the few things that calmed my nerves. From there I was able to do all the other things that helped me, like taking probiotics and Nevaton Forte (My wonder “drug.” It’s not a drug at all, it’s a vitamin, but it totally helped. If you suffer from anxiety, look this stuff up!)
Anyway, loooonngggg story short. I got threw it. And things started to feel better. As they often do over time.
I started to resemble myself again and then an advanced copy of the book got sent to my doorstep. And at first I wanted to judge it. I wanted so bad to cling to that part of myself that feels comfortable in self judgment and fear, but I couldn’t do it. My book was beautiful! I remembered to write all the things. The pictures looked just how I wanted them to look and my words were mine. They didn’t sound like anybody else. Just me. And I felt so proud.
Then over the next month or two, friends and family started receiving early copies of the book and people I love and admire started sharing pics of their kids looking at every page, and bookmarking what projects they wanted to do. And my heart started to fill up.
And then, June 11th, Play Make Create, a Process Art Handbook, was released into the world. And I started getting a million tags on Instagram of “OH MY GOD!!! MERI! THIS IS AMAZING!!!’ I actually don’t know if I received those exact words but that was the overall sentiment and it was and is an incredible feeling.
This book is my heart on paper. It’s all the things I know about and value and trust in to be the best me I can be. I wrote it as a thank you to all the moms out there, who have been so gracious and supportive and loving to me over the years. I hope this book makes life better, easier, more fun. I hope you play and connect with your kids and learn more about yourself and how capable you are with every invitation. And if some of the projects don’t go so hot, well, then, hey, I’m right there with you.
And if you made it this far in reading all this, thank you again. I feel truly blessed to be able to share my story with you.
Enjoy the Process. With love, Meri
This post, this share, this brave and honest story, means the world to me as I am about to hit “send” on a year-long project/product in the making.
It’s the most exhilarating and terrifying endeavor all wrapped up in one.
I have to put it out there! But how can I put it out there?! It’s so great! But is it good enough?!
Such paradoxes can drive a woman mad. True creativity equals vulnerability and I’m so glad you leaned in.
You can do the same. I know it’s not easy. But there is so much light on the other side. I promise you. You can do it. Big hug!!!!
Thank you for sharing your journey! It’s important for everyone to see that great things are hard work and they just don’t happen 🙂 That there is a lot of stress, anxiety and life involved! I’m glad you got through it 🙂 I LOVE the book and follow your studio’s creative journey on-line. You have been a HUGE inspiration for me as I journey through guiding my students (ages 3-11) to find, use and enjoy their own personal creative energy in their daily lives! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Thank you Tery! I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying my book and thank you for following along on my journey. Instagram pics only tell a small slice. I’m grateful for the space to share the ups and the downs. We all go through them. Thank you!
This post was just another example of the beautiful things you create and share with the world. We are your biggest fans (following you from Kuwait!) and we absolutely ADORE Play Make Create. My only fear is “what if we do ALLLLL of the projects before the end of summer?” THEN WHAT?! I need you to start working on Book #2 🙂
Thank you for being our happy place and helping us to create moments we’ll forever treasure.
YOU GO GIRL! xo
Ha! Then you’ll just have to start at the beginning again : ) But don’t worry, already working on number 2 xoxoxo!!!!