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. )

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. )

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. )

Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, God, self improvement, sobriety, spirituality, writing

I Said No and My Potentially Crappy Day is Now a Giant Hellllll Yes (And more on how trusting God is everything or He is nothing)

https://unsplash.com/@vidarnm

This post is dedicated to Tessa who left me such a sweet comment on my last post. Made my day. Thank you, darlin’.

Two days ago I had one of the worst substitute teaching experiences of my life.

I was told by my sponsor, “You don’t trust God. In fact, based on how you keep walking in the opposite direction of your gifting I believe the real truth is ‘You Hate God.'”

If I didn’t feel terrible before I called her I did when I hung up.

I didn’t feel much better the next morning as I swirled in shame for canceling a sub assignment I had previously accepted. (Truth bomb: I’m way less driven by my emotions now that I’m sober, but I have not yet reached enlightenment.)

Instead of taking contrary action and help other people to take the focus off myself (as we program people are encouraged to do because it works) I moaned to Tuskany about my horrific road blocks. I complained about how I couldn’t sleep the previous night due to my rapid heart beats of fear and trying to figure it all out. I complained about how I’m terrified of being at odds with Rex about finances, that I think maybe having a birthday party is a terrible idea and that perhaps I’m never going to find my purpose in life after all other than to find a magic genie at one of my thrift stores who agrees the only thing I need to do to be happy is drink coffee, inhale carbs and watch the final season of Glee.

Sorry you all missed the Pity Party. I’ll send you an advanced invitation for next one.

But that fiesta won’t be today because… the rest of my day turned out to be Duckin’ Awesome!

https://unsplash.com/@leorivas

Why the quick emotional turn around? Well, it’s pretty simple. I trusted God. I decided I didn’t need to do everything perfectly. I didn’t need to decide that yesterday was the day to go into a downward-spiraled depression over my floors that need re-varnishing, my walls that need repainting or the lack of funds in my account for Disney passes and a trip with my kids to this super cool Finland hotel that would make Elsa weep with jealousy.

Image of The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä, Finland taken from
https://worldinsidepictures.com/8-spectacular-ice-hotels-around-the-world-that-you-must-visit/

I could ask God to remove my fear of not being a good enough parent, a good enough daughter, a good enough worker and a good enough friend.

I could trust that God has me subbing because I’m growing my soul right now, if not my bank account, but that I don’t have to do it every single day anymore.

I could trust that in turning down a 20-day guaranteed assignment in an emotionally disturbed classroom might cost me $1000 (to cover my kids’ driving lessons) but there is no hourly rate on my own personal mental health.

With all this ridiculous amount of surrender and trust out the way (I’m super greedy with God’s love) I was able to BE loved rather than BE God (as I’m wont to do) and things just lit up like a slot machine for the rest of the day. I mean, God really showed off.

With that psycho-analysis/dark night of the soul/mental loop to loop THANK GOD I LANDED IN PEACE epiphany out of the way I was able to write. I could trust that God did not give me all sorts of words and ideas only to say, “Just kidding. Go and be miserable at a sub job for the rest of your existence.”

For me, after almost 24 hours of hell, that was exciting news! And it still feels amazing.

And… here’s best part of my current pink cloud awakening – and the reason for this post: When I woke up at 530am to the sound of the school system calling me for a job, I was able to listen with confidence in my heart, not pounding fear, thanks to this news.

When I heard they wanted me to teach music in a prison like middle school where the kids ditch my classroom would rather play their phones than a tuba, I did something I’ve never done before.

I said “No.”

God is everything or he is nothing.

I put my head back on the pillow with confidence that something better would come along.

Five minutes later I got a call to teach a super chill high school. “Yes Please!” I drove to work with joy – yes, joy – and even got a great space in the parking lot.

Similar to my experience at this school last week, I have done very little teaching. All classes have either been taught by other math teachers (and let’s get real, I wouldn’t know the quadratic formula if it pinched my white butt on Main Street) or they have been populated with only 7 students. My last period of the day? I’ll have 5.

I trusted God and I got rewarded. I’m starting to get this.

God is everything or he is nothing.

In closing, I chose the picture at the top of this post because I often feel like that house: I like adventure, but I want to stay warm and cozy on the inside. I want to dream my own dreams while people braver than me go out into the cold winter air and fight wolves.

But right before posting this blog a friend from the program wrote me. And, similar to my serendipities of late, her message had a different spin.

The Spiritual Takeaway?

When we can trust ourselves, and set boundaries (though difficult at first) we can experience so much more excitement than just playing it safe. And readers, we can do this with the God of our understanding.

God is everything or he is nothing.

