faith, God, humor, Jesus, spirituality, writing

Camp Honesty

I just got back from a weekend of camping. I’d like to say that it was a time of amazing family bonding. Of great talks under the stars and walks along the river where we pushed ourselves a bit more than we normally would, cheering each other on to be our best selves in matching tee shirts.

And it was. Minus the matching tee shirt part. Though if we did have matching shirts, it would be these.

But it was also a lot of last minute rushing (despite all my prepping and shopping runs) to get to our destination. Some ingredients for much anticipated recipes were left behind. Shrimp that was supposed to go into Saturday’s gumbo was left on the counter overnight by a certain teenager who saw the brown wrapping paper as being trash instead of hosting potential stomach seizing bacteria. And the trash in the camper?! The bodies bumping into each other at 2am to cross the road to find the bathroom?! This kind of experience can only be described as a five part Oy: Oy Oy Oy Oy Oy!

Half of me wants to just get more organized for next trip. You know, shop a few days in advance. Perhaps I could use paper plates or we could pre-pack the trailer with items that we’ll always need, instead of arriving at a campsight with four cans of black beans but no can opener.

I don’t have any illusions that the great outdoors is going to be easy. Nope, stuff takes work and, as much as I’d love to own something like the camper below, I don’t. And that’s okay.

But I know, deep in my gut, I’m not an outdoors work-til-I-drop person. I’m a hotel lady. I’m a lover of conversations and coffee, not black tea and neighbors in the adjoining campsite snoring while I desperately try to climb over my spouse cowboy style on the way to a midnight pee run.

My goal, as you all know, is to laugh and keep things light. But I also didn’t get sober to just deal with things that aren’t working for me. Like that car full of used clothing I dumped on Friday, I’m ready to dump old ideas of what my life needs to look like. And guess what: If everyone in my family loves camping, but I’m not so sure, it’s okay for me to have a simple conversation. “Hey, I thought I wanted to do this, but I don’t love it. How can we do it differently next time?” Or, here’s a perfectly acceptable conversational starter also, “If we can’t leave the shoes outside the camper, I can’t continue to camp. It’s too dirty for me.”

I bring this up because people, especially women, often have a hard time saying when things don’t work for them. (Thanks, Shauna Niequest, for reminding me of this concept!)

At almost 50, I’m ready to change that dynamic around. Happiness never comes from me doing things I think other people want. It only comes when I stand in my own truth and admit exactly where I’m at any given time.

My needs matter. Wow, what a concept!

This Sunday night, I thank God for his beautiful gift of nature. I thank him for a family that has always been by my side, through the amazing adventures and the sticky muddy camper ones. And I also thank God for the burgeoning truth that my happiness does not depend on other people agreeing with my feelings. It only matters that I express myself and let God handle the outcome.

Join Me in a Private Facebook Group!

If talking more personally sounds interesting to you, hit me up on Facebook! I’ll be happy to add you. Find me at the group @HappilyTickedOff (not to be confused with my Facebook Page, @HappilyTickedOff.)

Also stay tuned: I do have a few very nice items that I’m going to run a giveaway at my Happily Ticked Off Facebook group on.

Leave a Comment and Join Me on Facebook! (It’ll be fun to get to you know on a more personal, private forum!)

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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God, humor

I’ve Seen Salvation… Army!

My intentional space… everything here I love (minus the Punky Brewster rainbow colored fan which I’m having Santa replace on Christmas.)

It feels weird having a whole lot of space to myself. It’s not just my office that is cleared out. My head is, also. All that crap I’d been holding onto to sell for a few bucks was akin to sunscreen on my face: blocking me from the sunlight of my very own spirit.

All this beautiful new office space has given me permission to focus on my own writing. I don’t have to worry about last minute post office runs, or forgetting packages altogether because I was too busy running carpool or rushing to a last minute sub gig.

