Thursday, April 21, 2011


I never got the shopping thing. Going to the mall & buying something from Nordstrom or their Rack was a rarity for me, even when I had the money for it. I grew up in an upper middle class family so never really wanted for anything, but from the time I started buying my own things, I LOVED hunting through street festivals, little ethnic stores, thrift & consignment shops. Now THAT'S shopping! Finding something precious, unique & previously loved resonated with me as a treat that was hard to describe.

I 'left' my own body & transferred care to my baby & growing step children as I said before & when I did get any time to myself, I hit garage sales & thrift stores with gusto. I'm not the kind that showed up at 8 am to muscle my way to the under priced collectibles before roaring off to the next find; I was the one digging through vintage sewing boxes, or at the bottom of cardboard boxes in search of retro trinkets or a piece of old jewelry & paying 25 cents or a buck. When I started teaching art classes to kids in mixed media,  I'd drag in boxes of wood, fluff, old toy parts or styrofoam  & the kids were amazed by all the 'junk' they could use to put something together. We'd build whole cities on a big sheet of plywood out of cardboard boxes & stick it all together with clay, glue or tape. Heaven.

I'm not sure when things switched over from collecting to hoarding, or at least when I started feeling uncomfortable about all the junk I had. Probably when the marriage broke up or I stopped teaching the kids due to budget cuts & suddenly had boxes full of stuff that no longer felt precious, but more of a burden, carrying it from one place to another, until finally throwing it all in to a storage unit. I had also stopped creating art around this time to sell to the tourist market, or to give away as gifts.

About 3 years ago a very dear friend passed away suddenly, but not before she told me that when she died, she was willing the contents of her studio to me & another friend. It seemed like an odd statement at the time, as neither of us knew she was already very ill. I asked several times to see the place where she created, but could tell she felt embarrassed by it for some reason & always put me off. When I finally did walk in to that mysterious, sacred space after she died,  I immediately felt an eerie similarity between my studio and hers. Piles & piles of beautiful, amazing things were just laying around neglected & I realized she was hoarding like me. She changed in the months leading up to her death; angry, sullen; not making a lot of sense. She died of a brain aneurysm which did make sense upon reflection, but as I collected her things to take away, I felt the pain in her & me, trying to fill the empty places in her heart & soul with trinkets at the bottom of card board boxes.

I discovered Etsy last December & am getting more in to the swing of a new life, now selling off those supplies to other artists who can breath new life in to them. They ARE serving a great purpose & I don't feel like I'm hoarding anymore. These things are actually becoming part of my livlihood now, but I AM saving some precious bits which I will use myself eventually, breathing new life in to them, my new art, & most importantly myself.  

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this. This line sure rang a bell within me too, "I felt the pain in her & me, trying to fill the empty places in her heart & soul with trinkets at the bottom of card board boxes." I have been there and filled up my empty places with Chihuahua's. I rescued each one from a bad place and each one did the same for me. My first tiny little rescue at about 8 oz. then and 5lbs. now full grown, is lying on my lap as I type!! Thanks Diane another great post.