education, faith, God, parenting, teenagers, writing

Grades, Schmades, and the Art of Privacy with Teenagers

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Okay, so I didn’t post my chapter for Writing Wednesday so stay tuned this Wednesday instead! Sigh.

My sweet friend, Amelia, always reminds me, “Andrea, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself.” And I agree. But I always get disappointed when I don’t keep my word here. I figure If I can’t keep my word to myself, life will keep it’s word to me in the form of doing what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life which, currently, is taking the recurrent theme of not knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s a fun internal loop that has been going on for the past 5 years. And as joyous as circling the “What Now?” drain is, I also think sticking to a schedule is not such a bad idea.

And no coffee after 3PM.

And not eating an entire bag of Skinny Pop every day and wondering why I gained ten pounds.

Lucky for me, summer is here and I have gotten back into my daily hikes. While I am not a fan of getting off my butt and doing something that does not involved writing, reading or drinking copious amounts of caffeine, there is such a joy and beauty in meeting up with my two teacher friends and smelling the hills. Plus, along with calorie counting, I’ve lost about five pounds, so that’s something to celebrate!

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Walking in these hills reminds me a lot of my parenting journey as of late. I need to prepare and stretch because there’s plenty of uphill climbs. But if I spend all my time complaining, fretting about the tough stuff and just sticking to the trails I know (such as “I’m Always Right Mountain” and “This Way or You Are a Failure Pass”) I’ll miss the beauty that is all around me… the quiet times in the car on the way to each of their summer classes where I hear about everything from Mean Girl Animatics (Pip’s choice) to Stink’s Youtube fan base (a gaggle of 10 year olds) who are writing him for an update to his Scratch based video game, “Dawn’s Journey.” Plus there’s been so many more words between us that have dramatically altered my way of interacting with them.

I originally wrote a post detailing specifically what such a conversation recently looked like, but I deleted it. It’s not that I wrote something so terrible, but I felt compelled to erase it based on previous requests from my kids that I don’t share their personal details on my site. That’s so hard for this mama – especially as an ex Babycenter blogger who made my living for years exploiting and making fun of my kids sharing the joys of parenting. But in the end, I must honor their decision to keep their private lives private. More to the point, I respect it. No people pleasers in this house! (Well, except for ME, but I’m working on that. Better stated, God is working on that for me. I just need to surrender every single day. And on days when that’s too difficult, I surrender by the hour, by the minute and by the second. Because as long as I think I’m in charge, life is going to suck. It just is.)

And so, please accept this alternate ending in the form of a quote that I sent to one of my teens after they made a decision to back out of a commitment that was not right for them.

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As I continue to walk the paths of my own journey, may I remember the same. And may you remember also!

Here’s to all of us remembering that we are not what we do, but who we are, that matters most.

Here’s to more questions, less criticizing.

Here’s to more faith and less fear.

And here’s to enjoying the beauty that exists all around us, uphill climbs and all.

Talk to you Sunday!

Leave a Comment! I Love to Hear From You All! (Even you, Mom. And Tuskany. Ahem. And thank you, Irish Mama, for your kindness always! I love you!)

Andrea

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. )

(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.

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education, parenting, reading, spirituality, taco tuesday, teenagers, Uncategorized

Taco Tuesday #1: The Book: Middle School Matters (Author Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC Talks Writing, Middle School and… Sigh… “Balancing It All”)

Taco Tuesday 1 Phyllis Fagell

Every morning at 5:45 I meditate and pray for 15 minutes with  my husband. We levitate above our bodies and let the world’s sorrows and money woes slip into the ethers all before our Venti triple shot Starbucks hold the sugar Americano . We do a quick spiritual reading and then share about our day. It is an anchoring process that helps us each put what matters most at the beginning of our busy schedules. Being intentional with our priorities is grounding, illuminating, sometimes challenging (when I am hit with revelations about myself I would rather avoid) but always connective.

A theme I find myself circling round a lot is this idea of being present for my teenagers and family while making daily time for my writing pursuits. (Oh yeah, and the work thing! I gotta make a living – enter substitute teaching and freelance articles.) It’s not Rex’s job to fulfill me. It’s mine – not 99% of the time. 100% of the time. This ownership of personal responsibility has led me into a personal strength I didn’t know I had, but at the end of the day, sometimes my purpose still eludes me.

I write this all to say that I know I’m not alone. And while I know that who I am is what is most valuable, I often feel this pull to get more done. Regardless of my insecurities growth challenges, would I want to pass this striving onto my teens who are already in enough angst about surviving school? No. My goal has always been to help them focus on being kind, good and engaged people who are so very worthy. So far so good, minus a few 2 day couch protests over the horror of doing dishes and the Lock-Thyself-in-Thy-Bathroom-for-Holiday-Plans-Not-Working out Incident of 2016.  (Okay, I’m talking about me, not them.)

Yup, it’s often a struggle for me to stay present. Perhaps if a book like Middle School Matters, by Phyliss L. Fagell, LCPC, was around when I was growing up, more educators would have focused on teens being human beings, not human doers. I might have found my artistic passion earlier instead of my penchant toward people pleasing/perfection and having to take every single stray planting pot found on the side of the room home. And while I can’t place blame on anyone else for my own personal wiring, I can every day strive to lay down perfection and encourage both my kids, and myself, to be who they are meant to be, not who they think they are supposed to be.

In this first Taco Tuesday interview of many to come I’m thrilled to give you an interview with someone who wrote a book explaining just how focusing on what matters is possible.

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Taco Tuesday with Phyliss L Fagell, LPCP

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Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m originally from Newton, Massachusetts and now live in Bethesda, Maryland. 

What do you do for a living?

I’m the counselor at a K-8 school in Washington, DC; a psychotherapist who sees tweens and teens in private practice; and a journalist. I frequently contribute to publications including The Washington Post and Your Teen magazine. I’m also a regular columnist for Kappan and The Association for Middle Level Education magazines.

How has that influenced your decision to write a book?

I started my career as a health and science writer and magazine editor. I went back to school for school counseling after the birth of my second child (I have three kids–two teens and a tween). I took a fourteen-year break from writing, then found myself writing for The Washington Post about counseling issues. My kids were a little older at that point, I had the bandwidth to take on writing assignments, and stuff was getting me fired up–things such as gender stereotypes, myths about middle schoolers, breakdowns in parent-teen communication, unhealthy perfectionism and achievement pressure, and stigma around mental health issues. The book is a natural extension of my freelance work and a way of compiling all my thoughts on middle school in one place.

Have you always wanted to write?

I wrote my first article for The Boston Globe when I was 14, about the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (!), but I wrote my first creative “book” in second grade. I stumbled upon it the last time I was in my childhood bedroom, and it’s a very clear rip-off of The Velveteen Rabbit.Plagiarism notwithstanding, I remember how much I loved writing, illustrating and binding that book. I was seven at the time, and it’s probably when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. I was an English literature and creative writing major in college, then got my master’s in journalism, so if anything, it’s surprising to me that I switched to counseling and stopped writing for so long. It’s all come together nicely in a way I never anticipated.

What is your marketing strategy and how important is this for writers who are publishing their first books?

I’m learning as I go, especially as a first-time author. Many writers, myself included, are more comfortable with the writing part than the publicity part. I’ve had to remind myself repeatedly that this is about sharing ideas, not about having a big ego. I think women in particular are uncomfortable with self-promotion and have a tough time taking ownership of their work. I’ve been lucky in that a lot of other writers– both men and women– have been incredibly supportive and have given me great advice. But mostly I leave the strategizing to the publicists. I know my strengths, and that isn’t one of them!

What was the most difficult part about writing your book?

I struggled the most with work-life balance. I work full time and then some, and as I mentioned, I have three kids. I had to let a lot of stuff go in order to meet my book deadline. After I finished the first draft, I realized I hadn’t opened any mail in months. I also picked up a LOT of Chipotle along the way. My kids probably never want to see another burrito. Fortunately, my husband appreciated what I was trying to accomplish and really kept all the balls in the air. I’m glad I didn’t know what I was getting into before I started, as I might have had second thoughts!

