Category Archives: Overwhelm

Streamlining my life or why no blog post last week

Only Child is doing this in her life

Life is getting too complicated and I am running around in overwhelm too much lately. That is why I didn’t even have time to write my weekly blog post here last week. This is the first time ever I have missed doing a blog post. I also missed doing my author blog post last Thursday. A lot of it seems to be things coming at me from other people and other things – what I supposedly can’t control

Well, maybe I can. If something or someone is stealing my time with their demands, maybe it is time to dump them or dump the organization I’m involved  in or at the very least cut back on what I do when for them. Because what is happening is I am not doing what I want to do because of all this outside stuff coming in.

Last Friday I started to draw the line and did that with someone who was actually helping me and the writers’ group I run with all the stuff to get a special event going. But she does want things done right away. I can’t do that anymore so emailed her that I can’t deal with anything related to that until Monday. She was fine with that and I am grateful that she has been dealing with the city bureaucracy involved in one aspect of it. In fact another organization had the same problem with the city so I’m wondering if it isn’t the same city jerk there causing all the problems.

I am also emailing a potential new client that I cannot evaluate her manuscript until fall  – originally I had estimated June but I just  finished the third rewrite of Beyond Faith and am now back to doing a very heavy edit for the novel of a very understanding client. I had also suggested this this PC (potential client) could also go to another editor near where she lives and someone she, as well as I, know. When I didn’t hear back either way from the PC I presumed she had gone to the other editor. Meantime a repeat client emailed me that she would like me to do another evaluation of her manuscript since she has rewritten it based on my previous evaluation – of course for a fee. Not hearing anything from PC and realizing that my considerate client’s ms was again behind schedule (he knows and is not upset), I gave her a tentative July to meet with her. However, imagine my surprise when last week PC emailed with wanting to email the manuscript, although she did ask if she could email it now. As for fee (and I had mentioned that in my previous email), she mentioned she could mail a cheque or a gift card. Huh. No way for the latter and I don’t just start an editing job without a deposit and without a signed contract.  Guess I will have to email her this week. And if she decides to get another editor, that’s fine with me. Today I also have the handyman here fixing house and property stuff plus deal with the writers’ event planning and do some more editing on the considerate client’s manuscript.

You can see some of the stuff I’m dealing with, some which I don’t really have time to deal with. Last night was the first night  in months I got seven hours of sleep – if you count the half hour I fell asleep watching the news and weather on TV. Sleep is important to me and I’m tired of being tired and not being able to think straight some times.

So, in my quest to decide what to scrap, what to cut  back on, what to put in pending indefinitely I am re-reading this wonderful book by Elaine St. James called Living the Simple Life. She has other books in the same vein and I have one of them – if I can find it in my overfilled bookshelf by my bed. Although the book is written in the mid 1990’s, it is still relevant – she does a whole list of possible time stealers for people and except for Publishers clearing house junk  mail, she is right on. Yes, email and the Internet are on her list, but we can just add more up-to-date time -stealers like our cell phones and other devices and social media. Her chapters are simple and short and very helpful and you can pick and choose which chapters to read.

So with Elaine’s help and my determination (and stubbornness and persistence) I am going to cut the crap and try to live doing things one foot at a time, one thing at a time and where possible I decide the priority. If people don’t like it they can lump it.

And that’s enough cliches for now.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Garden serenity when things get hectic

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Filed under Decisions, Overwhelm, Planning, Prioritizing, Problem solving, Uncategorized

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 says delete

 

Only Child  contemplates deleting extra chores

Only Child contemplates deleting extra chores

Hitting the delete button is common with computers. We also need a “delete” button for all the flotsam and jetsam in our lives – something I’ve decided to apply.

Life is not as simple as when I was growing up – although back then I did not think life was simple. But I suppose with my Dad dying of cancer, being bullied, and turning into Worry Wart #2 (my late Mom gets the prize for Top Worry War), that is understandable.

When I start misplacing items – or in some cases items go missing and turn up in strange places (more on this in a future post), I get angrier than usual at so-called “little things,” I am not getting enough sleep so I can’t think and function normally, bingo – I’m in overwhelm. It’s time.

Time to take a look at what exactly is happening in my life and hitting the “delete” button for some things.

