Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Anti-hoarding: junk the crap and emotional baggage

February 23, 2010

Everyone is talking about Hoarders and A&E. I’ll admit that I begin every show by saying I won’t be able to watch the whole thing, and then I’m mesmerized to the end.

While some people watch and admit that they have tendencies to collect unneeded crap, I am quite the opposite. I find myself peering around the house for any areas that might be victim to pileup. With the exception of one organized – yet stuffed – closet, my house is very tidy.

I used to be a clutter bug, if not a hoarder in training. I had a small apartment with dozens of houseplants and prized possessions hanging everywhere. I wouldn’t clean for a few weeks and then I’d freak out and deep clean everywhere. Most of the items that cluttered my space were valuable and/or memorable.

When I decided to quit my old life and go west for a new one (yes on the Oregon Trail), I had to downsize. Knickknacks, collectible plates, clothes and almost every piece of furniture had to go. I wanted to sell valuable collectibles, but there was no marketplace. So, I had a free garage sale and forced all visitors to leave the house with something.

Hoarders have emotional reasons for filing their homes with stuff. I found emotional release in giving stuff away. I was holding onto boots that climbed summits yet killed my feet, gifts from old boyfriends I hate and even the leg cast I wore in torment after destroying my ankle. I let go and old emotions stopped strangling me.

Our first apartment in Portland was so small that we emptied half the moving truck at Goodwill. (I do regret ditching the snow shovel.) The bed was our only furniture, yet we felt free.

In the six years since, I’ve tried to only keep sentimental, valuable or useful items. Clearing clutter seems to open my life to change and release negative emotions.

The day I was laid off, I sorted the entire garage. I recycled boxes of school papers my parents dropped off when we bought the house. The next day I attacked the crammed walk-in closet. I’ve gone through both again since, getting rid of more.

If there’s a medical condition that makes one consider packing a backpack and walking away from all other belongings, I am prone to it. I’d rather have very little than a house full of junk and filth.

Likewise, if I see a chance to shed emotional baggage and make room for growth, I will. I don’t want my head and heart full of junk either.

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Addiction brings laughing and dancing

December 14, 2009

I’m confessing an addiction I developed since being laid off. It’s not a new drug, just one I hadn’t discovered.

I’m addicted to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I don’t run to the TV at 3 p.m. every day, but I have to watch the show before bed. I was hiding this from my husband at first – watching the show and deleting the recording before he got home. Now, I update him Ellen updates.

I haven’t been hooked on a TV program for years. I have a love-hate relationship with TV and the media in general. I detest the barrage of bad news and reality TV that make humans despicable.

Four things about Ellen put me back in the Nielsen ratings. I aspire to all of them.

First, that sparkle in her eyes is astonishing. Did she create a makeup or video trick that makes eyes twinkle? Ellen’s love for her job shimmers on her face. I hope to have that gleam in my next work adventure.

Then there’s the dancing. Goofy maybe, but fun none-the-less and that’s the point. I used to dance around the house until something got broken. Now I find myself moving like a 12-year-old boy while at a nightspot with great music. You know, shifting weight from foot to foot and not dancing at all. Am I too grown up to dance? Puke. I don’t even believe in “growing up.” I admire a person who boogies through life.

Laughter is a given, because this is Ellen, yet I had forgotten that she’s a ham. (Sorry Ellen, faux ham.) I enjoy the humor ranging from a snicker behind a fake “O” cover to rolling on the floor hysterics after a guest scare. I laugh so loudly my cats jump. It’s thankfully uplifting during this tough time.

What I love about Ellen most is her generosity. I realize companies donate the money and products she gives. However, they do so because giving is Ellen’s brand. It’s how she makes life brighter for many.

Ellen is an inspiration to all. I aspire to have her exuberance for life and work, to laugh and dance everyday, and to give as often as possible.

Giving from the heart, since the wallet’s empty

December 5, 2009

If you are struggling to cover the bills and keep food on the table, how do you give to others? This year I hope to change lives by giving from the heart … and the hall closet.

You can’t dodge the deluge of holiday paraphernalia on the street, in the media and at the grocery store. Rather than focus on my wants, I’m concentrating on ways to give – both to friends and family and those less fortunate than me.

A friend shared this story about a homeless man who froze to death in Eugene last year – http://bit.ly/88Nm2c.The article explains how we can volunteer or give to warming centers.

The glint of sun on frost this morning reminded me that I have extra blankets, socks and warm clothes to give. I can warm someone without spending a dime.

Portland has a new shelter in need of everything – http://bit.ly/5scdXo . You probably also have something to give. That ugly dish from Aunt Betty could really do some good here!

I hope items homemade or re-gifted from the hall closet will also warm friends and family. (Thoughts of Popsicle-stick figures and ugly sweaters just flashed through your mind, didn’t they?) I’m not going to give away crap, but nice things I don’t use. Here are a few ideas.

1) Recycled gifts: My girlfriend and I have a knack for finding unbroken sand dollars, but they are collecting dust. So I strengthened a few with Mod Podge and glued on chains (from broken jewelry) for hangers. Pretty tree ornament now and house decoration after!

Other gracious recycling ideas are books, recipes and holiday containers filled with inexpensive candies.

2) Re-gifts: Sometimes we receive, or buy, things that we don’t like such as smelly lotions, framed art or jewelry you never wear. If you know someone the gift fits, why not pass it on? (Just not to the original giver!)

3) Time: Sharing your benefits both the recipient and giver. I helped my girlfriend decorate her tree because her daughter no longer lives here. We both enjoyed the camaraderie and I came home with decorations she no longer needed.

Baking with a friend, helping young parents or running errands for an elderly person are a few ways I can give. My husband and I love to cook so we often feed friends at our home and theirs!

This effort to give from the heart and warm people on the street distracts from the economy’s pinch and personal stress. I feel warmer already. If you have other ways I can give at little cost, please share!