Category Archives: Gratitude

Only Child warmed by strangers’ kindness

Originally published on my author blog. But it also fits here as it deals with something an only child/adult runs into. And yes, it has to do with that trailer/shopping cart causing me big grief. I will add one thing to the story. I was able to return it to Canadian Tire and get my money back. Read all about it and how this author blazed unexpected trails here.

All thanks to the kindness of one friend and many strangers.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Books, Family and Friends, Gratitude, Help and Support

Only Child on gratitude – for a change

Sometimes we get into overdrive in complaining about what’s wrong in our lives and the world – mea culpa here. But a few recent events and also some info learned have made me stop and think – hey, I do have some things to be grateful for. Below are a few.

One with a problem that could have escalated into a big roadblock. For a change I’ve started early doing my year end business accounting – all the adjustments and then seguing to tax returns. But one, the info sheet for tax credits hadn’t arrived – credits for travelling on public Toronto transit with my pass. Usually the info sheet arrives mid February – this year it hadn’t arrived by early March, so I called. The customer service lady said that they had just sent them out the previous Friday (which was March 3) so to give it a week. I gave it to yesterday afternoon so I could check my mailbox. Only a magazine and junk mail, so I called – it was five minutes after they closed for the day. For some reason I looked in the mailbox again a bit later – another magazine and the TTC tax credit list. But the envelope was date stamped February 27. Post office or pre-stamped at the TTC. Go figure. Just thankful it is here and I have all my tax slips.

I now have a new guy shovelling my snow when we get a lot – which we are now although a temporary lull right now. Also I have lots of people who for a reasonable price, will do repairs, etc. around the house. No one to clean the house – can’t afford that although with my dust allergy it would be a good idea to have someone to clean the house weekly.

The two tooth extractions (although not welcome or wanted) were successful. Now it is on to the next medical issue – annual eye testing and wondering what that will reveal.

My son’s US tour with his band Beams went very well on all counts. They had a work visa, so no border problems. They had great gigs, met a lot of interesting people and the weather, unlike now, was good all over – and they travelled through New York state, did gigs in Chicago, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Austen and Dallas. And their new van didn’t break down, although Martin flew home from Dallas because of work (his day job) commitments.

And after hearing stories from friends about their house and finance problems (sorry, what they are and who they are is confidential. Not my place to spread it around), I guess I’m somewhat lucky. Sure I still live below the poverty level (although that may show otherwise when I do my taxes), but I seem to know how to manage my money to suit my situation (so far; toes crossed).

Despite much juggling and bellyaching, I do like the life I have and what I like least I am endeavouring to cut back and/or eliminate doing. And I prioritize. That includes setting a timer every morning when I do email.

What are you grateful for?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Balance, Family and Friends, finances, Gratitude, Help and Support, Life Balance, Life demands, Life learning, Only child, Prioritizing

Only Child deals with doing too much

Sharon CLB mid 1990sSometimes we bite off more than we can chew in all that we do. It is a life variation of the old eating too much axiom that my late mother used to say – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

This time, my eyes and my mind too, are presuming I can do much more than is realistic. So, I’ve been slowly pruning and putting in pending some of what I do. Lately, I have been doing this with my business.

I am a writer, editor and writing instructor and as such there are specific things they encompass and specifics I wouldn’t touch with anything. Having said that, I am still trying for gigs, particularly in the instructor and presentation area. But I am cancelling going to a few business meetings and not taking on some new work. So, the tally right now is:

Cancelled one business meeting for sure this week but presented via email some suggestions within the topics on the agenda.

Went to one writing organization Christmas party (this is fun too) last evening,  but not the other one on the same evening. Having gone to both a few years back when both also occurred the same evening – never again.

Am being approached for editing work from potential new clients and I am grateful for that. But I will be meeting with only one of them in the New Year as what she wants is what I do. She is also connected to me on Linked In and Goodreads. The other one emailed me out of the blue and I am not sure where he got my name from. I don’t think my website because it lists very clearly what I will do in writing, editing and teaching and what he is asking for is not there. And I double-checked my website just to be sure. I do not ghost write or rewrite somebody else’s story, somebody else’s manuscript. I do copy editing, manuscript evaluation and one-on-one writing tutoring in person or by Skype. So I will email him back with a polite refusal and send him to the Editors Canada website to find an editor who will do what he wants and needs.

I do have current clients and it is important to do their work.

