education, faith, parenting, sobriety, spirituality, taco tuesday, Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Twitching, Bitching and Ditching

For over a month I’ve been on a long term gig teaching sixth graders English at a low income school not far from me. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve been having a blast doing it. The school has this total 1950’s vibe with the checkered tile linoleum, old school phones, honeycombed bathroom tile and walk-up bungalow classrooms. Each day, while collecting the breakfast carts, I collect some amazing stories.

The kids are old enough to understand some of my life lessons (“you’re not in charge of adults’ emotions – ever – find someone safe to talk to!”) but young enough to be freaked out about the six foot sub in the checkered pants who says she’ll add ten points to every missed assignment so they’d better hop to it and finish their essays. (Um, I don’t have a Masters in teaching. I know how to lesson plan and grade about as efficiently as my spoiled pit bull staying off my bed, but they don’t know that, so shhhh.)

Lest I come off too cavalier, my non-English speaking kids are not as easy to manage. Just last week four kids ran out of my classroom. I only knew it because as I was going over individual student’s essays at my desk, I happened to glance out my window to find mops of black hair bobbing just over the security screens.

I suppose I could have been furious, but I found myself laughing. It’s sort of my new thing these days – to not take things so seriously. My spirituality is less “go to church so you don’t die in the fiery pits of hell” and more “If God resides within all of us, then the divine in me connects with the divine in you, which means… I’m really a part of everyone so who am I to judge?”

This philosophy might sound woo woo, but it helps a lot. I see God very simply now: where there is peace, so is God. (And apparently there’s no peace throwing tantrums over what isn’t. It’s much easier to accept what is and make adjustments.) Ex: When a student who doesn’t speak English is talking back at me, why get annoyed? Aren’t they my mirror? And if so, then how can I not see myself in their eyes? Have I not often found myself talking back at someone in anger?

When one of them grabs extra honey buns at the “share table” and doesn’t say thank you, can I not relate to swiping extra food or attention from a place of greed or fear?

And when someone leaves my class to frolic with a friend in the ivy outside my window, can I not relate to the very need to escape some of the less than exciting circumstances of my life – especially the past two years? (Covid, a kid transitioning/moving out of my house, age related changes, etc.)

I used to feel bad about not getting a real teaching credential – instead remaining for the fifth year in a row bobbing on the water of subbing – but in truth, my days slogging it out for a public school system have been the greatest credential I could ever have graduated with. I have discovered that going wherever that robotic sub system sends me and beaming love at everyone I meet (yup, I beam… it’s another one of my spiritual decisions… plus being so tall, I’m practically a light house anyway… a big boobed ocean building) I am learning more about how to drop my ego and lean into God’s will for me than anything I ever knew possible.

Tonight, over tacos, I was telling Rex and Phia that I ended up getting an extended gig at my current school. It was kind of cool, because at first I was going to miss the extended combat pay by 2 days (that would have sucked.) But then they said maybe they’d keep me through Day 20. And now they want me well into October.

While the extra pay is great, more important in my book is that I absolutely surrendered the outcome. It was going to be what it was going to be. It was going to land where it was going to land. Instead of manipulating the endless possibilities of extra pay vs. not, I stopped playing chess in my mind and instead focused on the duties at hand: how can I be of service every single day? How can I love what is instead of what isn’t? It’s such a simpler, not to mention more fun, way of living. (Plus I heard from a producer about my Christmas movie. It’s been sent to four people – fingers crossed this sucker sells!)

Bottom line: life can be so wonderfully surprising if we let it. In a world where we can’t always predict the future, I offer you the more exciting and fulfilling path: beam love, see yourself in everyone you meet so you can have compassion for them and yourself and always eat tacos. Like tacos, life falls apart sometimes. It can still taste delicious.

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

If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here

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Choosing Happiness One Taco at a Time

It’s Tic-O Tuesday – week 2 of Stinkette not in my home. Week 2 of less tics and less sounds of her laughter streaming from her bedroom as she chats with her girlfriend over Discord.

I can’t say I’m thrilled about her absence. It’s not like she left because she got a scholarship to Harvard for computer design. The fantasy of who I thought she would be (a “HE” – let’s start with that small fact) is not what I expected. But at the same time, God didn’t ask me to take over for Him. Last I checked I’m not a mind reader, a fortune teller. And, um, it’s not like I’m exactly a New York Times best selling author (yet). I don’t get to decide what is best for my kid – I can barely decide what’s best for me!

