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Learning to Be Content – 1 Grunt at a Time (Mine, Not My Kid’s)

 

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In my quest to adjust to life as a working mom, there’s a lot I haven’t done, including writing here.

Because I am lazier than the gajillion people who refused to get out and vote this election season hate to reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d share something I sent to a friend today. She was on my  mind because, being a good self-indulgent product of the eighties, I’m on my mind a lot. And since I somehow live more peacefully in my Starbuck’s infested/doing too much/oh crap/I forgot to apply to high schools for my kid and now he’s going to be stuck at our local feeder school brain when I think of others, I thought I’d share it with you in case you can relate. (A few words added and deleted for privacy.)

Hi friend – 

Just writing you a quick letter to let you know something my own sponsor said to me today. I call her every morning at 730. If it’s 731 she gets on my case. “You’re late.” It’s annoying and a bit non-graceful. She’s of a different faith than me, a lawyer and pretty much the opposite of overthinking/soft hearted/no boundaries me. But she’s been amazing. She’s like those rubber walls in a pinball machine for me. My emotions get wound back and released high into the game. The ball then falls against those walls and plink! plink! plinks! all over the place. It wants to go straight to the top (that’s where I think the good life is) but it hits those walls. Those walls scream at me, “No. You’re staying right here. Get still. Stop running.” So I do. 
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Today I told her, all in fifteen minutes, how I had all these fears. Fears that I would never land on that TV show or hit the big time to have money to send my kids to private schools and have all these CRAZY FUN experiences if I keep doing what I’m doing as a special needs aide. I need time at night to write again and figure out a way to finish that pilot that’s going to make me that money. (And my book. Whatever happened to that?)
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But then I told her (and this is the truth) that I have never been happier at a job then I am right now. I make a small bit/hour and barely have cash after I buy food for the family and pay some bills, to do anything. And yet, I have people in a community that adore me. That I love right back. That bring me hard boiled eggs from their chicken coop and walk coffee to me on a break. People that have Thanksgiving and Halloween feasts…
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…that have burrito bars for our Hispanic community… arts and crafts and Willy Wonka productions and ridiculous school dances where I get to walk around with eighth graders trailing behind me like baby ducks while Gen Ed kids scream out at me, “Mrs. Frizzle! Mrs. Frizzle! Nice Marilyn Monroe skirt!” (Intentionally refusing to call me Mrs. Frazer based on my… ahem… style of dress.)
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I push wheel chairs and wipe drool and dance with Down Syndrome kids. I am plugged in to love on a daily basis. 
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With that,my life saving sponsor reminded me to remember where I am today. To “Make space between the notes” to be present. She reminded me that sometimes what we think we want is not worth it if where we are we cannot be content.
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As I write this I am still so unsure of my path. Without sounding like a narcissist, writing is where I find so much joy. My blog and my book are my soul. I refuse to lose it. But I’m also thinking that maybe TV isn’t for me. The pushing and shoving for money to validate my ego somehow doesn’t feel as rich as the team work and caring that validates others. I want to live up to my true potential, but what if what “I” thought was supposed to be is not what “God” intended. Is this spiritual enlightenment or just crack talk for the words ‘LOSER at a bigger life.’
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 I’m not sure. But I do know this: There is a peace in doing what I am doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Whether that’s painting a snowman with Ethan, my Asperger buddy who can barely read let alone hold a brush, or cooking dinner or having a beautiful Advent for my kids. There is joy in being of service right where I’m at and not flogging myself for being bigger in the world or my bank account. 
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In thinking of my purpose, I must always revisit God’s purpose. In all I do, I must remember the question, “What is my motive?”
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  To quote Paul, 
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“I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.
Hang in.
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Love, Andrea
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If any of you are reading and are not a God person, I still believe God has a purpose for you. If you’re of another faith – or perhaps Christian and think your life should have turned out better because you go to church and help the poor and only buy sheep from catalogs as Christmas gifts for people to sponsor underprivileged villages in South America and have foster kids named Jorge and Wanita Azul – let me remind you that the most Christian of them all hung out with the poor, the wackadoos and died a brutal death. We have to let that fantasy of “I deserve it” go. Life sometimes sucks. Period.
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Tonight, with four tween boys stinking up my house, a pot of rice in the cooker, lights twinkling on my staircase and a husband peacefully watching a show I’d rather die than view, I’m content that it doesn’t suck today.
I hope you are, too.
Here’s to more time here connecting. As always, I’ve missed you.

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.

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

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I’ll Take a Venti Life with 3 Pumps of Sweetness and a Side of Career. Oh, And I Have a Coupon

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So the award for the longest title goes to me.

Also the award for the biggest tantrum on the planet. It has been going on for two days two years. And now it’s ending. What I really needed to do two years ago was give myself a spanking to snap out of it, but I don’t believe in corporal punishment, so instead I whined and complained and basically made myself and many around me miserable.

And then last week I threw water at my argumentative teenager which was my wake up call to give myself a time out on my nuttiness. And here’s what I learned.

Right now I’m exactly where I need to be.

I’m not God so I can stop pretending to run the universe. He has a plan for my kids, my hubby, my job, my entitled sausage of a dog… all of us.

I’m working at Starbucks.

I can stop feeling bad about it. It’s not because I suck at writing or because I couldn’t get something better. It’s because it’s an honest living. I get to stretch that side of me that hates discipline, order and routine and become good at it. Why? Because how can I expect my kids to do the same if I haven’t learned that lesson?

In taking a little time to myself the other day (a long time coming, I might add) it really sank in that my current job situation is tough for a creative like me. But it’s not impossible. And it’s not necessarily a punishment or a burden. It’s quite the opposite.

Getting paid pennies to show up on time, flex new sides of my brain and show professionalism when I want to scream are valuable life skills that I need to be ready when the bigger stuff hits. It’s allowing me to become a warrior in my own life. This is not a crap job. It’s a magic tool belt to refine my spirit. It’s a petri dish for my character defects and because of it I get to grow.

Life is not a Starbucks drink. I don’t get to stand in line with a kushy gift card and order a Venti Existence with Three Pumps of Joy and a Side of Career. (With a gift card no less!) I get to earn it fair and square so I’m ready when the big stuff comes along.

And here’s the real kicker: What if the big stuff is not out there? What if this is the big stuff… this very minute? This very “smells like Pike standing on my feet working it all out in a green apron” minute? Is that good enough?

The very plain answer is yes. Because right here… right now… is where my kids get to be 12 and 13. Where I get to work on my relationship with my spouse. Where I get to serve others and love on my nasty customers and try to make someone else’s world better each and every day.

And in doing so I get the greatest riches of all.

Peace.

Just a few thoughts for today.

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.

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

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Got Hope? Live Outside the Box! (The Hope Box, That Is)

 

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I woke up yesterday to more clothes in my living room than Trump has haters. The reason? My kids had the duty on Sunday of moving every stitch of them from my closet upstairs to the couch to make room for my daughter to move her clothes into her soon to be “new” bedroom. This would not be a problem except I was now faced with the task of putting 1000 pieces of crap into a vintage armoire that holds – at best – 100 pieces.

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I could, of course, do what most normal people would do and get rid of some items. But that would be a tragedy. First, there was my mother’s size 11 gold wedding shoes from 1969. They will never fit me, but I take such great joy knowing that she once wore these sparkly clod hoppers with a bright pink wedding dress. Oh, that dress? I have that, too.

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And then there’s my nana’s size 2 navy pumps. I’ll never fit in those either, but they make me smile. How did such a tall granddaughter come through her genetic line?

Add in the wool overcoats lined in bright plumages of pink and purple Victorian roses… the silk panda scarf… the “I Love My Crazy Friends” tee shirt…the XL puff skirt to wear under a dress I don’t have and the mis-matched China tea cups picked up from a thrift store for $1.99 each.

Yup, that’s a whole lot of “crap”. And yet, that crap fertilizes my heart and keeps it blooming. Running my fingers through the fabric reminds me that it’s okay to slow down just a bit and just enjoy.

When I was 11, I’d spend hours sitting on the floor of my bedroom,  sifting through my hope chest. In it I’d place all the trinkets I hoped to use in my future life of awesome sauce: handkerchiefs, tea sets, lavish picture frames or art books.

While I’m not 11 anymore, there’s still a girl inside the grownup who longs for the stillness of dreaming. And so, rather than just shove all of my items in an over sized bag and donate it to the local Good Will in impulsive “THIS HAS TO GO NOW” fashion, I took one section at a time. Hats in one bag and belts in another. Those would go at the bottom of the closet until hooks were purchased.

Winter stuff went in the garage. That would go in the attic until I could afford adequate outdoor storage to access it more easily.

Mom’s wedding dress, grandma’s sweater and all the shoes – they would be placed in a box in the attic until shelves were made in my new room to store them.

Underwear and bras – side table of the bed.

Tee shirts, pjs and pants – TV room! Cause where else but a 3-drawer plastic Target bin would my every day clothes go? I would not stress. I would find a better spot another day.

Everything else went in the armoire or in a bag to donate.

The result of this process was nothing other than good old fashioned intention – that intention being that while I want to honor my needs at this time, I’m passing the baton to another 11 year old who has hopes and dreams. (Out with my salmon, in with her pink!)

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This 11 year old loves music and singing and art. She loves tea cups and lace and books.

She dreams of a corner nook to sketch with her stuffed animals and a roll top desk to correspond with her Aunt MaryAnne (whose name she still writes as “Anut MaryAnne… who am I to argue?). No one understands dreams and goals this better than I, and so accommodations will be made. Yes, there will even be space for a bright pink carousel horse named “Pink DiMayo” because who doesn’t need such an animal in their Victorian Palace?

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I might not have a hope chest anymore, but when I look at my daughter’s face, I have more joy than can ever be housed in a cedar box.

And that, my friends, makes living in my new tiny box of a bedroom worth every single bit of lost space.

One more

(my little Pip, performing as Wendy in Peter Pan a few weeks back. She was radiant if I do say so myself!)

What about you?

What do you dream of? What makes your heart sing?

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.

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

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I Could Be Ticked Off, But I’m Too Bleepin’ Excited

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Greetings from Happily Ticked Off. Remember me? That once faithful blogger who helped you navigate through the highs and lows of tics? The person who gave you all sorts of encouragement when you felt worse than a nit in your kid’s hair after a session with the lice lady?

Side note: Do any of you non-L.A./New York readers have this service? A real, live nit-picker who will comb baby lice out of your kid’s hair one painstaking strand at a time? Yes, even with much of our world in dire poverty, I say without apologies that I blew $400 bucks a few years back to deal with what I can only refer to as the Lice Infestation of 2010. It’s chronicled in this article, “Of Lice and Men.”

SUMMER

Did you all have a good summer? I, personally, did not. Mine consisted of this:

* Commute 1 and a half hours each way for a writing gig that kept promising insurance but didn’t give it

* Schedule kids for play dates and camp dates around my husband’s work schedule – that schedule being his very own I.T. company start up which, of course, does not pay insurance, but we have a dream, people! Dental, schemntal, insurance. Who needs teeth! I’ll start on my smoothie regime, lose weight, save money on the gym, and buy health insurance!

* Ebay on the side to make $29/month to put toward elusive insurance, only to inevitably spend it by the end of the month because I can’t take cooking, cleaning and kid wrangling ONE.MORE.SECOND. so I give my hard earned income to El Pollo Loco, Taco Bell or some other fast food joint that is not full of gluten but inevitably causes me to worry that I’m going to make my kids die an early death from their GMO-laden, toxic, hormone pumped chicken/cows, not to mention increase tics because, you know, I’m going to cure this whole syndrome with food alone.

* Have a few people close to me be less close to me because I’ve been so busy working my patience resembles a burned out elecrical chord on a dried out Christmas tree and, well, apparently I’m not as much fun to be around when I’m on four hours of sleep, six cups of coffee, and enough Oreo cookies to make Santa vomit. 

After 8 weeks of this insanity routine, my kids started school.

Normally I cry.

This year, it was all I could do to numbly kiss them goodbye at the classroom door. On one hand, it saved me the agony of worrying about my sixth (yes, SIXTH) grade boy’s tics increasing. I was too tired to freak out. “He’s a strong kid,” I told myself, and I meant it. “If he’s fine, then stop.” Work, with all it’s zillion tasks and responsibilities, simply didn’t allow for excess rumination. It was fall down and die of fear, or keep moving. I chose the latter.

On the other hand, numbness and stone cold resolve was a real sign for me that in running such a rapid pace I was not only outrunning grief, I was outrunning joy.

When was the last time I sat with my kids and read a book?

When was the last time I had coffee with my mom at the mall?

When was the last time I sat in my room, organized my photos, and just laughed at some of my family and friends’ ridiculous hair-do’s, not to mention my own?

While I can’t say I didn’t do any of those things mentioned above, I wasn’t as present as I’d like to be.

But today, after almost 10 months of marathon training, I was given my walking papers at work. (Well, not 100% true. My job was reduced to 75% of its original description. Which means 75% less pay.)

Fear? Anxiety? A wee bit. But truthfully, not that much. I truly feel God has a plan for me. Despite a whole lot of uncertainty ahead, joy and hope is bubbling up to the surface.

I’ll get to be present.

Present on my site.

Present in my home.

Present in my community.

And people, that is SUCH a gift.

I’ve missed you.

Andrea

(Pic of Stink, Pip and Miss L, starting 6th and 5th)

Wait, there’s more!

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

Find me on FB here. 

Follow me on Twitter 

Consequences and T.S. – The Big Pay Off

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When I was in the middle of my big “do I or do I not follow through with this UCLA study/medication” I spoke to one of the doctors. She once again told me the pro’s and cons of Intuiv. The pros: It’s been on the market for 20 years. It’s got very few side affects. The cons: It can make a child really sleepy and sometimes faint due to its blood pressure lowering attributes.

I was still so iffy. It seemed weird to push my kid toward medication when Stink was content with himself. “He’s happy. He loves his tics!” I said to Dr. J..

Her response was a bit startling to me. “Yes, you’ve said that and so has he. It seems kind of odd, though… this whole liking his tics thing. What’s the meaning behind that do you think?”

I had to pause. What was she implying? That somehow Stink was living in Delusion Land? That perhaps I, as a mother, had been feeding my kid the Kool Aid all these years? (Note: This Kool Aide would of course be organic and dye free.)

Dr. J is really great, so I’m not annoyed at her, so much as surprised by the reasoning. Isn’t it possible that a child could like themselves, despite a few tics and twitches?

Is it possible… not to pat myself on the back (but it beats the alternative of flogging myself with fear so go with me)… that Stink was brought up to believe that he, as a person… as a soul… is valid, despite a few “flaws” in the form of tremors and twitches?

And is it at all plausible that this self-confidence is not a side-effect of “potential” Aspergers – the syndrome where people are considered non-self aware and self-focused to an extreme – but the ease in his own skin has to do with the fact that… here’s the zinger, folk…. he actually likes himself.

This leads me, once again, to my feelings about God. (Sorry to you non-faith based folk.) As you know, I’m on a Christian path. It’s one where I have my doubts right along with my blind acceptance of improbablilty faith. But the crux of the matter is this: If some dude really came to life as God in human form, was nailed to a cross, then rose from the dead to have new life, isn’t it possible that my own very human son, through the grace of God, could rise above his own wonky circumstances and love his life?

From my impartial perspective (ha ha… like I could ever be impartial about this little Stinker) my son’s love for his differences come from a combo of 3 main things:

* Personality

* Home life

* Faith

Like the trinity I look towards as strength and support for my joys and sufferings, how can I not look to the trinity of those three attributes and give all of them a little bit of credit toward his contentment?

Never to be underestimated or overlooked, so much of who Stink is comes from his sister. She is his greatest fan and advocate. As the sibling of a “special needs” brother, I am acutely aware that she needs the same sort of honor and time as I give him.

