Category Archives: Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child plows through overwhelm

Teddy keeping track of time

That little fellow sitting on the clock is going to continue to show up in at least some of my blog posts until I get a better handle on this time thing. But despite all the crap coming from outside, I have made some progress. In another post I’ll go into all the problems that have been shoved my way since last week. The ones I don’t cause but have to deal with the fallout for. No doubt more will zoom in before that.

I finally figured out how to tackle and get somewhere with clearing out all the paperwork in my office. And if you think my desk is piled with random paper scattered everywhere, uh, uh, no. What gets put on the desk while I work usually gets put away at the end of my work day. Ditto any filing that lands in the tray on top of the file cabinet. There is, however, a small metal rack on  my desk by the printer and some of that still needs clearing. But last Sunday I managed to sort out the papers that were lying under my daytimer, also beside the printer, and tackled some of the stuff in envelopes in that rack. Until I got down to the bits of paper, envelopes and the like that have addresses on them that need to be put in my address book. I know there is Outlook and the like online, but having tried some of that, unless it is email addresses and a list of family addresses and phone numbers, I prefer old-fashioned address/phone book – the small kind. As for those big fat Bell telephone books (do they even print those anymore), unless I want to check out how to use some of the extras with my phone service, I don’t use those phone books. I do check people’s addresses and phone numbers, restaurants, etc. online, though, plus search for items I need to buy (like humidifier filters) before I head out the door. And yes, I do by some online. But some items I just like to eyeball in person or with clothes, especially shoes, try on first.

Anyway, while tackling the items on that wire rack, I hit some business cards and that got me started on sorting them out. I have almost a whole side drawer of my desk filled with old business cards; most in those folders with plastic inserts to hold the cards. Those went back over 10 years when I was doing a lot of networking for my business. My “business” is much different now. I’m not into networking with small businesses per say. Besides the age of the cards (and some sticking to the plastic insert), what struck me is the ambiguity of the information on the cards. Yes, there was a person’s, name, phone number, email address and website. But their business names in 90 per cent of the case were so vague, you couldn’t figure out what they were doing. And no clear tagline to state what they do.

My business cards (designed by my son) read on one side:

To the right of my photo (see head shot near the top of my blog itself. It’s my brand photo that follows me around online):

Sharon A. Crawford

Writer/Editor/Instructor

We make words sparkle.

And my phone no.,  city and country, website and email address.

Other side features the front covers of my two latest Beyond mystery series Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith with above and below that:

Author of the Beyond mystery series

Published by Blue Denim Press

and the publisher’s website URL

 

Clarity is important.

And clarity is something I am using to tackle streamlining my life – business and personal. That card and other paper sorting and purging took one and a quarter hours. I figure one and a half hours a weekend will get the job done eventually and in a steady way.

Meantime, I came across a fabulous website that has all sorts of articles on reining in what you do. It is geared more towards business but there is some personal included. For example, one article states it isn’t a good idea to use separate calendars for business and personal because you could over book yourself. I already was following that. My “daytimer” has one page for each day and I draw a line (with a ruler) down the middle. At the top of one I put “Biz “and at the top of the other I put “Personal”.

One thing this article also said was a big reason people get overwhelmed with their day and just don’t get things done is they put first what others want them to do and put themselves last. The article says to do the latter. I agree, although if you have work deadlines you need to consider them. However, I am finding that some of the things I do for others, like workshop and course development and outlining, book promo (often for some of us authors together) I really like doing. So putting that first is like putting something I am doing for me first.

But that’s a whole other topic.

Here is the page with the article.

If you Google “fast company and scheduling” you’ll get a whole list of links to their other other articles.

As that egg commercial says, “get cracking.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Cover of Beyond Faith on back of my biz card

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child’s third Beyond mystery novel published

Cover of my new mystery novel

When I was a child in the 1950s and early 1960s, I got hooked on mysteries – novels and TV programs. I read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden. My late mother got me hooked on Perry Mason. We spent Saturday evenings sitting in front of the TV in the living room watching the old Perry Mason black and white TV series. My dad, a dire-hard Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan had to take a small radio down to the basement to watch hockey. He complained loudly, but no doubt the few bottles of beer he brought down with him, helped.

Pushing into my teens, I started reading Agatha Christie.

