What’s (Not) In My Bag

With summer winding down, the days growing shorter and the nights crisper, this  seemed like as good a time as any to start thinking about my Fall handbag.

Like many of my fellow Philofaxers, my interest obsession lies not only with planners, but also with handbags.  As in, the entire closet of my home office is filled with them.

Yes, I said filled.

While I have a precious few the likes of Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada, the winters here in Massachusetts can be nasty, salty and long so I tend toward the good ol’ work horse of Coach when summer wanes.

Black Coach.

You may ask (and many have), “How many black handbags does one woman need?” The answer?  All of them.

This mentality is going to fly in the face of what I am about to say next but hey, I never promised to make any sense.

Normally, I am one who carries a large bag packed to the back-breaking gills with…um…everything.  Should I be caught unawares, I suspect I could survive the Zombie Apocalypse with nothing but the contents of my handbag and the extra layer of fat on my thighs.

But today I saw this wonderful post.

Heavens.  To.  Mergatroid.

When I got back into my chair (because I fell out of it immediately upon reading Ev-yan’s amazing blog) I decided right then and there that this time when I changed my handbag, things would be different.

Oh so different.

I swung open my closet with a mind toward choosing the smallest actual bag (meaning not a clutch or wristlet) I owned as the one I would carry throughout Autumn. A vintage Coach Legacy, which I have had since the 1980’s, practically jumped out of its dust bag and into my arms.  Of course, I had forgotten I had it because I have such a plethora of bags (see what I mean about flying in the face? I told you I’m a woman of extremes…)

But I digress.  Back to the handbag…

I was so scared of letting go as I dumped out the innards of my summer bag knowing only a fraction would make the cut that I was trembling.

Or…was that more a quivering of excitement? It’s true, I carry around a ton of stuff “just in case”. It’s cumbersome.  It hurts my back.  And half the time I can’t even remember what’s in there anyway because I NEVER USE MOST OF IT.

“I can do this”, I thought. “I can let go.  I can live in the moment.”

So I took a few deep breaths and let ‘er rip.  Without mercy I carefully and thoughtfully picked what exactly I NEEDED in my bag. Not to be ready for anything, but just to be….me.

Here then, is what is in my Fall handbag (head over to Flickr for all the deets):

Yup, that's ALL that is in my bag!

A view inside.

More importantly, here is what is NOT in it ~

Fear, obsessive control, worry, anxiety, pessimism, hyper-preparedness…and “what if”.

What if.  Perhaps the heaviest load of them all.

Fall hasn’t even officially started yet, but by leaving useless stuff and pointless fears behind…I feel lighter, freer and somehow, more  genuinely prepared than ever : )

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. J
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:50:20

    I LOVE this! I have been eying an old bag I have lying around but thinking it won’t possibly do in carrying everything I need… maybe it’s time to take the plunge!

    Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  2. SNARLing
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 22:25:13

    awesome. i’m gonna RE Re-evaluate my bag contents and RE take pics for imy’s blog. i’ve been going back and forth between 2 bags but i think i’m gonna go with the more practical one…

  3. Ro
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 01:36:36

    I’ve been toying with this idea, too. I’m minimal everywhere else, why not my bags? And though I’m not going to carry smaller bags (I have pared to my magic three, and those are the three for now and the foreseeable future), I can definitely carry less.

  4. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 13:23:41

    @Ro: you were actually a big part of my choice of bags. i see your gloriously minimal photos and want to buck my family tradition of collecting, hoarding (not in the clinical sense) and keeping everything forever. what are your magic 3 bags?

    @snarling: cool! can’t wait to see what you come up with : )

    @J: yay! it’s been really great rediscovering this old bag. i find i’m like a goldfish…if you put them in a huge tank they’ll just keep growing. similarly if you put me in a huge handbag i’ll find a way to fill it! but with this smaller bag i really had to THINK about what was important to carry & what was just bag clutter.

  5. Laurie
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 13:24:52

    Thank you for this!! Your post inspired me to pare down the contents of my massive bag and gave the me confidence that the world will not end if I don’t pack for an expedition every day!!

    The weight of my bag was giving me neck and back problems, and something had to go. First to go was my massive planner. I just can’t do it. I have to have something more portable.

    And you absolutely hit the nail on the head–I carry so much stuff based on the anxiety of What If. I’m trying to learn how to let go, even just a little bit.

    Thank you!!!

  6. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 18:09:17

    @laurie: well put…packing for an expedition. that is exactly what i was doing. squirrels could have nested at the bottom of my bag and i would never notice i was carting around so much miscellany. glad you liked the post!!

  7. Hannah C.
    Sep 09, 2011 @ 00:29:46

    I love your posts (but haven’t commented before) and I love this one too.

    I actually vacillate between too much and very little. I recently bought a pocket Filo (ultra-violet Domino) which serves as my wallet and planner, and it fits perfectly in my smallest purse, along with my iPhone, sunglasses, and keys! However, if I am going to a place with the intent to be there for several hours just kind of “hanging out” I have a tendency to take my wonderful Barnes and Noble girl-walking-while-reading-a-book bag, along with two or three books, my journal…etc…which almost always ends up being more than I need! I should work on estimating how much time I will *actually* spend doing something and pack accordingly. 😉

  8. kanalt
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 15:50:05

    Love this post! Finding the perfect bag (whether new or jammed in that closet) is one of the greatest things! As you know, I have a new one on the way and I am super excited about it. I hope it lives up to my expectations. (I’ll be very disappointed if it doesn’t.) But what I really love about your bag is what you’re NOT carrying in it. Hopefully some day, I too, can leave those items at home.

  9. rorilee
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 03:40:23

    This post freaks me out. ‘Specially the picture of what’s NOT in your bag..*breathe Rori, breathe*. Dunno if I can do it. Maybe in baby steps? I did start carrying my Kindle lately instead of 2 or 3 books.

  10. ~AspireToBe
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 15:23:23


    I go from one extreme to the other – sometimes, I seem to carry everything for every contingency out there (I blame it on the ‘mom mentality’ and having to have everything for the kids at the ready) but now that the kiddies are older, there are times I leave the house with the smallest of wristlets with just my driver’s license, medical insurance card, 2 credit cards, some cash, my cell phone, car key & lipstick.

    When I need my filofax with me (admittedly, it’s most days), I just dump the stuff listed above, and (lovingly place) my Amazona (personal) into a small handbag and I am ready to go.

    It’s quite liberating, actually, and far better for my back & shoulders 🙂

  11. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 14:58:10

    thanks for all the great comments!! i’m so pleased that everyone liked this post and didn’t read it and think i was nuts…

  12. Ro
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 22:55:14

    Just seeing this now … quick follow up.

    I am honored that I inspired you in the smallest way. Thank you!

    My three bags: LV Speedy 30, Mulberry Bayswater in Oak, and my huge black Prada tote. The Prada is my winter bag, my Mulberry is spring/summer, and LV is there for when I need a change, to mix it up, or when I need something truly bullet-proof.

    Did a major clear out after reading this inspiring post. The bags are cavernous but I’m carrying very little … and especially with the Prada, that is a very good thing. (it has lots of hardware and is heavy in and of itself, so carrying light is great with this bag)

    Thanks again for such a great, great motivating post!!

  13. Trackback: What’s in my bag- Fall 2011 – Jordan Marie Powers
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