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Uma Thurman Puts Motherhood Center Stage

How the "Smash" actress and mother helps low-income parents and babies. Plus, why she thinks "balance" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Uma Thurman Talks Stress Management continued...

She also stars in the upcoming release Bel Ami, a period piece she shares with Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci. She has half a dozen other movies in pre- or post-production, including The Savages in July, and rumors have it that a Kill Bill 3 may start filming soon.

You might expect Thurman to handle her stressful schedule with Zen aplomb. Her father, Robert Thurman, is a noted Buddhist theologian and the first Westerner ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. But despite many reports listing her among famous Buddhists, Thurman says she admires the philosophy but doesn't practice it.

She freely admits that she handles stress "pretty badly!" But she's trying a new approach. "I was working the other day, and I said to someone, 'I'm sorry that you're stressed,' and the person said very calmly, 'I'm not stressed, I'm concerned.' I've decided to do that. I walk around all the time saying, 'I'm stressed, I'm stressed, I'm stressed,' but now I'm going to start saying that 'I'm concerned.' Maybe that will help."

Her favorite way to ease the pressure? Getting back to Mother Nature. "Whenever I can, I get out of the urban environment as much as possible. My favorite spot is the mountains. But even if I'm in the city, I have Central Park."

Another can't-live-without way to take care of herself: reading. Thurman also admits to having a few vices, including food indulgences (guilty pleasure: chocolate), not getting enough sleep, and neglecting exercise. "I don't do it enough. Guilty!"

And she says her work with Room to Grow is itself a stress reliever. "I think it's important to feel you have a positive outlet, to know that you're making some sort of difference and connecting with your community and that things can be improved," she says. "It's a big relief -- instead of watching the news and thinking the sky is going to fall."

Despite her busy schedule, Thurman still hasn't been pushing herself quite as hard as she did before she had kids.

"I've done things that I've chosen. Just to enjoy myself. I haven't done anything really big in a long time. Partly that's been a conscious choice, and partly it's been that I just haven't found something worth putting my life aside to do." Spoken like a true believer in making choices instead of trying to have it all.

The Tyranny of Balance

Is Thurman right? Are we torturing ourselves with this mythical idea of a "balanced" life?

Definitely, says Lana Holstein, MD, a life coach and the former director of women's health at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz. "As a physician, mother, wife, and life coach, I have never lived a life of balance," she says. "Most of our lives are not in balance. We emphasize one area or another for a time -- that is just fine in my book." So what should we strive for instead?

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