Category Archives: Life learning

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

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

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

Only Child’s novel to be published fall 2014

Only Child reading from her writing.

Only Child reading from her writing.

My prequel mystery novel, Beyond Blood, will be published this fall by Blue Denim Press, the publishers of my mystery short collection Beyond the Tripping Point. As one of my friends says, “you must be over the moon.”
Yes, but writing is what I do, what keeps me going. Along with gardening, writing helps keep me (somewhat) sane…if writers can even be called sane. Let’s say eccentrically sane.
My writing goes back a long long way – to grade school when I was 11. The Knights of Columbus held an essay writing contest and I came in second. No clue what I wrote about. But I learned a great lesson in friendship. I write about it in my memoir:
My friend, Leslie, is not a writer. After everyone has submitted essays, Leslie and I are walking home.
“My friend, Josie, who’s 13, wrote mine,” she says.
I don’t know what to say.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she says.
A few weeks later, Mrs. Jones announces the winners. My essay came in second and Leslie’s came in first.
Do I rat on her and lose one of my few friends? She cheated. She didn’t write it. I could be first.
She’s your friend. And like you, she doesn’t have many friends.
She’ll dump you..
But she cheated. I wrote my essay myself. She didn’t.
Maybe I could slip Mrs. Jones an anonymous note.
Leslie will know it was you. She won’t want to be your friend.
But I wrote mine myself and she didn’t write hers. She came in first with her fake entry and I came in second with my real one? Is that fair?
Over and over in my mind, the pros and cons teeter and totter….
I keep my mouth shut. Leslie wins the cash prize; we both get to go to the Knights of Columbus District dinner with our parents. Mom and Dad are proud of my accomplishment – my coming in second; I don’t tell them about Leslie’s big cheat. (From You Can Go Home – Digging Up the Dirt, copyright Sharon A. Crawford 2014)
With the publication of Beyond Blood, there are also lessons to be learned. The obvious is to persevere – in writing and pitching your work. For example, this novel went through many, many versions and even the one submitted wasn’t good enough. But my editor and the publisher at Blue Denim Press gave me the benefit of the doubt and let me do another major rewrite and it paid off. Now, of course there are some minor rewrites – but that is par for the course when you get a book published.
The big lesson here unfolds from a synchronicity if you will.
Another mystery novel being published at the same time by Blue Denim Press is one by a longtime writing colleague and also an editing client. My task here is to help him with his book promotion, including doing some joint promo. Two years ago when Beyond the Tripping Point was published I asked for promo help from other writers and got it. Now it’s my turn to flip the coin and do my part to help him make the connections and get the word out there about his book and get some sales. We don’t live in the same city, but that can be worked around.
That’s what it is for writers (besides writing) – we help each other.
Check my other blog for info on Beyond the Tripping Point and its characters – some of them – the fraternal twin PIs are the stars in Beyond Blood. http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

1 Comment

Filed under 1960s, Beyond Blood, Life learning, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Writers Helping Writers, Writing

Only Child leans toward being wary

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

The wariness/trust issue took a different turn this weekend. I need to rethink my attitude here because guess what? I got betrayed.

For the winter I had hired someone to shovel the snow when more than just a few centimetres landed. Last Thursday evening into Friday, Toronto and other southern Ontario regions got blasted with a blizzard – 30 centimetres plus of snow. The fellow who was supposed to shovel the snow showed up twice to do it and afterwards made two points of knocking on my door promising to finish the rest – first he was going to shovel first thing the next morning. Of course he didn’t. He showed up early afternoon and said he would be back after lunch to do it and for me to just leave it for him to do – he’d be back in a couple of hours. He also made a point of all the seniors he shovelled snow for and that he couldn’t let them down.

If I’d have waited, I’d still be waiting. After five hours I went out there and hacked away at the snow still in the driveway, sidewalk and by two sides of the house. Sunday I was out there trying to remove the pile-up left at the end of the driveway (the sidewalk plough had removed some overnight) and the snow (layer by layer) over the two cache basins (but not the road spanning out from them). Then I went inside and phoned the 311 number for the City of Toronto and complained about the snow plough dumping the snow over the cache basins.

As for my “trusty” snow shoveller, because I prepaid for some of the weekend’s shovelling (I know; shouldn’t do this) he owes me at least half price for another snow shovelling job. Forecast is for a fair bit of snow here in a week. If he shows up I’ll get my half price deal and then I’m going to fire him with a lecture.

