Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, humor, parenting, teenagers, Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, writing

What Have I Done For Me Lately?

Happy Tic-O Tuesday, people!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or email me. I don’t bite.

INTERESTED IN TAKING A JOURNALING CLASS WITH ME?

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

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

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

BE PART OF MY NEWSLETTER!

For updates on my recent projects and to get a copy of my newest book, WRITE LIKE A MOTHER, sign up for my newsletter here!

OTHER WAYS TO FIND ME

Instagram

Facebook (Writing and Inspiration)

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AndreaFrazerWrites (Weekly Blogs on Book Writing)

Medium.com

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, meditation, parenting, spirituality, taco tuesday, Tic-O Tuesday, Tics, writing

Are You Raising Your Kids Through Your Fears?

I love this book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERESTED IN TAKING A JOURNALING CLASS WITH ME?

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

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

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

BE PART OF MY NEWSLETTER!

For updates on my recent projects and to get a copy of my newest book, WRITE LIKE A MOTHER, sign up for my newsletter here!

OTHER WAYS TO FIND ME

Instagram

Facebook (Writing and Inspiration)

Facebook (Tic Support and Inspiration)

AndreaFrazerWrites (Weekly Blogs on Book Writing)

Medium.com

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, writing

Is Your Dream Job a Hobby or a Business?

Knowing that answer will make all the difference in its success

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Arnel Hasanovic @ Unsplash

As I type this blog post up my husband is sitting downstairs watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Earlier in the evening he was kind enough to bring me home El Pollo Loco. This gave my oldest daughter a much needed break on cooking… or better put, it gave the rest of us a much needed break on her taco salad buffet. I mean, it’s a good dish, but we eat it every single Monday, and it gets older than an uncovered can of frijoles in the fridge.

Other Amazing Things My Husband Did Recently

He hung up some hooks on a bathroom mirror to hold my favorite holiday twinkle lights so when I do my business I can pretend I’m in the middle of a Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer claymation episode. (The part where the dentist goes to sleep in the hut? It’s so cozy. I want to live there and not come out. Ever. It’s like being drunk on a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. It’s escape at its highest form but no nasty hangover.)

He helped me take down holiday boxes from the garage. He did this while listening to ridiculous Christmas music and was more than patient as I sifted through boxes of old photos of Great Grandma Stella as well as her scrapbook. (OMG, I found out that there really was a football player named John Dominus. I had heard about him for years. She told me he was the love of her life before her husband. To be truthful, I wasn’t sure if he was actually a real person, but there he was in his football suited glory, right after the cigarette ad! And hubba hubba, I can’t blame her for holding a torch these past 80 years.)

Speaking of Grandma Stella, while I slept in one morning, my hubby made a ride out to his mom’s home and surprised me with Grandma Stella’s antique green tea cart, which his mom had taken when Grandma had to be moved to a dementia care unit. I had been drooling over it for about as long as she had been drooling over John Dominus. I was half delighted, half racked with sobs, to see it sitting in my driveway (complete with her little sticky notes to remind her of things that were important. “Andrea’s #805-xxx-xxxx” … “Bingo at 5.” … “Jimmy called on 10/20/19 and said he’d visit.”)

He went walking with me every day, including a beautiful hike in the canyons with some dear friends of ours, socially distanced.

He grocery shopped with me.

He chopped wood and lit a fire for us almost every night.

That’s why when he asked me just now if I wanted to go walking with him I said… “No.”

“No?” you might ask. That guy sounds like he’s done a LOT for you. Why the heck not?”

My answer to you is simple. “I do a lot, too. And I scheduled that particular time to work on my coaching business.”

“That sounds super bitchy,” you might say, and old Andrea would agree with that statement. That same Andrea had a writing hobby, and she built it around her life. But these days, the new Andrea is building a business and she’s building her life around that business.

