Tag Archives: Life Balance

Only Child asks: Is honesty the best policy?

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

My late mother was a stickler for honesty. Unlike Gibbs on the NCIS TV series, who had his 10 rules for living written in a small notebook, Mom’s 10 rules were in her head, perhaps some buried in her subconscious. She couldn’t tolerate lies.

Some of the stories spanning out from this, could get complicated, sometimes funny, and sometimes leaving me at a disadvantage some way – but at least I was doing the right thing.

One that comes to mind is when one of my classmates who I hung around with was messing up in marking math exercises. We were in grade three and the teacher had us  pass our exercises to the person sitting in front of us for marking. My friend sat behind me so I got hers to mark. She had some questions wrong and I marked them with an X. When she got the exercise back she changed he X to a tic.

That really ticked me off. But I was too shy then to say anything to the teacher. So I told Mom.

Her solution was for mr to tell the teacher. Mom even offered a 25 cent reward if I did this. I sold my friend out for 25 cents. But, hey, I told the truth.

However, when Mom learned that this same friend and I were cutting through the laneway behind houses and shops to come home from school, she told me I couldn’t do this because it wasn’t safe. But I was more afraid of getting the ire of this friend again, so I followed her like the proverbial Pied Piper, through the alleyway. What the heck. Nothing looked bad. The most menacing thing we saw was a man unloading food from a truck for the IGA store.

When I returned home from school Mom asked, “Did you go through the alley?”

“No,” I replied. And didn’t feel good about it.

Not so with sneaking out the back and dangerous way over to the park the girl gang I hung around with played in. Mom had definitely said I couldn’t take the dangerous route. I was supposed to go the long and boring way along the street and cross the busy street intersection at the lights, then continue walking along the sidewalk to the park.

Nope. I followed the ringleader (my math marker cheating friend) and the others to the end of my street to the dead end street and over to the steep steps down to dangerous, curving and busy Don Mills Road. And this was in the late 1950s before the Don Valley Parkway was built nearby with a major exit from Don Mills Road just a bit north of where we landed on the road. There were no sidewalks there, but if we did continue further south, sidewalks were on the part of Don Mills Road close to the busy intersection. But the shorter back way into the park was before that on the other side of the road. So we waited for a small break in traffic and darted quickly across to the other side. We always made it there safely.

I never told Mom; but she never asked on this one.

Looking back, except for a few of these diversions I told the truth – or more often kept my mouth shut as I was shy.

Fast forward too many years to now in the 21st. century. Not a big truthful world. There are scams, frauds, lies, etc. etc. happening non-stop everywhere. You know who in the States is a master at this. It is hard to think that anyone is honest anymore.

However, I have met some honest people, people who do their best to tell the truth. Which is my policy now, with more complications. For one thing, I am no longer shy and I can be blunt and sarcastic when truthful. Sometimes words seem to come out of my mouth without my mind connecting first. This ties in with my sense of justice versus injustice and people being inconsiderate and doing the wrong thing, often making the situation unsafe. For example if I see someone acting badly, I often just chastise them…in public.

One of my biggest peeves is people who block the subway stairs just so they can stand there and muck around with their digital device. They stand at the top of the stairs. They stand at the bottom of the stairs; and they stand partway down (or up?) the stairs, oblivious of anyone going up or down the stairs.

So, there I come, senior citizen with bad feet and a bad left eye. I’m hanging onto the railing and carefully looking down at the steps and what is or isn’t ahead.

“You’re blocking the way,” I say to the person in front of me. Are his feet glued to the step?

He turns around and we get into a heated discussion.

“I’m a senior and I have to hang onto the railing and not have to go around anyone,” I say.

“There is another railing over there.” He points to the other side of the steps.

“Yes, but that is for people coming up the stairs to hang onto.”

And so it goes back and forth a bit. But he does move out of the way. (I can be persistent as well as honest and blunt). Afterwards I wonder what would happen to him or others who do the same in rush hour when people are zooming up and down the stairs and assume everyone else is doing the same. What if someone accidentally pushed against the digital device fanatic and the person fell? Seems like a hard lesson to learn for being stupid and inconsiderate.

So, I don’t feel bad about being honest telling these digital menaces off.

But I try to use another of my mom’s characteristics, one she may have had difficulty using – being diplomatic. You can’t always be bluntly honest. Sometimes using some diplomacy and tact can go a long way.

