Every week at church we have something called Thursday Night Live. It’s essentially an opportunity for people who want to showcase their talents either locally or on zoom. As a natural storyteller, I was asked to perform something, so I wrote a song that followed a quick story about my motto for life “Everybody Wants to Be My Friend.” That motto was born from some pretty unusual circumstances regarding meeting siblings I didn’t know existed not once, not twice, but three times in my life. (Want more detail? Watch the link below.)
Was my performance perfect? No. But I made a decision a long time ago, thanks to what I learned from my good friend, Tourette Syndrome, that we can’t wait to enjoy life just because something feels uncertain or has no direction. We just do the best we can.
Newsflash: Nobody knows what they’re doing! Hence my song based on my second motto for life.
Nobody Knows What They’re Doing
You can watch it here. It begins around the 18:15 mark!
Want to perform something for us? We are an open and affirming church – all are welcome!
Email me Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites and I’ll put you in touch with our music director. Why not step out of your comfort zone and connect to something greater than yourself!
For My Tourettes Mamas!
With the holidays fast approaching, don’t forget that you are the perfect person for your child. You don’t have to have all the answers to experience joy, love and laughter. Your happiness starts on the inside, not the outside circumstances like tics, so choose your attitude wisely.
And when you can’t fix the tics, fix yourself. (Don’t waste the lessons Tourettes is showing you!)
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
Photo shot yesterday during an impromptu lunch with Evie and myself after a loooong day of work for us both. Stinkette still is doing her independent thing, and I miss her, but I insist on joy as she lives her best life and I do the same. Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly.
My older daughter (formerly Stink) recently moved super far away. OK right across the street. We don’t see her very much, and while that’s because she’s chosen to be more independent, it’s not always easy.
I have had enough life experience to know that nothing is forever – It’s not my business (or in my power frankly) to change what she needs to do as a 40 hour-week working /rent paying adult. (Proud of that!)
When I wrote my book, Happily Ticked Off about #tourettes syndrome all those years ago, one of the main themes was that if you can’t fix the tics fix yourself. I’m proud to say that I have lived that truth. The light on my taco Tuesday table will always shine for her but it will shine for me first – and that’s what is best for her anyway. (A mom who is happy is the best mom there is.)
Perhaps this letting go created space for God to work because earlier this evening, although she couldn’t make dinner, she spent 10 minutes on my porch talking about her day.. I kept it light, listening and giving no opinion – no criticism. ”Maybe if you were less critical when she was younger she would want to have dinner with you more,” my mean voice shouted.
“Or maybe this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your daughter’s path so stop trying to fix it,” my soul piped in.
Trying to figure things out is just busywork to keep me from feeling my pain. So I had a good cry and then ate a taco.
Here’s to parents of older kids. Don’t let them break you – they are just growing up. Parent yourself. Be good to yourself. Trust the journey. For them and for you.
Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly.
And for my Tourettes mamas, remember: If you can’t fix the tics, fix yourselves!
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
After bailing out of getting a Masters in Teaching to spin in the ever constant of vortex of writing after school while subbing full time and coaching high school seniors on their college essays, it is with true irony that I found myself absolutely loving my current long term gig: teaching sixth grade English.
I am at a school quite dilapidated on the outside, but overflowing with trees stem to stern on the inside. Every morning, lap top in hand, I find myself strolling through what can only be described as a teacher’s treehouse: oak trees, birch trees and pine trees, all intermingled in green leafy goodness.
The scene is the perfect metaphor for most people I know: old and a bit dodgy on the exterior, but take a few moments and the interior will blow you away with a garden of stories and overflowing life.
One of my favorite classes is the non-speaking English class. It would be easy to be intimidated by the lack of speaking skills, but humans are humans. 90% of them speak Spanish, and they laugh as I attempt to articulate my great appreciation for their willingness to let me practice my Espanol. “Tengo muchas palabras en mi cabeza!” I will progclaim which, translated loosely means, “I have many words in my head.”
At six feet tall, I’m a good six inches over most of them, and between the hoodies and the masks, it’s hard to tell if their huge brown eyes are squinted in laughter or disdain, but, honestly, I don’t care. I made a decision a long time ago that absolutely everyone I meet wants to be my friend – that the divine in me will connect with the divine in them. I often share these spiritual truths with them in my broken Spanglish. It might be a lot for 9am, but worse case, there’s Fruit Loops.
Side note: Originally I bought the Family Size Pack (see above) for Stinkette’s new place. She’s doing the whole pad up Halloween style, so what could be more perfect for my spooky-loving, queer half-adult than Halloween Rainbow Pride O’s, but she turned me down via text. “I can’t eat it. Gelatin,” she reminded me. (I don’t know if I trust her logic. This kid would rather spend $1300/month in a rented room across the street than live with her mother, but I digress.) My point: I brought them to school and they were a HUGE hit with my English learning kids.
“I want more!” Carlos politely informed me. I smiled back. “Excellent words, but say ‘I would like more please!'” which, of course, he did and was rewarded with a handful of marsh mellow ghosts and bats – gelatin and all!
