As I near the end of my . . . “space” year . . .  things are definitely pulling together — a sign of a good year with a word. This year, “space” has taken me in some directions I expected it to. But “space” also convinced me to take a few detours here and there. (Spoiler alert: that’s kinda what you want . . . surprising revelations are The Good Stuff in the word-world.)  It’s also validated a few things I already knew or suspected, which really is the icing on the word-cake, y’know?

I mean, take this as an example: I’ve always known that if I can walk away from . . . oh, let’s say a problem, or an idea in its earliest stages, or a tricky puzzle . . . that really is the best way for me to figure things out. I get . . . stuck. I leave things be for a while. And, then, when I return? Voilà! I’ve sorted it through and come up with a solution. (I’m sure this has happened to you, too.)

The tough part, though . . . is the walking away part.
Am I right?
I know it is for me! I just want to plow through and get it finished and Solve.The.Dang.Thing!

I mean . . . take Wordle.

I was NOT an early-adapter when it came to the word game, Wordle. The more people talked about it, the more adamant I became that I would NOT play it. (Yep. That’s me in a nutshell. . . ) I didn’t even know HOW it worked or how to play. I just knew I wasn’t going to play it!

Until one day, far into the Wordle craze, my friend Karel walked me through it, and showed me how to play. She even suggested a few strategies I might employ. My early attempts were . . . meh. Okay enough to get me interested, but nothing to put me in the Wordle Hall of Fame. Some days I played. Some days I forgot. Some days I got the word before my 6 tries were up. Some days I did not.

But then I stumbled upon the biggest Wordle trick of all: I learned to stop myself after my first two guesses – unless I knew with absolute (or pretty absolute) certainty what the Wordle word WAS. 

I trained myself . . . to wait.
To give myself . . . SPACE.

I discovered that if I walked away from the Wordle for a while, my brain would just keep working on the Wordle (while I went about my business) (as is the case with so many things). And when I picked the game back up later, I almost always (seriously . . .  almost always) solve the damn thing in 3 or 4 tries. (Although – true confessions – there was a day a couple of weeks ago when I got down to my 6th guess and nearly wet my pants with anxiety.) (I got it.) (Phew.)

This “trick” (the walking away) works for most things in my life: crossword puzzles, knitting problems, writing blog posts and book reviews and letters, figuring out our taxes, remembering how to sign into My Medicare. So. Many. Things. Even pretty darn serious things.

All you have to do . . . is walk away.
Put it aside.
Let it simmer.

In other words . . . give it space.

And that . . . is Validation!


The puzzle at the top of the page? It was the actual Wordle on September 1. I really should have been able to solve it in 2 tries. But at 6:00 am (when I’m usually working on the puzzle with my coffee), I’m not always firing on all cylinders. But. I did walk away after my first two standard word guesses – SLATE and then GRIND (which do generally serve me very well, just sayin) and came back to solve it in 3 tries with SPACE. Which I thought was a pretty fun coincidence!