God, self improvement, teenagers, Uncategorized, writing

To Realize One's Destiny Is a Person's Only Obligation (God, tacos and The Alchemist)

Lilly Rum@rumandraisin
www.unsplash.com

Last week I was hating my job, I was overwhelmed with my personal schedule and I almost canceled a 50th birthday celebration because I was feeling too tired to even think about it.

This week I feel like things could not get any better with my career, I am on top of the world with my family life and I am very much looking forward to my little party. What’s changed?

I trusted God.

I know… I know… it’s annoying to hear that over and over, but it’s true. When I remember that it’s not up to me to manage and control every aspect of my life, and especially of those around me (my teenagers are quite excited about this) things just feel better.

For the record, I don’t believe just leaving everything up to God and sitting on my bum inhaling Trader Joe’s chocolate covered bananas – while binge watching Grace and Frankie – is going to rocket blast me into a new career. But I truly, 100%, without a doubt believe that in trusting my higher power I can tap into my true nature, relax and be more open to the signs and omens that will lead me to something better.

Why is it something better? Because it’s God’s will, not mine.

Then I can do the footwork, which looked like this:

The past few days I polished off a resume.

I put said resume up on ZipRecruiter.

I started poking around LinkedIn and realized I need to put it up there also.

When my husband told me that my resume looked more like a laundry list than an actual resume hiring managers would be interested in, I throttled him with a taco I accepted his advice. I was only able to do that because I trusted God, more than my own ego, to move forward with the job hunt process.

Other Successes

In addition to applying for work, I landed another memoir writing client. It’s a great boost in pay and more than makes up for the day off per week I took. I am convinced… let me say again CONVINCED… this would not have happened if the channel between me and God was clogged up with fear and worry. It would be impossible.

Instead, my friends, I am learning that lack of surrender is like asking for the tv to play beautiful movies but the antenna is snapped. It’s only when I invest in a good piece of hardware first – faith – that new pictures can be dialed into the TV screen of my life.

I’m happy to report that some of this new found spirituality is being channeled into my my marriage. Instead of staying up late every night surfing Facebook and getting jealous of other people’s Paris photos while I’m worried about an extra stomach roll seeping over my granny panties, I am doing some serious self care.

That looks like getting off the computer shortly, taking a bath, and continuing to read The Alchemist with Rex.

Odd or God?

The Alchemist just happens to be about a shepherd who must learn to have some faith by leaving his tiny sheep herding job and go off to Egypt in search of treasure. There are no guarantees. There is no fancy map. He must finally trust in himself, and the signs around him, to endure his quest. He refers to it as an adventure, instead of a challenge, and it makes all the difference.

I pray today that all of us can trust our higher powers as well. That we can think of our lives as beautiful adventures. Because when we do, there is certain to be some treasure along the way.

God is everything or he is nothing.

Until next time,

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

faith, God, writing

I Turned In My Pilot! I Trusted God. Shit Happened.

Connor Betts@connorbetts
from Unsplash

I tossed and turned all night long last night – old behavior. I couldn’t face work today based on yesterday’s event. I had to cancel a pre-booked assignment at 2am. I barely slept.

My daughter stayed home sick again so we ended up sleeping side by side with the pitbull in between us. The ladies of leisure. I gulped back guilt that my husband drove carpool and hauled his butt to work while my heart beat a million miles an hour. I was supposed to be more successful than this, people!

I honestly had an emotional hangover.

Part of it is – surprise surprise – I do too much. I said I wouldn’t, but I did.

Rather than fall too far into self-pity, I got on my knees, as they tell us to do in AA (because apparently it works for people far more down the ladder than I landed) and I read in my devotional. The topic happened to be the very thing I had been dealing with.

Then my sponsor sent me something to read – the same page.

Then I called someone from the communication group I am in who happens to write for Sesame Street. This would not be a big deal normally except last night I specifically wrote to Sesame Street, after applying for a few jobs, not having any idea I knew someone who wrote music for them. Odd or God?

