Minivans and Making Plans

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The new vehicle.  You knew stories were bound to come out of that, right?

First let me say that I don’t have one just yet. Naturally we cannot come to a consensus on what planet we live on let alone which size vehicle should grace the next 8 years of my life.

That’s the tricky part because I might be here another year or forever, and ALL of my cars were purchased new and driven to their death (or my perception of their imminent death).

Never has it been more apparent that I was raised in a Depression Era survivor’s home as when it comes time to talk to car salesmen and discuss possibilities of cars with my Dad (love you, Dad!).  My Dad wants you to get the most bang for your buck and has a tendency to look downmarket when it comes to price.  Yes, he always gets the best deal, in fact he negotiated the car I am currently driving, which is a mid/large Hyundai SUV from back in 2008.

My husband is all about utility, not price.  His criteria is that the mastiff must fit in it and I must be able to get him in by myself since I now live alone.  Just in case of emergency.  I believe the statement went something like,”Think of the biggest thing you will ever have to move and buy a vehicle that will accommodate that object.”

Naturally all I wanted was to go smaller.

I began to research the cars and their available cargo capacity in cubic inches as well as the distance from the ground to the bottom of the tailgate because:

  • mastiff cannot jump up
  • I cannot lift 160 pound dogs
  • mastiff sits 3 feet high when on her butt
  • I have a terror of being forced to drive a full size minivan

Every single man consulted said how wonderful the Honda Odyssey was and that it was great for their family.  I note that to the best of my knowledge it was the wife who drove it, not him.

Years ago I had to test drive a GRAY Toyota Sienna and I almost had to be shoved into the driver’s seat, feeling like I was driving my own hearse or coffin.  Gray is just the most depressing color, ever.

My husband asked me if I still thought I was a cute twenty-year old?  Well noooo… Let’s not get crazy.  But!  There are limits.

The men recognize that a minivan is practical, useful, and indeed could fit pretty much anything you could ever dream of needing to move or could lift by yourself.

I had to capitulate on this point because they are correct, but every time I go into a minivan I feel like I died a little inside.

I can’t explain the psychology behind this but every single woman I mentioned the Honda Odysessy to gave me the same look.

Then each of them said some version of

  • I don’t care for minivans.
  • Can’t you talk him out of it?
  • Why?  Your kids are grown up…enough.

My husband calls it an “emotional problem” and I suppose he is dead right.  There is no vehicle I can propose to him that comes within the ballpark of the utility a minivan provides and yet every time I think of driving one I feel defeated and like I might cry.

Enter my Dad who has done all of the Consumer Reports research and though he agrees with my husband about the minivan he is willing to propose endless alternatives until I find something I like and that will fit the bill.

I actually pulled off the freeway between work and picking up the kids and took my life in my hands in side street rush hour traffic just to pull into a dealership with my measuring tape and check the tailgate height on a small SUV and then zoom off before anyone could stop me to discuss the vehicle’s merits.

I have missed lunch, using my lunch break to test drive small minivans and the Subaru that I used to own, the Outback (which is a station wagon).

I spent all of last Sunday driving to dealerships to test drive with the kids and my measuring tape, fielding phone calls from every dealer on the planet that my Dad called.  They all wanted me to “choose a color” and “come in right now” even if they were over an hour away.

All of this began a week ago, and after putting in a few days of heavy looking I was seriously exhausted.  Everyone wanted to know,”Did you buy a car yet?” and each of them looked at me as if I must have three heads because I hadn’t gotten one yet.

Then thankfully I had a visit from an old graduate school friend who I have not seen in forever, and she kindly walked my dogs, did homework with my kid, and did my dishes, not to mention listened to my endless stories on any and all topics including the woo-woo.  I feel much better now and can probably go another 15 years before I need to talk anyone’s ear off nonstop about anything and everything.

Sometimes I can recognize and laugh at life’s ridiculousness, but I do get kind of frustrated with how small we can think.  Like, I can see how buying a vehicle based solely upon the sheer size of a very old dog who will probably visit the vet three more times in her lifetime could be seen by some as just dumb.  I can accept that most of you probably wouldn’t run out with your measuring tapes and do extensive cargo hold research.  Almost all of you would probably not be able to believe that it’s been a week and I haven’t bought anything yet since the person who made the offer might change their mind.

