Running on “empty”


Beautiful sunset, Bamburgh. photo by Tom Bellamy
Beautiful sunset, Bamburgh. Photo by Tom Bellamy


In the run up to our holiday I knew that I desperately needed a break; my publishing work was making me feel incredibly stressed (the financial and other pressures seem to be ever-increasing) and along with the usual family worries about how to make ends meet, school issues, sibling arguments, a lack of time for my own creativity, a lack of alone time and time with my husband, as well as the frustrations of the same old same old environment and routine, I knew a break was necessary. But I didn’t quite know how badly I needed the break. When we got to our holiday cottage after a mostly stuck-in-traffic 6 hour journey we immediately headed to the beach for an evening stroll. When I saw the wide expanse of white sand and the breathtaking sky – to say nothing of the amazing castle in the background – I started to cry. It was a sudden jolt to realize how ‘empty’ I had been and that ‘empty’ felt so very, well, empty. I cried on and off for the rest of the stroll, thinking about how beautiful the world was, and how lucky I was to be at this beach with my lovely family.


Bamburgh Castle, photo by Tom Bellamy
Bamburgh Castle, photo by Tom Bellamy


I had planned to do some writing during the holiday but I honestly didn’t feel like doing it. I listened to my inner voice (the voice of the Wild Woman, if you will) which told me that I needed to just be. To feel the sand between my toes, the (very cold!) seawater at my ankles and the sun on my skin. I felt rather like a sponge, which had been wrung out, emptied of every drop of moisture, but then deposited into water where I slowly began to soak up every drop of this everyday and natural beauty. At the end of the holiday I felt better; so much more refreshed.


I’m what you would call a fairly ‘social’ HSP, but in today’s world, with constant online socializing, news and info. dumping, as well as the whole neoliberal agenda going on in the background, which tells us that we have to ‘work harder, work longer’, time to simply be, without reporting on our every thought and act, is rare. This holiday was a good reminder that I need to stop more and pause. Because running on empty really isn’t a good idea.


I hope that you have all had a chance to pause this August and to feel some sun on your skin.


24 thoughts on “Running on “empty””

    1. Yes, Wendy, you’re absolutely right: ‘coping’ instead of ‘living’ seems to be the default setting nowadays. Wish it wasn’t though! I hope you have had a chance this summer to stop and do some real living. M x

  1. What a lovely post and you make your points about the ‘work harder longer ” thing so movingly. I hope that you had time to rest and recharge before the September onslaught. I swam in the sea last week as the heat peaked. It was such a blessing. I wish you the same x

          1. I swam off the coast of North Wales in Criccieth. It was delcious. I usually swim off Llanddwyn in Ynys Mon but its always warmer by about 2 degrees 30 miles south off here. I’m not a good swimmer really, but I just love swimming in the sea. I also fancied going somewhere where I wouldn’t see my pupils. I’m not fussed about appearances but Im fussed about being spotted in beach wear by them!

          2. Ooh, I’ve never been to North Wales – but I’d love to go one day. Thankfully, I don’t think the sea really cares about our capabilities as swimmers, but as long as we can keep ourselves afloat in shallow waters that’s the main thing! But I know what you mean about being spotted in beachwear by pupils. I’d feel the same way too.

  2. I completely relate to your wonderful post. I spent a week in Cornwall in April and despite best intentions to write whilst away, I didn’t. I sketched (something I haven’t done in years), took long walks with my children, played on the beach and watched the sun go down. The change of pace was just what I needed. Us HSPs really do need to recharge our batteries be disconnecting with the ‘world’ of social media and reconnecting with the real one: in all its beauty!

    1. I love Cornwall! I’m so glad you had the chance, like me, to recharge your batteries in such a beautiful part of the world. And sketching is very relaxing too. I hope you continue to do some sketching (and relaxing) now that you’re back at home again. 🙂

  3. You’re absolutely right – we all need some down-time or space or whatever you care to call it, somewhere empty and quiet; seaside, open moors, maybe a mountain top (not for me though, that one!) I often feel that I’m busy doing something all the time, but have nothing really to show for it at the end of the day. Glad you managed to take a break, relax and re-charge x

    1. It’s funny, Mary, because mountain tops aren’t really for me either! I’m more of a forest (and sea) loving lady. Anyway, thanks for your kind words and I hope you had a chance to relax and catch up with family too. M x

  4. maddy@writingbubble

    Ah, Northumberland! As you know I’m lucky enough to live there… although not as far up as the beautiful wilds of Bamburgh. So glad it worked its magic on you – you really deserve to de-stress. I’m in the Lake District at the moment which is stunningly beautiful but, funnily enough I’m homesick for my little windswept hillside. I’ll tell you more in a private chat sometime! So hope we can meet up soon. xxx

    1. Well, I have to say that I LOVED the Northumbrian countryside and beaches so I’m very jealous of the fact that you live there! As you know I’m pretty much as far inland as it is possible to be… I’d love to know more about what the Lake District is like (and your windswept hillside) – so let’s try to catch up soonish. M xxx

  5. Northumberland is stunning, Marija. So pleased to hear that you have had a lovely break, much needed I can see. I totally understand why you cried, it is a kind of relief. Life can become so overwhelming sometimes. Beautiful post and photographs. Sending lots of love xx

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jane. I hope you have had a chance to relax this summer. And… I will be popping over to your blog very soon! Your photos are so beautiful (and relaxing to look at) too. Sending much love. M xx

  6. I am glad you had a good break, I hope it left you feeling thoroughly refreshed. Bamburgh has a beautiful beach, I love visiting Northumberland its rugged wilderness is very special. Balancing life and running on empty are hard things to manage and get right it is really important to stop and press pause every now and again.

  7. I just found your blog after a friend sent me your Mothers Milk Books newsletter. Your words completely resonated with me. I worry that so many of us put off the time we really need because we don’t think we’ve earned it (work harder, work longer). Thank you!! x

    1. Oh, I’m so pleased that your friend forwarded the Mother’s Milk Books newsletter and that you came over and visited my blog. Yes, I agree, work has become all-consuming for so many of us, and it can be difficult to switch off. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a chance to relax when you need it. Best wishes, M x

  8. Pingback: Holiday Healing « Marija Smits

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