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May 28, 2024 | Podcast

How to Hold a Cockroach (and Long Covid) with Matt Maxwell

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About the episode:

I’m honored to have someone who I care deeply about on the podcast today, Matt Maxwell. He is dedicated to freedom, joy, connection, and stewardship of the earth. Beyond that, Matt is also the author of How to Hold a Cockroach and leads Hearthstone Coaching, where he helps individuals, teams, and organizations clarify and create what matters most to them. At the time of recording, Matt joined me from his car as he’s traveling across the country to move back home to have more support from his family as he navigates the effects of long COVID. Throughout our conversation, we touch on holding grief, giving ourselves the permission to receive, and how Matt is gracefully and intentionally coming to terms with his new reality. If you’ve listened to my past solo episode on receiving and the recent episode with Jenn Andreou on embracing grief, Matt’s episode will feel like a big picture moment on how the two are interconnected and aligned. If you’re in a period of transition, especially if it’s one that’s hard to grapple with, I hope you find some relief in this episode.  


Topics discussed:

  • Matt’s experience with long COVID, what it looks like for him and others, and how this has been the catalyst for a major pivot in his life and business
  • The idea of breaking free from “stupid” to allow ourselves to freely and confidently try new things
  • How Matt has learned to hold grace for himself and surrender who he was before COVID to come to terms with his life now
  • Learning to receive more in life while honoring the way we can be of service, companionship, and partnership to other people
  • How Matt has learned to redefine success and find a new way of working with his new cognitive threshold
  • More on Matt’s book, How to Hold a Cockroach, and the lessons on fear and the stories we tell ourselves
  • Matt’s guidance for helping others through chronic illness or holding their own cockroach


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  14:13

Matt, welcome to the podcast. I feel really delighted and humbled to have you join me today. Thanks.


Matt Maxwell  14:51

So glad to be here with you.


Catherine A. Wood  14:54

You know, we have a lot of kind of shared history in common and I And we were remarking before we hit record that we’re both still processing the grief and the loss of a shared loved one, that we went on a trip together for one of our coaching retreats to the Dominican and and it feels like a really timely conversation for us to be talking on the heels of experiencing that sorrow. Because we’re going to be talking about living and Thriving with Chronic Illness and your journey and and I must say, I was really floored by your journey when I saw that post. I think by your parents on Facebook, I, I really had no idea that you had been experiencing long COVID. So I’m I guess a little sad that I didn’t know that and honored to have you share more about that journey on the show today.


Matt Maxwell  15:56

So thank you,


Catherine A. Wood  15:59

by way of enjoying that conversation. Yeah, it’s always just like yesterday when we last connect, and and, yeah, just really happy to have you with me so but that, I’d love for you to share your pronouns. And I always invite my guests to share a little bit of their story, by way of getting us connected, because I think that we all, perhaps learn and land through story.


Matt Maxwell  16:26

Great. Yes. I’m Matt Maxwell. If you searched me, you might search Matthew Maxwell. But don’t call me Matthew. Unless you mean it in like the most loving possible way. My pronouns are he him is. And let’s see what parts of my story would be fun to share.


Catherine A. Wood  16:54

There are so many met.


Matt Maxwell  16:57

At my, okay, here’s, here’s a brief, here’s a brief one. My my 20 year high school reunion was four years ago. And I was at my 10 year high school reunion. And again, at my 20 year high school reunion, and at my 10 year high school reunion, I would have shared myself or identified myself as a conservative Republican, Mormon, lawyer, and married man. And then it might have been a year, I would have said I was a liberal, Buddhist slash spiritual, vegetarian, single guy. Oh, and life coach, no longer a lawyer. Yeah, every one of those things basically did a U turn. So yeah, I’ve had I’ve had a lot of pretty profound transformations. And I would say that in the like, logistically, profound transfer, like apparent, obviously, big transformations in terms of my career, my marriage ending years ago. And like, a little bit less, obviously, some of my, like, spiritual and paradigm transformations and sort of breakthroughs and how I relate to the world and myself and in what, what life can be, I guess. So yeah, lots of transformation.


