faith, Uncategorized

When You Let Go, It Happens

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be teaching art full time for LAUSD, in North Hollywood no less, I’d tell you that you were nuts. But today, after a two week sub assignment, I was asked to step into a role full time until June. This class – with its painting and noise and Vision Boards is pure chaos mixed with fun. It’s loud and different and intimidating all at once. AKA: Perfect for me.

The money is so needed. (And I’ll get my 100 days now for insurance next year!) It’s not without its downsides, tho. A close family member recently passed. I’ve got a writing assignment that is not yet done. The distance isn’t ideal.

And yet, the circumstances have all played out so well. When life flows, I know God is in it. Less resistance and organic movement are also signs that a power higher than my understanding is orchestrating the wacky music of my life.

Peace in my circumstances are always a sign. It reminds me to not stress about outcomes I can’t control (the recent teacher’s strike for example). Life is always more manageable when I just put one foot in front of the other and leave the outcome to God. I can have an attitude of fear (too far! not enough experience! too tiring!) or I can view everything happening exactly as it’s supposed to be unfolding. And when I do that, worry becomes an adventure. And in this rodeo mistakes alongside fearlessness coupled with exhaustion is part of the norm. Adventure expectations mean zero expectations. And in such mad cap “down is up”, joy can break through.

It beats being broke having anxiety attacks. You should try it.

Happily Ticked Off #15: When you let go of what you think you are supposed to be there’s room to become who you are meant to be.

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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education, faith, meditation, self improvement, spirituality

The Audacity of Non Personalization

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I’m not the kind of teacher that automatically yells at kids.

“You want to sit with your friends? Go for it.”

“You want to listen to music while you paint? That works!”

“You want to use the restroom ten minutes into class? Feel free!”

And this all works very well for 90% of my class who are kind, respectful and so grateful  there’s not a teacher who is screaming like a banshee out of hell on speed which, frankly, is not out of the ordinary for a middle school teacher.

But there’s always that 10% who take advantage.

Who linger for 20 minutes in the restroom.

Who think I don’t see them bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in their California hoodies playing Fornite.

Who want to ignore me and speak over directions I have given over… and over… and over… and then have the audacity to ask me what the hell is going on.

And that right there… the “who have the audacity” statement… is where I must catch myself. It’s not because I’m wrong. It’s because it smacks of judgment. And judgment for this lady means I’m personalizing. And when I personalize, I get resentful, which brews frustration, which causes me to raise my voice, which causes kids to listen to me as much as Democrats want to hear about Trumps border wall.

The solution: Clear expectations on my part. Not just sometimes. Every time. And when they don’t do what they are supposed to do, I ask them to move to a new table. Or talk to them privately. Or ask questions about what they need to best learn and achieve the lesson goal.

Having been someone who is slow to certain life lessons myself, I know only too well that behind every reactive behavior is a hurt or a need. If I would want someone to be patient with me, that means I must be patient with my students. It means I don’t have the luxury to pretend like they’re ditching class to be personal. I get to stay calm and kind and give them every opportunity to access a lesson. I must stay open. Even if I want to run screaming like a BTS fan at the Grammys.

And if after all my work at staying calm and not taking things personal my methods still doesn’t work and they blow me off defiantly, then they get a lower grade.

Nothing personal.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #14: Show lots of grace but take no crap. It’s a killer combo.

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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education, Uncategorized

Art, the Harlem Renaissance and the Pursuit of Dreams

As I mentioned a few blogs back, I am knee deep in Vision Board creation with my art class. For 5 periods/day I talk Langston Hughes, what it meant to be an African American artist during the turn of the century, and what Hughes’ poem, Dreams, can mean for them for their own vision of their future.

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Me: “How many of you have printers at home?”

Only half the kids’ hands go up.

Me: “No excuses for those of you who don’t! I will send you to the library in three’s… with the exception of Parker, Carlos and Jack. I don’t want it burned down… But everyone else, you can take turns.”

Blank stares.

Me: “Or… you can send me an email directly at my LAUSD account. I will print and bring it back the very next day! This is the easiest A you will ever get!”

Murmurs of understanding ripple through the classroom.

Much to my surprise, I received quite a few requests for printouts. These ranged from colleges, professional basketball players, doctors and anime characters.

From several I heard about how they, too, wanted to live dreams that inspired them beyond their present circumstances.

And from one girl, I received this:

ttt

I call this an A+.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #13: Never underestimate bathing in a tub full of hard cold cash. (Or wet cash, as the case may be here.)

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. 

books

Uncategorized

Gratitude: It’s the Answer to Homicide and Suicide(and ulcers)

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I’m hardly a saint of happiness but I am way more content than I used to be. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has everything to do with gratitude – Not just acknowledging it here and there but actually practicing it every single day by writing it down. My husband shares this practice with me and we each text another couple for accountability.

We first started doing this because our misery was killing us.  And I won’t lie, it felt very cheesy.  But as I learned in my primary program, my ability to feel serenity is in direct proportion to how willing I am to be inconvenienced.  And when you are brought to your knees with exhaustion it’s a perfect time to pray and be willing.

At first my gratitude lists looked like this: “I am grateful for food, a car to drive, a walk, kids who love me and a job.“ (Nope, Rex didn’t make the list in the early days.)

Most of the time, though, I wasn’t truly truly grateful. It just felt like something to say,  because if I didn’t, I’d sound like a complete self indulgent schmo. Truthfully I was always annoyed at somebody or something. And the coveting and jealousy? Guilty. I was forever looking at what I could have more of…. her body, their job, your house, you name it. I could not have admitted that before either – it just didn’t sound nice – but in getting real I got aware. And by getting grateful for what I had (not what was missing) it got easier to let go of those other negative attributes.

