How Solving This Milwaukee Puzzle Brought Me Joy During Social Distancing

Spending time away from a screen is rewarding and necessary.

During my first week of social distancing, I told you about how taking a hike made a world of a difference for me. The sun on my face and the wind in my hair felt like a cure to cabin fever.

That hike, and other similar walks, really helped me during the early days of Safer at Home. But Wisconsin weather is unpredictable. Between the rain and snow, there have been many days that have forced me indoors. So, naturally, I turned to my old friends, Netflix, Hulu and Disney + for entertainment. But you can only watch so much TV before you start worrying about too much screen time and too much couch time. 

I told my sister about my concerns, and she suggested this solution: a puzzle. The last time I remember working on a puzzle I was still under three-feet tall and thought wearing giant bows in my hair was the peak of fashion. If I remember correctly, I wasn’t very good at them at a young age. 

Then my sister showed me the puzzle I would be putting together, and I couldn’t say no. Designed by HANmadeMilwaukee, it maps out the area surrounding our city’s beautiful lakefront. The idea of working on a project that so beautifully captures the city I love warmed my heart. 

Photo by Allison Garcia

I set up the puzzle at the dining room table, away from the TV and away from my computer. I poked at it for days. When I needed a break from work, I’d take five minutes to work on a section of the puzzle. Each break came with a new accomplishment. First I completed Bradford Beach, later I put together the Summerfest grounds and eventually all of Lake Michigan. 

Every time I connected the pieces of a new Milwaukee landmark, I felt a small sense of pride and accomplishment. It wasn’t big, but it was enough to make me smile. And finishing the puzzle brought me a joy that’s hard to come by during this health crisis. 

I’m hoping to start a new puzzle soon, maybe one that’s more than 500 pieces. It’s the perfect pastime during these long, socially-distanced days, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a break from their screen. 

Photo by Allison Garcia

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Allison Garcia is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.