I signed up for a Masters in Education – for the 3rd time.
I backed out – for the 3rd time.
I broke my toe.
I got a hemmoroid.
I dealt with some skin cancer.
Stinkette – my sweet Stinkette – is moving out of the house.
My youngest – Evie – she’s starting college and work at a preschool. (WHAT? Impossible!)
As of late life has felt like one giant taco bar of add-ons I would prefer to return. How did the years go by so quickly? Was a I good enough mom? Are my babies going to be okay? Am I nuts to head back to the sub pool for the fifth year because maybe, just maybe, this year my animated movie will sell and I don’t want to be tied down with papers and politics?
People, I don’t know the answers to what will be. But I do know what I don’t want. I don’t want a job that sounds good on paper but will make me miserable. I don’t want to spend any more time regretting some things I can’ change. I want to look at what IS working (a Hallmark script on spec that some producers think they can sell! Hooray!) My health. A solid marriage. A ridiculous dog that acts like George Clooney arrived at the door every time I come home.
I can spend my days in worry, but that’s not unlike a rocking chair – going back and forth but going nowhere.
Instead, I will be happy for the little things. Soft taco shells frying in the pan. Costco dishware that makes my simple abundance look inviting and fresh. My family at my table (minus Stinkette who just got promoted at Starbucks! She’s doing so much better!)
When we can’t change the tics and the things around us we can always change ourselves. And for me, it’s one giant YES to life on life’s terms. Everything’s Unfolding Perfectly.
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
This time last year I thought I was going to be a book coach. I wrote a tiny calling card book, “WRITE LIKE A MOTHER.” The vision? People would devour it and in a fit of unbridled inspiration and hire me to help them craft their business or non-fiction book.
It’s a great business plan except for one problem –: I’m not a coach – I’m a writer. And finally, I know it.
Not sure why it took me 52 years to get this – to stop hiding behind distraction that masquerades as authenticity, but late is great. I picture God laughing at me, clucking at my tantrumming fear and ego and… when I ultimately surrender… breathing a sigh of relief. God: “Ah, sweet defeat and demoralization. Now we can begin.”
In my animated movie script, my lead, Rose, is a vapid camel who wants to shirk her true gifts and cower behind her vapid belief structure of instant gratification and humor. But for this camel to truly be free, she has to do the one thing she is afraid to do: She must embark on a grueling quest to find an oasis in the desert with water that satisfies not just herself but her entire community.
She must stop blaming and shaming others.
She must stop waiting for some other day to find serenity. Some Day is not a day of the week.
The real takeaway: She must stop talking about it – she must take the steps and DO it. My mentorship at Story Summit is teaching me the same skills: less talking, more action. I’m so grateful to Tab Murphy (writer Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gorillas in the Midst, Tarzan, Atlantis, Batman Animated….) and my sweet, triple humped Rose. Both are my daily reminder that when you become who you are truly meant to be, not who you think you are supposed to be, your brave act of transformation radiates to everyone around you – encouraging them to be their most authentic selves, too.
(You might have to spit and swan dive into some muddy watering holes along the way, but ultimately, it will all work out.)
The other day I decided it was a great idea to move Grandma Stella’s China cabinet.
As if in slow motion, the shelf which housed some of my favorite momentos – from her 1940’s egg dish to my own mom’s English tea cups that sat in her dining room bay window – went crashing to the ground.
Glass mixed with china mixed with porcelain jumped out to me as the perfect physical manifestation of the past two years: family members passing on or getting sick… my children’s transitions from my story for their lives to their very own story (how dare they be their own people!) … my childhood home being sold. All of these items I naively thought would never change, but thanks to Covid and circumstances/choices completely out of my control, I found my once long held ideals shattered in million tiny chards on my freshly washed checkerboard tiles.
Similar to my Evangelical days, I’d love to put a big shiny bow on this story with a happy ending ala, “Golly Gee, God inspired me to turn those messed up pieces into a shiny Mosaic table over Memorial Weekend, the kids helped out, my husband brought me a latte since God works everything together for good.” But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I took a broom, swept it all into a dusty pile and chucked of it into the trash can. Clank! Then I went on with my day. (Someone had to buy the toilet paper, and it wasn’t my teenagers who no, are still not driving. Nope, no shame here. I totally don’t compare myself to other people whose kids have been driving since they day they turned 16 because that wouldn’t be very spiritual, would it?)
To be clear about my quick clean up, it’s not that I don’t care about the treasures pictured above. And it’s not that I don’t wish some things were different with my personal life and my career. But I learned the past few years that wishing things were different than they actually are is about as insane as thinking that a bit of crazy glue will somehow make Grandma Stella’s Easter dish look like the same as the day she bought it at Montgomery Wards, 1957, to match her Crazy Daisy China pattern .
No. The longer I try to hold on to what was, the less space there is for new memories and beautiful momentos to fill the shelves of my china cabinet as well as my own memory bank. Either everything is happening in God’s timing or it isn’t. The first thought brings me peace. The second is pure regret. And with the world as it is, I try really hard to not Choose Door #2 anymore.
On this most holy day of the week – Tico Tuesday/Hump Day Eve – I invite you to let go of anything you’re holding onto that is no longer serves your current reality. What if your kid’s diagnosis is not the issue, but it’s your thoughts about the diagnosis that are holding you back from creating new experiences in your life? What if your strained relationship or unsure job path is not the big, hairy, scary challenge but rather your thoughts about them (grounded in coulda shoulda woulda) that are causing your heart palipitations?