So, it is no wonder that all these years later I write mystery series – so far books – the Beyond series – Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012), Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, 2014). And now the latest, just out – drum roll… Beyond Faith (Blue Denim Press, 2017). The cover of Beyond Faith is at the top here.

And I’m going to link to my author blog, my latest post last Thursday there for you to see what all the fuss, joy, etc. is about. If you like you can read other posts there and perhaps follow it. Here’s the main link.

And since then, my mystery novel reading has increased to so many different authors such as Maureen Jennings (she of the Murdock Mysteries TV series), Peter Robinson (Alan Banks mystery series set in Yorkshire, England), Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardiner, Marcia Mueller, Sue Grafton, etc. etc. etc. for a wealth of Canadian readers go to Crime Writers of Canada.

Crime Writers of Canada have a quarterly e-publication called Cool Canadian Crime which lists recent books published by members. And it’s free.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Beyond the Tripping Point, Books, Mom and Dad, mystery novels, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Writing

Only Child deals with doing too much

Sharon CLB mid 1990sSometimes we bite off more than we can chew in all that we do. It is a life variation of the old eating too much axiom that my late mother used to say – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

This time, my eyes and my mind too, are presuming I can do much more than is realistic. So, I’ve been slowly pruning and putting in pending some of what I do. Lately, I have been doing this with my business.

I am a writer, editor and writing instructor and as such there are specific things they encompass and specifics I wouldn’t touch with anything. Having said that, I am still trying for gigs, particularly in the instructor and presentation area. But I am cancelling going to a few business meetings and not taking on some new work. So, the tally right now is:

Cancelled one business meeting for sure this week but presented via email some suggestions within the topics on the agenda.

Went to one writing organization Christmas party (this is fun too) last evening,  but not the other one on the same evening. Having gone to both a few years back when both also occurred the same evening – never again.

Am being approached for editing work from potential new clients and I am grateful for that. But I will be meeting with only one of them in the New Year as what she wants is what I do. She is also connected to me on Linked In and Goodreads. The other one emailed me out of the blue and I am not sure where he got my name from. I don’t think my website because it lists very clearly what I will do in writing, editing and teaching and what he is asking for is not there. And I double-checked my website just to be sure. I do not ghost write or rewrite somebody else’s story, somebody else’s manuscript. I do copy editing, manuscript evaluation and one-on-one writing tutoring in person or by Skype. So I will email him back with a polite refusal and send him to the Editors Canada website to find an editor who will do what he wants and needs.

I do have current clients and it is important to do their work.

So, if you are living your life in overwhelm – business or personal or both – remember  my mother’s axiom – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Otherwise you might bite off more than you can chew.

And that’s enough of cliches from me.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gratitude, Life Balance, Life demands, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child looks back at going back to school

Only Child, age 14 in high school uniform

Only Child, age 14, in high school uniform

Back in the gray ages, each September was different when I returned to school. I felt different, depending on the circumstances. Looking back, the excitement and more positive outlook was definitely before I turned teen. I remember the excitement of buying new pencils and exercise books (I did say “gray ages” so before computers) and anticipated learning new things. The smell of the pencils and paper, new books, reading, even Math, and especially playing baseball with the other girls – my age and older, made me feel good.

Of course, it wasn’t all good. I was bullied in school – first by my so-called best friend and also a nun  in grade 2 and grade 8.

When I started high school, the first day of school and the “anticipation” hit high on the dread and scary scale.

High school grade 9 actually started a few weeks before as Mom and I visited the school (a Catholic one in Toronto) to buy my uniform. This outfit was enough to send you screaming in the street with its dark blue pleated tunic, long-sleeved white blouses, black oxford shoes and (wait for it) a choice of seemed nylon stockings or black leotards – old lady shoes and stockings we called them. However, I didn’t run screaming anywhere because I was just getting over a summer of being sick with the croup.

Great way to start high school? The next high school years’ start weren’t much better. On the first day of any high school year at the Catholic School we were herded into the auditorium to find out our home room and our schedules. For grade 10, some of us found out we couldn’t take the typing class we signed up for but had to take another year of sewing and cooking – both of which I could learn from my mom, thank you very much. It didn’t help that the new school addition wasn’t finished and I got stuck in a portable for the first time. In winter the ink froze in the ink wells (gray ages, remember?) and we had to put our boots, hats, coats back on and trail back to the main school and patrol through the halls looking for an empty classroom – usually the cafeteria for religion class. Was there some connection between food and religion?