I am also working on going up to people I see doing some good and complimenting them. For example, when I was at the CNE in August, the young woman (probably a student doing a summer job) who was cleaning the Ladies Room was doing an excellent job and going about it quietly without getting in anybody’s way. When she was cleaning the sinks, I walked up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She turned around and looked at me.

“You’re doing a good job,” I said. “I know it must be tiresome.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Honesty has many ways to present. Unfortunately so does dishonesty.

What do you think?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, Ethics, Honesty, Learning Experience, Mother and Child, Only child, Seniors

Only Child on rebooting your life

House front of my childhood home

Growing up an only child can often unleash a myriad of feelings. In me, the negative ones  were fear, loneliness, and often being the victim of bullying. My late mother used to help combat this by setting up a restful situation which I now call “rebooting my life”.

I was still in grade school, around eight years old. On sunny summer mornings when no one was around to play with, Mom would set up the card table, a chair, my big box of crayons, my colouring books and me outside on the front veranda. I could colour to my heart’s content. But more so, I got the chance to look around at the green grass which my Dad (sometimes with my help) mowed with the push mower, at the shrubs and  roses and at the quiet neighbourhood. Occasionally I heard a bird chirp. Seldom would a car whiz by on the street which I faced and never would a wasp dare to come near me – at least  not that I remember. But once in a while someone, maybe a neighbour I knew or didn’t know, would walk by on the street below. We would give each other the friendly eye and smile.

Today I do my own version of Mom’s rebooting my life. When things get overly problematic and/or busy (which they have this summer) I go out into my garden. I may dig in and remove weeds, pick berries or collect vegetables, but often I sit outside to eat my meals at the patio table in the backyard. Sometimes I sit in the shade of my neighbour’s overhanging black walnut tree and look out at the garden or read. Sometime I take photos of my garden. And yes, I do sometimes sit out front on my veranda, but I don’t colour. The recent trend (probably now passe anyway) of adults colouring in adult colouring books never caught on with me. Could be because I am a professional writer and amateur photographer. You really wouldn’t want me drawing anyway. I can’t even draw a straight line – with a ruler.

View of today’s backyard garden from patio

Dusk view from my current front veranda

However, looking back at my childhood (I know – my age is showing), I realize Mom had cottoned onto a good idea. We all need to reboot from all the stuff in our lives.

Only Child’s home and garden for her health circa 2011

Do you reboot? If you reboot, how do you reboot?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Crayons and coloring, Gardens, Life Balance, Mom and Dad

Only Child explores senior living past and present

Only Child and Mom mid 1960s

My late mother had a saying – “you can’t win no how.” Which sounds negative, but when you look at how people’s lives pan out, Mom maybe had a point. Especially as her life was cut short  by a brain aneurysm at age 63. She was also somewhat crippled by arthritis and scleroderma. All this happened after my dad died of cancer at 66.

Perhaps I should consider her somewhat lucky that she didn’t live longer to have to deal with more bad things happening in her life. At the time of her death she and I shared an apartment. However, I was engaged and the wedding ceremony and reception were already booked – the latter by Mom herself. She was scared to live alone and pondered whether she should spend six months (late spring to early fall) annually at her younger sister’s on the farm. Maybe not a good choice as Mom fell on the doorstep outside my aunt’s farmhouse. This was a new house and these entrance steps numbered two.  It was the damn arthritis.

The damn arthritis really was what killed her. It made her fall off the vanity dresser chair  (in her bedroom) onto the wooden floor and bang her head. She got headaches but thought they were because of her eyes – maybe new glasses – and she had an ophthalmologist’s appointment in mid-September.

She went into a coma overnight the end of July and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite surgery, she never woke up and died five days later.

When I look at my life compared to hers, I begin to wonder. First, about her saying “You can’t win no how.”

I certainly am not going through my senior years without a fight despite my health issues of diminishing eyesight in my left eye and getting worse, a digestive disorder, living on low income, and  having to deal with more problems than well – let’s just say that the phrase about God not giving anyone any more crosses than they can bear is a myth.

As a child,  I was meek, mild and shy  and didn’t really get my courage legs until in my 30s. My writing and being a single parent then forced me to change. It grew gradually. But I have one trait ,which I think comes from my Dad – I am a stubborn senior and God or somebody help those who make my life miserable. On the other hand those who are good to me and help and treat me well, I try to do the same for and to them. “Do onto others as they do onto you” is more my saying than “you can’t win no how.”

