Category Archives: Gardening and depression

Only Child becomes frenzied gardener

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

I love gardening. To me it is life and without it a lot would die inside me.

So why the past week have I turned into the frenzied gardener? Setting aside time slots on weekends, mornings before work, evenings and rushing outside to frantically dig, weed, trim and plant?

It’s the weather folks. And having too much else to do. And dealing with ongoing health issues. The latter and all the extra stuff I have to do for them is something I resent. If nothing else, with all the thing going wrong with my health in the last year, I learned that you can spend too much time dealing with health stuff – finding out what the heck is wrong – including making medical appointments and dealing with medical professionals’ bad judgements and the fallout from that, and of course what I have to do for my health.

First of all, I am not a big fan of prescription drugs, but I am thankful for the double content prescription eye drops my ophthalmologist prescribed. Not only have the drops stopped the eye pressure from decreasing, but the actual pressure has decreased. The latter is not something that is supposed to happen.

No, it’s dealing with all the nonsense related to my digestive disorder – this one has no cure and I’ve been living with it for years and since then it has taken on tentacles, so to speak. I’m not even going to go into my daily regimen for that. Suffice to say, to help ease the pain, help ease the situation, I take a lot of natural supplements and the like. And yes they help. But when I go to make what used to be a simple breakfast, it turns into a major production.

So, my garden is my lifeline and if I’m out there pulling weeds and digging up a storm, please excuse me. It does make me feel better and even drives the digestive disorder pains away. I get great joy looking at my garden and once the tomatoes are in the garden (yes, I’m over a week late with them thanks to the weather – too dry and fluctuates between too cool and too hot – more the former), I plan to sit out more in the garden and just read and enjoy.

And  yes, I’m taking yet another look at what (besides the aforementioned health stuff) is stealing my time and some of it is either going on the back burner or going out the window. I also have a lot of client work (for which I’m grateful) now and that is a priority. So is family, reading and walking. Too much social is not – I’m cutting back or at least spreading it out and that includes replying to email. Don’t get me wrong. I love email – it and the Internet were my first forays online back in the mid-1990s and except for blogging (which I love doing) I much prefer email and  searching on the Internet to trying to keep up with social media. And I’m cutting back on one thing with social I seem to get roped into – arranging work and school reunions of small groups of old friends. I still want to get together with them, just not do all the organizing.

It seems no one else wants to or has the time to organizes these lunches or dinner get-togethers either.

So, it will be one-on-one (or two or three) with friends getting together. That way I’ll see some of them, at least.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Roses in bloom late spring

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Time management

Only Child Tallies 2015 and previews 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

Only child ponders 2015 and 2016

I know I’m a day early posting but I’m experimenting – might change to Mondays for weekly postings after last week. Then I wrote the post on Monday but set it to go live Tuesday at noon. But I wasn’t too clear about when exactly I was writing and with the weather timing, it became confusing when it was posted as I had set it.

2015 has finally come to an end. It was a roller-coaster year all over and personally. Here are a few highlights of the bad and good – not just personal. And I promise it will only be some – if I put all in, it might fill the proverbial book.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (in no particular order)

Health:

In the past 13 months four friends have been diagnozed with cancer. The first of them is clear after one year. And my friend next door has a very aggressive lung cancer and is now undergoing chemo-therapy. I will talk about this more in another post about cancer. As for me, I have had to deal with an on-again-off-again respiratory infection for five months, going 85 per cent deaf for six days, new and old allergies (including a local allergic reaction to a wasp sting, an injury from a fall, and a dental emergency. Plus some of my usual health issues. Getting old is no fun. But wait a minute – my friend with cancer is only 50.

Weather – all over it is catastrophic – too much rain, too much snow, floods, floods, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like, too dry weather, forest fires, etc. etc. You name it and somewhere on this earth it is happening. Don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating? Go to the The Weather Network and check it out. My take here is it is a combination of green gas/climate effect and to quote what the lady on the bus back in May said “God controls the weather.”

On a personal level with weather, water got in the basement three times from rain – not a lot. But it isn’t supposed to be happening because it was all waterproofed nearly five years ago. It worked for nearly two years, then stopped. Attempts to get the contractor to fix it haven’t worked, so I mention his name to warn people not to hire him. Nigel Applewaite.

House repair problems – from iced eavestroughs and downspouts, to unlevelled toolshed, to broken rain barrels, to electrical upgrades, etc. etc. The latest – discovered New Years Day 2016 – a window with a non-working lock – suddenly – this is a year and a half old window with a lifetime warranty (well longer than I will live anyway). I have to phone the window company today and being the untrusting person I am from previous experience – there could very well be problems with how it gets fixed/if it needs replacing and if they try to charge me, saying I damaged it, which I didn’t. It stopped working; it’s defective.

