Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, humor, spirituality, taco tuesday, teenagers, Tic-O Tuesday, Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, transgender, Uncategorized, writing

Me Gusta Su Cara

After bailing out of getting a Masters in Teaching to spin in the ever constant of vortex of writing after school while subbing full time and coaching high school seniors on their college essays, it is with true irony that I found myself absolutely loving my current long term gig: teaching sixth grade English.

I am at a school quite dilapidated on the outside, but overflowing with trees stem to stern on the inside. Every morning, lap top in hand, I find myself strolling through what can only be described as a teacher’s treehouse: oak trees, birch trees and pine trees, all intermingled in green leafy goodness.

The scene is the perfect metaphor for most people I know: old and a bit dodgy on the exterior, but take a few moments and the interior will blow you away with a garden of stories and overflowing life.

One of my favorite classes is the non-speaking English class. It would be easy to be intimidated by the lack of speaking skills, but humans are humans. 90% of them speak Spanish, and they laugh as I attempt to articulate my great appreciation for their willingness to let me practice my Espanol. “Tengo muchas palabras en mi cabeza!” I will progclaim which, translated loosely means, “I have many words in my head.”

At six feet tall, I’m a good six inches over most of them, and between the hoodies and the masks, it’s hard to tell if their huge brown eyes are squinted in laughter or disdain, but, honestly, I don’t care. I made a decision a long time ago that absolutely everyone I meet wants to be my friend – that the divine in me will connect with the divine in them. I often share these spiritual truths with them in my broken Spanglish. It might be a lot for 9am, but worse case, there’s Fruit Loops.

Side note: Originally I bought the Family Size Pack (see above) for Stinkette’s new place. She’s doing the whole pad up Halloween style, so what could be more perfect for my spooky-loving, queer half-adult than Halloween Rainbow Pride O’s, but she turned me down via text. “I can’t eat it. Gelatin,” she reminded me. (I don’t know if I trust her logic. This kid would rather spend $1300/month in a rented room across the street than live with her mother, but I digress.) My point: I brought them to school and they were a HUGE hit with my English learning kids.

“I want more!” Carlos politely informed me. I smiled back. “Excellent words, but say ‘I would like more please!'” which, of course, he did and was rewarded with a handful of marsh mellow ghosts and bats – gelatin and all!

Seeing these kids every day remind me of how it used to be with my own kids: repeating the dates, repeating the words, not sure if they are understanding my phrases but knowing from their body language and laughter that they understand my heart.

“Me gusta su cara” I always tell them each day. “I love your face.”

If you think about it, isn’t that what we all want to hear? That our faces – all individual – were created by something bigger than us and worthy of love? That nothing we do can separate us from that divine love?

As I watched Evie tonight after tacos doing her college work, I whispered to her, “Me gusta su cara.”

I looked at the greedy pitbull under the table, hungry for my ridiculous tacos, “Me gusta su cara.”

I looked in the mirror and reminded myself, “Andrea, me gusta so cara.”

And when I looked at my Stink’s empty room, I reminded myself that she might not look like the old Stink I once knew – now with her long curls and slowly transforming feminine body, but I smiled at the image of who she is now. “Me gusta su cara.” I love her face.

And I always will.

And for my Tourettes mamas, remember: If you can’t fix the tics, fix yourselves!

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Tic-o Tuesday – Progress Not Perfection

Hooray for Simple Family Dinners (And Fiesta Ware. It even makes MY cooking look good.)

Summer is almost over.

I signed up for a Masters in Education – for the 3rd time.

I backed out – for the 3rd time.

I broke my toe.

I got a hemmoroid.

I dealt with some skin cancer.

Stinkette – my sweet Stinkette – is moving out of the house.

My youngest – Evie – she’s starting college and work at a preschool. (WHAT? Impossible!)

As of late life has felt like one giant taco bar of add-ons I would prefer to return. How did the years go by so quickly? Was a I good enough mom? Are my babies going to be okay? Am I nuts to head back to the sub pool for the fifth year because maybe, just maybe, this year my animated movie will sell and I don’t want to be tied down with papers and politics?

