Category Archives: Assertiveness

Only Child explores senior living past and present

Only Child and Mom mid 1960s

My late mother had a saying – “you can’t win no how.” Which sounds negative, but when you look at how people’s lives pan out, Mom maybe had a point. Especially as her life was cut short  by a brain aneurysm at age 63. She was also somewhat crippled by arthritis and scleroderma. All this happened after my dad died of cancer at 66.

Perhaps I should consider her somewhat lucky that she didn’t live longer to have to deal with more bad things happening in her life. At the time of her death she and I shared an apartment. However, I was engaged and the wedding ceremony and reception were already booked – the latter by Mom herself. She was scared to live alone and pondered whether she should spend six months (late spring to early fall) annually at her younger sister’s on the farm. Maybe not a good choice as Mom fell on the doorstep outside my aunt’s farmhouse. This was a new house and these entrance steps numbered two.  It was the damn arthritis.

The damn arthritis really was what killed her. It made her fall off the vanity dresser chair  (in her bedroom) onto the wooden floor and bang her head. She got headaches but thought they were because of her eyes – maybe new glasses – and she had an ophthalmologist’s appointment in mid-September.

She went into a coma overnight the end of July and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite surgery, she never woke up and died five days later.

When I look at my life compared to hers, I begin to wonder. First, about her saying “You can’t win no how.”

I certainly am not going through my senior years without a fight despite my health issues of diminishing eyesight in my left eye and getting worse, a digestive disorder, living on low income, and  having to deal with more problems than well – let’s just say that the phrase about God not giving anyone any more crosses than they can bear is a myth.

As a child,  I was meek, mild and shy  and didn’t really get my courage legs until in my 30s. My writing and being a single parent then forced me to change. It grew gradually. But I have one trait ,which I think comes from my Dad – I am a stubborn senior and God or somebody help those who make my life miserable. On the other hand those who are good to me and help and treat me well, I try to do the same for and to them. “Do onto others as they do onto you” is more my saying than “you can’t win no how.”

Perhaps besides the stubborneess, my saving graces are my writing, my garden, my son and his girlfriend, my cousins,  close friends, reading (despite the bad eye) and even watching favourite TV shows, and walking. A keen interest in life and a desire to see justice done doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if I could just find time to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What is your story – along these lines?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

My son, Martin, me, and Juni by my garden

 

 

 

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Filed under Arthritis, Assertiveness, Health, Mother, Only child, Seniors

Only Child: follow Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”

Only Child behind barbed wire and feeling the lack of respect

My hairdresser hit it right about the nonsense I’ve been dealing with from others. In last week’s post, Only Child tumbles into overwhelm (May 3, 2011), I mentioned some of the situations that have thrown me into overwhelm. Well, it’s not just the situations per se, but the people involved in them. While colouring my hair on Saturday, she listened to me rant and grabbed onto the incident about the person who kept phoning me  with questions and comments a couple of hours before a meeting we were both going to attend.

“She’s disrespecting you,” my hairdresser said.

I never thought of it that way, but yes, it’s true. Ditto for the fellow doing the excavation and grading work outside my house. After promising me a new-used picnic table (his idea to remedy his breaking the leg off the old table  when moving it. A new leg on the old table would have satisfied me), he is now incommunicado. He didn’t show up when he said to do the table exchange and refused to return my one follow-up phone call. Note, I said “one,” as I’ve put him on “delay” until the time arrives for him to do the grading.

All this lack of respect got me thinking in two directions. First, there is a lot of disrespect in our actions in both business and the personal. Think voice mail and the dreaded message, “Your call is very important to us.” Think rude e-mails and Facebook retaliations. This may go against what I also said last week – trying to gain control and get out of overwhelm. But perhaps, a lot of the disrespect stems from people believing they have no or little control in their lives – business or personal. My hairdresser says she’s noticed people are very cranky lately and is blaming it on a shift in the planets. Even if you don’t believe in her “why” she is right about people being grumpy. I know from my own state of mind.

The other thing I started thinking about is not just why I may not be getting the respect that I deserve but why I’ve let it happen many times. Growing up as an only child I was bullied by both a friend and a teacher (a nun).  Of course, I had no brother or sister to stand up for me and as a shy person, I was terrified to stand up for myself – unless pushed to do so. On one occasion when the bully friend and I had sharp words, I acted – with a little help from my mom.

I don’t remember the issue, but we’re standing outside on my front veranda. The Bully is letting me have it; I am burning hotter and hotter inside. Mom must hear us because when I run inside to get a knife, she hands me a ruler. The Bully knows she’s in trouble and she runs down the steps. Brandishing the ruler like I’m Zorro without the mask, I tear after her down the stairs, down the street, and around the corner. I’m steaming with how good it will feel to whack her one across the back and head, but she is too far ahead of me. Unlike Zorro, I have no horse, only my short eight-year old legs. I go right up to the side door of her house after she dashes inside. I yell and shake my ruler. I wish I had the nerve to run into her house and finish the job, but what will her mother think and do?

Maybe Mom is trying to protect me by teaching me to stand up for myself.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

Of course I haven’t been Ms Doormat up to now. I’ve learned from practice to be assertive in my work and sometimes in my personal life. Not without fear sometimes. I think the answer is “mutual respect.” Don’t push the person too far. Watch your timing and words when you ask for information or a favour. Mutual respect is offering to give something in return.

And here I have to add one instance in the last few days where mutual respect is happening. One of my East End Writers’ Group members has offered to help me with an area of my book proposal for my memoir because she says I have helped her with her writing within the group. In return I have offered to provide supper the evening she comes over to assist me.

Aretha Franklin had it right in her song, Respect. Spell it out like she does and listen to the words, especially the beginning, the end, and the chorus.  And follow them. Lyrics at http://www.lyrics007.com/Aretha%20Franklin%20Lyrics/Respect%20Lyrics.html, plus several video downloads on Y0u Tube.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aretha Franklin, Assertiveness, Civility, Only child, Overwhelm, Respect

Only Child tumbles into overwhelm

Only Child contemplates getting out of overwhelm

Lately I’ve become a space cadet. I forget where I put things; why I went downstairs and people’s mugs sometimes create a blank stare on my part (I’m usually good with faces and sometimes can even summon a name). At the same time a virus invaded my body. My turning point  came last evening when I boarded the bus and tried using last month’s transit pass without realizing it. The driver was kind but I decided to return home and get the May pass because I would still have to return home by public transit.

While the virus may have added to my “space flights,” it is not the cause – it is more likely a result according to an article on preventing burnout at http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm. The “cause” is too many things in every area of my life coming at me at once. Many fly in out of the blue (or black). Everyone demands my action NOW. Like that poor headless chicken I try to oblige. Some of these very people with the big demands tell me to “relax.” That’s an insult because you can’t turn on relaxation like the TV. So I now tell these people, “only person here. Have to do/organize everything myself.” I really think  being alone in the world is a factor. Not the only one, though. According to this article a person’s attitude can have something to do with it. I agree. The article also mentions a symptom of burnout as not having enough time for yourself. I agree and add not having enough time to make choices or sometimes not having any choice (or seeing my situation that way).

After reading this article I realize I haven’t quite hit burnout. But “overwhelm” and “stressed-out,” yes. So, after exiting that bus, I resolved to live my life according to my priorities. It is not essential that I answer every e-mail pronto; heck, it’s not essential to check e-mail like I was a gnat-in-action. The delete button is getting a vigorous workout. Of course, I try to be reasonable with my priorities. Obviously if a magazine editor wants my story in by a certain date, his or her deadline becomes my deadline and gets prioritized. I don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today; instead, I put off to tomorrow (or after tomorrow) what doesn’t NEED to be done today. Eliminating too much “food” on my life plate at once is starting to make my body and soul feel good. I’m becoming more assertive. Just have to watch I do it pleasantly not with anger – unless the person keeps demanding and becomes a nuisance, which happened last week. Somebody kept phoning over a two-hour period with a different question each call… all at the last minute before a meeting we would both attend. I also had my lawyer arriving for me to sign some papers just before this meeting. Bad timing? Maybe. However, he was saving me another trip up to his office in the northern parts of Toronto and he was only in my area that evening.

Then there’s the guy doing the excavation/sealing to fix the leak in the basement. That part  is done, including filling in the hole he dug, but the area must sit for a month to settle before he does the grading. I can live with that. However, I can’t live with his flakiness about when he will  bring me that patio table to replace the one he broke (a leg) moving for the work. He found another patio table that his neighbour wants to get rid of for free. I’m grateful for that. He keeps saying he’ll do it when he has a helper for his other contract work.  I tell him to call first to make sure I’m in and not meeting with a client. Meantime, the old patio table sits propped up with a large plant pot (turned upside down) and a brick. I’m holding back on some of his fee until all work is done and told him so last evening – after days of worrying over doing so – used the twofold reason I’ve never paid him before he finished other jobs and isn’t that standard practice?  It is in my editing business.

Felt better after that. Yoga classes resume tonight, so I will do another of my new resolutions – take care of my body.

Anyone else want to comment on how they deal with stress? Here’s the link to that article again. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm.

And if you are in overwhelm, remember the 3 D’s: delete, delegate (if you can), and delay.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Assertiveness, Balance, Burnout, Decisions, Life demands, Life learning, Multi-tasking, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Public Transportation, Stress, Time management