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

When I heard that this month’s essay was on balance, I was very excited. I have spent the last six years trying to achieve balance in most areas of my life. I thought, “Wow, this will be easy because I have been working on this for a while. I’ll have plenty to say!”

So, imagine my surprise when each time I went to write this essay, I would find that I didn’t want to do it. Working on achieving balance and talking about it certainly are two different things. I don’t really want to talk about it, because it’s difficult. Balance permeates my life and the decisions that I make. Trying to find the middle ground, to get the pendulum to stop swinging in extremes, seems to be my unspoken life goal. My inner goddess would like you to know that what I forget is that I am here in this life to learn and to become a better person. If I were suddenly to achieve balance in all areas of my life, my life would be over and -- poof! -- my soul would be off to choose a new life.

Sigh. Since I am a happy person who likes her life and is committed to seeing some more of the outcome, I guess wishing for Nirvana-like balance is not really what I want.

But I do long for the peace that I think more balance would bring. Living a life of compulsivity was not peaceful, and trying to unlearn those compulsive behaviors that I learned around eating, money, and relationships is a painful journey at times. Delving into myself to ask the questions gets tiresome. Am I eliminating animal products from my diet because I want to help animals or is it just a new manifestation of my eating disorder? Do I eat healthy because I really love and care for the world, and myself, or am I just eliminating foods the same way I used to when I was sick? How can I be sure without really looking at myself, and yet that very examination could cause the pendulum to swing again, shattering what I thought was balance attained.

Is balance really that elusive and delicate? My own personal theory is that God (Buddha, Allah, Higher Power, Universe, whatever fits for you) uses life to help us grow. We get to look at these situations, struggle with what we see, and make choices about what direction we will take. Balance is like a rest stop on the highway. It’s the place where I get to take time out from the journey, stretch, get rid of the waste, and become refreshed. But, would I ever say, “Wow, I really like it here. I think I’ll stay!”? Of course not. At my core, I know I’m here for the journey, and so I do ask myself those questions that threaten to upset my life, change the order to chaos. I know that the rest stop is not my final destination.

Balance is wonderful in the moment. But if I were to sit there for a long period of time, paradoxically, I would become unbalanced. For in sitting with all that balance, I would not grow or change or be challenged. Eventually, like a pond without fresh water, I would stagnate and be in disequilibrium. My goddess was wrong (every once in a while it happens) -- eternal balance would not deliver me to my next life, only to my next stage of imbalance.

Balance and imbalance then, must be part of the instinctive cycle of my life. The two, moving together, symbiotically, are a gift to me from the universe. They cannot be avoided, controlled, or manipulated. For my part, I can choose to surrender to what they have to teach me or I can choose to struggle against the natural order. But there wouldn’t be much balance in that now would there?

Odetta O.
Washington

- t a b l e    o f    c o n t e n t s -

 




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