Coaching and Wellness, faith, humor, reading, self improvement, Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, Tourettes

Tico Tuesday Mottos: Nobody Knows What They’re Doing & Everybody Wants to Be My Friend (Try it! It’s a lovely way to live)

Every week at church we have something called Thursday Night Live. It’s essentially an opportunity for people who want to showcase their talents either locally or on zoom. As a natural storyteller, I was asked to perform something, so I wrote a song that followed a quick story about my motto for life “Everybody Wants to Be My Friend.” That motto was born from some pretty unusual circumstances regarding meeting siblings I didn’t know existed not once, not twice, but three times in my life. (Want more detail? Watch the link below.)  

Was my performance perfect? No. But I made a decision a long time ago, thanks to what I learned from my good friend, Tourette Syndrome, that we can’t wait to enjoy life just because something feels uncertain or has no direction. We just do the best we can.

Newsflash: Nobody knows what they’re doing! Hence my song based on my second motto for life.

Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

You can watch it here. It begins around the 18:15 mark!

Want to perform something for us? We are an open and affirming church – all are welcome!

Email me Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites and I’ll put you in touch with our music director. Why not step out of your comfort zone and connect to something greater than yourself!

For My Tourettes Mamas!

With the holidays fast approaching, don’t forget that you are the perfect person for your child. You don’t have to have all the answers to experience joy, love and laughter. Your happiness starts on the inside, not the outside circumstances like tics, so choose your attitude wisely.

And when you can’t fix the tics, fix yourself. (Don’t waste the lessons Tourettes is showing you!)

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

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  • Photo shot yesterday during an impromptu lunch with Evie and myself after a loooong day of work for us both. Stinkette still is doing her independent thing, and I miss her, but I insist on joy as she lives her best life and I do the same. Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly.
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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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.

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

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education, faith, God, humor, parenting, taco tuesday, Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, Tourettes, Uncategorized

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.

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

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humor, parenting, taco tuesday, Tic-O Tuesday, Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, Tourettes, writing

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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Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, Tics, Tourettes

IGG Food Testing Vs. Traditional Allergy Testing

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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, Tic-O Tuesday, Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes

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.)

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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)

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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!

dd

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….

sss

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

Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Tic-O Tuesday #2: Comic Ticker Fish Lee!

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Welcome to Tic-O Tuesday #2! Many of you might know Fish Lee from his stint on the A & E television show, “The Employables.” Others might know him from his Facebook Page @TourettesLife which features his amazing Tourette Syndrome art work. Still others might know him thanks to his bestselling Tourette’s comic book, T-Man & Hyperstrike (copies are sold exclusively on his Facebook Page @TourettesLife.)

As for me, I had the pleasure of getting to know him today by chatting his ear off for over an hour. We discussed everything from his childhood with tics, his life as a struggling artist who had to live through some pretty severe Tourette’s, and his current success today as one of the most sought after comic book illustrators around. (Plus he’s barely ticking thanks to the right combo of medication, sleep and weight loss.)

Fish surprised me, because he is more than just a talented artist. He’s a human being who took adversity and kicked it to the curb. If you’re like me – a parent who is worried about your child due to an unexpected diagnosis – you need to take a seat and get a boost of inspiration topping for your taco this Tico Tuesday.

Fish’s Past

“I wasn’t diagnosed until I was thirty,” Fish said. “It was confusing and tough to not know what was wrong with me.”

Fish began with mild tics as a child. He would repeat things he heard on TV, hold his breath and rub his nose. He would obsess over things and have a hard time reading social cues. “I had a pretty bad temper, too,” he said. “It wasn’t easy making friends.”

That said, he was not officially diagnosed as a child – not even when he stayed home for three weeks because of his eyes being crossed. “My single mom must have taken me to the doctor 15 times, and in the end, no one believed me that I couldn’t help it. The doctor said there was no way I could have had Tourette Syndrome since I never cursed.”

After having every imaginable test run on him to rule things out (from diabetes to severe heart issues) Fish just had to live with this “mystery illness.” He went on to say that most of the time it was manageable, but one to two times a year things would get really bad. “It was terrifying,” he said. “Especially because people thought I made it up to get attention. There was a point when I got better where I wondered myself if I had made it up.”

Lucky for him they disappeared in middle school and high school, but it wasn’t just because of genetics and good luck. “I self-medicated big time,” he said. Fish, who has now been sober for a good long while, fully admits what would have been better than not having tics at all would have been to feel that who he was, as he was tics and all, was okay. But at the time, that simply wasn’t the case.

