photo credit: Brandon Doran via photopin cc
photo credit: Brandon Doran via photopin cc

Ever had those mixed feelings of frustration, anxiety and helplessness as you sit in your car, waiting for someone to come and help you figure out what’s wrong with your car… Whilst in a foreign country… At a gas station… As a questionable Spaniard watches on? Oh, that’s just me? Awesome.

I bought my white, pre-loved, Volkswagen Golf yesterday, sponsored/not-sponsored by an Apple sticker on the side and a “not of this world” sticker on the back (yeah, that’s getting vetoed as soon as possible).

We decided to call her Shakira. Because her hips don’t lie, and as it so happens, neither does her 1999 engine. Das Auto.

Right off the bat I knew Shakira would be a preaching illustration machine. The first time I turned her on I discovered that her windscreen wipers are bi-polar. They turn on and off with no warning, and refuse to be controlled. That would be fine if I lived in Seattle or Cherrapunji (so what if I Googled the rainiest city in the world), but I now live in Los Angeles (where some LA natives consider a rain day equally as traumatic as a snow day), it wasn’t super helpful.

But that was yesterday. Today was a new day, a chance for Shakira to show me that wherever, whenever, we’re meant to be together.

This morning my "adopted LA dad" took me for a quick driving lesson in Shakira, just to get a handle on the roads, rules and most importantly, the potentially/likely/definitely insane LA drivers. No offence.

The lesson was smooth and, apart from nearly scoring 10 points by hitting a cyclist, I felt like I’d pick up this whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road thing fairly easily. I thanked Papa Philip, decided that it was a perfect afternoon for a hike (because every afternoon in LA is!) and drove off, intending to make a quick pit stop for some gas (not petrol, gas. I’m learning).

I filled up my car, which really is a whole other blog post for some other day (including Jerry, the gasman who didn’t speak Australian, American or English.. I tried all three).

I unlocked a satisfied Shakira and hopped in. And then it happened.

As soon as I put my key in the ignition, Shakira started screaming at me (and anyone with more than a 10% hearing ability). She was screeching things like,

“HELP! I’M BEING STOLEN! I DON’T EVEN KNOW THIS WOMAN!

SHE’S AUSTRALIAN! ALL AUSTRALIAN’S ARE CONVICTS!

QUICK! WHAT’S THE NUMBER FOR 911?!?!”

Ok, so she didn’t form those exact words, I’m aware she’s just a car… But that’s what she was implying with her invasive, shrieking alarm. I wanted to call her a bad word (in fact I may or may not have in my head), but instead I jumped out and tried to calm her down. I definitely looked guilty. After all, all Australians are convicts, right?

I didn’t take me long to realize that Shakira wasn’t taking me anywhere. Diva.

Luckily I’ve made some friends in LA that are quickly proving to be more reliable and amazing than I first thought (I know, ye of little faith and all that). Feeling hopeless and scared, I frantically phoned one of my girls, Saleena. Between Shakira screaming bloody murder in the background and me hardly able to form words, she figured she needed to rescue me.

… So she drove across the city.

… In LA traffic.

… In peak hour.

I suspect God sent her to be my guardian angel.

And so here we find ourselves.

Right now, I have two choices. I can either get overwhelmed at how unfair life is and sink into a mild depression… Or I can laugh at the situation and be grateful that I have such amazing friends/angels out here, a strategically placed Starbucks across the road, and a God who is looking out for me.

Friends, the creator of the universe, and caffeine? I’m seeing my silver lining.

I never asked for my car to be a diva. I never wanted to be stranded at a gas station for hours. I never imagined that my car would take up most of my day off. But it was beyond my control.

Often in life we get into situations that are unexpected and uninvited. And yet, I’m realizing more and more (especially over these last few weeks) that when these circumstances happen, we have one or two responses – we can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can choose to laugh and find the bright side.

The good news is we get to choose. We have the power to tell our emotions how to respond, despite the circumstance.

Here’s what I’ve discovered (just today), there is always a bright side, even if you have to search for it. The sun is still able to shine, even if through the clouds.

Find your silver lining. Find your sun through the clouds. It’s a much better view than the rain. Trust me.

So for now? I think I’ll skip the hike and opt for a night with the girl’s, featuring Ryan Gosling and chicken wings.

Oh, and Shakira? You’re not invited. You’re a vegan anyway. (She’s so LA.)

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