faith, reading, self improvement, Uncategorized, writing

Daily Magic

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I recently picked up The Great Gatsby. It was sitting in a pile of free books at my daughter’s summer school location and it was begging me to read it.

“I’ll read it also!” my daughter said.

I jumped at the offer. The past few years I’ve only read books she has recommended to me. Wonder. The Fault In My Stars. Holes. I see dozens of books scattered in her room that I’ve not been privy to. The Book Thief. Night. And so many more.

She’s almost 15 now. I’ll admit to being more than a tad jealous of her secret world that she lives in her books. That world used to be through me.

Some of my favorite memories were reading to her out loud. When she was five I read her the original Secret Garden. I can still remember cuddling on my bed with her – those long languid days before I had to scoot out the door for work and time wasn’t such a rare commodity. Lazy moments seemed to grow like those flowers up the garden wall… slow and relaxed. Why rush? Why not bloom in our own sweet time?

That same theme of quiet, languid living is now coming alive to me as I read The Great Gatsby again. It’s been thirty years and I had forgotten about that beautiful house… the white dresses and fluttering curtains. I had not remembered about the racism and the affairs. The anger and the snobbery. And the dump near the train tracks… oy, vey, the dust!

Despite not remembering the details of this book, the themes and tone of it, and so many others, are buried deep in my subconscious, because there’s a familiarity when I enter a new location that comes from a knowing deep in my gut: “I get this person,” I think. Or, “I’ve been in this old town before… at some point.” This knowledge keeps me feeling connected always.

And that’s when it hit me this weekend, while walking on the beach with my husband, that reading to my kids when they were younger was the same thing as giving them a positive mindset. If we are literally what we think, then filling their brains with as much literature as possible at a young age made so much sense. Their world couldn’t help but be richer and fuller and full of sneaky hidden passages. It’s not the school that made all the difference in the end. It was the adventures in their brains.

As humans, it’s so natural to compare ourselves to where we are at any given moment. But if where we are is building a giant tree house to a new land or forging our ways through wilderness in covered wagons with Pa and Ma, than what some dorky five year old says to us about our thrift store skirt really has very little significance.

Maybe for some of you this idea is obvious. But to me, it really came out of the blue and I am feeling so much gratitude: for books, for adventures, for education and Jane Eyre which, hooray to this last statement, my daughter is allowing me to read to her out loud this summer! In between the summer schools and the dishes, and the commuting and the braces, we will sit side by side and enter Jane’s world. We will talk about spirituality and class conflict, relationships and abuse, mansions and horses.

And mostly I will be grateful for Jane. Because she, like so many other characters, have helped my daughter focus on the things of life that matter most. And it’s not her looks or her money or her job. It’s her very spirit, bursting within her, reminding her that she is, indeed enough.

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Happily Ticked Off Tip #50:  Reading is an adventure into a world that keeps you from worrying too much about the crud in your own world that doesn’t matter. It’s a portal into bliss, confidence and courage.

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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faith, God, Jesus, meditation, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

Everything Happens Perfectly. Even When It Doesn’t.

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As a recovering perfectionist, one of the biggest keys to my serenity has been to change what I can, let go of what I can’t change, and have wisdom to know the difference. Translation: Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. When I stop fighting it, and accept it, it’s easier.

I would not believe the above statement, except that lately I’ve been dealing with more chaos than I ever have, and yet there’s peace.

I can call it prayer and meditation. Or sleep. Or any of the things I listed in this blog. But a good chunk of my peace has come from reminding myself… literally reminding myself… “Hey , Andrea, this stuff that is happening at this very moment? It’s happening! The laundry! The last minute friend plans that got swapped. The dog barking at the mailman. The tv shoot three corners down that makes you feel crappy that you still haven’t sold your pilot because, oh… here’s a concept… you have not finished it! Oooh, new concept:  Let the guilt go because you can’t change it. The only thing you can do is change your attitude!”

