Category Archives: Decisions

Streamlining my life or why no blog post last week

Only Child is doing this in her life

Life is getting too complicated and I am running around in overwhelm too much lately. That is why I didn’t even have time to write my weekly blog post here last week. This is the first time ever I have missed doing a blog post. I also missed doing my author blog post last Thursday. A lot of it seems to be things coming at me from other people and other things – what I supposedly can’t control

Well, maybe I can. If something or someone is stealing my time with their demands, maybe it is time to dump them or dump the organization I’m involved  in or at the very least cut back on what I do when for them. Because what is happening is I am not doing what I want to do because of all this outside stuff coming in.

Last Friday I started to draw the line and did that with someone who was actually helping me and the writers’ group I run with all the stuff to get a special event going. But she does want things done right away. I can’t do that anymore so emailed her that I can’t deal with anything related to that until Monday. She was fine with that and I am grateful that she has been dealing with the city bureaucracy involved in one aspect of it. In fact another organization had the same problem with the city so I’m wondering if it isn’t the same city jerk there causing all the problems.

I am also emailing a potential new client that I cannot evaluate her manuscript until fall  – originally I had estimated June but I just  finished the third rewrite of Beyond Faith and am now back to doing a very heavy edit for the novel of a very understanding client. I had also suggested this this PC (potential client) could also go to another editor near where she lives and someone she, as well as I, know. When I didn’t hear back either way from the PC I presumed she had gone to the other editor. Meantime a repeat client emailed me that she would like me to do another evaluation of her manuscript since she has rewritten it based on my previous evaluation – of course for a fee. Not hearing anything from PC and realizing that my considerate client’s ms was again behind schedule (he knows and is not upset), I gave her a tentative July to meet with her. However, imagine my surprise when last week PC emailed with wanting to email the manuscript, although she did ask if she could email it now. As for fee (and I had mentioned that in my previous email), she mentioned she could mail a cheque or a gift card. Huh. No way for the latter and I don’t just start an editing job without a deposit and without a signed contract.  Guess I will have to email her this week. And if she decides to get another editor, that’s fine with me. Today I also have the handyman here fixing house and property stuff plus deal with the writers’ event planning and do some more editing on the considerate client’s manuscript.

You can see some of the stuff I’m dealing with, some which I don’t really have time to deal with. Last night was the first night  in months I got seven hours of sleep – if you count the half hour I fell asleep watching the news and weather on TV. Sleep is important to me and I’m tired of being tired and not being able to think straight some times.

So, in my quest to decide what to scrap, what to cut  back on, what to put in pending indefinitely I am re-reading this wonderful book by Elaine St. James called Living the Simple Life. She has other books in the same vein and I have one of them – if I can find it in my overfilled bookshelf by my bed. Although the book is written in the mid 1990’s, it is still relevant – she does a whole list of possible time stealers for people and except for Publishers clearing house junk  mail, she is right on. Yes, email and the Internet are on her list, but we can just add more up-to-date time -stealers like our cell phones and other devices and social media. Her chapters are simple and short and very helpful and you can pick and choose which chapters to read.

So with Elaine’s help and my determination (and stubbornness and persistence) I am going to cut the crap and try to live doing things one foot at a time, one thing at a time and where possible I decide the priority. If people don’t like it they can lump it.

And that’s enough cliches for now.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Garden serenity when things get hectic

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Filed under Decisions, Overwhelm, Planning, Prioritizing, Problem solving, Uncategorized

Only Child struggles through 2016 goals

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am finally setting up my goals, hopes and the like for 2016. I use a separate form for my business, but for the personal I use four forms:

  • Want to do, have to do
  • Don’t want to do, have to do
  • Want to do, don’t have to do
  • Don’t want to do, don’t have to do

They are from a book on putting balance in your life – the title escapes me and my copy is somewhere in the shelves of books by my bed.

