Category Archives: Life Balance

Only Child on rebooting your life

House front of my childhood home

Growing up an only child can often unleash a myriad of feelings. In me, the negative ones  were fear, loneliness, and often being the victim of bullying. My late mother used to help combat this by setting up a restful situation which I now call “rebooting my life”.

I was still in grade school, around eight years old. On sunny summer mornings when no one was around to play with, Mom would set up the card table, a chair, my big box of crayons, my colouring books and me outside on the front veranda. I could colour to my heart’s content. But more so, I got the chance to look around at the green grass which my Dad (sometimes with my help) mowed with the push mower, at the shrubs and  roses and at the quiet neighbourhood. Occasionally I heard a bird chirp. Seldom would a car whiz by on the street which I faced and never would a wasp dare to come near me – at least  not that I remember. But once in a while someone, maybe a neighbour I knew or didn’t know, would walk by on the street below. We would give each other the friendly eye and smile.

Today I do my own version of Mom’s rebooting my life. When things get overly problematic and/or busy (which they have this summer) I go out into my garden. I may dig in and remove weeds, pick berries or collect vegetables, but often I sit outside to eat my meals at the patio table in the backyard. Sometimes I sit in the shade of my neighbour’s overhanging black walnut tree and look out at the garden or read. Sometime I take photos of my garden. And yes, I do sometimes sit out front on my veranda, but I don’t colour. The recent trend (probably now passe anyway) of adults colouring in adult colouring books never caught on with me. Could be because I am a professional writer and amateur photographer. You really wouldn’t want me drawing anyway. I can’t even draw a straight line – with a ruler.

View of today’s backyard garden from patio

Dusk view from my current front veranda

However, looking back at my childhood (I know – my age is showing), I realize Mom had cottoned onto a good idea. We all need to reboot from all the stuff in our lives.

Only Child’s home and garden for her health circa 2011

Do you reboot? If you reboot, how do you reboot?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Crayons and coloring, Gardens, Life Balance, Mom and Dad

Only Child resents these work time-stealers

When I was a child my mother didn’t work outside the home – until I was in high school, when she had to because my dad had cancer.  Before that when she was home she did work – albeit house and garden stuff. If she had to go to a doctor’s or dentist’s, it didn’t matter when. If the plumber had to come during the day weekdays, it didn’t matter.

Fast forward to today when many of us work from home, running our own business. I am a writer, editor and writing workshop instructor. Except for the latter and doing book promo in person, I do my work in my home office. Or at least I try.

Lately the non-work-related interruptions have been interfering with my work time. Sometimes I have to go out for them  and sometimes I have to phone them to get something straightened out with the house, ID cards, etc. Most of this stuff is not generated by me. To put it bluntly, it gets shoved at me. And it takes time, often more time than you think.

Take health-related issues, particularly dental and eyes. This spring and now summer it is my left eye. It is in bad shape. Not my fault and not the eye professionals’ fault. What is their fault is the majority of them don’t have evening or Saturday hours. So I have to waste my work-time travelling to appointments, sitting in waiting rooms (sometimes for a couple of hours) and then actually seeing the professional.

And don’t get me on the subject of government agencies who only operate on regular business hours. So you have to take your work time to renew ID cards. At least you can call the bank outside business hours if you have something that needs straightening out.

I know what some of you are thinking. “She runs her own business from home for Pete’s sake (and who is Pete anyway?). She can set her own hours.

Teddy time tracking

Well, I do. I just prefer them close to regular weekday business hours – 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The only exceptions are when I do in-person book signings or presentations (usually on a Saturday) or panels or talks related to book promo and the odd writing workshop that is on an evening (most are during the day on weekdays). But in the interest of time I like to stick to regular working hours and use off hours for personal stuff, for the  most part. That would include medical. At least the medical clinic I go to has evening and Saturday hours. It is close enough to home I can even go on my lunch break.