Besides the fact that my inner voice really needs to stop drinking so much coffee and shut up for once, the fact remains that there is one person and one person alone responsible for my serenity.

You guessed it! Me me me! Normally my favorite subject is me, myself and I. But not when I’m responsible for the change in my reaction to life. Which, of course, I always am. Every. Single. Time.

That’s a lot of change.

But, not unlike this giant metal container my husband has in the corner of our bedroom, a drop of change here and a drop of change there adds up to quite a bit of treasure in the long run.

Tonight, as I start my bath, my default setting is to go a bit glassy eyed with the prospect of work yet again tomorrow. With getting ready for camping. With paperwork due to a new school district and how again will I manage my daughter’s latest social commitment combined with my picking up my son and his friend after school?

But instead I will remember that everything happens perfectly.

I can only get so much done in a day.

I can stay right in the moment.

And thank God that for now… this very moment… I am safe. I am loved. And you are, too.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #48:  Everything is happening perfectly. Just surrender and stop fighting. You don’t have to like it, but acceptance makes it easier to decide what you can change, what you can’t, and allows for wisdom to know the 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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faith, God, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

The Days of Wine and Roses… at Trader Joes

Today we moved Rex’s grandma out of her mobile home. She had lived there for 20 years, but when her only son, Rex’s dad, died suddenly, it became too much for her to live alone.

Grandma Stella doesn’t drive. She reminded us of that frequently in between sobs of grief and scattered thoughts.

“Did you know my son died?”

“Yes,” I’d answer, holding her hand.

“That bastard sold my car!”

“No one loves me,” she’d cry.

“But we’re all here. We have food. And will take you wherever you want.”

She’d light up. “Oh, how wonderful!” Then she’d go dark. “Do you know my son died?” Enter the sobs followed by a quick burst of anger. “THAT BASTARD SOLD MY CAR!”

Round and round she’d go, like a human version of Dory from Finding Nemo 3: The Dementia Years.  Fear of finding her on the floor, and many calls from concerned neighbors, drove us to making better arrangements for her. And although she agreed to the move – which is more like a five star hotel than an old timer’s home – it was still very discombobulating for her.

When we came to pick her up this morning, her entire two bedroom coach was packed in old cardboard boxes and shopping bags with more notes than a college student at midterms.

“What the hell is going on here?” she’d ask.

“We’re moving, Grandma, remember?”

“No! No I don’t remember!” she’d bark. “I just want to drink my goddamn coffee. For Christ sake, I’m still in my nightie!”

This was true. She had damn good legs for her age, too.

No amount of coaxing could move her forward. She’d just sit down in her husband’s old rocking chair, her whole family in front of her, only to complain about being shoved into a new home where no one loves her. All the talk in the world about a movie theater, a lovely one bedroom apartment, cafe, restaurant and classes wasn’t cutting it. “It sounds nice, but where the hell’s the pool?” she’d moan.

The goal was to get her out of the house before the actual movers arrived to cushion the blow, but no such luck. There she was when Javier and Rocco showed up. For whatever fucking who knows why reason some miraculous reason, she remained very calm while they were there. “Don’t forget my rosary…”  “Don’t forget my brass ducks.” “Hey, do I need this bra? My tits haven’t seen this much cleavage space since 1967.”

While James sister and mom went ahead to the new place with the movers to get her furniture and clothes set up, Rex and I took her to Trader Joes to buy her fruit and vegetables vodka and wine. While sampling the coffee, I showed her off to a lovely worker named Judy.

“Stella is 97,” I bragged. “Can you believe how strong she is to move into a new place?”

Judy was enchanted with Stella’s zest for conversation and split between her teeth (most everybody is, minus her new neighbors who will likely be tired of her asking where the elevator is by Day 2.)

At the end of our gab session, Judy remarked, “Stella, God is with you!” to which Stella retorted, “Cut the crap, Judy.”

A real testament to the fact that Trader Joe’s hires only saints, she casually replied, “But it’s true. I’m not a religious person, but I know God is around. And Stella, he is here for you.” What could Stella say? “You know what, Judy, I believe that you believe that!”