And One More Takeaway for Good Measure

Even the nicest high school students don’t say “thank you” when they leave your classroom. They also think it’s okay to leave free cafeteria food on their desks and check their phones rather than do their math work. As a teacher, this must be frustrating. But for this writer, who is also a sub so IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM I’m learning that acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.

Throw in saying “No” to crap sub jobs and thermos of hot dark decaf and you can have yourself a pretty damn good day.

Happy weekend! I’ve sooooo enjoyed many of your blogs – old friends and new ones – and I’ll catch up with you Monday.

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

Trying New Things

Picture from Quote Catolog, found on Unsplash

Hey, it’s your long lost friend, Andrea. I know I said I wouldn’t be checking in until April, but after the Super Bowl half time show, I have come to the conclusion that women can either be mild and not rock the boat or they can razzle, dazzle and be the best version of themselves regardless of following directions. In my case, I’m not following my own directions, and I’m certainly not going to put on a sparkle g-string, but I can get back into my writing again. So here I go.

What I’ve Been Up To

I am one paragraph away from finishing my pilot. I’ve done 3 rewrites. I love it. My attitude around it is going to be “This is going to sell.” Period. No if’s, and’s or butt’s. I’m turning 50 in two weeks. I don’t have time to waffle anymore.

I’ve also started tinkering with Medium.com. It’s a platform where you pay $5/month as a writer or reader. Depending on how many clicks one gets depends on how much they will get paid. It has over 90 million subscribers, so chances to engage a wider audience is super enticing. So far I’ve made this much.

don’t be jelly

Bad news: I only have to write one trillion more articles to make an additional $100/month.

Good news: A friend of mine who has started making money off this site, plus has written a ton of articles for Huffpo, graciously told me that it’s not my writing but my formatting that needs to be changed to grab the attention of the curators. Once that’s set, the editing team there will more likely pick up my story, promote it, and then I’ll see a higher residual.

Trying New Things! Yay!

I write you this because maybe you’re not a writer. (Though most of you here are!) Maybe you want to get a degree but aren’t sure where to start. I give you my new method.

Just start.

Then doors open.

Action, not thinking, is what gets the job done. Plus staying grounded in God ain’t such a bad idea, either.

And so, very contrary to this thinker/A-personality/don’t make a mistake mama, I’m glad I started writing there. Now that I know what I need to do to fix it, I’ll do that! I will take Jennifer’s advice and just research other articles that have already done well before I post again.

Until then, I’d like to get in the habit of writing daily again on my own site – so here I am!

That leaves me with this – and be honest: Do you think focusing on self-help/transformation is a good idea, or do you see me as someone who is more “all over the place but I read her for her style” kind of writing?

Basically, what compels you to read my writing? Would love to know. I look forward to checking on all of you also. While I’m on break from subbing. And trying not to poke my eyes out with attendance forms.

Leave a comment!

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. )

(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, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

Where Are You, God? It’s Me, Andrea

I love our church hospitality, in particular the coffee urinals!

I sat down to write a post about Magic Church today, only to find that there was an active shooter at a garlic festival not terribly far from me in Gilroy.

Really? Is this what we have come to? Slaying people at forums whose sole purpose is to eat stinky veggies and forget worries for at least one day?

I know that violence has been going on forever in so many communities. I know that guns and crime and poverty isn’t new. But what IS newer and newer is lack of community. We spend more time on phones than with real people. It’s easy to be up on the latest trends but not notice that people are slipping away from us slowly from lack of contact with others.

I suppose this lack of connection that I sometimes feel in my own life makes me enjoy Magic Church even more than someone who has a big extended family in and out of their life on a daily basis. I can’t get enough of the rag tag worship team, the bell choir in their white gloves ringing in a new holiday or a modern hymn, or today’s post-church luau.

I don’t understand the world lately, but I do know one thing: When we lose our connection to people – even the ones that bother us down to our core – we lose humanity. And when that happens, we get the idea that maybe taking a machine gun and killing innocent people is a better idea than facing our own wounds and healing.

I beg of all of you, this Sunday night, to consider talking to someone in the grocery store. Offer a kind word to your neighbor – even the one that chats too much or uses you for too much flour. Call your mother tomorrow (Yes, Mom, I’ll call you) and stop worrying about shit that doesn’t matter. It’s the shit in our lives that DO matter. Find a community you can heal in.

And if nothing else, you heard it from me: You are loved. You are valuable. You are going to be okay. You are worth a banquet of nurturing. Yup, even the good glasses!

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You can also like my page, Happily Ticked Off, or join my female only closed Facebook Group, Happily Ticked Off, where we trudge toward happiness one step at a time (focusing on solution, humor and God.)

