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Coaching and Wellness, God, writing

I Have LOVED Being Quarantined

I’m not kidding.

After spending more years than I would care to admit wanting to run from my home, my family runs like a well oiled machine right now. Plus with working my bootie off subbing and then trying to mash in writing and family, I feel like God has swooped in and plopped me into a much needed rest for my soul.

Don’t get me wrong – I know how serious this virus is. I don’t wish it upon anybody. And I certainly don’t feel happy that I have rest while this virus wrecking so much havoc on people emotionally, physically and mentally. But the negatives don’t nullify my positives. I am just in a good season right now, and I am comfortable enough with myself to say that out loud.

On a different note, I’m not making my life’s fortune on Medium yet, so who knows if I’ll be subbing next year still or not. But I’m thrilled that my freelance side gigs have picked up a bit and that I am moving steadily toward a niche market with it writing memoirs and helping people write their books. Stay tuned for more of that and a link to subscribe to my newsletter!

In closing, my daughter and I took a very safe social distancing car ride to the beach yesterday. The mountains were so green. And while there was definitely evidence of the Malibu fires there, thanks to dark charred sticks of trees shooting up through the canyon, wild flowers were dancing like crazy. Yellow mustard seeds and purple lupines. It was like being in nature’s candy store. As we snacked on pretzles and M and M’s (here’s to the Corona 15!) my daughter narrated the story of Hadestown in between singing some of the lyrics.

We eventually made it to the beach and ambled our way up a deserted lifeguard tower. As we watched the parasailors glide and duck above the waves – fifty feet ahead of us – she leaned into me and sang me a few lyrics from her musical audition song, Stay (which, ironically, is not that different than the Corona virus! The song was not from Hadestown but from an older show, Amelie)

Stay where you are
Don’t come too close, and don’t go too far
I’ll make you count to 100 so I have a good chance to hide
Don’t expect me to play fair
Move in, I move even deeper inside
I like you right there
I like you right there
Stay

Thanks for Your “Stay” At My Blog!

I have said this before and I will say it again. I will always try new places to write. I do want to make more money in this field and I have zero problems learning how to market myself. But in the end, my relationships with people in my life, as well as some steady readers here at WordPress (you know who you are) are so much important than some flash in the pan success at Medium. (Um, I have made $3.47, despite being curated in five publications there!)

I am grateful to everyone who reads here and has followed me from the beginning. As Belladonna says, you could have chosen any blog to read, but you chose this one. Thank you!

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, education, self improvement, teenagers, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized, writing

Everything I Learned About Parenting I Learned from Tourette Syndrome (An update on Stink who is, gasp, 17!)

Stink, 17 and Pip, 15

Some of you know me from reading my book, Happily Ticked Off. Others of you found me by Googling “tics and Tourettes” and voila — here I am! Others of you might have found your way through a Tourettes forum or randomly googling “Misophonia.” Either way, I’m super stoked you are here.

Tourettes and My Son

My son was diagnosed with Tourettes when he was 4. Tourettes is a disorder that causes uncontrollable verbal and physical tics that change in nature and last up to one year. My boy’s tics never included cursing (which happens in only 10% of kids) but did include quite a deal of vocal sounds (gulps, clicks, throat clears, coughs) and physical movements (neck stretches, arm thrusts, neck rolls, eye blinks).

He’s now 17 years old, 6 foot 6, and a year and a half from heading out to college. For a long time I wrote about my adventures with this unknown disorder on my blog, HappilyTickedOff. Armonia Press even published a book about it which, to be honest, is one of the best things I’ve ever written. I didn’t get rich off of it, but every time I get a small residual check, or a tired mom from Kansas writes me to tell me that I made her laugh and cry over her pea soup or in the carpool line, I’m beyond thrilled.

Why I Ceased Writing About Tourettes

For a while my son told me to stop writing about him altogether. Like my drinking days, it was okay until it wasn’t. And so, just like I honored my kids by getting sober, I did the same thing when it came to writing about him.

I continued to write on my blog the past five years. In addition to that, I also dipped my toe into the water of education. I became a special ed aid and then a substitute teacher. But by far, my greatest teacher has been my two teenagers. And while I write quite extensively about my daughter, such as this post, but this particular article? It’s all about my son. And it was his idea, which shocked the hell out of me.

Why I Started Writing Again

“Mom, if you want to write about me and my Tourettes again, it’s totally okay,” he told me one day while I was making him an after school snack. By “snack” I mean “meal.” And by “meal” I mean four gluten free veggie tacos with a huge side of guacamole.

“Why is that?” I asked him, trying to sound cool but on the inside more thrilled than a new Grace and Frankie episode appearing on Netflix. I’ve missed talking to other moms about this often misunderstood syndrome.

“I am super happy with myself,” he told me. “I have so many friends. I’m loving my computer programming.” He went on to add, “I guess because you’re okay with me, I’m okay with it.” And that last piece, my friends, is why I’m writing this article.

I Was Not Okay with His Tourettes for a Long Time

Before you judge me, I want to be clear that I didn’t want to not be okay with his syndrome, but I struggled. Part of this is because I was not confident in myself. I worried that I would be judged. And I was worried about him and how he’d be treated. (Yes, he was bullied a bit for noises he couldn’t control.) But most of all, I had a condition I didn’t know I had called Misophonia where certain noises drove me nuts. Combined with a marriage on the rocks, and drinking more than I cared to admit (until I had to admit it) the grunts and squeaks sometimes put me over the edge.