Then she flirted with a 50 -year-old stocker named Rene who gave her a free bouquet of roses on our way out the door.

I can’t help but think life is a lot like Stella’s move. It’s heart wrenching, exciting and ridiculously whimsical all at once. In between the tears and truck diesel and “where the hell did all my hangers go” confusion are samples of coffee, God and a handful of flowers.

Somehow, we make it through.

May your week be a good one, friends. And, if you’re in doubt, just be like Stella and clutch your pillow… taking it one step at a time.

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Happily Ticked Off Tip #47:  When life changes unexpectedly, grab your pillow if you must but don’t go to sleep – keep walking… one step at a 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. 

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faith, God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

10 Things I Do Every Day That Make My Life Not Suck

Just when I thought I might have every last bit of energy sucked out of me subbing for Middle Schoolers, the dawning of a new and glorious day is rising for this tired writer. In three words, it is SUBBING. IN. HIGHSCHOOL.

These kids sit still. They don’t talk over me. They don’t take selfies of their butts (at least not in front of me) and they actually leave the floor looking like a floor instead of a paper airplane meets Tajin powder factory.

In having a quieter classroom, I’ve had time to feel something that I haven’t felt in over a few months. What is that strange feeling you might ask? Oh, it’s serenity! Quiet, calm dear Jesus I can breathe serenity.

In breathing in the glorious flow of the past few days, I had to admit that while things have been dicey the past few months, I have not been in the bowels of self-pity and despair that non-sober thinking Andrea might have been. Instead, I’ve dealt with what has happened. I’ve cried, I’ve had a few pissed off moments, but in general, I’ve not only handled my business but been of service to my fellow workers, friends and family in the process.

Here are the 10 items that have saved my booty. I hope they resonate with you, too! (So many quotes are by my favorite writer, Anne Lamott. Anne, if you’re reading this, feel free to come for tacos on Tuesday. We start promptly at 630)

  1. Prayer: Every morning for 5 minutes I pray. (On the days I forgot, my life wasn’t as calm.)

anne lamott prayer

2) Meditation: Every morning for 5 minute I sit still and listen. (They say prayer is talking to God and Meditation is listening. I add in coffee because in Andrea language it is also helpful to be awake!)

anne med

3) Reading for a Spiritual Boost: I read something spiritual every day. Sometimes it’s my Bible, sometimes a devotional, or sometimes something from a favorite writer like Anne Lamott. (Just reading these quotes from her reminds me that someone out there feels just like I do. That to me is God in action.)

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4) Reading for Fun 

Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, I try and read a book that is just for entertainment. I’m currently reading Fablehaven. It’s my son’s recommendation. I don’t love it. But I love that he’s 16 and wants me part of his world. It also keeps me out of the fables I tend to create in my own head if my brain is too unoccupied.

reding anne

5) Gratitude Lists: My husband and I send five things we are grateful for each day to a set of friends. I also do this with a friend from my If You Don’t Drink You Don’t Get Drunk Program Great Spiritual Practice. What started out feeling so awkward and cheesy has 100% changed my life. My brain automatically now goes to what is working instead of what isn’t. (Note: If I waited for life to get better to get grateful, I’d still be waiting. The great miracle of gratitude lists is that in doing so your life does get better, because your thinking improves. And perspective is, indeed, everything!)

quotes-gratitude-enough

6) Showing Up Early/Staying Late: I am almost always on time now for work. I don’t do it just to look good. I do it because I’m it keeps me from rushing. In not rushing, there’s more time for error. There’s more time for casual conversation with the school secretary or the student who wants to know, for the fourteen thousanth time, when his vocab quiz is going to be. Extra time means less stress which means there’s more room for God to operate in the magical space between the chaos.

7) Asking People About THEM: As much as I enjoy my favorite three subjects, Me Myself and I, I can’t tell you what joy I get from hearing other people’s stories. Not only is it fun to see people light up (or vent) but I’m selfish: It keeps me from thinking about me me me. It keeps me humble and, to say it again, in gratitude.

