Sometime late into the mid-1960s early 70s, while watching after-dinner television, I saw my first plate spinner. Unless you're of a certain age, you won't know that we didn't always have 300 channels and shows like America's Got Talent. We were lucky to have three television stations (four if you had public access), and typically watched shows like The Ed Sullivan Show (or later, The Gong Show) for talented musicians, unusual talents, and headliners of the day. 

Erich Brenn (yes, I looked it up, my memory has its flaws) had his audience holding their breath while he teased us with bowls that might crash and plates that he continued to twist and spin. Brenn's act (and those of other individual humorist spinners) was mere foolishness compared to some of the Chinese acrobatic plate spinners who somehow managed to keep handfuls of pole-balanced plates spinning during elaborate performances.

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Plate spinning is how I see myself managing through a day. Spin the plate called "clean up the kitchen" while managing the lake created by the cat spilling her water dish across the kitchen floor. (Something Iggy has taken to doing multiple times a day now. I think she likes the attention.) Spin the plate called "refurbish a website" while maneuvering through multiple plug-ins, apps, and passwords that don't always perform as expected. Spin the plate called "work on a client project" while finding husband's missing golf pants, explaining that, yes, the leftovers he seeks really are on the third shelf, top left in the fridge, just as I explained (before having to come down the stairs, pull them off the shelf, while throwing in a load of laundry, and (again) cleaning up the cat-formed lake). And these are the simplified versions of my daily "performances."

I bet you have your own plate spinning acts too.

I enjoy working with the process called Internal Family Systems (IFS) created by Dr. Richard Schwartz. I've mentioned this in the past, but basically if you've ever said, "well, a part of me feels. . ." Schwartz teaches how to embody that "part" and give it a persona so it can speak. I've got several imaginary regulars who come into the scene, one being a child-like gal I nick-named "Little Puzzle Girl."

Normally, Little Puzzle Girl sits at a tray table working a puzzle with all white pieces. While I initially perceived her as fitting together the pieces of my writing business, in truth, she is finding where each piece of my life fits. Where she has previously shown herself with the borders mostly worked out and a stack of unused pieces tumbled in the middle, she surprised me recently with her own style of plate spinning.

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As the vision of her came into view, I spied how she had taken all those many unfitted pieces and stacked them precariously one on top of the other into a skyscraper tower. I expected her stack to come crashing down any second (but it didn't). I suggested to Little Puzzle Girl that she might want to consider a better balanced configuration (nothing like arguing with what is, in essence, yourself), to which she defiantly stated, "Of course, it's balanced, doobie-head. How else would it manage to tower so high without falling over?" Uh, but it will. It surely will? 

During that session, there could be no further discussion, other than for her to show me how she could expertly pull out whatever piece lay at the bottom (you know, like pulling the tablecloth from a set table), fit that piece, and move to the next. This certainly provided eye-opening information for my real self. Had I really conformed my life's many pieces into such a likely-unstable format?

I've almost always lived a multi-tasked life doing more in a single day then some do in a week. I don't sit still well and like to keep busy. On hold for 90 minutes trying to book a service call? No problem, I can check emails, scan receipts, dust the room around me. . . But considering Little Puzzle Girl's predicament, I pulled myself back by the collar, letting myself know that it might be okay to get up at 4:30 a.m. at times to complete some quiet-time work, but it's also just as okay to sleep in (until 6 a.m.) to get some rest. 

I've promised myself that, if my to-do list of the day doesn't get done today (or this week) I can cut myself some slack and know, "I'm right where I need to be," and it's okay if it takes a few days/weeks longer. (Even if there is another "part" of me that is fiercely independent, demanding, and highly impatient about incomplete tasks—I'm talking to you "Cathy!")

Last check-in, Little Puzzle Girl had four stacks (not one--I have no idea if I have actually classified my life into four sectors or if that's just symbolic), letting me know she recognized my pull back. At least, I know that tower isn't going to come crashing down, even if I do still have to clean up Lake Iggy.)

Meanwhile, I continue to work on upgrades for my website, (next newsletter I'll reveal some cool surprises), work on writing a cool freebie to go with my newly-hatched book, manage the downsizing of our antique collection, and worry a bit less if you'll think badly of me that this newsletter is two-weeks late. 

How do you manage your plate spinning?