Category Archives: No

Only Child will get her sleep

Only Child in her office – getting down to business with work and sleep.

My mind has turned to mush. I forget where I put things; I forget to do things; things get mixed up, and some things go and stay missing.

Am I losing my mind?

Maybe?

Is it Alzheimer’s?

Probably not.

My immune system is also down and I have a low-level cold (at this point). And I’ve been getting to bed too late (or too early if you figure the time after midnight in a.m.). So, it’s sleep deprivation. Because I have not been carousing all over town until the wee hours of the morning, that’s not it. The root cause of all this is doing too much – a lot of that I blame on being the only person here who has to do and/or organize everything. Can’t do anything about that now (no time and no money) but there is something I can and will do.

TAKE BACK MY SLEEP TIME.

Studies show that sleep deprivation affects both physical health and mental health, particularly cognitive performance. Your short-term memory and even your long-term memory can take a nosedive and your decision-making abilities can go out the window. According to a study, Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance by Paula Alhola and Paivi Polo-Kantola (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2007), not getting sufficient zzz’s regularly can impair lots more, including your mood. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC265629 for the long list of sleep deprivation effects and the references to corresponding studies. It’s enough to make you want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

I’m not going that far but some things got to go or at least slow down. Consider last week where (among other things) I did/had to deal with the following:

  1. My handyman finally showing up – on a work day. It interfered with my work time and because he was one and a quarter hour late, not everything got done. I forgive myself for being really grumpy then. He deserved it (if you remember from previous posts he had cancelled a Saturday appointment).
  2. Juggling client work and meetings (in person) and via email and phone with new clients (not complaining here. I need and like the work. I’m taking it in the context of what else was happening).
  3. Trying to do end-of-season garden cleanup plus protect vulnerable plants from cold weather/frost with our yo-yo weather (that is the nature of gardening, but again I’m taking it in context with everything else).
  4. Doing readings from my book, including out-of-town (this I like doing), attending all day workshops on Saturday (my East End Writers’ Group sponsored it so I had to be there even though I felt sick).
  5. Plus the regular daily stuff – cooking and cleaning up (although I cook extra on weekends and leave what little “big” cleaning jobs I do until weekends).
  6. Etc., etc., etc.

That’s only part of it. Not getting done was phoning friends as promised, more clearing out of my office (I did do some so I have room for new client files). This week started out with a malfunctioning CD/DVD drive in my desktop computer so my computer tech was just here this morning. The drive wasn’t dead yet but something in it was loose so it was headed to the DVD/CD drive cemetery. My techie replaced it and then I found out his rates went up – but he gave me a discount because I didn’t know and he wasn’t here for a full hour. So, I gave him a post-dated cheque because like most freelancers I’m waiting for another cheque to come in. I also have a whopping house insurance premium (over $1,000 for the next year) due the beginning of next week.

Seems no matter what you do you can’t crawl out from under it.

Except for my sleep deprivation. I’m determined to get at least my required seven and a quarter hours of sleep each night. So, I have to get strict and maybe even a little nasty. My plan?

Put myself first.

Say “no” to many things including some social and business events, particularly where it involves me helping someone else. I’m doing too much of that (mainly in the business end) and spreading myself too thin.

Delete more email – some without first reading the email – just go by the subject and the sender. I don’t mean obvious spam. I’m doing some of this but I will up it.

Stick more to my daily schedule – I do daily schedules but don’t always follow them – now it will be to-the-letter barring extreme unforeseen circumstances. This means clients will have to get in line to get their work done if they want it done properly.

Don’t beat myself if I don’t have time to return friends’ and business phone calls and emails. I will get to it – when I have time.

Don’t get sidetracked by other things – especially those that don’t really interest me and/or aren’t pertinent.

Pace myself in what I do.

Take breaks and leisure time.

And get enough sleep.

Excuse me while I go to the next item on today’s “to do” list.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Balance, Cognitive disorders, Gardening, Goals, Health, Lists, No, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Sleep deprivation, Stress, to do list

Only Child takes a crack at fine-tuning work time

Only Child is becoming a bear on time management

My late father may have been on the right track with his time obsession. I don’t recall how good he was at time management, but I’m presuming very good at  his job, because he worked for many years as a timekeeper for the Canadian National Railways. Dad was fixated on constantly checking the time and making sure his watch always worked. Much to my mother’s chagrin, he’d compare his watch to the kitchen wall clock during dinner. I do some of that (not necessarily at dinner), but it’s my time management area that needs an overhaul.

I have to take another crack at fine-tuning my time…with a mini sledgehammer. Some of my signs of spiralling in overwhelm are showing up. I forget where I put things; I almost forgot to pay the water bill on time; I have three evenings in a row where I have business meetings/courses, and I’m more grumpy than usual. The only sign not here (yet) is heading out the door with last month’s public transit pass in my purse instead of the current pass. And that’s only because it is the middle of the month.

The main focus of the cuts and nays this go-round is in my business. For the first time in months I did a monthly work schedule, including deadlines and times/dates to work on the projects. The list is too long, especially as I need time for personal writing (which may be going somewhere and I’m not going to jeopardize that). So I’ve been working the list, finishing client projects and crossing the jobs off the list. Of course, some of it takes longer than expected. Some of these clients I’ll be glad to do more work for down the road; others, no. I’m taking a hard look at who I work for or with and what I will and won’t do. Gone will be the manipulative clients, clients who don’t use email or even the computers they have (the extra work-around, meetings, etc. are draining my body and soul) and clients who well, just don’t listen – despite what is in the contract we sign. A few wel-used “no’s” may be the operative words here…even if I have to put a big NO sign up in my office.

I have to do this; I’m not getting any younger. But as I’ve pulled up my bootstraps (and maybe a few others’ boostraps too) with my finances, I think some cut-back is in order. The fallout is I’ve been neglecting some of my friends whom I don’t want to neglect…and I’m tired of the arguments about that running around inside my head. On a purely business level, with less and better clients I can focus more on doing a good job for them instead of rushing through it and on to the next client’s work. And (here it comes) gardening season is now here. God, or someone, help anyone who steals my garden time. I wield a mean weeder, but I prefer to use it to dig up weeds.

For those of you with time management problems in your work, read some of Paul Lima’s blogs on the subject. Here’s a link to one: http://paullima.com/blog/category/marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/time-management-marketing-your-writing-and-other-services/ Paul is a writing colleague of many years and I’ve learned a lot from him. He got me started on doing an annual business plan. (I just get carried away on what I can accomplish in a year) and has some sound advice. He is the Six-Figure Freelancer and the main link to his blog is http://paullima.com/blog/. And if you think he is all business, think again. Like me, he also writes short stories. And that is something I am not willing to give up. Ditto for my memoir writing and teaching in both those categories.

Meantime, I think I’ll dig out my Dad’s old pocket watch and also read some more of Paul Lima’s blogging gems.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clients, Life demands, Mom and Dad, No, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Paul Lima, Prioritizing, Railways, Sharon Crawford, Short story writing

Only Child on simplifying life

Ms. Worrywart - Only Child - contemplates her worries

When I was 15, my mom bought me Dale Carnegie’s book  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living because she was worried about my burgeoning worry habit. I guess Mr. Carnegie didn’t help me because the habit grew  over the many years since. Now, worrying is wrapped around being in constant overwhelm over too much to do,  trying to simplify my life and get back to some basics. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about renewing ourselves in September. (https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/only-child-views-septembers-new-beginnings/). I posted some tips to try and I’ve done some of them.

I’ve  said “no,” to a couple of things, backed out of something (naughty, naughty) and organized a few things that needed doing  – and even got at some of them. That certainly made me feel better – for a bit.

I’ve also been reading self-help books on the subject and although I can’t agree with all the content (and I’m still reading it), I can recommend one book – Living in the Moment by Gary Null (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2008). Mr. Null is an award-winning radio journalist, investigative reporter, health and science expert, documentary film maker, etc., and like me, a baby boomer.  He spares us boomers no slack in his book, blaming us for many of society’s ills and why many, if not most of us (here he includes the next generation down in age), are spiritually ( he differentiates between religious and spiritual) bare, bored, and in overwhelm. Even though I don’t agree 100 percent with him, he does make a lot of sense; however, I’m still waiting for more than a few lines on actually living in the moment. I’m in the Chapter on Embracing Our Bliss and I don’t agree with his definition on bliss.  He defines bliss as “about having the courage to release immature notions that make us toxic to ourselves and others.” That might be the first step for us to get to bliss, but that’s not all of it. I define bliss as being content and even happy with our life, filled with passion about something and maybe even at peace without ongoing worrying. Notice I said “worrying,” not “worries.” We all have worries, but most of us could use less of them.

For some of what Mr. Null (I love that last name – the paradox for what he writes) says I find I am already there and some of his advice I will consider trying. However, one thing he says  I can’t go along with, at least right up front and right away. He says we all need to reconnect with our community and be altruistic, be more like we boomers were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s this altruism part that I’m questioning. Some of us got into our overwhelm partly by over-volunteering and hit burn-out there. I think, first you have to “be selfish” and sort yourself out, then if there is a cause you are passionate about, go for it.

Strangely, some of his ideas for straightening out yourself are good, including ones I’m doing.

Here are some tips, based on Mr. Null’s ideas and what I’m doing, to get out of overwhelm and live simply and in the moment.

1. Get rid of the clutter – physically. He goes on about the consumerism and possession-collecting of boomers. (Just watch those hoarder shows on TV to see it in extremes). Well, for the past few years I’ve been purging stuff in my place and I actually turn my nose up (down?) at accepting stuff from friends (excluding small Christmas gifts, which I also buy for them).

2. Get rid of the clutter in your head (my idea). Right now my mind swims with all the stuff I have to do, etc. and it drives me up a wall and down again. Being an “only person” here, responsible for doing and organizing everything doesn’t help. If you have a significant other, persuade him or her  to help you with the next point because that will help with this no. 2.

3. Downsize what you do in your life – I hit on this in that previous post, but you need to decide what you need and want to do, not what someone else thinks you should do. Whose life is it? Remember, delay, delegate and (my favourite) delete. Make “no” the biggest word in your vocabulary.