Perhaps besides the stubborneess, my saving graces are my writing, my garden, my son and his girlfriend, my cousins,  close friends, reading (despite the bad eye) and even watching favourite TV shows, and walking. A keen interest in life and a desire to see justice done doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if I could just find time to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What is your story – along these lines?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

My son, Martin, me, and Juni by my garden

 

 

 

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Filed under Arthritis, Assertiveness, Health, Mother, Only child, Seniors

Only Child resents these work time-stealers

When I was a child my mother didn’t work outside the home – until I was in high school, when she had to because my dad had cancer.  Before that when she was home she did work – albeit house and garden stuff. If she had to go to a doctor’s or dentist’s, it didn’t matter when. If the plumber had to come during the day weekdays, it didn’t matter.

Fast forward to today when many of us work from home, running our own business. I am a writer, editor and writing workshop instructor. Except for the latter and doing book promo in person, I do my work in my home office. Or at least I try.

Lately the non-work-related interruptions have been interfering with my work time. Sometimes I have to go out for them  and sometimes I have to phone them to get something straightened out with the house, ID cards, etc. Most of this stuff is not generated by me. To put it bluntly, it gets shoved at me. And it takes time, often more time than you think.

Take health-related issues, particularly dental and eyes. This spring and now summer it is my left eye. It is in bad shape. Not my fault and not the eye professionals’ fault. What is their fault is the majority of them don’t have evening or Saturday hours. So I have to waste my work-time travelling to appointments, sitting in waiting rooms (sometimes for a couple of hours) and then actually seeing the professional.

And don’t get me on the subject of government agencies who only operate on regular business hours. So you have to take your work time to renew ID cards. At least you can call the bank outside business hours if you have something that needs straightening out.

I know what some of you are thinking. “She runs her own business from home for Pete’s sake (and who is Pete anyway?). She can set her own hours.

Teddy time tracking

Well, I do. I just prefer them close to regular weekday business hours – 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The only exceptions are when I do in-person book signings or presentations (usually on a Saturday) or panels or talks related to book promo and the odd writing workshop that is on an evening (most are during the day on weekdays). But in the interest of time I like to stick to regular working hours and use off hours for personal stuff, for the  most part. That would include medical. At least the medical clinic I go to has evening and Saturday hours. It is close enough to home I can even go on my lunch break.

I really resent having to use my work time doing health, house (as in getting things fixed although my handyman usually does come evenings or early mornings and except for explaining what is wrong, he usually stays out of my way so I can work) and government-related stuff, especially when clients start to wonder when I will have their work completed.

Not sure what do do about this? I do have the phone calls under some kind of control with a vm message that tells callers when I am available to answer the phone for business and personal (and I use the “We can’t come to the phone right now.” message beginning). If it is important they can leave a message or call during those hours. One friend calls anyway during my work time but not business phone calls time. I don’t pick up the phone. When I check messages I hear her apologizing for calling at the wrong time. But she should know by now. She also usually leaves a “life story” message. I have two of those that I gave up listening to and they are left as “skipped messages.” I have no idea how to delete them without listening to them. Guess I will have to borrow a phrase of another friend who is smart in her vm mail message for incoming calls. “Please leave your name, phone number and a brief message.” She adds something about limited space for vm messages. I could do a variation of that. After the first part I could add “so all callers can leave a message.”

That’s the phone. Now about all the people and organizations, etc. stealing my work time because they don’t cater to the working crowd.

As one of my friends says they need to “get on the program.”

How do you deal with these non-work related interruptions? I don’t mean life and death. An ill family member, a death in the family. These are exceptions.

Now back to my client work. This blog post  hasn’t even taken as long as the public transit ride to the eye doctor.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Time management, Work Time

Only Child why no posts for awhile

I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, although sometimes that sounds like a good idea. But I am stubborn and determined, despite being very cranky this winter. But for good reasons – and these reasons are why it has been awhile since I posted here.

My intent is to resume posting – at least every other week and hopefully getting back to weekly postings.

So what has been in my way?

Well, one of the biggies is sporadic or no Internet access – for just over a week late in February. Even my land line went on strike off and on. Combination of old phone wires and old modem and bad luck. I got a new modem and the fibre connection – which is fine with the Internet but I don’t like it with the phone. I have to keep the modem on 24/7 so the phone will work. The 24/7 is okay but not the phone’s dependency.