I don’t have to bolt out my house anymore to inconveniently meet a client random neighbor to grab their old stuff (stuff that is worth $5 but they swear is valued at $25) and flip it online at the expense of my own sanity flipping out. And equally as important, I don’t have to serve my family the scraps that are left with all my nice energy being expended on other people.

I think what kept me in the game so long was the idea of having a little extra spending cash. And I did have it. But at what cost? Avoiding smarter budgeting conversations with Rex, or being firm with what I need, is not a good reason to hustle for pennies. If anything, this mentality kept me from pushing my own career forward, as well as being more forthright with my needs.)

Absolutely sticking a stake in the heart of my Ebay delusion feels a bit like getting a cast off. Or a divorce. We got used to each other’s eccentricities. Both of us weren’t getting much from the deal, but there were some fun perks, like outings to our favorite resale haunts. But, to quote my old pastor, the deeper the death, the higher the resurrection. Sure he was talking about spiritual items, and not used Keens water shoes that smelled like baby pee, but the idea is the same. I can’t rise above my circumstances when I’m being buried in old ideas and products.

So while I still toy with the idea of owning my own online clothing empire akin to retro Ms. Frizzle dresses, I am going to take a huge leap of faith and construct own my own Andrea empire complete with scripts, books and an private online presence where we can get together and talk about how positive attitude and prayer can transform our lives into what we’ve always wanted them to be but were too afraid to do.

Join Me in a Private Facebook Group!

If talking more personally sounds interesting to you, hit me up on Facebook! I’ll be happy to add you. Find me at the group @HappilyTickedOff (not to be confused with my Facebook Page, HappilyTickedOff.)

Also stay tuned: I do have a few very nice items that I’m going to run a giveaway at my Happily Ticked Off Facebook group on.

Leave a Comment and Join Me on Facebook! (It’ll be fun to get to you know on a more personal, private forum!)

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.

God, humor, Jesus, reading, spirituality, taco tuesday, Tics, writing

If I Squeeze Your Taco… I Mean Head… I’m Sorry: Taco Tuesday with Writer, Gwen Vogelzang

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Tonight I had 12 people around my table for tacos: My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law,  her two kids, my two kids, Amelia, her daughter Avi, her baby in-utero, her friend and, of course, our pitbull mix always ready for a handout. (It’s her – and Rex’s – favorite night of the week because it’s the one night there’s meat on the table thanks to Amelia.)

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday so we pulled out all the stops including two dayglo orange and green plastic taco shell holders in the form of trucks. Combined with the mariachi ducks and the sombreros we were a truly a classy joint.

After 2 tacos with 14 fixings, two sets of brownies, a gluten free cake with sprinkle stars and coffee, I was so happy I could have squeezed someone’s head. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to put up tonight’s post, an interview with writer Gwen Vogelzang for her upcoming book, If I Squeeze Your Head, I’m Sorry.

I was honored to be introduced to Gwen through her agent, Stephanie Alton, who asked me to write an endorsement. (Her book deals with a boy who has Tourettes. Turns out that not only do our kids have that in common, but we both have similar journeys of faith, are straight shooters when it comes to transparency with our lives and not afraid to try new adventures. Plus she’s a fan of tacos, so she’s in automatically.)

I love meeting new people like Gwen, but rather than talk about, why don’t I let you read about it!

taco tuesday 2 gwen vogelzang

Where are you from and where do you live now?

My husband and I recently moved from 18 years in Denver to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What do you do for a living? 

I own and operate Four Birds {Airstream Gathering Spaces}, where we rent out a vintage Airstream trailer for events and meetings.  We had it gutted and restored and it’s an open space with a mini kitchenette.  Unlike most Airstreams, it’s not used for camping but rather as a boutique venue space where small groups can gather.  We deliver the trailer to locations of our clients’ choice and host creative workshops on our 5 acre property in the Michigan woods.

taco tuesday 4 gwen vogelzang

taco tuesday 3 gwen vogelzang
I’m also publishing a book with our son, Rylan.  He’s 12 and lives with Autism and Tourette Syndrome.  The book is drawings he created, paired with his descriptions about what it feels like to live in his brain.  It hits shelves this Fall and we couldn’t be more pumped to put his unique, inspiring work into the world and see what God does with it.
taco tuesday2 gwen vogelzang

What influenced you to write a book?

