Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, parenting, self improvement, Sobriety, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

Want Peace? Stop Defending Yourself and Let Go

How silence, not explanation, was the answer to all my relationship nonsense

Originally published on Medium.

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@cooljonez @ Unsplash

I got a private message today from the father of a friend of my almost full grown daughter. After a brief “Hello, how are you?” he launched into a full blown expose about the potential reasons my kid wasn’t returning her daughter’s texts and emails. The deductions he came up with for my kid’s silence were quite impressive. If it were a soap opera script, the dialogue could have won an Emmy.

The old Andrea would have freaked out about this person’s discomfort. After all, that Andrea’s only happiness rested on someone’s opinion about me. If someone was happy with me, I was happy. If someone was upset, it was my job… my duty… to make it right so they could feel better. And, better put, so I could feel better. Today my response to such insanity is super simple: silence.

Strong Silence vs. Punishing Silence

I’m not a fan of giving someone the quiet treatment just to be cruel. That kind of act is manipulation at its finest and not kind.

But when someone sets me up for a game I can’t possibly win, I am a fan of the quiet that says what words cannot ever express: “I am not playing this game.”

In a perfect world, having dodged their emotional overhand, the ball ricochets back from the wall and hits them upside the head, forcing them to bellow, “Ouch! That hurt!” followed by a quick, “Golly, gee, maybe I should look at my asinine behavior!”

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world full of people who put their soul over their ego and give people the benefit of the doubt. We live in a very real world full of very real, hurting, dysfunctional people… people who are not willing to take the time to heal from their past hurts. And that’s a problem.

If we don’t heal our wounds from the past we will bleed all over people who never cut us.

I should know. I used to be that person. It was much easier (and low brow) to blame and shame others than it was to stop, look my actions squarely in the eye, and change. But, as they say in many a 12-step programs, “Grow or Die.” Me? I didn’t want to physically die. The only death I wanted was death of my old behavior to become a better Andrea. So I took the ball in the face a few times.

Okay, a few thousand times.

But I don’t regret a thing.

The Gift of Pain

Pain is no fun. It would be so much easier to drink, drug or deflect. This kind of emotional escape is akin to a ball hitting a catcher’s mask. The catcher might get klunked on occasion. They might get shook up. But it doesn’t hurt them. They don’t truly change from the experience. They just take off their mask and go home.

But what if the mask wasn’t there? What if, without thinking of the consequences, the masked man, “Protection be gone! I’d rather chew gum and look at my phone?” Then what?

We all know the answer. They’d get socked in the face. Hard. That would suuuuck. It would require potential surgery and loads of therapy and recovery, but eventually, if they were lucky, they would not go blind from the injury. They would heal and they wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

Now I’m no masochist, but sometimes we need a little hurt as a wake up call to ask the right questions and transform. I know I did, especially when it came to raising kids, marriage and friendship. After at first not even being aware of my transgressions, I eventually caught on and started asking myself, “Hey, is my behavior helping or hurting a relationship?”

When I learned to ask the right questions my life shifted. The fact finding process of truly seeing my part was not unlike being hit in the face by a ball. Except for one difference: I wasn’t alone. I had begun to bring God into the batting cage with me. I had someone reminding me when to duck, when to dodge and when to sit still.

“But what about other people’s part?” you might ask. The answer, with all due respect, none of our business. If we want peace we must stay in our own lane. (Or batting cage as this analogy calls for.) I didn’t get sober five years ago to take the bait from people anymore.

I’ve done the hard work to figure out what my defects are. If someone else doesn’t want to grow, and would rather concoct a story and project their insecurities on me, that’s on them. But I’m not losing sleep over the drama any longer.

Here are just a few tips I’ve learned when it comes to engaging with drama queens and stop defending myself.

5 Ways to Stop Defending Yourself and Be Free of Insanity

  1. Nature of the Friendship: I have learned to ask myself, “Is this person a friend or an acquaintance?” If they are just an acquaintance, I don’t explain. I don’t engage. I stay silent. If they are a true friend who maybe crossed a line, I either let it go or, if it’s really really bugging me, I will make an appointment to talk to them. But… and this is a big “but”, if I can’t talk to them without being mad, I wait.
  2. No Texts: I don’t engage in long, spirited texts anymore. It’s too easy to have my words misunderstood. I, too, can’t always read the emotional nuances behind other’s words. It’s a set-up for more anger and hurt.
  3. Detach With Love: When I remember that people who cause drama are often just hurt people, I’m able to disengage with love instead of anger. I can pray for them because they, like me, are sometimes spiritually sick.
  4. Forgive: This has been, and still proves to be, the hardest act for me. But it’s a fact that everyone makes mistakes. If I want to be forgiven for my past mistakes, I must remember that one wave does not define the whole ocean. I can forgive someone for dumping on me and let go.
  5. Let Go: When I remember I’m not King of the Universe, I can let stuff go. When I think everything has to go my way, and people need to behave in a certain way for me to function, I am miserable.
  6. Trust God: When I trust God, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, says or writes. I can stay calm. On the flipside, if I have forgotten to meditate or pray that day, I take everything personally.

God’s Doesn’t Explain Himself (or Herself) so Why Should I?

The truth is that I’m here to God’s work, not explain myself. The quicker I get out of someone else’s way, the quicker they can potentially look at their behavior and have a spiritual awakening also. (It’s been my experience that 99 times out of 100 they ain’t gonna be lookin’ to change themselves. But I changed, and that’s good enough.)

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Denise Jones @cooljonez @ Unsplash

When people get crazy on me, I remember that I owe them nothing. Happiness is an inside job.

I love the picture above, because the street is not lined with defensive statements. It’s not littered with “If only you would stop talking” notices. It’s just quiet… a path leading toward some new and exciting destination.

If you’re ready to go some place new, far away from the old mindset that tells you to fight insane people, places and things, I encourage you to keep your ego in check and let go. I encourage you, when tempted to retaliate, to sit in silence and ask God what he would have you do.

These days life is simpler and peace flows where negativity and hurt used to live. And while I don’t live in Serenityville all the time, I’m happy to say it’s a solid summer home for me. As long as I keep trusting God I’ll be there year round soon enough.

And, with practice, you can be, too.

About Me

Image for post

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.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

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

Each of Us Has Absolute Value

And other lessons from teaching special ed math

Posted originally on Medium

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Lina Trochez@lmtrochezz @ Unsplash

Every day I fire up the computer and teach Special Ed math for one of the largest school districts in the country. And while my end game is to coach women to write books full time, this waiting period in my life is a wonderful reminder to remember my daily mantra:

Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” I always ask “What is this trying to teach me?” Then God gives me a download I never would have come up with on my own.

Today was no exception. My first class of the day consisted of 10 sixth graders. These kids are in my room because they struggle with things as basic as two digit multiplication and single division. When I first began teaching in August, I had very high hopes for this online class. I’d spend my days encouraging them to memorize their times tables.

When that wasn’t happening, I encouraged them to use their online multiplication charts to get an answer.

When that wasn’t happening, I started reminding them to “Give me a thumbs up!” to at least know they were paying attention.

