How Giving Up What I Thought I Wanted Gave Me What I Needed

Suzanne Marie selfie on beach in Huatulco, Mexico with islands in the background with blue water and smooth beach sand

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Estimated reading time: 25 minutes

It can be easy to become laser-focused on what we think we want in life. So we read about it, daydream about it, and work towards making it a reality. Living in a state of constant desire, we search for that one opportunity to lead us to what we want.

But sometimes, no matter how much effort we put into manifesting our desires, they remain just out of reach. In these moments, it’s important to remember that something better might be waiting for us, and maybe we aren’t looking in the right places.

This blog post shares my journey from living on auto-pilot to living fully.

Table of Contents

  1. Letting Go
  2. Background
  3. Living on Auto-Pilot
  4. Catalyst for Change
  5. Giving Up the Goal and Calling Attention to Consciously Living
  6. Giving up Consistency and Changing Your Physical Space Changes Your State
  7. Giving Up Restraint and Nourishing Your Body Fuels Your Soul
  8. Giving Up Waiting Because Readiness Attracts Resources
    1. Angles are Always Among Us
  9. Giving Up Always Expecting Light Because Wherever There’s Light, There are Shadows
    1. Life Lessons are Abundant in Foolish Decisions
  10. Giving Up Old Beliefs Because Reconnecting Becomes Re-Attachment
    1. The Universe Always Sends Signs
    2. One Moment of Re-Connection Holds Power to Change the Trajectory of Your Life
  11. Giving Up a False Sense of Security Because Freedom Emerges When There’s Peace
  12. Giving Up Noise and Hustle Because with Clarity Comes Strength
    1. Positive Affirmations We are On the Right Path Always Emerge
    2. Consciously Deciding Your Direction Empowers You
  13. Living Our Values is Living Fulfilled
    1. Reflection and Journalling Helps Organize Your Thoughts and Thought Process
    2. Powerfully Reclaiming Your Self Through Re-Connection Changes Your Life
    3. Re-Focused and Recognizing Patterns
  14. Trusting Our Intuition Leads Us Home
  15. Giving Up Fears of Failure Because Failing Forward is Still Progress
    1. Discovering New Realities Each Day
  16. Summary
    1. Re-Cap
  17. Related Topics

Letting Go

It sounds counterintuitive but giving up what we want can actually help us get what we need.

We may think that holding on to our current state while daydreaming about our desires and goals is the key to achieving them, but sometimes letting go is the best way forward.

For me, giving up what I thought I wanted gave me what I needed. I used to think all I wanted was a successful career and a comfortable life. But after years of chasing that dream, I realized it wasn’t making me happy.

So, I decided to focus on other, more important things, like my relationships and health.


I’ve always been a dreamer.

As a child, I would daydream about becoming a veterinarian, a marine biologist, or a secretary to a powerful man like Sky was to JR on Dallas.

I read books about my desired occupations and even began taking steps to make them realities. I remember how proud I was to take my first typing class. Finally, I was closer to who I wanted to become.

I used to think that to be happy, I needed X. So, whenever something didn’t go my way or I felt down, all I could think about was how getting X would make everything better.

Of course, there were times when things did work out, and I got what I wanted – but it never made me as happy as I thought it would.

More often than not, getting what I thought I wanted only led to disappointment. Nowadays, however, things are different.

Living on Auto-Pilot

I was a parent at nineteen years old, married with a second child at twenty-five years old, and hustling for a career. I decided on a career in criminal justice, then mediation, then teaching, and now teaching and writing.

We had a mortgage, car payments, insurance policies, a satellite subscription, and Tupperware.

We hustled to pay our bills each week, shuttle the kids to their activities, clean the house, do the yard work, walk the dogs, and prepare meals for the following week ahead.

By the time I was thirty, I was exhausted and felt in a constant state of fear.

Looking back now, I see how my fears directly tied to how I lived. We had a beautiful home, a healthy family, and an abundance around us.

But, within me, I had a nagging feeling I was constantly forgetting something important.

Catalyst for Change

In 2018, I took my very first vacation away from my family. I joined extended family members in Huatulco, Mexico, for a week of heavenly bliss. While I was away, I noticed things.

Here’s what I learned from my observations:

  • Changing your physical space changes your state.
  • Nourishing your body fuels your soul.
  • Readiness attracts resources.
  • Wherever there’s light, there are shadows.
  • Reconnecting becomes reattachment.
  • Freedom emerges when there’s peace.
  • With clarity comes strength.
  • Living our values is living fulfilled.
  • Trusting our intuition leads us home.
  • Failing forward is still progress.
Huatulco, Mexico

Giving Up the Goal and Calling Attention to Consciously Living

I have always felt connected to everything around me. Growing up surrounded by the natural environment conditioned me to listen to the natural world.