What’s wrong with this picture? The modem has a battery, but if there is a power failure the battery lasts for only 4 hours. For major power outages that is not acceptable. You might be able to phone the hydro utility, a family member or friend during that time. But if for some reason you have to call the family member or friend or 911 after that and can’t… I’m a senior and need my land line to be an actual land line – not off in cyberspace land. And don’t tell me to get a cell phone – they operate on batteries, so will run out of juice. During the big power outage in southern Ontario in December 2014 (thanks to the ice storm), my landline was my lifeline to my friends and my son. There was a boarder living here then – she had a cell phone and couldn’t use it because it needed recharging.

From another era. Are we too far in the other direction?

Bell Canada smarten up here.

The other biggie is the weather in southern Ontario (and elsewhere -no one has been spared). Too much snow, too cold, mixed precipitation, rain on its own, damaging winds (fortunately the power didn’t go here in Toronto then and I had just had the new Bell fibre system setup and connected two days before). Among other things, I have had to move a dental appointment three times because of weather. It is now on hold until spring, unless it turns into an emergency. Dealing with this weather is and has been horrendous. Below are a couple of shots I took of the outside – at the beginning of one of the big snowstorms.

Above photo – recycling bins waiting to go to the curb. Hah!

 

My backyard patio – where I eat in summer.

The list goes on and on. I swear on one of my pile of mystery books that 95 percent of my problems are not caused by me – they come from what I call “outside” but I have to deal with them. From what I hear from others, I am not alone with this scenario. Many others have been hit with a lot of bad luck since January 1 of this year.

I am a Sagittarius and for 2019 Jupiter is supposed to be my ruling house, meaning lots of good things happening. Well, you astrologers and would-be astrologers, that is bunk and some of us are living proof of it.

Could it be something in the air causing all of this?  Or? (You substitute what you think here).

And what do you think anyway. How is your 2019 so far?

For the record a few good things have happened in my life this year. But the balance of good to bad (or should that be bad to good?) is lopsided. They say that into our life some rain must fall – my emphasis on the some. But we are getting hit with torrents of rain (metaphorically speaking) t seems.

So, my personal way to deal with this? Go after the big trouble-makers/big problem causers and let the rest slide. Connect with the people in my life who really care and I really care about. And

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

I am a writer after all. See my website for more on that.

Like author John Irving once said
“Half my life is an act of revision.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Beyond Faith book cover

 

 

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Filed under Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Good and Bad Luck, Life Balance, Life demands, Problems

Chasing the elusive sleep

Not how Only Child wants to sleep at night

One of my goals for 2019 is to get more sleep at night – more specifically get to bed at a more normal/earlier time than 2 a.m. My problem isn’t waking up and getting up at 8 a.m. – it is getting to bed early enough to get 7 to 8 hours sleep.

But I have identified the gremlins. And yes, I don’t need to fall asleep for 30 minutes watching the news on TV. As part of my hopeful new regime I can do half an hour of that plus 10 minutes of the Weather Network and still get to bed in good time. No, it is the real gremlins behind this that have to be taken to task. So, going through the layers, there is first my health issues and all the extra crap I have to do for them. But, the basic extras would be okay to fit in. It’s the extra extras caused by flare-ups in one or more of those health issues which steal my time. Another time-stealer is the daily evening chores like doing the dishes, etc. (much more etc.). Even they can be reigned in.

IF ONLY I CAN GET RID OF THE HOUSE, COMPUTER PROBLEMS, ETC.  THAT JUST COME AT ME OUT OF NOWHERE.

If I thought or even hoped that 2019 would be any different from 2018 in having to deal with problems “coming from outside” as I call it, I was wrong. I’m referring to problems I don’t cause; problems caused by others, other organizations, etc. But I am the one that has to deal with the aftermath problems. And all this is not helpful to getting to bed at a reasonable time and getting enough sleep.

I’m a Sagittarian and to those astrologers who said because my sign is in Jupiter for 2019, I will have a much better year than 2018, I say “Stop talking through your hat. Take off your damn hat and think. All Sagittrians are not alike.”

Having said that, I am still determined to get my sleep – and not in front of the TV. And woe to anybody or thing that gets in my way.