As kids and teens traipse back to school today, many are filled with anxiety. Life is more complex now with all the technology, cyber bullying and the peer and other pressure to grow up way too fast – just to list a few things. But the interesting thing that psychologists haves found is that some people long out of school still experience the first day anxiety as adults and some don’t even know this is it. Psychologists equate it with the end of the summer holidays and coming back from vacation and getting back to school or work. The days are getting shorter and the weather cooler with winter now closer and that can affect some too, like a prelude to the winter’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD.)

I get the weather one. Near the end of August and particularly Labour Day, I am saddened that there isn’t much more of summer left. Sure, we still get warm days in September (heat wave right now in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and officially by the calendar summer doesn’t end until Sept. 21. And I do like the early part of fall. But once the cold arrives – once November arrives and we go back to standard time – it is all downhill from there until sometime in April. I hate winter with a passion – especially after the horrid last two winters – in particular the ice storm and the resulting power outage in December 2013 right before Christmas.

When September rolls around I keep wishing we could go back to July 1 and the Canada Day celebrations. So much summer promise of fun, hot weather, gardening, beaches, holidays, and somewhat taking it easy.  So, I hang onto what is left and garden as long as I can, bringing potted plants inside. Of course they won’t last all winter because the sun doesn’t appear that often or that long in winter.

Read the story “No more pencils, no more books? Fall blahs still hit adults” athttp://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20150906/281505044989606/TextView

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anxiety, Back to School, Only child, School, School days, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child finds solace at Harbourfront

Harbourfront Music Garden and sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats and corner of the Music Garden in Toronto

Lake, beach, music and gardens – all created some peace for me, if only for a few hours. On Sunday I went to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Outside the two-year construction clutter is gone and the remake shows. Walk, bike, streetcars and cars all have their separate place to move along Queen’s Quay. And walking on the beach – sand or boardwalk (cement or boards) is lively, yet peaceful. About the only so-called drawback is the juggler who attracts crowds that block the access along the boardwalk.

I sat on a bench facing the boardwalk and ate my packed lunch while watching the boats sail around in Lake Ontario and people-watched. People of all sizes, ages and in quite a variety of clothes. But all enjoying themselves. And not crowded but not just a few people either. Perfect.

After lunch, I strolled along the boardwalk over to the grassy area (note: it is fake turf but if you had experienced the lumpy clumps of grass a few years ago, you would not complain about the turf). I checked out the craft booths for the perfect turquoise pendant. A few came close but not just it. I am trying to replace the pendant that got broken when I fell thanks to some careless you-know-what leaving a paper wire out on the street.

From there I headed for a brisk walk west to the Music Garden. This is a unique combination of wildflowers and other perennials, trees, pathways and a grassy area with layered wide steps to sit on while absorbing one of the summer classical music concerts. Sunday it was Italian baroque played by four musicians from Montreal. C0mpletely captured all my senses for an hour and soothed my tattered soul and body.

After the concert (free, by the way), I took some photos of the garden and of the ships sitting in the harbour, including one of the tall ships which you can board to take a tour around Toronto Harbour. Because of time, I left this one for another visit.

Then, after a quick look at some of the displays along the way, I went inside one of the buildings. I knew what I would find – all one area has closed and boarded up shops. It looks desolate and out of the atmosphere of Harbourfront. It seems like it was forgotten in the remodelling of Harbourfront area. And you know what I miss most – Tilly’s – you know of the Tilly hats? I can’t afford Tilly’s prices but I loved wandering in the store and looking at and feeling the clothing. The cafe is also gone as well as other shops. Not good.

So I went outside and boarded one of the new LRT streetcars which are slowing replacing the old clunkers. I still like the old clunkers but the new ones ride smoothly and you don’t have to show your ticket or pass unless asked. This short run took me underground and into Union Station where I (finally after a long wait) boarded the subway – another LRT types car – which I like. And I returned home.

A good day. With my health issues I don’t have too many of those.

So, it is carpe diem – for all of us.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Harbourfront sailboats

Harbourfront sailboats

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Filed under Health, Music, Music Garden, Only child, Peace and quiet, Sailboats, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child on building and removing neighbourhood fences

Front of my yard onto street - no fences

Front of my yard onto street this spring – no fences

Good fences make good neighbours. That old American proverb is playing out in my neighbourhood.

