Monthly Archives: September 2013

Only Child runs into outside obstacles

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, but I won’t let that stop me from removing obstacles

The past few days I’ve run up against screw-ups from “outside” – organizations, businesses, and individuals who have messed up in whatever they are doing connected to me. As mentioned in my last post, lack of money causes me lots of stress. But so is what causes the lack of money – or at least the worry about it.

The biggest screw-up is with CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency – the Canadian equivalent of the US IRS). First CRA messed up with my return which went in on time (April 30) and I paid what I calculated as owing even though I had to “steal” the amount from my fast dwindling RRSPs.

Six weeks later I receive a Notice of Assessment. That’s customary. But mine had recalculated the Canadian Pension Payment for my self-employment and they wanted $148. more payable by June 30, 2013 or I’d get charged interest.

Huh? It was obvious they didn’t calculate it on my net income but what amount they used I can’t figure out. Their Notice of Assessment explanation didn’t enlighten. June 13 I called the CRA customer service (or whatever it is called) and Lisa told me there was definitely something wrong with the amount calculated and not to pay it. She said it would take at least four weeks to sort it out and in the meantime until the computer system was updated the “payment” could come off my GST etc. rebated in July.

The payments didn’t come off and I received my list of future payment dates and the amounts.

Then I got embroiled in a lot of other issues (some shoved at me that I had to deal with). There was the construction going on outside include digging up a small area in my front lawn. This nonsense even interfered with another issue – my appointment with my lawyer to update my will because one of the beneficiaries had to be changed. I moved the lawyer’s appointment to the next day. Because I was in the same general area of Toronto, I stopped into Service Canada to hand in my application for Old Age Security. I do this because it’s faster to get it rolling and for someone to check over the form. Yes, I had missed something which the Service Canada clerk caught. (Some of them are pretty smart – it’s the higher ups who seem to be screwing up). And it has been approved – payments to start January 2014. Then I got a boarder (two, counting her cat) temporarily until she can get into Public Housing. This is a friend and I didn’t want to see her stuck. There has been some adjustment but we work it out – so far anyway.

Fast forward (which seems like my summer this year) to last Friday when I suddenly remembered I hadn’t heard back from CRA. Over the weekend I checked my files – nope, nothing. So I worried about getting stuck with paying some outrageous sum with interest.

Monday (yesterday) I phoned CRA and found out as I figured, Lisa did her job – she sent it on to the Tax Centre. But the jerks in the Tax Centre just started looking at the inquiry last Friday, Sept. 19 – a little over three months since I inquired. (I can see the synchronicity or whatever about the timing when I thought about it.) The customer service rep could only tell me that much. For the status until they actually do something and it shows up on the computer system, she had no info. She suggested calling in a few days. She also answered my questions about paying interest. If it is $2 or less it isn’t considered. But there is a form to fill out if you want to dispute paying the interest. I had told her this wasn’t a Sharon Crawford mistake but a CRA mistake and I would pay any correct extra I owed but I’m not paying any interest.

Last week I switched my annual high payment of house insurance premium to monthly off a credit card. Thought that was all settled when yesterday I received a letter (regular mail) from the insurance agent that there is a $.75 monthly service charge and a $2. Setup charge. Neither is a lot and I don’t mind paying them. But why wasn’t I told about those service charges in the first place? One more phone call to steal my time

No wonder I’m jaded, cynical, pessimistic (some of the time) and angry. I have a right to be. I don’t know if my late mother had to deal with crap like this.

On a brighter note, I finally picked up the time management book I had on hold from the library. This one I requested in print instead of e-copy because unless there’s a hold on it, I get nine weeks (two renewals) to read it. Should give me enough time to read it Yes, I see the irony.

But I ran into an obstacle there. The library system couldn’t check out my books (I added a mystery fiction) because my library card would run out during that time. I spoke to a librarian and first she added a temporary three week extension and suggested I come in next week with some ID with my address on it. None of my cards has that. I don’t drive, so I guess I’m discriminated against here all over. But I did some fast talking, mentioning that one of the main branch librarians could vouch for me and I taught workshops at this branch (both true) so she automatically renewed the card for a year. I don’t get nasty with librarians. However, why don’t we get email notifications of library card renewals due. The library sends other notices – holds (e-books and print) and book dates coming up.

But I have started using another tool to tame time. Will report next post next week.

I’m currently living on sales from my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point which is a good thing for sales but what does it say about the overall income picture?

For those interested check out my profile on amazon.com Just click on the book icon below.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Beyond the Tripping Point Cover 72dpi

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Filed under Anxiety, Beyond the Tripping Point, Life demands, Money, Only child, Persistence, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Short story writing, Worrying

Only Child loses weight due to stress

Only child contemplates stress and weigh loss.

Only child contemplates stress and weigh loss.

Hot on the heels of the worrying rant last week, I decided to weigh myself. Hadn’t bothered for months as it was always the same – about 10 pounds over my ideal and comfortable weight. Surprise this time. I’ve lost six pounds. And my favourite jeans now fit again. For some people losing weight six pounds might not be much but for someone around 5’1’’ with a small build, six pounds is huge.

I thought it was eating healthy and not pigging out on anything besides ice cream. And exercise (walking and gardening and moving the vacuum around inside the house.)

Now I think it’s because of all the stress in my life – 85 per cent of which comes from too little time and too little money. So I get angry which motivates me to take action. But when you have stress after stress rolling together, it can get out of hand.

In the article at http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/the-relationship-between-weight-loss-and-stress.html, there are four points on how stress affects a person’s weight. The last sentence in the fourth point seems to fit my stress profile.

“…stress may overstimulate the thyroid gland leading to not only greater appetite but also faster burning off of those calories.” (from “The Relationship Between Weight Loss and Stress)

Add in my low blood sugar problem if I don’t eat frequently and voila. I lose weight.

The other three points and part of number 4 harp on stress and weight gain. So does most of what else popped up when I sent Google looking.

I’m not sure if that is a picture of our society today. Obesity is a big problem. So is what it leads to – diabetes, heart problems, etc. But in the concern about weight gain, we seem to forget that stress (and some physical illnesses, too, as well as their treatment) cause weight loss. Some weight loss is okay unless we are gaunt in the first place. But some of us have to watch just how much we lose.

Me, I have four more pounds I can go before I have to be careful. And as someone who suddenly dropped 10 to 20 pounds a few times over the years, I do have to watch. Mind you, one of those times was when Mom was still living and she had to go to the hospital for tests for her arthritis. At the same time I had been working temporary as a clerk in the Toronto Police Services Morality Section but was being taken on as permanent in another department there. Permanent staff have to take medicals. My weight showed just pushing 90 pounds, way too low. The jerk doctor at the time decided he wouldn’t pass my medical until I gained 10 pounds and ignored the more serious (in my mind) issue with my eyes and headaches.

My own doctor caught that and sent me to an optometrist. Yes, I needed to wear glasses.

As for the work medical, everyone (but the doctor at work) came up with ideas for me to gain weight and the nurse had me come into the office to get weighed when the doctor was out. The funniest suggestion was to eat Polish sausage and my breath would keep the doctor away.

I then started eating more normally – instead of the apples, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked beans and coffee I was forcing down my throat.

The cause? Worry over my mother.

Today, I continue my walking, gardening and eating properly – only the ice cream indulgence as an “extra.” And I’m confronting some of the stressors.

But I can’t help thinking that lack of time and lack of money or both together are at the bottom of a lot of the stress.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Weight Loss

Only Child cranks up the worry wart feature

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Lately I’ve been worrying a lot – maybe more than usual. The poverty issue (see last week’s post), work-related concerns (some of them $$$$-not-coming-in issues), and living with a boarder who has so much stuff. I live in a tiny bungalow as many of you will know from previous posts showing  a picture of the outside of my house. So I tend to gravitate towards my tidy room, somewhat tidy office (which we share – no problem with that part), living room and outside in my garden. Now that there are tomatoes, turnips and carrots in the garden, just bringing them in to eat is positive – it digs into the poverty part and also nurtures the soul and the body.

Worrying can affect your mental and physical health. I know that. But I find if I don’t worry about something then something catastrophic happens. I’m not saying you should worry about everything but going along in life that everything will be okay, why worry, doesn’t cut the cake or even the bread for me.

In the article “Steps to End Chronic Worrying” by Denise Mann http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/9-steps-to-end-chronic-worrying, experts weigh in on worrying. They say that the worriers get it genetically. I grew up with two worry warts – my dad and my mom, especially Mom. The experts also say it can be your environment and give the example that if your mother didn’t nurture you and provide a safe haven for you, that can do it, too. Right. Blame poor Mom for everything. No mention of Dad. My dad had cancer for six and a half years of my childhood and finally died of brain cancer when I was 16. That will pull the security rug out from under anyone.

The article also says worriers tend to see their doctors more often. Not me – at least not for the last few years. My doctor is an insensitive jerk and if I could afford a naturopath (not covered by Ontario’s primary health care system) I would see him or her regularly. So, I read a lot about health and try to live a healthy life…yes, even with worrying. Worrying often motivates me to do something about the situation. Solve the problem now – that’s my mantra. Of course, when you are “blessed” with too many problems at once, you are overburdened.

Living with uncertainty is another area covered in this article. It uses the example of worrying about getting cancer. Despite my dad’s dying of cancer, so far I have rarely worried about getting cancer. There are too many other problems in my life to worry about.

One interesting thing I read – if you cry or get angry you are not worrying. I do a lot of the latter – much of it based on the actual worries I’m dealing with. I also do a lot of weed-pulling in the garden and the weeds get names of people or things causing the worries.

Worrying has taught me a few things:

  1. There is uncertainty in life but instead of accepting all uncertainty and going on your merry way (we all know what happened to Pollyanna in the Disney movie), it is better to try to obtain some certainty with these issues. For example, face some of those demons.
  2. Worrying brings to my mind more clearly the problems I have to deal with and I have to deal with them pronto.
  3. Worrying brings out the anger sometimes and that can lead me to focus that anger on the person or issue that is angering me. Again, face those demons.
  4. And stop blaming Mother for your worrying habits. That’s a copout.

I’m interested in how all of you deal with worry. Do you agree with any of the points in the article mentioned above?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Aka Ms Worry Wart

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Decisions, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child, Poverty, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Worrying

Only Child robbed of time etc. by poverty

Only Child  contemplates some harsh financial realities - again

Only Child contemplates some harsh financial realities – again

Living around the poverty level has another bad effect on people. Not only does it kill you but before you die your cognitive functions will nose dive and your time management will fly out the window. I’m living (so far) proof as my poor (pun intended) brain is drowning in trying to get around living like this.

This year seems to be the worst as work has dried up since early July, although there are lots of promises of work to come from next week – writing and editing plus I’m teaching a memoir writing workshop Oct. 1. Hopefully all those readings with other writers (which I’ve been helping plan) will boost book sales or I will be going way Beyond the Tripping Point (the title of my mystery short story collection, Blue Denim Press, 2012). I even have a boarder, temporarily, a friend who needed a place to stay until she gets into public housing (long story and it’s her business). She is paying room and board and helping with buying groceries beyond that. For this I am grateful.

It’s the lacks that are eating away at my brain and my psyche. And I never had that as a child. I’ve blogged about that recently. This year I couldn’t even afford to go to the Canadian National Exhibition, which I usually attend annually. And it’s only $12 for seniors to get in.

A recent study published in the journal Science backs this up. Among other things the study says that poverty uses so much brain power that people living in poverty don’t have enough mind juice to deal with other areas of life, such as good steps to get out of poverty because they are too busy with poverty-induced issues such as finding ways to cut-costs, borrowing etc. to try to pay bills. All this steals from your time, time better spent trying to improve your situation – education, job training, or in my case, marketing my skills. As a result, they make bad decisions which can keep them living longer in poverty. The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard and Princeton Universities (USA) the University of Columbia (Canada) and the University of Warwick (UK).

You can read more about these studies at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265501.php and http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/health/2013-08/30/c_132676023.htm

I have only two more points to add to this poverty situation – house repairs and continually spiralling utility bills. This month, for the first time I have all utility bills (and property taxes too) to pay and two have their rates gone up. To add insult to this injury, I’m paying the gas bill in two parts – the regular leftover year-end bill and the sort-of –last bill of the year – the one which bills for the difference in the monthly equal billing and the actual usage. Unfortunately, the winter was harsher and we had a long cold spring, so usage was higher. I phoned Enbridge Gas and complained. Apparently they were too stupid to gauge that winter just might be harsher than the one for 2012 and they no longer automatically adjust your equal billing to reflect higher amounts used. I pulled the senior’s card. That got me a division of payment – but I’m not sure it makes much difference if I had paid it all last month or part then and part now. I still have to steal from so-called senior savings (RRSPs and the like) to pay for basic food and some of the bills again this month. It would help if the promised work would come in.

Are you listening God, Universe? Sometimes I have to shout very loud to be heard. So do many others I’m finding out.

It would be interesting to discover if those not being heard are predominantly those living around the poverty level.

Next study on poverty please?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Life demands, Only child, Poverty, Seniors, Time management, Uncategorized