Catherine A. Wood  18:29

Wow. You know, as you were sharing that, I’m really struck by your timeline. Because I think so often moments of hardship or grief, or sickness can be that incentive to change or to make massive pivots. And so many of your transformations feel like they’ve come from a really distinct place. I’m sure not all. But I do I think that’s something I really appreciate about you, Matt, is just how so often you’ve been compelled by a vision, or a dream. Or, you know, you talk about the journey of Magellan a lot in your work and I think that you’re really such a change agent for life by design. And, and I so appreciate that about you. And and I was struck, and I’m struck by kind of your, your timeline, and where you find yourself now in that timeline.


Matt Maxwell  19:44

Yeah, yeah. So, you know, my, there’s sort of like, there’s still a sort of me, that feels like the year before COVID Like, 2019 I still sort of it identify, you know, and like those last couple of years before COVID, I was coaching, traveling a ton, doing a mix of one on one coaching and sort of larger group training and workshops and that kind of thing, working on a book, and then acting, you know, in major professional productions. So there was like this very full, rich sort of matte life that’s like, now this is what I am Buddhist monk, all this stuff. And then COVID, and then I got sick in March of 21. And so part of my current process of life, that many of those things that felt important and central and sort of chosen identities aren’t available to me, in the same way. And so the process I am in is, feels a little bit like slowly dying. These these pieces that are just, I can’t do that anymore. I’m too sick. So yeah, in terms of like now, whereas my journey, I would say it feels very much in flux, and that there’s not a clear end point. We can talk a little bit more about that. COVID. But, but a lot of that sort of, I went from this to this, that second, this is now sort of unraveling in different ways. And part of the question of my life now is like, what do I continue to fight for and try to hold on to? And what do I just relinquish and let go.


Catherine A. Wood  21:51

Thinking about that timeline, in 2019, you and I were together for part of that timeline together in India, on another coaching retreat, and you were very much holding on to that vision of bringing your book to life during that chapter and season and, and how far that book has come. And I would love to dig into the journey of really bringing that dream to life in one of the most just beautiful ways watching your journey with your book has been nothing but inspiring with so many of my clients met who aspire to publish books, I share your journey, I share the link for your wife, your book, your website, all of it, because I think it’s such a just a beautiful idea of what’s possible when you’re so clear on your vision. And I know a little bit more about that journey. And I really know nothing about your experience and your the road with long COVID. And my sense is that a lot of people don’t that help a lot of people don’t have a direct experience with someone in their own life or their own world with long COVID. And so I’d love for you to share with us to the degree that you’re willing and able to share with us your journey.


Matt Maxwell  23:15

Yeah, I’d be happy to thanks for asking. Happy to and nervous too. And yeah, and I would say probably for almost anyone listening. There are people in your world with one COVID. But they don’t talk about it. It’s it’s scary, and very debilitating. So you might have people that you’re just like, Well, I haven’t heard from so and so for a while, there’s a reasonable chance that the reason you haven’t heard from them is that they’re invent something like 18 million people in the United States have long COVID Wow. And probably more people have long term impacts from a COVID infection that are just not severe enough that they’re really aware of what that impact is. So long COVID could could mean a lot of different things from like, complete disability, to, you know, my niece just kind of like has to sleep a little bit more than she used to. And that’s been the case ever since she had COVID. So there’s lots of different levels of impact. But for me, I was quite quite careful. During the first year of the pandemic, I moved to Utah like a really spacious place outside of the city so that I would be you know, easily avoid contact with people and was just generally careful. And then a very close friend of mine was hospitalized in Chicago for several weeks and I went to support her. And while I was supporting her, I got somehow I got infected so I spent a few weeks really sick in bed and I had pretty severe infection but I wasn’t hospitalized And then my fever went away and the cost started going away and I wasn’t as sick. But I would go to check the mail, and come back and have to lay down for a couple of hours because it was so exhausting. And I’m not like a professional athlete, but I probably worked out six times a week, before I got COVID. Like, I was totally active, and I did a bunch of national parks the year before I got sick. So that wasn’t like deconditioning there was something wrong clearly wrong with my body was not functioning right. So very immobile, I could I couldn’t move very far without getting very tired. And I was just extremely fatigued. All the time, and like foggy had a hard time thinking straight. So physically and and mentally fatigued. And they’re sort of emotional, like I get super irritable in ways that didn’t seem like me. There were way way sort of beyond that’s normal level of irritability. And I can get irritable, but it was like, Oh, crap, I don’t trust myself to be around people level of irritability. And it got it got kind of slowly better for a few months, and then it just kind of stopped getting better. And it’s now been more than three years. I have to rest three or four times a day I take naps. There’s a lot of things just like cognitively I can’t handle so acting’s totally out. I still try doing group trainings. And they’re very, very hard for me, cognitively, I just can’t track a lot of what’s happening when there’s larger groups one on one, it’s not too bad. There’s less signals. So luckily, I can still coach. But really, I’m good for like two or three hours of work a day in this condition, so it’s not been completely disabling. But I live in a like much lower level of ability than I did pre COVID.


