Category Archives: Burnout

Only Child says overwhelm causes forgetfulness

The look of Only Child in overwhelm

For just over a week I lived in overwhelm. I knew I had too much on my plate and started a “program” featuring the three D’s – do, delay and dump. The idea was to decide what was  most important in my life, what wasn’t important, and what was stealing my time. And as I found out stealing my mind. The number of items that disappeared in my personal black hole increased. Some have surfaced; some have not. It reminds me a bit of when my mother, when in her late 50’s she took bacon instead of steak out of the freezer for our supper. I, then in my late teens discovered the mistake long before the meat had thawed. Not exactly losing or misplacing items, but close.

My mother was having a hard time dealing with living life without my dad who had died a few years earlier and her escalating arthritis. So she had loss, grief and health. Money was not an issue

My misplaced items signify more and some are different. For example, I wanted to wear a specific sleeveless black T-shirt which I had owned for many years. But I couldn’t find where it should be or where it shouldn’t be and I looked several times both in artificiahav

Nada.

Yet I was 99 per cent sure I hadn’t at any time put it in the used clothing for the Diabetes Association bag. Ever.

Something strange was going on here.

It wasn’t until I returned home after a shopping expedition to buy a replacement T-shirt ( and didn’t find anything suitable) that I found the missing T-shirt. I was still furious about it being yet another item gone missing that I meticulously checked all the places again. And I found it in one of the places where it should be, i.e., the drawer where I put items that I’ve worn once or twice but they still don’t need to be washed.

I’m sure all the fuss about finding that T-shirt has something to do with wearing something I am familiar with, especially when you consider the chaotic unpredictable world we live in.

A few other items still remain lost in inner space. One is corn cushions for the soles of my “bad” feet. I know I bought two packages at the Rexall store – two because that is the only drugstore that seems to carry the padded ones and I don’t live close to a Rexall Drug Store. I paid for two and I know that the two packages came home and that I put them in the drawer where I keep all my bad feet paraphernalia. That burns up more than my feet because it costs me, as does all the health crap I have to buy or get done for my health. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

The funniest one is when my son was helping me remotely with transferring library books in e-pub once downloaded from my computer to my Kobo. Yes, I had the Kobo all right. But I couldn’t find the short cable that connects the Kobo to my computer. I told my son that I had the charger (I finally ordered one that you can plug in your Kobo to recharge it without turning on your computer) and the cable in it, but couldn’t find the cable for the Kobo to connect it to the computer. All this while I was frantically checking through desk drawers.

“That is the cable,” my son said. At least he didn’t laugh.

I knew the cause right away for forgetting that the charger did not come with a cable.

All the while my son and I were doing the computer remote fixing, I felt like I was coasting – almost like my voice, my body and my mind were separated.

And that is the way I had been feeling for a week and a half before trying to get too many things done to meet too many deadlines, and deal with weather and possible water in the basement and one of my many health issues acting up.

Immediately after Martin and I got off the phone I started to tidy up some of my office – my desktop and the few files needed to be put away.

That only brought on more forgetfulness, misplacement of items, and anger and frustration. I couldn’t seem to find the bills I knew I had paid at the beginning of the month. Finally found them in my Problems to be Solved folder. They  weren’t the problem – they had been paid. But I discovered in my bills to be paid was an unpaid phone and Internet bill for this month.

I am never late paying that bill but the utility company moving the date due up five days didn’t help with my memory.

The problem was twofold – I had too much on my plate to do so didn’t do some of the things I regularly do – i.e. keep a budget up to date including keeping track of bills that need to be paid and paying them on time. Of course I paid the bill online right away and through my account let the utility know I had just paid it and where, so I have a numbered receipt now.

But when I did that and when I looked at my now tidy corner of the office where I work, I felt better.

Next day, which was yesterday – Monday, I still started out sluggish and feeling overwhelmed. But I was determined to plow through as much of my “to do” list for the day as I could. When I did and saw what I had accomplished, I felt even better.

Maybe taking the time to do some gardening and going for a short walk had something to do with it.

