From Burnout to Rug Hooking: A Creative Entrepreneur’s Journey of Self-Discovery with Meryl Cook, Episode 175

Are you on the verge of burnout and overwhelm? There are options for you as an entrepreneur who feels this way: you can quit, pivot, or pause. You are about to hear from a creative entrepreneur who left private practice in homeopathy after burning out, getting into a motorcycle accident, and being diagnosed with cancer at 58. Sometimes life whispers and other times shouts to get us to make some big life changes. Meryl Cook shares her story of how she came back and left her 20-year career behind and got into rug hooking. Oodles of hooking jokes abound.

Color, texture, joy, and self-compassion define Meryl Cook’s work as a fiber artist and writer in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. As an emerging artist, Meryl is becoming best known for her use of the Chakra colors and her Wild Woman series. Her current mediums are rug hooking, spinning, wet felting, and journaling. What began as a way of holding space for herself following breast cancer treatment has led Meryl to a career as an artist and writer, inspiring others to connect with their joy and sense of purpose. What makes her process unique is the ties between her writing and design. All her designs begin with her journal, where she writes and sketches about becoming the powerful, joyful, exuberant woman she was always meant to be.

Chakra color theory and a technique of tapping into the body feeling also influence her designs. Meryl works in her home studio in Dartmouth, overlooking the Halifax Harbour. She is a member of ART1274 Hollis Gallery. She is a Journal Council member of the International Association for Journal Writing (IAJW).

Meryl is the author of two books, One Loop At a Time, A Story Of Rughooking, Healing, and Creativity (2016), and One Loop at a Time: The Creativity Workbook (2017). Meryl is the chapter author of “Journaling and the Reinvention of the Self One Loop at a Time” in Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients edited by Lynda Monk and Eric Maisel (Routledge, 2021), and “Journaling and Design Inspiration” in The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning, and Purpose, edited by Eric Maisel and Lynda Monk (Mango, 2022).

In conclusion, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout as an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that you have options. Whether it’s quitting, pivoting, or pausing, taking action to prioritize your well-being and make changes in your life can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding journey. Meryl Cook’s story is a testament to the power of listening to life’s whispers and shouts and embracing creativity and passion as a path to self-discovery and growth.

In this episode, you will these ideas expressed:

  • Breaking free from overwhelm and burnout; don’t ignore the early signs
  • What Meryl learned after overcoming cancer about what she wanted
  • The emotions behind pivoting especially after a two-decade-long career
  • Insight: we know what we need as women yet turn to others for reassurance so we are not alone if we do this
  • Ask yourself: what if I could do something marvelous? Meryl did after chemo
  • How to unblock yourself using freewriting in a journal…
  • Using curiosity to understand negative or tough emotions
  • Imagining a goal happening and identifying the sensations you’d feel is a great way to filter ideas
  • What’s the best way to see if there is a market-product fit for art: market research or joy?
  • Tapping into the feeling of joy and knowing what it feels like can be learned
  • Ways to get unblocked as a creative entrepreneur
  • Are you responsible for your client’s results? Meryl shares how that led to burnout
  • On making the mindset shift in believing that others including her grown children can be responsible for their results
  • It’s possible to avoid burnout as a creative entrepreneur – learn how Meryl is approaching her working with clients now

Are you on the verge of burnout? Say Hi on Instagram and I can help. I love DM-ing folks on @melissalarena I want to empower, embolden, and encourage 1 million plus mom entrepreneurs. To do that, I want to learn more about what you need most so you do not suffer the consequences Meryl or Esther had.

SHARE this episode with a mom founder, entrepreneur, or creator who is a new mom who feels burned or is on her way there.

Similar episodes:

48-Years of One Mom’s Daily Journaling Practice by Living Legacy Author And Educator Merle Saferstein, Episode 153

Is It Imposter Syndrome, That’s Holding You Back? Find Out, Episode 174

Exclusive Listener Discount Available!

20% off a yearly membership in Meryl’s Creating Space community. Use code IMAGINE. For information and to enroll in my Creating Space community, this is the link

Supporting Resources:


One Loop At A Time: A Story Of Rug Hooking, Healing, and Creativity:

One Loop at a Time: The Creativity Workbook:

Journaling and the Reinvention of the Self One Loop at a Time” in Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients by Lynda Monk and Eric Maisel

“Journaling and Design Inspiration” in The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning, and Purpose by Eric Maisel and Lynda Monk




Rick Rubin’s Creative Act Book:

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For moms like me, the pandemic was an opportunity to re-evaluate and course-correct things in our lives we weren’t thrilled with. Coming out of this period, sluggish yet motivated, so many of us can use this book to help us wake up! If you’re looking to refresh, reenergize, and yes, reimagine a better version of your life, this book is for you. I loved the hilarious, yet poignant stories about motherhood today and the window into the world of those who’ve gone for it – and did it. – Macollvie Neel, Brooklyn, NY

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Melissa is a mom of three with big dreams who tells it like it is. She draws on her own experiences and the experiences of professionals she’s interviewed for her podcast to reflect on the plight of the mother. How do women conform to or challenge the traditional “mom script”? If you’re a mom, what can you do to break the “cultural glass ceiling” to be yourself and a great parent, all without having to force yourself into a mom mold that doesn’t fit you? Melissa is like a great friend, honest and wise and funny, telling you about her life and asking you to reflect on yours. This book is a great purchase for moms in every stage of life. – Aspiring Novelist, Librarian, Mom To Two Kiddos

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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