As I mentioned in this article on Misophonia, our relationship was super strained with all the “fixes” I tried to get him to stop making vocal sounds. I tried everything from:

  • Acupuncture
  • Special diets
  • Meditation
  • Medication
  • Supplements
  • Therapy…

And on and on. He went along with the program from ages 9 to 13, but the rubber hit the road for me when I realized:

  1. He doesn’t want me to fix him.
  2. He didn’t mind his Tourettes

Just like drinking, I had to give up my need to fix him or our relationship would be doomed. So I did. Here are just a few things I implemented over the past 4 years that changed our relationship from one of strife to one of safety and calm. (And, my friends, I’m convinced this is a huge reason why he is doing so well today.)

How I Gained a Safe Relationship With My Son

  1. Questions: I ask more questions than I give commands. If I’m not sure about his grades, I ask “Why is your Chemistry at a C?” instead of demanding, “Why are you not at an A?” Lack of stress has greatly reduced his tics, too.
  2. Positivity: I keep my negativity to myself. If I’m frustrated with a writing project, or a lack of a writing project, I leave that outside before I walk in the door. In doing so, I’m not bleeding all over someone who never cut me.
  3. Listening: I stopped talking so much about myself and just asked about him. Often times I’d just sit on the couch with a book. If he came by to read with me, great. If he didn’t, that was fine, too.

By just being a still presence I was creating a safe harbor for him to just be him, tics and all.

4. Self-Improvement: In working on myself, and realizing what I needed to change (less drinking/more writing) I stopped trying to live through my son. I mean, it’s one thing to want your kid healthy for him. But I was doing it for me. And friends, that sucks.

5. Laughter: We laugh a lot. He is the worst joke teller in the world, and also hilarious. Ex: “How do you call someone who collects phone books?” Answer: “You don’t. They call you!” Stink (his nick name) and I pun like professional ping pong players. We have Scooby Doo marathons. And we trade ridiculous memes over text. Each example is super small, but it’s the little intentions that build a strong relationship over time.

6. Forgiveness: Last year, as part of my 12 step program, I made an official amends to him for asking him to change his tics. I cried. He listened. And he honestly, truly, forgave me. I also made a promise to never ask him about his tics again. Because we have gotten so close over the past four years, he believed me. And I’ve stuck to my word.

My Son Barely Tics Now

I’m writing this post to tell any of you scared mamas that not only is my son okay emotionally, he’s okay physically as well. He rarely tics these days. Some of this is because he is 17 and tics do, indeed, subside. But some of it is also because he is not stressed. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important to me than how my son feels about himself. If it means me backing off and letting him go to a Junior College instead of a 4 year university so he can navigate high school at his pace, I do that.

In the end, more important than curing Tourettes is my son’s keen awareness that his mother accepted him 100% for who he was in his soul. Everything else doesn’t matter.

No Regrets

I am proud to say that despite making mistakes raising this beautiful boy, I have no regrets. I, like everyone else on this globe, am a human being. I wasn’t raised by perfect parents. I got bullied in school by kids who were also not perfect.

Right or wrong, I placed many of my unhealed issues onto my son and raised him through a lense of fear. But I’m not doing that now.

Your Child Will Be Okay — Especially If You Are Okay

I want to tell you that I know how hard it is to get a diagnosis you were not expecting. But I also want to remind you that your child is not his or her label. He or she is their spirit. I can 100% promise you that if you nurture their spirit, far more than focusing on their disorder, everything will be just fine.

Think of Tourettes as a giant invitation to a party on life’s terms. It might not be easy, but if you allow it to be, it just might be the best adventure you’ve ever been on.

Want to Write Your Own Memoir? Contact Me!

Are you a writer who wants to write a memoir? I can coach you! Reach out at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com or find me at my blog www.happilytickedoff.com. You have a story and I can help you make it happen!

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. )

education, writing

Ready to Finally Write That Musical or Book? (7 ways to do it in a year)

Note to my WordPress friends (my faves): This is my latest article on Medium. It comes to you after a long day of shopping for the Great Hunkering Down that is about to hit L.A..

I, like many of you, fluctuate between fear and faith. But mostly, for whatever reason, I’m calm. I went to the beach with my daughter today (keeping a good gajillion feet away from everybody else.)

I had a lovely dinner in front of our fire.

I played music and I shopped for neighbors and I called friends.

This is a time in history, more than ever, that we need art and music. We need less fear and more love.

And we need each other.

Thank you for being there for me always.

David Beal @ Unspash

Most people aren’t exactly breaking out in song over their forced unemployment and quarantine or writing their Great American Corona Novel. But I’m not one of them.

Part of this because I have a pretty strong spiritual practice where I just refuse to fall into self pity. Either God’s got this or he doesn’t. Part of it is because, as a sober alcoholic, I can’t afford to be play the victim. “One day at a time” is how the saying goes. But the biggest reason I’m not freaking out is because I can finally write my musical.

I’ve had the idea in my brain for three years. I even have one whole song and a few others started. Now that I’m not going into class every day to sub, I don’t have any excuses to not take at least one hour/day and knock this sucker out.

I’ve Never Written a Musical. I Don’t Give a Poop.

I’m not trying to sound delusional here when I say, “I’m writing a musical with no experience.” I’m simply stating that I’m doing it. For those who want to question my logic, I have a very simple answer: “When I think about not following through with it I feel like throwing up.”

I Refuse to Hit the Snooze Alarm on My Dream

Malvestida Magazine @ Unsplash

Time is ticking by. I just turned 50. I have spent my life raising my kids and writing for a gajillon outlets for pay. And while I’m proud of my ability to context switch from blogs and magazines to everything in between, there’s something in my soul that wants to write something that comes just from me.

My passion project is not about my ego. It’s about about my purpose.

