education, faith, self improvement, Uncategorized

Resentment, Submitting and Refunds

Every day in my classes I learn more than the 200 kids teach me. I learn that if I don’t want to resent something or someone, I must always (not 99% but ALWAYS) accept the challenging situation. It’s a lesson in submitting to what is, not what I wish it could be.

Yesterday’s lesson was in the form of a 150 pound hairy eighth grader who threw a basketball in frustration when I kicked him out of my class (after asking him to be quiet… then moving his seat… then giving him a personal work plan to help him stay on track… and then having the audacity to tell him to “rethink his actions next door” after he got up from his chair again and stole someone’s ear buds).

Today was a new day so I reminded him before class, “Let’s start over!” He agreed. Then he proceeded to play poker at his table rather than sketching. This was followed by playing loud rap music and then texting on his phone after I moved him yet again. (I’m sure tomorrow I’ll get the memo that my class is actually supposed to be an ‘Introduction to Partying.” I’ll bring the punch on Monday.)

I suppose I don’t get enough of these lessons at school, because tonight I found out that someone opened a case against me on Ebay for not sending a jacket quickly enough.

Ah, crap.

I had totally forgotten to check Ebay with all my classroom activities, but that wasn’t the buyer’s fault. They just wanted their item! And so, like what I did to my eighth grader, they opened a case.

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The thing is, though, unlike my student, I had communicated my part in the error and told them I would ship the jacket. Which I did. They even received the jacket.

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But that didn’t keep them from letting go of their resentment. They wanted a full refund. What could I do? I looked at my part more closely which was… in addition to shipping the jacket late to begin with, I didn’t ship it until late Monday after saying I’d ship it early morning.

Prior to getting sober and my spiritual practice – which henceforth will be known as My Master’s Class – I’d have seen every damn thing wrong with this buyer’s case against me “Lighten up!” I’d scoff. “It’s only $4 fucking ninety nine… BIG DEAL!”

But that voice inside me, which doesn’t curse… who enjoys tacos as much as I do… who I refer to as the Holy Spirit, whispered, “Andrea, child, forgetting to mail something isn’t going to get you cynical. But continuing to defend it will.”

What could I do? I didn’t want to resent the buyer resenting me, so I did the only thing I could think to do in my Resentment/Submit/Refund formula.

I hit “Submit” on Paypal and “Refunded” him.

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The bad news? Some schmo in Southbay has a perfectly lovely faux velvet Prince jacket for their toddler for free because of my error.

Not being angry and letting it go? I’d have refunded a hundred bucks for that. ($101? That’d be too much. I’d rather stay pissed a few more days. But I have a big weekend coming up. I’ll take the serenity win now.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #33: Submit to Win. You’ll be Refunded in Serenity and suffer zero Resentments. Or be right and burn. It’s up to you.

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. 

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Until next time

 

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Coaching and Wellness, faith, self improvement

Take Two Shots of Empathy and Call Me in the Morning

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In yesterday’s post I spoke of a student who leaves me letters on my desk. In one she told me her grade was unfair. I wrote her back, telling her why it was not. Then she wrote me another one which really blew me away:

Dear Ms. Frizzle, 

Okay, I do not do my sketching in my sketch book because, well, I didn’t want to tell you but… I’m POOR. I do not want you to buy me one like you offered because then it would stand out from the rest of class and that would embarrass me soooo… I can’t do my work. 

There.

Student.

If I saw this story on BuzzFeed or Up, complete with tear jerking music and photos, I’d have all the feels.

In this case, I found myself rolling my eyes. 1) I had bought 40 sketch books for my many students who could not afford it or didn’t have resources to get one.

2) She HAS a notebook! I know because I have the same one has hers, courtesy of our local Dollar Store, and I thought we had swapped them by accident. I was annoyed to go running all over campus on my break to track her butt down, only to realize my composition book was sitting on my desk all along.

You know… in plain sight.

The moral of the story is this: I have in my class, in plain sight, a student who is not the norm. She finds it easier to make stuff up to get sympathy then to take responsibility for her work. In addition, she clearly has some special needs. Both facts don’t excuse laziness, but both deserve empathy. Because somewhere in between the mess of learning issues and home issues is a kid who is scared and reaching out for attention. I can’t fix her, but I can fix my own lazy and irresponsible traits by trying my best to give her loving but firm feedback.

The End Is Near… I Think

This gig might end April 2. On one hand I’ll be grateful to have jobs closer to where I live. On the other, I’ve grown rather fond of these rag tag kids. I have gotten used to their boisterous talking, confessions about boyfriend issues, ridiculous outbursts (duck honks? oh yeah) and artwork (all equal parts horrific and genius.) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have learned way more from them than they have learned from me. And today, despite being so tired I could pass out on this public school computer stand, I’m grateful.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #32: Empathy: It’s My Drug of Choice. Feel Free to Get Addicted Yourself!

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Are you showing empathy today? If not to others, to yourself?

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. 

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Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, self improvement, spirituality

Hypocrite in Transition: Staple That to My Cardigan!

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Just yesterday I was saying how I meditate every day. If I don’t, I’m a mess.

Today I didn’t meditate. And shock of all shocks, I was a mess this morning.

I gotta admit it, I’m TIRED. I can’t keep on top of the waves of life that are rocking me these days. Work? I can do that. Kids to doctors? I can do that. But all the other stuff like remembering market items and birthdays… being on time for meetings or slowing down with my kids to really see them in the morning and not just rush rush rush while being cranky that my husband had the audacity to fix the pockets in my jeans so I don’t look like a vintage homeless giant? I’m kind of losing the game there.

Because I don’t allow myself to get into victim mode anymore, my mornings don’t define my entire day. There’s always an opportunity to start over. How? Hint: It doesn’t involve getting other people to behave. The only way for that to happen is to right size oneself. And the only way right size wonky, upside down thinking is to get in gratitude and be of service.

I’m no mathematician, but that’s a formula that has kept me from being homicidal or suicidal for the past year and so I gladly share it with you.

Ex: Today one of my students was sitting at my desk doing a big fat nothing. “Why do you let her sit at your desk?” you might ask. The answer: “Because she’s a bit on the fringe. I keep an eye on her. I make sure she’s doing work. Which, sometimes she doesn’t. And by “sometimes” I mean “often.” Clearly this is an IEP kid who needs some extra nudging. In a class of 40 with no aid, this isn’t easy. I can only offer lack of judgement and encouragement when the energy of the class transitions from savage ingrates to mediocre feral.

Knowing her wiring, and adding in the fact that she is not spitting, licking the desktop or throwing a basketball from one table to the next (yeah, that happened once) I gave her a passing grade during progress reports. So you can imagine my surprise when she left a homemade envelope on my note. It had more staples than guards at San Quentin. On it, in my black sharpie (which she did not ask permission to use, of course) read the words “MS. FRIZZLE. READ THIS. IN PRIVATE. NOW.” It was decorated with very sad cartoon drawings which, truthfully, were way better constructed than this awkward art teacher could have done. But I digress.

On the inside was a letter that read:

Dear Ms. Frizzle. I am very very upset with you. I got a B in this class and CLEARLY I deserved an A. I am very mad at you and want to tell you how WRONG this is. L.

What could I do? I wrote her back on the same strip of paper. I sealed it with more staples, hoping they wouldn’t poke her little paws and bleed all over my freshly washed desk. It read:

Dear L: I am so glad you took the time to write me! You spell very well! I am surprised that you are sad with your B, given that 25% of your grade is participation (you do not participate) 25% is your vision board (you did not complete this) 25% is your test (you have not taken any so that was an automatic A – Congrats on your easy win!) and 25% is behavior (you rarely take out your work after multiple prompts.) When you add this up you technically deserve an F in my class. Are you willing to change some habits, and your perception, to bring your B to an A by June? Ms. Frizzle. 

The responding note I received blew me away. In a good way. And it couldn’t have happened had I not switched my own perspective. Check in tomorrow to find out!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #31: When you get centered, other people behave. It’s really that simple!

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Are you ready to stop blaming other people for what only you can do which is to center yourself? If so, sign your name to commit to the journey. (For me it was commit or be committed. I’m glad I took the first step.) Let’s support each other!

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. 

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meditation, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

Fear: It’s Not a Great Spiritual Advisor (Then Why Is It On the Payroll?)

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So you’ll be tired of me saying this (or you won’t… you’ll just leave and only people interested in this topic will stay) but I pray and meditate daily. Faith isn’t something I just kind of have in the background. Instead, God is my everything. I don’t build God around my life anymore. I build my life around God.