Off the top of my head, I know I have to make the word “no” into a very big word. I need to stop helping every Tom, Ken and Susan who wants my help. A lot of it happens in the writing department and I’m not referring to paying clients. I have reached the point where I use the “delay” tactic but I think I will have to say “no” upfront. It is good as an experienced writer/writing teacher/ and editor to help more newbie writers – but somewhere in there you have to draw the line at how many and for what.

Then there is this business of suddenly finding housework (some of it daily routine) to do after the 11 p.m. news. Or as one of my writing colleagues put it “no more dusting late at night.” I don’t dust late at night and my house is lucky if I dust it once a month. Yes, I have my priorities right there.

No, what I do late at night is empty the dehumidifier, shut the basement windows (those two in summer), fill the coffeepot ready to turn on in the morning, and sometimes finish washing the dishes, dump the recycling newspapers, etc. in the big bin I keep just outside the side door, and lock that door and the front door. And I haven’t even started on the personal get-ready-for-bed rituals.

Why can’t I do all this stuff earlier in the evening? If I’m watching TV, except for a couple of channels I watch, there are commercials. I used to laugh at my friend Diana who would rush into the kitchen during the commercials to do dishes, etc. Well, it’s a good idea and I do it for washing the dishes and most of the time they at least get done. So why not for other daily evening chores?

Other things in my life can fall under the delete button. I use a Plan A, B, C and D for what is important. The A box is “Have to Do; want to do;” B box is “Have to do; don’t want to do” (dusting goes under thus one); C box is Don’t have to do; want to do” and D box is “Don’t have to do; don’t want to do.”

Guess which one is the easiest to list.

How do you deal with too much to do? Do you have a plan? Or do you not have too much to do in your life?

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Burnout, Mom and Dad, Only child, Overwhelm, Sharon A. Crawford, Worrying

Only Child has too many worries

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life .

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life

I have hit worry overload – many new worries popping up and some ongoing chronic ones.

In last week’s post I mentioned the garden-related problems from the extremely severe winter and late start to spring (is spring here finally?).  I have been closely watching the large juniper tree on my front lawn, the boxwood shrub in the front and the two silver lace shrubs winding on the back fences. And carrying on a heated dialogue with God. As you know I put the responsibility for this weather squarely on God. The silver lace will have to be cut down – one has signs of life near the bottom so may come back. The juniper is slowly showing more signs of green but still has quite a ways to go. The boxwood is coming along slowly, but still has a long way to go. If necessary I can trim it back.

But I don’t want to lose the big juniper. Getting it cut down will be over my dead body. God owes me to get it back at least to 95 per cent recovery. And God will have to send me the money from somewhere to pay for an arborist to cut down (and in one place remove) the silver lace. I have bills to pay for the home repairs already planned and scheduled and so far have the money for them. It’s the extra unplanned stuff I can’t deal with – financially or emotionally.

Unplanned like computer problems – both computers and both with security in one way or the other. Not surprising as that is a reflection of my life currently –  very unsettled and very little seems to be in my control. I choose to have more control of my life and to have less problems to deal with. I won’t go into more details but right now I have more crosses than I can bear.

Are you listening God?

My health – emotional, mental and physical depends on it. I have three auto-immune diseases (if you count allergies as one of them) and to manage them I need less stress and more sleep. Both those are wavering in the opposite to health direction.

When I do sleep I have weird sometimes frightening dreams and I know they reflect what I am going through and what I need. Would be good if my dreams gave me some answers.

Is it too much to ask to have only a few problems, what you can take? And not a lot of horrific unexpected ones popping up all the time.

The grass is green, so are the plants and the flowers are actually showing up in my garden. My garden is supposed to be my sanctuary but when I look at the juniper, the boxwood and silver lace I wonder about that. I can’t help wanting to go back to my mother’s garden when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s  and helping mom in the garden, picking berries, and sitting out in the backyard and reading an Agatha Christie or other novel borrowed from the library.

I didn’t know how good I really had it then. Life really sucks right now.

