A Balanced Plate: A Balanced Life

A few weeks ago I made a ravioli dish for dinner. Chicken, mozzarella, and rosemary. Now don’t get too impressed, it was frozen from Costco. But good nonetheless. We have made them before and usually I toss them in olive oil. This time, however, I happened to have some basil pesto about and pesto is one of our favorite pasta toppings, especially since we figured out Clare can eat it as well.

As you might have guessed, something went wrong with this meal. Though I love rosemary, and I definitely love basil, for me and my palate the two do not mix well. When I made the choice to use basil pesto I forgot about the rosemary in the ravioli filling. Too focused on the chicken and mozzarella I guess. So when we started eating, there was a war in our mouths between the basil and the rosemary. For those who like to keep tallies, the rosemary won.d

Doesn’t life feel like this sometimes? Especially if you are a family with kids, nights and weekends fill up fast with practices, games, recitals and playdates. How do we pick? How do you choose what activities to participate in, which ones to say no to? How do you prioritize?

We are just entering this stage of parenthood. I know things are going to get busy and I know we are going to have to make tough choices. It’s one of the joys and sorrows of having kids spaced so closely together. They do so much together, which is great, but there are only so many hours in the day when they start doing their own things.

We are going to need to evaluate and reevaluate our priorities each time we add or let go of an activity. The key is striving for balance.

balanced plate 2
Seesaw by Gabriel Pollard (2008). Flickr, CC.

Have you ever noticed how on a teeter-totter there is a center point on which the arm rests? It’s easy to focus on one end or the other, or try to find the exact weight needed to achieve perfect balance. But here’s a secret for you – it will never balance if that center point crumbles or is removed. If our lives are likened to teeter-totters, can you guess what the center point is?

God

Hopefully that isn’t too big of a surprise. Before we can achieve balance, we need to have a sturdy foundation to balance upon. Mass, prayer (both personal and communal), service, sacrifice, thanksgiving, forgiveness, praise and adoration – all these and more help us to build our relationship with God, the foundation for our lives.

In light of this, one of my goals for our upcoming school year (yikes! it’s August already?) is to attend daily Mass at least once a week and, if things continue to work out, go to Confession every other week/once a month minimum. We are homeschooling, so 1 daily Mass should be well within the realm of possibility. I am so thankful we have found a couple other homeschooling families that also want to attend. The goal is to try to get to Mass early one day every other week or so and take turns watching all the kids so the moms and those kids old enough can go to Confession. It’s happened twice so far and it has made a huge difference in my accountability, my responsibility and how I am going about my day.

Balance. Be it on the plate or in our life, is difficult to achieve. But difficult does not mean impossible and it is certainly worth working toward. How do you achieve balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

A Word on Thinning

I love the idea of a garden. I get excited about watching plants grow, finding new blooms and picking fresh vegetables. I am so thankful that my father-in-law helped us move into our new home here in Del Rio, TX. He is a master gardener in my opinion. He has a huge, ambitious garden at home and when he saw what we had to work with here there was no stopping him (thank goodness!). Thanks to his efforts, we have tomatoes, onions, green peppers, squash, 2 kinds of cucumbers, green beans and even cantaloupe all starting to grow. We also have sunflowers, zinnias, some mint and basil (though the parsley, thyme and chives that I planted after he left didn’t sprout, we will try again this week).

It’s amazing! The kids are so excited to help. They like to water and John is starting to notice the differences in the different plants. I love how our homeschool “classroom” has just gained a whole new learning environment right in our own backyard.

There is a part of gardening I’m not a huge fan of. Thinning. Thinning is the process where you select the best plants and pull the rest so that those chosen few have the opportunity to flourish to the best of their ability. I look down at our little row of green pepper plants, 15 at least, so full of promise and have to choose at most probably 4 plants that will make it to maturity.

Sometimes the choice is a little easier. This one is smaller than the others, or this one’s leaves are yellowing. But what do you do when you have two or three plants all clustered together and still growing fine. You know that if left alone, eventually the group as a whole will stunt because there isn’t enough space or nutrients to sustain them all. But how do you choose which one to keep!?! It’s a bit silly, I know. Getting all emotionally worked up over a couple plants.

It’s a little like life. At a certain point we need to make choices, we have to thin our lives, so that 1. we don’t go insane, but also 2. so that we can allow ourselves to flourish. When I first started this post I was thinking specifically about our kids and recognizing the fact that though I would love for them to do everything, I also don’t want them to be overwhelmed and overcommitted. Scouts, baseball, piano, swim lessons, gymnastics, dance, soccer, playgroups, storytime, not to mention homeschool. So many wonderful things! We have to make choices, for our sanity and happiness and most especially for theirs.

I am finding that I also need to make some choices, do some thinning as it were, in my own life. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Reading, writing, trying to become a better seamstress, cross stitch, baking, crochet, a new desire to learn embroidery, cooking, researching, knitting, and oh wait, I have a husband and 4 children and a home to maintain. So many wonderful things! I can’t do them all at once, I have to make choices.

I think I’ve come up with a system. Recently I shared about how maintaining a planner has greatly improved my organization, both for our family and maintaining our home. It’s going really really well by the way. I’ll have to do a follow-up post sometime in the near future. I think I’m going to put it to work in this area as well. First, I am going to choose three things that are priorities, things that I want to be doing and thinking about all the time.

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Researching (I have this crazy notion I’m supposed to be working on a book/study/something longer than a series of blog posts. Topic TBD almost, it’s narrowed down to a few ideas, I’ll keep you posted)

Then, on a rotating basis of weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly I haven’t decided yet, I will rotate my crafting. I’m leaning towards bi-weekly. Long enough to get some good work done but not so long that it will be hard to pull away to transition to something else. This is usually how I work anyway. I obsess over one thing for a while, then get tired and move on to something else. Now I’m going to harness that tendency and focus it instead of just flitting from one thing to another like I used to do.

Here’s to hoping, organizing and thinning!

As we enter Holy Week this week, this seems an appropriate topic. What in our life is taking too much of our time? What are we spending too much time thinking about or worrying about? What needs reordering, what should we be prioritizing?

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com