People, I don’t know the answers to what will be. But I do know what I don’t want. I don’t want a job that sounds good on paper but will make me miserable. I don’t want to spend any more time regretting some things I can’ change. I want to look at what IS working (a Hallmark script on spec that some producers think they can sell! Hooray!) My health. A solid marriage. A ridiculous dog that acts like George Clooney arrived at the door every time I come home.

I can spend my days in worry, but that’s not unlike a rocking chair – going back and forth but going nowhere.

Instead, I will be happy for the little things. Soft taco shells frying in the pan. Costco dishware that makes my simple abundance look inviting and fresh. My family at my table (minus Stinkette who just got promoted at Starbucks! She’s doing so much better!)

When we can’t change the tics and the things around us we can always change ourselves. And for me, it’s one giant YES to life on life’s terms. Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly.

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Tico-Tuesday: Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly

The other day I decided it was a great idea to move Grandma Stella’s China cabinet.

By myself.

As if in slow motion, the shelf which housed some of my favorite momentos – from her 1940’s egg dish to my own mom’s English tea cups that sat in her dining room bay window – went crashing to the ground.

Glass mixed with china mixed with porcelain jumped out to me as the perfect physical manifestation of the past two years: family members passing on or getting sick… my children’s transitions from my story for their lives to their very own story (how dare they be their own people!) … my childhood home being sold. All of these items I naively thought would never change, but thanks to Covid and circumstances/choices completely out of my control, I found my once long held ideals shattered in million tiny chards on my freshly washed checkerboard tiles.

Similar to my Evangelical days, I’d love to put a big shiny bow on this story with a happy ending ala, “Golly Gee, God inspired me to turn those messed up pieces into a shiny Mosaic table over Memorial Weekend, the kids helped out, my husband brought me a latte since God works everything together for good.” But that’s not what happened.

Instead, I took a broom, swept it all into a dusty pile and chucked of it into the trash can. Clank! Then I went on with my day. (Someone had to buy the toilet paper, and it wasn’t my teenagers who no, are still not driving. Nope, no shame here. I totally don’t compare myself to other people whose kids have been driving since they day they turned 16 because that wouldn’t be very spiritual, would it?)

To be clear about my quick clean up, it’s not that I don’t care about the treasures pictured above. And it’s not that I don’t wish some things were different with my personal life and my career. But I learned the past few years that wishing things were different than they actually are is about as insane as thinking that a bit of crazy glue will somehow make Grandma Stella’s Easter dish look like the same as the day she bought it at Montgomery Wards, 1957, to match her Crazy Daisy China pattern .

No. The longer I try to hold on to what was, the less space there is for new memories and beautiful momentos to fill the shelves of my china cabinet as well as my own memory bank. Either everything is happening in God’s timing or it isn’t. The first thought brings me peace. The second is pure regret. And with the world as it is, I try really hard to not Choose Door #2 anymore.

On this most holy day of the week – Tico Tuesday/Hump Day Eve –  I invite you to let go of anything you’re holding onto that is no longer serves your current reality. What if your kid’s diagnosis is not the issue, but it’s your thoughts about the diagnosis that are holding you back from creating new experiences in your life? What if your strained relationship or unsure job path is not the big, hairy, scary challenge but rather your thoughts about them (grounded in coulda shoulda woulda) that are causing your heart palipitations?

Whatever items are taking up space in your head, I invite you to let your thoughts about it crash to the ground.

Sweep it up.

Put it in the trash with other crazy thinking, such as “I’m going to be a size zero by Wednesday” or “Sam Heughan secretly reads this blog and wants to take me on the back of his bike to an Outlander screening party” and let it go.

Make space for the new.

Everything is unfolding perfectly.

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Tic-O-Tuesday, 2022

Taken New Years Day! Maddie (Stink) is 18, Pip is 17. WHAT???

