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Ode to Finding My Blessings (And Yours!)

It’s busy as a working mom

My sanity… it’s sometimes gone

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There’s always last minute dirty dishes

Laundry, shopping and teenage wishes

What? My husband? He wants sex?

The dog is barking? Oh, no , what’s next?

Halloween… Thanksgiving… Christmas, too?

Plus in my family, we’ve also got Jews

That means Hannukah and 8 days of light

An 8 day cruise? Now THAT sounds right

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Maybe instead of all this shopping

This tired mom could go island hopping

How many hours could I lose?

Chillin’ on an Alaska cruise…

Maybe Hawaii, Alaska or even France?

A captains lunch… a dinner dance…

And yet… as nice as this all may sound

As day dream thoughts in my head go round

I think of the world… and all that’s insane

The far right marches… the hurricanes…

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North Korea missles… and refugees

Guess who’s lucky? Yup, that’s me.

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So I don’t have a maid…

I don’t have a cook

Compared to most

I’m like a crook

I’ve made off with the health

I’ve made off with sweet kiddos

Safe home and a job?

Ditto and ditto

And so while there’s always some things I would swap for another

I’m one lucky wife. I’m a damn lucky mother.

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So with that this small poem

Is almost complete

I’ve got a bath to be taken

And a pit bull at my feet

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I hope that you readers

Can find blessings, too

In all who you love

And in all that you do.

Got any gratitude? Leave it in the comment below.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Happy School Year!

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It’s been a few weeks of hell life on life’s terms.

I say “hell” – but in reality, it’s just been busy. Maybe you know the feeling.

  • Shopping for school supplies
  • Shopping for shoes
  • Last minute haircuts
  • Lunch shopping
  • My daughter having to get rescued by a life guard last Friday at the beach
  • My daughter getting bitten by a dog a few days later

Let’s not forget I had to get adjusted to a new classroom this year, too.

Add in meals, shopping and the general state of insanity in this crazy go-go-go world it can be easy to feel depleted.

And let’s face it, sometimes I am.

But this school year, more than before, I’m determined to focus on what’s going right. The negative will always be there, but really, is it negative? Or is it just my own expectations falling short? While sometimes things just aren’t acceptable, often times, it’s my insistence on perfection that makes the every day ups and downs of life feel more burdensome. That, my friends, is something I’m really working on.

Counting My Blessings (Yes, It’s Cheesy, But I Don’t Care)

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Sure, my kid still has some tics, but he is making out just fine. He is meeting friends, getting to class and so far hasn’t decided that everything about ninth grade is stupid. (That will happen likely next Wednesday, but for now, I’m enjoying the honeymoon.)

How to Survive a Teenager? Stop Nagging and Let Them Be THEM

Part of the success I feel in my kid’s year so far has been my lack of nagging. As a control freak, A-personality type, I really really REALLY want him to do well in school and life. But over the past few years, it’s become super clear to me that his life means his life. Not mine. I can offer suggestions and give ideas, but in the end, I’ve found he and I do a lot better when I’m not policing his every move. Relationship over being right has worked better in our case. This, sadly for the perfectionist in me, means letting go of:

  • A clean room (It looks North Korea finally fired that missile)room
  • Tic management (He still doesn’t want to do meds or go dairy free. Eye rolls and shakes could go away with some CBD oil, but he’s not having it. It’s his body so it’s his call.)
  • Stupid arguments (Apparently he knows everything there is to know about Gravity Falls, how to clean up acne and why essential oils are really not all they are cracked up to be. Not. Worth. Fighting.)

What I Hold My Ground On

  • Rudeness. He is simply not allowed to treat me like a servant. He is part of the family. I don’t work for him.
  • Chores. If he wants to spend thirty minutes looking for his size 14 shoes (yes, SIZE 14) under Mt. Stinky 6’3 Pile O Laundry, let him. But if it’s his turn to do the dishes or clean the dog poo, it’s got to happen.

And Then There’s This

This my son’s answer to him and his sister’s chore list. To say I screamed in shock at “Thou Who Will Not Be Named”‘s face on my fridge is an understatement.

