Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

It is time for our annual administrative retreat, wherein we disappear into the woods for a few days and hopefully come out refreshed, reinvigorated, and clearly focused on the goals and plans for the year ahead.

Packing for the trip yesterday, I was chagrined out how ill-equipped my biggest bag was for the task at hand.   For, a week in the woods needs to include things like sleeping bags and multiple changes of clothes…  and, if you’re my company, a costume for the annual themed-party.   I was horrified as I saw the bag grow perilously stuffed before I had even begun to ponder shoes or toiletries—and then I realized that I had actually forgotten to account for an entire day.

The end result was a busting-at-the-seams-will-it-make-it-to-New-York sack of ridiculous.   I had to leave behind the pack of buckets and shovels I was planning to use for a workshop.  And don’t get me started on the props and costume pieces that just couldn’t make the trip.   Sacrifices had to be made.

Something tells me that my bag might perhaps (and only in the remotest possible way, of course) just slightly resemble my life.

Minus the costumes and buckets, though those certainly play a hearty role in my day to day—both at work and at play—but minus even those, the idea of “stuffing” my life to the gills and over-preparing for every eventuality (while forgetting sometimes the most base of basics—like sunscreen!  Hello!!  And a towel! What?!)… well that rings a bit familiar.    Ask anyone who’s ever seen my purse.   Or my car snack bucket.   Or my office inspiration board.   Or…   well, I think we have enough examples.  Let’s just say I perhaps overdo it in more ways than just my most recent suitcase debacle.   Because I definitely take a “why-have-just-one-when-you-can-have-three?” approach to most things, and that translates into a “why-stop-at-a-9-to-5-work-day-when-you-can-also-volunteer-to-bring-the-cupcakes-to-the-school-party-and-say-yes-to-the-community-fundraiser” kind of mindset.

It’s a life overstuffed.

And while I LOVE my overstuffed car and bulletin board and suitcase and schedule and life, I also recognize that overstuffed can sometimes end up busting at the seams.  Overstuffed can sometimes collapse at the weight of itself.   Overstuffed, by definition, means that there is no empty space left.  And no empty space means no time, except when sleeping, for rest.  For contemplation.  For expansion.

So maybe I didn’t need that fourth “just in case” shirt in my suitcase for this retreat.   And maybe I don’t need five varieties of crackers in my car.  And maybe I can sometimes say “no” to an event or opportunity even when the only thing currently on my schedule is… well… nothing.   Maybe I can keep a little nothing in my life and allow some “understuffed” time to help balance the overstuffed.

What part of your overstuffed life could you unpack a bit today?  


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.   Find all her previous blog posts at www.tlpnyc.com/author/erika

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.