Once when I was in high school a friend dropped me off at home. I went inside and about two minutes later she was knocking on my door. She had run out of gas. Her car was sitting in the middle of the street with an empty tank.
As we drove to the gas station in my car with an empty gas can, I asked her how she ran out of gas. Her response “I just wanted to see how far I could go once the needle got to E.”
She laughed like it was a game. I just shook my head.
I don’t know about you, everyone is different. But I am one of the ones that (most of the time) feels like if the needle gets to a quarter of a tank I am on the lookout for where I’m going to be getting some gas. With the fancier, newer cars I may push that a little further, but I don’t always trust technology telling me how many miles I have left in my tank.
Yesterday, I was feeling like I had less than a quarter of a tank in my personal tank. You know, the tank inside of you. The one that can only be filled by spending time with people who fill your tank. Your soul’s tank.
As an enneagram 9, it is easy for me to slip into sloth mode when my tank is getting empty. But I knew I needed to do something.
I was able to talk myself into getting up, getting dressed, and driving to our church parking lot where there was a large service project going on. Our church had partnered with a group called Sleep in Heavenly Peace to build and deliver beds for kids that otherwise wouldn’t have a bed to sleep in. [If you would like to donate to this great cause, our church will be doing this again later this spring, you can donate here or you can text BEDS to 44321].
When I am feeling like my tank is getting empty, the 80’s music gets louder. And yesterday, I was driving THAT car. The one that you can hear their music when you are sitting at the stoplight.
As soon as I pulled into the parking lot at church, Jackson Browne started singing “Running on Empty.” As if my tank wasn’t already empty enough, the only parking spot was right in front of the columbarium where my husband’s ashes are interned (you can read more about our life by reading from the beginning of this blog or this post will give a great synopsis). I have definitely been missing him these past few weeks. He knew how to help me keep my tank full.
Empty. Running on Empty. That is exactly how I felt. For the past two weeks (let’s be honest, most of 2021 so far), I have been using everything in my own tank to fuel other people.
I’m not mad about what I have done. I’m not mad at the people I have done it for. I just realized that my tank was running on empty and I needed to do something about it.
After turning off the radio, and blowing a kiss to J.R. I spent the morning working (well sort of) at the bed build – but mostly visiting with friends that filled my tank.
Later in the day, I filled it some more, by getting to visit with a friend who moved a couple of hours away last year (She definitely used her tank yesterday – literally and physically, by helping my daughter get some of her remaining items from her old apartment to my house).
I’m not sure if it is my age (I am proud to say I’m 54). Or the fact that I live with metastatic breast cancer (and have for 10 years, which is why I can be proud to tell you my age). When I push and push and push, my body takes days to recover. I spent two days (Thursday and Friday) as a couch potato. Doing next to nothing.
But filling my soul tank. That took just a few hours and some good friends.
I’m usually pretty good at not letting my tank get that empty. I forget sometimes that my recovery takes longer than I think it should (#thankscancer).
I know that if I do some simple things, my tank stays well above the quarterof a tank line. For example:
- get a workout in (when I’m being a sloth it is hard to remember that exercise makes me feel better and keeps my tank full)
- spend time with a friend(s) who listen and refresh my outlook
- allow time for rest – one of the problems recently is that I spent hours upon hours standing, lifting, and moving stuff for several days in a row. This made it even more enticing to enter the sloth-like mentality at night (and not want to exercise with my camp gladiator trainer who gives me joy by her own enthusiasm).
So this is a note to you (but mostly to myself), don’t allow yourself to get caught in the middle of nowhere Running on Empty. Find a rest stop to recharge and refill your tank.