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What Makes a Good Character?

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Last night I broke out my pilot. It had been about six months since I looked at it and I had a few reactions I wasn’t expecting:

  1. The first two scenes are pretty funny
  2. The second half of act one needs more work than the tile of my 1950’s wackadoo kitchen
  3. Act two is about as together as Sonny and Cher after a few blissful years of marriage

I’ve done enough writing in my past to not worry about the current state of my pilot. I just needed to go back to my outline.

So I did.

The story wasn’t clear enough. And then it became even more clear that in order to have a solid story I need to know more about the characters.  Who are these people, why are they in my script, and what makes them tic?

The Transformation of This Blog

As many of you know, this blog started out as a journey for Tourette Syndrome. Who was my kid and what made him tic? What would his life story be? Would it be a comedy, a tragedy, a giant mystery full of gluten free bread and neurologists?

I started this blog when my son was 4. He’s now 14 and doing very well. (He starts high school next year! He’s six two! Eeeegaaads!)

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The truth is, like most good scripts, his story came out when I gave him time. I wanted a cheeky basketball player. He wanted to be a Vegan animal lover. I wanted a straight A student with a perfectly clean bedroom. He’s an A/B student with a room that looks like Gravity Falls and Harry Potter threw up in it. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.

When I didn’t force my kid to be anything other than who he was supposed to be, he was able to develop into the kid he’s supposed to be. He has limits and boundaries, but freedom to shine. I will extol that same grace to my pilot.

A Writing Schedule + Freedom = Great Characters (for me and my scripts)

With that in mind, I plan on giving myself some freedom over the summer to get off my crazy work train of a schedule and continue to write.

And read!

In addition to my morning spiritual books, I am toggling between:

one for the money

emotional intelligence

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What Do These Books Have in Common?

Amazing characters and insight. From a Jersey Girl bail bondsman, to an intelligent, fast talking orphan, to fascinating insight on the correlation between IQ and empathy, these books take me in. They make me laugh. And they make me think.

My Next Job Move

As I wonder about what next year holds for me at my current job, I can honestly say that whatever happens it will develop my character. Like the people in the books I am reading now, I will be forced to ask questions like:

  • Why am I making the choices I’m making?
  • What is my definition of success?
  • How can I be me while still contributing to a group? (My family/finances)
  • How can frustration be transcended into personal growth?

In the end, as I develop the character of Andrea, I will pour what I’ve learned into the characters of my pilot. And that, my friends, is really exciting! It’s my favorite kind of script – one where the lead character goes into the unknown with a bit of courage, sass and, hopefully, some humor.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Your Life.

Your Life Who?

Whoeever you want it to be. You got one shot. Make it worth it!

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Special Needs, Dropping Trou and TV Writing

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You may or may not know that I’m a special needs aide for a public middle school. I’m not sure what is further from my Hollywood writing days of yore – working at a middle school or working with kids like Midu, who only know 50 words of Hindi, no English and are more comfortable dropping trou in front of me than the time “Actor Who Won’t be Named” thought it was perfectly acceptable to unzip his pants while I was handing him pink rewrite pages.

Checking out the package (and not the one I was delivering) I almost said,”Not the pink I was expecting to see.” Instead I went with, “Craft service has mini hot dogs! See you on set!”

Back to Midu, who is just learning his ABC’s, I can’t help but think of my days on set. Similar to my days in the writers room, there’s a beautiful synergy that happens over the lunch tables. We laugh a lot. We tell stories. We trade food. “I’ll give you my apple slices for your tahini!” Granted, I can’t understand a word this kid is saying, but half of the director’s notes went over my head also.

The facts are, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing some hand movements, head nods and a good dose of humor can’t solve. At the end of the day, like with a brutal rewrite, as long as no one has wet themselves in the process and we’ve all had a good laugh, it’s a day well done.

