Monday, February 7, 2011

A glimpse of plate

Near the end of last year, I was careening towards a colossal case of burnout. I had so many things to do, so much to remember to do, so many things that I cared about doing, that I could no longer keep it all straight. Things that matter to me--really, really matter, like the co-op and our cowshare--were falling through the cracks. Every time I received an email about the co-op, I wanted to cry or hide under the couch, even if it was a simple question like "So, when do you think you'll be opening?" Very reasonable requests were being unfulfilled--hell, they weren't even being remembered. I was doing more damage than good to the things I care about. I was putting my job ahead of my volunteer activities, which is fine and right in many ways, but I had nothing left over. I tried to keep space for my family, and while in the most technical sense I succeeded, I can't help but notice that even when I was home, I wasn't really there. I was glazed-over, and not in the good way like honey-baked chicken. I needed a break! But no break was forthcoming.

I didn't really need a break, though. I needed to let go of some of these duties. And so, for the past month, I have been steadily doing exactly that. Fortunately, I work and volunteer with some of the best, most understanding, and above all tolerant people in existence, and I think they could all see that Robyn was going to break soon if something didn't give. So I put out a plea of "help!" and many, many people stepped up to the plate.

And then yesterday it really happened. I got the email that said "Nope, it's already done, you don't have to worry about that any more!" I told my husband, and he said, "You just got your first glimpse of plate." Huh? "Plate. You know, your plate? Which has been far too full for far too long?" Oh! Yes! I can see a bit of plate!

Of course, this has been slowly happening for some time now, but it's only hitting me just how much I have managed to clear off. Here's a short list of things that I used to do that now other people do:
  • tracking and placing cowshare orders
  • collecting cowshare payments, making deposits, and paying all relevant people
  • writing the co-op newsletters
  • maintaining the co-op website
  • maintaining the co-op member list
  • ordering, picking up, and distributing print jobs for the co-op
  • compiling mailings for the co-op
  • managing the email list for the co-op
  • running the Children's Religious Education program at my church
That's what I can remember off the top of my head. And do you know what else this means? It means that I am surrounded by wonderful people who are willing to share the burden of doing this stuff, because this stuff matters as much to them as it does to me. Lucky, ain't I?

I still have a pretty full plate, and naturally I keep refilling it. But my refill looks a little saner, I think. Like, caring for the chickens, or starting my seedlings (two kinds of onions, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, and kale, all in their little plugs ready to sprout!). I think a month or two of a drastically reduced volunteer load will help me regain my balance a bit.

Of course, my job is also in mega-ramp-up mode. Next week I start a marathon battery of intern candidate interviews, quickly followed by hosting an alternative Spring Break troup from an Ohio university, then it's on to the Earth Day Celebration (which is a Big Deal(tm) out here), before we get full swing into planting season, shearing for the alpacas, and our 15th Anniversary Farm to Fork benefit dinner. So please don't misunderstand me, I'll be busy. But with some of the volunteer tasks spread out more amongst others, I think I might be able to hack it.

Now if I could just kick this bloody cold....


  1. Good for you! Not only are you not killing yourself, you're getting the community involved. Congratulations!

  2. Thank you for posting this - so honest - it gives us other plate-fillers a sense that we are not alone in overpiling our plates and the importance of seeing space on it once in a while!

  3. Plate! (When was the last time I saw that?) Good for you. It's much easier to enjoy your passions when you're not being burnt out by them.