Puzzled

Today I’d like to share a secret with you.  It’s nothing too dramatic, like where I buried the bodies or anything.  Yet it’s a surreptitious activity just the same.

My secret is I like doing jigsaw puzzles….something that I imagined only old ladies did. I like the piecing together of random bits.  I like the knowledge that every piece has its place, I just need to find it.  I like to watch the picture all come together.  It’s soul-satisfying.

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There have been some studies on the whole jigsaw puzzle phenomenon.  According to researchers at the University of Bath, there are two main types of puzzlers, the hoarders, and the opportunists.  Fortunately for me, I’m more of an opportunist, searching for a variety of ways to complete the puzzle.  It also helps to not be a hoarder when my husband and son sit down for an hour or so and try to “help” me.  Their plan of attack is often not the same as mine.  All those blue sky pieces I had piled to one side are scattered over the table before you can say Jack Robinson. When that happens, I consider it yet another opportunity to work on my zen.  Eventually, the men in the house become bored and move along.  Then I am free to pile the sky pieces in the corner once again.

Apparently doing jigsaw puzzles are good for you.  Most specifically, puzzles have been shown to be good for the development of problem-solving strategies, project management skills, self-management skills, visual skills, cognitive skills, character development skills, tactile skills, social skills and collaborative skills. (See 42 Thinking Skills You Can Learn From Doing Jigsaw Puzzles)  Additionally, because jigsaw puzzle completion requires the use of both sides of your brain, there is some evidence that this little hobby can lead to a longer and better quality of life, and reduce the chance of developing memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s in later years. (See Health Benefits Of Jigsaw Puzzles)

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Puzzling is a sort of meditation for me.  It reminds me that it takes time to see the big picture and that sometimes pieces I believe should fit, don’t.  It fosters patience and perseverance.  It also teaches me that I have limitations.  While I can do a 500 piece puzzle in short order, a 1500 piece puzzle takes some doing.  I recently saw a puzzle of the Sistine Chapel–5000 pieces.  I know enough to leave that one to the masters!

I suppose I should be proud of my hobby.  I mean, it has a long and noble past.  Invented in the 1760s as an educational device, puzzling for adults came into its own around 1900 gaining peak popularity during the Great Depression as an inexpensive alternative entertainment. (See History of Puzzles)  It remains an incredible off-grid pastime in our household at least.

I recently watched a lovely Argentinean movie called Rompecabezas (Puzzle). A 40-year-old housewife discovers her passion in assembling jigsaw puzzles.  After receiving negative feedback from her family, she decides to keep her hobby and subsequent puzzle championship a secret.  

Unlike the woman in the movie, my husband and son know when I am working on a puzzle.  I literally take over the back table.  My husband has been supportive in that he frames the completed puzzle for me. His thought was something that took so much time should be displayed, not dismantled again. My son also enjoys our new wall art.

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So how do I feed my vice?  Zulily and Amazon Mexico of course!  Zulily ships to Mexico for $120 pesos per order and Amazon Mexico, provided it comes from the Amazon warehouse, often has free shipping.  Now with my own shipping address (See A room of her own) obtaining puzzles is not so challenging as it once was. Life is good.

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**************Jigsaw puzzles
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