Whatever items are taking up space in your head, I invite you to let your thoughts about it crash to the ground.
Sweep it up.
Put it in the trash with other crazy thinking, such as “I’m going to be a size zero by Wednesday” or “Sam Heughan secretly reads this blog and wants to take me on the back of his bike to an Outlander screening party” and let it go.
Make space for the new.
Everything is unfolding perfectly.
If you’d like to join my private T.S. Support Group, click here
Long time no chat. So much has happened over the course of 2020/2021 I don’t even know where to begin, so I just will:
My childhood home of 45 years was sold and my mom moved to an apartment. There’s a lot of memories in a 3000 square foot house to throw out/accommodate, but we did.
Sweet Grandma Stella died. What a bummer. No more visits to her retirement home to sing “Fly me to the Moon.” No one to tell me my ass looks too big or that I “Can’t clean worth shit.” No more jokes about men thirty years younger than her, pointed bras, pumpkin thongs or gin martinis to start a car. But she’ll forever be in my heart, “tidying” my kitchen and telling me to keep “my mouth shut and my legs crossed.”
My sweet Stink became Stinkette. While I’m so happy that she has found her true self, it took some time to adjust. I wish I were a faster student, but I’m here now and so grateful for the new beginnings for her, for us – for everyone in the family.
I went from subbing part time to full time, thanks to the dire need for teachers with Covid. No one was more shocked than I was to find I liked it and am seriously considering getting a credential to keep a classroom full time. (I have learned when it gets noisy to silently dance with an invisible man. My kids know. “Quiet! She’s dancing with Sam!”) Have you seen Sam Heughan? I love you all, but if you steal my invisible boyfriend I will block you.
I started working with some producers on writing a Hallmark movie. (Will it sell? Who knows. I just put one foot in front of the other. Or, shall I say, one “hoof” in front of the other which leads me to…)….
…I finished my camel musical! It needs to be rewritten, but so it shall.
Pip became a senior in high school and, over Covid, I learned just how much I needed to change in my parenting style. It wasn’t easy, but the growth we have experienced has been well worth the experience to shift.
I tell you all this, Mamas, because I learned all the ways to pivot and change thanks to a little something we all call “Tourette Syndrome.” Lots of things over the past year aren’t what I expected (nor – if I’m being honest – are what I’d choose) but in accepting them as they are, I made room for magic. I made room for more writing, more dreaming, more consistent income.
You, too, Mamas, can DECIDE that despite T.S. you can have an amazing 2022. I will aim to write here a bit more often and cheer you on along the way.
Thanks to all who have bought my books or just followed me here all these years. It’s a pleasure to get to know you and I wish you the most wonderful New Year!
PS: It’s Tic-0 Tuesday today, which means I’ll be cooking up some simple tacos and cheese/guac just for Pip, Rex and I. Maddie (formerly Stink) is at Starbucks and apparently I’m not the sun which she orbits any longer. THAT was way more heartbreaking than even the tics. People, life shifts in an instant. Don’t miss it.
BE PART OF MY NEWSLETTER!
For updates on my recent projects and to get a copy of my newest book, WRITE LIKE A MOTHER, sign up for my newsletter here!
I didn’t set out to revamp Happily Ticked Off as a blog about trusting God, trusting signs, and asking the right questions. But as I say in almost every post, life began for me this very week when I started asking a profound but simple question:
Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” I began to start asking “What is this trying to teach me?”
In asking this question my very self started to unravel. Because in seeing the truth behind the crazy events of the past 60 days I saw that God wasn’t sending me heartache and change to make me uncomfortable. He was making me uncomfortable to shake me awake. And here’s what I realized:
I am controlling
I play the victim so I don’t have to have accountability
Deep down — despite all my outside achievements — I don’t feel worthy in my own life
I hate to put all this on record for everyone to see. After all, on the outside I’m a six foot, fairly attractive fifty year old.
I’ve got a good job, I write on the side, I have a nice husband and two kids that, so far, have not over-sexed, over-drugged or stolen beer from our local A.M./P.M..
But the truth is, I have parented, friended, daughter-ed and wife-d from a place of brokenness. I have not trusted God, as much as I say I do, that who I am — as Andrea — is enough.
In not trusting God, I’ve attempted to manage people, places and things around me (outside issues) to fill the hole on the inside (inside issues.)
I thought that in giving up alcohol five years ago I had surrendered my will power, and while I had let go of much of my control, I hadn’t given up all of it. How do I know? Because the people around me are miserable. This morning was no exception.
My Wake Up Call
I woke up late today. I was able to meditate with my husband and do a quick spiritual reading with him, but I was rushing to get my morning pages done. And yes, I did do them, but the whole time I had an agenda going. “How will I get the blog post in, school work done and get a few things cleaned up before the cleaning service comes over?”
#1: I realize how lucky I am to have a cleaning crew come twice a month. It’s a luxury I have only recently been able to enjoy. The problem, of course, is not that my house was such a mess before. (It was.) The problem was that I was not trusting God that I could get my blog done (my purpose) and let the cleaning crew deal with the little tidbits I’d rather them not see. (The overflowing trash/the excess Halloween decorations/the fur on the couch which can only point to the furry member of the family who is really in charge round these parts.)