Would I tell my boss I can’t turn in a spreadsheet because a cute guy asked me to power walk with him? (And my husband really is cute.)

No. So why would I sell New Andrea down the river either? I can’t.

Better to say “No” and stay grounded in my personal needs than say “Yes” and be resentful later.

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NeONBRAND@neonbrand @ Unsplash

You’re Not Just Building a Business — You’re Building Your Character

When I think I have to have everything perfect in order to move forward, I am destined to fail because, well, it’s not perfect. But these days, I can’t afford to do that. There’s a lot in marketing that I’m still learning:

The truth is, I’m learning as I go.

What Don’t You Know? Learn As You Go! (Hey, that rhymed!)

I’m learning around a full-time job and adjusting to my older daughter transitioning from male to female.

I’m learning around helping my mom sell my childhood home of 45 years and move into a much smaller living situation.

I’m learning it around navigating the emotions that rack both my kids that come with online learning and social limitations thanks to Covid.

And I’m learning it around my own old mindset that doesn’t hesitate to remind me, “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Old Mindset Vs. New Mindset

I don’t know about you, but the process of unlearning old habits is almost harder than learning new ones. It takes discipline and courage. It takes follow through. It takes willingness to check oneself and look at the the fear behind moving ahead. And for me, it takes something bigger than myself to push me ahead.

Every day can remember that I no longer need to tell God about my mountains but I can tell my mountains about my God.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow (And All That Shit. Yeah, It’s True.)

I’m keeping this short tonight because I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is a new day.

A day of working on my biz in the morning.

Of teaching during the day.

Of more work in the afternoon to touch base with a friend who is teaching me about slide decks.

And then, of course, the very important marketing meeting with my new Instagram consultant: my 16-year-old daughter. (She charges $5 every half hour and let me say she is worth every penny.)

I am remembering that every day as I learn one new thing, three more items are revealed that I’ve never heard of in my life. I mean, what the hell is a click funnel? I can either freak out about it, or I can be grateful for what I don’t know.

I can decide to not be a victim.

I can look at what is working, not at what isn’t.

I can remember that while I have written for pay for years, this doesn’t mean crap if people can’t find my coaching services online. In order to find my services, I need to treat Andrea Frazer Writes like a business, not a hobby.

And with that mindset, everything works out just fine.

(Now if only I can figure what the hell a click funnel is.)

#OkBoomer

About Me

Image for post

NEED A WRITING COACH?

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.

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@cooljonez @ Unsplash

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

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

Strong Silence vs. Punishing Silence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, a few thousand times.

But I don’t regret a thing.

The Gift of Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Stop Defending Yourself and Be Free of Insanity

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

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

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

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Denise Jones @cooljonez @ Unsplash

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

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

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

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

And, with practice, you can be, too.

About Me

Image for post

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

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

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, writing

How to Create Your Dream Job in Just 45 Minutes/Day

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Andreea-Maria Juganaru@andreeajuganaru @ Unsplash

And other tips on balancing a day job with a passion

Originally published on Medium.

I’m not gonna pretend I have this big, sexy, Everything I Could EVER WANT IN A DREAM JOB.

Yet.

But I’m getting closer every day. Or, better put, every morning.

In good times and bad, in sickness and health, Monday through Friday, I’m getting closer and closer to it every day in just 45 minute bursts.

Now that might not sound too amazing — to build a business in just 45 minutes per day. But given all the interruptions that come with modern life, from social media and teenagers to extended family responsibilities… to my spiritual and 12 step practice and… oh yeah, an actual decent paying job with benefits because my kids actually need to eat every single day, this tiny block of undistracted attention has proven to be crucial to the development of my coaching business. Besides, how can I tell the women I work with to defend their 45 minutes/day of passion project time if I can’t defend mine?

Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be only afraid of standing still. — Chinese Proverb

There’s so many reasons why I will defend this 45 minute block to the death, but here are just 10.

