The Watering Hole Blog

When Opportunity Knocks

hand knocking on door

Updated May 6th, 2023

When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door

“When opportunity knocks, answer the door.”


Let’s start with the rats…

When I first moved to Vancouver Island years ago, I learned to accept that rats were part of the deal, so I best get used to them. And for the most part, I had learned to accept them…at least when it came to them living under my sun room and in my sheds.

But when they moved INTO my crawlspace one winter, I laid down the law and called in the big guns a.k.a. Patrick, The Rat Guy.

Unfortunately, I saw an awful lot of Patrick in the months to follow. He popped by my place on a regular basis to remove the remains in discreet little black body bags.

Patrick did his best to figure out WHERE the rats were getting in. Just when he thought he had sealed off the last possible port of entry, low and behold another dead rat would be found in one of his traps.

He was puzzled, I was frustrated…and the body-count continued to grow.

So one day, I referred to my handy-dandy book about animal spirit guides…thinking perhaps the Universe was trying to, you know, send me some sort of message.

This is what the book said under “Rat”:

“If rat shows up, it means…take an inventory of the material goods you have and recycle or throw out what is no longer purposeful.”

– Steven D. Farmer, PH.D., Animal Spirit Guides; An Easy-to-Use Handbook for Identifying and Understanding Your Power Animals and Animal Spirit Helpers


Then Patrick gave me some homework

As you may know, rats themselves aren’t just a problem…so is what they leave behind. Rats can transmit the viral disease, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This disease can be spread by inhaling dust that is contaminated with rat urine or droppings as well as direct contact with the feces or urine.

Once Patrick was reasonably confident that he’d finally dealt with the rat problem, he disinfected the entire crawl space (and the sheds) and cleaned up all the droppings as best he could…considering he had to work around multiple stacks of boxes stored in my rather cramped crawlspace.

My homework was to go THROUGH those boxes and get rid of as much as I could.

So that is exactly what I did. Many of those boxes hadn’t been opened since I had moved in 7 years earlier. There had been no space upstairs to put more stuff, so I saw no reason to open the boxes.

I also knew – hoped, with all my heart – that I would be moving from that home sooner rather than later….so getting rid of as much extra stuff as possible, in preparation for that, was probably not a bad idea.

Little did I know what tremendous opportunity was waiting, just around the corner.

Decluttering, I have discovered, is a process.

An item we might feel the need to hold on to at one point in our lives, can become something we are more than ready to toss the next time we see the damn thing. Click To Tweet

Sure enough, as I worked my way through the boxes, I was able to get rid a lot of the items. A heart-breaking example is the moment I came upon a box from the Calgary Police Service’s Property Room (flagged with an orange biohazard sticker).

I knew damn well what was in there.

I also knew the time had come to say farewell to those particular items: the uniform shirt my husband, John, had been wearing the night he died (ripped open by the K-9 officer so he could perform CPR), the K-9 officer’s shirt (used to roll up as a pillow and placed under the back of John’s head), a broken piece of ceiling tile (from the false ceiling he fell through because there was no safety railing in place) and the boots John had been wearing.

But truth be told, other than THAT box of dreadful memories, more often than not I smiled at all the great memories accumulated thus far from a pretty awesome life.

In fact, I was really glad I hadn’t tossed some of my favourite childhood things. As I went through those items again, I felt a profound appreciation for all that my Mom did for me when I was growing up…all the incredible experiences and opportunities she gave me.

Here are a few childhood treasures I discovered:

  • My red downhill ski boots from 1974 (when I was 6)
  • My Brownies outfit, complete with badges
  • My baton and a few of my costumes I remember my Mom sewing
  • The hat I wore at summer camp with all sorts of different pins on it
  • My blue soccer jacket the year we won the city championships (grade 8)
  • My favourite record – the soundtrack of the movie, Grease – and matching trading cards

I did my best to follow Marie Kondo’s advice to only keep items that “spark joy.”

