dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.

 

perspective

Value

I have thought a lot about value in the past few weeks. A few articles I have read, some life experiences and then some other circumstances pushed the value proposition in front of my eyes again. Below is my take on my value perception today.

My first note is relating to essential jobs and the current state of the employment scenario. Many teachers, caregivers, grocery clerks, nurses, among others are female. It appears there is a shift in roles on the employment side that reflect more women in the workplace are noted as essential. How do we value these roles and the dual nature still expected on the home front as teacher and cook and so on? My perception is many overlook this value on the home front. I could be wrong or I should say I hope I am wrong but time will tell.

Next up is the value of independence. My perceived value of independence is off the charts. When it comes to my kids I think they need to be self-reliant when they enter adulthood. They need to independently seek answers to find solutions to problems they didn’t anticipate in life. This is ever so important now because we are in unprecedented times. There is no roadmap. We need to teach our kids to bend and flex so they have value in times like this.

A different example of independence would be relating to getting time to do things on your own. Being able to spend money on your own. Make decisions independently. Whether you you are a homemaker, student, or bread winner in your family having the opportunity to spend independently has value. Limits can be set on amounts but there is a huge value in independence from a financial or recreational perspective.

Moving on, self worth is an area some overlook. The value set on oneself is extremely important. In a household, if one spouse devalues another there is a rippling effect that can take shape amongst the ranks of a family. Each person within a family needs to know their value. Each amount may be different but if one doesn’t articulate their value it could be overlooked.

This has surfaced a few times for me when I look at role reversal during corona. A once male-dominated family may be more reliant on the female spouse income during this turbulent time. That is a big value in that family now, to maybe have health insurance and steady income from the grocery clerk job. That value might have been overlooked in the past or maybe thought of as a hobby. Either way it should be noted even if temporary.

Finally, self care including fitness, friendships, healthy eating and so on. Self care ties into so many aspects of life. One must feel good in their own skin to support others. One must be in good mental, physical and emotional shape to endure critical times such as corona that make one dig deep to navigate troubled waters. Self care has a value that many overlook. Poor decisions in the past may lead to painful times today. Don’t underestimate the value of self care especially in today’s environmental conditions.

Value is everywhere. The examples above are not all-inclusive. Look around your world and define not only your value but those around you. Think about independence, self care, contributions and communicate with your tribe. Set a plan for yourself in the not-so-distant future to grow your personal value. Share your growth with others.

Don’t be a discount coupon in life. Don’t let somebody redeem a lesser value for you. Demand premium value for you. You are always worth top dollar!

family, fitness and nutrition, friendship

Spiked

I got spiked. I spiked others. Of course this was done playing the game of Spikeball and has absolutely nothing to do with spiking drinks. After playing this game I realized how much I missed sports, athletics, competition, people and so on. Thank you corona for this time to appreciate my surroundings and the valuable people in my life.

What is Spikeball? Four players (2 per team) strategically or frantically bouncing a ball off a springy circular net about 2 inches off the ground. If you haven’t played this game it’s a fun activity for a small group to play in the yard, at a picnic or even at a work outting.

You can get a little workout if you move around as a bonus. My Apple Watch indicated I had a brief workout. You can work as a team with your partner or you can play solo within a partnership and see how you fare. That’s part of what you have to figure out as a duo.

I played this game in the past with friends and it was a ton of fun. I had said I was going to buy the game but never did. Life keeps me on the go go go so I just never got it. Then guess what? Corona hit.

When in corona time it seemed I had almost too much time. What did I do to escape the boredom? One of the first things I did while on lockdown was hit up amazon. What do I need? What do I want? What have I had on a pending list to snag? I ordered Spikeball of course. It took a while to arrive since it wasn’t essential but I got it and wasted no time putting it into action.

Not hard to set up and boom just needed to find me some family members to get to four players. It was a lot of fun.

Just hearing the giggles was good. Then the competition came and I was thrilled because I had been missing that in so many areas of life. Then the crazy came out. It was either the awkward faces or body movements or even the oops I completely missed the ball!

Spikeball will be my game of choice for a while and I hope to get many different players to try with me. I guess I will have to wait a little longer to get with my friends for a game but I can be patient.

If you are looking for a fun game that includes fresh air, give Spikeball a try. I rate it a 9 out of 10. I’m not hard to please and they don’t pay me to rate their product. I just thought it was a good filler to break up the crazy of the day. My counterparts had fun too.

What’s something new you picked up during corona isolation?

balance, Teddie Aspen

Floating Away

Today I floated in the water at the lake on a boat. Social distancing safely while getting some water therapy as I called it. The calmness of this environment took away all the worries of the world even if for just a few hours.

The sound of the gentle waves hitting the boat were relaxing. A slight rocking motion to compliment the uneasy feeling of life right now was somewhat comforting. A few sound effects from the geese in the area while the radio plays softly in background was a good distraction as well.

It wasn’t super hot rather it was about 70 degrees with a gentle breeze. I had enough time to read a little of a book, rest my eyes, write a little and feel the warmth of the sun on my body. The vitamin D was much needed and so was the change of scenery.

Pollen count was very high where I was but it didn’t seem to bother me in the middle of the water. I got to see a crane at one point and saw a few jumping fish. Might not seem like a big deal but it added to the ambience.

My little puppy Teddie had her first trip on the water. I think she is going to like the boat as much as me this summer. She has the cutest little life jacket but it’s in blue. No cute pink or print was available so she isn’t really stylin’ but she is cute no matter what.

Sometimes we can take things in life for granted but in the midst of this corona virus I can safely say I’m thankful so many things. The sounds that may have seemed annoying before are probably the ones I miss the most right now.

The phone ringing off the hook. The kids screaming at the park. The laughter along with the tears. The competitive sounds at the gym. The giggle of my girls at a coffee date. So much to miss but for now I’m focused on what I have in front of me. A little more time. A little more quiet.

Hope you enjoyed my virtual water therapy with me. It may not be a perfect reflection but maybe it will offer some peaceful thoughts where you are especially if you are cooped up. A little sunshine can help anyone if they let their mind drift into a peaceful place.