Please Stop Forgetting You Made A Soul Plan.  Please Stop Thinking Small.  You Are Killing Me.

What kind of foibles am I talking about?  Feeling like life’s possibilities for you are limited to what the media tells you, your assumptions, and past experiences.

Someone used to tell me to get a job with the City, because the benefits are good and the location is central.  I would respond that there were no jobs there that I was qualified to do, and even if there were, they wouldn’t be using the 20 years of experience I had in insurance, and therefore I would inevitably make far less money, and the entire purpose of me working a day job at this point in my life is solely for the money because it’s certainly not something I love to do.  Then my neck would start to feel all crunchy in the back and even though I couldn’t see it, I am sure I was making a face, and I was certainly feeling really tense and upset.

It’s the whole,”I don’t want this and I know it but maybe this person is right somehow” feeling.  It’s that sense that maybe what you are doing (or not doing) is wrong somehow and you’d better move off your ass before someone hands it to you.

So when I hear you limit your possibilities it irks me.  I can’t always get this point across without sounding entirely too woo-woo, but let me just say that It Doesn’t Work Like That.

As an example, many middle aged women are getting a divorce and feeling like they need to put the breakup on themselves, as if something is wrong with them, because ONE man in the universe rejected them.

Then they think they must immediately lose weight and get their teeth whitened and their body surgically resculpted because don’t all middle aged men want young women?

Basically they are saying that they are not perfect just as they are, that they are not enough, which to me is just ridiculous.

I am sure there are some middle aged men going through middle aged type crises who indeed run around with 20 year old women who are young enough to be their (grand?) daughters and I can also guarantee that those men have zero to talk about with those young ladies and that those are not the kind of relationships that anyone who comes to A Clear Sign is interested in having, so why do you care?

Most men I know, who are generally in their 40s and 50s, choose women pretty close to their own age, when they do actually choose a partner.

You just need one man.  A good person.  And coming from the same generation is super because you DO actually understand each others references and have loads to talk about, and aren’t relationships about relating?

The media isn’t doing you any favors.  Basically, media lies, exaggerates, and hyper focuses and not on the truths you really need to know about.  So turn off the tv and stop reading the news and look within for your answers.

The same goes for finding a job or pretty much anything else you are lacking but needing in your life.

Getting a divorce?  Got fired?

Be glad, because that person or situation was not for you.  It’s as simple as that.  If you think it over, odds were most of the time you were unhappy in the marriage or the job and you’d kind of known for a loooonnnng time that what you were designed to learn there was now common knowledge and guess what?  The universe is going to kick you right out of something where all of the learning and joy is over, because you aren’t here to sit on your laurels and be at a dead stop, or (un) consciously unhappy.

We’re here to savor, learn, experience, be joyful and keep moving.  We can be stuck in the mud for only so long before we start to crave action.  It’s the nature of the beast.

You might spend some good, long time considering why your fate has befallen you, but remember that on some level you co-create and some things you really have brought to your experience.  If your marriage is boring and has fallen into sniping and lackluster companionship with no spark, don’t you think that you on a soul level At Least is kicking you right out of it?  Why would you on the soul level want to hang around for that boring crap?  If the lessons are over baby, it’s time to take down your shingle and find somewhere else to hang it.

You on the soul level made plans.  You have spirit guides and angels here reminding you of those plans, steering you in their direction.  There is a giant checkerboard of Life and your soulmates are all over it, heading in your direction.  Even the romantic soulmates are somewhere!  So draw them to you.

Remember that plans were made.

Before you were born, do you think you planned,”Well when I hit middle age I think I’ll go broke and get a divorce, just for fun, and after I’ve learned all of my lessons then there will be umm…nothing, after that?”

So instead of thinking someone else can save you, that one career or job is the only one, or that your experience to date is all that’s available to you, how about dusting off some dreams?

How about sitting for a moment with your fingers on the keyboard and imagining what your life could be?  Fill it with all kinds of juicy details.  You don’t have to believe it will happen , for now.  But how about 1,000 words on My Future and go ahead and write until you cannot think of anything left to experience.  What would put a smile on your face on your deathbed?  What makes you feel like,”I lived my life and did everything I ever dreamed of?”

Don’t pick the gray minivan because if you do I’ll come haunt you, dead or not!