So with my head fully extracted from my butt, let me also add that while I do miss my sweet child, I’m also incredibly grateful for the silence. Two years of wading through this particular phase of Stink’s development has been tiring. It’s lovely – we’re talking paradise – to have some peace and calm in the home.

If You Love Them Let Them Go

I realized over a year ago that if someone doesn’t want to be overly involved in your life, or if their attitude doesn’t jive with yours, the most loving thing you can do is to set them free. Why should I be the one that she has a reason to complain about? How about I just let her do what she wants and be here with open arms when she’s ready to move back? (Or, if that idea is a bit of a stretch, how about I at least fry up enough shells that should she want to have dinner with us we’re ready to go?)

The bottom line (achieved from over 7 years of diligently practicing a spiritual program): No one, not even my own child, will keep me from experience the joy that is mine for the making. Being sad when things don’t turn out as I expected is normal, but not being able to sleep out of worry, thinking I’m single handedly responsible for her happiness/self-esteem or being devastated over every single non-returned email or phone call is not motherly love. It’s co-dependency, and I’m not playing that game anymore. I suck at athletics – and this particular back and forth sport has proven to make me a loser again and again. (I’ve always been picked last at gym, so why I think running to the front of the “I can make everything better” line is going to end well for me I don’t know.)

Loving my child so much it hurts is part of being a mother. But letting a child keep me from experiencing all the juice life has to squeeze because they are willfully choosing a different path is enmeshment. And who says, by the way, her path is wrong? I had to experience a lot of dead ends before I was willing to stop being a victim and take the reins of my own life.

Today, despite the heat (oh my God it was so HOT) and despite a long day of work with my non-English speakers who, for the record, I still Me Gusta Sus Caras, I made time for my animated movie. (Act 1 done, Act 2 well on its way. Yes, same camel script. The musical was complete, and a lovely mentor writer loved it, but the whole outline had to change, hence the do-over. You might say I needed to make it a better 3-hump-structure!)

I took a phone call from a producer for my Hallmark script (fingers crossed it sells!)

I indulged in some lovely boba therapy with Evie and laughed with Rex as he stirred the taco meat and I played Christmas music because, well, 110 degree weather feels a bit less exhausting when “Let It Snow” is booming through Alexa.

And while I will always miss my little Stink at the table, I hold out hope that she’ll be back one day to eat with us. (She’s only right across the street – sheesh!) But at the same time, I have absolutely surrendered whatever the outcome of that hope is. Stinkette gets to choose what she does with her time with zero manipulation or begging from me.

And I get to choose mine. Do I cry sometimes? Of course! But then, with those tears gone, I welcome the new experiences. I choose love and laughter and tacos with rubber mariachi ducks. I choose ridiculous pit bulls and obnoxious middle schoolers and videos of camels. I choose holiday music in September and Shabbats on Friday and church on Sunday. I choose sobriety over mind-altering substances and absolute refusal to look at life through a negative lense. I’m putting on my heart glasses, as my friend Laurie likes to say, and choosing to look through life through the lense of love.

And today, friends, you can choose it also. May you make the decision to enjoy your life. Don’t let heat, cranky kids, stalled careers or less than ideal mate’s (or no mate) keep you from rightfully experiencing the magic that is part of your every day life. Someone out there is praying for the stuff you’re so busy complaining about and being miserable over. Pass the tacos and pass the joy – life is so short. Ole!

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

If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here

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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!

If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here

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Coaching and Wellness, education, God, self improvement, Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes

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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Tired of Fighting with Your Teenagers?

10 tips to stay out of the power struggle and save your relationship

Originally published on Medium

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Cristina Zaragoza@styleanthropy @ Unsplash

If your teenager is more interested in his phone than talking to you, then this article is for you. It’s not going to promise you that Jesus will save you both. (Though a higher power is certainly advised to keep you from killing him.)

It’s not going to teach you how to win an argument. (Because fighting with teens is like negotiating with terrorists. It never works.)

But it will give you ten tips that have saved my butt when it comes to dealing with teenagers both at home and at school that have helped me to keep my cool, earn some respect and, when all respect is lost, to at least walk away and not make it worse.

Covid and Hormones and Boundaries, Oh My!

Let’s face it, these are some rough times. If hormones weren’t enough to deal with, Covid swooped in and locked many of us up with people we started not to recognize thanks to the stress of isolation. (The online school work, the lack of a social life, the unending complaints about food and boredom! And that’s just my bad attitude let alone my teens!)

