education, faith, God, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

The Power of Re-Framing – And a Good Broom

I write because it helps me make sense of the world. And it reminds me that there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

As a complainer in transition, it took me a few years of active work to truly get to a place of freedom on this subject. Do I have hard days still? Absolutely. Just ask Tuskany and my friend Annie who hears more play by play than Vin Scully at a Dodger game. But I don’t live in my negativity. I can’t. It’s too… uh… negative. Nope, in addition to gratitude is a chaser of reframing.

Take today for example. It was the first day off from subbing in quite a while. I had sooo much housecleaning to do. But I gave myself an hour to do the basics. And then I forced myself to sit at my desk to work on that pilot.

Ooooh, the office.

I won’t lie. My office still looks like a storage dump for Good Will for a Pinterest fail.

There’s the multi colored ceiling fan from 1987 that Punky Brewster has yet to pick up.

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There’s this section of cubed “outgoing” projects flanked by a hot man in uniform and an old set of shutters that has yet to make it’s way to the curb.

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There’s this section of photographs needing better storage boxes, a jewelry case desperately in need of organization and my gift wrap/gifts to give/very old dresser inherited from my son yet to be painted.

4(Um, yes that IS a set of plastic drawers that houses my scarfs, belts and tights because, you know, the one day I get rid of it I will need to dress as a sixty’s character for school.)

Lest I forget, there is this beautiful secretary’s desk I scored for $40 last year. It only needs to be repainted! And, well, it needs to be combed through and made usable. This means throwing out old Christmas cards and organizing the individual sections with stamps, letters, cards and so on.

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(Oooh, do you see my fabulous bathroom in the back? Do you like the “open shelving” I got going on? Don’t be jealous. At some point it’s going to have some amazing cherry curtain swag.)

Now before you think I’m being too self-deprecating, I have to say that I totally love my house. It’s got a 1950’s charm that just makes me smile every time I walk into it. It’s just I have chosen to surrender to the fact that I’m a busy busy busy working mom. I know I will organize this when I have time, but my script and my family are more important. When I sell this sitcom (and I’m determined to) then I can hire a maid and take more time to putter to my satisfaction.

Until then, I have learned the art of staging myself for success. Not unlike selling a home, I clean up what is most important so it’s more attractive for me to work, then gently ignore the rest. This means sweeping up quickly.

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It means firing up the diffuser so it smells good and removing any junk from my fainting couch. (Minus my Doc Martins that give me great pleasure.)

6And then I look up at those faces above my computer. And I know that, in the end, those connections are worth re-framing the stuff that doesn’t matter.

What are you willing to re-frame in your own life so you can work on your passion?

Happily Ticked Off Tip #52:  Re-framing a thought or an action doesn’t keep the challenge from going away. Instead, it keeps you from focusing on it so you can move ahead with more positive actions.

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. 

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education, faith, God, spirituality, Uncategorized

Slowing Down. I’m Not Getting Older. I’m Getting Wiser.

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If I’m standing in front of some noodles in Trader Joes, and someone pushes their cart next to me, my first reaction always is, “Let me move this out of the way for you.” This often happens before they’ve even asked me to scoot over.

If I’m in class giving instructions, and one kid raises his hands to ask about something that’s not even relevant, my first impulse is to feel pressured to get that question answered.

If I’m driving my kids to an appointment, and I decide to stop at the post office for stamps, I automatically get this push in my chest to go go go. I know they are just teenagers, and it’s not my job to work around them, but I feel that surge pushing me forward none the less.

I don’t give into this pressure with my actions, but inside it’s still there. An old flame that is no longer a raging fire but still burning with loyalty to toxic patterns. These flicks of negative light are traits that my old self would have called being considerate. But my newer, older wiser self knows what the real name for this is. It’s lack of self-worth that am not valuable enough to slow down and do something just for me.

Today in class, this point was brought home in a New York Times piece I read about Oprah Winfrey. In it she was saying how guilty she felt buying her first plane. It cost in the millions. But in the end, she unabashedly decided she was worth it. Hell, she’s the Queen. And if she says she’s worth it, she is.

It was my gentle reminder that I’m a queen, too. And queens don’t rush. They are busy, efficient and sometimes short with words, but they are not rushed.

