2023_BlogPrompt #13 – Puzzle

I am working on the puzzle that is life. Somedays, it’s smooth sailing but other days, it’s a struggle. What puzzles are you working on? Perhaps you have a story about a puzzle. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Random puzzle pieces discovered on the sidewalk.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece fits together to create a perfect whole. But the pieces of life don’t always fit together the way we expect them to. Or want them to. And one subtle change can launch the whole puzzle into disarray, ensuring the pieces will never quite fit the way we want them to. Because there is no perfect whole where life is concerned.

The process of life… it is a living, breathing puzzle, very different from the cardboard pieces we fit together to create a two-dimensional image. Life, and its piece, are constantly changing, evolving, and growing. People come into your life, and you fit them in with the overall picture. People leave—for whatever reason—and you readjust the life you are creating. Some people leave a hole that can never be filled, and because of that hole, your puzzle has to take on a new shape.

Jobs change, locations change, hobbies come and go, and you are left to make sense of it all. As a human involved in the game of life, you are expected to continue your work on the puzzle, creating beauty not in spite of the constant movement and change, but because of it.

It is the changes that bring us to life. Our reactions and the way we handle the situations we are given, these contribute to the beauty in the overall image we create. Our reactions bring color and vibrance to our life picture. They demonstrate our growth over time.

And so… as you continue to work on your own life puzzle—to determine how to fit the pieces together—know that the puzzle will continue to change, to shift, and to challenge at every turn. But it will also bring love and peace and joy, both in the present and in your reflection on the past, on the things you have done, on the people you have met.

Choose your pieces wisely. Those thoughtfully chosen will add the most beauty to—and be a better fit with—the many pieces you cannot choose.

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2023_BlogPrompt #12 – Redefine

I am redefining various aspects of my life. I don’t really know what the end product will look like, but I know it’s a necessary process to undertake right now. Are there aspects of your life that need to be redefined? Are there other things you might redefine? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

It’s foggy today. The unseasonably warm weather doesn’t play well with the snow and ice that fell throughout the day yesterday. The fog hangs over the world, muting January into mist. This, I realize, is a metaphor for what is.

There are points in life when a re-evaluation is appropriate. Even necessary. Sometimes, several changes occur at once, and we are left to redefine where we are and what we want. I have been taking a critical look at the pieces of my life that don’t quite fit the way they once did. And as I work to redefine these pieces, alter them, and fit them back into my life, a fog has settled over what is and what has been. I have thrown out two or three—maybe more—pieces, and I’m reconsidering others. I am rebuilding—in some cases, from the ground up. And I’m not quite sure what will emerge.

The fog is obscuring the work that I am doing as I move toward what will be and wait for it to emerge. One day, the fog will begin to dissipate and the new will be revealed.  It’s always that way—that the work of the process is actually invisible to onlookers. When the work is completed and the newness emerges, people will look at me, and they will say, “Hey friend, you look good! Did you get your hair cut?” or “Have you been working out?”

If I look different, that’s just a bonus. The change will be much deeper—a life overhaul, perhaps. It will shift my thinking and adjust my attitude, a small shift that could change everything. Redefining isn’t easy, but if we’re going to keep growing through life’s changes, keep moving forward, redefining is inevitable.

2023_BlogPrompt #11 – Thin Ice

With a warmer winter thus far, I am focusing on thin ice. It might be on a pond or coating a puddle. It might be that annoying ice you have to scrape off your car every morning or an icicle hanging from your roof. Write about thin ice. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Air bubbles under thin ice.

The pond near my house is not yet frozen. A mallard couple stops by in the mornings for a swim and perhaps a taste of the local winter vegetation. Last week, a child and his father were throwing sticks onto the thin layer of ice that comes and goes. They watched as the sticks slid across the slick surface and remained suspended on the thin ice.

On each side of the path, the saturated winter grass has frozen, and the surface of the ice is swirled with the texture of air bubbles underneath. The ice is thin and breaks with just a bit of pressure. This kind of ice is a magnet for people old and young who are drawn to the game of ice shattering and the sound of the ice giving way and shards scattering. From the looks of it, there are many of us in the neighborhood. Broken ice litters the grass, but if you really search, you can still find bits that remain intact, waiting for the next icebreaker.

Thin ice is everywhere this year. Whether we are throwing sticks and rocks onto a frozen pond or walking a few steps out of the way to shatter the ice on a puddle, it pulls us to it with an almost magical force. Beware of thin ice where it poses a danger. Then again, if it’s only a puddle, go ahead and break to your heart’s content!

2023_BlogPrompt #10 – Weird Word Wednesday – Bumfuzzled

I thought it might be fun to shake things up a bit. So here it is, a new weekly feature: weird word Wednesday. Today’s word: Bumfuzzled. According to Merriam Webster, bumfuzzled means “in a state of bewilderment: confused or perplexed.” Can you see yourself using this word? Do you have a weird word you’d like to write about? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.


