parenting, writing

Repeat After Me: It’s Not About You. Good. Just Do That 1000000 More Times

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One of my kids didn’t get something they really wanted. They worked super hard for it but no, they still didn’t get it. It stung. Not just for them, but for me. Of course, since it wasn’t about me, I didn’t have the luxury of acting irritated or devastated or outraged. I just go to shake my head, say “Oh, I’m so sorry” and listen.

(I could have gone Operation Varsity Blues on their butt, but I had already blogged about how I’m so much better than that. I can’t be a hypocrite now, can I?)

The good news in the above paragraph, at least regarding my own experience, is that I’ve grown so much. Even a year ago I’d have been aghast at the results, dramatically trying to pump the kid full of encouragement and wisdom that, in the end, would have done nothing to ease the teen’s pain and instead only serve my own wounded pride at the rejection which, as I type this, makes no sense. My child is not me. It’s natural to feel bummed out for my kid. It’s quite another to personalize it. After all, in doing so, I’m not giving my kid time to grieve for themselves. Maybe they’ll be over it in a day. Maybe not for a month. At the time my kid found out about the results, I had no idea what they would need. But one thing they didn’t need was their hypersensitive mother swooping in on their grief, creating confusion. (A year ago it might have ended with my kid comforting me.)

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(um, sorry, I did.)

The issue with this reaction would have had the effect of having my kid feel less safe to tell me what is going on in their lives for fear of eliciting a nutty response.

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Maybe you don’t suffer with this kind of attachment to your child’s outcomes.

Maybe you are the kind of parent that can easily let go.

I DO let go. Oon the outside.

But on the inside, it still hurts. It speaks to old wounds in me. It tugs at the child who was never picked for the lead in the play or for the sports team.

But… and this is the big takeaway: It’s NEVER my child’s job to suffer my hurts.

And in the case of my kid, they were over it the next morning. (This mama might take a few more weeks to process it… but I acknowledge that… and am calling the fact that I was able to sit with my kid for a good hour and help THEM process it a big win.)

Now if I can just get through the next week of work, burying a family member, signing up both kids for college courses, get my printer to work and put away two weeks worth of laundry we’ll be golden.

Not that it’s your issue ever, dear reader, to worry about this crazed blogger’s dumb schedule. But a prayer? That wouldn’t hurt. And Tuskany, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be swinging by your place again this week. You saved me last Wednesday.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #29: It can be hard to let your kid feel disappointment, but let them feel it anyway. Just listen and don’t make it about you. (Oh, that last part. It’s not easy. We all have our hurts, don’t we? Oh, you are perfectly balanced? #LuckyYouIDon’tBelieveYou)

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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writing

The Terrible Poem Contest: I’m In!

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Many of you know that I’m writing a poem/day Shel Silverstein style for every day that I substitute teach. This means that at the end of the year I will have 100 poems.

All rhymes are all being written from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy who comes from a divorced family. He goes back and forth between his parents. Some of the poems are a bit more reflective, while others are of the goofy, gross and silly variety.

I suppose this is why I decided to throw my hat in the ring of this blogger’s poetry contest. The theme is “Under the Table” and should be a truly horrific poem. Here’s my shot.

Under the Table

My friends are all camping

But alas I’m not able

Nope, I’m grounded for life

Right here under the table

A butter knife for a friend

Along with a rag

To scrape all my boogers

Into this trash bag

Yup, what once was my haven

For picking my nose

My mom did discover

So now I am hosed

“You won’t move from this spot

Except to go pee

Until all chunks are removed

Do you understand me?”

What could I say?

My answer was “Yes”

Now there’s no more snot digging

What?  YES I’m depressed

The moral of this tale

From under the table?

Stay away from nose picking

To avoid this sad fable

The end

Happily Ticked Off Tip #28: Enter contests that represent your passion. You never know if you will win!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education

Children and Art: Go Figure

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Teaching art for 200 middle schoolers per day has had a profound impact on my soul.

Today a small boy who looks like Huck Finn meets The Goonies told me, “You’re so awesome, Ms. Frizzle!”

A seventh grade girl who is often found hiding behind her Ipod and anime drawings of genderal neutral dwarfs poked her head out from behind her hoody and whispered, “I can talk to you more than any other teacher.”

Another kid left this on my desk.

 

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Two out of three ain’t bad.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #27: Kids will be kids. And apparently, in middle school, they know how to make kids. Be glad when they’re messing with model figures and not each other. 

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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Coaching and Wellness, meditation, self improvement, spirituality

Pain Sucks. But There’s Another Side

I used to hide my pain behind talking about people, putting myself down or drinking too much wine.

These days, I face it, I grieve and I move on. It’s so much easier. It’s so much easier, in fact, I don’t often feel pain.

No pain? How is that possible? 

For me, the answer is acceptance. Always acceptance. I don’t have to like a situation, but when I accept it, I surrender. Like in a battle, I put down my guns of defiance and anger. They weren’t protecting me anyway. If anything, they were protecting me from the other side. That “other side” being you… my fellow fighter… who seems so scary and more together than me but… when you put down your gun, too… you are just like me. A human being who suffers.

Death and Darkness

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There’s been a lot of darkness in my family lately. People dying. People ill. People sad. My immediate family, thank God, is okay. But I can’t pretend like the people around me are. That they aren’t truly hurting. It’s not easy because  I can’t take it away from them. If anything, I can only share my story if they want to hear it. Maybe they will surrender like I did to find peace. Maybe they won’t. But it’s not up to me to holler my ideas at them.  (Have you tried screaming over gunfire? It doesn’t work and you are taking the risk of best case going deaf, worse case getting maimed or killed.)

What is the Point of Pain?

Everyone has different beliefs on this. As a Christian, it makes sense to me that this Jesus character was kind of a bad ass, because he felt pain just like you and I do, but he rose above it. He left his spirit in us so we, too, could rise above it. Jesus didn’t want to face death. But in surrendering to it, God was with him during his dark times.

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To me, this is comforting. And it helps me realize that the pain of my past wasn’t in vain. I can use to help others find hope. This is good news – literally – because it means the suffering has meaning. It means I can endure the dark again because there is always light in helping others later.

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If you are going through a dark time right now, I’m sorry. I won’t preach at you. I won’t tell you to believe what I do. I won’t suggest you try some certain medication or organic llama bone crushed inside an essential oil that will make you both joyful and anchored. But I will tell you that I have been there, I got through it, and you will also.

My Greatest Teacher

I might be a teacher now by trade, but Pain will always go down as my best Professor. When I surrendered and embraced it, it taught me that I could be bitter or trust that something bigger was coming down the pike. And for me, friends, that something better is my fellows. A hand out to a new student. A compliment to the old dude handing out samples of Fig Newtons in Costco. A smile at the school secretary who deals with one million requests from hormonal middle schoolers/day.

In closing, I can pass on hope to you because someone passed it on to me. I lost… but in losing, I rose to be a better person. Pain didn’t win.

Coffee on the other hand? That wins every time.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #26: When we don’t run from pain but choose to welcome it as our greatest teacher, not only will we transform but we can use it help others transform from dark to light also. 

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, faith, parenting, Uncategorized

College Admissions: Some Parents’ Guilty Pleasure

Most of you have probably heard about the bribery to college admissions that’s got people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin facing prison time. I’m already waiting for the Shameless and Fuller House Memes to surface.

Oh wait, here’s one!

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On one hand, my stomach dropped when I heard the news. It’s so unfair to the kids who really do work their butts off to get into these top schools.

On the other hand, I don’t really care. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t buy into the whole college application freak out thing. The truth: My son is a Sophomore and we have not researched one school (though we said we would). I don’t know how or where he’ll take an SAT and I’m not overly worried about him getting a coach for it. We’ll start researching in a few months, look at JC’s and go from there. I have enough faith in my kid to know he’ll land somewhere! (Mom brag: He went from not amazing grades last year to straight A’s, 1 B+ and he’s taking Japanese this summer. This GPA did not happen with me bugging him. I literally have zero idea what he’s learning in school. The hard work was last year when, after letting him fail, I made him meet with me every day at 4PM to go over his organization. I knew it would be a pain for me, but it would ultimately put him in the driver’s seat. These same tools are what will get him on the road to college one way or another.) So, back to that:

Why Don’t I Care About College – And a Caveat

I want my kids to do the best they can with their lives. But I’ve seen enough A-Personality neurotic kids to know that if a kid doesn’t learn to appreciate the success of who they are, no school is going to make a difference. They will just get there, not be happy, and anxiously climb up to the next thing. And then they’ll graduate and anxiously work toward a job, and then a promotion, and then a mate, and kids, all the while not really knowing why they are striving so hard.

No, that’s not what life is about. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe the best thing I can do is guide them toward their path and let them be self-confident people who are content with what is, not what is not.

Don’t You Care At All, Andrea?

Of course I care. Ask Tuskany. I stress about my decision to let go. But in the end, I will always choose to let go. I do so, sometimes with fists clenched onto the last bit of rope, because I’m raising them to be adults that make their own decisions, not little puppets I write checks for to look good for the world. (Look where that landed the culprits in this latest scandal?)