As I dip my toe into the water of teaching higher level special ed next year, I’m excited about the possibilities of having even more impact with kids. Like my home for my own kids, the classroom will be a safe place for my school kids… a place to know that… for a few hours a day… they can take a break from whatever is going on in their own houses and rewrite their life script. Some kids I’ll reach, some kids I won’t. (One kid I work with uses all day to sleep. As long is it’s not someone I’m pitching a show to, I don’t take it personally.)

In the end, though…when thinking about teaching… there’s also this 47 year old kid who has a small fire inside her gut. It’s a desire that says, “While you’re helping your kids achieve their dreams, don’t forget yours.”

What’s mine? I want to get into TV again. It’ll take time. I will need to use summers to write my scripts and school nights to network here and there. But I’m ready. I’m setting a goal to apply for a Warner Bros. Writing program 2018 – 2019. I’ll need two spec scripts. Grace and Frankie, here I come! (I’ll get Grace into rehab even if it’s only on paper!)Wish me luck!

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And after dealing with the Midus of the world, I will have stories.

Until next time, tell me about you. What is your dream?

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Shame, Peace and Ostrich Eggs

In my last post I talked about shame. You might be familiar with the feeling.

“I’m not doing enough for my kids.”

“I am not making enough money.”

“My house isn’t clean enough.”

“I used to be a contender.”

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If you’re anything like me, you can do a pretty good job at keeping the tiger in the cage. You exercise. You pray. You keep a schedule. You try to let things go.

But sometimes you just have a day.

And that was my day Friday. Sure, I had missed the ONE day to test into full time employment – putting full time insurance off another month – but I gave myself grace. (“If the kids lose a leg, there’s always the county hospital.”)

Yeah, my bank account was running perilously low, but a check was going to land in my box on Friday. (“The kids are vegetarians now. A few cans of beans will sustain until pay day.”)

Alright, a huge vacation wasn’t going to happen this Spring Break, but I was blessed to have a friend give me a two night stay at her time share for $64 total. It was something I was looking forward to all week.

LOTS OF GRATITUDE!

And then I got a note – a terrifying note – from a friend I work with regarding permission to attend an out-of-district school that Stink had also applied to. Both our kids were accepted into the school, but it wasn’t in our district. We needed permission to transfer out – and that would take some work.

No worries! In true Andrea fashion, I pulled out all the stops to apply for this out of district permit – including gleaning a personalized acceptance letter from the high school secretary, to tracking down a fellow mom who had been through this with her own kids.

Based on fellow mom’s adventure through hell the Los Angeles school system, I knew in advance that I would be denied a permit and would have to appeal. I was nervous, but trusted the process. I told my friend at work that this would happen and, to save her the headache that the fellow mom from that school saved me, I told her what to do.

Only problem? Her kid got approved on the first go around. No appeal needed. This was not the case with Stink. Yup, lucky me – Not only was he denied a permit, I found out the lovely news an hour before my trip that Stink probably would not get the appeal approved because they are only taking theater kids this year. Stink applied for tech.

I was totally calm. Just like this!

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I calmly and rationally trusted in the Lord Jesus with all my heart, soul and strength. My heart hit my knees, I pooped a brick and belly cried like a drunk seal to my unsuspecting sister on the phone.

In my heart, I know that this is just high school. It’s not that he has cancer.

But in my head, it was the old shame tapes that played with his diagnosis. “You did something wrong,” they taunted me. “Your kid isn’t good enough.”

In my book, I recall a scene where all but one kids from Stink’s preschool got into a prestigious Catholic grade school. Stink was the one who didn’t make the cut. Which, well, sucked.

In fury, I made an appointment with the principal. (Note: In the book, I refer to Stink as Nicky.)

Excerpt from Chapter 3 – CinemaTIC

After finally being lead into the principal’s office, I was informed that Nicky didn’t grasp his pencil correctly in the interview process.

“You’ve got to be kidding…” I started to balk, but before I could continue she added, “He seems a bit immature.”

After peeling myself off the floor and holding back my urge to scream our Lord’s name—and not because there was a lovely oil painting of Christ hanging behind this woman’s head—I told her how disappointed I was. “He’s five. He’s not supposed to be mature. And why does it matter if he can grip a pencil correctly? Isn’t this what he’s supposed to learn in kindergarten?”