Hello lovelies –

Long time no chat. So much has happened over the course of 2020/2021 I don’t even know where to begin, so I just will:

  • My childhood home of 45 years was sold and my mom moved to an apartment. There’s a lot of memories in a 3000 square foot house to throw out/accommodate, but we did.
  • Sweet Grandma Stella died. What a bummer. No more visits to her retirement home to sing “Fly me to the Moon.” No one to tell me my ass looks too big or that I “Can’t clean worth shit.” No more jokes about men thirty years younger than her, pointed bras, pumpkin thongs or gin martinis to start a car. But she’ll forever be in my heart, “tidying” my kitchen and telling me to keep “my mouth shut and my legs crossed.”
A few years ago at her retirement home. At 97 she’d complain about all the “old farts” who “hang around this place” and wished people would just call her “Bubbles” like in high school
  • My sweet Stink became Stinkette. While I’m so happy that she has found her true self, it took some time to adjust. I wish I were a faster student, but I’m here now and so grateful for the new beginnings for her, for us – for everyone in the family.
  • I went from subbing part time to full time, thanks to the dire need for teachers with Covid. No one was more shocked than I was to find I liked it and am seriously considering getting a credential to keep a classroom full time. (I have learned when it gets noisy to silently dance with an invisible man. My kids know. “Quiet! She’s dancing with Sam!”) Have you seen Sam Heughan? I love you all, but if you steal my invisible boyfriend I will block you.
My students know I love Rex, but if Sam comes knocking Rex has to go.
  • I started working with some producers on writing a Hallmark movie. (Will it sell? Who knows. I just put one foot in front of the other. Or, shall I say, one “hoof” in front of the other which leads me to…)….
  • …I finished my camel musical! It needs to be rewritten, but so it shall.
Grateful for a few writing classes and a mentor, also, to kick this camel loving mama into action
  • Pip became a senior in high school and, over Covid, I learned just how much I needed to change in my parenting style. It wasn’t easy, but the growth we have experienced has been well worth the experience to shift.

I tell you all this, Mamas, because I learned all the ways to pivot and change thanks to a little something we all call “Tourette Syndrome.” Lots of things over the past year aren’t what I expected (nor – if I’m being honest – are what I’d choose) but in accepting them as they are, I made room for magic. I made room for more writing, more dreaming, more consistent income.

You, too, Mamas, can DECIDE that despite T.S. you can have an amazing 2022. I will aim to write here a bit more often and cheer you on along the way.

Thanks to all who have bought my books or just followed me here all these years. It’s a pleasure to get to know you and I wish you the most wonderful New Year!

PS: It’s Tic-0 Tuesday today, which means I’ll be cooking up some simple tacos and cheese/guac just for Pip, Rex and I. Maddie (formerly Stink) is at Starbucks and apparently I’m not the sun which she orbits any longer. THAT was way more heartbreaking than even the tics. People, life shifts in an instant. Don’t miss it.

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What Have I Done For Me Lately?

Happy Tic-O Tuesday, people!

I am writing to you on the eve of the best day of the week, Hump Day, to ask you a very simple question: Are you taking care of yourself?

I ask because I continue to hear from loads of mamas, either from my writing or T.S. circle, that are drowning under the weight of all their worry and responsibility.

I get it – because that was me for a very long time! But despite a pretty crazy year this year, I have to admit that these days I’m doing pretty well. There’s a bunch of reasons for that:

  • I’m 51 now. I just care a hell of a lot less about what anyone, other than my own soul, thinks
  • Everyone is healthy, despite a scary Covid season
  • I continue to remain employed (despite wearing some outfits that look like Good Will had a buy one/get one free sale)
  • My book writing/coaching business is picking up traction
  • One of my kids went back to school (thank GOD)
  • My other is almost graduated (thank GOD)

But the biggest reason I find joy is because I take care of me. I no longer wait for approval from people, places or things. If my kids or Rex are unhappy with me, for example, that is never fun, but I have made a commitment to be less enmeshed. Last I checked they had their own God, and it wasn’t me. The time I spend seeking approval from others, or trying to manage other people, is better spent doing what my higher power wired me to do. And, shockingly, it turns out those are the things I love most!

  • Writing my musical (it’s 50% done! Wait til you see my camels dance and rap!)
  • Creating content for my writing and T.S. support groups (info to come with a new website!)
  • Watching Bridgerton (don’t judge)
  • Taking online writing classes from Story Summit

I am saying all this, people, because T.S. taught me so much. It reminded me that often my fears about how my child would fare were unfounded. That I often made it so much worse by sticking my nose into stuff that I didn’t need to. What my kid needed most was for me to be a calm and rational mom. I can’t say that was always the case. But late is great!

