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Reflections: What's on your plate?

What's on your plate?
By William L. Bulla
Weekly Contributing Writer

Are we like many people whom over load their dinner plates with so much food that it becomes a real challenge to eat it all? Have you ever observed how people stack food on their plates when going through a buffet line? Or how they fill every little space on a salad plate at a salad bar? It's as if they are trying to set a record of how much food they can cram together on a plate. Quite often they fail to eat all of that food. They will leave some items partially eaten, and other items will be completely ignored. Suddenly they are saying, "I've got too much stuff on my plate!"
For many Americans, the phrase "what's on your plate" refers less often to food than to the activities or commitments we have made to others, and more often to juggling projects and activities. Suddenly they are saying, "I've got too much stuff on my plate!"
What we mean is that our lives have become too busy. We try to teach our children not to take more food than what they will eat and not put too much "stuff" on their plates. Yet, many of us, as adults, put too much stuff on our own plates. I am not referring to food, but to commitment to activities that has the potential to hinder our well being. Unfortunately, there is a temptation to approach life like an empty plate at an all you can eat buffet or salad bar. Filling the empty space on your plate can become the unconscious goal rather than determining what and how much is necessary to provide adequate nourishment. Each item on our food plates should have a purpose and a meaningful relationship to everything else on our plates. Just because a food item is available, or desirable, doesn't mean it should be on your plate. If we eat until we're full, we've already eaten too much. Although we understand this principle from a dietary perspective, we seem less able to make the application in our life commitments and pursuits. Are we committing to projects needed in our community, or tasks for organizations of which we are members, far beyond what we can fulfill? That means another person, that could have had that item on his or her plate, is not able to handle that project. It may cause a project to be scraped, just as all that extra food one could not eat.
We don't need larger plates to accommodate more items that we tend to pile on them. We need to be more selective in choosing appropriate items we can handle. We must be sure the things that occupy our plates are the important things in our life. We need to review the items that have caused our plate to be full, then put them to good use or get rid of them.
Don't take on additional commitments just to feel like a team player, unless you have the time, capability and responsibility of doing the job properly. If you are overwhelmed, overscheduled and overextended with what's on your plate don't add anything. You are already loaded with items you cannot fulfill. You already have too much on your plate.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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