The only difference / by Christina Rosalie

Friday night my heart felt like a hundred rain splattered puddles: each one reflecting a different small circle of cloud covered sky; so many different things to do all in exactly the same few moments.

Friday I was a flood of hormonal mood swings before I start to bleed, and I felt anxious and sad and utterly overwhelmed. Also nearly sick again. Then Saturday came, and the sun was shining through tatters of clouds and I went for a run for the first time in a month, and dear god, why can’t I remember this?

I need to exercise.

Every day I need to feel my body move, outside, among trees and open spaces, side stepping puddles, feeling my lungs suck in cold air. I need to exercise not because I want to look a certain way, but because I need to feel a certain way. It’s the only variable I can think of that genuinely affects how I manage stress. It’s the only thing that really makes a difference: being outdoors, feeling my blood hot in my cheeks, feeling my muscles sore afterwards.

Exercise brings balance to my life, yet regularly in the winter I let it slip by. Day after day I come home, to the sun staining the west a meek orange, and the shadows already those of dusk. I feel selfish then, setting out on a run, having not spent time with my small boy.

Yet without exercise I start to become irrational. Guilt becomes an entire harbor in my heart, sheltering a whole fleet of inadequacies: I do not spend enough time with my son; I don’t cook enough or clean enough or see my husband enough; I am not a good enough teacher or writer or reader.

The only difference between days like this, and days where I feel like I’m on top of the world is that on the days where I’m kicking ass, I’ve also gotten outdoors and moved.

Seriously. It’s that easy. And that incredibly difficult. Does anyone else experience this?