 During a semester of homeschooling, Rylan and I were studying what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  We interviewed a local cafe owner we frequented in Denver and she offered Rylan the opportunity to host an art show at her cafe.  We decided, after negating the idea of focusing the show on Pokemon, to use the them of what it feels like to live in his brain.  The work we did together was more valuable in understanding my son and the way he walk this earth than the tens of thousands we spent on therapy over the years.  And the feedback on the show from the public was inspiring and humbling.  After the 10th person told us we should consider turning the art show into a book, we put together a proposal and 8 months later, we had a publishing contract.  We knew how much value a vast array of audiences would benefit from his work and felt obligated to share it.

Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  My basement holds boxes full of old journals documenting very dramatic middle school feelings up through journals written during our first years of marriage.  I’ve been blogging for 10 years, which continues to evolve into audiences resonating with stages or our family life.  It’s therapy.  Writing is how I tick and process and form connections.  

What is your marketing strategy and how important is this for writers who are publishing their first books?

This being my first book, it’s a huge learning process, but my 15 year career was in non-profit marketing and public relations which helps tremendously.  I find so much life in searching for creative and bold ways to spread important messages.  We’ve formed a list of influencers who are conencted to autism and tourettes to help us launch the book and will host various events supporting pre and post sales.  We also did a fundraiser to fund a book trailer video to utilize during our launch and developed a fun, engaging website specifically for the book.  Our social media through Instagram and facebook will keep audiences engaged and cause them to love our kiddo as we prepare to launch the book.  Without effective marketing, books are incredibly hard to sell just given how saturated the market it.  It’s a tough gig putting a book into the world. 

What was the most difficult part about writing your book?

The toughest part was definitely making the design and look of the book to match our vision.  It doesn’t always match what the publisher views as the vision, so navigating those waters has been tricky. 

taco tuesday 2 gwen volgelzang

What was the most fun about writing your book? 

Definitely working with Rylan as he drew and described his experiences.  He would verbalize why he drew what he drew and I typed as he talked.  It was such a collaborative experience and one that was incredibly unique to anything I had experienced as a parent.  It proved to me just how powerful art is in a therapeudic realm for kids of any cognitive or developmental ability. 

How did you go from “ticked off” to “happily” ticked off? (Basically, how did you use any of your challenges to motivate you to move ahead?)

This book has directed me away from the mentality that I need to “change” my kiddo to one of contentment and awe in who he was created to be.  His “challenges” are in fact gifts that I was stifling by trying to alter the way he behaves and reacts to the world around him.  Allowing him to express just how he sees and feels and hears and touches the world brought peace and inspiration in my relationship with him and in my understanding of how to advocate for him.  That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle day to day and have challenges to face, but I see them at face value and don’t assume that they can be fixed.  They just “are.”  And that’s okay.

Give a shout out to a few bloggers or writers who have influenced you the most.

Watching Heather Avis with The Lucky Few advocate and shout the worth of her kiddos is inspiring on so many levels.  Her feeds warm my soul on days when I want to give up.  Her spirit is infectious and vital to our kids with different abilities.  I also admire Sevy Marie and her Mama bear, Lisa Eicher.  Their dedication to finding joy in their daughter’s trauma is incredible.  Another example of the power of art and advocacy through a kiddo’s strengths.  Last, Shelley Moore is a storyteller, inclusive educator, researcher and author who I saw headline an inclusive education conference.  She captivated me at her assumption that ALL children can be included in regular education and the brilliant strategies and coaching she offers educators who need guidance.  

