Iím a creature of habit, which is why I love the start of a new school year. I like the familiar hum of a routine ó the realization that, finally, there will be consistency and structure to the days ahead.

Unlike most people, I consider the first day of school to be like the first day of a new year. Itís my January 1. The time when I make those little resolutions vowing to exercise more and eat less, not let the little things bother me so much. There is something about the first day of school that brings the feeling of fresh beginnings.

Itís also when I get in the closet and realign my shoes - organizing my high heels in order of color and height, down to my flip-flops, which are meticulously grouped together by brands.

See what I mean about my need for organization?

For me, disarray is punishment, something I canít stand.

On a day-today basis, I answer my e-mails as they come in, sending immediate replies to the sender, then deleting them from my in-box. My calendar is neatly marked with all of my scheduled meetings and lunch dates - and Iím always punctual. I file away old notes, keep a tidy desk, and toss old newspapers after I read them. Being organized helps me sleep at night, which might explain the bags under my eyes.

As the kids headed back to their respective schools on Monday, things changed drastically for me at work - messing up that fresh routine I was looking forward to beginning.

For the past couple of weeks, Iíve been working out of two offices. My new one had the computer with my e-mail up and running, while my phone calls were still going to my old office. Paperwork and notes were scattered throughout both offices.

By Wednesday, I was struggling to keep up. I was drowning in a sea of unanswered e-mails and unreturned phone messages. Iím rude, I thought. My ponytail was barely hanging on and my feet were aching from running back and forth. I decided to self-medicate with a taco salad and limped out of the office to find one.

As I returned (with a Diet Coke and 12,000-calorie salad in hand), I was met with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. But when I opened the card to read who they were from, there was no signature.

ďWow, you must have a secret admirer,Ē one of my co-workers said.

I was excited.

Suddenly the mess didnít seem so overwhelming. I was renewed. I had flowers and a secret admirer. My day was getting better. As I continued to stare at the flowers over a stack of old files, newspapers, and scattered notebooks, I wondered who they were from.

By late afternoon, my curiosity got the better of me. I called the florist, told them the situation and waited breathlessly for confirmation that, yes, I did in fact, have a secret admirer who wished not to be revealed.

It didnít happen.

The lady on the other line, laughed and said, ďOh, I must have forgotten to sign the card. Theyíre from Brant and Terri White.Ē

I was devastated.

The Whites are dear friends of mine. But theyíre no secret admirers.

So I picked up the phone and did what I havenít been good at doing for more than a week now - I responded immediately and called to thank them for the gesture.

The good news is, the flowers are still alive. The bad news is, I can barely see them over the growing stack of files on my desk.

SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.