8) Journaling: This is something I just began again. It’s absolutely so calming. Just the act of printing on the page slows down my ADHD fast racing brain. I used to do it for the first 20 minutes in the morning per Julia Cameron’s Artist Way directive, but that time is now left to God. Instead, I plug it in during a slow class or on a break.

9) Laughter: When I remember that I’m not so important, but God is, I can let go and just laugh. This often means reminding myself before I pick up my kids to not have to win every single argument. It means turning on Grace and Frankie instead of cleaning the bathroom. And when people don’t behave, which they often do not, I just pretend I’m living in a Neil Simon play and watch the wacky stories of my life unfold around me.

10) Writing: Every day I try to write. It gives me a sense of purpose and connection. My blog isn’t as fancy as I’d like it. I don’t podcast or market as much as I’d like. But instead of focusing on what isn’t working, I focus on what is. I cut myself a break.

There’s so much more I could add, but doing these 10 things allows me to build the framework for these other items. Without them, I couldn’t battle my perfectionism. I couldn’t exercise or have the stamina to clean the house or set expectations for my kids. These 10 things were not natural things for me. I incorporated them slowly.

And don’t get me wrong – they were incredibly inconvenient. But so are newborns and puppies.  You don’t get the cuteness and lifelong companions if you’re not willing to be selfless and clean up the poo – even at 2am. My serenity is always in direct proportion to how willing I am to be inconvenienced.

Leave a Comment!

What about you? What are some things you do every day that keep you sane? (Or what are you willing to start doing?)

Until next time,

Happily Ticked Off Tip #45:  Your serenity level will always be in direct proportion to how willing you are to be inconvenienced.

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, 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

blog

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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faith, parenting, self improvement, spirituality

I Am Not God: A Brilliant Offering on Letting Kids Fail (Of course, not my offering… but what was given to me. Just read.)

not-god

So this week was hard but amazing. I’ve known for a long time with my teens that there’s this fine line between letting go and setting boundaries.

But deeper than that is the underbelly of motivations. What am I doing from fear? What am I doing from my own selfish need to re-live pieces of my past through them? And, as was the case this week, what do I not know about what drives me?

That last place can be some pretty murky water for a control freak like me. I am lucky enough to have someone I really value. Who literally knows every single thing about me and still loves me (kind of a scary thing) and she pointed a bright flashlight into those dark waters to illuminate something out that I had no idea I was even doing.

What the Hell Are You Talking About, Andrea?

I had bought some lessons for one of my kids, but they weren’t practicing as much as I’d have liked them to. When I was frustrated about this, my sponsor said, “Are those lessons a gift?” I responded that they were, indeed, a gift. To which she said, “Then you need to stop having expectations about it. She can feel your expectations. Yuck.” Before I could get too offended she remarked, “That’s manipulating. And controlling.” (So much better! Thanks!)

Honestly, I was pissed. But I also trust her. She has not steered me wrong yet. When I get irked, it’s usually because she’s right. My ego just wants to down a six pack and eat a case of Oreos. But I didn’t get sober for my ego. I got sober to live in reality. And that means honoring the sad truth that when I’m irked enough, it’s never about the person, place or thing that’s bugging me. It’s always about me and my expectation. Not 80% of the time. not 99.8% of the time. 100% of time.

Like a masochist I dug further.

“But what about teaching my kid how to be responsible?” (Yeah, that seems reasonable. Plus, as Tuskany wisely pointed out, “Are lessons really a gift? Aren’t there some strings?” Yes! Yes there ARE I decided. Now I was really confused!)

To this my sponsor responded, “Life will teach them all the consequences that they need.”

Okay, that sounds nice on paper. But my bank account was vomiting in protest. “But I’m spending $200/month on this,” I balked. “That’s one expensive life lesson.”

My sponsor got silent. (That pretty much means Yoda is about to speak some serious truth. I braced myself. And good thing. Because what came next really shook me to my core in its brilliance.)