And then wouldn’t you know it, shortly after going through the mountain of boxes in my crawlspace and purging what I was ready to purge, I got the proverbial knock on the door.

Sometimes opportunity does, literally, knock on the door.

I opened the door to find a realtor standing on my porch.

My annoying neighbour (a whole other story) had finally put his house on the market – and the realtor representing him wanted to see if I was interested in selling my home to a developer, who was interested in purchasing both our properties.


Yup, that’s right…the neighbour who infuriated me so many times over the years turned out to be very handy in ensuring I got a heck of a lot more money for my home than if I’d sold on the open market to an individual buyer.

And, of course, the rat infestation turned out to be instrumental in ensuring that I had started the decluttering process…so when the opportunity came to sell my home, I was ready to say YES!

And there you have it. Life is just one big paradoxical mash-up of joy, laughter, sorrow, tears, anger, frustration, memories, experiences, dreams…and sometimes a rat or two (or more) sent our way to get things rolling.

Life inevitably brings changes...and the older I get, the more I realize the benefits of both preparing for it AND embracing it, when it comes. Click To Tweet

Related blogs by Maryanne

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth

Sometimes Things Have to Go Springer Before They Settle

Trundling Through the Treasure Trove with My Tallest Friend

Say WHAT? Sorting Other People’s Stuff

Fallen Officer’s Items Returned to Widow After Decade in Property Room

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a co-founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive Maryanne’s blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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8 thoughts on “When Opportunity Knocks”

  1. Such a ratty subject while reading and eating my breakfast…lol. I am so excited to see where you are being “lead” next. Kevin and I were talking the other day an looking back on our life together. Whenever we were were to do something, the opportunity came to us, we didn’t have to go chasing it. It has happened many, many times. I think we are finally “getting” it. Keep us all posted. Congratulations.

  2. Wonderful story–except for the rats. I’m on constant mouse control in my old-fashioned stone cellar. Glad you sold when you wanted to. I’m in the sorting stage, but not so many treasures since my mom got read of most of them (a long time ago and without telling me). Congratulations on many fronts, especially seeing the irony of things that irritate and lead to something good.

  3. What?!! You’re moving? Have so many questions-but in time you’ll give us all the answers. Hope you find that perfect spot that brings you peace. I may just be going through the process as well in the not so distant future. Love so many things about my new place, but there are also some key things missing, so keeping my eyes open for the right opportunity, and will definitely answer that door. All the Best!

  4. Oh wow…that is wild that YOU are thinking of moving! I better come out your current digs before you move on!!

  5. Oh no! I am sorry to hear your mom got rid of much of your childhood stuff many years ago (without telling you). Sigh…
    I think sometimes we can get a little over-zealous in our purging 🙁

  6. Yes, me too! I think I am FINALLY getting it…when we show up and do what we need to each day, opportunities do seem to come our way. Just not on OUR time-line necessarily.
    Sorry for the rat-stories during your breakkie!

  7. Congrats on the move and good deal from the developer. I still remember the realtor Vic that your mom and I used in Calgary. I am so afraid of rats! Funny, I noticed a dead one on the road near where I lived a few weeks ago and had to keep driving by and looking at it. Then, a number of summers ago when I saw one in the backyard, it ruined my enjoyment of the backyard.
    Do you finally think the rat guy sealed everything? Are they more common in Victoria due to the mild weather, although I think Toronto has a big population, as well.

  8. Hi Jennifer! Yes, I remember Vic – the realtor you and my Mom worked with for years. I still have some of his notepads (with his photo and business info on it)!!

    Apparently rats are notorious for living close to water – so that’s a big reason why Victoria has so many. I don’t know if the milder weather also plays a factor or not. I DO think my rat guy has sealed off all entry points, as there have been no more “captures” for awhile now. Paws crossed 🙂

    Take care and enjoy your summer!

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