Unpacking Baggage

As recently as my trip to Greece, I was reminded that I carry too much baggage with me.022

As we departed Greece and sat in the airport in Munich, I was the one who was lugging a thirty-pound backpack carry-on.  The other few members of the group also with me in Germany were smarter travelers.  They had small totes and daypack excursion backpacks that I would guess only weighed a maximum of ten or fifteen pounds.  Why couldn’t I be that carefree?

At the end of the evening’s dancing the waiter at the restaurant Archodissa in the island of Thasos picked up my backpack and handed it to me.  You absolutely must visit if you get to travel to the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea!  He asked me, with the usual Greek charm, “Is this full of rocks?”  No, I wasn’t packing my bag full of rocks and pebbles from the marble quarry.  It was mostly full of things that I brought from home.  First, I packed my antiquated laptop that ended up only lasting two hours without battery power, so I was tethered to a power outlet most of the trip if I was ready to type up new works or edit poems.  After the laptop, I carried a notebook for scribbling on the go, two books I was reading for class, and a water bottle.   The rest was filled with who knows what.  It doesn’t sound heavy, but trust me, I felt like I was carrying a military issued backpack.  At the airport it hindered me the most.  I felt my back straining.

Fast forward to moving day into a new apartment the final week of October.  I packed all my books, keepsakes, and papers in boxes.  Putting solely my clothes in the master bedroom allowed me to realize that I have too much stuff.  Yet, the moving process was swift, and I only did a quick sort as I packed.  My boyfriend and I got rid of three large bags of clothes before the move.  Then, as moving day arrived suddenly, he simply packed all the remaining shoes and clothes into plastic totes and I packed my shoes and clothes into suitcases.

Once arriving at our new place, the first place that is ours together, we both realized we each had a lot of baggage.  The pile of suitcases taunted me for weeks.  I realized that I was getting along fine without even opening most of the suitcases.  I was not ready to handle my baggage.  To do so I would have to put some summer clothes into the back of the master bedroom closet that has a large storage area of three-foot tall steps.

Cue the closet’s florescent light to flicker and finally burn out.  A dark closet was a good excuse not to handle my baggage.  Tuesday my apartment’s maintenance man came over and replaced the light.  Excuses gone, I have to make progress.  It still is a process, because who wants to try on tank tops in the winter?  However, I am aware that the accumulation of clothes that I don’t wear taking up space doesn’t contribute to the flow of creativity.

Yesterday, my boyfriend hung the mirror above my dresser.  Baby steps.

My baggage won’t define me.  The action I take in this moment defines me.



I am constantly reminded of my blessings as I move into my new apartment.  I have a lot of things I was given as a gift for a special occasion, and I have a lot of things that came to me as a surprise and I loved just the same.  As I unpack I remember not only the time that I acquired the possession, but who gave it to me.  And unfortunately, some of the people who have passed on are the one who have passed on their belongings to me.

I just took the obligatory Thanksgiving Day nap.  This year I did have some turkey, so maybe it was the tryptophan, but I had a strange dream.   The very bed frame that I was just snoozing upon used to be at my paternal grandparents’ house.   The artwork I finally mounted to the wall in my new family room was my maternal family’s heirloom art.  It has always been in the front room of every one of my apartments.

In my dream I was in the same room with both of my grandmothers.  They each were sitting, the room was dimly lit, and I was there enjoying their company.  I turned to talk to my maternal grandmother and I said “I wish we had more time.”  True to her character, she smiled and nodded, showing off her infectious smile and the twinkle in her eyes behind thick glasses.  She said “We will.”  I was crying in the dream.  I leaned in to hug her, but it was as if she had already vanished.  Definitely, as I awakened I felt that I experienced a real “Our Town” moment.

I am grateful for all of my relatives, past and present.  There are too many names to list them all.  This year I am especially grateful for every person in my life that has supported me in my quests for love, health, education, and the continual pursuit of my writing goals.  Both of my grandmothers supported me best emotionally.  I am grateful that I did have time with each of them.  Just as my parents do, my grandmothers loved me unconditionally, and they truly understood me.

I am grateful for every memory that I have of my relatives.  The grandparents, aunts and uncles who are no longer here have left a lasting impact on my life.  The best presents I ever received for Christmas didn’t come in wrapping paper.  They all gave freely of their laughter, their hugs, their comedic wit, their stories of Christmases past, and their cooking.  They gave me love through our family gatherings.

