Drop some Balls

This is a throwback to my high school days, 16 years old I think. Man I loved that hat, I bought it at FAO Schwartz while in NYC on a volleyball trip for the state championships.

Back in Medieval and Tudor times Jesters entertained with lots of different skills: songs, music, storytelling, acrobatics, juggling, telling jokes and magic tricks.

Don’t worry, I won’t post the video of when I was 11, dressed as a clown for our neighborhood carnival telling the worst jokes in the world with the fakest laughs going. I will spare you the agony! 😊

I have never thought of myself as an entertainer until this morning when I was thinking about how I try to “juggle all the balls” of life.

I remember a long time ago hearing someone ask,

“What would happen if you let the balls drop?”

I shuddered and thought,

“What balls can be dropped? If they are, won’t everything fall apart?”

As I have grown older and my life and world has expanded and continues to do so, it is necessary to constantly look at the “balls I’m juggling” and determine which ones stay and which ones go. It’s impossible for the Jester to just keep adding balls to the mix and continue his craft flawlessly. If this is done, eventually there are just too may balls and the whole lot of them fall to the ground. The Jester has passed his threshold and the whole trick crumbles. It basically implodes as the Jester tries to juggle more than he can handle.

For me, as a goal-oriented, driven, high achieving, recovering perfectionist, it is often extremely difficult for me to identify my threshold and “drop some balls” before things implode.

From the time I was very young, I usually tried to keep many balls in the air, moving my hands swiftly so as not to drop any. Some of the “balls” were given to me overtly or covertly and others I gave to myself. This just became my way of life.

I have recently realized that I am trying to “juggle too many balls”. Yesterday I spoke with my therapist about what “balls I can drop” right now. I am trying to juggle past my threshold and the result is destructive to myself and my loved ones. While I am trying to “entertain” and “do it all”, no one is truly happy.

My daughter told me yesterday that I haven’t been that fun to be around. And I agree with her. In the name of trying to do and be all the things, I am and do the opposite of what I desire.

Guilt, shame, frustration, and confusion want to flood in and take over now, deepening the grief of not being able to juggle at the level I want to.

“Maybe, it’s a problem with me. I should be able to do more. Why can’t I hack it?”

“I have failed.”

“I just have to keep practicing so I can learn to juggle more balls.”

Then the loving, nurturing voice inside of me whispers……

“No, my dear Shannon. You are just right the way you are. The goal of this life is to be and not just do. I know it’s hard as productivity feels very valuable to you and you have very high standards, particularly for yourself. That’s ok. However more than anything I want you to enjoy this life, the big and small moments. I want you to be able to just be in the present, living in the moment. It’s not about how many balls you juggle, trying to prove things to yourself and others. Ultimately, it’s about the things you intentionally choose to hold as valuable and precious and how you pour into them throughout your lifetime. Please drop the balls, it will give you such a sense of relief. Then you will be able to look all around and your view won’t be limited by focusing on your juggling all the time. You weren’t meant to be an entertainer in this life. You are meant to use your gifts of love, empathy, passion, determination, organization, writing, speaking, encouraging and coaching to leave a lasting impact on this world. When you focus on accepting yourself and living authentically, this happens naturally and it’s absolutely beautiful. I love you!

I sit with all this for a minute and start to feel courage, determination and inspiration rising inside of me. I think about the ideas my therapist and I talked about yesterday that can give me more margin, breathing space and rest. And although I feel a little scared, I want that relief. I want to lighten my load. I want to feel peaceful and intentional rather than the resentment and confinement that I have been experiencing. I want to feel fully alive rather than being in survival mode suffocated by the heavy load and exhausted from all the juggling. I want to put all the balls down and really evaluate which ones I want to pick back up. Maybe some others will go on the shelf for another season of life, maybe some others will be discarded for good.

I am ready to search, be thorough and most of all honest, with myself and others. I am ready to say “yes” with more enthusiasm and “no” with more conviction. I am ready to set boundaries for myself and others and do my best to hold them.

Most of all, I am ready to take off the Jester hat because I am not a juggler.

What is a ball that you would like to drop from your juggling act?