The other day, I said to her, “Pip, you know, there are groups for sisters of kids like Stink. I could totally sign you up if you’d like.” Her eyes got wide and she squealed, “You mean, a group for sisters who have brothers as awesome and funny as Stink?!”

I laughed out loud. What do I owe such an amazing daughter to? Perhaps more of the 3 above. I’m beyond grateful.

In closing, going along with my gut (or as my faith calls it, The Holy Spirit) I really felt compelled to follow-up on this drug study, despite Stink’s protests. “I won’t do it!” he stated in the bathtub one night. “I will spit out those pills! I will pretend like I’m swallowing them and stuff them down the toilet!”

“UCLA is going to give us $25/week for eight weeks for participating in the study. I’ll give it to you to save toward Disneyland tickets,” I offered, figuring he’d turn me down anyway.

“Sounds good to me!” he conceded.

I’ve now got a son fifty bucks richer, two times more hyper likely due to a sugar pill and one happy sibling who will be tagging along with him to the Happiest Place on Earth.

This Jesus of mine clearly has a good sense of humor.

* Photo taken last week before the kids’ music show. That’s my Pip on the left. Miss L is on the right. Stink is, of course, front and center. It’s shocking he’d pick out clothes that would make him stand out so much, huh?

Gluten Free Living/Vitamins/More Revelations!

A new reader asked me to point her toward some of my more concise posts on diet and T.S.. (Me? Concise? Is that possible?)

It got me thinking that I should really add a tab on diet/nutrition to this site. Until, then, though, I’ll leave her and you with a link from my old website.

Gluten Free/Caesin Free Living and Tourettes

http://www.lifehappins.com/2/post/2011/09/10-ways-to-go-gluten-free.html

This is a great book on T.S, diet, etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Treatments-Tics-Tourettes-Patient/dp/1556437471/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331674008&sr=8-1

Here’s info on how to test for food allergies

http://www.lifehappins.com/2/post/2008/11/the-abcs-of-igg-testingfood-allergies-and-tics.html

My Revelation

Stink’s Tarzan is still with us. I’m trying really hard to love it. Perhaps instead of viewing it as the squatter that constantly interrupts my son’s speech, I will view it instead as a quirky visitor who adds spice to our days. If only Tarzan would cook and clean toilets I might consider permanent adoption.

While I will never stop looking for ways to eliminate this sucker (stricter diet? more acupuncture? less Wii? better vitamins? drug options?) I had a super big epiphany today about me.

I was sitting in Bible Study, and we were asked to talk about a time when we simply could not forgive someone – no matter how much we were called to do it for our faith.

“Who would like to share?” our 82 year old kick-butt leader asked us. (I seriously want to be Rosemary one day. She hikes, wears Ugg boots, and is a nurse working as a lactation consultant. She had a shower at her home last weekend for one of our knocked up sisters in Christ. She called it “Better Than Sex” cake. Moving on.)

No one wanted to share their stories of un-forgiveness and anger. I don’t believe it’s because they were all so pious. It’s hard to talk about the ugly side of ourselves. Lucky for my leader, I have no shame.

“I have someone I can’t forgive,” I said. “Tarzan!”

I explained how, no matter how much I tried, I simply could not accept that annoying sound. I admitted that I’ve come a long way from getting totally nutty about it, but it still bothers me. I want it to swing on outta there.

“I am not 100% defeated, but I’m not 100% at peace when my son tics. I want to love Tarzan as he is part of my child. But I don’t. I hate him. (pause) With all my heart. (Pause) I don’t forgive him. (Pause) But I want to.”

People nodded and said they would pray for me – which is totally awesome. I do believe it’s God’s grace that is strong when I am weak.

Then a beautiful Barbie of a woman – call her Jodie – chimed in. In a venue where she could have left me with happy platitudes, she cut right to the core: “I don’t think you’ve accepted the tics because it’s not really about the tics. It’s really about you. When you are able to accept everything about you and love yourself the way Jesus 100% loves you, the tics will lose their power.”

Well, there’s that.