Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

‘Song of Myself’ – Walt Whitman

We collect many things: shells, stamps, books, art…you name it, someone is collecting it. The urge to collect, to gather possessions and things we love is an extension of ourselves. You wonder what attracts us to collect or gather just those specific items.

A collection seen in a museum or gallery is meant to represent an entire people, but our personal collections show who we are as individuals. Walking into someone else’s room is like walking into a small museum where a person’s identity is preserved in its original context.

Comment, blog post: Response to James Clifford’s, ‘On Collecting Art and Culture’

When we think about the definition of ‘collect’, it’s really about ‘gathering together’ and we can bring together two key definitions or senses of the word:

To bring together in a group or mass; gather.

To accumulate as a hobby or for study.


To recover control of: collect one’s emotions.

Definitions from ‘The Free Dictionary’

In collecting what we love around us, we are in a sense gathering ourselves, bringing the different pieces of the multitudes of what we are and what we love together to reflect the whole and make sense of it.

This can be physical or virtual. A blog is really an online gathering of ourselves, a collection of ourselves we present to the world, with all our loves: books, photos, words, thoughts, family, passions. Like journal writing, but more edited and audience focused, blogging is about reflecting, collecting and building for the next phase of our creative endeavours.

Likewise, Pinterest is a perfect example of how like bowerbirds, we scan for images that reflect who we are to display in an online gallery of ourselves portrayed through our interests and style preferences.

My ‘Blogging from the Heart’ friends have also been writing about this theme recently. Whether it’s the stars or the moon, or just that time of year, many of us have been thinking in various forms about how we collect ourselves: gathering, noticing, stopping, recollecting, appreciating the present moment and preparing for moving onto the next phase.

Melissa Jaine has asked ‘Is it okay?’ if she stops to take stock, collect and regroup.

In ‘Summer of Me – Moodling‘, Jessica Brogan writes about the value of doing nothing and being idle as a way of incubating for the next phase of creativity.

Flo Gascon in ‘Ditch the Pursuit for the Present‘ talks about stopping to value the present moment, realising how easy it is to forget this when you are running around holding things together.

I wrote in the same week about unplugging and rebooting and how an enforced break from technology through circumstance brought home the message about needing to stop to reconnect the pieces.

Perhaps it was where my mind was this week, but nearly all of the posts from this wonderful group that has formed from our ‘Blogging from the Heart‘ e-course, seemed to have some link with stopping to gather in some way, like a collective exhale.

So, just like we collect, physically and virtually, as an expression of ourselves, sometimes we need to gather ourselves, to recollect, as preparation for moving on, settling our identity and what defines us before we move on.

Here are some ways I have found to be of value in collecting myself:
  • Writing poetry, journal writing and other personal narrative writing has been of great value in re-grouping. These activities are all about collecting ourselves, taking stock, maybe a catharsis, in a way that summarises the experience in language that captures it and then holds it, enabling us to reflect and move on, whether public or not.
  • Writing my blog, an example of personal narrative writing and expression – and just take a minute to listen to what Seth Godin and Tom Peters have to say about the power of this act!
  • Reading and working through ‘Style Statement: Live by your own design by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte has been a wonderful way to work through what’s important and to create a personal style statement to define your authentic self. I have found my two word style statement something I return to again and again.
  • Linking what I’m learning in the work sphere with what I am learning in other creative aspects of my life and vice versa: blogging, reading, photography, twitter, online reading, strategy, productivity and change.
  • Taking photographs, collecting and connecting them including on flickr, instagram, facebook and the blog. The value of this was learnt through the Unravelling e-course with Susannah Conway; it is such an accessible way of recording, sharing, tracking and celebrating.
  • Walking, especially on the beach; my poem, ‘Narrative‘ was very much about the theme of collecting yourself through a walk on the beach. It’s amazing how during a walk, ideas often connect and come together, seemingly resolving themselves.
So what have you found to be of value in collecting yourself and regathering for the next phase?