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A Balancing Act

High wires, suspension bridges, dominate my life I walk them daily. No, not ones strung over a raging river gorge or between two skyscrapers but the metaphorical ones that I tiptoe over, occasionally losing a foothold as I strive to live a balanced life.

I think most women (men too but Ill wait for a man to give his take the subject) live much of their early years juggling rather than balancing life there is a difference. To juggle the balls are in the air and you have to look up, be constantly watchful the balls are varied children, career, husband, aging parents, finances, health drop one on the whole act is in jeopardy.

Balancing is different your feet feel the way, learn techniques, gain strength - and once confident to move forward, your hands are free to touch all around you, your eyes can focus on the world.  Narrow wires become solid, familiar paths.

Balanced life nasturtium
Its only in the past eight years or so that Ive given up juggling and taken up balancing my life and its been a conscious choice. I visualize this balancing as a series of bridges that I must cross to get someplace different. Theres one bridge that I cross to stop worrying about old age, another that takes me away from concerns for adult children. Most bridges lead to my garden its there that I can escape, create, breath deeply and touch the earth, coax a fig tree to fruit, an Asian lily to bloom, an iris to emerge from its winter sleep, enjoy the unexpected self-seeded riot of nasturtium that I can toss into a salad for a peppery tang.

And Im most happy in a garden. From the garden I follow a bridge to the kitchen where I blanche lightly a bunch of red chard a perennial in my garden dry it, chop it coarsely, toss into a skillet with warmed olive oil, garlic, the juice of a lemon, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The lid goes on the skillet I shake it a little until the chard is coated with oil and lemon juice and limp. It gets tossed with pasta, maybe joined by sliced hot turkey sausage, and I have dinner perfectly satisfying and nutritious.

The garden too is a path to a friends house.  From it comes a bouquet of freshly picked herbs and lettuce as a gift for my hosts - oregano, marjoram, lavender, curly red lettuce an edible centerpiece. It leads me on a Sunday morning to the farmers market in search of organically grown local bedding plants, a crusty loaf to go with the first ripe tomatoes, bunches of baby turnips, carrots and an elusive golden beetroot that Ive had little success in growing myself.

balanced life beets

Working in my front garden Im sheltered from much of the world but because the road is elevated Balanced life cross vineneighbors walking children to the school bus stop or ambling with dogs can see me and call out greetings. I connect with my neighborhood this way. Strangers engage me in conversation, dogs, roses, a tumble of tangerine-cross-vine are all subject to admiration and questions. How do you grow roses in this blast furnace of a desert? Do you know a dog park has opened just east of here? Whats the best time of the year to cut back citrus? Is that a Tombstone rose? the bridge leads to conversation, interaction, and friends old and new.
When I travel I seek out gardens because in gardens I meet people who are like-minded, who delight in nature, who share stories, tell me about hidden gems, offer me cuttings from their own gardens. The gifts from any garden are often unexpected and incredibly beautiful - like the hummingbird nest I found last year, and the  dove just yesterday who laid three eggs in a flower pot.

balanced life -dove

This is how I balance my life and in doing so have the time and ability to nurture both myself and those I love.

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