I change out of pajamas and into “workout clothes,” grab my hat since the sun already sits high in the sky, and check with Aubrey to see if it’s alright if I go for a quick walk. I slip on my tennishoes, grab my phone and earbuds, and step quickly out the door.
I select a podcast — one on communication in marriage — then start to walk along the lake. There are hardly any neighbors outside, only construction workers and maintenance people, still building and maintaining away, in the adjacent neighborhood. I’m aware that my joints are vaguely sore and I’m tiptoeing along the verge of a headache. My body has felt like this a lot recently, with ibuprofen becoming a part of my nightly routine, and I wonder if these aches are mostly due to stress, or something else. I focus on trying to loosen up my jaw, knowing I’ve been clenching it a lot. A few afternoons recently, I’ve laid down for an afternoon nap and/or reading, and been strangely aware of my jaw. Surprised by the effort it takes to relax it, to fight against the unfortunate habit of keeping it (almost) constantly clenched. It strikes me now that this has been a metaphor for my heart the last year or so — knowing I should relax my grip, knowing that the grip hurts more than helps, but still having a very hard time loosening that grip.
I take a deep breath.
That’s all I can do, really. Inhale slow and release anytime I catch myself holding my breath. Loosen my jaw when I notice it’s tight. Let an emotion in instead of immediately shutting it down. So, I take a deep breath, loosen my jaw and keep walking — tuning my senses to the next thing. The heat from the Florida sun surrounds me and the pleasant breeze lazily greets my arms — simultaneous sensations that remind me that it’s possible to feel more than one way at once, without one overwhelming the rest. I thank God for both as I head back home, my knees cracking as I climb the stairs to my apartment. I’m back inside and greeted by two girls in dresses and pigtails, who missed me so much during my 30 minute walk and who are very hungry.