What was the most fun about writing your book?

I loved, loved, loved talking to experts across the world in industries ranging from technology to maker learning to education to psychology and medicine. There’s nothing like talking to people who are most enthusiastic and knowledgeable about whatever subject you’re covering, whether it’s learning or resiliency or teaching tweens about sexuality. I enjoyed nerding out and learning from the best, most passionate people. Writing can be lonely, but pulling this book together was not a solitary pursuit. I made real connections with individuals who share my obsession with everything middle school-related.

How did you go from “ticked off” to “happily” ticked off? (Basically, how did you use any of your challenges to motivate you to move ahead?)

That’s a great question — one that no one has asked me before! I definitely was agitated prior to writing this book. I wanted to write something preventative, something that would get all of us — kids and adults alike — back on track and focused on the right priorities. College isn’t the end goal, and achievement shouldn’t trump kindness. I also wanted to provide both educators and parents with some concrete, evidence-based strategies. Basically, I saw a giant unmet need and felt we were missing out on this prime opportunity to raise good people. Middle school is probably the most neglected and most critical developmental phase. I’m hopeful that the tide is shifting. As for the “happily ticked off” part of your question, writing this book has been an empowering experience. There’s nothing like amassing and sharing a book’s worth of tips with readers.

Give a shout out to a few bloggers or writers who have influenced you the most.

This could be a long list! Jess Lahey, Michelle Borba, Rachel Simmons, Andrew Reiner, Ken Ginsburg, Katie Hurley, Amy Morin, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Brene Brown, Claire Shipman, Josh Starr, Richard Weissbourd, Amy Joyce, Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Mary Alvord, and Amy Cuddy, to name a few!

What do you want people to know most about your book? 

I’m proud that Middle School Matters just got a starred review from Booklist! To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m more thrilled or relieved. It’s the first official review, and being a first-time author is nerve-wracking. The book is really a guide to everything that could happen during the phase, and also a road map for raising a decent, self-aware, accepting, confident, inclusive, capable, resourceful, and ethical human being. It’s a mix of stories, articles from the news, conversation starters, concrete tips, my own perspective, advice from experts and current research. It’s available for pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/Middle-School-Matters-Beyond-Parents/dp/0738235083. I also have a professional website where you can find my articles:www.phyllisfagell.com. I tweet frequently about related issues at @pfagell as well.

Questions for Phyllis?

Leave a comment if you any questions and consider purchasing her book if you’ve got kids or grandkids entering this period. I know I could have used all the help I could get.

Until next time, let’s all try to remember that relationship is so much more important than being right.

And always eat tacos.

They really do make ya feel better.

Andrea

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

 

faith, reading, Uncategorized

How to Read 5 Books in 4 Weeks in Ten Minutes/Day (Hint: You Gotta Think SMART)

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Most of you know I’m a sub. And ya’ll might think subs are just in it for the glory and fame. The feeling we get when we are pounded 100 times in less than five minutes with questions like “Where’s our real teacher?” and “You don’t have a credential, do you?” and “We don’t have to sit where you want us to sit because you don’t know what you’re doing anyway.” It’s really fun.

All the perks aside, I didn’t get sober a while back to freeload off the education system. And so, while I far from teach them how to dissect War and Peace and form it into a Haiku, I do attempt to help them to think differently.

Because Yeah, I Care So I Do This

At the beginning of every class I give a short life lesson. It’s the one time of day I insist they put down their phones and don’t talk. (Note: It’s not that I think being on the phone during the movie we are watching is an amazing use of their time, but I’m realistic. I’m a long term sub the last month of their senior year. If they choose to “sneak” behind my back and text friends ideas for their ideal promposal rather than be illuminated by Adrian Broady’s incredible performance in The Pianist, it’s up to them.)

Similar to the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, another movie we are finishing up this week, I can either freak out about what I can’t control and spray the problem kids with Windex, or I can be like Ian Miller’s character: Chill, go with the flow, change what I can and ignore the rest. (Ah, Ian Miller…. Played by the handsome, rugged and oh so sexy John Corbett who I did not just announce here on the blog is actually in the running for world’s hunkiest man right up there with Rex. No, I did not. Oh, and I did I just use the word “hunky?” Yes, this 1970’s child certainly did. Along with my penchant for flared jeans and the word “groovy” I am not ashamed.)