She gave me a fakey-compassionate half-smile. “His lack of coordination is disconcerting. It implies he’ll need some special attention that we just can’t give when there are thirty kids in the classroom and only one teacher.”

To which I responded, “With a ratio like that, why would I want to spend six grand a year on his schooling?”

To which she responded, “For the Christian education.”

“Oh, yeah, I can really feel God’s love here.”

And with nothing but a few cursory closing statements, I walked out of that office, enrolled my son in a public charter school, and have never looked back. It’s not as fancy as the private school of my dreams. But behind peeling paint is a structure built on joy that fosters creativity, self-worth and joy beyond my wildest expectations. And guess what: It’s FREE. Plus the student-to-teacher ratio is twenty-four to one. Jesus would be proud.

After firing off yet another letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District about why my son deserves entrance into that high school, it dawned on me that perhaps going insane was not the answer.

Perhaps my shame did not have to run the show.

Perhaps this “amazing” school for my kid is not to be, despite my best efforts.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can let go of the expectations I have for sweet Stink and allow what God wants for him, life just might be a bit more manageable.

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I can confirm that this thinking is correct because two things happened this weekend.

  1. My son told me quite calmly, “Mom, it’s not a big deal. If I get in, I get in. If I don’t, I’ll just to Big Scary Neighborhood School and I’ll survive.”
  2. We went to Ostrich Land over our weekend. It’s hard to live in shame when you’re feeding prehistoric beasts and sticking your head in germ infested wooden cutouts.d.jpg

The Moral of the Story

What we think has to happen for our happiness and security keeps shame front and center. Letting go and letting God direct the show keeps peace and laughter in the forefront.

The second option is so much better.

May your joy this week be like an ostrich egg: large and nourishing! (Did you know ostrich eggs are the equivalent of 30 chicken eggs? It’s true!)

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Special Needs, Shame and Growing Up

By the title, I’d love to tell you that this post is all about my son. That I’m this awesome mom of a kid who tics and, despite his twitches and occasional shakes, I’m helping him work past his shame. You see, he’s growing up. In Stink’s case, literally. (He’s 6 foot 1. I’m in heels. He’s estimated to be SIX FOOT NINE. Um… I’m so okay with this no big deal sheesh dying on the inside a little bit each day.)

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You see, a well balanced mother… one with a full time job and freelance side job and a walk with Jesus and recently turned 37 47-year-old mother should be happy that her son is healthy.

Oh yes, he still tics. He does this head jerking up down/up down/arm thrust/arm thrust shaky shake every minute or so. He warbles a bit when he talks. But most people don’t notice it. And, more importantly, he doesn’t care.

I am quite certain many of you moms of tickers want to slap me. I know that many of your kids suffer from worry about their symptoms. I can say two things about the Tourette Syndrome diagnosis over the past 10 years:

  1. I can’t take credit for his confidence. I’ve sometimes been a real jerk.
  2. Sometimes I wish he were bugged a bit. It means I could offer him some supplements… some CBD oil… some new diet or medication or meditation or unicorn sperm to just calm. it. down.

But that’s not the real rub (not the unicorn sperm). The real rub is that when I can’t focus on changing tics, my husband, my daughter, my mother, my neighbors or my entitled pit bull, I can only focus on myself.

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This takes on a lot of different forms.

  • Manic busyness
  • Too much concentration on work (work I have, work I want, work I’m behind on)
  • Picking fights over stupid things (“The way you chew that food. Is it necessary?”)
  • Obsessive thinking (Most people have 4000 thoughts 4 times/day. When I’m anxious, I get 4 thoughts 4000 times/day. I’m lucky that way.)
  • Mood swings (8am – My job is awesome! 8:03 – Oh everyone can suck it and die!)
  • High highs and low lows

Lest you think I’m possibly bi-polar, one of my other amazing qualities is being neurotic. I’ve been down this road before, and anyone who knows me, or read my book, knows that I saw a shrink for anxiety. I’m definitely not bi-polar. I’m just a fairly intelligent writer who thinks to much, feels too much and is a bit on the shock controlling side. (I have lots of great qualities, too, but rather than see the prior list as “bad” and my generosity, humor and love of people as “good,” I’m attempting to see both sides as simply part of me. It’s the way I’m wired. God made me this way, so it must be good enough.)