I really resent having to use my work time doing health, house (as in getting things fixed although my handyman usually does come evenings or early mornings and except for explaining what is wrong, he usually stays out of my way so I can work) and government-related stuff, especially when clients start to wonder when I will have their work completed.

Not sure what do do about this? I do have the phone calls under some kind of control with a vm message that tells callers when I am available to answer the phone for business and personal (and I use the “We can’t come to the phone right now.” message beginning). If it is important they can leave a message or call during those hours. One friend calls anyway during my work time but not business phone calls time. I don’t pick up the phone. When I check messages I hear her apologizing for calling at the wrong time. But she should know by now. She also usually leaves a “life story” message. I have two of those that I gave up listening to and they are left as “skipped messages.” I have no idea how to delete them without listening to them. Guess I will have to borrow a phrase of another friend who is smart in her vm mail message for incoming calls. “Please leave your name, phone number and a brief message.” She adds something about limited space for vm messages. I could do a variation of that. After the first part I could add “so all callers can leave a message.”

That’s the phone. Now about all the people and organizations, etc. stealing my work time because they don’t cater to the working crowd.

As one of my friends says they need to “get on the program.”

How do you deal with these non-work related interruptions? I don’t mean life and death. An ill family member, a death in the family. These are exceptions.

Now back to my client work. This blog post  hasn’t even taken as long as the public transit ride to the eye doctor.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Time management, Work Time

Only Child why no posts for awhile

I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, although sometimes that sounds like a good idea. But I am stubborn and determined, despite being very cranky this winter. But for good reasons – and these reasons are why it has been awhile since I posted here.

My intent is to resume posting – at least every other week and hopefully getting back to weekly postings.

So what has been in my way?

Well, one of the biggies is sporadic or no Internet access – for just over a week late in February. Even my land line went on strike off and on. Combination of old phone wires and old modem and bad luck. I got a new modem and the fibre connection – which is fine with the Internet but I don’t like it with the phone. I have to keep the modem on 24/7 so the phone will work. The 24/7 is okay but not the phone’s dependency.

What’s wrong with this picture? The modem has a battery, but if there is a power failure the battery lasts for only 4 hours. For major power outages that is not acceptable. You might be able to phone the hydro utility, a family member or friend during that time. But if for some reason you have to call the family member or friend or 911 after that and can’t… I’m a senior and need my land line to be an actual land line – not off in cyberspace land. And don’t tell me to get a cell phone – they operate on batteries, so will run out of juice. During the big power outage in southern Ontario in December 2014 (thanks to the ice storm), my landline was my lifeline to my friends and my son. There was a boarder living here then – she had a cell phone and couldn’t use it because it needed recharging.

From another era. Are we too far in the other direction?

Bell Canada smarten up here.

The other biggie is the weather in southern Ontario (and elsewhere -no one has been spared). Too much snow, too cold, mixed precipitation, rain on its own, damaging winds (fortunately the power didn’t go here in Toronto then and I had just had the new Bell fibre system setup and connected two days before). Among other things, I have had to move a dental appointment three times because of weather. It is now on hold until spring, unless it turns into an emergency. Dealing with this weather is and has been horrendous. Below are a couple of shots I took of the outside – at the beginning of one of the big snowstorms.

Above photo – recycling bins waiting to go to the curb. Hah!

 

My backyard patio – where I eat in summer.

The list goes on and on. I swear on one of my pile of mystery books that 95 percent of my problems are not caused by me – they come from what I call “outside” but I have to deal with them. From what I hear from others, I am not alone with this scenario. Many others have been hit with a lot of bad luck since January 1 of this year.

I am a Sagittarius and for 2019 Jupiter is supposed to be my ruling house, meaning lots of good things happening. Well, you astrologers and would-be astrologers, that is bunk and some of us are living proof of it.

Could it be something in the air causing all of this?  Or? (You substitute what you think here).

And what do you think anyway. How is your 2019 so far?

For the record a few good things have happened in my life this year. But the balance of good to bad (or should that be bad to good?) is lopsided. They say that into our life some rain must fall – my emphasis on the some. But we are getting hit with torrents of rain (metaphorically speaking) t seems.