But there are still things to rein in – like email. I have to get off some of these meet-up things I’ll never go to and some of the writing groups and other interest-related stuff that just takes up my time. I need to delete some of what I do (and one I thought I had came back today and I have to deal with it. This is one where the people in charge weren’t clear about what had to be done and I’m not the only one confused here).

And then there is all the crap I have to do for my health and when I have to do it. Yes, I’m reining in that too. Doing what I have to but where I can, when I can. Not dropping everything else to spend a lot of time doing this and that. If I forget to do something for my health once, so be it.

It is like I told my friend Maggie when I finally had time to call her early Sunday evening. “I don’t even have time to call my friends.” Now, that’s sad and unacceptable.

So is not getting enough sleep at night. But the last two nights I’ve had no problem falling asleep. It’s just that I wake up two to three hours before the alarm goes off and have trouble getting  back to sleep. Or don’t get back to sleep.

The weird thing is that happened Sunday night into too early Monday morning. And Monday – yesterday – is the day I got some of my equilibrium returned. Go figure.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

How Only Child wants to be and feel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Burnout, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Memory loss, Stress, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child says delete

 

Only Child  contemplates deleting extra chores

Only Child contemplates deleting extra chores

Hitting the delete button is common with computers. We also need a “delete” button for all the flotsam and jetsam in our lives – something I’ve decided to apply.

Life is not as simple as when I was growing up – although back then I did not think life was simple. But I suppose with my Dad dying of cancer, being bullied, and turning into Worry Wart #2 (my late Mom gets the prize for Top Worry War), that is understandable.

When I start misplacing items – or in some cases items go missing and turn up in strange places (more on this in a future post), I get angrier than usual at so-called “little things,” I am not getting enough sleep so I can’t think and function normally, bingo – I’m in overwhelm. It’s time.

Time to take a look at what exactly is happening in my life and hitting the “delete” button for some things.

Off the top of my head, I know I have to make the word “no” into a very big word. I need to stop helping every Tom, Ken and Susan who wants my help. A lot of it happens in the writing department and I’m not referring to paying clients. I have reached the point where I use the “delay” tactic but I think I will have to say “no” upfront. It is good as an experienced writer/writing teacher/ and editor to help more newbie writers – but somewhere in there you have to draw the line at how many and for what.

Then there is this business of suddenly finding housework (some of it daily routine) to do after the 11 p.m. news. Or as one of my writing colleagues put it “no more dusting late at night.” I don’t dust late at night and my house is lucky if I dust it once a month. Yes, I have my priorities right there.

No, what I do late at night is empty the dehumidifier, shut the basement windows (those two in summer), fill the coffeepot ready to turn on in the morning, and sometimes finish washing the dishes, dump the recycling newspapers, etc. in the big bin I keep just outside the side door, and lock that door and the front door. And I haven’t even started on the personal get-ready-for-bed rituals.

Why can’t I do all this stuff earlier in the evening? If I’m watching TV, except for a couple of channels I watch, there are commercials. I used to laugh at my friend Diana who would rush into the kitchen during the commercials to do dishes, etc. Well, it’s a good idea and I do it for washing the dishes and most of the time they at least get done. So why not for other daily evening chores?

Other things in my life can fall under the delete button. I use a Plan A, B, C and D for what is important. The A box is “Have to Do; want to do;” B box is “Have to do; don’t want to do” (dusting goes under thus one); C box is Don’t have to do; want to do” and D box is “Don’t have to do; don’t want to do.”

Guess which one is the easiest to list.

How do you deal with too much to do? Do you have a plan? Or do you not have too much to do in your life?

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Burnout, Mom and Dad, Only child, Overwhelm, Sharon A. Crawford, Worrying

Only Child on eliminating big stressors

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

It all came together like a light bulb exploding inside my head. Three occurrences within the same time period.

Yet another editing client’s manuscript had big formatting problems beyond the usual editing – second one in a few months. I was beginning to wonder if it was my computer software programs. Nope. Checked other clients’ manuscripts from earlier this year and even my writing manuscripts and they were fine. I have to charge extra for this extra re-formatting which isn’t part of copy editing (unless the client can fix it himself) which doesn’t always sit too well with clients. But I didn’t create the formatting problem. No quandary with the first client here a few months ago.

