Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me

A Puzzling Experience

Last weekend my husband asked me the question, “What are we going to build this weekend?” He was playing off the blog post that I wrote at the beginning of the year – What’s Your Power Word for the Year? We have selected the word BUILD for our power word for 2019. To keep this focus at the forefront of our minds, we’ve begun to ask ourselves two questions a day:

  • Morning Question: “What do you want to build today?”
  • Evening Question: “What did you build today?”

You can do the same, by simply replacing the bolded word in the middle of each sentence with your power word for the year.

Since it was going to be a cold, rainy weekend, I replied, “Let’s build a puzzle.” This seemed doable, plus I had given Byron two puzzles as part of his Christmas present. I purchased the puzzles for $1 each at the Dollar Store. I wasn’t expecting much from a quality point of view. I was just hoping that the message and art on the puzzles would make him smile. And they did.

We cleared some space on our coffee table and opened up the puzzle, careful not to lose any of the pieces. We studied the finished picture on the front of the puzzle box and the words, “look at the world differently.” We examined the design of the dog image. And then we set out to build the puzzle.

It took us two days to complete the puzzle. We took breaks to rest our eyes and to overcome that feeling of frustration of not being able to find the right pieces that fit. I did try to cram some incorrect pieces in, but Byron was there to monitor my will. We were surprised to find one extra puzzle piece that could only belong to the outside edge. That was odd, but we set it aside. We began to see that the words in the puzzle were in a different order than the words shown on the box. And one piece was missing. We looked all over. Did I throw it away by accident? Did the cat take it as a prize? Did the puzzle designers intend for one piece to be missing, as part of the experience of looking differently at the world?

Then the kicker was revealed. As we made our way to put together the image of the dog at the top of the puzzle, we figured out that it wasn’t a dog after all. It was a different animal. Oh, these puzzle designers are so crafty. What was it?  We were delighted to see the intriguing face of an ostrich – that swift running, flightless bird, who holds the claim as the largest living bird. Commonly associated with the expression, Don’t put your head in the sand. Being called an ostrich is not a compliment. In fact it means that you are perceived as a person who ‘tries to avoid disagreeable situations by refusing to face them.’ But look at that face? The ostrich is truly a remarkable creature.

Byron and I were so proud when we finished the puzzle. And we were delighted with the building experience, as well. The key message – look differently at the world – had been brought to life through the experience of building a puzzle together.

How Exactly Does One Look Differently at the World?

I began to wonder how exactly I can do that? How does one look differently at the world? How can we do that? What are we not seeing? That is a puzzle in itself!

I recall a time early in my career when I lost my full time job. I started wearing blue jeans again. I remember how soft and comfortable they felt, versus the professional garb. I started noticing the trees around me. When I was commuting each day, I just drove by them without regard. Now I was seeing the vibrant colors and unique shapes of the leaves, how the trees swayed and moved with the wind. I loved it. The trees and nature awakened me. At that time, I was starting to literally see the world in a way that I hadn’t noticed before. I started to pay attention to nature. I was part of something bigger than myself. And soon I began to feel better about myself and my future. Nature healed me.

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

– Rachel Carson

Fast forward twenty years and we find ourselves in a time of profound environmental crisis. The list of life-threatening and planet-threatening issues is overwhelming: global warming, rising average surface temperature on Earth, stripping out of the rain forests around the globe, endangered species, water pollution, air pollution, natural disasters reaching extreme levels, and non–recyclable plastic packaging polluting oceans, beaches, and communities. There are linkages of these environmental issues with health problems including the rise in cancers, diabetes, obesity, suicide, etc.  These topics have generated heated political debate. But we seem to be at a dangerous stalemate.

What If?

What is we look differently at this situation? What if the question was not “is climate change real?” What if the question was “what’s our relationship to nature?” What’s the connection? And when did we become so disconnected from nature?

Last night I watched a movie called Love Thy Nature. The trailer was very well produced and it looked like it would be a “feel-good” movie. I thought this would be a nice break from all of the violent, thriller, crime-detective programming that dominates our media channels. A twist on the expression, “Love Thy Neighbor,” this documentary explored our interconnectedness to nature, to animals, to the Earth. In a creative demonstration, the makers of this film compress the history of the planet into a one year calendar (January 1st – December 31st). It’s extraordinary and breaks down a very complicated set of facts. It shows us how mankind, homo sapiens, have arrived so late on the scene. It puts us, and our busy digital lives, into context.

There’s so much insight and interesting facts and ideas contained in this film. I will have to watch it several times to take it all in. It makes me reconsider my daily habits and practices of living and thinking. It makes me see things differently.

Watch the trailer for the 2017 documentary film, Love Thy Nature, beautifully narrated by Liam Neeson:

What can we really do?

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It’ll never fail you.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

It’s easy to give up and feel like we have no power over the situation. But we do. We can become more mindful of the world around us, of nature, of animals, of bio diversity. But the truth is that we are nature, nature is us. To destroy nature is to destroy ourselves. So let’s get busy reconnecting with our true selves – nature.

At the end of the film, they gave a list of things we might consider doing in order to reconnect and live in harmony with nature. At first glance, many of these ideas seem more applicable to our personal time, families and weekend activities. But imagine how different the work experience would be for many of us (independents, employees, contractors, etc.) if our workplaces and work routines incorporated more connection to nature?

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Eat a juicy piece of fruit
  3. Connect with another living being
  4. Go down a river
  5. Be wild
  6. Sleep under the stars
  7. Visit a place that will take your breath away
  8. Let yourself wonder
  9. Be curious
  10. Let nature teach you
  11. Explore your world within
  12. Let nature heal you
  13. Love another being
  14. Plant a tree
  15. Plant a garden
  16. If you eat animal meat, support humane farming
  17. Support nature-loving organizations
  18. Only buy from companies that treat nature – including people – well
  19. Speak up for nature
  20. Cast a vote for nature

Check out their website for other useful information and inspiration – https://www.lovethynature.com/

What other ideas do you have that will help you and others reconnect with nature and restore the balance of the home we all share?


Photo credit:  Holly Koziol, image shot at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware



2 Responses to “A Puzzling Experience”

  1. bethmachine

    Hi Kathy, I don’t know how I found you but I’ve been on your list for a few years. I appreciate your content and insights. First time commenting. thank you very much!

    • Kathy McAfee Americas Marketing Motivator

      Beth, I am grateful that we are connected, and I thank you for your kind feedback on this blog post. p.s. I just sent you a LinkedIn invitation. – Kathy

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