Category Archives: Stress

Only Child on friend’s unsolicited advice

Only child contemplates living life her way

Only child contemplates living life her way

Should friends impose their advice on what you should do? Unsolicited advice. If you ask for their advice, that’s another story.

Over the weekend a friend of many years phoned me and began to tell me how to run my life and then had the nerve to criticize how I do it.

“Lois” as I’ll call her, decided she had information about a “cure” for my long time digestive disorder. She went into a long spiel about her dental hygienist who saw this medical practitioner who had her change her diet, that it wasn’t all just eating fibre, and…

But I’m coming to the sick part shortly. I didn’t just sit here and let her go on without saying something.

“It’s not diet with me. I’ve changed my diet a lot. It’s stress. I need to relax.  On the Doors Open weekend last month I went to a Buddhist Centre on Crawford Street – not sure if that name is an omen. It was so peaceful and I intend to go back. It’s just been so busy lately.”

I did ask her for the doctor’s name and if he was covered by OHIP. She gave me his name and I did write it down. (Since then I ripped up the piece of paper and threw it in the recycling bin). Yes, he is covered by OHIP, she said. But I couldn’t find him listed in the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons  registry online.

“Does he rely on drugs?” I asked.

He didn’t, but what Lois said that he did to her dental hygienist is sickening.

“She had surgery and he froze part of her intestines.”

Triple yuck! I don’t even want to imagine any side-effects or damage to the intestines.

The conversation continued with Lois saying something about how anti-depressants have helped her.

Was that a hint about how she sees me?

So, I jumped in with, “I’m not depressed (haven’t been for years) but go to the other side – anger.”

“You have a lot of anger in you,” said Lois.

“Yes, but it is all for good reasons. Sometimes I use my anger to do something about my problems.”

She didn’t say any more about that but when I got into what I want to do with my life and what I want to stop doing, she struck again.

Me: “I’ve been spending a lot of time promoting my books.”

Lois: “You won’t make any money that way.”

Me: “Well I enjoy doing that and want to refocus some of my business on doing some of that for authors. Maybe make some money that way. I’m kicking a lot of things and people out of my life.”

I’m beginning to wonder if she should be added to that list. I did wish her a happy birthday as that is coming up later this week, and mentioned that I couldn’t afford to take her out to dinner for her birthday. What I didn’t say was that I had planned to invite her here for dinner, which I would cook. No way now.

Operative word is “had.” She doesn’t deserve that. I’ve wished her a happy birthday and that’s it.

She’s on hold until at least the fall.

Late last night it occurred to me why her derogatory comment on promoting my writing. I am happy about what I do in my writing life (except maybe the straight editing manuscript part. I still like evaluating manuscripts. But that’s fodder for another post). I’m sensing she is not happy with her lot in life. Without going into details about her career, let’s just say she has been doing the same thing for at least 30 years. All lateral.

At least with my writing, I develop and change what I do, learn and improve and also help other authors.

But I don’t tell them what to do about their health and other personal problems. If they ask for suggestions, maybe.

And I have other friends who are not writers and I don’t get this “get a life” attitude. They are respectful and accepting of what I do as I try to be about what they do.

The truth is we are all individuals with individual life paths and it is up to us to decide where we want to go with our life.

So, Lois, take that in your pipe and smoke it.

Oops. Forgot, you quit smoking a few years back. And while I’m glad you did, I never told you to do so.

What do you think about friends who try to run your life? Do they have the right to do so with unsolicited advice?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anger, Consideration, Digestive disorder, Friends, Health, Help and Support, Helping Others, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Stress, Uncategorized

Only Child ponders wisdom of longevity

Sharon office 2014-04-19As we boomers escalate towards older and old age, what may help us live longer becomes a big concern. But is it all worth it?

Lifestyle looms large as a positive factor. Studies show that if we eat healthy, exercise enough, don’t smoke, get enough sleep, avoid/manage stress, we can extend our life. Sounds good? Right?

Not exactly. As with everything in living I have learned the hard way that there are mitigating circumstances. We might be able to control the no smoking, but the others? And why didn’t I include exercise in what we can control? Because many people have diseases, injuries that get in the way of enough exercise to help them.

What about eating healthy? We can do this until the cows come home, but as we age, our bodies don’t absorb nutrients as well. Then there are the medical conditions, such as IBS, that make nutrient absorption even less.

Getting enough sleep is a big issue with us older folk. I’ve covered this in detail before, but in a nutshell as we get older we find it more difficult to get the 7 to 8 hours sleep we need.

