Life is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle

As I was chatting with a friend yesterday I realized a couple things. The first is that I love analogies, even if I’m not very good at making them. Also, I love jigsaw puzzles.

Something I’ve seen recently in a few friends is this attempt to control their lives in ways that just aren’t possible. And because it’s not possible, it becomes an obsessive effort. Our lives are important, but that kind of obsessive struggle often just leads to frustration and anxiety – neither of which is helpful when stuck in a rough patch.

The reality is that there is very little in our lives that we can actually control. Essentially we can only control our reactions to things. We are very rarely given a glimpse of the larger picture and how we fit into it.

And here’s where the analogy comes in. While I was talking to a friend who’s currently struggling yesterday, I explained myself like this:

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. The problem is that we only get fed the pieces. We have no idea if we have all of them or what the overall picture looks like. The Universe, on the other hand, knows everything that’s going on and how it all fits together.

That’s kind of a dick move by the universe. I once did a puzzle that had four pictures in it – each representing a different season. Without the box, I would have had no way of knowing that all those pieces did in fact work together, let alone whether I had all the pieces or how they could go together.

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to figure out that a couple pieces have gone together – we find the partner(s) for us, find the pet who makes our world complete, a job that gives us a sense of meaning. Every now and then we even get groups of pieces together. But we’re never really seeing the big picture.

Without letting go and understanding this, our lives turn into some kind of fight against… ourselves, really, where we’re trying to hoard the pieces and obsessively trying to fit each piece we have into another one. Putting a puzzle together like that is time consuming, irritating, and we usually end up walking away from the puzzle, leaving a heap of pieces behind.

Spending time trying to put the pieces together on our *may* yield results, but it’ll be way more of a headache. If we trust that there is a bigger picture, whether we can know it or not, and allow the Universe to send us guidance about how the pieces go together, we can live a lot more peacefully. We’ll probably also get more of the puzzle together as well.

/end puzzle analogy


Movie Review: Concussion

American football has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. It was the only common ground I could find with my stepfather for a long while (well, that and golf) and even with my dad. When I lived 3,000 miles from my dad, I’d call him up on a Sunday during a Detroit Lions game (so sad me that I’m a fan of theirs) and we’d sit quietly while the plays were in motion and chat during the commercials and between plays about the game. Maybe not the most earth-shattering conversation, but it worked for us.

I did wonder about the players’ health when I watched the weekly recaps of the worst hits in the league. They have always made me cringe. I get that they’re padded up, but there are limits on what pads can do.

“Concussion” is all about what happens to players due to repeated hits to the head. The movie is inspired by the true story of the Nigerian American physician (who Will Smith does not resemble at all) responsible for the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster in 2002. His obsession with why Webster died (not just how) led to the investigation of several other former football player deaths. He concluded that the deaths came about as a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy – repeated blows to the head suffered during the game.

What struck me was the ridiculousness that it took a non-American who wasn’t even interested in the sport to do something beneficial for the players. It’s gross that we would be willing to sacrifice the lives of so many men for sport. It would have been one thing if the players had known what was happening to them and were willing undertaking the risk (still gross, but not as terrible). But the NFL was actively covering up research to that effect.

People harassed Dr. Omalu for conducting the research and pursuing the investigation. Still, with the support of his wife, he persisted. We are all better for it.

This is definitely a movie worth checking out if you’re a fan of American football. It really makes you think twice about the game. Will Smith turns in a somewhat convincing performance as Omalu. The supporting cast was really great – Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw were engaging, intense, and awesome to watch.

Absence: Why absence in my marriage makes me happy

For some reason the other day I was thinking about being married and why Mr. Lyndsy makes me so happy. The word “absence” popped into my head.

I don’t mean it in the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” sense. I mean, I get it. I *hate* when he travels. It’s like my sense of balance is missing when he’s gone. It is a great reminder of why we get married, but that’s not what makes this so good on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes, it’s the absence of something that you notice the most. So what is it that’s absent from our marriage that makes this work so well?

Judgment, for starters. There are days I don’t get dressed. There are days I barely leave bed. I dye my hair strange colors. I get tattoos. I say I can’t make dinner. I tell him not to put another dish in the sink because I do NOT WANT TO WASH ANOTHER FUCKING DISH RIGHT NOW. Ahem.

No matter what I do, his response is pretty much “Okay.” He doesn’t think anything about it. If I seem sick, he asks what he can do to make me feel better. If it looks like I’m going to throw all the dishes out the window, he says, “I’ll do the rest.” He gives me a hug when he sees blue in my hair. He gets that my tats are expressions of myself. So even when he doesn’t know I’ve been planning on a new one, he rolls with it.

Expectation is also missing from our marriage. The only thing he expects is that I will continue behaving in the way I have since I met him. That’s it. And that’s all I expect of him. So far we’ve both been really consistent in that. We’re both pretty set in who we are, so I don’t see that changing anytime soon either. I think that’s one of the benefits of having met in our 30s instead of 20s. We both had time to figure out who we are and what we want – and we worked to do that (after some gloriously failed relationships).

