The Missing Piece

It took 16-months of a global pandemic before I finally sat down and did a puzzle. About 95% of the way into it, I discovered a piece was missing. It didn’t matter. I was committed to finishing, missing pieces and all. Like I’ve said before, there’s a fine line between stubborn and stupid.

Plugging away at the puzzle, I couldn’t help but compare this to life. How often life hands us a pile of jumbled up pieces that we’re supposed to somehow cobble together into something whole. That how after much trial and error, a pile of mess can transform into something beautiful. Or, how we can get to the end only to realize we never had the tools needed to finish what we started. 

This past year was no exception. I’ve talked a lot about grief this past year. How losing dad left a big void in my life. Not just with grief, but with time and my identity. It was an odd combination that left me struggling with where to go next. I decided rather than bail, I’d sit in it for a while. I gave myself the gift of time and space to ponder what’s next and slowly put things back together one piece at a time. I discovered the absolute joy that comes with productive procrastination. That sometimes, you cannot rush the puzzle because you need some time to find or create new pieces.

2021 was the year I did nothing but something. I didn’t go to school, run a PR, score a promotion at work or publish a book. I started the year with a blank page, lots of questions and not much direction. So I wandered. I polished rocks. I grew sunflowers. I read a lot of amazing books. I traveled. I saved money and spent money. I did a book signing. I plotted my next book. I cried. I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried and maybe even peed my pants a little. I watched my kid play baseball and basketball and wished my dad was here to see it. I cried on Christmas morning. And Easter. And my dad’s birthday. And on random days that end with Y. I also remembered our time fondly and worked to create new memories and traditions. I took up spin. I invested in the people that matter and let some other fade away. I enjoyed a lot of happy hours. I gained weight. I lost weight. I lengthened my plank time. I upgraded my fitness tracker and bought an espresso machine. I got rid of unrealistic expectations and discovered the joy of saying no. I added some boundaries and dropped my guard. I said good-bye to my cat. I was a guest on some podcasts and discovered my love for Teremana tequila. I completed my first real writing workshop. I blogged. And tried new running shoes… only to discover there’s no point in fixing something that isn’t broken. I tried meditating, practicing gratitude and sitting in stillness. I binge watched Yellowstone. I made new friends. I discovered things I never knew about myself and was reminded about things I had forgotten. I got my first tattoo.     

In other words, in 2021 I did a whole lot of life. No matter how hard one grieves, time keeps moving. It is a gift we’re all given each day to create something. This year was no exception. It was hard but beautiful at the same time. Somewhere along the way, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. I find myself ending the year with new goals and dreams and direction while also never wanting to lose the joy of productive procrastination. I don’t know if I’d feel the same if I had powered through 2021 like year’s past.

But back to the puzzle. I eventually finished it, missing piece and all. I left it assembled on our table for over a week, annoyed about the missing piece but proud of finishing what I started. As I went to tear it apart, I noticed something peeking out from underneath our table runner. Turns out the missing piece was there all along. I just wasn’t ready to see it.

I hope your 2022 is filled with many moments of productive procrastination, moments of discovery, and time to assemble the puzzle pieces of life.

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