And then, at the end of our conversation, he goes on to tell me that yesterday – at the same time I was having financial insecurity and fear – he was, too. And though he has never written tv (and I’ve never written music… see the irony?) he wants to write a pilot. So, like that old Christmas tale of the couple where a woman cuts off her hair to give her husband a watch, and he sells his watch to give her a comb for her hair, we found ourselves laughing at the serendipity of this event. (Let’s just hope I don’t end up with shaved hair and a digital 99cent Store watch in the process.)

Am I still freaked out about subbing? Yes.

Am I going to quit my day job tomorrow? No. I need the insurance.

But I am actively looking for new gigs.

I also have another idea in mind that I might embark on also that is super dooper scary and out of my comfort zone. But, as my sponsor asked me yesterday, “How free do I want to be?”

Free enough to type in my final paragraph of my pilot and hit “send” to those producers just now.

It was indeed a better day than yesterday.

Hope yours went well also.

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. )

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

Where Are You, God? It’s Me, Andrea

I love our church hospitality, in particular the coffee urinals!

I sat down to write a post about Magic Church today, only to find that there was an active shooter at a garlic festival not terribly far from me in Gilroy.

Really? Is this what we have come to? Slaying people at forums whose sole purpose is to eat stinky veggies and forget worries for at least one day?

I know that violence has been going on forever in so many communities. I know that guns and crime and poverty isn’t new. But what IS newer and newer is lack of community. We spend more time on phones than with real people. It’s easy to be up on the latest trends but not notice that people are slipping away from us slowly from lack of contact with others.

I suppose this lack of connection that I sometimes feel in my own life makes me enjoy Magic Church even more than someone who has a big extended family in and out of their life on a daily basis. I can’t get enough of the rag tag worship team, the bell choir in their white gloves ringing in a new holiday or a modern hymn, or today’s post-church luau.

I don’t understand the world lately, but I do know one thing: When we lose our connection to people – even the ones that bother us down to our core – we lose humanity. And when that happens, we get the idea that maybe taking a machine gun and killing innocent people is a better idea than facing our own wounds and healing.

I beg of all of you, this Sunday night, to consider talking to someone in the grocery store. Offer a kind word to your neighbor – even the one that chats too much or uses you for too much flour. Call your mother tomorrow (Yes, Mom, I’ll call you) and stop worrying about shit that doesn’t matter. It’s the shit in our lives that DO matter. Find a community you can heal in.

And if nothing else, you heard it from me: You are loved. You are valuable. You are going to be okay. You are worth a banquet of nurturing. Yup, even the good glasses!

Leave a Comment

You can also like my page, Happily Ticked Off, or join my female only closed Facebook Group, Happily Ticked Off, where we trudge toward happiness one step at a time (focusing on solution, humor and God.)

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. )

(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.

faith, God, humor, Jesus, spirituality, writing

Camp Honesty

I just got back from a weekend of camping. I’d like to say that it was a time of amazing family bonding. Of great talks under the stars and walks along the river where we pushed ourselves a bit more than we normally would, cheering each other on to be our best selves in matching tee shirts.

And it was. Minus the matching tee shirt part. Though if we did have matching shirts, it would be these.

But it was also a lot of last minute rushing (despite all my prepping and shopping runs) to get to our destination. Some ingredients for much anticipated recipes were left behind. Shrimp that was supposed to go into Saturday’s gumbo was left on the counter overnight by a certain teenager who saw the brown wrapping paper as being trash instead of hosting potential stomach seizing bacteria. And the trash in the camper?! The bodies bumping into each other at 2am to cross the road to find the bathroom?! This kind of experience can only be described as a five part Oy: Oy Oy Oy Oy Oy!

Half of me wants to just get more organized for next trip. You know, shop a few days in advance. Perhaps I could use paper plates or we could pre-pack the trailer with items that we’ll always need, instead of arriving at a campsight with four cans of black beans but no can opener.

I don’t have any illusions that the great outdoors is going to be easy. Nope, stuff takes work and, as much as I’d love to own something like the camper below, I don’t. And that’s okay.

But I know, deep in my gut, I’m not an outdoors work-til-I-drop person. I’m a hotel lady. I’m a lover of conversations and coffee, not black tea and neighbors in the adjoining campsite snoring while I desperately try to climb over my spouse cowboy style on the way to a midnight pee run.

