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From suitcase to backpack - unpacking life

There is an art to packing a suitcase for either a weekend getaway or overseas trip and I just never seem to get it right. It is such a balancing act between expectation, need , want and reality.


I have been enjoying my self imposed exile for the last few weeks as the wild winds howl around me and the fire crackles away in the hearth , I'm somewhat amused to realise that I have finally managed the packing of this particular trips suitcase to be just right. There is no make up bag, no bra, no clothing to wear for any social occasions and definitely no fancy shoes or accessories. This time all I packed was track pants, runners, slippers and fluffy jumpers, as well as my trusty five dollar raincoat and a beanie purchased from a castle in Ireland, its woollen warmth takes me straight back to the memory every time I wear it . Simple choices, no expectations in life .


Writing my memoir #TheSuitcase I am often reminded of the many times I packed a suitcase in haste and fear, filling it with completely useless items , dosed up on adrenaline grabbing objects that had caught my eye or were essential to daily life. Many years later I would have the fortune to pack a suitcase for overseas trips and there was much to be learnt from those experiences.

A trip to America saw me pack light as I anticipated all the brand name bargains I was going to purchase in a shopping frenzy. I never quite fulfilled that dream, distracted by hurricane Sandy and caught up in hotel lockdowns and work obligations. Also the fact that I purchased a really expensive must have designer handbag may have had something to do with the rapid depletion of my funds .


A trip to Fiji for a writing retreat taught me a very valuable lesson in packing a suitcase . As I was surrounded by the beauty of the welcoming island and the vibrancy and colourful dress of my fellow writing journeyman, I stared at the dull colour I had packed in my suitcase and wondered when I had become so colourless. Where was the person who once wore multi coloured overalls, hippie earrings, flowing skirts , when did I become so mainstream, so conformist. I had packed sensible.


Packing a suitcase with expectations of social gatherings, visits to interesting places, a jam packed calendar of adventure and outings and finally connecting with family history I packed a suitcase on a holiday to England, as I returned to my birth country. Expectation and reality were miles apart and many of the items packed with such anticipation remained strapped into my oversize suitcase, until finally I managed to downsize to what was needed as I embraced the joy , love and family connection I had been searching for.


So I come to this interesting point in my life where I have begun unpacking the baggage of expectation. Maybe the answer has always been not in what we pack into our life but in what we unpack .


When I fled with my children and packed #TheSuitcase many years ago, the first thing I unpacked in the refuge were some little treasures my mother had purchased as gifts for the children, they remain the only thing I have from that other life. As mentioned in my memoir on returning from the refuge everything I ever owned was gone or destroyed , even the children's toys and our pet dog. At the time of packing the treasures in a suitcase they were just things I grabbed in haste, but now they are the only momento's of a life long gone.


I have been unpacking a lot lately, like Mary Poppins my current suitcase is full of magic tricks. Grand epiphanies, clever ideas, epic plans, sad realities, steely determination and even a spoonful of sugar. I have made some life changing decisions and some simple day to day ones, like should I have ice cream for lunch , should I see how far a bush track goes, should I wear clothes !!

I have decided to also let this webpage , blog , whatever you call it go for now as I really do not want the commitment of having to write in it, reality is it has become another "thing" to do on my list. I realise it is not really serving a purpose just something I thought I needed to do, was expected to do if I was to pack certain things and requirements into this suitcase of my life.

These days I've decided to travel light, shedding the baggage as I go .


So to those who subscribed and read this blog thing many thanks. I shall keep my writer facebook page going for awhile as I work towards finishing my memoir #TheSuitcase , it is coming along now and I am meeting my self imposed timelines and shedding the baggage as I go.

Wherever you are in life ,may your backpack be light

Jan xxxxx





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