Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Finding Balance

Oh darn! I missed the December first deadline for Gratitude! "Darn" because I had a lot to say on that topic! Not only did my husband and I win a bunch of cool stuff in 2001; BUTÖ (dundundunDUN!!!) the visit to his relatives I was dreading at the end of November went really well! Thankfully, all the preparations seem to have paid offÖ big-time! I had a good time, THEY seemed to have a good time, and all in all, when it was over, I felt like an old thorn had been extracted from my life! After 23 years of marriage, finally being able to relax and enjoy being with my husbandís relatives freed me in a powerful way. I finally feel like I have my "feet on the ground" regarding them. I would say having "feet on the ground" is a very useful step in "finding balance."

I think this time of year is usually a time of rebalancing. Returning from the fun and fat of festive feasting to our simple, whole and healthy, low-fat diet can be a challenge. The pain of this, fortunately, is offset by the fact that I have some time to sit with my feet up. I now breathe a sigh of relief as I sink into the easy chair after running full-tilt from dawn ítil dusk for weeks keeping up with the frantic (though generally happy) pace of Holiday Hullabaloo!

Overall, as long as I keep track of how much I am doing and make sure what I am doing makes sense to me, it has generally seemed worth the effort. The happy memories I have generated in November and December have kept me warm during the long, cold winter (literal and figurative) that follows.

Post-holiday-depression has been known to give me trouble. Going to Mexico in January helped one year, but when we came home in February, the "January Blues" hit then. It seems that the down-reaction may be postpone-able, but may have to be faced sooner or later. I guess itís all part of the wave form of balance. Up is followed by down just as autumn follows summer.

At times, when I have been struggling through a low, I have thought maybe the way to best maintain balance might be to just always stick to a moderate, evenly paced life. I reasoned that if extravagant living were what causes reactive down time, avoiding highs would help avoid lows. Therefore, I abandoned social whirlwinds, exciting dietary habits and excessive demands. I embraced a quiet lifestyle that helped me heal, cleanse and simplify my life. Peacefulness settled around me like a loving, patient friend, ready to forgive me and receive me back without a word of resentment. Spiritual oxygen permeated my life like a long, deep breath filling my lungs.

Then I had to exhale.

It turned out, trying to maintain a protected, peaceful lifestyle ALL the time just created a different type of imbalance. Denying myself all special event activity was a recipe for a whole new type of stress. Similarly fasting from food creates a resting state for the body. It is a wonderful rest on many levels, but canít be a permanent state. It seems my spiritual being needs to celebrate and explore life, even as my physical body needs food.

Gradually, I tiptoed back into occasional, careful, celebrational behavior. Having experienced how quietly it was possible to live, it was much easier for me to be more selective than I had been in the past. I began to see that selectivity was the key to maximizing the pleasures of life while minimizing the costs. Itís a constant challenge, learning how to let the pendulum of my life swing enough to keep me ticking, without pulling me right over. However, the more I practice it, the more I find that it enhances my sense of abundance and joyfulness.

Iíve come to see "finding balance" as an ongoing and dynamic activity. Life brings change, and change requires constant shifting to maintain balance. Excessive shifting creates imbalance, as does too little shifting. Pushing myself around has similarly deleterious effects as standing still.

Maybe, life is a tightrope along which we learn to pick our way.

Deborah P.
British Columbia, Canada

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