So, my personal way to deal with this? Go after the big trouble-makers/big problem causers and let the rest slide. Connect with the people in my life who really care and I really care about. And

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

I am a writer after all. See my website for more on that.

Like author John Irving once said
“Half my life is an act of revision.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Beyond Faith book cover

 

 

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Filed under Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Good and Bad Luck, Life Balance, Life demands, Problems

Chasing the elusive sleep

Not how Only Child wants to sleep at night

One of my goals for 2019 is to get more sleep at night – more specifically get to bed at a more normal/earlier time than 2 a.m. My problem isn’t waking up and getting up at 8 a.m. – it is getting to bed early enough to get 7 to 8 hours sleep.

But I have identified the gremlins. And yes, I don’t need to fall asleep for 30 minutes watching the news on TV. As part of my hopeful new regime I can do half an hour of that plus 10 minutes of the Weather Network and still get to bed in good time. No, it is the real gremlins behind this that have to be taken to task. So, going through the layers, there is first my health issues and all the extra crap I have to do for them. But, the basic extras would be okay to fit in. It’s the extra extras caused by flare-ups in one or more of those health issues which steal my time. Another time-stealer is the daily evening chores like doing the dishes, etc. (much more etc.). Even they can be reigned in.

IF ONLY I CAN GET RID OF THE HOUSE, COMPUTER PROBLEMS, ETC.  THAT JUST COME AT ME OUT OF NOWHERE.

If I thought or even hoped that 2019 would be any different from 2018 in having to deal with problems “coming from outside” as I call it, I was wrong. I’m referring to problems I don’t cause; problems caused by others, other organizations, etc. But I am the one that has to deal with the aftermath problems. And all this is not helpful to getting to bed at a reasonable time and getting enough sleep.

I’m a Sagittarian and to those astrologers who said because my sign is in Jupiter for 2019, I will have a much better year than 2018, I say “Stop talking through your hat. Take off your damn hat and think. All Sagittrians are not alike.”

Having said that, I am still determined to get my sleep – and not in front of the TV. And woe to anybody or thing that gets in my way.

And that includes health issues over-reaction – no doubt thanks to the stress from the problem

So, I am pursuing one of my other 2019 goals – start meditating. And one of my friends is helping me find resources to get me started. Thank you to her. Meditating may not solve the problem, but it can help me calm down and get my much-needed sleep.

And I just remembered what another friend told me many years ago  and to paraphrase her – Picture in your mind the culprit responsible for your problem(s). But picture them wearing some outlandish outfit – like boxer shorts with well (this next part is my idea) pictures of daggers or a big hand ready to grab them and shove them somewhere. (Well, I do write mystery/suspense so that can get rather dark)..

Well whatever works – as long as it is not sleeping pill prescriptions, large quantities of booze or even cannabis, although I am in favour of the latter for medicinal purposes under the direction of a doctor, but not recreational. So would this constitute medicinal? For more info on the cannabis and its consequences, etc., go to the first episode of my TV show Crime Beat Confidential which I tape every other month at thatchannel.com where I interviewed James Wigmore, a forensic scientist who is an expert on what cannabis is all about, and not from personal experience,

Meantime, here are a couple of links on sleep and stress. Please note: I may not agree with all the information below. There  is much more info online about stress and sleep deprivation but consider the source for helpful info.

Tips to reduce stress and sleep better

Stress and insomnia

And the Mayo Clinic on sleep disorders

Happy zzzzzzzzzs  – at night in your bed.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep deprivation

Only Child says don’t order me around

My Mom and Dad

When I was a child my mom and dad told me what to do. And so they should – that was part of their job being parents. Fast forward too many years to now and people are still telling me what to do – or trying to. I’m a senior and should be able to make up  my own mind, including weighing in on pros and cons of different situation.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for help, for suggestions from friends and family – the big word here is “ask”. It is the unsolicited advice – sometimes almost like orders I’m talking about.

That also doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to experts talk/suggest in well, their area of expertise. For example, with my handyman, Mike, if I call him in with yet another house repair problem. Sure, we can get into a discussion. But I listen to what he says and will probably have him do what he suggests – as long as I can afford it. Sometimes, the work just gets postponed until I can afford it – like the old rec room window that last month just started letting water ub during heavy rainfalls. That’s a closed window, folks.

And for medical/health advice, I listen to the experts and read expert info – although in the end,  a lot of that is up to me. But I don’t pretend to know everything. As a former journalist I am very familiar with the word “research” and do lots of that.

It’s when people who think they know what I should do start in. For example telling me to get the basement waterproofed now. When I explain there is the window to see to first, then they try to draw up a schedule for me to get it all done. They know I am a writer and have my third Beyond mystery novel to promote, etc., etc., so…

News flash: I don’t have a husband or any other type of partner. I’m in this myself so that means I have to do and/or organize everything in my life.

Not that I wouldn’t want some help and sometimes friends gift me their help – but they are not ordering me around. My son is also a big help, not just with computers but with a few practical things that surprise me. But he doesn’t push it.

Tbe big one that really gets my goat is this: If I am having so many house problems why don’t I sell it and move into a condo?

Oh, For you-know-whose sake! Is that the answer for us seniors living in our own homes? To those  who think this, I think “Get a life – preferably yours, not mine.”

Throughout my life I  have lived in apartments, townhouses, two-storey houses and bungalows. I live in a bungalow now and it’s the only type of home that appeals to me. So, I have a short answer for these meddling busy-bodies who ask “Why don’t you sell the house and move into a condo?”

Because I would rather be dead than give up my garden.

That shuts them up.

Sharon on patio backyard garden

Of course I have more practical reasons. But I am tired of going into them.

So, I say, I am a senior and as long as my brain is still working, I think I can decide what to do and when to do it. And I reserve the right to change my mind or move the timing of it and when to ask for help.

What do you say?

How do you deal with unsolicited advice to well, run your life?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Decision Making, Family and Friends, Garden, Help and Support, Life Balance, Only child, Problem solving, Seniors

Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

Pondering sleep and sleep deprivation

When I was a child, when I was a teenager, I slept at nights. Lots of sleep. When I was in my late 40s I would kill to get my sleep – anyone and anything that got in my way risked my wrath. Now in my senior years, I ask “What sleep?” If I am lucky I get  6 hours sleep and that’s counting the half hour or so when I fall asleep during the 11 p.m news on TV. I’m not sleeping in though; I keep to about the same time to get up each day – 7.45 a.m. even on weekends, but with it being gardening season and the light of day coming very early, I would like to get up and into the garden much earlier than I do.

And that might be my cue as to something is off. I’m trying to do too much – evenings, yes I sometime watch some TV, besides the aforementioned news. But not until I do some more gardening, weather permitting and I’m not out somewhere. No matter what, I have way too much to do and often some of that comes to mind after the news and so off I go, despite trying hard to get to bed somewhat earlier than 1.30 a.m. or 2 a.m.

Carrying around in  my mind all the guilt of stuff not done, particularly phone calls to friends I didn’t have time to make, doesn’t help. I don’t have time to call them until the gardening is done, so right now that could be 9.30 p.m. as that’s when it gets dark. If I’m out at an event, forget it. One friend has said to call her but she doesn’t do late evening phone calls as she goes to bed. That was a message on my voice mail when she tried to call me and I was out at an event. Not sure what late means – after 10 p.m.? After 9 p.m.? Unless it is an emergency I don’t call friends or family after 9.45 p.m. Fortunately two of my friends are night owls like me.

Is this another health bane of being a senior? Hey, I’m running out of fingers to count all the medical crap I have to deal with as a senior.

So, I decided to put on the hat of my former profession – journalist – and do some research about sleep deprivation online. Here is some of iowhat I found:

If you go here you will find an interesting article covering many aspects of sleep deprivation, including summarizing some studies, how much sleep is necessary, and the effects of sleep deprivation. I have some of the latter, most notably: irritability (well, more than usual), immune system dysfunction (not good for someone who already has a compromised immune system), forgetfullness (mainly if I did something – although I don’t forget what I have to still do, but often forget where something got put. My mind hits a blank here). Yes, it affects my cognitive abilities and I seem to he slower doing things than my usual  modus operandi. The worse things were sleep depreviation could cause cancer and death.  I know we all got to die sometime but not yet please, and do I really want to drag cancer into it?

And look at my language “drag”.

So, I am now going to  make a bigger effort to get body and mind into bed earlier. Yes, I’ll still watch the news and weather report. But the TV goes off, right after that half hour. And before the 11 p.m. news, maybe even before 10 p.m. all the housework shit I have to do for the evening (gardening is never under that category) has to be done. And any phone calls – if I have time to make them.

I am also purging my “to do” lists of stuff and people who steal my time – some will be just on the back burner until next month; some permanently out the door. I am also learning (slowly) to pace myself with what I do – although I still get upset if something takes way too much longer than expected – no matter what the cause.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Why or Why not?

 

Time to get more sleep

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

Only Child on connecting

Pondering life in the digital world

How do  you connect with those close to you and well, those not-so-close? And in today’s digital world what do you mean by close? Is it the friends on Facebook you post a like or comment to their posts or adding you own post about something? Or the quicker blasts on Twitter? Is it sharing a problem with a friend in person? Is it texting on your smart phone? Is it actually talking with someone on your phone? Is it playing voice-mail hell on your phone? Is it chatting with a friend, neighbour, acquaintance on the street? Is it yelling at someone who is blocking your way on a street or public transit steps because they are standing there texting on their phone?

Is it killing someone because that is the only way you can communicate with them or with anyone?

And note: I don’t condone murder. Even though I write about it in my Beyond mystery books.

This spiel of questions came from a conversation online with a friend about perhaps being Luddites. What we discussed is private, but it got me thinking about the way we communicate (myself included) today.

Fact: we live in an ever-changing and increasing digital world.

Are we any better for it? Should we roll back the timeline and go back to “the good old days” whatever era you think that should be?

Despite my writing my Beyond mysteries in the late 1990s when so-called digital was less onerous and could be handled, we are not going back there. We have to live with what we have now. But, it is how we do this that counts. And not all of us will choose the same path.

I tend to go along in the middle. No Twitter, but Facebook, no Smart phone but wireless – with voice mail – I definitely want to catch missed calls. Sitting on a bus texting away is not me. I look around and count the number of people in my area of the bus, the subway car, the streetcar who are shall we say involved with their devices. But I also look to see who is reading a print book, a newspaper or magazine (besides me) or even what I call low digital – an e-reader.

I also look and listen to see who is talking to another person – preferably in person sitting or standing beside them? Who is actually using their smart phone for the phone’s original use talking to family or friend – even the short phone conversation that begins with “I’m on the X bus and should be home in about 15 minutes.”

Personally, I think the overload in digital has cost us some of our humanity. Like I said we can’t go back. What we can do is reign in our digital time – well we can TRY. And try to connect more in person, on the phone with our friends and family. And some of the digital stuff can actually help here. Think Skype. Think of that commercial – I believe for an Internet service – where a grandfather is reading to his granddaughter and then they say goodnight to each other. That’s when the viewer realizes that they aren’t in the same room and it is online.

So, like most anything else (excluding murder), there is good and bad in digital. We just need to find our personal equilibrium here so we don’t lose our humanity. Like most anything else (except murder), moderation, not overindulgence works better.

Now, if I could just convince myself about that for chocolate.

Okay, cards on the table (not on the screen for a change) – my name is Sharon and I am a chocoholic.

Are you a digitaloholic?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

From  the past

 

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Filed under Communicating and Connecting, Digital World Madness, Life Balance, Life demands