This is not to say I’m perfect or think I have it all figured out. I do not. As my friend Ava likes to remind me, “I just don’t like to feel pain. I’ll avoid it at all costs!”This means I must take my medicine. When I take these pills in the form of a few simple steps to get out of self (hence prayer and meditation) I have a little space in between to respond rather than react. It means:

  •  I don’t have to flip off the sixteen year old driving single in the carpool lane when I’m running late to work and can’t, thanks to my damn conscious, do the same thing.
  • I don’t have to scream at 200 middle schoolers who just WON’T. STOP.TALKING simply because I was having a bad day and didn’t feel like dealing with their incessant “Can I use the bathrooms?” and “I can’t find my composition books” and “Why did I get a ‘D’ in this class… I mean… I don’t do anything, but I thought you liked me, Ms. Frizzle?!!!”
  • I can calmly listen to my husband growl at me when I’ve cut him off in conversation (when I swear to God I thought he was done with that topic 10 blocks ago) and just say, “Okay, I’m sorry.”

Prayer and meditation keep me from living in the What If’s. It allows me to live in faith, not fear. To quote my sponsor, “Fear is not a great spiritual advisor.” Fear keeps us looking to the worst case scenario. Faith keeps us in the moment. And in the moment, if we stay centered and breathe, it’s nearly impossible to not see God. I saw him today in:

  • That reckless teenage driver. “Dear God, keep him safe. That will be my boy in a few months.”
  • Those obnoxious annoying blessed middle schoolers. “Dear God, how wonderful that they have so much energy. May I learn to channel it and not squash their joy.”
  • My husband. He is dealing with a terrible personal loss. Maybe I wasn’t listening as closely as I could have been. How can I be of service and not make this about me?

I am not a saint. But I’m also not a victim. And this means I get to fire bad counselors. That means “See ya later, Fear! Your services are no longer needed.”

And guess what? If you relate to this statement, I give you permission to fire your advisor also. Let’s freelance life together!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #30: Fear is a terrible spiritual advisor. Hire yourself some faith today!

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. 

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parenting, writing

Repeat After Me: It’s Not About You. Good. Just Do That 1000000 More Times

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One of my kids didn’t get something they really wanted. They worked super hard for it but no, they still didn’t get it. It stung. Not just for them, but for me. Of course, since it wasn’t about me, I didn’t have the luxury of acting irritated or devastated or outraged. I just go to shake my head, say “Oh, I’m so sorry” and listen.

(I could have gone Operation Varsity Blues on their butt, but I had already blogged about how I’m so much better than that. I can’t be a hypocrite now, can I?)

The good news in the above paragraph, at least regarding my own experience, is that I’ve grown so much. Even a year ago I’d have been aghast at the results, dramatically trying to pump the kid full of encouragement and wisdom that, in the end, would have done nothing to ease the teen’s pain and instead only serve my own wounded pride at the rejection which, as I type this, makes no sense. My child is not me. It’s natural to feel bummed out for my kid. It’s quite another to personalize it. After all, in doing so, I’m not giving my kid time to grieve for themselves. Maybe they’ll be over it in a day. Maybe not for a month. At the time my kid found out about the results, I had no idea what they would need. But one thing they didn’t need was their hypersensitive mother swooping in on their grief, creating confusion. (A year ago it might have ended with my kid comforting me.)

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(um, sorry, I did.)

The issue with this reaction would have had the effect of having my kid feel less safe to tell me what is going on in their lives for fear of eliciting a nutty response.

sss.

Maybe you don’t suffer with this kind of attachment to your child’s outcomes.

Maybe you are the kind of parent that can easily let go.

I DO let go. Oon the outside.

But on the inside, it still hurts. It speaks to old wounds in me. It tugs at the child who was never picked for the lead in the play or for the sports team.

But… and this is the big takeaway: It’s NEVER my child’s job to suffer my hurts.

And in the case of my kid, they were over it the next morning. (This mama might take a few more weeks to process it… but I acknowledge that… and am calling the fact that I was able to sit with my kid for a good hour and help THEM process it a big win.)

Now if I can just get through the next week of work, burying a family member, signing up both kids for college courses, get my printer to work and put away two weeks worth of laundry we’ll be golden.

Not that it’s your issue ever, dear reader, to worry about this crazed blogger’s dumb schedule. But a prayer? That wouldn’t hurt. And Tuskany, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be swinging by your place again this week. You saved me last Wednesday.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #29: It can be hard to let your kid feel disappointment, but let them feel it anyway. Just listen and don’t make it about you. (Oh, that last part. It’s not easy. We all have our hurts, don’t we? Oh, you are perfectly balanced? #LuckyYouIDon’tBelieveYou)

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. 

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writing

The Terrible Poem Contest: I’m In!

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Many of you know that I’m writing a poem/day Shel Silverstein style for every day that I substitute teach. This means that at the end of the year I will have 100 poems.

All rhymes are all being written from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy who comes from a divorced family. He goes back and forth between his parents. Some of the poems are a bit more reflective, while others are of the goofy, gross and silly variety.

I suppose this is why I decided to throw my hat in the ring of this blogger’s poetry contest. The theme is “Under the Table” and should be a truly horrific poem. Here’s my shot.

Under the Table

My friends are all camping

But alas I’m not able

Nope, I’m grounded for life

Right here under the table

A butter knife for a friend

Along with a rag

To scrape all my boogers

Into this trash bag

Yup, what once was my haven

For picking my nose

My mom did discover

So now I am hosed

“You won’t move from this spot

Except to go pee

Until all chunks are removed

Do you understand me?”

What could I say?

My answer was “Yes”

Now there’s no more snot digging

What?  YES I’m depressed

The moral of this tale

From under the table?

Stay away from nose picking

To avoid this sad fable

The end

Happily Ticked Off Tip #28: Enter contests that represent your passion. You never know if you will win!

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. 

books

 

 

 

 

education

Children and Art: Go Figure

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Teaching art for 200 middle schoolers per day has had a profound impact on my soul.

Today a small boy who looks like Huck Finn meets The Goonies told me, “You’re so awesome, Ms. Frizzle!”

A seventh grade girl who is often found hiding behind her Ipod and anime drawings of genderal neutral dwarfs poked her head out from behind her hoody and whispered, “I can talk to you more than any other teacher.”

Another kid left this on my desk.

 

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Two out of three ain’t bad.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #27: Kids will be kids. And apparently, in middle school, they know how to make kids. Be glad when they’re messing with model figures and not each other. 

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. 

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Coaching and Wellness, meditation, self improvement, spirituality

Pain Sucks. But There’s Another Side

I used to hide my pain behind talking about people, putting myself down or drinking too much wine.

These days, I face it, I grieve and I move on. It’s so much easier. It’s so much easier, in fact, I don’t often feel pain.

No pain? How is that possible? 

For me, the answer is acceptance. Always acceptance. I don’t have to like a situation, but when I accept it, I surrender. Like in a battle, I put down my guns of defiance and anger. They weren’t protecting me anyway. If anything, they were protecting me from the other side. That “other side” being you… my fellow fighter… who seems so scary and more together than me but… when you put down your gun, too… you are just like me. A human being who suffers.

Death and Darkness

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There’s been a lot of darkness in my family lately. People dying. People ill. People sad. My immediate family, thank God, is okay. But I can’t pretend like the people around me are. That they aren’t truly hurting. It’s not easy because  I can’t take it away from them. If anything, I can only share my story if they want to hear it. Maybe they will surrender like I did to find peace. Maybe they won’t. But it’s not up to me to holler my ideas at them.  (Have you tried screaming over gunfire? It doesn’t work and you are taking the risk of best case going deaf, worse case getting maimed or killed.)

What is the Point of Pain?

Everyone has different beliefs on this. As a Christian, it makes sense to me that this Jesus character was kind of a bad ass, because he felt pain just like you and I do, but he rose above it. He left his spirit in us so we, too, could rise above it. Jesus didn’t want to face death. But in surrendering to it, God was with him during his dark times.

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To me, this is comforting. And it helps me realize that the pain of my past wasn’t in vain. I can use to help others find hope. This is good news – literally – because it means the suffering has meaning. It means I can endure the dark again because there is always light in helping others later.

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If you are going through a dark time right now, I’m sorry. I won’t preach at you. I won’t tell you to believe what I do. I won’t suggest you try some certain medication or organic llama bone crushed inside an essential oil that will make you both joyful and anchored. But I will tell you that I have been there, I got through it, and you will also.

