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  • Gayle Petrillo

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

Updated: 4 days ago

It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially given all that our country is experiencing.


The pandemic has created isolation for so many of us. And as we start to venture out, we have a new term and way of socializing – social distancing. And some of us added home-schooling our kids and working from home to our typical ongoing tasks of shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. And did I mention our pets? That’s another whole piece of the puzzle. So we are juggling more than ever before, in a different way, in a new world. Our new ‘normal’.



Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he meant by this is that everything in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on just a little at a time.


I have found my own analogy. This winter, as the stay home advisories went into place, I started working on jigsaw puzzles.


I’ve been working from home for about 3 years now, so that wasn’t new for me. What was new, not being able to meet friends, colleagues and (prospective) clients in person. No more visits to coffee houses. No more lunches or happy hours at our favorite haunts and no more dinners out with my hubby of 40 years. We started creating menus and cooking in every night. Al usually cooks; however, I found it was a stress reliever for me to identify new recipes and prepare and cook, using many of our appliances that had been dormant for a while (the blender, food processor, waffle iron, and more. And, the more I cooked, the more we’ve enjoyed trying new things.


My days are now filled with Zoom meetings, hours during each day. I’ve never spent so much time in front of my computer. I am meeting clients virtually, participating in board and committee meetings, attending networking functions, and watching webinars and other presentations, for coffee, breakfast, lunch and happy hours.


I’m finding that I’m feeling overwhelmed more than I was in the past. The news is disheartening, whether it’s politics, racial unrest, the coronavirus and its accumulated numbers of affected, hospitalized and deceased, and on it goes.


So, as I took a breather the other day, I left my home office/spare bedroom, and made my way to the dining room. I started a new puzzle and as I spread the 500 pieces on a card table, I felt overwhelmed. Why had I started a new puzzle. I had just finished one. It’s relaxing I told myself. Hell no, I said to no one. Not today. Rather than walking away, knowing I needed a break from my computer, I looked at the puzzle for a few minutes. I started to see pieces jumping out at me. I searched for specific colors. The red roof and wood for the covered bridge structure. Within minutes I had a great start. I walked away with a lighter feeling and relief. As I sat back at my computer, I was ready to get back to work and looked forward to finishing up my workday and the defrosting scallops in the refrigerator.


My take-away and maybe it will help you, is tackle everything on your plate (figuratively) in small segments and give yourself a thumbs up as you accomplish little pieces of the bigger things you need to get done. Recognize when you need some ‘me’ time and do something for yourself. Your life and those around you will appreciate what you can offer.

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