So, if you are living your life in overwhelm – business or personal or both – remember  my mother’s axiom – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Otherwise you might bite off more than you can chew.

And that’s enough of cliches from me.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gratitude, Life Balance, Life demands, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child on living with chronic pain

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

Chronic pain can effect people in many different ways. Some will wallow in no hope. Some will complain constantly. Some will ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life. Some will be martyrs. Some will overdue the positive to the point of near Pollyanna portions. Some will just pray. Spare me from the latter three.

I live in constant on and off again chronic pain from digestive tract illnesses  – abdominal pain, lower back pain, pain radiating down my legs. If I had to pick which of the above categories for dealing with it, it is a variation of “ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life.” I do try to get on with my life, to live my life. Call me stubborn, resentful of the disease, and call me angry. I think those qualities are what motivates me to get going, at least in part. But I am never grateful for all of this pIN and when I do my usual morning litany of gratitude and non-gratitude, the pain/my health (or lack thereof) goes into the latter.

I also remember my mother, her chronic pain, and what it did to her.

The last yea’s of my late mother’s life were filled with pain – her pain, physical pain. Daily. She had rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. To add  insult to injury, both diseases were crippling and deforming physically. She was in and out of doctors’offices, in and out of hospital until the arthritis indirectly caused her death from a fall. The fall caused a brain aneurysm.

My mother wasn’t an anomaly. Many people, and not just seniors, live in constant pain from various diseases. I’m talking chronic pain, not just something temporary. And studies show that women, more than men, live this way. I’m not going into (this post, anyway) the causes for this, so those who wave the “blame the victim” flag about lifestyle choices, well, wave it quietly.

We who are in pain have to deal with this reality. Unlike my mother I have too much I want to live for ( some years yet, although I can’t see me doddering around much past 80), and I’ll be damned if I let pain stop me – if I can help it.

So, I try to alleviate the pain where I can but I won’t take opiates or any strong meds. The strongest I take is acetaminophen and I know it can damage your liver. But when you are trying to live in the present…you have to choose either now or a maybe later. I also try to eat healthy, although I’m not sure how much that helps if just eating supper can sometimes start the abdominal spasms. It’s not what I eat, but the fact that I eat. Taking the aforementioned acetaminophen and the natural tranquilizer Valerian, then just lying down, often gets rid of the pain. Sometimes a glass of white wine in the evening will help.

But there are all the outside factors that contribute – stress being the big one. What causes the stress – financial problems, house problems, weather (if there is a threat for water to get in the basement, for example), family and friend problems, computer problems. All these and more can cause stress and that doesn’t help.

How much of people’s pain is worsened by stress? And of course, the worry about the pain adds to the stress load. But you have to deal with it one way or the other. Those who say “just relax” are only postponing dealing with the pain. Those who say “pray” are expecting some other being to get rid of their pain. . I’ve tried both and neither works. I see the same around me and in the world.

So I try to grab the stress-inducing problems by the bull horns (no bull here) and try to solve them; sometimes I ask for help from others.

I love my late mother very much. But I am not her and I am not living her life.

You have to own your life – pain and all.

This is the way I feel right now. If I get ALS or MS or a few other diseases, I could change my mind.

I’ll end with some links on chronic pain, including some statistics and studies.

The Prevalence of Chronic Pain

Scleroderma from the Mayo Clinic

Women’s College Hospital Pain Clinic (disclaimer here: one of the doctors here  – Dr. Gil Faclier  – was instrumental in getting rid of 90 per cent of my migraines – back in the 1980s when he was a resident doctor, when this clinic was still at Sunnybrook Hospital).

Some alternative medicine info:

Chronic Pain in Depth: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Pain Management Alternative Care

I also get regular newsletters from the Mayo Clinic – the digestive newsletter and the Women’s Hospital monthly Women’s Health Matters newsletter.

And I walk a lot. And garden – although not much of that lately with winter rearing its ugly head. Doing creative things like cooking and writing, especially writing also help with the endorphins and taking you to a different level, to some enjoyment in life, some life purpose.

How do you deal with physical pain?

Cheers.

Sharon’

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gratitude, Health, Life demands, Only child, Pain

Only Child on anxiety and intolerance of uncertainty

Only Child 's garden - temporary refuge from problems

Only Child ‘s garden – temporary refuge from problems

Life is full of uncertainty. But when the uncertainty turns into too many plurals running together or right after each other, it is too much. And we become anxious.

