Monthly Archives: March 2013

Only Child advocates living with purpose

Only Child in one area of her purpose in life.

Only Child in one area of her purpose in life.

Studies show that seniors who have a purpose in life are happier and live longer. This information got me thinking: what is a purposeful life and am I living one?

Although the studies focus on older adults, the main theme can be applied to any age. If your life is constantly one of living from problem to problem, deadline to deadline – just going through the motions to get through another day with no thought why, no wonder you’re stressed, angry, depressed (fill in the word that suits you).

I’m not immune, although I do have a purpose in life. I get caught up in all the crap shoved my way each day – from bad weather causing water leaking into the basement, to overload in demands from others, to financial crisis, to health issues, to just plain too much to do.

Wait a minute. And while you  (and I) are at it – grab a minute…or more to re-focus. Why am I scrambling and rushing around doing all this stuff? Does any of it have anything to do with my purpose in life? Do I actually know or have a purpose in life?

Remember, your purpose in life can change with your time in life. When raising kids, that might be your purpose until they grow up and leave the home nest. Then what is your purpose? You may have become a doctor, lawyer, police officer, etc. because of your purpose in life. Maybe you want to help sick children have a better life, help those living below the poverty level with legal issues, or catch criminals – to simplify matters. But are you doing just that? We’ve probably heard about police officers whose marriages can’t survive the strain of police work. One of my family doctors years ago couldn’t take the stress of his life anymore and killed himself. Then there are the parents being driven “crazy” by their kids.

Often the surrounding activities and problems take over the purpose and you become lost in the ensuing chaos. For example, it might not be your kids per se driving you nuts – but all the activities you have to drive them to at all hours of all days. Ask any hockey parent.

To get back to our seniors and those studies, my mother is a prime example of not having a purpose in life because she figured she lost her purpose. From hindsight I can see that Mom’s purpose was twofold – raising me and looking after my dad, particularly after he got cancer (when I was 9) and his other illnesses. Remember this was the late 1950s to mid-1960s. When Dad died (when I was 16), mother lost one of her life purposes and the other one (me) was a teenager. Enough said on the latter although by today’s and even those days’ standards I was a “good girl.” After Dad died, Mom’s arthritis showed up; so did her scleroderma. She had to quit work (which she had returned to when Dad was in the hospital) and I had to hurry and finish my secretarial course and get out in the work world. Mom died at the age of 63 from a brain aneurysm.

I’ve made it past Mom’s death age, but not Dad’s (66)…yet. But I keep trucking on. Why? I have a purpose in life, although many of you may wonder about that from some of my previous postings. But like many others, my purpose gets buried in all the day-to-day crap. Much that I place in “delay” should really go into “delete” and get well, deleted from my life. I “should” delegate more, but what I want to delegate (my business bookkeeping and tax return preparation, weekly housecleaning) I can’t afford. Therefore, I have to “do.” So far doing job trades hasn’t worked out except for one instance currently being done – but that is keeping the trades in one area – writing and writing-related tasks. Any attempts at bartering across different areas haven’t worked. Appliance repair people, plumbers, electricians, want money and usually upfront.

We need to re-look at what we do each day (myself included) and be ruthless about what should go out the window (preferably an open window; can’t afford broken windows). You can’t throws all the hateful jobs out. But maybe they’re only temporary and telling yourself this can help you get through your day. We must also not forget our passion, our purpose in life. Perhaps we can do one little thing each day with our passion. Perhaps inspiring writers bogged down in diapers, toys and car pooling, can write – 10 or 15 minutes only daily – in a journal about how they feel, what is bugging them, etc. And are some of the things you do related to your passion?

You can probably guess what at least a part of my passion is? It is living my life creatively and helping others to do so. That encompasses writing, teaching writing to aspiring writers, and yes even editing (for now), gardening, cooking, and walking…by exploring different places –parks or city areas, etc. – I can create a walking adventure and often get more story ideas. (Couldn’t resist the latter).

I’ve known since age 11 when I came in second in an essay-writing contest what my life’s purpose is. Like many others I got and get distracted. So I have to make myself return to the four D’s in my life – Do, Delay, Delegate, and Delete, so that the Delay stops bursting at its seams and at least the Delete increases and the Do is more what comprises my purpose and passion in life.

What about you?

