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OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas

Apr 14, 2023

This week, Off-Kilter continues our ongoing series of conversations with social justice leaders digging into why, in the famous words of Audre Lorde, self-care is political warfare—and the role radical self-care plays in their own lives to sustain them in this work. As we’ve explored a good bit in recent weeks as part of this series, the disability community harbors some of the greatest wisdom when it comes to radical self-care—with disabled people as modern-day oracles, as activist Alice Wong often puts it. 

Last week, Rebecca talked with Lisa McCorkell of the Patient Led Research Collaborative and Ryan Prior, author of The Long Haul, about what we can learn from the long COVID and ME/CFS communities when it comes to self-care practices like radical pacing and more.  And this week, Off-Kilter is continuing to explore what we can learn from the chronic illness community when it comes to radical self-care.

A concept Rebecca has found incredibly powerful in her own life as someone who lives with chronic illness is something called “Spoon Theory”—a framework that enables thinking about energy management in terms of metaphorical “spoons.” To dig into Spoon Theory and what we can learn from the so-called “spoonie” community when it comes to radical self-care, Rebecca sat down with Dawn Gibson, creator of #SpoonieChat and a board member for the National Pain Advocacy Center. She’s a former Episcopalean minister-turned-health activist who’s spent the last decade creating a powerful online community for “spoonies” and advocating to protect access to pain medications for people who live with chronic pain. They talked about the origins and evolution of Spoon Theory, the story behind #SpoonieChat as it celebrates its ten-year anniversary, what we can all learn from spoonies when it comes to radical self-care, and lots more.

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