Inspired by Kelly Corrigan’s father in The Middle Place, I enthusiastically tell each class what I tell myself when I wake up every day. Picture a big smile on my six foot frame, likely surrounded in polka dots, shouting: “This is going to be a GREAT day!” I remind them that I no longer wait for circumstances to dictate my mood. So now I’ll tell you that also. I mean, if I look hard enough (especially the last few months) I’ll find plenty to complain about. Sure, my ship might go off course a bit even under the best circumstances with my emotional rudder, but if I don’t set my sails right at the beginning of my daily voyage I won’t just veer off course, I’ll go to another destination all together. If you catch me on a day with little food or sleep, I might drown.

In relaying this to my kids yesterday, I realized that I should also model for them what new thought looks like. And what better way to do this than with a book? And right on the spot this idea was born: Read out loud 10 minutes before the film starts. And… since I have five classes…. I can read five books! That means by June I’ll have read stuff I might not have time to read after class.

As I mentioned a few days back, I’m already reading The Great Gatsby at home. And I have decided to read Tales of the City to Period 2 and The Alchemist to Period 3. That leaves 3 other books I could use suggestions on. Thoughts? (I have already read Tales of the City but that’s it. I’d love to read 4 that are new to me.)

Leave a Comment

Okay, I’m ready for book suggestions for 18 year olds! Go!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #51:  Reading 10 minutes 5 times/day can grant you 5 books in a month! It’s worth taking the 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. 

books

education, Uncategorized

Sub Gigs, Barricades and Peanut Butter (Don’t Judge.)

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Today my five day assignment was up at the glorious high school I was working at.

And then the secretary made murmurings about the school keeping me til June which, pfffshaw… I would not accept.

Because… You know… because I only need 3 more days to get my 100 days to qualify for insurance next year. Why bother? I’d stay home… finish my script. Help my grandma move into her new retirement home.

Nope, I was going to stick to my guns.

Unless I negotiated a few extra days off in between since I have my sick days piled up.

And the thought came to me that I want to go see Les Miserables with my kids and my pastor.

And, well, even with that kind of fun fact laid in front of me, I knew wouldn’t actually say yes to this madness.

Except I did.

And you know what? It felt right in the end.

So tonight I cleaned out my garage and ate enough matzah covered in peanut butter to kill a small farm animal and binge watched Grace and Frankie in half celebratory half “Oh my god really I’m doing this again FUCK” fear.

But overall, I’m happy.

Anything exciting going on for you in the next month? Leave a comment or I’ll have to post video of me making tacos singing “Do You Hear the People Sing???”

#LesMisBoundIDeserveIt

Happily Ticked Off Tip #46:  Sometimes what you think you’re going to say no to you say yes to and it all works out if there is extra carbs and money to go to the theater at the end of the day.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

education, meditation, self improvement, writing

I’m Glad To Be Here! (Oh, Wait… I’m Not!) okay fine i am…

Yesterday I was determined to have a fun fantastic fleepinglishious day of subbing. To ensure this I:

  • Slept for 8 hours
  • Prayed
  • Meditated
  • Walked
  • Ate a healthy breakfast
  • Took my vitamins

Most importantly, I took a deep breath.

I stood in front of 40 kids in Period 1 and declared what I promised I’d declare in front of every single class thereafter. “I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

And then the unruly mob rambunctious class moved seats, flipped on their phones, threw paper airplanes, ran around the classroom, chewed gum, threw taffy at each other and ditched. (Minus a few kids who snuck in from other classes just to socialize.)

Okay, so I couldn’t change the kids. Even the other teacher who was with me was no help. Lucky for me I could change myself! Yay! Luckily I could put this in practice right away as I had remembered to buy a gift card for the unknown stranger whose lunch I had eaten at 3PM on Friday. It was an honest mistake. A friend of mine had bought one for me and I gratefully munched it down.