Meantime, check out the ginger tapestry website and the article “The Three Paths to Purposeful Living at http://www.innertapestry.org/articles/vol-11-3/1021-the-three-paths-to-purposeful-living.html I don’t agree with all the author’s ideas, but I am pleased that he isn’t a sheep follower of the Law of Attraction. Neither am I – and I’m not really a big believer in it either.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Filed under Balance, Delay tactics, Delete, Family, Happiness, Law of Attraction, Life Purpose, Mom and Dad, Only child, Passion, Prioritizing, Seniors, Seniors and Happiness, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child pines and whines for her garden

Only Child is waiting for this - and so is the Muskoka chair

Only Child is waiting for this – and so is the Muskoka chair

Tomorrow is the first day of spring – by the calendar. Most of Canada is still stuck in winter. Parts of British Columbia, particularly on Vancouver Island aren’t. Gardeners there have seen plants growing, been cutting the lawn and visiting garden centres for a month now. Here, in southern Ontario, Toronto specifically, a few plants were seen poking their heads out of the ground on Sunday. Last night (and overnight) more of that nasty winter stuff – snow-ice pellest- rain sloppy mix – what depending on where you live came down. So I was out at 11.30 p.m. last evening shovelling heavy snow it as it started to rain to try to avoid another session of water leaking in the basement.

I’m fed up beyond my eye teeth (and yes, I still have my own – so far) about all this winter crap. I want to get out in my garden and well, garden. When I was growing up, Mom, Dad and I were out there in April turning the soil and planting seeds. Not going to happen here this year at this rate.

Sunday, my friend Carol and I headed down to Canada’s largest garden show – Canada Blooms – for the annual early sniff and see of green, colour and GARDENS. Even with all that walking indoors, it still raised the spirits. And outside, at least it was sunny and dry, with most of the previous snowfalls’ aftermath melted. I bought two more houseplants – a spring cactus and another African violet.

Now we are back to square one. It’s supposed to be cold all this week. Next week more of this nasty mix of rain and snow – which as I previously posted we never used to get until the late 1990s.

At least we have daylight savings time with daytime lasting an hour longer and increasing in the evenings. When we hit late May sunset will be around 9.30 p.m. That’s my kind of season. You can guess what I’ll be doing outside most evenings then – maybe even after sunrise. My friend Tanya next door and I have been known to be out there pulling weeds in our gardens at dusk.

My Muskoka chair stares at me every time I go down the stairs to the basement. Soon, I’ll be able to get it back outside on the front veranda.

Meantime I’m pouring through the seed catalogue, getting my order, in well order. Now that I have received payment from an editing client (he wasn’t slow paying– it was two countries’ postal services – the US and Canada), I can actually buy the seeds. And growing extra coleus to bring outside (along with some other potted plants like the Rex begonias, rosemary, ornamental pepper and citronella) in late spring – if it ever arrives.

Anybody else anxious for the real spring to arrive? Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, do you dread the coming winter?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Canada Blooms, Extreme Weather, Gardening, Home and Garden, Indoor Gardening, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Spring, Weeding, Winter Weather

Only Child tries good deeds by serendipity

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

I’m taking a page from my late mother, with my own twist on it. As I write in my memoir:

When Mom’s baby sister, my godmother’s first husband died and she had to raise seven children under nine years in age, my Mom stepped in to help. She couldn’t be physically present 24/7 – she had my Dad and me to look after in Toronto, the house and garden, and her sister lived miles away on the farm near Lucknow, Ontario. But we had Canada Post.

The sisters wrote back and forth a lot and Mom used to show me my godmother’s letters, but not her replies. Instead she made a big fuss out of playing Goodwill to help her little sister, something that people did then.

When the snow piles up in Toronto and stacks up on the farm, boxes of hand-me-downs, mother’s old clothes, my no-longer fitting clothes, and I suspect some store-bought ones find their way from our house to theirs. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

I would seem to be on the “needing to receive end” of the stick. However, to perhaps balance the bad karma of all the crap coming at me, I’ve decided to do some good deeds – but on my terms. So, I don’t seek out situations and people but let them show up in my life and then act. The deed must not require a lot of time to do. I watch out for anyone I think might be taking advantage of me – for example, as a “seasoned writer, editor and writing instructor” I get people trying to get my help and services for free – beyond what I would do within the writing groups I belong to in person and online.

The deeds all happens by serendipity. It doesn’t occur every day and maybe not for days. So far I’ve helped a woman open a glue packet so she could glue her suddenly falling-apart boot, loaned my friend next door $3 so she could take public transit for an important appointment (her car died a few months ago), and moved someone’s green bin off the road onto the sidewalk – no doubt thrown on the road by the garbage collectors and/or the automatic collection arm from the trucks.

