What is The “Spoon Theory?”

This article is intended to help “Non-Spoonies” understand the Spoon Theory

For the millions of people in the world living with chronic illness, it can be difficult to explain your condition to others. When people can’t see visible evidence of illness they may doubt your pain and experience. This is the everyday frustration of a chronic illness sufferer: not being understood.

For Christine Miserandino, it was her best friend not understanding her experience having lupus that drove her to come up with the explanation used by chronic illness warriors around the world: the spoon theory. Please take the time to read Christine Miserandino’s personal story and analogy of what it is like to live with sickness or disability. – See more at: ButYouDontLookSick.com

Using spoons as a metaphor for energy, she explained that each activity she completes in a day “costs” a certain amount of spoons. Once she runs out of spoons, she has no more energy left for that day.

As the theory goes, a typical “healthy” person has a high or unlimited amount of spoons and doesn’t have to worry about running out. However, those with chronic illness must pace themselves and plan their day according to the amount of spoons they hold.

Chronic illness sufferers across the globe are now using Christine’s theory to help others better understand what they’re going through.

The spoon theory has resonated with so many that there is now a following of people with chronic illness who refer to themselves as “Spoonies,” who connect with each other and share experiences through social media.

Read on to learn more about the spoon theory and how to join the conversation.

nlo-infographic-spoon-theory

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RikkiSpeaks – You Have To Trust Someone Somehow

As I boarded my first bus, tears filled my eyes…

I watched as my family pulled away which tore at all of my emotions. I knew I had to make this trip, there was no question in my mind. I was doing what was right, although it didn’t lessen my knowing how badly I would miss them.

My first stop was in an inner city bus stop. I was faced with an extremely long layover and was now surrounded by a hoard of strangers. Looking at my surroundings, I noticed that this stop never slept. I was not unlike the place, as there was no way I could have closed my eyes. For the longest time, I just watched, as people moved about and children cried. Every type of person, of every ethnic background, seemed to swallow me making me the minority. After all, I was traveling alone.

Originally, while learning it would take me twenty  three and a half hours to travel what should have taken me nine by car, I was a little bit scared. It was a typical response, as people fear what they do not know. I was no where near a seasoned bus traveler. I made sure to my luggage within arms reach, as I was unsure of what to expect. I felt that making it to my destination with clothing was the best route to take and I wanted no chance of not ensuring this simple thing.

After sitting for quite some time, and suffering waffle butt syndrome from the uncomfortable iron benches, I decided I had to move. Exhaustion had set in, and I just couldn’t stay seated anymore. Hauling my luggage with me, I made my way outside.

Being a very friendly person, I have always been able to speak to whomever I am around. Boredom caused me to do just that. I made conversation with several people. Some were a little more apprehensive of my open abilities to say “hello”, while others seemed somewhat thankful to have someone to talk to.

We all spoke of why we were making our way, to our final destinations. Some were traveling as far as across the country. There were people who were making a new start while others decided simply to meet family and friends on the other side. There were even full families taking a quick vacation together. I, myself, was heading to help my very ill father.

I looked in the eyes of these people, from all walks of life, and found a little of myself in each of them. Oddly we were, after all, in this together. The more people I met, the more I felt responsible to watch out for each of them. Strangely, they all felt the same about me.

I had taken a couple of young fellas under my wing. The pair had met on a bus, and made it a point to watch out for each other. I decided to take care of them because I found them to be unworldly and it seemed they had no idea what to expect from life. We spoke of the girlfriends they had left behind, and they had asked for my advice on love and other topics. They listened as I vented about my fears of what I would learn when I got to my father’s hospital room. After a long while, they both became very tired and I agreed to watch their things, while they laid their young heads on a table and fell asleep. I woke them, when their bus was called, to ensure that they didn’t miss it. A small nod and wave and they were gone. Yet this time I didn’t feel so alone.

I had met a family who I connected with quickly. One of them won over my heart with her honest approach. She said to me, “I don’t understand why people steal luggage, because I don’t even want to lug mine, let alone someone else’s things.” Between giggles, I agreed. This family didn’t see me as a different color, nor did I them. We’d traded off luggage watching duties when each of us needed to get up and walk away. They had offered to feed me from the supplies that they had carried with them. I knew that their trip would be a long one, and yet they had offered to care for me from the little they had. I politely declined, knowing they would inevitably need it more than me, as they had many more mouths to feed. It didn’t change the fact that the offer had touched my soul.

A man who was seated on his luggage, beside the soda machine, passed me a handful of change from a purple Crown Royal drawstring bag. The money changer had met it’s demise and he saw me struggling to find enough change in my purse for a water. He refused to take any money in return, because as he had said, “my trip is now coming to an end, and yours has just begun.”

After boarding my next bus I met another man, who was a minister. He was heading to the same final stop as me. For the longest time, I listened as he spoke to the others on the bus, of God and His glory. He, then, began speaking to me and we quickly befriended each other.

Together, we’d made a layover in a very sketchy area. I had been speaking to some of the residents of the Indiana town we had stopped in. Those people were, without a doubt, some of the roughest people I had ever met.

There were two who I had made the acquaintance of at separate times during the stop. One had been assaulted by a bat and pipe, just days before, and wore the most terrible bruises I had ever seen. Another had been stabbed in the neck while falling asleep next to the town’s river bank. Curiosity took over and their broken bodies made me want to find out what had torn apart their souls. I had learned that drugs had been a part in each story and my heart broke for them. I reasoned that although they had made their own decisions in life they might not have been given any opportunity to avoid these mistakes. Each openly told me their stories and seemed comfortable in doing so. I reminded each of them that they had lived through their attacks, and were still here to tell about it. I challenged each of them to find the reason they had been given that second chance.

As I spoke to the people that everyone else would have shied away from the minister had later admitted that he had watched over me, the whole time, from afar.

As I stepped foot at my last stop, it occurred to me that I had been afraid for nothing. People are people no matter where you are. Everyone has a story to tell, although some are more sinister and terrifying than others. Some people just need someone to listen, and to care enough to give advice that no one else has the guts to give.

While becoming a bleary eyed traveler, I found I was never really alone. It is important, in life to remember that you have to trust someone sometime, even if it is someone that no one else would take the time to try to understand. No matter how soft or hardened the people were that I had met on my travels, just offering an ear and a heartfelt word seemed to sate the savage beast in all of them.

I shall board a bus again soon, to head back home. Though it will be heart wrenching leaving my father behind, I fear not the people I will encounter. Strangers are, after all, just friends I have yet to meet.

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Important Things in Life

I’m sure you have experienced a wake up call at some point in your life. Events such as a divorce, a new baby, a firing, a terrorist attack, or a near-death experience tend to hit us like a ton of bricks and are not easily forgotten.

Personally, what I find interesting is that implicit in the idea of a wake up call is that we have, in some sense, been asleep. What is it that we have been asleep to? When I think of wake up calls, the word that comes to mind is “priorities”. Wake up calls tend to make us stop, pull back from the runway of life, and consider exactly what it is that is important to us. Very often we realize that we have had our priorities upside down. Perhaps we have spent too much time at the office, too little time with our kids, or have neglected our health. So to answer my earlier question, it seems to me that many of us travel through life asleep to what really is important.If you are in a slumber, the following are some ideas to help you wake up and remember the important things in your life:

Connect to Your Own Mortality

Some may find it depressing to think about death, but it can actually be a great technique to improve your life. Try, for example, to imagine laying on your deathbed. What could potentially give you cause for regret? Would it be all the money you didn’t make? Or would it be the friendships you didn’t nurture, the time you didn’t spend with your family, and the places you didn’t see?

Now, consider if the way you now live your life will give you cause for any regrets when you do actually come to lay upon your deathbed.

Steve Jobs was a famous advocate of connecting to your own mortality. In his Commencement Speech at Stanford University, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Write a Personal Mission Statement

I admit to being one of those people who normally skips the exercises in self-help books. I did, however, decide to follow Stephen R. Covey’s advice in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and write a personal mission statement. In short, a personal mission statement is an individual statement of who you are, what you are about and what you value. The process of writing such a statement helps to clarify your inner-most thoughts and feelings, and once finished is something you can turn to for guidance.If you are interested in writing your own personal mission statement, I recommend Dr. Covey’s Mission Statement Builder.

Have a Meaningful Conversation with an Older Person

As you grow older, you naturally acquire experience and knowledge of what is important in life. For example, is there anything you could tell the “you” from 10 years ago that would make life easier? I’m sure there is. A great way then to acquire the wisdom that comes with age is to seek out an older person, such as a grandparent, and have a meaningful conversation with them. Ask them about their life, what they have learned, and what they would do differently. You may just find they experienced many of the thoughts and feelings you are currently when they were younger.

Meditate

Usually the problem is not that we don’t know what is important in life, but that it is forgotten as we get caught up in the everyday tasks that form life. One of the best methods I have found to overcome this problem is meditation. Meditation is a great way to relax both your mind and body. Such a state is ideal for gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you value.

Volunteer

It is easy in life to become consumed with your own sense of self importance. A very effective way to step back and see life in a greater context is to volunteer. For example, helping those with less than yourself will help you realize just how fortunate you really are. So often we act in such a way that we don’t already have the important things in life, when actually they are right under our nose

My Personal Mission Statement

Just as each person is unique, so will be their personal mission statement. That said, I believe we can find inspiration in the statements of others. The following is my personal mission statement.

  • I will be loving and proactive in building and maintaining my relationships with family and friends, so that I may be considered a successful husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.
  • I will always act with integrity and never compromise with honesty, so that it may be said that I am a person who stands for what is just and right.
  • I will approach life with a curious nature, so that I am someone who continually strives to better understand both my inner and outer worlds.
  • I will look after my health by regularly exercising, eating well, and limiting the intake of anything that may be harmful to my body.
  • I will treat money as my servant, not as my master. I will seek financial independence over time. My wants will be subject to my needs and means. I will spend less than I earn and regularly save and invest part of my income.
  • I will try to help others live a better life by writing articles for my blog that are both inspiring and motivating.
  • When times are tough, I will remember there are still countless reasons I have to be thankful. As such, I will give something back to the community, via donation and volunteering, so that those less fortunate receive a helping hand.

Even just now, after having rewritten my personal mission statement above, I feel a sense of clarity and direction about my life.

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