Wash Your Dishes (It’s Time To Clear Your Plate)

I wish I could take credit for this title/concept, but unfortunately, I cannot. I have a friend, Bruce, who checks in with me occasionally and when he does, I give him the rundown of all my activities, progress, jobs and current events. The last time we went through this, I ended by saying, “I just have too much on my plate.” To which he immediately quipped back, “Well, it’s time to wash your dishes.” All I could do was laugh….and agree. 

As I try to do whenever quoting a ‘phrase’ in my blog, I wanted to determine the origins of having ‘too much on your plate”. There really wasn’t much out there except to find out the phrase has been around since about 1928. For me, the expression usually means I’ve just made a visit to the buffet at Mutt’s BBQ and I’m trying to keep the sweet potato crunch from sliding into my coleslaw while maintaining my leaning tower of hushpuppies. It also means I have probably taken on too many commitments. 

And I am quite sure I am not alone. 

Everyone out there can identify with juggling way too many tasks from our self-imposed to do list. Schedules are extremely hectic and we spend our days constantly on the run. Meetings, functions, deadlines, family, friends; we are stretched to the limit. Our days begin early to get a jump start and end late just to fit in that one last thing. Some of us would not know how to function without calendar aps and phone reminders telling us where to be, what to do, and don’t forget the milk. So my question to you today is, why? Why do we feel the need to pile our life’s plate with morsel after morsel of tasks like we will never again eat? Our proverbial mind’s eye is much bigger than we can handle. The result is a plate full of unfinished business and the feeling of wasted time, failure and regret. 

What happens to food when it is left unattended on a plate in your kitchen? (I’m sure none of you have every done that, so use your imagination or come to my house on a Saturday morning.) I’ll tell you what happens, it goes bad. Quickly. The freshness is gone, the aroma is gone and nothing left is even close to appetizing. Our life can quickly become stale and unappealing too if we lose the ability clear our plates.  

Am I suggesting we get rid of all the demands in our life? Not at all. We need to have plans and a purpose. We have jobs to do and people who depend on us. We do, however, need to strike a balance. I love the expression…..”No is a complete sentence”. We do not have to agree or commit to everything asked of us. The food committee will do fine without your casserole. The gift for the party does not have to be handmade. Your friends can have dinner one night without you.  The children can (and should) finish their own homework or science project. The grass (or weeds) will still be there tomorrow. It is perfectly ok to simply say no. And we are not obligated to explain ourselves. I know we all have that one friend who will ask “but why not” and proceed to pick apart our answer. Don’t give them anything to pick. 

One other note worth mentioning; not all plates are the same size. Some days you may have a larger one that can hold more, and those days will be full, productive and busy. Other days, you may wish to just carry around a small dessert plate to savor the simplicity and solitude. Each has a place and each brings its own reward. The goal here is, whatever size you choose, make sure by the end of the day it is cleaned. Do not let leftover cares, worries or disappointments lay around to turn moldy and mar your beautiful soul. 

Before I let you go, I want to talk about one more thing. While I have encouraged you to be mindful of your plate and learn to say no, please be respectful of others who do the same. If you ask someone to help, or pitch in, or go there or come here, and they choose to say no, do not be upset or offended. You may not know everything that is going on in their lives and all the demands they face. Most people hate to disappoint or feel like they have let someone down, so do not pressure anyone to take on more than they can handle. 

I hope I have inspired you today to take a look at the plate you are carrying. Make sure the items on it are good for you, in the right portion and easily ‘digested’. Be very careful not to place too much on your plate and always, always go to bed with the troubles of the day cleared away. 

Go Wash Those Dishes!

Hope With Abandon!

Hope Out!