Consumer issues – mostly with utilities from the long (month and a half) business with Rogers Cable taking 8 visits to find out the cause of the on-again-off again no service. I pay  my bills so that is not it. What it was is a cable outside between the poles – which I kept telling each of the seven technicians (one was sent for two calls – not two in a row) who came. Only the last one listened – a seasoned technician. He checked outside – yes, a cable needed replacing and he called in for the service technicians who do that to come in. Cable TV service was up and running within a couple of days. In November and early December , the digital cable adapter has been acting up – they are documenting that and it can be replaced if necessary. If so, I may have to pull my senior ticket to get someone to come here and install it for free. I haven’t a clue how to do that. But I’m hoping all the reception works fine.

The other utility screw-up was when I had to change my Enercare heating protection plan to the more expensive boiler one. Unknown to me, years ago. one of the previous companies (Enercare took it over) had signed me up for the wrong plan. The fellow I talked to said I could get the discount for the first year because it was a new plan for me. I also booked a furnace cleaning – included in the plan. A few weeks later after I received an email about this plan with the full rate being charged, I phoned Enercare. Not only had my furnace cleaning appointment mysteriously disappeared, they were saying I wasn’t allowed the discount for the plan itself. I kicked up a big fuss and finally got a supervisor, who said they would check the recording of when I was signed up and get back to me. I was told I couldn’t book a furnace cleaning until then, but I called in again and did so. And I wasn’t pleased with this techs cleaning summary – he never said anything except that all was okay – until I got the electronic version of the checking – my furnace which is 13 years old got a rating for a 20-year old furnace. But I finally heard back about the heating protection plan. Yes, I had been promised the discount, so I have it.

Computer problems – including the old desktop computer with Windows XP finally not able to handle all programs. My son, Martin to the rescue who helped me get signed up with another Dell Lease . Microsoft’s bad move trying to shove Windows 10 at those of us who have either Windows 7 (that’s me) or Windows 8.1 on our computers, including “accidently” downloading it on some people’s computers. That, plus any new PC will have Windows 10, and the not-so-good screen setup for good lighting and vision (tied into Windows) and trying out my son’s Mac laptop has convinced me to lease a Mac laptop this coming fall when the PC laptop lease expires.

Public transit problems – from city subway and other upgrades to service disruptions to VIA rail never failing to screw up the service when I return from holiday – no matter how my travel itinerary is set up. This latter has actually happened in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Never enough time to do what’s important – partly because of having to deal with some of the above such as the consumer and house issues.

That’s a sampling.

On the good side for 2015, I will mention now and elaborate in next week’s post on a few of them.

  1. My family, especially my son, Martin and his partner Juni – for their support, help, etc.
  2. My friends – same reason and for just being my friends – Margaret, Nola, Tanya, Marlene, Diane, Bob, Sheila, Reccia, Ellen, Rosemary, etc.
  3. My neighbours for their help – some are friends, too.
  4. My writing and getting books published, writing books, promoting my books including presentations with other crime writers,  my writing group, my clients – the list is endless here.
  5. My health – what works – I can still walk, hear, see (the latter two have some “getting old” features), talk (some people probably wish otherwise).
  6. Good books to read
  7. Good TV programs to watch.
  8. Cooking, trying new recipes, and eating, too.
  9. Walking around and exploring Toronto.
  10. My garden – despite tree problems. I miss the garden now in the cold snowy winter weather. Spring to fall going out in my garden even just to sit calms my nerves, gives me hope and peace, that not all is bad in the world.

These are only a few. May we all have a good, prosperous and interesting 2016 without a lot of the bad stuff from 2015 or new bad stuff.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under cancer, Complaining tactics, Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Faulty Contractors, Floods, Gardening and depression, God, Health, Help and Support, Martin Crawford, Only child, Public Transit, Railways, Rogers Cable TV Service, Time management, TTC bus and bus station upgrades, VIA Rail, Weather

Only Child on confusion and uncertainty

Garden front of houseI hate confusion and uncertainty. One seems to breed the other. Both lead to worry and anxiety and that is not good for your health.

When I was a little girl I had a re-occurring dream. I would lie on my tummy in my bed and be aware of falling asleep and seeing inside all of the house. What I saw was fire and sometimes floods and Mom, Dad and I trying to collect what we could of our belongings and get out. I always woke up before so never knew how it all ended.