“How do you know that this ‘practice’ you want them to do is really going to change the outcome anyway? What if they are supposed to learn something by failing? Or maybe they won’t fail at all? Or maybe this ‘thing’ you are hoping they will be by taking these classes turns out not the be the thing God wants for them in the first place? Why do you think you know better than God? YOU ARE NOT GOD.”

Um, schooled.

NOTE: I use the word “they” to keep the privacy of the “he” and “she” people in my house. I am trying very carefully to honor them by pulling out my nuggets of learning – for what that is worth – and not compromise them with pics and details. Such is this stage of life. I adore them.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #39: You are not God. Stop predicting every outcome like you think you know everything and let your kids fail. In doing so life becomes the enemy, not 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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faith, self improvement, spirituality, writing

Rejection is Protection!

This post is dedicated to my friend, Gabriella. She helped me get out of a very dark place 25 years ago and now I’m helping her see the light, too. God is so good that way.

Hi all! Well, my big proclamation of “I’m going to write every single day no matter what” went to hell when my long term sub job ended a bit abruptly. Without getting into details, I was “invited” by the principal to have my last day be last Wednesday. It’s a complicated story that leaves me still very  much welcome at the school on an individual day to day basis, but long term gigs? Not so much. There was a clash with one student and it was better for all parties that I exit gracefully. And I did.

I’m so relieved in many ways. It was such a challenge to trek an hour each way (that includes my inevitable pit stops) and rush clear across town to get my kids from their school. The principal could not have been nicer about it and, well, I choose to see this as a learning lesson – which it was.

On the other hand, my ego took a major hit. Yeah, all those other posts about getting into gratitude and acceptance? I was a fucking liar. When this happened I was triggered on every level:

  • Hurt pride
  • Unworthiness
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Financial fear
  • Lack of faith in new work

Of course all that crap above is nothing but lies. I “know” that none of those things are true. But unlike my kids, I’m not as impervious to rejection. I take it personally. Old wounds that have not quite healed get brought to the surface and bam! Woman down! Woman down!

Thank God I’ve had enough program to feel bummed out but not do the inevitable spiral down into major depression, a case of Trader Joe’s fake oreos and a bucket of Two Buck Chuck. As I love to remind my children when they don’t get what they want, REJECTION IS PROTECTION! (Though technically this term is not true if condoms had factory errors. Then rejection really is not protection at all, but I digress. Oh, vulgarity? It’s the one character defect in my program I am not willing to give up. Just sayin’. I left evangelicalism and I like dirty jokes and the word ‘fuck’ too much. Don’t judge.)

Good News!

The good news is that I didn’t defend myself to the principal. I made an error, I admitted it, and all was well. I subbed at the school the following Friday.

Oh, Wait… There’s Bad News!

The bad news is that those shame gremlins run deep. They might only come out in the dark, but they are a pain the ass and their fur gets all over your previously cleaned house and scare the dog. It’s annoying.

Tomorrow is a new day. Just like today, I’m taking it to be by myself… less to ruminate and more to relax, sleep in, nurse a cold and go for a small hike. (Though of course I did indeed churn and churn today. I do Locked Brain so well! Even at UCSD I received an A+ in Persevaration, thank you very much!)

My new goal? Rest a bit more and think about what I want to do with my life. Is it really to take the “safe” route of teaching, only to find out that it’s not really that safe after all? I don’t know, but God does, and for tonight, with a cold dripping down my nose and the prospect of watching Voyager with my husband, that’s enough.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #37: Rejection is protection. Instead of seeing where you’re at fault, try getting into gratitude that God has something better. He always does.

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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faith, self improvement, spirituality

Life Death and Big Pink Flowers

Today we officially said goodbye to my father in law. It wasn’t a big funeral. It was a small group of us: my husband, his mom, sister, me and the kids. We took my father in law’s ashes and spread them out on the ocean.

