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paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Burra is at my place right now. I was explaining to her yesterday how I have less energy now than before I bought this property. She then told me about spoon theory. Wow. This makes total sense to me. In fact, I very much feel that this is the very tool I need to optimize my forward progress.

I am going to make up some numbers because I am a numbers person.

I'm going to pretend that the average person has 50 spoons a day. Maybe they get 20 spoons the moment they wake up after a good night's sleep. And they pick up 30 spoons throughought the day from either time passing or from positive things happening. Eating a lovely lunch - 3 spoons bonus! Eating huckleberry pie, five spoon bonus! Saying something supportive to a friend who then says "thanks I needed that!" - ten spoons!

And then, through the day, there are things that cost spoons. A mean person at work does a snotty thing: 20 spoons. Digestive distress, 7 spoons. Stub your toe, two spoons. Have a cold, 20 spoons per day.

And then there are big ones: somebody has a big problem and you step in to help, but the problem is just too big, and while you did help, you didn't help enough and that person and others seem to hate you for trying to help - they say you fucked everything up and they don't see how you DID help, just not as much as they want .... the whole thing turns into an ugly shit storm ... 210 spoons per episode.

You can save spoons and build up a large reserve.

When your reserve is gone and you spend more spoons than you have, you get sick. You will need future spoons to get healthy again.

- - - -

I have only just heard of this theory and already my mind is buzzing with speculation about possible variations.

Burra talked to me about certain activities that I might be doing that would build spoons. Yes - I am figuring out things that not only build spoons for the day, but things that might make it so I automatically get more spoons per day.

So, if the average person has 50 spoons per day, I wish to speculate that in September of 2012, I think I had a superhero quantity of 700 spoons per day, plus I had 20,000 spoons in reserve. Sometime this spring, my reserve was gone and I had 11 spoons a day. I think I now get about 27 spoons a day and I have about 40 spoons in reserve. With a bit of care, I think in two months I will have 40 spoons a day and 200 in reserve. In a year I might be up to 300 spoons a day with 5000 in reserve.

Basically, I just spent too many spoons getting this land, getting projects going, and, most of all, I made the mistake of thinking that a few different people could be mended with an enormous amount of my spoons - but it turns out that they need a hundred times more spoons than I have.

When the folks at the PDC moved the pea gravel into the rmh in the fisher-price house: +18 spoons. Mike Newby built a while bunch of three log benches: +7 spoons. Josho's artistic gate frame: +5 spoons. Arguing with Josho about "angle of repose" and community relationships: - 19 spoons. Morgan bringing me a huckleberry pie +9 spoons. Me eating half that pie +6 spoons (feeling like I should share more of the pie -1 spoon). Beautiful pics from ants/gappers or carol anne's writing about life at the lab, +1 spoon each post. Playing poker last night +3 spoons. Seeing a new forum feature from the coderanch folks, +9 spoons.

With spoon theory, I think I can get a solid grip on improving my forward velocity in this space.

- - - -

And then Burra and I talked about Cassie. I think that when I hired cassie, she was probably a 90 spoons per day person and she had 1500 spoons in reserve. But she manages a LOT of my email. Which includes a lot of nasty-grams. And there are a lot of other things about her job that are really stressful. I am worried that she might now be a 35 spoons a day person and her reserve is under 100. As part of her job, she decided to ask for suggestions about the daily-ish email. I think the fact that it turned into a cassie love fest is probably a very helpful thing. That probably added 30 spoons to her reserve and her daily spoons were probably bumped five a day.

- - - -

I am finding that I have ridiculous things that burn spoons. The rolls of blue maksing tape seem to be really handy for a lot of little things. But it just seems so enormously expensive to me that when I see it being used in excess .... well, now I know that it is taking spoons. What a stupid thing to lose spoons over.

- - - -

Jocelyn comes through and gives me spoons about a dozen times a day. I think I gain 20 spoons a day from jocelyn. I think jocelyn gives lots of people spoons every day. At the same time, I think she is also getting low on spoons. And she is also doing better now than a few months ago.

- - - -

I think that when I write some things, like this, I gain spoons. Maybe when I hit submit on this I will gain five spoons.

- - - -

Now I want to hear back from people - does this spoon theory help you? What is your current number? When has it been the best? When has it been the worst?





 
Miles Flansburg
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Makes sense to me. I have always thought of it as units of energy, but spoons works too.
I am an introvert and I loose spoons just being around some people. In fact I think I loose spoons just spending time with people at all. I find that I have to spend equal amounts of time alone, as with other people, to recharge my spoons. Listening to my favorite music, art or gardening as well as restfull sleep are all things that recharge my spoon supply. Being in the mountains is always good too. Being around folks who are funny and make me laugh gives me lots of spoons. Some people spread spoons far and wide and seem to have an endless supply. They are good to have as friends and I try to be aware of the things that I can do to give them spoons in return.

