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What a great metaphor—this puzzle that I’m really sorry I insisted we buy. Sometimes you think you know what you want, but it doesn’t turn out to work out as well as you’d expected. Nothing like working on this puzzle to humble me.

All I can do is string puzzle pieces together—I can’t even figure out where to put them. But, luckily, I am not working on this puzzle alone. It’s good to have a partner who can pick up where I leave off.

Lots of lessons in this puzzle. How very appropriate for Lent.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

To my life partner Sherman on our 27th anniversary: life is a puzzle—both the big pieces and the small pieces. So often it’s hard to figure out which direction to turn the pieces to make everything fit. What I don’t question is that turning to you was the piece that fit right from the start.

Though we are no longer those starry-eyed twenty-somethings who thought that just to be by each other’s side would change the bad to good, 27 years older and wiser, we still know that being together through the bad is always good.

The good is knowing that come what may we are a team—you have my back and I have yours—including those times when we lie together at night back-to-back, not because we are mad at one another but because your back against mine and mine against yours soothes the aches brought on by lives lived in motion—together and apart. Trekking mountain paths, gliding down snowy white slopes, walking our excitable dogs—we take to trails for renewal, discovery, and space to converse without so much intrusion from the everyday in our lives.

But another big piece of our lives is the constant welcome intrusion of laughter—both when appropriate and when not so appropriate. Even now I know you are laughing because I am not respecting the metaphor at all. Are you the puzzle piece? Is life together full of puzzle pieces? Is Life itself the puzzle? Can we be both puzzle pieces and the people who put together the puzzle?

I can’t even begin to puzzle out where this puzzle metaphor is going, but know that there is no puzzle to me about your being the one for me.

Got that? If anyone can get that, it will be you–because you are the one who gets the me that puzzles everyone else.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Last Sunday our son Jackson was struggling with writer’s block for an assignment due the next evening. After spinning with few results all day, he finally came upstairs and announced, “I need a jigsaw puzzle. Do we have one?”

Now I know some people think you just need to plant your butt in the seat (or your laptop on your lap)—but sometimes that just isn’t enough. I’m not just a former student—I’m also a writer. Writer’s block can be real and what you need to do is change your mindset so that whatever’s locking up your mind will let loose.

If all the planting hasn’t produced even a single seed, let alone a single weed, then the best thing you can do is something else. This isn’t about those activities you do just to avoid work—I mean there are only so many toenails you can clip. No, this is about doing some sort of movement or activity with the express idea of fertilizing the mind—and then setting a timer to go back to face the block and the mind.

Jackson had almost waited too long before coming up with this most excellent idea—so much so that when he found out we didn’t have a puzzle at the ready, he really didn’t think it was worth a trip to the store. Sherman and I, however, thought the puzzle was really the best hope he had for success, so off the two of them went for a quick shopping excursion.

While they were gone, I cleared off the table space. As soon as they returned, we broke into the box and started looking for the edge pieces. We were off—and obsessed.

Yet, as obsessed as we were, we knew the real reason we were doing a puzzle was so Jackson could write a paper. After about half an hour, we started asking him questions. He had the basic idea for his paper, but couldn’t move forward. Heads down, hands moving through the pieces, we kept talking. Eventually he had more and more to say. Then it was a matter of setting a timer and his working between his paper and the puzzle. (Yes, of course, we stuck with the puzzle alone!)

He had a good start on the paper before we went to sleep. Just to make sure this puzzle thing continued to be a good idea, we turned off the upstairs lights so he had to go downstairs—and away from the puzzle.

The next morning he did a little more working on both the puzzle and paper before he left for classes—where he had time to finalize his assignment before it was due—which he did do.

In the past, Jackson hasn’t been great at pursuing Plan B (or any options beyond Plan A) when things don’t go as planned, but it seems he’s starting to get there.

Jackson’s Plan B has worked out well for Sherman and me also. What better week for a puzzle obsession than when a sub-zero cold spell arrived? Plus, maybe the puzzle is fertilizing my own soil—I’ve written three blog posts since we started on the puzzle and done quite a bit of work on the soon-to-be yearend books for our commercial property. Not bad for a small investment in money and time. Sometimes goofing around is what you need to do first in order to solve a puzzle.

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