Except the unknown stranger turned out to be a very well known uppity up at the school I was subbing at. And such stranger did not take my gift card with grace. Instead it was returned with a note reminding me, in no uncertain terms, to never take things out the fridge that don’t belong to me. (Glad it was clarified because, you know, I totally ingest other people’s nutrition on purpose just to irritate them.)

The cherry on the top of this “I can’t do anything right EVER” pie was one of my children who took the opportunity to remind me of something they had been keeping in their hearts for 2 years. Something I did which apparently earned the title of “The Worst Day of Their Lives.”

I won’t lie. I went dark. Feelings I haven’t felt in a very very VERY long time pounded me.

“Screw all your mantras. Screw all your prayer. You’re a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. YOU FAILED!

My nightly walk with my husband did not consist of asking about him or admiring the flowers. It consisted of quiet rumination and feelings of shame that I am working a gig I’m just not cut out for. What could have been a reset opportunity for me became a Compare and Despair fight in my brain about what I could be doing… what other people are doing… while I’m living out Plan B. Oh, and all that crap about how I stayed home with my kids during the early years and helped mold them into good humans… the silver lining that subbing works with my kids schedule and I’m getting insurance for my family? FUCK THAT.

I finally had the good sense to call Tuskany who reminded me that Queen Elizabeth is 92 and still taking all her appointments. She impressed upon me that by age 50 only half her leadership role was over. “You still have time to rewrite your life, Andrea. So do I.”

Okay, that sounded pretty good.

Later that night my husband whispered in my ear, “Andrea, you’re not just a loser sub. You’re figuring a LOT out. You’re not where you want to be, but you’re not where you were before. You’re in the hallway.”

It’s words like that which encouraged me to get up and start today over. Guess what day it is, folks???I ook

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Hump Day is not only the holiest and most beautiful day of the week, but it’s a chance to take the same mantra I give to students and listen to the words myself:

“I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

Okay, if you insist.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #41:  When life feels overwhelming, remind yourself “I am glad to be here!” The lie: it all has the be perfect to be okay. The truth: we’re all in the hallway and figuring it out as we go. That’s okay.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

 

education, writing

Keep Going! Keep Growing!

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I started this year in a fog

Kids and working but I had no blog

But here’s something exciting

I got busy with writing

And was no longer a bump on a log

 

But then a close family folk died

And my river of words they done dried

Plus with my full time subbing

My brain… it stopped chugging

In a nutshell my body was fried

 

But then I decided this morning

I’m tired of posts I’m ignoring

Because if I don’t take time

To use gifts that are mine

My dreams will be dead on my flooring

 

So here’s to a post that’s worth reading

About plans that will get me succeeding

Just a few goals a day

With distractions at bay

And just like that: My dreams get their seeding!

(Pic given with permission by my kids. Stink is 16 and Pip is 14. I kind of adore them.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #40: Make a small, manageable goal and stick to it every day. If you don’t, you can only blame yourself if you’re not living your dreams. (Accck… nightmare! Don’t do it! Baby steps!)

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

education, parenting

Wednesday Is the Best Day! Because It’s…

Hump Daaaaay!

Yes, friends, Wednesday is officially the best day of the week. In honor of such a momentous occasion (and to keep from overthinking about sub gigs, finishing my pilot,  an upcoming memorial service and what oh what am I going to do about that set of poems piling up in my folder?) I donned my best camel themed shirt and went on a hike.

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It’s was an absolutely beautiful day in Los Angeles, and the hills of the Santa Monica were so green and lush. It didn’t hurt that I hiked with a gal who loves camels about as much as I do. I smiled when she handed me a camel bookmark for the occasion, and she grinned right back when I gave her a package of tea which I retrofitted with this photo.

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The type of tea? Camel-myle, of course.

Lest you judge me, do you think it’s possible to find anything more brilliant than a camel? No, it’s not. They have not one, but two sets of eyelashes. They can spit great distances AND can go long periods of time without having to stop and rest. Plus those smiles? Dazzling, joyful and unabashedly optimistic.