Now some people suck spoons from others. They seem to crave other peoples spoons, never getting enough. Most of my bosses have been this way. Most of the jobs that I have had in my life are spoon melters. People who constantly argue or cut other people down really steal spoons from me.

So doing what you love with people who give spoons is the secret to life. And having "spoons full of sugar "
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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The spoons thing has really resonated with me ever since I first heard about it a few years back. I've got a little legacy of spectrum-related social anxieties that I mostly cope with pretty well, but certain tasks that most normal people handle with aplomb are very spoon-intensive for me. Doing business with strangers by telephone costs me a lot of spoons, especially if I have to initiate the call, double-especially if I'm asking for something, triple-especially if I'm asking for something they have no reason to want to give me, quadruple-especially if my request is unreasonable. I can do that stuff and do it well, but I have to nerve up to it, I spend a lot of time and energy mentally prepping, and (I've learned) I can only do so much of it in a day -- a limit that makes most modern jobs suck prodigious spoon-quantities out of my life. I often find myself rationing spoon-intensive tasks across the days of the week and on days when I've maxed out, I'll find myself saying or thinking "I can't deal with that today." Which is to say, I'm out of spoons.

My spoons were maxed in 2004-2005 when I had an online enterprise that was going so well, I was having trouble reminding myself to cash the checks in a timely fashion. I had plenty of money and leisure time, a new relationship that was awesome, and very little in my life that was costing me spoons. Big spoons influx, limited spoons expenditure.

My spoons have been most depleted (or in serious deficit) during periods of intensive eldercare obligations, when you can't stop no matter what and the demands just keep coming. It gets worse when the elders in question get to that stage of life where deteriorating mental and physical health cause them to throw all consideration for others out the window; the same task would cost me way more spoons when it was in response to an angry self-entitled demand than it did the year before when it was in response to a polite request that was followed up by a sincere thank you.

Times of poverty tend to be times of low spoons because there's less opportunity to recharge spoons through play, when travel and commercial leisure are off the table; and of course when money is tight there are a lot of things you do for yourself (expending spoons) that you might outsource when you're flush. Worrying about and chasing money tend to be spoons-depleting as well.

Currently in my life there are big spoon demands (the love of my life is in heavy spoons-deficit dealing with an eldercare challenge, she and her people need a lot from me, and money is tight for everybody). But I've also been ruthless in throwing spoon-consuming stuff out of my lifeboat; I'd have a lot more money if I was willing to do spoon-sucking jobs. Instead, I do spoons-positive online work that doesn't pay much, leaving me with a decent amount of leisure time to spend on spoons replenishment. My garden and food-forest hobbies provide a lot of spoons, especially when I start getting surpluses of really awesome fresh food, like right now with tomatoes or in fall with wild persimmons. Participating in good online communities (like Permies) is also a source of spoons. Lounging in my dumb little vinyl back-yard pool and watching the dragonflies hunt among my tomato vines is always good for a handful of spoons. Cheap simple pleasures give spoons in small but reliable quantities. It works if you avoid big steady spoon sucks.

I've known about spoon theory for enough years that I sometimes get funny looks from people who don't know about it. "Sorry, I don't have the spoons for that" won't be generally understood, no matter how much sense it makes to me when I utter it.
 
Su Ba
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Burra is right on! Burra is a genius with her spoon theory. Years ago I came up with the mental game of "pieces of sunshine in myself" just like Burra's spoons. Happy activities and people created sunshine chunks, unhappy situations snuffed them out by sucking out their energy. By creating mental games, I would create sunshine inside myself in order to deal with stresses in life. It works for me.

Nowadays I bank sunshine by observing and enjoying nature, working with animals, growing things..........and helping people. But that last activity can also be a big time sunshine snuffer. People have a tendency to snuff my sunshine if I let them. I had to learn to know when to shut my mental doors and walk away. I still find that difficult to do, but for me, dealing with people is often like dealing with black holes.......big energy suckers. I eventually saw that my helping people was either a choice of my assisting them or my giving them free welfare help. Assisting people creates sunshine. Welfare has the danger of stuffing it out. At least that's the way it seems to go for me. So I'm cautious about handing out too much welfare to any one person. A little seems to be ok. Habitual or a lot of welfare help seems to result in negativity. And sometimes I just have to close the doors and walk away before a person snuffs my sunshine bank. They are dishing out their negativity in order to make themselves feel better, but I don't have to open my arms and willingly pick it up. I can refuse to make it my own, fold my arms and walk away. It was hard for me to learn to do that.

If I make a conscious point of looking for and enjoying things around me, I can tup up my sunshine bank. I go through life trickle charging my internal sunshine. I need to because there is always something or someone out there that tries to dump all it's negativity onto me and snuff sunshine out. After having to deal with something negative, I'll go recharge. It serves to remind me that I've created a good life for myself overall, I enjoy most of what I'm doing, and that my "happy place" can heal me each time I have had sunshine snuffed out. Knowing that I have a way to recover keeps me going. Life is not hopeless....it just needs a good recharge of sunshine.