Catherine A. Wood  27:09

I mean, I’m just thinking about the that stark contrast. And for those of our listeners who are new to who you are like, I know that you used to be an instructor for the LSAT exam. Teach the LSAT, because you got what were your grip, like 99 99.9


Matt Maxwell  27:29

percentile score on the LSAT? Yeah,


Catherine A. Wood  27:34



Matt Maxwell  27:37

Yes, and I don’t teach anymore. I can, I could, I could take the LSAT, still, but it would take me two days to do at the level that I used to. Yeah, thanks for drawing that contrast, physically and mentally. Like I said, like letting go of these identities. Early in my long COVID journey working with my coach. I had a breakthrough in stupid has led to some breakthroughs. But it’s like, I’d been so controlled by not wanting to do anything that seems stupid. And I felt like I didn’t really have a choice anymore. Like I was just gonna say stuff and not be able to coherently process what was happening. And, and most people are like, you know, you you actually sound quite normal, which is great. I’m like, okay, good. I’m glad you think I sound that way. But in my brain, it’s really hard for me to track what’s happening. So I just kind of had to allow for myself that, like, I’m going to make some choices that build up. And I’m going to like relish in that and take bright, like, allow myself to be stupid, you know, in quotes. And not let that stop me from still trying to be up to what I want to be up to in my life. So yeah, that’s that’s been one one part for me of learning to live with this sort of chronic cognitive dysfunction.


Catherine A. Wood  29:12

I mean, I’m just imagining the the degree the extent of breakthrough with which it would require someone like you, right, because I know you well, I know you to be extremely ambitious and driven and fueled by dreams and desires and authenticity and self expression. And so I’m just imagining the degree to which you’ve had to surrender. And I’m wondering what has supported that journey? You know, to my to my ear, you seem very empowered. And I’m sure there are moments that Have we like we all have, but you, but you have so much perhaps grace around who you’re being and talking about this? So have you gotten here, Matt?


Matt Maxwell  30:10

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, luckily, I, you know, as you know, had done a lot of work, before I got sick in really developing a deep sense of compassion for sort of my inner child, self and my adult self. And really just unconditionally loving and supporting and being with myself in what might seem very sad, or angry, or whatever, just being with myself even in happiness, right, just really having a lot of compassion. So I feel really grateful that I practice that before getting sick, because part of the challenge of this sort of level of fatigue and dysfunction is that you can push through it sometimes. So there, there are some days where it’s like, oh, I don’t have a choice, I get sick enough where I’m like, in bed, and I don’t have I can’t get out of bed. So there’s, there’s some, some days where I’ve reached a level of disability that where it feels like I don’t really have a choice. But most of the time, I have a choice. And so that makes it hard, because it’s like, I constantly have to choose to rest. And I sort of have to, but I don’t have to I could push through that day, and get foggy or and failure and feel worse and worse, until I did break down. And in that way, it’s where we’re like all humans, because we always have a choice about how do we balance our well being with what we want to be up to in life, you know. And so there are a lot of days where it’s like, well, I wanted to do this, and I wanted to do that. And I wanted to do this, and I wanted to do that. And instead I’ve been in bed. And I did you know 1/10 of what I would have wanted to do today. And being able to hold myself in that. Instead of leaving, like the old critiques of like, come on, there must be something you’re just doing wrong. Like, why don’t you just, it’s like, it’s one thing to be gaslighted by doctors and other people when you have a chronic illness. It’s much harder when you’re gaslighting yourself in a way when your mind is like you shouldn’t be this way. And so I’ve learned to just have like a ton of compassion, and allow the sadness and allow the grief and that is it like used to be available to me that aren’t available anymore to just like, love him. And just like I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. And I love you no matter what. So tap practice that before I got sick. At least I had like a head start, you know, in holding myself in a way that I could be with what for me? It’s just a really difficult level of disability dysfunction. Yeah. Yes, and I know a theme of at least one of your episodes, and I imagined it’s come up more is like how to receive.


