Tics, Tourettes, writing

A Little Laughter Goes a Long Way (How to Keep from being a Beach on Wheels)

Mom + Daughter @Beach = Contentment

I don’t know if you can relate to this, but I’m reacting to this Covid 19 crisis in one of two ways:

  1. Everything is Fine! I will not freak out. All I can do is wash my hands, cut back on trips to the market, have faith that my job will still be there in a few months and enjoy every second I can with my kids before they graduate and try to block the memory of their mother shaking her bootie to Maroon 5’s “Sugar” every Taco Tuesday like a menopausal groupie.
  2. I am Freaking the BEEP Out.

Since #2 isn’t all that attractive, I’ve given myself some serious boundaries to make life more enjoyable in the Casa de Tic. And honestly, folk, after navigating Tourettes for over 10 years, I can promise you this: I might not have the “cure” for tics in the form of a pill or a magic diet, but my attitude goes a long way in keeping the symptoms down.

Yup, when I’m relaxed and not creating undue stress (yes, yelling and being generally a crazy person about where to place the potentially Corona infested Cheetos is not particularly helpful) my son is calm. And when he’s calm, there’s less tics!

Here’s 5 more things I’ve implemented on a daily basis that have gone a long way in setting a happy tone for the home.

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: If my son wants to have the last word on why he’s not comfortable going to the beach, despite quarantine restrictions being lifted in Ventura County – and despite my daughter and I being clear that we are going to stay 20 feet from people and just walk on the shoreline – that’s his right. I don’t have to cajole him. I don’t have to guilt him into leaving the house. I can worry all I want about him having been in the same two rooms of this house for the past six weeks, and conjure up all sorts of worst-case scenarios that involve a 35 year old man eating gluten free pizza in my basement in two decades, but I don’t have to share those projections with my son. (Also, we don’t own a basement, so that works out, doesn’t it?)
  2. Be Intentional with My Tone: Not all days are going to be winners for me, but for the most part, if I set out to have a good day, I have a good day. That often means being intentional about my attitude, even when things aren’t going particularly amazing for me. (Ex: Disagreements with my hubby about money, or my website having issues, or fear about this virus.) Despite perfection I can still play Michael Buble in the kitchen while I make toast. I can still read books every morning and take my mind into a new world rather than my own. I can still blast musicals on my way to Costco and call other people and ask how they are doing. When I go about making myself happy, I don’t take it out on my kids – especially my sensitive ticker.
  3. Stay Current: By “current” I mean that I have stopped living in the past or the future. I get to live in the “now” where the magic happens. The past, for me, includes how things used to be before he was diagnosed with Tourettes. (Back when he was three, and I thought his entire life was going to unfold as perfectly as an origami crane. But with no wrinkles. Nope, unlike you suckers, my baby bird would be perfect!) By “future” I mean I stopped judging his current situation by some ideal far ahead of where he is at this moment. I wasted a lot of years drowning in the fear of what was, or what could be, instead of grasping onto the gift of this very beautiful present. Staying current has made all the difference. I can only do this by sticking to #4:
  4. Gratitude: I am in so much gratitude these days. Yes, Dom’s tics are almost gone now – and I’m so grateful! (Parents of new tickers, did you hear that? There is HOPE!) But I’m in gratitude of far more things than tics. I’m grateful for a home. For a husband who I love and can count on. For a daughter who wants to sing show tunes with me. For a mom who still lives 15 minutes from me. For more friends than I can shake a very big stick at. By focusing on what is working in my life, as opposed to what is not, life is so much sweeter.
  5. Relaxation: With this imposed quarantine, I know how lucky I am to have a 4 bedroom house to hunker down in. I don’t want to waste this precious gift of time freaking out. Granted, I have had a few days of misery. And I give myself slack for those. This is a new normal and I’m an extrovert! It’s haaaard! But for the most part, I’ve had a ton of joy. Much of this is because I have given myself permission to keep a lighter pace. My kids also have had a lighter pace, and this helps in keeping tics to a minimum. Throw in a lot of dancing and really bad karaoke and you have one happy Andrea which, always, goes back to #1: A happier tone in the home.

Positive Outcome Stories

I want to share a snippet of a letter I got from a dad who says he read my book two times. He wrote me to let me know how happy he was that this blog, and my next book, would be focusing on positive outcomes. To summarize, he wrote, “The internet is full of worse case scenarios…we need more writing out there that reminds us worried parents that our kids will be okay.”

So that, my friends, is what you will continue to get. You will get a ton of posts that remind you that a positive attitude can go a very very long way in raising a child that is successful despite a few tics. And, of course, I will continue to bring you interviews with top experts, parents of kids who are older and doing well (right, Carrie?), videos, books and… wait for it… a chance for you parents of younger kids to sign up to play Minecraft with Dom.

