Jan. 7, 2019 – A Year of Gratitude – Grateful for our little blue 1999 Mazda Protege!!

Jan. 7, 2019 – A YEAR OF GRATITUDE – Grateful for our little blue 1999 Mazda Protege!

June of 1999 was a great month!  I was turning 36, my kids were 4, 6, 8 and 9 years old, my friend had invited us over for dinner at her new house, and Vinnie pulled up in his brand new four door, dark blue 1999 Mazda Protege! For $12,000 he drove it off the lot and straight to Clyna’s! We were all excited for that little blue car that would take all four kids to Tracey Elementary School each morning!  Very exciting.

It was this past Saturday, however, returning from Brass Works Brewery when Vinnie said, “You have been riding in that seat for almost 20 years!!” that made my mind start turning. That little four door, dark blue Mazda Protege has been a part of our family’s story for almost 20 years! Amazing!!  With 325,000 miles, it has never been washed or detailed. It has more sunflower seeds, old paint color booklets, and gas receipts than you can count roaming around on the floor. The seats sag down so low that you feel like you could be sitting on the ground. The power windows still work, but the heat blows out cold air. The CD player quit a long time ago, but the music dial works if you twist it just the right way. The steering wheel is sun-dried and beat up, but has taken us around so many corners in life that it almost looks like it smiles each time you place two hands on it. The dashboard, the gearshift, and the glove compartment stuffed to the gills, all hold our family’s story and some of the most private conversations that Vinnie and I have ever had. Like good friends who can keep great secrets, they have listened to our financial worries, our concerns about our children, our laughs at our parenting blunders and our wildest hopes and dreams for our future, both as individuals and as a couple. The fabric of the front and back seat have carried boxes of books, yogurt makers, coffee pots, bags of cereal from Walmart, paint brushes and tools, and our most precious cargo, our four children. That car has carried Vincent from the first day of Kindergarten through college and beyond, has provided at least half of the kids “stick shift” lessons, and guaranteed Kevin a car at all times since his siblings gave up on learning to drive a standard vehicle. It also gave Kevin his first speeding ticket!  

I have been wondering what my focus will be for 2019.

In 2017, I lived an “intentional and abundant life” and blogged about a new adventure each week. I focused on living fully and it was a fabulous year. Last year snuck away from me somehow. It came, it was a challenging year of losing several beloved friends, and so I will remember 2018 as a sadder year. But in reflecting on this, it has reminded me to really look at life as one long chain of endless possibilities. In December, I was at a staff retreat, and the woman running it spoke about being grateful. She challenged us to shift our thinking from “I HAVE TO  (fill in the blank)” to “I GET TO (fill in the blank)”. Even the most mundane requirements in life can be looked at as an opportunity. Somebody else would LOVE to have that opportunity depending on what their circumstances are. And so, my focus for 2019 this will be to be “Grateful for the Opportunities” and there really are opportunities everywhere!

That being said, I had the opportunity to chug along up Mt. Tobe Rd from the brewery to our home with Vinnie on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 and saw the ride through a whole new lens. I saw it through the lens of 20 years of so many  opportunities it has brought to Vinnie and myself. I almost got a bit weepy thinking about how grateful I am for our little, four door, dark blue 1999 Mazda Protege!