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. )

(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, self improvement

Papa Bear, Children Development Institute and Lithium

Today was a much better day than the past few days. It began with a mad dash trip across town to get my son to his Japanese class, only to rush back to give a conference talk at the Childrens Development Institute with the amazing Ellen Stohl. It ended with Taco Tuesdays on our front lawn with Amelia and her daughter, Ally. (How I’d love to show photos but, alas, privacy calls. You’ll just have to trust me. The guac pretty much made the meal.)

I was a bit alarmed prior to the fiesta when a family member suggested that perhaps I ingest lithium to calm down.

But then I just let it go.

There was a time in my life when an anti-depressant was needed – and I have no problems or judgement with those that take it. For me, though, it’s a matter of looking at my life. Why take meds if I’m not going to change my behavior? In my case, this means packing in too much in a day. It makes no sense.

I also took into consideration that it’s kind of a nutty time of life. Pain isn’t always bad. Pain can motivate one to look at their circumstances and rearrange their life. For me it simply means not cooking ten things on the stove at once, mixing it in a pan, and wondering why it tastes disgusting. Newsflash: Cook one thing at a time. JUST ONE.

And so, after talking to a friend and writing out a business plan, I came up with a relatively good solution that will accomplish more peace of mind.

Plus my son bought his sister an amazing plushie for her upcoming 15th birthday. I wouldn’t want to be too calm and miss her reaction.

Yeah, life isn’t always a cake walk. But it’s amazing what a little food, a little friendship, and a little reliance on God can do to refocus one’s perspective.

Here’s to an even better day tomorrow! Same for you all!

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What do you do when life gets too busy? It can be hard to stop, but I know when I need to.

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. )

(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, teenagers, writing

Grades, Schmades, and the Art of Privacy with Teenagers

sss

Okay, so I didn’t post my chapter for Writing Wednesday so stay tuned this Wednesday instead! Sigh.

My sweet friend, Amelia, always reminds me, “Andrea, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself.” And I agree. But I always get disappointed when I don’t keep my word here. I figure If I can’t keep my word to myself, life will keep it’s word to me in the form of doing what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life which, currently, is taking the recurrent theme of not knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s a fun internal loop that has been going on for the past 5 years. And as joyous as circling the “What Now?” drain is, I also think sticking to a schedule is not such a bad idea.

And no coffee after 3PM.

And not eating an entire bag of Skinny Pop every day and wondering why I gained ten pounds.

Lucky for me, summer is here and I have gotten back into my daily hikes. While I am not a fan of getting off my butt and doing something that does not involved writing, reading or drinking copious amounts of caffeine, there is such a joy and beauty in meeting up with my two teacher friends and smelling the hills. Plus, along with calorie counting, I’ve lost about five pounds, so that’s something to celebrate!

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Walking in these hills reminds me a lot of my parenting journey as of late. I need to prepare and stretch because there’s plenty of uphill climbs. But if I spend all my time complaining, fretting about the tough stuff and just sticking to the trails I know (such as “I’m Always Right Mountain” and “This Way or You Are a Failure Pass”) I’ll miss the beauty that is all around me… the quiet times in the car on the way to each of their summer classes where I hear about everything from Mean Girl Animatics (Pip’s choice) to Stink’s Youtube fan base (a gaggle of 10 year olds) who are writing him for an update to his Scratch based video game, “Dawn’s Journey.” Plus there’s been so many more words between us that have dramatically altered my way of interacting with them.

I originally wrote a post detailing specifically what such a conversation recently looked like, but I deleted it. It’s not that I wrote something so terrible, but I felt compelled to erase it based on previous requests from my kids that I don’t share their personal details on my site. That’s so hard for this mama – especially as an ex Babycenter blogger who made my living for years exploiting and making fun of my kids sharing the joys of parenting. But in the end, I must honor their decision to keep their private lives private. More to the point, I respect it. No people pleasers in this house! (Well, except for ME, but I’m working on that. Better stated, God is working on that for me. I just need to surrender every single day. And on days when that’s too difficult, I surrender by the hour, by the minute and by the second. Because as long as I think I’m in charge, life is going to suck. It just is.)

And so, please accept this alternate ending in the form of a quote that I sent to one of my teens after they made a decision to back out of a commitment that was not right for them.

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As I continue to walk the paths of my own journey, may I remember the same. And may you remember also!

Here’s to all of us remembering that we are not what we do, but who we are, that matters most.

Here’s to more questions, less criticizing.

Here’s to more faith and less fear.

And here’s to enjoying the beauty that exists all around us, uphill climbs and all.

Talk to you Sunday!

Leave a Comment! I Love to Hear From You All! (Even you, Mom. And Tuskany. Ahem. And thank you, Irish Mama, for your kindness always! I love you!)

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. )

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

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