My goal, as you all know, is to laugh and keep things light. But I also didn’t get sober to just deal with things that aren’t working for me. Like that car full of used clothing I dumped on Friday, I’m ready to dump old ideas of what my life needs to look like. And guess what: If everyone in my family loves camping, but I’m not so sure, it’s okay for me to have a simple conversation. “Hey, I thought I wanted to do this, but I don’t love it. How can we do it differently next time?” Or, here’s a perfectly acceptable conversational starter also, “If we can’t leave the shoes outside the camper, I can’t continue to camp. It’s too dirty for me.”

I bring this up because people, especially women, often have a hard time saying when things don’t work for them. (Thanks, Shauna Niequest, for reminding me of this concept!)

At almost 50, I’m ready to change that dynamic around. Happiness never comes from me doing things I think other people want. It only comes when I stand in my own truth and admit exactly where I’m at any given time.

My needs matter. Wow, what a concept!

This Sunday night, I thank God for his beautiful gift of nature. I thank him for a family that has always been by my side, through the amazing adventures and the sticky muddy camper ones. And I also thank God for the burgeoning truth that my happiness does not depend on other people agreeing with my feelings. It only matters that I express myself and let God handle the outcome.

Join Me in a Private Facebook Group!

If talking more personally sounds interesting to you, hit me up on Facebook! I’ll be happy to add you. Find me at the group @HappilyTickedOff (not to be confused with my Facebook Page, @HappilyTickedOff.)

Also stay tuned: I do have a few very nice items that I’m going to run a giveaway at my Happily Ticked Off Facebook group on.

Leave a Comment and Join Me on Facebook! (It’ll be fun to get to you know on a more personal, private forum!)

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. )

(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.

God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, writing

God Bless the Broken Road… That Led Me Back to You. And Polka Dot Jellies

Something in me has always wanted more than what is achievable in 24 hours. I want more time writing, more time eating, more time working and more time with family. And then (here’s the real fun part) it’s still not enough.

I believe, my friends, this is what you call an addiction. The antidote to this hamster wheel of delusion is simple. It requires being more present. Executing on this action, however, is less than easy, for it requires an absolute stake into the heart of a belief structure. It means acknowledgement that said belief structure is no longer working. And for me, my friends, that structure is none other than OMTS: One More Thing Syndrome.

“No, dear, you cannot Ebay and Clean Out Someone’s House for $20/hr AND write your blog and finish rewrites to that screenplay. KILL THE BEAST OF DELUSION!”

Like most people who hit bottom with their addictions, my OMTS came to a crashing halt on Saturday afternoon. I had been up since 6am to run a garage sell for a friend. As if it wasn’t enough incomprehensible demoralization that we did not sell one single item in three hours (nope, no one wanted used Halloween items from 1987 that looked like pumpkins on acid) her neighbor made a quick 20 bucks by just walking over, dropping off an old wheelchair, and going back into her house to watch Downton Abbey. Now whose the winner in this scenario? Ding ding ding! It wasn’t me!

I could have gotten pissed off, but in a way, I was secretly relieved for the clarity. How many ring around the rosy’s selling other people’s used items will it take for me to heal from OMTS? How much time spent driving to the post office to drop off packages for folks in other zip codes that could have been spent reading the rest of the Narnia series with my son or learning to sew with my daughter in the most precious zip code of all – the present?

Yesterday, with the sun beating into my car and stress building up about having to clean out Great Grandma Stella’s mobile home later in the day, I got it. I didn’t hear God speaking to me in a loud voice, but it was my very spirit that had finally surrendered and was gracious enough to make itself crystal clear.

“Enough,” it whispered. “How long before you put a stake into the fear of ‘I am not making enough?’ and just remember to ‘become enough because God is enough.’ ”

And so I made a promise to both my sweet husband and our sponsor couple: NO MORE SIDE GIGS.

No more extra income helping people move but costing me a fortune in burn out.

No more Ebay listings that give no return on my spiritual path.

For the rest of the summer – outside of taking care of myself and my very sweet family – I will spend my free time writing and writing only.

Today was the first day of this new routine, and it was beautiful. It was a day spent singing with my daughter at church as well as delivering a message. (Who knew I had something to say to a church full of people? A small church, but never-the-less, people didn’t freak out or grow tails.)

