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7 Life Tips From My Minivan, Big Bertha

Updated on July 5, 2017

I drive the sassiest, red 2001 Chrysler minivan you’ll ever see. Her name is Big Bertha, and her hips are too old to lie. Ever since I was in the first grade, she’s done her duty as a prestigious seven-passenger vehicle, trudging through rain, snow, ice, sleet, tornadoes, and hail to keep our family moving from place to place. Now, she has since retired from her role as the “family car” and has been experiencing a new chapter in her life: college.

Move in day to Taylor- August 2012
Move in day to Taylor- August 2012

I brought Bertha to Taylor University for my first semester of my sophomore in August. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, she was famous campus wide. Everyone recognized her by her large, creaking red hips, her fashionable bumper stickers from Wyoming, and her huge dent on her right sliding door. People would come up to me and ask me if I actually enjoyed driving a minivan. I turned to each person and said, “Big Bertha may be ratchet, but she’s a real beauty.”

After driving her for about three years now, Bertha and I share a very special bond, similar to that between a grandparent and grandchild. And like a grandparent, she has given me priceless wisdom about life and the way things work. Here are Big Bertha’s 7 tips for a better lived life:

1. Dents and Scratches are Inevitable. Keep Driving.

Bad things happen. That’s life. We have personal failures, and we have people who fail us personally. A loved one dies, or your dog runs away. Whatever the situation, we must remember to keep both hands on the steering wheel and continue to drive forward. In our pain, we are tempted to pull over and wait until the traffic in our life goes away. In reality, the traffic never goes away. When you park on the side of the road, you stop living and start waiting for the next bad thing to slam into you from behind. It's best to keep moving forward. Keep Going.

2. When you can’t see the Road, Turn on Your Headlights.


In our journey, we come upon dark tunnels that we cannot avoid. We feel alone and hopeless, inching nervously forward into the blinding darkness. When life becomes dark and confusing, turn on your headlights to help guide you back to the main road. This light can be anything; faith, personal truths, an encouraging family member of mentor, etc. The lights in our life, not matter how bright or dim, will get us through the darkest of tunnels. We just have to remember to turn them on. Use your Light for Guidance.

3. Even if the AC Smells Like Wet Dog, it’s Still Cold Air.


On hot, muggy Indiana days, air conditioning is a must. If your car is old like Big Bertha, your AC might not work as well as it used to. In her case, the cold air she pumps out smells like a wet dog. Yet, it accomplishes it's task to keep me cool.

No matter the situation we find ourselves in, we should be thankful for the smelly AC that keeps us cool. In other words we should adopt a thankful mindset and count the blessings we have, big and small, that give us hope, joy, and happiness. Live Thankfully.

4. It’s better to Jam 15 People in a Seven-Passenger Van.

This isn't 15 people, but is was a great moment we shared with Big Bertha.
This isn't 15 people, but is was a great moment we shared with Big Bertha.

The record amount of people Big Bertha has transported (in a very short distance) is 15. It is one of my favorite memories of last year. It's weird to think how a few minutes of uncomfortable seating and contagious laughter brought us all so much closer to each other.

As we drive on our road in life, we need our cars to be filled like Bertha. Personal relationships are things humans were designed for. When we share pieces of our lives with others, it becomes so much more valuable and special. Our passengers may change throughout our journey, but as long as we have someone else with us, the long drive becomes enjoyable. Love one another.

5. Even if you’ve made it as far as the Moon, Shoot for Mars.


According to Big Bertha’s mileage, she already over shot the moon by 19,500 miles with her odometer at 258,400 miles (Moon’s distance from earth is only 238,900 miles away). But she doesn't stop and continues forward, mile by mile, to the next goal set before her: making it to Mars.

Even if we’ve reached a specific mile marker in our life, it’s important to shoot for the next one. We should always celebrate our milestones in life and soak up the moments, but we shouldn't let these moments be our last. We need to continue to create new goals to challenge and better ourselves. Challenge Yourself.

6. Driving is better with some Good Tunes.

Music is a necessity when I drive. It keeps me focused, levelheaded (I suffer from terrible road rage), and occupied during long, monotonous drives. Life is no different. If we do not fill our lives with things we enjoy or interests we are passionate about, the long journey becomes bleak and unbearable. It’s important to keep life interesting with things we are passionate about. Fill Your Life With Passions.

7. Never Drive with the Doors Open.


This was something I almost learned the hard way. While I was driving some friends back to my dorm, one of them asked if I could drive with the side doors open. Personally I didn’t care. We were staying on Taylor University’s campus, and the temperature was at a perfect 70 degrees. So we flung them open. About five seconds later, the campus police passed by and started following us.

We all panicked. First we shut the doors and put on our seat belts, as if that wasn’t enough for the policeman to pull us over. Next, instead of parking at my dorm, I continued down a road until we parked at a local restaurant. We waited for at least five minutes before we left. No policeman in sight. However, when we pulled out, the police officer turned the corner and was right next to us. Great.

In our amazement, he didn’t turn on his lights or pull us over. Instead he stopped following us. We were off the hook. However, the cop’s message was clear to us. Don’t be stupid.

We can avoid many complications in life if we simply think before we act. Careless actions, like driving with the doors open, leads to unnecessary stress that adds more weight on our shoulders. It’s best to avoid this altogether by simply using our brains. We're the smartest creatures on the planet. We might as well act like it. Don’t Be Stupid. Think.

I look forward to another year with Big Bertha. She's been a great car, and I don't know what I'd do without her these past couple of years.

Thanks Bertha!

Thanks for the tips Bertha! :)
Thanks for the tips Bertha! :)

Which one of these is challenging for you?

Leave your answers in the comments section.

Which one of Bertha's tips resonates with you the most?

Leave your answers in the comments section.


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    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      3 years ago from Australia

      Love the title - and the photos! I drive a mini, and my New Year's resolution was to live like a mini: have a lot of fun, enjoy the drive, there's nothing wrong with being a bit older and having your own style, and always be prepared to find a dozen clowns climb out of your boot!

      Enjoy Big Bertha and college.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Love the hub Noah, I hope Big Bertha keeps on going at least another 100,000 miles, she has taught so many great lessons. The first "You Will Get Dents and Scratches. Don't Let it Stop You" resonates with me. The most challenging, maybe "When you can’t see the Road, Turn on Your Headlights" but they are all very important life lessons. Voted up and shared. Well done.


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