Notes from Jan

On Backpacks and Baggage

May 12, 2021

My purse landed with a thud beside Martha. We met to breakfast at the Ipswich Inn, where bacon’s crispy and plump blueberries sweeten pancakes.

Martha asked, “So what’s in there?” The there referred to my purse not my brain, hopefully. It set me wondering what I’d brought along and how much of it really needed to be lugged around. While I puzzled, Martha asked, “Have you noticed the Queen always carries a handbag? Did you ever wonder why? ” Well, yes and no.

So, yesterday, I watched Queen Elizabeth address the opening of Parliament for her 67th time. She looked Spring-like in lilac hued hat and ensemble. But, predictably, carried a black purse, as out of place as anything usual can be. So I wondered,”What’s in there?” Secret codes? Keys? credit cards? mints? a handkerchief? photos of grands? a cough drop?

Well, who knows, but it made me wonder what do I carry around that puzzles others or weighs me down? I tend to travel heavy. Jud tried. Me, too, but the “what if this or that happens” nudges me to add to the tonnage I tote. Well, Dean Robert suggested weeks back that we take a backpack on life’s journey, and choose daily what to take along. It’s freeing, so I’ve heard.

Since I’m aware I’m on last laps and long to finish well, whatever that means or looks like, I need to lighten my load and take only what really matters. Thoreau wrote, “Even the elephant carries but a small trunk on his journey. The perfection of traveling is to travel without baggage.”

Well, today’s as good a day as any to begin assessing what’s baggage to my body, mind, spirit or others? And to finally toss that just-in-case -fuzzy- cough- drop from my purse.


Now what, Jesus?

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  • Reply Sue Andringa May 12, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    I need to do that too, Jan ! Thanks for the encouragement … 🙂

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks for reading, Sweet Sue. Always happy to see your name pop-up. Happy you have the Eatons as neighbors.

  • Reply Wendy May 12, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Great reminder to be always trying to get rid of any baggage in our lives – be it physical, emotional, spiritual or other. And you remind us in such a fun way 🙂 Much love dear Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      And much love to you and Steve, dear Wendy.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy May 12, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    One thought to add to your brilliant writing….
    Long ago I watched, with quiet reverence, the movie, “The Mission”. Weary mystics were trying to climb the side of a huge waterfall (if I remember correctly). Their leader saw that the men were struggling with heavy-laden backpacks. “You’ll never get to the top while carrying those backpacks.” In their sudden, newly found reverence…..they dropped them off their aching backs while watching them plummet into the rapid falls.
    I have never forgotten that word picture as I will also remember yours.
    But can I please have 1 English Butterscotch button at the bottom of my purse?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:38 pm

      More than once, my Mama dug into her purse for a fuzzy peppermint Lifesaver. Anything to shut me up in church. Great movie, by the way..

  • Reply Donna C. Cecere May 12, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Jan, I guess I’m rounding up to 80 as I turn 76 in June and feel I should carry less baggage but it seems I need to pack more stuff
    as an older purse that just doesn’t go into a tiny “Queen Elizabeth” purse. On mother’s day, I actually carried an extra bag to my son’s
    home in Pepperell, as having just got back from Fl. I didn’t know how to dress. It seemed that my roots of being a New Englander proved
    true as the weather turned cool and that jacket came in handy and kicking off those flip flops into nice fleecy sleepers that I had
    packed was needed. I hear you on beginning to lighten the load as I look around the house and know that my grown children are
    never ever going to want the china dishes, crystal glasses, knick-knacks, etc. Love your blog

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks, dear Donna. I get it. More than once I’ve added a tote to take along with my purse. One never knows….

  • Reply Kristina Harter May 12, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    Helpful to read this at the end of the day that feels heavy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:43 pm

      A special gift to see your name appear, dearest Kristina. I’m grateful to have helped lift some of the load from a heavy day. for you. Those days come but they also go, thankfully.

  • Reply dale May 12, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Well, you have destroyed another myth in my fantasy life. I want to think of baggage as things in the past that I don’t need and luggage as things I “might” need, since you never know! Can you grant me some grace here as I just started rejoicing that Delta now allows me 70 and not 50lbs. I love your insights; most of the time, unless they apply to me. 🙂

    Love, Dale

  • Reply Jan Carlberg May 12, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Whatever my grace is worth, you’ve got it. Remember, I’m the one who sits on suitcases to help them shut. I’m also the one who gets to the airport, sees I’m over the weight limit(not personally), opens my suitcase and proceeds to remove items, then layer them on, check my barely legal bag, then waddle off like a penguin to my gate. Are we still friends?!

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe May 13, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    Jan, your post helped me realize that I carry the most baggage when I’m on on guilt trips. Time to lighten that load, too!

    So appreciate your visits when you pop into my inbox (see how trim you are that you manage to do that?)


    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 14, 2021 at 10:57 am

      Too true, Maggie. Guilt trips are costly to body, mind and spirit.Thank you for adding your wisdom and wit to this post.

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