Paul, I guess I'm telling you this so that you know you're not the only person trying to figure out how to help but not get destroyed in the process. Burra has come up with a simple mental image for a workable solution. Smart lady!!!
 
leila hamaya
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yeah totally i can relate to what you are all saying here...i've contemplated this same type of phenomena many times only with different framework. i'm very much an introvert as well, private recharge time is where i gain the most "spoons". most interactions with others costs me spoons, even the positive ones. i'm pretty extreme in that i spend most of my time, maybe as much as 99% of my time alone, i really go out of my way to avoid interaction with people, and especially certain types of people. although sometimes, i do choose to ignore this for whatever reasons, to assist someone or for whatever reason, but in general i just avoid...well most everyone!!! even though others may be trying to force interaction, or like this kind of obligatory sharing, i consider it partially my fault if i allow myself to get sucked into this, i think its important to say no, know when to just cut ties, and basically take care of myself in keeping good boundaries with others.

i know this would be really boring and unbearable for many social types, but i really thrive in solitude, i love being bored and having tons of private time. i am too sensitive to people, and get overwhelmed by other people's emotions, and by people who are demanding, in subtle or not so subtle ways. especially people who are negative, or so self centered, in an unhealthy self centered way. self centered is not the best word for this, actually, if they were truly centered on themselves it would be great!

only when i am alone can i really focus on my work, or the things that recharge me, down time, and enjoying myself. there are exceptions to this, most of the people i find i can spend solid amounts of time with are similarly inclined, hold their own space well without subtle demands for attention, or whatever else. with other types of people, extroverts, people who make me feel like they are always pulling on my sleeve for attention or things, i can only spend so much time with them before i shut down, burnout or just get really worn down. when i was younger i didnt see this as clearly, and learned some things about it the hard way, but now i realize this about myself and try to make it clear to those i interact with.


many years ago i was reading some really interesting writings by stephan gaskins, founder of The Farm commune in TN, he really nailed something for me.
what he was talking about was very similar. only in his metaphor it was "juice", and apparently this was an important metaphor for the farm commune, where people would use the metaphor of juice "fogging" to explain something to each other.

to paraphrase his explanation, juice is connected to energy, we all need and want it, from each other. it is natural for people to want to have juice from other people, and to want to give juice to other people, only it had to be done in a positive way, not in a demanding, distracting, or greedy way. if people could learn this simple thing, how to interact with others without the fogging or theft of juice, our communities would work a lot better.

the juice of a bunch of people together becomes more than the sum of its parts, and to the more needy and domineering types, very attractive to those who would "steal" or "fog" the juice, if allowed to. so he laid it all out, and apparently this was a big theme for them at that time, to be aware of not trying to steal or fog each others juice. if the juice is free flowing, the collective juice of a group of people is very powerful, and amazing things can happen when people pool together their juice without it being fogged or stolen by the more domineering or selfish members.

only we very much live in a society that encourages people to be juice foggers and juice thieves, instead of giving us these lessons when we were children. juice fogging seems to pass for normal, and is tied up with weird domineering hierarchical ways of interacting, with power trips and the like.

children are naturally juice foggers anyway, pulling on your sleeve, interrupting, trying to get whomever and especially groups, entirely focused on themselves, and try to get as much juice as they can. and even though this isnt a healthy thing, it is encouraged by our society, people get (seemingly) rewarded for this, and this "theft" is rarely seen as such. children (and many adults) need to be taught appropriate ways for trying to get and give juice...basically...but are not generally taught this.

i think this sort of thing is key to figuring out how to live well in community long term.
 
Rick English
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This is a great topic. I haven't heard the spoon theory before, but it matches my experience.

At a previous job, I was introduced to a personal assessment system that helped my understand myself and other significantly better. It is a little like a personality test, but instead focuses on a person's instincts. If you are working with your hard-wired tendencies, you gain almost unlimited energy (spoons). If you are working against the instincts, you burn through your energy resources.

What is really interesting about this test is that it that the results are repeatable over time, so if you take this test as a kid, your results are nearly identical if you take the test years later.

The Kolbe Concept® holds that creative instincts are the source of mental energy that drives people to take specific actions. This mental drive is separate and distinct from passive feeling and thoughts. Creative instincts are manifested in an innate pattern that determines an individual's unique method of operation, or modus operandi (M.O.).

A person's M.O. is quantifiable and observable yet functions at the subconscious level. It governs actions, reactions and interactions. It also determines the person's use of time and natural form of communication. Understanding and exercising control over this mental resource gives people the freedom to be their authentic selves.

When people act according to instinct, their energy is almost inexhaustible – like water running downhill. But when people are forced to act against their instinct, their energy is rapidly depleted – like water being pumped uphill.


from here:
Kolbe Wisdom

My experience with this system has really helped me understand myself better, and also helped me understand and work better with others. If you are interested, you can take the test online for $50. I have talked a few other people into taking the test, and they have always been impressed by the results.

