I stood in the living room one recent Saturday morning and put my hands on top of my head the way people do on Survivor when they've lost all hope and are full of worry. I think I was trying to keep my brain from exploding.

I'd just made a to-do list of all the jobs around the house, and I was overwhelmed: Finish patching the hall floor. Finish hanging the gutter. Finish the railing on the deck I built two years ago.... The weight of all that finishing pulled me to the ground.

Actually, I was beat after a long week and just felt like lying down. But when I looked up I saw a hole left from a relocated ceiling fixture. Ugh. So I made note number 41: Patch hole from relocated light fixture. Then I rolled over in disgust. That’s when I saw three feet of newly painted baseboard missing a final coat. I added two more things to the list: hire painter, fire painter.

I wondered if I should pay myself severance. Ah, well, one more thing to gnaw my lip over.

Not that I have anything to truly worry about. I have a sound roof over my head (more or less) and I'm healthy (physically, anyway). So why do I make myself frustrated, anxious, and sick with worry over how much I have to do?

I don't know the answer, but I do know at least a temporary cure. Each year at this time I take a break to shake off my own self-absorption and volunteer, along with the rest of the TOH gang, at AmeriCare’s HomeFront Day. It's a daylong blitz-build and cleanup at the house of someone elderly or ill or less fortunate and in need of help. Sure, I spend one more day with the same people I already see five days a week, and I hit my thumb with a hammer just like I do every other weekend. But the simple act of doing something for another person makes it all different. It makes your own worries that much smaller. Want to give it a try?

Scott Omelianuk

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