When that wasn’t happening I began calling their names, one by one, asking them to unmute and shout out the answers.

Yay! That worked!

Kidding.

Crickets.

Desperate, I asked them to use the Chat feature to type out their answers.

Chat was a big success! Well, for them, not me. Instead of using it to go over math, they used it as a social forum. “Hiyo!” “Hi!” “Hola!” “Wasss up, homie?” and the occasional, “Who likes to play Among Us?” flooded the screen. I quickly learned how to work the Zoom security feature. “Chat Disable?” Check!

It’s not a shock that discontent settled in by Month 2. Thoughts of “Why bother?” were the norm, and while I’d attempt to combat it with my positive self-talk “You’re getting paid well, Lady” I often ended my day with one very conflicted jumbo thought: “You’re getting tax payers dollars to re-enact the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Is this what you’ve become?”

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Taken from this site. That was me, but with longer hair.

But, thanks to a few solid years of a strong Morning Practice, my mind very quickly shifted to a more productive question. To quote a woman from my 12-step program, that question was no other than, “What would God have me do?”

That’s a pretty powerful question, because sometimes we enter hard seasons. But it’s really the only one to ask if we want to stay grounded and serene, despite some rough wind in our sails.

If we look for life to reward us like a slot machine, we’re going to be sorely disappointed at our empty pockets. But if God is the ultimate wealth, then we can shift our attention to the real riches that await us if we are willing to do His will.

I’m lucky enough, after years of wandering around aimlessly with a talent for writing and people skills, but not a plan, to know what my ultimate purpose is: It’s to be of maximum service to God and others.

This doesn’t mean I want to be part of some rigid religious system or personal self-denial routine where I self-will my way into being a saint. (I get grouchy and eat far too many quiches for the austere deprivation lifestyle.) But it does mean that I can have all the creativity in the world, but if I’m not aligning my purpose and daily plans with my Higher Power’s, I’m like a bull in china shop, causing damage wherever I roam. And no one gets more damaged from being untethered than me. I need guidelines to feel centered. My boisterous aunt used to refer to her engineer husband as “The string on her high flying balloon” and so it is with my spiritual practice.

The real secret for me in becoming grounded, then, is quite counter-intuitive: To find serenity, I often must do the opposite of what I, as Andrea, wants to do to be happy. (Example: No sleeping in ’til 10 each day, spending my entire savings on a house remodel and drinking enough caffeine to jumpstart a Porsche.) Instead, it’s about doing more of what I believe God would have me do to make others happy.

When I keep my mind on service, instead of self, it’s shocking how peaceful my life goes. And, in doing so, I end up happy! Who knew?

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John Schnobrich@johnschno @ Unsplash

Everyone Has Absolute Value… and Other Life Lessons Stuffed into Math

Today, after my Morning Practice, I was still feeling rather tired from the past two months of madness. I threw in an extra prayer, “God, please, help me get out of the way so I can do your bidding.”

When I surrender my self-will run riot, I find God’s purpose for me in a most unexpected, but typical of my cheeky Higher Power, way. Today was no exception.

I was showing the kids the difference between negative six and positive six on a number line.

“It’s all about the steps back to zero!” I said. “No matter what direction you head, the absolute value is the same. And, here’s a fun fact, absolute value can never be negative!”

That went over like a Trump speech at a Democrat rally. Without even thinking — which I instinctively knew was my Higher Power talking through me — I continued, “It’s like you as people. You are all so important. Think of ‘Zero’ like your Higher Power, or your mom, or some amazing person who loves you unconditionally. It’s natural to want to take steps closer to it. And, like the numbers on the number line, it doesn’t matter if you have ‘negative’ qualities. You are loved so much. You are precious. You have absolute value.

Seconds later a beautiful brown eyed tween turned on her camera and just looked at me, eyes sunk in… tired. I looked right at her and smiled big.

“You know, Devi, you have absolute value. Are you aware of that?”

Her voice cracked a bit. “Yes,” she muttered. I could tell she meant, “WTF, who are you kidding, Ms. Frizzle?”

But her eyes stayed locked on mine. And I told her how glad I was she was in my class, even if was over the internet. I told her how I couldn’t wait to see her in person when school opened. I told her I’d hug her if I could, but I can’t (and don’t want to be fired for being a perv) so I’d just high five her from 10 feet away. Behind plexi-glass.

I think she got it. Who knows? She exited class early and I didn’t see her the next day.

So here’s the deal, readers: I’m not trying to get a pat on the back here. In moving on with her daily routine, it’s possible she forgot all about being loved unconditionally. But I like to think that she held on to it for the day, the way a smell of a birthday candle and people’s laughter lingers in the room long after the candles are blown out.

And even if she doesn’t remember her value, by telling her she had it, I will remember mine. And for a rough couple months, that’s a pretty good place to start again.

Until next time,

About Me

Image for post

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.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

faith, God, parenting, spirituality, writing

Simple Pleasures Are the Best Pleasures

And other decisions to consciously slow down.

Originally published on Medium.

Patrick Fore@patrickian4Unsplash

I was standing in the middle of a choir room with 70 middle schoolers when I first heard an 1848 Quaker song that made me my stop in my tracks. As a war torn sub racing day to day across the city to a variety of dark and dingy public schools (that looked more like prisons than educational facilities), this moment of unexpected pleasure was nothing short of a miracle – like waking up to a dozen deliciously wrapped presents on the kitchen table in July when your birthday isn’t until mid December.

What a gift it was to find myself in a 1930’s brick building building complete with wood floors and industrial lighting that looked like a scene out of Matilda the Musical. Add in vaulted ceilings, wood paned windows, diamond tiled linoleum and fresh paint, it was if I was transported back in time — to a time that was simpler.

The chatty kids were called to attention by a peppy sixth grade comrade in afro puffs who commanded the respect of even the largest Draco Malfoy’esque 8th grader. She whistled shrilly, picked up what could only be a magic wand (as it even got the attention of the lovebirds sneaking a kiss in the corner to high tail it to the risers) and soon the whole room bellowed:

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Antoine Julien@antoinejulienUnsplash

With their voices blending in perfect pitch and harmony, I almost forgot how tired I was from the hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic I endured to get here on time. (Not to mention my frantic search for a Starbuck’s pitstop — just one more reason I’ve given up my morning java.)

Being among those soaring young voices, I forgot about the musical project I desperately wanted to complete but, due to bills and parenting and life responsibilities, remained lagging on my desktop.

I stopped obsessing about whether I would, or would not, get enough days to cover my insurance for the following year.

I just remained in the classroom, in the moment, soaking in the beauty of the notes and the fresh faces before me.

Now I’m not naive. It was possible that some of those kids had more checkered pasts at 13 then I did at 48. But there’s something about being still, about being as Eckhart Tolle reminds us, in “the power of NOW”, that showered me with unexpected peace.

The same could be said this weekend when I found a book, Simple Abundance, that had been sitting in “Andrea’s Box of Books” for 20 years in the garage. I had recently transferred this behemoth of literature to my closet and, in my own answer to my soul’s cluttered spirit, I finally picked through the titles one by one.