I am grateful for the family gathering I attended today at my sister-in-law’s childhood home.

Family means feeling at home.  At my new place, I am feeling at home; I am hanging nails at the wall, and next spring I might even plant flowers in the dirt.

Family means roots that go back generations.  The angels who have left our company keep influencing the family story.

Back to the Present

Since my summer sojourn to foreign lands, I have adopted a new mantra: “Find joy in the present moment.” Also, I have been ambitious about balancing several goals and taking the actions needed to be successful.  I feel a renewed sense of motivation and aspiration.  I have landed a new job.  I have applied and been accepted into a new apartment residence.  I have opted to turn everything on its head.

Yet, I glance at my writing and see that I am still focused on the past.  All day long, I am living my mantra.  It is a challenge to stay in the moment.  I am finding joy.


Fall 2006 visit to the “Butler Institute of American Art” in Youngstown, Ohio 

            Today, I set myself in front of a blank screen and I write.  The time I spend lost in writing is my favorite part of the day.  Whether it is a blank page of my journal or a blank document on my computer, I relish sharing my voice onto the page.  I do my best to craft my inner thoughts down in a meaningful way.

Today, I enjoy speaking with parents, grandparents, and children of all ages at my job. I continue to learn new things every day on the job.  I walk a few miles at work during my shift.  My new job has me on my feet all day.  I enjoy the exercise that is easily built into my day.

Today, I make time for a nap.  Today, during my free time I relax.

Today, I make time to eat healthy meals.  My dinner includes salmon and salad.

Today, I speak to my boyfriend by a long-distance phone call.  We have lunch plans for tomorrow.  Soon, we will both live in the new apartment.

Today, I make time to enjoy Tahitian Vanilla Bean gelato and a lemon cookie.  Today, I splurge on some unhealthy desserts that are completely worth it!

Today, I set myself in front of a blank screen and I write.  I aim to meet my weekly Monday deadline to write a blog.  I am a writer.  I may be an unpaid amateur, but I don’t care.  Writing is what I love doing, and what I will continue doing, as long as my fingers can type or hold a pen.

Today, I enjoy the moments of the day.  I understand being free of worries.  My recent actions have helped me to start moving towards my future goals. I am in the process of packing my belongings and in five weeks I will be moving into a new apartment.

I am taking actions to meet my goals.  I am finding joy in every moment.  I am finding myself.

Back to the past: Time Traveling

Packing up my life in boxes is bittersweet.  First, it is a chore, the kind that you procrastinate about starting.  It’s not a simple task.

I am only six weeks away from my moving date.  Knowing that I have a moving date on my calendar is beyond comprehension; it feels real and surreal at the same time.

Looking back at the past I have textbooks from college, children’s books from when I was a pre-school teacher, and young adult books I read as a high school teacher to converse with my students about the latest literary releases.  I have books galore.  All of these are coming with me.

Boxes, Boxes, boxes.  You know the cardboard boxes that are never opened, but shuffled from one apartment to the next, filled with memories, notebooks from classes, and your writings.  You couldn’t bear to look through them, but you also couldn’t imagine getting rid of them.  Each of these boxes is part and parcel of who we are.


Symphony at Lakeside, Ohio


Ohio State Buckeyes football fall 2006

Shoeboxes full of relationship mementos.  Your relationship has endured so long that you have filled several boxes and you keep starting new ones.  Each box contains a few years of history.  Each box has mementos, concert tickets, wedding and baby shower invites, movie stubs, and one even contains the corsage from your high school senior prom.  Long distance love letters from college and birthday cards are in their own box.

More recently the box has obituaries, medical bracelets from your visits, and writings that are only partially written.  More recently, work intruded with your time with friends and dates with your boyfriend.  The dark clouds took up residence for too long.  Writing was the moment in the recent past where you triggered happiness back into your life.

Finally you have acquired international mementos from three trips to Europe, including your favorites which you would love to plan a return visit:  Switzerland and Greece.  A new box needs to be established as you move on to new chapters of your life.  God willing, more positivity will fill the next box.

But the childhood and college mementos are who we are.  That is the time in my life I knew who I was the best.  Before jobs and responsibilities divided our lives into scheduled moments I said “yes” to everything I had an interest in.  Freedom allowed that discovery.