Exhibit #1’s theme? Fear of judgement (What does this point to? “I’m Not Enough”)
I rushed through my shower, threw the dishes in the dishwasher and made my way to the garage to start a load of laundry. In my head I was thinking, “Why aren’t the kids doing these dishes?”… “Why didn’t I print the household contract and stick it on the fridge like I said I would?”… “God, I’m setting the worst example!”
Looking out the kitchen window didn’t help my mood. “Could there be more dog crap in the yard?”
Exhibit #2 — Negative thinking, Overthinking & Too Hard on Myself (What does this point to? “I’m Not Enough.”)
On the way back from the garage I looked through the window and noticed my sweet older daughter was still in bed. She is supposed to be up daily at 8.
The conversation basically went like this:
External Me: “Hey, you’re not awake!”
Internal/Sane Me: “Walk away, Andrea. You’re cranky. This won’t go well.”
External/Insane Me: “I guess that means no electronics for 3 days.”
Her: (Groggy) “What do you mean? I’m awake! I’m just checking my texts like you asked me to.”
Internal/Sane Me: “She’s really trying. It’s been a hard season. Love over judgment is always best.”
External/Insane Me: “You’re pissing your life away!”
Her: “Wow. Ouch. That hurts, Mom.”
Internal/Sane Me: “She’s right. That kind of really sucked. Why would you say that?”
External/Sane Me: “Save it for your therapist.”
Then I walked away. Furious.
Exhibit #3: I’m unhappy with my own progress so instead of coming to my child with love, I come with anger, insinuating that she is not enough. (Where does this come from? Oh, right… “I’M NOT ENOUGH.”)
I felt like crap for obvious reasons and went to talk to her 30 minutes later. Her head was low. She hadn’t moved from bed. After a few back and forths, she basically told me, “Mom, sometimes my self-esteem is low because I can’t do anything right. I feel like you’re going to get mad. And it just doesn’t feel good.”
Oh, God. That felt like a knife in my heart. This precious child is someone I adore more than life itself. We used to be so close. But based on some things going on in her life, we just aren’t right now. And while I don’t take 100% responsibility for her emotions (I’m not that powerful) I knew, in my gut, I had done some damage. And, well, that didn’t feel good.
I asked for a hug on the way out. Her response? “No.” And who can blame her?
I went upstairs and did what I’ve done every day this week. I called my sponsor, and thank God I did, because what she said forever changed the trajectory of my thinking.
Violet: “Instead of seeing this as a moment of despair, Andrea, why don’t you use it as an opportunity to forgive yourself?” she asked.
“I don’t know if I can,” I said. By now I was really freaking out, because in addition to cleaners coming by in 20 minutes I had to teach class. (Negative Thinking Self: “You fucked up your kids. Why bother anymore?”)
Exhibit #4 — Regret and remorse instead of self-forgiveness (What does this point to? “I’m not worthy.”)
My sponsor gently reminded me that I’m asking the wrong questions. “Who is in charge?” she said.
Me: (half-heartedly) “God.”
Her: “Is it possible that God is using this opportunity for you to finally wake up and see that you are parenting through a lense of fear and control instead of love?”
Me: (Big sigh) “Yes.”
Her: “And does God make mistakes?”
Her: “Then you get to start over. You get to remember, once more, that you are worthy. That you get to love yourself for being human.”
Me: “What if my daughter doesn’t forgive me?” I asked.
Her: “Whether she forgives you or not is none of your business. She has her own God, and you aren’t it.”
She went on to say, “The issue is not that your child sleeps in. The issue is that you are ‘Outcome based’ and when it doesn’t go your way, you get angry. What if you didn’t approach either of your kids unless you were free of expectations and could approach them with love?”
“But what about consequences?” I balked.
“Consequences are fine if they are done from a place of love. Unfortunately, your child sees you giving them from a place of anger and shame. And that never feels good. And it’s not allowing God to operate when you’re in control.”
Who We Are, Not What We Do, Is God’s Agenda. Do You Believe That?
That last statement hit me like a ton of bricks. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I had been playing God in both my children’s lives — but not the loving God of my understanding today. I was playing out some BC Old Testament God who was quick to anger and smiting.
Yes, I did a lot of wonderful things for them when they were growing up, but I also felt extremely guilty for things I couldn’t provide for them. In the end, they didn’t need the stuff.
What my kids wanted growing up… what they still need as teens… is for me to show up as an example of a balanced, loving woman who knows who she is in God’s eyes. That is it.
I thanked my sponsor, got off the phone, and headed downstairs. In the three minutes I had before class I found my daughter and read her a text I’d written her. It basically went like this:
Hey, Mickey. I want you to know that I’m sorry for this morning. I was mad at myself and I took it out on you. And while I’ve made mistakes over and over in my past, I am realizing now that this came from a place of unworthiness on my part. I don’t expect you to forgive me — and I’ll likely still make mistakes- but the mom I want to be is loving, kind and understanding. I know you’re going through a lot, and I want to be a safe place for you. I love you.
She looked me, and- although I was willing to surrender the outcome to God no matter what her response was — she said, “Mom, I love you. You are very special to me. I don’t always love what you do, but I love you. So much.”
And then she hugged me.
And inside, despite feeling like once again I crapped on the person I love most in the world, I felt a feeling of hope.