Then there is stress – that is the biggie. Stress will directly or indirectly reduce life spans. How many heart attacks are caused by stress? How much sleep is lost because of stress?

Stress is a catchall phrase. Actually there are stressors which cause the stress and stress which includes our reaction to the stressor attacking us. Experts talk about managing stress but I wonder if they are referring to the stressors or our reaction or both?

I have learned that you cannot manage most stressors. Or should that be “control” stressors. My experience (and that of many people I know or read about) is that a large percentage of stressors come from what I call “outside.” That is, we don’t cause these stressors to well, happen to us. And despite what I have blogged about before, God is not responsible for a lot of our stress. Human stupidity and technological problems (for want of a better word) are.

Let me give a few examples. If I dawdle around and don’t take care to be ready to leave on time for somewhere, so leave late and worry about arriving late, I’m causing the stressor. If I run into transit problems, that’s not my fault. No matter what time I leave I can hit transit delays. However, if I get myself ready so I leave early enough to allow for transit snafus, I can control the stressor/stress to a certain degree.

Errors in utility bills, life insurance premiums, computer problems, continual missed garbage pickup (all of which I have experienced) are examples of human stupidity and/or technological problems causing stressors/stress.

Then there is the cancer cause. A recent John Hopkins School of Medicine study shows that only one third of cancers are caused by environmental issues and genetic factors. The other two thirds, the study shows, are caused by what they call “bad luck.” I call it the “God factor.”

According to the study, that can explain why some people who never smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke a lot never get cancer. (See the article at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/twothirds-of-cancer-cases-caused-by-bad-luck-johns-hopkins-medicine-study-20150102-12gs7g.html or info on the John Hopkins Medicine website http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/bad_luck_of_random_mutations_plays_predominant_role_in_cancer_study_shows)

That’s scary. All the lifestyle changes to healthy won’t keep cancer way. I’m not saying to drink regularly until you pass out or smoke five packs of cigarettes a day and forget about exercising. I’m saying to live a healthy life but never take diet, exercise, sleep, etc. as lucky charms to keep cancer at bay. Won’t work.

Personally I believe that if we could keep much of the stressors and resulting stress out of our lives we .could live happier more content lives. Not easy when most stress comes from outside.

We can try to work around this stress. We can look at our over-busy lives and see what we can delete, delay or ignore. Be selective in what stressful situations you are going to tackle and what you can ignore or better yet, delete from your life. For example, last fall I evicted the horrible boarder living here. When someone pushes me on the subway (providing it is not towards the ledge), perhaps I can ignore that. The other stuff, the real crap in my life coming at me, I’m trying to deal with it one thing at a time, based on urgency and emergency – if possible. The rest go on hold, if only for a few days.

And the hell with what the people causing the stressors think about it.

It’s not easy. And I’m not sure I want to live into my 90s or even 80s – unless you are like actress Betty White. She just celebrated her 93rd and is going strong.

How many seniors are like that?

Not me and I’m still in my mid-60s and dealing with 10 health issues – those that I know of.

Maybe the answer is to try to live your life as fully as you can now.

I’m just saying.

What do you say? Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Baby boomers, cancer, Computer problems, Delay tactics, God, Health, Health Seniors, Life Balance, life spans, Malabsorption, Old Age, Only child, Prioritizing, Problem solving, Problems, Seniors, Sharon A. Crawford, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation, Stress, Uncategorized

Only Child’s good, bad and ugly 2014 list

Only Child's damaged evergreens and new growth

Only Child’s damaged evergreens and new growth

As 2014 soon ends, many people are making resolutions for 2015. Before I do that, I have to let go of 2014 with my summary of what I thought was good, bad and ugly. Here is a partial list. Some individuals/organizations/ things are on both because they behaved both well and badly. The ugly are the worst offenders – what I never want to see again.