I tossed most of the books to make room on my shelf for the ones I truly cherished (not ones I “may” or “may not” ever read) but this beautiful pink treasure I kept. It was brand new, and something called me to set it aside. I’m so glad I did, because every single page in this 365 day devotion to simplicity speaks to my fractured spirit.

Each page reminds us to slow down. To get rid of what we don’t use. To make room for the richness of experience. To remember that we do not lack a thing to have a life of joy, peace and beauty. We only need to notice.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, I can find more things to do in a day than is possible to get done.

I can live in the past in my mistakes, or I can live in the future with my fear, but in doing so I tend to forget the beautiful wonder and joy of what is right in front of me.

One of the things the author reminds us to do is to not only to not forget to notice the loveliness right in front of us… the scent of a beeswax candle… the beauty of a clean pavement after an overdue rain… but to cultivate it.

From the January 7 entry, she writes, “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. Experiment with a new cookie recipe. Take the time to slowly arrange a bouquet of flowers in order to appreciate their colors, fragrance, and beauty. Sip a cup of tea on the front stoop in the sunshine. Pause for five minutes to pet a purring cat. Simple pleasures are waiting to be enjoyed. Simple pleasures often overlooked.”

Is this possible to really do? Even when politics suck? Even when someone is mean to you on Facebook? Even when the kids don’t understand you? (No, I’m not talking about me. Ahem.) The answer is, YES. To live a life of richness means to intentionally seek it out, no matter how simple they are.

I did just that on Sunday. After returning from a trip away by myself to a cottage by the beach that had, gulp, two fireplaces, a kitchen and a sunken tub- more than simple abundance by a landslide- I stopped by the market to grab some wood to continue the cozy vibe at home. 

Side note on the cottage: I might have kept both fireplaces running at the same time just to giddily run back and forth, buck naked, for the sheer joy of being able to do so in splendid, blessed quiet. #noregrets

(Pier Point Inn, Ventura. Beautiful and, turns out, possibly haunted. I did feel a spooky vibe but I didn’t care. .It was too quaint to worry about and likely any ghosts, seeing a six foot 50 year old racing through the parlor, would have been more terrified of me than I of them.

After getting a jumpstart on my car, I finally returned home to my own lovely cottage — a two story house I’ve been lucky enough to inhabit for almost 20 years. Sitting in the driveway, I made a conscious decision to not get irritated about dishes that would inevitably be left in the sink. (They were.) I refused to get crazy about the dog who would likely jump all over me with excitement at her long lost mistress finally back from the salt mines (She did… complete with a puddle.)

Instead, I did what I often do before I enter my house these days. I took a breath and offered up a simple, hopeful prayer, “God, go before me.”

And so, with my Higher Power’s help and a mind set on acceptance of the simple abundance that could be mine if I kept my mind as calm as the two bedroom rental I just nested in, I brought my full suitcases and my full heart into the house.

“Mama, you’re home!” both teenagers said, getting offline for just a moment to hug me.

“I missed you!” I said back. And, to my surprise even after the stressful past few weeks we’ve had, it was true.

After doing dishes, I put on my pajamas and sat on the couch. I took in the smells of the pizza my husband was baking in the kitchen. I made a point to thank him… to not take this simple Sunday ritual for granted. I then lit a fire.

Before long, the teenagers and their friend sauntered in. Sitting 10 feet apart, we laughed and watched the crackle of the flames. There were no phones. No Netflix. Just the five of us trading stories about Star Wars and our favorite books.

I can’t lie. As much as I loved getting away by myself, the very best part of the whole weekend was tea in front of my very own fire. It was simple. It was comforting. And the mood was, yes, abundant with peace.

The next day, my dog must have felt the vibes, because I found her happily snoring on the couch. Normally a stickler for tidiness, I was content enough from the night before that I didn’t even feel the need to clean up the dishes left under the couch. I didn’t straighten the magazines or the pillows. I left it all there for the day as a reminder that, indeed, “Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free.”

It has been my experience that happiness is not a destination. It’s a choice to live in peace, to take notice of the little things in our lives and set a tone for radical joy that is not dependent on stuff but on love. Always love.

DAILY QUESTION: “Is there something you can do that is simple that can bring joy to your home… that can set the tone not just for you but for everyone you come in contact with?”

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

About Me

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.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

faith, God, self improvement, Sobriety, spirituality

10 Reasons a Spiritual Solution is Better Than Zoloft

Confessions from an ex pill popper

Originally published on Medium.

For years before I got sober, I was on a variety of anti-depressants for all of my outside issues. My marriage was in the toilet. My son had a condition I couldn’t cure. I was struggling with balancing my writing with my domestic responsibilities and frankly, I was just having a hard time transitioning from my childhood to the intense demands of adulting.

Zoloft calmed me down. After all, my issues were in my tissues, and I hit the genetic lottery in many ways. My family on both sides were kind, loving, funny and smart people. Many of them also struggled with mental health.

If my relatives came with a Tarot card reading, you’d say I came from a line of Bi-polar with Neurosis and Addiction Rising.

I don’t blame my parents for my emotional disposition. They loved me well and gave me an amazing childhood complete with private education, art lessons and lots of time in a beautiful home to work on my writing. In fact, one of my main regrets for a long time was that I was not able to give my own kids the life I had growing up. I felt I had somehow failed because we weren’t celebrating at Jerry’s Deli once/week with Corn Beef sandwiches and black and white cookies. Life wasn’t a constant loop of performing arts and vacations back east or cruises. I wasn’t able to take my daughter to the mall every time she needed a new pair of shorts. Thrift stores became our go-to and “making due” was our motto.

Yet despite my longings to give them more (and some occasional bouts of anger) my kids had a great life.

Looking back over my mothering now, I see that it wasn’t the inability to financially provide for my kids that I regret most. It was not having the tools to navigate the pressures that come with parenting. Enter Zoloft.

freestocks@freestocks @ Unsplash

Zoloft took the edge off of a very confusing time of my life and allowed my very spinning and creative brain to CALM. DOWN.

It allowed me to focus just a bit more and, like a grace note in a sheet of music, provided just enough pause for me to think rationally about how I wanted to handle my failing marriage and special needs parenting.

But here’s the problem:

Zoloft itself didn’t fix my situation. Only a spiritual solution did. It’s been five years now since I’ve been off the psyche meds and, while life hasn’t been perfect, I have never looked back.

Benjamin Voros@vorosbenisopUnsplash

NOTE: Before anyone reaches through the internet and wants to throttle for me for saying that pills aren’t a reasonable way to cure depression and anxiety, you can hold off. I am not a doctor. I am simply telling you what worked for me. Take what you like and leave the rest.

10 Items from my My Spiritual Tool Kit

Here are ten nuggets of wisdom that have transformed my life. I use them still every single day and, while life isn’t always easy (especially the last two months) I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the God of my understanding is with me. I don’t need to dull the pain anymore with alcohol or Zoloft. I simply need to practice some very simple principals, face what isn’t working, and give it God. These simple steps have transformed my life, and they can transform yours (whether or not you choose to be on medication or not!)

12Gabrielle Henderson@gabriellefaithhendersonUnsplash
  1. Gratitude: Every day I write a list of five things I’m grateful for. Staying grateful even in troubling times does not take the difficulties away, but it makes them bearable. I have done them so consistently, in fact, that now my mind automatically goes to grateful even when I’m less than enthusiastic about my Monday morning routine. Ex: Grateful for a working computer! A cup of hot tea on a desk my husband made me! My beautiful brick wall pictures of my kids smiling down at me! Netflix playing a cozy cafe’ scene in the background! My ridiculous camel lamp lighting up my office, reminding me to ‘Get over the humps with God’! Yup, gratitude lists have re-set my negative thinking to positive thinking and it’s made all the difference.
  2. 12-Step Programs: I go to 4 12-step programs a week. I have a sponsee. I take calls daily. I reach out to others who are struggling. I would say I spend, on average, 10 hours/week dedicated to this practice. And while, yes, that’s a lot of time, I also used to spend a lot of time being depressed, anxious and out of control with my emotions. Being an active member of 12 step groups allows me to be connected to a community. To not feel alone. And most importantly, to be reminded that God, not me, is in charge. This reliance on a power greater than myself has kept me out of my head and into action where the solution lives. This leads me to my next point:
  3. Service: In helping others every day, I get out of self. Unlike in my past where I’d help to subconsciously be liked, or to feel worthy, I now do it because it’s what I feel God would have me do to help others heal as I was able to do. I get to pay back what another so kindly paid forward to me. (Thank you, Violet!) Seeing someone else transform their mindset or simply get temporary comfort is a mental boost I never got from Zoloft.
  4. Music: I’m not going to lie. I play Christmas jazz all year long. The sounds of the bells and the happy voices put me in a cozy mood that transcends any negativity in the world. It also sets a joyful tone in my home. Sure, my teenagers roll their eyes when I lip sync “All I Want for Christmas Is You” with my wooden spoon microphone, complete with 50-year-old bootie shakes #okBoomer, but I know they are grateful for my present day levity instead of the past heaviness. I also know for a fact that God has wired me to be happy, joyous and free, but it’s so easy for me to forget with the myriad of tasks on my to-do list. Music is my soul’s gentle reminder that it’s okay to feel happy even when I’d rather get back under the covers and sleep.
  5. No Coffee: I know! I know! This one is crazy. But in giving up caffeine I’ve found I have more patience for my family, friends and co-workers. Every time I think “Man, I could use a cup of Joe” I automatically picture myself pouring out this bad breath juice, saying, “God, I’m emptying my self-will. Fill me with your spirit today.” And I swear, it works. (Though I won’t lie. I miss the taste like crazy. And no, I won’t do decaf. Too many chemicals. Like alcohol, coffee’s treat had become my prison with last minute bathroom trips and an overly stimulated nervous system. Like Marie Kondo, I thanked it for it’s service and ushered a host of delicious teas into my kitchen instead.)
  6. My Will Vs. God’s Will: My default mode is “Control Freak.” In remembering each day, and sometimes on a minute by minute basis, that God is in charge, I have so much more peace. It also helps me make better decisions. When I’m in God’s will, there is serenity. When I’m in my will, I often find myself hurting the people around me in a mad attempt to be right or get my way. I find myself clinging to ridiculous beliefs like, “If only my kid would fold the towels exactly this way I’d feel better about the linen closet and I wouldn’t be angry.” Um, how about instead I look at what is going right instead of what is going wrong? I have a kid who is home, during Covid, folding 1970’s towels. I’m pretty sure the only thing “wrong” in choosing my will instead of God’s is that I make towels and rigidity more important than the loving, easy going spirit of God’s will.
  7. Inside vs. Outside Based: As an A+ Catholic student, who was far too tall to attract the popular boys and not good enough athletically to make any sports team, I found that my grades were a super big validation for me. Unfortunately, it was very outcome based. It didn’t matter if I was feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, as long as I got that “A” all was right in my world. Ummm… “my” world as opposed to “the whole big world”… a world I was ill prepared for with this thinking. My tenacity with grades might have landed me in top universities, as well as landed me as a TV writer when the competition was super fierce, but it wasn’t sustainable. I could not “study” my way into getting people to like my scripts once I was hired. I couldn’t “A+B+C” my way into getting my kids to remember to take the trash out. I couldn’t “1+ 2 = 3” my way into getting my husband to want to spend $5k on getting our house painted. Enter frustration. And yes, Zoloft took the edge off this anger. But in getting to the bottom of the anger, and surrendering to the fact that God loves me… and I don’t have to control everything to be happy… the anger faded. Takeway: When I remember that my insides are more important than the outcomes, I feel peace.
  8. Prayer: Keeping constant contact with something greater than me reminds me that I am never alone. Instead of getting into a “My Will” vs. “God’s Will” battle, I can just choose God’s way first. I can pray something as simple as “Thy will be done.” In doing so, I can surrender to whatever is happening in my life as happening on purpose for a reason. I don’t have to agree with something, but I can get into acceptance. And ah… the Land of Acceptance. It’s a destination that I can keep in my heart and soul twenty four hours a day and doesn’t cost a thing. (Note: Not being in acceptance costs plenty in terms of lack of sleep, fractured relationships and anger.)
  9. Meditation: You’ll be sick of hearing this, but meditation has quieted my brain in a profound way. If prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening. Every morning I take just 10 minutes and get still. In doing so, like in #7, I’m offering up my insides to God to take care of my outsides. It helps me be less outcome based and more present. It reminds me that rest and beauty and nurturing is just as important as my pay check. And when I slow down, I am more aware of beautiful synchronicities and signs that remind me I am on the right path.
  10. Keeping it Light: When I think I’m in charge of the universe, anger and frustration enter. When I remember that life is one giant game to grow my soul, I can laugh at misfortunes. Ex: Yesterday my car broke down. Twice. Once on the way home from my overnight stay at the beach (which was supposed to be my spiritual retreat for myself) and once at the Whole Foods parking lot with a car full of groceries and beer that this alcoholic was delivering to my 90 year old mama. I could have gotten furious, but I remembered to say, “Thy will be done” and just called a tow truck. If I had not been in fit spiritual condition I’d have been calling my husband in a spitfire rage of pissiness, inwardly cursing him for not showing up quickly enough. I’d have stayed in my victim story. Instead, I simply walked back in Whole Foods, asked for a cup of hot water, and drank some herbal Chai while waiting for the driver who, miraculously, appeared within 20 minutes. This brings me right back to #1: Gratitude.

When I Surrendered My Outsides to a God of my understanding, I didn’t need Zoloft for My Insides anymore.

Arno Smit@_entreprenerd

I know many of you out there are suffering. Perhaps my reasons for suffering are different than your reasons. And I can’t pretend that doing one thing on my list, or all of them, will “cure” you right away. But I can promise you this: There is a greater being out there that loves you. And if you can take the time to tap into that being, in whatever form works for you, your burden will lighten.