My soul acknowledged, for the first time, that I didn’t have to earn God’s love. Just being me was enough.
From that place of love, I will start a new journey with my beautiful daughter — one with less criticism and expectation.
And so, friends, I leave you with the two questions I will be asking myself as I continue down this parenting road and don’t know how to respond to a situation:
Am I angry and controlling? (That’s self-will… I will walk away)
Am I coming from a place of love and compassion? (That’s God’s will… I will stay and connect.)
I am going to finish up this post by saying that sometimes life is super brutal. But if we’re willing to ask the right questions, we can transform everything and begin to shift. For me, today, I am grateful that God added some spiritual dynamite to my soul.
I was blasted with the truth — truth that I don’t always believe — that I am worthy.
I love my kids more than life.
God loves me more than life.
And when I remember how very worthy I am — since God made me — I can drop any unrealistic expectations I have for my kids and parent them from a place of love, joy and radical compassion.
You, too, my friends, are so very worthy.
I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.
DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!
You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!
Welcome to Tic-O Tuesday #2! Many of you might know Fish Lee from his stint on the A & E television show, “The Employables.” Others might know him from his Facebook Page @TourettesLife which features his amazing Tourette Syndrome art work. Still others might know him thanks to his bestselling Tourette’s comic book, T-Man & Hyperstrike (copies are sold exclusively on his Facebook Page @TourettesLife.)
As for me, I had the pleasure of getting to know him today by chatting his ear off for over an hour. We discussed everything from his childhood with tics, his life as a struggling artist who had to live through some pretty severe Tourette’s, and his current success today as one of the most sought after comic book illustrators around. (Plus he’s barely ticking thanks to the right combo of medication, sleep and weight loss.)
Fish surprised me, because he is more than just a talented artist. He’s a human being who took adversity and kicked it to the curb. If you’re like me – a parent who is worried about your child due to an unexpected diagnosis – you need to take a seat and get a boost of inspiration topping for your taco this Tico Tuesday.
“I wasn’t diagnosed until I was thirty,” Fish said. “It was confusing and tough to not know what was wrong with me.”
Fish began with mild tics as a child. He would repeat things he heard on TV, hold his breath and rub his nose. He would obsess over things and have a hard time reading social cues. “I had a pretty bad temper, too,” he said. “It wasn’t easy making friends.”
That said, he was not officially diagnosed as a child – not even when he stayed home for three weeks because of his eyes being crossed. “My single mom must have taken me to the doctor 15 times, and in the end, no one believed me that I couldn’t help it. The doctor said there was no way I could have had Tourette Syndrome since I never cursed.”
After having every imaginable test run on him to rule things out (from diabetes to severe heart issues) Fish just had to live with this “mystery illness.” He went on to say that most of the time it was manageable, but one to two times a year things would get really bad. “It was terrifying,” he said. “Especially because people thought I made it up to get attention. There was a point when I got better where I wondered myself if I had made it up.”
Lucky for him they disappeared in middle school and high school, but it wasn’t just because of genetics and good luck. “I self-medicated big time,” he said. Fish, who has now been sober for a good long while, fully admits what would have been better than not having tics at all would have been to feel that who he was, as he was tics and all, was okay. But at the time, that simply wasn’t the case.
A Rough Time of Tics
The tics came back with a vengeance after college when he was newly married and sober. At 21 it really became a problem, and by 30 he could barely see, walk or talk. His wife had to bathe him. Despite seeing a respected neurologist (who said there was no way he had Tourette Syndrome) it was not until he saw a news show with professor on TV who had the syndrome, along with a weatherman who reported that he had it also, that he realized, “That guy is me!”
When he realized he had true neurological disorder – where his brain misfired and mixed signals like crazy – he was sent to a movement specialist in Houston. The moment he walked into the room the doctor took a look at his severe shaking and asked, “How long have you had T.S.?” to which he responded, “I don’t have Tourette’s! I don’t say bad words!” She said, “Oh, yes, you do have it. The bad news is that it’s the worst case I’ve ever seen. The best news is that it can’t get any worse!”
Fish laughed as he recalled that story. It was the beginning of an understanding for his disorder.
While Fish’s wife, who he is now divorced from, was horrified that her husband would be confined to a wheel chair and potentially be on disability, Fish was thrilled. He finally had an answer. “It wasn’t Huntington Disease. It wasn’t a stroke. It wasn’t MS. It was bad, but I was alive!”
Unfortunately he had to stop working for a while with his condition worsening. He could no longer foster children – which he loved. But he had 3 of his own still at home. And in the process he was able to go on Facebook and meet other adults living with Tourette’s. He no longer felt alone. “My whole world opened up,” he gushed. “I wasn’t the only person needing help bathing and feeding myself!”
The Mouthpiece – A Miracle Cure
A turning point in Fish’s life was a mouthpiece that was made for him in Memphis, Tennessee. Made in conjunction with NFL mouth guards, it was a Godsend for Fish’s constant movement. “It was made of rubber and soft on the inside… no metal,” Fish said. “It truly worked.”
(Note from Andrea: I can’t offer you parents medical advice, but I have heard so many good things about this device. Google and find a doctor in your area or give me a call and I’ll work with you to help you locate one.)