Photo by Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash 

The holidays are over; we are settling into 2023 and marching through January. Winter, ugh! This season can be cold and bleak and never-ending even though it’s only just begun. And so I thought I would venture into new territory (which might last a week or two, knowing me) with a mid-week mix-up: weird word Wednesday.

But then I started to look up weird words. Have you ever done that? Oh my! Seriously… Google “weird words in English” and see what you come up with. There are words I had never seen and would never come across if not for this venture. So many choices!

Today, we are examining the word, bumfuzzled. I chose this word because it’s one I believe I might actually start using. I am completely bumfuzzled by this word. First of all, how many words do we need that mean confused and bewildered? How many words for confusion exist in other languages? But secondly, it’s quite satisfying to say.

I think bumfuzzled will be my new favorite word for confusion. From now on, any time I can’t explain something, or I am perplexed, I am going to say, “Well, I am simply bumfuzzled.” I can’t wait to see the reactions to that word!

2023_BlogPrompt #9 – Cold

Cold is the word of the day. Since winter is upon us here in the Northeast, cold may (or may not) be an accurate description of your environment. But cold can also be a mood, a temperament, or an atmosphere. Are you experiencing cold in your life? How and where? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Monday afternoon, I had to attend a meeting, and I stepped outside into bright sunshine. The birds were singing, and I had a sudden wave of spring fever. In January. Now, if you are at all familiar with winters in the Northeast (and the northern Northeast, at that), you know that spring fever in January is a tough mentality. Winter has only just begun, and this year, the cold is still deciding when it might actually settle in. Not if, but definitely when.

Spring fever was a fleeting moment. By the time I left work to return home, the temperature had dropped, and I pulled my scarf around my neck. At home, I cuddled under a blanket as much for the warmth as for the coziness. This kind of cold you can counter with proper clothing, extra layers, and cozy blankets.

The other cold, the one that settles over an atmosphere, an environment, a relationship… that cold is much more unwelcoming. It can only be tempered with great skill or avoidance. Seldom does joking affect the underlying cause of such cold, and (interestingly) a blanket might feel smothering in such a situation.

If I had to choose between cold temperatures or the cold shoulder, I would take the cold temperatures any day. I will gladly take a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa to solve my cold issues!

2023_BlogPrompt #8 – Mining

Today I am mining for words that might bring inspiration and a flow of ideas. I am mining anything that is written—signs, books, newspapers, the Internet. I am mining what I hear. What do you mine for—ideas, inspiration, antiques, clothes? Where do you do your most effective mining? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash 

Today, I am capturing words. I am reading and listening and searching, and I am writing a list of words that appeal to me, that tug at my emotions, that spark a flicker of an idea deep in my soul. In essence, I am mining my surroundings for inspiration, for words that can carry me through the busy week.

Words are always woven into my life. I am particularly drawn to words that might be a bit ambiguous or carry different meanings and inspire ideas in others. I am mining words that inspire me, but these are not just my words. These are shared words, after all. Words for blog prompts. Words to help others restart their own writing journey. I will stay open and pay attention.

Lucky for me, words are everywhere. And I have a tiny notebook that comes with me wherever I go. The combination should lead to some successful Monday mining!

2023_BlogPrompt #7 – Coming Home

Today, day 7, is my reflection on week 1. Truly, it’s been a long time since I have written regularly. Sometimes, reconnecting with an activity feels like coming home. That’s the way I felt this week. I felt a bit lighter—like an ongoing conflict was being resolved. I felt more like myself, which brought a deep contentment. What does coming home feel like to you? How might you recapture that feeling? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Kevin Fitzgerald on Unsplash 

I have written and posted every day this past week, which is unusual for me, and I can honestly say, it feels like coming home. My ideas have been flowing and staying around a bit to play and tease my attention. Instead of stuffing them back into my head, I have opened my heart, my mind, my creativity and captured them, worked with them. Even the day I was “stuck,” I played with other words until I found one that took off, and I chased it through the winter evening.

Writing and blogging again feels like coming home. It feels like walking into a warm house on a cold day and running into the embrace of someone I’ve known all my life but haven’t seen in months. Or years. And then we sit down with a hot cup of coffee or tea or cocoa and dive into conversation right where we left off so long ago. We talk about life, about triumphs, about struggles, and as we talk, the years melt away. It’s as if I never left and we have been talking to each other every day. Like this. Face to face. Over coffee.

As I started to sit and ponder and write and post, the ideas began to come back, one by one. It was like the months since my last post evaporated and here I am, writing again, generating ideas again, connecting with my Muse again.

So for now at least, I will fuel my writing with the feelings of home, of the familiar. I will sit at the kitchen table drinking hot coffee and conversing with the words on the page. I will munch on ideas like they are delicious homemade cookies. I will shine a light on my journal as I write. And I will bask in the warmth I’ve found in reconnecting with this part of me—a part I thought might just be lost.