The Good:

  1. My son Martin – he is at the top – for helping his old mom out so much, not just helping with computer stuff, but helping with house stuff, including offering to pay for a much-needed living room chesterfield when I get one this coming spring. Hot on his heels is his girlfriend, Juni, for helping me sort out my digital camera usage and photos. More on Martin’s goodness in last week’s post (for what he did in December 2013). See https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/only-childs-meaning-of-christmas-2/
  2. My garden (spring, summer and fall) for providing a sanctuary of colour, fragrance and creativity.
  3. My health – what is good about it. I can still walk most days and garden and still am able to live in my home.
  4. My home, especially now that the boarder has moved out and I have my home back.
  5. God, for when he does listen to me – on a few big things such as getting the boarder out and making my new novel publication and book launch, etc. happen.
  6. My city councillor, Janet Davis and her staff for helping me out when city departments don’t do their job and/or are rude.
  7. The incredible Grace in Bell Canada’s resolution department for straightening out bad service issues including incompetent, unfriendly and rude technicians and call centre and billing department staff. And for taking $50 off on my Bell bill for the company’s screw-up and bad service.
  8. My bank branch for being so helpful, especially when one of their tellers screwed up when I paid a bill and took it from Utility (water and waste) instead of Property Taxes. The manager went out of her way to get the funds transferred back to me, including the interest charges for “late payment” and wrote a letter to the City of Toronto Property Tax Department about teller error not any non-payment on my part. So I still have my stellar paying-on-time status here.
  9. Mike, the handyman, for being top-notch and quick in repairing/upgrading in plumbing, electrical and also painting, etc.
  10. My friends who help me, especially Bob (who recommended Mike), Tanya and Alex, Marlene, Kathy, Carol and Al, and the librarians at the Toronto Public Library branches who are supportive of my books, doing readings and teaching workshops at library branches.

The Bad:

  1. God, for the too many times when he doesn’t listen, for the horrible weather he brought us worldwide in 2014 (and December 2013 too) and not repairing all the damage he caused to all our trees and gardens from the December 2013 ice storm in southern Ontario, Canada .
  2. The boarder for turning into a pain in the ass, taking over rooms in the house she wasn’t entitled to, leaving a dirty mess when she moved out – she was a boarder, not a renter.  Note here: I did take her in when she had nowhere else affordable to go. She overstayed her “welcome.”
  3. Any of the six utilities and their staff who screwed up with service.
  4. Toronto 311 call centre for one person’s rudeness and patronization and at first not even going to put in a complaint and request. I sicced Janet Davis’ staff on him.
  5. Toronto’s garbage collectors – or two from the garbage truck that picks up the green bin (veggie and the like scraps, used facial tissues) who missed one bag (not the same bag each time) three times in October and even after my complaint, did it again in December. Don’t have these problems with the actual garbage bins and recycling bins as they are handled by machine from the garbage truck.
  6. Telemarketers and their comrades in email. The pox on them.
  7. The weather itself – it is extreme all over. Nowhere on earth is good and safe to live.
  8. Time for running off at more than the mouth with the result we are running around in circles.
  9. Any stressors who interfere with people’s health.
  10. Health again – not just mine but many of my female friends between 50 and 70 have so many health problems, some big, some not. But all interfere with our quality of life. I don’t believe this is just from getting old.

The Ugly:

(the worst from the Bad list): the extreme weather, God (the bad parts), the former boarder, health issues and time-stealers.

So, what will 2015 bring? We shall see. I’m planning on tackling the time issue and will be deleting and delaying as much as I can. And focusing on what is important.

Happy, prosperous and healthy 2015 to all.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bank service, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Garden Destruction, God, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Ice storm Toronto, Martin Crawford, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Time, Time management, Toronto

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 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

Only Child loses weight due to stress

Only child contemplates stress and weigh loss.

Only child contemplates stress and weigh loss.

Hot on the heels of the worrying rant last week, I decided to weigh myself. Hadn’t bothered for months as it was always the same – about 10 pounds over my ideal and comfortable weight. Surprise this time. I’ve lost six pounds. And my favourite jeans now fit again. For some people losing weight six pounds might not be much but for someone around 5’1’’ with a small build, six pounds is huge.

I thought it was eating healthy and not pigging out on anything besides ice cream. And exercise (walking and gardening and moving the vacuum around inside the house.)

Now I think it’s because of all the stress in my life – 85 per cent of which comes from too little time and too little money. So I get angry which motivates me to take action. But when you have stress after stress rolling together, it can get out of hand.

In the article at http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/the-relationship-between-weight-loss-and-stress.html, there are four points on how stress affects a person’s weight. The last sentence in the fourth point seems to fit my stress profile.

“…stress may overstimulate the thyroid gland leading to not only greater appetite but also faster burning off of those calories.” (from “The Relationship Between Weight Loss and Stress)

Add in my low blood sugar problem if I don’t eat frequently and voila. I lose weight.

The other three points and part of number 4 harp on stress and weight gain. So does most of what else popped up when I sent Google looking.

