Balancing Act: Hitting The Pause Button On An Over-Engineered Life

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune.

My life is an Alvin and the Chipmunks song.

I am the lyrics, sped up to a comical pitch, while the background music plays at a respectable, sustainable pace.

I’m in a permanent hurry. I’m so accustomed to rushing to meet a deadline, pick up a child, drop off another child, attend a meeting, fold the laundry, feed the dogs, hit the gym, catch a cab or arrive at an appointment that a mild sense of panic sets in when I find myself with four spare minutes.

I don’t know how to not rush.

My friend Krista emailed me Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop newsletter the other day. She knows it makes me laugh, with its weekly tips on choosing the right stem cellular booster serum and how to settle on the perfect $900 clutch.

This particular installment included a recipe for “overnight oatmeal.” It calls for 15 ingredients, one of which was buckwheat groats, and it takes seven hours to cook.

My oatmeal has two ingredients: water and the stuff you shake out of the tiny paper bag. It takes about 60 seconds to boil the water and five more seconds to stir.

This would have been a perfect time to invoke my favorite Amy Poehler-ism: “Good for her! Not for me.”
(Isn’t that the best? “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again,” Poehler writes in her new book, “Yes Please,” which I highly recommend. “Good for her! Not for me.”)

But the recipe caught me during a moment of weakness. A moment when my insecurities were firing on all cylinders. A moment when my “Good for her! Not for me” reflex was broken, and my “I’m doing everything wrong” reflex was on high alert.

Ever have those days?

Anyway, I rushed (ha!) to the conclusion that I am incapable of savoring life‘s pleasures, be they overnight oatmeal or sunsets.

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