You will find freedom.

And most importantly, you will find peace.

Today I wish you joy, hope and love. Whether you are on meds or not, I hope you will find time to get outside and see the beauty of a flower. Take a strong sniff of the sea. If your house is a mess, stop focusing on the dishes in the sink and find one small corner of your home where you can sip some tea and get into gratitude for what is working instead of what isn’t.

There is always something to be grateful for.

There is always something to hope for.

I pray that in a world that can often feel dark and despairing, that, as my 12-Step Program promises, you ask God to “Grant you the serenity to accept what you cannot cannot change, the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” In doing so, with the God of your understanding residing within you, your outsides might not change over night, but inside you will transform to the radiant person you were meant to be all along. And your life will never be the same.

Why not start today?

Until tomorrow,

Andrea

About Me

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. Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, self improvement, spirituality

What is Your Motivation? When You Know You’ll Stop Blowing Out Other’s Light and Shine Your Own

Prateek Gautam@pgauti @ Unsplash

I didn’t set out to revamp Happily Ticked Off as a blog about trusting God, trusting signs, and asking the right questions. But as I say in almost every post, life began for me this very week when I started asking a profound but simple question:

Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” I began to start asking “What is this trying to teach me?”

In asking this question my very self started to unravel. Because in seeing the truth behind the crazy events of the past 60 days I saw that God wasn’t sending me heartache and change to make me uncomfortable. He was making me uncomfortable to shake me awake. And here’s what I realized:

  • I am controlling
  • I play the victim so I don’t have to have accountability
  • Deep down — despite all my outside achievements — I don’t feel worthy in my own life

I hate to put all this on record for everyone to see. After all, on the outside I’m a six foot, fairly attractive fifty year old.

I’ve got a good job, I write on the side, I have a nice husband and two kids that, so far, have not over-sexed, over-drugged or stolen beer from our local A.M./P.M..

But the truth is, I have parented, friended, daughter-ed and wife-d from a place of brokenness. I have not trusted God, as much as I say I do, that who I am — as Andrea — is enough.

In not trusting God, I’ve attempted to manage people, places and things around me (outside issues) to fill the hole on the inside (inside issues.)

I thought that in giving up alcohol five years ago I had surrendered my will power, and while I had let go of much of my control, I hadn’t given up all of it. How do I know? Because the people around me are miserable. This morning was no exception.

My Wake Up Call

Khadeeja Yasser@k_yasser @ Unsplash

I woke up late today. I was able to meditate with my husband and do a quick spiritual reading with him, but I was rushing to get my morning pages done. And yes, I did do them, but the whole time I had an agenda going. “How will I get the blog post in, school work done and get a few things cleaned up before the cleaning service comes over?”

#1: I realize how lucky I am to have a cleaning crew come twice a month. It’s a luxury I have only recently been able to enjoy. The problem, of course, is not that my house was such a mess before. (It was.) The problem was that I was not trusting God that I could get my blog done (my purpose) and let the cleaning crew deal with the little tidbits I’d rather them not see. (The overflowing trash/the excess Halloween decorations/the fur on the couch which can only point to the furry member of the family who is really in charge round these parts.)

Exhibit #1’s theme? Fear of judgement (What does this point to? “I’m Not Enough”)

I rushed through my shower, threw the dishes in the dishwasher and made my way to the garage to start a load of laundry. In my head I was thinking, “Why aren’t the kids doing these dishes?”… “Why didn’t I print the household contract and stick it on the fridge like I said I would?”… “God, I’m setting the worst example!”

Looking out the kitchen window didn’t help my mood. “Could there be more dog crap in the yard?”

Exhibit #2 — Negative thinking, Overthinking & Too Hard on Myself (What does this point to? “I’m Not Enough.”)

On the way back from the garage I looked through the window and noticed my sweet older daughter was still in bed. She is supposed to be up daily at 8.

The conversation basically went like this:

External Me: “Hey, you’re not awake!”

Internal/Sane Me: “Walk away, Andrea. You’re cranky. This won’t go well.”

External/Insane Me: “I guess that means no electronics for 3 days.”

Her: (Groggy) “What do you mean? I’m awake! I’m just checking my texts like you asked me to.”

Internal/Sane Me: “She’s really trying. It’s been a hard season. Love over judgment is always best.”

External/Insane Me: “You’re pissing your life away!”

Her: “Wow. Ouch. That hurts, Mom.”

Internal/Sane Me: “She’s right. That kind of really sucked. Why would you say that?”

External/Sane Me: “Save it for your therapist.”

Then I walked away. Furious.

Exhibit #3: I’m unhappy with my own progress so instead of coming to my child with love, I come with anger, insinuating that she is not enough. (Where does this come from? Oh, right… “I’M NOT ENOUGH.”)

I felt like crap for obvious reasons and went to talk to her 30 minutes later. Her head was low. She hadn’t moved from bed. After a few back and forths, she basically told me, “Mom, sometimes my self-esteem is low because I can’t do anything right. I feel like you’re going to get mad. And it just doesn’t feel good.”

Oh, God. That felt like a knife in my heart. This precious child is someone I adore more than life itself. We used to be so close. But based on some things going on in her life, we just aren’t right now. And while I don’t take 100% responsibility for her emotions (I’m not that powerful) I knew, in my gut, I had done some damage. And, well, that didn’t feel good.

I asked for a hug on the way out. Her response? “No.” And who can blame her?

I went upstairs and did what I’ve done every day this week. I called my sponsor, and thank God I did, because what she said forever changed the trajectory of my thinking.

Violet: “Instead of seeing this as a moment of despair, Andrea, why don’t you use it as an opportunity to forgive yourself?” she asked.

“I don’t know if I can,” I said. By now I was really freaking out, because in addition to cleaners coming by in 20 minutes I had to teach class. (Negative Thinking Self: “You fucked up your kids. Why bother anymore?”)

Exhibit #4 — Regret and remorse instead of self-forgiveness (What does this point to? “I’m not worthy.”)

My sponsor gently reminded me that I’m asking the wrong questions. “Who is in charge?” she said.

Me: (half-heartedly) “God.”

Her: “Is it possible that God is using this opportunity for you to finally wake up and see that you are parenting through a lense of fear and control instead of love?”

Me: (Big sigh) “Yes.”

Her: “And does God make mistakes?”

Me: “No.”

Her: “Then you get to start over. You get to remember, once more, that you are worthy. That you get to love yourself for being human.”

Me: “What if my daughter doesn’t forgive me?” I asked.

Her: “Whether she forgives you or not is none of your business. She has her own God, and you aren’t it.”

She went on to say, “The issue is not that your child sleeps in. The issue is that you are ‘Outcome based’ and when it doesn’t go your way, you get angry. What if you didn’t approach either of your kids unless you were free of expectations and could approach them with love?”

“But what about consequences?” I balked.

“Consequences are fine if they are done from a place of love. Unfortunately, your child sees you giving them from a place of anger and shame. And that never feels good. And it’s not allowing God to operate when you’re in control.”

Ugggg.

Who We Are, Not What We Do, Is God’s Agenda. Do You Believe That?