Sorry, Mom

I write all this not to have my mother sit in her home office and shake her head with sighs of “Dear, Jesus, how did a calm Bostonion like me give birth to such a transparent wacka-do?” I say this because I’m pretty sure the only difference between someone like me, and others who don’t say it like it is, is that I’m attempting to be brave enough to admit I don’t always have it all together.

  • I worry about money.
  • I worry about not spending enough time with extended family.
  • I worry about my kids growing up too fast.
  • I worry about what other people think about me.
  • I worry about my husband’s job.
  • I worry that I shouldn’t worry about any of the things above this bullet point and I still do which means all these years of therapy and AA must mean I’m really more screwed up than I realize OH MY FRIGGIN A THIS SUCKS.

Oh, Wait, There’s Good News!

Yes, there is Good News on a biblical level. (My faith walk is so helpful. But this is not a Jesus post. Especially with a half naked woman in a cone bra right below the good Lord’s name. Though I’m sure Jesus would find her cute. He was a man after all! And don’t give me the “He’s gay he hung out with 12 men” speech because I call about 20 women/day and that doesn’t make me a dyke on a bike but, thanks to my obsessive mind, now I have something new to concentrate on. Hooray!)

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The good news is, like a random blue sock in a pile of white laundered gold toed stallions, I see the source of what ails me and drives my need to focus on others instead of myself.

The bad news? That sock is nothing but good old fashioned shame. Shame that reminds me that there’s this wee wee piece left of “you’re not good enough” left from some random experiences I had who knows when back in my childhood.

The good news is that, knowing I have old tapes in my head, there is healing. The good news is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m not the only one. My friends admit their shame. My close family members share it with me. Heck, random people in Costco tell me about it while we’re in line for five dollar rotisserie chicken. “I’m sorry I got so cranky just there,” one woman told me. “I have terrible anxiety about being late for dinner as a kid on the farm and it manifests itself in hormone injected poultry.” (I can’t make this crap up.)

Not Admitting It Doesn’t Make It Not Real

I don’t want to admit I have shame anymore than that blue sock feels comfortable in a pile of crisp white matching show off socks. (I hate them! Their perfect pairs! Their no hole perfection! Damn them all!) But knowledge is the first step toward freedom.

Tourettes – My Ticket to Freedom

Maybe like me you have a child with Tourettes and you’re scared. Maybe your child has a different disability. Maybe you have no children with disabilities but you think that maybe you might relate to my big “I have issues” proclamation.

If so, you’re welcome here. April is Shame Month on Happily Ticked Off! And that’s no April Fools joke! Lets talk about it. Lets support each other. And let’s have a few laughs.

If my ticking, estimated to be 6’9, goof ball son can deal with a disability shame free, then we can, too!

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(I hope Luna, the dog my son pets over the fence every day on the way to school, doesn’t have a “No Media” policy.)

Lets use our “special needs” as a ticket to stop focusing on what isn’t the issue (the disability) and get to the root of what is.

Until then,

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Know What You’re Doing? Neither Do I!

As I type this, our wacka doo pit bull mix is running through our office wagging its tail faster than Twitter blowing up over Trump’s golden shower incident.

By “office” I mean a small box of a room we carved out of our living room so my husband could jump start his I.T. business at home while I Ebayed, wrote and looked for full-time work.

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The good news is that my husband’s business is slowly gaining momentum, and I landed some work as special need’s aide at a public middle school while my own book starts to generate a bit of income/ freelance work trickles in.

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(Don’t scoff at the total. It’s only $59 for October, but it’s $59 from total strangers’ pockets based on someone searching frantically through the internet for “My kid’s tics are driving me batty Dear Lord HELP ME” and… based on my book… they’ve been mildly satisfied. See below!)

