I’ve got the old car blues

Posted by Maria on July 26, 2009 under Ingredients, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, TV Shows & Movies, Uncategorized | 15 Comments to Read

By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I’m on a mission to buy a new car. As much as I love my 1990 Ford Taurus wagon, it’s time.

Last week, I had to pick my mom up from the airport and on my way I had to go through one of those drinking and driving checkpoints. As I slowed down and pulled up to the police officer, he took a giant step back, put his hands in the air like he was being arrested and said, “Whoa!” At first I thought it was my garlic breath from dinner but then I realized it was the sound my car was making. It’s rattling. Something is shaking loose and I have no idea what it could be. People are staring at me as I’m driving around town. (At least they’re not pointing and laughing… yet) I’m just praying to get back home safely as I’m clutching my steering wheel.

The car I call the Blue Raul. Notice the missing hubcap. Not bad for 19 years old.

The car I call the Blue Raul. Notice the missing hubcap. Not bad for 19 years old.

The stress of driving around in an old car is one thing but the stress of buying a new car is another. I must admit, I am losing sleep over this.

They say, (whoever “they” are) that buying a new car is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. I guess it’s stressful because cars are a big ticket item and nobody wants to pay more than they have to and then get stuck with a lemon. Have you ever noticed how the temperature goes up a few degrees in a room (air conditioned or not) when people talk about money?

Anytime I think of sales people, I picture “Herb Tarlek” from WKRP in Cincinnati with his checkered polyester jackets and big white belts giving me some slick sales pitch that I somehow can’t resist.

It just seems that salespeople have advantages over people like me. They’re pros in this game and I do this once every 10 years or so, if that. They know the game and they have their strategies. The thing I don’t like is how they size you up the minute they meet you and then decide how they’re going to manipulate you into spending your money, so they can make a living, all the while being “friendly.” I’m not a poker player, never have been, and they can see me a mile away. I’m doing my best not to show my hand. That’s the stress and pressure for me.

If I don’t want the wool pulled over my eyes, I have to come prepared. And I have advantages too. First of all, I can do research on the different car models I’m interested in ahead of time. I can decide how much money I’m willing to spend right now and not let them convince me to spend a penny more. I also have the bad economy on my side (there’s something you don’t hear every day) because generally, most people aren’t buying new vehicles these days.

My accountant also told me, “the best time to buy a new car is at the end of the month (last day is best) because the sales reps have to make their sales quotas and if they don’t want to lose their jobs because they’re not making any sales, they’re much more flexible with price.” And the end of August is even better because it’s the end of the season and they want to get rid of the old models before they bring in the new ones. I don’t know if I can wait till the end of August, so the end of July will have to do.

So yesterday I made an appointment to take my first test drive. I was interested in the Pontiac Vibe. My sales rep didn’t turn out to be Herb Tarlek after all. She didn’t pressure me at all and didn’t make me feel stupid.

I liked driving the Vibe but it had a cigarette smell in it that put me off a bit. My sales rep said they can “Ozonate” the car to get rid of the smell, but I wasn’t so sure. Is that service something they would add to my price or is that something I can use to lower my price? Or is it six and one half dozen of the other?

Then she introduced me to the Chevrolet HHR, a model I had never heard of before. And I haven’t noticed any on the roads. It’s kind of funky looking but it’s growing on me. I liked the ride very much and I thought the dials on the 1940’s style dash board were very elegant. And I liked how I could plug in my iPod. Going from a cassette player to mp3 technology is pretty cool. I especially liked the feature that tells you how many kilometres you have left in your gas tank (as my sales rep said, “Who wouldn’t like that?” — I said, “Me, I like living on the edge”) and another feature that tells you — to the percentage — when you should change your oil. For someone like me who is clueless about car maintenance — this is a huge bonus! Less stress, less stress, less stress.

I said I would have to do some research on this car but I’m strongly considering it. But what kind of name is HHR — just doesn’t roll off the tongue. We’ll see. And the Vibe is still an contender, too.

Today I’m going on more test drives at a different dealership to see what else is out there. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out this article about car colours and how they reflect your personality. My current blue car says I’m a communicator. There’s a surprise.

