Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Running On Empty?

“What is missing from your life? What would it take to plug the holes and stop the energy drains? When you see, feel, or think about lack, scarcity, or emptiness, seek ways to fill the holes, replenish and return to a state of abundance and fulfillment.” Susan C. Young

“Want to go for a walk?” says Larry.

I look up from my unfruitful musings, and say, “no way, we’ll freeze to death.”

“You like the cold.”

“I do, from a distance.”

Still, in my pajamas at exactly 10:50 am, I’m snuggled in the double-wide, covered in a fur blanket, staring at an empty page on my computer screen as I struggle to find something funny, relatable, universal to say, but sadly without Shaggy lounging at my feet, I feel unmoored.

“What are you doing?”

I say, “what does it look like I’m doing?” (I may have infused this question with a little attitude)

He ignores my sarcasm.

I’m like a dog with a bone, I say, “for your information creativity is very time-consuming, and in fact, my brain is burning a ton of calories just thinking about what to write, let alone the movement of my fingers over the keyboard. It’s a wonder I haven’t wasted away to nothing”

“So that explains the second piece of lasagna you just inhaled.”

“Feeding this brain is a full-time job.”

“Spare a little for the guy still holding down a job.”

“There’s a whole bag of apples in the frig.”


The truth is instead of writing, I’m assuaging my hunger while browsing the internet for puppies with big ears, which is helping my sour mood, but unlike Amazon, they don’t take credit cards or ship puppies for free.

Additionally, I’m in a nasty standoff with Lamps Plus. I ordered a mirror over a month ago, which is most likely lost, but they keep telling me the delivery dates are estimates and I should expect delays due to COVID, our modern-day scapegoat.

I told them if I don’t have my mirror by Monday I want my money back.

He wrote me a very passive-aggressive note, “thank you for your email, it is my pleasure to assist. Please let us know if there’s no movement after 10 business days and we would be happy to further assist.”

It’s called a refund pal, I don’t need your assistance.

So I start browsing for mirrors on Etsy when I am reminded to work on my reflection! Get it? Bahaha

I can see it’s going to be one of those posts, and clearly, I can’t be held accountable for what lands on the page when my productivity is being challenged.

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, it’s why I don’t bother changing into clothes until after Christmas.

From here on out the light will be slipping into the night as if a clandestine affair slowly exposing her wanton ways until darkness is at the mercy of her candescence.

I have no idea where that came from. Too much lasagna?

I’m not sure how I feel about the wanton light, because as if a lizard, I thoroughly enjoy the darkness and cold. I think it’s embedded in my DNA. I’m Swedish. It’s also why I need chocolate, cheese, and wine. Just sayin’.

Most people like summer. I get it.

I just find excessive temperatures intolerable (anything over 80 degrees), especially as I age, I don’t like being covered in sweat, feeling the inescapable suppression of suffocating heat, additionally, being hot (as in overheated) is associated with fisty behavior.

Oh, I can hear it now, from here on out I’ll be known as the Ice Queen, but you would be wrong. My heart is quite warm and amendable. I can provide references if needed.

I understand the mechanics of this annual shift in light but I wonder if the winter solstice is simply a reminder for us to pay attention to the continual changes happening all around us?

These changes occur whether we notice them or not, just like the seasons of our lives, of which I’ve entered into my own winter of sorts, therefore my obsession with coats is totally rational.

Looking for inspiration I turn to my favorite podcast, On Being, with Krista Tippett. She always delivers and I have to say her recent interview with Katherine May is genius.

Katherine says “deeply unfashionable things,” she recommends slowing down, resting, retreating, she calls this wintering and she illuminates these concepts in her new book Wintering, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times [link here].

Of course, I ordered it immediately, and as soon as I did I could hear Larry’s footsteps pounding down the hall, so I interrupted my podcast in anticipation of a mini-rant. We share an Amazon account and the emails go directly to Larry.

