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.

 

dare to be different

Life is Tricky

What does one do when they have extra time? For me I have cleaned a ton. I shopped more than I should online. I made headway on many house projects. I did many arts and crafts projects. I worked on my budget planning and even took a financial survey (results below). Kept up with workouts including group challenges virtually and so much more. The point is I’m still planning ahead with the actions I’m taking! I’m not living in the past or in the darkness. I’m looking at what’s ahead on the horizon.

One area that has caught my eye a bit is slowing the life pace down. Smelling the fresh cut grass. Listening to the birds chirp. Playing games and adjusting to a much slower work pace. By no means am I not working but everything seems in slow motion of sorts. It won’t last forever but it’s given me time to pause and appreciate surroundings. Microsoft even told me my email chirps have been slowed the last 14 days so I have confirmation from big brother!

My pause could be a walk outside during a work day. It could be doing 30 sit-ups an hour in between phone calls because working at home nobody cares if you do a workout at your desk, right? It could be hand written note from a friend I get in the mail or writing one to a person in need.

As I’ve adjusted to a new normal, a new routine has set in. I stay up later. I sleep in later and everything in between is arranged in alternate ways. There are many things that I do differently or less of, etc. in lockdown. There are things I thought I would miss that I don’t. There are people I miss greatly and some I don’t. How will I re-enter society when bans are lifted? That’s the big question and why I think life is tricky.

45 days ago I was on a fast-paced rigid path. Now I’m on more of a yellow brick road skipping down the path in a more carefree manner. Where will I go tomorrow? I’m leaning toward climbing a hill or mountain of sorts.

Time to change it up and see what sticks and what doesn’t. Time to broaden the horizon and be thankful for the new or refreshed look on life. Post-corona will look different for many. I plan to adjust to my surroundings, truly live more in the moment and focus on what’s in front of me while keeping an eye on the big picture.

I plan on helping those around me weather the storm. There are many young people coping with real struggles now. There are many elderly with different struggles and everything in between. Just like my days look different so do others. What was normal before corona will not be the same. In time life will adjust but in the interim I plan to adapt and help many in my own way.

I’m getting excited to see how high the mountain is along with the terrain. I never choose the easy route. I always look for the bumpy road with twists and turns. The terrain will make me stronger in my mind and hopefully in body and spirit. What tools will I need or have for my journey?

Hang tight! The all clear will come soon for many in stages. We just need to continue to exercise our patience muscles.

What will you do different post-corona? Life can be tricky. How will you adapt to life’s curveballs? I can’t wait for the fresh start. Maybe I will see more of you on the other side of corona or maybe not.

awareness

Need Help?

In today’s ever-changing world many people need help. Maybe from the stress of what’s in front of them and maybe the stress that is indirectly hitting them.

This post is meant to be a resource page. It may not help everyone who reads this post but it’s meant to offer hope in what is a challenging time for many.

If you were impacted by recent storms in the southern United States, the above number may be helpful.

If you or anyone you know is having trouble coping with the stress relating to managing life during COVID-19, this suicide prevention help line may be a resource worth sharing.

If you reside in the great state of Georgia, the above COVID-19 support resource list may be just what you need access to.

Remember we are all in this crazy mess together. Taking advantage of a free resource or passing on such information is prevention education. It’s a way to offer hope in a challenging time.

2 Chicks and a Pen consider mental health of utmost concern these days. We do our part to write online to motivate others as well as offer hope when needed. If these resources don’t cover your geographical area, find some that do and pass the information on.

You never know who is struggling in silence. With many forced into reclusive environments a lifeline resource can be a life-saving option.

Hugs and love from 2Chicks. We are smiling big at you!

 

author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.