Jamez Picard@truemedia @ Unsplash

That last statement hit me like a ton of bricks. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I had been playing God in both my children’s lives — but not the loving God of my understanding today. I was playing out some BC Old Testament God who was quick to anger and smiting.

Yes, I did a lot of wonderful things for them when they were growing up, but I also felt extremely guilty for things I couldn’t provide for them. In the end, they didn’t need the stuff.

What my kids wanted growing up… what they still need as teens… is for me to show up as an example of a balanced, loving woman who knows who she is in God’s eyes. That is it.

I thanked my sponsor, got off the phone, and headed downstairs. In the three minutes I had before class I found my daughter and read her a text I’d written her. It basically went like this:

Hey, Mickey. I want you to know that I’m sorry for this morning. I was mad at myself and I took it out on you. And while I’ve made mistakes over and over in my past, I am realizing now that this came from a place of unworthiness on my part. I don’t expect you to forgive me — and I’ll likely still make mistakes- but the mom I want to be is loving, kind and understanding. I know you’re going through a lot, and I want to be a safe place for you. I love you.

She looked me, and- although I was willing to surrender the outcome to God no matter what her response was — she said, “Mom, I love you. You are very special to me. I don’t always love what you do, but I love you. So much.”

And then she hugged me.

And inside, despite feeling like once again I crapped on the person I love most in the world, I felt a feeling of hope.

My soul acknowledged, for the first time, that I didn’t have to earn God’s love. Just being me was enough.

From that place of love, I will start a new journey with my beautiful daughter — one with less criticism and expectation.

And so, friends, I leave you with the two questions I will be asking myself as I continue down this parenting road and don’t know how to respond to a situation:

  1. Am I angry and controlling? (That’s self-will… I will walk away)
  2. Am I coming from a place of love and compassion? (That’s God’s will… I will stay and connect.)

I am going to finish up this post by saying that sometimes life is super brutal. But if we’re willing to ask the right questions, we can transform everything and begin to shift. For me, today, I am grateful that God added some spiritual dynamite to my soul.

I was blasted with the truth — truth that I don’t always believe — that I am worthy.

I love my kids more than life.

God loves me more than life.

And when I remember how very worthy I am — since God made me — I can drop any unrealistic expectations I have for my kids and parent them from a place of love, joy and radical compassion.

You, too, my friends, are so very worthy.

Happy weekend.

About Me

Image for post

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. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

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

An Abundant Life is Yours for the Taking – Are You Willing to Trust the Signs?

Austin Chan@austinchan @ Unsplash

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve had a lot going on. And it’s been exhausting. I am grateful to God that I keep a spiritual practice every single day which forces my monkey brain to calm down and trust that something other than me is in charge. This spiritual practice doesn’t take away life’s relentless challenges, but it certainly allows some joy to creep in, even if that joy lasts no more than the hour I spend each morning getting centered.

The Power of the Right Questions

As I often say — and it bears repeating — it’s not what happens to us that matters as much as our response to it. But how can we respond positively if we are not happy with what is happening? The answer for me always comes back to the same question.

Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” I must always ask “What is this trying to teach me?”

If I don’t ask that very simple question I will forever play a victim and deflect my issues onto the people I love most. And, well, that’s just ridiculous. And not just that — if I don’t get to the bottom of what a certain situation is trying to educate me about — there is very little doubt that I will be presented with yet another situation along the same theme that will attempt to get me to wake up and pay attention. I’d rather figure it out earlier so I can give it to God, let go, and move on with my life.

The Trap of Busyness

One of the ways I try to pretend that everything in my life is okay is to stay busy. On the surface, my brain lies to me. “You’re just trying to help people,” it tells me. “It’s just your season of life to take care of everyone,” it whispers. “What are you going to do? Not work and not eat? You can’t just sit around all day and do nothing.”

But the truth is that, on some days, this is exactly what I need to do. I need to make room for the joys of life that don’t come with a pay check… that don’t come with the rush of dopamine I get when someone says, “Thank you so much, Andrea. I couldn’t do this without you.” Um, yes they could. And it’s time I start letting them just a bit more.

The Joy of Letting Go

One of the things I’ve learned to do, thanks to my practice, is to listen to my spirit. And that spirit has been screaming to me lately to “Let go.” This has taken the form of me literally tossing out 50% of the items in my house I don’t use anymore. How many wooden spoons do I need in the kitchen? Do I really need two boxes of VHS tapes as a reminder of my kids’ childhood? (And honestly, raising teenagers is tough. Seeing a simple Elmo video can put me in tears. It was so much simpler back then!) How about a whole box of letters I wrote to my cousin when I was knee deep in my Ricky Schroder obsession? Couldn’t I just save one pin and call it a day? The answer, of course, is “Yes!” And I know this to be true because I am starting to see the signs pointing this out.

The Signs Don’t Lie

As an ex-wanna be Bible thumper, I used to think “Seeing the signs” was for people who were nuts. But the more I meditate and pray, and the more I trust my gut to “Let go” of things that don’t serve me anymore (both ideas and personal items) I make room for God to operate. I start seeing messages designed just for me — that make my soul zing like a slot machine bell — that would not have been present had they been covered up in material goods or an exhausted mind.

This morning, for example, I woke from a 12 hour sleep (courtesy of giving up all forms of caffeine) to find myself a bit groggy. Today started as yet another day of endless tasks to do, from working and food shopping to paperwork for an outside issue, one of my kid’s appointments and a meeting later in the evening.

Despite prayer and meditation, my head immediately started working on me, “What are you doing with your life, Andrea?”… “ You’re still teaching on top of your coaching business!” … “When is that musical ever gonna get done?”

Instead of listening to my head, which used to be my favorite past time, I picked up a book on my bed which had been hidden in my closet for almost 20 years. I found it during the Great Office Purge of October 2020. The title? “The Art of Doing Nothing.” It spoke about exactly what my very own spirit has been telling me to do… to rest. To remember I am a human being, not a human doer.

I smiled as flipped through some of these comforting pages and then, something told me to check out my bookshelf. There was another book along a similar theme: “Simple Abundance.”

For over 20 years I’d kept this book in a box and never looked at it. But today, as I opened the first page, I was struck with how perfect it was for me: The author writes:

“What I wanted was to write a book that would show me how to reconcile my deepest spiritual, authentic, and creative longings with often-overwhelming and conflicting commitments — to my husband and daughter, invalid mother, work at home, work in the world, siblings, friends and community. I knew I wasn’t the only woman hurtling through life as if it were an out-of body-experience. I knew I wasn’t the only woman frazzled, depressed, worn to a raveling.”

She goes on to say how she found in writing the book she found the answers she had been looking for all along: to slow down and to savor life.

This has been so true of my experience, too. That in writing my books I have found healing, and in helping others write their books I have aided in their healing, too.

I am grateful today that I took some time to slow down before the beginning of a crazy day. To read something comforting. To be reminded that I am not just the sum of my bank account or my children’s accomplishments. God created me to be of maximum service to others through my heart and through my writing. And when I forget that, I only need to pause and look for the signs in my daily life that will point me back home… to a heart that reminds me that “Simple Abundance” is indeed enough.

