Today’s staff blog post comes from Erin Tierney, Development Manager here at Zeno and puzzle aficionado!

I’ve been a lifelong puzzle fan. Since I was a kid I’ve loved exploring different ways of putting them together, challenging myself to only do the edges at the very end, or sometimes even timing myself. To this day I’ll pick them up anywhere – toy stores to garage sales, new or used, and often as a souvenir from a trip. A few years ago in an art museum gift shop, I picked up a particularly challenging one. Little did I know, I had met my match with the 1,000 piece puzzle rendition of Convergence by Jackson Pollock. It was certainly going to be a challenge, but I’m headstrong and it seemed too good to pass up. The Pollock Puzzle was to be – my greatest accomplishment.

Fast-forward to now and I’ve never got the darn thing together. I’ve pulled this puzzle out several times over the past few years but have yet to complete it before the dining room table is needed again and all the pieces are dumped unceremoniously back in the box with a promise to try again when I have ‘free time’. In honor of National Puzzle Day on January 29th I’m once again spreading the painted little pieces across the table in a marathon effort to complete this challenge once and for all. But it’s given me the chance to reflect on what my long relationship with the Pollock Puzzle has taught me.

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  1. Just because I love something doesn’t mean it will always come easy. And that’s OK! Those challenges are where the fun part begins; the puzzles I’ve loved most have been ones that need strategy or crave a different perspective to get them complete. Of course every time I start out, I hope to make it to the finish. I hope to get the answer. But the journey to get there is the part I enjoy the most.
  2. Challenges take patience. Bonus points are awarded for a willingness to ask for help. Just because I haven’t succeeded yet doesn’t mean I won’t. When I’ve gotten frustrated, I’ve found success in forgiving myself and moving on to try again. I’ve invited friends to help out and learned how other people approach the problem. One person’s challenge became a shared challenge and multiplied the fun and feelings of accomplishment. I’ve learned so much from other people’s perspectives that lead me to a little more success each time I try.
  3. There are MANY different ways to solve a problem. This is a concept we’ve talked about here at Zeno for a long time, and it really rings true. Everyone learns differently, there are many ways to arrive at an answer to a problem, and all of them can be correct. Maybe one person will dive in and focus on a certain section first and while another first builds the puzzle’s frame. Both are theories to get us to our goal. It’s been beneficial to me to give many different theories a try!

My best guess says that I’m about 2% of the way in on the ‘Old Pollock’ once again. I hope to get it done before Zeno’s Make a Move 4 Math fundraiser next month. Will I make it to the finish this time? I aim to. But will I learn something while I get there? Always.

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