The Challenge of Packing Light

suitcase

I’m about to leave on another one week adventure and as always, I’m conflicted.  I envy travelers who pack lightly, can fit everything in carry on luggage, and still seem to have everything they need.

Perhaps the secret to packing light is to not need so much.  When packing, I check the weather at my destination – and then I prepare for all kinds of weather.  If the forecast is 85 degrees and sunny, I pack an umbrella to be prepared for anything. And maybe a sweater or two in case the nights are cool. Darn my Girl Scout past.

With one more day till I need to fill the suitcase, I will again attempt to curtail the clutter that is intended for the suitcase.  My intent is to look at everything I have laid out for the trip and then put half back in the closet.  I’ve been searching the internet for packing tips and that seems like good advice.

This is a casual trip, so no dressy clothes are necessary. Make up, hair products, and lotions are in small travel containers. I’ve done my research and this should be easy, right?

I’ll get back to you on that.

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Tallahassee Rails to Trails Bridge

tallyrailstotrails

What a find! A new trail over the CSX railroad tracks between Tallahassee’s Lafayette Heritage Trail Park and Leon County’s J R Alford Greenway. 

The canopy bridge rises up about 40 feet over the tracks and we were lucky enough to see (and feel) a train pass while on the bridge. This is a beautiful walk in the tree tops that meanders a bit before taking the traveler back down to solid ground on the other side, well beyond the tracks.

 

Lourdes, Lily Pads, and RA

lourdes

For hours at a time, I would sit across the river from the shrine in Lourdes, enjoying the shade trees and listening to the flow of the water.

You know those sudden moments of clarity when something pops back into your awareness and you realize you’ve drifted off course?

A counselor by profession, I’ve been trained in meditation, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques. And I’ve failed to apply those very techniques to my own struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

I’ve recently begun Orencia (Abatacept) infusions, still seeking relief from severe RA symptoms. Methotrexate and Humira failed me after a somewhat bumpy course of treatment.  Onward to another type of biologic, Orencia.

Because the Orencia acts on a different type of cell, in a different part of the inflammation process, I have become hopeful once again that my inflammation will be eased – along with my joint pain and stiffness.

lily pad

All my relaxation techniques seem to involve water in some way!

Back to the guided imagery  It involves much more than the mind. It engages the mind, body, emotions, and all the senses.  During my grad school years, there was a professor who would capture our attention with short, pithy sayings he called DERT (Dave’s Eternal Rules of Therapy).  One of his favorite DERTs  (yes, his name was Dave) was “Everything’s connected to everything else.”

Back then I practiced all kinds of visualization and relaxation techniques. Mostly just to manage everything I needed to do to get through graduate school.  But those techniques were helpful. I suddenly realized that those same techniques would be valuable right now.  And so, my moment of clarity.

Of course, not all of the pain and exhaustion experienced by those of use with chronic illness are directly related to the amount of stress in our lives.  But if everything is connected to everything else – and I think it is – then imagery will help to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and give us the energy we need to bear the pain and move on with what we need to do.

I’m attempting to recapture the feeling of peace and safety that I found while on a vacation to Lourdes, France.  It was my mental go-to place for my guided imagery ten years ago. Wondering if it’s still possible to feel that connection again. I hope so.

I’m interested in hearing how helpful relaxation techniques of any kind have been to others who suffer from chronic illness.