Letting Go of Too Much Baggage


I am writing this from the seat of a plane soaring 30,000 feet in the air, destined for a five day family vacation. I’m admittedly not a great flyer. I avoid window seats so I’m not tempted to peek out and remind myself that my feet are no where near the ground.

Several weeks back, I read a post from my favorite fashion blogger. She shared her packing strategies from her recent vacation, providing pictures and detailed tips on how she fit all her stuff into a carry on suitcase and tote bag. I was impressed as my carry on usually only contains shoes.


I know several people who pack for trips in one small bag, and I’ve always come to two conclusions:


1. I’m secretly jealous of their ability to pack simply and efficiently.

2. I can’t fathom narrowing down my shoe options to less than seven.


Yet, here was this post demonstrating how to squeeze a fashionable collection of clothing into a 24x16x10 space.


I decided to challenge myself to do the same. I imagined how freeing it would be not wasting time at baggage claim, or struggling with two suitcases plus another shoulder bag . I could envision myself strolling off the plane with my little wheeled bag behind me heading out into the warm Florida sun. Additionally, I wouldn’t feel guilty and annoyed that I had brought so many items which never got worn. YES...I could do this!


Using the blogger’s post as my vacation packing bible and inspired by her outfit choices, I selected mostly neutral colored items that I loved and only three favorite pairs of shoes. I won’t bore you with everything I packed, but I was amazed at how much I could squeeze into my carry on and large shoulder bag.


I felt such a great sense of accomplishment. I had never thought that I could ever manage packing simply and yet fashionably. The best part? My husband was impressed and appreciative!


I let some other baggage go earlier in the week during a trip to the mall.

I had decided to visit Neiman Marcus to “browse only” for a specific handbag I had recently admired online. I wanted to see it in person to determine whether or not I might want to purchase it in the future.


Walking through the handbag department I felt like a child set free in a toy store. I quickly moved from section to section admiring the Valentinos, Guccis, and Louis Vuittons. So many beautiful bags displayed like museum pieces, and I took my time to admire them all. I located the bag that brought me there and the sales lady carefully unlocked it so I could try it on.

The bag did not disappoint, yet I knew I didn’t have the money to purchase it. I would have to wait. I handed it back but continued to browse around.


Suddenly, my eyes locked on an Italian leather black tote bag that I’ve considered purchasing for a long time. Simultaneously, my cell phone rang and I assumed it was my husband, who seems to have a built in radar, always calling when I’m shopping.


Instead, it was my aunt, and while chatting away, I continued examining the luxurious black tote. One side of my brain engaged in pleasant conversation, while the other half began persuading me to buy the handbag.


“You don’t have a black leather tote and shouldn’t everyone have one? ”


“It’s only half the price of that other bag you tried on. What a bargain!”


“ Why wait any longer? Get it now so you can use it over the winter.”


“Just charge it.”


Without much thought, I began making hand signals at the sales girl to indicate my intent to purchase the bag. She smiled and obligingly said she would retrieve a new one from the back and meet me at the register. I nodded, still talking on the phone, while rummaging through my wallet for my credit card.


I reached the register and felt my stomach lurch. I told my aunt that I had to hang up.


I glanced around and then focused on the credit card? Was I really going to charge this bag when I didn’t have the money to pay for it?


Did I really want to be in debt? What would happen if I didn’t buy it?


The answer came loud and clear...nothing would happen. I would continue to get by without a black leather tote and without being in debt.


Putting the credit card away, I waited for the sales lady to return. I could have fled the scene, but wanted to face the truth. As she strolled over I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t buy the bag right now. I am a recovering shopaholic and this would be a compulsive purchase. I will come back on a day when I’ve actually planned on buying a bag and that is not today”.


She tried to deter me, stating how gorgeous and practical the black tote was, but I stood my ground and walked away carrying only her business card. I felt strong, proud, and honestly relieved. I had avoided this shopping collision by a thread.


Once I departed from handbag utopia, I was grateful that I had not made any purchases. I didn’t need any new bags nor could I afford it right now. I also learned how easily distracted I can get and that shopping is not a good time for casual phone conversations (unless it’s with my therapist)!


Ultimately, I desire a simple life with more meaning and less “things”. It’s a journey, I know, and it’s not easy to “let go” and leave the excess baggage behind. Still, with less baggage we can live lighter and soar much higher than ever before!

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