I didn’t get sober to live someone else’s life. I got sober to live mine. In doing so, I was able to untangle all the lies of who I thought I was supposed to be and lean into the person God wanted me to be all along. That person is an artist. (Surprise!)

But I Have to Make Money (And All Those Lies We Tell Ourselves)

I’m not that different from many of you who read and write here on Medium. I have a day job, too. In addition to my freelance writing, I substitute teach. I have kids and a husband. I have friends. I’m not exactly loaded with Benjamins.

But if I’m being totally honest with myself, there is always an hour a day I can spend on my musical if I choose to do it. (I can use my lunch break, get up early, take an hour after school, etc.) And now that I have 3–6 months of unemployment, I can do it in the mornings while the kids are sleeping.

What Are Your Gifts? Whatever They Are, Do That

If someone asked me what I loved more than anything in the world, I could very easily tell them. I love music. I love books. I love writing. And I love to laugh. If that isn’t the perfect formula for a musical I don’t know what is. Now I only need to do it.

Here’s 7 ways I’m planning on getting started to make my dream happen. Perhaps you can use some of these tips for your dream, too!

  1. Follow Your Destiny

“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.” ―Abraham Maslow

As I already alluded to, I can’t not write this musical. The idea came to me over three years ago when I was going through a particularly rough period of my life. It was as if all the pieces of this transformational story were drop shipped into my brain one night in the bathtub. I literally heard the tune to my flagship song, along with lyrics, singing in my brain. Either I’m psychotic or finally listening to the signs in my life. I’m going with Door #2.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Your Own Power

I was bullied a lot in school. Subconsciously I bought into a belief structure that I simply wasn’t as good as everybody else. And though I knew in my head that wasn’t in true, in my heart it was as if my soul had frozen.

This frozen belief structure became a problem because, also within my soul, was where my true power lived- my voice- and it was throwing a pretty major tantrum to be let out.

Instead of seeing this power for what it was, “Oh, hello, powerful Andrea. Let’s get you moving toward your destiny!” I got scared. It felt like an enemy attack, and I shut down. I drank to keep it quiet and acting dignified.

But that power, like a true love, remained. It was a gentleman. It didn’t force me into submission. Instead it waited, like a lover, for the time I would put away my fears and dance with it. Now is that time.

Thomas AE @ Unsplash

3. Get a Theme Song

My theme song is “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. I speak about this song a lot in my book, Happily Ticked Off. In it the Wicked Witch (from the Wizard of Oz) decides she is tired of listening to everyone else. She is ready to fly. She is ready to defy gravity. To her I say, “Amen, sister!” (Plus it doesn’t matter how many times I hear Idina Menzel sing that last note. I cry. Every. Time.)

“Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone’s else’s game.” — Elphaba (Lyrics by Steven Schwartz)

4. Don’t Judge Your Past.

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall

If I had a dime for all the jobs I’ve held over the past 30 years I’d be living in Beverly Hills. I’ve been an usher at the movies, a tour Guide for NBC Studios, a TV writers’ assistant, a TV writer, a production secretary, a receptionist, an Ebayer, a special education assistant, a substitute teacher and even a barista at Starbucks.

Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I’m ashamed of my checkered job past. Why couldn’t I just be a middle school teacher? Or a doctor? Something stable? But when I put the emotional whip down, I see a different picture— that I have tons of material to write my musical with. Besides, my kids, family and friends love me just as am, not for what I do. Maybe it’s time I start agreeing with them about how fabulous I am.

5. Stop Second Guessing Yourself

“Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts… to close my eyes, and leap…” — Elphaba, Wicked

I’m gonna have to give #5 to my girl, Elphaba, again. She didn’t really know what she was doing when she picked up that broom and ascended into the heavens. Like her, I don’t know 100% what I’m doing with this musical. But she flew anyway, mistakes be damn. What if I follow in her footsteps? Even Lin Manuel Miranda got laughed at for wanting to write a hip hop musical about the treasury department.

And no, I’m not Lin Manuel Miranda, but Lin Manuel Miranda wasn’t Lin Manuel Miranda until he did the same things I’m doing now to become Lin Manuel Miranda.

(That makes perfect sense to me. I hope it does to you, also.)

6. Stop Talking and Start Doing

Everyone in my immediate circle knows about my musical. The kids at school know me as the sub who is writing a funny show about camels. I’m honestly tired of talking about it. It’s time to sit down and do it. I am committed to one hour/day, five days/week. It’ll be done in a year.

Here’s what Sebastian, the blind mole rat from my musical, has to say to a very princess-y camel, Rose, about her long trek through the desert:

Sebastian: “If you want to go to the Great Mirage, first you have to get out of the garage.”

Rose: “But what I really want is a massage…”

Sebastian: “It doesn’t work that way.”

If my characters have to do the hard work to find their destiny, so do I. And that leads me to #7:

7. Have Faith

Joseph Plenino @ Unsplash

I don’t know exactly how all this will pan out. I don’t have a producer in mind. I don’t know any producers. I don’t write music notes. But I have seen enough of my Higher Power to work in my own life that if I just take the action the results will follow. Translation: I will meet the right people to come alongside me when the time is right. But first I must get started.

“God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” ―St. Augustine

Are You Willing to Get Started?

I know some of you are so scared about our current times. So am I. But friends, we need art now more than ever. We need you. Come on back and support me as I continue my journey. You know I’ll support you!

Need a Writing Coach? I Got Ya Covered!

Want someone to coach you toward your dream? I’ve already got two clients I’m working with to make their books a reality. I can help you, too! Reach out at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com.

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. )

God, writing

My Medium Update

Michael Longmire @ Medium

Some of you asked about Medium. The specific question was, “Does it pay?”

