Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

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34 thoughts on “Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

  1. Cathy McElhaney

    Wow! That is something I need to learn to do…keep my spoon in my own bowl! Sometimes it is really difficult because I am getting tired of what’s in mine and yours looks better, ha ha! I am usually ‘scraping’ someone else’s bowl and force feeding them! Well that is usually just those ones I gave birth to!
    Thank you for another thought provoking post!

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Cathy!
      Yes, it is very hard to keep my spoon out of other people’s bowls! But, what I’ve learned is I have enough going on in mine and my stuff deserves attention!
      Glad to hear from you! It’s sooooo cold up here! How’s the weather where you are?
      xo Jo

  2. Sunday's Child (trying to be full of grace).

    Oh my stars, just by reading your words, Grace slipped through the sentences and splashed all over me. I needed that kind reminder.
    Thank you for such a sincere gentle way to teach us all a heart & soul lesson.
    I love that you write with word pictures.
    I love your fiesta ware.
    I love your heart & soul.
    Your friend, Daleen

  3. Sia Aristidou

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! It made me reflect on a friendship I have (or used to have) and question if certain acts of humility were the right choice to make.

    Perhaps it is a lesson for me. Perhaps it was a lesson for my friend. Either way, we will always learn something from our life experiences.

    Today I learnt about the spoon analogy! 🙂

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Sia!
      Ef Haristo!
      Thank you for stopping by. I love your blog!
      I am glad if this post made you stop and think.
      Keeping my spoon in my own bowl sometimes runs counter to my Greek upbringing (we like to know what’s going on with everybody and we have an opinion on it!!)
      Thank you for stopping by!
      Joanne xo

  4. cindy

    Hi Joanne, beautiful story!♥ As I grown older, I have come to realize that life is a long lesson in humility. As your story began to folded, I was anxious to learn how you both would eventually react to that phone call. I know, I would have not hung up either and like you, I would have most likely followed up in some way thanking her for her honesty . I think that was a beautiful act of humility! I know I always try to get the last word in, but I also know that the best way to get the last word in is to apologize! Sometimes humility is just being a beautiful person, and that you were (are)! I think your story is a God lesson to others and I believe more stories like this need to be shared. I have been in situations that if I left my ego stand in the way, and concerned myself with “who is right or who is wrong,” I would not have the “treasured” friendships and loving relationships that I have today. Yours is a great story to share and one that may inspire others to “just be humble” and enjoy what happens next! Enjoy your soup

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Cindy,
      I thank you for your comments and you are right, we cannot let our egos get in the way.
      This is probably the most courageous thing I written in a while and it is good to have the positive feedback from my friends to encourage me on.
      Thank you so much,
      Joanne xo

  5. Marylin Warner

    There are so many good lessons and gentle reminders in this post, Joanne. I especially needed to hear about the former friend who again, later, again became a dear friend. That gives me hope!
    I’d never heard the expression about keeping my spoon in my own bowl. I love it! So much more visual than minding my own business.

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Marylin,
      Others wrote to say that the visualization is different from anything they had heard. I like it because it is simple. This was a hard post to write Marylin but it released much weight from my heart.
      Blessings to you for stopping by!

  6. Angela Gaughan

    Hi Joanne,
    I am Raymond’s cousin Angela and I saw your blog on Cally’s Facebook page and have been enjoying it ever since.

    This post deeply touched me and honestly was exactly what I needed to hear today. In an effort to help or be a good friend I sometimes forget to keep my spoon in my own bowl and let others scrape their own.

    Thank you for your consistently beautiful images and words that soothe the soul and challenge me to live more gently and lovingly.

    Stay warm!
    God Bless!

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hello Angela!
      It is a pleasure to meet you!
      I love how you said “let others scrape their own”. That is a great sentence and I’ll have to remember that!
      It is great when someone lets me know that what I wrote has meaning for them. This is the best benefit of being a creative writer!
      Blessings to you!

  7. Denise Hisey

    A consistent theme on several blogs recently, Joanne. Never too many reminders to focus on our own junk and let everyone else be in charge of theirs. Easy to say, hard to do. Lovely post!

  8. Gallivanta

    A lovely and oh so wise expression. Your bowls are beautiful and look as though they are made for a table where laughter and love and sharing are integral to the menu.

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      I am lucky to have a Fiestaware outlet not far from my home. There is an “outlet” room where I score some beautiful things for a fraction of the price.
      The colors are amazing and never fail to brighten up my day.

  9. totallyimperfect

    Hi Jo,

    I have missed your “lesson” blogs, they are always helpful, just like this one. Coincidentally, I just read this today, the same day I read another devotion I receive everyday on recovery. It closed with, “Higher Power, help me realize each day that it is okay to be wrong, that real communication with other people depends on my being willing to see other points of view, and that being teachable is a divine quality.” I heard someone say once that being humble is being teachable. I am able to achieve growth when I search for what I can learn in a situation, keeping my focus “on my own bowl”.

    Thank you for sharing this post!!

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Jeannine,
      I like how you say being teachable is a divine quality! That is so good and it gives me an attitude of gratitude for my own willingness to learn.
      Thank you so much for stopping by!
      xo Jo

  10. Professions for PEACE

    This is amazing Joanne. Thank you for sharing this story, as its timing is excellent for me. Although all your posts have that “Ah ha!” feeling for me 😉 . Many years ago I learned this concept from a wise Native American teacher who called it remaining ‘in our own circle’ about minding our own business and not getting in someone else’s ‘circle’. I like the bowl terminology even better. Very thought provoking.
    Thank you again! Blessings, Gina

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Hi Gina!
      Many thanks for your continuing support of my posts. It means much to me.
      I love the Native American take on the bowl- the circle! It is a perfect visualization as well. And of course keeps to the message of minding my own business. 🙂

  11. Marianne

    Great post, Joanne…and oh, how true. I do agree that our own situations can be a learning experience for others – at least for those who ‘have ears to hear’. Thank you for sharing this. And as Paul said in 1Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

    Blessings for a sweet day,
    Marianne xo

    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Marianne, wow! I love that quote and it is perfect for me and my situation.
      Thankfully, writing that post relieved much of my stress and burden. It is amazing what creative writing and journaling can do for a person.
      Love, Joanne

  12. Marianne

    Joanne, thank you for following me on Pinterest. I’m very new to this and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing to get it on my blog, so I improvised 🙂
    I’m looking at your fun boards now. Thank you for the link to yours. I’m about to follow some of your boards – really cool!


    1. Joanne Jamis Cain

      Marianne, it took me a while to figure out how to get the Pinterest link on my blog. Yours looks great.
      I love Pinterest and all the ideas on there. So glad you have joined the bandwagon!!
      xo Joanne


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