I literally spent the last several years of my life wandering around as if I lost my binoculars–totally unable to get focused. I couldn’t seem to settle into accomplishing most of my usual tasks. I had difficulty starting things; and when I did manage to get something started, I was easily distracted and would take a long time to complete things. Oh I could still make dinners and do laundry because these things are like riding a bike. Plus I like food and clean underwear. And I managed to develop this blog, but then starting this was fun and not really something I considered a task. It was a great reason to avoid the real tasks.
Jobs like spring gardening tasks were started slowly and dragged on all summer. Large jobs like taming the wild levels of my garden, the levels that have been let go for far too long, were daunting and, therefore, let go a little longer. All the things that have been driving me crazy for years were left to drive me crazy for a couple of years more. After all, they only bothered me when I looked at them; but when I didn’t look, they were out of sight, out of mind.
But this spring, something changed. My brain was acting years younger. I would look at a task that I wanted to get done and all of a sudden I would be making a plan, thinking the process through and developing how I would approach each stage of the project. This is how my brain used to work. This is how I designed and made 25 foot elephants and other very large inflatable objects in my late twenties. It is how I used to sew all my clothes when I was younger. And how I worked as a graphic designer for the last twenty-five years of my career. This is what I have been missing. It had been replaced by agitation and frustration. Suddenly it was back and I had focus.
So what do I attribute this recently-returned focus to. I have no doubt that it is from doing jigsaw puzzles during the winter and during isolation. My friend June, when I told her that I was doing jigsaw puzzles, mentioned that she had seen a documentary about a sports figure who had a brain injury and who was told by his doctors to do jigsaw puzzles. I think they were on to something. I have yet to come across anything that caused me to get focused as much as jigsaw puzzles do. Not yoga, not kayaking, not reading, certainly not writing and definitely not knitting.
In the past few weeks, I have dug up bricks that had sunk so deep into the ground they were no longer seen and then rebuilt the garden walls before back filling them with new soil. I put in a boxwood hedge to define our property line. I dug up a 20 x 10 foot garden section overrun with summer phlox and replanted it. I trimmed shrubs that haven’t seen clippers for years. I moved plants and planted seeds and started planning other garden and yard tasks to work on over the rest of the summer and possibly next summer and the summer after that. I’ve made lists and created mental pictures that I can hardly wait to realize. But the most important thing I did was order half a dozen challenging jigsaw puzzles to work on during the winter months because I love having my binoculars back.
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Photos Jenn Stone