Throughout my early adult years, I recognized my heightened state of awareness. I also realized my heightened state of arousal, which isn’t always positive, but I have learned to find an equilibrium between both states.

When I was away in Mexico, I noticed things that changed my life. Some call it signs or messages, and others say divine intervention. It’s our internal vibration for our soul’s desires and the Universe responding to our energy.

Giving up Consistency and Changing Your Physical Space Changes Your State

We were staying at an all-inclusive resort. Bustling with families and people enjoying their vacation, there was a cacophony of joy and happiness all around me. Yet, inside me, I felt stillness and calm. It was quiet. I remember standing on the beach watching a wedding and thinking, “why is it so quiet?”

We were up early and at the beach on the first morning of our vacation. Day one is always full of immense energy. Visiting, food, drinks, laughing, swimming, and too much sun.

That night, I fell into bed feeling empty and complete simultaneously. Completely satiated, and it was bliss. I slept the entire night, which was not my usual sleep routine, and I woke up feeling refreshed and energized.

In the morning, I felt like I had slept for a hundred years. My body felt limber with no more of the usual aches and pains, and my head felt clear. Even my eyesight seemed sharpened, and everything seemed brighter.

Huatulco, Mexico, boasts beautiful and quiet beaches.

Giving Up Restraint and Nourishing Your Body Fuels Your Soul

On the second day, I felt utterly ravenous. I ate everything in sight and still felt a deep, intense hunger. Initially, I thought it was from the copious amounts of tequila and cervasa from the day before, but it felt different.

I couldn’t get enough food, and thankfully the restaurants were located far enough away from the beach where I accumulated a substantial amount of steps throughout the day.

In reflection, this experience of hunger was fueling something in my soul. Like my soul needed a full tank to take me where I was headed.

Giving Up Waiting Because Readiness Attracts Resources

On day three, everything felt more balanced. I woke up feeling in my skin.

When my feet hit the floor after another restful sleep, I felt like I could feel the vibration of the ground beneath me.

The intense hunger had subsided, and after a light breakfast, we were all in our beach chairs for the day. In the quiet moments between visiting, swimming, and buying souvenirs from the beach vendors, I listened intently to the stillness within me. 

I went to the swimming pool to take a break from the intense heat. I spotted one empty seat at the swim-up bar and waded my way to get out of the sun.

I remember walking up to the bar, and this beautiful woman was sitting with her back facing me. She had a lovely figure with long black hair. She looked so healthy and vibrant like she was glowing. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and felt a magnetic pull toward her.

To my surprise, the empty seat was beside her. As I settled in, she smiled and said, “well, hello, beautiful!” I felt an instant connection.

Angles are Always Among Us

We immediately started up a rich conversation. Quickly getting through the introductions and formalities, we dove into life, love, the law of attraction, and our stories. She shared her experiences and journey with nuggets of wisdom and inspiration.

At one point, she asked me what I will choose to do. I wasn’t sure what she meant then she explained she saw something in me that wanted to get out. She recognized what I was carrying.

So, we took a deep dive into who I wanted to become in this life and what I have noticed in the few days since we arrived. She knowingly encouraged me to live my truth, speak my truth, and courageously forge forward into life.

We visited throughout the week, messaged and called each other once we were home, and developed a beautiful friendship through our ups and downs. We remain soul sisters today.

Giving Up Always Expecting Light Because Wherever There’s Light, There are Shadows

Early morning of day four, I walked down the beach with my sister. As we were enjoying our stroll, I noticed a black snake beached in the scorching heat.

This beautiful creature was suffering and struggling. I immediately walked up to it and thought, “you poor thing!” Then, in one of the stupidest moments of my life, I reached down, grabbed it by the tip of its tail, and flung it into the ocean. Before my arm rested at my side, the locals standing by watching ran over to me, yelling, “Hermosa! Te matará. Morirás!” Meaning it will kill me.

In my ignorance, it didn’t occur to me that all these other people were standing around this snake and letting it die in the heat. It was my instinctive reaction to rescue and save the poor creature that could very well kill me.

Life Lessons are Abundant in Foolish Decisions

This is important. My first reaction was to save the snake rather than myself. I wasn’t concerned for my safety nor as dialed into my environment as I always believed I was. Instead, I saw the suffering and wanted to rescue and save. Yikes.

This experience with the snake was a huge lesson for me. The first colossal awakening moment called my attention to connect the dots from the past few days and take a good hard look at how I was living my life.

The snake.

Giving Up Old Beliefs Because Reconnecting Becomes Re-Attachment

My uncle and I were having our morning coffee on day four. He’s acutely wise, and he sees more than he mentions. He had always been an influence in my life and was very much like a second dad to me growing up.

We were enjoying our morning brew, chatting about nothing in particular. Then, after a moment of silence, he leaned over to me and asked, “did you find her yet?”