2023_BlogPrompt #6 – Stuck

Unfortunately, as I sit down to write, I am stuck. I am stuck on the fact that the words aren’t coming after a day of work. I am stuck in a streak of gloomy weather. What is making you feel stuck?  If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

A long-ago snow romp that ended as quickly as it began.

Today, the words are not flowing as smoothly as they have the past few days. I know I should give myself a break to work things out, to find more words, to write something inspiring or inspired. But today, I am stuck.

When my children were young, they would always beg to go outside and play in the snow. They were little, and the snow was deep, but somehow, that made it more fun. At least in the anticipation. They would imagine the fun they could have traipsing through snow that was nearly as deep as they were tall! There were paths to forge and snowmen to be made—so much snow, so little time.

And so, I would patiently pull on snowpants and jackets, mittens and boots, hats and scarvs. I would zip and tuck and tie and buckle until I was content that all three littles would be warm enough even though there was no way to snow-proof them. We would walk out the door and into the winter wonderland.

Less than two minutes in, someone would plow through waist-deep snow out into the middle of the front lawn. And there, far away from Mom’s reach, a boot—that had to be wiggled and shoved onto a foot—would slip right off into the deep snow, leaving a tiny foot exposed to the elements. And Mom would have to trudge through the knee-high snow to rescue said child, dig through the icy cold for the missing boot, and carry boot and child back to the front steps where the two could be reunited.

Now, a mere three minutes into the outdoor romp, the snow was no longer fun, and the children, now cold and snow-coated, would be ready to go back in the house to warm up.

And that, Friends, is the winter stuck-ness I’m feeling.

2023_BlogPrompt #5 – Reclaiming

Today’s prompt is Reclaiming. Use this word as your jumping off point or simply as a word within your post. Write about reclaiming something from your past, taking up an old hobby, or re-examining a memory. Is there something in your life you need or want to reclaim? Is there something that has reclaimed you?  If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.


Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash 

Reclaiming

I am working on reclaiming my life.

Reclaiming it in bits and pieces.

A moment of clarity one day acts as a building block for tomorrow.

Bit by bit. Piece by piece. Finding what has been lost over the years.

I’m working them back together like a puzzle. My young woman figure is likely gone forever, but other things—my time, my identity, my voice—these I am reclaiming. Bit by bit, piece by piece, one piece at a time.

Like boards of weathered wood from a long-forgotten barn, each fragment reclaimed builds my character and strengthens my resolve to move ahead. To make necessary changes. To become the best new-life-phase-self I can be.

Pieces of old brass, newly polished, add sparkle and shine to help focus my attention on the process.

Knobs and hinges are added, finishing touches allowing doors to open and close without squeaking or rubbing. Many will be thrown wide open, welcoming new opportunities.

Some doors will be quietly closed, gently pushed until the latch clicks so they don’t reopen unexpectedly and request that I revisit whatever it is they hold at bay.

Still others will be locked, and the worn skeleton keys—jangling together—will be tossed from a cliff and into a deep ravine far below, minimizing the chances that I, or anyone else, will have access to those doors again.

But the reclaimed bits… they will grow and strengthen, and soon I will have much of myself back, but I will be different. The rough edges have been worn smooth by life. The sharp bits have become sharper as they’ve navigated life’s craggy terrain.

I won’t go back to the life I once knew—the person I was early in this journey—nor would I want that. I come to my reclaiming with greater experience, broader failures, innumerable successes. And with a great deal of love and care (and perhaps a healthy diet and some exercise) I can most definitely move from here to where I want to be.

It may be hard work, but it won’t be impossible.

2023_BlogPrompt #4 – Connection

Today’s prompt is Connection. Use this word as your jumping off point or simply as a word within your post. Write about connections. You might choose the connection of physical things, humans, or animals. Or you might examine connections of intangible ideas. Connection—where does the word lead you? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash 

It’s easy to get lost amid the everyday clamor and chaos that fills our lives. There is a constant need to do, to produce, to improve, to churn out whatever it is we do—words, students, products, profits, etc. When did we become a society so connected to data and measurement and profit that we forgot to connect with humanity? We’ve forgotten to build connections with other humans. Life should not be a constant battle to improve our numbers and our output. It should be about connection, relationships, and what we are doing to better ourselves, our lives, and the lives of those around us.

Four days into my blogging challenge and I am trying to maintain a connection between where I started and where I am going. My purpose is to write, to get back to writing regularly, perhaps surpassing my previous one-to-two times per week, to bring joy back to my creative process. My purpose is to break free of the writers’ block that has held me back for too long. And my purpose is to help others do the same.

And so, I am seeking to build the connection between myself and my Muse. I want to connect with my ideas, nature, words, readers, and other writers. I want to build a community of readers and writers and join others in their community. By building a community, we can forge some much needed connections—connections we have forgotten along the way.