Tag Archives: Living alone

Only Child says: Run my life? Then live it

Only child stews about people's interferance

Only child stews about people’s interference

Lately so-called well-meaning friends and family have been telling me how to run my life. They have been using various tactics. Which got me thinking about the psychology of telling people what to do.

For one thing, the methods used make a big difference. And whether they are listening to what I am saying, or not saying. Many times I am just telling about the difficult times I have in my life. But I’m not asking for their advice – if I want their advice, I will ask for it. I think they are forgetting the prime “rule” for when someone confides in you. Listen emphatically; don’t give orders.

I think my son has it down pat what to do and what not to do. Certainly if I have a problem with computers and ask him, he will give advice and try to fix the problem. But otherwise…let me give you an example. A few weeks ago I was complaining about all the Toronto public transit subway closures on weekends and despite shuttle buses (which never can hold the high number of subway passengers), it can mess up you getting to where you need to go. All he said was “the TTC have to do the maintenance or they will have to shut down the whole system.”

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but first how other family members have reacted.

This is the one that always gets my goat and I think I stumbled on a way to handle it.

I am talking about needing someone to do the weekly housecleaning and the like – not because I can’t physically do it, but because of my time (a lot of the housecleaning never gets done) and I just don’t like doing it and don’t do a good job. I add in I can’t get anyone to do it because I live below the poverty level for a single person living on my own. So the interference goes something like this:

Why don’t you move into a condo?

Me: Not enough space to garden and I don’t want someone living right on the other side of my walls. (And do they consider that no matter where you live, the place will need cleaning?)

Why don’t you sell the house (no reasoning about where I would move as the condo and the like has already been covered). You would get lots of money to live on for other things.

Then I throw out the kicker.

My ex-husband is half owner of the house.

The silence is palpable.

Back to my son. If you compare his answer to the house ones (and he has never said I should move out of my house), the difference is he offers a logical explanation for the problem but no advice. He doesn’t say something like  “deal with it” or “you should…”

So, I will step into the shoes of my so-called advisors with a word of advice.

When a friend or relative confides in you about a problem, unless they ask for your advice, don’t barge in with it.

Just listen emphatically. The person confiding may just need a listening ear at this point in time. In my case, as mentioned before, I do ask for advice and help – but I go to the people who can and/or should help – such as my handyman for house repairs and utility companies and governments  who caused the problem in the first place.

If you want to run my life, then you can live it – and that means doing all the things for me that you are suggesting including supplying the funds for them.

And do I really want that?

No. (The extra money needed from somewhere would be helpful, though).

How do you handle unwelcome advice from others? Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family and Friends, finances, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Problems, The Art of Listening

Only Child terrified of heavy rain and wind storm starting Wednesday

01910012As if dealing with the snafus connected with the preparations for my East End Writers’ Group’s 15th anniversary presentation for Wednesday evening weren’t more than enough, there is a big storm coming our way the same day. It’s the remnants of Hurricane Patricia plus a clipper from western Canada. And I am terrified.

Terrified of too much rain and floods and high winds. Terrified of the potential damage to property. I worry about water getting in the basement, especially as for some of the time the winds are from the east, and if so how much water and the cleanup. I worry about eaves trough issues – eaves troughs have been cleaned twice so far this year but the leaves keep falling. Problem is walnut trees hanging over from the neighbours’ property. I’ve been keeping an eye on the situation and early this morning noticed some leaves and small branches (that’s how it falls) sticking over the eaves troughs. So immediately I called Gerry who cleans the eaves troughs but he can’t come today as he has to work at his main job (usually he works nights). He suggested tomorrow morning AFTER I had told him about the big rain and wind storm coming Wednesday.  He is coming Friday morning to clean out what the wind sends down during the storm. So I climbed up on a chair and started tying to remove the leaves with a rake. Not high enough to see what’s going on, but I have vertigo and was getting dizzy. I got a hold of Mike who hopefully will come today and clean out the eaves troughs – it will cost me more, but if he can do it today during daylight, that will be a big help.