Advice for Parents
Many parents are scared about their kids’ diagnosis, and that’s understandable, but Fish encourages everyone to be careful about how they talk about tics both to them directly and around them. “They have it tough enough as it is, but it doesn’t have to define them,” he said.
He, in fact, pushes his own son, Bear, to go way beyond what someone might expect of him. “I remember as a kid at 7 that I personally could not focus because of seven trains of thought in my head: a fight I had with someone… a girl… a TV show,” he said, “But at the same time, this wild thinking was also what made me unique.” He went on to gush,”Tourette’s kids are so smart, creative and empathetic. So what if they are a bit ‘weird’ to others. That’s what makes them so amazing.”
He continued, “I encourage all parents to fully accept their kids where they are at. So what if they tic!”
Fish’s Medication and Tic Management
As far as managing the tics, he himself is on a combo of Guanfacine and Primidone. “Everyone reacts differently,” he said, “But for me the combo of these work perfectly. There are some side effects, but it’s been worth it for what I am able to do every day in my life.” And boy what a lot he does.
Fish’s Current Life
Unlike his past where he was confined to his bed and a wheelchair, Fish spends his days illustrating for some of the biggest names in the business, including Eric N Bennett. He shops, drives and spends time with his 3 kids whenever he can (Marcus 20 – who is giving him his first grandbaby in June), Jay (19) and Elisha (“Bear” /16 who, according to Fish, is “killing it” with his tics).
He is working on Sentinels #270 right now, then the next Fivestar, then the next Power Company which will be all of his art work. “I’m already booked for most of the rest of the year,” he says proudly. And with artwork like this, it’s understandable!
He can also be found on Deviant Art and on Twitter
Your Child Is not His or Her Tics!
As a writer and mother of a beautiful 17 year old with Tourette’s, I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to speak to Fish today. I want to encourage all of you parents to keep coming back every Tuesday where we’ll bring a new success story to you. And if you, yourself, have Tourette’s and are thriving (or know someone who is – young or old) drop me a line at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com. I’d love to consider them for a Tico-Tuesday post or at least as happy face or art work on my Success Story wall!
Until next time,
May God grant you the courage to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
I don’t know if you can relate to this, but I’m reacting to this Covid 19 crisis in one of two ways:
Everything is Fine!I will not freak out. All I can do is wash my hands, cut back on trips to the market, have faith that my job will still be there in a few months and enjoy every second I can with my kids before they graduate and try to block the memory of their mother shaking her bootie to Maroon 5’s “Sugar” every Taco Tuesday like a menopausal groupie.
I am Freaking the BEEP Out.
Since #2 isn’t all that attractive, I’ve given myself some serious boundaries to make life more enjoyable in the Casa de Tic. And honestly, folk, after navigating Tourettes for over 10 years, I can promise you this: I might not have the “cure” for tics in the form of a pill or a magic diet, but my attitude goes a long way in keeping the symptoms down.
Yup, when I’m relaxed and not creating undue stress (yes, yelling and being generally a crazy person about where to place the potentially Corona infested Cheetos is not particularly helpful) my son is calm. And when he’s calm, there’s less tics!
Here’s 5 more things I’ve implemented on a daily basis that have gone a long way in setting a happy tone for the home.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: If my son wants to have the last word on why he’s not comfortable going to the beach, despite quarantine restrictions being lifted in Ventura County – and despite my daughter and I being clear that we are going to stay 20 feet from people and just walk on the shoreline – that’s his right. I don’t have to cajole him. I don’t have to guilt him into leaving the house. I can worry all I want about him having been in the same two rooms of this house for the past six weeks, and conjure up all sorts of worst-case scenarios that involve a 35 year old man eating gluten free pizza in my basement in two decades, but I don’t have to share those projections with my son. (Also, we don’t own a basement, so that works out, doesn’t it?)
Be Intentional with My Tone: Not all days are going to be winners for me, but for the most part, if I set out to have a good day, I have a good day. That often means being intentional about my attitude, even when things aren’t going particularly amazing for me. (Ex: Disagreements with my hubby about money, or my website having issues, or fear about this virus.) Despite perfection I can still play Michael Buble in the kitchen while I make toast. I can still read books every morning and take my mind into a new world rather than my own. I can still blast musicals on my way to Costco and call other people and ask how they are doing. When I go about making myself happy, I don’t take it out on my kids – especially my sensitive ticker.
Stay Current: By “current” I mean that I have stopped living in the past or the future. I get to live in the “now” where the magic happens. The past, for me, includes how things used to be before he was diagnosed with Tourettes. (Back when he was three, and I thought his entire life was going to unfold as perfectly as an origami crane. But with no wrinkles. Nope, unlike you suckers, my baby bird would be perfect!) By “future” I mean I stopped judging his current situation by some ideal far ahead of where he is at this moment. I wasted a lot of years drowning in the fear of what was, or what could be, instead of grasping onto the gift of this very beautiful present. Staying current has made all the difference. I can only do this by sticking to #4:
Gratitude: I am in so much gratitude these days. Yes, Dom’s tics are almost gone now – and I’m so grateful! (Parents of new tickers, did you hear that? There is HOPE!) But I’m in gratitude of far more things than tics. I’m grateful for a home. For a husband who I love and can count on. For a daughter who wants to sing show tunes with me. For a mom who still lives 15 minutes from me. For more friends than I can shake a very big stick at. By focusing on what is working in my life, as opposed to what is not, life is so much sweeter.