These traits pretty much sum up what it takes to be a writer, as well as traverse the many ups and downs of life, living in Los Angeles, and raising teens. These are just a few examples of why Hump Day is indeed worth protecting, honoring and giving the props it deserves.

Anyone else out there have an icon that keeps them laughing, motivated or just plain centered? I’d love to hear. (But I can’t lie. It’ll likely not trump the hump. But try me…)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #38: Similar to my love for Hump Day, find a day of the week that is worth honoring and have fun. It’s something to look forward to each week. Plus it makes for great conversation!

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

faith, self improvement, spirituality, writing

Rejection is Protection!

This post is dedicated to my friend, Gabriella. She helped me get out of a very dark place 25 years ago and now I’m helping her see the light, too. God is so good that way.

Hi all! Well, my big proclamation of “I’m going to write every single day no matter what” went to hell when my long term sub job ended a bit abruptly. Without getting into details, I was “invited” by the principal to have my last day be last Wednesday. It’s a complicated story that leaves me still very  much welcome at the school on an individual day to day basis, but long term gigs? Not so much. There was a clash with one student and it was better for all parties that I exit gracefully. And I did.

I’m so relieved in many ways. It was such a challenge to trek an hour each way (that includes my inevitable pit stops) and rush clear across town to get my kids from their school. The principal could not have been nicer about it and, well, I choose to see this as a learning lesson – which it was.

On the other hand, my ego took a major hit. Yeah, all those other posts about getting into gratitude and acceptance? I was a fucking liar. When this happened I was triggered on every level:

  • Hurt pride
  • Unworthiness
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Financial fear
  • Lack of faith in new work

Of course all that crap above is nothing but lies. I “know” that none of those things are true. But unlike my kids, I’m not as impervious to rejection. I take it personally. Old wounds that have not quite healed get brought to the surface and bam! Woman down! Woman down!

Thank God I’ve had enough program to feel bummed out but not do the inevitable spiral down into major depression, a case of Trader Joe’s fake oreos and a bucket of Two Buck Chuck. As I love to remind my children when they don’t get what they want, REJECTION IS PROTECTION! (Though technically this term is not true if condoms had factory errors. Then rejection really is not protection at all, but I digress. Oh, vulgarity? It’s the one character defect in my program I am not willing to give up. Just sayin’. I left evangelicalism and I like dirty jokes and the word ‘fuck’ too much. Don’t judge.)

Good News!

The good news is that I didn’t defend myself to the principal. I made an error, I admitted it, and all was well. I subbed at the school the following Friday.

Oh, Wait… There’s Bad News!

The bad news is that those shame gremlins run deep. They might only come out in the dark, but they are a pain the ass and their fur gets all over your previously cleaned house and scare the dog. It’s annoying.

Tomorrow is a new day. Just like today, I’m taking it to be by myself… less to ruminate and more to relax, sleep in, nurse a cold and go for a small hike. (Though of course I did indeed churn and churn today. I do Locked Brain so well! Even at UCSD I received an A+ in Persevaration, thank you very much!)

My new goal? Rest a bit more and think about what I want to do with my life. Is it really to take the “safe” route of teaching, only to find out that it’s not really that safe after all? I don’t know, but God does, and for tonight, with a cold dripping down my nose and the prospect of watching Voyager with my husband, that’s enough.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #37: Rejection is protection. Instead of seeing where you’re at fault, try getting into gratitude that God has something better. He always does.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

education

Molding Clay… You Never Know What You’ll Make

Today I moved a kid to a new table. It wasn’t without many warnings. It wasn’t with malice. It was simply because he could not manage being in the same spot with his friends. Nor could he manage to sketch and finish a super hero project without taking clay that didn’t belong to him and start rolling it across the desk.

Him remaining there, day after day, was akin to me before I was sober. Despite promises I would not drink four glasses of red wine and two buckets of chicken wings, all bets went out the window if I was super hungry and tired… after a long week with middle schoolers… and you sat me with my girlfriends in front of a bottle of wine. Or two. I went from solid and honorable mama to a lying liar who lies… to herself. Nope, like me on a Friday at happy hour, that kid needed to moved from that situation.