Catherine A. Wood  33:35

That’s one of my favorite episodes, Matt. I wish that our listeners Yeah. Tell me more.


Matt Maxwell  33:48

It’s been another place for breakthrough in this sort of long term. Chronic Illness is like I’ve really had to come face to face with how much I want to be independent. How much sort of I wouldn’t even call it self worth. It’s not that I don’t know what it is. It’s there’s something that’s just like, I don’t want to have to rely on anybody. And I’ve always kind of known that like, Oh, yes, I resist asking for help. But this has like, just put it right in front of me. How big that resistance is to being honest about how hard it is to like really letting people see me it’s like I’ll show up right after a nap. I’m like rested. I can seem kind of normal and functional for a little while and then I decide when I have to go rest. What which is a lot of the time we were just talking about how I’m I’ve been in Nashville the last couple of years and part of the reason I was in Nashville is it’s like hardly anybody knows me there. I can just sort of hide and not have people see me ill. And I’ve, especially over the last year gotten to see the limits of that way of being. And in some ways, it feels like dying, that I sort of appreciate that for most people, their dying process means ultimately returning back to our sort of child, baby state of helplessness, of dependence. And so for me, with my family, especially, I’ve had to have some, like big conversations of like, I’m not being honest with you all about how hard this is, and about how much I struggle every day, just the basics. And so like tearful conversations about like, I could actually really use your help. And trying to find ways that they can help me that and allowing them actually really allowing that. So this has also been a, I would say, one, one reason right now I feel like I’m in a pretty good place is that I’ve surrendered more to just like being seen in this way, as less able, and receiving, asking for and receiving help from others. But it’s still very triggering. Oh, man, it’s so hard for me to do. Can I offer a reframe? Yes, definitely.


Catherine A. Wood  36:30

I really, I hear you on the like, feeling this, like, return to a place of dependence coming back from you know, how we started as children. But in reality, from my vantage point, it occurs like returning to a place of inter dependence. Right, like, I think that as a society, we have all become conditioned to become wildly independent, and feel this, you know, over identification with the parts of ourselves that hasn’t, has no need for anyone else that feels like we can do it all on our own, that we don’t need support, and help and in reality, I think we do, I think so many of us are dying inside because of our over identification with our independence. And I think the path to healing is to a place of interdependence realizing our mutual need for one another.


Matt Maxwell  37:37

Yeah, and I think my, my, you know, my prior version of what I would have called interdependence, was like, maybe like, 90%. Me offering being a friend being there for other people, you know, and then, you know, receiving little bits here and there. Yeah, that was sort of what and I think that’s fine. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s fine. It was fine. This is just sort of a different level of like, actually letting myself lean. You know, and maybe they’re leaning on me too, in certain ways. Right, but But letting sort of letting go like trust trusts falling, it feels like a trust bald, just like, Okay, you got two guys got me. And at the same time, I think with any, you know, of course, just grown so much in my compassion for people with all kinds of chronic conditions, especially, I mean, anything that’s chronic, basically, we don’t know how to treat it, and that’s why it’s still chronic. So there’s always the uncertainty, will research figure this out, will any kind of new treatment, are there things that I could do that might alleviate this condition, or heal it, procure it, or just even make it a little bit better, right, there’s always dealing with that sort of uncertainty and I’ve just grown so much in my compassion for all kinds of chronic conditions. And like I said, like letting go of some identities, well, I who I am, is that I can blank and that’s not available anymore. So letting that go, but also seeing but what I can still do is be with people compassionately. If anybody’s like, gosh, I just wish I had a nap buddy. I would be very good at offering like nap buddy ship. To that I can sit with someone, even when I’m sort of cognitively confused. So the things that I used to value about myself that aren’t available, sort of like you know, honoring that goodbye, but also being present with the ways I can still contribute, you know, and still be of support to other people because that just feels good to me. I want to be in a space contribution. And so there is that allowing more of someone else’s support and, and help I guess, but also still honoring the ways in which I can be a service and companionship and partnership to other people. Yeah, that’s part of the journey too.


Catherine A. Wood  40:23

I hear I hear a lot, in your words about perhaps redefining your identities and who you are, and how you perhaps think of yourself. And I guess, I’m curious about how you have come to redefine thriving, or your own definition of of success?


