No Such Thing as Balance

We all long for balance.  The problem is there is no such thing as balance.  Life is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  Others around us are not perfect.  Harsh words for a recovering perfectionist.  Harsh reality for all of us finding ourselves battling the striving versus the being.

There is no such thing as balance.  Our days will be too full.  The unexpected will happen.  Something or everything will take too long.  As we seek to live a more organized life, to live our priorities in a meaningful way, we need to remember that balance will never be achieved.  The scales will always be tipped just a little one way or the other, AND that is o.k

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As long as the scales are gently rocking back and forth we can maintain, we can move forward, we can be confident we are living our priorities.  It is when the scales go crashing to one side or the other we need be concerned.  This week my business is taking more of my time, tipping the scales to one side.   However, I continue to protect our family dinner time, to honor the coming holy holiday, and limit the number of appointments next week.  When I can release the idea of balance, perfection, I can honor my family, friends, clients, home.  I can free myself from guilt as I meet the priorities of each given day or week, knowing next week there will be a shift in priorities.

It can be difficult to keep the scales gently rocking back and forth.  And there are those times, times of unexpected illness, loss, and even opportunity, that keep the scales tipped to one side longer than normal.  As long as there is a shifting back, as long as we remember the shift is necessary, that’s o.k.

My paper planner is key to helping me keep my eye on my priorities, keeping the scales from tipping too far to one side or the other.

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Across the top of my weekly pages I have a column for each of my priority areas.  My Home, Children, Business, Blog, Volunteer Commitments.  It is here I can track the weekly tasks.  Not only does this allow me to capture all the things I need to get done, it allows me to see where the bulk of my tasks are.  If week after week my business or volunteer activities require the bulk of my tasks, I can see the scales are tipped and I need to make some adjustments, focusing energy and tasks on family, myself, our home.  If I struggle to find a category in which to place the tasks, I know I need to assess my activities, determine if it is time to change priorities, let something go in order to embrace a new opportunity, new season. When a week seems overwhelming I can look to the next and make adjustments, focusing attention on another area/category.

There is no such thing as balance.  There is a gentle ebb and flow.  Once I embrace the ebb and flow, remembering the goal is to keep the scales gently tilting back and forth, I can release myself from the grip of perfection, the striving to do it all, and live more fully.  I can trust that while this week may be more about work, next week can be more about family, friends, caring for a loved one.  I can live a more beautiful life of purpose.

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Simple Salmon with Gourmet Flavor

I love to cook and have always been committed to family meals.  We manage them 4-5 times per week.  I love simple, but I love flavor and made from scratch.  This Salmon recipe has become a favorite.  You can grill it on cedar planks or bake it in the oven.  Either way the seasonings caramelize and you get this gooey sweet and spicy coating.  

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Begin with skinless Salmon.  I love to buy mine at Sam’s.  In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 to 1 Tbsp Chipotle Chile Powder (this is a very spicy, smoky spice so be careful if you don’t like heat), and 1/4 tsp salt (I use  Sea Salt which brings out extra flavor in cooking).  Stir the dry rub mixture together.  Spoon equal amounts of dry rub over each salmon filet.  Gently massage the dry rub into the filets.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Best if sits 4-6 hours.  If grilling on Cedar planks, make sure you soak the cedar planks all day in water.  I will rub a small amount of olive oil on them before placing the Salmon filets.  Grill until Salmon is bright pink and you see caramelization of rub.  If baking, heat oven to 375 F.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Turn broiler on and broil for just under 5 minutes.  

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I usually serve a side salad and steamed rice alongside this dish.  During summer and fall I will throw some squash, zucchini and red onions on the grill as a side.

Family meals can be done.  They can taste great and do not have to mean hours in the kitchen.  A little preparation yes, but the time around the table can be captured in no other way.  

Simple Dinner: Shrimp Penne Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce

I LOVE to cook.  Maybe it’s being from the south, maybe it is family heritage.  Whatever it is, I love to cook.  Eating dinner at home is one of those BEST things for my family.  It is a priority.  And, contrary to popular belief, it is possible.   My kids are not hermits.  We engage in extra curricula activity.  We attend church.  My husband and I both manage small businesses, I home school, we have friends and yet, we manage to eat at home together 4-6 nights per week.  Top it off, we NEVER eat chicken nuggets at home.  I don’t mean that to be haughty.  Again, it is a choice we as parents make.  Are my kids exposed to enough of that outside of our home?  If so, then I am going to minimize it in our home.  Now, lest you think it is a made from scratch meal every night, please know there is an occasional pizza or Chinese take out, and on occasion a Stouffer’s frozen lasagna or Chicken and Rice.  As with all things, each of us can do and will do what we determine we desire to do in the time we are given.  With a little Sunday night planning, bi-weekly or monthly grocery shopping, and use of pre-set oven or Crockpot, there are actually a lot of simple, quick menus to prepare.  One of my staples and family favorites is Shrimp Penne.

Finished Shrimp Penne with Creamy Garlic Sauce
Finished Shrimp Penne with Creamy Garlic Sauce
Shrimp
Shrimp
Creamy Garlic Sauce simmering
Creamy Garlic Sauce simmering

Cook the Penne according to recipe.   Begin by sauteing 2 lb of pealed shrimp in olive oil and 2 tbsp of minced garlic.  Add 2 cups of heavy whipping cream to the cooked shrimp.  Stir in 1/8 cup of chicken broth, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp oregano.  Add salt and ground pepper to taste.  Stir and let simmer.  Last, but not least, stir in one cup of shredded Parmesan.  Let the Parmesan melt completely.  If the sauce has gotten too thick, add a little more chicken broth or some butter.  Dump the cooked and drained Penne into the sauce.  Fold (do not stir aggressively) the Penne into the sauce.  Let the mixture simmer on low (cover the pan) for no more than 3 minutes.  Serve directly from pan.  Sprinkle some additional grated Parmesan on top.

To keep things simple I serve this with french bread, slightly toasted and a side salad.  Takes no more than 30 minutes to throw this together.  Short on time, cook the pasta the day before.  Store it in a zip lock bag.  Same with shrimp.  Run hot water over the pasta in a colander.  Heat shrimp up in skillet with olive oil.  Continue with recipe directions above.

Having a few staples like this allows you to create a great meal in a short amount of time.  Sit at the table and enjoy your family.