I’m not a natural organizer when it comes to “stuff”. Like closets. But, seeing a neat closet somehow makes me feel that the world is in order.

So, it was with some degree of existential agony that I opened a very organized closet this weekend, only to find it rummage through by (someone who shall remain nameless), and left in utter disarray.

In the grand scheme of things, no big deal. But on the visceral level of wanting order out of chaos, I was ticked.  I was also grateful that all of the usual suspects were still asleep when I opened the closet door. I could take a few moments to recalibrate my reaction and get perspective.

I could easily have dismissed my own feelings—in truth, this was small potatoes compared to the stuff in the paper. But, I’ve learned (the hard way) that pretending away my daily frustration only serves to lay planks of future resentment.

I purposely let my feelings of annoyance and mild anger come up. Without the story line, without the “why did she do this-again?” without the “don’t they know how hard I worked on that?”, and instead just focused on the yuck feelings. The temperature of the feelings was warm and I felt constricted.

Now, I had a choice. I could opt for yelling at the suspected messer-upper, and maybe even take a privilege away.  If I did this, my sticky feelings would probably dissipate in short order (and quickly be replaced by guilt…). Not great.

And, since I’ve lost faith in the idea that yelling teaches kids anything anyway, I opted for plan B.

Plan B. I waited for the likely offender to wake up. During that time, I practiced for about 15 minutes, and got physically centered. And, after breakfast, I brought her up to the crazy closet. I told her that I’d help her, and together we could put everything back in order. To my surprise, she did it all herself.

I can’t say it always works out so easily. I also can’t say I always use annoying situations as an opportunity to learn how to center myself. Sometimes, it is hard enough to hold it together (c’mon, I’m Jersey).

But it does make me wonder how our world might change if we used frustrating moments as opportunities to center and to let in our feelings, even the poorly dressed ones. To give ourselves space before reactively honking our horns at a neighboring car, or hitting send on a touchy email. Even if we did it some of the time, wow, things could really shift powerfully.

Here’s to us, one closet at a time.