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Tics, Tourettes, 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

God, self improvement, writing

10 Reasons I Canceled the Time Suck That is Medium!

Well, after writing daily for almost 3 months I canceled Medium. It was not an easy decision, because I kind of thought for once I had found something that I could really excel at.

But at the end of the day, after 3 months, I made a total of $5.73.

I learned a ton. I found a great site with amazing free stock photos (Unsplash).

I learned that people do, actually, make money on that site. It’s just not going to me.

I also believe, with 100% certainty, that I could be one of those writers that makes a crap load of money off of going viral. But to go viral, there’s a lot I’d need to do. In addition to writing – a lot – I’d have to:

  • Have a mailing list
  • Have a blog with affiliate links here that tracks back to Medium
  • Have a product to sell
  • Have a kick ass web page
  • Spend a really big part of my life leaving comments for folk throughout Medium so they would then “like” me back and I could get more money from the big pot.

Honestly, that sounds like too much work. It sounds like my high school experience where no matter how much I tried, I just was never going to be the most popular girl on the block.

I am not snarky enough.

I am not pushy enough.

And, if I’m being totally honest, I’m not “Top 10 Reasons You Need to Write a Blog” bait clicky enough. And, even more importantly, if I’m going to have all those fancy bullet point items (which I plan on) it might as well be for my own updated dream website, not Medium’s.

With time off from subbing, and as I continue to write my musical (hey, I’ve stuck with that… bonus points for me!) I now have time to learn how to build that website… a site with affiliate links and a shopping cart for my books – one with a nice big “Buy” button and “Hey, check out my webpage where I can help you write books” button. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having this kind of site, but it must serve a purpose.

My purpose? I’m a story teller. My goal is to continue to get paid to help other people tell their stories while I tell mine.

I’m tired of spinning my wheels feeding the corporate writing machines.

To end on a positive note, I continue to make some decent side money writing for a few magazines and working with two memoir clients. This on top of my taking care of my family during this crisis, not to mention myself, is enough.

For those of you who have followed my many journeys to figure out where I want to write and what I want to write, I thank you. I hope that you, like me, give yourselves permission to find your dreams, make mistakes and grow along the way.

Until next time,

Andrea

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, 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. )