I feel so strongly about this topic because I was that go get ’em kid. I got the straight A’s. The college. The TV job. The house. The marriage. The kids. My outsides were great. But inside I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I broke down the construct of what I thought I needed to be happy that I was able to be, truly, happy.

Tonight I’m going to go downstairs and eat some soup. I’m going to remind my son to get off the video games. I’m going to compliment my daughter for all the auditions she went on. She’ll tell me about the groups she landed, the ones she did not. And then we’ll go to bed. Life these days is busy busy busy… but it’s simple. It comes down to, “Are who you are in your soul enough?” When the answer is yes – and it always is – there isn’t a thing to worry about.

Zero fucks given. It’s a model for livin’.

(Hey, I think I just wrote a country song! Maybe I can make a million dollars and bribe Harvard to take my kids!)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #25: When we teach our kids that who they are is more important than where they go to college, we are giving them the best education they can get: To be learn to be happy with what they have, not what they do not.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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self improvement

Asking Questions. It’s My New Form of Talking

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This just in: I am talking less and asking more questions.

I’ll just let that sink in and get back to you tomorrow.

Until then, I’d love to ask you a question – and be honest: Do you listen to truly listen, or are you computing info to best formulate a comeback that proves your side of the street?

Leave a comment and we’ll talk tomorrow!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #24: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When I remember that, life goes along just fine!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, meditation, spirituality, Uncategorized

I Meditated. I Didn’t Kill Anyone or Myself.

I was much calmer today thanks to meditation. Because of my time spent in quiet stillness, first thing in the morning, my whole day passed without me being either suicidal or homicidal. #yayformeandmyfamily

All sarcasm aside, I’ve never wanted to kill anyone or myself, but when I’m wound really tight, I’m killing the joy in life. Starting my day with some still breathing, readings and prayer, helped me move from one task to the next with way more ease than yesterday.

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God Calling is the devotional I read. I love it because it’s just one scripture verse per page per day. Sometimes there is an old hymn verse thrown in for good measure.

I also read this every day.

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It talks about acceptance. For this control freak, acceptance is everything. If I think I am running the show, I am basically saying that I know better than God. I do not know better than God. We are all God’s kids. Reading this reminds me to keep my trap shut and trust that if someone wants my opinion they will ask. (That concept, my friends, has been the absolute hardest thing for me to change. Lucky for this lady, when I pray and meditate each day, God does it for me.)

“Meditation Is Not For Me!”

One of my readers, The Bookworm, commented, “I’m sure meditating is good for the soul. I’ve never been able to do it myself, I feel like I have too much nervous energy but for me, it’s running. That’s my form of meditation.”

I say whatever you need to do to not be a lunatic you do that!

As I have mentioned before, I have no real structure or expectations to my meditation routine. I don’t sit up. I drink coffee. And the closest I’ve ever been to Nirvana is to be interrupted by an LAUSD automated system telling me my sub job for the day has been canceled and I can crawl back in the covers with the crazy pitbull mix and sleep in.

I will add that while intention in life means nothing without action to back it up, intention in meditation is different. For me, it simply means, “I don’t have all the answers. Here is some time to get still because God does. Period.”

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Happily Ticked Off Tip #23: Meditation doesn’t have to involve an ashram and a yogi. It can be any time you set aside to allow someone other than you to break through your ego and run the show so you don’t have to. PS: Ego stands for “Edging God Out.” That’s good, huh?

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, spirituality, writing

When I Don’t Meditate… It’s Not Pretty

My daughter, son and their bestie, Miss L, are downstairs doing a second load of dishes. They are singing Dear Evan Hansen’s Sincerely Me at the top of their lungs. To quote the mom from that show, and the title of the first song,  “Does Anybody Have a Map… Can Anyone Tell How the Hell to Do This?,” it was just one of those days.

Saturday Madness

I woke up at 7 to get Evie to a dance audition by 8.

I slept in the car for an hour… I mean slept like the dead.

I came home and attempted to sleep there, too, but the sheets smelled like dog and ass. The bathroom needed a washing. It just felt… icky. I would love to be that person that says, “Oh, well, the cleaning can wait. Let’s just enjoy life.” But with laundry, dishes and no food in the house, I knew getting into action was the best course of action.

And at first had no regrets about that. My bathroom looked good and smelled less like a truck stop.

But add in grocery shopping, taking the kids to a play production tonight, plus concern about how to get Stink’s broken bracket fixed on Monday since I’m working and can’t make it on time and oh, yeah, he needs to sign up for college level Japanese because no he doesn’t want to take Spanish or French which is already offered at his high school and, um, I picked up a few regrets by 6PM.