It was a day remembering last night’s visit to Great Grandma Stella who was so happy to see us at her door she cried tears of gratitude. (As well as told us that she thought her legs looked “pretty damn sexy for a 98-year-old.”)

It was an afternoon drive home from my communication class with Rex to talk a bit more about what I need to do to get my writing off the ground while subbing. (Guess what people! It doesn’t involve OTMS!!!! Nope, extras that don’t matter have got to go!)

Mostly it was a day of peace. Because in surrendering the happy shiny marbles that ultimately lead to nothing, I am making room for God to work diamonds of true meaning in my life.

I am not where I want to be, but I am grateful for the wisdom and willingness to keep on pressing on toward what matters most.

Oh, and although I am no longer allowing myself to flip crap on Ebay, I did purchase these beauties for myself at a thrift store yesterday. I saw them in between waiting for coffee at In and Out Burger and my son happily sorting through a bin of vintage Scooby Doo DVDs. It’s not every day that a pair of pink jellies in size 10, for ten bucks, comes my way.

I had to.

Don’t judge.

Leave a Comment!

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. )

(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.

faith, God, Jesus, writing

Breakneck Speed.

I missed a few posts this week. My self imposed manic schedule kept me hopping… jumping to the point of not enjoying the up, the down or the in between. It culminated with two hours of sleep Friday night. Is it really a surprise that by Saturday I was jonesing for a nap more than a Democrat jumping for the Oval Office?

Why do I do that? Why must I be like Hamilton, always writing like I’m running out of time?

Part of it is passion, but much of it finds its roots in people pleasing, striving and some good old fashioned God complex. If I don’t do it, who will? Note to self: You’re not that important, so how about you cut back on the rat race, pick up a book and just read.

Tonight I did just that. I sat on the couch and let Rex serve me pizza while the words swirled through my exhausted brain and I fought sleep. (It’s not a book I’d normally look at it, but a friend wrote it. I was grateful for stillness and calm. And carbs.)

I’m giving up my Monday hike to attend this friend’s online book club and dish about character and plot. I will sip my coffee, jump start the essential oils and remember that all I can be is in one place at one time.

I am not God.

There is no race.

And tonight the world will spin (and shake – I live near the epicenter) and if I can manage to not yell at my kids, the dog or my husband before 930PM maybe next week I can start fresh. There will still be running the kids to school, there will still be grocery shopping and a small side job… the dog will need feeding and I’ll need time to finish up a sermon for Magic Church (plus one million other things in between) but my perspective will be fresher.

Here’s to being less busy, more present and remembering always – always – that who I am is more important than what I do. I don’t have all the answers but God does. And to this day, that concept brings me so much joy. Even my tantruming little ego can’t compete with that kind of goodness.

Until next time,

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

(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.

Coaching and Wellness, faith, Jesus, self improvement, writing

Motivation Monday – A Business Plan!

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Swinging on a Star

Yesterday at church Pastor Craig talked about Elijah and Elisha. I can’t lie – I still don’t remember what the story was about other than the focus was on overwhelm, panic and what oh what to do hand ringing/sigh/oy vey when one is at an impasse.

My little ears perked up when he mentioned this particular theme so I wrote down his main 3 points. As it turns out, he put the same 3 points up on the screen moments later. He doesn’t normally map out his messages visually, so I took this as yet another sign that I’m a total narcissist everything is about me of synchronicity that God was showing up where I needed him most by making Himself more than clear… several times in a row.

I’m not sure how to say this in Hebrew, but I believe the translation is: “Wake up, Dumbass! I’m trying to tell you something!” (And for anyone who knows me you KNOW I’m ready for some direction.)

I am certain you’re all dying to know what Pastor Craig’s 3 take-aways are, so I’ll put them up for you right here:

  1. Ask for help
  2. Be persistent
  3. Just move forward even if you don’t know what the results will be  
    sss              (image source: Google)

Let it Unfold!

This last part hit me hardest because I like to say I’m a risk taker, but in reality, my risks are small. Not unlike boys at a high school dance waiting to move into the center of the floor and ask someone to sway to a slow song, they are often calculated, sometimes over-analyzed and often swirled in a good dose of fear. Oh, yeah, I can say I have faith to walk into a new public school every day as a sub, but it doesn’t take all that much faith to sign up for a job where you know you are going to get milk cartons thrown at your noggin by entitled pre-teens a paycheck if you just show up, shut your mouth and don’t manhandle the middle schoolers. (Quiet, Tuskany.) Nope, real faith for me is trusting in the talents I know God has designed me with: My words, my love of people, my belief in transformation and my faith. 

Along the lines of putting a stake in the ground and just moving forward (Dear, God, Andrea, just move the Beexxxp!!!! forward) I made a decision last week to pursue my Masters in Education at the end of next school year if, and only if, the writing showed no signs of making consistent higher income.

But to have a higher income, I need to choose a path. So… ladies and gentlemen… I finally chose a path. Roll out out the red carpets this has only been four years in the making!!!!

sss

I will write a book a year for three years and do all the necessary marketing to make it happen. I can do this while subbing! This is reasonable!!!!!

But to make that happen, I must have a business plan.

So today, for two hours, I began creating one.

And here’s something pretty shocking: I didn’t poop out a first draft and call it done. I gave it time. I’ll give it more time this whole week. And then on Monday of next week I will execute. (This will include items like a sweeter looking blog, as well as a home to house all my scripts, articles and current book which, um, never was properly marketed.)

Sidenote: Do you know to have a book sell you have to actually have a game plan and move on that game plan? Who knew???

In addition to a beginning business plan, I also gave my most recent project an hour and defended it with my life. No phones, no emails, no texts, no Facebooking, no “Oh, wow, that is the cutest puppy across the street I MUST GO SAY HELLO and then resent my kids and friends for wanting to spend time with me when I pissed all my work time away on asking the dog’s owner about the pros and cons of her Birkenstalk footgear and if she thought Sherlock was worth all the hype.”

OH MY GOD I GOT SO MUCH DONE!

Like that last point in Pastor Craig’s message, I don’t know where today’s project will land. But I do know that in taking the next indicated step a path will be made clear.

Plus I was in such a good mood all day, despite still having to work a small side job, making dinner and driving teenagers clear across town TWICE (plus falling on my butt in front of someone’s driveway like a drunk penguin) that I just didn’t have time to get into fear.

The Takeaway

My life will inform my writing (faith and joy) not the other way around (ego). And man, that feels amazing.  It makes me so happy I could spit.

Ptuyyyy! Okay, I just did spit. For good luck. Not because I totally just had a cherry seed stuck in my mouth.

Leave a Comment:

What is motivating you? If nothing, and you’re upset about it, are you willing to take a less calculated risk and put something down on paper or here in a comment? What do you have to lose other than your misery and frustration?

Until next time,

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

(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.

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education, faith, God, parenting, teenagers, writing

Grades, Schmades, and the Art of Privacy with Teenagers

sss

Okay, so I didn’t post my chapter for Writing Wednesday so stay tuned this Wednesday instead! Sigh.

My sweet friend, Amelia, always reminds me, “Andrea, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself.” And I agree. But I always get disappointed when I don’t keep my word here. I figure If I can’t keep my word to myself, life will keep it’s word to me in the form of doing what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life which, currently, is taking the recurrent theme of not knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s a fun internal loop that has been going on for the past 5 years. And as joyous as circling the “What Now?” drain is, I also think sticking to a schedule is not such a bad idea.

And no coffee after 3PM.

And not eating an entire bag of Skinny Pop every day and wondering why I gained ten pounds.

Lucky for me, summer is here and I have gotten back into my daily hikes. While I am not a fan of getting off my butt and doing something that does not involved writing, reading or drinking copious amounts of caffeine, there is such a joy and beauty in meeting up with my two teacher friends and smelling the hills. Plus, along with calorie counting, I’ve lost about five pounds, so that’s something to celebrate!

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Walking in these hills reminds me a lot of my parenting journey as of late. I need to prepare and stretch because there’s plenty of uphill climbs. But if I spend all my time complaining, fretting about the tough stuff and just sticking to the trails I know (such as “I’m Always Right Mountain” and “This Way or You Are a Failure Pass”) I’ll miss the beauty that is all around me… the quiet times in the car on the way to each of their summer classes where I hear about everything from Mean Girl Animatics (Pip’s choice) to Stink’s Youtube fan base (a gaggle of 10 year olds) who are writing him for an update to his Scratch based video game, “Dawn’s Journey.” Plus there’s been so many more words between us that have dramatically altered my way of interacting with them.