In closing, as I always say, thank you for reading. If you’re scared, feeling alone, worried about your child or generally confused about what to do next, I have a suggestion for you. Sign up for this blog (bottom of this page), join me on Facebook and let this sink into your bones: Your child is perfect, Tourettes or not. You are not alone. We’re in this together.

So happy almost Monday! And remember, if you can’t fix the tics, fix yourself! Do something fun for yourself, okay? I promise you – it will make all the difference.

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.

Andrea

Tourettes, Tics, writing

A New Look – A New Start

Danielle MacInnes @Unsplash

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to announce that I finally made some major progress on revamping this dusty old blog.

It’s got a ways to go, but for the first time in forever (cue Elsa music) I am really following through and Just. Slowing. Down.

This site, along with a lot of input from Dom (no longer “Stink”… he’s growing up!) will go back to its original theme of Tourette’s and Tics.

There will be many more updates as I harass the Happiness Engineers here at Word Press, but I’m taking total advantage of my time here at home to do so. My daughter will be doing some filming, and Dom and I are thinking of all sorts of fun ideas to make this place pop. Tee shirts? Youtube videos? Book a Minecraft Day with Dom?

It’s fun to get my groove back. Along with my musical and rebuilding my freelance writing gig I am really settling in.

How are you all doing with this quarantine? What is the hardest part for you? What do you find inspiring? I want to know.

Let me know what you think of the changes so far and any ideas you have for updates. I’m all ears.

Andrea

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Boundaries vs. Expectations and Teenagers + Tic Update

So today, like Saturday, started out so good! I meditated! I prayed! Today was Day 2 for me in Oprah and Deepak’s free meditation and it’s soooo worth the time. Today’s theme? Hope. Um, yeah, we can use this a bit these days!

I journaled. I prayed for friends. I was so refreshed! I was ready for the day – one foot on the earth and one in the heavens where the God of my understanding resides.

And then I came downstairs and the teens had different ideas about being ready for the day than I did. I didn’t show frustration or dish out shame like Saturday. (Hooray for progress!) But the co-dependent in me was irritated that they were irritated. If people would just behave I wouldn’t have issues, right?!

Mark Nepo, in his book, The Endless Practice, talks so beautifully about how problems – so often of our own making – occur when our soul that wants to soar like a hawk is bound to the earth. It’s not the challenge of being on the earth but in our resistance to being rooted that causes conflict.

Like I am reminded of in my 12 step program, “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” When I get into grr over not getting my way, it’s never the situation itself that is the problem but the fact that I fight what I think I deserve. I argue with people not meeting my expectations (as if I know all the answers?) And in the middle of that tug of war I forget to take a breath and ask God for help. It doesn’t have to be a big drawn out prayer. “Help!” works just fine.

Awareness – A Double Edged Sword

Awareness is a beautiful thing in my life, because I’m learning ever so slowly that the only person I can truly control is myself. In times of quarantine, it’s particularly lovely to remember this. But it’s also a painful lesson to learn, because “good parenting” and “toxic control” for this A-personality sometimes get mixed up. I take things too personally and really, that’s not good for anyone.

For you parents of kids out there – especially teens – tell me how you are managing setting expectations but letting go when they do what teenagers do!

Tic Update

For those of you who have been following me for a long time, I want to give you an update on Stink with his permission. That update? He barely tics at all. Some of this is because he is now 17 and a half. Tics naturally slow down as the teen years come to a close. Some of it is because he is not that stressed out anymore due to a more lax school schedule. But a lot of it, and I really believe this last bit, is because I have calmed down.

I’m a big believer in energy, and as woo woo as this is going to sound, I believe that my energy and his are very interlinked. We have always “gotten” each other so well. When he started ticking as a young boy I was so worried about it that I’m convinced my spike in fear created additional spikes in his symptoms. When I calmed down – with a boatload of work on myself and faith in something greater than me – he calmed down.

One of my readers here, Jeff, talks about his Tourettes sometimes. So, Jeff, I want to know: do you agree with any of my thoughts above? That in releasing my fears of tics that his tics have settled down? Would love your opinion.

Isaac, Abe and Eye Rolls

I’m reminded of that Old Testament chapter where God asks Abraham to put Isaac on the altar. Good Old Abe doesn’t want to, but he trusts God, and when he does, Isaac’s life is spared.

To me, this is not a story to be taken literally, but rather it demonstrates what happens when we place our idols down. I was making Tourettes an idol, and when I said, “God, you take Stink, he’s not mine to control” peace was granted both for Stink’s symptoms and my own internal emotions.