I got really snippy with my kids. Note: I didn’t scream, but when I get controlling and nitpicky and nothing my husband says or does is helpful, I know that it’s not my outsides that need to change. It’s my insides. And that can only happen with a re-set.

And, well, that’s not going to happen tomorrow.

We have family coming in from Chicago in the morning.

Phia has a vocal lesson at 12.

Later, Rex and I need to swing by his mom’s house on the way to our communication class to fix a broken toilet and deal with an unexpected family death.

Lest I sound like a martyr, or one of those “My kids do too much it’s my own fault for not saying ‘No’ kind of person” I will state life is not normally driven at such a breakneck speed around here. (Nope, when it’s slow and we just hang out I instead get to battle “My kids aren’t doing the extra curricular activities others are doing the am not doing enough…”  And hey, that’s fear based/crap thinking!  I know it’s a lie but days like today take more energy to combat i. And no, 5 cups of coffee/day doesn’t help. Who knew? 😝

March just happens to be the season for my daughter’s school’s dramatic art activities. Broken braces happen. So does death. This crunch time will pass.

The only reason I was less able to deal with it at 630 tonight… when dinner wasn’t made… when the kids found Minecraft more important than the trash and dishes… when Rex was watching TV and I had groceries to unpack… was because I did not meditate this morning.

Me When I Don’t Meditate

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I did not take time to say, “God, this day is yours. Direct my thinking.” When I do that, I can be like the tree that bends and sways in the wind and doesn’t break. When I don’t, branches fly. Leaves fall. And someone’s dashboard usually gets crunched when I ultimately fall through the windshield.

Lucky for me, this no meditating deal is an exception. Because it’s a daily practice, I had some reserve in my tank. (Translation: I was bitchy, not psychotic) But a few more days of not filling up and I’ll be running on fumes. And the car will break. And then it will take more energy and money to repair. How much easier would it be just to do daily maintenance?)

And so, tomorrow, I will get up at 7 and have some alone time with God.

And then I will buy bagels and welcome my family to my table.

I will get into acceptance that this month just happens to be one of those hectic times in my immediate family, but I won’t complain. Because one day these kids won’t be here to drive around. The tub won’t need so much cleaning. To quote Dear Evan Hansen, I won’t always have this For Forever.

Happy weekend to you all. Here’s to a better report tomorrow!

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education, self improvement, writing

Bad Behavior? Oh, Well. You Do You. Be Kind.

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The above meme is so cheesy and means nothing by itself other than a “Wow, be an inspirational person” sound byte. Living it is so much harder. Which means, if you actually do, you’re an actual inspirational person!

Bottom line: These quotes make cute tee shirts for the Etsy shopper.
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(Not bad… only $9.90)

But… no disrespect to this virtual shop owner, but $9.90 can also be spent going to the Dollar Tree and buying cheap made-in-China stickers and handing them out to random shoppers at the grocery store. ssssss(Especially the cranky Russian lady with the whisker pushing the metal pull basket who gave you the stink eye for reaching above her for the gluten-free Joe Joe’s.)

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Why do that? I’ll tell you. Because most people don’t get out of their comfort zone to make eye contact with someone, ask how they are doing, and give them something to break them out of their zombie like “It’s all about me” trance.

Me? I haven’t yet given out stickers. But I dole out little treats and unearned grace with my kids in middle school. Sure, I’m just a long term sub. And do I have a Masters in Art? No. But I do have a Doctorate in Understanding People. (Plus I graduated Magna Cum Loud Mouth so can relate to my fellow talkers.)

You, Rowdy Kid. I GET YOU

I know that bad behavior often means something gross is going on at home. It means that if kids are grabbing tape that doesn’t belong to them or tossing bananas or water bottles on their desks (OMG THE WATER BOTTLE FLIPS KILL ME) they are likely annoying the crap out of teachers in another class. I can either get insanely annoyed (it’s happened) or I can pull them aside and have a one on one conversation. I can once again review my expectations. And then I can speak light and love into them.

Me: “Andy, I can tell you’re not a kid who likes to sit still.”

Long quiet stare as he looks up at the 6 foot woman in pig tails with the “I Love Pitbulls” tee shirt towering over him.

Me: “Tell you what. I will let you walk around whenever you want.”

More silence, then: “For real?”

Me: “Yes. ‘Why?’ you might ask.”

No response.

Me: “Go ahead. Ask why?”

Kid: “Uhhhh… why?”

Me: “Because I’m a long term SUB. It means, WHO CARES! My job is not to feed the school system an all-size-fit-in-the box kid. I can be like Grandma and fudge a bit. I can give you a little wiggle room to be the kid YOU need to be. Unless LAUSD is reading in which case I am the epitome of excellence in all teaching standards. Do you understand?”