Bullshit and by this I mean that we seek each other out for help when shit’s gone off the rails, but we keep our own bullshit as our own. I have mood swings from time to time, get upset about stuff that has nothing to do with him and I sort it out for myself. If I need a hug he’s there, but I don’t take shit out on him and he doesn’t take shit out on me. Any outside stress stays outside.

Monopolization of time doesn’t exist here either. We do things together (TV is our jam and we love the LEGO video games), but we leave each other free to do the stuff we like to do. I read for hours and hours on end while he buys every game on the Playstation store. There are entire *weekend* days we don’t see each other because we’re otherwise absorbed. I’ve been with someone who didn’t let me have time to myself. If he wanted my attention, he pouted until he got  it.

I suppose that each one of things could be said a different way where ABSENCE wouldn’t be what joins everything together, but what I noticed was the lack of all of those. Perhaps it’s because the presence of awful things is really what helped me form ideas about what would work for me in a relationship and what wouldn’t. However you want to describe it, this is what works for us.

Where am I going? What am I doing?

Now that I’m feeling better than I was this fall – still tired, still loads of pain, but less depression and anxiety – I spend a lot of time wondering what the fuck I’m doing with my life. This isn’t a new train of thought for me. I’ve been trying to figure this out since I left my job as a prosecutor. While I was there, I felt like I had a purpose and was doing something good for the world.

Since then I’ve bounced around a little. I tended to end up in places where the person I worked for really need help and I was in a position to be able to do that.

That’s all well and good, but what about something for *me*? Something that makes my soul feel like it’s doing its part?

I read Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and that made me think that I perhaps need to get my Inner Purpose together and that maybe my Outer Purpose would reveal itself.

Shortly after finishing the book, a friend posted this link about being on the right path even though things feel wrong. I didn’t really expect anything to resonate with me, but it did.

2. Feeling “lost,” or directionless. Feeling lost is actually a sign you’re becoming more present in your life – you’re living less within the narratives and ideas that you premeditated, and more in the moment at hand. Until you’re used to this, it will feel as though you’re off track (you aren’t).

Uh, yeah. That’s sort of the title of this post, is it not? I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing. I’m not too troubled about it, except that I feel like I could be contributing more if I knew what I were doing. Though, I do agree with Tolle that getting in touch and living the Inner Purpose IS one of the best things we can do for society at large.

3. “Left brain” fogginess. When you’re utilizing the right hemisphere more often (you’re becoming more intuitive, you’re dealing with emotions, you’re creating) sometimes it can seem as though “left brain” functions leave you feeling fuzzy. Things like focusing, organizing, remembering small details suddenly become difficult.

The amount that I cannot remember and cannot keep straight these days is ridiculous. I’ve been so concerned I thought about seeing a neurologist. If it’s spiritual progress though, I’ll take it!

4. Having random influxes of irrational anger or sadness that intensify until you can’t ignore them anymore. When emotions erupt it’s usually because they’re “coming up” to be recognized, and our job is to learn to stop grappling with them or resisting them, and to simply become fully conscious of them (after that, we control them, not the opposite way around).

Well, yes. Sadness and anger have both been companions!

5. Experiencing unpredictable and scattered sleeping patterns.You’ll need to sleep a lot more or a lot less, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t stop thinking about something, you find yourself full of energy or completely exhausted, and with little in-between.

I think my sleep issues are more than this, but I do know that my brain just doesn’t turn off when I try to go to sleep. I’ve been trying to just remember what I was thinking about in the morning, but I’m usually left with a sense of “What was that again?”

8. Intense, vivid dreaming that you almost always remember in detail. If dreams are how your subconscious mind communicates with you (or projects an image of your experience) then yours is definitely trying to say something. You’re having dreams at an intensity that you’ve never experienced before.

For a while I hadn’t been remembering my dreams, but over the last month that has completely changed. I’ve had really vivid and intense dreams. I attributed it to the fact that I was letting my creative side loose by doing my own cross stitch designs, but maybe it’s more than that.

10. Feeling like the dreams you had for your life are collapsing.What you do not realize at this moment is that it is making way for a reality better than you could have thought of, one that’s more aligned with who you are, not who you thought you would be.

My life is NOTHING like I thought it would be. Things I was sure I wanted I’m not sure about anymore. My health has been a lot of the reason for some of the changes. I always thought I would get better, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I think I’m finally starting to accept that how my body is now is basically how it’s going to be. I’m still seeing doctors to try to get the pain down some, but I have accepted that pain will be an ever-present feature of my life. And that’s okay. I still have so many blessings.

14. “Knowing” things you don’t want to know. Such as what someone is really feeling, or that a relationship isn’t going to last, or that you won’t be at your job much longer. A lot of “irrational” anxiety comes from subconsciously sensing something, yet not taking it seriously because it isn’t logical.

