Is balance really achievable?

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

Balance has long been among my greatest desires. I’ve tried to imagine what balance in my life could look like. I’ve talked about it, and I’ve written about it. But I don’t believe I had ever experienced balance until I went to Italy.

With every bite of my Italian cuisine, I discovered the meaning of balance — that perfect blending of flavors. Yes, Italian chefs have most definitely mastered balance!

Eating in Italy illustrated balance to me in a fresh way. In fact, Italians use only fresh ingredients — nothing frozen or from a can or jar. I learned how much richer the flavor is when using fresh vegetables, herbs and whole cheeses. I’ll never eat pasta again — in my house — unless I make it from scratch! And I learned in my Italian cooking class just how easy pasta is to make!

In a recipe, each ingredient is equally important to reach the desired flavor. Each ingredient by itself is meaningful, and you can’t imagine your recipe without it. And in Italian dishes, no one ingredient overpowers another. There is never too much sauce!

I always know it’s a dish I will love when I love every ingredient — even when I’ve never mixed the ingredients together before. And of course, it is also fun to try an ingredient you’ve never had before and discover a new love.

So what does all of this have to do with achieving balance in my life?

My new appreciation of how Italian chefs achieve balance in their cooking has me evaluating the “how” of all aspects of my life.

Have I become stuck in some old routines to the point of not finding satisfaction or joy in what I’m doing? Have I become more concerned at how quickly I can accomplish something rather than regarding the quality of the end result? And are there things that make up my day that I genuinely don’t like? And are there things that I long to include and I’ve not been able to for whatever reason? Is there any one thing that is demanding all of my time to the exclusion of another that is important to me?

If you’re like me and can answer “yes” to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to make some changes and do some things differently. I have a feeling this may be easier to do than I realize. In fact, it could be as easy as the Nike slogan, “Just do it!”

Remember all those ingredients in a recipe that you would never leave out because they are needed to achieve the finished product?

I’m thinking about the activities that are most important to me and to my day and realizing the importance of never leaving them out. Why would I ever do this? It isn’t difficult to understand why my days could feel off-balance if they are missing something that I feel is essential to my happiness, peace-of-mind, or well-being.

I think we must be honest with ourselves, my friends. This necessitates us truly getting our priorities in the right order.

For me, just like trying that new ingredient in a recipe, this also includes the strong desire to experience things I’ve never done before or going to places I’ve never been to. In fact, I hunger for whatever is new and different!

So now, I’m even giving another look at all things in my life that have become routine and exploring how I can make the old, mundane or boring, fresh and new and interesting.

And I am focusing on what’s most important to me and making those things my top priority each day — instead of maybe fitting them in, maybe not. No more worrying and fretting about balancing all the other stuff that I finally realized just doesn’t matter that much. The result is a happiness and satisfaction I’ve never felt before!

Who would have ever imagined that a trip to Italy and the enjoyment of its fabulous food could have impacted my entire life in such a way? Not I!

But for the first time in my life, I can sincerely say that balance is not only possible, it can be accomplished and achieved to the utmost perfection — just like the Bolognese meat sauce I relished in Bologna or the Farfalli with veal sauce I savored in Verona!