I’m not sure if that is a picture of our society today. Obesity is a big problem. So is what it leads to – diabetes, heart problems, etc. But in the concern about weight gain, we seem to forget that stress (and some physical illnesses, too, as well as their treatment) cause weight loss. Some weight loss is okay unless we are gaunt in the first place. But some of us have to watch just how much we lose.

Me, I have four more pounds I can go before I have to be careful. And as someone who suddenly dropped 10 to 20 pounds a few times over the years, I do have to watch. Mind you, one of those times was when Mom was still living and she had to go to the hospital for tests for her arthritis. At the same time I had been working temporary as a clerk in the Toronto Police Services Morality Section but was being taken on as permanent in another department there. Permanent staff have to take medicals. My weight showed just pushing 90 pounds, way too low. The jerk doctor at the time decided he wouldn’t pass my medical until I gained 10 pounds and ignored the more serious (in my mind) issue with my eyes and headaches.

My own doctor caught that and sent me to an optometrist. Yes, I needed to wear glasses.

As for the work medical, everyone (but the doctor at work) came up with ideas for me to gain weight and the nurse had me come into the office to get weighed when the doctor was out. The funniest suggestion was to eat Polish sausage and my breath would keep the doctor away.

I then started eating more normally – instead of the apples, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked beans and coffee I was forcing down my throat.

The cause? Worry over my mother.

Today, I continue my walking, gardening and eating properly – only the ice cream indulgence as an “extra.” And I’m confronting some of the stressors.

But I can’t help thinking that lack of time and lack of money or both together are at the bottom of a lot of the stress.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Weight Loss

Only Child cranks up the worry wart feature

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Lately I’ve been worrying a lot – maybe more than usual. The poverty issue (see last week’s post), work-related concerns (some of them $$$$-not-coming-in issues), and living with a boarder who has so much stuff. I live in a tiny bungalow as many of you will know from previous posts showing  a picture of the outside of my house. So I tend to gravitate towards my tidy room, somewhat tidy office (which we share – no problem with that part), living room and outside in my garden. Now that there are tomatoes, turnips and carrots in the garden, just bringing them in to eat is positive – it digs into the poverty part and also nurtures the soul and the body.

Worrying can affect your mental and physical health. I know that. But I find if I don’t worry about something then something catastrophic happens. I’m not saying you should worry about everything but going along in life that everything will be okay, why worry, doesn’t cut the cake or even the bread for me.

In the article “Steps to End Chronic Worrying” by Denise Mann http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/9-steps-to-end-chronic-worrying, experts weigh in on worrying. They say that the worriers get it genetically. I grew up with two worry warts – my dad and my mom, especially Mom. The experts also say it can be your environment and give the example that if your mother didn’t nurture you and provide a safe haven for you, that can do it, too. Right. Blame poor Mom for everything. No mention of Dad. My dad had cancer for six and a half years of my childhood and finally died of brain cancer when I was 16. That will pull the security rug out from under anyone.

The article also says worriers tend to see their doctors more often. Not me – at least not for the last few years. My doctor is an insensitive jerk and if I could afford a naturopath (not covered by Ontario’s primary health care system) I would see him or her regularly. So, I read a lot about health and try to live a healthy life…yes, even with worrying. Worrying often motivates me to do something about the situation. Solve the problem now – that’s my mantra. Of course, when you are “blessed” with too many problems at once, you are overburdened.

Living with uncertainty is another area covered in this article. It uses the example of worrying about getting cancer. Despite my dad’s dying of cancer, so far I have rarely worried about getting cancer. There are too many other problems in my life to worry about.

One interesting thing I read – if you cry or get angry you are not worrying. I do a lot of the latter – much of it based on the actual worries I’m dealing with. I also do a lot of weed-pulling in the garden and the weeds get names of people or things causing the worries.

Worrying has taught me a few things:

  1. There is uncertainty in life but instead of accepting all uncertainty and going on your merry way (we all know what happened to Pollyanna in the Disney movie), it is better to try to obtain some certainty with these issues. For example, face some of those demons.
  2. Worrying brings to my mind more clearly the problems I have to deal with and I have to deal with them pronto.
  3. Worrying brings out the anger sometimes and that can lead me to focus that anger on the person or issue that is angering me. Again, face those demons.
  4. And stop blaming Mother for your worrying habits. That’s a copout.

I’m interested in how all of you deal with worry. Do you agree with any of the points in the article mentioned above?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Aka Ms Worry Wart

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Decisions, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child, Poverty, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Worrying