A huge thanks to Wanda (from Chicago) for responding to our call for blog contributions from Chefs Collaborative members! Melissa and I just returned from the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs conference in Pasadena, which happened this weekend. The main focus of the conference was this very theme – holistic sustainability – or more simply said, work/life balance. Wanda’s post is very apropos!  Working in the industry isn’t easy, and to be able to work effectively, you also have to know how to unwind. I encourage you to post your comments at the bottom of the blog. How do you maintain a work/life balance? What feeds your soul and keeps you going? Read on below for Wanda’s thoughts. – Jen

Wanda: Honestly, when Jen Ede of Chefs Collaborative gave me the topic of Holistic Sustainability, I had never heard the two words joined together. So – I asked my friend and customer, Sodexo General Manager Cyndi Gloodt, if she could explain it to me since she completed a certification course on holistic medicine.

Here’s what she said: “This pertains to things such as farming, the environment, health and nutrition. If you look at the two words individually, holistic is most commonly associated with the health of the whole person, physically and psychologically. Sustainability is about supporting or providing. So you could say that holistic sustainability is about supporting a person’s physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Following these principals helps you sustain a work/life balance of achievement and enjoyment, the core of obtaining work/life balance. This sounds like a bunch of words, but simply put, you have to support the whole picture, not just one aspect, then things will fall into place.”

Personally what I do to try to achieve a work/life balance includes:

Baking. It’s relaxing and I enjoy it. I bake for my customers, potential customers, security guards, valet, and accounting people, as a goodwill and PR/marketing gesture. I use organic and fair trade ingredients. I feel I’m helping to promote my business and sustainability.

Twice-weekly kickboxing classes at the local Park District. Really helps to relieve stress from work and life, punching and kicking pads with a partner, jumping rope, squats, crunches, push-ups, shadow boxing. Excellent cardio and strength building for men and women. Vigorous work-out that doesn’t get boring and serves a purpose with self-defense techniques.

Once-a-month book club. Diverse group. We take turns suggesting books and voting on the selection. Friendly and social. I enjoy exposure to a variety of books that I wouldn’t choose on my own.

Once-a-month breakfast with my girlfriend I’ve known since kindergarten. We’ve done this for years, and if we didn’t schedule our monthly breakfast, we’d go for months without getting together. E-mail and phone calls are great, but taking time to sit down, share a meal, talk and laugh is important.

Early-morning walks with the dog. We know our neighbors through the other doggies.

Power napping. Much healthier than caffeine. I indulge whenever possible.

Nov. 16th I’ll be meeting a friend for dinner. Then we’ll attend a lecture at The Tibet Center in Evanston, IL, Jane Barrash, “Discovery of Self” about key internal resources and new operating assumptions that together create a new model of productivity, performance and possibility.

It’s important to stay focused, hopeful and positive. Remember, optimism may make you look stupid but cynicism always makes you look cynical!

Interested in joining Wanda at Chefs Collaborative?  Click on this link for membership information.