Across the street a lady who has lived there with her son for a couple of years and hasn’t exactly been friendly with the neighbours is having a big, big fence built. She does talk to her next door neighbours, my friends Carol and Al. Good thing because at least she consulted Carol and Al about this fence. Al is keeping an eye on it and talks to the guy putting up the fence. Carol showed me this huge fence dividing the backyards. The fence looks over 8 feet high, well over the requirements for a backyard with a swimming pool, which this backyard doesn’t have…yet. The fence is solid wood, not lattice and continues at the back of this neighbour’s driveway at the entrance to her backyard. If I understood Carol correctly, the fence is supposed to extend along their neighbour’s driveway right out to the street. That means it will be against Carol’s lawn, making it look ugly.

So far there has been no sign of this fence extension and the fencers haven’t been around for over a week. Fences around front lawns usually look awful. It makes me think the people are building walls to keep out everyone, as if to say – nobody allowed here except us who live here.

Lower fences, ranch style in front look okay and if you have a corner property, higher fences are a good idea. People like to run onto corner properties and throw garbage on them. But make the fences the steel chain line ones. That’s what most of the neighbours on the corners have built.

Contrast this with my neighbour behind my next door neighbour. Yesterday morning he was actively tearing down the old fence dividing his property and my next door neighbour’s. He was over in the next door neighbour’s backyard. As I picked the annual crop of black raspberries (yes it is that time of summer), I wondered if I should say something to him. But I didn’t’ just then. A bit later when I was sitting at my patio table and eating breakfast, he called me over. In his hand he held a bunch of invasive weeds which he had pulled. He started talking about that and we introduced ourselves. Gary has been there also two years and has been getting to know his neighbours since. He knew something about the neighbours behind me that I didn’t know. He offered to pull those weeds from my garden along the fence from my side – with my permission. I said I had done a big sweep pulling weeds before the raspberries came out, but give it a week or two and when the raspberries are finished he could do so. We also talked about the racoons who are taking over the neighbourhood and he said they even tore open a bag of bonemeal he had on his deck. I asked him if my next-door neighbours knew he was in their yard. He said, “yes” and the two of them were going to build the replacement fence together.

A fence made of wood lattice – with open spaces in it.

What a difference a neighbour makes.

Good fences make good neighbours.

Which neighbour would you rather have?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

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Filed under Friends, Gardening, Home and Garden, Only child, Raspberries, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child goes walkabout

Dowtown Toronto -  not green like Only Child's area

Downtown Toronto – not green like Only Child’s area

Last evening I went for a long walk, for almost an hour, in my neighbourhood. It is one of the two ways I exercise (gardening is my other one). With the weather recently turned spring, almost like summer, I have upped my time outside to get one on-one- with nature – the flowers, trees, and just no snow on the ground.

As I walked, I peeked at the gardens and outside the houses. There was certainly lots of greenery  – trees starting to get their leaves and the evergreens (well some) becoming  brighter green. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths. But as I went further into areas I don’t usually cover, I couldn’t help notice two things. Not as many front lawns turned into gardens – do we really need all that grass to cut and water? And too many big mansions sprung up and in the works. Is bigger really better? At least, it is not like the condo take-over throughout the downtown Toronto core, where you have to look up up and more up to see sky and sun, the latter “glaring” off the metal and glass of the too-high condos. Their design is nothing to write home about (or anywhere else). They are so far from nature, from trees, from plants, from flowers.

This is more like it. Front of my house in spring

This is more like it. Front of my house in spring

But at least in my neighbourhood, despite a few big mansions (and I don’t call putting upper storeys on bungalows “mansions”) greenery and colour are there. And it is so peaceful (despite the odd lawn mower being used, but I do draw the line at leaf blowers).

My walk also eased some of the pains and kinks in my body and mind. Walking also helps me resolve something in my life – dealing with a client, something that has come up in the actual work, sorting out plot and character problems in my novel.

I’m not really sorting out my time problems overall. But for the time I walk, I can live in the now and enjoy what’s around me.

As long as it isn’t snow and heavy rain and winds.

I am thankful for this weather change.

Here is more information on the Top Ten Benefits of Walking daily

http://www.tescoliving.com/health-and-wellbeing/fitness/2013/october/top-10-health-benefits-of-walking-everyday

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gratitude, Scenery, Sharon A. Crawford, Trees and Shrubs, Tulips, Walking