Seeing these kids every day remind me of how it used to be with my own kids: repeating the dates, repeating the words, not sure if they are understanding my phrases but knowing from their body language and laughter that they understand my heart.
“Me gusta su cara” I always tell them each day. “I love your face.”
If you think about it, isn’t that what we all want to hear? That our faces – all individual – were created by something bigger than us and worthy of love? That nothing we do can separate us from that divine love?
As I watched Evie tonight after tacos doing her college work, I whispered to her, “Me gusta su cara.”
I looked at the greedy pitbull under the table, hungry for my ridiculous tacos, “Me gusta su cara.”
I looked in the mirror and reminded myself, “Andrea, me gusta so cara.”
And when I looked at my Stink’s empty room, I reminded myself that she might not look like the old Stink I once knew – now with her long curls and slowly transforming feminine body, but I smiled at the image of who she is now. “Me gusta su cara.” I love her face.
And I always will.
And for my Tourettes mamas, remember: If you can’t fix the tics, fix yourselves!
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
Tonight both my sister’s and my last baby graduates high school. Since both graduations fall on the same day, we will not be there to cheer each others’ kids down the field.
Instead, we’ll have a small gathering on Friday night where we’ll bring our almost two decades of parenting/exhausted bodies and raise a toast to our young adults. “Congrats, kids! You somehow nabbed a diploma in spite of weekly covid tests, quarantining, canceled musical performances, school shootings, the threat of war and rising above more than a few Tik Tok challenges. Such challenges include, but are not limited to: knocking one’s mom over the head with a clutch purse while driving, vandalizing public school bathrooms and slapping one’s teacher on the ass.”
(As an educator myself, I somehow dodged that last bullet. Then again, I’m six feet tall and carry a shark backpack larger than a Petco fish tank. If someone slaps me on the ass they’re getting walloped by a patent leather mammal and getting sat on by 180 pounds of mid-menopausal DFWM: “Don’t Fuck With Me.”)
I was put in charge of the cake and the appetizers. What better than a Costco sheet cake the size of Texas to announce in primary blue and green, “Congratulations Graduates 2022!” I had half a mind to tell the baker to change the wording to, “Congratulations Parents 2022!!!” because the past few years have been about as serene as vacationing in boot camp.
There have been so many changes, so many transitions. People have moved, lost jobs, switched careers, switched spouses.
In my case, transition came in the form of my son (Stink) becoming my daughter (Stinkette). None of these things are good or bad. Like change, they just are.
I put the shrimp in the cart and took note of the odd pair they made – kinda like the past two years: sweet and rich, fishy and stinky, side by side.
I decided then and there to celebrate my own graduation from living in the fantasy of what I thought I wanted, to the embracing the reality of what actually IS. Change happens, but we can choose one constant to center us through it all: Love.
Congratulations Parents, 2022!
Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
The other day I decided it was a great idea to move Grandma Stella’s China cabinet.
As if in slow motion, the shelf which housed some of my favorite momentos – from her 1940’s egg dish to my own mom’s English tea cups that sat in her dining room bay window – went crashing to the ground.
Glass mixed with china mixed with porcelain jumped out to me as the perfect physical manifestation of the past two years: family members passing on or getting sick… my children’s transitions from my story for their lives to their very own story (how dare they be their own people!) … my childhood home being sold. All of these items I naively thought would never change, but thanks to Covid and circumstances/choices completely out of my control, I found my once long held ideals shattered in million tiny chards on my freshly washed checkerboard tiles.
Similar to my Evangelical days, I’d love to put a big shiny bow on this story with a happy ending ala, “Golly Gee, God inspired me to turn those messed up pieces into a shiny Mosaic table over Memorial Weekend, the kids helped out, my husband brought me a latte since God works everything together for good.” But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I took a broom, swept it all into a dusty pile and chucked of it into the trash can. Clank! Then I went on with my day. (Someone had to buy the toilet paper, and it wasn’t my teenagers who no, are still not driving. Nope, no shame here. I totally don’t compare myself to other people whose kids have been driving since they day they turned 16 because that wouldn’t be very spiritual, would it?)
To be clear about my quick clean up, it’s not that I don’t care about the treasures pictured above. And it’s not that I don’t wish some things were different with my personal life and my career. But I learned the past few years that wishing things were different than they actually are is about as insane as thinking that a bit of crazy glue will somehow make Grandma Stella’s Easter dish look like the same as the day she bought it at Montgomery Wards, 1957, to match her Crazy Daisy China pattern .
No. The longer I try to hold on to what was, the less space there is for new memories and beautiful momentos to fill the shelves of my china cabinet as well as my own memory bank. Either everything is happening in God’s timing or it isn’t. The first thought brings me peace. The second is pure regret. And with the world as it is, I try really hard to not Choose Door #2 anymore.
On this most holy day of the week – Tico Tuesday/Hump Day Eve – I invite you to let go of anything you’re holding onto that is no longer serves your current reality. What if your kid’s diagnosis is not the issue, but it’s your thoughts about the diagnosis that are holding you back from creating new experiences in your life? What if your strained relationship or unsure job path is not the big, hairy, scary challenge but rather your thoughts about them (grounded in coulda shoulda woulda) that are causing your heart palipitations?