Terrified of roof, tree, etc. damage and the consequences.

Terrified of power outages and the consequences.

My nerves are so much on edge that my respiratory infection which was showing signs of getting better, is now in a bit of a relapse. It’s all this stress that keeps coming at me – in spades. I noticed that over the weekend when I had little stress the healing had progressed. But from early this morning, no.

I had been sticking to natural remedies because of my allergic reactions to most anti-biotics. And I had decided to see a medical doctor to check out my tinnitus but now he will have to check out the respiratory infection and I’m terrified here – of both the diagnosis and the treatment. My trust in medical doctors is very low because of past experience, which is fodder for another post. I would really like to go to a naturopath but they aren’t covered by our provincial health insurance so I can’t afford the cost. After paying some bills today and taking out money for cash expenses, my bank accounts are almost depleted.

Seniors day as I call it when the old age pensions and the like arrive, isn’t until tomorrow.

Sometimes I think life is too much of a struggle. It is no fun not having a partner, or whatever you call a significant other.

As for the weather, which is at the heart of all the current problems, I can only say what the lady in the bus back in May said.

“God controls the weather.”

I hope he gives us all a reprieve with a much less severe storm. I have my wishes here and am presenting them to him. I hope he listens to me and does the right thing.

It’s not just me involved here – there are all the others connected with the East End Writers’ Group presentation Wednesday and on a much broader scale all of us living in southern Ontario.

If you want to read more about the storm (and get terrified), go to The Weather Network http://www.theweathernetwork.com/ and enter “Toronto” in the Find Your Forecast box.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, East End Writers' Group, Extreme Weather, God, Health, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age pensions, Only child, Power Outages, Trees and Shrubs, Uncertainty, Weather

Only Child posts early because of Hurricane Sandy

Some of Only Child’s patio furniture put away for protection from Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is due to hit southern and eastern Ontario  early this evening. By then it is supposed to be downgraded to a tropical storm. Tropical or hurricane it is still nasty. So, who knows if we’ll have power or Internet service, etc. then and overnight? So, I hope you’ll forgive me for posting one day early.

The last hurricane in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area was Hurricane Hazel in 1954, also in October. I was too little to remember much of that. I do remember lying in my bed and hearing rain pounding outside. My Mom also said that we were lucky and didn’t get any flooding in our basement because our house was up on a hill. A lot of the flooding was on low-lying lands in the Don Valley and Humber River areas. After that, the physical structure – sewers and dams, and the like – were changed to help protect against strong storms such as hurricanes. We shall see if they work with Sandy and also if my Mom’s pronouncement is true today. My house is up on high ground.

But there are other problems. I’ve diligently moved all patio furniture into the tool shed or indoors and any remaining potted plants and even Halloween decorations, indoors. I’m hoping to move the Halloween stuff back out and  the mum and pansies too. I’ve also barricaded the recycling bin (which despite its size tends to get blown around in high winds) with heavy bins filled with the branches of pruned plants and leaves. And put bricks on them.

The leaves still in the eavestrough worry me. I do have a gutter protection in them and the protection is supposed to catch the leaves and let the water go down the downspouts or catch the leaves until the wind blows them away. There will be lots of heavy winds but will it blow them onto the ground or into the downspouts?

I blame my handyman for this. These walnut trees  require up to three cleanings each fall. In a previous post I blogged about this handyman cancelling one eavestrough cleaning (the second one); he came later for this). Friday, with the leaves about all off the trees (except for five or six branches which the wind would and has taken care of) I booked him for yesterday to do the final cleaning. You guessed it – he didn’t show. When I phoned him, to ask if he could come a half hour early as it had stopped raining, he said he couldn’t come because he was working (he is an apartment superintendent), and “sorry.”

“Sorry” doesn’t cut it. I’ve done or had done all I can do. Last year, a masonry expert dug the area by one side of the house, sealed and tarped the cement below ground; this year the grading for that was done. The other side and back of the house was re-graded three years ago. And the previous owners had more sealing (the back) done with weeping tiles put in.