That seems to be so much lately. “Lately” being relative – it could refer to the last few weeks, months, and even years.

Considering all the crap that is happening in our world on a macro basis, when we get down to each of us individually, the micro basis is also high. And I think it has skyrocketed a lot since we entered the new millennium. I’m not saying life was smooth sailing before 2000 but it wasn’t as strenuous – even technology was reasonable. For example, we had computers; we had word-pr0cessing programs (eliminating typewriter use – and take it from a former journalist and secretary, typewriters were a slow frustrating pain to use), we had e-mail and we had the beginning of high speed Internet.

But we weren’t obsessed with constantly being online, constantly being connected with everyone and having  little or no privacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like some of this millennium’s technology – for example Skype, blogs, the expanded Internet with it seemingly unlimited  information. I particularly like the health info (keeping in mind there is bogus stuff as well as accurate info on the Internet), restaurants for location and menus, public transit info up to date and trip planners, etc..

But I don’t like it all in my face. I don’t like all the problems that technology generates and heck I don’t like some of the technology to even use. I really don’t need all the widgets and gadgets on a fridge. My stove’s oven is set up digitally as is the clock, but the burners still are turned on by hand. My stereo system is digital and some of that I like – except for figuring how to get and save different stations.

This technology is only a part of what fuels people’s anxiety. Everything is rush-rush and too-much to do. Add in someone, like me, who is anxious to begin with and you can have a recipe for anxiety disaster.

But a core issue for many people might be a medical condition called intolerance of uncertainty. Think about those three words and what they mean. “Intolerance” (besides the racial and ethnic intolerance) means  “exceptional sensitivity” (Merriam-Webster online). “Uncertainty” “something that is doubtful or unknown”. Put the two meanings together and someone with intolerance of uncertainty is  someone very sensitive to the uncertain things in life. And life is about uncertainty. And in these times that uncertainty racks up at an extremely high level. So people find ways to try and deal with this.

Some people get angry a lot (me); some turn into hoarders. See this study about uncertainty and hoarding. The premise is if you hoard a lot of things – furniture, food, etc. you feel you are protecting yourself from problems that might arise. But that doesn’t really work because we don’t know what these problems are – we can take guesses from weather reports, and warnings of computer viruses, software snafus and the like and a host of other things. But none of this safe-guards us from what’s out there coming at us

Praying doesn’t really help; I’ve tried it asking for this and that not to happen (and I don’t even cover more than the basics) for myself and those close to me. I preface it with expressing my gratitude for what is going right (sometimes a short list) for that day. I don’t think a Pollyanna attitude will do either. Remember Pollyanna (the Disney movie from 1960 staring Hayley Mills) fell from a tree and was crippled.

Of course, much less problems for each of us to deal with would be the best answer. Not going to happen in this life, in this world. So I use three tactics. My main focus is getting rid of/solving the damn problem(s). While problems keep hanging around and charging, in I use another device – distractions. I read, write, spend time in my garden (winter will kill the latter; one reason I hate winter with a passion), spend time with friends, watch TV. Sleep used to be a good distraction but now with insomnia I don’t sleep long enough and wake up in spurts and my mind grabs onto the latest big worry or worries. I’ll go more into the sleep end in a future post.

And my third tactic. I yell a lot. I get angry. Not 24/7 though. I have my lighter moments. But yelling and anger keeps me going to solve the problems. So, relatives and friends who wonder why I’m angry a lot. That’s one reason why.

Here are a few more links to check out about intolerance to uncertainty and anxiety.

Intolerance of Uncertainty: A Common Factor in the Treatment of Emotional Disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712497/

While I don’t agree with the article’s calling the person’s beliefs “negative” per se, I like their take on using worrying as a way to get through this and get to solving the problem(s). My mother, the Queen of Worry Warts may have had a good idea after all.

And here’s a link to a study on I General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11225502

How do you deal with anxiety and uncertainty?

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Anger, Anxiety, Gratitude, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prayer, Problems, Stress, Worrying

Only Child has mixed Thanksgiving thoughts

Only child in her home

Only child in her home

Yesterday Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving. But I have mixed feelings about the meaning of the annual holiday and the role of gratitude in our lives today on planet earth.