Kid: “I don’t have a grandma.”

Me: Deep breath. “I simply mean I care more about you learning to communicate and being heard than being perfect. Do you understand?”

Kid: “Yes.”

Me: “Good. Then sit at your regular table. Move around if you need to. But do not touch/talk/nudge/move/pinch or annoy anyone. Like the zoo signs you see on field trips! Only replace that last word with ‘STUDENT’. ”

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Kid: “I never get to go on field trips.”

Me: “What a shock.”  That must feel bad.

Kid: Shrugs. Head down. “It’s no biggie.”

I spot a tear but don’t say anything.

Me: “So today you get to start over! Today is one more better day toward a field trip. But if you can’t keep it together, I am moving you to the front near me. Deal?”

Kid: “Deal.”

Then we shake hands.

Then he goes to his seat.

Then he inevitably gets up and annoys, bugs, moves, pinches or throws water a some kid.

Then I move him next to my desk.

Then he complains and threatens to tell his school counselor who I’m sure has never heard of this behavior from him for the past two years of middle school not to mention the stack of IEPs from his grade school years taking up more space in the files than Trump’s ridiculous tweets about the wall.

And we start over the next day.

Because while I can’t change someone’s trauma induced behavior, I don’t have to replay mine. Which means showing kindness every single day. Every single time.

Plus, it’s Friday. So everyone is an angel on Friday.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #21: Don’t just wear tee shirts promoting kindness. Live it. Even when it’s hard. It’ll shape your character, and someone else’s, more than you’ll ever know.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

education, faith, spirituality, writing

How to Know, With 100% Certainty, If Something Is Your Passion

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I made a commitment almost a month ago that I would blog every day. I’m proud to say that I have done just that (minus one day I thought I hit “publish” and accidentally hit “publish later”.)

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that since I have blogged daily my regular work and attitude has improved. It’s the love of doing these posts, regardless of pay, no matter what time of night, that is an indicator that this is my passion.

I love writing, even on less than ideal days. Like today… when the principal… all smiles…. mentioned something to me about a student who should not have been in my room yesterday during one period (which, as a newbie, I didn’t know had slipped in). Her statement was kind of a bummer. Up until that moment I had been having a brilliant day… really finding my own with the lesson plans, student interactions, organization, etc. Still, I refused to let this break my stride. (Those over 40 are welcome to break into a popular song now…)

The new me: “Huh, yeah, I’ll more careful.” (On the inside: Noted/that sucks/move on)

The old me: “Huh, yeah, I’ll be more careful.” (On the inside: Oh my God, I suck. I’m going to lose my job. I clearly  have no classroom management skills NO WONDER I CAN’T FIGURE OUT MY LIFE!”)

Dramatic much?

Digging Deep

I have learned through the serious self-appraisal of step work that I am both over-confident and hypersensitive. Over and over, based on certain life events and my personal wiring, I learned to react in a way that’s not exactly amazing. It wasn’t easy, but commitment to healing from past hurts (intended cuts or not) has saved me from repeating them over and over, wounding both myself and others.

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For me, old behavior meant acting like I didn’t care (I did) and when criticized pretending that I could easily blow it off (I couldn’t).

But now… by honestly looking at these destructive character defects, I can put into practice something better. Well, I can’t do it alone. The God of my understanding comes on in to help out.

Spiritual Solution for Icky Earth Issues

Having a spiritual remedy is everything! It means that instead of sulking I can pray and get into gratitude.

Instead of quitting, I can invite God in to give me courage to try again.

And instead or flogging myself for my mistakes (which are really just opportunities for learning) I can give thanks to God for everything he’s done so far in my life. I can give myself credit for what I do do well.

Writing each day reminds me to see the bright side of the beauty in my days, despite setbacks.

The smell of fresh rain on cement.

Time on my commute to listen to Classical music, pray and make a few phone calls.

A reminder to focus on the students who truly want to learn and  not hold grudges against the ones who just don’t care. (It’s not about holding grudges, anyway. They are kids. They aren’t staring aimlessly out the window on purpose. Some want to do the work, some don’t. If I’ve tried my best, the rest I can let go and stop being hypersensitive.)

Today I choose not to go into fear mode over one comment. I choose to leave here, hit a meeting, take myself to a lovely dinner for some much  needed alone time after an intense two weeks, and be grateful that I’m not where I want to be but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I used to be.

And that’s good enough.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #21: Your passion is something you do no matter what and it brings you energy instead of depletion. Hey, do that!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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