A Place of My Own

As I sit here typing, my daughter sits quietly behind me. She’s painting in her art center. By “art center” I mean “re-purposed 1980’s ply board shelf unit” covered in discount white paint. Her legs are crossed. Her eyes are focused. And she hasn’t moved in one hour. I’d poke her to be sure she wasn’t a statue, but in case she fidgets, I don’t want cobalt blue on my favorite thrift store cardigan.

sophia 2

Me? I’m the opposite of disciplined and steady. I bolt up up to take a picture. I plop down to write a blog post. I get up to get a cup of coffee. I sit down to check an email. Oh, what was that meme on Facebook? I’ll look at that really quick. And ha! That vimeo is hilarious. That cat sure knows how meow Jingle Bells like a pro. Oh, and for the record, my elf name is Perky McJiggles. Score!

By the time I’m done, I’ve got nothing accomplished but a spinning brain. My daughter, on the other hand, has a beautifully painted rainbow-colored dog which will soon house shiny new crayons. With my little Hermione Granger, this translates to magic. Precise, practical, whimsical but contained magic. With her mother, there is magic also, but things often explode.

When the kids were younger, I’d pass of my messed up experiments as “creativity!” and “mad cap hilarity!” I’d hail the virtues of being flexible and turning lemons into lemonade! But the truth is, I wasn’t (and continue to not always be) prepared for events and every day occurrences in my domicile.

Last year, I almost missed my daughter’s choir performance because I assumed the start time was the same as rehearsals, despite mounds of paperwork saying the contrary. Where was the paperwork? In the piles of everything else on my desk. I had meant to file it, but somehow, that resolution never took off from its first inception.

In 1992.

This has all started to change since my job ended in October. I’m getting more organized. I have to be. Not only is my family worth it, but so am I. Where do I want to work next? What do I really want to write? WHO THE HECK AM I? The verdict is still out, but I can promise one thing: As long as I’m reacting to life, rather than producing it, I’m only going to get half measured results. I need to be intentional.

Living on purpose is kind of like living life sober. It’s got a lot of potential. You know things are going to be really exciting. (Not as exciting as making anatomically correct gingerbread men with your bff-  half a bottle of Two Buck Chuck in – but exciting none the less.) In the meantime, however, it’s kind of painful. I mean, ouuuch. Life is so… real. And complicated. And this time of year, it’s so MERRY! And BRIGHT! For Godsake, the emotional and literal piles seem so overwhelming. Can’t we just shut the curtains?

In many ways, when the kids were younger, things felt more peaceful. Less was expected of me. I could enjoy the last minute walks to the gas station for Diet Coke. If I wanted coffee instead, but I didn’t have milk, I’d borrow some from a neighbor. If a friend popped by, we could hop in the car and grab coffee at the local Starbucks. A few hours could pass as we shared our hopes, dreams and struggles with everything from parenting to views on faith. Heck, sometimes we would even end our night with a glass of wine. Or three. So what if it was Tuesday! We were spontaneous! And Lord knows it was more fun than filing that stack of papers.

Things are not like that anymore. I no longer imbibe in the evenings. It’s my own spirit I infuse, and wow, what great books I’ve been enjoying!

Healing is a Choice, Steve Arterburn

After the Sucker Punch, Lorraine Devon Wilke

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

On the list

Carry On Warrior Glennon Doyle Melton

Cold Tangerines Shauna Niequist

Interrupted Jen Hatmaker

Traveling Mercies Anne Lamott

While I’m on a faith and memoir kick now, I can just as easily slip into a romance or adventure series. A good book is a reminder that a world outside of my own self-centered thinking exists. I can travel to heaven, the slums of Africa or around the table of a tired mother and her preacher husband.

Words, read from a space of my own (in this case my trusted green couch) remind me that there is redemption in the dishes and the laundry. That there is a grace to our days, a rhythm to our sometimes ho-hum lives. A break in routine from the daunting to-do list and “please oh please hire me” job searches.

I used to read so I could be a better writer. But now I read to be a better Andrea. Because at the end of the day (or the beginning as is so often the case) there’s nothing I love more than putting down my books and embracing these two people.

kids tree

Until next time, I’d love to know if you have a space of your own to be inspired.

Me? What I’d really like is something like this.


What I’ll have to settle for in the meantime is something secluded like this:

quiet space

Because this space is already taken.

sophia reading

Does anyone want to commit to designating a space for ourselves to be inspired in 2015?

Find me at Twitter @AndreaFrazer. I’d love to  hear from you!


I’m Back

dee 1

So I decided that when you panic over Christmas, panic over starting a new portfolio, are stressed out over looking for a new full-time job and your best friend tells you she’s getting a divorce and moving out-of-state, it’s not a great time to make any major changes.

For me, a major change included the brilliant idea that I was not going to write at Happily Ticked Off anymore. I wasn’t going to write about Tourettes and certainly wasn’t going to write about anything too personal anymore.

This was a particularly stupid idea, given that I have an entire book completed on the subject of tics. My brain? “No agent is interested… it likely isn’t as good as I thought… I over shared… oh well.” The reality: Three really big agents responded. They loved the concept, but it’s too niche. Here’s a new concept: KEEP GOING.

Here’s the other brilliant idea. I decided to hire someone to build a fancy new portfolio to show off my work. I mean, how can I get a decent writing job that doesn’t involve me commuting hours per day for a crap company that doesn’t know it’s head from its butt (not that I’ve done that recently) if no one even knows I exist? I figured this website would also house my blog. It would be kind of this “Check out my samples/hire me/take writing classes/check out my latest interviews and resume” smorgasbord.

And then I got super sad.

Like an all-you-can eat buffet, I felt sick. I felt uncomfortable.

And here’s why. It’s not because I am afraid of change. (Though of course I am.) And it’s not because I don’t want a fabulous new job. (Of course I do.)

It’s because, deep inside, it felt like just one more aspect my life I was “doing” rather than “creating.” Aren’t there enough things we have to do each day? I mean, those kids need a packed lunch for school every day. EVERY DAY.  Shouldn’t there be an aspect of my life that is just what I want? A place for me to connect to others who are hurting? A place for me to go to when I’m hurting? I place to laugh and be myself?

This whole works-based activity deal has to stop. I’m ready to be a human being, not a human doer.

How many more nights am I going to sit side by side at my ugly Ikea desk with my husband – him checking work servers and me searching Facebook for people with more exciting lives than me – and wonder why I feel so empty? It’s dawning on me that this whole “striving striving striving” thing to land a job be efficient so I can prove my time is worth something is for the birds. Yes, I need to work to pay a little something called my mortgage. But I can either show up to life tired and angry and resentful at what other people are accomplishing or I can decide who I am is valuable enough to accomplish my own unique purpose.

Like tics, there are a lot of unknowns out there for me. That’s friggin’ scary because, well, I like control. But if I’m going to accept life on life’s terms, I have to let a little bit of my expectations go and enjoy the ride. Hmmmm… what could that look like? I have no idea, but it’s certainly not going to be to prove my worth to someone else. Apparently I’m worth something as me and me alone. That’s the starting point. (Hint, so are you!)

I spoke to Stink about my decision to come back home. His jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe I had left in the first place. “But Mama, what about all my fans??? You have to go back!” he balked.

To all six of you, my narcissist gives you his love.

I’ll see you tomorrow. But be warned, I’m assigning homework.