These days, I am making up for lost time – not just to my kids but to everyone I come in contact with. That doesn’t look overly fancy on the outside. I’m still the same six foot, red headed, cat eye wearing Taco Tuesday loving lady I’ve always been. But my inside? It’s wild with joy. Because my peace does not come from what I thought it would come from – a cure for T.S.. The cure was in me all along. The cure was to focus on my own gifts and talents so I could better support my kids with theirs.

I hope this week finds you doing some things that you love just for you. I’d love to connect with you either in one of my support groups (coming soon) or on Facebook!

Or email me. I don’t bite.

INTERESTED IN TAKING A JOURNALING CLASS WITH ME?

I’m going to be leading two workshops this Spring:

  1. For mamas of Tourette Syndrome kids who want to heal through journaling and connecting with other moms in the same boat.
  2. For mamas who want become more authentically themselves through journaling, laughter and joy.

Both will be 4 weeks. I’ll share more as it gets closer. Sign up for my newsletter below or leave a comment! I’d love to have you!

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Are You Raising Your Kids Through Your Fears?

I love this book!

I thought having a kid diagnosed with something I couldn’t control was super scary, but it turns out that life itself terrified me.

From the time I was a little kid, I remember thinking everyone else had the answers and I didn’t know anything. It was like this giant train wreck of loneliness ran through my soul. Other kids seemed to effortlessly kick shiny balls around the field or get up in front of large groups of people and sing, talk or crack jokes. Me? I was the tall kid in the back trying super hard to get an A on the test and want everyone to give me validation for it (at the same time horrified if someone looked my way.)

These feelings eased as I got older – or so I thought – but having children of my own had a way of putting miracle growth on my character defects. These tiny little beings were the love of my life – and while I raised them with a ton of love and magic – fear was always at the bottom of it. “Was I doing it right? Was I managing the diagnosis okay? Were they happy?”

They’re almost full grown now, and I know more than ever now that in the end what they needed, and still need – more than ever – is a mom who is happy with herself. They don’t need one more vacation. One more trip to Disneyland. A full ride scholarship to college. All of that would be nice – don’t get me wrong – but these kids are looking to me still for guidance. And I’m so excited to say that I’m happier now with myself than I ever have been. I haven’t arrived, but I am not that sad, scared person who needs validation from other people. I’m right in the middle where the magic lives.

So much of my personal success I owe to my spiritual walk. To journaling. To showing up at 4 twelve step meetings a week and doing the work. To making a conscious decision to not drink, not blame others, not blame and shame others and, when I feel the old CADS creep up on me (Compare and Despair Syndrome) I talk to someone.

This book, Return to Love, has made such an impact on my life. It reminds me that when I’m in fear, that’s not the real me raising my kids. Only love is real. When I can let go of the outcome and just love my kids unconditionally – which starts with loving ME because God love me me first, things go so much smoother. (It’s more on the spiritual side vs. religious, and that works perfectly for this hippy.)

Life is difficult, but it’s also such a trippy and beautiful ride. I’m so happy to be on it with you all. And mamas, if you’re new to the T.S. world, know that you are not alone. While it can be scary, I promise that if you keep an open mind and learn to love yourself in the process, you will be okay. You really will.

INTERESTED IN TAKING A JOURNALING CLASS WITH ME?

I’m going to be leading two workshops this summer:

  1. For mamas of Tourette Syndrome kids who want to heal through journaling and connecting with other moms in the same boat.
  2. For mamas who want become more authentically themselves through journaling, laughter and joy.

Both will be 4 weeks. I’ll share more as it gets closer. Sign up for my newsletter below or leave a comment! I’d love to have you!

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Tico Tuesday – Go Bananas

Yes, I am wearing a banana on my head. #nojudgement

Why yes, that’s me, live on the banana cam. Why? Because it’s Tico Tuesday – the day of the joyful taco as well as the reminder that if we can’t fix tics (and other unmanageables in our lives) we can fix ourselves. That often means adding some joy and whimsy to your day.

For me personally, it meant showing up for class even though, sigh, I didn’t want to. And, well, this makes me a not so great candidate to get a degree in teaching. I wanted to get this degree.