Shameless plugging? Perhaps. But truly, this book was my heart and soul. It was written before the pressures of having to go back to work for pay. I’m grateful beyond belief I had the ability to write it… to help other parents not feel so scared and alone at what might seem a daunting diagnosis. But truthfully,  life has seemed a hell of  a lot more stressful since.

Much of this has to do with the physical space of our house. As in… I have no space to myself anymore.

As I mentioned a while ago, my bedroom is actually a dining room now that my daughter has taken over our room. In theory it sounded amazing. Kids in puberty… their own space… we’ll simpify!

In reality, it’s meant my husband shoving his things into the front hall closet. I’ve used an old armoir for storage in the living room. We put our essentials under the bed in plastic buckets and our extras in shelves along the long wall of our makeshift bedroom. (Oh, wait… we don’t have those shelves yet! But it’s going to be amazing when it happens!)

Sometimes I’m irritated about sharing space with a renter, a husband, a dog, two kids and more neighborhood kids than a line at a Hamilton discount ticket drawing.

The other side of it, however, is that it’s only as frustrating as my acceptance level. Less physical space has its benefits when it comes to good old fashioned soul work. Cramped quarters in my home has translated into larger mental space. I’ve had to add new footage to my old ideas about what I needed to be happy. I’ve had to come to grips with what success really means. Is it a paycheck? Well, yes, in someways. I’d like to do more for my kids. But in the end, it’s how I answer the following questions that’s truly money in the bank:

  • Am I happy that my kids have such lovely folk to hang with? Yes.
  • Do I like my job with these special needs kids? No. I love it.
  • Have I learned more tolerance and patience? Yes.
  • Am I sometimes still a jerk? Of course! But I’m getting better.

In the end, these “things” I used to want so badly have become less important to me. They are, in the end, not hallmarks of a happy life. They are lovely toppings, instead, on a sundae that must always begin with a woman who is content and grounded based in the things that matter most:

  • Time with my children
  • A good book
  • Forgiveness of the past
  • Hope for the future
  • Better communication with my spouse
  • A life not based on what makes me happy but what makes me purposeful
  • A faith that God hasn’t brought me this far to drop me on my butt

If my 26-year-old self had heard my 46-year-old self describe my life this way, I’d have a quick translation for her: Loser.

But in reality, what more is there?

What About Goals? Do They Matter?

You betcha. A road with no map will certainly lead me somewhere – and that somewhere can be the difference between a suite in a New York plaza or an Idaho truck stop. (I’ll take the hotel, thanks!)

But this year is about being a little less controlling about the drive, the destination and even the passengers. I’m letting God steer a bit more. Who does He want me to be? What purpose do I need to fulfill? Who will be part of the road trip? Will I be earning my money through writing? A degree in special needs? Sharing my Doterra Oils or my book? (Ooooh… let’s not the pilot that I’m not half done with.)

Complicated Mama – Simple Life

I’d love to say I have it all figured out, but I’ve learned trying to manage, manipulate and control my future is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic.

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Maybe it’s okay, just for now, to take this job I have one step at a time, come home to my family, cook a dinner, watch Once Upon a Time as a family, and see where everything else pans out.

(And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have an extra box of Trader Joe’s gluten free Joe Joe’s and Ghost Pepper chips on hand. OMG – so amazing!)

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What About You?

What about you? Do you know 100% what you’re doing? I’d love to hear from you. And you’ll hear from me, too.

Next Time – Tic Update – Stink is Doing So Much Better!

Andrea

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Life Will Get Better: Simple Solutions for Parents of Children with Attention, Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Challenges (New book by Dr. Nicole Beurkens)

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Dr. Nicole Beurkens, founder and director of the Horizons Developmental Resource Center, has written the book I wish I had read when I was first struggling to find a pathway for treating Stink’s Tourette Syndrome.