It’s little things like that. The people and their situations find me. And the key, so far, seems to be to  quickly access the situation and act spontaneously. Almost didn’t pick up the green bin until I had walked on a few metres, decided I better do it, turned around and walked back.

Some of it has been automatic. A couple of authors from one of the writing organizations I belong to (Crime Writers of Canada http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/) have been helping me, a newly published first-time author (Beyond the Tripping Point short story collection. See http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html) For a panel I’m moderating in May with another writing organization (Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch http://www.canauthorstoronto.org/) I chose those two authors as panelists. Ditto for a CWC-sponsored reading in a coffee house-pub). Automatic give and receive?

Even if I can’t afford to give $$ to charity, I can do a little good deed now and then.

But I still reserve the right to rant about what stinks in my life – something about not holding it in which can build up and make you ill.

That’s my toonie’s worth – no more pennies in Canada. But my rant on that is for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Help and Support, Helping Others, Karma, Mother, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child asks why bother with hope and faith?

Only Child again contemplates some harsh realities

Only Child again contemplates some harsh realities

Last Wednesday’s mixed precipitation storm of slush caused me to cancel my monthly writing critique group for the first time ever. At first I thought it was an indirect way to give me the extra time needed to complete my prequel novel for my publisher’s deadline.

Then I went downstairs to do my twice daily check of the rec room floors. To my horror I discovered some water had leaked in through the inner wall where I hadn’t placed towels. I’ve had these water problems before and despite a big excavation two years to “fix” the problem, I still check the floors regularly and place down towels when it rains – because I have learned not to trust that all will be well. Last Wednesday’s was the first leak since the excavation. But, guess I should have spread towels out on the inner wall. I called the guy who did the repair work two years ago and he finally showed up last evening after dark. He says it is probably the caulking he put around one of the windows has come loose and he will just need to caulk it – no charge for that. But he can’t do it until it warms up (including during the night). Guess what? Later tonight we have possible freezing rain and rain tomorrow. Which I found out on the weather network online because…

When I turned on the TV this morning to get my morning weather dose from the weather network  I found nothing but black static and a message to call my service provider. Which I did – after 411 interrupted to give me the correct phone no. Apparently the one on my cable bill is incorrect. When I got through to technical support I heard a message that there is a problem with the digital adapter service in the Toronto area; they are working to fix it and service will be restored as soon as possible. So far… no service. They apologized.

Not good enough. Some of us (myself included) who live just above the poverty level can’t afford to convert to full digital service. For me that isn’t just getting an expensive digital TV, but my electrical outlets by the TV need converting to three-prong. An electrician refused last year to do the job because of having to cut through walls, etc. He made it sound like a real mess. Newsflash. I had this done in another area without any mess to create a new outlet so the air conditioner could have its own outlet. So I opted for an alternative last year – a digital adapter supplied by my cable company. The adapter and its delivery were free of charge but they wanted to charge to get one of their technicians to hook it up. So, I pulled the senior card and after much hassle and talking I got it connected free of charge. It has a two-prong plug-in and I use an extension cord to plug in the TV and a lamp.

These are just recent examples of why I have so little trust and faith. Fool that I am, I still put it out there daily to god, universe – whatever you want to call it (Some would call it “praying”). Every day I also give gratitude for what I am grateful for and do the opposite for what I’m not grateful for (i.e. what is wrong in my life). The latter list is getting longer and may catch up with the grateful list.

I don’t expect my life or anybody else’s to be perfect, but I think less aggravations and problems would help. Being an only person having to deal with everything myself puts me in a more precarious position.

Somewhere back in the days when I was growing up Catholic and still believed in trust, faith and miracles, I was taught that nobody gets more crosses to bear than they can manage.

Not true. I’m living proof of that and so are many others. To take it beyond the personal – look at what is happening around the world – for example the homeless and some of that due to weather.

Yes, back to weather. As the guy who did the excavation said, our winters are no longer just cold and snow; we get rain mixed in and that causes a lot of problems. I remember even as far back as the early to mid-1990s when winters were winter with no rain until spring.

What have I learned? Besides life being unfair, you can really count only on yourself. And if you can’t, you might as well be dead.

One more thing. If I hear anymore reference to Mother Nature in connection with bad weather, I will scream. “Mother” and “bad weather” (any kind) is a misnomer and an oxymoron. Just think about that.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Floods, Learning Experience, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Trust, Weather, Winter Weather