Excerpt:

What your car colour reveals about you
Psychology behind choice

BY JODI LAI, NATIONAL POST JULY 14, 2009

http://www.theprovince.com/life/What+your+colour+reveals+about/1786574/story.html

“Automakers conduct all sorts of studies to determine which colours consumers will pick when buying a new car, but, sometimes, according to DuPont, psychology, cultural influences and science also play roles in colour preference...”

High Noon Yoga Class Gets a High 5

Posted by Maria on April 7, 2009 under Fitness, Self-Care, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness, Yoga | 4 Comments to Read

I started a beginner’s lunch hour yoga class today through my day job and I’m really glad I signed up.

At first I was a little bit apprehensive because I had taken a yoga class five or so years ago and wasn’t that into it. I didn’t mind the instructor so much but I was slightly put off by the instructor’s keener sidekick. You know the type — there’s one in every class — stringy hair, don’t look like they’ve updated their look since 1977, and even though they shop in health food stores, they look pale and fragile. And they seem to sell free-range chicken eggs on the side. That’s basically what I think of when I think of yoga. But I digress.

This time though, the yoga class was more my speed. The instructor was easy to follow. I felt like I could keep up and wasn’t doing it all wrong. I’m not a nimble person. I have no range of motion. Never have been. If I sit on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me, I can’t reach past my shins. I’m hoping practicing yoga will help me be more flexible in my body and less rigid in my thinking.

The hardest move for me was when I was on my belly and I had to lift my legs and arms off the floor as if they were floating. It’s kind of like Superman flying. The instructor said “some people can lift their feet off, some people can lift their shins off and some people can lift their thighs off the mat.” I thought that’s not going to happen. I will keep you posted if it ever does.

I particularly liked the balancing poses. The instructor said, “if you fall, make it dramatic, take out your neighbours.” Nobody did. And there was “No real wind in the trees today.”

Although I was looking forward to the class, I was stressed before I got there. Work has been crazy busy and I was feeling rather overwhelmed. I was also concerned about how this was going to work with work. Was it wise to break up my day with yoga?

But somehow, after doing this pose and that pose for an hour, I did end up feeling relaxed. And then the afternoon went by more smoothly. I wondered if I would end up crashing at some point, but I didn’t. I managed to keep a steady feeling of alertness and clear thinking all day.

I think this is definitely a good idea for me. I’m hoping this will help me manage my stress and compliment my cardio and weight lifting activities. Even several hours later, I’m feeling in good spirits.

Have you ever practiced yoga? What kind? Do you enjoy it? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.

And as we closed today’s class, I’ll say to you, Namaste.

Talk, Write & Speak Your Mind to Vent Stress

Posted by Maria on March 15, 2009 under Self-Care, Stress Management and Relaxation, Wellness | 5 Comments to Read

I added a blog as an extension of my Homespunspa business because I wanted to add to the conversation of how to manage stress and get a good night’s sleep especially during these tough economic times.

Since I got the idea of adding a blog, I have started working full-time at the Ministry of Forests as a correspondence writer. I get to answer the Minister’s mail. Over the last few weeks, I have heard many stories of how people in British Columbia are suffering. We’ve had a massive, unprecedented mountain pine beetle attack on our forests. Then the housing crisis in the United States has reduced the call for lumber. Consequently the mills have closed and people have lost their jobs. And then the world’s economy tanked. Yup, feeling stressed is putting it mildly for some people in this province.

Some people end up writing to the government hoping to get answers. What are they supposed to do? How are they supposed to pay their bills and feed their families? Is anyone out there listening?

Today I just wanted to say, yes, when you take the time to write a letter to the government, you are being heard. And I think that’s a healthy way to manage stress. You have to communicate how you’re feeling. That’s step one. Talking to your friends and family and writing letters will help.

A couple of weekends ago, I had coffee with a friend of mine. I just needed to talk — not about anything in particular. I just needed to connect with someone and afterwards I did feel better.

Step two is actually feeling heard. The problem doesn’t have to get fixed on the spot but maybe having a conversation will generate some brainstorming and get some ideas rolling.

There’s no point in bottling things up. That’s a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

So that’s my tip for this week. Talk, write and speak your mind to vent your stress. And if you don’t have anybody in your life you think will listen, write a comment on this blog. It might help. Or start your own blog. There’s an idea.

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