It is unlikely that you can reshape your life to exactly match your instincts, but if you can shift some things, you will get a boost in energy/spoons.

Hope this helps...
 
Marianne Cicala
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Thanks Paul & Burra - I needed some perspective today. It's July and I'm operating at 1/2 speed which seems to be the mid-year norm over the course of the past few years. It's easy to attribute it to age when I consider what I could accomplish 20 years ago:, but it's makes more sense to my head & soul, that clearly my spoon drawer is nearly empty.
I close our garden center for a month each winter, the farm's fairly quiet with the exception of a propagation hoophouse and a planted greenhouse and I pack my drawer/reserves with spoons. Planning the upcoming growing season from the comfort of my chair near the fire, feasting on canned summer garden goodies and the joy of just being quiet without the distraction of seasonal "guests". This category is much more palatable than running the mental exercise of Takers vs Givers.
I use to run the mental calculation of the bucket being added to or taken from - and the bucket is pretty damn empty by July with all of the moving parts of farm, expansion of the farm, the garden center, community stuff for local schools, workshops, interns..blah.
Well - fork that! I'm just going to Spoon!
Feeling better already and THANKS FOR GIVING ME A FEW SPOONS TODAY
 
Amber Samandulugu
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Welcome to the world of spoonies. As a chronic pain sufferer, spoon theory was introduced many years ago. You can learn to manage your spoons very well and even reserve spoons for later tasks. Being a spoonie makes you aware of all of the days tasks and learn to delegate and plan your energy exertion better as time goes by. You can even learn how to get more spoons during the day through meditation, prayer, naps, power foods, etc. Sometimes I find going to bed within an hour after the sun goes down and getting up within six hours later increases my spoons (but I do take a mid day power nap). Once again, welcome fellow spoonies!
 
Bryan Matthews
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Wow, this forum keeps on amazing me. Can we get a permies.com search toolbar engine. Lately I seem to be googling: permies and then whatever I need to know. This would make no exception. Have been looking for a theory to feed people on how karma/postive living/being a happy giving person and mostly what it is about. This theory makes sense in every way. Being just the number of spoons or maybe the quality of what is on the spoon. You could have people that hand out a lot of spoons, but it is from a poisoned spoon. Or you have people that just have lots of tiny quality tea spoons for everyone. My mind is racing a bit.

But I love handing out spoons in every way possible. If it is by always showing up on time or even 5 minutes early at work(work in shifts). Just so your colleagues have a peace of mind they can transfer the shift easily and leave on time. This creates spoons for me to take/be given back. When I am late, which happens sometimes. And the incentive for them to do the same for me or other team members.

Bosses/managers/teamleaders know about this or atleast ways of draining people into a machine that just will say, I'll do it, can I go after then? I have worked in a great team varying from 11 to 16 people including manager teamleader. And with about 1 full year of absolutely no manager/teamleader. Okay our old MG/TL was now the floor department manager(guy who sits down the hall in the office). So we had some. But our team consisted of people who were friends and/more than just co-workers(being IT we would have LAN parties and such, so one part went gaming the other part had to stay home to keep the department running). The way we were able to run our own desk and have a MG that does what he needs to(which is, help me when I cannot do my work. Not the other way around). And a lot of other things that created spoons for the team. Pretty much everyone I worked with now has a above average salary and/or live standard/way of thinking. Come to think of it we could have used the spoon theory to infect others.

Can there be a spoon subforum on this site. Would love to talk about the way people hand out their spoons and or have them given to them. You don't know how people think about actions. Or how much a seamingly small thing for you, might be a huge difference for them! My quess is that posting and sharing will be like handing out spoons for some. Or seeing some bad spoons dissappear.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Bryan M. This should help ! Link below !

http://www.permies.com/t/43625/introductions/Universal

And


http://www.permies.com/t/34193/tnk/permies-works-links-threads


For the good of the crafts ! Big AL

 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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I think one thing that a lot of us tend to do is to fail to give our own needs as much attention as the needs of others, and the spoon theory (which was *not* my invention, in case anyone is wondering - I just read about it a few weeks ago) gives us a tool to help correct that.

Paul took me to the Garden of One Thousad Buddhas a couple of days ago and we found another pertinent reminder of the need to care for yourself, so I thought I'd share it here.



And here's a close-up.



Something that quite a few of us could probably benefit from by remembering.
 
Steve Farmer
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You get nasty-grams?!?!

OK, let's say you lose 0.1 spoons per nasty gram. Well, start a thread publishing the best ones (plus your response if you see fit) and turn those nasty vibes into laughter vibes worth 1 spoon each. And because we all get to see the now funny nasty grams each n-gram generates more than one spoon cos we get them as well as you. All for an upfront investment of 0.1 negaspoons.

AND... as we are all capable of slipping into negativity, it's a reminder to us not to slip into the frame of mind that the n-gram sender was in.

AND... not only do we have a laugh from the n-grams, but we all get to weigh in on countering them


 
Rob Read
Posts: 88
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Steve Farmer: Possibly, you just invented the first perpetual motion spoon machine - each nasty-gram only cost 0.1 spoons, but can have a net gain of 1 spoon per laugh it causes in someone else...
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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The spoon theory is really useful for those of us battling various chronic illnesses. I've managed to not only survive but THRIVE because of the spoon theory.

I should have been up at Paul's this past week for his retreat for staff. But spoon theory and obligations here (Phoenix) dictated that I do otherwise. My love for all of you enjoying Paul's hospitality right now, and to Paul and Jocelyn. Phoenix is just too damn happening for me to get away right now.

Peace to my Permies and rock on!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Ah yes, budgeting our sometimes infinite sometimes diminishing personal resources. I never heard it called spoons before, but it's as good as anything else.

Thanks to the poster who mentioned July (which would be January in the southern hemisphere?) as being a spoon sucking time. I concur. Life on the farm in the middle of the growing season brings lots of work, challenges and puzzles. It is physically and emotionally exhausting to keep up with the projects planned with the enthusiasm and optimistic frame of mind that springtime brings, equally hard to fall back to lower expectations for what can be accomplished in one growing/ building season.

And thanks to the poster who mentioned ill behaved children and our current cultural "norms" encourage spoon sucking behavior by children, and a significant segment of our population who gain spoons by encouraging the behavior in children, and anyone else willing to take the "needy" role.

I very much needed to hear someone else say those things.

And thanks Paul for your eternal honesty and self disclosure, which inspired Burra to share spoon theory with you and brought this discussion into being.

Thanks Burra.

Thanks all the posters whose input I did not mention.

Can you tell that expressing gratitude is a way I gain spoons?

I followed the wikipedia link and was disappointed to find this:

"One of the tenets of the spoon theory is that disabled or ill people must plan their activities to ensure that every day is manageable, while healthy people have a "never-ending supply of spoons" and thus never need to worry about running out.[1] Because healthy people do not feel the impact of spending spoons, they may not realize that chronically ill or disabled people's considerations include mundane tasks such as bathing and getting dressed."

I think the ebb and flow of personal reserves of energy are normal to all people. I do not consider myself to be disabled or ill, I consider myself to be robustly healthy, and so by the wiki version of spoon theory, I have a never ending supply of spoons, I never need to worry about running out, and I do not feel the impact of spending spoons.

Judging by the other posts, I have plenty of healthy company feeling the impact of spoon deficits. running out of spoons, and can always improve in the process of allocating spoons.

I personally am in the aftermath of a personal spoon allocation miscalculation fiasco. I will benefit by the knowledge there are others puzzling this one out. I think it will definitely help me find some spoons. They are around here somewhere! There used to be tons of them. I was tripping over them just a few weeks ago.

Just in case anyone else is interested, there is a TED talk by Jane McGonigal that I listened to just to get a refresher on what appears to me to be some great accessible spoon gathering strategies. Just a note; she does not look like a permie or talk like one, which almost prevented me (in my smallness) from listening to her whole talk after a person I respect very much first recommended it to me. Just based on my friend's recommendation I hung in there, and was rewarded, with SPOONS. here's the link:

https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life?language=en

spoons to all

Thekla
 
Bradley Dillinger
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Location: Cincinnati,OH Zone 6a
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I agree with this! I have also found that a couple of super foods work really well for adding spoons. Blueberries! at times a handful of these little suckers could add up to 20 spoons Also Cantaloupe can add spoons, regulating hormones is a positive for me.
 
Rosie Jardine
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Paul, thank you for having your page. Reading your stuff has made my life better. Sending you 50 spoons right now.
 
William James
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As I was reading this, this song came on. How serendipitous.
"...in the middle of montana" popped on and made me think of you.
have a spoon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odPMm5lixpQ
William
 
Betty Lamb
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I am low on spoons, if someone gave me an apple that would give me like, 100 spoons...

 
Gail Moore
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Hi folks, here is a SPoon Theory Article by the person who may have been a first to describe it online.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

This has helped many folks with all sorts of ways to manage their energy levels

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Years ago, I'd learned this as 'circuits of energy" which we each have to spend each day.

 
Timothy Ettridge
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On one hand, I can easily subscribe to the spoon theory. On the other, it sort of reminds me of something my father once said that I've always disagreed with. Let me explain with a bit of math.

I'm into fitness for the sake of fitness. My father was anything but fit. Seeing my efforts, he once commented, "I subscribe to the view that we only have so many heartbeats in life and I'm not going to waste any on working out." Even if I agreed with the statement, I still came out ahead by running and biking and such. Here's the math; being fit, my resting heart rate is 47. Being unfit, my father's heart rate was 75. My heart, therefore, beat 40,320 times less each day than his. Even if I exercised at 147 bpm (a sustained effort for me at this point), I could work out six hours a day and still have my heart beat less per day than my father's.

I think spoons are something of the same. The rate at which we burn them is not constant. Spoon fitness (a lower spoon rate) might be the goal, not just spoon awareness. Learning how to burn less spoons per event through some kind of conditioning (learning how to let things roll off our back rather than into our souls) might be the solution, not just hoarding them to be burned inefficiently.
 
Liz Spencer
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I my extended family of nerdy gamers we call spoons "Hit Points". My hit points are low. Time for a nap.
 
Jason Machin
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in that case my current environ this hell-hole is negative spoons. i need to harvest spoons from where ever i can to bridge the hellish abyss.... just so i can wash the damn dishes.

3 more weeks and i'm out... WOO
 
Sue Rine
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This is good, I really like it. It's so easy to have a nebulous feeling of being overwhelmed or out of sorts or whatever, but that is non quantifiable. I like the idea of turning the nebulous into something so concrete and countable as spoons. It highlights the element of choice. I can choose to give away spoons and I can also choose to leave some spoons in the draw for later...I don't have to let someone take spoons just because I still have some.

It also means that when the spoon drawer is empty, the best thing to do is not to try using a knife instead, but to do something about finding more spoons.

Hmm, I see potential here for making some changes.

I've actually just spent a wonderful day with two friends and I think, between us, we made spoons so that we all went home with more than we came with.

Reading this thread has given me spoons too, so thank you everyone.
 
Phoenix Blackdove
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Spoons are an incredibly helpful way of parsing the world. I've been running on a seriously low number for the last month or so, partly due to outside forces and partly due to a cascade of sub-optimal life/self-care choices. It's a great irony of the world that sometimes, the basic self-care needed to get more spoons takes 90-95% of the gross spoon gain from said self-care. Makes it hard to dig one's way out of the dump.

http://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/10/15/conserving-spoons/
This here's an article I found a while back - it has some excellent spoons-related concepts and advice that extends the metaphor in helpful directions. One of the most helpful takeaways, for me, is this one:

It can help to think about how spoons are getting used up. For example, spoons are disability region-specific.
We have social spoons and language spoons and physical activity spoons and all sorts of other spoons...

Depending on our disability and how life is going at the moment, each of our spoon drawers is stocked a little differently. In general, however, most people are going to have more spoons in some areas and less in others. This is why someone who doesn’t have the spoons to go to a movie with their family might have the energy to stay home and build an intricate scale model of Narnia out of popsicle sticks.


I especially like this extension of the concept because it's very helpful when I have to explain to others why, for example, I'm fine to communicate via an IM service with them, but can't handle a phone call right now. Or why I'm (mostly) OK to use speech at home or in small, uncrowded environments, but may end up defaulting to Auslan (Australian Sign Language) if we have to be in a noisy, overbright, crowded, environment, or anything else that leads to me being overstimmed and having my "words brain" shut down.

The other big takeaway for me was "leaking spoons". Too much computer/social media time is a major spoon leak for me right now. So is diet - though eating gluten doesn't result in a leak so much as a giant hole in the drawer bottom, through which spoons migrate back to their Spoon Planet of origin.
 
leah cardwell
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what a great topic. I too am a chronic pain challenged person and I deal with spoons evey day, but it really does depend on my view of things as to whether I loose a spoon or not. pain is a teacher, it teaches patience, persistence,courage,and the ability to enjoy all the small goals that one would miss if you were too busy to see them.
paul you need more spoons. well here are a few. you do much more than you are giving yourself credit for moment by moment, every time someone goes to permies it is because of you, every time they gain a bit more curiosity it is because of you, when their questions are answered because they came here it is because of you, when ever they pass on an idea at work, over the dinner table at the pub it is all your falt. Every little idea after they have been to your web site or seen one of you videos or passed one on (and on ,and on.......) is all because of you. Every moment you breath you are making a positive difference in how people think and how they behave in their every day lives . you may not be seeing it growing by the leaps and bounds at your place as you may have imagined but if you put all the things people have done in their back yard and on their farms that you have put in their head together it would be massive indeed. Your goal of world domination is well on its way, humans are just slow.
All the best
Leah
 
John Gammon
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This 'spoons' conversation made me think of some of Dr. Wayne Dyer's philosophy as can be seen on YouTube & his website.
Anyway we go about it, it is nice to put ourselves in a positive mood & try to surround ones self with positive things as much as we can for a productive day.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Hi! I think this is a good theory. I am not at all good at numbers, so I do not count spoons. But I feel it (in body and mind) which things give me 'more spoons', which give me 'few spoons' and which things 'take my spoons away'. I can feel when it's time to do something to 'win more spoons', otherwise I'll be 'out of spoons' ...
I 'win spoons' by gardening, sketching, communicating (i.r.l. or through internet) with nice people about interesting subjects.
I 'loose spoons' when I try to do too many things at the same time ('multitasking'), when things don't work out like I thought they would.
 