A Rough Time of Tics

The tics came back with a vengeance after college when he was newly married and sober. At 21 it really became a problem, and by 30 he could barely see, walk or talk. His wife had to bathe him. Despite seeing a respected neurologist (who said there was no way he had Tourette Syndrome) it was not until he saw a news show with professor on TV who had the syndrome, along with a weatherman who reported that he had it also, that he realized, “That guy is me!”

When he realized he had true neurological disorder – where his brain misfired and mixed signals like crazy – he was sent to a movement specialist in Houston. The moment he walked into the room the doctor took a look at his severe shaking and asked, “How long have you had T.S.?” to which he responded, “I don’t have Tourette’s! I don’t say bad words!” She said, “Oh, yes, you do have it. The bad news is that it’s the worst case I’ve ever seen. The best news is that it can’t get any worse!”

Fish laughed as he recalled that story. It was the beginning of an understanding for his disorder.

While Fish’s wife, who he is now divorced from, was horrified that her husband would be confined to a wheel chair and potentially be on disability, Fish was thrilled. He finally had an answer. “It wasn’t Huntington Disease. It wasn’t a stroke. It wasn’t MS. It was bad, but I was alive!”

Unfortunately he had to stop working for a while with his condition worsening. He could no longer foster children – which he loved. But he had 3 of his own still at home. And in the process he was able to go on Facebook and meet other adults living with Tourette’s. He no longer felt alone. “My whole world opened up,” he gushed. “I wasn’t the only person needing help bathing and feeding myself!”

The Mouthpiece – A Miracle Cure

A turning point in Fish’s life was a mouthpiece that was made for him in Memphis, Tennessee. Made in conjunction with NFL mouth guards, it was a Godsend for Fish’s constant movement. “It was made of rubber and soft on the inside… no metal,” Fish said. “It truly worked.”

(Note from Andrea: I can’t offer you parents medical advice, but I have heard so many good things about this device. Google and find a doctor in your area or give me a call and I’ll work with you to help you locate one.)

Advice for Parents

Many parents are scared about their kids’ diagnosis, and that’s understandable, but Fish encourages everyone to be careful about how they talk about tics both to them directly and around them. “They have it tough enough as it is, but it doesn’t have to define them,” he said.

He, in fact, pushes his own son, Bear, to go way beyond what someone might expect of him. “I remember as a kid at 7 that I personally could not focus because of seven trains of thought in my head: a fight I had with someone… a girl… a TV show,” he said, “But at the same time, this wild thinking was also what made me unique.” He went on to gush,”Tourette’s kids are so smart, creative and empathetic. So what if they are a bit ‘weird’ to others. That’s what makes them so amazing.”

He continued, “I encourage all parents to fully accept their kids where they are at. So what if they tic!”

Fish’s Medication and Tic Management

As far as managing the tics, he himself is on a combo of Guanfacine and Primidone. “Everyone reacts differently,” he said, “But for me the combo of these work perfectly. There are some side effects, but it’s been worth it for what I am able to do every day in my life.” And boy what a lot he does.

Fish’s Current Life

Unlike his past where he was confined to his bed and a wheelchair, Fish spends his days illustrating for some of the biggest names in the business, including Eric N Bennett. He shops, drives and spends time with his 3 kids whenever he can (Marcus 20 – who is giving him his first grandbaby in June), Jay (19) and Elisha (“Bear” /16 who, according to Fish, is “killing it” with his tics).

Fish’s Projects These Days

Fish has inked Empyrean Command #0 and illustrated Sentinels #269 and Fivestar #3 (coming after after Covid) (pencils, inks, colors).

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He colored The Power Company #2 (and has #3 in the works which will be done after quarantine is over.)

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Most of his stuff is up for sale at www.indyplanet.com Fivestar.

He is working on Sentinels #270 right now, then the next Fivestar, then the next Power Company which will be all of his art work. “I’m already booked for most of the rest of the year,” he says proudly. And with artwork like this, it’s understandable!

Other Social Links: Find Fish

@TourettesLife on Facebook

WWW.MrFishcomics.com

Instagram

He can also be found on Deviant Art and on Twitter 

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Your Child Is not His or Her Tics!

As a writer and mother of a beautiful 17 year old with Tourette’s, I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to speak to Fish today. I want to encourage all of you parents to keep coming back every Tuesday where we’ll bring a new success story to you. And if you, yourself, have Tourette’s and are thriving (or know someone who is – young or old) drop me a line at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com. I’d love to consider them for a Tico-Tuesday post or at least as happy face or art work on my Success Story wall!

Until next time,

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

Andrea