Relaxation: With this imposed quarantine, I know how lucky I am to have a 4 bedroom house to hunker down in. I don’t want to waste this precious gift of time freaking out. Granted, I have had a few days of misery. And I give myself slack for those. This is a new normal and I’m an extrovert! It’s haaaard! But for the most part, I’ve had a ton of joy. Much of this is because I have given myself permission to keep a lighter pace. My kids also have had a lighter pace, and this helps in keeping tics to a minimum. Throw in a lot of dancing and really bad karaoke and you have one happy Andrea which, always, goes back to #1: A happier tone in the home.
Positive Outcome Stories
I want to share a snippet of a letter I got from a dad who says he read my book two times. He wrote me to let me know how happy he was that this blog, and my next book, would be focusing on positive outcomes. To summarize, he wrote, “The internet is full of worse case scenarios…we need more writing out there that reminds us worried parents that our kids will be okay.”
So that, my friends, is what you will continue to get. You will get a ton of posts that remind you that a positive attitude can go a very very long way in raising a child that is successful despite a few tics. And, of course, I will continue to bring you interviews with top experts, parents of kids who are older and doing well (right, Carrie?), videos, books and… wait for it… a chance for you parents of younger kids to sign up to play Minecraft with Dom.
In closing, as I always say, thank you for reading. If you’re scared, feeling alone, worried about your child or generally confused about what to do next, I have a suggestion for you. Sign up for this blog (bottom of this page), join me on Facebook and let this sink into your bones: Your child is perfect, Tourettes or not. You are not alone. We’re in this together.
So happy almost Monday! And remember, if you can’t fix the tics, fix yourself! Do something fun for yourself, okay? I promise you – it will make all the difference.
Until next time,
May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
After spending more years than I would care to admit wanting to run from my home, my family runs like a well oiled machine right now. Plus with working my bootie off subbing and then trying to mash in writing and family, I feel like God has swooped in and plopped me into a much needed rest for my soul.
Don’t get me wrong – I know how serious this virus is. I don’t wish it upon anybody. And I certainly don’t feel happy that I have rest while this virus wrecking so much havoc on people emotionally, physically and mentally. But the negatives don’t nullify my positives. I am just in a good season right now, and I am comfortable enough with myself to say that out loud.
On a different note, I’m not making my life’s fortune on Medium yet, so who knows if I’ll be subbing next year still or not. But I’m thrilled that my freelance side gigs have picked up a bit and that I am moving steadily toward a niche market with it writing memoirs and helping people write their books. Stay tuned for more of that and a link to subscribe to my newsletter!
In closing, my daughter and I took a very safe social distancing car ride to the beach yesterday. The mountains were so green. And while there was definitely evidence of the Malibu fires there, thanks to dark charred sticks of trees shooting up through the canyon, wild flowers were dancing like crazy. Yellow mustard seeds and purple lupines. It was like being in nature’s candy store. As we snacked on pretzles and M and M’s (here’s to the Corona 15!) my daughter narrated the story of Hadestown in between singing some of the lyrics.
We eventually made it to the beach and ambled our way up a deserted lifeguard tower. As we watched the parasailors glide and duck above the waves – fifty feet ahead of us – she leaned into me and sang me a few lyrics from her musical audition song, Stay (which, ironically, is not that different than the Corona virus! The song was not from Hadestown but from an older show, Amelie)
Stay where you are Don’t come too close, and don’t go too far I’ll make you count to 100 so I have a good chance to hide Don’t expect me to play fair Move in, I move even deeper inside I like you right there I like you right there Stay
Thanks for Your “Stay” At My Blog!
I have said this before and I will say it again. I will always try new places to write. I do want to make more money in this field and I have zero problems learning how to market myself. But in the end, my relationships with people in my life, as well as some steady readers here at WordPress (you know who you are) are so much important than some flash in the pan success at Medium. (Um, I have made $3.47, despite being curated in five publications there!)
I am grateful to everyone who reads here and has followed me from the beginning. As Belladonna says, you could have chosen any blog to read, but you chose this one. Thank you!
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. )
Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!
Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter
Note to my WordPress friends (my faves): This is my latest article on Medium. It comes to you after a long day of shopping for the Great Hunkering Down that is about to hit L.A..
I, like many of you, fluctuate between fear and faith. But mostly, for whatever reason, I’m calm. I went to the beach with my daughter today (keeping a good gajillion feet away from everybody else.)
I had a lovely dinner in front of our fire.
I played music and I shopped for neighbors and I called friends.
This is a time in history, more than ever, that we need art and music. We need less fear and more love.
And we need each other.
Thank you for being there for me always.
Most people aren’t exactly breaking out in song over their forced unemployment and quarantine or writing their Great American Corona Novel. But I’m not one of them.
Part of this because I have a pretty strong spiritual practice where I just refuse to fall into self pity. Either God’s got this or he doesn’t. Part of it is because, as a sober alcoholic, I can’t afford to be play the victim. “One day at a time” is how the saying goes. But the biggest reason I’m not freaking out is because I can finally write my musical.
I’ve had the idea in my brain for three years. I even have one whole song and a few others started. Now that I’m not going into class every day to sub, I don’t have any excuses to not take at least one hour/day and knock this sucker out.
I’ve Never Written a Musical. I Don’t Give a Poop.
