Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage
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Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2013
|Dimensions: 8 X 5.25 X .56 (inches)|
Availability: Expected to ship on or about 07/15/15.
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What do you need to leave behind?
When I was in college, I figured my life would come together around graduation. I'd meet a guy; we'd plan a beautiful wedding and buy a nice house-not necessarily with a picket fence, but with whatever kind of fence we wanted. I might work, or I might not, but whatever we decided, I would be happy.
When I got out of college and my life didn't look like that, I floundered around, trying to figure out how to get the life I had always dreamed of. I went down so many different paths for it. Career. Travel. Friends. Relationships. But none of them were as satisfying as I hoped they would be.
Like many twenty-somethings, I tried desperately to discover the life of my dreams after college, but instead of finding it, I just kept accumulating baggage. I had school loans, car payments, electronics I couldn't afford, a house full of mismatched furniture I didn't love but that had become my own, hurt from broken relationships, and unmet expectations for what life was "supposed to be" like.
Just when I had given up all hope of finding the "life I'd always dreamed about," I decided to take a trip to all fifty states...because when you go on a trip, you can't take your baggage. What I found was that "packing light" wasn't as easy as I thought it was.
This is the story of that trip and learning to live life with less baggage.
"At 26, Allison Vesterfelt had a graduate degree and a job, but she felt like something was missing from what was supposed to be the climax of her life. So she gave up everything and embarked on a six-month cross-country road trip. In Packing Light, Vesterfelt, now an editor at Prodigal Magazine, tells her story in a beautiful, honest memoir that challenges us to reconsider what baggage we are carrying and what we need to leave behind." - Relevant Magazine. Relevant Recommends: Books. Issue 66.
LucieFloridaAge: 45-54Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Two Girls, Fifty States, and a SubaruSeptember 11, 2013LucieFloridaAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4In a refreshingly down to earth manner that makes readers feel as if they're chatting with her in a coffee shop, Ally tells how, at the urging of her musician friend Sharaya Mikael, she gave up her comfortable yet routine, missing-something-life as a teacher in Portland, Oregon to embark with Sharaya on a six-month, 50-state road trip, writing and playing music for funds, staying with friends and friends of friends. Because, you see, yet another friend had asked her the question so beloved by life coaches: "What would you do with your life if you didn't have to worry about money?"
Ally's response: "I would drive across the country and write a book about it." A nice but completely unrealistic thought, she adds.
Of precisely such unrealistic thoughts are books sometimes born.
Now I'll admit to being just a bit envious at first when I read how Ally was convinced to take the plunge, simply because I was pretty darn sure I'd never have the nerve. Two women alone, with limited funds, reliant at times on the kindness of strangers, not always knowing where or even if they would find a bed for the night, not to mention a meal? Let me get back to you on that.
From the obligatory visit to Mt. Rushmore (something of a letdown) to their first attempt at busking when funds are low and bookings non-existent (at least for several days), the journey is exhausting, exhilarating, frightening and frustrating. Inhibitions and possessions are jettisoned along the way. So is a budding relationship. A devout Christian, at times Ally sees direct examples of God's provision and confirmation of what she believes she was created to do, while at others she longs to cry out that she is nothing but a fake, wondering how she can possibly go on blogging about the joys of "packing light" when letting go seems only to leave her empty-handed. And as her journey nears its close, she struggles with what to call herself - teacher? Road manager? Publicist? - as well as the eternal question of "What next?"
All of us carry baggage of some sort. Some of it is necessary, some not. Learning to tell the difference is another matter. As Ally asks at one point: "Are there some things in life we should never let go of? Is learning to let go as important as learning to hold on? How do we know when to do which?"
Perhaps the most valuable lesson I took from her book was simply the nudge to ask these questions in the first place.
I've enjoyed Allison's voice for over two years now, first in her blog as twenty-something-single Ally Spotts exploring dating and relationships, then, following her marriage to writer Darrell Vesterfelt (whom she met via that very blog), through her work as co-editor of Prodigal magazine. More than 20 years my junior, she's had much to teach me. I expected the honest, vulnerable and insightful voice of her blog to ring just as true in this book - and I was not disappointed.
TrinaSutherlin, ORGender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Challenged and ChangedSeptember 11, 2013TrinaSutherlin, ORGender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4Although 'Packing Light' is a quick read, Allison Vesterfelt will leave you challenged and changed, never to look at your "stuff" in the same way again.
With an engaging writing style and great use of foreshadowing, you'll feel as if you're in the backseat of Ally and her friend's Subara on their fifty-state road trip, not once asking, "Are we there yet?" Along the way, Ally asks more questions than gives answers and unpacks the seemingly simple story of the "rich young ruler," revealing the layers of baggage we are all carrying. While thoughtfully written, at times 'Packing Light' may be too carefully pinned together, the rough edges too sanded down.
'Packing Light' is a good read. And I'm looking forward to seeing where Ally takes us next.
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