I originally wrote a post detailing specifically what such a conversation recently looked like, but I deleted it. It’s not that I wrote something so terrible, but I felt compelled to erase it based on previous requests from my kids that I don’t share their personal details on my site. That’s so hard for this mama – especially as an ex Babycenter blogger who made my living for years exploiting and making fun of my kids sharing the joys of parenting. But in the end, I must honor their decision to keep their private lives private. More to the point, I respect it. No people pleasers in this house! (Well, except for ME, but I’m working on that. Better stated, God is working on that for me. I just need to surrender every single day. And on days when that’s too difficult, I surrender by the hour, by the minute and by the second. Because as long as I think I’m in charge, life is going to suck. It just is.)

And so, please accept this alternate ending in the form of a quote that I sent to one of my teens after they made a decision to back out of a commitment that was not right for them.

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As I continue to walk the paths of my own journey, may I remember the same. And may you remember also!

Here’s to all of us remembering that we are not what we do, but who we are, that matters most.

Here’s to more questions, less criticizing.

Here’s to more faith and less fear.

And here’s to enjoying the beauty that exists all around us, uphill climbs and all.

Talk to you Sunday!

Leave a Comment! I Love to Hear From You All! (Even you, Mom. And Tuskany. Ahem. And thank you, Irish Mama, for your kindness always! I love you!)

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. )

(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.

books

 

God, humor, Jesus, reading, spirituality, taco tuesday, Tics, writing

If I Squeeze Your Taco… I Mean Head… I’m Sorry: Taco Tuesday with Writer, Gwen Vogelzang

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Tonight I had 12 people around my table for tacos: My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law,  her two kids, my two kids, Amelia, her daughter Avi, her baby in-utero, her friend and, of course, our pitbull mix always ready for a handout. (It’s her – and Rex’s – favorite night of the week because it’s the one night there’s meat on the table thanks to Amelia.)

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday so we pulled out all the stops including two dayglo orange and green plastic taco shell holders in the form of trucks. Combined with the mariachi ducks and the sombreros we were a truly a classy joint.

After 2 tacos with 14 fixings, two sets of brownies, a gluten free cake with sprinkle stars and coffee, I was so happy I could have squeezed someone’s head. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to put up tonight’s post, an interview with writer Gwen Vogelzang for her upcoming book, If I Squeeze Your Head, I’m Sorry.

I was honored to be introduced to Gwen through her agent, Stephanie Alton, who asked me to write an endorsement. (Her book deals with a boy who has Tourettes. Turns out that not only do our kids have that in common, but we both have similar journeys of faith, are straight shooters when it comes to transparency with our lives and not afraid to try new adventures. Plus she’s a fan of tacos, so she’s in automatically.)

I love meeting new people like Gwen, but rather than talk about, why don’t I let you read about it!

taco tuesday 2 gwen vogelzang

Where are you from and where do you live now?

My husband and I recently moved from 18 years in Denver to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What do you do for a living? 

I own and operate Four Birds {Airstream Gathering Spaces}, where we rent out a vintage Airstream trailer for events and meetings.  We had it gutted and restored and it’s an open space with a mini kitchenette.  Unlike most Airstreams, it’s not used for camping but rather as a boutique venue space where small groups can gather.  We deliver the trailer to locations of our clients’ choice and host creative workshops on our 5 acre property in the Michigan woods.

taco tuesday 4 gwen vogelzang

taco tuesday 3 gwen vogelzang
I’m also publishing a book with our son, Rylan.  He’s 12 and lives with Autism and Tourette Syndrome.  The book is drawings he created, paired with his descriptions about what it feels like to live in his brain.  It hits shelves this Fall and we couldn’t be more pumped to put his unique, inspiring work into the world and see what God does with it.
taco tuesday2 gwen vogelzang

What influenced you to write a book?