Matt Maxwell  40:52

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there’s sort of a, there’s a few layers of that question. You know, on a more like, practical, you know, objectively measurable, prosperity basis, you know, just like bottom line. I’m playing a different kind of game. And I’m, I am excited by it, even though it feels like I’m sort of forced into it. Because I’m like, if I could win this game, and I do get better, my life is gonna be really awesome. But that game is basically like, how do I make a comfortable living that cares for all of my needs, with like, two hours a day of like, resident and cognitive ability. So I’m still playing that. And still, experiments hang at different say I’m exactly winning it. But it’s a fun game to play. I can, I can still have fun with it. Even though I’m like crap, I wish I was just good work a full day. In fact, it’s so it’s so bad that I had I had last year, four nights in a row, where I dreamed I was back in a law firm. Like back practicing law, and, and cat knows this, but that I worked in a big law firm practicing mutual funds securities law for years, that was my prior role in life. And usually, I think about that as not a fun place to be, like quite a quite a fair amount of repulsion. But in my current state, I woke up from these dreams that I was back practicing law, and I cried. Because I wished to be able to work full time again, so much. It’s, it’s really hard to not be able to work as much as I want to. But it is fun to play. How, how could I? How could I make my life work financially, on two hours a day? And so there’s like, of course, like an orientation towards passive income? And like, what kinds of things could in the long run, create more passive income? And how do I balance that out with making money now to make sure my needs are still met, and there’s just sort of a much tighter? Focus, there has to be a much tighter focus for me to make my life work. Along with, what things can I be up to, that still feel nourishing, it’s a lot harder for an activity to be nourishing for me. So there’s much more focus on and all of these obviously, are games that someone who’s fully well, we might say, could be playing to, right. It’s just like, life’s forced me into like, intentionality. It’s like, okay, I have about this much time each day where I can sort of, but what are the things I can do that are nourishing me that like, deplete as little energy as possible, and that also can provide for my needs, and that make a difference? Because it I’m still committed to that both and have like, a, you know, a comfortable life that meets all of my needs. And also, that’s one of service and giving, and making a difference for other people. It’s just I have to play that much more intentionally with a smaller window of opportunity.


Catherine A. Wood  44:19

Totally. Well, I mean, I think that that’s a beautiful segue to your book, because I’m hearing I mean, I’m really hearing a lot of overlap. I know how important freedom is to you. I know how much of a role that played in, in your vision for the book. And, and I’m also I’m also curious how the messages from your book, maybe supporting you now and supporting you in multiple ways, right, from a financial perspective, sure, but also, from a place of compassion and surrender. And for our audience who haven’t already read your amazing book, we’ll link to it in the show notes. But the title of Matt’s amazing book is how to hold a cockroach. Maybe Maybe you’ll share a little bit more about some of the overlaps that you see.


Matt Maxwell  45:18

Yes, I’d love to. Yes. And I’m smiling because I really love my book. I love it so much. I feel so delighted that it’s in the world. And,


Catherine A. Wood  45:30

and in how many countries? Like, like,


Matt Maxwell  45:34

80 something?


Catherine A. Wood  45:35

Uh huh. Amazing.


Matt Maxwell  45:37

It’s been so it’s been sold, it’s been sold in that many countries. It’s translated now into two. It was of course written. And it’s now been translated into two other languages and three more on the way. Brilliant. Bravo. It’s really amazing, really amazing. So, yes, it’s called how to hold a cockroach. And the subtitle is a book for those who are free and don’t know it. And let’s see, what’s the quickest summary I could give? It’s a story. So it’s sort of like a personal development or philosophical book, but it’s presented in the form of a story about a boy who runs into a cockroach and gets real freaked out and upset and angry, because cockroaches are so awful and disgusting. And he sits with cockroach long enough, that he starts to remember why he hates them what happened when he was little, and what he started to believe. And he starts to get a little bit of space from how gross they are. And then eventually kind of goes, Wait. I don’t really know what a cockroach is. It’s just been a story, that it’s gross and disgusting, that I’ve always believed, because that’s what I was told. But maybe I don’t really know what a cockroach is. And then the story goes from that to him. Right to ourselves. So of course, I don’t really care what people think about cockroaches. And most of us, unless you’re surrounded by them all the time, I think it’s fine. If you want to keep hating them, you know, no pressure here, this is this is not a should, this book is not about shoulds. It’s not about how we should see things. It’s about getting curious, because at least some of our beliefs might really be limiting our freedom might be limiting how we get to experience ourselves, or how we experience our relationships with others, or just how we are in relationship with life. And so the books an invitation to curiosity, and to just allow ourselves to look at those beliefs. With a little bit of a curiosity and a questioning and an openness to maybe that’s not how it is it’s just how I believed it was. And from that spaciousness, starting to then have more choice about how we see ourselves and how we see the world and not just how we see them, but but, you know, I call it how to hold a cockroach, because it’s also sort of not just my belief about something or my paradigm, but it’s also then how I treat it, how I hold it. How I’m in relationship with that thing. Yeah, I think that was a good summary. Am I missing anything?


Catherine A. Wood  48:37

You’re not missing anything about the book, but I’m listening between the lines, and I’m just hearing so much of the overlap about how that message from your book has been your journey through long COVID.


Matt Maxwell  48:52

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And it’s wild, because it was my journey. You know, we’ll before there’s always like, layers of story, and how we see ourselves and how we think we ought to be, and what would what makes us worthwhile or good, and then we become trapped by that. That’s how I have to be. And in some ways I don’t I personally don’t want to get into the story of like, I’m glad that I had long COVID Or that I have it, and if people choose that like they can, but I don’t think people should feel like they ought to choose. Like, good thing. I had this illness. That doesn’t make you you don’t have to do that. Basically, if people want to be like, No, eff this, I don’t want to be sick. I feel like that’s totally fine with me. So this is not everything is a gift. But here I am with a condition that I don’t know how to alter that impacts my life every single day and And yes, I probably would not choose that. And I’m doing a lot, I continue to do a lot to see how I could possibly heal, including meeting with Senate staffers to try to get research on like every on every level I’m playing, how could I get better? And here I am. And so from here I am. How do I hold this? You know, how do I hold him? How do I hold that? Like, this is my daily experience that I’m constantly having to be in bed? And I don’t think that there’s any should here, there’s no, there’s no way that someone should hold that. But when I do I hold it. For me. It’s just like, I love you so much. And I’m really sorry, you’re going through this. And let’s see what we can do to try to still make it the best life we can for you. And that is like the cockroach uptake of this experience. Yeah, and that includes holding him when he’s really upset and angry and pissed that this is what life is now. Yeah, you know, it’s holding that to Oh, yeah, I’m right here with you. I mean, even when you see it darkly, I


Catherine A. Wood  51:25

really hear that, like I hear just how much holding the cockroach is about holding all the facets of your experience. Not bypassing not rejecting not judging, not shutting, not auditing yourself. But yes, exactly. allowing all of it without making it wrong.


Matt Maxwell  51:47

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then from there, from holding him and with all of it. Right? Hey, if you’d like to remember that you still get to enjoy ice cream. You could remember that. So there is sort of a in what ways can I support you, in experiencing yourself and this and life still, in ways that leave you free and able to enjoy what you can enjoy. But not a forcing of that not a demand for that not a you know, when it’s dark, it’s dark, and I will be right there with you in the darkness. And if you’d like to, if you’d like to look at the light, we can look there too, if you want, but I’ll be with you no matter where you go.


Catherine A. Wood  52:42

Oh, that’s so beautiful. Really, I hear the invitation. So I really want to I want to wrap on this idea of holding. Because there’s a lot of there’s a lot of themes here. Right, like you’re talking about holding your own cockroaches. And we’ve talked a lot about you letting other people hold you. And I imagine there’s many listeners who either personally are experiencing an illness or know someone who is and they are, you know, wanting guidance on on how like how do they hold their own cockroaches? And how do we help others hold theirs? And even more tactically speaking that for you? Like how do we help others like you who are experiencing lung COVID? And how can we? How can we support?