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It was a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness that my husband and his family had to bid farewell to a man they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. (It happened so fast. Good for him, not so easy for the rest of us.) But relief, too, because now everyone can move forward with the healing process.

I have found that the best support I’ve been able to offer is to give less advice, ask more questions and just listen. This is not the time for me to “fix” anything. Sometimes things just are what they are. At least I’m not fixing problems that occurred from putting my foot in my mouth.

All this silence has given me an awful lot of time to think. And today, what struck me most during the solemn affair was how, in the end, we all go back to the earth. We can strive to sell books or teach classes or have nice homes, but at some point… if we’re lucky… someone is carrying our remains in a bag and wishing us well on journey into the next spiritual realm.

Maybe this sounds depressing, but to me, it takes the pressure off. In my faith, either Jesus died for me or he didn’t. If he did, then maybe I don’t have to sweat the tough stuff so much. Maybe I can grieve and feel those pains of loss, but at the same time laugh and feel the joy because I don’t call the shots. If this Jesus is who I hope he is, he promises something better after the dark fades. He promises that while certain people have gone back to the earth, new life will pop up with glory and color.

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I will try and remember that tomorrow morning when I face that same student who decided I was a terrible teacher. I will take a look at this same pink tree as I drive down the street and pray that whatever darkness she experiences in her home she can bury. I can pray that, like my savior, she can rise into something more vibrant and beautiful that brings joy and color to all who behold her.

And, well, if she can’t, I can, and I’ll let go. Because honestly, I can’t take on the world. Instead, like this picture taken last night when I stepped out of a house full of guests to breathe in the dusk, sometimes you just have to be reminded to sit ON shit rather sit IN it.

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(Yup, that’s four big stinky bags of fertilizer.)

Bottom line: May you grow flowers in your bullshit this week and make the best of whatever comes your way.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #35: When you’re dealt a lot of crap, grow flowers.

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

 

Coaching and Wellness, faith, self improvement

Take Two Shots of Empathy and Call Me in the Morning

sss

In yesterday’s post I spoke of a student who leaves me letters on my desk. In one she told me her grade was unfair. I wrote her back, telling her why it was not. Then she wrote me another one which really blew me away:

Dear Ms. Frizzle, 

Okay, I do not do my sketching in my sketch book because, well, I didn’t want to tell you but… I’m POOR. I do not want you to buy me one like you offered because then it would stand out from the rest of class and that would embarrass me soooo… I can’t do my work. 

There.

Student.

If I saw this story on BuzzFeed or Up, complete with tear jerking music and photos, I’d have all the feels.

In this case, I found myself rolling my eyes. 1) I had bought 40 sketch books for my many students who could not afford it or didn’t have resources to get one.

2) She HAS a notebook! I know because I have the same one has hers, courtesy of our local Dollar Store, and I thought we had swapped them by accident. I was annoyed to go running all over campus on my break to track her butt down, only to realize my composition book was sitting on my desk all along.

You know… in plain sight.

The moral of the story is this: I have in my class, in plain sight, a student who is not the norm. She finds it easier to make stuff up to get sympathy then to take responsibility for her work. In addition, she clearly has some special needs. Both facts don’t excuse laziness, but both deserve empathy. Because somewhere in between the mess of learning issues and home issues is a kid who is scared and reaching out for attention. I can’t fix her, but I can fix my own lazy and irresponsible traits by trying my best to give her loving but firm feedback.

The End Is Near… I Think

This gig might end April 2. On one hand I’ll be grateful to have jobs closer to where I live. On the other, I’ve grown rather fond of these rag tag kids. I have gotten used to their boisterous talking, confessions about boyfriend issues, ridiculous outbursts (duck honks? oh yeah) and artwork (all equal parts horrific and genius.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have learned way more from them than they have learned from me. And today, despite being so tired I could pass out on this public school computer stand, I’m grateful.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #32: Empathy: It’s My Drug of Choice. Feel Free to Get Addicted Yourself!

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Are you showing empathy today? If not to others, to yourself?

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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