you can lead a horse to water but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings

Stuck Inside - GM

Excuse me? Am I suffering from a case of bad mixed metaphors? No, not really, although they do make a nice distraction. It is more a case of lethargy, isolation, and who stole my mojo? It has been not quite one month since my spinal fusion surgery, and I have spent that time on the longest internet break ever. Not to mention the longest break from art, writing, creative pondering, and all the things that make me, me.

It was not intentional. I knew I would need some time to recover, but I was not prepared for the version of myself that came out of the operating room on June 9. My optimistic nature had me writing quick posts from my hospital bed and working on strategies to obtain a working laptop so I could work from my bed at home. I knew I’d be physically compromised, but I did not know my spirit would be tampered with.

The first week I was truly not capable of anything beyond the basics. By the middle of the second week I was well enough to do some work if I could access my creativity. I could not.

I was a blubbering mess of self pity and what’s the point of life anyway. I truly could not see the point in trying.

Fortunately I have friends that know better than I. One of them arranged for an open house in my honor on Memorial day, and that, coupled with a very unwilling effort on my part, has gotten me here.

Knowing that others care about my existence puts the pressure on me to ponder the possibility of getting over this seemingly insurmountable hump.

Getting that far got me to consider the possibility that my online presence might matter as well. I mean, I know this on some level, but the brain is complex and sneaky, especially when recovering from massive amounts of narcotics and anesthesia. I was really not myself.

This weekend, the nice weather and my forced effort at physical and mental exercise have given me a glimpse of the self I am missing. I put aside the summer reading and needlework I’d been using to occupy my time and turned on the computer. Where to start?

Seth Godin is always a good bet, short and to the point. As it often happens he was in my orbit. In Understanding Stuck, my problem became clear. I am quite literally stuck.

Change gets made by people who care, who have some sort of authority and are willing to take responsibility.

Often, though, finding all three is tough, particularly when faced with the immovable object of the stuck organization.

The obvious difference here being the stuck organization is my own self. When I was originally diagnosed with cancer in December, my innate optimism saw it as an opportunity. My core self still does, but what I was not seeing is I needed to change my game. Not just tweak it, shift it, or add and subtract from it, but wholesale change. A blank slate. I am not and will never be the same as pre-cancer Gwyn. Why should I look at my work as a person that no longer is?

Many of my old ideas may still fit into my new game, and in starting with a blank slate it will be far easier to see how and where. My next go-to person is Tara. In her interview with Philip Auerswald, they discuss the idea that the new economy (new way of life) will require people willing to create a new game.

In the interview, Auerswald uses an engaging metaphor: a chess game. In the old system, “there’s a set of structured opportunities and a clear hierarchy,” just as a chess game has a clear cut set of rules and roles.

People who are off the chess board and are spending all their time trying to get back on are going to feel frustration.

But what is happening now, economically speaking, is that the real game is happening off the chess board: What happens when you start playing with all the spare pieces? Make up your own rules?

This thinking applies not just to my work in the world but to my whole way of life. The old game is over, and nothing I can do will bring it back. Truth be told, I don’t want it back. My new game requires more guts, and more originality, and more ME. The real me, not me padded with Tara and Seth and whatever ebook of the week strikes my fancy. Not to say that Tara and Seth and all those ebooks can’t help me, but they no longer can be viewed as a roadmap.

I hate to admit it, but the changes I was pondering since learning I was sick, and that my time is compromised, still had me searching outside myself for validation and instruction. If I am ever going to do my own thing, whatever that is, NOW is the time. I realize now that my reluctance to “get back in the game” was subconsciously my insecurity about letting my truth shine.

Fortunately I do still care, I have ultimate authority over myself, and I am willing to take responsibility for myself albeit somewhat reluctantly.

This is where support comes in, and I know I am extremely blessed in that area. My readers here and on my own site and the many friends in my personal life have my back, not to mention my small but awesome family, and my rock solid husband.

What new game will I invent? I have a few ideas.

How about you? What possibilities do you see for me, and more importantly for yourself? Will it take life threatening illness and major surgery to get you started?

I do hope not. May you learn from me as I share now and moving on. I’ve been led to the water and I am getting thirsty again. The game is new, and far from over…

Thank you, people, it’s good to be back!

From the Heart,

12 thoughts on “you can lead a horse to water but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings

  1. Life is always throwing challenges at us. Some are a lot bigger than others.
    So, the title of this post really caught me, as we have horses. I’ve never needed to make them drink, they guzzle lots of it as they want, but I’ve been told how.
    You ready?
    You put sweetened kool-aid in their water.
    Hmmm, so what does that tell us?

  2. Thanks for this post, Gwyn, and welcome back! I really enjoy your writing. I have a friend who is very creative. She always leaves room for “the great mystery” in her plans. When I remember, I try to follow her example. We never know what the next moment will bring.

  3. All I can say is, since you and Cindi Greb got cancer it did make me snap out of my denial that it couldn’t happen to me. We are all around the same age. I’m definitely taking better care of myself, but also I’m glad I changed to p/t work last year. I am enjoying my job a lot more; I can handle the stress better because there’s less of it. And that means I enjoy life more.

    Also got paint supplies so I can paint this summer! I stopped painting years ago because ‘it’s not good enough.’ Who says it has to be GOOD? It’s the process, not the product. I’m not doing it for a living…I’m doing it as a part of living.

    Thanks for hanging in there, Gwyn!!!

  4. Gwyn,,
    Your post hits a “hot” spot with me, the “creative life” is now ALTERED.

    What you are going thru is recovery, change, and healing.

    All are very hard stages, the stronger YOU will emerge.

    “I see things differently” is my mantra, after a bit of time you will see that change is good.

    Healing and recovery are paths that you can stroll down slowly and explore.

    When your muse wakes from the attack of narcotics and the physical stress of surgery you will be ready to embrace her and continue your creative life, altho differently.

    Be well, because the alternative is not acceptable.

    I enjoy your posts, and pray you are on the journey to recovery.

    an altered life

  5. Gwyn, I found your post very inspiring & wish you all the best in your recovery, both physical & creatively. I agree with Jennifer L., we not only need to take care of ourselves physically, but also spiritually. Creative expression is certainly, for me, part of the essential breath of life.
    It has taken several recent calamities (redundancy, major damage to my home, involving relocation for 11 months while it was fixed, the physical & mental ill health of close family) to make me fully appreciate the psychological benefit creative activities give to me. Without artistic expression I do not know how I would have got through this period. For me drawing & painting are akin to meditation, giving my mind relief from worry & time to play.
    Keep strong & keep creative x

  6. I apologize for not returning to reply here sooner. I have been having difficulty. I appreciate all your comments, with special interest in those who are experiencing their own setbacks. I am truly unsure how I will manifest my creativity as I move on, but I know I must.

    This can as Jennifer points out happen to anyone. I didn’t think so and I know it now. Still as long as we live we must try to LIVE!

    Now to practice what I preach 😉

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