A Self-Care Epiphany At The Gas Station

I have this reoccurring dream where I'm travelling on an unfamiliar road, in an unknown town and suddenly it occurs to me that I'm about to run out of gas. The outcome of most of these dreams is that I either make it to a station in the nick of time, or wake up before I have to embark on an aimless hike to gather gas for my tired vehicle. But the other night, the unimaginable happened; the car stopped dead in its tracks and I was stranded. Dreaming me even had this thought, like, "oh, it actually happened...I can't believe it actually, finally happened." So I sit there, stunned and fumbling for my phone only to discover that that too is at a precarious 4%.

Now I have no gas, no charge, no idea where I am and this lingering thought that "if I can't call through to someone on the first try, this phone is going to die and then I'm really out of luck." How did the dream end? I never did make it to a gas station and I never was able to connect with anyone who might be able to help. Instead, I wandered around a surreal grassy landscape with no plan in sight until the moment I woke up.

Fast forward to a day or two after this dream had happened and I'm now in the "real world", driving home, and I'm getting pretty low on gas. I think to myself: "should I go now and get it over with even though I don't really feel like stopping, or should I wait to fill up in the morning?"

Almost immediately it occurs to me that this choice is something that I apply to many areas of my life. Eat now or power through this project and grab a snack later? Have a difficult conversation or carry on like everything is okay and wait until I implode, taking everything else in sight out with me? And what is the common element of my behaviour represented in the examples above and my reoccurring dream?

I wait.

I wait until the last minute. I wait until there is actually a real serious risk that I will run out of gas. I wait until alarms go off and sirens blaze and most of all, I wait until it's sometimes too late. 

You see, my dreams aren't about running out of fuel, they are about facing the way I address the issue of self-care and in that moment, the decision to get gas or put it off made itself.

So I pull over and fill up and I feel good. I feel good that I don't have to worry about it in the morning. I feel good that I've given a thought to future-me. I feel good that I've chosen maintenance over operation. And the last analogy sounds a bit heavy handed, but the truth is, if we ignore ourselves until every warning has blasted so long and so hard that the lights eventually die out, then what could have been a simple sip evolves into the ravaging of resources. And obviously, this example of getting gas is just one small way that my tendency to "put it off" manifests in my life, but it's not nearly the most serious example.

As we enter the Fall Equinox, I'm making a self-care commitment to focus on maintenance over repair. To check my vitals like a real-life sim and make sure I'm filling my bars before I do something embarrassing like pee on the floor. And if you're reading this, ask yourself: What do I put off until the last possible second? What grumbles do I allow to turn into roars? And then let's all make a commitment to feed our hungers, whatever they are, before they consume us. To anticipate our own needs and to not wait until we're on empty and motivation wanes to nonexistent before we take action.

Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
— Eleanor Brownn

And maybe you've been running on quarter full for so long that you've lost sight of what you need and can no longer adequately gauge what requires immediate attention. If you're looking for some insight into what you may be running low on as it relates to body, mind and spirit, I may have a spread that can help. It's something I created at the beginning of last year, based on the energy and essence of The Empress and I feel like now is as good a time as any to dive back in. Some of you who have been following me or reading this blog for sometime will recognize it, but I'm sure it's also new to many others. You can see the layout below and if you're looking for more spreads like this, they are available free for download from the Free Resources area of this site.

So if you're feeling up to it, take a moment and have a check-in with The Empress and dare to ask the question: "what is the best way that I can take care of myself right now?" The answer may surprise or stump you, but be open and reflective and allow your intuition to guide the way. 


Card 1 - You Now: This is you currently. Perhaps this card captured your current emotional or mental state but whatever it is, it is meant to illuminate some facet of your current self.

Card 2 - Mind: How can you better nurture your mind and your thought patterns? Maybe you need to take some rest, practice meditation or just shift you focus. This spot will help guide us in this area.

Card 3 - Body: How can you better nurture your body? Is exercise on the agenda? What about eating more consciously? Or perhaps there are some bad habits we need to break.

Card 4 - Spirit: How can you better nurture your spirit? What can you do to enhance your spiritual practices? How can you better connect with your own divinity? This spot will help to light the way.

Card 5 - Result: So after you've been able to implement some of the advice given, what can you expect? What will your outlook be at that time? Notice the differences or similarities from the first card to this one, how are they the same or how do they differ?