Thanks to this handyman, this morning I stood on a chair with a rake and a broom (not at the same time) hacking at the leaves and branches. Some came down. Getting right up close would have been better for removal. However, I suffer from vertigo, so on a ladder beyond about four feet I get dizzy and panic.

If I get basement flooding or any other problems coming from the eavestroughs, this handyman will discover the true meaning of the word “sorry.” Some of you may wonder why I don’t get someone else to do small to medium house repairs. My answer is “Who?” This fellow, when he shows up, does a good job and charges me very little. Come next year, I may look into finding someone else. But again, cost will be a big factor.

And to make it more worrying I am slated to do a TV appearance tomorrow (podcast  Internet TV station)  around noon to promote my new book – my debut collection of mystery short stories Beyond the Tripping Point. The TV appearance per se doesn’t scare me – I’m just worried about getting there. It’s in downtown Toronto but will I be able to get out the door here? Will  public transit be running or held up because of flooding, etc.? Will I be able to walk to the bus stop and from where I get off either a bus or subway outside to the TV studio? Will there be disaster in my home and on my property I’m leaving behind? What about power outages and other utility outages? Over the weekend I stocked up on batteries, water and food that doesn’t need refrigeration. I have flashlights and candles and an old transistor radio (anyone remember them?) run on batteries and a ghetto blaster with battery option. But I don’t do power outages well or basement floods or downed trees, etc. well.

I also consider being an only person with no partner a big factor here. Not going into a rant, just stating it.

I may post again later this week. Meanwhile for more information about my book go to my other blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com. My big book launch is this Sunday, November 4, 2 p.m. (eastern standard time) at The Rivoli in Toronto. Those in the area are welcome to come. Details at my publisher’s website http://www.bluedenimpress.com – click on “Toronto.”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Betrayal, CDs

Only Child clarifies the aloneness issue

Only Child with son, Martin, and two of the Michigan cousins

Got an interesting comment to my post last week (see Comments). While I’ve tried living with other onlies (mostly boarders) and found it didn’t work, reading Jen’s comment helped me clarify what I really mean. The problem isn’t living alone per se, but being alone. There is a difference.

Let me explain by using the example of a friend of mine who used to live down the street. She and her partner didn’t live together but spent weekends together, usually at her house. He was also there sometimes during the week, if only for the evening and helped her a lot with her house. She pulled her own weight as well. She also got to know his three sons from when he was married. (He was separated.) My friend and her partner travelled together throughout the US and Canada. They were considering moving in together after he retired or a few years later after she retired. And if you are wondering why the past tense, no, they didn’t split up. Their relationship lasted seven years; then he died suddenly from brain cancer.

Which again reminds me of one of my ex-boyfriend’s comments (which I’ve also posted before). “Life isn’t fair.” I have a corollary to that, something I’ve learned from what I’ve seen, heard and read and from personal experience.

Whenever someone is experiencing happiness, enjoy it, because it may not last.

The other thing Jen helped me look at was the siblings’ issue. Obviously I don’t have any. But I have cousins  – there are six in one set and seven in another. I know, rather large numbers, but we’re talking Catholic born in the 1950s and 1960s. I have noticed how close they are and how much they help each other with problems. Two examples: when one cousin was building her backyard deck, many of the cousins (including the inlaws) helped her. On a more serious note, when my godfather, father to the six cousins, got to the point where he had to go into a nursing home, they all worked together on this. And when he was living there, they not only spent a lot of time visiting him, they also held sibling discussions on how things were going there. I know because I went with many of them on the visits and two of them discussed their dad’s life at the nursing home, including how he was treated by the staff, when I was out to dinner with them.

This is what I mean by siblings helping each other. They are very close although it does help that all but one live near each other. Some of their kids are changing the geography, but my cousins go out of their way to bring us all together. Last summer when I was visiting one cousin couple, their oldest son, now living in California, was coming up with his girlfriend to visit them. My cousins arranged a family lunch get together (homemade pizza – everyone chose their own topping).

