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

Short Chapter, Long Story

Little known fact about me as a reader: I LOVE short chapters.

When I start a chapter, I often (ahem, always) find myself flipping forward, scanning to see how long the chapter is.  If it’s short, I am much more motivated to keep reading with interest.  Long chapters bog me down.  Ever since my third grade teacher read Sideways Stories from Wayside School aloud, each chapter just a handful of punchy, memorable pages, I’ve been a short chapter fan.  I like to see the story move.  I like to see progress.

By contrast, many chapters in my life tend to be on the long side.  I’m a slow thinker, a slow decision maker.  Not many cliffhangers.  Relatively few unexpected turns.  Pretty predictable.  Not really the stuff of a best seller.

Every once in a while, though, life takes a truly unexpected turn.  Things that I thought were fated or immovable turn out to be flexible.  Something that was maybe just a glimmer on a far off horizon explodes into the sky at staggering speed. An opportunity brought into my story by one of its most adventurous characters. A plot twist even I didn’t see coming.

And, in a surprising move, instead of watching the story fly by, this time I actually grabbed onto the streaking star and decided to ride along.  Instead of watching stories happen for others, I jumped in, embraced the promising unknown, and decided to start a chapter that is entirely new.  For many, it will be a jaw dropper, a head scratcher, even a whisper-behind-the-back moment.  Let them watch, confusion to amazement.

Sunsets and sunrises somewhere different.  Dramatic changes in just a handful of punchy, memorable pages.

A short chapter, yes.  A beautiful, breathtaking plot twist in a long, long story.

 

 

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?

adventure

Relax Was All She Typed

RELAX!

The one word received by text before I left the country for vacation in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. “Relax”

 How that word sat with me on the plane ride to my destination and beyond. Relax. 

How does a high strung, fast moving girl really relax? Is it possible? The questions that ran through my mind. The soul searching that would happen over the next few days as I figured out if I am capable of relaxing and what relaxing really feels like.

Routine went out the window first thing. No up early to workout. This was a first change of routine in over 4 years. Is this relaxing or was I stressed because I was breaking my routine? I did a shoulder shrug to myself repeatedly when I thought about this change.  Instead of working out hard core, I opted for a casual walk to a quaint little bakery kiosk where I was greeted by a bubbly island girl each morning. A creature of habit, I ordered the same thing each day. A plain but buttery croissant and a jug of orange juice. Both of these are not normal items I would have in the morning or in general but this week was about doing things differently. I was choosing to select differently while on vacation. Maybe not the best choice for balancing carbs / fats / proteins, but for this vacation break I was not worrying about what time I was eating and so on. Just like I wasn’t worried about writing on my blog. I was “checked” out on island time.

Island time is interesting. Everything moves slowly. People are extra bubbly and social. It was easy for me to go to bed early and sleep late each day. I had nowhere to rush to. No deadlines to meet. No bosses to answer to.  I enjoyed the sunsets, the spectacular views, the fresh smells and the people of the island I was on. I had no reason to stress over technology, business or life. There was no rushing to sports practice, no to do list, no deadlines to meet, no bosses to answer to. It seemed there were smiles everywhere. Workers smiled and greeted you at every interaction. Guests were cordial even if there was a language barrier. Island life is definitely slow. It seems to take 2-3 hours for a meal. Food is fresh, service is slow but pleasant, atmosphere is always “happy.”

At last a relaxing time of do something, nothing or whatever strikes my fancy. I snorkeled, enjoyed fish and shipwrecks in the waters below, ate many varieties of food, tasted a new drink called “ting,” rode a horse in the ocean, enjoyed a massage, and met many friendly faces. A few notable friends are described below:

New York – A sweet and sassy woman from NY whom I shared giggles with on my snorkeling trip but then found out she stayed at my resort. We bumped into each other multiple times making us new friends. 

Nix – A bus driver that was a bit quirky. He didn’t smile much and had a long face. He said the word “WOW” a lot. His quirkiness was memorable and his driving skills were interesting to say the least.

The New Zealanders – An older couple I met on a tour. A whole day spent with strangers who had a funny accent but enjoyed learning about our cultures as much as we did theirs. They arrived by cruise ship, us by plane. A chance encounter but one that left many memories. I especially enjoyed eating lunch with these new friends while we learned so much about our different countries. Again, a chance encounter that was very insightful.

John – A taxi cab driver turned tour guide. He picked us up in town at random for a ride back to the resort. He shared his cooler of drinks and gave us his card for his side hustle (tour guide). We booked a tour with the kind gentleman and spent another full day learning about the island from him. His charm, his humor, and his knowledge was a big part of our trip memories.

The cookie man – There is a cookie man and he works in a cheese shop. It may sound weird but he serves the freshest almond paste cookies at the cheese shop when you check out. These cookies were so amazing we went back for more a few days later. He was all out but he offered to make a special batch the next day. We couldn’t wait. We went back out of our way to meet the cookie man at the cheese shop to buy tons of cookies to bring home for our families. Do you think any actually made it home?

AJ – The jeweler, the joker, the hard worker. The friendliest jeweler in town. Oh, how he added to my memories this week. AJ was another chance encounter. I met a wonderful older lady on my plane ride to the island. She had been visiting this island for years and mentioned I should visit AJ should I desire any jewelry this trip. Of course I had to check out AJ and see what all the hype was about.

As you can see from the post above, I relaxed and enjoyed my island vacation, but more importantly I met new people. The kind souls that made my memories will be forever cherished. Some I will never see again, while others I hope to see sometime in the future should I make it back to this island. I never set out to meet new people nor did I have a specific goal in mind for my trip. In the end I had a great time and have an awesome memory book of the time spent on St. Maartin.

My travel time was just right. Enough time to enjoy the relaxing life yet not too long to miss out on all that requires my time on the daily on the home front. I am thankful for many things after this week. Too many to list. As thanksgiving has recently past, I will just say I am thankful for the “relax” text as it set The tone for my week. Thank you, Kim, for the one word text! I appreciate you.

My vacation time was spent on the friendly island of St. Maarten. I spent most of my time on the Dutch side, however I did visit the French side as well as visit Anguilla and Prickly Pear on the British side. I highly recommend travel to St. Maarten and I encourage you to fly a big airline vs. a discount airline. If you make it there be sure to visit the beach by the airport to watch the planes land. It is definitely an experience.

I am leaving you with a few snapshots of my trip. It is my hope that you find some peace in the tranquil pictures. They are meant to spur thought of relaxation and happiness.

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friendship, perspective

Dear Friend

I see you.

I hear you.

I feel your pain.

I also see your inner light shining bright

With sparkle from within.

The shine that’s unique to you.

Your internal flame.

Your bright spirit.

You are special.

One of a kind.

Your life is important.

Your life is important to me.

Your life matters to others.

Today may seem like everything’s going wrong

But tomorrow is a new day.

The sun will shine bright just like your inner light.

You will radiate just like the warmth of the sun in the new day tomorrow.

Can’t wait to see what you conquer tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the next step to your new adventure.

Keep pushing yourself to new beginnings.

Each day you have the chance to soar to new heights.

You set the limits, not others.

Don’t stop believing in yourself.

I won’t stop believing in you.

Thank you, Dove chocolates, for reminding me to go left when the world says go right.

This post goes out to all my friends who need this sweet message.

This post was brought to you by Dove chocolates, a little reminder with dessert.