My Greatest Teacher

I might be a teacher now by trade, but Pain will always go down as my best Professor. When I surrendered and embraced it, it taught me that I could be bitter or trust that something bigger was coming down the pike. And for me, friends, that something better is my fellows. A hand out to a new student. A compliment to the old dude handing out samples of Fig Newtons in Costco. A smile at the school secretary who deals with one million requests from hormonal middle schoolers/day.

In closing, I can pass on hope to you because someone passed it on to me. I lost… but in losing, I rose to be a better person. Pain didn’t win.

Coffee on the other hand? That wins every time.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #26: When we don’t run from pain but choose to welcome it as our greatest teacher, not only will we transform but we can use it help others transform from dark to light 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. 

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education, faith, parenting, Uncategorized

College Admissions: Some Parents’ Guilty Pleasure

Most of you have probably heard about the bribery to college admissions that’s got people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin facing prison time. I’m already waiting for the Shameless and Fuller House Memes to surface.

Oh wait, here’s one!

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On one hand, my stomach dropped when I heard the news. It’s so unfair to the kids who really do work their butts off to get into these top schools.

On the other hand, I don’t really care. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t buy into the whole college application freak out thing. The truth: My son is a Sophomore and we have not researched one school (though we said we would). I don’t know how or where he’ll take an SAT and I’m not overly worried about him getting a coach for it. We’ll start researching in a few months, look at JC’s and go from there. I have enough faith in my kid to know he’ll land somewhere! (Mom brag: He went from not amazing grades last year to straight A’s, 1 B+ and he’s taking Japanese this summer. This GPA did not happen with me bugging him. I literally have zero idea what he’s learning in school. The hard work was last year when, after letting him fail, I made him meet with me every day at 4PM to go over his organization. I knew it would be a pain for me, but it would ultimately put him in the driver’s seat. These same tools are what will get him on the road to college one way or another.) So, back to that:

Why Don’t I Care About College – And a Caveat

I want my kids to do the best they can with their lives. But I’ve seen enough A-Personality neurotic kids to know that if a kid doesn’t learn to appreciate the success of who they are, no school is going to make a difference. They will just get there, not be happy, and anxiously climb up to the next thing. And then they’ll graduate and anxiously work toward a job, and then a promotion, and then a mate, and kids, all the while not really knowing why they are striving so hard.

No, that’s not what life is about. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe the best thing I can do is guide them toward their path and let them be self-confident people who are content with what is, not what is not.

Don’t You Care At All, Andrea?

Of course I care. Ask Tuskany. I stress about my decision to let go. But in the end, I will always choose to let go. I do so, sometimes with fists clenched onto the last bit of rope, because I’m raising them to be adults that make their own decisions, not little puppets I write checks for to look good for the world. (Look where that landed the culprits in this latest scandal?)

I feel so strongly about this topic because I was that go get ’em kid. I got the straight A’s. The college. The TV job. The house. The marriage. The kids. My outsides were great. But inside I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I broke down the construct of what I thought I needed to be happy that I was able to be, truly, happy.

Tonight I’m going to go downstairs and eat some soup. I’m going to remind my son to get off the video games. I’m going to compliment my daughter for all the auditions she went on. She’ll tell me about the groups she landed, the ones she did not. And then we’ll go to bed. Life these days is busy busy busy… but it’s simple. It comes down to, “Are who you are in your soul enough?” When the answer is yes – and it always is – there isn’t a thing to worry about.

Zero fucks given. It’s a model for livin’.

(Hey, I think I just wrote a country song! Maybe I can make a million dollars and bribe Harvard to take my kids!)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #25: When we teach our kids that who they are is more important than where they go to college, we are giving them the best education they can get: To be learn to be happy with what they have, not what they do not.

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. 

books

self improvement

Asking Questions. It’s My New Form of Talking

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This just in: I am talking less and asking more questions.

I’ll just let that sink in and get back to you tomorrow.

Until then, I’d love to ask you a question – and be honest: Do you listen to truly listen, or are you computing info to best formulate a comeback that proves your side of the street?

Leave a comment and we’ll talk tomorrow!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #24: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When I remember that, life goes along just fine!

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. 

books