Friday, October 21, 2016

Packing Lighter at Modern Creative Life

When I was facilitating support groups at a children's grief center, we had an activity in which we asked the kids to write down all the things that bothered them -- the death of the parent or sibling for which they were attending the groups, bullying, stresses at school, fear of losing their home, a mean teacher, a best friend moving. Then we had them rank those and we put food items of various weights in a backpack the child wore.

Paris 2009 -- In the days when packing light was the last thing on my mind!

A bag of potatoes, a box of jello, a can or juice. They all had weight and collectively, they weighed the bag down till the child could hardly stand. It was only by taking things out, repacking the bag and learning to deal with what was in the bag -- perhaps making something better of it -- that the load became lighter.

For decades I over packed my physical and emotional baggage. Whether I was hauling a super-sized suitcase around Japan or the hurts and losses and fears from years of living, those things weighed me down. It was a greater struggle to haul a big bag up the steps and an emotional struggle to let go of the past.

In my recent essay in Modern Creative Life, I reflect on Packing Lighter. I hope you'll head over there to check it out. And while you're there, take a look at some of the other thoughtful essays and intriguing pieces and consider submitting something yourself!


  1. Yes, we all carry too much ballast around with us. It reminds me a bit of 'Pilgrim's Progress', when Christian is freed from his burden. Have a great weekend, hugs, Valerie

  2. In 2009 we went to first time.. we overpacked also..we spent one month..
    This year we went to Paris and w/ the threat of strikes we only brought a carry on..
    one week and it worked fine..
    we really do not need much away from home and I know we don't need all we have at home..
    I am sorry you had struggles..I think few are exempt..your smiling face belies the hardships:)
    Have a nice weekend:)

  3. Loved the article.
    What a good way of illustrating what pulls us down with children. I am sure they must have learned a lot. Lessons we all must learn.

  4. Fantastic essay. I enjoyed reading it. I think I have moved into a lightening up phase. I have been decluttering a bit myself. I think we all reach a point when we realize the burden of having "things". Not sure I am 100% ready to dump everything, but I think I have reach another phase in my life. And its kind of exciting, and kind of sad, but I am ready. OK I will stop writing about me. Hugs-Erika

  5. I enjoyed reading your essay. It gave me an insight into your life. We do all have our "baggage" and I think people need to be ready to get rid of some of their baggage. I also think some people need a little help to lighten their emotional load. On the practical side of things: I managed a carry-on for a week in Mexico, but couldn't pull it off for a week in England. I wish I could because when you just have a carry-on, you can actually make your connecting flight!! -Jenn

  6. Too much of life's baggage eventually wears us down, Jeanie. Thank you for this reminder.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your essay and was once again reminded of the baggage we all carry. I sometimes find people who have been together a long time have what I call a matching set. Your essay points out how children (and adults) can be weighed down until it's almost too much for them. Lightening the load just makes good sense.

    I often travel with my friend Sally, who over packs her purse on a daily basis. My back and shoulder hurt just watching her carry that thing around. So glad you wrote the article, because it's always good to lighten the load, whether physically or emotionally.

  8. Excellent essay, and the poem at the end of it was pretty good too.

  9. Such a wise article, and so apropos for traveling through life: literally or figuratively. The other side of the coin, of course, is that we need to know ourselves and our situations well enough to know what is important to keep and to carry. A friend laughed at my box of cereals, fruit, ground coffee, crackers,and peanut butter -- but here I am, in a place without a grocery store or fast food joint within maybe fifty miles, and maybe more. Being prepared relieves me of a long trip and lost hours -- even though it seemed a little silly while I was home.

    On the emotional side, being able to let go of excess baggage fromt he past is so important. Holding on to griefs and traumas for decades is one sure way to keep from participating in the present.

  10. Interesting that you mention this topic; I just wrote a poem for my poetry group on this very subject. Our journeys are burdened with so much living, some of it light, some of it terribly difficult.

  11. An excellent article. Overpacking is a lifestyle I've started to try to confront and overpower as I grow older. It doesn't always work, but it's a goal.

  12. Love this adorable pic of you dear Jeanie!! We are sisters when it comes to packing. Hope you're having a great weekend.

  13. Hi Jeanie, It is absolutely wonderful works your are doing helping children to learn to let go of hurts and hardship, and all of us for that matter. You couldn't have picked a better way to help! You are a cutie pie in this pic, reminds me of how when there were no restrictions on luggage I hauled way to much "stuff" back and forth across the pond. Now, way less and I do just fine. Easy lesson to hear, not so easy to do...............

  14. Jeannie, What a terrific analogy. Good job on getting your article published. Your lessons can help us all.

  15. What enlightening post, dearest Jeanie, I so love to come and visit you here, it's always such a delight to me, whatever you post, sweetie !

    Wishing you a most wonderful weekend ever,
    I'm sending my dearest love to you

    Xx Dany

  16. Great article Jeanie, and just what I needed to hear today. You are a wise woman :)

  17. Goodness! This is so timely for me as I am cleaning and letting go of things. Well, I tell myself I am letting go of things while I am really just throwing out junk mail. I suppose that is a start, but I need to dig deeper and truly let go of things that no longer serve my life and which I trip on (physically) while trying to nagivate the now.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

  18. You're so right about travelling light. And the rub is, not all baggages are packed by us. As you mentioned, some are involuntary... like memories. Thanks for a thought provoking piece of writing, Jeanie, and I feel after this London trip, even with no checked in luggage, I feel it's still quite burdensome, hauling a carry-on and a backpack. Maybe it's age. :(

  19. Your relationship between home clutter, big suitcases, and personal/emotional baggage is really well done in both the blog post and your article. You are so right! Nonetheless, as you imply, the decluttering fad is also so wrong! Your efforts to make your possessions and what you carry right for you are inspiring. As I just returned from a trip with a pretty heavy suitcase (that still didn't have many clean clothes in it), I know what you mean.

    best... mae at

  20. Great article and love the cute pic of you....
    bet you recognized the ingredients on my post...:)

  21. Hi Jeanie! Oh, this was a wonderful post and I'm sure it really helped the children learn. I have to watch myself at times. Love the cute little you in your snap. Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  22. yes, packing light in every way can make life sweeter. At least lighter ;-)

    Jeanie when I respond to your comments in a personal email, I often get a notice back:
    This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification



    Delivery to the following recipient has been delayed:

    Message will be retried for 0 more day(s)

    Just telling you in case you are not receiving your emails and do not know it. Lovely week to you.

  23. I'm a much lighter packer now. Both emotionally and physically.


Thanks for coming by! I love your comments and will answer individually with email if your address is included! If you are a no-reply blogger, know that I appreciate your visit but may not be able to reach you. I had to take off anonymous comments due to too much spam. Sorry about that! Try to reach me another way because I love hearing from you.

Popular Posts