Spinning Plates

Managing a full life

One year at Christmas my parents gave my brother’s family and mine one of the greatest gifts ever.  They told us that they were going to spend some of our inheritance while we they were still alive and were taking us all to Branson for a family vacation.  This one gift resulted in an annual tradition for the next 8 or 9  years until my dad’s health necessitated a change.  I could write a whole post on the benefits of giving a gift like this, but I will save those for another time.  Today, after a long hiatus from writing, I want to tell you about an experience I had on one of those trips.

Most of our trips we stayed on the lake and activities were centered around the water while taking in a least one or two Branson area attractions.  One year we decided to go to the Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede where you eat a rustic meal, served to you while you sit in long rows at narrow tables encircling a horse arena.  The meal usually consists of soup, meat, bread, corn on the cob, etc.  You eat it all without utensils.  Medieval Times is very similar with a more ancient time setting.  We arrived extra early, as encouraged to do so, so we can enjoy the pre-show.  The way I recall, this show was in  an old saloon type room where you could get root beer and sarsaparilla and popcorn.  One of the entertainment acts however was fascinating to me.  He was a plate spinner.  He had about 30 (okay it seemed like 30)  spikes set up of various heights and began adding plates to each by spinning them.  I know I had seen a plate spinner on television before, but I had never totally focused on one, right in front of me.  I was mesmerized.

The gentleman kept all those plates spinning for a very long time.  He would spin them and then about the time one of the plates was barely spinning he would somehow manage to run over to it and re-spin in it just in time to stop it from falling off.  Several times there were multiple plates that seemed to be in the precarious position of being about ready to fall from lack of attention when he would flit over and rescue it all without bumping into any of the other delicately balanced plates.  It has been around 15 years since I saw that act, but I can still recall my thoughts back then…”this is my life”.  Now, all these years later and it still describes how I feel on most days.

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For the past several months, I have been desperately running arond trying to keep my plates spinning.  All of my plates have different names written on them, perhaps you recognize some of them:  parenting, marriage, aging parents (two states away), finances, college prep for my three high schoolers, helping children transitioning to adult life, blogging, cooking (always), scrapbooking, wedding planning, holiday events, editing my book, celebrating three “big” birthdays within our family, my own spiritual life, and oh yeah my health and fitness.  How many of these plates do you have on your spikes?

So I have been running around trying to keep them all spinning, weaving in and out between them, trying not to knock any off or neglect any to the point of breakage, but here is what happened.  Some fell and crashed.  Some fell, but didn’t break.  Some I simply took off the pole and put back on the shelf, and some completed their spin, and finally I simply picked off the pole and handed them to someone else to spin.

The truth is that many of our plates we cannot hand off.  We cannot (nor would we want to) quit being a good spouse, a good parent or a good child.  We need to treat these plates like fine China.  The most expensive, most precious plates in our collection.  They need extra attention, they must not be allowed to even really slow down.  We can sacrifice the inexpensive garage sale plates for these plates.  Our relationship with God is also a fine China plate.  Sadly, though I must admit that sometimes I have neglected it like a second hand find; “letting it go” until I could take care of some of my other plates first.  Now notice, that I didn’t say church activities, but rather a relationship with God was fine China.  Many times we are tempted to treat “good” activities and programs like they deserve more spins than these more precious plates I just mentioned.

For me, I had to make the difficult decision that blogging and editing my book were plates that I would just have to choose to pick off of the pole and to set them on the shelf until I could properly attend to them.  Our daughter’s wedding was a plate that I only needed to spin for a few minutes and boy did I spin that plate, but after a beautiful and fun wedding, I am happy to say that plate is now a treasured heirloom to put up in the China cabinet.  I won’t need to spin it again, just admire it for it’s beauty.

The challenge for me in all of this is really wanting to spin those plates I put on the shelf for later.   I want to do what I want to do!  I just have to keep reminding myself though that many of the plates that I am busily spinning right now will soon take off for college!   I want to make the most of the time I have left to leave the greatest impression on those plates.  I want my name written on those plates.  I have been spinning plates called children for a long time and some days I am ready to move on, but I know it is a great blessing and a high calling.  So for today, and tomorrow, and the next, I will keep diligently spinning those plates and today I added one back on…and you just read it.

Thanks for joining me.  Let me know what plates you are currently spinning and which ones are the hardest for you to keep on the pole.  In the meantime, I would like to share a quote from Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s new book called Living Forward, which I highly recommend.



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2 thoughts on “Spinning Plates

  1. Keep up the good work…. the spinning does slow down and you put more plates on the shelf! Pick your battles… is my favorite advice because you cannot fight them all!