 During a semester of homeschooling, Rylan and I were studying what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  We interviewed a local cafe owner we frequented in Denver and she offered Rylan the opportunity to host an art show at her cafe.  We decided, after negating the idea of focusing the show on Pokemon, to use the them of what it feels like to live in his brain.  The work we did together was more valuable in understanding my son and the way he walk this earth than the tens of thousands we spent on therapy over the years.  And the feedback on the show from the public was inspiring and humbling.  After the 10th person told us we should consider turning the art show into a book, we put together a proposal and 8 months later, we had a publishing contract.  We knew how much value a vast array of audiences would benefit from his work and felt obligated to share it.

Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  My basement holds boxes full of old journals documenting very dramatic middle school feelings up through journals written during our first years of marriage.  I’ve been blogging for 10 years, which continues to evolve into audiences resonating with stages or our family life.  It’s therapy.  Writing is how I tick and process and form connections.  

What is your marketing strategy and how important is this for writers who are publishing their first books?

This being my first book, it’s a huge learning process, but my 15 year career was in non-profit marketing and public relations which helps tremendously.  I find so much life in searching for creative and bold ways to spread important messages.  We’ve formed a list of influencers who are conencted to autism and tourettes to help us launch the book and will host various events supporting pre and post sales.  We also did a fundraiser to fund a book trailer video to utilize during our launch and developed a fun, engaging website specifically for the book.  Our social media through Instagram and facebook will keep audiences engaged and cause them to love our kiddo as we prepare to launch the book.  Without effective marketing, books are incredibly hard to sell just given how saturated the market it.  It’s a tough gig putting a book into the world. 

What was the most difficult part about writing your book?

The toughest part was definitely making the design and look of the book to match our vision.  It doesn’t always match what the publisher views as the vision, so navigating those waters has been tricky. 

taco tuesday 2 gwen volgelzang

What was the most fun about writing your book? 

Definitely working with Rylan as he drew and described his experiences.  He would verbalize why he drew what he drew and I typed as he talked.  It was such a collaborative experience and one that was incredibly unique to anything I had experienced as a parent.  It proved to me just how powerful art is in a therapeudic realm for kids of any cognitive or developmental ability. 

How did you go from “ticked off” to “happily” ticked off? (Basically, how did you use any of your challenges to motivate you to move ahead?)

This book has directed me away from the mentality that I need to “change” my kiddo to one of contentment and awe in who he was created to be.  His “challenges” are in fact gifts that I was stifling by trying to alter the way he behaves and reacts to the world around him.  Allowing him to express just how he sees and feels and hears and touches the world brought peace and inspiration in my relationship with him and in my understanding of how to advocate for him.  That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle day to day and have challenges to face, but I see them at face value and don’t assume that they can be fixed.  They just “are.”  And that’s okay.

Give a shout out to a few bloggers or writers who have influenced you the most.

Watching Heather Avis with The Lucky Few advocate and shout the worth of her kiddos is inspiring on so many levels.  Her feeds warm my soul on days when I want to give up.  Her spirit is infectious and vital to our kids with different abilities.  I also admire Sevy Marie and her Mama bear, Lisa Eicher.  Their dedication to finding joy in their daughter’s trauma is incredible.  Another example of the power of art and advocacy through a kiddo’s strengths.  Last, Shelley Moore is a storyteller, inclusive educator, researcher and author who I saw headline an inclusive education conference.  She captivated me at her assumption that ALL children can be included in regular education and the brilliant strategies and coaching she offers educators who need guidance.  

What do you want people to know most about your book? 

12-year-old Rylan thrives and struggles with Autism and Tourette Syndrome. He and his Mama Bird, Gwen, are publishing their first book, set to hit shelves in September, 2019. This one-of-a-kind picture book, “If I Squeeze Your Head I’m Sorry” will uplift, educate, create dialogue, entertain, and allow readers to enter the brain of a child who sees, feels, and understands the world from a remarkably and refreshingly unique perspective. Their work reminds us how important it is to listen to each other in an effort to truly understand and to assume immense value in one another

Send Links and Brag or Forever Hold Your Guacamole

Tell your neighbor, your hairstylist, your teachers, your great Aunt Gerty, Tell ALL your people. This book is an inclusive experience, so get on board Broskis! Pre-orders available soon!  Visit http://www.ifisqueezeyourheadimsorry.com for all the crazy fun details.  Follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ifisqueezeyourheadimsorry/.  