THE SKINNY, ON MY NOT SO COVID 5 EXTRA POUNDS SKINNY, ON TRUSTING MY GUT

Listen, people. I wanted to love the stability and the pay check and influencing other kids’ lives. But it came down, yet again, to the very real and true fact that if I’m not doing what I’ve been put on this earth to do, then what am I really teaching young kids? “Suck it up, buttercup, and give up your dreams of gender studies. Stick to business and working for the man, get a great house and raise your kids to be unhappy robots just like yourself.”

FOR MY STABLE JOB PEOPLE – YOU DO YOU!

Note to the business degree people with the nice houses: This is not an affront to you if that is what you want to do! And it’s not an affront to those of you who “have” to do this to put food on the table and feed the kids. I get it! But it is a note to me to trust that I, too, can put food on the table. But I have to do it as myself, not a version of myself that makes not just me miserable but everyone around me.

I finally listened to my Higher Power, who came to me loud and clear during this Covid crisis (oy, it’s been crazy at my house.) Our conversation went like this:

Higher Power: “Andrea, do you have to be a teacher to put food on the table?”

Me: “Um…maybe.”

HIgher Power: “Really?”

Me: “Okay, no.”

Higher Power, “Then why are you doing it?”

Me: “Because I feel like I have to. To be, you know, responsible and shit.”

Enter self-flogging and shame.

Higher Power: “A little deeper, please.”

Me: “Because I want to be consistent for my family.”

Higher Power: “Deeper.”

Me: “Because I don’t trust you and I’m too scared to do what I really have always wanted to do my whole life which is to once and for all finish my musical and start my own writing and coaching business to help other women face their own fears and trust you so they, too, can write their books and heal and create e-books for their businesses and finally step into their own power to be who they were meant to be all along!”

Higher Power: “Now you got it.”

Come back on Tuesdays where we’ll discuss stuff like this! Joy! Tacos! Following our gut! What’s not to love?

CALLING TOURETTES MAMAS!

Here’s your reminder for you mamas with kids with tics. Their spirit is more valuable than their disorder. And the best way to encourage their spirit is to become free yourself.

I swear. That’s it.

Until next Tuesday, enjoy a taco tonight. And if all fails, stick a banana hat on your head, go back to work, and trust God to move forward, one bit at a time, with your authentic purpose. You might find it very… a-peeeeling.

I’m done!

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Tic-Oh Tuesday #4 – F/U on Jessica Smith

Happy Tic-Oh Tuesday! With the riots and Covid regulations and the news that my kids likely won’t have a ‘regular’ high school experience next year (likely it’ll be a hybrid of online and drastically changed physical school) it’s a shock I’m not ticking myself. (Unless you count eating M&Ms by the fistfuls and drinking more decaf than Donald Trump uses bottles of fake tan.)

Note: Drinking 12 “mugs” of Decaf – extra strong – really equals about 25 cups of decaf/day. Um, that’s really not normal, people. Plus it means I was really drinking about 4 cups of caffeine/day. I cut down to 3 mugs and, lo and behold, my skin came back with a glow and I’m sleeping. It’s amazing! Moving on…

Hope Despite a Crazy Nation

I am not saying I’ve been happy over the past few month’s events. And to say I’m scared for our nation is an understatement. But I also have hope. I believe, just like I did when I was raising my son, that the human spirit is resilient. I refuse to fall into despair for more than a day. What’s the point? I am still breathing. I still have my home. I still have food. Alexa is still churning out jazzy Christmas music for me. (Yes, it’s June. Don’t judge. It makes me think of family, egg nog and happy lights.)

It’s also clear that my dog isn’t too worried about the turn of events.

sss

Like Brooklyn, I can rest in the knowledge that this, too, shall pass. And when I can’t change something, I can reach out my hand and help another. Is she worried about the perfection of my bed not made? No she is not. Maybe I can relax, too.

Writing News

Okay, people, I FINALLY landed on what I’m doing with myself! I hired a coach to help me set up my own book coaching biz. More to come, but in my gut – the place where the God of my understanding lives – I KNOW this is the right track for me. It will allow me to teach (which I love… just not in big groups and with kids that smell of Ax body spray.)

It will allow me to work while my kids are at school (or, in the case of next year) it will allow me to manage them so they are actually turning in school work instead of watching copious amounts of Youtube. (Which, um, has been quite the challenge of late.) But mostly it’ll give me the opportunity to write another book myself. I know that books themselves don’t make a fortune, but as a gateway to a business (in my case, a coaching one) they can be quite lucrative. It will also allow me to work on my musical – my hobby – on weekends.

