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Simplify Thrive

Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism

A version of this post, Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism, was previously published here on 8 March 2019. 

Over the past week I’ve been ill. I really don’t want to get into it, because I’m not here for sympathy, but it’s a case of multiple things converging, and one ailment exacerbating another. The part that’s useful and constructive is that I had to prioritize what absolutely needed to be done, because I don’t have the strength or energy for anything beyond those essential tasks. It made me appreciate that fact that I’m already a minimalist. I also grew to accept the self-applied label of spoonie even more. What I started to picture in my head was a Venn diagram where the two overlapped. I’m officially calling it “spoonie minimalism”. Here are some preliminary thoughts; this is probably going to be a work-in-progress.

My Take on Minimalism

I’ve always defined minimalism as getting rid of what you don’t need or want in order to make space for the things you do. Most people see this as material possessions and clutter. It also extended to not spending money where you don’t have to, so you can afford necessities and a few luxury items. Don’t waste time on tasks that don’t serve some larger purpose, so that you have time for stuff that’s actually important. Never waste time on toxic relationships, giving you space to establish healthy ones.

The new factor that I’ve added is getting rid of unnecessary tasks that sap your strength, so you have the energy to do the things you truly need and want to do. This hit me on some very fundamental levels. I love to cook, but I realized I don’t have to prepare a full meal in order to feed myself.

When I need to save my strength for other things, I can let that go. It’s okay to have some fruit and a piece of toast, make a simple sandwich, or a bowl of yogurt and muesli. If I’m going to the store, and can only carry so much, I have to be sure to only get the items we absolutely need. Even going from one room to the other to get something has been a bit of a planned trip; the kitchen is only three meters away, but why make five trips if you can make one?

Minimalist Spoon Theory

Spoon theory states that people with chronic illnesses only have a finite amount of energy, and they need to spend it wisely. Everything they choose to do has a cost. This means that things need to be prioritized. Choices have to be made. You start by determining what is necessary. From there, you have to look at what yields a return, the things that will be beneficial later. Sometimes that’s “I should do that now, because later I won’t have the spoons for it”. When possible, you need to save some of your spoons for things that make you happy, just to keep yourself sane.

All of which dovetails with various takes on minimalism. Sometimes it’s not about what sparks joy, it’s about what doesn’t leave you exhausted. It’s not always about what’s beautiful, it’s about what’s convenient and doesn’t cause pain. Fewer possessions means less cleaning and maintenance. A concise task list means getting the most value from the smallest number of actions. It’s never about less for the sake of less. It’s less for the sake of not having the strength to do more. Like time and money, energy is a finite resource that needs to be carefully budgeted for maximum impact.

Simple Living Spoonie

My big learning of the past week is that I need to stop finding resources – time, money, strength – for things that aren’t worth it. You’ve only got 24 hours in a day. There’s only a certain amount of money in your bank about. You can only do so much before you’re too tired. You’re in too much pain to function. There are obligations to be met, things that need to be done, but you also need to save something for yourself.

Spoonie minimalism is the fusion of productivity and self-care. If I can get eight hours of work done today, then I will get eight hours of work done. I will make the most of those hours. But if I only have the energy to work for an hour, I need to make that the most productive hour possible, and then not feel guilty or ashamed of the fact that I need to take an extra seven hours to recharge my batteries and tend to my health.

Exploring the Concept of Spoonie Minimalism

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

 

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Journal Simplify Thrive

Simple Living Minimalism as a Spoonie

It’s easy to advocate for simple living minimalism as a spoonie. We can start with the practical. Maintaining things uses spoons. Cleaning and dusting things uses spoons. Having to move things to get to other things uses spoons. Trying to not knock things over, because your motor skills aren’t all that great, uses spoons. Able-bodied people don’t always understand how stressful clutter can be. Less stuff immediately translates to less effort.

Visual Noise

Mentally and emotionally, removing the demands of taking care of stuff eases a burden. It can become an issue of guilt, brought about by a society that often labels people with invisible illnesses as lazy. I don’t look sick, therefore I should be able to deal with *gestures broadly at the world*. When you add in the way possessions become equated with status, then the pressure to own things creates further demands on your spoons. It’s not worth it.

Unwashed dishes stress me out, for example, especially when I’m low on spoons. Having fewer dishes, two place settings for two people, means they have to get done. It means there’s a finite amount that can pile up, and even if I used every plate and bowl in the kitchen it won’t take more than a few minutes to do the washing up. Less stuff, less obligation, less anxiety.

Less stuff means less to keep track of. With my executive dysfunction, that’s important. I don’t want to have to remember to dust the knicknacks, or set reminders to water a large number of houseplants that each have specific needs. My world is already filled with white boards and sticky notes and bullet journal trackers. I don’t need visual noise to distract me from important tasks, or to make my reminders less visible.

This does not mean that I don’t have aesthetically pleasing or visually interesting things. Quite the opposite. It becomes more important to curate decor. The few things around me are soothing and make me happy. They don’t get lost in the clutter, so I can see them and appreciate them. It’s easier to dust what needs to be dusted, and to see when they need dusting.

Beyond the Material

There’s more to simple living than having less stuff, of course. Planning simple, easy-to-prepare meals saves time, money, and spoons. Maintaining a well-stocked, efficiently organized pantry cuts down on draining trips to the grocery store. Even keeping your social life manageable, with strategic outings and as little drama as possible, can be hugely helpful.

