Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trading Up

I woke my daughter early, & we hit the road at 7:00 am for the National Zoo.  We were advised to arrive early for the pandas' feeding & to see the animals best before the heat arrived - along with the crowds.

The morning flowed perfectly - no rush, no serious mom voice, no mini-tantrums, & most importantly, no traffic.  It was beautiful in its simplicity.

We only shared the park with joggers & power walkers as we ambled to the panda habitat.  The sun was not yet beating down relentlessly, & the weather was just right.

The pandas sat, unaffected by the onlookers, munching on their bamboo breakfast.  

The day continued seamlessly & drama free as we made our way from one environment to another.  Periodically, my daughter would grab my hand as we walked & looked at me with a contented smile.  My eyes clicked mental pictures of that peaceful expression as I smiled in reply.

*  *  *  *  *

After lunch, we began our journey home, but midway I had to stop to hand off something I sold online.  It was a quick transaction at an agreed upon gas station along the way.  The guy handed me the $30, & I gladly passed along some old picture frames I purged recently.  

*  *  *  *  *

Then it hit me -  a light bulb moment.

I spent about $35 for the zoo & lunch, & I received $30 for my old stuff - money out, money in.

I grinned as I thought 'That's awesome.  It was almost an even trade for the day.'  I quickly course corrected my own realization though.

My useless clutter became money which afforded us a priceless day together.

Truthfully, 'I traded up.'  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Excess Baggage (Lessons From My Carry On)

My husband and I sat patiently waiting for our ferry to dock.  We were returning to our beloved Italy for a dream trip to Lake Como, the Cinque Terre, & Turin.  This was the last leg of our long journey to our first destination, the quaint town of Como.

It was a bumpy adventure over the previous 12 hours.  We experienced a delayed flight and cliched mad dash through Heathrow.  And now, here we sat, exhausted, on a boat - in the rain.

As often happens, we chatted with a young couple who, as it turns out, were on their honeymoon.  They were sweet and friendly as are most fellow travelers.  However, I took notice to their train of luggage.  Each sported a cross-body bag, a medium carry-on with wheels, & a large suitcase.

I could see the envy in their eyes - that look of regret.  The new bride asked me haltingly, "That's... all... you have?"  She referred to our lack of baggage.

We smiled knowingly and answered, "Yes."

*  *  *  *  *

I get this reaction often.

I have traveled a multitude of places for many days at a time simply with a carry on bag - my 1996 green, high school Jansport backpack to be exact.

I can pack a few mix & match pieces, my toiletries, and up to two pair of shoes.  Of course, laundry detergent is helpful to recycle said outfits.  From this bag I have seen the most magnificent sights, enjoyed amazing experiences, & hopped freely from one setting to another.

I can easily slip through crowds, stow away quickly on flights, exit the airport without delay, squeeze onto public transit, keep sight of my belongings, and hike to my destinations if necessary.  When I locate my lodging, I drop my bag & slip out to my next adventure - untethered.

Not only is it convenient, I've received compliments on my attire.  I feel secure that I pick my best, most flattering, pieces to be among the few.

*  *  *  *  *

This begs the question...

If I've had some of the most incredible moments of my life subsisting via this precious backpack, then why must I live my daily life out of 100 bulky pieces of luggage?

My baggage does not make my trip, & my belongings do not make my life - my experiences do.  

While some are busy packing for 'what if', I'm already out the door finding the answer.