I’m thrilled! No more circling the drain!

And guess what? If I am WRONG, I fail. Big deal. But I don’t think so. Not this time. I’ll keep you posted. And I can always sub while I build up my clients. (But you know what? I think this is IT for me.)

sss

So enough about me and back to you lovely people. Jeff commented a few weeks back on the post I did on writer, Jessica Smith (Pen Name: Paula Ferri). He wrote:

I find it interesting how some people innately are able to simply accept the tics and others struggle so much with self-loathing. I wonder how much of it comes from the comorbid conditions. You and Jessica don’t mention any comorbidities, so perhaps they aren’t a big deal in her life. I’d love to hear a follow up from Jessica on how much of her TS experience is tics v. how much is other conditions like OCD, anxiety, etc. Personally, I smoosh them all into a big ball of wax I call Tourette.

I did a follow up interview on this and here’s what she said!

Jessica Smith (AKA Paula Ferri – her Tourettes inner voice gal pal. Watch out – she’s cheeky)

sss

1) Why do you not struggle with self-loathing now?
I don’t struggle with self-loathing now because I have worked really hard at it lol. It’s a process and the journey is different for everyone. I think the biggest change is understanding that these labels are all in my interpretation. I can be stubborn, which is often seen as a bad thing, while I choose to see it as tenacity, or the ability to stick to something I care about. I can hate myself for being stubborn or admire myself for my follow-through. <– This is HUGE. This works on ANYTHING!
We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Take one thing that you dislike and find a way to make it a good thing. How does it make you a better person? How do you use it as a strength instead of weakness? It doesn’t matter what co-morbidities I have, I choose how to use them. I take control of how I use them rather than feeling like a victim of my circumstances. 
2) Was there a period where you DID struggle? (ex: you said you were suicidal in H.S.)
Struggle is a part of life. I struggled with depression in high school through about 2010. I struggled with self-esteem and self-love through probably 2015. I still struggle with various things. One challenge is conquered and a new one arrives. Life isn’t easy and just because I don’t deal with one particular thing doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues I deal with.
My goal is to deal with things as they come, rather than shove them to the side until I have a pile of garbage to deal with all at once. That gets to a point of not being able to function. Been there. Not a place I want to return to. When you have a huge pile of challenges to deal with, you pick them out one at a time and deal with them. It takes time, and it’s hard. This is a huge contributing factor to my second book, Tragically Strong.
I’ve been through some really rough things, and honestly, TS and the co-morbids are the least of my concerns when I have been homeless and wondering where I can sleep that night, or when I was being sexually abused. They can affect the situations, yes. Co-morbids were certainly present and weren’t making it easier. So I dealt with it one day at a time. When things calm down, I work on the things that will make it easier next time life throws me a curveball. 
3) How do your co-morbid conditions (if any) affect you individually? 
Honestly, I don’t think about it much. I know they are there. I think I just make sure I have a proper outlet for them. I still am very detailed and OCD, so when I quilt, I allow myself to make incredibly tiny hand stitches. Quilting is more of an outlet, something that I do for me, so I have no deadline or timeline that it has to be complete. I can take as long as I want to make it perfect. it also comes in handy when editing and making sure my work is perfect.
When my anxiety flares, if I can I will go for a run to release all the excess energy. If I’m dealing with rage, I keep a stack of spare plates under my bed so I can pull them out and smash them, rather than destroying something I need. There are tricks to provide relief without destroying my life, no matter what co-morbid I may be dealing with at the time. I just try to channel it into something productive rather than destructive.
4) Do you consider yourself to have “Tourettes” and that’s it? All the co-morbids smooshed in? Or do you isolate them?
Half the time, I forget I have TS. It’s hard to know if I’m just angry or if the rage is a co-morbid. Where do you draw the line? Everyone has some form of OCD, ADHD, and ALL the co-morbids, it’s just the extent that it affects your day to day life. Rather than spending my time figuring out where the line is, if it is part of the TS or not, I would rather focus on what is going on around me and what I’m doing about it. So I guess I don’t really know how to answer the question. They are all part of me, so smooshed? Though I deal with them individually as they come up, so isolated? Does it matter? I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer on this one way or the other. I’d rather live life than analyze it to pieces. Just do stuff.
5) What do you say to folks who truly struggle with their issues related to TS? 
This is going to sound heartless, but know I say it with all the love in the world… Everyone struggles. We all have different struggles, but you are not a victim. What are you doing about it? There was one night in particular where I was really struggling. There was a battle going on in my head. I felt so depressed and confused and worthless and alone and I was trying to “fight back” reminding myself of people who loved me and I could tell myself all day til I’m blue in the face all the good things… but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was exhausting and I was pleading for some kind of relief from these demons that were haunting me and from this emotional turmoil.
All of a sudden, I had this thought… “so what?” So what if I wasn’t loveable, or talented, or funny or pretty or smart or anywhere near what I wanted to be in life. So what? I may not be that right now, but that doesn’t mean I will forever be stuck that way. I can grow and change and learn and BECOME whatever I want. Life is a constant journey and we won’t attain perfection in everything. What is most important and what are you doing to get there? There are people who run track and there are people who run track with hurdles. ANY struggle is a hurdle that you have the power to jump over. Or go around. Or dive under. As long as you don’t sit in front of the hurdle and wait for someone to move it for you. Others can cheer you on, shout encouragement and ideas from the sidelines, but you have to run the race. You are not a victim. You still have options. Find something that helps, that works, and keep moving forward.
6) Would you ever consider coaching teens or parents of kids with TS?
I have considered it and would love to. I’m just still working out the specific details of what I want it to look like. But if someone out there wants to work with me, contact me and we’ll work something out.

