WriterFrom the Series: Life on Dog Hill

I watched as Cameron scrapped the tile on the bathroom floor. Methodical in action, his eyes focused intently on the task, but he spoke easily, occasionally pausing with his blade in his hand to make eye contact and add presence to our conversation.

Cameron is refinishing my bathrooms and is one of a dozen or more contractors I’ve had in my house over the last four weeks as I prepare the home to sell. I like talking to the workers. It gives me a chance to tell them how much I appreciate their skill, and I enjoy getting to know more about them and their families. For instance, I know that my painter, Oscar, is married to Maria, and they have two sons aged two and nine. Alex, my carpenter, is married to Anna, and they have a three-year-old son named Santiago, who is very active and always wants to play at the end of Alex’s long work days.

As for Cameron, he’s twenty-three, lives with his girlfriend, and plays on ice-hockey with a club that has games every Wednesday night at 10:00 pm. It turns out that Cameron’s girlfriend works for the same company as one of our best friends.

Small world, we both agree.

This is Cameron’s second week with me, and he’s working on his final project, the master bathroom. During our chat Cameron tells me that, while scrapping tile can be very tedious, it’s also therapeutic for him. I raise my eyebrows in understanding. Earlier that morning, before the day’s crew arrived, I was pulling weeds and thinking to myself how wonderfully therapeutic it felt.

Therapy can benefit just about anyone. For this writer, therapy is a must because it offers an outlet for the monkey mind (and other things) that writers typically wrestle with. While I can’t speak for all writers, I admit that I have a lot of voices in my head. And every one of them is flaunting their “story” and demanding a book.

The only way to quiet a voice once and for all is to write the book — always a daunting task. Whether fiction or non-fiction, writing a book comes with lots of complications. The first one being, how do I capture in words the story swimming around in my head? 

As simple as it may seem, pulling weeds allows me to get out of my creative way so the ideas can flow more freely.

Typically therapeutic activities engage the brain in a hand-eye coordinated effort, but are not particularly demanding on the mind. For me, playing solitaire is therapeutic, but attempting Su Doku is not. Mowing the grass is therapeutic, but cleaning out the garage is not. Taking a shower, folding and ironing clothes, sweeping the floor, and burning a brush fire are some of my favorite forms of therapy.

So many therapeutic choices, so little time.

It’s true that I find comfort in rote action that requires hand-eye partnership, but not a lot of brain juice. After all, I need my brain juice for other things like remembering where I put my car keys. I just asked Alexa and she suggested I retrace my steps. Whatever would I do without her?

Now where was I just a few minutes ago?

Sheila Callaham is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and success coach. She occasionally thinks she’s funny. Click here to receive Sheila’s monthly newsletter where she shares the secrets to the Universe — or something like that. 

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