Of course if you type the above question into Google, you’ll find a million articles that say, “I made $5,000 in one month just writing on Medium!”

That’s great, and I believe them. But I also know that they have pretty decent freelance websites to go along with it, as well as mailing lists, so there’s a lot of cross promotion. They also make Medium their full-time job. I can’t do that now.

What I can tell you, however, is that by writing almost every day for the past month, Monday – Friday, I went from no money, to:

Call the realtor, babe! We got ourselves a down payment for a Costco refrigerator box!

But wait… I did a little better this month

Check out that fancy profit!

I figure if I continue to write daily, along with the following tips below, I’ll slowly increase the monthly revenue.

Tips for Making Money on Medium Without Making It Your Full Time Job

  • Leave 5 comments a day on someone else’s blog. Be sincere. (No one, likes a “Hey, nice” post phoning it in comment.
  • Don’t sweat over the article. Just be yourself and hit “Publish.” To keep up the pace you have to crank them out.
  • Link to Your Other Articles: If someone is already enjoying the article you’re reading, include at least one link back to another article you’ve written on the site.
  • Have it Curator Worthy: This means you need to format the article in a way that Medium will pick up and publish. There are very specific ways to do this. See this link.
  • Have Your Work Published on a Platform: There are many platforms on Medium that already have 1000’s of followers. (I have 27.) Most of the whopping $2.29 I made was because I was lucky enough to have 2 platforms pick up my story 3 times. As of today I have yet to be curated by Medium itself.

In closing, like anything in life, getting ahead takes a slow and steady approach. This type of thinking is hard for a go-go-go gal like myself, but I’m also seeing how important it is. If I’m a sub and not a teacher, I don’t get the pay my other friends are getting during this crisis.

If I’m a freelancer and not a full-time writer in an office, I don’t get the salary comfort others are getting.

At the same time, with my looser schedule, if I don’t decide to enjoy my life (even if I make less money) then there is no point in my freedom.

The next month (or 3… sigh) is a wonderful opportunity to trust that God will direct my next steps. I don’t have to figure it out today. I can just write here, write at Medium and do a little journalling to figure out my next freelance gig.

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. )

faith, God

Hunkering Down

Leonardo Wong @ Unsplash

Hi lovely people!

I’ve decided that I’m tired of copying and pasting my daily posts from Medium and putting them here. It’s so impersonal and you folk feel like more intimate having read all your stuff for a few years. With that in mind, you can expect more casual posts from now on. If you want to see what’s going on at Medium, feel free to check me out on your own, such as these daily meditations I’m posting to help people to Calm. The. Fx. Down. (Including me!)

And Now Back to the Regular Scheduled Programming

Today marks Day #3 of our Social Distancing. Minus a few doctor’s appointments and some walks (plus a meeting I took with 10 feet in between me and my fellows) it’s been very quiet.

My kids so far are doing great and so am I. So is my husband. I’m not freaking out.

For me, not freaking out does not mean I don’t care. I watch the news as much as you likely do. I’m very aware that in two weeks time we will be facing a similar situation to what Italy is going through. When I think about it my stomach starts to drop. I imagine worse case scenarios like my kids on ventilators, or my mom developing some crappy breathing issue which lands her in a hospital corridor fighting for her life.

But people, there’s not a damn thing I can do about two weeks from now today other than stay home and be safe. Either I have a God who has my back during this crazy virus or I don’t.

No I Don’t Want to Talk About Covid 19 Anymore

I’m making the decision to stay off of Facebook tomorrow. I’m staying out of macabre obsessions over death tolls climbing and which celebrities are now marked with the Covid 19 Scarlett Letter.

I’m taking this quiet time to catch up on writing and movies, to spend time with my family, and be in gratitude that despite this truly horrific time in our world, there is still beauty to be had. I mean, how lucky are we that so far in our lives the worst thing most of us have had to deal with (at least in the U.S.) is being confined to our cushy homes with showers and food in our fridge?

If you’re scared out there, I don’t blame you. These are uncertain times. But I know that we can be part of the panic or part of the solution. I, for one, intend to continue to call at least 3 people a day and ask how they are. (And yes, if they need to talk about the virus, I’ll listen. But I’m not bringing it up myself.) I’m finding more and more that fear, not Corona, is the biggest virus we’re facing as a nation.

I will continue to write. I will continue to sing. And I truly thank all of you writers and friends who are posting and reaching out to remind me that even in the most uncertain of times there is still so much love.

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. )

humor, poems, writing

Ode to Covid 19

A poem about Trader Joe’s stampedes, fear and toilet paper

Hello I’m Nik @ Unsplash

Twas March 15, friends

And I hit Trader Joes

For snacks and for drinks

Heck, I thought they were closed

There were just a few people

But I soon find out why

There was nary a noodle

To be found there inside

Only a few apples left

And of course Two Buck Chuck

But toilet paper, you say?

Nope, you’re shit out of luck

I didn’t freak out much

It’s not as if I

Couldn’t wash with a rag

And a bucket of Tide

But what bummed me out most

About this great food stampede

Was the Buckets of Gimme

And the Bottles of Greed

It must be nice for some folks

That feel good about stealth

But not everyone’s wallet

Has that kind of wealth

Look: Some friends I know

Not too different from me

Live paycheck to paycheck

(And these folks have degrees!)

As I sauntered the aisles

And tried not to sneeze

I got so very sad

At our nation… you see

We don’t just have a virus

That we can’t seem to manage

We also have fear

Which can cause equal damage

If instead of just thinking

About ourselves and our kin

What if we let love

Stir us from within?