This isn’t really new for me. A while ago I had no idea that everyone didn’t *know* this stuff and that made life REALLY hard. People got upset with me and I had no idea why. Now I get it. I have really come to trust my intuition.

15. Having a radically intense desire to speak up for yourself.Becoming angry with how much you’ve let yourself be walked on, or how much you’ve let other people’s voices get into your head is a sign that you’re finally ready to stop listening, and love yourself by respecting yourself first.

As hard as it may be to believe, I used to have a hard time speaking up if I thought it would cause discord. Now I just don’t give a flying fuck. My jar of fucks, it is empty. Letting things go i why things don’t change. I know that a lot of people believe you can’t change another’s mind, but that’s not always true. Sometimes it’s about saying it in a way they haven’t heard before or asking more questions than they’ve been asked before. Sometimes the answers help me clarify something too.

16. Realizing you are the only person responsible for your life, and your happiness. This kind of emotional autonomy is terrifying, because it means that if you mess up, it’s all on you. At the same time, realizing it is the only way to be truly free. The risk is worth the reward on this one, always.

Again, this one isn’t super new for me, but knowing it and living it are two different things. I am focusing on doing what I can for myself to be happy. I’m going out on more limbs to try new things and seeing whether it makes me as happy as I thought I would. I’m trying to tell any fear of failure to take a flying leap.

I really do hope that I’m getting more aligned with where I need to be so that I can start living who I really am.

What do you think of the list? Any of it resonate with you?

Book Review: Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth

January was a month for reading – 18 books!! Toward the end of the month I got a hankering (do people even say that anymore?) for reading that was more spiritual in nature. I’d had a lot of thrillers/suspense, fantasy, chick lit and needed to delve into something a little deeper.

I have no idea how I ended up back at Eckhart Tolle. I’ve considered reading some of his stuff before, but something always put me off. Not sure if it was the Oprah book endorsement or the description of the book. I found the audiobook available for free and decided to give it a shot.

Tolle narrates the book and his speech is a little dry and his accent is a little hard to get used to. But his calm tone make the book easy to understand. His concepts aren’t necessarily difficult, but sometimes they take a bit to sink in.

The book is AMAZING. I think there are a lot of us feeling exactly what he details, but not having words to capture our sentiments. We’re tired of the struggle against bullshit and dealing with things that just don’t make any sense to us. We want to live whole lives of meaning, but trying to put that into action while people around us don’t get it is challenging. We feel pushed to respond because of the ego dominance around us. We lose sight of the fact that we can be happier, less stressed out, and peaceful if we just step back and let our minds still.

The book also addresses people who are trying to find their purpose in life. His belief is that the primary purpose in life is to attain stillness – get to a state of BEING – and not let thinking run rampant over our lives. This is what he calls the Inner Purpose. The Outer Purpose is the DOING of our lives.

He gave me new ways to reflect on my life and to find ways to stop reacting to so may situations. Focusing on my breathing, listening for when my ego jumps into a conversation. I’d been working on it before the book, but now I am more aware of what I’m doing. Dropping back and not letting any drive toward feeling superior or like I need to try to defend my ego have made for calmer times.

I’ve already encouraged a few people to read this one. If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did the book change the way you look at your life?

30-Day Project: January Wrap-Up and February Project

January was a ROCKING success!! This may be the best 30-day Project I’ve done yet! I know! SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!! But that’s truly how I feel about this project. I had no idea how much I needed to work creativity into my life. I have felt better in January (minus stress about Mr. Lyndsy being gone for 10 days) than in many recent months. I got better, faster, and more creative than I expected I would. And maybe a new business!!

But, now that I have all these designs, I need to do something with them. Designing sort of put actual stitching in a backseat. I only got two patterns completed in January! So, for February, my goal is to stitch at least 30 minutes per day. Ideally it’ll be more, but sometimes it causes aches and pains so I’d rather not torture myself.

I’m looking forward to stitching things I’ve bought as well as my own designs. The only way I’ll know whether my designs are worth selling (or need to be modified to be sold) is to actually stitch them. Now I have over THIRTY-ONE to work with!

Anyway, I’m so excited about seeing what I made come to life. I’ll be posting as I finish!!

BONUS PROJECT: I have been growing out my hair for months and months now, cutting off as little as possible. My hair is down to my bra strap! It hasn’t been this long for at least 6 years (I think). However, I never do anything with it. I always grab an elastic band and pull it into a ponytail. It’s not that it looks bad, but if I’m just going to do that, why bother having long hair? Also, pulling it back all the time can cause hair thinning and breakage.

So, I’ve decided that for February, I’m going to use a hair elastic as little as possible. That doesn’t mean I won’t pull it back, but if I do, it needs to be something else. It makes for a different style and hopefully I’ll do less damage so my hair continues to GROW! I want to see how long it can get.

I’ll post pictures when I remember to show I’m rocking my do. It’ll be hard for me to just let it go when it’s curly. I am way too much of a control freak when it comes to having hair flying around. But I look at pictures of women with hair like mine who just let it go and it looks amazing. I’m going to try it.