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Let’s face it, if you’ve read this blog, you know I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and worry about what a Tourette’s diagnosis would entail. Would I be able to help manage my son’s tics? Would Stink be able to self-regulate? How would I work with teachers, doctors and family? How could I help with diet and exercise? Beurkens’ book answers all these questions with the brain of a doctor and the heart of a mother.

In her own words, “My philosophy is that first and foremost these are children – they are not symptoms, problems or diagnoses.” Knowing that Beurkens not only has children of her own, but a background in special education and psychology, made me trust her.

A Road Map to Special Needs

Life WILL Get Better serves as an easy-to-understand guide on how to navigate complicated behavior and emotional issues ranging from ADHD to Autism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Bipolar and more. What makes this book so appealing is that Beurkens provides an overview with takeaways in every chapter. Just some of the items she covers in her book includes:

  • Nutrition
  • Sugar and artificial sweetners
  • Chemicals and allergens
  • Sleep
  • The importance of movement
  • How to stay calm as a parent
  • The importance of connection
  • Coping skills (for the parent and child

Helpful Anecdotes

Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes of kids (ranging from very young to out of high school) who have used Beurkens’ simple tips with great success. Just a few techniques that Beurkens suggest include, but are far from limited to:

  • Going gluten and dairy free
  • Including fatty acids into the diet
  • Taking out all food dyes and harmful additives (buh bye MSG)
  • How to get your kid to listen without nagging (from bedtime to exercise)
  • The importance of drinking more water
  • The value of meaningful connection
  • How to set limits with screen time

Beurkens’ book is not preachy in the slightest. This is what I’d consider a “starter” kit to the beginning of your child’s personal journey.

Find the Chapter That Best Suits You and Dive In!

My suggestion to you as a reader would be to find out what you relate to most and then dive deeper into that area. (Chapters are self-contained so it’s easy to skip around to topics that most relate to your situation.)

For example, at one point in the book, Beurkens discusses the connection between the gut and brain function. “In fact, the gut is now referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of how intrinsically the gut and brain communicate. The gut comprises the bulk of your immune system, and also is the location where serotonin and other important neuro chemicals are produced. The microorganisms in your gut play a critical role in your mood, behavior and cognition.” (page 16, Chapter 2)

Given that Tourettes is an immune disorder, this strikes a chord in me as I’ve been toying with the idea of a GAPS diet for quite some time. (More on GAPS later!) Because she and I are on the same page when it comes to the connection between the gut and my kid’s behavior, I felt more inclined to trust her tips in later chapters, even if these weren’t tips I’d normally have thought of myself. (Example: How to establish better bed time routines or incorporate movement into a teenagers screen time without being too tyrannical.)

Dr. Beurkens is the Real Deal

Having also spoken with Dr. Beurkens over the phone, I can personally testify to her warmth, smarts and knowledge on everything from the stress special needs can place on family dynamics to her science based approach to alternative healthcare.

If you want a book that discusses the crazy ride it can be to go from freaking out over a special needs diagnosis you weren’t expecting, read my book! If you want the correlating game plan to managing it –  a plan that does not include drinking a bottle of wine every night and picking a fight with your husband every second over going into debt over Amazon essential oils known as Tic Tamers – I’d highly recommend Dr. Nicole Beurkens’ book, Life WILL Get Better. Think of it as a trusted resource to getting a handle on what might otherwise feel like an overwhelming situation.

Dr. Beurkens is available for phone consultations. You can find out more via her website contact page.

Prescription  from Dr. Andrea

Your kids are amazing.

There is hope.

You are not alone.

  • This review was provided in exchange for a copy of Dr. Beurkens’ book

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Learning to Be Content – 1 Grunt at a Time (Mine, Not My Kid’s)

 

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In my quest to adjust to life as a working mom, there’s a lot I haven’t done, including writing here.

Because I am lazier than the gajillion people who refused to get out and vote this election season hate to reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d share something I sent to a friend today. She was on my  mind because, being a good self-indulgent product of the eighties, I’m on my mind a lot. And since I somehow live more peacefully in my Starbuck’s infested/doing too much/oh crap/I forgot to apply to high schools for my kid and now he’s going to be stuck at our local feeder school brain when I think of others, I thought I’d share it with you in case you can relate. (A few words added and deleted for privacy.)

