Packing Light: a reflection, a review, and a give-away

Monday, September 2, 2013

What do you take, and what do you leave behind?

As Ally Vesterfelt and her friend set off on a 50 state road trip, their car is perfectly packed.  They have exactly what  they need for the road ... or so they think.  They soon discover sweaters, coolers, and even cars can be easily replaced.  Attitudes, fears, and relationships are the hardest things to leave, and the most important to keep.

I offered to review Allison Vesterfelt's new book because I love her work.  I never expected to find so much of my own life in her story.  Or that her book would intersect with my life at the perfect time.

As I pulled out of my in-laws' driveway before dawn last March, passing familiar exits for the last time, I had no real picture of what would happen next.  I only knew the wait was over.  The adventure was finally here.

Like Ally, I too have learned packing light is a continual process.  You leave your hometown and think the hard part is over.  Now you are ready and open to the fullest experience of life.  But the things you can't see weigh the most.  Sometimes you're not even aware you're still carrying the heaviest loads: insecurities that insist you have failed before you ever try, relationships that are no longer safe and comforting.  It is so much easier to sell a beloved couch than it is to leave your fears on the side of the road.

Five months into my own adventure, I find myself in the same place Ally was five months into hers.  She realizes a pursuit of an inspired life is about more than doing something daring, and a person can become complacent even in the most extraordinary circumstances.  No matter where we are, we fall into our same patterns, and old fears and insecurities can hold us back.  If we want a full life, it's not enough to pull out of the driveway.  We must continue to challenge ourselves along the way.

If you can see yourself in the story of the rich young ruler - if you have always done the right things, yet still long for depth and meaning in life, you will find inspiration and encouragement in Packing Light.

In fact, I would love to give you a copy.

Last week I mentioned two give-aways in September.  Packing Light is our first.  Join A Wide Mercy on Facebook or Twitter and share your own "packing light" story.  Every time you do, you enter to win Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt.

When have you let go of material things to pursue a richer life?  What continues to weigh you down?  If you're in the middle of your adventure, what is your next challenge on the road?  And how do you answer the question, "What's next?" when it feels as though the adventure is over?  Please tell us.  We want to know!  I will put your name in the mix once per story.  Feel free to comment more than once, or to leave a message at both places.  If you are the timid sort, you can send a private message on Facebook to enter as well.  On Saturday, one of my kids will pull a name, and I will announce a winner.   

In the meantime, it's Packing Light week at A Wide Mercy.  Don't forget to follow everyone's stories on Facebook and Twitter this week.  You can also expect to find an interview with Allison Vesterfelt as well as quotes from the book throughout the week. I'll leave you with one of my favorites.

"Your life is waiting.  But your arms are full of stuff.  We all have baggage of one kind of another.  Will you put yours down and go on a trip?  Trust me - you won't come home the same."


  1. At 60, with that many years of "stuff" both emotional and material, I have been longing to lay down all the stuff! We have a jam packed house of my now deceased in -laws house to dispose of, as well as the pack ratted basement and garage in our own home! It is overwhelming to say the least. But still, I long to let go and need to take those first steps as they really weigh me down and make everything in life stand still. That equals to stagnation!! Need this book. Thanks for a great post.

  2. after running away from home at 25 and finding my new niche in the world with only a dog and my not-good-enough-for-new-england coat and shoes, I still know nothing about packing light 9 years later.



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