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The Crazy Lady's Corner: Behind the Scenes of Traveling with The Crazy Lady

When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?” Here's what she said to me

Que sera, sera

Whatever will be, will be

The future's not ours to see

Que sera, sera

What will be, will be

Actually, the words to this old Doris Day song are only partially true when they comes to my life. It’s true when I was little, I talked to my Mom a lot about what I would be when I grew up and tried to imagine exactly what my life would be like.

Where my life takes a sharp detour from the song is that there wasn’t anything “que sera sera” about my answers. Being born a control freak, the thought “whatever will be will be” never entered into my thought patterns. I’m not exactly what I’d call “easy going”

As a minister who spends a lot of time travelling, my need for control can often be a problem. Over the past few years I’ve learned that things RARELY go exactly as planned. On the bright side, the behind the scenes chaos does produce a lot of good fodder for The Crazy Lady’s Corner.

For instance…..

It was one of the last trips of the Mantour Season. (For anyone who doesn’t know, “Mantour Ministries” is my brother’s ministry. Through most of the winter and spring, we spend our weekends on the road bringing Men’s Ministry events all over Pennsylvania & Delaware.)

Despite any visions of grandeur, I may have envisioned of what it meant to be a travelling minister earlier life, the reality is that my job at these events is not very grand. No, I’m mostly in charge of packing.

First, on Monday, I pack all of our clothes and every other personal item we could possibly need while we are travelling. Those who travel with us know that this list includes sheets, towels, blankets, pillows, my own soap, shampoo, hairdryer, drinking water, food, a hot water bottle, and anything else we could possibly need for a 48 trip (or to move across country).

Then on Tuesday, I pack up everything we’ll need for the event. Since we had a travelling Men’s Ministry exhibit this year, this included about 4 suitcases full of materials plus a few boxes. (When we weren’t actually on the road, my house looked like a storage unit, and there wasn’t anything que sara sara about my attitude then!)

On Thursday, I would usually go to the chiropractor (from lifting the boxes and all the packing)

Then on Friday, we’d load up the car and drive and drive and drive to wherever we were going so we could unload the car, unpack the boxes and suitcases and set up for a Mantour Conference.

Then we’d go back to the hotel and sleep---glamorous isn’t it????

On Saturday morning, I’d get up at the crack of dawn to get dressed and repack all of the things I brought into the hotel a few hours before. Because I over-pack, this is a really big job which requires me to get up a lot earlier than I would if we were weren’t trying to check out before the event. Then begins the procession of carrying all of my luggage from the hotel room to the car and reloading the trunk before heading off to the Mantour Conference. (Most of the time this involved several trips from the room to the car because I bring soooo much stuff)

Then after the conference I tear down the exhibits and repack everything to go home.

Once we are back home, I take everything out of the suitcases, do the laundry, sort through everything and start process all over again.

After 4 months of this---I’m pretty sure that I should have a honorary PH D in packing.

I was also REALLY sick of it!

That’s why I decided (on our last Mantour of the year) that I was going to stop being the Crazy Lady when it came to packing. I was going to stop obsessively over-packing and only take along the things that were ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. (I was also feeling really embarrassed after we’d just come back from a trip where many of our colleagues saw how many suitcases I brought and made comments about it. Let’s just say that their ridicule was initiating my reform)

So this was it---I was going to adjust my attitude.

No more obsessing. No more planning for every contingency. No more needing a baggage cart to get all of my supplies into a hotel for a one night stay.

I was going to reform!!! Que sara sara---here I come!

AND I actually did it.

For the first time ever, I only took what I really needed on the trip. (Because of my allergies, this was still significantly more than the average traveler, but for me, this was a HUGE cutback! Doris Day would have been so proud!)

That night as we carried our luggage into our room for the night, I knew I’d turned a corner. (After all, it only took 1 trip to get everything into the room YIPPEE!!!)

After driving 5 hours to get to our destination and then spending several more hours setting up the exhibit, both my brother and I were ready for an exciting night of watching t.v. before falling asleep. (Seriously, exciting, right???)

Then it happened---Catastrophe.

Because of my allergies to various soaps, I always bring our own soap and shampoo from home when we travel. For some reason, one of the bottles of shampoo came open inside of the suitcase, spilled through it’s protective plastic bag and covered almost everything in the suitcase.

What a mess!!! Blue AXE shampoo everywhere!!

Now remember---I’d cut back—everything we had with us was in one suitcase.

Everything in the suitcase was covered in blue shampoo.