Hi friend – 

Just writing you a quick letter to let you know something my own sponsor said to me today. I call her every morning at 730. If it’s 731 she gets on my case. “You’re late.” It’s annoying and a bit non-graceful. She’s of a different faith than me, a lawyer and pretty much the opposite of overthinking/soft hearted/no boundaries me. But she’s been amazing. She’s like those rubber walls in a pinball machine for me. My emotions get wound back and released high into the game. The ball then falls against those walls and plink! plink! plinks! all over the place. It wants to go straight to the top (that’s where I think the good life is) but it hits those walls. Those walls scream at me, “No. You’re staying right here. Get still. Stop running.” So I do. 
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Today I told her, all in fifteen minutes, how I had all these fears. Fears that I would never land on that TV show or hit the big time to have money to send my kids to private schools and have all these CRAZY FUN experiences if I keep doing what I’m doing as a special needs aide. I need time at night to write again and figure out a way to finish that pilot that’s going to make me that money. (And my book. Whatever happened to that?)
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But then I told her (and this is the truth) that I have never been happier at a job then I am right now. I make a small bit/hour and barely have cash after I buy food for the family and pay some bills, to do anything. And yet, I have people in a community that adore me. That I love right back. That bring me hard boiled eggs from their chicken coop and walk coffee to me on a break. People that have Thanksgiving and Halloween feasts…
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…that have burrito bars for our Hispanic community… arts and crafts and Willy Wonka productions and ridiculous school dances where I get to walk around with eighth graders trailing behind me like baby ducks while Gen Ed kids scream out at me, “Mrs. Frizzle! Mrs. Frizzle! Nice Marilyn Monroe skirt!” (Intentionally refusing to call me Mrs. Frazer based on my… ahem… style of dress.)
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I push wheel chairs and wipe drool and dance with Down Syndrome kids. I am plugged in to love on a daily basis. 
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With that,my life saving sponsor reminded me to remember where I am today. To “Make space between the notes” to be present. She reminded me that sometimes what we think we want is not worth it if where we are we cannot be content.
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As I write this I am still so unsure of my path. Without sounding like a narcissist, writing is where I find so much joy. My blog and my book are my soul. I refuse to lose it. But I’m also thinking that maybe TV isn’t for me. The pushing and shoving for money to validate my ego somehow doesn’t feel as rich as the team work and caring that validates others. I want to live up to my true potential, but what if what “I” thought was supposed to be is not what “God” intended. Is this spiritual enlightenment or just crack talk for the words ‘LOSER at a bigger life.’
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 I’m not sure. But I do know this: There is a peace in doing what I am doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Whether that’s painting a snowman with Ethan, my Asperger buddy who can barely read let alone hold a brush, or cooking dinner or having a beautiful Advent for my kids. There is joy in being of service right where I’m at and not flogging myself for being bigger in the world or my bank account. 
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In thinking of my purpose, I must always revisit God’s purpose. In all I do, I must remember the question, “What is my motive?”
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  To quote Paul, 
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“I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.
Hang in.
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Love, Andrea
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If any of you are reading and are not a God person, I still believe God has a purpose for you. If you’re of another faith – or perhaps Christian and think your life should have turned out better because you go to church and help the poor and only buy sheep from catalogs as Christmas gifts for people to sponsor underprivileged villages in South America and have foster kids named Jorge and Wanita Azul – let me remind you that the most Christian of them all hung out with the poor, the wackadoos and died a brutal death. We have to let that fantasy of “I deserve it” go. Life sometimes sucks. Period.
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Tonight, with four tween boys stinking up my house, a pot of rice in the cooker, lights twinkling on my staircase and a husband peacefully watching a show I’d rather die than view, I’m content that it doesn’t suck today.
I hope you are, too.
Here’s to more time here connecting. As always, I’ve missed you.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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