Which is why I am sitting here, happily typing with just my bath towel wrapped around me. The tub water is stopped. My husband has gotten into bed and my kids are eating God knows what downstairs. I am doing what I love most and I won’t apologize.

And you don’t have to either.

Until next time,

Happily Ticked Off Tip #49:  Slow down, not just to enjoy the roses, but to make a point that you, my dear, are worth every languid second.

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. 

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education, Uncategorized

Sub Gigs, Barricades and Peanut Butter (Don’t Judge.)

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Today my five day assignment was up at the glorious high school I was working at.

And then the secretary made murmurings about the school keeping me til June which, pfffshaw… I would not accept.

Because… You know… because I only need 3 more days to get my 100 days to qualify for insurance next year. Why bother? I’d stay home… finish my script. Help my grandma move into her new retirement home.

Nope, I was going to stick to my guns.

Unless I negotiated a few extra days off in between since I have my sick days piled up.

And the thought came to me that I want to go see Les Miserables with my kids and my pastor.

And, well, even with that kind of fun fact laid in front of me, I knew wouldn’t actually say yes to this madness.

Except I did.

And you know what? It felt right in the end.

So tonight I cleaned out my garage and ate enough matzah covered in peanut butter to kill a small farm animal and binge watched Grace and Frankie in half celebratory half “Oh my god really I’m doing this again FUCK” fear.

But overall, I’m happy.

Anything exciting going on for you in the next month? Leave a comment or I’ll have to post video of me making tacos singing “Do You Hear the People Sing???”

#LesMisBoundIDeserveIt

Happily Ticked Off Tip #46:  Sometimes what you think you’re going to say no to you say yes to and it all works out if there is extra carbs and money to go to the theater at the end of the day.

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. 

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education, God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, spirituality, Uncategorized

This Too Shall Pass

A few years ago if someone told me bad months would pass, I’d have wanted to punch them in the throat.

Then for the past two months I had the sub job from hell, my father-in-law died, another one of my family members began to lose their marbles, one of our sinks hit the skids, the dog now has a lump on her back, one kid got rejected from a club they had really wanted to join, I dealt with church moving grief and we continue to have dish wars that often end in me feeling like I am either too hard, too soft but most of all… not eating on clean flatware.

But I can honestly say that through it all, I have held on. Because I knew that this, too, shall pass.

And whatever you are going through, if you can hold on to that for tonight, I can promise tomorrow will get better.

Until next time,

Happily Ticked Off Tip #44:  All that stuff you’re worried about? Stop and breathe. This too shall pass.

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. 

books

education, meditation, self improvement, writing

I’m Glad To Be Here! (Oh, Wait… I’m Not!) okay fine i am…

Yesterday I was determined to have a fun fantastic fleepinglishious day of subbing. To ensure this I:

  • Slept for 8 hours
  • Prayed
  • Meditated
  • Walked
  • Ate a healthy breakfast
  • Took my vitamins

Most importantly, I took a deep breath.

I stood in front of 40 kids in Period 1 and declared what I promised I’d declare in front of every single class thereafter. “I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

And then the unruly mob rambunctious class moved seats, flipped on their phones, threw paper airplanes, ran around the classroom, chewed gum, threw taffy at each other and ditched. (Minus a few kids who snuck in from other classes just to socialize.)

Okay, so I couldn’t change the kids. Even the other teacher who was with me was no help. Lucky for me I could change myself! Yay! Luckily I could put this in practice right away as I had remembered to buy a gift card for the unknown stranger whose lunch I had eaten at 3PM on Friday. It was an honest mistake. A friend of mine had bought one for me and I gratefully munched it down.

Except the unknown stranger turned out to be a very well known uppity up at the school I was subbing at. And such stranger did not take my gift card with grace. Instead it was returned with a note reminding me, in no uncertain terms, to never take things out the fridge that don’t belong to me. (Glad it was clarified because, you know, I totally ingest other people’s nutrition on purpose just to irritate them.)

The cherry on the top of this “I can’t do anything right EVER” pie was one of my children who took the opportunity to remind me of something they had been keeping in their hearts for 2 years. Something I did which apparently earned the title of “The Worst Day of Their Lives.”

I won’t lie. I went dark. Feelings I haven’t felt in a very very VERY long time pounded me.

“Screw all your mantras. Screw all your prayer. You’re a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. YOU FAILED!