Today, I’m playing devil’s advocate with questions and I would like your comments about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to express our gratitude. What about the thousands of people in Haiti killed from Hurricane Matthew? What about those that survived – so far? Cholera is a big shadow hanging over Haiti. What about those on the east coast of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and even up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia that are victims of Hurricane Matthew?

Are the survivors grateful for losing family members, their homes, their cities and towns, their livelihood?

I am always flabbergasted and yes, troubled, when survivors of floods, winds, fires say “we’ve lost everything but we still have our family.” Are they suffering from shock and that’s their initial reaction? As they try to put their lives together, how many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. You don’t go through all that and come out feeling good, feeling gratitude. In the long run, doesn’t it take it’s toll?

I can only speak from part observer – what I see on the news and weather network. My own personal experience (so far) with floods is a flooded basement (about four to six inches) from the main water drain backing up (the official diagnosis) in November 2005. That was devastating enough. If not for the help of my friend and next door neighbour, Alex, it could have been much worse. Right away when I banged on his and his now late wife, Tanya’s door, Alex came over with a super-charged Shopping Vac and  cleaned out the flood. There was still aftermath to deal with – insurance people, drain company, restoration. I was so upset I refused to have anything done beyond the initial cleanup the restoration company did until the spring. My reason was with my allergies to many chemicals I didn’t want work done when windows couldn’t be opened in the winter. But now I wonder how much was shock.

My rec room looked like a war zone and the tiles in other rooms were broken.  I moved all dry food stored downstairs up to the spare bedroom because I couldn’t bear to go down there. My trips downstairs were limited to getting food from the freezer and doing laundry. And I had to be careful going down the stairs to the basement because the steps were no longer cushioned by carpeting – that was all ripped up the day after – and that includes carpets in the foyer and hallway.

It is only a tiny experience of what those devastated by floods (or fires or winds) go through, but it gave me a taste of the reality in our world today.

No place is safe to live in.

So, I ask my question again, reworded somewhat.

Do you have anything to be thankful for? And if so, what?

And yes, I do have a few things to be thankful for, including my son and his girlfriend, my friends, my garden, my writing, and dare I say it my home? Fortunately or unfortunately I am stubborn and tenacious and I don’t take it lying down. I think that’s why I became a journalist too many years ago and while I no longer am a journalist, my writing – personal essays/memoir, this blog and my fiction  – all  deal with the bad in life. And I also yell a lot and try to make sense of what has no sense.

As Shakespeare wrote “Now is the winter of our discontent.”

Notice his choice of seasons.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Gratitude, Life demands, Only child, Overwhelm

Only Child on when the rains came

My garden is grateful for the weekend rain

My garden is grateful for the weekend rain

It rained finally in southern Ontario late Saturday and all day Sunday. The gardens and lawns are grateful and so am I, especially as no water got into my basement. That was the big criteria and for once I was listened to.

When I look at the ferocious floods in Texas and Oklahoma on The Weather Network or Global TV news, I am troubled. That so much damage can be done to people and their property is not good. I feel for them and anyone else in the world who has to live through extreme weather.

And that unfortunately is as my late mother-in-law used to say “the way of the world.”

It is also the way of God. But more on that later.

Last evening The Weather Network gave the forecast for this summer across Canada. Bottom line is hot and dry in the west, moderate to some hot in the centre, and warmer in parts of the Maritimes. Much depends on this El Nino the meteorologists say (three of them talked about it on this forecast segment.)  It doesn’t mean we’ll be freezing and we might get a few hot hot days but not long spans of hot and humid. Also more rain. See the video at http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/summer-weather-forecast-2015-predictions/52012/

But they can’t predict exactly. And when you look, see and hear the weather forecasts from different sources, they just can’t agree, even for the next 24 hours. The raw meteorological data is there from Environment Canada, but it’s all open to interpretation. And who knows if the original is accurate.

Saturday on the bus, three of us ladies (who had never met before) started talking about the weather. One lady said if we wanted to do anything Saturday, do it in the morning because it will rain in the afternoon. I said something about rain start time according to The Weather Network but commented that forecasters don’t agree.

“God controls the weather,” the third lady said.

“I agree,” I replied. “You hit the nail on the head.”

What I am finding surprising is lately I have run into several people who have this take on the weather. More surprising is they have no idea how I believe about this and speak first.

Not sure what this means. I do know and believe two things. The weather is not all from climate change and weather forecasts don’t always get it right.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, God, Gratitude, Only child, Rain, Weather