I also now know where he lives so am debating whether to bang on his door.

In the “good old days” when I was a child (back in the grey ages), my dad shovelled the snow and after he died Mom did the job until we moved into an apartment. As most of you know, I’m an “only person” here, so those two words are my key.

People have to earn my trust. Some close family and friends have, but some friends have messed up the trust issue as I’ve blogged before. Some clients also can be trusted. But for others – I will put on my journalism hat and be wary.

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

On a lighter note, I will be taking my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) to the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Library this evening to do a presentation and reading featuring my eccentric characters and quirky plots. At least here I have some control over what happens – the ones doing wrong get their just desserts in some way. For those in the Toronto area, my reading presentation starts      at 6.30 p.m. and the address is 2178 Bloor St. West, Toronto. More info on my Beyond the Tripping Point web page http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

And you can see and hear me read one of these stories, “The Body in the Trunk” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Aloneness, Betrayal, Beyond the Tripping Point, Friends, Learning Experience, Life learning, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow Removal, Trust

Only Child on time and money dilemma

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Time or the lack of enough is worrying me. This time (pun intended) it is connected to money. Already I’m juggling editing one client’s work with trying to finish the rewrite of my novel which my publisher wants to see and doing PR (including workshop related prep) for my first published book, Beyond the Tripping Point. Two more ongoing clients’ work are due to arrive for editing the beginning of February. So far, I think I can manage the time with all of this (and it is all work I enjoy doing). However, I have another repeat client needing another book edited. The catch here is the book is very long; the timeline is very short, and the client has a budget. The money part? I may need this potential client’s money to pay bills next month.

Such is the dilemma of freelancers who work on contract. Add in my situation (which some others have too) – what I call “only person,” I have to factor in personal and house stuff which beyond the odd snow shovelling job, I can’t afford to pay someone else to do. I do try to limit how much I do, but still I am up late doing bits and pieces of housework that needs doing before morning.

Then there are people who want free writing and editing advice and take up my phone and email time. Right now I deal with this on a priority basis – if it doesn’t look like it might lead to work or it’s beyond a reasonable follow-up to work already done, I reply when I can squeeze it in. This may sound harsh, but to borrow a phrase, “business is business.” Or as someone once said, “I’m not running a charity.”

Which brings me to the prospective client with the large book and my time constraints (which this person knows about – right now the situation is at a “maybe”). I will have to expand my parameters – money- and time-wise and if it doesn’t work with this person, then so be it. I will need to hope that the other editing prospects delayed because the rewriting of the manuscript is taking longer than expected (and I understand that from personal experience) will come my way sometime later in February. I will manage on what I have even if it means yet another hit on the decreasing RRSPs. I am my late mother’s child after all. Mom didn’t work (it was the 1950s and early to mid-1960s) until my dad was in the last stages of brain cancer – and after he died her arthritis kicked in and forced her to quit working. Mom was very good at budgeting and making do with what she had.

One more year until I can collect the Old Age Pension – I received my application yesterday and that will get filled out and sent in this week.

Next year I hope to cut back on the editing, even though I like doing it, and focus more on writing and writing workshops and readings, as well as other PR.

To paraphrase my mother’s making do with what she had, I am good at making do with what I don’t have.

And as I’ve mentioned promoting my book Beyond the Tripping Point, below is  a link to a three-minute video of me reading an excerpt from one of its short stories, “The Body in the Trunk” when I appeared on the Liquid Lunch Show on http://www.thatchannel.com

Book is available in print and e-copy at both http://www.amazon.com and http://www.amazon.ca as well as other venues.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

3 Comments

Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Decision Making, Life learning, Mom and Dad, Old Age pensions, Prioritizing, Self employed and cash flow, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on betrayal, trust and irresponsibility

Only Child holds copy of her debut short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point

The more I go through life the more I find my level of trust goes down. Sometimes it’s the people closest to you who let you down. I had another dose of this in several forms this week connected to the launch of my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point. Right now I’d like to insert that the hit did not come from a family member – they were great – 10 of them came to my book launch. (If you want more info on how the book launch went, stay tuned for this Thursday’s blog post on my other blog connected to Beyond the Tripping Point and fiction writing at http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

You’d think I’d know better by now considering what happened with my Dad’s cancer when I was 10. Here’s a brief excerpt from my memoir (yes, still looking for an agent or a publisher directly for it):

...bad news spreads like locusts, especially inaccurate stories told to me by my mother and which comfort me, only to be crushed by the Bully. Soon after Dad returns home and to work, the Bully chases me out of the schoolyard.

