what to do when all the pegs are square and the holes round

Arranging the Pieces - GM

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” ~ Virginia Woolf

I have long loved this quote and have in many ways modeled my life on it. Even my artwork, primarily digital collage, is a literal arrangement of pieces. I had it included in my online bio at one point and may do so again. It certainly fits the challenges I face or, to honor the metaphor, the pieces coming my way. In the year plus I have written here at Scoutie Girl I have made many changes in my online presence, but my personal life has been pretty stable. Actually the past 2 years, since I have allowed myself to do what I love, life has been as good as it gets for me.

Six months ago all that changed and some very unfamiliar pieces came my way.

I am still far from figuring out how this new picture looks, or where the pieces may fit. That is, if they fit anywhere.

The outcome will likely be far more dimensional than smooth on the surface.

A cancer diagnosis is some scary stuff to deal with it, but what you may not know is how much it can affect every crevice of your life. Everyone’s story is different, and in my case I have been quite debilitated. The irony is rich in that I wrote a post back in December, just prior to my diagnosis, pondering how I would respond to living with a permanent disability. I was experiencing the back pain that led to the MRI that revealed the cancer. Yes, I’m writing about it again.

The thing is I don’t know how not to write about it. It has, as mentioned above, permeated every facet of my life. So, how am I arranging the pieces? Well it is a one day at a time process. Some days it is one hour at a time. As an example, I will share the story of how I came to today’s post, the story of how a creative mind works, even when it is not working so well.

Until yesterday I avoided thinking about it. Then, knowing I was running out of time, I opened my mind to the possibility of an idea. Yesterday we were invited to visit with friends for dinner and there was an arts festival going on in the town. We went a bit early to browse the festival, and while walking back to the car I saw this wall.

This worn and broken building woke something in me that is deeper and stronger than the depression and lethargy I’ve been battling.

My beginnings as a photographer and digital artist were born from abandoned buildings. These forgotten or neglected structures serving as a metaphor for my aging body, although it took time to understand that connection. As soon as I saw the wall I imagined my body scans layered upon the walled up windows. Or, in this case, the x-ray of my newly constructed spine.

How different is my body now that cancer has taken over? My very bones have been replaced by titanium, not unlike the resurrection of an old and broken building. I do believe I have another new series of work here!

I became seriously fatigued last night, another highlight of my new life, and was in bed by 8:00, bailing early on my dear friends. I thought no more about the post. A good sleep must have helped. I often process work and solve problems in my sleep and dreams.

The quote came to me this morning as my topic to spin, and then as soon as I arrived on the Scoutie Girl page, Janice Bear’s very honest post on mental disorders caught my attention. I admit to being depressed lately due to my circumstances, but the truth is I have struggled with depression for many years and have been medicated for most of them, including now. Those who have not experienced mental disorders may assume that the medication always works. Not so. I am currently experiencing situational depression in addition to my normal problem and while taking meds.

I would reiterate most of what Janice says in terms of solutions to get through the muck, and add one important one for myself:

Just do it!

When Nike first made that phrase popular my husband would tell me all the time to “just do it.” Oh how I loathed that, and yet I’ve come to understand. When you show up to the page, or canvas, or keyboard – whatever your medium of creation – something often happens. As I opened my mind yesterday and was rewarded with the wall, I have many times found inspiration just by showing up, and then I adapt.

I arrange the pieces coming my way, and when they don’t fit I make do.

A square peg may not fill a round hole, but it can still work.

How do you deal with the unwanted pieces that come your way in work, and in life? Do you adapt, compartmentalize, or something other?

20 thoughts on “what to do when all the pegs are square and the holes round

  1. “Just Do It”, what a wonderfully simple phase. The problem is, “It” is almost never easy. But together we can do “It”


  2. Finding a perfect fit in this crazy life is a rare thing. Taking what you are given, filling it with your energy and light to the best of your ability, and making it work is true success, I think. You make it work beautifully, Gwyn and I, for just one amongst many, am grateful for what you bring.
    Light and love, Brilliant One.

  3. Gwyn,
    What a wonderful post. You are a very brave person doing what should be a life-lesson for all of us: you are living one day, one hour, one moment at a time. The cancer is a reality in your life and you should always feel free to share your experience with your readers. Thank you for focusing on the struggles of your life, as you continue to live it, rather than focusing on the face of death. We all face death as part of our living, but living fully by focusing on the fact that you’re still living is what life is all about.

    I wish more of my patients could choose to live bravely rather than focus on impending death. Live each day as if it’s your last, but live it fully and with an open throttle! You are a perfect example of that.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. Thank you Laura. My post belies a perhaps more in the moment girl than I actually am, but I do try so hard. I of course ponder death on occasion too. Who in my shoes would not? However I realize none of us knows when that time will come for sure, so I try to let the thoughts go as quickly as they come. Feeling well enough to get back to work in some fashion is a huge help. That and my wonderfully supportive friends, family, and online tribe! Oh, and Mr. Man of course! :-)

  4. Dear Gywn

    I agree about your courage – not only to navigate the journey you are on, also for being public about it.

    I love your line – “when you show up to the page…something often happens” . I will expand “When you show up in LIFE, something MAGIC happens.”

    You are showing up in life.

  5. I have really enjoyed gaining new wisdom from reading your posts over the past year. YOU are a true inspiration and source of unconditional caring and sharing! Miracles happen every day and so keep up the good work and seeing the positive aspects of everyday life.

    1. Much thanks to everyone here! You keep me going with your support and kind words. Every one of you.

  6. I have been reading and appreciating your posts for just a few weeks and didn’t realize you were dealing with cancer. I am sorry. I am on the road to recovery myself post chemo and mastectomy. I have learned after much struggle that I am where I am and that’s just fine. I am not the same person I was before (sometimes I miss her) but I am learning new things about myself and accepting who I am. I wish you all the best, be generous with yourself.

    1. Thank you April and best to you in your recovery. It is a life changing experience to be sure, but good can come from it!

  7. Thank you for your post. I am glad to hear that recovery is not holding back your muse.

    Grab her and hold tight.


  8. Gwyn, I have not told you lately how much I love you. I have gone for weeks without reading your posts because they often touch too deeply. But here we are, together, and I have found yet another connection to you – I also have a stainless steel spine. Oh, and there’s that depression thing.

    I wonder if you’d find it cathartic to make artwork of your insides? You could do a small piece everyday reflecting your mood, what you think your insides look like, how your insides feel, what cancer looks like, visualizing your treatment. It would be like giving a face to the monsters invading your quiet spaces. Then, you can kick them in that very face.

    Because you are Gwyn, and I love you, and you can totally kick monsters in the face.

    1. Janice dear I love you too! Steel spine? How about that! Something I never imagined I’d have.

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and support. I have been making art with my scan images, and doing some drawing as well. Every day no, I am slowly getting back to it since the surgery. I hope to be far more productive in the coming weeks and I am agin afire with ideas!

      Let’s both get those monsters in their nasty old faces :-)

  9. Gwyn, this is easily one of my favorite posts by you that I have ever read. I am so glad you found inspiration yesterday. Your work on this page is as ever extraordinary; I, too, love the bittersweet metaphors in crumbling structures. I am so appreciative of your honesty. I am always moved by what you say and relate to it in some way. Lovely to see the aptly-named Mr. Man post on here! Love to you both.

    1. Oh thank you Sara. Favorite ever? That’s something to live up to? I am so grateful to have found my inspiration again. I was tapped for a while there and it scared me. Thanks again ! Love, G

  10. hey gwyn! I love sharing your blogs with people. It’s rare to find someone with both creativity and hope in the midst of their suffering! You are an inspiration to many my friend! Hugs!

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