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Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage: A Review & Book Giveaway!

“What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to worry about money?” It’s a common question, usually one people ask on first dates or during lively conversations with friends. Everybody has something: a dream, an ideal, an alternative to the nine-to-five.

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Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage

Allison Fallon answers that question candidly one night while talking with a friend, telling her she’d embark on a 50-state road trip and write a book about the adventure. But instead of answering a meaningless what if question, Ally inadvertently plants a seed in her friend Sharaya’s heart. Sharaya jumps at the chance to take the trip with Ally, performing as a singer to make ends meet while Ally writes.

They both quickly discover it’s not easy to pack light for a six-month road trip.

“I wonder if this is why packing light scares us so much,” Ally writes, “because we aren’t sure we’ll get exactly what we want. We’re scared to choose anything — a school, a job, a spouse — because choosing one thing means letting go of several others.”

The memoir details their routes, experiences, and ways of life along the open road. They dance with bikers in Deadwood, South Dakota, run an early morning marathon in New York City, and eat quinoa and crackers out of Tupperware containers while camping in the mountains. And when Ally’s Subaru breaks down in the middle of Wyoming, they learn how to let go of baggage that, when it comes down to it, is burdensome and unnecessary.

Amid their jaunts and adventures, it seems like the only true constants are their respective callings: Sharaya’s music and Ally’s writing. And even though these things sustain them on the road, they’re not immune to the doubt and insecurity that often accompany our hearts’ deepest desires.

Though the stories Ally shares are interesting, the trip itself is only the backdrop to the larger focus of the story, which is the spiritual growth she experiences along the way. She gives up a very comfortable — albeit predictable — life in search of something she feels is missing. As a result, her relationship with God is stretched wider and deeper than ever.

“I thought I was making it better by keeping it to myself,” she writes. “But even unspoken baggage is heavy. There is no way to save people from it, to save ourselves from it. Keeping it quiet just makes it heavier.”

Her experiences, as well as her own writing, searching, and praying, repeatedly draw her out of the safety of physical and mental routine, compelling her to think about life from a different perspective. Sometimes it’s frustration that causes her to question God; sometimes desperation pulls her even closer to him. And even her unmet expectations help her adopt new perspectives on disappointing situations.

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“So many times in my life had I gone into a situation with expectations about how it was going to be,” she muses, “expectations that later left me disappointed. Maybe what I needed wasn’t fewer expectations, or lower expectations, but the ability to adjust them in the middle of my trip.”

Perhaps the most important question to ask when reading (or writing) a memoir is, “Why does this matter?” On a personal note, so much of Ally’s story is deeply familiar: the reliance on comfort coupled with the desire to travel and write; the initial resistance and doubt she faces in the wake of big decisions; the stinging hopelessness she feels at the hands of heartbreak; and the insecurity she battles as she wades through relationships and watches others around her. But what is perhaps the most relatable is her relationship with God in all of it. Some days her spirit sighs with the utmost frustration — she just wants to understand Him and the life he has given her — whereas other days are vibrant with the satisfaction she feels as His daughter.

Luckily Ally opts for pure honesty in telling her story. She doesn’t censor her experiences for fear of offending those within the church. Instead, she tells it like it is, fully aware of her imperfections and shortcomings. Though she doesn’t have all the answers — and freely admits to this — she does know her place in her own story, and now she willingly shares her journey with us in hopes that we will drop our baggage and grow, too.

Click here to order the book on Amazon.

**What is one thing you have let go of in favor of packing light? Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Packing Light! Be sure to include an email address where I can reach you.**

3 comments

  1. Meghan B.

    Reblogged this on The Practical Poet and commented:

    My review of “Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage” originally published on missmeghanbliss.wordpress.com.

  2. Maryanne

    This book definitely sounds pretty interesting, even though I’m not one for memoirs generally…but to answer your question on something I would have to let go of to pack light, I think it would be my need to know exactly what’s going to happen and when as well as my tendency to worry. Jon comments constantly on my need to plan everything to the last detail and the fact that I then worry about it constantly until we finish whatever was planned. While I think it’s a good thing to plan and worry I know that it also holds me back from sometimes fully experiencing life. The constant worry of things not going according to plan plagues me…even in my dreams. You’d think that being a teacher I’d have learned to go with the flow…

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Let me know what you think.