“Your Dad has cancer.” She taunts me between huffs and puffs. She waddles onto the sidewalk and tries to catch up to me.

“No, it was TB. You’re lying.” I glance at her over my shoulder, then my feet pick up the pace.

“Nah, your parents lied. My Mom said your Dad has cancer.”

She’s lying. She’s got to be lying. She seems closer to my back, so I detour into Holy Cross Church for solace.

“My mother said it was TB. My mother doesn’t lie. Please God.” I kneel on the wood-hard kneelers and hang onto the pew in front of me. “Please God. He had TB. My mother said so.”

My pleading does not carve consolation into my heart. Instead, betrayal is born, and it grows up as offshoots that make no sense to anyone at the time. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford)

The betrayal/letdown, etc. from friends does not hit the above scale, but it still hurts. As expected, there were a few people invited to the book launch who said they would come and didn’t. Some had very legitimate reasons that came up, one very sad, with a death in the family. I can only sympathize with her and the friends who were sick. But some of the excuses, not reasons, I can only shake my head at. One got invited out to lunch with her son –well, why not just bring him to the launch after lunch? Especially as another friend and writing colleague came all the way down from Sudbury and brought his daughter, her boyfriend and her friend (those three are in Toronto). The more the merrier.

Then there is the betrayal for want of a better word. An insert here. I like to help my friends and had arranged for some car pooling between two of them, and talked to both about it and thought everything was clear. Not according to the driver. She phoned on launch day and chided me, saying I should have told her. I had, but apologized for any misunderstanding. They did go together to the book launch. But the phone call drove me over my tripping point; I was in shock, and went through the launch on automatic pilot. Sure, the launch went okay, but a few things I would have done differently if I had been 100 per cent present.

Overnight my shock changed to anger, not at her phoning – misunderstandings happen. It was the timing of her phone call. She should have waited until the next day.

I learned another lesson. Someone once said that you come into this world alone and exit it alone.

Looks like you also go through it alone.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Aloneness, Anger, Betrayal, Beyond the Tripping Point, Book launch, Family and Friends, Life learning, Memoir content, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Trust

Only Child says you can’t fix everyone’s problems

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 where Only Child grew up

Every time I see or read in the news that someone has lost his or her home to fire or needs a life-saving operation that costs money, I want to help. If friends need something, I want to help.

Newsflash: I can’t fix everything in the world. Superwoman I am not and I don’t think anyone is.

This wanting to help goes back to my childhood. I remember one of my best friends injured her arm. Her older brother was chasing her around their house and when she got to the front door she shoved her arm through the glass. I sat on my veranda and looked over to their house where she was playing and could see her arm in a sling. I wanted to go over to comfort her but being shy I didn’t know how and didn’t have the nerve to do so. So I sat in the Muskoka chair and tried to will my comfort through the air across the street to my friend.

The other motivation was a fairy tale about the little match girl? Anybody remember that story by Hans Christen Anderson? Animated films about the story have been made and a version appears on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYmKb_8y96E

In this classic story, a little girl is selling matches in the cold on New Year’s Eve and not doing well at it. She is afraid to go home because her father will be angry if she hasn’t sold any matches. She envisions her dead grandmother who is the only familymember who treated her decently. The kicker is the little girl freezes in the cold overnight and dies.

That one will get you wanting to help others.

There’s only one problem. I can’t fix everyone’s problems; I have neither the time nor the money. When I try to, I jump all over the place and end up resenting it. So, I’m learning to focus on one area where I am good at helping others – with their writing. It’s why I continue running the East End Writers’ Group (writing critique) in the east end (where else?) of Toronto. It’s what I do in my writing, editing and writing instructing business. It’s also what I do on my author blog at http://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/.

And while doing this I learn a lot from other writers – whether veteran writers or aspiring writers.

A lesson lurks in there somewhere – focus in one area to help others (and I don’t mean forget your family if they aren’t the big focus), and learn from those you help. It’s a two-way street.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Leave a comment

Filed under Helping Others, Life learning, Little Match Girl, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child finds problem solver from roses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

1 Comment

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