My nightly walk with my husband did not consist of asking about him or admiring the flowers. It consisted of quiet rumination and feelings of shame that I am working a gig I’m just not cut out for. What could have been a reset opportunity for me became a Compare and Despair fight in my brain about what I could be doing… what other people are doing… while I’m living out Plan B. Oh, and all that crap about how I stayed home with my kids during the early years and helped mold them into good humans… the silver lining that subbing works with my kids schedule and I’m getting insurance for my family? FUCK THAT.

I finally had the good sense to call Tuskany who reminded me that Queen Elizabeth is 92 and still taking all her appointments. She impressed upon me that by age 50 only half her leadership role was over. “You still have time to rewrite your life, Andrea. So do I.”

Okay, that sounded pretty good.

Later that night my husband whispered in my ear, “Andrea, you’re not just a loser sub. You’re figuring a LOT out. You’re not where you want to be, but you’re not where you were before. You’re in the hallway.”

It’s words like that which encouraged me to get up and start today over. Guess what day it is, folks???I ook

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Hump Day is not only the holiest and most beautiful day of the week, but it’s a chance to take the same mantra I give to students and listen to the words myself:

“I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

Okay, if you insist.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #41:  When life feels overwhelming, remind yourself “I am glad to be here!” The lie: it all has the be perfect to be okay. The truth: we’re all in the hallway and figuring it out as we go. That’s okay.

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. 

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education, writing

Keep Going! Keep Growing!

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I started this year in a fog

Kids and working but I had no blog

But here’s something exciting

I got busy with writing

And was no longer a bump on a log

 

But then a close family folk died

And my river of words they done dried

Plus with my full time subbing

My brain… it stopped chugging

In a nutshell my body was fried

 

But then I decided this morning

I’m tired of posts I’m ignoring

Because if I don’t take time

To use gifts that are mine

My dreams will be dead on my flooring

 

So here’s to a post that’s worth reading

About plans that will get me succeeding

Just a few goals a day

With distractions at bay

And just like that: My dreams get their seeding!

(Pic given with permission by my kids. Stink is 16 and Pip is 14. I kind of adore them.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #40: Make a small, manageable goal and stick to it every day. If you don’t, you can only blame yourself if you’re not living your dreams. (Accck… nightmare! Don’t do it! Baby steps!)

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. 

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education, parenting

Wednesday Is the Best Day! Because It’s…

Hump Daaaaay!

Yes, friends, Wednesday is officially the best day of the week. In honor of such a momentous occasion (and to keep from overthinking about sub gigs, finishing my pilot,  an upcoming memorial service and what oh what am I going to do about that set of poems piling up in my folder?) I donned my best camel themed shirt and went on a hike.

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It’s was an absolutely beautiful day in Los Angeles, and the hills of the Santa Monica were so green and lush. It didn’t hurt that I hiked with a gal who loves camels about as much as I do. I smiled when she handed me a camel bookmark for the occasion, and she grinned right back when I gave her a package of tea which I retrofitted with this photo.

camel

The type of tea? Camel-myle, of course.

Lest you judge me, do you think it’s possible to find anything more brilliant than a camel? No, it’s not. They have not one, but two sets of eyelashes. They can spit great distances AND can go long periods of time without having to stop and rest. Plus those smiles? Dazzling, joyful and unabashedly optimistic.

These traits pretty much sum up what it takes to be a writer, as well as traverse the many ups and downs of life, living in Los Angeles, and raising teens. These are just a few examples of why Hump Day is indeed worth protecting, honoring and giving the props it deserves.

Anyone else out there have an icon that keeps them laughing, motivated or just plain centered? I’d love to hear. (But I can’t lie. It’ll likely not trump the hump. But try me…)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #38: Similar to my love for Hump Day, find a day of the week that is worth honoring and have fun. It’s something to look forward to each week. Plus it makes for great conversation!

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. 

books

education

Molding Clay… You Never Know What You’ll Make

Today I moved a kid to a new table. It wasn’t without many warnings. It wasn’t with malice. It was simply because he could not manage being in the same spot with his friends. Nor could he manage to sketch and finish a super hero project without taking clay that didn’t belong to him and start rolling it across the desk.