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But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I can spend the end of a Wednesday evening, even when I’ve dishes to clean and floors to mop, trying to take his property in Monopoly. Because at some point this 9th grader is going to realize he’s cuter than he realizes and some other girl is going to want to hang with him instead.

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A sense of humor in this house is pretty darn important. It trumps tics, money and being right every single time.

I hope you’ll join me on the path to loving our kids exactly where they’re at. It’s not always easy, but it’s the best “Get out Jail Card” I know.

Until next time,

Andrea

 

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

I’m not really sure what everyone is complaining about when it comes to having teens in the house. They are joys and help me learn and grow and become a better person in Jesus. I just turn on the Holy Spirit and it’s like Joyce Meyers on steroids round here. 

I’ve decided that having teenagers is akin to turning on one of those giant car vacuums. Except instead of using it to clean out your car, it gets attached to your body, and all your insides get sucked out.

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Until you’re left starting the morning feeling like this:

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And you end the afternoon looking like this:

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And then you get ready for bed with this tape playing in your brain:

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I’m fully aware that it’s not my job to make my kids happy. In fact, the more I give, the more unhappy they are. Too much does not breed contentment. It breeds entitlement. And while I aim to listen to my kids and not judge, the truth is that often I hear them complain about all the things they are not getting compared to some of their friends and family members (trips to Europe, extra curricular classes, new clothes, park passes).  I am getting to the point where it’s time to put the hammer down. They don’t need more stuff. They need more chores. (Yup, I’m going there.)

The trick for me, when it comes to getting off the rat wheel of, “Am I doing an adequate job with these kids?” is to engage in the following. It’s helps me so much. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

10 Ways to Be Around Teens Without Wanting to Stab Your Eyes Out

  1. Building Adults: I remind myself it’s not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to teach them how to be self-sufficient people so they can take care of themselves. (Yes, you have to do the laundry every Monday. Yes, you have to take the trash out every Tuesday. No, I’m not giving you an award for your mediocrity. Thank you have a nice day buh bye.)
  2. Talk to Others: When I share with others my insecurities about not providing enough “fun” for my kids, I feel better. “Oh, you can’t give your daughter a 24,000 dollar education at a private hippy school either? Phewww! Let’s slum it together at public school in a nice zipcode like inner city mall rats!” (I am very lucky. I know it. My kids don’t yet.)
  3. Stay in Gratitude: When I remind myself of all the amazing things they do do for others – when they are not being self-centered and pestering me for cash to get our ridiculously entitled pitbull fancy dog training to keep from massacring small rodents and cats- I stop being so hard on both them and me.
  4. Give Myself a Break: Every day I spend $3.00 on a Starbucks Americano for myself. Yes, that’s $80 a month. It’s a lot. But it’s mental health. I don’t buy fancy clothes, haircuts or even skincare. I’m worth this luxury. It’s not about the taste alone. The cup, subconsciously, shows my kids that I feel I’m worth spending some cash on when they don’t often see that.
  5. Remember I’m Important! Along the lines of #4, I need to remember that I matter. It’s not just about serving my kids. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
  6. Model Good Behavior: It’s not all about me all the time (who knew?). I make sure to reach out to others every day and ask how they are. It takes me out of myself and gives my world perspective.
  7. Get Comfy with Change: Kids change. Life changes. It’s supposed to be this way. I can hold onto the past forever, but it’s not going to make a very fun present, and certainly not pave the way toward a new future.
  8. Take Time for Myself: Every day I take some time away and read. I’m actually starting to journal again, too. Sure, most people might not take Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” to Loews and sit in the patio section. But for me, it’s a break from my house. It’s a way to stay cool. And it’s a place full of beautiful lights, plants and furniture. It makes my “everything is perfect” portion of my brain light up. (Especially when life is far from perfect.)
  9. Let Go: I start every day with a list of things I can’t control. It sounds like I’m in victimhood, but I assure you, it’s to remember that there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my son’s tics sometimes, or my daughter’s attitude, but I can write it on the list and then give it to God to handle for me. PS: This works out well because not only does my son not want me to care about his tics, but my daughter also doesn’t need me bowing down to her hormones. Just like my willingness to give my problems to a God bigger than me, I am not my daughter’s God. She needs to learn to self-soothe on her own sometimes. (And so do I.)
  10. Pray: This is the most important thing on my list. If I don’t pray, I’m a mess. I have seen over and over that God can heal what I can’t change. He might not heal the circumstances, but he can change my perspective on how to handle them. God is my rock (and my salvation) and someone who I know loves me no matter what. “Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

And God loves you, too. (Even if your teenagers do not.)

What Would You Add to the List?

How’s teen life in your home? If you don’t have teens yet, what do you think of my list? If you’ve had them, I’d love your input!

Until next time…

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Fun Friday #3 – Gratitude Over Attitude

Life Ain’t a TV Show – But Sometimes A Commercial Gets Shot on My Street

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(Photo of a neighbor’s house 3 doors down. They shot a Walmart commercial there last night. It was fun to see the fake snow, talk to the actors, and let my kids steal granola bars and chips off the craft service truck in front of our house.)

As a kid, I always thought life would be like the sitcoms I loved to watch. Fade in funny family.

Action and fighting.

The makeup scene.

Fade out – Happily Ever After.

(Oh, and don’t forget the applause along the way. Even during the pie fight… hair would always look amazing!)

I was one of the lucky ones. I actually got to write for TV. It was during that time of life I met my husband – the slow and steady Ricky to my discombobulated Lucy. Family would visit me on the set and I’d introduce them to Roger Daltry who was playing an alcoholic in recovery. Or I’d have them chat up Lynn Redgrave who, in a glorious British accent, would run up to them and say, “Oooh, Frazer is lovely! How do you like California???”

Lest I sound like I’m reliving my glory days (which, well, I am) I have found that it’s nothing short of ironic to be where I’m at now in life… dealing with moody teenagers, moving toward the next phase of my writing career and working a steady day job – the only TV life being the commercials they shoot down the street from my house. If I’m not careful, I can get overwhelmed in regret fast.

“It’s a weird place to be,” I often tell Tuskany during our Thursday afternoon chats. While I sit in her beautiful wooden floor home with her seven perfectly groomed cats (yes… SEVEN cats) we talk about who we used to be at 27 vs. 47. We chat about public school vs. private school, politics and exactly what is the magic sauce that makes kids self-assured. God? Exercise? Education?

I asked my kids this very question on the way home from her house and my son’s answer was pretty simple: “We keep it simple. We like being weird. Mostly, we’re just wired like this.”

My kids might be wired for zen, but their mother certainly isn’t. I worry about everything. A lot. (And believe me when I say “a lot” is a drastic improvement over “all the time.” ) With my neurotic brain, I can’t change my genetics, or  some circumstances, but I can change my attitude. Which, when you’re dealing with teens, is everything.

Traffic… No Parking… Rocky Beach… OH MY!

The above statement couldn’t be more true than it was today, and that leads me to Fun Friday Tip #3 – Gratitude over Attitude. (Ten years ago, if I read that, I would have punched the writer in the face. Today, though? I cling to it.) I can’t change my kids’ attitude all the time, but I can change mine.

I can decide to be angry at the L.A. traffic, (it took 2 hours to get to the Santa Monica Pier) the closed parking lot (which took us a half hour to navitate to) and my one child who decided that the alternate “rocky” beach with the free parking ten miles away was a dull alternative to a roller coaster and bumper cars over the ocean.

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To her credit, she did not throw a hissy by any means, but she was wistful and disappointed to say the least.

To MY credit – and even more exciting – I didn’t throw a hissy either. I was not wistful, nor disappointed, because I’m learning to separate my kids’ experiences from my own. It is not their job to fulfill any lonely crevices in my soul, and it’s not my job to fill theirs. The only thing I am committed to these days is to do my best to walk next to them as they journey the complicated road of life’s ups and downs.

I chose to be grateful for the water. To be grateful for the sand. To be grateful for some extra cash in my pocket from a generous location manager who more than compensated me for use of our dirt filled backyard to set up tables and chairs.

