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Everyday I’m Puzzlin’

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By Kristin Backert

Readers, by now you know that I’m an old geeky woman at heart. I crochet, read comic books, collect Pokémon cards…I am a multifaceted individual!

And today, I’m here to share one of my old lady hobbies: puzzles. I’ve loved puzzles ever since I was a kid; anytime that I went to a dollar store, I’d stock up on new 500-piece puzzles (anything less than 500 pieces is for babies, obviously). As a kid, I’d throw on a CSI, Law and Order: SVU, or Project Runway marathon and just lose myself for hours. Sure, my back would be aching and my hands would have carpet imprints on them, but it didn’t matter. Puzzles were just such a fun way for me to pass the time.

As an adult, I’ve started to think more about why puzzles have been such a big part of my life. In addition to passing the time in a way that didn’t rot my brain (per my parents), I’ve always loved the challenge that they pose. Going through the box to first locate all of the edge pieces and figuring out where they go, deciding which portion of the puzzle to work on next (always choose a solid color block to work on!), figuring out how the shapes all go together…puzzling is all about staying organized and adjusting your plan if the first one fails. There are still times when I’m positive that two pieces just have to fit, but no matter how many times I try, there’s always this tiny pinch of space between the pieces that signals that they are not, in fact, best friends.

Above all, puzzles are a great way for me to relax. Sure, there are tons of frustrations – why won’t these two pieces just fit?! – but the ability to sit for a few hours, or even just a few minutes, and solve a low-stakes problem is incredibly soothing for my brain. For however long I spend sitting on the floor (or table if you’re fancy enough to lose an eating space), I can take a break from all of the things running through my mind and just focus on what’s in front of me.

Now as an adult, I’m coming to appreciate that feeling even more. When life feels stressful, it’s comforting to know that I’ve got a surefire way to help relax and calm my brain down. So, if you’re looking for some stress-relieving, executive-functioning building activities to try this summer, then invest in a puzzle! Here’s the most recent puzzle that I completed to help inspire you, complete with my ancient puzzle board (seriously, I’ve had this board for at least a good 15 years):

Erica MechlinskiEveryday I’m Puzzlin’

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