Does faith play a role in your writing? If so, how?

We believe in an inclusive God.  And that God is the reason this book is about to become a real thing.  Rylan and Jesus are pretty tight – always have been.  Rylan has a lot of questions about God, but in his heart he feels connected to a love not available anywhere else.  Jesus and Rylan knew how important it was to use his words to help create more understanding and conversation around living with special needs and by golly that’s what they’re doing.  I’m the tool making it all happen in the literal sense, but the opportunity came through grace and Jesus.  I’ve tried explaining it other ways, but I fall short every time.  

When we meet in person for tacos, what food item would you bring and why? 

Always guacamole.  Every day guacamole.  Avocado, one lime per avocado and pink sea salt.  

 

Have You Written a Book and Want to Be Featured on Taco Tuesday? Leave a Comment or Just Say Hola to Gwen! Comment and Share

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. )

(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.

books

education, faith, God, Jesus, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

We’re All Seeds in God’s Hands

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It’s Sunday. A beautiful Sunday after a long 3 day conference in Fullerton teaching “How to Write the TV Pilot” to a huge group of students who flew in from all over the country.

Okay, I had 3 people attend my class, and I’m pretty sure one of them was another instructor.

That’s okay. After teaching on Thursday I spent the other 3 days attending more than 6 screenwriting and book marketing classes, as well as had the opportunity to sit face to face with a few interesting people in the Hollywood and publishing business.

A lot has changed since I went to this conference two years ago. For one, I know that I can’t just publish a book and expect it to sell. (Durrrr) There’s a real business to it. I completely encourage anyone who wants to publish books to attend a conference and immerse yourself in the knowledge. It’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but it’s well worth it.

Another thing I learned is that no one, and I mean no one, makes me nervous anymore. I felt completely comfortable chatting it up with people like Pam Farell who has sold thousands of books. (I believe she’s written 44 in total – don’t quote me.) I laughed my butt off with someone whose sole job is writing both her own romance series as well as ghost writing for Harlequin. (I believe she has written 114 books since 1999. That’s a lot of books.) I roomed with respected agent Stephanie Alton, ate salad next to a Hallmark Christmas movie writer and even landed a potential freelance job writing some church shorts for a woman who is head writer for a company in Oklahoma.

I tell you all this because the older I get, the more I realize that we’re all just people. And, at conferences like this, the connections you make over a meal and hanging out in the dorm rooms are often more fruitful than those you’ll ever make pushing your way into a meeting through manic emails and forced networking.

What Matters Most

I loved being there, but I also felt torn. Over a phone conversation with my mom, I told her that I miss sometimes just “being.” There’s been a lot of production in my life lately, but there’s also been a lot of striving. It can be hard to tell when my ego is at work and when I just need to push through to use the gifts God gave me. At the end of the day, I only know this: if me “making it” in any career means losing the ability remain present with those that matter most, it’s not worth it. As a production exec at Marvel asked us, “What is success to you? When you can answer that question, you’ll know what your path is.”

As for me… sitting in church surrounded by friends and a hearing a member of our congregation strum to his guitar and sing, I was once again reminded that “We are all seeds in God’s hands.” Whether I grow to be a beautiful rose or a tiny petal is not really the point. All are valuable. And when I remember to stop and smell the beautiful flowers in my life – my precious children, mom, friends and every one in between – being a prized bloom in someone else’s eyes doesn’t really matter much. What matters is if I’m using my colors to serve others. If I do, that’s a hell of a good garden.

I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad sign that the geraniums on my front porch are currently almost dead, but I sat in front of them with my husband and daughter tonight. We ate homemade pizza and felt the breeze on our faces. (My son played computer games. I think I deserve an award for just letting go and not micromanaging this! Or I’m a crap mom who allows indulgence. I like the first so let’s go with that.) For the first time this week I didn’t think about my career path or my bank account. I enjoyed the moment and was grateful that, for the time being anyway, I knew I was in God’s hands.

Until we talk tomorrow, I hope you remember how loved you are also.

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. )

(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. 

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