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Friday, 10 October 2014

Collector or hoarder?

cabinet of curiosities

I've been an avid collector of things for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, we moved house a lot, but one constant in my life was a little cabinet not unlike the one above, full of my favourite odds and ends. Many of the little items on those tiny shelves are the same as they've always been, but over the years, I've added to my collection as I've acquired little trinkets here and there.

Most people my age have left a lot of their stuff at their parents' house. All of their childhood bits and bobs remain in their adolescent bedrooms, or packed into boxes in the attic. At least, that's how it is with most of the people I know. All of their old schoolwork, their certificates, perhaps some old clothes... It's all tucked away at their parents' house, out of sight. Because both of my parents live abroad, I've ended up with the majority of my childhood things. Practically every single thing I've ever owned. Or at least that's how it feels when I'm trying to heft the boxes into vans to drive them up and down the country.

So at what point does keeping things become unhealthy? I've always kept a diary and I am a very nostalgic person - I love looking back on what I thought or said or did a long time ago. That's why all of my embarrassing old blog posts are still around for your delectation. I did spout some tosh back then. I probably still do, come to think of it. Moving house has given me the chance to get rid of a lot of old things that I never look at any more, such as an old set of computer speakers, or a jumper with an un-fixable hole in the armpit. There are plenty of things that I can't throw away though, like birthday cards from old friends, a note passed to me in class twelve years ago, a painting by one of my pupils when I was (very briefly) a teacher... I treasure these material possessions, not because they're worth any money but because I get such joy from looking at them and from re-finding them after they've been packed away for a long time.

Obviously there are limits - I mean, I'm not keeping things for the sake of owning EVERYTHING, or because I am scared to throw things away. I'll let you into a little secret - in Dan's childhood bedroom, on top of one of his bookshelves, is a chocolate Easter egg that his grandparents bought him when he was three years old. I'm pretty sure that my own personal hoarding boundary is much more acceptable than 23 year old chocolate... I try to make sure that I am being reasonable about the things that I keep. And my next project is to make sure that all of these things that I own are packed and stored in such a way that they are easily findable and take up the least space possible. And when I'm feeling guilty about having so much stuff, I need to remember that most people my age have a lot of stuff, it's just that half of it is at their parents' houses!

Do you keep everything? Or do you prefer the minimalist approach? What's your most treasured childhood possession?

1. A heart shaped tin with some of my milk teeth in it. // 2. A mysterious Virgin Mary that nobody remembers buying. It is covered in glitter and appeared in our house many years ago with no explanation. // 3. An Eiffel tower model given to me for free by a street vendor in Paris who made me cry when he showed me a sexually explicit monkey toy when I was eleven. // 4. A porcelain fairy that I bought with pocket money on a trip to Devon as a child. // 5. A really small German dictionary given to me by Robin. // 6. Another Virgin Mary, this time one I bought with pocket money on a holiday to Greece, when I was obsessed with Catholic shrines as a child. I feel I should point out, my family is not Christian! // 7. A small tin with the carnation my dad wore in his lapel on the day he married my mum. // 8. Wooden Tortoise, China Koala. // 9. A pebble from Brighton beach with a naturally formed hole in the shape of a 'C' for 'Candy'. // 10. Venetian glass dreidel, tacky 80s crucifix, and my graduation pin from Cambridge University. // 11. A picture of me as a wee babby. // 12. A tiny classical vase, full of whiskers shed by the cat over the last few years. // 13. Glass snail. // 14. The wheel I carried around in my pocket for a year as a teenager. As mentioned on my About Me page! // 15. Painted banksia seed pods, sent to me from Australia by my Aunty when I was little. // 16. Various nostalgic Champagne corks. // 17. A toy Morris Minor car that my Dad gave me when I was a child. He used to own a real-size one of these cars, before I was born. // 18. Tiny horseshoes for good luck!

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62 comments:

  1. I love your shelf of THINGS! lol I used to keep EVERYTHING from my childhood... clothes, schoolwork, things... but one day I went thru everything and threw a bunch of things out. Now I just have one small box in my closet with the things that meant the most. I like having the stuff in that box... whenever I want to look thru any of it it's really easy to just take the box out and open it :)

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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    1. That's lovely! I have a box a bit like that too - the most important things are in that box, and I'd probably save it if there were a fire!

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  2. Hmm. When it comes to childhood things I don't really have much left. Moving countries - a lot of it is still back with the parents in their house and still I only really kept some old books and teddies. Moving countries did make a turn in being a bit more ruthless with what I do keep and why. I do have a hard time throughout out vintage things though, especially 1930's or earlier things, even if i'll never use them or I can't resell them. I don't really have the heart to through them out.

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    1. I know what you mean - my mum is much more ruthless too, and perhaps that's because she has moved countries so many times now!

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  3. We moved around so much it was just easier to get rid of things--so the only things I've really held on to for a long time are some books and the stuffed rabbit I've had forever. I find it really cathartic to get rid of stuff, actually.
    Although one thing I do regret getting rid of is my collection of teenage journals--I'm still furious at myself for throwing them all away!

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    1. I could never throw my journals away! I'd be heartbroken if they were destroyed. I agree that getting rid of things can be really cathartic though!

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  4. I used to be rubbish at throwing things away, but I've had to work on that since I've moved abroad twice now (and my mum has moved as well). I've still got tons of boxes in my mum's storage area though... I have one box just full of small nostalgic things such as letters, birthday cards, my milk teeth (glad to hear I'm not the only one who saved those, haha!), cinema tickets, and such. And I've got quite a few old diaries somewhere too! I just like knowing that I've got all those things and that if I want to, I can just go look at them :)

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings

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    1. Moving is a great chance to go through things and figure out what really matters. And yes, good to know other people keep milk teeth too! My grandpa has a clock on top of his piano and he has a great big pile of all his grandchildren's milk teeth, inside the clock. They're so old now that they are basically dust...

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  5. I lived in my Mum's house until a year ago (not with her) so I have always been with my things but my Mum always made me get rid of thinfs. That said, I have lots of items kicking around still. I did get rid of something last year that I have treasured since childhood- a red admiral butterfly that I found dead on the pavement. I put it in a cat tin. I made myself get rid of it but felt sad about it! X

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    1. I used to have a dead butterfly too! I bought mine for 50p at a charity shop, and it came inside this tiny bell jar, glued to a wooden platform!

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  6. Wow you have loads of things hah! I have quite a lot and don't want to throw it out due to sentimental value but I never really use the stuff either! Abi :)
    MyW0rldMyView

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    1. That's why I bought that little shelf unit thing - it means that at least some of the stuff is contained!

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  7. These are really cool stuffs! I have a lot of knick knack like those but I already keep them in a box. I want to hold on still to them though

    <a href="http://thewallflowersecrets.com>The Wallflower Secrets </a>

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    1. Nothing wrong with a box of knick knacks!! :P

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  8. I collected the weirdest things.. Like rocks.. I also keep a diary too, love looking back at my thoughts. :) Nice blog!

    Cathy // HELLO, CATHY

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    1. I used to have so many rocks! Haha! :)

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  9. collector, duh

    check out my blog?
    http://georgianicolaou.co.uk

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  10. Have to admit, I'm not one for sentimental value on things, each time I have to move stuff, I throw things. I have things at my home in the UK and I would actually like to bring it back to Belgium to sell it on. Although I have kept things from my relationship, I guess I just needed the right sentiment to be attached to it.

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    1. I'd love to sell some stuff, but I feel like it is so much faff to work out how to sell it?

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  11. I am so so bad at throwing things away :( I love the aesthetic of clutter but it only really works when the objects that make up the clutter are beautiful, which yours really really are - and conversely a lot of our stuff tends towards functional rather than pretty. We've just found out the flat we're moving into next year has even less storage than our current place so I think we'll finally have to get rid of some stuff. I find it so, so hard to actually bite the bullet and throw things away though!

    Emma x
    Deerful

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    1. I like functional items! I always loved those plastic drawers you had in your university room, back in the day.

      And looking at a lot of the other comments, everyone seems to be so Zen about throwing things away... I'm glad I have you in my life, Emma. We can be cluttered together! :) <3

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  12. So cute things!!! I like visiting my parents house and look on my old child clothes, toys etc :)

    www.liakw.com

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    1. :) Being nostalgic can be lots of fun sometimes! :)

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  13. How cute! I say it's not hoarding as long as you dont have to step around things on your floor to get about the house? :P

    Chelsea
    chowdownbythebay.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha! Thanks for being such an enabler! You can stay! <3

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  14. I don't think there is anything wrong with hoarding, got to keep some memories eh!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

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    1. Haha, you can stay too - I like these comments! ;)

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  15. I used to keep everything but I have completely changed recently and it's so liberating. Lately I've been feeling like stuff is just STUFF. I've been feeling that one of my most prized possessions is photographs. If I didn't have old photos I'd feel really lost. & I really love blogging so I can share my photographs. Instead of taking 20 pictures, posting 1 on Instagram and then never really looking at the rest, I can now share them and put a story to them!

    - Christina cityloveee

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    1. Yes, I agree! Photos will always be the most important THING! I find that having a photo of me wearing an outfit means that I am much less distressed about letting it go when the clothes wear out or shrink in the wash, or get holes in!

