Monthly Archives: February 2013

Only Child clears the clutter

Only Child in part f her office where it is neat and tidy

Only Child in part of her office where it is neat and tidy

One of my friends is on the big paper purge at her place. She is doing it full time. I may get in a few minor sorting jobs – such as old magazines weekday evenings. However, I concentrate on bigger purges in my “spare time” on weekends  when I dig a little more into eliminating the clutter at my place. Weekends before garbage collection, I focus on “garbage,” and weekends before recycling I hit the paper “collection.” The latter and some electronic stuff are the bulk of my physical clutter. The rest have been purged over many years.

A lot of this paper pileup is old journalism stories (notes for published and unpublished story ideas). I don’t need all this anymore, especially as I no longer write feature stories – my writing focus is fiction, memoir, personal essays, and book reviews. Most of the first two is in book form. The other paper clutter is old editing client files. The delay with both (besides my time problems) is for safety and security reasons as you can’t just pitch it all into the recycling bin. So I rip them up – faster than shredding and I can’t afford to have one of those big shredder companies in a big truck come here to do the job.

My criteria for rip and dump is based on my late mother’s when we were downsizing from house to apartment. She tore me away from reading an Agatha Christie mystery novel to downstairs where she had big cartons of paper sitting on the laundry room floor. She pointed to the one with my school stuff and asked, “What do you want to keep here?”

I’ve changed her criteria slightly to “What do I still need here?

When that weekend’s clearing job is done, I look at the de-cluttered areas and feel like a weight has been removed. I’m not fighting files in a drawer (well, that drawer anyway). I have to keep going back to look at the emptiness and cleanliness. I’ve also learned that de-cluttering has another function for me.

Cleaning and de-cluttering even small areas of my place gives me some control. That is especially welcome when I have very little control over all the crap coming at me – house repairs and replacements that I can’t afford – the labour let alone the parts. I’ll be hitting some of the little left in the RRSPs this spring for money to pay for the most urgent repairs and replacements. Then there is my time. With no partner, time and money are barely there some days.

I’m really tired of having to do and organize everything myself (and pay for it too). So, a little bit of clearing the clutter goes a long way to give me back some control of an environment out of control.

The latter also means weather but that’s a topic for another post.

Comments on what clearing your clutter does for you?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Clutter, Home and Garden, Living alone, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management

Only Child looks (again) at seniors and happiness

Only Child in one of her happiness situations - the garden in summer

Only Child in one of her happiness situations – the garden in summer

Are today’s older adults happy? If so, what makes them happy, or not? The more I googled for information, the more widespread information I found. The one I heard on the radio earlier today (and it doesn’t seem to be online) is the one I’m going to talk about.

According to this one, older adults’ happiness is based on four areas – each one “worth” 25 per cent.  After considering the genetic factor for pre-disposition for happiness or unhappiness, the areas are: environment, debt-free, relationship, passionate about something.

According to that survey, I’m about 50 per cent happy in winter and 60 to 75 per cent from spring to fall. Here’s my breakdown (pun intended):

  1. Environment: This is the variable one. It’s practically 0 in winter because I hate winter – the snow, ice, cold, even the rain, but mostly because I can’t get outside and garden or attend outdoor events without freezing. In the summer it goes to 20 to 25 percent because of the outdoor/gardening factors. The fluctuating 5 per cent is if there are house repairs and the like.
  2. Debt- free: Not me. I live the proverbial “hand-to-mouth” no matter what I do. So far I’ve managed to pay regular bills – including credit cards as payment comes due (except for the line of credit one – it gets the minimum payment and a bit more when I can afford it), even some house repairs (for the biggies I’ve had some help from my ex-husband) and for some unexpected bills. I’ve told my son that my estate will have to pay off my line of credit debt after I’m gone,  but that’s what small life insurance payouts are for. Unless I win the lottery or my book(s) reach best-seller status or no. 3 below happens, that’s the way it is. So this category rates 0 per cent on this happiness scale.
  3. Relationship – also 0 per cent for obvious reasons. After a few years of online dating, in-person singles events, and yes, even the see who is available at groups sharing your interests, I’ve come up with less than slim pickings. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested; I’ve just given up wasting my time looking.
  4. Passionate about something in my life – definitely a full 25 per cent – with my writing, teaching writing, gardening, reading, and a few others, even watching favourite TV programs. I can get transformed out of my misery (albeit temporarily, especially if a telemarketer phones) when doing any of those things.

So there you have it. But the survey/study organizers forgot one big factor here, especially for us older folks – good health. Sure, some of that is genetic and maybe some could come under “environment.” But I think health should be a factor on its own, changing the happiness factors to 20 per cent each.

Comments anyone? What makes you happy or unhappy?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Debt, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Happiness, Health, Health Seniors, Hereditary, Money, Only child, Passion, Seniors, Seniors and Happiness, Sharon A. Crawford, Zoomers

Only Child leans toward being wary

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

The wariness/trust issue took a different turn this weekend. I need to rethink my attitude here because guess what? I got betrayed.

