Thursday, May 10, 2012

We're all spinning 'round

I had seen this leaf floating in our creek beneath the bridge for several days and thought I should take a picture.  This afternoon, I finally did.
One of my most favorite memories from college was going out into the main lawn in the middle of the night and spinning around and around in circles alongside my friends.  The real world is an overwhelming place, and for some of us, college was the first place we were completely slammed with the reality of this. Spinning around in circles was childish fun that freed us from the every day tension and drama we were encountering.  Oftentimes as an adult I feel like I've begun to spin around in circles for fun, but then, somewhere along the way I forgot to stop, and I begin to feel sick.  My world is upside down, and the adventure and freedom I sought in my many diversions is again elusive.  I feel stuck.

The many spinning plate analogy is a favorite one lately.  If you haven't heard of it, a person who has too many things they are committed to is said to be "spinning too many plates."  Have you ever seen someone do this in real life?  They are actually spinning dinner plates or bowls at the tip of a bowl, which they must constantly move at the right speed to keep the bowl spinning.  It sounds pointless, doesn't it?  But it's entertaining at least, right?

It's usually this time of year that I really notice how many plates I've decided to spin.  It happens very gradually, because you don't plan on looking like an insane maniac doing aimless spinning of dishware on poles.  And of course, once you notice you're doing something that you've really been doing without thinking it just gets harder.  The plates start to wobble, and your brain goes berserk as it frantically tries to decide how to keep them going.  Then it starts to question why those plates were up there in the first place.  "It's craziness!!!," you shout as you stand there paralyzed.

So here are the choices:

1)  let them fall

2)  figure out how to gently put them down

3)  get people to join you in the madness

4) wait for someone to come and take them from you

5)  just keep them going.

6) add more plates

6)  any creative combination of the above

You would think I'd learn, but I guess my weakness is overcommitment.  What about you?  What activities or commitments are you juggling that should maybe be reconsidered?  Are you doing things just because you've always done them?  Are you stressed and snapping at people around you?  It might be time to stop and reflect.

black and white version of the same beautiful leaf and reflection.  Today, literally staring into the water of the creek helped put things into perspective for me.

Thankfully, there are several commitments that are being taken from me from the natural progression of the school year.  Awana and co-op are ending.  Swimming lessons can take a break after this month.    I've been getting better at asking people to help me with shuttling children to activities and putting my foot down and declaring at-home days when it seems all I do is drive in circles in my minivan.

Right now, there are seasonal commitments like goat milking, goat kid bottle feeding, gardening and general outdoor maintenance that are beginning to eclipse my fall and winter commitments.  It's when they overlap that my life begins to feel like a whirl pool and I begin to despair.
maia relaxes on the bridge over the creek
I've been snapping at the kids, my husband, and this morning one of my very best friends.  I realized it was time to sit and do nothing.  Literally.  This afternoon, I sat in the sunshine with the baby goats and my little girls with the alpacas hovering and sniffing us all.  We did nothing, but we did everything we needed to.

delicious mud brownies  ---("ooh, there's a worm in one!"--maia )
We read books on the trampoline, then lay back in the cool spring sunshine with a blanket tent over our heads.  We took care of our great grandma goat, who seems to be having some mobility issues and gave her a special suite in our old barn.  I gathered some alders for poles for our beans.  They played in the mud and made mud brownies.  We made soup and ate it.  I cancelled commitments I had made with several people because I realized that in the state I was in, I was not pleasant to be around.

figuring out the hose in the afternoon light
There are still plates upon my poles, but I'm looking at them carefully, evaluating their purpose so that I can give each one the best attention it needs.  I want to be spinning for fun, not out of habit.  How about you?  


  1. We did nothing, but we did everything we needed." Even reading that sentence, Angie, makes my insides take a deep, satisfying breath and my heart smile. Thanks for being real as you share your life with us.

  2. As Ginger noted, I love that line too!

    I have been thinking a lot lately about spinning in circles on the lawn at night outside our dorm...I think I had so much anxiety about starting classes and all the changes--it was so joyful to just spin and play and laugh with you, being completely crazy and completely ourselves. :)

    I love the pictures of your leaf in your creek. So beautiful. And I resonate with your snappiness--that's how I've felt this week. Your way of dealing with it sounds like something i need to do too.

    Thanks for inspiring me Ange! Now and way back then...Love you!


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