Jessica’s Info

You can find Jessica on FacebookInstagramTwitterMedium and at her blog. And don’t forget to check out her books! Awkwardly Strong and Tragically Strong.

 

  • And she’s got a 3rd coming soon!

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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. )

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

taco tuesday, Tic-O Tuesday, Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

California Dreaming… On Such a Quarantine….

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So yes, it’s Tuesday! And… there’s not a Tic-O Tuesday post. I’m just writing to check in to say that we are all alive and doing okay. Dom is busy catching up on school work, as is his sister. As I told Tuskany, I’m pretty proud that I was able to sit down with each of them, go over their schedule and  help them chart their course to not flunk out of 10th and 11th grade toward turning in all their overdue assignments.

How are all of you doing???

I don’t know about you all, but it can be hard to find that line between “let the crap fall where it may” and over-parenting. I think I leaned a bit too far to the left, so I’m finding y way.

Just like this blog. I can’t seem to find my footing here anymore. Thanks for being here as I figure out my path. All I know is that I’m excited to have found a business coach, I’m narrowing down my niche for my writing, and I’m turning it into a for profit deal. It’s pretty darn exciting and I can’t wait to share it with you!

And, on a Tourettes note, my son is barely ticking at all. I mean… none. He’ll be 18 in January, so for you people out there with kids in the thick of the tics, hold tight and know that sometimes it clears up.

I’m so happy with my little family these days. And while I have definitely flipped around finding my footing with my writing and blog the past few years, I am so proud of the life I’ve created and focused on here in my little home in Los Angeles. That’s a great place for me to start my next journey.

Love you all.

Andrea

Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Tic-O Tuesday #3 – Writer Jessica Smith AKA Paula Jean Ferri, Her Ticking Muse

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It’s Tic-O Tuesday! Today I had the pleasure of Zooming with Jessica Smith, who many of you know from her Jars of Joy video series on Facebook. With her beautiful long hair and ray of sunshine personality, you might think she’s just another author with a story to tell. But then a little squeak comes out that reminds you: Oh, yeah, she also has Tourette’s! And she’s dang proud of it, too!

Tic Acceptance All the Way

Jessica’s tics don’t bother her. In fact, as she talks about in her first book Awkwardly Strong: From Insecure to Inspirational, she is in full acceptance of who she is regardless of some occasional squeaks and body movements.

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“My tics are hilarious,” she gushes. She’s even named them “Paula” who, being the sassy ticker and diva that she is, also takes credit for having written the books (hence the name Paula Jean Ferri on the cover.)

Jessica’s Tic History

Jessica wasn’t diagnosed with tics at an early age like most people. “I’m an outlier,” she says. “I not only was a woman with Tourette’s – with 75% of cases being men – but I also didn’t start ticking until age 17. You might say I grew into my tics instead of out of them!”