Whatever items are taking up space in your head, I invite you to let your thoughts about it crash to the ground.
Sweep it up.
Put it in the trash with other crazy thinking, such as “I’m going to be a size zero by Wednesday” or “Sam Heughan secretly reads this blog and wants to take me on the back of his bike to an Outlander screening party” and let it go.
Make space for the new.
Everything is unfolding perfectly.
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
Long time no chat. So much has happened over the course of 2020/2021 I don’t even know where to begin, so I just will:
My childhood home of 45 years was sold and my mom moved to an apartment. There’s a lot of memories in a 3000 square foot house to throw out/accommodate, but we did.
Sweet Grandma Stella died. What a bummer. No more visits to her retirement home to sing “Fly me to the Moon.” No one to tell me my ass looks too big or that I “Can’t clean worth shit.” No more jokes about men thirty years younger than her, pointed bras, pumpkin thongs or gin martinis to start a car. But she’ll forever be in my heart, “tidying” my kitchen and telling me to keep “my mouth shut and my legs crossed.”
My sweet Stink became Stinkette. While I’m so happy that she has found her true self, it took some time to adjust. I wish I were a faster student, but I’m here now and so grateful for the new beginnings for her, for us – for everyone in the family.
I went from subbing part time to full time, thanks to the dire need for teachers with Covid. No one was more shocked than I was to find I liked it and am seriously considering getting a credential to keep a classroom full time. (I have learned when it gets noisy to silently dance with an invisible man. My kids know. “Quiet! She’s dancing with Sam!”) Have you seen Sam Heughan? I love you all, but if you steal my invisible boyfriend I will block you.
I started working with some producers on writing a Hallmark movie. (Will it sell? Who knows. I just put one foot in front of the other. Or, shall I say, one “hoof” in front of the other which leads me to…)….
…I finished my camel musical! It needs to be rewritten, but so it shall.
Pip became a senior in high school and, over Covid, I learned just how much I needed to change in my parenting style. It wasn’t easy, but the growth we have experienced has been well worth the experience to shift.
I tell you all this, Mamas, because I learned all the ways to pivot and change thanks to a little something we all call “Tourette Syndrome.” Lots of things over the past year aren’t what I expected (nor – if I’m being honest – are what I’d choose) but in accepting them as they are, I made room for magic. I made room for more writing, more dreaming, more consistent income.
You, too, Mamas, can DECIDE that despite T.S. you can have an amazing 2022. I will aim to write here a bit more often and cheer you on along the way.
Thanks to all who have bought my books or just followed me here all these years. It’s a pleasure to get to know you and I wish you the most wonderful New Year!
PS: It’s Tic-0 Tuesday today, which means I’ll be cooking up some simple tacos and cheese/guac just for Pip, Rex and I. Maddie (formerly Stink) is at Starbucks and apparently I’m not the sun which she orbits any longer. THAT was way more heartbreaking than even the tics. People, life shifts in an instant. Don’t miss it.
BE PART OF MY NEWSLETTER!
For updates on my recent projects and to get a copy of my newest book, WRITE LIKE A MOTHER, sign up for my newsletter here!
I am writing to you on the eve of the best day of the week, Hump Day, to ask you a very simple question: Are you taking care of yourself?
I ask because I continue to hear from loads of mamas, either from my writing or T.S. circle, that are drowning under the weight of all their worry and responsibility.
I get it – because that was me for a very long time! But despite a pretty crazy year this year, I have to admit that these days I’m doing pretty well. There’s a bunch of reasons for that:
I’m 51 now. I just care a hell of a lot less about what anyone, other than my own soul, thinks
Everyone is healthy, despite a scary Covid season
I continue to remain employed (despite wearing some outfits that look like Good Will had a buy one/get one free sale)
My book writing/coaching business is picking up traction
One of my kids went back to school (thank GOD)
My other is almost graduated (thank GOD)
But the biggest reason I find joy is because I take care of me. I no longer wait for approval from people, places or things. If my kids or Rex are unhappy with me, for example, that is never fun, but I have made a commitment to be less enmeshed. Last I checked they had their own God, and it wasn’t me. The time I spend seeking approval from others, or trying to manage other people, is better spent doing what my higher power wired me to do. And, shockingly, it turns out those are the things I love most!
Writing my musical (it’s 50% done! Wait til you see my camels dance and rap!)
Creating content for my writing and T.S. support groups (info to come with a new website!)
I am saying all this, people, because T.S. taught me so much. It reminded me that often my fears about how my child would fare were unfounded. That I often made it so much worse by sticking my nose into stuff that I didn’t need to. What my kid needed most was for me to be a calm and rational mom. I can’t say that was always the case. But late is great!
