Are you a pitcher or a saver?

pitcher or a saver?Were we were born with a genetic propensity to be a pitcher or a saver, a hoarder or a heaver? Some people like my sister never let unnecessary items accumulate; others like me have trouble throwing away anything.

While spring cleaning, I finally parted with possessions that had been with me for most of my European life like a bottle of Chanel perfume that I received as a gift in 1979, my first year in France. With my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity I could never wear it, but every time I saw that bottle I was reminded of the kindness of strangers, those Parisians, who first welcomed me to their homeland.

I no longer have storage space for my coffee cup – gifts from family, pitcher or a saver?friends and students – an eclectic collection of ISU, UWSP, Manchester, London, and my all time favorite a cream-colored cup imprinted with a pitcher or a saver?sketch of the United Methodist Church, my dad designed. Some cups mean too much to me to use, so they decorate my mantel like the one with a photo of a former basketball team.

I also save baseball caps from every major sporting event I ever attended and every team I loved. Ditto for those team logo t-shirts.

My kids, young adults now living thousands of miles away, have no desire to keep old scrapbooks, school awards, sports medals, so why do I save them? Why keep the clay mold of a 5 year olds handprint, odd shaped vases, lumpy hand made pottery, a glazed chicken, and dozens of paintings. Silly me, hanging onto old toys like Playmobil and Beanie Babies for the memories they evoke.

pitcher or a saver?Dozens of picture albums clutter our home with old pages falling apart filled with photos of places I no longer remember and people whose names I have forgotten.

I have good intentions. Every time the urge to organize strikes, I buy another beautiful colored folder that then sits empty on a shelf like a heirloom.

But by far my worst vice of all is an obsession with words. I saved cards from my grade school BFF, sketches from college roommates and letters from grandparents. Books spill off my shelves. I have – yes I counted – 86 binders in shades of red, blue, green, purple and orange filled with half-baked story ideas, travel notes, family research, book drafts and kids’ essays. For a writer, words are the hardest possession to part with.

Call me a hoarder, but I am not materialistic driven to buy, buy, buy and accumulate more goods. It’s just that pitching out sentimental, memory-evoking possessions feels like sacrilege. Out, out, out. Gone the memories.

With the advent of technology and information updated every second – text messaging, Instagram, Snapchat – everything changes so fast, and is forgotten even faster.pitcher or a saver?

Could our brains intentionally be wired this way into pitchers and savers? Some minds are designed to discard and downsize to make room for the next generation, while others like me cling to the past to record our passage in time.

I am like the beekeeper tending the hive, honing the busy nest of our lives, gathering the honey of our collective memories.

Posted in humor, inspiration.


  1. Pat, I think perhaps we do have the tendency to be a hoarder or a tosser, but that tendency is fueled by how long we’ve been in one place. When I was younger and moving every year or so, I regularly tossed out stuff that no longer interested me. Now that I’ve been “permanent” for a while, I find I’ve saved far too much that needs to be pitched!! And Domer sounds just like your kids — all those scrapbooks, awards, memories, etc. that I’ve preserved for him fail to hold any interest. Sigh.

    • I used to move about every two years also and so I was forced to purge, but we have been in Switzerland for 20 years now and things keep piling up. I will have to wait until my sister comes to visit. I am convinced she got my share of the pitcher part of my brain because she is a great organizer and tosser.

  2. Hi Pat, I learned not to be a hoarder when I ended up moving frequently. But I can relate to your difficulty letting go of items with sentimental value. I’m at the time of my life when I feel the need to purge all those material things that clutter my life…stuff. It remains to be seen if I have the courage to throw out or give away those sentimental items!

    • Yes, I seemed to do better when I was younger and moved frequently, but we have been here so long now, my house is starting to look like one giant closet.

  3. Great article Pat. Never get rid of your words… they are your future inspiration! ???? I am both a hoarder and a heaver. I clutch onto files and books. But I’m a teacher and a writer. They are my solace and my salvation at times. I ‘heaved’ 15 pairs of trousers the other day and Safiya’s friend took a few as they were considered ‘cool and retro’. It makes me smile to see her in my pink corduroy flares ???? So I am an ‘in-between-y’ I guess. Yin and yang. This, despite my global travels and need to shed old skin as I live in different countries for a few years. Nothing wrong with a bit of hoard AND heave eh? xxx

    • Oh Rach, I love that idea of being a hoarder and heaver. What a great way to recycle your old clothes. Did you have any bell bottoms or tie dye T-shirts to pass on to that younger generation too?

      • Haha, I only managed the trousers. It was a bit of a wrench ???? Oversize T-shirts are ‘stolen’ by Safiya for sleeping in. And she also loves my oversize Nike/Adidas/Puma sweat tops from my PE teaching days en Suisse – great on a chilly winter’s evening! She and her friends teach me that I CAN do this heaving thing (Om….) xxx

  4. My husband and I are not hoarders, but somehow the “stuff” has accumulated to the point where it is really bothering me. I keep saying one of these weekends we need to go through our basements and start getting rid of some of it!

    • Not only recently, but for years, I have been saying that we need to go through our basement and discard stuff. I am wondering what where do keep all those books that you are reviewing and critiquing for Books Is Wonderful site, which by the way I recommend to all my readers to check out here –

  5. I love your article again! When downsizing, I really had to evaluate what to commit to the memory bank and treasure there. I have no basement…but I do have an attic and a garage that is way too full despite clearing a lot out. I’ve been here a year, and I need to re-evaluate again Have I even opened the bin in a year??? I’ve offered and offered to the kids, donated, gave, sold and kept what I wasn’t sure about… still too much! Life is really more simple when I don’t move things from place to place…..My problem is that I can get sentimental over a half-used bottle of lotion that my mom had. My sister Polly is the pitcher while I have been the holder…..I don’t want the anchors anymore , for myself or my kids.! Thank goodness we have our sisters to keep the perspective in balance! Take care!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, so nice to hear from you. Like Polly, sister Sue got the pitcher gene in our family. Everyone wants to rent her out to come organize their junk. I am just like you when it comes to the sentimental stuff. Maybe I should write about those priceless objects and you could sketch pictures of them -then we can pitch them while preserving them forever.

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