What if we took what we needed

A few weeks… nothing more

Then there’d be plenty of bread

For old folks at the store

There’d be chocolate for me

There’d be wine for my friends

And there’d be plenty of TP

For each other’s rear ends

So, while I can’t cure the food deal

I at least can commit

To not scrounging it all

In a me-me-me fit

My friends, I do beg you

As freaked as you feel

Is to honor your fear

But remember what’s real:

We can smile and laugh

We can sing in the streets

We can still go for hikes

(Until they quarantine streets)

How ‘bout we remember this virus

That ripped through the equator

As one of our world’s

Most profound educators…

… as a professor that taught us

While it’s scary some days

We still have each other

And we’ll all be okay.

(I promise. Be kind, people)

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. )

Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, God, humor, self improvement, sobriety

Confessions from an Enmeshed Parent

How I broke the toxic cycle of co-dependent parenting to let my teens live their own damn lives.

(Also published on Medium.com)

Bonnie Kittle @ Unsplash

I love this picture. It brings up images of parents that are there for their child but willing to let them run free. It’s a wonderful symbol for what I strive to be for my own kids.

In my last post I spoke about how I was going to take advantage of my forced vacation from school (AKA: My Coronacation) to spend more time with my children. By “children” I mean “very tall teenagers.” And by “spend time” with them I mean “not micro-manage their every move.”

To be clear, I by no means am going to let my 4-bedroom home become a movie set for Lord of the Flies, Coronavirus 2. Nor am I sewing myself a cosplay outfit ala Captain Vontrapp either, complete with a military style schedule and a whistle. (I could never look as hot as Christopher Plummer, so why bother?)

But this wasn’t always the case. There was a time in my parenting career where I lived and breathed everything my children did. I wasn’t a helicopter parent, but I was absolutely an enmeshed one.

Mitch Lensink @ Unsplash

Definition of an Emeshed Parent

According to Psyche Central, you might be an enmeshed parent if this applies to you:

  • “Your children’s good or difficult behavior, and successful or unsuccessful achievements, define your worth.”
  • “Your children are the center of your life — your sole purpose in life.”
  • “Your entire focus is on taking care of your children, rather than also taking care of yourself.”
  • “Your happiness or pain is determined solely by your children.”
  • “You are invasive — you need to know everything about what your children think and do.”

If you asked me if I fit that description, I’d give you a hearty, “Hell, no! Just look at my house. Do their disorganized bedrooms, and their less than perfect school grades, match the traits of someone who is overly concerned with her kids?

But the more I researched it, the more I realized how wrong I was.

An enmeshed parent doesn’t apply to a child’s exterior life. It applies to their emotional ones which, to their supreme detriment, is bound up co-dependently with their parent’s feelings of well being.


My Daughter and Her Enmeshed Mother in Transition

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter is super independent. She’s smart and sassy and doesn’t take to people telling her what to do. That said, she is still only 15. She simply doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. As her mom, it’s my job to set boundaries with love.

It just so happens that yesterday, on our first day of our Coronacation, we decided to take a walk on the beach. There were no people there… lots of open space… no fears of people coughing Covid 19 over our sun screened faces. It was a perfect time to talk about something that had been on my mind for a long time: her grades, her time management skills, and a particular class next year she really wants to get in.

That last item? She doesn’t just want a spot in this prized class. It’s all she’s been talking about all year. There is an audition component to getting in and, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been super anxious about her getting in myself.

Happy vs. Enmeshed in Our Kids Lives

I mean, who wouldn’t want their kid to be happy, right? But if I’m being honest, it’s more than that. I have the tendency to want her to be happy so I can be happy, and that’s never a good combination. That’s enmeshment.

I’m really careful about these days about this toxic parenting. But I wasn’t always. The old Andrea would have been up my daughter’s butt for six months telling her what she needed to do to get ready for the big try out. But this new Andrea — the one who is writing enough herself to not have to live through her daughter’s dreams — was able to be more chill about it.

I’m pretty proud of how the conversation went. It involved more questions than directives. I only brought up the topic when I was calm. (Hence not in the car when I was still pretty irritated about a dental appointment that didn’t go so well.)

Instead of launching into a lecture, I said a little prayer before I began speaking: God, let this conversation be about what is best for Evie’s life, not my enmeshed Mama ego. Let me remember that this is her life, not mine. Let me remember the difference between control and suggestion and have the wisdom to know the difference. (That last bit, God, I suck at. So feel free to smite me when I go overboard.)

Our Healthy Conversation Along the Beach

Tyler Nix@jtylernix @ Unsplash

Me: So, Evie, I’d like to talk to you about your tryout. Is this a good time?

If she said no, I’d have dropped it. I mean, what’s the point of having a conversation with your teenager, unless it’s truly life threatening, if they are not ready to listen?

Her: Sure. What’s up?

Me: Well, I know how badly you want this particular class. And I told you in September I wouldn’t bring this up anymore — and I didn’t. But… you now have three extra weeks to prepare for the tryouts thanks to our enforced time off from school.

Her: And?

Me: And… I’m not seeing you rehearse that much for it. What’s up with that?

Her: Oh that’s simple. I’m not rehearsing!

Me: And… this is because…

Her: It’s because there’s another piece to the audition that I’m much weaker on. I have been using my time to work on that instead.

Me: (Starting to get frustrated… enter enmeshed mama trying to break in) So the first piece isn’t that important?

Her: Oh, no, it totally is.

Me: (Truly stumped) Can you explain to my why, if it’s so important, you’re not doing it?

Her: Yeah. It’s because forever I felt that you wanted me to have this more than I did. And that didn’t feel particularly amazing.

Me: Hmmm.

Note: “Hmmm” is my go-to when I know my kid just needs me to listen. And also when I know she’s right. Translation: May day! May day! My ego has just taken a big hit and it needs comfort big time! Pass the wine!

Crap, you don’t drink anymore! Pray! Breathe!

So I did. Then I pressed her for more detail and braced myself. (Her frankness is not always pretty.)

Her: I sometimes think you don’t see how hard I’m working at other areas of my life and just focus on the areas that are important to you.

Me: Yeah, I can see that. But on this occasion, I do know how much you want this class. I wouldn’t be a great mom if I didn’t at least point out where you have an opportunity to improve.

Her: I know. It just reminds me of how you used to be.

I wanted to scream, “And I was right then, too! Just as I am now!” Instead I went with:

Me: Okay, you have my word I won’t bring it up again.

Her: You won’t have to. Because, don’t freak out, Mama Llama, I’m going to practice more. I just needed you to back off first.

Enter angels singing on the beach! (Okay, not that last part — but it was a victory!)

Lest the above conversation sounds like a cheesy script for the Family Channel, those sentences really did come out of each of our mouths.

We didn’t yell. We didn’t get snarky. We just shared from the heart. None of it would have been possible had I still been acting from my enmeshed mama’s ego.

I Want My Kids to Succeed!

Of course I want my daughter to get into her class, but more important to me is that she wants it. There is nothing in my kids’ lives, minus their health, that I should want more than they do. If I do, I’m bordering on obsessive again. And that, my friends, isn’t healthy.

As an adult, I’m only now finding my way in this world without needing to be propped up by anyone but my own higher power. Rather than have my kids have to figure this out in 12-step rooms, I’d rather they learn this now.

This comes from being a mom who listens more than she talks.

Who asks more questions rather than assumes.

And who has enough of her own life that my kids can go on to have their’s.

As far as my daughter goes, it means that if (worse case) she doesn’t get into that coveted class, she has a safe person to share her disappointment with.

Until next time, may you be less enmeshed, ask questions and, when in doubt, go for a walk on the beach. It really is the balm for all grrrr. (Even more than wine. I promise.)

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. )

education, faith, God, parenting, self improvement

Coronavirus Isn’t Happening to Us

It’s happening for us… to wake us from complacency to joy

David Mao @ Unsplash

So I get it. This virus is a big deal. Italy is on lock down. Vulnerable people can die more easily. The President is taking credit for acting quickly over something he should have been on top of months ago. We might have to start washing our butts with garden hoses and, just when our kids might finally be allowed back at school, they will be out again for summer break. (#insanestyearever)

None of this is easy. I, for one (as a Class A Extrovert) am super bummed about missing my AA meetings, not going to Magic Church for the foreseeable future, not meeting my bestie for a cup of Starbucks that I shouldn’t really be spending money on anyway, and those Disneyland gift cards I got for my big 50th birthday? By the time I cash those in for annual passes I wouldn’t be surprised if the price is doubled to pay for all those weeks the park was closed. (Plus I hear the payments on that Millenium Falcon are a bitch.)

Perhaps most disturbing of all is that, as a substitute teacher, I’m not one of those lucky educators who is getting paid while we’re off school. And while I am not playing the victim card here (I have an English degree, not a teaching degree) I am losing quite a bit of income.

All of the things above is enough to send me into a wave of self-pity — and believe me, despair is dancing on the surface — but when I take a breath I feel something much deeper that is buoying me up: Hope.

Hope in a Quarantine? Are You Kidding Me?

Putting aside my worry for those who are most risk with this ridiculous beast, there is a side of me that is relieved to be home. These feelings are not that different than how I felt when both my babies were born. During their precious stages of early life, there wasn’t much I could do while they napped. So I focused on on staying as present as possible.

I stayed close to the phone.

I read books.

I occasionally watched television.

And I wrote.

Life was smaller back then. I had tremendous worry about what the future could hold, but stronger than the worry of what could be was the absolute joy and excitement for what I had in my little cozy nest: two humans that I loved with all my heart.

Coronavirus Can Suck It

Cristian Escobar @ Unsplash

I refuse to let Coronavirus steal that joy from me now. Granted my two babies are no longer co-sleeping in Scooby Doo sheets and wearing matching Dora the Explorer panties… they are almost six foot and six foot six… but they’re still under my roof. And with their insane high school schedules, and my teaching and freelance schedule, it’s been a loooong time since we’ve had such a long span of uninterrupted time together. With only a year and a half until my son graduates, I am going to take full advantage of this unique, if not unusual, opportunity.

Making the Most of Our Corona-cation

So it’s not exactly a stay-cation or a trip to Hawaii (nope, my daughter’s choir trip was canceled) but we will make the most of it anyway. Here’s a list of just few things we’ll do to keep our souls happy and our brains from flatlining more than getting stuck at a Costco canned food stampede. We will:

  • Come up with a schedule of chores
  • Listen to each other’s playlists on Spotify
  • Swap books (I will finally read my son’s book choice, Fahrenheit 451, my daughter will read The Help and my son will likely be forced by my daughter to cry over any one of her John Green novels.)
  • Netflix binge! I will drink tea with my daughter as she catches me up on Stephen Universe and explains in great detail the difference between gems, humans and how Steven himself is actually a combination of the two and why Pearl never shows signs of aging. (Spoiler alert: It’s a gem thing.) My son and I will trudge our way through a truly terrible, but hilarious, What’s New Scooby Doo series.
  • Paint the bathroom. My son has a collection of 214 rubber ducks, all different faces, from nurses to a quacking navity set. These rubber fowls have been sitting in a trunk at the edge of his bed for five years. Now’s the time to paint the stall walls bright blue and display them on rain gutters. Who doesn’t want to use the facilities while being stared out by an Abraham Lincoln duck? Plus it’ll make the experience more enjoyable when, ultimately, there is no toilet paper to finish the job.)
  • Jog around the block
  • Learn a new language on Duolingo
  • Clean out our bedrooms
  • Get back into a prayer routine
  • Play some video games (with a limit… they go off at 10pm and don’t go on until 10am. If no one is up before 10am then no computers.)
  • Check in on our family and friends that are hurting and do a little bit more cooking than we normally have time for. (That’s assuming there’s anything left on the store shelves to eat.)

