Puzzles were made for people with a lot of patience and ideally, a spare kitchen table. I have neither. I have, however, formed a recent obsession with puzzles. It started the day after my sister’s wedding, when my family got together for lunch at the cottage my brother rented for the week. I was immediately drawn to the nearly complete puzzle laid out on their dining room table.
I try to practice what I preach (namely saying no more often, so I can say yes to the things that matter), but I’m still left feeling a bit burned out lately. I love being busy and interacting with people, but as an introvert, I end up completely zapped if I don’t carve out enough quiet time for myself. And not just quiet time (hey, scrolling through baby Frenchie photos on Instagram for hours is quiet!), but quality quiet time.
At the risk of sounding like the lady that sells crystals near the T stop, putting puzzle pieces together feels very restorative for me. It’s logical and there’s a right answer: a piece either fits or it doesn’t. And at some point you’re done. In other words: it’s the opposite of work. I am incredibly lucky to have a career that I love, but the work is never done and it’s often complicated (and um… puzzling).
Hippy talk aside, when we got back to Boston, I hit up Target for my own puzzle. 500 pieces? 300 pieces? I figured, go big or go home…. and then I actually, well… got home.
I soon learned that 1,000 piece puzzles were not designed for small, city condos. They are much better suited for dining room tables at the Cape. I was faced with three options:
Option 1: Make a mess.
Option 2: Complete the puzzle in one sitting.
Option 3: Get things under control.
If you’re comfortable with Option 1, more power to you. If Option 2 is your M.O., welp… I commend you. After losing several pieces under the sofa (don’t ask), scattering several hundred pieces across any and all workable surfaces, and essentially holding our condo hostage with a nowhere-near-complete Italian seaside vista, I knew I needed to get things under control. Thank goodness for washi tape. And the 600 mason jars I seem to have hoarded since my sister’s shower.
How to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle in an 800 square foot condo
- Sort through each piece (if you have fellow puzzlers, recruit them to help here) in the box and remove all outer edge pieces.
- Connect your outer edges (this step alone may take 6-7 years).
- Review the puzzle box and determine which major categories pieces will fall into, for example: buildings, boats, dark water, light water, sky, trees.
- Label your mason jars (or other suitable containers with lids) with each of your categories and get to sorting.
- Tackle one jar (and effectively, one area of the puzzle) at a time. You can keep the other jars tucked away while you focus on the “dark water” jar. Or whatever.
- Pay someone to finish the puzzle when you get bored and/or distracted by something shiny. Like, say, a different puzzle.
- Once all of your jars are empty, you should have completed the puzzle. Unless something bad happened…
Wondering what to do once you’re done? Consider donating your puzzle to one of the following places:
- Hope Lodge – There are currently 31 locations in the U.S., all which offer free lodging in a warm environment to cancer patients, and their families, while they receive treatment.
- Your local library (many have puzzles available for loan)
- V.A. Hospitals and Clinics – Puzzles are a great way for patients and their families to pass the time in waiting rooms. Check with your local V.A. Hospital to learn more about making a donation.
- Senior Centers and assisted living facilities – Our senior friends were alive before Angry Birds. They know how to complete puzzles, which can be great tools for socialization and work on motor skills and concentration.
…just please be sure there are no missing pieces before you drop off a box or two. 😉
Also On Tap for Today:
- 3rd CrossFit workout of the week (I am making good on my intention to show up more)
- Happy National Running Day!
- Making a summer bucket list
What’s your favorite way to restore yourself?