Him remaining there, day after day, was akin to me before I was sober. Despite promises I would not drink four glasses of red wine and two buckets of chicken wings, all bets went out the window if I was super hungry and tired… after a long week with middle schoolers… and you sat me with my girlfriends in front of a bottle of wine. Or two. I went from solid and honorable mama to a lying liar who lies… to herself. Nope, like me on a Friday at happy hour, that kid needed to moved from that situation.

I had him write me a letter as to why he was moved. Not unlike my other student’s reaction, his letter surprised me.

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(That reads: “I can tell you hate me, but you don’t have to tell me. If you do hate me I’m fine with it and you don’t have to say that I’m ‘amazing’. I just wanted to play with clay.”)

It made me sad. “I can tell you hate me.” Really? I’m not really sure if this is a typical middle school reaction, or if this is the result of too much black and white social media influence. “You said the wrong thing… you’re out!” or “You gave me a compliment about my dress… you’re in!” That is until I make a mistake and compliment someone else’s dress and then it means I don’t like yours as much and “I’m out!”

I have no idea 100% what is going on half the time, but one thing I do know how to do… thanks to really messing up with my own kids and husband… is communicate better. I might not be able to pass down my hard earned knowledge to these kids, nor teach them how to make the perfect Origami swan, but I can attempt teach them how to switch their perspective. And sometimes that means just writing them back.

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I brought him to my desk. “Do you see that I boxed two things? One is your behavior. The other is you. I don’t like your actions all the time, but I’m not lying. I do like you. I really do think you’re amazing!”

He shrugged his shoulders and sheepishly walked away.

The truth? I really do think he’s amazing. The problem? He doesn’t think he’s amazing. But maybe, just maybe, a small note of encouragement can lodged in his brain that will spark a journey of self love.

Or he’ll end up stealing clay from Target.

I don’t know the end result of his life. But I know that I want to reach the end of mine knowing I did everything I could every day to be of service to someone.

And I want to reach the end of this night eating a fistful of Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. I’ve had enough spiritual growth for one day. It’s time for some chocolate and sugar.

PS: I owe some of you some blog readings! Tomorrow is the day. Thank you all for reading me so faithfully. My numbers have grown dramatically and it’s been such a blessing for me to write.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #36: Put your feelings for others in writing. When emotions are high, they can come back to it later and it could make a big difference!

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. 

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education, Uncategorized

Ah, The Joys of Being Appreciated!

The alarm went off as usual at 530 am. And, as always, I jumped out of bed like a spring rooster crowing for joy.  With glorious anticipation I said the first three words of the day that always put me in a spiritual mind frame:

“Oh fuck this.”

Then I meditated for 7 minutes.

And didn’t do my Bible reading.

But I got up.

Only to discover we had no coffee.

But that’s okay. I would plow through anyway. I would eat well, drink water and just be of service.

But then I changed my mind and got two cups of coffee at the local Arco followed by a six pack of mini donuts.

The day continued with a pack of peanuts from the vending machine, a slice of pizza from a merciful student and one large brown banana. Nothing says health like lots of white flour, sugar and grease, right?

With that diet of champions, I had just enough energy to bust a student per class for sneaking their phone. By sixth period I was so done. Especially because the girl caught red handed has snuck her device on multiple occasions. Instead of sending her to the dean for each infraction, I thought I’d teach her the bigger lesson of accountability.

Today’s was: “Write me an essay about why you shouldn’t be on the phone, even if you don’t get caught,” I told her.

I wasn’t expecting a 10 page saga about integrity and how her loser sub kept her from sneaking clothing out of a department store down the road… about how I shifted her consciousness from a victim mindset to one of responsibility. But somehow I wasn’t expecting this either:

 

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She went on to add this gem:

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I had to scratch my head at that last line. I allow kids to sit together. I let them play music when they are sketching. We make vision boards and flip books. We listen to musicals and create super heroes. I even allow them to tell me what they are interested in learning and I will make that happen.

Oh well. At least she is a rare student who is unhappy with with me. Oh, wait, not true!

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Wow, she sure knows how to make a gal feel good. I can already hear the soundtrack to the montage of the film playing. .

I won’t lie. This letter really hurt my feelings. I have been trying really hard to make the best of a hard job. But at the same time, when I see these kinds of excuses and finger pointing, I have to remember that this attitude has nothing to do with me. It will only bite her in the rear down the road when someone far more important than a substitute art teacher (a crappy one at that) doesn’t put up with her sneakiness.