Until tomorrow, may you have a day full of signs and wonder that remind you that you, too, are so deeply loved. And that who you are, and who everyone around you are, is enough.

It really is.

Andrea

About Me

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. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, writing

Want Peace? Build Your Life Around Your Spiritual Practice (And not the other way around)

Ellieelien@ellienelie @ Unsplash

I actually wrote this post yesterday, but got rather heavy withdrawl symptoms from giving up coffee. I bring this up to remind all of you that sometimes we have to rest, despite our obligations, and trust that all will get done that is supposed to get done. And so, on that note, here is yesterday’s post!

As I mentioned yesterday, life has lately felt like walking up Mt. Everest in cement boots. With cast iron cylinders on my head. In the rain. And yet, one thing has kept me consistent and calm despite the world seemingly seeming to fall apart around me — and that is my spiritual practice.

Every day, whether I feel like it or not, I get out of bed, hit my knees, say a prayer, grab some tea and do my Morning Pages. (More on this another day! In simplest form, they are 3 pages worth of free flowing writing to get your grr out at the beginning of the day so you can feel fresh, balanced and ready for new adventures to begin.)

When my writing is complete, I do 5 minutes of meditation with my husband (a miracle in and of itself) and then we do a spiritual reading.

When that is done, I read my own devotions and, if there is time, I’ll do ten minutes of meditation myself.

This whole routine takes about 1 hour. And while, yes, I could use this time to finish up some house cleaning, move ahead with paperwork or scroll through Social Media, the bigger question is, “Why?” I have found that unless I am centered — allowing the God of my understanding to connect with the most sacred part of me where my creativity, love and true being live, I view life only through a lense of fear and anxiety.

Keeping a small routine allows me to stay anchored when the storms of life blow all around me. And, unlike much of my younger days when my happiness depended on other people, places and things, keeping a practice reminds me to count on one thing and one thing only: God.

God is Not Weakness

Reliance on the God of my understanding does not make me a little woman, content to just sit around and let success pass her by. Do I want my musical to sell? Yes. Would I love Covid to be over so I could finally use my Disney passes and hang out with my friends in a beautiful cafe and watch babies in ridiculous outfits shriek in delight at oversized park characters? Of course! But if the spirit I bring to this job or event is restless, irritable and discontent, why would it matter if Covid ended and I could go to such an event? I wouldn’t enjoy my time there and, more importantly, I wouldn’t be of service to those around me. Anger, like a virus, is contagious, too.

Focusing on the Inside

Simply put, when I don’t take quiet time in the morning with God, I focus on the outsides of life, then try to control people, places and things to fix my insides. This never works. Just try it on some teenagers and you’ll see what I mean!

You Are Worth Rest

Christopher Burns @ Unsplash

Keeping a spiritual practice reminds me of a lighthouse on the water. It might be freezing outside, and ships are sinking all around me, but in that lighthouse is a warm bed, a fire, a hot cup of tea and beautiful music playing. (Okay, so my lighthouse is more of an AirBnB but you get the idea!)

Instead of focusing on the chaos on the stormy sea, I can stay in gratitude that I am cared for inside. Because God is my keeper, I don’t need to worry about the rent or people coming in to steal my stuff. That house is open 24 hours for me with a sign on the door, “Come on in, Andrea. You are loved. You are welcome.”

There, in that lighthouse, I can lay down any expectations I have of myself and remember that I am a child of God and nothing else matters.

And, from that place of rest and contentment, I can light a candle and look out my window. Sometimes I’ll see sun. But sometimes I’ll see other fellow travelers who are drowning in horrific waves. Having been there myself, I can understand their struggle. And then, best of all — and only because I will have had my time of rest — I can leave the safety of the lighthouse with a sense of purpose. I can get into my boat and, with a spirit stronger than the weather around me, motor out to help some of them.

My purpose isn’t to do better, it’s to be better.

As a perfectionist, I struggle with always wanting things done a certain way. But when I remember I don’t have to be perfect, because only God is, I can relax and let my true nature come out to play. I don’t need to check off one more box on an endless to do list. I simply need to sit still and, once again, be reminded who I really am… who my authentic nature is. Who is that nature? She is someone who likes to feed people. She has Taco Tuesday complete with mariachi hats… who is writing a musical about camels… who reads Roald Dahl to her homeroom every day and can’t pass up a yard sale or a stray dog. I love that Andrea, but the only way I can let her out to play and to “be” is to bring God in. And the only way to do that is to begin each day in prayer and meditation.

My practice is my answer.

And so, friends, if you already have a morning practice where you can connect to the God of your understanding, that’s awesome! If not, I encourage you to start. It’s not easy at first (that’s why they call it “practice”) but in time, like any routine, a pattern will establish. I can promise you that in nurturing your spirit, you will find you are more able to face whatever comes your way each day. And not only will your soul thank you, everyone around you will, too.

Until tomorrow,

Andrea

About Me

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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. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where ’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

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faith, sobriety, spirituality, writing

Want An Amazing Life? There’s Only One Thing to Do: Ask the Right Questions

So yes, tonight is Election Day. It’s also the day I decided to move ahead with my blogging again. I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. So I’m back.

Emily Morter@emilymorter @ Unsplash

I woke up yesterday morning like I’ve woken up the past 60 days: tired, exhausted, and hell bent on starting my day again.

I did my Morning Pages. (Thanks, Julia Cameron! You’ve yet to let me down.)

I meditated for ten minutes with my husband.

I cleaned out my wreck of an office the best I could and took my sorry ass for a walk.

I wanted to feel joy and be in the moment, but all I could think about was the horrible feeling of dread I had in my stomach for everything that conspired against me like an epic shot of “Screw You” juice.

The Past 2 Months of Hell

In addition to the “normal” life of Covid, elections were looming.

I’ve had a LOT of personal challenges in my immediate family and my extended family.

I had unexpected stitches followed by surgery on my hand. (Um, don’t ever push your hand down as hard as you can on a trash can that is full of broken glass.)

My husband had mouth surgery last week. Add in a full time job teaching special ed as well as my consulting job coaching women to write books, and I was exhausted.

Normally a person of deep gratitude, I felt the weight of unwanted burdens piling up to the point where I was having a hard time concentrating. I was cranky with my family. I was angry at the dog. Despite my best efforts to “let go” and do the next indicated step — as my 12 step program so magnificently reminds me on a daily basis — I felt stuck.

The Power of Contrary Action

Dmitry Schemelev@enioku @Unsplash

In an attempt to avoid self-pity, I took the opposite action of sitting in my house ruminating like an old record player stuck on a bad song and went for a walk. But when the beauty of the Fall leaves, a Labrador puppy, a waving/smiley baby and the smell of baking bread didn’t unhinge my negative mind, I did the only thing I could think of. In true Anne Lamott fashion, I muttered under my breath the most holy of holy prayers that one does when they are sinking in a quagmire of despair and unshakeable grief: “Help.”

