360Women

How Many Plates Can You Handle?

Coming off a long holiday weekend filled with both celebrations and challenges, both good news and bad, I’m more mindful than ever of the delicate balance of our lives and the importance of maintaining equilibrium.

Whenever I think of my female friends, colleagues and family members, I can’t help picturing them as circus performers, running back and forth between a dozen sticks with dinner plates spinning precariously on top.  As amusing as that image might be under the big top, it’s far more frightening in everyday life – because the consequences of failure are downright disastrous.

Each plate represents a key role or responsibility of our Work, Home, Family, Friends or other life categories. Let one of them fall and you break more than a piece of china; you break an engagement or a promise or a heart.

Most women can readily identify the four primary categories above, but each of those includes numerous items.  Take the Family set of plates, for instance.  For many, it not only includes commitments to their spouses, partners and children, but to the special needs of aging parents, as well.

If you listen carefully while in conversation with other women, you can easily recognize the additional plates being added to their balancing act. One might be a work associate who has been recently diagnosed with a challenging illness. Another could be an adult sibling struggling to support himself financially or overcome addiction. Many of us have reached out to help a friend going through a painful divorce and, at the same time, agreed to volunteer at a school or other community organization.

In one short paragraph I just added four more spinning plates and they’re just the beginning. I’ve yet to mention the child who wakes up in the middle of the night because he’s positive there are monsters under the bed, the boss who assigns you one more project because she’s sure no one else can do it or the washing machine that breaks down and starts flooding the basement.

I am in awe of women of all ages who dive head-first into the deep end of their lives with indomitable spirit, a sense of excitement and a level of commitment that only comes from pure love.  The universe gives us the strength to handle every experience we choose to take on. What the universe doesn’t give us are regular reminders that it’s OK to say “No.”

So, let this blog post (and all the others in our website) serve that purpose: You need to decide how many plates you can handle, and one of those plates must be you.

Remember to carve out a little time – every day – to ensure you’re getting what you need; physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Living a “360 life” is all about balance – and that means knowing your own needs and limitations as well as your responsibilities.

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Teresa

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Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini is the founder of 360Women and a life-long advocate of women’s issues, political activism, social volunteerism, organizational accountability and personal responsibility. A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Non-Profit Management, she’s not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health organizations in the Bay Area, but built a successful second career as one of the most respected realtors in the market. She can be reached at leeann@360women.net.

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