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Archive for the ‘games’ Category

Discovering mindfulness in a game of Scrabble

A friend and I spent the better part of a morning recently at Starbucks, having coffee and playing Scrabble, a game that I have to believe every writer enjoys – it is all about words! What could be better than that? And the best part was that my dear friend gave me the lovely red vintage box containing the retro Scrabble board and those beautiful wooden tiles of letters – the only things missing were the bag to hold the tiles and one of the wooden tile holders. She uncovered this treasure at Goodwill for only $2.00, but soon found that her family does not share her love of the game like she does. So in a lovely gesture of friendship, she gave it to me, after learning about my love of what has to be the greatest game ever. I used to have my own Scrabble set, but it was grudgingly sacrificed in the move to Portland, as I pared down to the bare necessities. So many memories attached to that game, as I would always make my children play Scrabble with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and surprisingly, I never won! But fear not, I made sure that my daughter bought a brand new Scrabble set, so we could play last Christmas when I went back to visit – and as always, I lost once more!

But today my brain must have been firing on all its cylinders, or maybe it was the coffee buzz that spurred me on to an amazing score of 283 – my all time Scrabble high! I was unstoppable, as I gathered up 48 points alone for the word “quirk” – what a quirk it was to be able to even spell that word out on the board. I gathered up a slew of points with silly little words like “gem” and “zoo”, using a strategic mind I didn’t even know I possessed, scoping out places where I could rake in triple letter scores with those crazy eight or ten point letters like “z” or “q”. I challenged my friend on a word or two, and she in turn informed me of an illegal Scrabble move that I was unaware of, all the while thoroughly enjoying ourselves with some friendly competition.

And as we pondered our brains for words, and laughed at the silliness of words we thought we could use, like “yo”, as in yo-yo or Yo!, a favorite rap phrase, time just seemed to slip away. We forgot to talk about all the things going on in our lives, the things that are of a more dramatic nature than trying to figure out how to use up the last letters you are holding of c, j, l, and r, so you don’t have to subtract them from your score. It felt good to get lost in something so innocent for a time, not thinking about why I haven’t heard back about the job I recently interviewed for, or getting caught up in any worrisome fears about the future. It felt good to escape for a time in something I love, the words; and I was reminded of the healing nature of mindfulness.

Connecting the dots

I ventured to Powell’s Bookstore today, which is a must see place if you ever visit Portland, and becomes a frequent go-to spot for Portlanders for all their reading needs. I wanted to find a new crossword puzzle book to occupy my time on my upcoming 36 hour train trip to Minnesota. As I wandered around the crossword section looking for just the right book, I noticed other books of games and puzzles: Sudoku, word finds, mazes, brain teasers. Then I recalled how much I loved doing dot to dot as a child. Something about going from number to number and finally producing a picture always felt like such an accomplishment. Maybe it’s because my drawing skills are so very limited; I can produce the ever popular stick figure, as well as a sun, moon, clouds, a very square house with a chimney (and smoke coming out of it for the full effect), and the v-shaped birds that don’t really look like birds at all. After searching the “grown-up” section for any dot to dot books and finding none, I moved to the children’s section. Success! I found a small section of dot to dot books, and one that was more “advanced” – perfect! I brought it home and anxiously found the perfect mechanical pencil to use with a nice fine lead that would produce a thin line, conducive to rendering a most artistic drawing. I started at one, slowly going from number to number; ending at fifty I looked and voila! I had drawn a peeled banana! I squealed with delight like a small child. Truthfully though, I could not take credit for having drawn anything – I just remembered how to connect the dots.

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