Happy Monday! I hope you are finding some peace within the fear of the virus and some love despite less than perfect circumstances.

Whether your kids tic or not, or drive you crazy (or not) I wish you nothing but the best as this week goes on. And be good to yourselves! You – and the kids – are worth your peace of mind.

Andrea

Until next time,

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. )

Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!

Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

faith, God, humor, meditation, sobriety, spirituality, writing

Coronavirus Rushed in While Our Focus Was Elsewhere


Jez Timms @Unspash
The click bait title above was waiting for me in my in-box first thing this morning.
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Trump impeachment. The death of Kobe Bryant. The crowded Democratic presidential field. We dive into the fleeting days of 2019 and the first three months of 2020, when America and the world were looking elsewhere as an intruder crept in.”

That’s some heavy stuff. I’m not surprised, with headlines like this, that everyone looks at each other in the super market with just a little less kindness. As if simply asking about their day is some sort of manipulative gesture to snatch from extra toilet paper from under their cart. I can’t help but wonder if we put as much in energy into focusing on what was working, instead of what wasn’t, if our mental attitudes wouldn’t be that much more serene.

More Gratitude/Less Attitude

Okay, so that sounds super cheesy, but but I do feel like I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve been in 12 step too long, also, to not see the miracles that happen to me and those around me when I look for the good. It doesn’t mean that bad things aren’t happening in the world, but it does mean that good things are happening, too.

Covid 10 is a Virus, But So is Love. And Guess What? Both Are Contagious.

It is a simple fact that so many of us are feeling the strain of Covid 19, but my geraniums? Not so much. In fact, they’re more alive than ever! (Including a new baby second to the front that I snatched from a neighbor’s garden. My son, ever the honest chap, was not so happy at my thievery. I told him to go back and play some video games. Jesus would understand.)

On the subject of gratitude, when I stepped outside tonight with my husband and daughter for our nightly walk around the block, I smiled as my eye spotted a wind chime given to me by my ex-inlaws for Christmas one year. (Did you know I was married for a year back in college? Well, now you do. He is no longer alive, sadly, but his parents and I still keep in touch. Sidenote: This is why you and I can never meet in real life, because once I know you, you’re stuck with me for eternity. Right, Jodee? And that’s a lot of Christmas gifts to be sending everyone!)

Windchime toward the top.

I have a fridge full of food, a husband making pizza and Alexa is currently playing Christmas classics because, in a pandemic, I need a little cheer to remind me that there will be gifts at the end of this crisis. The gifts might not come in the form of material items, but when I’m patient, I can find them just about everywhere I look.

Reading – My Favorite Gift to Stay Present

Today’s reading from Mark Nepo spoke about trust, and for me, it’s become very clear that when I trust God, I’m fine. When I don’t trust Him – when I think it’s up to me to run the entire show – I get agitated, cranky and I blame everyone else for my issues.

Mark Nepo’s The Endless Practice – such great insight and beauty

I don’t want to live like that, people. But yesterday, despite a great beginning to my day, it didn’t end so well. The trick for me, because I’m in constant gratitude, is that I didn’t have to live in my pile of resentment. Unlike my drinking days, where I didn’t like being stuck in my crap but at least it was warm, these days it stinks too much.

So this morning, after sleeping in from an emotional hangover, I got up and meditated. I read some Mark Nepo. I journaled and I said to God what I often say when I can’t get out of my own head: God, help me set aside everything I think I know about this particular issue, and direct my attention to how you’d have me be.

Notice it’s not “What would you have me do.” Either God is, or he isn’t. I don’t need to self-will my way into “fixing” everything. Sometimes I just to let it pass, whether that means butting into someone’s business, giving unwanted advice or somehow thinking I know more than the next person. Um, not true.

I don’t know who your God is, but maybe you can relate to what happens you don’t trust this energy source. It never ends well. I’m so grateful for do-overs every single day.

Here’s what I published on my Facebook page. And I’m happy to say that all’s well that ends well. Not all days are gonna be winners, but with some trust in God – especially on Easter – I’m grateful to rise above my own anger and start over with love again.

Who remembers this episode?

Easter, 12PM

Yesterday started out so beautiful. I woke up deliciously late. I prayed and I meditated. I journaled.

For the first time in a very long time I allowed myself to rest.

No agenda.

No rushed pace.

I prayed for the world in crisis, but I also made an intention to enjoy my present. And that present was mine for the taking: beautiful weather, a walk with my husband, and a trip to Costco where I’d shop for myself and a few folk who can’t get out. Given I would not be back for two weeks at least (please no more messages to me about hand washing and shopping – I get it!) I thought I was in great mental and spiritual shape to get my groceries and go.

