by Sydney Brant
Growing up I spent time doing puzzles with friends and family. I gravitated to the puzzle aisle in the stores as my favorite TV show characters or animals were displayed on the 25-piece puzzle boxes. then the vibrant pictures of animals as I graduated and moved on toward the 100-piecera. The bright colors and engaging images were not the only thing that sparked my interest in doing puzzles. It was also the process.
Puzzles can vary in the amount of pieces, size, and shapes of the puzzles. Some puzzles have more boxey-straight edges, while others implement more rounded curvatures. Some puzzles are cardboard pieces, while others are plastic. There are 2-D puzzles that lay flat and others that are 3-D.
With my mom’s guidance and practice over the years, I’ve picked up and learned many different strategies for puzzle making. Routinely, I first find the straight edge pieces that create the border of the puzzle. This feels like a great way to dip my toes into the process. Next, I try to sort the pieces by color, or notice if there is a distinct design that would separate pieces from one another. Before jumping in fully, I analyze the image on the box to see the challenge that lies ahead. The box is like a roadmap. I frequently reference it for validation of the difficult challenge, direction and sense of accomplishment.
The anticipation leading up to piecing together the last pieces is like none other. My heart starts to race and I become eager to fit them in as quickly as possible. The finished product always calls for some reflection of the process, admiration, acknowledgement of when I felt stuck, and appreciation for any cheerleading and collaboration I got from others. I would also show it off to anyone willing to take a glance!
Like many things, once you complete something, you have to think about what’s next and start a new puzzle.
New beginnings can involve a lot of acceptance and change. Accepting your accomplishment, the process, the hard work, the ups and downs and the budding progress of your skills. Change can require you to say goodbye and move on to something new. I can accept that I can’t keep the completed puzzle on my coffee table forever and not want to rip it up to make space for something new. In order to continue to build and learn new skills, we have to accept our past experiences, acknowledge how they have served us and lead us to our goals and appreciate those involved who have helped us get there. We might not want to say goodbye and wipe our slate clean for a new puzzle, but we can always hold on to parts of it. We might not be able to take old puzzle pieces and fit them exactly into the new ones, but we can continue to find the straight edges, sort by colors and use our roadmap!
New beginnings are hard. It involves a lot of uncertainty, acceptance and change. As you are starting something new, I would challenge you to think about what skills you want to take with you to this new experience? How are you balancing both acceptance and change?
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