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Putting the Personality Puzzle Together

Youngest is 11 now and has grown a new appendage.  It's called his phone, which in reality is just an alternative gaming device in his eyes.  

Good news is, he is usually quick to answer it if I call him because he usually has it in his hand.  Bad news, his "clashing of clans"  or "dashing of geometry" prompt radical mood changes on the success or failure of little armies and racing cogs.

Spouse and I are as much to blame in some ways.  Sometimes it is easy to just let them quietly I can quietly be.

However, as last Christmas approached, we all had a discussion about family and finding more balance between games, reading, tv, movies, etc.   

Santa Clause must have heard us and brought us a few puzzles for Christmas. So in early January, with a week before school was back in and Middle at his mom's and Oldest back at school, I busted out one of the puzzles, poured some hot cocoa and started the long task of flipping over the 1000 pieces so we could get a handle on what we needed to do.  

How you do a puzzle tells you a lot about yourself.
  1. Find clear surface that can be undisturbed for long period of time and dump out puzzle. 
  2. Display picture in prominent location for all to share and see 
  3. Dump pieces onto surface (if there are any segments actually still attached to one another, preserve these. You will need all the help you can get right?) 
  4. Organize pieces into characters, colours, edges, corners, etc. 
  5. Locate and assemble all outside pieces. 
  6. Randomly start working on sections that look interesting or easy 
  7. Jump from section to section, adding pieces. As long as you can continue to move forward, why not get the easy stuff done) 
  8. Repeat 7 (even if by now you probably should be getting some laundry done or dinner made)
  9. Stand and continue to work once your arms ache.
  10. Sit and blink several times.
  11. Repeat 10 as you look for new perspectives because your eyes are starting to feel like sand paper from staring.
  12. Snap at passers by who randomly pick up pieces, fit them in and walk away. (REALLY?? Try being here for the REAL work.... Massage hands and arms 
  13. Turn on lights because now it is too dark to see
  14. Examine box for errors. Why is this taking so long??????
  15. Realize shoulders are hovering around ears, holding breath too much
  16. Walk away...
  17. Come back....
  18. Sit and work..
  19. Go to 14 3 more times before finally giving up for the day. Everyone is in bed. You have spoken to no one other than in grunts for the past few hours.
Another successful family time adventure. 

Puzzles are my nemesis.  They bring out by Type A behavior:

  • time urgency
  • competitiveness
  • hostility
After all, I planned it out well and started in a logical, organized manner to efficiently work through the task.

Sounds like a fun, relaxing way to approach a recreational fun family project right??

But much like blowing bubbles, you can't rush this project, nor do I think, is that the intention behind it as the "recreational activity" it is instead of the "why are you trying to ruin my life with your fractured features that I must make whole -- damn you puzzle!!!!!"

There are some things I have known I should NOT do --- based on how they make me feel.

  1. Scrapbooking - Tempting! I like crafts!!  Flip side? a bottomless money pit of perfectionism that would break my bank and would really be me focusing on finding "perfect" paper and stickers and such and not actually starting a project.
  2. Knitting (other than scarves)/Sewing/Woodworking - I like to eyeball things.  I have no patience for measuring and this leads to nightmare results, which could turn deadly with power tools as I try to cut corners to "just get the thing finished".  The upside?  I can fix most things in "creative ways". 
Puzzles however, you cannot rush and finish.  You HAVE to find the pieces in order.  You cannot skip a step to complete the puzzle and I find myself incredibly agitated; torn between walking away and TOTALLY sucked in to completing it!

How to Find Joy in the Process

1. Enjoy the learning process

When you cut corners you never really learn how to do things right...which means that you never get better at it.  Recently I put two identical cabinets together for our kitchen.  The first one was slow to complete, the second one much faster.
When you take the time to follow instructions, you have a much higher chance of achieving the results you would like.  (This seems like a good lesson for the people I work with who are "plan adverse") .  I guess my time urgency somehow makes me focus on the end result for most things and not the process.  

For some reason though, I can knit an entire scarf---look at it---decide I would like to make it wider---rip it out---and start again.  Maybe because I re-learned how to knit while in the hospital on my "mental time out" and so it brings me peace in the doing.  

Just a note though, I do have a closet full of scarves.....taking orders....LOL!

I will have to see if I can find other things to find pleasure in the process.  

2. Find a Friend

Try shifting  focus from completion to connection--- on any project.  

In general, I hate my phone.  Social anxiety aside,  the phone ringing interrupts what I am doing (whether it is some activity or some internal dialogue--and I am ALWAYS doing something so---yeah, I hate my phone.

The only time I love talking on the phone is if I am ALSO able to do something. So I can put on the speaker phone and wipe down all the kitchen cupboards, or fold laundry, or bake or tidy.  LOVE IT!

When I did the puzzle, I worked mostly with Youngest.  We talked for hours---puzzle and not puzzle related topics--and when Spouse joined us---it became a family activity.  

Ok so it is also a win that no one was on their device and it made for a check mark in the "family time" box all mothers have tattooed on their brains.  

3. Revel in the Win

When you finally DO finish whatever it is....take some time to ENJOY IT!  Too often I rush on to the next project and since I do eventually need to stop to sleep, I tend to remember more of what was left incomplete that day, berating myself heartily, instead of remembering all I did complete.

This 1000 piece puzzle meant having to leave something incomplete FOR DAYS....which was really hard for me.  Still.  I could use some more practice...perhaps I will try another one....or not.

Ultimately, it's all good as I continue on this journey to find my way.

Work in Progress rolls on.....


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