Book Review: Packing Light by Ally Vesterfelt

Book Review: Packing Light by Ally Vesterfelt December 4, 2013

You ever wake up and ask yourself, “What the heck am I doing with my life?”

I was 100% there a little over a year ago, when I was working full time at The Apple Store. Each day I woke up and felt like I was just watching my life pass by me. Frustrated with God, not because I had a terrible job (honestly – Apple is an amazing place to work) but because I knew that this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

Ralph Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

I think this resonates with most of us because we understand the struggle in simply being ourselves. With family, friends, advertisements, pastors, and whatever else seems to be telling us to be something in which we know we’re not.

It’s kind of sad that this is where a majority of our lives fall, we choose to give others more control than they should have over our lives. I’d be lead to assume that a majority of the adults in America are not living out their dream, their purpose, or their calling. They somehow started with “Plan-A” but took a detour and since then have stayed on “Plan-B”.

I think one of my biggest fears is one day waking up and realizing I’ve done nothing substantial with my life. This is partly why I left the Church, and why I still don’t go to church. I wanted more than the security of a well paying job, I wanted what Viktor Frankl says to be the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, for me, the church was not that.

Packing-Light-Ally-Vesterfelt-Andy-Gill2This is why I’m constantly looking for people, friends, family, bloggers who go against the grain, despite what society tells them and they chase the story in which they feel they’ve been created for. I feel as if most of you can relate.

A while back I started following a blogger named Allison Vesterfelt. I’m not sure how I came across her blog, but I’m glad that I did! Her and her husband Darrell Vesterfelt founded Prodigal Magazine in which I’m sure most of you have heard about or come across at some point.

Just as I started following Ally she had made a drastic change in her life and decided to quit her job, move out of her apartment, and sell her things to go on a cross country road trip with her musically talented friend Sharaya Mikael. During this time Ally played as road manager, CD Sales person, and blogger. Though her goal was not only to go on an adventurous road trip, but it was to pursue her dream.

It was anything but easy for her. You can read through her journey of all 50 states, on right here.

One of the reason’s I started following Ally was because she was living a story worth reading about. It wasn’t just that Ally was a gifted writer, or a young relatable twenty-something, it was that she did what many of us want to do:

She changed/altered the course of her life, she threw caution to the wind, and pursued her dream.

Her dream was to eventually become a writer. Though she dealt with the tension of wanting security and safety, in which she found in her day job, but at the same time dealing with discontentment and the feeling of something missing. Crazy part is, she not only let go of control and embraced the unexpected, but she fulfilled her dream and since then has been published!

I wrote here how hard our journey’s can be and how we must keep going. In light of that I wanted to share with you guys Ally’s new book “Packing Light”. It’s a book that one can not only live vicariously through, but a book that one can easily relate too in regards to the feeling of discontentment, lack up control, and taking risks!

This week I’m going to give away a free copy of Ally’s book, if you want a copy of the book Subscribe to this blog below, put your full name and email, then head over to my Facebook page and click like, out of all you I’ll choose two people, one in which will get a hardcopy and the other who will receive an electronic copy!

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  • John Lembo

    I had an interesting reaction to this interview. To me it screamed “white people problems”. Now I am totally for anti-materialism and totally for people striving towards finding their meaning in who God has created them to be, rather then what they own. However, Don’s demeanor and the way he talked in the interview just screamed privilege. It seemed more like, look at how cool I am that I gave up my house and my car and my……

    I have no idea where Allison goes with her book, nor am I against it or what it’s trying to do. But for some reason I felt weird about this interview. All I could think about was how the poor and oppressed have no option but to live with less, and how they would probably never have the chance to sell all their stuff and road trip across the country to find themselves. Heck they are just trying to survive. And not to say that Don or Allison are ignorant of those things, but that was my reaction to this interview.

    This may have to do with what Im working through in my own life, but wanted to bounce this off you and anyone else who might see this comment.

  • I can’t help but agree. I’m in a similar place as you John. Reading through Ally’s book you’ll get the same feeling as to what Donald Miller gives in this interview (though I have to say I did love Miller’s vulnerability in admitting he lost everything). I did enjoy Ally’s book and it is most definitely inspirational in regards to pursuing one’s dream, BUT it does give one a sense of her privilege. I wish she expounded more on this, though she does in a roundabout way, I’m slow to fault her for not being more aware of this.

    I guess my struggle in writing out this comment is the question of “What then is the answer?”

    We both lived together in Huntington Beach, ca youth pastoring in wealthy Orange County, a block off the water in an EPIC house… would it be wrong for us to step back into privilege? Now with our knowledge of both being in grad school, and we see the problem of privilege within wealthy, white, christian america… how do we respond properly to this?

  • John Lembo

    I too really appreciated Don’s vulnerability. When it comes to “what then is the answer? I’m not so sure I am looking for an answer, rather I love to see when people struggle with the complexity and diversity of this issue. From what little I know about the book I’m sure it will be very helpful for white middle class to wealthy Christians and I have no doubt that they need this type of book in there life.

    When it comes to your question about whether it is right or wrong for me to step back into privilege, may not be the right question for me because I don’t ever step out of it. I always have it. However, I would ask, how do I use that privilege I am given (and given for no other reason then because I was born white and male) to draw forth the humanity and beauty of myself and others, rather then using it to objectify the oppressed and perpetuate racism, sexism, and poverty.

    Again I’m not against this book or Don, I just was surprised at how much it affected me in this way.

  • Love it man. For real. Hit me hard when you said, “When it comes to your question about whether it is right or wrong for me to step back into privilege, may not be the right question for me because I don’t ever step out of it. I always have it.”

    Though I do think it is possible to step out of it, not that I am a “liberation theology” guy, but I think Jesus modeled this for us as people (christian or not).

    I think a challenge though in your first paragraph of this comment, is that (for me) as a minority it is very hard to hear, “I’m not so sure I am looking for an answer, rather I love to see when people struggle with the complexity and diversity of this issue” – for me this is a statement also of privilege, ya know? It’s a lot easier statement to make if you’re not suffering from the lack of answer.

  • John Lembo

    You absolutely right about that my statement “I’m not so sure I am looking for an answer, rather I love to see when people struggle with the complexity and diversity of this issue” comes from privilege and is much easier for me to say.

    The fact that you do not have answers to things that harm and hinder your life everyday is not easy and deserves answers and justice.

    And I think my statement is a reflection of how I don’t have many answers. But I am searching, I am struggling, I am seeking for answers.

    I also think that my statement comes from a Book I read this summer called “White like me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” Where the author says in the last pages, something to the effect: Maybe its not in the victories we find our humanity, but in the struggle.”

    I know so much of my story has been less about answers and more about staying in the struggle. Always seeking after hope. The hope of what is to come. While also seeking to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

    I think I want to honor the complexity and the deep rootedness of white privilege and oppression by not just giving answers.