This summer we bought a new car which was a big deal for us. The car we replaced was 19 years old.

Four years ago, we pre-shopped. We knew our car was getting old and didn’t want to have to make a quick decision if it died on us. At that time, I fell in love with the Mini Cooper. And as a part of my Surfing Your Enthusiasm goal-setting process, I added it to my list of goals.

During the last 4 years, I’ve dreamt of owning a Mini. I was thrilled every time I saw one on the road and went out of my way to drive past the Mini dealership whenever I was in that part of town.

When our 19-year-old car started hemorrhaging oil, we decided it was time. We went to the Mini dealership, test drove one, and got all the details we needed to order our own custom Cooper. Then we walked out of the dealership and slept on it, and boy am I glad we did.

My husband suggested we check out some less expensive cars. At first I was disappointed. But one of the things I do with my goals is to think about what the essence of what I want is. The essence of what I wanted in our new car was something totally fun to drive. Something small and easy to zip around and park. Something well-designed. Something I loved the look of. And something I was proud of.

I also committed to myself that I wouldn’t buy anything I didn’t feel excited about. Settling for second best wasn’t an option.

There was a lot I loved about the Mini, but there were some things I wasn’t thrilled with. The backseats were tight, and I knew our parents wouldn’t be comfortable getting in and out of them. I read reviews complaining that the Mins weren’t as reliable as people would have liked. And the maintenance costs over the long run were really expensive.

One of the cars we checked out was the Honda Fit. The more I read about it, the more I fell in love with it. It was really cute. It had excellent reviews. People owned these cars for years and found them very reliable. When we test drove one, I was impressed with how well it was designed. And the back seats were super spacious for such a little car.

We ended up buying the Fit. If we had bought the Mini, I would have been settling for less than what I could have gotten. But because I knew the essence of what I wanted, I could easily see the better choice. And on top of that, the Fit was cheaper. So now we have extra funds we can spend on other things we’ve been wanting to do.

The Quality of a Good Break

We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking a break, but the quality of a break will determine whether you receive the benefits of it or not. Have you ever taken a break at work and spent the time listening to a co-worker complain about problems? You may have left that break more drained and stressed than when you started it.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had an extreme fatigue illness. Most of that time, I laid on the couch. Even a simple task like grocery shopping was way more than I could do. I filled my time with listening to and participating in audio courses. It gave me a sense of purpose and kept my mind off of my extreme exhaustion. I needed to make sure I didn’t sleep too much during the day, otherwise I would lie awake at night not being able to sleep. (I wouldn’t wish this on anyone!)

One thing I found lying on that couch was that I still needed breaks. But relaxing on the couch wasn’t really a break for me. It didn’t give me what I needed. This experience brought me to a new level of consciousness of what was important to me in a break. I realized I needed a sense of refreshment and enjoyment, but I wasn’t clear on what I could do in those circumstances to get that. I needed something that didn’t take much energy.

This is what I discovered. One way to look at a break is to ask myself whether the break is a mental or sensual experience. If I’m doing a lot of mental work, like listening to audio courses, taking a sensual break—enjoy essential oils, the smell and taste of a cup of tea, listening to music I enjoy, looking at something beautiful, or asking my husband to rub my feet—was exactly what I needed. It gave me that refreshment and enjoyment I was looking for.

My work was mental, so taking a sensual break refreshed me. But for someone who does sensual work like a massage therapist, a cook, or an artist, doing something mental—reading a book or listening to a talk—may be what refreshes them.

So if you’re finding that even though you take breaks you’re not feeling that balance you would expect, experiment with whether you’re needing a sensual or mental activity for your break.

Are You Settling for Less from the Get Go?

When I was in high school and considering what I would study in college, my first choice was interior design. My second was nutrition. My art teacher brought in a young woman who had gotten a degree in interior design and had been working for a year or two. She wasn’t able to find a job actually doing interior design. Instead, she was selling furniture and was absolutely miserable. The thought of selling was horrifying to me. You can imagine how that made me feel about pursuing interior design.