But when I got there, the mask kept steaming my glasses. And while I remained patient and asked for help, I started to feel defeated. “Is this what it’s like to be old?” I sighed. “To take 15 minutes to find beans because I can’t read the numbers on the aisles?”

When I got to the register – exhausted – the women (looking more like surgeons than cashiers with their gloves and face coverings) kept pushing me to get my items on the conveyor belt quicker than was my comfort level. “I need to split these items into sections,” I explained. “Are you ready now?” they would bark any time I’d stop briefly to check my cart.

“I’m not ready” I told them, inhaling air to center myself (as best I could with the little oxygen I had inside my mask) and attempting to remember that they deal with crazy customers like me all day long.

“Please wait while I figure it out,” I stated calmly, watching my food roll forward at a pace not unlike the episode where Lucy finds herself madly rearranging chocolates at the candy factory.

The conveyor belt doesn’t stop!” grunted one of the women who I swear was a Sue Sylvester look-alike.

I took a deep breath, looked at her in the eye and stated not unlike a female Terminator of big bulk shopping: “Stop the belt.

Which she did.

A miracle!

Either she found the pause button on the endless metal machine or she, like me, decided if she didn’t pause her own mouth she would murder me before ringing up my total.

$325 later, one stop to a friend and a big unload to a neighbor, I made it home.

It was now 7PM. I had promised my son I’d play Dungeons and Dragons by 730PM. Assuming that nothing got in the way of unpacking, all would be well. (Side note: I’m really working on being someone of follow through. If I can’t be on time for my kids, how can I expect them to be on time for me?)

But somehow in that limited 30 minutes left I had allotted myself, I forgot about dinner. And then my husband – in an effort to be helpful to get us closer to our 730 game time – put the food I had intended to sit out for 3 days to “de-Corona bug” on the clean side of the table. Oh, and my nutritious intake that day? Nothin’ but some dry toast and jelly. (It’s shocking I wasn’t in my fittest spiritual and mental condition.)

I lost it.

In front of the kids.

In essence, I forgot to tell myself to “Stop the belt!”

“Noooo! That’s the clean table cloth side! Now I have to remove the table cloth, do laundry and start over again before the game!” I barked.

In my mind I was going to be that hipster doctor from Michigan, calmly separating the food and spraying down the cardboard/cans with clean white rags and measured breath. Instead I morphed into the Tazmanian devil jacked up on Starbucks fighting invisible germ bugs with In and Out Burger napkins because Lysol Wipes have been about as elusive as the end to this crisis. It wasn’t pretty. #insanity

And all those big attempts to be present for my family and be a good neighbor went to hell. There would be no game because James and I were not speaking. The kids, who aren’t used to us arguing anymore, went into their shells and began drawing instead. I once tried to sit down to which my daughter, calm as a cucumber, said, “We would like a little time to ourselves, Mom. No disrespect.” None taken. Who could blame them? I wanted some time away from myself as well, but I don’t drink anymore. There was no where to hide. I just would have to sit in my feelings for a little bit.

I was consumed with guilt. What’s the point of praying and meditating if I’m going to let my own family down. And, more to the point, let myself down?

And then this voice came into my head that answered that very question – that voice that I can only hear when I don’t try to fix stuff but instead allow myself just to feel what is going on. “Because you are human, Andrea. You are not God. How about you let it go. These aren’t exactly normal times.”

So I attempted to do that. James had gone to bed so my apology to him would have to wait until later. But I told my kids that I was sorry for not being my best.

I listened to them instead of making excuses. (Ouch, that wasn’t easy.)

And at midnight, when I still couldn’t sleep, I took a long ride through the city with my daughter. We looked at the empty streets and I finished listening to her new love “Hadestown.” I then offered up one of my old favorites, “The Jazz Singer” (“Those are some serious power ballads, Mom!” she informed me).

We then sat in the dark front of my childhood church – the one I would not be able to go to for Easter services a few hours later thanks to Covid 19 – and just took a breath.

Like today’s reading from Mark Nepo, I’m starting to really get the fact that life isn’t always about the ups. The downs are part of it also. It’s in the acceptance that I don’t have to get it right, but keep pushing that ball of light up the hill, that I can find serenity.

This Easter morning are no eggs. There are no baskets. But perhaps new life can begin again with my family. I can talk to my husband about what was really behind my reaction to the food on the table. (Fear.) I can play some music and make some lunch. (Nurture.) I can ask if my kids want to try again on Dungeons and Dragons next Saturday. (Openness) And I can trust that the God of my understanding doesn’t expect me to be perfect. I just need to get off that Costco Conveyor belt of life and remember that this, too, shall pass.

