Regaining Equilibrium

hiking Mt Korobaba Fiji

“It’s just stuff. If we didn’t have it, I wouldn’t miss it.”

That’s what I said to my husband about a year ago. We were still living in Fiji, halfway through our final year there.

I said those words as we were talking about our upcoming transition back to the U.S. We planned on buying a home, and, realistically, because we wanted to live in D.C. proper, instead of the suburbs, we would have to downsize.

And downsize we have been forced to do. In Fji, we lived in a three-bedroom home with a storage shed, pool and large yard/garden. In D.C., we bought a home that’s 988 sq. ft. A very different type of space.


We’ve moved a lot outside the U.S. in the last decade, and every move precipitates a coming to terms with oneself anew: one’s current limitations and one’s resilience, or the ability to regain equilibrium when you’ve lost balance in life.

With every move, my relationship with the things I own is clarified. I am reminded that “stuff” is not just “stuff.”

Your “stuff” is an extension of you. The things you buy and what you keep are an expression of your lifestyle and identity.

When I dismissively said, “It’s just stuff” last year as we were having a family discussion about our move, I had forgotten the importance of my “stuff.” Yes, you can buy new things, but there is a comfort in the objects that you own if they continue to serve you, practically and emotionally.

Yes, I still need my mismatched collection of mugs because I love drinking coffee. And, yes, I still want my port-colored velvet duster coat from high school that I bought with the image in mind of Trent Reznor’s outfit in “The Perfect Drug” music video (sophisticated, with an edge). The coat still looks great on me, and it symbolizes a throughline from who I was back then to who I am today.


I am a nomad at heart. I like to travel: physically, creatively and intellectually. But even nomads need anchors.

I don’t consider myself materialistic, but my stuff has become one of my anchors over this last decade of international moves.

Our household goods were kept sitting in Fiji for half a year (why is another story), so we were in a sort of limbo during that time.

While we bought a home, I didn’t feel settled yet. I lived with an undercurrent of anxiety. While I certainly had enough to sustain me, I wasn’t quite myself.

I missed my stuff, plain and simple. I missed my vehicle. I missed my winter clothes, which I very much need, and I didn’t want to go shopping for a new seasonal wardrobe.

The wait was finally over when our stuff arrived a couple weeks ago. All the things I had been missing are back. I feel more myself again. Maybe even more so than I ever felt when living abroad because I’ve returned to the area where I grew up and I have my stuff with me that’s been a fellow traveler during the last 10 years of living abroad. I’ve come full circle.

My stuff reminds me of who I am and the choices that have shaped my life. My spirit is represented in my clothes, books, music, etc., and accoutrements gathered from around the world.

We’ve made decisions about what we no longer need, too, which further refines the role of our “stuff” at this stage in our life. It’s a challenging process: getting rid of what no longer serves you. It’s like a great workout: rigorous, disciplined movement to remove excess and regain equilibrium. It is a way to start again without needing to start over.

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