These days, I am making up for lost time – not just to my kids but to everyone I come in contact with. That doesn’t look overly fancy on the outside. I’m still the same six foot, red headed, cat eye wearing Taco Tuesday loving lady I’ve always been. But my inside? It’s wild with joy. Because my peace does not come from what I thought it would come from – a cure for T.S.. The cure was in me all along. The cure was to focus on my own gifts and talents so I could better support my kids with theirs.
I hope this week finds you doing some things that you love just for you. I’d love to connect with you either in one of my support groups (coming soon) or on Facebook!
Or email me. I don’t bite.
INTERESTED IN TAKING A JOURNALING CLASS WITH ME?
I’m going to be leading two workshops this Spring:
For mamas of Tourette Syndrome kids who want to heal through journaling and connecting with other moms in the same boat.
For mamas who want become more authentically themselves through journaling, laughter and joy.
Both will be 4 weeks. I’ll share more as it gets closer. Sign up for my newsletter below or leave a comment! I’d love to have you!
BE PART OF MY NEWSLETTER!
For updates on my recent projects and to get a copy of my newest book, WRITE LIKE A MOTHER, sign up for my newsletter here!
I have been an avid coffee drinker since I’ve been 16. I’m now 50. Even my special ed math kids can come to the approximate conclusion that I’ve been drinking coffee for 34 years. A more traditional learner such as yourself could equally surmise I’ve been drinking it for more than 50% of my life.
Just scroll through the internet and you’ll find a ton of writers citing case studies on why coffee is great for you. Benefits include everything from anti-oxidants to pre-work out boosts and extra go juice for late night work and study sessions. Plus there’s the whole “focus” and “way to jumpstart your morning” deal. Bottom line: this wonder drug has no limits!
But here’s the problem with this no limit stimulant: humans have limits, and I’m one of them.
Why Give Up Coffee After 30 years?
They say that as you get older you get wiser. I am far from being a saint, but it’s a fact that I’ve gotten much closer to my true self these past few years. Wisdom and faith were hard earned. I searched and found. And along those lines of finding, it became all too apparent that although I love the taste of coffee, I found that my authentic soul didn’t really need all those extra stimulants via my delicious expresso.
Maybe other people can handle it better than I can, but I had to wave the white flag. After drinking up to four cups/day (very strong cups, I might add) I still lacked the energy I needed to get through the day. It was as if I needed a cup of coffee to boost me awake after the inevitable let down of the last cup of coffee.
Then there was the fact that I caught myself thinking about it all the time. “When was my next coffee break?”… “Happy about that new client? Drink coffee!” … “Sad about not getting that new client after all? Drink coffee!” … “Need something to get you through the online zoom day teaching? Drink coffee!”
As a sober alcoholic, I know that java isn’t such a big deal compared to drinking a bottle of two buck chuck per day, but it still caused its fair share of problems:
Problems from Drinking Coffee
Last minute bathroom runs: Yes, coffee made me do my business in the morning, but it would also sneak up on me when I was in traffic. Or taking a jog around the block. Or on a train downtown during the Women’s March when I had to exit my group of gals to beg a Kaiser facility to let me use the girls’ room.
Crankiness: I am high strung to begin with. Adding caffeine into my day in large quantities was like revving the motor on my inner bitch button. I don’t want to be on edge, but coffee took away the space between “I’m going to give that person a piece of my mind” and “Hmmm… maybe telling your family member the best way to live their life when it’s none of my business is not such a hot idea.”
Bad breath: My dog has breath that could start a car, but on coffee I could start a semi truck. Herbal tea is much kinder to my husband when he wants to sneak a last minute kiss on his way out to work, and while I now drink 8 cups of that instead of a decaf/regular coffee combo, at least I’m not filling up my stomach with more acid than a Costco battery pack.
Dependency: After giving up wine almost 5 years ago, I just don’t covet the idea of having to have something to get going in the morning. Like Merlot, coffee worked until it didn’t. When it became more of a “have to” instead of a “want to” I had to kick it to the curb.
Where Have You Bean All My Life? Close By, Baby
So I’m not gonna lie — giving up coffee has been one of the difficult things I have ever done. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love the feeling of a kiln fired mug in my hands and a thick dark coffee waiting inside. So many of my happiest childhood memories are traced back to my parents drinking coffee and laughing with good friends in the kitchen… studying at Nordstroms with girlfriends at UC San Diego where, as broke college kids, we could get unlimited refills of Joe for 25cents.
Coffee to me is what smoking is for others. It’s sexy. It’s late nights at dim lit diners after seeing an amazing piece of theater. It’s writing scripts at the counters of old delis and vintage pie shops. It’s long distance road trips. It’s sitting around the campfire and swapping ghost stories. It’s waking up on Christmas morning and that lovely anticipation of opening gifts while eating a slice of last night’s pumpkin pie. It’s a handsome man taking me to a bistro and sharing a brownie with me over an Americano just so we don’t have to say goodbye.
Just typing that out is making me yearn for it. But… like with wine… it started becoming an idol. Like the Kenney Chesney song, “One was one too many… one more was never enough.” A better way to put it is like this:
When I controlled coffee, I couldn’t enjoy it. And when I enjoyed it, I couldn’t control it.
Some of you might say, “Oh, for God sake, lighten up, Andrea. You already don’t drink. Give yourself a vice and enjoy your life!”
And friends, that’s what I told myself for years. And while I found my relationship with it starting to fade, I still found I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than anything else out there. And that kind of sucks. For me, that looked like building my life around coffee and not the other way around. Ex: I didn’t get a kick out of parties that didn’t have coffee the way I like it. (Yes, dumb, but true.) I wouldn’t go to certain restaurants that didn’t serve it the way I liked it. (Super dark with rich cream.) Even my own coffee, unless it was thick enough to start a car, it wasn’t worth drinking, and then I’d be cranky.
I once switched to decaf for a year, but that only left me drinking 6 cups of thick decaf each day which was the same as one cup of regular coffee anyway + dry skin to boot. #addict
This kind of mental back flips toward the end over something I used to enjoy so much had end. I felt in my gut — where the God of my understanding lives — that it was time to release this ridiculous obsession to make room for new pleasures in my life.
Pleasures that didn’t cause me stinky breath, emergency pit stops and gobs of money at every Starbucks in town.
Immediately after that last cup I felt amazing.
I was depressed. For about two weeks. I still am, mildly.
Giving up the coffee was akin to giving up a toxic boyfriend who once was so delightful. Sure, I’d miss its company, but it no longer served me. It had to go.
The Spiritual Side of Less Caffeine
There are some perks (no pun intended) to giving up the mud. In slowing down, thanks to lack of caffeine, I started having insights that I never would have had thanks to the dopamine high I was so used to experiencing. The main one was that, despite many years of work on myself, there is a piece of me that is consistently restless, irritable and discontent. Oh, sure, it doesn’t drive the bus like it used to, but it’s ready to take the wheel at any time. Giving up coffee, and allowing God into these moments of discomfort, has forced me to look at things I haven’t wanted to for a long time.
I am not into self-deprivation (though it might appear to that living without alcohol and coffee now) but there is a place for stopping distractions… to letting our souls fill with the God of our understanding instead of always turning for the next fix.
Do I think I will give up coffee forever? I don’t know. But I do know this: I’m going through a very holy period of my life right now. I have never seen so much change. It’s like living in Upside Down Land at times. There is simply not enough coffee to make me feel like it’s all going to right itself back again. But… and here’s the big BUT… I’ve had an epiphany since giving up the brown juice:
Life before coffee was never ideal. It was just life, like cream in my java, a mixture of good and bad mixed together. I saw it through a lense of steam…a projection of what I wanted it to be rather than what it really was.
Letting go of my favorite escape is helping me to get my daily fixes with God as I know Him. It’s causing me to sit in my discomfort and realize I’m not going to die.
A New Tradition — Holidays Sans Cafe’!
Tonight I sat at my kitchen table with my Covid bubble. This includes my friend, her two littles, her sister and her family and, of course, my family. While my teens played Among Us with a few friends socially distanced outside, the adults planned our Thanksgiving dinner.
My chosen family is El Salvadorian, and I was delighted to hear that this comes with new recipes I have yet to try, plus I won’t be making the turkey! (Let’s get real… my husband won’t be making it. I rarely cook.) Instead, mis amigos will bring the bird, complete with soft bread and tomato sauce.
As for the after dinner extravaganza, I might not get coffee with the Cheesecake my friend is bringing for dessert, but I’ll have a delicious cup of decaf Stash Chai Spice. And, remembering that experiences trump idols every time, I’ll be sure to say an extra prayer of gratitude that I followed my gut to unplug my coffee pot… and my over caffeinated brain… to settle down and appreciate the new pleasures this season has to bring.
Until next time —
I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.
Happy Tic-Oh Tuesday! With the riots and Covid regulations and the news that my kids likely won’t have a ‘regular’ high school experience next year (likely it’ll be a hybrid of online and drastically changed physical school) it’s a shock I’m not ticking myself. (Unless you count eating M&Ms by the fistfuls and drinking more decaf than Donald Trump uses bottles of fake tan.)
Note: Drinking 12 “mugs” of Decaf – extra strong – really equals about 25 cups of decaf/day. Um, that’s really not normal, people. Plus it means I was really drinking about 4 cups of caffeine/day. I cut down to 3 mugs and, lo and behold, my skin came back with a glow and I’m sleeping. It’s amazing! Moving on…
Hope Despite a Crazy Nation
I am not saying I’ve been happy over the past few month’s events. And to say I’m scared for our nation is an understatement. But I also have hope. I believe, just like I did when I was raising my son, that the human spirit is resilient. I refuse to fall into despair for more than a day. What’s the point? I am still breathing. I still have my home. I still have food. Alexa is still churning out jazzy Christmas music for me. (Yes, it’s June. Don’t judge. It makes me think of family, egg nog and happy lights.)
It’s also clear that my dog isn’t too worried about the turn of events.
Like Brooklyn, I can rest in the knowledge that this, too, shall pass. And when I can’t change something, I can reach out my hand and help another. Is she worried about the perfection of my bed not made? No she is not. Maybe I can relax, too.
Okay, people, I FINALLY landed on what I’m doing with myself! I hired a coach to help me set up my own book coaching biz. More to come, but in my gut – the place where the God of my understanding lives – I KNOW this is the right track for me. It will allow me to teach (which I love… just not in big groups and with kids that smell of Ax body spray.)
It will allow me to work while my kids are at school (or, in the case of next year) it will allow me to manage them so they are actually turning in school work instead of watching copious amounts of Youtube. (Which, um, has been quite the challenge of late.) But mostly it’ll give me the opportunity to write another book myself. I know that books themselves don’t make a fortune, but as a gateway to a business (in my case, a coaching one) they can be quite lucrative. It will also allow me to work on my musical – my hobby – on weekends.
I’m thrilled! No more circling the drain!
And guess what? If I am WRONG, I fail. Big deal. But I don’t think so. Not this time. I’ll keep you posted. And I can always sub while I build up my clients. (But you know what? I think this is IT for me.)
I find it interesting how some people innately are able to simply accept the tics and others struggle so much with self-loathing. I wonder how much of it comes from the comorbid conditions. You and Jessica don’t mention any comorbidities, so perhaps they aren’t a big deal in her life. I’d love to hear a follow up from Jessica on how much of her TS experience is tics v. how much is other conditions like OCD, anxiety, etc. Personally, I smoosh them all into a big ball of wax I call Tourette.
I did a follow up interview on this and here’s what she said!
Jessica Smith (AKA Paula Ferri – her Tourettes inner voice gal pal. Watch out – she’s cheeky)
1) Why do you not struggle with self-loathing now?
I don’t struggle with self-loathing now because I have worked really hard at it lol. It’s a process and the journey is different for everyone. I think the biggest change is understanding that these labels are all in my interpretation. I can be stubborn, which is often seen as a bad thing, while I choose to see it as tenacity, or the ability to stick to something I care about. I can hate myself for being stubborn or admire myself for my follow-through. <– This is HUGE. This works on ANYTHING!
We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Take one thing that you dislike and find a way to make it a good thing. How does it make you a better person? How do you use it as a strength instead of weakness? It doesn’t matter what co-morbidities I have, I choose how to use them. I take control of how I use them rather than feeling like a victim of my circumstances.
2) Was there a period where you DID struggle? (ex: you said you were suicidal in H.S.)
Struggle is a part of life. I struggled with depression in high school through about 2010. I struggled with self-esteem and self-love through probably 2015. I still struggle with various things. One challenge is conquered and a new one arrives. Life isn’t easy and just because I don’t deal with one particular thing doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues I deal with.
My goal is to deal with things as they come, rather than shove them to the side until I have a pile of garbage to deal with all at once. That gets to a point of not being able to function. Been there. Not a place I want to return to. When you have a huge pile of challenges to deal with, you pick them out one at a time and deal with them. It takes time, and it’s hard. This is a huge contributing factor to my second book, Tragically Strong.
I’ve been through some really rough things, and honestly, TS and the co-morbids are the least of my concerns when I have been homeless and wondering where I can sleep that night, or when I was being sexually abused. They can affect the situations, yes. Co-morbids were certainly present and weren’t making it easier. So I dealt with it one day at a time. When things calm down, I work on the things that will make it easier next time life throws me a curveball.
3) How do your co-morbid conditions (if any) affect you individually?
Honestly, I don’t think about it much. I know they are there. I think I just make sure I have a proper outlet for them. I still am very detailed and OCD, so when I quilt, I allow myself to make incredibly tiny hand stitches. Quilting is more of an outlet, something that I do for me, so I have no deadline or timeline that it has to be complete. I can take as long as I want to make it perfect. it also comes in handy when editing and making sure my work is perfect.
When my anxiety flares, if I can I will go for a run to release all the excess energy. If I’m dealing with rage, I keep a stack of spare plates under my bed so I can pull them out and smash them, rather than destroying something I need. There are tricks to provide relief without destroying my life, no matter what co-morbid I may be dealing with at the time. I just try to channel it into something productive rather than destructive.
4) Do you consider yourself to have “Tourettes” and that’s it? All the co-morbids smooshed in? Or do you isolate them?
Half the time, I forget I have TS. It’s hard to know if I’m just angry or if the rage is a co-morbid. Where do you draw the line? Everyone has some form of OCD, ADHD, and ALL the co-morbids, it’s just the extent that it affects your day to day life. Rather than spending my time figuring out where the line is, if it is part of the TS or not, I would rather focus on what is going on around me and what I’m doing about it. So I guess I don’t really know how to answer the question. They are all part of me, so smooshed? Though I deal with them individually as they come up, so isolated? Does it matter? I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer on this one way or the other. I’d rather live life than analyze it to pieces. Just do stuff.
5) What do you say to folks who truly struggle with their issues related to TS?