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  1. To be clear I have driven the Odyssey a million times and though it was never my daily car I have driven it enough to know it inside and out.
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  2. Julie,

    What does your reference to “At Least” mean?

    • Loretta, it means that your soul will kick you out of things that aren’t working within your life plan AND will propel you toward what you intended to experience.

  3. Wow! Thank you for always speaking the truth…and sometimes multiple times until I get it through my thick skull.
    I hate minivans too! So be strong. There is a car out there for you that will meet your needs and an adventure out there for me that will help me to be who I’m supposed to be, with or without a man.

  4. Yup, after sitting for YEARS with my hands over my ears saying “I can’t hear you” I was finally well and truly kicked …… And I am so very grateful …… well most of the time 😉

    Practical solution to the dog/car issue ….. Would your dog walk up a ramp into the boot (British term!) if so you should be able to buy a lightweight portable one and then buy ANY car you like!!! Good luck ..,, oh and food helps as a bribe for reluctant canines ….but you probably know that already x

    • Boot 🙂 Nope, she is a definite,”Are you crazy? I’m not stepping one dainty paw up that THING!” kind of a dog. Which is sort of funny for a Mastiff, but since she is arthritic and can barely move around lately I guess I can’t blame her for distrusting something that could cause her to fall down. I am guessing a little at that, but let’s just say she won’t go up the garage door steps and walks up the ramp built into the front of the house, so she is picky 🙂

  5. Re: the adorable mastiff conundrum: perhaps a nifty small dog step of some sort? I know a pulley sort of set up might be too overwhelming.

    Fantastic post, two in a week ish I think! So very appreciated. I go back and re read these often.

    And um, next time anyone asks you ‘think you’re still a cute 27 year old?’ the correct answer is ‘No. I’m a slammin’ 40 something year old!’ haha

    • I would say that if I were but a lot of water has passed under the bridge between 27 when I met him and 48, which I will turn in a few days! Mostly attributable to having his kids at 36 and (here was the killer) almost 41. So I can hardly hold that astute observation against him but…

  6. I feel your pain regarding the car shopping, but after about 12 years we recently traded in the minivan for a Ford Explorer (which I never dreamed I’d like) and it is AWESOME! It’s big enough to haul a bunch of sweaty boys and sports equipment or a Costco stock-up, but it drives like a dream and unbelievably easy to park! LOVE it!!!
    And a big YES to the rest of your post! <3

    • I think I’ve found something that will meet the general needs well and is smaller than what I currently drive, while keeping my current car around for the massive hauls that you are describing should the need arise (it really never does, but never say never!) Glad you are enjoying your Explorer 🙂

  7. LOVE this post. It’s as though you can read my thoughts, because so often, we are dealing with such similar issues at the same time (mine’s a horse rather than a mastiff, by the way, but STILL…) Yes to all that about the minivan too. As popular as those things seem to be, I figured I was the only one who thought this way. The symbolism practically shouts at me not only from stereotypes I’ve placed upon it but also aggravating experiences that have served to further strengthen the stereotype.
    No, it’s not over until WE ourselves decide to make it so, but even then, why would we? It’s easy to feel defeated and “why not just settle”, because it takes less effort but the regret is so, so costly–far more than if we’d just determine to do what our souls practically scream at us.
    I got rid of my minivan (and what it represents too) a while back and said “Thanks–but Good Riddance!” And I never regretted that.

  8. I didn’t know you had a mastiff Julie!! We are on our second one & she’s 135. Our first bully was a dainty thing at 86 lbs. Anyway, I understand your plight, though my boy is 18 there was a time we outgrew out Acura. We had 2 dogs, a kid with friends in tow & renovations in a house. Needed a vehicle that didn’t scream Soccer mom. We ultimately decided on the newest Honda SUV, The Element. It had a quirky shape I loved & was PERFECT. It was utilitarian, easy to pack up dogs, kids, drywall, whatever. Great for the drive-in, easy to hose out, neoprene seats cleaned up super quick & we bought all the accessories to make it look more like a rough off-road vehicle, lol. It was the bomb until I rolled it. I crossed off stunt driver on my bucket list but I loved it so much I was ready to buy a second one…until they came out with the Prius. That was also a great vehicle for all of the above reasons. Hope you find something that’s suitsble!


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