Running on Empty

Have you rushed into this new year to find yourself already running on empty? Here’s a gentle nudge to be mindful of your own need for renewal.

By Andrea Chilcote

I had one of those early morning dream states in which I was already up and at my desk. The last two hours were not real sleep, and served as an omen for the day ahead.

When I reached for the half-and-half (yes, it’s as much my habit as the coffee), it was low. So low, I would have to conserve if I were to have second cup. Running on empty.

Things proceeded as planned, though with a definite layer of unexamined stress surrounding my activities. “What is this?”

I put the thought (feeling?) to the side and carried on. A glance at a friend’s Facebook post revealed a challenge. “What is one thing you will do to renew yourself today?” I had no response. Struggled with it for 30 seconds then moved on to my next task. Yes, I know I could have saved time by not being seduced by Facebook. I was not there long.

Task, task, task. One foot in front of the other. Suddenly, the time to leave for a meeting grew near. As I began a print for a document I needed, I considered the paper level. Running on empty. The printer ran out before the last two pages printed. Empty all the way.

I filled it and stowed my document.

A few other minor annoyances arose, and when I reached my car I had no room for error.

Out of gas. Empty. (Oh not really, because I had enough to get to a station. Just running on empty).

I stopped to fill the tank, and made arrangements to call my client from the car if needed.

The afternoon proceeded generally as planned. The stress seemed to dissipate, yet something was still off when I arrived home.

The dogs were waiting for me, and very vocal about my arrival. Oh yes, they love me but they were hungry. And thirsty. Whisper pointed out the fact that the bowl contained only about an inch of water. (Mind you, if there was an inch, they were hydrated). When I went to fill the bowls, even the water tank was low and I had to replace that. Low, not empty.

In loving memory of Whisper. “It was a beautiful life for a most beautiful girl.”

Andrea and Whisper —Cambria, CA 2017

What do you do when your tank is low? Do you let it run dry? Do you replenish it at the last moment like I did today?

Perhaps the most important question – for me and for you – is my friend’s Facebook challenge: “What is one thing you will do to renew yourself today?”

I will answer that tomorrow morning, and I know it will transform my day.


This article was originally posted in October 2014, when Andrea was blogging for The Spirited Woman.

How Magic Works

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

In the past I have written of my desire for a magic wand, knowing all along I already had one. I had simply misplaced it.

My magic wand is pretty basic. It does not command world peace (though I would like that) and it appears unable to intervene in matters of life and death. But it is reliable for the small things that often fool us into believing they are monumental.

The magic reappeared a few days ago. In considering the next day’s schedule, I realized that I had underestimated the time it would take to get to the airport, and had over-extended my availability to a well deserving client. The morning before our call (and my flight) I thought, as I have done so many times before, “Let this be resolved to our mutual benefit.” I was unattached, though intent.

The request was one I am very familiar with. When I make this type of intention known to the universe, I always do so in the spirit of mutual benefit. So it was surprising to me when, by noon of that morning, I had not received a request to reschedule. I then asked Laura, my assistant, to gently request a rescheduled date. I remained unattached, fully willing to honor the original commitment if necessary.

My surprise quickly changed to amusement when I learned that Laura had made the request at the exact same time my client’s assistant had emailed a decline for our meeting. It seems the time was inconvenient for him as well. The meeting was rescheduled for our mutual benefit.

As I thought about this incident, I heard the words in my head say: “It’s just everyday magic.” And I thought of the wisdom of Dr. Wayne Dyer, whose book Real Magic reminds us that real magic means creating miracles in everyday life.

If these principles work on rescheduling appointments for shared convenience, I believe they also work on the bigger stuff. It’s not my magic wand that’s inadequate, it’s my faith. Rather than searching for a better model of wand, I vow to grow in my ability set an intention, then detach with the knowing that the best result will prevail. I challenge you to do the same. There’s a magic wand in your psyche just waiting to be put into service.

We See What We Expect

by Andrea Chilcote

I’ve collected rocks all of my life. I’m as drawn to unique, rough stones on a hiking path as I am to beautiful crystal mineral specimens on display in specialty shops. And since moving to the desert 12 years ago, I have been picking up heart-shaped stones of varied size and composition from the many hiking trails I frequent. In recent years I’ve expanded my search to beaches where we vacation, and occasionally friends bring me specimens from their travels.

My home and property holds my rather large collection of “heart rocks,” as I call them. Recently I gathered them together to create a photograph for a special project. As I share that photo with friends, I’m often asked “How do you find these?” Where do you get them? One even asked “Are these natural or purchased in a store?” My response to them: “They are everywhere…just open your eyes.” These questions and my answer remind me of an age old principle: We see what we expect to see.

Friends who hike with me, neighbors as well as visitors from other states, understand this principle well. We need only to set an intention to look for and find heart rocks, and they show up, literally beneath our feet. They were always there of course, but until we believe they’re there and then look for them, they don’t “show up.”

Psychologists say we actively construct our perception of reality. By the time information reaches our brain, it’s combined with information from past experiences, skewing our perception. Maria Konnikova, who blogs about the psychology of decision making, says “It’s comforting to think our brains work like a camera,” though in fact that’s not the case. Inputs are subject to interpretation.

So what do heart-shaped stones and perception theories have to do with daily life? For me, this principle of seeing what we expect is the only plausible explanation for how supposed rational people can do irrational things, or how polarized our opinions can be on political or social issues while at the same time being aligned on key other perspectives. In short, it allows me to somehow understand that which is beyond my understanding, and that keeps me sane. It allows me to accept and seek to comprehend the different views of those around me. In short, it reduces judgment, the very thing that biased perception produces.

Some time ago, two friends visited us while in the early stages of a relationship. They were both surprised by and drawn to my heart rock collection. When a year later they announced wedding plans, they asked me if I would give them the gift of a heart stone I found in my desert. I had a grand time arranging a small assortment for them, and received a text thanking me while on their honeymoon. It contained a photo of two interlocking coral hearts they had found on the beach in the Turks. Their heart rock collecting had begun.

What do you wish to collect as you walk through life? Define it, and I bet you’ll see it show up on the path. I hope there’s a side benefit – a willingness to seek insight into the collections others gather along their paths.

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this. – Bertrand Russell