Running through the lists

Christmas lists. Lists of lists. Food to order; presents to buy; cards to send. I’ve done it for years. And suddenly this year it all feels out of control. I’ve not sat down and made a master list. Carrying everything in my head is stressful. Jobs that are normally completed before advent still swirl in my head and into the pit of my stomach.

‘Tell me what to do and I’ll do it’, says Mr A. I give him a task. ‘Why?’ He asks, then how and where and when. It doesn’t ease my stress.

No structure, no routine and everything feels like it is hitting at once. Then, on Saturday, I am invited to an Advent carol service and lunch. I could do without it, but I go, and enjoy it.

At the lunch, I pass the plate of mince pies along the table to my neighbour. ‘No thank you’, she says, ‘I’m being good’.

‘Well I’m having one, does that make me bad?’

‘It’s alright for you, you run’ was the response. As if running was something I couldn’t help, an activity beyond my control. An involuntary reaction.

I managed to enjoy the, admittedly small, mince pie, despite the sin I was obviously committing. It was delicious, I felt no shame.

It never occurred to me when I first started running that it was a calorie burning exercise. I started on a whim and enjoyed the headspace. The mental health benefits have subsequently been well documented.

I did go out for a run this morning, the first for a month. It cleared my head and straightened my thoughts; I re-ordered my priorities. I’d better get back in the habit if I’m to enjoy the remains of the Advent season.

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