Long-ago variety shows often featured a plate spinner. He had several tall, thin poles on top of which he began to spin plates quickly enough to keep them aloft. First one, then another and another. But as more plates were added, the first few began to wobble, dangerously close to crashing to the floor. So the plate spinner would run back to the wobbling plates to spin them again, then he would continue to add more. More plates, more wobbling, more running...a frenzy of activity as the audience drove him on with frantic cheer. What happened when he tried to spin too many plates? CRASH!
We have become plate spinners. We can manage for a while, but then our plates begin to wobble. We misplace our keys, we forget to buy milk, we miss an appointment because we totally forgot. Sometimes, as with the plate spinner, we see this as a signal we're not trying HARD enough, so we run and spin faster. Host the holiday dinner, babysit the grandkids, take Hubby to the doctor, bake those delicious, but time-consuming cookies for the book club. We tell ourselves, "But if I don't (insert task here), everyone will be SO disappointed." Just like the audience, the needs of those around us become the frantic cheer. But when the spinning can no longer be sustained, who sits in the pile of broken china?
This is when our body makes us slow down...we catch a cold, a flu, something that confines us to bed in spite of our efforts to keep going. If only for the briefest time, we surrender to the bliss of nothingness. We don't feel guilty about saying no because, after all, we're much too sick to do anything.
But what if, instead of slowing down only when our bodies are completely depleted, we actually CHOSE to slow down while we still had energy, a CONSCIOUS choice to slow down? What might we do for ourselves with that little reserve of extra energy?
As women, we often feel we are not deserving of "me" time until everyone else has been cared for. We tell ourselves, "people will think I'm selfish," or worse, "people will think I'm a failure." But if our energy flow is always on output, with little attention paid to input, it is no surprise that we feel too perpetually tired to do things for our own comfort and pleasure.
Safety instructions on an airplane direct us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves FIRST, before we assist those around us. The principle applies to life...if you do not care for yourself first, you are of little use to others. What if you rewarded yourself along with everyone else? A small treat, a little open space in your day to provide yourself with the same attention you labor so diligently to provide for everyone else.
If you relaxed into your day of spinning plates, what might open up for you? If you had 15 minutes of time today, just for yourself, imagine what you might do. Is there one plate, just one small plate, that you might consider putting down?