My digestive disorder is acting up and giving me lower back pain so that sometimes I have difficulty standing up straight without pain. I find just moving around (gardening and longer walks) and drinking peppermint tea seem to help temporarily. I’ve also added some supplements, changed a bit of my diet, and play relaxing  music when editing. But stress and stressors trigger these attacks. (I have plenty of house and money-related stress and spent a good part of Friday on the phone trying to straighten some of them out only to find when I finally got around to checking my snail mail that the bank officer I’ve been dealing with screwed up my minimal RRSPs’ renewal – she didn’t listen to what I originally said and didn’t even return my phone call. I left her a blunt voice mail indicating that I was upset; she better fix it, and to call me Wednesday morning when she is back from her extended long weekend).

The final “wake-up call” was when my police consultant – a police officer and novelist of police procedures said he is  retiring  next year and he “just wants to write.”

Bingo.

Early next year I should be getting the OAS pension and can apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement – that with CPP, hits on my small amount RRSPs (if the bank officer fixes them now so I can get at some) plus income from teaching writing workshops and courses, writing, doing manuscript evaluations and writing marketing consulting – hopefully I will be able to live modestly on that. Meantime I plan to get more gigs in those areas. By this time next year I plan to quit doing copy editing of book manuscripts. If the CAA Toronto branch still wants me as their Writer in Residence I’ll still do that – it’s only 30 pages per client and is often manuscript evaluation and for the latter it doesn’t matter how messed up the formatting is. I’m picking a year from now to tie in with when I would have to renew my Editors’ Association of Canada membership next year (not renewing then). Those few months will also give me some time to see how the new way goes.

I don’t know if it’s a taste of “like mother, like daughter.” As I’ve posted before, my late mother had to quit working as a secretary, then a proofreader for an insurance company because of severe arthritis. My medical condition is different and there are other stressors coming at me too. But I can imagine my mother had a lot of stress about her situation because she was a worrier too and also didn’t have a partner as it was after Dad died. Maybe the lack of a partner is “”like mother, like daughter.”

Now, I have another big stressor to deal with – getting help with and getting the window air conditioner replaced.  Wish me luck or maybe a miracle – maybe I might actually believe in miracles then.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Burnout, Decisions, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Old Age pensions, Only child, Pain, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child’s overwhelm leads to insomnia

Only Child catching some much-needed zzzzs.

Looks like my new motto to put off until tomorrow what you don’t need to do today isn’t solving my overwhelm problem. Now the overwhelm has moved into insomnia. Not good for doing client work during weekdays. I don’t usually suffer from insomnia. I may go to bed very late but at least I sleep until the alarm rings or if I wake up, I fall back to sleep within a few minutes.

Not for the last few days. I know I’ve inherited the worry wart syndrome from my late mother, but don’t recall her suffering from insomnia. But how would I know? I didn’t sleep in her bedroom at home. And when visiting cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, if Mom and I shared a room, she slept.

Maybe I’ve inherited it from my late father. He could give Mom a run for her worry money.

Or maybe it’s secondary factors – anxiety over too much to do (and all seeming to need doing at the same times), pain from physical health conditions acting up, and unfortunately age. It might also be because dawn arrives much earlier in summer, but I don’t think that is really the reason as dawn has been arriving early for over a month and my insomnia just started late last week.

An article on the University of Maryland Medical Center website http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/insomnia-000096.htm/  lists those three (not the dawn one) as well as the expected ingesting stimulants like caffeine too close to bedtime, menopause, menstrual cycle hormone changes, circadian rhythms disrupted, sleep apnea, snoring partners, decongestants, and the one that surprises me – computer work. Snoring partners definitely isn’t my reason and neither is computer work. My writing and editing work has me on the computer on weekdays and some weekends I spend a few hours checking and replying to personal email. If computer use was the cause for me, I’d have constant insomnia.

I don’t know if this insomnia will turn into constant. To avoid adding insomnia to my lists of problems and things I’m not grateful for, I am attempting to make some changes. For beating insomnia, the sleep experts say you should go to bed the same time every night and get up the same time every morning. I do the former – it is just very late because of all the household stuff I am still doing late at night. A partner would be helpful here. I am trying to have a cut-off time for doing housework and follow my last week’s blog posting rule – leave it to another day. Now, if I could just get my mind to wind down (and it’s not caffeine. My last cup of coffee goes down before 11 a.m., more than 12 hours before I hit the bed). I walk and/or garden during the day as breaks from work and/or before and after work and get the afternoon sun. Before I go to sleep I do relaxing things – take a shower and read from whatever book I have on the go. The experts say don’t read anything too startling and I suppose mysteries could come under that. This is often my only time to read one of the many books stacked up in the bookshelf by my bed. My room is quiet and so is the neighbourhood I live in – until a bunch of racoons start fighting and crying. Or the newspaper is plunked inside the front door. That  woke me up Friday morning and this plunk never does.  Unlike other times when some noise awakens me, this time I didn’t go back to sleep.

The article at the University of Maryland Medical Center has some other ideas but I don’t agree with them. For example, it says don’t read in bed or watch TV in bed. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom but I do fall asleep in front of the TV in the living room in the late evening and it’s not boredom.  I figure if I read my book sitting up in the kitchen or living room – I would fall asleep. When I transport my body to my bed, guess what? Awake. The article also suggests getting 8 hours sleep; I’m having trouble landing over 5 hours lately. However, experience tells me that 7 ¼ hours works for me.

Now I just have to get the 7 ¼ hours.

Do any of you suffer from insomnia? How do you deal with it?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Books, Burnout, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Peace and quiet, Reading, Sharon Crawford, Sleep deprivation

Only Child revisits overwhelm

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

After enjoying the holiday weekend for Canada’s birthday I am now back into the daily grind. And another bout of overwhelm is trying to take over.

I don’t know if my late mother ever felt like she’d spiralled into overwhelm. However, she could have won the title for Worrywart Incarnate. She had a lot on her life plate – Dad dying of cancer and after his death, her own health problems plus going back to work and raising a teenager, and a house. Mom may have come close to overwhelm when she decided to sell the house. And at 19, I wasn’t much help to her here. As I write in my memoir:

I am lying on that living-room chesterfield. My ears are tuned to the top 40 bleating from the radio and the rest of my face and mind are buried in an Agatha Christie mystery.

“Sharon, help me clear out this stuff downstairs. What are we going to do with it all?” Mom shouts up from the basement.

“In a minute,” I reply, as I tell myself I’ll just read to the end of this chapter. At 19, I am Mom’s confidant and unwished-for helper.

“Sharon.”

“Be there in a minute.”

“Sharon.”

“All right.”

I shove a bookmark in the Agatha Christie, place it on the end table and stomp down the basement stairs, around the sharp curve midway. At least I won’t have to look at the orange stucco stairwell walls much longer. What was Dad thinking when he painted them?

I am ashamed of my thoughts and as if to make amends, I dig into the latest box of stored possessions. This carton, tall, narrow and heavy, contains my school exercise books, drawings, high school yearbooks and newspapers.

“Do you want all of this?” Mom asks. “You decide.”

 (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford)

Today I am thinking of a recent phone conversation I had with my friend who has the back problem. She’s been laid up with it for over a month as it goes through ups and downs. While she’s been literally on her back from the pain and sleeping off the pain meds, she’s had time to think. Like me (or worse) she was always trying to accomplish way too much. (And of course, she is alone, as well). She’s decided to focus on what is really important to her and let the rest slide or wait. She is drastically changing her life, including moving closer to her brother and sister.

She’s right – not just about the family part, but about figuring out what is important in your life and ditching or postponing the rest. I’m taking that to the micro. Each day I am now deciding in my work, (including answering those sometimes pesky emails), in my personal life, just what is absolutely necessary for me to do today. With client work, deadlines help here. If a client needs an invoice so I can be paid, that is necessary for today. I look at all the emails and decide which ones are necessary to deal with today – family, friends and work. I already don’t work weekends except for the occasional workshop so rarely answer business email on weekends. I will also now stop apologizing for being so slow to reply to an email even if I don’t get to it until four or five (or more) days afterwards. I will do as my hairdresser does – just reply to it when I get to it. I have also removed myself from some email subscriptions that were merely getting filed for possible future story ideas. I’m staying on my LinkedIn groups, writing organization groups forums and listserves and blogs I’m connected to, including writing this one. Connecting with other writers is important – we can all help each other. The intent now is to actually connect with them more often. I know – where is the time? It might not be every day, but I’ll do it.

I’ll also shove more stuff in “pending.” To take the reverse of an old axiom, I will “put off until tomorrow what doesn’t need doing today.”

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it – for today, anyway.

Any comments? Ideas on dealing with overwhelm?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Burnout, email overload, Life demands, Mother, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon Crawford, Time management

Only Child on simplifying life

Ms. Worrywart - Only Child - contemplates her worries

When I was 15, my mom bought me Dale Carnegie’s book  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living because she was worried about my burgeoning worry habit. I guess Mr. Carnegie didn’t help me because the habit grew  over the many years since. Now, worrying is wrapped around being in constant overwhelm over too much to do,  trying to simplify my life and get back to some basics. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about renewing ourselves in September. (https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/only-child-views-septembers-new-beginnings/). I posted some tips to try and I’ve done some of them.

I’ve  said “no,” to a couple of things, backed out of something (naughty, naughty) and organized a few things that needed doing  – and even got at some of them. That certainly made me feel better – for a bit.

I’ve also been reading self-help books on the subject and although I can’t agree with all the content (and I’m still reading it), I can recommend one book – Living in the Moment by Gary Null (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2008). Mr. Null is an award-winning radio journalist, investigative reporter, health and science expert, documentary film maker, etc., and like me, a baby boomer.  He spares us boomers no slack in his book, blaming us for many of society’s ills and why many, if not most of us (here he includes the next generation down in age), are spiritually ( he differentiates between religious and spiritual) bare, bored, and in overwhelm. Even though I don’t agree 100 percent with him, he does make a lot of sense; however, I’m still waiting for more than a few lines on actually living in the moment. I’m in the Chapter on Embracing Our Bliss and I don’t agree with his definition on bliss.  He defines bliss as “about having the courage to release immature notions that make us toxic to ourselves and others.” That might be the first step for us to get to bliss, but that’s not all of it. I define bliss as being content and even happy with our life, filled with passion about something and maybe even at peace without ongoing worrying. Notice I said “worrying,” not “worries.” We all have worries, but most of us could use less of them.

For some of what Mr. Null (I love that last name – the paradox for what he writes) says I find I am already there and some of his advice I will consider trying. However, one thing he says  I can’t go along with, at least right up front and right away. He says we all need to reconnect with our community and be altruistic, be more like we boomers were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s this altruism part that I’m questioning. Some of us got into our overwhelm partly by over-volunteering and hit burn-out there. I think, first you have to “be selfish” and sort yourself out, then if there is a cause you are passionate about, go for it.

Strangely, some of his ideas for straightening out yourself are good, including ones I’m doing.

Here are some tips, based on Mr. Null’s ideas and what I’m doing, to get out of overwhelm and live simply and in the moment.

1. Get rid of the clutter – physically. He goes on about the consumerism and possession-collecting of boomers. (Just watch those hoarder shows on TV to see it in extremes). Well, for the past few years I’ve been purging stuff in my place and I actually turn my nose up (down?) at accepting stuff from friends (excluding small Christmas gifts, which I also buy for them).

2. Get rid of the clutter in your head (my idea). Right now my mind swims with all the stuff I have to do, etc. and it drives me up a wall and down again. Being an “only person” here, responsible for doing and organizing everything doesn’t help. If you have a significant other, persuade him or her  to help you with the next point because that will help with this no. 2.

3. Downsize what you do in your life – I hit on this in that previous post, but you need to decide what you need and want to do, not what someone else thinks you should do. Whose life is it? Remember, delay, delegate and (my favourite) delete. Make “no” the biggest word in your vocabulary.