For the winter I had hired someone to shovel the snow when more than just a few centimetres landed. Last Thursday evening into Friday, Toronto and other southern Ontario regions got blasted with a blizzard – 30 centimetres plus of snow. The fellow who was supposed to shovel the snow showed up twice to do it and afterwards made two points of knocking on my door promising to finish the rest – first he was going to shovel first thing the next morning. Of course he didn’t. He showed up early afternoon and said he would be back after lunch to do it and for me to just leave it for him to do – he’d be back in a couple of hours. He also made a point of all the seniors he shovelled snow for and that he couldn’t let them down.

If I’d have waited, I’d still be waiting. After five hours I went out there and hacked away at the snow still in the driveway, sidewalk and by two sides of the house. Sunday I was out there trying to remove the pile-up left at the end of the driveway (the sidewalk plough had removed some overnight) and the snow (layer by layer) over the two cache basins (but not the road spanning out from them). Then I went inside and phoned the 311 number for the City of Toronto and complained about the snow plough dumping the snow over the cache basins.

As for my “trusty” snow shoveller, because I prepaid for some of the weekend’s shovelling (I know; shouldn’t do this) he owes me at least half price for another snow shovelling job. Forecast is for a fair bit of snow here in a week. If he shows up I’ll get my half price deal and then I’m going to fire him with a lecture.

I also now know where he lives so am debating whether to bang on his door.

In the “good old days” when I was a child (back in the grey ages), my dad shovelled the snow and after he died Mom did the job until we moved into an apartment. As most of you know, I’m an “only person” here, so those two words are my key.

People have to earn my trust. Some close family and friends have, but some friends have messed up the trust issue as I’ve blogged before. Some clients also can be trusted. But for others – I will put on my journalism hat and be wary.

Unfortunately, as my late mother-in-law used to say, “that is the way of the world.”

On a lighter note, I will be taking my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) to the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Library this evening to do a presentation and reading featuring my eccentric characters and quirky plots. At least here I have some control over what happens – the ones doing wrong get their just desserts in some way. For those in the Toronto area, my reading presentation starts      at 6.30 p.m. and the address is 2178 Bloor St. West, Toronto. More info on my Beyond the Tripping Point web page http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

And you can see and hear me read one of these stories, “The Body in the Trunk” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Aloneness, Betrayal, Beyond the Tripping Point, Friends, Learning Experience, Life learning, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow Removal, Trust

Only Child’s new look fosters new attitude

Only Child and son, Martin. Same photo as on my first blog post

Only Child and son, Martin. Same photo as on my first blog post

In case you didn’t notice before, Only Child Writes has a new design and logo. It wasn’t planned.

Last Thursday my blog header logo disappeared from my blog. Instead I was staring at white space at the top of every post – but the posts were all there. On my dashboard it was a different story – the specifics for this design were there but even when I tried to restore the header, it just wouldn’t connect to the actual blog.

Was this somehow connected to what’s going on in my life?

First the technicalities: After checking out WordPress’s “Help and Support” under Headers, I found that none of the possibilities listed was the cause. So I filled in the Support form and sent it through cyberspace. I received one of those “flying through cyberspace” emails back – so I know it arrived. Two days later I had heard nothing, so emailed my son for help and he said he would take a look at it.

Here’s where it gets interesting almost to the point of serendipity – I heard back from someone at WordPress. She attached a screenshot of what she could see at her end and it showed the original blue-coloured header. She asked if that was what I saw at my end. So I checked the blog site and found a completely different header and blog design for OnlyChildWrites.

I also found an email from my son, Martin.

Martin had taken a look – he couldn’t see the header on the post either. So, he set me up with a new design, emailing me about this plus instructions to change it if I didn’t like it.

I love it and emailed him back with thanks. Also emailed the WordPress support lady and thanked her but added my son had just changed the design and he figured the flaw was something at their end for the original design.

Going by the email times, it looks like WordPress took the screen shot about an hour before Martin made the changes.

Sometimes a change is for the better, especially when it comes serendipitously. Which got me thinking about life. Over the years, going way back to growing up an only child, I’ve learned to, well learn from my experiences. Past occurrences tell me how to approach new ones. Sometimes I’ve made exceptions, mainly in my writing, gardening and reading, but sometimes with friends and relationships with men. Often when I have done the latter, I’ve had the rug pulled from underneath me. Those of you who have been following this blog, will see a few posts that touch on this topic in some way.

Maybe I need to trust in serendipity more. The key word is “trust.” A former boyfriend once said, “Life is unfair,” and he is right. But life is also supposed to be a combination of good and bad, but when the bad seems to override the good in numbers, well…

It’s a dilemma. Somehow there must be a way to be wary and trusting.

Anyone have any answers here?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Bloggimg, Family, Help and Support, Learning Experience, Life demands, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Trust