Coronavirus has been the frosting on the bitch cake of 2020,but I refuse to let it ruin my appetite for what nurtures me most: my family.

When I remember that this damn virus didn’t happen to me, but it happened for me, to slow down and appreciate the blessings I have right here in my home, quarantine has never looked so good.

Here’s to flattening the curb with social distancing and also raising the line with our connection to the people that matter most.

As for my personal goals? I’m gonna finally get cracking again on that musical I’ve been putting off. Plus I’ll be writing here daily as a personal commitment to what makes me happiest: words, thoughts and hopefully a little engagement with you beautiful people.

We are in this together. See you tomorrow.

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. )

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, humor, self improvement, Sobriety, spirituality, writing

Why Putting Off Your Dream Is a Terrible, Furry, Hellacious Mistake (And that lie we all believe about working a “real job”)

(Also published on Medium.com)

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Happy weekend, people! I survived my 50th birthday and so far haven’t died from the Coronavirus. I’m grateful to have had so many friends and family celebrate with me. My good friend, Irish Mama, came out to visit with me and I must say it was glorious. One of the highlites was fish tacos in Malibu and watching her giggle with joy when she saw a pod of dolphins frolicking through the waves.

In honor of those dolphins, I’m continuing my pursuit of frolicking in my own life. That begins with my writing.

Thanks to all of you here at WordPress who inspire me every day to read and continue writing. Below is a post that was also published on Medium. I’m giving myself permission to double up on the sites until I figure out what each site will be. (Medium will for sure be more of a niche while this site will be more personal. That said, even if I double up, please go over there and give me some love. Your time on my post gives me financial support and I will of course do the same for you.)

Stay safe, wash your hands and for fxxx sake enjoy your life. (This comin’ from an official old lady, so listen to me!)

“You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Not too long ago I was subbing for a public school. I was attempting to teach middle school kids to go after their dreams while simultaneously dodging milk cartons being lobbed at my noggin. It turns out something even more powerful than cow juice was directed at my brain. It was a life changing thought: “How can I empower students to live their dreams when I‘m not living mine?”

This insight was not an obsessive compulsive devil in disguise, taunting me on my shoulder. It wasn’t my misfiring mind out to derail me. This knowledge was a real deal truth bomb that lodged into my heart and exploded like emotional shrapnel right into the center of my soul. It shattered the glass walls I had been constructing around me that kept me from doing what I knew was my life’s purpose: to write.

Working a “Real Job”

It’s not like I hadn’t made money writing before, but life, kids, marriage, sobriety (and a pesky pit bull who insists on flying through window screens to maniacally search for our dearly departed roommate) got in the way.

I thought I needed a “real job” to keep all the nuts and bolts of my complicated existence purring like a top. The only problem was that while my family was able to go to the doctor for every scrape and ailment, thanks to my amazing insurance package, they were suffering daily with the sickness of my discontent.

After this one fateful day of subbing, it dawned on me that my “real job” wasn’t just to put braces on my kids so they could one day have perfect teeth while working at a job they also hated. My only “real job” was to show up as my authentic self so I could model for my children what they needed to do to live their true purpose.

Photo by Ian Dooley at Unsplash

“But I Can’t Just Leave My Day Job” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Listen, people, if you’re yelling at the computer screen, I relate. I told myself for years that I, too, could not just quit my job and go after what I really wanted to do with my life. But honestly, I wasn’t asking the right question. And perhaps you aren’t either. So let me help you out with this million dollar inquiry: If you’re not ready to bolt from your secure but lifeless job, are you at least ready to leave your negative thinking behind so that one day you will have the power to leave?

For me, this last question was a game changer, because subconsciously I was addicted to my victim thinking. “I’m too old.”… “I’m not good enough.”… “My family will be mad at me”… “I need the money.”

The real facts are that I was not lacking talent in writing. I was lacking in faith. Yup, I was missing the divine belief that the shepherd boy possessed in The Alchemist. I was not trusting that something much bigger than my own human plans could work everything out.

What Good Is a Higher Power if You Don’t Trust It?

When I got sober, I had to choose a higher power that was bigger than myself to keep me from downing a bottle of Two Buck Chuck over my daily restlessness, irritability and discontent. This higher power was absolutely vital because, as it turns out, it wasn’t my drinking that was my biggest demon — it was my thinking.

Sobriety encouraged me to accept that my higher power, who I choose to call God, loves me unconditionally. But that sweet emotional froth means nothing if I don’t trust it to work in my life. I had to take the plunge. Like Indiana Jones in the second movie, I had to trust that if I took a leap, something invisible would appear beneath my feet and allow me to not crash to my death.

Did I leave my job Norma Ray style in the arms of a handsome man that looked like a cross between Jamie Fraser and Liam Neeson? I wish. But no. Instead, I made the simple decision to cut down from working five days a week to three. I already had a small writing gig in my pocket, and I trusted that with some time off to breathe I’d get more.