4. Go out into nature and reconnect. I can’t emphasize how much a nature walk or going out in my garden helps soothes the psyche – whether pulling weeds, mowing the lawn with my push-mower, or collecting raspberries or tomatoes or just sitting out in the garden and absorbing.

5. Exercise – now here Mr. Null and I disagree on the philosophy behind this. He says that boomers go out and exercise in ways they really don’t like but for me, that’s not true. I love walking and gardening. Now, if he is referring to snow shovelling, I agree with him.

6. He also has much the same attitude about people’s motivation with meditation and yoga – I only partly agree when someone’s meditation wanders all around their concerns. But meditation, yoga, NIA, Tai Chi – whatever works for you – are good ways to relax. So are listening to music and reading, and maybe even watching some TV (the latter is for me, but not reality shows – Mr. Null and I agree on those).

7. Experience the holiday, the festival, etc. instead of using it to pile up on more possessions, something I already experience them, thanks to limited funds.

To sum it up, I think you have to sort yourself out first before you step outside, so to speak. But I still recommend reading Gary Null’s book Living in the Moment. Lots of good wisdom and he gets you thinking. Check out his website http://www.garynull.com for more info on the man and his works; for the book, go to http://www.amazon.com

Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Baby boomers, Balance, Burnout, Clutter, Gardening, No, Only child, Overwhelm, Time management, Worrying

Only child considers the sleep factor

Only Child looking like she could use more sleep

“To sleep, perchance to dream,” William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet. Forget the dreams; I’m having difficulty finding time to get ENOUGH sleep. But as some of my business gaffes last week show, I need more sleep because the lack of enough is affecting my cognitive abilities, my memory and making me anxious. I know I’ve hit on this topic before but it’s important enough to revisit.

The biggest gaffe (now corrected) is I mixed up dates for a one-day Blogging Your Memories workshop I’m teaching at the Riverdale Public Library branch in Toronto Oct. 5. I thought it was Oct. 3 and so put Oct. 5 as one of the dates for a Crafting Your Personal Memoir Writing course I’m running. Until I saw my library workshop posted on the library branch’s website. Oops.

Research shows I’m not alone in this Oops, not-enough-sleep factor.

A 2007 study conducted by Harris/Decima found that 90 percent of Canadian women don’t get sufficient shut-eye at night. Sixty percent of these sleep-deprived women live in Ontario, 59 percent in Quebec and the lowest number lacking enough sleep, at 50 percent, live in Maritime Canada. Why are we women not getting enough sleep? And the men are faring better. Stress (62 percent for women vs 53 percent for men), uncomfortable room temperature  (61 percent for women and 43 percent for men), and insomnia (35 percent for women and 25 percent for men).

And according to an earlier (2003) National Sleep Disorders Research plan, not spending enough time in the land of nod affects cognitive tasks, i.e.  the functional activity patterns between brain regions is altered. See http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/res_plan/section2/section2.htm.

And your memory – or maybe that should be MY memory – too little sleep affects our working memory, according to a Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_deprivation 

This article states that EEG studies show if you get less sleep then you have less reaction time, your focus and your alertness decrease, and your accuracy nose-dives. Amen to that.

I think it all started years ago when in high school I burned the midnight and later oils cramming for exams. It didn’t do me much good.  Since then I have had times when I did get sufficient sleep. When I was pregnant with my son, I had to go to bed soon after 7 p.m. or I yawned the rest of the evening. But it was also the time I could get up by 7 a.m. and be wide awake. Not anymore. If I have to get up early I’m often dragging myself around until I get a few shots of coffee inside me. Of course later in the day I want to nap, but I press on with work because I have a backlog of editing, writing, etc., not to mention house stuff, to do – despite prioritizing. But that’s another story.

Now, I’m still dragging myself around late late at night (you don’t want to know the time) finishing up  house chores or organizing my next-day’s work schedule.

