We returned from vacation a week ago, so maybe it's time for me to confess. I'm a notorious over packer. I'm the woman in the airport who's suitcase barely squeaks in under the fifty pound weight limit. I weigh it before I leave home to make sure it will pass, and have been known to put in another pair of shoes or boots if it's underweight.
Our recent vacation was a car trip, so I didn't have to worry about the weight limit. All I had to worry about was my husband giving me the stink eye and complaining that I was, perhaps, being a tad bit ridiculous with all that I was bringing. On my behalf, we were going to a variety of places with varying weather forecasts on our two week trip, and I wanted to be prepared for each one.
Our first stop on vacation was at an airbnb rental house, a lone house on an island in the middle of a lake. All of our children and grandchildren were together for this part of the trip and we were doing our own cooking, so that played into what I had to bring. How was I to know if the kitchen was going to be adequately stocked? So in went my favorite stock pot, just in case, and a few other, "what if they don't have this" cooking essentials. Then I needed my apron, of course, my cute blue striped ticking one that my friend made me. The right apron is essential to the cooking ambiance. Someone should have taken a photo of me in my apron with my youngest granddaughter, my designated sous chef, baking homemade french bread and making homemade meatballs. I'm sure we were front page cooking magazine worthy. At least that's how I felt.
The weather was warm on the island, and we kayaked and swam in the afternoons, so swimsuits and shorts and tank tops and sandals and flip flops and water socks all had to be packed. But the early mornings and late evenings on the back deck were cool, so a hoody and three of my most favorite cozy sweaters, so I could choose the right one for my mood, were packed as well.
Victoria, B.C. was our next stop, so comfortable shoes for walking were essential because we walk most everywhere when we are there. A couple of dressier outfits were packed in case we wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner. That necessitated additional footwear, so I put in two pair, not knowing if shoes or booties would strike my fancy when the time came. Obviously, I also had to accessorize, so in went some options of necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
It rained a bit harder than we expected while we were in Victoria but, fortunately, I had packed my lightweight waterproof jacket. Unfortunately, I didn't have shoes that I wanted to slog around in the rain with, but happily there was a lone pair of red Hunter rainboots in just my size at the Hudson's Bay store for 75% off! I took that as a sign that they were meant to be mine. They came in a big box that was added to the two "smallish" suitcases, (one for the dressier clothes and one for the casual clothes), one large tote bag, (for all the shoes, and outerwear), and one rolling briefcase that I had to fit in my husband's beloved Mustang with its not so roomy trunk and a back seat that clearly isn't really meant for grown people to ride in, so I promptly filled it up with my excess baggage.
Our last four nights of vacation were at at a little cottage by the sea. Beach attire in the Pacific Northwest should also be called, "be prepared for anything" attire. Whether it's August or December, you may need no jacket at all or just something light, or you may need layers of fleece under your waterproof coat. So, warm leggings and other beach walking appropriate attire was added into the baggage.
My rolling brief case was packed to the gills with my computer, camera, Bible, writing journal, gratitude journal, devotional book, fiction books, a couple of magazines, and an assortment of pens. I also packed my favorite evening tea and a couple of favorite mugs, because sipping my morning coffee or evening tea in some plain, and usually too tiny, rental house or hotel coffee cup just isn't the same as having a mug with me that I love.
So, all of the baggage I take with me when I leave home, it's about making myself feel comfortable and secure. It's about the warm cozy feeling my favorite sweaters give me when I get up and have my morning devotions out on the deck or porch. It's about that, "I may be almost sixty, but I still look good" feeling that my favorite shoes and clothes and accessories give me. It's about the feeling of home that having my favorite tea in my favorite cup gives me, or the "at home" feeling of wearing my own apron when I'm cooking in a "strange to me" kitchen.
Sometimes, I have excess baggage that you can't see. I carry it for the same reason I overpack for vacation, to make myself feel comfortable and secure. On occasion, I've been known to pack self-protective behaviors to avoid getting my over sensitive feelings hurt. I've been known to pack an "I'm fine" exterior to hide inner pain. I've been known to pack control issues to avoid the fearful unknowns of life. The truth is, these things really don't make me secure, they are just an illusion. Drinking my favorite tea in a cup from home doesn't mean I'm actually at home. Wearing my favorite apron may give me the feeling of being cooking magazine worthy, but it doesn't actually mean it's true. Wearing the clothes that I feel best about myself in doesn't change the fact that I am fifty nine and swiftly heading toward sixty. In the same way, my self-protective behaviors don't actually keep my heart from being wounded and hiding my wounds from others doesn't mean they aren't there. My efforts at controlling things around me doesn't actually protect me from life's unknowns. In reality, I may never be a minimalist when it comes to packing for vacation, but when it comes to spiritual/emotional baggage, it's always best to learn to travel light. There are some things that it's God's job to carry for me. He's truly the only one that can protect my heart, heal my inner wounds, and be the unshakeable foundation under my feet when circumstances around me are out of my control. I don't want to live my spiritual life with the trunk full to bursting and the back seat overflowing with my excess. I want to travel spiritually and emotionally light and free.