Still trying to maintain my “que sara sara” attitude, I tried to calmly address the situation. I began by trying to find ANYTHING that hadn’t been baptized in blue.

It quickly became apparent that this was going to be small pile. Thankfully, both our undergarments and pajamas (which were on the bottom of the suitcase) survived. That was about it.

The rest of our clothes---covered in shampoo.

The blanket I brought from home---Blue

All of our toiletries and my towels---Covered in soap.

It was so bad we actually had to use the scissors I packed to cut part of the lining out of the suitcase. (Looking back, I’m wondering why scissors made the “absolutely necessary” cut, but I’m glad they did.)

After separating the very small pile of articles that survived unscathed, we started to clean up the mess. (Although “clean up” isn’t exactly the right word for what we did. A more accurate phrase would be “spread the mess all over the room.”)

You see, the problem was soap. What happens to soap when it becomes wet?

That’s right, it becomes soap suds.

So now, not only were most of our things covered in blue soap, but most of the towels that the hotel provided were now covered in blue soap.

Realizing that the only clothes we had that weren’t covered in soap were the dirty, stinky clothes we were wearing (it was a hot day and we’d just worked really hard setting up a display with no air conditioning), we began trying to wash the soap out of our clothes.

Yep, you guessed it---it just created a bigger mess.

Now the bathroom sink is filled with soap suds, the soap isn’t leaving the clothes, and oh yeah---now our clothes are sopping wet. What was I thinking? These clothes weren’t going to dry by the next morning. Even if they did, the soap stains were SOOOO obvious.

It was in the middle of the great “rinsing session” that a light went off in my head.


It was my brother’s soap that spilled and I had no idea what was in it.

Without thinking, I’d just spent the past 30 minutes washing, wiping, and rinsing. I was up to my elbows in blue soap suds!! Quickly, we read the bottle and ascertained that it was mostly chemicals, so I shouldn’t get too sick in the stomach. Still, we being so far from home, I knew I had to be careful so we stopped cleaning up, and decided to just go with it.

Everything that was covered in shampoo could go back in the shampoo filled suitcase, and we’d deal with the mess when we got home. I did my best to get the shampoo off of my skin, and called it a night.

What else could we do---que sara sara. (Okay, it didn’t exactly happen that way. Instead, we got on Facebook and made sarcastic posts about our mess and the glories of living the dream.) Then we called it a day and went to sleep.

One good thing---I didn’t have a lot of clean up or packing to do the next morning.

That’s the bright side---the downside was that my only clothing options were the dirty pants I wore the day before and the choice between a clean shirt that didn’t match the pants (which was only available because I had second thoughts about the minimal packing at the very last minute and threw an extra shirt in the car) or yesterday’s dirty shirt that didn’t smell too good.

I chose not to match. (It's one thing to look bad---smelling bad is a whole other story!)

Of course, the clean shirt did match one thing---the bright pink hues were a perfect match for my eyes.

Yes, it’s true. Overnight my eyes had a reaction to the shampoo. When I woke up and looked in the mirror I said, “Jamie, I have pink eye.” Of course, I didn’t really have pink eye (although it looked like it). It was just an allergic reaction to the shampoo.

Yes, I was looking quite attractive heading off to a ministry event wearing dirty clothes that didn’t match and looking like I had a contagious eye disease. My brother on the other hand, decided to wear the soap covered clothes and hope for the best. (It's a good thing it didn't rain, or I swear he would have been leaving a trail of soap suds behind him.)

One thing I did learn is that the whole que sara sara attitude doesn’t work for me.

I like being over-prepared. Even if it looks ridiculous travelling with so much luggage, it works for me.

What doesn’t work for me is trying to be relaxed and wearing dirty, smelly clothes, having allergic reactions, or brushing my teeth with Sprite soda. (A different story from the time I forgot to pack my water and couldn’t risk getting sick from drinking city water. BTW, Sprite and toothpaste don’t mix well)

Doris Day is just going to have to accept that I’m a planning freak.

And I’m going to have to learn that liquids soaps and shampoos don’t belong in a suitcase.

Maybe I’ve still got some things to learn about packing. The good thing is that I think I’ll get lots of practice.

Here’s my Facebook post from the Monday after our trip:

Starting the process of double washing all of our clothes after the shampoo incident this weekend. First time---remove the shampoo. Second time, actually wash the clothes. Then, to figure out how to clean the suitcase.

Maybe I should have ended with que sara sara.

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