Matt Maxwell  53:58

Yeah, I mean, they’re, you know, there’s some like big picture. Like, there’s there’s movements happening to demand funding. Like the biggest thing right now is like there is research that’s figuring out what is actually happening physiologically, but the pace of it is really slow. And clinical trials are really slow. So we’re still years away from like an FDA, FDA approved treatment, maybe decades at the rate we’re going. So just practically big picture. If you’re someone with power, talk to people, like we need people in Congress and in the Senate, especially to really backlog COVID research that’s like big picture the thing that needs to happen. And to make sure there’s dedicated annual funding to treatment to research and treatment. So that’s that’s kind of like a big picture like a thing that I’m up to. On a more personal level. Honestly, just like letting people know you care, willing to be with them, willingness to be with others. A lot of people, I think, give advice on how to get better from things that don’t really know how to get better. They just don’t know how to be with someone who’s not well. And they use that advice as a way to avoid their discomfort. And I don’t blame them for that. That’s not a critique. It’s just what people do. And we need to know that people will also just be with us. You know, so whether that’s being with ourselves and our own illness and our own condition with compassion, and love, or being with others in the space, they’re in without judgment without needing to fix or change or.


Catherine A. Wood  56:49

No worries, man, we can just edit out that thing. No worries at


Matt Maxwell  56:54

all. Good. Let’s keep going. Yeah, I know, we’re almost at time. How are you doing? I’m


Catherine A. Wood  56:59

just fine. Yeah, we can we can we can wrap but no time pressure over here. Okay, great. The last thing I heard you say before you cut out was that we need places to be without being fixed or changed.


Matt Maxwell  57:13

Yeah. Yeah. And particularly, I think something that I will, it’s been really hard for me to ask for. And this, this definitely applies to people with lung COVID. Or a related illness called MECFS, which a lot of people with lung COVID basically have is that, you know, we don’t have a lot of energy, but we want to be with people. And it’s taken me a while to learn, I’m still learning this, to just say like, Hey, I’d really like a company where you hang out with me while I lay down on a park bench. You know, it’s like, I’m used to my modes of social engagement. And some of those are really draining. And so, you know, I guess offering people company in ways we might not normally do company, which might include literally just kind of sitting next to someone while they’re lying in bed. Could be an amazing gift to someone to have that sort of connection and sense of belonging and support, when they can’t give what they would normally give socially. That’s a really precious offering.


Catherine A. Wood  58:31

Yeah, I’m also hearing the both and of that with getting curious with those ly love who have chronic illness. What, what does companionship look like in a redefined nature? Yeah,


Matt Maxwell  58:43

exactly. Yeah, that’s true. Great. And like I would say, even even, you know, that takes a certain sort of boldness and care to just ask, in the space of an unknown response. So yes, exactly. And honestly, also, you can’t go wrong. There was a there was a friend who heard I had gotten reinfected and was sick and another level of sick than than my normal. And she just brought like a care package with a few little things in it and left it at my door and knew I was kind of too, too fatigued to interact. And, you know, that’s like, something I didn’t, I would, I don’t know, I’m not very good at helping people. I’m sort of I don’t have any judgment when I felt like man, no one’s here supporting me because like, that’s what I would do. You know, so I don’t feel any judgment, but just like really, really, we just, you can’t go wrong if you’re coming from love.


Catherine A. Wood  59:52

You know, that when’s your next book coming out? When can people hear more from you?


Matt Maxwell  1:00:00

So let’s see the limit to my next book. Well, long COVID is limited my writing for sure. But I have some books in my heart, there’s four or five that are in process. So let’s see, how about I make a declaration that we’re going to do?


Catherine A. Wood  1:00:18

My next we’re willing to make a game of it. Yeah.


Matt Maxwell  1:00:20

Oh, yeah, definitely. No, I mean, listen, it’s a separate topic is how I finally finished my book. And, you know, that’s a separate topic and what I did to make it successful. But I think I declared that my book would be published by x date, at least seven times.


Catherine A. Wood  1:00:41

You’re here, we all have in person events.


Matt Maxwell  1:00:45

And every time it gave me power, it gave me a sort of an urgency. It gave me a game to play, it gave me a structure to to be engaged with. And then it got blown out of the water by my self sabotage and whatever else and it didn’t matter. Because I was in process, it was in progress. So yes, don’t be afraid of just declaring it and playing for it. My next book will be out by November 12.


Catherine A. Wood  1:01:12

Of this year, yeah.


Matt Maxwell  1:01:15

Yeah, that’d be a great game to play. Yeah.