And these cousins go out of their way to help me with my visits to them. I don’t drive, so I take the train where I can to get to their places. But they not only pick me up at the train station, but organize who I stay with (several live in Stratford, Ontario) and one takes me up to their cottage. Last year two of them took me to public gardens (Yes, we are a family of gardeners, except for one couple). And two more cousins from Michigan made a special trip up in their mobile home to visit with us all when I was there.

Before you think my relationship with all my cousins is perfect – we have differing views on religion, how to treat others, and what to do when we personally get too old to manage on our own. But we try to respect our differences. That is probably harder for me than for them.

And of course I have my son and his partner who help with some things.

It’s just the what I call “house crap” and “computer crap” that jumps out at me and often the lack of enough money and time that upsets me. Some things where a partner could share – like with my friend who used to live down the street. If truth be told, I probably would be a “bear” to live with now. And maybe I wasn’t that easy to live with when I was married many years ago.

Perhaps that’s the legacy of growing up an only child.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Aloneness, Family and Friends, Family Flak Memoirs, Happiness, Help and Support, Only child, Sharon Crawford, Siblings and friends

Only Child looks at helping friends living alone

Only Child contemplating how to help friends and not neglect herself.

After last week’s rant on the perils of living life as an only person, I had some sense knocked into me. I emailed one of my friends whom I hadn’t heard from for a few months. Turns out her health is in turmoil (and I suppose her life because of it.) She has a very bad back condition and can barely move.

But she is also living  on her own. That tells me something I posted last week rings true. I bet if I did a survey of older adults (take your pick on where to start age-wise), that those living alone have more difficulty coping with financial problems, health problems, house (and other residential) living conditions, etc. Okay, I know some “older adults” are rolling in money but if they live on their own, there are still the other conditions. And unfortunately, it is we women who seem to suffer the most, at least in my experience – not just personally, but what I’ve seen and read about.

So where does this leave us onlies with no partner or sibling support? My friend’s condition jolted me into deciding that we onlies have to support each other. If not, who else will? The problem here is the time-old one of well, time. How do you find the time? How much are you “your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper?” How much should you intrude in others’ lives? You can’t just go in and say, “Okay, Annie (or whatever your friend’s name is), we/you have to do this. You have to move. You have to get assisted living help. You have to eat healthier. You have to slow down. Put yourself in your friend’s place. How much interference and downright dictating do you want from even a close friend. What is the answer?

One thing I decided is to be more aggressive in getting my life in balance, so there can be time to help my friends. I am going through everything that I do with the proverbial fine-tooth comb and stuff is getting the boot. So far I’ve reinstated not working on weekends, even answering business email or returning business phone calls. I also am not doing another session of my Yoga classes. Some of you may call that a bad choice but I’m finding the once-a-week class (at 6 p.m.), although it helps my health, is also in the way of doing other things that take priority. And rushing to Yoga class right after rushing to finish work for the day crosses out any benefits from the class. Trying to do a few gentle Yoga stretches a few times a week might be better. I’m also active in the garden now and walking more. Now, what else can I dump? I can certainly cut back on the housework, something I don’t like doing unless it is clearing out stuff.

As for my friend, I talked very briefly to her on the phone as she was just taking another pain pill. She has to clean out the garage attached to where she lives because the landlord is tearing the garage down. She asked if I knew anyone who could help her move her stuff stored in the garage (She does have another garage down the road to store her belongings in). I got busy on the phone and found three possibilities (two are brothers and would work together). However, she hasn’t been able to do anything more about it – she has to see how able she is to move herself first. My ex used to tell me when I complained about something that there are others much worse off than me. I used to hate that. Perhaps he was right. When we are in the throes of a problem we don’t want to hear about others starving or in poor health. That’s human nature.

So, what do you think? How can we help our friends, especially those on their own,  without imposing ourselves like little dictators and still not neglect our own lives?

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Friends, Health, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Pain, Sharon Crawford