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The Spoon Theory … or How To Continue to Be Happily Artful Despite Chronic, Catastophic and/or Life Threating Illness

This one is for all my poet, writer, artist and musician friends who continue to create in the face of sometimes dramatic  physical health issues and disabilities. Be as well as you can be. You are valued. 

There are two videos included here.  If you are reading this post from an email subscription, it’s likely that you’ll have to link through to the site to view the videos. They’re both worth the time and effort.

The Spoon Theory (see video above) is a clear and vivid way of explaining what it is like to live with any chronic, catastrophic and potentially life-threatening illness. I suspect that it also explains what life is like for those who have lived long enough to be described as “elderly.” Understanding The Spoon Theory gifts us with compassion for ourselves and patience with how long it takes to get things done … even a poem, piece of flash fiction, a blog post or visits to other bloggers.

The first step in living successfully with catastrophic illness and advanced aging is to recognize (acknowledge/understand) the ramifications in terms of everyday life and its details. The Spoon Theory helps with that.

The second step is acceptance. That’s about letting go of your story. It’s about not being defined by the circumstances of your life. It’s about living with not struggling against. This requires something much more profound than positive thinking, which tends toward the superficial.

Letting go of our stories means letting go of judgement and attachment and a sense of victimization, which are the root causes of many of our very human pathologies. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote of this my-story mentality as “striving, disappointment, and boredom” or a life that is devoid of Spirit. Songwriters, who often make their living by stoking the “pain body” or the residue of emotional pain that stays with us [Eckhart Tolle], call this the IFD disease – idealization, frustration (the ideal cannot be achieved) and demoralization.

The third step in the journey is to adapt, a business of the heart. Adapting is not about giving up. It’s about finding our core of  joy and gratitude and no one reminds of joy and gratitude  better than the beloved Benedictine monk, Brother David Stendl-Rast (video below), who combines the wisdom of traditional Christianity with pragmatism of Buddhism.

No guilt. No judgement. Just joy. With understanding, self-compassion, patience and acceptance, we can still produce as so many of us do … and maybe, instead of beating ourselves up over what didn’t get done each day, we’ll be able to pat ourselves on the back for all we do accomplish. We cannot share The Spoon Theory with everyone. Many people will not understand our challenges. All that matters is that we do and that we support one another.

© 2017, words, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved

“In politics being deceived is no excuse.” Leszak Kolakowski

Recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read for our chaotic times … and not just the list of lessons but Prof. Snyder’s commentary on each. This book is a rational enlightening little gem and a powerful wake-up call.

Lesson One: “Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given.  In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked.  A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.” Prof. Snyder

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LATE BREAKING NEWS: Call for Papers, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers

The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) announces its:

October 26-29, 2017 at University of Dallas
FEATURED SPEAKER: CHRISTOPHER RICKS, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities, Editorial Institute, Boston University, “Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize”
Please note: everybody who participates must be a current member of the ALSCW. We encourage participation by creative writers, scholars, critics, and secondary school teachers. The 2017 introductory membership rate for new members, graduate students, and retirees is $50. Renewals are $100. Visit our website for detailed information (
Proposals of 300 words and a C.V. should be sent as email attachments to Richard Rankin Russell at on or before June 10, 2017.” Facebook page with details on seminars and speakers is HERE. ALSCW Mission Statement, History and Goals HERE.


SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and other News and Information


Opportunity Knocks

THE BeZINE, Be inspired … Be creative … Be peace … Be Michael Dickel and I are reviewing submissions for the April’s special poetry edition. Traditionally at the Zine we celebrate April as interNational Poetry Month. Deadline is April 10 and pub date is April 15, so you still have time to submit poetry on any subject and in any form. International submissions are encouraged but poems must be in English. You may also include your poem in your first or other language to go with the English translation. Also of interest: features on poets and poetry, the art and craft of poetry, why and how poetry matters, history and development and so forth. Welcome also are reviews of books and collections as well as literary criticism. Submissions to  Please check out the Zine first so that you understand our mission. Intro and Mission Statement HERE.  Submission guidelines are HERE. Thank you!  

STORM CELLER QUARTERLY a literary journal seeks images and nonfiction or fiction up to 5000 words, flashes up to 4000 words total, poems up to 400 lines, images, graphics and hybrid works. Details HERE.

RHUBARB is an independent, secular and published three-times a year accepts submissions of unpublished poetry, fiction, nonfiction and black-and-white photographs. Features also include humor, book reviews, commentary, issues and articles related to theme.  Closed now for the June issue but watch the site for the next call.  Details HERE. This is a paying market.