Happy Easter, everyone. May you die to the harsh expectations you have of yourself and others and live in the new life of today. Even with our struggles, if we are present to them, there is so much joy to be found in their teachings.

Andrea

Happy Easter everybody!

Until next time,

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. )

Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!

Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, teenagers, writing

My Ego Is Not My Amigo

I owe so many of you a read. I hope you are staying safe, sane and being good to yourselves. As for us, my husband is still going into work every day. We’re lucky that he works alone and isn’t in any immediate danger. I’ve been fortunate to continue to be paid by my substitute teaching gig (halleluia! those crazy students finally are doing something for me for a change!) and I’m moving along with a few writing projects for pay and for fun. My kids? They’re “homeschooling.” And by that, I mean they check in for a few hours/day with their online assignments. Are they getting it all done? They’re getting enough done. Honestly? I don’t care that much. This is not the time to freak out about perfection. I’m just glad they’re here with me. That they are safe.

My Forced Vacation

What began as elation (no work! rest!) turned into frustration (gaaaad, this extrovert is going to go insane if she can’t get out of the house and spend money on an overpriced coffee) but it’s since morphed into a steady rhythm. I can’t take for granted that I have the luxury of being quarantined in a 4 bedroom house with wood floors and a fireplace. I mean really, people, I’m the luckiest woman on earth.

All this down time has not gotten my house repainted (yet) or my closets organized in Pinterest perfection (there’s time) but…I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. In doing so, I’ve discovered how hard I am on myself. How I equate “what I do” with “who I am.” And, given I’m substitute teacher – not an executive producer of some fancy show – this can often be demoralizing.

But in the pit of my soul – waaaay in there… past the “you’re not good enough” and “what the hell happened to you” pieces… I realize that the life I’m leading this very minute is everything I really want: the slow languid starts, the easy pace, the drives through nature and loveliness that comes with sitting around with my family each evening.

In a nutshell, my soul is in pretty sharp contrast to my ego.

My soul loves quiet walks. Books. Fires. Conversations with people – even the old, annoying ladies in the grocery stores who spend ten minutes talking about their favorite Bible hymn and how to make a perfect meatball recipe using only hamburger, Corn flakes and McDonalds ketchup (to save a few cents, duh!).

I don’t cook, I don’t read the Bible, and up until very recently, I wasn’t eating meat, so there’s no reason at all I should care what someone I’ll never speak to again is shopping for on some random Tuesday.

And yet, I do. I’m super engaged. I love the story. I love the connection.

On the other hand, there’s my ego – that piece of me that loves the razzle dazzle of something bigger. I want the money that comes with a fast paced project. Instead of learning how to make that meatloaf from the lady in the supermarket, I want it served to me on a fancy dish by a waiter in an upscale restaurant. I want witty banter and fast music and I certainly don’t want to wait in line to pay for it. This ego is bossy and mean and doesn’t have time for conversation. Nope, my ego is not my amigo.

With all this downtime I’ve had more opportunity to feed my soul then satisfy my ego. It’s been a beautiful and restful period. The only time I’ve been upset is when my mind travels to the place of “Am I doing enough?”

I don’t know about you, but that kind of question for an overachiever like me can get me in all sorts of trouble. And really, with this virus threatening to do damage to so many people’s businesses and health, what purpose does it serve? At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be on my deathbed wishing I had more likes on Facebook or money in the bank.

But I might just want a good conversation with a piece of meatloaf.

I am so happy to be inching slowly, ever so slowly, to the purpose that God has for me, not my own ego. The God of my understanding doesn’t expect me to achieve. He just wants me to be. And thanks to my friend, Irish Mama, I’ve been reminded recently that it’s perfectly fine to push myself toward my writing dreams, but it’s okay to have a place that is just for me. Like this blog.

Like my home with my son telling me all about his latest video game he’s creating. (And how he’s okay with me talking about his tics again… stay tuned!)

Like my car with my daughter singing show tunes in my ear. My 1998 Acura isn’t fancy, but there’s no place else I’d rather be on a rainy Monday then in it with my sweet girl who, despite having her moments of nuttiness like we all do, is turning out just fine.

Like my husband taking daily walks around the block with me while we talk about nothing, our hands entwined, just grateful to be alive another day.

One day I’m going to be that old lady in the grocery store, sharing my stories with someone. And maybe, just maybe, there will be someone on the other side of the conversation, like me, who thought my taco recipe sounded just delightful.

Wouldn’t that be grand?

Until next time,

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. )

Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!

Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter