The Stuff We Have


I’m in the thick of the “We have too much stuff” tornado phase again where my hands get all twitchy as I open the bathroom closet and paper towels spew out, multiple rolls landing in the toilet. (Why do they always land in the toilet? And why is the seat not down?) I’m making plans to clean out my wardrobe this weekend, but I’m still not in that place where I trust my soul to not covet another Target sweater. My soul is a liar, because last time we were in this place, she’s like, “Erin! Edit your wardrobe and I’ll never ask for anything else,” and then I did and she asked for something else as soon as the weather turned colder. A lot of somethings, actually, and then I caved and found myself putting this in my cart at 2am last night. (I didn’t buy it, but you should because it is rad.) What is wrong with me?

Nothing. I’m normal (sort of) and fine and am still growing up and some people covet trivets or cars or straight teeth while I covet outerwear. It’s fine.


Still, the impatient part of me wants to arrive at my journey – the destination of I Need Nothing – preferably with perfectly scuffed boots and a canvas and leather weekender bag, which makes me realize as I type this that I certainly am not close to arriving at I Need Nothing when even my vision for a safe arrival involves two very material not-nothings.

huang qingjun

Still, this project inspired me today. I’ve always been fascinated by the lifestyles of others, which is highly likely the precise reason I am a blogger. It’s a nonstop movie out there in these Internet parts and I can follow the [faux] lives of graphic designers in Sweden and pastor’s wives in Austin and thrift shop owners in Melbourne. It’s one big movie that never ends and only plays my favorite parts, like that great Big Gulp scene in Reality Bites or the shoebox scene in Annie.


And today, I’m inspired by Huang Qingjun, a Chinese photographer insightfully snapping visual commentaries that allow us a peek at the lives of 37 different families in China. He writes, “Families and their stuff – silent representation of what’s important in their everyday life, how much or how little they have, and the landscape in which their lives go on…”


I wonder what my stuff says about my landscape? What it will say about the legacy we’re leaving or the state of our minds? At this very moment, as I glance around a dimly lit office at 5:45am – it says mess and distraction and lack of focus. And while that may be true, I also see a bit of beauty. I see scattered pieces of wooden toast from my daughter’s play breakfast set. I see stacks of outgoing mail for the people we love. I see a slew of inspired books, dogeared and wrinkled from time and perspective and wisdom.


And you know, I think that’s precisely the legacy I want to leave: a girl that was a bit of a mess, sure, but a lover of beauty and goodness and truth. An avid reader and writer and creator – of life, love and memories. Because after all, that’s the good stuff.

That’s the stuff we have.

Image Credits: Huang Qingjun

  • a partial list of what is on my desk right now: peanut butter, crackers, water, a pink unicorn, a tiny rabbit sculpture “wearing” gold “pants,” a metal eiffel tower serving as a washi tape holder, 3 rocks, 7 sticks, a chestnut, 4 andy warhol limited campbell’s soup cans, a photo of me when i was two. xoxo

  • Lady, I feel you. I’m actually building a tiny home in the spring, 160sq FT and the lofted bed brings it to 200 total sq ft. It’s hard. I got rid of 75% of my clothes and part of the reason didn’t even have to do with downsizing but that when I have so many clothes I feel that my sense of fashion gets boring. Similar to designing, when I have too many options, I get lazy. Constraints make things interesting; design wise and attire wise because they push us to make things interesting so were not doing/wearing the same thing again and again.

    Good luck, you’re one of my favorite bloggers and I’ve been following your feed for a long time. We’re all on our own journey, let’s enjoy the adventure, eventually we’ll arrive somewhere. :-)

    • This sounds AMAZING, Laurena, and man, your philosophy is inspiring me today. Thank you for sharing!

  • Erin! Its been such a long time since I visited your blog (no idea why – silly girl that I am) but wanted you to know that this post really resonates with me. I have too much stuff, I want to be able to actually hang up all my clothes rather than just have a rail and then piles of clothes but still I can’t help coveting black ankle boots, bobble hats and right this moment, this dress:
    So glad I visited your corner of the internet again, I won’t leave it so long next time xx

    • Oh gracious, that is a BEAUTIFUL dress. (I’m not helping, am I?) :)

      Hugs to you – thanks for visiting! :)

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