The Art of Living in Balance with Maria Rodale

People often ask me how I do it, how I do it “all.” By day, I’m CEO of a media company. I’m on more boards than I can recite in one breath. I have three girls between the ages of 28 (just married) and 4. And I blog, cook, blog about cooking and stuff like this, and in general have enough time to do lots of fun things. I came up with the phrase “the art of living in balance” years and years ago when I launched Organic Style magazine. Unfortunately, we had to shut the magazine down. But that phrase still guides me. So, when people ask me how I do it, I often can’t give them an easy answer because it’s just something I’ve been doing for so long. But since someone asked me just the other day, I’ll try to give an answer that you all can use in your own lives.
1. Surround yourself with good people and keep them happy. I’ve had the same babysitter for 28 years, the same husband for 18. They are reliable, comfortable, and wonderful people I appreciate every day.

2. Outsource the stuff you don’t like to do. I hired a woman to do laundry almost 20 years ago because not only do I loathe doing laundry, but also I’m terrible at it. When I first hired her, it seemed like a total luxury. But freeing up that time gave me the opportunity to devote my time to other areas in my life that led to more success and more happiness. I adore and respect Betty so much that I even wrote a laundry book, Betty’s Book of Laundry Secrets, to capture all her wisdom. She’s in her 80s and still comes to my house every Monday. I love her.

3. If you see a problem, fix it. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time fuming about problems and people. Now, people often call me “direct.” But what that means is if there is something I don’t understand, or that isn’t working, I say something. I’m that person that asks the stupid question in the room that everyone else wanted to ask but was too afraid to. Whether it’s a family issue or a work issue, I have found that the direct, respectful approach gets the best results.

4. If you can’t fix it, let it go. I am a firm believer in the energy and power of the Universe—that there is a time to fix and a time to not fix. If you have an issue that you can’t resolve, don’t keep banging your head against the same wall over and over. Take a break. Try something different. Distract yourself. Forget about it. When the time is right, the opportunity will present itself.

5. You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. This is something I learned after years of therapy, which was worth every minute and every dollar. It’s not my job to fix other people; it’s my job to understand them so that I can fix my own response to them. This alone has saved me countless years of agony.

6. Have a purpose and a mission. I truly believe that each person has a special mission and purpose on this planet, and the closer we all come to finding it and living it, the happier we are. My mission and purpose are closely aligned with the family business I run and are all about healthy living on a healthy planet. In my fairy-tale mind I am a knight protecting people and the planet from harm. Hey, it works for me. Don’t make fun of it until you’ve tried it.

7. Listen to nature. Whenever I have a question I need an answer to or a problem I can’t resolve, or I just need comfort, I go out into nature and sit quietly ALONE! and listen. I may just be listening to that quiet, still voice inside of me that can’t be heard unless I turn off all the other noise. But I also believe nature loves to converse with us, and if we are open and still, she has quite strong opinions. Try it!

8. Exercise. I’ve seen all the studies in the world, just about. And if there is one thing that is essential to health and happiness, it’s exercise. I know. It’s hard for me to fit it into my life, too. But it works. I do yoga and Pilates. I garden. But those alone are not enough to keep me truly fit. If I am feeling depressed, a walk, run, or bike ride really does the trick. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do it, and do it a few times a week. I’ve started putting stars on the calendar every time I do 30 minutes or more of exercise. My goal is to have a five-star week every week. I have learned that we ladies have to put ourselves first if we are going to take care of the other important people in our life. It’s not selfishness; it’s sanity.

9. Eat healthfully and well. Food is important, too—organic, of course! Fresh, toxin-free fruits and veggies. Meats from local organic farmers. Whole grains. I find that cutting out white flour really makes me feel so much better and so much less hungry. Exercise, too, controls my appetite. But good, yummy food is essential to having energy, strength, and stamina to live a full life. And sit-down dinners with the whole family are a key to family harmony and health.

10. Feel the love. I think this is the most important thing of all. Surround yourself with love. Snuggle and play with your kids. Don’t waste time or energy on movies or TV that are violent and depressing—watch happy-ending love stories! Reach out to friends and family on Facebook. A good email from a long-lost friend can make me happy for days. Forgive and forget the bad stuff, and focus on love. It’s a happy feeling (most of the time).

Maria’s links:

Maria Rodale is the CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., the world’s leading multimedia publisher of advice and information about health, wellness, and the environment, and the largest independent book publisher in the United States. Rodale reaches tens of millions of people worldwide through magazines like Prevention, Men’s Health, and Women’s Health; through books like The South Beach Diet and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth; and with the content-rich web sites that complement its publications. Maria is Editor-in-Chief of the company’s newest online venture,, which features the latest news about healthy living on a healthy planet.

Maria is the author of three books: It’s My Pleasure, written with her daughter Maya Rodale, Betty’s Book of Laundry Secrets, and Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening.

In 2004 Maria received the National Audubon Society’s “Rachel Carson Award” for “Working to Ensure a Healthy Environment for Future Generations.” In 2007 she received the United Nations Population Fund’s “Award for the Health and Dignity of Women.”

Maria lives in an ecologically-friendly house in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.

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