We held eye contact for a few seconds, and I asked, “what do you mean?” He reached over, squeezed my knee, and then leaned back with a teasing, belly-fueled, joyous laugh.

The Universe Always Sends Signs

Shortly after this exchange, while we were sitting in silence, sipping coffee and watching the ocean waves burst against the shore and retreat, a kaleidoscope of butterflies fluttered in front of us and around us. I had never seen anything like it before. I was awestruck by the beautiful scene as they glimmered in the morning sunlight.

About an hour later, the rest of our family arrived, and we headed for breakfast.

Engage the transformation process.

One Moment of Re-Connection Holds Power to Change the Trajectory of Your Life

During breakfast and throughout the day, I thought about the ‘her’ my uncle mentioned and the butterflies. I realized how much I missed her.

At the end of the day, I prayed once I was settled into bed. As I gave thanks for the day and asked for blessings on my children and loved ones, she reappeared almost apologetically.

I recognized her and immediately felt reconnected and reattached to myself. I drifted off to sleep, hands clasped, remembering.

Giving Up a False Sense of Security Because Freedom Emerges When There’s Peace

We continued our week-long holiday together and enjoyed a fantastic time. However, I had one emergency but predicted phone call from home from my youngest daughter, which I won’t get into, that showed me the contrast. The contrast highlighted the peace I was feeling on vacation, with the reality of what was at home.

During this week away, I started immersing myself in a space of peace and freedom. Of course, I was aware that vacation is a time for peace and freedom. Still, I also recognized I wanted to retain these feelings in the parts of my life I loved and enjoyed.

I also realized the nagging feeling of fear that I had forgotten something important was no longer gripping me.

So I decided I needed to make changes.

Tortuga Island in Huatulco, Mexico.

Giving Up Noise and Hustle Because with Clarity Comes Strength

On our last morning, about an hour before I would be boarding the bus to the airport, one of the entertainment hosts came over to us. He asked if I would go for a ride on the Sea-doo before I left.

Hesitant because I was leaving soon, he graciously told me he had something he wanted me to see before I returned to Canada.

Ironically this was my first ride while in Mexico, and I had never previously expressed an interest. I agreed to a ride, but only if I could drive.

We set out about one kilometer from shore into the open ocean. When we were out in the middle of the small island and the mainland, he said, “there,” and started laughing. “What do you mean?” I asked. He said, “there,” still laughing, and pointed down. I looked down, and there was a whale right beneath us!

I turned off the Sea-doo, and as we floated, a small humpback whale re-emerged and rolled on its side with its beautiful eye fixed curiously on us. I burst into tears. I could feel my heart open, releasing this heavy energy from my body.

Positive Affirmations We are On the Right Path Always Emerge

The humpback lingered. “Hello, you beautiful angel,” I said through my tears. “How are you today? Where’s your mama?” It floated, with its eye still fixed on mine. I started to laugh from the joy I felt, my heart swelling. I said, “thank you,” and it swam away.

We sat in silence, and Milo shifted to sit with his legs over the back of the Sea-doo in a kind gesture of giving me space. I couldn’t stop the tears. They felt cleansing. It wasn’t a sob or sad cry, it felt healing, and I couldn’t stop. The flow felt endless. As I wept, I thought about life and living. I kept saying in my head, “give me strength.”

I felt done and ready. I looked up at Milo and said, “Okay, I’m done.” He replied, “are you sure.” I said, “yes.”

Just as I reached my hand to start the engine, I looked up, and a beautiful butterfly fluttered above us. We were sitting on the water in the middle of nowhere. I smiled, nodded at the butterfly, and said, “Okay, I will be okay. Thank you.”

Here’s a video of our whale encounter:

Consciously Deciding Your Direction Empowers You

Back on shore, I said my goodbyes, took pictures, spent my last few pesos on some trinkets, and boarded the bus.

Once settled into my seat on the plane, I listened to downloaded inspirational podcasts and journaled my experiences, thoughts, feelings, and insights.

I knew what I wanted to do for my life once home, and the six-hour plane ride was my time to map out my intentions.

Living Our Values is Living Fulfilled

Before leaving for vacation, I had booked an appointment with my psychologist. As a side note, and as a seasoned practitioner and educator in the helping field, I highly recommend anyone who works in the helping profession to retain psychological services.

I have been seeing a psychologist throughout the entirety of my career. Setting up regular visits a few times a year, or as needed, helps to unpack stuff and with sense-making for some of the challenging things we experience when working with people. Especially when helping people in crisis or conflict.

Reflection and Journalling Helps Organize Your Thoughts and Thought Process

While journalling on the plane, I explored the process of reconnecting with ourselves.

Throughout my career, I spent time and energy focused on helping people reconnect with external factors like relationships, employment, living conditions, health, and client experiences.

I also dedicated much of my career to learning and teaching about emotional detachment in the helping profession.