And that’s when a tiny, but strong voice, came bubbling up. “Call your sponsor,” it told me.

So I did.

And what she said absolutely changed my life. I told her everything. How I couldn’t see the sun no matter how hard I tried. How I was in so much grief over my childhood home being sold. How I was terribly worried about one of my children’s life path and how if I heard my husband click his fork against his molar ONE. MORE. TIME. I would slide across the table Bruce Lee style and strangle him with the Italian cloth napkin. I mean, that would really put a bust on our lovely Italian meal out and then I’d be stuck with the bill.

“Why is all this stuff happening to me?” I lamented. “I pray. I meditate. I go to meetings. I am of service to people. I admit when I’m wrong. Why can’t I feel better?”

“You’re asking the wrong questions,” she told me.

“What do you mean?” I shot back, dumbfounded. I realized, with some irony, that that was yet another question, but I shut my mouth and let her continue.

“When you do things to feel better, you are in self-will. When you do things to be better, you are in God’s will.”

I had to admit she got me on that one, but I wasn’t ready to give in yet. I was paralyzed in a trance of Self-Righteous indignation with Self Pity rising. This state of mind didn’t feel amazing, but it was like a toxic ex-boyfriend from 1998… I knew he was gay, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go. (“Couldn’t I just have one more night of musical theater with him before we went our separate ways?” I used to ask myself. Of course, in the context of my sponsor’s statement, perhaps if I had asked a better question I would have saved myself endless mornings of remorse. But that was before I was sober. And I didn’t give up booze to repeat stupid patterns over and over, so I continued listening.)

“Instead of asking ‘Why are these things happening?’” she gently stated, “You need to be asking ‘What is this here to teach me?’ ”

Okay, she had me there. And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, all my circumstances, ALL of them, came down to the one character defect that gets me every time: control.

Yes, on the surface, my life felt like a Shit Show Circus. But in not trusting God, I was the only one to blame for constantly buying the tickets.

Image courtesy of Cyrus Crossan@cys_escapes @ Unsplash

She continued, “When you insist that your way is the right way, Andrea, you are not leaving room for God to act. And worse than that, you are playing the victim so that you don’t have to change.”

“Ouch!” my ego shrieked.

“#TRUTH” my spirit leapt, not unlike a tight rope walker at the Greatest Show On Earth — my very own life.

Her final question went straight into the center of my being, “What if, from this point on, you never tried to control anybody ever again? What would that do to your relationships?”

I didn’t say anything. How could I? She was right. But I can tell you how I felt — like I was going to throw up.

“Are you willing to never again blame anyone else for what is happening to you? Are you willing instead to look at your life like a giant game and see what it can teach your soul?” she asked.

“I guess,” I said, half-heartedly. I felt destroyed — like my gut had taken a giant hit. Which, of course, it did. I mean, if I couldn’t blame anyone, then it was all up to me. And if was all up to me, then I was really doomed to fail. Because me, just little old Andrea? She was only human. And how could little old human Andrea manage everything going on?

“What if I am not capable of not blaming people?” I asked her.

“You’re asking the wrong questions again,” she told me. “A better one might be, ‘Are you capable of doing this with God’s help?’”

And that’s when, for just tiny moment, I felt the giant weight of the entire world that had been my life for the past 60 days ease. And, just as quickly, all these questions started flooding in — questions that my very own soul had the answers for.

The Beauty of the Right Question

“What if I’m not in charge of my almost adult child’s life decisions at this time?”

“What if I focused on what was going right with my kids instead of what was going wrong?”

“What if it didn’t matter if my husband and I agreed on everything financially?’

“What if my childhood home being sold was not a travesty but the best thing in the world to bring on new beginnings for my mom, my brother and my entire family — to gather in a beautiful new place and create new memories?”

“What if in not ever playing the victim I can expose some of those final tapes from my past that are holding me back so I can release them to God and transform into the person I have meant to be all along?

I couldn’t believe all the questions my soul had for me.

But I can promise you this. I already knew the answers. And one of them, friends, was to fire up this old blog again and write.

I’ve missed it. And I’ve missed you. And most of all, I’ve missed the me that is always happiest when I’m writing. And so, I leave you with this:

“How are you feeling about life these days?”

“Are you asking the right questions?”

And, most important:

“Are you willing to not be a victim in your own life and see what life has to teach you so you can be better, instead of do better?”

If so, you’re in the right place. Follow me as I write Monday — Friday. I can’t wait to grow with you again!

About Me

Image for post

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. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

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You can sign up for my email list here where ’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Follow me @Facebook, AndreaFrazerWrites or drop me a line: Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, Tics, Tourettes

IGG Food Testing Vs. Traditional Allergy Testing

sss

About 10 years ago – during the time I was freaking out over my son’s Tourette Syndrome – I had Dominic tested for food allergies. I wrote about this in my book. Basically my husband thought I was a nut job as it didn’t follow the traditional route of blood testing through a lab. It instead involved vials and muscle testing. I was desperate for answers and I was relieved to find out what Dominic was allergic too:

Dom’s Allergies

  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • ham
  • …and a whole host of other things. When I removed them his tics dramatically improved

Note: He did not throw up or go into major shock when eating this food. His throat did not close up. But he was much less focused, hyper and, alternatively, lethargic afterwards.

Over time, with his resistance to bringing pizza to birthday parties that tasted like cardboard and moldy rubber, he chose to eat more of what he wanted. For him this meant consuming everything but gluten.

Then he decided he felt bad for animals so he gave up meat, chicken and even fish. I supported this. I made a lot of very bad veggie meals including gluten free mac n cheese with nutritional yeast for “flavoring.” YUM!

He continued to eat cheese and eggs (with little regard to the conditions of these animals in their cages, but hey, I figured he’d cross that bridge when he got there.)

Today we had a call with a traditional allergist today because his nose has been stuffy and he’s sick of it. The allergist gave me the same spiel that I got years ago. “Because I’ve been trained with Western Medicine, and the FDA doesn’t yet approve muscle testing, I can’t offer the IGG testing route.” But… she was great. She was honest and said that she’s seen great improvements with her patients who have gone off… wait for it… the SAME stuff Dominic went off ten years ago.

My point: Go with your gut, Mamas. If you think there’s another way to treat your child and it can benefit them, do that. If you’re only doing it out of fear, don’t do that. Take some quiet time for you and go along for the ride, because at some point your kid is going to be 17 and telling YOU what they need for their health. And if you honor them along the way, and don’t baby them when they are 5 inches taller than you, you just might be giving them the wings they need to survive in the world. And that, my friends, is far more important than fixing tics.

Until next time,

May God grant you the ability to accept the tics you cannot change, have the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Andrea

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

Need an editor, book coach (transformational non-fiction) or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

faith, God, humor, meditation, sobriety, spirituality, writing

Coronavirus Rushed in While Our Focus Was Elsewhere


Jez Timms @Unspash
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!)

Windchime toward the top.

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.

Mark Nepo’s The Endless Practice – such great insight and beauty

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.

Who remembers this episode?

Easter, 12PM

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 agenda.

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.

A miracle!

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.

Andrea

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