Rob Steves
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Spoon Theory reminds me of the book "Willpower" by Roy Baumeister. It seems to me that it's not just physical energy reserves that can be depleted but motivational energy (the will to go out and do those things that you want to see done) as well. In his book, Roy presents some solid science to back up the common feeling that we've all experienced of certain events depleting willpower while other replenish it. It may be worth a read if you are looking for ways to increase your spoon reserves.

The idea of re-purposing "nasty-grams" for positive net spoon gain reminds me of "Love Letters to Richard Dawkins". Do a search on Youtube and enjoy (warning: very course language... but that's kind of what makes it so great).


 
Liz Spencer
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Rob Steves wrote:The idea of re-purposing "nasty-grams" for positive net spoon gain reminds me of "Love Letters to Richard Dawkins". Do a search on Youtube and enjoy (warning: very course language... but that's kind of what makes it so great).


OMG!! That is hysterical!!!
 
Lorenzo Costa
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This spoon theory is very interesting. I've had different moments in my life. Many of my firends say I'm full of energy and the most thats true but sometimes I just ware out of any strength. I've been for the last eight years a trade unionist while working in my current place, I did the two jobs contemporarily. One can do it in many different ways mine was passion. I've had to have relations with more than a thousand people that call you for anything, accuse you of everything, and many difficult and nasty situaztions with my heads at job that have the same way of treating me just from the perspective they pay the checks at the end of the month to all my colleagues and me. This has really drained me. And two years ago I came across permauclture and decided I would jump the line and change my life.
I listen everyday to people that tell me their problems, and they expect me to resolve them straight away, etc.
I think I've lost a lot of my spoons in the past eight years and thats why I'm rebuilding my reserve in the last two years.

I've been quite aware that Paul has lost a lot of his strength in the past year, the podcasts in three parts on wheaton labs were straight forward on this. With the spoon theory he's just been capable to express it in a better way.

What to do to regain spoons? this is the real dilemma. I give myself priorities. daily, weekly and monthly priorities and they lock together. I need my personal time away from everyone, mostly it happens early in the morning, around four or five in the morning, and thats when I read, or think, or read permies.com, or evem just watch films or tv series.

Thats it watching films makes me switch off my mind and relax. I guess we all have ways of closing up, I cook a lot when I want to relax.

Paul is always caught up with what he has to do. Emails, requests, etc. Paul is always in charge, and has to answer for what happens.

Paul you have to think about what you want to do, at least once a week, do something for yourself.

One last thing are spoons all out there and we just gain them passing them from one another, is their a global fixed number or can we create spoons with our actions? If we could carve our own spoons and put them in our reserve it would be great, and that means we have to concentrate on the building of spoons not gainig them from someone else. we have to have the goal of inutting spoons in the systems not collecting them from others.
I may have got it wrong on this last point and may you all excuse me.
Have a nice day all, wherever and whatever you're doing, take five minutes for yourself and think of what you want from today! a big hug

 
Sue Rine
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I think the idea of carving our own spoons is lovely.
 
Krystelle Ellaby
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I've never heard of spoon theory. I love it. It sounds similar to Covey's "Love bank account". If you keep making withdrawals, you end up in overdraft.

I don't have any chronic illness, I just have a low tolerance for noise and excitement. I've always struggled to explain to people that i can only do one "big thing" per day. My big things aren't what other people might consider a big deal, but i find them emotionally and physically taxing. One trip to the shops, a few hours cleaning, a few hours pushing wheelbarrows. If I do a "really big thing", like spend all day at a market/festival walking around, stay out late, have a family function at my house, or even just a day at work, I need a day to recover. End of semester exams take a lot out of me, and sometimes I'm not ready by the time the new semester rolls up. I'm lucky I have a job that is mostly every second day, but it means I try to rest on my days off, because i know i have work the next day. If I don't replenish enough, I drag myself to work, usually end up arriving late and spend the whole day in a bad mood. If one thing goes wrong, I'm suddenly in spoon overdraft and challenges can seem insurmountable.

If I look at life as "spoons" maybe I can force myself to do some more "little" enjoyable things and see if I can build up a spoon surplus. You can't give out spoons/love/energy if you don't have any to start with.

Some people like the things that sap me of spoons, which I am only just starting to understand. When I think people are being unreasonable in their expectations of me, they honestly can't see the activity they want me to do as taxing, because they find it replenishing. They just earn and spend their spoons differently to me. A loud night out with friends is energising for some people. A bit of drama at work is a refreshing change from the norm. A day in the city, with busy crowds and rushing traffic, is a rush. And vice versa, a day sitting on a verandah, reading a book in the sunshine, no matter how nice the view, or pretty the birds sound, is stultifying for some personalities.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Sue, That's what I was thinking, physically and metaphorically. Trying to go further with the metaphor, I was considering e spoons or virtual spoons, then I thought of the apples we accumulate here at permies.com. When I get an apple, it makes me feel great. I like the recognition for something I did / said. It's like a hug and a high five. I don't think there is any substantial difference between the spoons of this discussion and the Permies apples. And with apples, you can grow them. And with apples we know there are apples we grew, that come at one time of year, there are apples others grew that we are gifted or we buy. We know that some of the apples we buy came all the way from the other side of the world, and involved a fair expenditure of earth's energy. We know we can get them that way if we have to have them, if we cannot enjoy a peach or plum or apricot or nectarine and we just really need an apple.

