faith, God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

10 Things I Do Every Day That Make My Life Not Suck

Just when I thought I might have every last bit of energy sucked out of me subbing for Middle Schoolers, the dawning of a new and glorious day is rising for this tired writer. In three words, it is SUBBING. IN. HIGHSCHOOL.

These kids sit still. They don’t talk over me. They don’t take selfies of their butts (at least not in front of me) and they actually leave the floor looking like a floor instead of a paper airplane meets Tajin powder factory.

In having a quieter classroom, I’ve had time to feel something that I haven’t felt in over a few months. What is that strange feeling you might ask? Oh, it’s serenity! Quiet, calm dear Jesus I can breathe serenity.

In breathing in the glorious flow of the past few days, I had to admit that while things have been dicey the past few months, I have not been in the bowels of self-pity and despair that non-sober thinking Andrea might have been. Instead, I’ve dealt with what has happened. I’ve cried, I’ve had a few pissed off moments, but in general, I’ve not only handled my business but been of service to my fellow workers, friends and family in the process.

Here are the 10 items that have saved my booty. I hope they resonate with you, too! (So many quotes are by my favorite writer, Anne Lamott. Anne, if you’re reading this, feel free to come for tacos on Tuesday. We start promptly at 630)

  1. Prayer: Every morning for 5 minutes I pray. (On the days I forgot, my life wasn’t as calm.)

anne lamott prayer

2) Meditation: Every morning for 5 minute I sit still and listen. (They say prayer is talking to God and Meditation is listening. I add in coffee because in Andrea language it is also helpful to be awake!)

anne med

3) Reading for a Spiritual Boost: I read something spiritual every day. Sometimes it’s my Bible, sometimes a devotional, or sometimes something from a favorite writer like Anne Lamott. (Just reading these quotes from her reminds me that someone out there feels just like I do. That to me is God in action.)

fff

4) Reading for Fun 

Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, I try and read a book that is just for entertainment. I’m currently reading Fablehaven. It’s my son’s recommendation. I don’t love it. But I love that he’s 16 and wants me part of his world. It also keeps me out of the fables I tend to create in my own head if my brain is too unoccupied.

reding anne

5) Gratitude Lists: My husband and I send five things we are grateful for each day to a set of friends. I also do this with a friend from my If You Don’t Drink You Don’t Get Drunk Program Great Spiritual Practice. What started out feeling so awkward and cheesy has 100% changed my life. My brain automatically now goes to what is working instead of what isn’t. (Note: If I waited for life to get better to get grateful, I’d still be waiting. The great miracle of gratitude lists is that in doing so your life does get better, because your thinking improves. And perspective is, indeed, everything!)

quotes-gratitude-enough

6) Showing Up Early/Staying Late: I am almost always on time now for work. I don’t do it just to look good. I do it because I’m it keeps me from rushing. In not rushing, there’s more time for error. There’s more time for casual conversation with the school secretary or the student who wants to know, for the fourteen thousanth time, when his vocab quiz is going to be. Extra time means less stress which means there’s more room for God to operate in the magical space between the chaos.

7) Asking People About THEM: As much as I enjoy my favorite three subjects, Me Myself and I, I can’t tell you what joy I get from hearing other people’s stories. Not only is it fun to see people light up (or vent) but I’m selfish: It keeps me from thinking about me me me. It keeps me humble and, to say it again, in gratitude.

8) Journaling: This is something I just began again. It’s absolutely so calming. Just the act of printing on the page slows down my ADHD fast racing brain. I used to do it for the first 20 minutes in the morning per Julia Cameron’s Artist Way directive, but that time is now left to God. Instead, I plug it in during a slow class or on a break.

9) Laughter: When I remember that I’m not so important, but God is, I can let go and just laugh. This often means reminding myself before I pick up my kids to not have to win every single argument. It means turning on Grace and Frankie instead of cleaning the bathroom. And when people don’t behave, which they often do not, I just pretend I’m living in a Neil Simon play and watch the wacky stories of my life unfold around me.

10) Writing: Every day I try to write. It gives me a sense of purpose and connection. My blog isn’t as fancy as I’d like it. I don’t podcast or market as much as I’d like. But instead of focusing on what isn’t working, I focus on what is. I cut myself a break.

There’s so much more I could add, but doing these 10 things allows me to build the framework for these other items. Without them, I couldn’t battle my perfectionism. I couldn’t exercise or have the stamina to clean the house or set expectations for my kids. These 10 things were not natural things for me. I incorporated them slowly.

And don’t get me wrong – they were incredibly inconvenient. But so are newborns and puppies.  You don’t get the cuteness and lifelong companions if you’re not willing to be selfless and clean up the poo – even at 2am. My serenity is always in direct proportion to how willing I am to be inconvenienced.

Leave a Comment!