This is going to sound heartless, but know I say it with all the love in the world… Everyone struggles. We all have different struggles, but you are not a victim. What are you doing about it? There was one night in particular where I was really struggling. There was a battle going on in my head. I felt so depressed and confused and worthless and alone and I was trying to “fight back” reminding myself of people who loved me and I could tell myself all day til I’m blue in the face all the good things… but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was exhausting and I was pleading for some kind of relief from these demons that were haunting me and from this emotional turmoil.
All of a sudden, I had this thought… “so what?” So what if I wasn’t loveable, or talented, or funny or pretty or smart or anywhere near what I wanted to be in life. So what? I may not be that right now, but that doesn’t mean I will forever be stuck that way. I can grow and change and learn and BECOME whatever I want. Life is a constant journey and we won’t attain perfection in everything. What is most important and what are you doing to get there? There are people who run track and there are people who run track with hurdles. ANY struggle is a hurdle that you have the power to jump over. Or go around. Or dive under. As long as you don’t sit in front of the hurdle and wait for someone to move it for you. Others can cheer you on, shout encouragement and ideas from the sidelines, but you have to run the race. You are not a victim. You still have options. Find something that helps, that works, and keep moving forward.
6) Would you ever consider coaching teens or parents of kids with TS?
I have considered it and would love to. I’m just still working out the specific details of what I want it to look like. But if someone out there wants to work with me, contact me and we’ll work something out.
The click bait title above was waiting for me in my in-box first thing this morning.
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Trump impeachment. The death of Kobe Bryant. The crowded Democratic presidential field. We dive into the fleeting days of 2019 and the first three months of 2020, when America and the world were looking elsewhere as an intruder crept in.”
That’s some heavy stuff. I’m not surprised, with headlines like this, that everyone looks at each other in the super market with just a little less kindness. As if simply asking about their day is some sort of manipulative gesture to snatch from extra toilet paper from under their cart. I can’t help but wonder if we put as much in energy into focusing on what was working, instead of what wasn’t, if our mental attitudes wouldn’t be that much more serene.
More Gratitude/Less Attitude
Okay, so that sounds super cheesy, but but I do feel like I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve been in 12 step too long, also, to not see the miracles that happen to me and those around me when I look for the good. It doesn’t mean that bad things aren’t happening in the world, but it does mean that good things are happening, too.
Covid 10 is a Virus, But So is Love. And Guess What? Both Are Contagious.
It is a simple fact that so many of us are feeling the strain of Covid 19, but my geraniums? Not so much. In fact, they’re more alive than ever! (Including a new baby second to the front that I snatched from a neighbor’s garden. My son, ever the honest chap, was not so happy at my thievery. I told him to go back and play some video games. Jesus would understand.)
On the subject of gratitude, when I stepped outside tonight with my husband and daughter for our nightly walk around the block, I smiled as my eye spotted a wind chime given to me by my ex-inlaws for Christmas one year. (Did you know I was married for a year back in college? Well, now you do. He is no longer alive, sadly, but his parents and I still keep in touch. Sidenote: This is why you and I can never meet in real life, because once I know you, you’re stuck with me for eternity. Right, Jodee? And that’s a lot of Christmas gifts to be sending everyone!)
I have a fridge full of food, a husband making pizza and Alexa is currently playing Christmas classics because, in a pandemic, I need a little cheer to remind me that there will be gifts at the end of this crisis. The gifts might not come in the form of material items, but when I’m patient, I can find them just about everywhere I look.
Reading – My Favorite Gift to Stay Present
Today’s reading from Mark Nepo spoke about trust, and for me, it’s become very clear that when I trust God, I’m fine. When I don’t trust Him – when I think it’s up to me to run the entire show – I get agitated, cranky and I blame everyone else for my issues.
I don’t want to live like that, people. But yesterday, despite a great beginning to my day, it didn’t end so well. The trick for me, because I’m in constant gratitude, is that I didn’t have to live in my pile of resentment. Unlike my drinking days, where I didn’t like being stuck in my crap but at least it was warm, these days it stinks too much.
So this morning, after sleeping in from an emotional hangover, I got up and meditated. I read some Mark Nepo. I journaled and I said to God what I often say when I can’t get out of my own head: God, help me set aside everything I think I know about this particular issue, and direct my attention to how you’d have me be.
Notice it’s not “What would you have me do.” Either God is, or he isn’t. I don’t need to self-will my way into “fixing” everything. Sometimes I just to let it pass, whether that means butting into someone’s business, giving unwanted advice or somehow thinking I know more than the next person. Um, not true.
I don’t know who your God is, but maybe you can relate to what happens you don’t trust this energy source. It never ends well. I’m so grateful for do-overs every single day.
Here’s what I published on my Facebook page. And I’m happy to say that all’s well that ends well. Not all days are gonna be winners, but with some trust in God – especially on Easter – I’m grateful to rise above my own anger and start over with love again.
Yesterday started out so beautiful. I woke up deliciously late. I prayed and I meditated. I journaled.
For the first time in a very long time I allowed myself to rest.
No rushed pace.