There was another part of this woman’s story that made me cringe. She wasn’t able to make enough money to move out of her parents house. At 18, that seemed like the worst thing imaginable.

So I started to get discouraged about following my first choice. I did seek out colleges that offered both degrees—interior design and nutrition—in case I chose one and changed my mind.

ChoicesMy dad was convinced getting a technical degree would give me the best opportunities for financial success. With nutrition, I would study chemistry, math, and physics. It was technical. He recommended I start with nutrition because he thought if I started with interior design it would be harder for me to change from design classes to technical classes if I decided to switch over to nutrition.

The logic made sense to me so I started with my second choice. I felt torn the whole time I went to school. And I never had the courage to switch to my first choice. Of course, thinking I would never make enough money to live on my own didn’t help.

I’ve always regretted that choice. I went on to work in a technical field for most of my career. My heart was never in it. I could only tolerate staying at a job for so long before I felt miserable …How ironic is that?…and I would look for something new. I never made very much money either. Basically what I was afraid I’d get with my first choice, I actually got with my second.

The lesson I took away from that experience is to go for your first choice first! If I’ve tried my best, and it isn’t panning out, I can look to a second choice. I have used this approach in other areas of my life and have loved the results. Things don’t always turn out the way I had originally envisioned, and there are times I feel disappointment. But going for my number one choices first has brought me a lot of joy and results that many times have been better than I thought possible.

So don’t settle for choice number 2 without at least giving choice number 1 an honest try. And it doesn’t have to be just about the big things in life. It applies to those little decisions we make each day. Go for what you really want in the little things and watch you life bloom.

My Word of the Year

Each year I like to choose a word as a theme to focus on during the year. I find it much simpler than a full New Year’s resolution. And because it’s simple, it’s been more powerful in my life.

For 2013, I chose “ground”. At the beginning of 2013, I was working at making significant changes in my life. Change, even for the better, can feel disorienting. So I wanted to focus on being as grounded as I could as I made my changes.

Life had an interesting way of bringing the quality of groundedness to me—a way I never would have predicted nor chosen.

One day in May, I woke up tired. The next day, I was even more tired. My tiredness continued to grow until, by the end of July, I spent full days lying on the couch. My brain was even too tired to think. I was in a fog.

I had to quit working. I couldn’t help around the house. I couldn’t do all the fun activities I was used to—dancing, socializing, hiking, art. I had to totally let go.

What I found in letting go is a sense of support from life.

Lap cat 017

This is my view most days. My cat likes his new bed 😉

The doctor I’d been seeing the last couple years happen to specialize in fatigue illnesses. He prescribed a gentle homeopathic remedy that cleared my mind and gave me a tiny bit more energy. My husband stepped up and took over the grocery shopping and cooking and is supporting me in my healing process.

I met someone at a business training in June who introduced me to a fabulous tool that helps people get more in touch with their authentic self and teaches them ways of living that work really well. (I’ll be talking more about that in future posts.) This tool has helped me tremendously in navigating this phase of my life.

Through this newfound tool, I found a group which is supporting me during my down time. It’s also giving me tools that I can use in the future to live in ways that would make it less likely I’d get sick like this again. You see, I had this same illness in 2009.

I realize life is giving me everything I need. And that feels grounding to me. My roots securely embedded in trusting life. This is not only a concept in my head, but it’s something I feel throughout my entire body.

I’m seeing how, in the past, I’ve tried so hard to make certain things happen in my life that I had overstepped my part in those particular areas. I was trying too hard. I wasn’t allowing life to bring me what it could if only I’d relax and trust as I do my part and allowed life to do it’s part.

I’m still very exhausted as a result of my illness and spend the majority of my days on the couch, but I have a sense of peace about this phase of my life. That there’s a purpose and that I’m being taking care of in this purpose.

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