Cheers (I think)

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Anxiety, Healing through gardening, Health, Mother and Child, Only child, Overwhelm, Problems

Only Child hits the stress factor

Only Child's relaxing corner  in the backyard - when the garden finally flowers

Only Child’s relaxing corner in the backyard – when the garden finally flowers

There are many studies and articles about how stressed-out we are. It seems to be the norm to be over-busy and stressed out. It’s the so-called remedies that I don’t agree on. One in particular – change your attitudes on your life.

Yeah, right. As if that would get rid of the stress in your life. If it would work, I would try to change my attitude. However, as I mentioned in last week’s post, as one stressor goes, another one pops up to take its place.

Let’s consider changing your attitude. There is a big risk here of going into denial, i.e., you don’t have any problems so you don’t solve them. You might also fall into the Pollyanna attitude. And we all know what happened to Pollyanna. In the 1960 Disney movie of the same name, Pollyanna fell from a tree and was crippled.

So attitude change won’t work for me.

I’ve decided on a three-prong approach:

1. Take a long hard look at just what my stressors are and try to eliminate what I can. I know I said that one will pop up as one is deleted. But there just might be some that can go for good – so that would be one or two less included in the stressor list.
2. Learn to relax – that’s the biggie – but meditation has helped me in the past. It won’t eliminate the stress but might help the cortisol level and my immune system. Because of some physical medical conditions, I already have a compromised immune system and stress capulted it into high gear. No wonder I’m having a hard time getting rid of a viral respiratory condition in my neck and cheek glands, which started as sinusitis and is threatening to include that again. Here, my garden (whenever this weather decides it is actually spring – plants are about a month late this year) can help, both gardening and sitting in the garden and reading.
3. Solve the damn problems – and pick and choose wisely, which ones to tackle. And try not to tackle all at once – if it can be helped.

Here are a few articles and studies on ways to eliminate or reduce stress. I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with them, but here they are anyway.
Stress and Positive Attitude
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Stress and Aging http://www.economist.com/node/18526881
And my favourite – Eliminating Stress Brings Pain Relief
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/stress-and-pain.aspx

 

How do you tackle stress? Is it killing you? I’d like some comments.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes
Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under Gardening, Healing through gardening, Health, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress

Only Child roars about sleep deprivation

Only Child catching some much-needed zzzzs.

Only Child catching some much-needed zzzzs.

In this fast-paced overwhelm world getting enough sleep is a pipe dream for many of us. I’m at the point now where if anyone – expert or so-called well-meaning “friend” suggests I need more sleep, I will hand over my “to do” list (or rattle it off) and say,

“Here, take care of all this and maybe I might just enough sleep.”

Maybe is the key word here. I have other sleep stealers going on. I’m a senior and as you age your quantity and quality of sleep diminishes. Copy that – at least in the sleep beyond 7.30 a.m. or 8 a.m. area. That is if I don’t get woken up by the boarder getting up from her room to feed her cat anywhere from 5.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. I don’t hear them every morning.

Or one of my many medical conditions either keeps me awake or wakes me up early. Or something unknown – maybe a bad dream – wakes me up during the night. If I don’t get back to sleep within 10 minutes it’s a lost cause as my mind starts thinking of my too many problems, some of which are on that “to do” list.

I’ve tried getting to bed earlier but between what I call housework shit (no, not dusting, just the routine daily stuff like lock doors, make the coffee and set it up for the next day, etc.) and the bedtime rituals (shower and sometimes washing and drying hair) I’m lucky if I make it to bed by 12.30.

Amount of sleep needed each night is different for each individual. I need at least seven and a half hours sleep each night for my health and I would love to get it. Sometimes I think about when I was a child sleeping in my room and hearing the comfort of my parents talking about budgets of all things down the hall in the kitchen. Or sleeping in on weekends until I heard my mother yelling, “get out, get out,” not to me or Dad, but to the roast stuck in the very small freezer atop the small fridge.

I know all my nights in childhood didn’t have 100 percent sleeping with no worries. In high school I would worry about finishing studying for exams and get up really early for more studying. Life as a kid and teenager was not stress-free.

Somehow, over the many decades since, the stress has piled up and up and turned into a constant overwhelm – even when one problem gets solved another one pops up.

And it all affects my sleep.