Spirituality Can Be as Simple as Getting off Your Ass

Trust is lovely, but action seals the deal. That very night, fingers trembling, I reached out to Sesame Street. I ignored the lie that told me, “You’re nervous. This is a sign you shouldn’t be doing this, Dumbass.” How many times had I gone out with a man who didn’t wear his pants above his butt cheeks and convinced myself he was Prince Charming? Maybe my mind wasn’t such a good source of help after all. No, this time I would go with my gut where truth lives, not my head where confusion lives.

I told this iconic television show that I had a computer full of songs and scripts. I told them that I had exactly the talent they needed to creatively partner with them for new story ideas and lyrics. I was so proud of myself! (You need a melody and poem to tell kids to not fear the Coronavirus? I’m your gal!)

I excitedly emailed my sponsor to let her know that, despite wanting to puke all over my new chevron gray and white rug, I was finally following her guidance: to take the steps and leave the results up to God.

While I’d love to say that Sesame Street immediately returned my email and I’m now writing award winning songs for Cookie Monster, that did not happen. But something else cool did happen: My sponsor informed me that someone in our group composed music for Sesame Street. “Write him!” she nudged me. So I did.

As it turns out, he was just in a similar place to me: confronting his financial fears and wishing he could go after his real dream of writing. What we had here was a miraculous problem: He was a composer that wanted to write, I was a writer that needed help composing music. We made an appointment to meet the very next day to talk about it. Crazy timing. Was it odd or God?

Since that day I have not only begun a fledgling partnership with a brilliant thinker, I have polished up my resume, landed a few more freelance writing clients and begun working sub jobs only in high schools where kids’ brains are more fully developed than a lump of Trader Joe’s pizza dough. (Plus I don’t need to worry about 8th graders smoking Mary Jane in the middle of a math quiz. Yes, that’s happened.)

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Have I gotten rid of my real job yet? No. It’s only been two weeks! But to quote one of my favorite songs from Frozen, “For the first time in forever….” I am trusting that what I’ve been gifted to do is not an accident. I don’t have to people please my family, my culture, my parents or even, most importantly of all, myself. I only need to trust that when I lead with my heart, everything else will roll out like a red carpet, ready to have me dance toward my prize of serenity and joy.

Living Your Dreams is Actually Quite Simple

I had been making everything so complicated, and it’s really quite simple: I have a purpose that was planted in my soul. When I go against that purpose, I feel like crap. When I work toward that purpose, I feel good. And not just that: When I run toward my talents with God at my side, doors fly open quicker than the castle gates at Arendelle. I deserve to feel content and satisfied. And friends, you do, too.

God is everything or he is nothing.

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. )

education, faith, God, writing

Starting a Freelance Writing Business (picking a niche and trusting my gifts)

Danielle MacInnes@dsmacinnes
www.unsplash.com

I ended up subbing in a high school today. It was a bright start to the day with the Dean of Students barging in on me first period.

Him: (stone faced) “Here’s a new student. Don’t let her pee. Don’t let her leave the classroom. Dial 99-4923 if you need security ASAP.”

Me: (smiling) “I can’t wait!”

I was surprised to hear this frozen faced statue of a man giggle hysterically at my response. Hopefully he was still laughing a half hour later when said student decided she didn’t want to do math and would rather ditch my class to roam the hallway with her bestie and do who knows what in the bathroom of her choice.

A year ago I’d have freaked out. “OMG! I lost a student!” These days? I don’t care. It’s not my fault the kid doesn’t want to learn. I can only do what I can do.

I say this with zero judgment, for that student is a giant mirror for my own yearnings. How often do I not want to sit in the stuff of my life that is difficult? I, like her, would rather ditch than do the hard work of figuring it out.

But it’s becoming crystal clear to me that the more I run, the less I will have something to show for myself – at least financially. And one thing I know for sure is that if I’m going to have to make a living it’s not going to be teaching. So then what?

I have lots of reasons I haven’t landed on something yet.

Kids.

Getting sober.

Working on my marriage.

Just not being sure of myself.

And, for lack of sounding like an egotistical ass, there’s about ten million things I could do writing wise (and I have) but it’s time to choose something consistent.

On tonight’s walk with Rex my mind started spinning like a top again. “Oh my God, I was here four years ago! Why am I still here!” But a quieter voice came in that reminded me, “No, you were not this centered as a person four years ago. At least you have awareness now that you don’t have consistency. That is HUGE.”

My prayer then became, “God, show me in a way I can understand what you would have me do with my writing.”

With a bit of calm, it became even more clear that I don’t think it’s corporate writing, as fun as a job at Netflix would be. And the money would be lovely.

But at 50, where is a job like this going to lead me? What I really want, in my heart, is to write another pilot (or take meetings for the one I have already written) and finally finish that musical, but…. I need bread and butter while I do this.

With that mental masturbation satisfied, I started thinking again about starting up a freelance writing business while I write my dream stuff on the side. I’m already memoir writing for folk for pay. The ticket to sustainability then becomes about choosing a niche – something I have never buckled down to do before.

If that is the case, I’m considering focusing on being a story teller/content writer. I could be the go-to gal for memoirs, articles about people, blogs on corporate websites that deal with people, newsletters, etc. No products. No blow up hot tubs or direct sales marketing. No click through SEO bait donkey dung key words to lure people into buying organic horse crap.

Basically I’d be paid as a story teller and showcase this in whatever way a company or individual wants to promote themselves or their business. This kind of niche also lends itself to writing at Medium.com and getting another book out there.

In closing, I realize I’ve been a bit all over the board lately, but I choose not to judge myself. I’ve been so consistent with my marriage and my kids. This is an area that I have not truly given myself time to consider, so I am open to failing and fumbling as I find my way.

What do you think? Would love your take. I would love to know.

As always, when I go into fear, I will remember:

God is everything or he is nothing.

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. )