Scoliosis by Marion McConnell Gough, Pastel on Fabriano paper, 12" x 18", 2014

Scoliosis by Marion McConnell Gough, Pastel on Fabriano paper, 12″ x 18″, 2014


Marion in the process, drawing her scoliosis

Marion in the process, drawing her scoliosis

My friend, Marion, is a gracious Southern woman. I met her and her husband twenty years ago. We were all graced to be patients of the same accupuncturist.  At that time, I was going through my Chinese medicine healing journey which inspired me to create The Bodyscapes Technique as a way to heal myself. Each week, when I saw Marion and her husband, Bill, I would tell them about the expressive writing and drawings I was creating about my illness. Now, twenty years later, I was privileged to give Marion two very long Bodyscapes sessions.

“The doctor said I was in the shape of an “S”.”  In my work, I learn more about my client’s lives, even the ones I know, by listening. Marion and I started the Bodyscapes session using the three words she had previously chosen: scoliosis, right leg and sad. Crookedness, bent, changed by bending and capacity of endurance defined scoliosis. Marion liked changed by bending.I am always upcast. To see myself as a person bent, crooked, I don’t want to look like that.”  A limb of an animal used for supporting the body, defined the word, leg. “My mother saved money for my married life. I took the money out of the bank and used it for college. She didn’t mind really. I got my undergraduate degree in music at Duke University.”  Webster’s defined the word, right, as righteous, good, a quality that adheres to duties, morals and meritsI had more than most. I had lots of love from my husband and children. A wonderful college. A scholarship for a master’s degree.”  There are many definitions for the word sad. Marion chose regrettable. “My ship is curving bending its straight lines. It is going in a direction it wants to go.”

The Thesaurus does not define words. Rather, it groups words by ideas. This allows Bodyscapes participants’ minds  to wander, linking one word to a secondary meaning leading to a new idea. Marion and I started our journey into the wideness of language.   “I always loved music. Rosemary Grentsner taught at the University of Maryland near my home in Atlanta.  I went there to be her student to get my graduate degree in music. It was in D.C I met my husband, Bill.”  Bending lead to change. Righteous lead to saintly and angelic. Regret lead to disappointment. Disappointment lead to fail. And fail lead to miss one’s aim. “I am not the captain. You might go off to a side island not where you want to be. I might not stop for days and nights.” 

Scoliosis by Marion McConnell Gough

In the year 2011, I got a crookedness in my back from scoliosis or a curved back. It got harder just to stand up. But still, we took a cruise from Louisiana to the Cayman Islands, Columbia, Costa Rica and up the East Coast to New York. Bill and I danced at the Princeton Reunion-Class of ’52. 

In 2013, I started Lucas Physical Therapy because of two-week so severe pain in my left leg. The exercises helped me a lot. But all I saw was that I had been really changed by bending. Now, when walking with Bill, my husband, I fell behind him quite a few paces. He would stop and wait for me to catch up. I felt sad as my capacity to walk normally or stand up straight went down. Looking in the mirror, I felt this problem was regrettable. Though, it seem I had the capacity of endurance. I had been told I have a high threshold to withstand pain.

This bending and slumping of my shoulders and back caused me to change from the straight course I was on-that is teaching one-to-one classes at Stanford International Center. I felt the physical exercises were a long hard way to get healed. I saw myself as a righteous person acting in accordance with divine or moral law. I had read about osteoporosis so I was not so surprised to have it measured on an X-ray at El Camino Hospital. Sometimes, I ask myself, “Why do I have this?” My head says, “You are supposed to lean something…..Show others how brave you are…..have courage to face it.” Righteous also means saintly and angelic. 

disappointment in my life came in 2013 when I was asked to teach an 8 year old neighbor from Iran and I said, “No.” The boy’s father me to teach his son after an evening supper at their home. I realized I felt a lot love for the family. They had been hinting they would like me to be the boy’s piano teacher. 

I do feel I failed  in my duty and being true to myself  (by my answer). During the next months whenever I thought of that family, I regretted what I had said and felt keenly that I had missed my aim my reason d’être (reason for being). Recently, he played a piece for me that was very good! (He has taken lessons for seven years now and is 13 or 14 years old.) I still feel I tumbled and fell by not taking him as my student. I had many negative thoughts about my failure in this incidence. .Now, I may have another chance. My other neighbor on our street has asked if I could teach her child. I have already told her I would. Also, to help me return to health, I want to practice and play my piano again, right now!

Marion found fuller expression of her inner feeling as she created her drawing. She tapped into what her body feels like when it curves forward, hunched over. “Gosh, I am really curved over like that. I need to learn to stand up again.I don’t like to look like this. I will have to use courage.” She wrote that word on the paper. “And angelic wings.” She added the word wings. “Didn’t we define righteous as acting in accordance with divine or moral law?” She asked. The word righteous appeared on the drawing. “The universe must have something for me to learn.”  

A candle appears on th bottom right hand side of the drawing.  Marion’s symbol of her willingness to be mindful of her own self healing capability. 


The Red & Orange House relies on support from individual donors to maintain our work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Each gift brings another art-making experience to a patient’s bedside, their family sitting in a family surgical waiting room, a private home or a workshop. Donor benefits include a weekly subscription to our upcoming newsletter. You can share the powerful healing moments experienced by program participants and their families. 


 The Red & Orange House is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; all gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.


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