This uncertainty and confusion has carried right through my life. Yes, there have been floods – big and small in the basement of the house I now live in. Perhaps that has something to do with my morbid fascination with the weather. But I think a lot of it has to do with self-preservation. When a threat hits me I go into the fight or flight mode. We know what that does to us, as usually it isn’t some predator (human or animal) after us, although in our bad bad world, it sometimes is. We are usually confronted with a big problem. It could be financial, house-related (besides fire and floods), family and health.

Health is the big one, because this fight or flight mode will get the adrenalin pumping up and raise the cortisol level in our bodies.

Not good.

I am the first to admit that I am a big worry wart. But I come by it honestly, firmly believing I inherited it from my parents, particularly my mother. Mom could win the prize for Worry Wart incarnate. I’m not blaming her, just stating a fact.

This past summer has been extremely bad for health and house problems for me, as well as getting my holidays organized (the three big bad H’s?). Outside factors (read people and situations) are at least 90 percent to blame. Because of a couple of other medical conditions I have a compromised immune system and prolonged and/or heavy worrying effects your immune system. Off and on all summer I’ve been battling sinusitis which spreads into my neck and face glands. It would start improving and be on the road to gone, when poof – it is back again in intensity.

Each time that happens I can link it with some big stress situation caused by somebody or something outside me and my resultant worrying.

Lesson? Several come to mind. I need more sleep (sleep heals) and less stress.

So, I am now swearing on my laptop (I’m not religious, remember, so no Bibles) that I will have less stress in my life. And anyone who causes me stress and grief better watch out.

No, I’m not going to wield the proverbial axe. I’m picking my battles carefully. Sometimes I will go the consumer advocacy route because chances are if I’m experiencing bad rude service, for example, so are others. Other times I’ll just curse the person responsible. And yes, that latter makes me feel better inside.

I am also saying no to requests to do extra jobs and the like. Yesterday I just said “no” to one of those and that was the right thing to do for me now.

And I will continue to spend time in my garden, not just weeding (but naming weeds after the stressors as I yank them out helps) but also sitting out in my garden. Been doing more of that lately. Also writing – nothing like getting the creative juices working to soothe the soul – and transport you into another world. And finding time to meditate and doing so – maybe while in the garden.

How do you deal with stress? Or do you?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Hostas late spring/early summer

Hostas late spring/early summer

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, Dad, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, Stress, Uncertainty, Weather, Worrying, Writing

Only Child says Carpe Diem

00240021If the unsettled weather in the world teaches us nothing else, we need to grab the good-weather summer days and get outside. (Winter is another matter, better left swept under the carpet for now).

This beautiful long Victoria Day holiday weekend in Toronto, Canada got me outside in my garden. I enjoy gardening but there is always lots to do. The trick is to pace yourself over time, even within the time span you are currently out in the garden. So I did a “to do” list, but didn’t tie myself to what I did when. I started in the front garden, but I had been already out there, 30 minutes at a time or so when possible during lunchtime, evenings on workdays the past couple of weeks. So some areas were weeded and just needed fresh topsoil and the plants planted. One area I had even put down the topsoil. As I did this, I also yanked out a few dandelions that had sprung up. My neighbour next door was rotor-tilling one area of his garden and gave me some strawberry plants. They went into the front and some in the back. Later that day when I was out only for a short walk to Shopper’s, I did what any garden fanatic would do.

Bought some more perennials I saw outside a convenience store I passed by. So I had to plant them.

The rest of the day I spent sitting outside in the backyard, reading a mystery novel and snoozing.

Sunday, was much the same – except this time I dug up the area (weeds) for onions and lettuce, put down some topsoil in the front part of the area, and planted some onions and lettuce. There is still more onions to be planted but I’ve been sneaking some of the onion bulbs in with the flowers in both front and back. I use a lot of onions and like to store the remaining ones in the root cellar in the fall, so the more the better. (But we won’t think of fall now because we know where that leads).

I’m trying to be innovative with the garden this year, partly because I’m still dealing with the aftermath of God’s winter (make that two winters) destruction outside. But we won’t think of winter now. Also I’m removing a lot of what is mostly weeds and planting new perennials. So, I have a few areas in front where it looks somewhat weedy in back and is cleared with new perennials in front. My excuse? I’m waiting to see what perennials come up from last year so I don’t dig them up by mistake. Two hostas up and spreading and those two spikes might just be the third hosta poking through the weeds.

It has been dry here lately – we got some rain Friday evening but not enough to loosen the ground where the false sunflowers are starting to come up for this year. I need to remove some of them so I can get at my compost bin and also promised Tanya and Alex next door at least once clump. And I have another place in my renovated garden for a clump too.

Oh well, hopefully next weekend. It’s getting cold again before then.

Meantime the garden club I go to is having its annual plant sale this Thursday evening. Carol and I hope to get there. I need more sedum and lavender and a new sage plant. My old sage plant didn’t make it through the winter.

Enjoy the flowers, the greenery you see around you. Remember – carpe diem – seize the day. You never know what disaster will land on you tomorrow.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Carpe Diem, Gardening and depression, Home and Garden, Only child, Peace and quiet, Reading

Only Child on healing through gardening

Only Child looks forward to quiet time on the patio in the back garden.

I need to garden now to heal. And the weather and the garden itself look promising.

Monday, I saw the first robin of the season. The robin was moving across my front yard. The lawn hasn’t yet turned green, but in the back clumps of tulips and hyacinths are poking above the ground. I need colour, so yesterday I “dragged” my legs over to the local garden centre and bought two potted pansies. I put one on the picnic table on the backyard patio and hauled out a small table for the veranda and placed pansy plant number two there. Already I’ve been sitting outside to eat breakfast and lunch. Now with daylight saving time, dinners outside will soon follow.

This winter may have been the warmest in years in southern Ontario, Canada. But it also turned into one of my worst winters for physical health problems – two viruses in a month, acting as catalyst for a severe Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency causing extreme pain in the bone below my knee.  Hence the dragging my legs to and from the garden centre.

So, I repeat, I need to garden to heal. I need to get outside more in the sunshine. I need to remove the dead tops of last year’s perennials so this year’s perennials can appear and blossom. I need to turn the soil. I need to plant seeds – once my seed order comes through. Like nearly everything else, preparing the seed order and mailing it got put on the back burner until it threatened to burn. I need to tour the garden and see the wonder of what is happening. I need to sit out more in the garden, on the patio and on the veranda. Then I can receive the gift of Vitamin D from the sunshine and my leg will continue to heal. Just going outside into the garden, and buying the pansies lifted my spirits.

Gardening is therapeutic. As Anne Marie Chaker writers in The Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304620304575165831058222608.html, many nursing homes and hospitals are incorporating gardening of some sort – even just sitting out in the garden – as a way to heal. Being in a garden can change moods from bad to good and lower the stress level. When I yank out weeds, I pretend I am yanking my problems out of my life. That gets interesting when I superimpose a person (or persons) who have been making my life hell. But it beats yelling at the person, and afterwards I feel at peace and many weeds now lie in the compost or yard waste bin.

Studies show the therapeutic value of gardening. Two studies published last year in Issues in Mental Health Nursing (2011;32(1):73-81) showed that depressed individuals involved in a 12-week horticultural program with a three-month follow-up found the severity of their depression decreased. Participants felt the program was meaningful and influenced their life. (Pub Med http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21208054)

Horticultural Therapy, although emerging as a trend in healing therapy, is not new. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed The American Declaration of Independence, said that gardens held “curative effects” for mentally ill people. (See http://www.ahta.org/content.cfm?id=history). There are national therapeutic associations such as The American Horticultural Therapy Association (http://www.ahta.org)  and The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association  which defines horticultural therapy (in part) as “Horticultural Therapy (HT) is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants.” (See http://www.chta.ca/about_ht.htm for more information about horticultural therapy). Also see the CHTA’s links page (http://www.chta.ca/links.htm) which gives a bird’s-eye view of horticultural therapy in practice in Canada.

Meanwhile, back in my Toronto garden, I can’t wait to spend many hours digging, planting, pulling weeds, collecting flowers and arranging them in vases inside, and sitting back and enjoying the colours, scents and sights. Maybe gardening as healing is intuitive. My late mother also started early in her garden and I followed her. For some reason I equate our gardening with religion. Perhaps I was close; it wasn’t the religion so much but the healing of mind, body and spirit. As I write in my memoir in the chapter titled, “Practising Gardening and Religion”

In April, when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. In the beginning, Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and religion like we found parallels in them – both had beauty, filled us with awe, seemed to bring some order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables and fruit in summer; go to Mass and communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. For some of that time, Dad was still around to join us.

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

And a footnote to last week’s posting on what memoir writing means to me… My guest blog, “Writing from the Heart,” about writing short personal essays/memoir for print and online publications appears on the Networds blog at http://www.networds.ca/Blog/content/writing-heart.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Gardening, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Horticultural Therapy, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Stress, Vitamin D Deficiency