I know, major design flaw, I’ll get my engineers on it lickety-split.

He says, “no more Amazon orders! We’re done.”

“Honey, I have to learn how to winter properly.”

“What you need is to learn how to budget.”

“If there’s a book on this form of abuse I’d be happy to order it?”

I get the look.

So I return to my podcast and musings as Larry bemoans the fact ESPN is currently off our platform.

Krista says I’ve come to think of our pandemic world as one vast communal experience of wintering, with much to metabolize and carry, and in aching need of replenishment.

She’s brilliant.

According to Paulo Coelho, a miracle happens when we are given another day.

As I age I appreciate this wisdom more and more.

The thing is I take this miracle of life for granted, I assume when I close my eyes at night, that I’ll be opening them in the morning, Larry will make coffee, and the sun will illuminate another day.

I remember driving to the hospital to deliver Julie, our first baby, our first encounter with parenthood, and for me, my first labor.

I remember thinking that everything in my life is about to change and yet as I gazed not only through a window of pain, but through the window of the car, I was confronted by the realization that everyone is going about their day as if nothing extraordinary was about to happen.

How can this be?

How is it that my experience is so different from everyone around me? I feel that way today as I pull my head out of the sand after almost two years of isolation (loosely defined) and I have this perception that everyone else is handling it so much better than me?

I just found out we are returning to a mask mandate, the Omicron variant is on the rise, creating havoc with our health, vocations (not to mention vacations), and our ability to freely move about the world. It’s as if the seatbelt sign has been left on permanently.

I think about COVID more than I care to admit. I worry about what this disease will mean for our future? Not just mandates but how it will affect our wellbeing, the evolution of life, maybe even our longevity?

I keep hoping I’ll wake up one morning from this universal nightmare and I’ll be fifty-five again, employed, my hair still blond, not to mention a noticeably smaller derriere.

Katherine May says, “wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”

This woman is speaking my language.

I especially love how she notes that this is a time for reflection, recuperation, slow replenishment, and putting your house in order. This is exactly what I’m doing, expanding my reflection time, my loungewear, eating plants (as soon as I finish the lasagna), and organizing my closet. Now they have a label for it.

I’m not the Ice Queen, I’m the Winter Queen.

Metaphorically, I’m weeding through all the shit that landed in my crucible and discovering the right blend for my future self.

It’s actually a radical act to “sit for hours doing nothing.”

Here in the United States, we consider rest a shameful act, morally corrupt behavior, because if busy is fashionable, then frantic is the height of fashion.

Did you know that Jesus was considered quite radical for his time? Seriously, he hung out with an entourage of outcasts, participated in a lot of impromptu dinner parties, with an abundance of blessed wine, talked about his faith to anyone “with ears to hear,” and as his popularity soared he became so threatening to the local authorities he was crucified.

Jesus’ most important teaching was surprisingly simple, he said, “love [God] with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as if yourself, everything hinges on the action of love.” Matthew 22 (adapted)

Radical advice especially valid today.

It snowed here last night, it’s extraordinary to wake up to a dusting of snow on Mt. Konocti. Katherine May says what she loves about snow is the way that it makes a clean break. She says, “it transforms the landscape. Everything’s different. Everything sounds different. The quality of life is different. The light kind of sparkles off it. You know before you open your curtains that snow has landed.”

It forces us all to pause and consider what really matters.

We’re ritual poor in our society says Tippett and we fail to mark the passing of the seasons especially the darknesses.

We do worship Black Friday but I don’t think that’s what she meant?

So today can we all agree on a communal rest, put down our phones, close our computers (after you finish reading), and sit for a spell listening to the sound of our own thoughts.

What might we hear?

I think we’d be surprised by our unique knowledge, our compassion for each other, imbued with a sense of gratitude for this one precious life.

The gift of pause is a gift we give ourselves.

It should be the first gift we open.