I’m not alone here – we are a sleep-deprived society with our hurry-rush-rush lifestyles. Smart phones (what a misnomer) and all the other technology that keeps us “connected” 24/7 is partly to blame. Although maybe not in my case as I don’t have a smart phone; I don’t do “Twitter” (for the birds is my take on that), and I make sure I have off-the-computer time where I actually shut the computers off. I do have an e-reader but reading is one of my so-called relaxing pastimes (whether print or e). I say “so-called” because finding time to read for pleasure is almost as hard as finding time to sleep.

Despite my dig at sleep experts and other health experts above, they are right about the downsides of not getting enough sleep. I do agree, but sometimes I feel like shouting “stop the world I want to get off.”

Check out these articles on sleep deprivation.

Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
Sleep Centers Increase to Highest Number Ever http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/sleep-centers-highest-number-american-academy-of-sleep-medicine_n_2366719.html

We are a sleep-deprived world and we resent it.

How do you get enough sleep or do you get enough sleep? Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under Memoir writing course, Mom and Dad, Only child, Overwhelm, Problems, Sharon Crawford, Uncategorized

Only Child tries to grab control of her time – again

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

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

If shooting the clock would tame my time I’d do it. However, Mr. and Mrs. Clocks are not the guilty parties. The culprits are having too much to do, especially when some of that is because others are butting in and/or just not doing their job. It is literally making me sick and stealing my sleep time.

I’m fed up with picking up other’ slack and putting up with others’ unnecessary interference – in my personal and work life. So, I’m on the warpath again.

Sometimes I think life is a spiralling whirlwind with no jump off point – unless you want to be drastic and do the proverbial cliff thing.

Not me. I prefer to tackle the culprits, despite the feelings of dread, weariness, anger, guilt and frustration for starters. I’m tired of being dragged down. I want my life back. I want my health back. I want this viral respiratory infection (now in my neck glands) to go away – permanently. I figure without all the stress and with regular sufficient sleep it would never have gone beyond the sinusitis stage, which lasted only three or four days. Then it hibernated and surfaced in the glands. I’m taking a natural remedy to help get rid of it. But I need to do more.

For the house repair stuff , I may not be able to control what needs repairing but I will control what I deal with, when and who else gets involved. So, if I’m focusing on getting one repair done (including the actual doing) the rest takes a back burner and maybe some of the people bugging me about it get ignored permanently.

Some writing colleagues are not doing their job where it is connected to what I do – so I am left to pick up their slack, which I’ve been doing with many worries about how to rectify the situation. Despite reminder emails I’m greeted with silence. So, now I will try the old-fashioned way – use the phone.

Getting more sleep – only one area needs improvement on my part – getting to bed a bit earlier. Here, I need to stop doing household chores after the 11 p.m. news. Once the weather report is finished and I turn the TV off, all that should be left to do is get ready for bed and go to bed.

The other sleep problem is not under my control. My boarder insists on getting up between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. whenever her cat wakes her up to be fed. Sometime that wakes me up and I have trouble getting back to sleep before my alarm goes off three of so hours later. If that were me, I’d stall feeding the cat – other cat owners do this. But then, I’m not a cat owner, so what do I know?

The weather – and I’ve posted my feelings and beliefs on this one before. Just when I was getting into gardening and being able to sit outside away from everything going on inside, get some privacy and peace, we get snow today. It will melt but I’m stuck inside and back to “hiding” in the living room, with door closed, to sip my morning coffee and read the newspaper or a magazine. In real spring and summer, I sit outside on the patio and read and also eat breakfast and lunch, and perhaps dinner. Now, I’m back to eating breakfast with answering email (with my office door closed).

I find my garden – just being in it – and my writing, reading and walking sooths this savage beast – for a time. Maybe I’m crazy, but I actually enjoy rewriting my mystery novel – the one getting published later this year – even following the editor at my publisher’s suggestions (well, most of them). Perhaps it’s being one with my creative process and shutting out the miserable world around me.

But it helps.

Not today, though. Today, it’s back to another hateful job – working on my 2013 tax returns – which I don’t file electronically. You don’t dare do that with the Heartbleed virus. And getting after one of my writing colleagues to do his job so I can do mine.

Shooting the clocks won’t work anyway. I have only a small water gun.

How do others tame their time? Suggestions are welcome. Let’s share our ideas, especially what works.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Health, Life demands, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Time management