What do you want people to know most about your book? 

12-year-old Rylan thrives and struggles with Autism and Tourette Syndrome. He and his Mama Bird, Gwen, are publishing their first book, set to hit shelves in September, 2019. This one-of-a-kind picture book, “If I Squeeze Your Head I’m Sorry” will uplift, educate, create dialogue, entertain, and allow readers to enter the brain of a child who sees, feels, and understands the world from a remarkably and refreshingly unique perspective. Their work reminds us how important it is to listen to each other in an effort to truly understand and to assume immense value in one another

Send Links and Brag or Forever Hold Your Guacamole

Tell your neighbor, your hairstylist, your teachers, your great Aunt Gerty, Tell ALL your people. This book is an inclusive experience, so get on board Broskis! Pre-orders available soon!  Visit http://www.ifisqueezeyourheadimsorry.com for all the crazy fun details.  Follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ifisqueezeyourheadimsorry/.  

Does faith play a role in your writing? If so, how?

We believe in an inclusive God.  And that God is the reason this book is about to become a real thing.  Rylan and Jesus are pretty tight – always have been.  Rylan has a lot of questions about God, but in his heart he feels connected to a love not available anywhere else.  Jesus and Rylan knew how important it was to use his words to help create more understanding and conversation around living with special needs and by golly that’s what they’re doing.  I’m the tool making it all happen in the literal sense, but the opportunity came through grace and Jesus.  I’ve tried explaining it other ways, but I fall short every time.  

When we meet in person for tacos, what food item would you bring and why? 

Always guacamole.  Every day guacamole.  Avocado, one lime per avocado and pink sea salt.  

 

Have You Written a Book and Want to Be Featured on Taco Tuesday? Leave a Comment or Just Say Hola to Gwen! Comment and Share

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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God, humor, Jesus, meditation, Uncategorized

Motivation Monday: Let’s Dish!

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Please tell me that some of you experience life like these dishes? That no matter how diligent you are, events, illnesses, random neighbors and challenges pile up. Some days are easier than others, but one thing is certain: the rack is hardly clean.

That’s the way it’s been for me the past… forever… but today just felt so good it didn’t really matter. I have money in the bank, Amelia went to Costco with me, Tuskany chatted with me on the phone while I watched Pip rock climb and the weather made it so pleasant to run back and forth to my car for my daily four (yes FOUR) trips to my kids’ college campuses where they are taking language.

I supposed the drive could be drudgery, but I cherish the moments with these half baked adults. I say half baked with affection, because they are old enough to have some really decent banter but young enough to still have ideals and joy toward their future. Stink  wants to work for Nintendo and create video games. Pip wants to sing on Broadway and maybe get into nursing. Will those things happen for them? As my father would say, “I don’t have the foggiest notion.” But the passion they have toward learning those skills will serve them in whatever they choose to do. Who am I to dash their dreams?

When I forget to pray in the morning, my perspective on the above paragraph isn’t always so great. I can easily get plagued with uncertainty: “Am I not encouraging their academics enough? Should I be pushing them more toward work? Should I be better about asking them to clean their rooms?”

But on days like today when I meditate and start the morning with prayer, despite only 5 hours of sleep, I can relax into the beauty that is God’s grace when I just let conversations be. When I don’t have to be the smartest one in the car, or the funniest person at the dinner table. I can ask more questions and give space for hurts to be shared and laughter to flow. From that place of intention, how can things go badly? Even a stack of dishes is just a giant reminder of gratitude that we have food in the house, people to sit at our table, and water to wash them with.

So that leaves me with my goals for the week – to hold onto this feeling of contentment that joy doesn’t come with one more writing assignment completed. It comes with knowing that I have a God, and so do my kids, so I don’t have to worry about any fears that I have. I can just rest and remember that, as Amelia always reminds me, “Everything is working out perfectly.”

And it is for you, too.

What are your goals this week? Leave a Comment!

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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