Oh, I'm in to this! I like apples better than spoons because they connect me to the natural world. They are living and breathing, just like me-us-Gaia!

And you know what else? Though I am having more challenges this summer than I would consciously choose, and therefore have low spoons, or low apples, I have several apple trees I planted 7 years ago, and there are hundreds of beautiful apples ripening, some with worms and some without. Pink Ladies, Braeburn, Granny Smith, some cider varieties, and Liberties. And so, I know the natural cycle will restore me, that there are ebbs and flows in all things connected with earth and life. I know the apples are coming and I can SEE them, and at this point, they are edible, though the sugar will go way up.

With apples we cannot control them completely, we can cooperate with them, nurture them, tend them, water them, talk to them and love them. We are naturally involved in the production of apples. Spoons are an industrial product, and function as tally marks, a means to understand and discuss, and this discussion has been fruitful for me, and I think many others.

I could go on, but possibly I've already said more than anyone wants to hear about apples as spoons.

In Paul's original post he asked "where are you now, when has it been the worst, the best". I thought he asked how others get spoons, but when I went back to check, I did not see it. Still, that's something worth discussing.

My process is right here in this post. An idea sparks, spontaneously or because of something someone else says, and somehow, something in me likes it, it fits, and I take it up and begin to play with the idea, find more and more that I like, that suits me, and it inspires me to play more, and the more I play, the more I am refreshed and hopeful and optimistic. I don't feel discouraged any more, something in me got turned around, and somehow I got more spoons than I had before.

An example from earlier this summer: I had a key 4 inch irrigation water supply line get a hole punched in it, it happened last winter but I did not know it til irrigation water came on and I tried to water... It's a big problem for that line not to carry water or maintain the siphon. The same week, my kitchen sink came unglued from the counter- it's an under mount, no longer mounted. Garbage disposal attached, plumbing attached, just a gap between sink and where it ought to be joined to the counter.

I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, a little "poor me", making a bigger deal of it than necessary. Then, suddenly I thought "Boy, when I get these two things fixed I am going to feel so SATISFIED! And that triggered a burst of energy to get going on replacing the line, which has been a big project. And the sink is kind of a pain to live with, but I'll get to it when the irrigation line and the project that accompanied it is done. Now the sink is kind of funny. I propped it up from underneath and use it anyway. I just can't leave anything heavy in it.

Anyway, that's one of my most consistent means of gathering spoons, but now I am going to say apples, it's a trick my mind plays, not something I can do with my own volition, but then I tie it to something around me, and it is there when I need it.

And next time I eat a New Zealand apple, I'll think of Sue Rine, and believe she personally sent me that apple, (as two permies people have sent me pomegranate seeds) and my heart will be warmed and I will be glad.

Thekla

 
Sue Rine
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Aw, gee. thanks, Thekla. I'd send you some apples if I could

Actually, speaking of apples. I'm struggling to get any...of the real ones, and have just had a fence built which I'm hoping will be possum proof. Anyway, won't go on as I'm way off topic!
 
Morgan Barker
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I think I am one of those folks that neither earns nor spends spoons. I wake up every day at 4am and go to work, because, it is just what I have always done, I would feel really out of place if I didn't go. I work eight or nine hours and come home, tend the garden, see the kids and wife and then get busy with whatever homestead project I am doing, until dinner, then work until there is no light. Shower and bed. Repeat daily until I die. This sits perfectly fine with me,and it costs no spoons thinking about it. Something breaks? Get to fixing. No amount of crying or moping ever turned a wrench. My wife says I am more like a machine than a person and that it must be miserable to not express much emotion. I say life is vastly easier when you spend less time worrying.
I will say that if I do have spoons, they are directly tied to my checking account.
 
Sue Rine
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You've really started something here Paul.

I'm thinking a spoon orchestra would be cool if there were enough permies in one place at one time...any chance on the ranch?...Dance with the Ants.
 
Tegan Russo
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I think one of the most interesting things about spoons is that you can't give them away. Me spending 5 spoons to help you out is no guarantee that you actually gain 5 spoons. Maybe I saved you a spoon by washing your dishes, which if I have 100 spoons a day and you only have 10 could make a huge difference. But spoons aren't tradable. And for people with depression, disabilities, or just going through a rough patch, spoons have to be carefully rationed. Spoon theory resonates with a lot of us but I want to respect that it comes from the disabled community and that my managing with 50 spoons a day is very different from the person with chronic pain who has 5 spoons a day.
 
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