My Four Burners

My Four Burners | Freckled Italian
Imagine it this way. Your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner representing one major quadrant of your life.

Burner one represents your family.
Burner two is your friends.
Burner three is your health.
Burner four is your work.

The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off two.”

Forget success—sometimes I’m just focusing on sanity.

I used to hear about the four burners and identify with the theory, but it never seemed hard to keep everything on the stove—I guess I didn’t have enough pots for that yet. Family, friends, health, and work were single items that could easily be managed, but lately I’ve been thinking about all the pots that try to get some heat from each burner.


When it comes to family for me I guess I have a mom pot, a marriage pot, and a sister/daughter pot. My family definitely does come first, and I think it’s obvious that this past year, the baby has been my #1 priority. However, I’ve gotta say that my marriage is one of the things in my life that I’m most proud of. Rob and I have been together for almost 10 years and we are a really terrific team, if I do say so myself. We started young and we’re still pretty young and I’m just generally really proud of us. It’s been interesting to watch and feel my relationship with Rob turn into the main “family” one, especially now that Sophie is here.


This may sound sad but I don’t have a ton of friends in California. I’m pretty introverted in real life so I feel very blessed by the number of really close friends I’ve accumulated over the years, and because we’ve moved so much I just don’t ever feel like I need to get out there and make new friends. (You guys should read MWF Seeking BFF [affiliate link] if you haven’t—it goes into some really interesting stuff about how many friendships we can actually maintain). I text and chat with my friends across the country almost every day, but I can definitely go weeks and even months without talking to some of them.

I think what’s most important in my friendships is the ability to be far apart without falling apart, and we’re all busy and all over the place so it’s nice that my closest friends sort of operate that same way. It’s pretty rare that I feel like any of us are falling down on the job, so this burner stays lit pretty easily.


On this burner are exercise and eating well, and for me lately they have been the first to go. Before Sophie I was at the barre studio almost every day, teaching and taking class; and Ender and I ran a few times a week and walked every day. I’m finally getting back into working out every day, but it’s been a pretty constant struggle. If I have 30 minutes of free time it means Sophie is napping and I usually want to work on something or clean something or even just lie down on the couch and take a little break.

I’m prone to migraines if I don’t eat right, and you’d think that would be enough of an incentive to stay away from the things that make me feel sick but sometimes it’s not (read more about my diet and food sensitivities). So to keep the health burner going, sometimes I’ll work out but eat crap, or maybe the other way around (which in my opinion is a lot more effective—you can’t really outrun a bad diet, you know?).


Writing, recipe development and photography, and Pure Barre. I’ve barely cooked anything for the blog since Sophie was born, partly because I powered through hundreds of recipes for my cookbooks the last few years. I tried to start a journal the other day just to jump-start my creative writing juices, but I never really got back to it. I’ve been feeling burnt out for a while because I told myself that I’d be able to keep blogging after having a baby but never really gave myself full time away from everything (I was answering emails from my publisher on my phone in the hospital bed).

Now that it’s been almost a year I’m excited that we actually just hired a part-time nanny to come over two days a week for a few hours, which will be my time to focus on the blog, get started on that food photography course, and maybe teach a few more classes a week at the barre studio.

And finally, there are Things That Should Probably Go Somewhere But Never Seem To Stay Lit: keeping up with my home, reading for pleasure, getting my hair cut more than once a year. Are these pots? Burners? Who knows. I don’t really spend much time on “self care” but I guess that’s where all of them might fit, which is probably why I never stick with them. I guess they could get squeezed in under “health,” but I don’t know.

What pots are you balancing on your burners? What’s the first one that tends to go when things get crazy? What things would you like to make room for on the stove?