I prayed for the world in crisis, but I also made an intention to enjoy my present. And that present was mine for the taking: beautiful weather, a walk with my husband, and a trip to Costco where I’d shop for myself and a few folk who can’t get out. Given I would not be back for two weeks at least (please no more messages to me about hand washing and shopping – I get it!) I thought I was in great mental and spiritual shape to get my groceries and go.
But when I got there, the mask kept steaming my glasses. And while I remained patient and asked for help, I started to feel defeated. “Is this what it’s like to be old?” I sighed. “To take 15 minutes to find beans because I can’t read the numbers on the aisles?”
When I got to the register – exhausted – the women (looking more like surgeons than cashiers with their gloves and face coverings) kept pushing me to get my items on the conveyor belt quicker than was my comfort level. “I need to split these items into sections,” I explained. “Are you ready now?” they would bark any time I’d stop briefly to check my cart.
“I’m not ready” I told them, inhaling air to center myself (as best I could with the little oxygen I had inside my mask) and attempting to remember that they deal with crazy customers like me all day long.
“Please wait while I figure it out,” I stated calmly, watching my food roll forward at a pace not unlike the episode where Lucy finds herself madly rearranging chocolates at the candy factory.
“The conveyor belt doesn’t stop!” grunted one of the women who I swear was a Sue Sylvester look-alike.
I took a deep breath, looked at her in the eye and stated not unlike a female Terminator of big bulk shopping: “Stop the belt.“
Which she did.
Either she found the pause button on the endless metal machine or she, like me, decided if she didn’t pause her own mouth she would murder me before ringing up my total.
$325 later, one stop to a friend and a big unload to a neighbor, I made it home.
It was now 7PM. I had promised my son I’d play Dungeons and Dragons by 730PM. Assuming that nothing got in the way of unpacking, all would be well. (Side note: I’m really working on being someone of follow through. If I can’t be on time for my kids, how can I expect them to be on time for me?)
But somehow in that limited 30 minutes left I had allotted myself, I forgot about dinner. And then my husband – in an effort to be helpful to get us closer to our 730 game time – put the food I had intended to sit out for 3 days to “de-Corona bug” on the clean side of the table. Oh, and my nutritious intake that day? Nothin’ but some dry toast and jelly. (It’s shocking I wasn’t in my fittest spiritual and mental condition.)
I lost it.
In front of the kids.
In essence, I forgot to tell myself to “Stop the belt!”
“Noooo! That’s the clean table cloth side! Now I have to remove the table cloth, do laundry and start over again before the game!” I barked.
In my mind I was going to be that hipster doctor from Michigan, calmly separating the food and spraying down the cardboard/cans with clean white rags and measured breath. Instead I morphed into the Tazmanian devil jacked up on Starbucks fighting invisible germ bugs with In and Out Burger napkins because Lysol Wipes have been about as elusive as the end to this crisis. It wasn’t pretty. #insanity
And all those big attempts to be present for my family and be a good neighbor went to hell. There would be no game because James and I were not speaking. The kids, who aren’t used to us arguing anymore, went into their shells and began drawing instead. I once tried to sit down to which my daughter, calm as a cucumber, said, “We would like a little time to ourselves, Mom. No disrespect.” None taken. Who could blame them? I wanted some time away from myself as well, but I don’t drink anymore. There was no where to hide. I just would have to sit in my feelings for a little bit.
I was consumed with guilt. What’s the point of praying and meditating if I’m going to let my own family down. And, more to the point, let myself down?
And then this voice came into my head that answered that very question – that voice that I can only hear when I don’t try to fix stuff but instead allow myself just to feel what is going on. “Because you are human, Andrea. You are not God. How about you let it go. These aren’t exactly normal times.”
So I attempted to do that. James had gone to bed so my apology to him would have to wait until later. But I told my kids that I was sorry for not being my best.
I listened to them instead of making excuses. (Ouch, that wasn’t easy.)
And at midnight, when I still couldn’t sleep, I took a long ride through the city with my daughter. We looked at the empty streets and I finished listening to her new love “Hadestown.” I then offered up one of my old favorites, “The Jazz Singer” (“Those are some serious power ballads, Mom!” she informed me).
We then sat in the dark front of my childhood church – the one I would not be able to go to for Easter services a few hours later thanks to Covid 19 – and just took a breath.
Like today’s reading from Mark Nepo, I’m starting to really get the fact that life isn’t always about the ups. The downs are part of it also. It’s in the acceptance that I don’t have to get it right, but keep pushing that ball of light up the hill, that I can find serenity.
This Easter morning are no eggs. There are no baskets. But perhaps new life can begin again with my family. I can talk to my husband about what was really behind my reaction to the food on the table. (Fear.) I can play some music and make some lunch. (Nurture.) I can ask if my kids want to try again on Dungeons and Dragons next Saturday. (Openness) And I can trust that the God of my understanding doesn’t expect me to be perfect. I just need to get off that Costco Conveyor belt of life and remember that this, too, shall pass.
Happy Easter, everyone. May you die to the harsh expectations you have of yourself and others and live in the new life of today. Even with our struggles, if we are present to them, there is so much joy to be found in their teachings.
Happy Easter everybody!
Until next time,
My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )
Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!
Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter