I used to love collecting stamps. I think it came naturally to me as soon as I learned about letter writing. This stamp collecting habit got even more pronounced, as I learned all about different countries and cultures. No wonder I ended up falling in love with another hobby: writing to pen pals.
My first real pen pal (not the classmate that got assigned for a school assignment) was from Germany. I was 15 then. She was 14 and "handed down" to me by a school friend who was no longer interested in writing to her anymore. We still keep in touch, over two decades later, even though the letters have become mostly holiday cards.
And yes, believe it or not, my good pen pal isn't on Facebook. And, she doesn't seem to have email either. We've never met in person but our letter writing friendship had been magical.
I developed other pen friendships, from Toronto (Canada), Santiago (Chile) and Michigan (USA), as well as other places. However, none lasted as long as my friendship with my lovely German friend.
I don't write as many snail mail letters anymore. And, my stamp collection has gotten lost in transit (between moving from different countries).
But, I continue collecting, even though they're mostly "accidental collections". As in, I didn't really set out to be a collector of any of them. But, I am enjoying adding to the collections now, whenever I can.
Some of the things I love to collect:
1. Anything that has birds or owls in them. Not sure where or how this started. And, I didn't really think I would go and keep growing this collection. But now, I am getting addicted. And for some reason, I am fascinated with bird cages too (but not collecting them at the moment).
2. Books. Well, okay, maybe I knew I would be someone who'd amass books. I've loved reading long before I started going to school. So, this is probably inevitable. I don't have fancy expensive book collections (though I do have a handful that I treasure, such as a vintage, illustrated copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen, bought at a lovely secondhand bookshop in Cambridge, England). But, most of my books are your average commercial paperback or hard bound books. Partial to collecting art/craft books, beloved YA and children's books, artists and writers biographies, favourite classics, and writing books.
3. Dice. This seems like an unusual one. In fact, I didn't even realise I had a collection until recently when I started re-organising my home office and putting stuff together. Realised I had about a dozen different pieces of dice. The only thing missing are my multi-sided dice. Yes, folks. I was a gamer. A long, long time ago. In college. Heh. And no, I don't have a photo of my dice collection yet. No photos of my gaming days either. 🙂
4. Art and Craft Supplies and Gadgets. No surprises there, right? I didn't really start out with this until in my early adult years. Mostly started in my mid-20s. However, over the last couple of years, especially while working full time, I have managed to put a pause on this. Partly because I have stopped making art or doing any crafts. But now, it is well and truly back with a vengeance. I don't even want to know how much money I have spent in updating my stash recently. But, I am having fun with it all, so... 🙂
5. School and Office Supplies. My love for these things started while I was still in school. I loved collecting school and decorative stationery. That's why Back-to-School stuff was something that excited me. And yes, my mum even helped in this by encouraging me to set-up a small school supplies stall in front of her old shop, just before school started. Whatever I sold in that stall, I get to keep part of the profits. Loved being surrounded by pads of paper, notebooks, and pens then. I still do now. In fact, there was one night when my husband told me that I was talking in my sleep and saying something about getting more staplers. And strangely enough, I do remember the dream. And yes, it had something to do with decorative staplers. Obsessed much?
6. Cameras. Although I loved photography for as long as I could remember, I would have never started off thinking I would be a collector of all things photography-related. It was one of those hobbies that just seemed way too expensive. Especially back in the days of analog-only photography. Yet now, I have a growing collection of cameras (not all cameras featured yet in there) - both analog and digital. And, I am loving it. Yes, even the ones that no longer work.
7. Shoes. Uhm, well... Yes, me and shoes (just a small sampling of my shoes). Something about them. I have a particular love for chunky heels and boots. And lately, coloured shoes. I don't think I have an extra-ordinarily large collection. But, yeah, it's big enough. And, for some reason, my choice of shoes often get a lot of attention. Even got introduced in my talks in the past as the "social media change maker with killer shoes". It was funny getting approached later by the event participants, just because they were curious about what my shoes looked like. Heh. Well, now that I work from home, I am sadly not able to wear my lovely pairs as often as I used to. But then, I am now getting accustomed to being able to work bare-feet. Maybe just as well my shoe-buying has gone down a bit. It has been replaced with my art supplies-shopping instead. 🙂
8. Skills and Experiences. Yes, an intangible collection. But, I do see myself as a skill-and-experiences collector. That's why I love attending classes and workshops. Trying out new things. Self improvement. Professional development. I love travel. I enjoy different cultures. I scrapbook, journal, and blog. It's all part of collecting life skills and experiences.
P.S. - Looks like I wrote about the topic of collections in March of 2008. Wow. Exactly five years ago. What are the chances?! Interesting to read everyone's responses back then. I wonder if anything has changed? For me, that teapot thing is still somehow around, but definitely not as much.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.