We can write ourselves a new story for 2022, one that fuels a rich and vibrant life without leaving us feeling empty and drained. This pandemic lasted far longer than we expected, and seems hellbent on staying, but we have survived, we’ve stretched ourselves, we learned to be creative, and we have become proficient at creating our own illicit joy within the confines of the present moment.

To my readers, I can’t thank you enough for supporting this little dream of mine, for joining me in the comments, for wrestling with the tribulations and joys of living in a complicated world. I’m deeply humbled and grateful for your presence in my life.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, one that includes rest, restoration, and replenishment.


Wintering a Season in Nature and Life [link to full podcast] by Krista Tippett and Katherine May

I’m Living in the Gap, wintering if you will, love to hear what you’re up to.


Leave a Comment

  1. Cheryl, this is beautiful! I love Krista Tippet also! I found one way you and I are different. I LOVE warm weather, even hot! As I write this, I am in front of the fireplace and I just got out of a long hot bath. The snow outside is gorgeous, but it is cold! Thanks for your great blog. I’ll go order Wintering! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Terri, Krista is the best! I totally see you as a warm weather person, that makes sense, you have no insulation to keep you warm! I too love the snow beside a warm fire! Hope you enjoy the book, love to hear your thoughts! Happy New Year to you and Robert!


    1. Merry Christmas Fraggle and a Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m ever so grateful for you, love your hysterical comments, and unwavering support! And I agree, there is no such thing as too much Amazon! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheryl, beware of the boredom eating. It catches up with you. This is a key reason I just nosh when I boredom eat. To me, the best way to avoid the blues is to do something, anything – stretch, walk, read, or just change locations in the house. My wife laughs at ne when I follow the sunlight in our house, like an old cat. Peace be with you. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Keith, I am often besieged by boredom eating, and yes, it’s stealthy, and sneaks up on you like a cat! I’m such a creature of habit so changing locations in the house feels wrong but a good brisk walk always does me good. Bahaha, love that you follow the sunlight in the house. Happy New Year Keith, xxoo


  3. Cheryl as always, you delivered another excellent post. I love the thought of “wintering” and the crucible analogy. Taking some time myself after Christmas, at our cabin, to sit, reflect, rest and prepare for the new year. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Best Wishes! Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe, thank you Leigh, I too was taken by the seasons of life, and that old crucible! I’m so glad you’ll have the chance to sit, reflect, and restore at your cabin after Christmas! That’s such a gift! Happy New Year Leigh, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for letting me forgive myself for my extended wintering. You make it sound/feel rather glamorous! And yet not one word about holiday mania. Thanks for that, too!
    Merry Christmas! Enjoy that wee blanket of snow for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, I’m so glad I’m not the only one extending my wintering and enjoying every second Kit! With the holidays behind me know, I’m just coming up for air! Happy New Year to you and yours, hugs my friend, C


