On Friday, Im heading to Florida to visit my father. Thinking about this trip reminded me of a trip I took there more than 20 years ago.
I was the big city girl traveling from New York to the small town of Melbourne, Fla. I wanted to look stylish. I packed five suitcases and brought 27 pairs of shoes.
My trip was only for a week. I brought every outfit I owned just in case there was something I wanted to wear.
I wore six outfits. I only needed one suitcase. Unpacking my luggage when I got home was torture. I regretted the decision I made to overdo it trying to be cute, but it would take me years of backaches to finally learn that having less is more.
I no longer pack my suitcases or my life with more than I need.
When I was younger I felt I had something to prove. Clothes became my mask. I bought clothes I couldnt afford to show the world that I was well put together on the outside despite how I felt on the inside.
Id go on shopping sprees to feed my low self-esteem. I once bought an expensive lambskin coat. It sat in my closet unworn for months. I believed I deserved it, but guilt kept me from wearing it. I bought it just in case I needed it. I never did. I had more than enough coats in my closet.
Having more than what I need has shown up in other areas of my life. I held on to too many friendships that I outgrew. Theres been a certain level of comfort in knowing you have more than what you need, even if holding on means it goes unused or isnt good for you. Having too much baggage has worn out my back and drained me emotionally. We all carry things we need to let go of.
Now that Ive learned to pack light, no matter where I travel in the world everything I need fits in a 24-inch suitcase. I keep three different-sized bags partially packed at all times. In each there are toiletry bags, an umbrella, slippers, tea and a bathing suit ready to go. I even have washcloths because in Europe some hotels dont provide them.
Two weeks ago, I travelled to St. Lucia for six days with only a 24-inch carry-on and a backpack. Being a skillful packer came out of necessity to save my back and simplify my life.
I turn 42 Thursday. I have less baggage and more happiness. I dont have anything to prove. When my father picks me up Friday, I will greet him with a smile and an overnight bag.