by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

The day had finally arrived. I could hardly believe it. There I was — excitedly sitting on an airplane soon to be heading to Italy. And I was equally excited that one of the movies I was going to watch in-flight was “Up in the Air.” It was one of those movies I wanted to see but didn’t when it was in movie theaters. But perhaps it was more appropriate to see a movie with such a title when one was indeed up in the air!

I’ve been pondering some of the thought-provoking lines from the movie such as when George Clooney is giving his “What’s in your back-pack?” workshops. He explains how “we weigh ourselves down” in many needless ways and asks the question, “How much does your life weigh?”

I had been feeling weighed down with many worries and responsibilities before heading to Italy. And I must admit that while sitting on that airplane, I was already feeling lighter.

I had to come to the conclusion before I left that the same Father-Mother God who was going to take care of me on this trip was going to be taking good care of all my loved ones at home. I had to realize that they each had a direct link to God and didn’t require me to be their negotiator or mediator. And I had to relinquish my self-proclaimed ownership of various responsibilities and any opinion that I was the only one who could take charge of them.

My travel companions had advised me to check only one piece of luggage. This was to make for an easier walk from the parking lot to our place of lodging in Italy. I soon understood why one suitcase was important. The walk from our car was a long one — and very steep and downhill on uneven cobblestones! I’m still amazed at how my luggage wheels survived.

It was an incredible feat for me to check one suitcase, however. I had never done this before, and it required a lot of downsizing of hair products and precise packing of clothes and shoes. I guess anything is indeed possible when one really wants or needs to do that something!

This brings me to another surprising accomplishment. I bought both my daughter and myself an Italian-made purse. The only problem with this lovely gift is that it again required some major downsizing by us both. However, in making the purse switch, we were equally amazed to realize how much we often carry around that isn’t necessary. And again, I was impressed to learn what can be done when we really want to do it.

Who wouldn’t want to lighten their load and lead a calmer life? Such was the bigger question that loomed over me as I traveled to Italy.

Reportedly, overpacking is the biggest travel mistake as well as the biggest life mistake we all make at times. Our life need not be backbreaking. Carrying around unnecessary burdens, fears and worries — especially those that belong to others — throws us off balance. But the main point for me was realizing how much is really unnecessary, pointless, serves no good purpose, and accomplishes nothing good for anyone. So why do we do it?

I’ve found it helpful to remember the Bible Scripture, “…the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15) when I try to assert my personal responsibility for making life work just so for me and anyone else.

My goal — another lesson learned from my trip to Italy — is to lighten my load for the rest of my life. I can already feel myself shifting from overwhelmed to efficient and have experienced more productive peace-filled days. And remarkably enough, I’m seeing that others can take care of their own lives just fine with God at their helm instead of me.

So my friends, clean out, disencumber, unburden, unload, reduce your backpack, your purse , your wallet — your life — of everything that isn’t yours or necessary. You’ll be surprised at how much less you can get by with. And your life will feel weightless!