This time in my life was the first time I considered emotional reattachment, particularly emotional reattachment to ourselves.

Powerfully Reclaiming Your Self Through Re-Connection Changes Your Life

The morning I arrived home, I remember walking into my psychologist, Laura’s office, and she warmly greeted me with, “wow, you are so tanned! How was Mexico?”. I shut the door behind me and said, “I’m raising women.”

“Oh, interesting. Tell me about it,” she replied.

So, I sat down, opened my journal, and unpacked my experiences during my week away. I shared what I saw. In particular, what I had seen within myself that I hadn’t seen for decades.

Throughout my life to this point, I had detached from myself. Not seeing or taking any opportunities that may have been presented to me to reconnect and reattach.

However, this one week away showed me how I wanted to live my life consistently. I missed myself, and I wasn’t going to let myself slip away again.

Re-Focused and Recognizing Patterns

Being with my family members who knew me from the day I was born, talking about old memories and the trajectory of life, helped me to see that my life was not the one I aspired to live.

I recognized the contrast between who I was and who I thought I was in my relationships and experiences. I also realized how I was living was not aligned with my values.

This contrast left me feeling unfulfilled and stagnant.

This poem from Rupi Kaur’s ‘Milk and Honey’ (2014) resonates.

Trusting Our Intuition Leads Us Home

For twenty-five or more years, I stifled the voice inside me. When she would emerge, I stuffed her away by suffocating us with what I thought I wanted.

Then, with one hand quieting my inner voice, I used the other hand to force things to work. It was exhausting.

I forgot why my feet are planted on earth every day. I lost sight of what my mother and grandmothers showed me.

In one week, in the right environment, with the right people and experiences, it became abundantly clear that my role as a woman as a mother, teacher, helper, and difference maker is to raise women.

In raising women, I needed to start with myself first. I needed to be the best version of myself and focus on living the values most important to living a fulfilled life.

There was work to be done to continue to heal from the generations before me, take their lessons, and reframe the narrative.

The cycles needed to stop with me, for my daughters, and it was time to cultivate, nurture, and grow to share a new narrative for the next generations.

Giving Up Fears of Failure Because Failing Forward is Still Progress

In this experience, paired with rest which gave me strength and resources to support me, I decided I would take charge of the life I wanted to live. So, after my psychologist appointment, I went home and told my husband I wanted a divorce.

The months following this pivotal day in my life wasn’t an easy time. It was probably not the best time for our family, but it was necessary.

Emotionally and financially gutted for the eighteen months following my trip to Mexico, I forged forward.

The people I always thought would be in my life had left, and the career I thought I would always have ended.

Yet I felt like it was all just a moment in time. I knew I would be okay by choosing to reattach emotionally to myself and living my values. And I am.

Discovering New Realities Each Day

New relationships, jobs, and opportunities emerged. This time I evaluated everything through a lens of clarity and values.

True to myself, the trajectory of my life, and what I believe I am here to do, an abundance of love and light flowed my way. I am grateful.

Once the dust settled, at the end of 2019, I moved to Beijing, China.

Supported by my daughters, who are thriving with self-sufficiency in their own adulthood, I prepared for six months to make my move. Traveling and living abroad was a lifelong dream I finally achieved.


Today, I feel a greater sense of connection to myself, my children, and those I love. I feel settled and whole, financially supported, thriving in my vocation, and fulfilled.

Since moving, I’ve achieved a second master’s degree in Education, started to learn a new language, and met a life partner with a similar growth mindset who sees, accepts, and embraces me.

I’ve taken up hobbies I forgot I enjoyed, like painting, yoga, singing, water sports, and blogging.

More importantly, I’ve maintained a sustained feeling of peace. I’ve made peace with my decisions leading up to this point and continue to choose peace above all else.

There is still more work to do, but I found a balance and synergy to flow in the direction I am going with peace and play.

At the time, I saw the lessons learned in my trip to Mexico and thereafter as a do-over to live the life I wanted to live. I see now that it was a pivot to the direction that would lead me to the life I needed to live.

Giving up what I thought I wanted gave me what I needed.


Here’s a recap of my story:

  • Changing your physical space changes your state.
  • Nourishing your body fuels your soul.
  • Readiness attracts resources.
  • Wherever there’s light, there are shadows.
  • Reconnecting becomes reattachment.
  • Freedom emerges when there’s peace.
  • With clarity comes strength.
  • Living our values is living fulfilled.
  • Trusting our intuition leads us home.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


We all have unlimited potential.

Hi! I’m Suzanne and welcome to my blog. For more than two decades of teaching, writing, and public speaking, I’ve been inspiring children, teens, and adults to cultivate their potential.

With proven experience and being a published author of conflict management and children’s books, you’ll find practical strategies for personal development.

Most importantly, you’ll discover life lessons for living a fulfilled life.

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