Humility is a virtue. And isn’t it nice that life gives us so many opportunities to learn humility, and then to learn it again, and then again?

Yesterday I posted that I was stressed out by a heavy workload and concerns about my nine-year-old niece. I wrote that I was proud of myself, though, because I had better coping strategies than I used to have. I’m so Zen! I meditate and use ancient Indian breathing techniques to manage my stress!

Well, don’t be too impressed with me.

Last night I stayed up until 5am, working to meet a deadline until I couldn’t focus anymore. I wasn’t finished, but I’d made a lot of progress. I talked to my husband when his alarm went off at 5:20, as usual. (On top of being smart and even-tempered, he sleeps soundly for about six hours each night and gets up early, in a good mood, to head off to work. Not like me at all.) I crawled in bed and fell asleep sometime after the clock struck six.

I got up at 10:00 when my dogs couldn’t wait any longer for breakfast. And I’ve just been a mess today. I’m very worried about the work I haven’t finished yet, but I can’t settle down for more than 20 minutes at a time to focus on it. I’m tired so I have had too much caffeine, but it isn’t helping.

It seems like my niece has a form of juvenile arthritis. I spent some of my time earlier this afternoon reading up on it online. She has a challenging road ahead, it sounds like, and I’m sad and worried for her.

I’ve been excluding grains and sugar from my diet since later September, trying so hard to be healthier. Since December I’ve been trying to cut dairy too. I haven’t managed that as well, but I’ve reduced my cheese intake at least. So today? Cheese and toast in the morning. Two large muffins this afternoon. What is wrong with me? I know this isn’t going to help. Did I go for a walk to improve my focus? Did I meditate today? No, I ate the damn muffins.

It’s not that two muffins will push me into Diabetesland once and for all, or that I can’t return to eating chicken and veggies next week. What’s bothering me is how fragile my healthy routines are. A little bit of worry, some heavy demands for a couple of weeks, and it’s as though all that learning, all that re-orientation and habit development never happened. A bit of work stress, and it feels as though I haven’t spent 16 months away from my former high-stress job; it feels like I’m right in the middle of it again. Over those months, I’ve tried to build up healthy habits as a way to defend myself from chronic depression and hopelessness, but all it took was a little wind to topple those defenses.

So yesterday I was a little proud of myself. Today I’m a little disappointed–okay, more than a little. And I still have work to finish.