Later that afternoon I texted their father.

Me: “Would you like to meet us at the Reel Inn?”

Him: “But we have all that food left over from the catering trucks in our fridge. Why eat out?”

Me: “Because it’s joyful. And spontaneous. And I want to.”

Him: “I guess.”

The Old Me: (worried about his opinion) “Oh, well, it’s okay if you don’t want to…” Or worse…”You’re right. I’ll come home.” (Cut to resentment, temporary depression, ultimate angry explosion. Helpful, huh?)

The New Me: “We’d love to see you! If you can’t make it, we’ll be home at 7!”

He came.

We ate.

It was lovely.

Takeaway: My attitude toward not owning my family’s feelings led to a fun day for me, even if was not an amazing day for them. I am not in charge of their emotions, nor are they in charge of mine. What a lovely place to live! (Well, not as lovely as the beach. My second time in a week… and I’m going tomorrow! It’s my happy spot for sure. If any of you readers live in So Cal, we should totally do a beach day one weekend!)

Andrea

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How are you at separating your emotions from your kids and family’s so you can have fun no matter what?

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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New To Tics? Do THIS: Tic Tuesday #3

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Because I’m lazy, I still have to make dinner, and I’m ready to call it quits for the night, I’m re-working a response to an email I received a few days back. This mama is new to Tourettes and wanted to know if she should consider getting a mouthpiece for her son. My honest response was “No.” I think there’s other things you can try first.

Mouthpiece that Cures Tourettes?

See my article from a few years back on this.

Before investing time and energy into an appliance, I would start with basics first. (Ex: Flying across the country spending thousands of dollars for a dentist is like getting a $500 Vitamix Juicer when you’ve never tried eating apples. Start small!)

How to Proceed with Mild Moderate Tics

Here’s what I suggest – and I’m open to yours!

1. MTHFR:  Get your child tested for the MTHFR gene. See blog last week.

2. Fancy Vitamins: Once you have results – and assuming your child has the wonky MTHFR gene (which means they are not processing vitamins like non-wonky processing MTHFR folk) plunk down cash for good methylating vitamins.

3. Non-Fancy Vitamins: If no wonky gene exists, then just do regular vitamins and supplements.

4. What supplements? I’ll be interviewing a doc soon on this and let you know via blog to share the love (and don’t want to give you wrong info). If you want to start something right away, I’d go with Magnesium to calm the nerves. Many kids who tic are low in magnesium. You can look into Taurine as well, but again, I’d wait until you’ve seen a naturopath.

5. Food Tests: Get your child tested for food allergies via 23 and Me saliva test or blood test. Have results read through a naturopath or holistic doctor who can then tell you what he or she is allergic to.

6. Keeping It Simple: Don’t want to deal with the food allergy test? Start with going gluten-free. Then add in dairy free if the tics aren’t better. Then, if tics still persist, add supplements. If the tics subside, put dairy back in and see what happens.

The Goose Chase! Help!

The thing about tics is that it is a bit of a goose chase. Just when one tic goes away, another comes back. It’s confusing. My book talks a lot about this. It can be hard to tell what really helped. Was it going gluten free? Going dairy free? The unicorn dust from the magical kingdom of WTF? The truth is, it’s a cheeky disorder. How much do you want to play Columbo? How much do you want to let go? It’s up to you. I always land on the “Is my kid happy and if so, time to let it go” bit. (Note: I used to land there without major kicking, screaming and more cursing than what I feared my four year old’s fate would be. I worried for nada. He’s great!)

“My Kid is Ticking – I Can’t Calm Down!”

Been there, done that. But if you don’t take it one step at a time, you won’t know what is working and what is not.

Get a Naturopath or a Guide

If you’re like me when I was new to this, it would be helpful to have a calm and rational person help you plan out your path so you don’t feel so alone. If you can afford it, do this for yourself! If not, get yourself into a Facebook group and find some rational mom who can be your walking partner through this crazy disorder.

It’s Going to Be Okay

It is. I promise. Very few kids have horribly severe tics. (Some do, but many don’t.) You don’t have to live in fear. You can take this one step at a time.

Hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

sssLeave a Comment

Are you enjoying these Tic Tuesdays? Is it detailed enough? I’m not a doc, so my goal is to get you moving but not give you absolutes. Please let me know so I can improve! Email works if you don’t want to comment out of privacy.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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On The Couch: Mystery Monday #3

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Today was a day from hell.

It started with one of my kids’ continued refusal of chores which shall hereto be known as “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”

Other than informing said child they had until 5 p.m. to either get necessary work done or I would be throwing out their clothes myself… and if they still did not do them by tomorrow I would be disassembling their bed so I could have a room to myself (oh and I might also be giving the dog away in a week since I can’t handle undone dog poo on top of undone laundry) I  remained very very VERY calm.

Minus the screaming match with my spouse in the kitchen.

Which turned into me driving to Hollywood to meet a friend… alone.

Note: Child’s sibling didn’t want to go with me to Hollywood because they needed “More than a day’s notice” which was just as fine with me. (Rabbit trail: Finding out I was pregnant with them unexpectedly thanks to a leftover 99 Cent Store pee stick didn’t exactly give me very much notice one surprising summer…. but I digress.)

Guilt about leaving my children with nothing to do on a Monday faded into the Malibu sunset when I reasoned they could find lunch within the couch cushions that my one child remain prostate on. (Lord knows there was plenty of carbs, half eaten granola bars and crackers left with the chores not done.)

After a long ride to Hollywood where I ruminated on everything from my ineffective parenting, 17 years of marriage and the fact that L.A. drivers maneuver the roads like drunks on doobage, my friend never ended up being able to meet me because the parking was so bad.

Which resulted in me driving through traffic back towards home.

Except I didn’t want to go home what with the boycotting and the overall hating of me.

So I drove to my old stomping grounds for tacos instead.

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(It’s pretty impossible to be in a bad mood with surfers, homeless people, Hollywood writers and happy lights.)

A full and very happy belly later I walked across the street to the beach.

This move worked out smashingly if I do so myself, for when I sat in the sand, I looked up to my left and there I saw an incredible rainbow in the sky. (Look closely at photo on top of page!)

Odd or God?

I’m sure it was just that time of day….the way the sun hit the clouds at just the right moment… but the closest I’d seen to a rainbow in these here parts was the West Hollywood Halloween Parade. I’m just going to assume that my higher power put it there to remind me that there is hope.

That I am never alone.

That end even in times of darkness where I don’t know what to do there’s color, beauty, joy and radiance that transcends my understanding. For that, I’m so grateful.

The Takeaway (Besides leftover fish tacos?)

Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing. It is there, with that beautiful empty space, that I can move out of the way and let God make His magic.

PS: Big thanks to Tuscany who afforded a generous ear to the play-by-play drama which is my life with teenagers.

Thanks also to Valerie Coulman, a generous writer and friend who I met at the Southern California Christian Women’s Conference. While I stuffed my face with extra fries we laughed and prayed together and realize just how strong we are – especially when we don’t take ourselves so seriously.

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Let me know about anything cool that happened to you this Monday. Let’s connect!

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Writing Wednesday – #2 – 30 Minutes/Day Is All You Need

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If you’re like me, you have a LOT of things going on.

  • Day job
  • Maybe some freelance jobs
  • Kids/Friends/Spouse
  • The Windows… They are so smudgy…Is that grime in the shape of unicorn riding a squirrel?—FOCUS!

It can be hard to find time to do the writing you really want to do – the heart project that makes you sing. The one you know can actually get you OUT of your day job down the road.

Undisciplined? Hey, I Resemble That Remark!

I hemmed and hawed over “no time” and “too much going on with the kids” for years, and it finally became crystal clear to me that the guilt and frustration in my soul of not doing it far outweighed the inconvenience of actually doing it.

And so, now, I’m doing it.

And the kids still love me.

In fact, they are seeing a far happier mother.

And it that feels amazing.

And you can do it, too. Kids or no kids, spouse or no spouse, dirty windows full of mystical riding rodents or not.

