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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  My car has become one of my sacred places
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Monday, March 9,2015

My car has become one of my sacred places

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

The 45 minute commute to work each day has become something I genuinely look forward to. This has admittedly been enhanced since the days of schlepping the kids to and from school ended, nonetheless, it is sacred space. Most people I talk to, even in suburban Florida, find commuting back and forth to work a major inconvenience. It’s one of the strange things my husband and I "argue" (in the loosest sense of the word) about.

For example, I would sooner complain about actually having to work than about the commute. And when I dream aloud about how nice it would be to live on my own schedule and not have to be anywhere for eight hours a day, my husband takes this as his I’m-a-guy-I-fixthings cue suggesting that the only thing awful about having to work is traveling to work, offering all kinds of easy solutions like just find another job closer to home. He is positive that if I didn’t have the 90 minute commute each day, working wouldn’t be so bad. Not really the issue, honey (sigh, eye roll). Tacking 90 minutes onto the 8-hour day doesn’t bother me. It’s the actual working thing. And, since that is non-negotiable at this point, what’s another 90 minutes?

Especially when those are minutes I can orchestrate.

I go through phases with how I spend those minutes in the car, but at the beginning and end of every day I welcome the 45 minutes of solitude and use it to enrich my life. I listen to audiobooks, take courses on iTunes U (did you know you could do this? For free??!! I highly recommend it!), and listen to TED talks. Sometimes I even practice deep breathing to meditation music, although I have found that the car isn’t really the best for this unless it has been a particularly stressful day. I’ve “read” more books in the past year than I have in the past few years combined. And many of them classics that I really don’t see anyplace in my life outside of the car to squeeze in. Those extra 90 minutes a day are a real gift.

A way of gearing up and decompressing from the realities of my work world. I enjoy my commute so much that I find myself occasionally taking the long way without highways. This works better in my early morning teacher hours than at rush hour in the afternoon. But even in the afternoon sometimes I’ll brave the endless traffic lights. And I chuckle to myself as I see some people so frustrated and caught up that they are stuck in traffic. Losing patience, beeping at people, raising their blood pressure and taking it all so seriously. I think, “It’s like this every day, why do you expect today to be different?” So, I try to spread a little sunshine by letting people cut in, or go ahead of me. I’m happy to take a little longer to see if Heathcliff will be visited by his beloved Catherine. Beep away people. I’m in no hurry.


Jonna Shutowick, M.S. Ed. is a

high school history teacher for the Palm Beach County school district. She has created a character named Rosey Shades TM , whose philosophy teaches students about the importance of choosing optimism over pessimism by asking, “What color are the clouds in your world? For more information, visit


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