Thursday, February 10, 2011

If I don't make a change soon...

...I may become a hoarder.

Zoe snubbing Penny
I live with two cats, not 27, so I'm not a crazy cat lady... Not quite anyway, but I'd love to someday have two cats that snuggle with each other. Right now that's not happening (if you've met my parents' cat Zoe, you understand). I think when I get another cat someday I'll have to hold auditions to determine snuggling potential with my cat, Penny Lane. But it could be tricky having to reject kitties that Penny doesn't take to in a snuggly way, leading me to have an obscene amount of cats, becoming a cat hoarder.... Okay, I'm already a crazy cat lady.

My boyfriend already thinks I'm a hoarder because my room, while usually quite tidy, is jammed with stuff- way more stuff than I need. I find it very difficult to purge my material belongings, and I shop a lot, mostly online. My closet and dresser are full of clothes and I probably only ever wear about 3/4 of my whole wardrobe. I'm also very sentimental, and I've kept every ticket stub for every movie, concert and play I have ever attended, as well as just about everything that was given to me as a gift, even if I no longer have use for it, or never did.

I'm conscious about waste and what happens to things I no longer have use for. And yes, I do realize that the environmental and social problems with consumerism are full cycle, not just on the landfill end of things. (Re: The story of stuff). While I do try to make conscientious purchases, I buy way too much stuff I don't need, and I try to make up for that by reducing the amount of stuff I contribute to landfills, which is why,
  • My work apron is full of paper scraps I'm saving to recycle at home.
  • My old desk is on my parents' back porch because I'm going to put it up on kijiji... someday.
  • I have a few bottles of random body lotions sitting around my room that I've received as gifts, that don't fit with my views on animal testing, and I don't know what to do with them (anyone know of a shelter that accepts donations of personal hygiene products?)
  • I have a milk crate full of old Spin magazines I'll never re-read, and I think recycling them would be a waste, but I worry that if I scatter them in waiting rooms around my community to broaden the musical horizons of my fellow citizens I may cause them to eventually end up in the trash because I don't know if all the dentists, doctors, and other professionals with waiting rooms in Whitby recycle or not.
  • There are two dead plants and a bouquet of dead flowers on top of my bookcase that I'm too lazy to do anything about because I refuse to simply toss them. They must be composted but just... not today. The compost bin is in the backyard, and it's cold outside. Maybe tomorrow. (The dead flowers actually still look pretty. The plants, not so much.)

So I'm lazy, materialistic, sentimental, and conscientious. I really hope that the last trait can counteract the first and balance out the middle.

peaceI need a jolt to get me out of my current lazy funk, and I think I'm going to get it really soon. I took the Global TESOL course in December and right now I'm looking for a teaching job abroad. I can't take very much with me, and I'll be gone for at least six months, so I'm going to do a massive clean out of my cluttered room. There will be 3 piles: going, staying and goodwill. I'm going to do my best to ensure that the third pile is the biggest. It won't be easy, I may cry, but I think it will be an important step for me to really grow up. I'm not going to have all this stuff when I go teach, and I'll have to learn to live much less materialistically. Then, when I'm done my travelling teacher adventure (after however long it ends up lasting), I'll be able to move back to Ontario with less physical baggage, and perhaps less emotional baggage too. Right now I actually feel the weight of all my stuff holding me down, and I think it will be very psychologically freeing to have less stuff.

Before I begin this purge I need to mentally prepare. I will picture myself in another country, enjoying a new lifestyle, taking in new sights, sounds, tastes and adventures. Then I will picture myself in a quiet moment of my new life, looking out the window of my apartment (which in this fantasy overlooks a beautiful valley in Japan) reflecting on home and what I've left behind. It will be bitter-sweet as I will miss my family and friends dearly, but I will be really proud of myself for letting go of my fears, insecurities, and the security blanket of clutter I've had all my life.

I just got an email, it's a job offer. I'm ready :)


  1. I'm the same way (lazy, sentimental, etc). My room looked like an excerpt from Hoarders for about a year and a half until last week when I had a few days off and got my resolve together. I did a massive cleanup and now have tons of clothes to give to Goodwill/Salvation Army and I was able to pawn off a bunch of body lotions to my cousin (I always get SO many of those as gifts and the scents trigger my allergies - let me know if you find a shelter to give these to as I know I'll just keep getting more). All my ticket stubs/birthday cards/etc are now stuffed in a trunk under my desk (still unorganized but at least stashed away out of sight). It feels sooo satisfying to get rid of the clutter! I know it seems like a huge task so give yourself some time and just do it little by little! (It took me 4 or 5 days to do my room). Congrats on the job offer!!

  2. I know this feeling all too well. It is amazing how quickly our material possessions can feel like a heavy weight. You will love the freedom of living out of one suitcase for 6 months Colleen. You are so lucky to be able to experience this and I look forward to reading your posts and living vicariously through you while you are there! Congrats on the job offer! Japan?!! Awesome!!

    The Denise House would probably accept donations for your lotions as it is a shelter for women who often go there with nothing but the clothing on their back from bad situations. That is where I took my girls to donate items and toys over the holidays.