I’m not trying to sound delusional here when I say, “I’m writing a musical with no experience.” I’m simply stating that I’m doing it. For those who want to question my logic, I have a very simple answer: “When I think about not following through with it I feel like throwing up.”
I Refuse to Hit the Snooze Alarm on My Dream
Time is ticking by. I just turned 50. I have spent my life raising my kids and writing for a gajillon outlets for pay. And while I’m proud of my ability to context switch from blogs and magazines to everything in between, there’s something in my soul that wants to write something that comes just from me.
My passion project is not about my ego. It’s about about my purpose.
I didn’t get sober to live someone else’s life. I got sober to live mine. In doing so, I was able to untangle all the lies of who I thought I was supposed to be and lean into the person God wanted me to be all along. That person is an artist. (Surprise!)
But I Have to Make Money (And All Those Lies We Tell Ourselves)
I’m not that different from many of you who read and write here on Medium. I have a day job, too. In addition to my freelance writing, I substitute teach. I have kids and a husband. I have friends. I’m not exactly loaded with Benjamins.
But if I’m being totally honest with myself, there is always an hour a day I can spend on my musical if I choose to do it. (I can use my lunch break, get up early, take an hour after school, etc.) And now that I have 3–6 months of unemployment, I can do it in the mornings while the kids are sleeping.
What Are Your Gifts? Whatever They Are, Do That
If someone asked me what I loved more than anything in the world, I could very easily tell them. I love music. I love books. I love writing. And I love to laugh. If that isn’t the perfect formula for a musical I don’t know what is. Now I only need to do it.
Here’s 7 ways I’m planning on getting started to make my dream happen. Perhaps you can use some of these tips for your dream, too!
Follow Your Destiny
“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.” ―Abraham Maslow
As I already alluded to, I can’t not write this musical. The idea came to me over three years ago when I was going through a particularly rough period of my life. It was as if all the pieces of this transformational story were drop shipped into my brain one night in the bathtub. I literally heard the tune to my flagship song, along with lyrics, singing in my brain. Either I’m psychotic or finally listening to the signs in my life. I’m going with Door #2.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Your Own Power
I was bullied a lot in school. Subconsciously I bought into a belief structure that I simply wasn’t as good as everybody else. And though I knew in my head that wasn’t in true, in my heart it was as if my soul had frozen.
This frozen belief structure became a problem because, also within my soul, was where my true power lived- my voice- and it was throwing a pretty major tantrum to be let out.
Instead of seeing this power for what it was, “Oh, hello, powerful Andrea. Let’s get you moving toward your destiny!” I got scared. It felt like an enemy attack, and I shut down. I drank to keep it quiet and acting dignified.
But that power, like a true love, remained. It was a gentleman. It didn’t force me into submission. Instead it waited, like a lover, for the time I would put away my fears and dance with it. Now is that time.
3. Get a Theme Song
My theme song is “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. I speak about this song a lot in my book, Happily Ticked Off. In it the Wicked Witch (from the Wizard of Oz) decides she is tired of listening to everyone else. She is ready to fly. She is ready to defy gravity. To her I say, “Amen, sister!” (Plus it doesn’t matter how many times I hear Idina Menzel sing that last note. I cry. Every. Time.)
“Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone’s else’s game.” — Elphaba (Lyrics by Steven Schwartz)
4. Don’t Judge Your Past.
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall
If I had a dime for all the jobs I’ve held over the past 30 years I’d be living in Beverly Hills. I’ve been an usher at the movies, a tour Guide for NBC Studios, a TV writers’ assistant, a TV writer, a production secretary, a receptionist, an Ebayer, a special education assistant, a substitute teacher and even a barista at Starbucks.
Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I’m ashamed of my checkered job past. Why couldn’t I just be a middle school teacher? Or a doctor? Something stable? But when I put the emotional whip down, I see a different picture— that I have tons of material to write my musical with. Besides, my kids, family and friends love me just as am, not for what I do. Maybe it’s time I start agreeing with them about how fabulous I am.
5. Stop Second Guessing Yourself
“Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts… to close my eyes, and leap…” — Elphaba, Wicked
I’m gonna have to give #5 to my girl, Elphaba, again. She didn’t really know what she was doing when she picked up that broom and ascended into the heavens. Like her, I don’t know 100% what I’m doing with this musical. But she flew anyway, mistakes be damn. What if I follow in her footsteps? Even Lin Manuel Miranda got laughed at for wanting to write a hip hop musical about the treasury department.
And no, I’m not Lin Manuel Miranda, but Lin Manuel Miranda wasn’t Lin Manuel Miranda until he did the same things I’m doing now to become Lin Manuel Miranda.
(That makes perfect sense to me. I hope it does to you, also.)
6. Stop Talking and Start Doing
Everyone in my immediate circle knows about my musical. The kids at school know me as the sub who is writing a funny show about camels. I’m honestly tired of talking about it. It’s time to sit down and do it. I am committed to one hour/day, five days/week. It’ll be done in a year.
Here’s what Sebastian, the blind mole rat from my musical, has to say to a very princess-y camel, Rose, about her long trek through the desert:
Sebastian: “If you want to go to the Great Mirage, first you have to get out of the garage.”
Rose: “But what I really want is a massage…”
Sebastian: “It doesn’t work that way.”