  5. Hi Cheryl, a (possibly) positive spin on the Omicron variant… I overheard some scientists talking about viruses and how it is not advantageous to them to kill their host. The virus dies with it. A virus wants to have a less severe affect – ideally, a person barely feels sick, so they continue interacting and passing said virus from host to host. This is what we see with Omicron. Mild symptoms for most people and much giving and sharing of slight illness. Covid is likely here to stay, like so many other illnesses, but it will not always require the extreme attention it has been given. How politicians and the media use it to power grab is another story, but as for the virus, it is not likely to stay scary. It doesn’t even want to. I find that reassuring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mama! I love your positive spin on this nasty virus, don’t kill the host or we’re all going to die! I think that about our planet too! I’ve never thought of the virus as an entity that needs a host to survive but that’s the reality. It makes sense that you’d only want to inconvenience the host not take them down! I think your’re right, Covid is here to stay, like the flu, and common cold, and hopefully we’ll learn to deal with it in a calm and rational manner. Let’s hope it makes a gracious exit from center stage before we are forced to drag it off with our canes. It’s not surprising that the politicians have politicalized our little pandemic, they do that with just about everything, including our faith. Happy New Year to you and yours! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, I was off social media for the holidays, wanting to focus on my kids, and grandkids. My daughter from Boston left yesterday and I was sorry to see her go. It was a lovely holiday, but extremely busy, and I’m so enjoying the quiet and peace up at the lake. Love the portrait of an actual Winter Queen and I absolutely need a new dress! Bahaha! Hope Santa was good to you Pete, wishing you a very happy New Year. My love to you, C xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Running on empty indeed.
    I continue to marvel at your ability to constantly produce engaging posts week after week. Typically, you capture the mood of the season, the country or even the world. As the endless pandemic seems to recycle its way through our country (the Omicold variant seems to spread like wildfire,) most of us are truly running on empty.
    Love the Winter Solstice. From here on out the daylight hours are getting longer. We get winter because we need a chance to take the load off. I believe Krista Tippet is likely right. Slowing down, resting, retreating, as she says, is what we need. No matter how hard we want to garden, we are due for a break. This is the time of year where I am torn between a desire to enjoy winter (think white wine in a hot tub outside during a blizzard, vs a margherita on the beach.) With regards to your new nom de plume, Ice (or did you decide on Winter) Queen, I suggest you make like Elsa, and let it go!
    This just in, you need your own amazon account. It works great and is not that hard to set up (maybe Gail and I share an account, but I have not found out about it.) Do you give Larry a lot of grief when he orders trivial, unnecessary junk on Amazon? Maybe he is just retaliating?
    Love this line, “Here in the United States, we consider rest a shameful act, morally corrupt behavior, because if busy is fashionable, then frantic is the height of fashion.” I happen to agree that we overvalue industriousness, but am wondering if you mention this as kind of a justification for spending the day writing? Explaining things to Larry, so to speak.
    Lastly, you say “To my readers, I can’t thank you enough for supporting this little dream of mine, for joining me in the comments, for wrestling with the tribulations and joys of living in a complicated world. I’m deeply humbled and grateful for your presence in my life.” We are grateful to you that you continue to provide your readers with insights into your life, your thoughts and the lives of those around you. I also enjoy your readers. It is also nice to get insight into life across the pond. Thank you for providing this forum for thoughtful expression.
    With regard to the shortest day and the pandemic, I’m running on, running on empty….

    PS Larry needs ESPN. Not only is it a forfeiture of his guy card to be without it, but he has a son-in-law in the business.
    PPS If Amazon bleeds you dry, maybe you can forego the European Vacation and bring the Jim and Sue to Missouri and we can do the low budget Branson, Top of the Rock, Dogwood Canyon etc. type vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year Mike, so good to hear from you, and thank you for all your kind words! I am humbled that you continue to read my ramblings and take the time to offer your insights. I thoroughly enjoy your perspective on most anything. Well, another Christmas has come and gone, the decorations need to be put in storage, along with all our new gadgets and gifts! I hope you enjoyed some spacious time with your kids and granddaughter? I know we did, I think we spent just about every waking moment together between Julie’s house and mine. Kelley returned home with no flight delays which seems rather miraculous after all the chaos at the airport. As things return to normal I’m finally found a morning to muse, respond, and ponder. Larry has been hellbent on using our tandem bike whenever possible, we just returned from Half Moon Bay after a 25 mile ride. I was surprised by how well I held up (the cocktail and clam chowder after the ride may have helped). I’ve decided Larry can not retire. He never sits still, we’d be riding every damn day if he didn’t have a job. We’re already scheduled for three riding events in the next few months. How will I find time to winter and order shit on Amazon? Okay, on to the important PPS, Larry’s in for a Branson vacation, I’m going to pitch the idea to Jim and Sue, then we just need to nail down a date. I’m thinking early March? Thoughts? Oh, and we’re not bringing the tandem bike, I don’t care how much Larry howls! Miss you guys, looking forward to our Branson get-away. Much love, Cheryl xxoo


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