I had him write me a letter as to why he was moved. Not unlike my other student’s reaction, his letter surprised me.

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(That reads: “I can tell you hate me, but you don’t have to tell me. If you do hate me I’m fine with it and you don’t have to say that I’m ‘amazing’. I just wanted to play with clay.”)

It made me sad. “I can tell you hate me.” Really? I’m not really sure if this is a typical middle school reaction, or if this is the result of too much black and white social media influence. “You said the wrong thing… you’re out!” or “You gave me a compliment about my dress… you’re in!” That is until I make a mistake and compliment someone else’s dress and then it means I don’t like yours as much and “I’m out!”

I have no idea 100% what is going on half the time, but one thing I do know how to do… thanks to really messing up with my own kids and husband… is communicate better. I might not be able to pass down my hard earned knowledge to these kids, nor teach them how to make the perfect Origami swan, but I can attempt teach them how to switch their perspective. And sometimes that means just writing them back.

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I brought him to my desk. “Do you see that I boxed two things? One is your behavior. The other is you. I don’t like your actions all the time, but I’m not lying. I do like you. I really do think you’re amazing!”

He shrugged his shoulders and sheepishly walked away.

The truth? I really do think he’s amazing. The problem? He doesn’t think he’s amazing. But maybe, just maybe, a small note of encouragement can lodged in his brain that will spark a journey of self love.

Or he’ll end up stealing clay from Target.

I don’t know the end result of his life. But I know that I want to reach the end of mine knowing I did everything I could every day to be of service to someone.

And I want to reach the end of this night eating a fistful of Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. I’ve had enough spiritual growth for one day. It’s time for some chocolate and sugar.

PS: I owe some of you some blog readings! Tomorrow is the day. Thank you all for reading me so faithfully. My numbers have grown dramatically and it’s been such a blessing for me to write.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #36: Put your feelings for others in writing. When emotions are high, they can come back to it later and it could make a big difference!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, self improvement, spirituality

Life Death and Big Pink Flowers

Today we officially said goodbye to my father in law. It wasn’t a big funeral. It was a small group of us: my husband, his mom, sister, me and the kids. We took my father in law’s ashes and spread them out on the ocean.

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It was a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness that my husband and his family had to bid farewell to a man they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. (It happened so fast. Good for him, not so easy for the rest of us.) But relief, too, because now everyone can move forward with the healing process.

I have found that the best support I’ve been able to offer is to give less advice, ask more questions and just listen. This is not the time for me to “fix” anything. Sometimes things just are what they are. At least I’m not fixing problems that occurred from putting my foot in my mouth.

All this silence has given me an awful lot of time to think. And today, what struck me most during the solemn affair was how, in the end, we all go back to the earth. We can strive to sell books or teach classes or have nice homes, but at some point… if we’re lucky… someone is carrying our remains in a bag and wishing us well on journey into the next spiritual realm.

Maybe this sounds depressing, but to me, it takes the pressure off. In my faith, either Jesus died for me or he didn’t. If he did, then maybe I don’t have to sweat the tough stuff so much. Maybe I can grieve and feel those pains of loss, but at the same time laugh and feel the joy because I don’t call the shots. If this Jesus is who I hope he is, he promises something better after the dark fades. He promises that while certain people have gone back to the earth, new life will pop up with glory and color.

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I will try and remember that tomorrow morning when I face that same student who decided I was a terrible teacher. I will take a look at this same pink tree as I drive down the street and pray that whatever darkness she experiences in her home she can bury. I can pray that, like my savior, she can rise into something more vibrant and beautiful that brings joy and color to all who behold her.

And, well, if she can’t, I can, and I’ll let go. Because honestly, I can’t take on the world. Instead, like this picture taken last night when I stepped out of a house full of guests to breathe in the dusk, sometimes you just have to be reminded to sit ON shit rather sit IN it.

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(Yup, that’s four big stinky bags of fertilizer.)

Bottom line: May you grow flowers in your bullshit this week and make the best of whatever comes your way.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #35: When you’re dealt a lot of crap, grow flowers.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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