All of the things I’m talking about apply to everyone, not just spoonies. It’s just easier for spoonies to say no, because we understand the implications and complications. We’ve learned to filter out the necessary from the unnecessary. We know our limitations. Everyone has finite time and money, but spoonies seem to have a better grasp on the reality of finite energy as well. Simple living minimalism as a spoonie means being efficient and targeted in our efforts, because that’s how we’ve adapted in order to function in the world.

Simple Living Minimalism as a Spoonie

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Create Journal Thrive

If You Have Time to Doomscroll, You Have Time to Read

At the moment I only have a business presence on Twitter, and no personal account. I find it moderately beneficial to see what’s going on in my publishing niche. Even though I’m bad at it for various reasons, I attempt to contribute to and participate in the community. Still, I’ve just uninstalled it from my phone and replaced it with an eReader app. If you have time to doomscroll, you have time to read.

I know someone’s going to say that’s judgmental toward people that don’t read. It’s not about them, it’s about me. Reading is far more productive for me. A few minutes taking in a chapter of a marketing book, or a volume on improving my copywriting skills, will get me further in life than seeing peoples’ reactions to the latest bout of fascist douchebaggering or incredulous science denial. Even if I read a few pages of a novel, that has a positive effect on my mental health. Reading what the trolls and bots are spreading, not so much.

When I do want to engage on Twitter, I do so from my laptop. That means I’m at my desk, in my workspace. It goes a long way toward separating work-time from not work-time.

If You Have Time to Doomscroll…

If you enjoy my posts (maybe not this one, because, you know), you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Create Journal Thrive

The Joy of Going Analog

I will say this again: one of my greatest regrets in life is getting rid of my Alphasmart. It was lightweight, indestructable, ran forever on 3 AA batteries, and the only thing I could do on it was write. Not internet, no distractions. It was the closest I have ever come to going analog with my writing.

The arthritis in my hands preclude writing longhand on yellow legal pads. I’d be in screaming pain within minutes. There’s also my strong aversion to doing double-work, and since I’d need to retype it anyway longhand always felt like a waste of time. I also know that there are other dedicated word processing devices, but they are expensive. Even getting a refurbished Alphasmart would cost a fortune to ship to Finland. So I need to accept airplane mode as the alternative.

Minimizing My Phone

Normally I take notes in my phone, using Google Keep. This week I purchased a pack of tiny 5 cm x 7.6 cm (2″ x 3″) notebooks to serve the same purpose. I carry one in my pocket, and jot down ideas and tasks as they come to me. It keeps me from looking at my phone, where the temptation to answer an email or look at puppies on Instagram could become a distraction. I’ve taken to putting my phone in my bag, rather than my pocket, when I go out. I also keep it across the room when I’m working.

Wall Calendars are Happiness

This week I also purchased a 2021 calendar. I have finally gotten rid of the last vestiges of Google Calendar. “Oh, but it syncs with everything!” Well that’s the problem, isn’t it? I’ve come to use my bullet journal for anything I found useful about GCal. I remember things better when I have to write them in the bujo and the wall calendar. Using a family calendar, I can use the spaces intended for different family members to track different projects. It’s easier to see, and so much more satisfying to update, than a phone app.

I need to keep looking for more ways of going analog.

The Joy of Going Analog

If you enjoy my posts (maybe not this one, because, you know), you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Journal Thrive

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

At some point there’s going to be a heel turn. There are so many things, and so many people, that I’m fed up with. I’ve been pushed to the very edge of civility, by uncivil people who somehow are allowed to get away with being rude, crude, and willfully ignorant. At some point I’m going to cut loose, and it’s not going to be pretty, and I’m going to end up as the villain of the story.

Some of this springs from a personal theory I call the Transitive Property of Asshole. In pointing out to someone that they are being an asshole, you somehow become the asshole. Understandably, people don’t like being held accountable and lash out. Pointing out that people are being rude is, somehow, even more rude. Whataboutism comes into play at this point, where your own shortcomings and past failures are brought up as if that somehow makes the other person’s action acceptable. Punching a Nazi is treated is if it’s more offensive than being an actual Nazi. I’m pretty sure that, by definition, having issues with people who are against fascism puts you squarely on the side of the fascists.

I just can’t with people any more.

Since tribalism is now firmly established in the United States, I have to be the villain to someone. The whole “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality is so juvenile. If you’re not clearly us, you must be them, and there is no subtlety or nuance, no shades of gray. Anyone not a brand-name Conservative is a Communist. If you’re not a leftist, which include a lot of Democrats in spite of what Republicans think, then you’re a fascist. Those who aren’t Evangelical Christians are Satanists, mic drop, time to hook up with the pool boy. 

So if these are the rules, and I’m going to be a villain to someone no matter what I do, I might as well lean into it.

Of course I’m joking.

At least, that’s my intention. The other day I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to catch a fly. It would not leave me alone, and it was annoying the hell out of me. Rather than swat him, smash him, kill him, I tried to guide him to the nearest open window to guide him out. Why kill him? He’s bring a fly. That’s what he does. I finally managed to trap him under a plastic container lid, took him out onto the patio, and released him.

I said I was going to turn heel. I didn’t say I’d be particularly good at it.

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

If you enjoy my posts (maybe not this one, because, you know), you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.