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KerryOn: Carry the Essentials

I must admit, I carry a lot of stuff. I pack quite a bit of “just in case” extra items in my suitcase when I travel. (Really, who needs three phone chargers!) I purchase items in bulk when shopping to ensure I never run out. And ever since I became a parent I include extra safety items in a bag for my kids – blankets, sunscreen, snacks – you name it, I carry it.

One place that I truly try to pare down any extras, however, is when I’m in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). During these remote camping trips, each item I place within my pack is scrutinized for size and weight. Do I really need to bring two sweatshirts? Are the extra cans of bug spray a necessity? (Well, perhaps that one is worth it.)

As I work through my packing list, I double check each item, from matches to sleeping bags to make sure everything is accounted for and securely contained within a pack. I carefully roll each item of clothing and measure all of the food for meals until everything is neatly compressed and sealed in waterproof bags. Every single item brought into the BWCAW is ultimately placed in canoes and carried across portages. This means the weight of each and every item, canoes included, will eventually be felt on the shoulders of the campers. To practice specific selection of what we bring with us is the epitome of “carry the essentials.”

The opportunity to practice carrying the essentials can move beyond the physical into our mental space. The weight we can carry in our minds can sometimes feel unbearably crushing. In order to lessen the load, we have to begin to let go of thoughts that no longer serve us. Thoughts that weigh us down –negative thinking, continuous lists of tasks, comparisons of others.

What we deem as essential, both physically and mentally, is different for all of us. My physical has begun to shift from “things” to a healthy and vibrant body. My mental has begun to shift from “to dos” to gratitude and appreciation. No matter your essentials, lighten the load and practice specific selection, always.

I carry a lot of stuff. But I’m learning. I’m learning that I don’t need to become completely remote – without electricity and cell phone reception – to carry the essentials. I can take this moment, right here, right now and identify the essentials both physically and mentally. It’s time to let go of the extras, and carry the essentials.

KerryOn Questions

- What are your physical and mental essentials?

- Why are these essentials important to you?

- How can you pare down the extras and carry the essentials?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit

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