Finding Balance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhenever I’m kneading bread I have to pay attention to the texture of the dough. 

Bagel dough has to be stiffer than the dough I use for my weekly loaf bread.  For that, I want a tacky (but not sticky) texture.  If I happen to be playing with sourdough, however, I do want a sticky dough because it gives rise to the classic air pockets that make a sourdough what it is! 

Brioche has it’s own feel, too. Some recipes include an even stickier journey before becoming the delicious bread that I love!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACreating dough is definitely a balancing act and in order to get it right, I have to pay attention.

tree-pose-clip-artI’ve been thinking a lot about balance this week since standing precariously in a one-legged tree pose at my Wednesday night yoga class.  When my teacher suggested we try it with our eyes closed, I first teetered then nearly toppled.  I could feel it coming the moment I lost my center.

It’s easy to be mindful of balance on the yoga mat but as I gathered my belongings and headed to my car I began mulling over the question, “Where is my balance off the yoga mat?”

I started my quest for an answer by consulting with Darrell over tea and quickly recognized that in one form or another I am in a constant balancing act.  I try to balance work with family (and fun!).  I have to balance finding time to meet the needs of others with my own need for solitude.  I’m supposed to eat a balanced diet.  I balance my checkbook (OK, I admit the computer does this balancing for me).  Geez, even when Darrell and I are out riding country roads on our tandem bike, we have to be aware of balance.

Darrell takes the front on our tandem as we head out for a country ride!

Darrell takes the front on our tandem as we head out for a country ride!

 

public marketBalance even followed us to the public market Saturday morning as we found ourselves pondering whether to buy local produce, organic produce or, if possible, local-organic produce.  It made no sense that as I stood making decisions I was sipping a great cup of coffee which fit neither the category of local or organic.

Even in our food decisions, there’s a balance.  Sometimes convenience wins

It's a beautiful garden but olives will never grow in it!

It’s a beautiful garden but olives will never grow in it!

out….and sometimes I just want a kalamata olive which will never grow in our garden here in upstate New York.

Isn’t that what I’m always writing about? Kneading life.  Choosing my ingredients carefully then taking the time to work them into the texture that makes my life uniquely mine.  Just like dough, I have to consider where life begins to feel pliable and when my gluten just needs a rest!!

I can feel when I’m in balance and I definitely know when I’m out of balance, but what exactly is balance?  If I can sense it, why is it so hard to define?

balance 9To try and zero in on a definition, I posed this question to my online pals, “Without consulting anything or anyone outside yourself, what exactly is balance….according to you?” 

The responses that came back were thoughtful but varied.  Here’s a sampling…

“Balance is an internal state of being where my spirituality, my mental health, and my physical health are all in sync…”

“Balance is a stable strong center, where all can rest…”

I also queried my yoga teacher, Melanie, from Beyond Yoga and Pilates who sort of started all of this in the first place!  She responded,

“Balance is being fluid enough to roll with the changing tides of life.  This requires us to remain in the present moment.  When we are able to do this, even if the incoming tide is forceful enough to knock us down, we are able to seamlessly get right back up and our internal peace remains.”

Here's my yoga instructor, Melanie, fluid and rolling with the changing tides!

My yoga instructor, Melanie, fluid and rolling with the changing tides!

Several people answered my question with a question.  My cousin, Cindy, for example wondered, “Is balance the same as centered?”

Working on my balance!

Working on my balance!

At the end of my week, I’m not sure I’m any closer to a definition of balance but I do know that I don’t want Merriam Webster dictionary to define this one for me.  So for now, I’m just going to feel into the textures and subtleties of balance both on and off the yoga mat just like I do when I’m kneading dough. 

What I can add in is that balance is not static.  It’s not a state that I can achieve and then forget about.  It is a series of small continuous adjustments that I can make more easily if I pay attention.  If I cease to pay attention to those small adjustments, I teeter then topple.

If you’re  interested in exploring balance in your life you can check out the whole dialogue that started on Kneading Life’s Facebook page.  If you like the conversation, like our page, too!  I’d love to have you comment in on this post with your own take on balance!

I’m excited about this journey and a deepening understanding of what balance is and how I can create it in my life.  In celebration, I’m making cinnamon rolls this week for Father’s Day.  I like mine sweet but not too sweet, you know….just the right balance of sugar, cinnamon, and bread. I’ll post the recipe and lots of pictures as soon as they come out of the oven!

I could rename this cinnamon-raisin-yum-I-can't-get-enough of it bread

I could rename this cinnamon-raisin-yum-I-can’t-get-enough of it bread

In the meantime if you’re hankering for a balanced sweet, don’t forget about the cinnamon sprinkled Yes-It’s-Really-That-Simple Fougasse.

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who would enjoy a pause to consider balance in their life, please consider sharing this post!

Until we meet together around the bread bowl,

Mary

Did you miss the gluten free cashew bread?

Upcoming Seymour Library visit

Story index

Recipe index

Mary’s story with bread

What else does Mary do?

 

Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>