Category Archives: Karma

Only Child looks at Karma

Only child ponders ins and outs of Karma

Only child ponders ins and outs of Karma

Karma is defined “as the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person” (Merriam-Webster online). That is taken in its broadest general sense. To break it down, if someone hurts someone else, the person doing the hurting will get their “just desserts” in the future. Or as some people (including me) believe – what goes around comes around, good or bad.

Problem with that is we usually don’t know what happens to someone who does us wrong or someone who helps us. This non-disclosure makes me wonder just how much Karma is taking place.

I do have a couple of concrete examples in my life of both good and bad.

First, leaving the good for last, here is the bad.

A few decades ago, when I worked in editorial for a legal publishing company in Aurora, one of the employees in finance, offered to drive me to work in the morning. It was her idea – I never asked her to do this – and as she lived near me and I was on her way there, I said, “yes,” gratefully.

She had a young child to drop off at daycare on the way – fine with me, even when she was a bit late arriving to pick me up. I knew very well that small children can slow you down. What wasn’t fine with me is this bitch (you will see why I call her this in a sec), suddenly blamed me for her being late – i.e., she said I was always late and never ready when she arrived to pick me up. I admit to a couple of times rushing out with the garbage as she arrived, but 98 per cent of the time I was ready.

Not only that – when she blamed me she said she could no longer pick me up and drive me to work. No warning, no giving me to the rest of the week at least. It was her prerogative to decide not to pick me up any more – but don’t blame me for her delay problems.

So, I started taking the infrequently running (then) Aurora Transit bus to work.

Karma arrived in a month or so when the bitch broke her ankle and couldn’t drive herself to work. She was then in my position – having to get someone else at work living near her to drive her (and the kid to daycare) to and from work. Perfect example of what goes around comes around. And I had nothing to do with making it happen.

The good Karma is with my son and me. When he was growing up I raised him quite differently than my mom and dad raised me. This is not a blame  on my parents thing here. Mom and Dad were elderly parents (Mom was 41 when I was born – not old by today’s standards) and Dad was 49). So they were overprotective, particularly Dad and Mom was strict. But the big blame, if you wish to call it that, here is the Catholic Church and how it infiltrated our lives in the 1950s and early 1960s. You couldn’t go to the bathroom without wondering if it was wrong and if you were committing a mortal or venial sin.

So, among other things, I treated my son as an individual. Although he went to Catholic schools (the property taxes went there and my ex who helped raise our son didn’t want to have him to got regular public schools), we didn’t do the weekly Sunday Mass thing. The Catholic Church then wasn’t so strict, which helped some. Instead of being strict with my son, especially as he got older –  age 10 on and into his teens, I used the actions result in consequences approach, something I learned from a friend. Sometimes I decided on the consequences, but I kept it reasonable and connected to what he did. One example was when he and some of his friends got into the liquor cabinet at one of the friend’s homes. He told me about it afterwards. At the time he was playing in a band, so I decided a complete grounding was not the right thing to do. Martin and I discussed all this including why you don’t drink at age 15 and 16. True, I told him he was riding a bike, not driving a car, but he could still have an accident. So, I said he was grounded from anything but school and band practices and gigs for two weeks.

One of my co-workers at school who got wind of this via a mutual friend whose daughter was one of the group into the liquor cabinet thought this was too lenient.

I didn’t. The incident didn’t have anything to do with my son’s band practice/gigs, so why punish the whole band for what he did?

That’s just one example. I also took him on trips via train and airplane in southern Ontario and to the east and west coast of Canada. Those were the days when I had money and had a good job.

And as a sidebar – my ex, who as I said helped raise our son – wasn’t strict either. He actually got our son involved in extra-curricular activities – but discussed them with me –  and also treated our son as an individual. You might say we made lousy spouses, but were in sinc with raising our son.

Today, the tables are turned and my son helps me a lot. He takes me out for dinner, paid for my new living room couch (his idea – the old one was very badly damaged, including some damage from the ex-boarder’s bloody cat), picks ups heavy stuff I need (which I pay him back for), such as a vacuum cleaner and salt for winter ice on the sidewalk and driveway. He also has bought me some electronic equipment such as a Kobo, a new scanner and a digital camera, plus helps me with computers – getting leased ones, setting them up, and helping with computer snafus.

It’s not only that. We have turned into friends and tell each other stuff. We have met each other’s friends, including Martin’s partner, Juni, and my grade school and high school friend, Margaret.  He is concerned about my health issues and so am I about his.

So, that’s an ongoing Karma for a longtime situation raising my son.

