What are you carrying (that you don’t need to be)?

This post is really about my new purse and also a little bit about the lack of pockets in my life. But I’m hoping to find a metaphor somewhere in here about personal baggage and we’ll all learn and grow from it. Shall we begin?

I don’t know about you – but the lack of pockets in my life is becoming an epidemic. It started with that one cute pair that I bought in spite of myself – I knew the lack of pockets was going to be a problem, but I figured one pair wouldn’t hurt. I’d keep my phone in my purse that one day and it wouldn’t be a big deal. But, my friends, it was a slippery slope. I don’t know if it was my standards that slipped or the market – the other day I was looking through my jeans for the fall and noticed that all but one of them are void of front pockets. And back pockets are pretty much only good for your boyfriend putting his hand on your bum.

And real talk: that one pair of jeans with pockets… it’s a very small pocket. My phone barely fits inside. If I stand up too fast, the phone could very likely fall right out. 

Why do we put up with this? Why do men get ten thousand deep dish cargo pockets and we’re saddled with sewn shut fake pockets or tiny little almost pockets? Why are we being forced to carry all of our things in a bag?

This is not a new problem. But it’s one I’m just starting to deal with. I’m just starting to learn whether my ring tone is loud enough to hear from my purse. Or that sometimes I need to turn my volume ON so that my ring tone will do anything at all. When my phone is in my pocket, the vibration is enough and my delicate ears do not need to be involved yet. Meetings don’t need to be disturbed. It’s the little things.

I’ve been thinking lately about what things need to be on my person 24/7. When the kids were younger, it seemed like a longer list. Diapers, wipes, snacks, change of clothes, Band-aids, Pope hat, vestments. As they’ve gotten older, the list of necessary items gets smaller. They start carrying their own baggage and I’m pretty much only responsible for mine now. But I have a tendency to fill whatever vessel I’m given. Like an Apocalypse Prepper, I can think of a lot of things that might be useful. But most of those things never actually get used. They just fall into the bag and die there, until I get a new bag and decide to reevaluate what belongs.

Over the summer, I really cut down to the bare minimum – I wanted to float through those summer months like a leaf in the wind. Or a plastic bag perhaps? You can pick the metaphor. Anyway, I pared down to pretty much just my keys and my phone – I added one of those little back of the phone wallet doohickeys that I found in the Dollar Bins at Target. It is pretty much only big enough for two cards and a small bit of cash if I feel like pushing my luck. But for 99% of my days, this was enough. It was liberating. I didn’t want to go back.

But here’s the linchpin of the situation: pockets. For some reason all of my shorts and capris are from the Pre-Pocket Exodus that happened in my wardrobe. When the days got cooler, and pants found their way back into my daily rotation, I had to figure out where the heck to put my phone. I know it lives in my hand a lot of the time, but sometimes I do need to put it down and like drive or eat something or engage in meaningful conversation. Ugh.

My current solution is to wear this tiny little crossbody bag that I found on Amazon. It’s just big enough to hold my phone and a couple other odds and ends. It’s small enough that if I push the limits of those odds and ends, it looks overstuffed and threatens to ‘splode. But that’s kind of what I like about it.

Now I’m trying to really figure out what things belong in the odds and ends category. After a few too many trips to the library or the ATM and realizing that my card for those locations was not in my tiny phone wallet, I decided I needed a backup wallet that could fit in the bag, too. It didn’t need to hold every membership card I’ve ever been given – just the ones I’m likely to need every week or in a pinch. I found an old wallet lying around that had once been deemed far too small to be functional. Now it’s just right. I also added a small notepad and a favorite pen and my checkbook because #adulting. That’s it.

But what about all the things? What if I need a wet wipe or the membership card to that one place I never go to? What if I want to get pretty in the middle of the day, give someone a ponytail, read a book or contemplate world peace? Where does the Pope hat go???  For now those things live in an “emergency bag” that I bring with me when I think life will demand them. But I have to be honest, life almost never demands them. They are literally just unnecessary baggage that I haven’t admitted that I don’t need to carry with me.

Okay – let’s go for that big metaphor. How many of us are holding onto personal baggage that isn’t actually helpful? What are you carrying around in your heart or on your person that isn’t serving you? What can you let go of today?

I can’t tell you what things are ready to leave – or even how to let go of them. That’s a conversation you’ll have to have with your own heart. But sometimes being able to see the baggage – saying it out loud or seeing it in a pile on the kitchen table – makes it easier to let go of.

So let’s look down deep and empty all of the things onto that kitchen table.  See what’s in there that you’ve forgotten you were still carrying. Really shake it all out – all of the dust and bits of debris and take stock of what’s still relevant to your life today. Be thoughtful about what’s allowed back in. Don’t forget to downsize the bag that’s allowed to hold all of it. Be choosy with your heart, your anxieties, and your pockets.

The next step is more fun. Take a walk with a loved one, go out for coffee, or just go about your day and marvel at how much lighter your step is – how freeing it is to carry less. Breathe in the feeling of less. Can you make this your new normal?

20 Questions: Self Exploration At Its Finest

Over at Marc and Angel Hack Life, I read a post by Marc about 20 questions he feels you should ask yourself once a week, like on a quiet Sunday when you have time to reflect on your life, what you’ve accomplished and where you are going, or would like to go – this seems like such a stellar idea, I thought I’d try it out here, and maybe again in weeks to come.

Here’s what Marc says about the process, which he says much more eloquently than I could ever hope to:

At the cusp of new beginnings many of us take time to reflect on our lives by looking back over the past and ahead into the future.  We ponder the successes, failures and standout events that are slowly scripting our life’s story.  This process of self reflection helps maintain a conscious awareness of where we’ve been and where we intend to go.  It is pertinent to the organization and preservation of our dreams, goals and desires.

If you would like to maximize the benefits of self reflection, I have 20 questions for you.  These questions should be reviewed every Sunday morning or sometime during the weekend when you have some quiet time to think.  Remember, reflection is the key to progression.

So here are the questions and my answers for this week:

  1. What did I learn last week? – I learned that I have to stand up for myself, and admit my weaknesses as well as my strengths – if I’m not capable of doing something, I should simply say so – instead of trying to do it anyway and having is strain my life and relationships for the worse.
  2. What was my greatest accomplishment over the past week? – Learning the above – finding ways to help people without hurting myself, and still feeling accomplished in that goal.
  3. Which moment from last week was the most memorable and why? This week my husband and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary so that has certainly been the most memorable – from the lunch we had day of, to our big date night that weekend.
  4. What’s the #1 thing I need to accomplish this week? – My mind says help my friend find a new car, but I think the answer should be “Accept that it’s my friend’s responsibility to find that car and not mine,” despite the effect her lack of car having-ness will have on my life.
  5. What can I do right now to make the week less stressful? – Right this second, I’d say get as good and relaxed as I could possibly be – this coming week is going to be busy, particularly Monday, so I’ll need my wits about me – I’ve done a good job so far, I think I just need to try not to botch things up. I managed to get my grocery shopping done and plan a menu for the coming week and that should help. It might behoove me to get a head start on my laundry, but that is easier said than done in an apartment when the weekends mean a constantly busy laundry room that is practically empty on weekdays.
  6. What have I struggled with in the past that might also affect the upcoming week? – Being a doormat and trying to do more than I am capable of without losing my mind.
  7. What was last week’s biggest time sink? – I did a lot of chauffeuring this week which cut time into my own needs for the week, but I think that was kind of unavoidable and just unfortunate.
  8. Am I carrying any excess baggage into the week that can be dropped? – No I’ve done a surprisingly miraculous job of de-stressing this week, so that even big things that have happened, I’ve already mostly let go of.
  9. What have I been avoiding that needs to get done? – I need to get my oil changed, which we’ve decided to do this week but it does need to get done – unfortunately we’ve got some other bigger fish to fry…
  10. What opportunities are still on the table? – We need to save up to replace our DVD player.
  11. Is there anyone I’ve been meaning to talk to? – I haven’t talked to my sister in awhile
  12. Is there anyone that deserves a big ‘Thank You’? – I’ve given a couple of big thank yous recently actually, I’m kind of rocking this week…
  13. How can I help someone else this coming week? – If I help many more people I think my head will explode.
  14. What are my top 3 goals for the next 3 years? – Save for a house, move to a new state, buy a puppy
  15. Have any of my recent actions moved me closer to my goals? – Only that we’ve pared down our spending tremendously.
  16. What’s the next step for each goal? – Continuing to spend less and start saving even more – get life insurance, finish our will, and make sure we are absolutely financially stable.
  17. What am I looking forward to during the upcoming week? – Having a meal plan, having less days until our September vacation
  18. What are my fears? – abandonment, death, bad stuff happening to my family, going broke
  19. What am I most grateful for? – My husband, friends and family – that we are doing as well financially as we are – having
  20. If I knew I only had one week to live, who would I spend my time with? – God I don’t want to think about that – but my husband and son. The end.