Jessica now lives in Mill Creek, UT, but she grew up in Logandale, Nevada. Her life wasn’t all sunshine and roses (as described in her second book Tragically Strong: Navigating the Change When Life Turns You Upside Down).

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But her attitude, along with her faith, kept her moving toward the positive. Her sense of humor shone through the interview and, once again, it was a big reminder to me – as the parent of a ticker – that the right attitude is everything.

Her First Tics at 17

“My first tic came out like a strong squeak – as if I was stepping on one of those dog chew toys,” she said. “Ironically, it was at the library!” She laughed. “I started doing it two times in a row… then three times in a row. My co-workers started to count them for me!”

Her tics didn’t stop there. They followed her to university where she was studying music with the full intent of being a choir teacher. “My tics starting mimicking the notes on the scales,” she chuckled. “Because of my Echolalia (mirroring of different sounds around me) I would also mimic the time clock at work. Like a cough or a sneeze, I just couldn’t stop it.”

Her Greatest Tic Challenge

She went away on a mission for two years and came back with the intention of getting a degree in social work. Unfortunately, the professors weren’t too encouraging of her abilities to work with others one-on-one due to her “distracting” noises. She was so disenchanted by her teachers’ reactions that she began failing her classes – a very new phenomenon for this straight A student.

She might have dropped out had a psychologist not insisted she come in for counseling. He took one look at her, knew she had Tourette’s, and recommend she continue pursuing a degree more suited for her needs. (She ended up with a degree in International Culture Studies with an emphasis in Communications!)

Work with What You Got

I always tell parents I work with that it’s not what happens to us (ex: an unexpected Tourette diagnosis) but how we adapt to it that makes all the difference. Life changes! If we can embrace it for what it is – a gift to do things differently – life can take on beautiful meaning and purpose! In Jessica’s case, she wrote a thesis paper on Tourette’s and How it Affects Communication. It got such praise that she then turned that into her first book, Tragically Strong.

Family Support

Jessica’s family was as surprised as she was with her tics, and while they were never outright mean to her, it took a while for them to get used to. “My father’s job as a mechanic was to listen to squeaking parts under the hood,” she said. “So you can imagine driving with me how that must have thrown him for a loop!” she laughs. Her younger brother would sometimes ask her to “close her mouth” so the noise wouldn’t escape. To that, Jessica simply responded the way many a good big sister does. “Um…. NO.”

Diagnosis at 24 and Treatment

It wasn’t until age 24 that Jessica was officially diagnosed with Tourette’s. And listen up, parents: this is what she did to cure the tics…. Are you ready?….

Nothing.

“They are what they are!” Jessica said proudly. “I can’t tell you how many cool people I’ve me from them… and all the stories I have.” Her tics never kept her from dating. And Paula (her tics) is particularly delightful at parties. At one point she shrieked fairly loudly and unexpectedly. A man came running into the room, flirting, “Is that your mating call? ‘Cause I like it!” (He felt terrible when he discovered later that she had T.S., but Jessica assured him it was “No big deal.”)

A Great Attitude and Sense of Humor is Everything

It’s Jessica’s attitude toward tics that has made all the difference in her life. She is a writer first, not someone with tics. “I encourage all parents to just let their kids be who they are. That’s what they need more than anything else.” I couldn’t say it better myself.

Need a Tic Coach?

If you are reading this, and need to talk to a parent who has “been there, done that” don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me. I will talk to you via Zoom or phone, share my story, and help you walk this new path by your side. I’ll even throw in my book for free. Email me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com for a free 30 minute consultation!

Jessica’s Taco Choice

Being Tico-O Tuesday, I asked Jessica to describe what she’d eat on her taco should she ever join me and my fellow ticker for dinner.

“I’d like it on a corn tortilla (fried) with meat, cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, no salsa, guacamole and sour cream.” I was a bit unsure if her inner diva, Paula, would approve of such excess. But it turns out Jessica’s love of tacos trumps Paula’s princess ways.

Jessica’s Info

You can find Jessica on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Medium and at her blog. And don’t forget to check out her books! Awkwardly Strong and Tragically Strong.

As always,

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. )

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