 

D is my favourite. Unfortunately it is the shortest list. A and C are the next favourites in line. Unfortunately B seems to be taking over with a lot of health and house issues. And stealing my time from my business of writing.

 

With the house one of my windows is having trouble with the controls. It is under warranty so money isn’t the problem. Unfortunately God’s bloody weather  with the white crap and sub-zero temperatures is the problem. The window is frozen shut and today’s appointment with the technicians at the manufacturer’s had to be postponed – we got snow (which I have to shovel – no sign of the fellow who used to shovel snow last year for a reasonable charge). The lady at the window manufacturer’s says many of their clients are waiting for spring to get the work done or I can watch the weather report and then phone – but they need a couple of week’s notice.

My vacuum has to be replaced. The hose has come loose from the end near where you hook it up to the main part. Both my son and I have had sessions taping it up with duct tape and in doing so shoving the loose part back in. But when I vacuum, the hose twists and pulls, opening the break inside the duct tape, sometimes the dirt sticks to the duct tape and there is a blockage. This weekend I had to clear that out by removing some of the duct tape, pulling out the dirt and waiting over 45 minutes for the vacuum to cool off. I turned it on and the motor worked but still no suction. I changed the dirt bag, which wasn’t even full. Then it worked.

I emailed my son to see if he could drive me to Canadian Tire when he and his girlfriend are coming here for dinner later this month. Told him I was doing online research and would narrow the vacuum choices to three but I need to eyeball them. He phoned back immediately and said he would pick it up and I could pay him back after (I can afford a vacuum within reason – just can’t cart one home on public transit) but I need to let him know which vacuum (model number and Canadian Tire product number). Now I need to find the time to finish my research.

In the health end, the list of health professionals for various health issues is long. I won’t go into details now as they are all fodder for future posts, expanded into the medical side. I know, former journalist here but the habits don’t disappear.

The health list at this point:

Get eyes tested for one-year time-line (been reminded by phone between Christmas and New Year’s of all times).

Return visit to dentist (from the emergency back in early December) – get the filling on the second tooth  replaced – a normal filling – by end of February.

Allergy tests

A little note here – the medical centre I go go have called twice on the allergy tests (again, one during the Christmas holidays) and I’ve assured them I will be booking early this year. Trouble is all the other health issues to deal with. But the medical also called (during Christmas holidays) to say they have a booking for me to see an ear, nose and throat specialize.

Wait a minute here. I did not authorize this with the doctor I saw at the medical centre. He suggested it but I said I wanted to deal with the allergies as I believe they are a big cause. He agreed with me and said nothing that he would be booking either ENO specialist or allergy tests – in fact he told me to book the allergy tests. So I told the medical call centre that I wasn’t going to an ENO now and to cancel anything there because I was focusing on allergy testing and I would be doing that.

It’s my bloody body and I’m way more than old enough to make decisions here. Perhaps later I’ll decide to see an ENO but the allergies (and the rest of the health enchilada) have to come first.

But now I have  sinusitis – probably caused by the allergies – I’ve researched it online and that seems to fit – it is also something reoccurring with me.

But I’m still going to do what is on my list.

Getting old is no fun. I know there are worse health problems – some of my friends have them. But I’m being general with that first sentence.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Weather reality

Weather reality

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Filed under Decisions, God, Health, Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Lists, Prioritizing, Problems, Snow, Weather, Winter Weather

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 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 Creativity comes from where?

Only Child’s late Mom – a creative influence

I’m continuing in this creativity vein from last week’s post. There are other areas where my creativity has saved me many times in many areas of my life – problem-solving, juggling clients, and of course writing.

This got me wondering. Just where did my creativity come from?

My mother? She tended to take after the practical side of her family – the Schefters and was good in the business and budgeting end. However, she was also a Strauss (no relation to the 1800s’ composer Johannes Strauss – but our Strauss ancestors came from the same Black Forest neck of the woods). Mom’s creativity showed up in how she approached honesty and got me involved in it. In my memoir, Chapter 5 , “Mom’s Ten Rules of Honesty,” Mom was determined that I would get my just desserts, so she created this story.

“Eat your dessert or the police will come and get you,” Mom says. She points to the front door and nods her head like I better do it or else the Black Maria will roll up the driveway and scoop me up into its dark interior.

I stare down at my bowl. Stewed huckleberries and apples. Black smashed berries and their dark juice seep through the apples. Yuck. Smothering the stew in vanilla ice cream can’t hide the taste of huckleberries, a taste that sits in the middle between sweet and bitter. But Mom insists on growing these strange berries in her garden.

“Sharon, did you hear me?” Mom gets up from the kitchen table, scurries into the living room and stares out the front window. “Oh, I can see a police car coming up the street; it’s turning into the driveway.”

I start to shovel the mixture down my throat. Then I jump up and take my turn at the living room window. Down the street, Mare’s father cuts his front lawn; Mrs. Armstrong sits on her front veranda, with her collie dog at her feet, and a couple of finned cars cruise up the road towards the dead-end street. Our driveway at 139 lolls in its usual empty state. When I finally get the nerve to look straight down at the veranda outside the window, all I see are the two Muskoka chairs – vacant. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Mom was also supportive of my creativity – writing and teaching. Maybe that’s partly it – heredity and support. The rest is my own doing.

I try to live my life creatively. When you are an “only person” and have to depend on yourself, you have to be creative. Finances and budgeting are especially important. Sure, there are financial planners and advisers and I do get advice from the experts. But I have to decide how to bring in the money and how to use it best. Sometimes I do well at it and other times not so well. Perhaps the biggest most recent hurdle was last December when I had to live on under $1,000 – including “stealing” from the money saved to pay off my glasses when the year’s financial payment grace period ran out. Fortunately that turned into 13 months because of the timing of ordering my glasses the previous year and Sears billing date.

It also meant working hard to get more clients so in January things turned around and I got out from under.

Juggling clients when you are running your own business also requires creativity. I’ve had to learn tact (definitely not inherited from Mom), time management (still learning), and when to say “no” (especially to clients and would-be clients who want freebie work done). Then there is the bane of most of us unless we live in the dark ages – computer problems. I can’t solve most of mine – but I use my creativity to figure out what to do (after swearing a lot) – call in a computer techie, figure it out for myself, etc.

House and property problems require the same type of creativity – to do or to delegate. I do both but the former has tried my creativity and I’ve learned that sometimes what you think you can’t do, you can. However, I still won’t climb up on a ladder beyond my height (5’ 1”) because of Vertigo. That’s being practical so I can survive to be creative.

What are some of the ways you live creatively?

I may delve more into creativity in next week’s post.

Meantime, take a look at my latest creative effort – my debut collection of mystery short stories Beyond the Tripping Point. Click on the book cover below for more information.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child aka Sharon A. Crawford’s debut short story collection

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Filed under Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Computer problems, Decisions, Living alone, Memoir content, Mother, Only child memoir, Problem solving, Sharon A. Crawford, short story collection

Only Child finds problem solver from roses

Only Child finds deadheading roses leads to a new way to deal with problems

I spent more time this morning in my garden than I had planned and I’m glad I did. As I deadheaded the dead roses on my rosebushes, I pretended each dead flower I snipped was a problem. Yes, I did run out of problems and was still clipping away.

But I found a tactic to deal with some of these pesky problems that seem to have no answer.

You probably know The Serenity Prayer – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

While in my rosebushes I thought of fourth and fifth options…”the courage to know which ones I can delay and the courage to delay them.” For me this applies to answering email whose content is imposing on my time now and in the future – I have to answer them sometime, but I don’t know what to say; waiting for answers to important emails I sent; and waiting for payments for work I’ve done. With the latter I seem to be getting screwed by the powers that be. Two cheques from clients, already processed and sent out, have not arrived. A few months ago a client from a city not far from me mailed me a cheque. It took a month to arrive by regular mail. But the one that may take the stupidity cake is a money Interac transfer that got lost in cyberspace. The sender had to redo it and resend it. That second one arrived. At least with Interac transfers, the money doesn’t come out of the sender’s account until the recipient correctly answers the sender’s question.

For the money delays, my hairdresser says there is something in the energy worldwide with money. Probably true, but I have other ideas for the personal level. No matter, I’m trying to put this one in the “delay option.” Not easy.

Does anybody else follow the ideas in the Serenity Prayer for all the stuff coming at them? Or does anyone have another way to deal with these roadblocks to getting on with your life?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Decision Making, Decisions, email overload, Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Life learning, Only child, Overwhelm, Problem solving, Problems, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child gets serious about prioritizing

Only Child contemplates setting her priorities.

Every fall, my late Dad used to prepare the lawn for the following spring by ordering in half a truckload of manure. After it was dumped in the driveway, he would spread it onto the lawn – front and back. I suspect my mother also put some of  this manure in her vegetable garden.

With autumn soon sliding into winter, I’ve been trying to wrap up the garden and prepare the house for winter. Weather, of course, dictates when this can be done. But there is another big factor that can get in the way here as well as in your business. You might call it the “manure factor,” but in my case, the meaning is just the opposite to my Dad’s endeavours.

Since I returned from my summer holidays many moons ago, I seem to be living in overwhelm. True, business has been brisk; there is (was?) the garden, plus a lot of administrative stuff to deal with – both for my writing, editing, and instructing business and for the house and property outside. Some of it was definitely necessary to handle in a timely manner. The question I need to ask is how much of what I’ve been dealing with in all aspects is actually necessary right now? What is suffering that is more important? What is (or are) the culprit(s) getting in the way?

Fall is a good time to have a constructive look at your business, what your vision is, what your goals are, and perhaps very important – what is your passion, and if what you are doing moves you forward to achieve them? And what the heck is getting in the way?

Too much social media may be the problem. In my case it is business email. Not personal email – I’m lucky if I get to some of that. At least, I talk to and see my son and his partner regularly.  However, if it weren’t for this blog some of my friends might think I’m dead.

The balance is off – both in my personal life and my business life. When I analyze where my time seems to go in my business, I see too much emailing back and forth – and this is to clients. Whoa. Wait a minute (make that several minutes). They are paying me to edit their work, write something for them, or instruct them in writing. So, why are we spending so much time emailing right away. Those are the key words. How much emailing to clients is actually urgent? True, if there is information either of you need right now to proceed or if the client is in some kind of crisis connected to the job you are doing for them, fine. But otherwise, is it really necessary to fire off an email right away?

Situations and events that occur sometime in the future may not require instant replies. Even the “normal” (whatever that is; you define) emailing back and forth between clients and clients to-be may work fine  with waiting a day or two. I know of some people who do that (I am one of their email recipients). Maybe they have the right idea.

Then there is what I call quasi-business email: e-newsletters related to your business, forums and other online groups related to your business, invites to conferences, book launches, workshops, etc. etc. My job and your job here is to sort the important from the not-important. That includes deciding who to reply to and when, what to file and what to just delete. For example, in my books, an invitation to a conference or a workshop that costs too much receives the delete button hit. Ditto conflicting dates (with a few exceptions such as if the times differ for the same day and I can work around them), something outside my business travel parameters, and an event way outside my business target markets.

Time is money. So, the question to ask is “Am I wasting money I could earn by wasting my time?”

Time is also precious. The question here is “Am I wasting time doing something I don’t need to do and forgetting my vision, my passion?”

Food for thought as we go about preparing for winter.

Comments anyone?

Excuse me while I rush out to my garden to bring in some weather-sensitive plants. Clouds are looming; rain is coming, and after that the temperature will dip.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Decisions, email overload, Home and Garden, Life demands, Manure, Only child, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Passion, Prioritizing, Sharon Crawford, Time management