It’s just all the other crap happening where I don’t have to do some consumer advocacy stuff, that I would like to know that Karma is working. Happenings such as when a car nearly runs me down on my green light or a cyclist riding on the sidewalk instead of the road. And when a stupid bitch hit me in a parking lot and took off. What happened with them? Did Karma work? Did they get their just desserts?

Ditto for the good things, such as anyone on a bus, streetcar or subway who gives up their seat so I can sit down. Or somebody who chases after me down the street with a bag of fruit I had just bought and had unknowingly dropped on the sidewalk when I thought I was dropping it in my bag and hands me the bag, saying “you dropped this”?

Of course I thank them right then. But do they get their good Karma for their good deeds?

It might be nice to know. Because it would certainly raise the little trust I have overall in this world of 2016.

My two dollar’s worth anyway.

What do you think?

Comments please.




Only Child Writes





Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Actions Consequences, Believing, Elderly parents, Family, Karma, Life Balance, Mom and Dad, Only child

Only Child tries good deeds by serendipity

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

I’m taking a page from my late mother, with my own twist on it. As I write in my memoir:

When Mom’s baby sister, my godmother’s first husband died and she had to raise seven children under nine years in age, my Mom stepped in to help. She couldn’t be physically present 24/7 – she had my Dad and me to look after in Toronto, the house and garden, and her sister lived miles away on the farm near Lucknow, Ontario. But we had Canada Post.

The sisters wrote back and forth a lot and Mom used to show me my godmother’s letters, but not her replies. Instead she made a big fuss out of playing Goodwill to help her little sister, something that people did then.

When the snow piles up in Toronto and stacks up on the farm, boxes of hand-me-downs, mother’s old clothes, my no-longer fitting clothes, and I suspect some store-bought ones find their way from our house to theirs. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

I would seem to be on the “needing to receive end” of the stick. However, to perhaps balance the bad karma of all the crap coming at me, I’ve decided to do some good deeds – but on my terms. So, I don’t seek out situations and people but let them show up in my life and then act. The deed must not require a lot of time to do. I watch out for anyone I think might be taking advantage of me – for example, as a “seasoned writer, editor and writing instructor” I get people trying to get my help and services for free – beyond what I would do within the writing groups I belong to in person and online.

The deeds all happens by serendipity. It doesn’t occur every day and maybe not for days. So far I’ve helped a woman open a glue packet so she could glue her suddenly falling-apart boot, loaned my friend next door $3 so she could take public transit for an important appointment (her car died a few months ago), and moved someone’s green bin off the road onto the sidewalk – no doubt thrown on the road by the garbage collectors and/or the automatic collection arm from the trucks.

It’s little things like that. The people and their situations find me. And the key, so far, seems to be to  quickly access the situation and act spontaneously. Almost didn’t pick up the green bin until I had walked on a few metres, decided I better do it, turned around and walked back.

Some of it has been automatic. A couple of authors from one of the writing organizations I belong to (Crime Writers of Canada have been helping me, a newly published first-time author (Beyond the Tripping Point short story collection. See For a panel I’m moderating in May with another writing organization (Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch I chose those two authors as panelists. Ditto for a CWC-sponsored reading in a coffee house-pub). Automatic give and receive?

Even if I can’t afford to give $$ to charity, I can do a little good deed now and then.

But I still reserve the right to rant about what stinks in my life – something about not holding it in which can build up and make you ill.

That’s my toonie’s worth – no more pennies in Canada. But my rant on that is for another post.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Help and Support, Helping Others, Karma, Mother, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford

Only child sees helping others come full circle

East End Writers' Group 10th anniversary readers. Teresa Petrie photo.

They (whoever “they” are) say that if you get off your rear end and help another person it will all come back to you. I saw that happen last Wednesday evening when my writers’ critique group, the East End Writers’ Group, celebrated its 10th anniversary. Group members came out of their personal writing zone to help me put it all together by brainstorming what the heck we were going to do, designing the PR flyer and distributing it, suggesting a pub to go to afterwards, bringing refreshments to the celebration, helping me set up at the venue, introducing me to read (after I introduced the other readers),  and driving me and all my stuff to and from the celebration (One member even showed up at my house without asking to take me, but I already had someone on her way). We caught up with her in the library-venue parking lot and the three of us marched in with all our stuff to find another person already there who had set up the chairs.