Nick Morrison@nickmorrisonunsplash

10 Reasons to Work 45 Minutes a Day Toward Your Dream

  1. Focus Focus Focus: So I said it already, but I can’t stress it enough, it’s so easy to get stuck taking care of other things or, equally as challenging, just being distracted. Knowing that from 8:15–9, come hell or high water I’m building my business, has kept my hummingbird brain laser focused on what my end goal is: to quit my day job and coach women full time.
  2. Start with the End: A coach of mine told me a long time ago that if I wanted to succeed at my goals, I needed to think about what the end-goal was. I know mine for sure: In addition to coaching women to write their memoirs and e-books, I want to have financial and time freedom. I KNOW this possible with doing only a small portion each day, so I lay down my comfort of catching up on Schitt’s Creek and just do the work. (Plus I love those characters so much, I’m almost terrified to watch the last season. I already went into a mild depression thinking Season 5 was “It” and then, praise Jesus, Netflix dropped season 6 in like a ray of light in a Covid nightmare. But I’m digressing… something I do not do from 8:15–9am each day! I swear!)
  3. Set a Timer: “Alexa, set timer for 45 minutes!” Yup, that’s me, every single morning after rushing in from my walk. I don’t check Instagram. I don’t look at my phone. I don’t check personal email. All I do for 45 minutes is whatever is on the task list that day. If I can’t get it done, no worries. I refer to #4.
  4. Stop Worrying: One of the hardest things for me with the 45 minute deal is to know that while I’m getting things done, they aren’t necessarily being completed in that exact time frame. The control freak in me has to work super hard at chilling out, letting go and trusting that, in time, it will get done and I will move onto the next task at hand. It’s progress, not perfection. When I remember that, it’s nothing but rainbows and sparkles. 
  5. The Power of “Yet”: One of the best things I’ve learned from teaching special ed math is that in teaching my kids the power of a growth mindset, I’m re-wiring my brain as well. I often tell them when they are frustrated, “I know it’s annoying that you haven’t figured out that problem…But you will. You just haven’t figured it out YET.” The same goes with any new skill I’m learning. For 45 minutes/day, I work on saturating myself with a positive mindset so fresh concepts and skills can stick, and besides…
  6. “I Can Do Anything 45 Minutes/Day”: I got that little nugget from one of my teacher friends. When I was just an assistant and chasing an autistic girl across campus every day who would run as far as she could away from me, scream and punch me (yeah, that was amazing) Cathi would often remind me, “Andrea, you can do anything for an hour/day” (referring to the periods of class I would be in charge of my little escape artist). I have adjusted that to my business building, and it sure takes the pressure off. But that can only happen with #7.
  7. Your Spiritual Life: Did you think you’d see a post from me without a nod to my Higher Power? No such luck! I could never do my 45 minutes of focused attention to my business — with all my negative thoughts pounding at me to “give up!” if it weren’t for belief in a power greater than me that wants me to succeed. So I’m reminding you, too, that with the help of your higher power you can tap into an energy that believes in you! You can ask the God of your understanding in to help you learn, grow and create your dream. (And here’s the best news: your higher power already sees you as successful! He/She has no timeline on where you are at in the process. If your Higher Power doesn’t subscribe to this unconditional belief in your bad ass self, by all means, borrow mine!)
  8. Defend Your Quiet: I admit I’m lucky to have my own office. Granted, it came only after years of renting our house out to make ends meet while my husband started his own business and I went back to school as a special ed aid/then substitute teacher. (My hubby and I used to to live in the dining room to give space to the renter — no joke!) But even if you don’t have your own office, you might have your own bedroom. Or a corner of the kitchen. Or your car. It doesn’t matter. Wherever you must do your work, do it. Make headphones your friend. Trade with your sister to help with the kids. Do it when the kids go to bed or during naps. And, special shout out to the moms, our kids don’t need more stuff. What they need is the example of a woman who lives out her own dreams so they can grow up and live out there. Show them your positive mindset!

