During the “shelter at home” time, I decided to start doing a puzzle so I wouldn’t get consumed by TV, phone and computer screens.  Plus, I wanted to stimulate my mind in a different way.

I’ve noticed how my mind works while doing this puzzle.  I noticed that I was frustrated when the picture on the box was not as helpful as I would have liked. 

I even got a magnifying glass to see if I could see the detail better.  Then I took a photo of the box cover so I could zoom in and that actually helped somewhat.

I got a boost whenever I found a piece that fit.  I could feel the small moments of excitement.  “I can do this!”  When I wasn’t finding any pieces to fit, I could feel my body tightening.  “I can’t do this.”

I found one night I didn’t want to stop doing the puzzle and go to bed.  I hadn’t found any pieces that fit for quite some time – but there was that thought “I will find it in the next one that I flip over!”  Like a gambler, I was.  Good thing I wasn’t betting any money…

Here’s what I learned about me:  I like to know things.  I like to see details.  It makes me comfortable when I can figure something out.  I like it when things fit together.  I am happy when I feel like I can do things.  I keep pushing myself when I should take a break.

During this time of “stay safe, stay at home”, my husband and I have a deal going in our house:  I’m not allowed to read the news because I get really emotionally charged – especially with those “news” outlets that are more “opinions” than news – so, he reads the days’ news of the pandemic and then gives me a summary each day.  I should add that my husband is an engineer so #1 he does not like strong emotions and #2 he likes facts.  I trust that amongst all of the information out there, he will find me some facts that I can base my decision on – when should I go back into the office and see people in person?

Just like doing the puzzle, this is a puzzle to me – when do I go back to “normal”?  I’m sure this is a common question.

In doing the puzzle, I have found that I like to be able to see more details in order to figure out what I am going to do next.  The more I keep searching for details that aren’t revealing themselves, the more frustrated I get.  So, then I need to step away.  For my sanity, for my neck muscles, I need to STEP AWAY.

I feel right now like I’m in the midst of a puzzle, but this puzzle does not come with a box lid with a full color photo of what it will look like when it’s done.  This puzzle is a mystery.  Each day, I feel like I get maybe a puzzle piece or two, but sometimes don’t know where to put them or where they fit.  Still, there is no picture to look at. 

The pandemic puzzle:  I think there will be an end, but right now, we are in the midst of it.  If it was a storm, we don’t know right now how long it will last.  We may get some slowing of the storm and maybe a few sunny days, but according to history, this is not how these storms go.  How long do we stay inside sheltered from the storm before we walk out into it? 

I certainly don’t have the answers – and this truly bothers me.  I like to have answers.

I have decided to accept that the storm is out there and I am taking my puzzle lessons and applying them to my life:

  1. If I notice I am frustrated, quit pushing
  2. Give myself some time to rest and regroup; stretch; go do something else
  3. Enjoy the little things
  4. Take my time – this is not a race (where is the finish line anyway?)
  5. If I notice I need something, pay attention and see if I can provide it
  6. Be gentle with myself

How do you feel about puzzles?  Do you work on them until they are finished no matter how hard they are?  Do you get mad at yourself for not being able to find the right piece?  Do you hate puzzles and stay away from them?  Do you get excited about a mystery that is unfolding as time goes on?  Are you comfortable with a long term project or do you want something that you can accomplish right away?

I encourage you to find something that you are doing and reflect on your experience of it.  What is it like out walking in your neighborhood?  What do you notice inside and outside of you?  Take some time to slow life down.  The storm is here with us.  I challenge you to enter into it with me and just notice it.