Catherine A. Wood  1:01:17

Cheers to that. And for our listeners who haven’t yet picked up a copy of your book, or the audiobook, or the course, I will include the show notes to all of that will include the link in the show notes, but I think it just, I need to I need to let our listeners know that your that your book is stunning. And it has hand drawn images throughout, which I don’t think I don’t think you mentioned and the audio book is voiceover and by whom? That it’s someone Simon


Matt Maxwell  1:01:55

Simon Vance. Diamond, who is a legend in the audiobook industry. I mean, that is the most perfect voice for this book. Oh,


Catherine A. Wood  1:02:03

totally. Yeah. So with that, I’ll, I’ll invite you to close to close us on this beautiful conversation with a question I ask all my guests which is what has supported you and becoming the prosperous Empath you are.


Matt Maxwell  1:02:25

would say? Trust trust in that, you know, the book is, for me. Really vulnerable sort of book. It’s a story, but it’s pretty obviously, about me. And about the reader. It’s a vulnerable sort of book and quite tender. And felt terrifying to write, especially for the mutual funds securities lawyer that worked in big law. So I wouldn’t thing I would say is like, if your heart is calling you to something, and you know, in your heart that you’re called to it, just like trust, just trust it. And take steps. So that’s one thing. And the other thing is, have it be okay to experiment and fail. Lean in this direction. That’s, that’s not working. You want to like lean far enough to know it really doesn’t work. But I would say a willingness to just okay, and then oh, this seems to actually be working. Let me now like, go further in that direction of what’s working. So just Yeah, willingness to experiment. With marketing with whatever you’re in whatever you’re up to, there’s going to be unknowns and to just be with the unknown, and take action, and then lean into what’s working. And to see if you can even enjoy the I talked about my breakthrough and stupid like, you might just need to bring a little stupid into that. That’s what it takes to experiment and fail. And then every once in a while, if you experiment enough, you succeed.


Catherine A. Wood  1:04:15

I feel like really key in that is connecting with this little shimmer and glimmer, I see in your eyes because I think so much of our willingness to trust and, and fail and adventure has to do with finding the light in the journey. Yes,


Matt Maxwell  1:04:30

yes. Okay. Can I give you an example? By all means, okay, because last week, I was in New York, I’m in this very, very long road trip from Asheville back to Denver, where I’m going to be living with my parents because I need I need help. And on this very long road trip, I’ve just been slowly going around and I stopped to New York for a thing and and I set up a book signing little stand for my book in the middle of time. square with a big poster how to hold a cockroach booksigning get your book here sat there with a big pile of books in the middle of Times Square with like all the people and all that craziness and all the whatever. And it was so stupid. I think I think in, in in like three and a half hours I sold four books. So that was an example of an experiment right like that, that was not apparently the way to sell a lot of copies of my book. But the only way to know that was to sit there in Times Square, and set up a book signing stand. And so being okay with like, no, what what the hell, I’m just gonna go for this crazy idea. And just see if you can be in in the enjoyment of it, then it frees you to try stuff because what I also tried was Amazon ads. And that seemed like a crazy and sort of stupid thing to do. And I’ve sold 1000s and 1000s of copies of my book because I tried Amazon ads. So you just don’t know. You’ve got to just experiment and try things.


Catherine A. Wood  1:06:07

Well, cheers to that. Now, I’m humbled and humbled by our conversation, by your wisdom, your grace, and how much love I have for you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It was really a complete honor to have you. Thank


Matt Maxwell  1:06:24

you. Yeah, I want to say I want to say to any sort of my people who are listening, who might find this episode through me that I’ve been listening to other episodes of your podcast. And if this if If cats graciousness and presence and wisdom at all resonate with you during this episode, and I hope you’ll listen to other episodes. There’s so much wisdom and compassion and fun in your episodes. So I thank you for creating this. And of course, thank you for the deep and lasting impact you’ve had on my life. I’m so grateful for you. Thanks


Catherine A. Wood  1:07:08

so much love


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Commanding the Stage: Effective Public Speaking Techniques for Empaths with Dr. Susan Laverick

If you’ve historically found it challenging to express yourself powerfully as an empath, this episode of The Prosperous Empath® is for you. Dr. Susan Laverick is a sought-after communications consultant with a background spanning Citigroup and the BBC in London to the international sector of Geneva. She trains peacebuilders, NGOs and future leaders to become effective communicators and speak with gravitas. Do you feel that you have a lot to say but find it difficult to figure out how to actually articulate your thoughts (or believe that your message is worth sharing)? By the end of this episode, you’ll feel motivated to embody who you are and communicate your essence with conviction so you can have a deeper impact on your community and become a better leader.

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