If my characters have to do the hard work to find their destiny, so do I. And that leads me to #7:
7. Have Faith
I don’t know exactly how all this will pan out. I don’t have a producer in mind. I don’t know any producers. I don’t write music notes. But I have seen enough of my Higher Power to work in my own life that if I just take the action the results will follow. Translation: I will meet the right people to come alongside me when the time is right. But first I must get started.
“God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” ―St. Augustine
Are You Willing to Get Started?
I know some of you are so scared about our current times. So am I. But friends, we need art now more than ever. We need you. Come on back and support me as I continue my journey. You know I’ll support you!
Need a Writing Coach? I Got Ya Covered!
Want someone to coach you toward your dream? I’ve already got two clients I’m working with to make their books a reality. I can help you, too! Reach out at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com.
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. )
It’s happening for us… to wake us from complacency to joy
So I get it. This virus is a big deal. Italy is on lock down. Vulnerable people can die more easily. The President is taking credit for acting quickly over something he should have been on top of months ago. We might have to start washing our butts with garden hoses and, just when our kids might finally be allowed back at school, they will be out again for summer break. (#insanestyearever)
None of this is easy. I, for one (as a Class A Extrovert) am super bummed about missing my AA meetings, not going to Magic Church for the foreseeable future, not meeting my bestie for a cup of Starbucks that I shouldn’t really be spending money on anyway, and those Disneyland gift cards I got for my big 50th birthday? By the time I cash those in for annual passes I wouldn’t be surprised if the price is doubled to pay for all those weeks the park was closed. (Plus I hear the payments on that Millenium Falcon are a bitch.)
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that, as a substitute teacher, I’m not one of those lucky educators who is getting paid while we’re off school. And while I am not playing the victim card here (I have an English degree, not a teaching degree) I am losing quite a bit of income.
All of the things above is enough to send me into a wave of self-pity — and believe me, despair is dancing on the surface — but when I take a breath I feel something much deeper that is buoying me up: Hope.
Hope in a Quarantine? Are You Kidding Me?
Putting aside my worry for those who are most risk with this ridiculous beast, there is a side of me that is relieved to be home. These feelings are not that different than how I felt when both my babies were born. During their precious stages of early life, there wasn’t much I could do while they napped. So I focused on on staying as present as possible.
I stayed close to the phone.
I read books.
I occasionally watched television.
And I wrote.
Life was smaller back then. I had tremendous worry about what the future could hold, but stronger than the worry of what could be was the absolute joy and excitement for what I had in my little cozy nest: two humans that I loved with all my heart.
Coronavirus Can Suck It
I refuse to let Coronavirus steal that joy from me now. Granted my two babies are no longer co-sleeping in Scooby Doo sheets and wearing matching Dora the Explorer panties… they are almost six foot and six foot six… but they’re still under my roof. And with their insane high school schedules, and my teaching and freelance schedule, it’s been a loooong time since we’ve had such a long span of uninterrupted time together. With only a year and a half until my son graduates, I am going to take full advantage of this unique, if not unusual, opportunity.
Making the Most of Our Corona-cation
So it’s not exactly a stay-cation or a trip to Hawaii (nope, my daughter’s choir trip was canceled) but we will make the most of it anyway. Here’s a list of just few things we’ll do to keep our souls happy and our brains from flatlining more than getting stuck at a Costco canned food stampede. We will:
Come up with a schedule of chores
Listen to each other’s playlists on Spotify
Swap books (I will finally read my son’s book choice, Fahrenheit 451, my daughter will read The Help and my son will likely be forced by my daughter to cry over any one of her John Green novels.)
Netflix binge! I will drink tea with my daughter as she catches me up on Stephen Universe and explains in great detail the difference between gems, humans and how Steven himself is actually a combination of the two and why Pearl never shows signs of aging. (Spoiler alert: It’s a gem thing.) My son and I will trudge our way through a truly terrible, but hilarious, What’s New Scooby Doo series.
Paint the bathroom. My son has a collection of 214 rubber ducks, all different faces, from nurses to a quacking navity set. These rubber fowls have been sitting in a trunk at the edge of his bed for five years. Now’s the time to paint the stall walls bright blue and display them on rain gutters. Who doesn’t want to use the facilities while being stared out by an Abraham Lincoln duck? Plus it’ll make the experience more enjoyable when, ultimately, there is no toilet paper to finish the job.)
Jog around the block
Learn a new language on Duolingo
Clean out our bedrooms
Get back into a prayer routine
Play some video games (with a limit… they go off at 10pm and don’t go on until 10am. If no one is up before 10am then no computers.)
Check in on our family and friends that are hurting and do a little bit more cooking than we normally have time for. (That’s assuming there’s anything left on the store shelves to eat.)
Coronavirus has been the frosting on the bitch cake of 2020,but I refuse to let it ruin my appetite for what nurtures me most: my family.
When I remember that this damn virus didn’t happen to me, but it happened for me, to slow down and appreciate the blessings I have right here in my home, quarantine has never looked so good.
Here’s to flattening the curb with social distancing and also raising the line with our connection to the people that matter most.
As for my personal goals? I’m gonna finally get cracking again on that musical I’ve been putting off. Plus I’ll be writing here daily as a personal commitment to what makes me happiest: words, thoughts and hopefully a little engagement with you beautiful people.
We are in this together. See you tomorrow.
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. )