Or maybe this outcome will never happen. Maybe, like some of those entitled kids whose parents buy their way into everything, she will just float on through.

But somehow, somewhere, she will pay. Because when we don’t do what’s right we have relationships with folks who don’t do what’s right. We marry at our level of dysfunction and we have kids who learn that dysfunction. And then those kids land in our schools and they have the opportunity to bump into a teacher “who knows nothing about art” but knows a lot about making the best of a situation no one expects themselves to be in.

And to lose the opportunity to gain a bit of wisdom, well, that’s on them.

As for me, that student today taught me more than any university a rich parent could have bribed me into. She once again reminded me that we cannot worry about what another person thinks about us (or in my case a whole classroom!) but we have to just do our best, show kindness, and move on.

In Andrea speak, “Zero Fucks Given!”

Three slices of pizza, an extra large fries and large Diet Coke later, I’m ready to stop ruminating about my less than ideal day. Instead I will sleep tight because of my carb coma knowing I did my best and wake up to some delicious San Francisco Bay coffee. (Yup, this girl stopped at Costco before it closed. 8 packages of dark roasted pods prove to me that miracles are always at our finger tips.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #34: Not everyone’s going to love you. Love yourself enough to try your best and then give them to God. (Bonus points if you pray for them. Extra bonus points if you’ll pray for me tonight!)

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. 

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education, faith, self improvement, Uncategorized

Resentment, Submitting and Refunds

Every day in my classes I learn more than the 200 kids teach me. I learn that if I don’t want to resent something or someone, I must always (not 99% but ALWAYS) accept the challenging situation. It’s a lesson in submitting to what is, not what I wish it could be.

Yesterday’s lesson was in the form of a 150 pound hairy eighth grader who threw a basketball in frustration when I kicked him out of my class (after asking him to be quiet… then moving his seat… then giving him a personal work plan to help him stay on track… and then having the audacity to tell him to “rethink his actions next door” after he got up from his chair again and stole someone’s ear buds).

Today was a new day so I reminded him before class, “Let’s start over!” He agreed. Then he proceeded to play poker at his table rather than sketching. This was followed by playing loud rap music and then texting on his phone after I moved him yet again. (I’m sure tomorrow I’ll get the memo that my class is actually supposed to be an ‘Introduction to Partying.” I’ll bring the punch on Monday.)

I suppose I don’t get enough of these lessons at school, because tonight I found out that someone opened a case against me on Ebay for not sending a jacket quickly enough.

Ah, crap.

I had totally forgotten to check Ebay with all my classroom activities, but that wasn’t the buyer’s fault. They just wanted their item! And so, like what I did to my eighth grader, they opened a case.

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The thing is, though, unlike my student, I had communicated my part in the error and told them I would ship the jacket. Which I did. They even received the jacket.

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But that didn’t keep them from letting go of their resentment. They wanted a full refund. What could I do? I looked at my part more closely which was… in addition to shipping the jacket late to begin with, I didn’t ship it until late Monday after saying I’d ship it early morning.

Prior to getting sober and my spiritual practice – which henceforth will be known as My Master’s Class – I’d have seen every damn thing wrong with this buyer’s case against me “Lighten up!” I’d scoff. “It’s only $4 fucking ninety nine… BIG DEAL!”

But that voice inside me, which doesn’t curse… who enjoys tacos as much as I do… who I refer to as the Holy Spirit, whispered, “Andrea, child, forgetting to mail something isn’t going to get you cynical. But continuing to defend it will.”

What could I do? I didn’t want to resent the buyer resenting me, so I did the only thing I could think to do in my Resentment/Submit/Refund formula.

I hit “Submit” on Paypal and “Refunded” him.

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The bad news? Some schmo in Southbay has a perfectly lovely faux velvet Prince jacket for their toddler for free because of my error.

Not being angry and letting it go? I’d have refunded a hundred bucks for that. ($101? That’d be too much. I’d rather stay pissed a few more days. But I have a big weekend coming up. I’ll take the serenity win now.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #33: Submit to Win. You’ll be Refunded in Serenity and suffer zero Resentments. Or be right and burn. It’s up to you.

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. 

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Until next time