But the highlight for me was seeing and hearing some of the group reading their creations on the library auditorium stage. Some were new writers, recently published, some since they joined the group and benefited from the constructive criticism. Readings included a travel piece, an inward look at visiting India, a humorous but positive look at the neighbours, a novella excerpt, an essay on life expectations, an historical  novel excerpt, an op/ed piece on looking out for your children, and perhaps the most unique – an interview with a novelist’s main character about his situation. Some readings brought tears, some anger, and some laughter. Afterwards, eight of us walked or drove to a nearby pub and stuffed ourselves with food, drink, writing wisdom and stories. One writer even mentioned that the first story he wrote for his now published collection of short stories came from a freefall writing exercise at one of the monthly gatherings at my house. The incentive: a small straw witch which I had held up for everyone to write about for 10 minutes. It might be significant that this witch dangles front and centre in my Halloween decorations on my veranda railing.

The whole experience  has made me think that sometimes by doing something that you need you actually are helping others. I started this writers’ critique group because when I moved back to Toronto I couldn’t find one near me. Over the past 10 years I’ve learned as much as I’ve given – not just about writing, but about helping others. You don’t have to do something big like organize a walkathon or charity gala – just the little things can help. And choosing something your are interested in can motivate you.

I am also realizing that for me the helping could have started with my late Mom. One of her sisters had seven kids and her first husband died when the youngest was a baby. Until this aunt remarried, Mom regularly mailed them clothes that no longer fit me (and I suspect some new ones she bought). And this family of cousins and an aunt also received plenty of neighbourly help on their farm.

Does it all go back to family environment? Something you pick up as you go along in life? I think it’s a little of both. What do you think?



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consideration, Family, Gratitude, Karma, Life learning, Literary Readings, Only child, Uncategorized, Writing critique groups, Writing groups

Only Child and the freezer saga

Only Child waiting for freezer

Every Sunday morning I would wake up to Mom yelling “get out,” not to me but to the roast beef stuck in her tiny fridge-top freezer.  This childhood ritual turned into adult realty a couple of weekends ago, when my very old upright freezer decided it had enough. As it sputtered to its end, I had to stuff its contents into the freezer at the top of my fridge and in a Styrofoam cooler. As I also had some of my neighbour/friend’s food in the freezer I had to let her know – this on a Sunday,  not a.m. but 10.30 p.m.

Although the timing was bad (same time as I had that whopping house insurance premium due), the whole situation played out in a serendipitous manner.

The freezer of unknown age (I inherited it from the previous house owners 12 years ago when I moved into this house and the freezer was old then) had been making weird noises off and on for the last few months. On the Saturday, the handyman I hire occasionally to do house repairs and painting, helped me clean out the huge chunks of ice that had accumulated. When  he turned the freezer back on it made what he referred to as “a noise it makes when it is dying.” He adjusted the big coil in the back, turned the freezer back on and it appeared to be working. I turned the temperature up and moved some of the food back in. By Sunday evening the freezer was lowering its temperature with water appearing on the shelves – when the door was closed. That did it. I went into panic mode. But it was a good thing it had just been cleaned out.

Next day I went to the local independent appliance store, picked out a smaller chest freezer and arranged for its delivery and for their delivery people to remove the old freezer to the curb where a scrap dealer (whom they would call) would pick it up. They charged for delivery of the new freezer but waived the cost of moving the old. I let them know it was a big upright freezer in the basement but the stairway up to the side door was open.

Monday they didn’t arrive until 7.20 p.m. No problem getting in the new freezer and setting it up. But they balked at removing the old one. I went into “you have to- this is the deal mode”) . They called the store owner – they talked to him; I talked to him and the deal was back on. A third fellow arrived to help the other two. It was a struggle, including waiting for the freezer to stop dripping water from the inside. They removed the door and attached it to the dolly. But they couldn’t seem to get it up the stairs – no wonder – they were trying to do so with the freezer standing upright. Of course, it hit the stairwell ceiling in one spot. They refused to move it out but said, “we can move it to another room.” I went into yelling and crying mode. It worked – they resumed the removal – this time putting the freezer on its side. They got it out the door and to the curb. I refrained from any nasty comments and just said, “thank you.” Half an hour later I heard noises outside. The scrap dealer was removing the stove. I opened the front door, stood on my veranda and shouted, “Thank you.”

Now with the small chest freezer (and there is room for all my food and then some) in my laundry room I can see space. I can feel that a big burden has been removed and the whole area has opened up. I can feel energy returning and I am motivated to do some more clearing and cleaning in the laundry room and the adjoining cold cellar.

So, you can see how what could have been bad luck turned into a good thing and worked itself out. The only downside is the cost end – thanks to the house insurance premium due I had to put the much lower-costing freezer on a credit card. But I intend to pay it off when it comes due in a month’s time.

As for my Mom and her freezer/fridge situation, she did eventually purchase a bigger fridge/freezer – and had to have the overhead cupboards sawed smaller. Not too long after that she sold the house and had to leave the freezer behind. Not her new stove – that came with her to the apartment, but that’s another story.

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Filed under Debt, Karma, Only child, Serendipity, Synchronicities

Only child looks at Karma

Look-alike car

I’m looking for some Karma – you know the what goes around comes around. Or if you were raised Catholic like  me, the “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

I really believe in Karma – but I’d like to see it in action – personally. Often when something happens in your life – good or bad  – whether it’s something you do or something that occurs – you don’t see the Karma.

Last Friday evening while out running errands with a friend, I got hit by a car in a mall parking lot. My friend was already over at her car and I was still walking towards it when I felt a smack on my left leg. When I looked up I saw this small black car roaring off. Immediately I started chasing it and swearing at the driver. She (and I am sure it was a “she,” and that’s just a gut feeling) continued racing around the parking lot, turning around on the other side of an aisle. I charged up that aisle, yelling away (I’m sure the two women getting in a nearby car thought I’d lost it) but I never caught up. My little 5’1″ frame is no competition for a moving vehicle.

“Did you get the licence plate?” my friend asked.

“No,” I said. I’d never thought of that.

I was lucky it was only a tap on my bare calf – I was wearing capri pants because temperatures were up in the 80s Farenheit. But I was furious. How could the driver not have seen me? I was in clear view almost in the middle of the aisle.  She wasn’t backing out but driving through the parking lot. And to make matters worse, a few minutes before when she was attempting to back out of her parking space around the corner in the lot, it looked like she didn’t see me and might hit me. I moved back. Was this an early warning of impending danger? I didn’t listen.

When I climbed into my friend’s car I shouted, “God, if you do exist, please get this person. I don’t care how; I leave it up to you. But I’d like to know.”

As I mentioned before, you hardly ever find out. But I did – twice – one for something rotten that happened and one for something good that I did and continue to do.

The rotten occurrence also concerned a car. (Feel free to figure out that significance. Clue: I don’t drive.) It happened 15 or 16 years ago when I worked for a publishing company. One of the other employees there volunteered to drive me to work each day. She was continually late – but she had a small child and had to drop her off at daycare on the way to work, so I said nothing. Two or three times I was running late – literally – putting the garbage out as she arrived at my driveway. After a few months of driving me to work, one day when she picked me up, she said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not driving you anymore. You’re always late.”

A few months later, Ms. Driver broke her ankle and had to get someone else from work to drive her to and from work.

When I tell this story I either get a big smile or a “Huh? You mean because she stopped driving you she broke her ankle.” Obviously the latter individuals don’t believe in Karma.

And my good Karma? I run the East End Writers’ Group, a writing group, and through the group I help a lot of writers (and learn a lot from them, too). The East End Writers is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall and when I asked for help in putting it together, a couple of members volunteered. One designed the flyers, another is helping with distribution and may even be able to get us a mic for that evening.

What goes around comes around. And I wonder if  for me it all goes back to my mother and her eccentric ideas of honesty. In my memoir I call them “Mom’s 10 Rules of Honesty.” One in particular, in relation to the girl that bullied me in school, comes to mind.

In grade three, The Bully sits right in front of me. When Mrs. Roberts isn’t looking, she swivels around and talks to me out of turn. However, her biggest sin is cheating with the numbers. When we complete an arithmetic exercise, Mrs. Roberts says, “trade.” The Bully crouches over my assignment, purses her lips, picks up her pencil and scribbles – x, x, x – beside my correct answers. Meantime, I, blessed with my mother’s streak of honesty, also mark x, x, x, but alongside The Bully’s incorrect answers. When we trade back, The Bully crouches even lower and turns the x’s into Ö’s. At home, I whine to Mom.

“You have to tell the teacher when she cheats,” Mom says. She’s sitting in the chair under the living room window and I’m standing in front of her like I’m the bad girl in school. “Next time, she cheats, tell the teacher. Then tell me and I’ll give you a quarter.”

Money talks for me. The next time the Bully messes up the math marks I raise my hand and rat. When I return home, I tell tales out of school and claim my reward, not just 25 cents, but my admission to the honesty/money seesaw.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Part 1 – Deconstruct. Copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)

In case anyone is wondering, my leg is fine. As for Karma – what do others think? Personally?


Only child writes

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Filed under Car accidents, Karma, Only child, Only child memoir