4. Go out into nature and reconnect. I can’t emphasize how much a nature walk or going out in my garden helps soothes the psyche – whether pulling weeds, mowing the lawn with my push-mower, or collecting raspberries or tomatoes or just sitting out in the garden and absorbing.

5. Exercise – now here Mr. Null and I disagree on the philosophy behind this. He says that boomers go out and exercise in ways they really don’t like but for me, that’s not true. I love walking and gardening. Now, if he is referring to snow shovelling, I agree with him.

6. He also has much the same attitude about people’s motivation with meditation and yoga – I only partly agree when someone’s meditation wanders all around their concerns. But meditation, yoga, NIA, Tai Chi – whatever works for you – are good ways to relax. So are listening to music and reading, and maybe even watching some TV (the latter is for me, but not reality shows – Mr. Null and I agree on those).

7. Experience the holiday, the festival, etc. instead of using it to pile up on more possessions, something I already experience them, thanks to limited funds.

To sum it up, I think you have to sort yourself out first before you step outside, so to speak. But I still recommend reading Gary Null’s book Living in the Moment. Lots of good wisdom and he gets you thinking. Check out his website http://www.garynull.com for more info on the man and his works; for the book, go to http://www.amazon.com

Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Baby boomers, Balance, Burnout, Clutter, Gardening, No, Only child, Overwhelm, Time management, Worrying

Only Child views September’s new beginnings

Only Child age 8 Holy Cross grade school photo

September is too fast approaching and kids, teens  and others will be returning to school or college. I remember the mixture of anticipation and dread of that first day back after two months of freedom. Back in the grey ages I could smell the pencils, paper and print from the books – it’s a miracle I didn’t get high. I wondered who would be my teacher(s) and who would be in my class(es). Not all was smooth sailing for someone who was shy and quiet (then, not now. Try shutting me up today). As I write in my memoir, I had some difficulties with one particular nun in grade 2.

In grade 2 we applied our Grade 1 reading skills in exercises.

“Turn to page 12, exercise A,” Mother St. Helen says. She stands behind her desk. She holds the exercise book, alternating between glancing down at it and over at us. “When you are finished it and exercise B, you may quietly bring them up here for me to look at.” She sits down.

For the next 15 to 20 minutes the only sounds are the flipping of pages and the scratching of pencils. I read through each question and write down my answer or draw the picture required. Some of the students finish quickly and line up at Mother’s desk, so now I hear her occasional, “That’s wrong. How do you expect to pass Grade 2,” and “Good.”

I have now completed the work, so pick up the exercise book, which is the size of a thick colouring book and climb out from behind the desk, walk up to the front and line up. Nora and Michael stand in front of me and as Mother looks at Nora’s work and says, “Good,” I think I also have done all right.

“How do you expect to pass grade 2?” Mother asks Michael.

I hope I have done all right.

It is now my turn. I say nothing as I place the open exercise book before Mother. She presses her lips together as she follows along on the page with her pencil. When she reaches the bottom, she jerks the book at me.

“What’s this?” she asks.

I look down and read out loud. “Draw an X.”

“The word isn’t ‘X;’ it’s an ‘axe.’ ”

I have drawn an “X.”

“Stupid,” she says. “You should know better than that.” She whacks the pencil against my nose.

Tears well up in my eyes. My face must be turning red because Mother is looking a little strange for Mother.

“I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

But that was back then. Now, with this September lurking near, it might be a good idea to focus on renewing ourselves, what we do, and what we really don’t have to do. Some of us are in a too relaxed mode and September can thrust us in overwhelm and overload. Here are a few ideas to help get us through the next month or so (Do as I write, not necessarily as I will do).

1. Make a list of what you do, what you think you have to do in both work and personal.

2. Use the three D’s – delay, delegate, delete as you scrutinize all the items in your “to-do” list. Ask yourself: What can you get someone else to do? What can you put off doing until another time? What can you delete or never do?

3. Tell yourself that the biggest word in your dictionary is NO. Repeat it to yourself, out loud. And keep it in mind when someone asks you to do something you really don’t have time to do. All it takes is a “No, sorry, but I have a full schedule and really don’t have the time to do…” And courage to say it. If I had more courage here I might have said, “no,” back in July to phoning member of my graduation high school class for the reunion coming up in October. But I had to get the list of classmates with their possible current contact info. I’m not a journalist with a nosy mind for nothing.

4. Find some relax time – go and sit in your garden, a park, go for a walk, meditate, listen to soothing music, read a book, heck even watch some of  the new TV shows.

5. And don’t beat yourself up mentally (or otherwise) if you fall off the balance wagon. Nobody is perfect. (I will repeat that one to myself like a mantra, along with the “No.”)

I think my friend, Fran, had the best way of summing this up – consider what is best for you right now, not what someone else thinks you should be doing. I tend to agree with her. What about you? I’d like comments on how you plan to deal with the September rush and its back-to-business mode.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Back to School, Balance, Delete, Life demands, Memoir writing, No, Only child, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Reading escapism, School, School days, September, Stress, Teachers, Time management, to do list