The one thing I can promise you is that as hard as it is sometimes to find 45 minutes a day, it’s worse spending the rest of the day thinking you COULD have worked toward your dream… but you didn’t.

Sonja Langford@sonjalangfordUnsplash

9. Remember You are Worth It: Sometimes we say we don’t have 45 minutes/day to work on our dream, but that’s a lie. The real reason so many of us don’t spend that time is because somewhere deep in our soul we don’t think we’re worth it. When we face that lie for what it is and wrestle it to the ground, dreams can come true.

Note: If you are an A student at dream deprivation, don’t be surprised if the first month you spend the entire time just staring at your screen. I’m here to tell you, “So what!” As long as your intention is to build your dream, eventually your brain will catch on with your body and your new habit will pay off in major productivity — 45 minutes at a time.

10. Take Opposite Action: This one is always the hardest for my clients. They often think that because it feels wrong, it is wrong. I could say the same thing about giving up drinking. Every ounce of my body was screaming, “Gulp the wine! It’s just a glass. Or six!” But my soul, where the God of my understanding lives, reminded me, “Andrea, it’s hard now. But think of how much closer you’ll get to living as your authentic self if you aren’t buzzed every night.” The same can be said when it comes to taking action on our dreams.

When we stop listening to the lies that tell us our dreams aren’t worth it, and instead bring the God of our understanding in and work 45 minutes on our projects, something miraculous happens. We land on the flip side fear.

Today was a great day. After 3 months of dealing with a book formatter out of Australia and knowing in my gut that he was wrong for the job, I hired a woman from the U.S. who is going to get my book formatted within a week. And it looks soooo good. There is no way I would have been able to pull the trigger and hire her if I hadn’t put in the 45/minutes a day of hard work to know what was working for my business and what was not.

This is my book cover!

Along with my new graphic designer’s typesetting, I will have my new book out within a month. Am I nervous? Heck yeah! But I’ll just keep taking my own advice and inch it forward a bit each day. I will use all these new skills to help my future clients with their amazing books.

And, each day, I will thank God that when I wanted to quit I just put on my big girl panties, fired up my computer and kept going… 45 minutes at a time.

I’d love to hear where you are with your dreams. You are worth it! Push forward!

About Me

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

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

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

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

Each of Us Has Absolute Value

And other lessons from teaching special ed math

Posted originally on Medium

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Lina Trochez@lmtrochezz @ Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay! That worked!

Kidding.

Crickets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Schnobrich@johnschno @ Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

About Me

Image for post

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

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

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

faith, God, parenting, spirituality, writing

Simple Pleasures Are the Best Pleasures

And other decisions to consciously slow down.

Originally published on Medium.

Patrick Fore@patrickian4Unsplash

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

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

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

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

Antoine Julien@antoinejulienUnsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

About Me

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

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

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

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

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

Austin Chan@austinchan @ Unsplash

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

The Power of the Right Questions

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

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

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

The Trap of Busyness

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

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

The Joy of Letting Go

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

The Signs Don’t Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It really is.

Andrea

About Me

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, writing

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

Ellieelien@ellienelie @ Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is Not Weakness

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

Focusing on the Inside

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

You Are Worth Rest

Christopher Burns @ Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

My practice is my answer.

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

Until tomorrow,

Andrea

About Me

Image for post

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

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

FOLLOW ME

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

faith, sobriety, spirituality, writing

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

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

Emily Morter@emilymorter @ Unsplash

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

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

I meditated for ten minutes with my husband.

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

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

The Past 2 Months of Hell

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Contrary Action

Dmitry Schemelev@enioku @Unsplash

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

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

So I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Cyrus Crossan@cys_escapes @ Unsplash

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

“Ouch!” my ego shrieked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty of the Right Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How are you feeling about life these days?”

“Are you asking the right questions?”

And, most important:

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

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

About Me

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I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

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