One Small Carry On

dreamstime_s_23213484 I recently flew to Chevy Chase to visit my granddaughter, Calla.  Prior to take off, a flight attendant announced that passengers were  “…permitted a carry-on bag and one small personal item which can fit neatly under the seat…” I, a seasoned traveller, was familiar with the script and had already stowed my regulation-sized carry-on in the overhead bin, and after removing my iPad, stored my small personal item under my seat.

Across the isle a woman was sweating profusely as she tried to jam her large bag in the overhead bin.   The flight attendant tried several ways to convince the traveler to check her bag. The traveler’s “punishment” for trying to sneak the larger bag on board was that her bag would  be checked all the way to the dreaded baggage claim. The woman argued that it should be gate checked, saving her time upon arrival, but this was a battle the flight attendant would win. The passenger carried on about the declining customer service trend throughout the airlines industry, the poor design of the planes, and whatever else she could think of, but to no avail.  Her bag was tagged for baggage claim. The irony here is that the traveler’s apparent over-reaction to the incident, was likely tied to another kind of baggage, her “emotional baggage (EB).”

Emotional baggage is the negative stuff we just can’t let go of. It is that stuff that lingers and continues to bother us and haunt us, things we keep going over and over in our heads, never resolving.   We all have it.   I am  sure that those of us who are truly happy have the least amount of emotional baggage. What we have could fit in a small carry-on bag.

Those of us who have a large suitcase of EB, continue to apply it to our present life, allowing it to cloud our judgement, and make poor decisions. We far too easily recall what our mothers did to make our lives difficult, or what our former husband did that was unfair.  The more we talk about what wasn’t good and allow that to interfere in our being at our personal best,  the bigger the piece of luggage. The bigger the luggage, the more difficult it is for us to travel about our world with ease, to find real happiness.

Somehow those of us with the least amount of EB found a way to “move on”, to forgive, to learn from the experience, and put that old stuff behind us.  I will put myself in the “small carry on  EB category”. I often story tell about a negative experience from my childhood or early adulthood, but it is usually to indicate how I have changed my life so that does not reoccur.  My parents were good parents, they did what they could with what they had.  What I loved about their parenting (worth ethic, organized home, emphasis on education) I made sure I  brought into my life as I was raising a family.  What I did not like (lack of physical touching, never saying “I love you, prejudice”) I made a conscious effort to change so as to create our world as I thought it should be.

Even in women with High SUCCESSTROGEN who have only a small carry on bag of emotional stuff, occasionally the EB expands because something has  shifted and caused pain, confusion, and disappointment.  While that happened recently to me,  fearing I would need to go to a larger bag for storage, I developed a strategy:  I allowed myself three days of sadness and feeling sorry for myself, and then literally drafted a plan to move on with NO ANGER, NO BLAMING. As a matter of fact I will work hard to redesign this incredible friendship that is too important  to discard.

Check your emotional baggage. Does it fit in a small carry on bag? Good,  keep it that way. But do you have to sit on the carry on to zip it closed?  Then it is getting out of control,  sort out what you can “leave home”–keep the bag as light as you can.

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