What about you? What are some things you do every day that keep you sane? (Or what are you willing to start doing?)

Until next time,

Happily Ticked Off Tip #45:  Your serenity level will always be in direct proportion to how willing you are to be inconvenienced.

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

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Uncategorized

A Place of My Own

As I sit here typing, my daughter sits quietly behind me. She’s painting in her art center. By “art center” I mean “re-purposed 1980’s ply board shelf unit” covered in discount white paint. Her legs are crossed. Her eyes are focused. And she hasn’t moved in one hour. I’d poke her to be sure she wasn’t a statue, but in case she fidgets, I don’t want cobalt blue on my favorite thrift store cardigan.

sophia 2

Me? I’m the opposite of disciplined and steady. I bolt up up to take a picture. I plop down to write a blog post. I get up to get a cup of coffee. I sit down to check an email. Oh, what was that meme on Facebook? I’ll look at that really quick. And ha! That vimeo is hilarious. That cat sure knows how meow Jingle Bells like a pro. Oh, and for the record, my elf name is Perky McJiggles. Score!

By the time I’m done, I’ve got nothing accomplished but a spinning brain. My daughter, on the other hand, has a beautifully painted rainbow-colored dog which will soon house shiny new crayons. With my little Hermione Granger, this translates to magic. Precise, practical, whimsical but contained magic. With her mother, there is magic also, but things often explode.

When the kids were younger, I’d pass of my messed up experiments as “creativity!” and “mad cap hilarity!” I’d hail the virtues of being flexible and turning lemons into lemonade! But the truth is, I wasn’t (and continue to not always be) prepared for events and every day occurrences in my domicile.

Last year, I almost missed my daughter’s choir performance because I assumed the start time was the same as rehearsals, despite mounds of paperwork saying the contrary. Where was the paperwork? In the piles of everything else on my desk. I had meant to file it, but somehow, that resolution never took off from its first inception.

In 1992.

This has all started to change since my job ended in October. I’m getting more organized. I have to be. Not only is my family worth it, but so am I. Where do I want to work next? What do I really want to write? WHO THE HECK AM I? The verdict is still out, but I can promise one thing: As long as I’m reacting to life, rather than producing it, I’m only going to get half measured results. I need to be intentional.

Living on purpose is kind of like living life sober. It’s got a lot of potential. You know things are going to be really exciting. (Not as exciting as making anatomically correct gingerbread men with your bff-  half a bottle of Two Buck Chuck in – but exciting none the less.) In the meantime, however, it’s kind of painful. I mean, ouuuch. Life is so… real. And complicated. And this time of year, it’s so MERRY! And BRIGHT! For Godsake, the emotional and literal piles seem so overwhelming. Can’t we just shut the curtains?

In many ways, when the kids were younger, things felt more peaceful. Less was expected of me. I could enjoy the last minute walks to the gas station for Diet Coke. If I wanted coffee instead, but I didn’t have milk, I’d borrow some from a neighbor. If a friend popped by, we could hop in the car and grab coffee at the local Starbucks. A few hours could pass as we shared our hopes, dreams and struggles with everything from parenting to views on faith. Heck, sometimes we would even end our night with a glass of wine. Or three. So what if it was Tuesday! We were spontaneous! And Lord knows it was more fun than filing that stack of papers.

Things are not like that anymore. I no longer imbibe in the evenings. It’s my own spirit I infuse, and wow, what great books I’ve been enjoying!

Healing is a Choice, Steve Arterburn

After the Sucker Punch, Lorraine Devon Wilke

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

On the list

Carry On Warrior Glennon Doyle Melton

Cold Tangerines Shauna Niequist

Interrupted Jen Hatmaker

Traveling Mercies Anne Lamott

While I’m on a faith and memoir kick now, I can just as easily slip into a romance or adventure series. A good book is a reminder that a world outside of my own self-centered thinking exists. I can travel to heaven, the slums of Africa or around the table of a tired mother and her preacher husband.

Words, read from a space of my own (in this case my trusted green couch) remind me that there is redemption in the dishes and the laundry. That there is a grace to our days, a rhythm to our sometimes ho-hum lives. A break in routine from the daunting to-do list and “please oh please hire me” job searches.

I used to read so I could be a better writer. But now I read to be a better Andrea. Because at the end of the day (or the beginning as is so often the case) there’s nothing I love more than putting down my books and embracing these two people.

kids tree

Until next time, I’d love to know if you have a space of your own to be inspired.

Me? What I’d really like is something like this.

cottage-garden-sheds-1

What I’ll have to settle for in the meantime is something secluded like this:

quiet space

Because this space is already taken.

sophia reading

Does anyone want to commit to designating a space for ourselves to be inspired in 2015?

Find me at Twitter @AndreaFrazer. I’d love to  hear from you!