This is a re-post from last year, when I first started blogging privately (The Hot Goddess site was created for a class I was taking and was not launched as a public site initially) as a midlife woman in her 60s. I was reminded of this post this week as I packed my bags for my move to Portugal. There’s a 2022 update at the end.
We all know the challenge of packing for a trip when you’re trying to get everything into just one carry-on. When that one bag has to hold everything you’ll need for a 70-day trip around the world, in temperatures ranging from 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit, packing has to be strategic AF. Funny thing is, I realized that my five key packing pointers also are lessons for living.
1. Make a plan. First, think about what you want to do and see it in your head. Actually visualize yourself doing it. Then list on paper everything you’ll need to make it happen. Lay out everything on your list. Does it all look right? Is it all manageable? Do you need to make any adjustments? In life, it’s the people in your life that take up valuable space. Friends, family, lovers, partners. Do they fit with what you see yourself doing? Do they support your journey and make it easier? Do they add to or subtract from the picture you visualize in your head? If they’re not adding value to your vision, is it time to take them off your list?
2. Compartmentalize. Packing cubes allow you to organize and maximize what you pack in your bag by compartmentalizing everything. In life, compartmentalizing helps keep emotions, goals, and tasks organized and manageable. My father died at home. I found him and had to wake my mother and tell her. The very next work day I went to school and conducted parent-teacher conferences until 8pm. Heartbreak must be compartmentalized for me to continue to do what I need to do. It may look as if I’m cold and aloof, but I’m in survival mode, zipping away in little cubes the emotions that get in the way of what needs to get done. Of course, never opening them — or taking too long to — is not at all healthy and that’s not what I’m talking about. But separating them, closing them off until later so they don’t get sloppily mixed in with my other stuff until the time is right, keeps me focused. (2022 update: Compartmentalizing emotions may sometimes be necessary to get through certain situations, but this practice can be harmful to mental health.)
3. Keep your valuables on you, where you know where they are but no one else can see them. Jewels, credit cards, and passport stay on my body, tucked safely away from prying eyes and hands, in zippered pockets that I can keep an eye on. Similarly, I keep my soul’s valuable pieces secure with me as well. My love, trust, and respect are precious and irreplaceable. They are my inner riches, my wealth of spirit, and I make damn sure no fool or fraud is going to snatch up my goddess gold and misuse it.
4. Leave the small sh*t for last. When packing a bag, put in the larger, heavier items first, and then pack the small, light things around them. Just like in life, deal with the big stuff and save the little crap for later. Like they say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
5. Don’t make your bag too heavy. I crammed as much as I could into my one little carry-on bag. Everything on my list fit inside. It was quite the packing feat, actually. Then I tried to lift it. When you’re traveling solo you can’t count on anyone but yourself to carry your bag. You are solely responsible for lugging your own stuff throughout your solo journey, and there will be lots of bumpy, slippery, steep, long, winding roads to follow, cross, climb, and get lost on. You will struggle. You will be tired. You will hurt. And you will wonder, “WTF was I thinking when I thought I could do this?” In life, don’t make your load too heavy. Aim high, but set realistic, achievable goals. Don’t put so much on your plate that you can’t hold it to eat. Use your strength, but know your limits. Are you carrying dead weight? Carting around regret, anger, hurt feelings? Dump that sh*t and lighten your load.
Packing Up in 2022
I said I was only taking two suitcases with me to my new home overseas. Technically, I am traveling with just two checked suitcases and a carryon bag. However, I’m also shipping four bags, including these huge duffel bags. I’m genuinely shocked at the quantity of stuff I packed after getting rid of so much. An antique and art auction house picked up some furnishings, and I’ve given away or donated to charity 11 truckloads of belongings. I was ruthless as I jettisoned and disposed of a lifetime of possessions.
There are things I will miss.
In the Great Lake city
There was a country house
And a baby grand piano in ebony
And a front porch for all to see
And a big backyard, deep and long
And a screened-in deck, a pond, and birdsong
And an alpaca farm down the road
And a city condo on the lake where time slowed
And a balcony offering a view sublime
And a sparkling, majestic urban skyline
And places and people who made a life
And endless memories of love…and some strife
Goodbye country home
Goodbye baby grand
And front porch of stone
Goodbye yard and screened-in deck
Goodbye pond and alpacas I'd check
Goodbye condo that gave me a break
Goodbye my spectacular lake
Goodbye balcony with a view
And goodbye beautiful skyline too.
And goodbye places
Goodbye Nobody, with your many faces.
Goodbye my love
And goodbye strife...
And HELLO to my wonderful new life.
~ The Hot Goddess
With apologies to the late writer Margaret Wise Brown, and to poets everywhere, for this complete butchering of Goodnight Moon.
The Hot Goddess will publish tomorrow’s Silent Saturday Solo Sojourn post, followed by Sunday Snarky Pie and Monday’s Midlife Made-Up Word posts, and then I will sign off for the remainder of September. I would love it if you checked back here in October when I’ll begin publishing from Portugal.
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