Photographs by Meadow Linn

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Keeping the Balance

Recently I was hanging out with a friend who’s the poster child for “woe is me.” According to him, no one works as hard as he does and everyone else’s life is better, easier, and more fun. The more time I spent with him, the more I began to notice myself falling into this thought form as well. When he said he did x and y, I found myself wanting to one-up him with, “Well, I do x, y, AND z.” Whether we’re aware of it or not, we tend to mirror those around us.

After meeting with him, I was embarrassed to hear myself talking to another friend in much the same way. I even caught myself whining about going wine tasting with friends when what I really needed to do was organize my tax documents. On one hand, since I have very few free days in the coming weeks, I was being responsible by setting the time aside to go through receipts; yet, I also started to wonder if perhaps I’d begun to lose my sense of balance. It’s important to take time for myself, whether it’s to taste local wine, make myself a nice meal, or spend time with family and friends.

Since my “woe is me” friend talks incessantly, mostly about how busy he is and how everyone else seems to “have it made,” he misses the opportunity to see what’s around him and recognize the many blessings in his life. His rapid-fire chatter reminds me that Mahatma Gandhi said, “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” Interestingly, I’ve noticed the people whom my friend believes “have it made” tend to work hard, but they have the ability to slow down enough to find joy and beauty wherever they are, no matter what they’re doing. Henri Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” There’s always something to marvel at, but we have to be willing to slow down and look.

Take time to smell the flowers
Most of us are constantly striving, seeking, and running from place to place to accomplish the next task, reach a goal, or make ends meet. Yet, do we know what we’re running toward?

When I look at my schedule and my head begins to spin, I feel both simultaneously overwhelmed and titillated, because oddly a full calendar seems to mean I’ve reached some level of success. When I’m in the middle of it, everything I’m doing feels crucial to my success or failure, as though the world would fall apart if I didn’t respond to e-mail, return phone calls, or make every deadline. Of course, in the short term, all of this stuff is indeed important. But, beyond that, there’s a larger picture.

Perspective can be a valuable ally when striving to keep balance in your life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, if your life were to end today, would you be satisfied? What have you experienced? Are you nurturing your relationships? How have your grown? Have you made a difference? Are you living your best life in this moment? Are you enjoying the journey? How much joy and love do you experience each day?

Over the past year, my scales have been dangerously tipping out of balance, but I’m working to find my equilibrium and take time not just to smell the roses, but also to smell the soup simmering on the stove.

As a suggestion, surround yourself with people who not only support and uplift you, but also people whom you’d like to emulate. Since we tend to mirror those around us, the more you’re with people who have a good sense of balance in their life, the more peace, love, and harmony will flood your life.


Coconut Lace Cookies 

 As I'm striving to keep my balance, I’ve realized that spending time with good friends is one of the things that’s lacking in my day-to-day life. So, although my calendar is currently quite busy, I carved out a few days to go to Chicago to celebrate the upcoming birth of my college roommate’s first child. In honor of this occasion, I created these cookies for the baby shower. These dainty gluten- and dairy-free pastries seemed like the perfect sweet treat to welcome a spring baby.

Makes about 2 dozen

1/3 cup coconut oil
½ cup organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup sweet rice flour
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

Preheat oven to 375º

In a medium bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined. Stir in the sweet rice flour and the coconut. Roll a small amount of dough between your palms to create a walnut-size ball. Flatten it into a disc and put on a cookie sheet. Repeat. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the outside edges are golden, about 10-12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet, then remove them with a thin metal spatula. Enjoy!