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  16. oh dear! you look amazing!
    pictures really inspiring me!
    you write such an interesting blog! tell me how about follow each other?
    Let me know,please. I always follow back:)
    have a beautiful day!
    keep in touch

    www.thegrisgirl.blogspot.com.es

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    1. I look amazing?! Gosh! I don't know if I'm even in the photograph for this blog post, so you must be telepathic!

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  17. I keep things too, like everything. I find a way to have an attachment to stuff somehow. Lately I've been trying to declutter and hang onto the things that I like the most. I think my treasured childhood possession is this little stuffed animal that I can remember so clearly but lost years and years ago when I was younger.

    www.augustweekend.com | Jenn

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    1. I'm sorry about your fluffy animal! It's good that you have the memories of it though!

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  18. i've recently gone minimalist...but i still have my camera collection!

    becky :: accooohtrements.wordpress.com

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    1. I'll never let go of my camera collection! I am very impressed with anyone who can go minimalist though!

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  19. Collecting things for aesthetic value and for their meaning has always been a habit of mine. I agree with above that it is also liberating to declutter and feel almost a bit more free. Take care x

    Louise
    http://louiseplace.com

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    1. Yes, collecting things just for the sake of having 'stuff' has never been my bag. I much prefer collecting bits and bobs with sentimental value!

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  20. Lovely collection! Would you like to follow each other?
    Check out my blog and facebook page:
    www.wajihaslifediary.blogspot.com
    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=337766586400230&fref=ts

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  21. I love things like this and am determined to have an entire wall dedicated to a shelf like this when I have my own place. I'm just like you and love keeping things for their sentimental value so that I can look back on them and smile. At the moment I have a memory box that I keep at my mums place and a scrapbook that I keep with me and stick in any tickets, flyers, photos and the such like as I collect them. It's a nice little creative outlet and helps me keep a lot of things organised.

    Cats In Crop Tops

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    1. Memory boxes are the best! I have waaaay too many! A scrapbook is a great idea!

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  22. I love it and looks like you have many cool stuff!

    Reflection of Sanity

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    1. Thank you! Sometimes I look at it and take it for granted, so it's good to know that it's cool! :)

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  23. great post - i love your collection!

    from helen at thelovecatsinc.com

    ps. there's a £129 RayBan giveaway on my blog if you're interested! click here.

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    1. I'm so glad you like the collection! :)

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  24. Lovely post! I also have a similar cabinet and can understand you. I love looking to my treasures. From your collection, I like very much the heart box and the seed pods, amazing!

    Jasmine ♥
    For a Real Woman - Instagram - Bloglovin

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    1. I'm glad you liked the treasures! The heart box is so old and lovely! :)

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  25. I love spring cleaning, throwing things away gives me a sense of freedom. However, I have so many cute little decorations and statues now and I cannot get rid of them I am starting to become a 'collector'.

    www.kindoflovely.com || AUS Fashion/Lifestyle

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    1. Mua ha ha! We'll make a hoarder of you yet!

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  26. I love your shelf full of things (and a great idea for a post by the way). I end up being torn between the two - both me and the other half don't like throwing things away unless they're completely useless, consequently we have a lot of stuff, heirlooms, collections and paraphernalia; on the other hand, I grew up in the sort of house that wouldn't look out of place on those obsessive compulsive hoarder programmes so it's in my nature to rebel against my parents and chuck it all away. Which can certainly make for some 'interesting' conversations in our house! :-) xx

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    1. I'm in a constant battle with myself too! To keep or to chuck?!

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  27. Definitely a collector! I love all your little trinkets :)

    katieappleyard.com

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  28. Amazing post and great content
    Glad i came across your blog

    www.curiouscomponents.com

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    1. Thanks! Glad you like the content! :P

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  29. I keep everything but they're not on display they're in memory-type boxes all safe and sound! Lovely post.

    ANIKA MILLER // UK FASHION AND STYLE BLOG

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    1. Memory boxes are great - all of my stuff is in boxes at the moment, all wrapped up in tissue paper!

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  30. I loved this!

    I'm having a give away where you can win two EOS lip balms on my blog. Feel free to check it out and enter :)

    http://glassow.com/2014/10/give-away-eos-lip-balms/

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  31. "8. Wooden Tortoise, China Koala."

    Something about this just made me smile rather a lot.

    Also, you're rather fantastic! I have my own rather large (but fortunately, much on paper, so more compact) collection of things. Generally every time I move, I end up going through all the things and having all of the memories. I keep meaning to cover my walls in things... I should get around to that...

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    1. Oh hello you! Yes, I am definitely a victim of my own nostalgia when I should be packing. Hours will have passed and I will have read every single letter ever written to me, but nothing will be in boxes!

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