SUBPRIMAL POETRY ART founded in 2013 and offering “quality thought proving poetry and other art.”  Also invited are submissions of essays on the creative process. This is a paying market.  In some circumstances previously published work is considered.  Details HERE.

UNDERSTORY MAGAZINE, Vital Writing and Visual Art by Women in Canada, seeks to feature underrepresented voices with stories told through essays, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and visual arts. Also features guest bloggers. Offers a modest honorarium.  Details HERE.

POETRY FILM LIVE seeks to showcase the best and most inspiring film and video poetry from the UK and around the world, featuring both emerging and established poets and poetry filmmakers. It is a collaboration with The Interpreter’s House Poetry Journal. Submissions are currently open through 30th June 2017. Details HERE.


Opportunity Knocks

PLOUGHSHARES at Emerson College, Emerging Writer’s Contest is open through noon on May 15th. This contest is open to fiction, nonfiction and poetry from writer’s who haven’t as yet a published or self-published book.  $24 entry fee. $2,000 prize. Details HERE.

STORM CELLER QUARTERLY Force Mjeure Flash Contest seeking “the best small things, any form, any content, any fine and wonderful creation.” Entry fee. Cash prizes. Submissions by underrepresented are encouraged: women, people of color, indigenous, disabled, Lgbtq plus, poor and others. If you cannot pay the entry fee, email the editors.  Fiction and nonfiction. Deadline June 30, 2017. Details HERE.

THE INTERPRETER’S HOUSE accepts submissions of poetry in June for the autumn issue and in October for the spring issue. Details HERE.


  • Austin Writers Roulette is an uncensored, theme-inspired spoken word and storytelling event. It features a different monthly theme and line up of artists who perform their original written works such as poetry, essays, spoken word, singer-songwriting, or excerpts from novels for 5-8 minutes (1200 words or fewer). Interested artists who would like to perform for an upcoming event can email their submission to Or you can show up during the day of the event and sign up for the open mic after all the featured artists perform. And of course, performance art lovers are always welcome! This month’s theme is “Pretense Is Underrated.” Visit the Austin Writers Roulette website for more information: * If parking is unavailable in the bookstore parking lot, please use residential streets for parking or you may park at Cabo Bob’s when they are closed.
  • TONIGHT ON FACEBOOK LIVE a poetry special for teachers: Laura Shovan announced that “April is National Poetry Month. I often hear from educators that they had poetry scared out of them in high school and they’re nervous about teaching it in their own classrooms.”That’s why I’m scheduling a NPM Facebook Live post for teachers, librarians, parents, and homeschoolers. I’ll walk you through a poetry lesson that’s fun, but also builds line reading skills. Yes — I said “fun” and “line reading” in the same sentence. I promise you will be able to replicate this lesson.”We’ll be using the poem “Weather” by Eve Merriam. Please have a copy on hand or have this website pulled up for our walk-through: We’re moving this event to Nerdy Book Club! See you over there on April 2 from 9pm – 10pm.
  • Michael Rothenberg announced his Spring Reading Tour! Here is the schedule. If you would like to meet the esteemed founder of 100,000 Poets for Change, this might be your opportunity.
    Sunday, April 9th
    Michael Rothenberg and Jacki Shelton Green
    2:00 pm, FlyLeaf Books in Chapel Hill
    752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

    Tuesday, April 11
    Michael Rothenberg and Ron Silliman
    Penn Book Center, 6:30pm
    Philadelphia, Pa. 19104

    NEW YORK (2 events)
    Saturday, April 15
    Michael Rothenberg, Ron Kolm, Bonnie Finberg and Steve Dalachinsky
    Unnameable Books, 7pm
    600 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

    Sunday, April 16th, 3pm
    Michael Rothenberg and Nicole- Peyrafitte
    Swift Hibernian Lounge
    Between Lafayette and Bowery on 4th,
    Manhattan, New York

    Tuesday, April 18
    Michael Rothenberg and Ron Kipling Williams
    Wilde Reading Series, 7pm-9pm
    Columbia Art Center
    Columbia, Maryland

    Saturday, April 22
    Michael Rothenberg
    Reading and workshop
    Guest Poet Michael Rothenberg
    will join us for Couplet, our annual poetry
    festival this year.� At 2 PM Rothenberg
    will give a workshop and at 4 PM
    he will give a reading from his work.
    Old Books on Front Street
    Wimington, North Carolina


The recommended read for this week: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.

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