Two nights ago, I declared war on not getting enough sleep. That workshop/course date mix-up did it. Now. I’m trying to get my 7 1/4 hours of nightly sleep. That seems to be the magic number for me. I think I have to do as I did a few years ago when I would “kill” for my sleep and if anyone or anything stopped me from getting to bed by 11 p.m., let’s just say I didn’t feel kindly towards them.

Maybe it’s also an age thing – hormones, or no hormones, who knows. That Harris/Decima study didn’t mention anything about the ages of the women who were sleep-deprived. Or maybe (more likely) we women and men, too, are just doing too much; it’s stressing us out, and depriving us of sleep.

I’ve said “no” on a few things the past few weeks, and am trying to focus on one thing at a time – not always succeeding. More walking and continuing with my constant gardening (when not working) would also help. When winter comes I can shovel snow for exercise. Yeck!

I think I’ll continue concentrating on getting more sleep…and maybe perchance to dream about some ideas to cut down on the overwhelm in my days.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Burnout, Cognitive disorders, Concentration, Life demands, Memory loss, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sleep deprivation, Stress

Only Child learns to reboot herself

Wasting time rebooting my laptop countless times yesterday thanks to malfunctioning software got me thinking. Why can’t we reboot ourselves when life’s stressors, overwhelms, etc. attack us full force?

My late Mom sure had the right idea for a little girl with no brothers and sisters but a Bully for a friend. In my memoir, in Chapter  4, “Protecting the Princess,” I write:

She (Mom)must know that the others treat me like a pariah. On sunny summer mornings, she parks me outside with my colouring book and crayons at the card table on the front veranda. I sit there in the slowly receding shade from the house and carefully pick out crayons to colour in the trees, flowers, people, and cartoon characters of my vast colouring book collection. Boxes holding only eight crayons are not good enough; I prefer at least 24 crayons because then I can pick out different browns for the hair and different greens for the grass and trees. I pull out a crayon, lift it to my nose to inhale the waxy smell, then apply it to the drawings of people and places. I make sure my crayon stays within the outline and that I shade evenly. No wisps or coloured lines scattered all over the page. Already I am realizing that I need some order in my life. But not without the spontaneous sweetness of nature. Often I lift my head from my shading to stare at the green grass and trees along the block and listen to the birds tweeting. Occasionally, a neighbour strolls by. We don’t wave or say “hello,” but I sense the peacefulness, not just between us, but overall. The neighbourhood is quiet now and I need to absorb this. It is more than just breathing – it is my reboot into living after confrontations with the Bully. Of course, I don’t figure this all out then. I am just content to soak up the moment without any angry outbursts.

I know now that Mom sensed this need and this was her way of getting me back in gear. Perhaps she realized that because I had no brothers or sisters, I had to go it alone. Perhaps she felt guilty because she and Dad had not “given” me a sibling. It certainly had nothing to do with Dad’s cancer because the summer of his diagnosis was still a few years down the road.

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

So, what’s stopping I or anyone else from doing a reboot? I have finally finished planting and transplanting in the garden and weeding is never-ending. I’ve started sitting out on the backyard patio or the veranda – not to colour with crayons (I still like the waxy smell), but to read a mystery or memoir book or the newspaper. It is my way to connect with nature, with summer and even my youth. As I grew older and moved away from crayons and colouring books, I would sit out in the backyard or on the front veranda and read an Agatha Christie or teen novel – whatever I borrowed from the library. Often I did this instead of studying for high school exams. It was a way to de-stress and disappear into another world, not mine. The characters in the novel might have had difficult situations to deal with but they  would be solved by novel’s end. And they were not my problems. The big key to reading fiction is escapism. And most of us need some of that in this aggressive fast-paced technological world. I could add many more adjectives but you get what I mean.

Take the time to reboot in your garden. If you don’t have a garden or a balcony with containers of flowers and herbs, go to your nearest park or public garden. And sit. And read. And just absorb the surroundings. Reboot. Your psyche will thank you. So will your family, friends and anyone you come into contact with. Beats an angry you flying off the handle at every slight or big conflict.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Burnout, Crayons and coloring, Health, Only child, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Peace and quiet, Reboot, Stress

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