Here’s how.

10 Tips For Writing 5 Days/Week – No Matter What

  1. Put it on the Calendar: Every day, put that one heart project on the calendar. My motto is “I build my busy time around my writing and not the other way around.” NOTE: Mothering is not busy time. Attending to my children’s needs is not busy time. Organizing their closets while screaming at them to not make “Street Urchin” a career because I’m procrastinating about what I really need to be doing? That’s busy time.
  2. Keep it Short: 30 minutes from start to finish is all you need. If you are like me and need some wind up, schedule in a bit more time, but know that 30 is all you need to really write.
  3. Let your Family Know: Let your unending pit of needs from everyone in the universe sweet family and friends ones know when you are going to write and be clear about it. (Tip: This might take a few weeks to get running. Expect that. You might be like me – used to being there at the drop of a hat. That has to change. The kids won’t die if you aren’t there to solve the mystery of where the last juice box went and whose it really belongs to. In fact, if they can’t solve it on their own – peacefully – they don’t need it.)
  4. Dedicate Space: For me, it’s my Clowfice (Closet/Office)

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Or the Shirage. (Combo of She Shed and Garage)

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It’s not fancy but my ego is not my amigo. Until I get my swanky studio, I’ll make due with what I can. Some of you lucky ducks actually have a real office. If you happen to live locally to me, don’t be shocked to see a six foot wacky writer at your door. Confused? Refer to #5:

5. Have an Alternate Space: Can’t work at home? Join the club. Find a friend’s house, a coffee shop, the library or even the car. Any place that you can work outside your home if being in your home will turn you into a crazy person.

6. Have a Mentor: For me, this is a fellow writing friend who is kicking my butt. She stays at home full-time and makes as much writing as I do working at a school. (Maybe more? None of my business. In fact, she’s not even my official mentor, but I study her business model and find her counsel wise. Plus she talks to me without wanting to throw up, so that’s a plus. ) I value her because this saint is not hiring me to work for her, nor is she living with me. Her only concern is my heart, what I want to do, and making sure I’m not more lazy than Stink and my dog whose whose current summer schedule includes sleeping until 12PM which, frankly, works for me. More time to write!

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7. Task vs. Time: This one is HUGE for me. My A-Type personality used to freeeeeeaky freak out that I didn’t make allotted calendar time. My mentor gently reminded me to calm the blexxx! down and instead focus on getting what I need to accomplish that day. (She doesn’t say bleexx! She’s a good Christian devotional writer. I think nasty comments for her.) My point: apparently I can get my task done at a different time than anticipated. Who knew!? (Note: This means planning out my writing so I know what my task is! I know… organized! It’s crazy! And guess what! I still don’t do that! Work in progress!)

8. Get Inspired: Put something on the wall that speaks to your soul. For me it’s this handmade 8 x 10 canvas created by Lily (name changed) – a sweet friend from my private Tourettes support group, Twitch and Bitch.

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She created it for me about 3 years ago. It came at a time when I didn’t know what my purpose was. It reminds me that I am not the center of the universe and that writing is awesome, but only if it’s done to serve others. I am God’s kid, first. My talents are from Him. (Again, my ego is not my amigo and throws a tantrum about this daily. It’s fun watching the duel when I remember not to take myself too seriously.)

9. Turn Off Devices: Facebook? Cell phone? Twitter? Buh Bye. Enough said.

10. Turn Off Your Brain: This is often the hardest. For me, it’s saying a prayer before I start. It’s kind self-talk. “Andrea, you are worth this time to work on you.”

What Kind of Writing to Spend 30 Minutes On?

For me, this writing is not my freelance jobs or my blogging. This is my heart work.

  • My pilot
  • My musical outline
  • My new book idea.

Those 3 items above? They will easily take me a year at the rate I’m going. I’m sorry, but my kids are a priority. I work a day job. It’s the reality of my life.

The Schedule’s Affect on My Psyche

Sweet relief!

Why?

My dreams are not being forgotten.

My soul can come out and play again.

And so can yours.

So, what do you think of the list? Any suggestions?

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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