Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Carola Donato had to say…

No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi

Age: 38
Where I live: Motala, Sweden
Job: Licensed Physiotherapist, Yoga Instructor
Ages/genders of kids: 4-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy

IMG_2213_2Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Yes, kind of, but different position. I received my bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy 3 years before I had my son. I am very thankful I didn’t have to go through all the studying with kids around. Much respect to parents that can manage that!

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
It depends if it is referring to materialistic things or not. Materialism is very overrated to me and it really doesn’t make you happy. Happiness comes in many other layers of life and can easily be forgotten under the layers of material things. Having it all to me means living right here and now and enjoying every single moment of life.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Activities with and for my kids vs. activities for myself and my husband. I’d like to take my kids to different activities throughout the week but if I do there is no time left to have any kind of activity for myself and/or to spend time with my husband. I have learned to take better care of my own interests the past year, not to forget completely who I am and what I like to do, but the cost of this is to cut down on the activity time with the kids or my husband. Very hard for me to figure out. I would hire a full-time chef, if I could, then I could use the time spent on cooking to instead do fun stuff with my family and just sit down when a healthy, organic, and most likely vegetarian dinner is ready.  🙂

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am getting better at balancing my own reactions dealing with a very demanding 6-year-old. I am calmer, more collected, and I think actions through when he is having demanding moments. Tantrums in public do not affect me anymore, and I don’t stress over these things.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? A long time ago I worked in a factory making refrigerators (Electrolux). One co-worker always said, “Oh, I wish it was friday.” On the weekend she really wished it was summertime or vacationtime or something else. She said one day, “I realize I am wishing the life out of myself because I am always wishing for the future.” This stuck with me and I can look forward to things but I enjoy the ride to the goal just as much.
From your mother? She always told me that “I can do anything” if I wanted to.
From your kids? I am blown away by all the things my kids tell me, but I learn most from their questions. My son asked me a couple of days ago “How do I know I am a good person?” By answering tough questions like this I also learn about myself and my values because I have to put words to them. We do one question every night before bedtime and I am blown away by my kids’ curiosity about things. My son is very deep and asks questions like, “When do the days stop coming?” And, “Where was I before I was a baby in your belly?”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
I would do yoga.

What would you have told yourself 20 years ago?
Start practicing yoga today! And don’t lay out in the sun!

20 years from now?
I have no idea!

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?

Whose job do you wish you had?
My own!

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Wow, there are so many jobs out there that I am thankful someone else is doing… The most mindblowing documentary I watched showed the working conditions of a miner’s job in Peru. They had no protection, no minimum pay, no minimum working hours, and no rescue operations in case of an accident. They also got sick internally from all the particles inhaled so they were all slowly dying but did the job to pay schooling for one of their kids to prevent them from taking the same path (working in the mine) that they had taken.

Favorite books?
A Swedish children’s book called Sandvargen by Asa Lind (The Sandwolf). It’s a great book for kids and adults that is extremely deep and thoughtful. It’s about a girl who lives in a house by the sea and finds an imaginary wolf in the sand. The girl asks the wolf all kind of questions about adults and about life and the wolf knows all the answers to all the questions in the universe. Too bad there is no English version out there.

What are you reading right now?
The Yogasutras of Patanjali, by Swami Satchidananda.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Yoga.
Food? Dark chocolate.
Website? Pinterest.com.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Much too little, probably about 6-7 hours per night.

What do you read every morning?
“SLIDE TO SNOOZE” 😀 So I gain some time to sleep by not reading the newspaper in the morning. I get up, get dressed, wash off, feed the kids, get on my bicycle and go. My husband takes the kids to school, and I eat my breakfast oatmeal in peace at work.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am a good friend.
I wish I: had attended my grandfather’s funeral! I was living in the Bahamas when he passed away and couldn’t travel to Sweden at the time!
My kids: fight like beasts but love each other when it counts.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Balancing life to me is also about thinking a step further and outside the boundaries of our countries and our lives. On a daily basis we spend money on products coming from all over the world. Products that we have no idea about how they were produced and what an inpact they had on other human beings, wildlife, and the environment. I am very skeptical of cheap products and cheap food. There is a reason for them being cheap. I forgot who said this but “Everytime you pay for a product, you have put your stamp of approval on that specific product,” meaning: You approve the way it was grown, what pesticides and chemicals that were used in the process, how the factory was treating waste into air, water and soil, how much the worker got paid, etc., etc.” As consumers we are making a choice and therefore we need to make good choices, not just to balance ourselves but to balance the world. 

IMG_2568About Carola
“I grew up in the small town of Motala, Sweden. Early on, I knew that I wanted to travel and see the world. As a teenager I saved every penny from summer jobs to be able to travel. And I did. I was lucky enough to have an amazing grandmother who liked traveling too, and she was able to come with me when I was 16 and 17 to trips to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. After that I traveled, worked, studied, and repeated that a dozen times! I experienced the US for the first time as an exchange student, started scuba diving, and became a scuba diving instructor. After that I traveled the world diving and working my butt off 7 days a week, just to keep a roof over my head. But I loved what I was doing and didn’t really care about anything else. I  met my husband Mario in the Bahamas, and we kept traveling the world as scuba diving instructors. He is the one who got me into yoga in 2003. Ever since that moment I love doing yoga and love how it makes my body, mind, and soul feel. It has helped me through the studying years at the university and now I also enjoy teaching yoga to my students. My path has given me an understanding for other people, other countries, cultures, and ways of life. Today, I am happy to be back in my hometown, close to family and friends who I grew up with.”

Find more about Carola here:
Instagram: @mango_mamma

Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…

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