And that includes health issues over-reaction – no doubt thanks to the stress from the problem

So, I am pursuing one of my other 2019 goals – start meditating. And one of my friends is helping me find resources to get me started. Thank you to her. Meditating may not solve the problem, but it can help me calm down and get my much-needed sleep.

And I just remembered what another friend told me many years ago  and to paraphrase her – Picture in your mind the culprit responsible for your problem(s). But picture them wearing some outlandish outfit – like boxer shorts with well (this next part is my idea) pictures of daggers or a big hand ready to grab them and shove them somewhere. (Well, I do write mystery/suspense so that can get rather dark)..

Well whatever works – as long as it is not sleeping pill prescriptions, large quantities of booze or even cannabis, although I am in favour of the latter for medicinal purposes under the direction of a doctor, but not recreational. So would this constitute medicinal? For more info on the cannabis and its consequences, etc., go to the first episode of my TV show Crime Beat Confidential which I tape every other month at thatchannel.com where I interviewed James Wigmore, a forensic scientist who is an expert on what cannabis is all about, and not from personal experience,

Meantime, here are a couple of links on sleep and stress. Please note: I may not agree with all the information below. There  is much more info online about stress and sleep deprivation but consider the source for helpful info.

Tips to reduce stress and sleep better

Stress and insomnia

And the Mayo Clinic on sleep disorders

Happy zzzzzzzzzs  – at night in your bed.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep deprivation

Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

Pondering sleep and sleep deprivation

When I was a child, when I was a teenager, I slept at nights. Lots of sleep. When I was in my late 40s I would kill to get my sleep – anyone and anything that got in my way risked my wrath. Now in my senior years, I ask “What sleep?” If I am lucky I get  6 hours sleep and that’s counting the half hour or so when I fall asleep during the 11 p.m news on TV. I’m not sleeping in though; I keep to about the same time to get up each day – 7.45 a.m. even on weekends, but with it being gardening season and the light of day coming very early, I would like to get up and into the garden much earlier than I do.

And that might be my cue as to something is off. I’m trying to do too much – evenings, yes I sometime watch some TV, besides the aforementioned news. But not until I do some more gardening, weather permitting and I’m not out somewhere. No matter what, I have way too much to do and often some of that comes to mind after the news and so off I go, despite trying hard to get to bed somewhat earlier than 1.30 a.m. or 2 a.m.

Carrying around in  my mind all the guilt of stuff not done, particularly phone calls to friends I didn’t have time to make, doesn’t help. I don’t have time to call them until the gardening is done, so right now that could be 9.30 p.m. as that’s when it gets dark. If I’m out at an event, forget it. One friend has said to call her but she doesn’t do late evening phone calls as she goes to bed. That was a message on my voice mail when she tried to call me and I was out at an event. Not sure what late means – after 10 p.m.? After 9 p.m.? Unless it is an emergency I don’t call friends or family after 9.45 p.m. Fortunately two of my friends are night owls like me.

Is this another health bane of being a senior? Hey, I’m running out of fingers to count all the medical crap I have to deal with as a senior.

So, I decided to put on the hat of my former profession – journalist – and do some research about sleep deprivation online. Here is some of iowhat I found:

If you go here you will find an interesting article covering many aspects of sleep deprivation, including summarizing some studies, how much sleep is necessary, and the effects of sleep deprivation. I have some of the latter, most notably: irritability (well, more than usual), immune system dysfunction (not good for someone who already has a compromised immune system), forgetfullness (mainly if I did something – although I don’t forget what I have to still do, but often forget where something got put. My mind hits a blank here). Yes, it affects my cognitive abilities and I seem to he slower doing things than my usual  modus operandi. The worse things were sleep depreviation could cause cancer and death.  I know we all got to die sometime but not yet please, and do I really want to drag cancer into it?

And look at my language “drag”.

So, I am now going to  make a bigger effort to get body and mind into bed earlier. Yes, I’ll still watch the news and weather report. But the TV goes off, right after that half hour. And before the 11 p.m. news, maybe even before 10 p.m. all the housework shit I have to do for the evening (gardening is never under that category) has to be done. And any phone calls – if I have time to make them.

I am also purging my “to do” lists of stuff and people who steal my time – some will be just on the back burner until next month; some permanently out the door. I am also learning (slowly) to pace myself with what I do – although I still get upset if something takes way too much longer than expected – no matter what the cause.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Why or Why not?

 

Time to get more sleep

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation