Packing Light: a review and what that looks like for me

This post contains affiliate links. Read full disclosure here.

Selling the majority of your possessions, quitting your job, and embarking on a 50-state road trip may not sound like a jolly good time, but that’s exactly what Allison Vesterfelt did. Allison, a teacher turned writer, and her musician friend, Sharaya, gave up security and comfort to travel around the country for six months. They lived off of talent, prayers, and the generosity of others all in the name of “chasing dreams.”

Allison chronicles their adventure in Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage. Her narrative is an engaging memoir/travel log peppered with poignant reflections on faith, relationships, and the baggage we tend to accumulate. She is honest and funny, allowing her own experiences to speak truth and challenge. One aspect of this book that I loved the most was how Allison wove the rich young ruler‘s story in with her own, illuminating some of the baggage he must have been carrying around in his search for eternal life.

I “read” the audio version of Packing Light. The great part about listening to an audiobook is that I can do the dishes, walk on the treadmill or fold laundry while “reading.” The bad part is that I can’t underline or go back and revisit the thoughts and ideas that stuck out. While I enjoyed listening to the author narrate her own adventures, I missed having a physical book to mark up. I’m not an auditory learner; so, despite the fact that I love listening to lectures and sermons and the like, my retention is a bit stunted when I don’t have paper and pen in hand to take notes. I feel like I didn’t squeeze as much juice out of this orange as I could have had I read a physical copy, but I appreciated getting an overall gist/vibe/takeaway from the book that may have gotten lost amidst my focus on the particulars.

Just in case you’re wondering… I will probably go to Barnes and Noble with a notebook and skim for the quotes I would have written down in my journal had I read a hard copy.

My overall takeaway (as in, what I was thinking about after I read the book):

packing light

For me, packing light looks like shedding my expectations. Much of the baggage I carry around comes from expectations. It’s not that reality sometimes falls short of my expectations or that people don’t meet my expectations, it’s that expectations distract me from the present.

Christmas, for example, can be a source of distracting expectations. I have expectations about what the house should look like, what activities should happen leading up to the holiday, and what the actual day should feel like. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Christmas that met all my expectations. Even at the end of the best of Christmases (and I’ve had plenty), there’s still a niggling hint of what didn’t go quite like what I expected. Mary didn’t react to her gift the way I wanted. The grandkids stayed past their nap-time and things got a little out of control. Mom invited a lonely church member over to share dinner and now it’s not just family. As they crumble, those expectations distract from all the wonderful things about the day or the moment.

And this doesn’t just happen with celebrations or activities. Expectations weigh down relationships – with family, with friends, with spouses. I have allowed expectations to distract me from finding joy in so many relationships, even my relationship with myself. My expectations for how I look and what I do distract me from enjoying the body God gave me (which is pregnant and round right now) or maximizing the time I have to rest and recharge before our son is born.

[pullquote position=”right”]We miss out on joy when we let expectations crowd our hearts and minds.[/pullquote] Expectations weigh us down and cloud our vision with perfection when what God has set out for us is right there in front of us. He’s inviting us to leave our expectations behind and grab hold of the freedom we have in His perfect plans.

photo credit: e.b. image via photopin cc

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

I’ve been waiting for this for six months. Summer has arrived in Northern Idaho! Well, that’s a bit optimistic – let’s just say Spring is in full swing with it’s sudden showers, new growth, and increase in sunshine. I’m okay with that.

On this brighter side of our four seasons, I’ve become more appreciative of the weather’s ebb and flow over the past nine months. I look back at the Winter with some fondness for the pretty, fresh snow and the chilly wind as an excuse to drink hot cocoa and make soup. (Please remind me of this come November…)

As I’ve begun acclimating to Idaho’s seasonal changes, I’ve begun to notice some personal habits morph with the seasons as well. The warmer weather has a powerful influence on how I spend my time. Where Winter prompted me to hibernate with books and movies, Summer has pulled me outside with walks and projects around the house. Those seem to be natural shifts, but I was a surprised to note a shift in my blogging habits too.

Writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a necessary means for me to process life. So, to see my main outlet for writing drop in frequency made me pause. It was hard not to feel like I had failed somehow – I wasn’t on top of my blog schedule or keeping up with social media outlets as much. How could I call writing a passion if it didn’t consume me regardless of the season?

The truth was revealed in the very definition of a season: a period of the year characterized by a particular climatic feature or marked by a particular event or activity. Just like I’m beginning to see the beauty of our changing weather patterns, I’m also beginning to see the importance of changing rhythms in my personal life. Some periods of my life will have different priorities and activities; I need to make space in my life for those natural changes to occur.

The electric green of new growth in Spring wouldn’t be possible without the frost of Winter nights. Autumn’s deep hues are a lovely contrast to the technicolor landscape of Summer come October. Letting words flow for hours during the long evenings of a cold winter breathes life into my soul just as much as working in the back yard on a warm summer afternoon. I need both the feast of writing and famine of silence to keep my passion alive and healthy.

Making space in these shifting seasons requires grace. It means having open hands with the way I spend my time, allowing God to direct those priorities and activities as He sees fit. As much as I like to, I can’t allow my expectations or a previous routine dictate the standards of each new season.

What does that mean for Primitive Roads? I’ll still be navigating this unpaved path with you, just on a less regimented basis. I have two writing projects (an ebook! and this year’s 31 Day Challenge posts) that I’ll be focusing on this summer, but Primitive Roads will not be forgotten.

How are you embracing the rhythms of this new season?

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc