My sister texts me this morning to tell me to go to the gym. I tell her I have too much to do. Later, I call and she doesn't say, "Hello." Instead, she says, "I hope you're calling me from the treadmill."
My sister knows me. She knows that going to the gym makes me able to manage all the other stress in my life. For days, things have felt unmanageable for our family. My husband commented this morning that he's had a revelation about what causes things to feel so out of control for him.
"It's my desk," he says. "I can't handle the clutter. When my desk is clean, I can manage."
I understand this. I can't go to bed with dishes in the sink. If I wake up to a messy kitchen, everything feels like a disaster. Doing the nightly dishes puts everything else in order. And going to the gym keeps my mood in check.
"It's your way to breathe," my sister says. She explains that for her friend, keeping an organized freezer helps her breathe. Other folks need to make their beds or keep the interior of their cars clean. I suppose it's different for everyone
Those minutes I spend on the things I need to do to breathe buy me entire days of order and elevated mood. Maybe it's dishes and exercise. Maybe it's an organized freezer and a clean desk. No matter what it is, I let other things wait so I can do the thing that helps me breathe.