I realized, when crap hit the fan, that I was either going to have to get better at communication or put a huge strain on my relationship with my kids. The second felt pretty sad, so here’s what I did. And while I have a long way to go, I’m getting stronger every day. You can, too. (Psst: Telling them to “Stop pissing your life away sleeping in” isn’t a great strategy. Ahem.)

10 Tips to Keep Boundaries and Relationships Strong with Your Teens When You Would Rather Just Kill Them

  1. Use “I” Statements: In simple terms, I’ve found when I stay away from “you” and keep it on “I” there is much less defense. Ex: “You spoke to me in a way that was super rude” immediately puts their walls up. “I felt very disrespected” keeps it on me and avoids them deflecting back, “You’re manipulating me!”
  2. Pick Your Battles: Does it really matter if your kid doesn’t think Barry Manilow is a real artist and that your food prep skills are, to quote their favorite new game, are “Suss?” Save the argument for when he or she wants to get in a car with a friend wearing a “Hell is Other People” tattooed on their forehead. It’s simply not worth the fight.
  3. Keep It Light: I know… I know… how stressful things can get being home all the time with restless kids. But instead of adding fuel to the fire by walking around like a somber Eeyore, make it a point to play some music. Text them a joke. Buy them a fun snack. Play a video game with them, even if your Minecraft Hut ends up looking more like a pink meth house.
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Richard Jaimes@richardconr @ Unsplash

Teenagers won’t always remember Covid as the best time of their life, but by keeping things cheerful as much as possible they can still have happy memories of being with you. Being intentional with your mood change everything.

Sidenote: I can’t tell if that person is actually a teenager, an older man, or a transman. Now that I have one child transitioning, nothing appears as it seems anymore. And perhaps this is for the best. Let people jut play their ukes and be their best unicorn selves. It’s too complicated to control it. Moving on.

4. Timing is Everything: Once a tiger is flippin’ mad, the dumbest thing to do is go poke it with a stick. You’re not “losing” if you choose to wait before you speak. Better to have patience and bring something up when your kid is more receptive to hearing than in the middle of a big blow out. Speaking of…

5. Don’t Yell: I have had my days of yelling at my kids. And later, they’ve told me it really hurt. And you know what? Who can blame them? My dissatisfaction with other areas of my life, displaced on them, didn’t feel good.

Note: I am making living amends to not yell at them again. This doesn’t mean I can’t set boundaries with love, but I don’t rage to make my point. Rage is not power anyway. Only firm rules with love works. (And cash if you have it.)

6. Don’t Threaten: It took me a long time to learn this one, but “Late is Great.” Instead of telling my kids what will happen if they don’t do x, y and z, and amp up the consequences, I simply tell them what the expectations are, and what the logical consequences will be if it’s not done. If I get kick back, I don’t try to blame, shame or case build. I don’t defend my point. I simply say, with no sarcasm at all, “Thank you for sharing.”

7. Have a Meeting of 2: By this, I mean that when you’re upset about something, you don’t need to interrupt a perfectly good outing to the beach to bring up something from the past. Make a time to talk to your teenager when both of you are calm. Keep it to “I” statements and then, here’s the hardest part of all: Listen.

8. Listen: It can be difficult to listen to a teenager’s logic when they seem, well, crazy. But that’s exactly what you need to do. In the past I’ve fought them. I’ve tried to save my ego.

My ego is not my amigo, especially when it comes to teenagers. I need to get my validation elsewhere or I’ll forever be butt hurt.

These days, unless they are directly being rude to me, I also ask two very important questions: “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” If they only want to vent about something, nothing I say is going to change their mind anyway. And isn’t life their best teacher anyway? The more I try and convince them, the more I become the target.

9. Stop Trying to Fix Everything: One of the hardest things I’m learning is that I can’t fix how my teenagers feel about anything — especially what they think about me. This goes back to #8. It’s not my kids’ job to like me or fill me up. They aren’t my friends. It’s my job to keep them safe. And, if they don’t feel safe, and they tell me that, it’s my job to decide if they are manipulating me (it’s been known to happen — I’m a softie) or if it’s something I need to change, such as how I talk to them. It can be confusing for a co-dependent in transition like myself. That leaves me with only one thing to do sometimes…

10. God: I couldn’t do this teenage thing without God. Taking time to bring in my higher power reminds me who is really in charge. It helps me to separate myself from their attitudes about me. It helps me to think clearly. It helps me to walk away when I’m getting angry.

At the end of the day, a belief in God reminds me to let go of the fear I have that either my kids hate me or I’m messing up too much. When I remember that they, too, have their own God, I can relax. I don’t have that much power. What a relief!

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Benjamin Voros@vorosbenisop @ Unsplash

I’m Not a Perfect Parent

My true friends know that things have been rough lately. I have struggled between standing my ground in love and wanting to lay down the hammer like a pissed off porcupine with a tube of “Don’t screw with me juice” up its behind. But, thanks to some wonderful 12 step groups, I’ve also seen my part in creating a few dynamics that are playing out in my household. (Not always having clear enough guidelines, not trusting myself enough, wanting them to like me. Accck! I hate writing that last part, but it’s true.)

For a while there, not even realizing it, I parented from a place of lack. Subconsciously I didn’t see my true value. It’s something that I’m actively changing now, and it’ll take a bit of time for it to settle in. That’s okay. It’s Covid. I’ve got all the time in the world!

I can’t come in like a mafia boss now and gain respect in a day. It’s going to take more than a hot second to establish the new routine… to show up as a mom who says what she means, but isn’t mean.

To show up as someone who doesn’t feel hurt when something is said to me — not because that child is particularly awful (though it might feel that way) but perhaps because they, too, are hurting.

It’s going to take a little bit of willingness on their part to see me in a new light — as a mother who cares deeply for their feelings, but is no longer willing to be a doormat and put my fairy dust on their problems at the expense of my own soul.

Motherhood is brutal and exhausting. It requires the power of a Steam Engine with the heart of a hummingbird.

My goal is to raise happy and confident adults, but that means I get to be one first. And only when I’m filling my own cup every day can I manage to follow the advice I just gave to you.

I know how hard I work at this parenting gig. Whether my teenagers understand that, at this point in their lives, is none of my business. I just need to do the footwork and leave the rest to God.

And when all else fails, I can drink another cup of decaf. (Yeah, that whole “I Gave Up Coffee and Didn’t Die” post? That’s bullshit. I caved after 3 weeks. I already don’t drink alcohol. I’m not giving up my java, too.)

About Me

Image for post
That’s 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, parenting, Uncategorized

Dear Trans Kid, I Love You

And other things I want to say to unaccepted transgender teens

Originally published in Medium.

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Jordan McDonald @ Unsplash

Dear Trans Kid,

If you are reading this, I want you to know that you are not alone. It might seem like that, but you’re not.

Perhaps you are part of a community that is outwardly hostile toward you.

Maybe your family says they love you, but they just don’t love your orientation.

Maybe your family thinks this is just a phase and you’ll grow out of it.

Maybe you are terrified yourself because you don’t want to be trans, but deep inside, you KNOW you are.

What if I told you that while you’re terrified now, the terror won’t last forever?

What if I told you that sometimes the things we fear the most are the very things we need to break the mold of who we “think” we’re supposed to be and become everything who God intended us to be?

Yes, I’m using the word “God” in the same sentence as trans. Why? Because my own sweet teenager recently came out as trans. And while at first I was devastated at this surprising news, I knew in my gut that I had to believe her to be the same child of God she was before she broke the news.

I also knew that the tugging I felt to leave evangelical church a few years earlier was not the devil leading me away from “truth.” I realized, at that very moment, that the nudging to leave was none other than God himself walking me from black and white thinking into a new technicolor rainbow of acceptance.

Trans Kid, it is not enough for you to be tolerated. You deserve to be celebrated. Because if you weren’t supposed to be this way, you wouldn’t have been made this way.

I don’t know about you, but my God, my Jesus, he doesn’t make mistakes. I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, just like the Bible promises, that you were formed in your mother’s womb with a plan and a purpose. And while this might not seem so clear at this very moment of confusion, it will be crystal clear sooner than you think.

What if this dark night of your soul is the very thing you need to go through so that, like the caterpillar, you can transform into something beautiful and truly fly?

I just hope, when you get your wings, you won’t forget to land on the shoulder of another who will likely be feeling exactly the way you are feeling right now.

In closing, during this time of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I hope you will remember how grateful so many people are that you were born. And for those people who aren’t grateful, guess what? They aren’t your people.

God loves you.

I love you.

And if people in your close circle can’t love you, then you just love yourself until it gets better.

Because it will get better.

Love,

Your Virtual Trans Mom

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!

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.

Image for post
@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!

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