After a while my negative mindset literally started to shift and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was in actuality. Soon I started incorporating more things in my gratitude list, and in becoming happier I became happier with Rex. I became less angry at my kids. Call it “odd” or “God” but more work started coming in also. I started enjoying even the hard days. Because most of the time it’s was my perspective that needed to change, not my circumstances.

Today in class a kid was back talking me and I was getting irritated. We were both locked in defensive blame. Instead of  staying mired in a power battle (old pattern and no one wins) I walked away. A few moments later I came back and asked her why she was upset. She told me that she wasn’t there yesterday for the assignment and didn’t know what was going on. I took a breath (“Did I really have to go through this explanation  again?”)  and blocked out the rest of the chattering kids. In that moment it was just her and me and I was grateful for the opportunity to start again.

None of us know what’s going on in other peoples lives, but when we develop a new attitude, we allow a little bit of space between our circumstances and our reactions. In that space connection can grow. As for those feelings of joy that come from relationship restored? You guessed it: I’m grateful.❤️

Happily Ticked Off Tip #10: Texting someone 5 things a day you are grateful for can dramatically improve your mental outlook. 

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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Uncategorized

It’s My Birthday! So Here’s a Poem

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It’s my birthday. The big 49. As one friend wrote me, it’s my last “birthday around the block before the big 50.”

I’m fine with it, really. In fact, now that I’m more focused on what I’m finally supposed to be doing with my life (the whole writing, taking things as they come and staying in God’s will deal) I’m enjoying taking it as it is. No big expectations.

Lest I not ask for anything and then have a big pity party instead of a birthday party, I did request some home made pizza and a cake courtesy of my husband and daughter. My bff Tuskany is coming over with her family to play Apples and Apples. We’ll have a fire, a cup of coffee with some icecream for toppers, and call it a wonderful night.

I thought in honor of my new goals I’d share one of the 100 poems I aim to have completed for each 100 days of subbing. Here’s one I wrote on Day 22.

  • Note: All poems are written from the perspective of an 8 year old boy being raised by a single mom.

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MommiTations

The best time of day

Is always the morning

When I’m still half awake

And our pit bull is snoring

 

Incense fills the air

And the sound of harp strings

Floats through an old Smart Phone

Set on silent ring

 

Light streams through the window

As the sun starts its day

There’s a candle and coffee

And toast on the tray

 

There’s the ring of some chimes

And the purr of a cat

And if I’m real quiet

I can sit on Mom’s lap

 

My ears hear her heartbeat

It’s utter elation

Just deep breaths and stillness.

It’s name? Mommytations

Shout Out to the wonderful Mr. Fish Lee who I’d love to illustrate it if my publisher doesn’t go with someone in house. Check him out at https://twitter.com/MrFishLee. Here’s just one of his amazing samples. (But no, my poem book is not dealing with Tourettes. I just know of him from the T.S. community. He’s uber talented.)

this one

That’s all I got for you today. I’d love your feedback.

Until then, I’ll be enjoying my birthday fiesta and heading over to North Hollywood again tomorrow where we’ll continue a lesson I started on Langston Hughes’ poem, Dreams, combined with a Vision Board and Evan Hansen’s song, You Will Be Found.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #9: Don’t stop your goal, even on your birthday. It’s a present to yourself. 

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

Uncategorized

If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You It’s Too Small

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It’s been insane….Showing up at different schools… Sometimes I’m a P.E. coach, sometimes a choir teacher. Sometimes I’m a math teacher. Other times a science or robotics instructor. Translation for all this: I take roll and make sure the kids don’t kill each other.

In addition I’m doing my writing class on Saturdays. Am I doing too much? Of course. But when is it ever a good time to go after my dream? It turns out that being put on as “head writer” on another person’s script didn’t go at all how I planned on Saturday. (Big shock.) I mostly just sat at the table while the big producer who is teaching the class did all the talking. I contributed one big idea that was accepted. The rest? Not so much. (I could swear that he looked in pain when I spoke most of the time. Note to self: Keep it brief.)

Now I’m assigned to work with the show creator as well as an Improv person to take this script from the first draft to the show runner’s direction. Can I do this? I don’t know. Do I care? Yes. Will I freak out if it doesn’t go? Not really. It’s a crap shoot in the end. All I can do is my best.

“It’s going to go to Big Actress A,” the producer says.

That would be nice. But in the meantime, I have to show up at public school and keep kids from riding the shopping carts full of old P.E. equipment while I take attendance.

I have to cook dinner and do shopping and hope my son’s size 15 (yes, you heard that right) SIZE 15 black rainboots arrive in time for Halloween for me to paint bright red with sparkles.

No he is not going as Captain Underpants. He is going as Papyrus from a videogame, Undertale. He will have two sidekicks – Miss L the ever present neighbor girl and Amber, a girl he’s known since he was 2.

Have I cured Tourettes? No. Is he trick or treating with two beautiful girls as well as making additional plans to hang out with his “friend” from school – a 17 year old Junior girl? Yes.

It’s like this script I’m writing… and figuring out my career… I don’t know where it’s all going, but God does, and that’s enough.

Oh, I did get a residual check today for my book. I think after royalties I’ll make $14.00. Woo hoo! I’m on fire! If any of you readers ever visit L.A. I can buy you a Starbucks. If 14 of you come by I’ll take you McDonalds for a dollar coffee. I know. I’m generous.

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Well, I’m off to call my mom. And crash. Tomorrow starts early and I have middle schoolers to wrangle, a house to clean for 3 writers who are going to revise a script in my office upstairs, and a pit bull to be sure has peed before she jumps out of our living room window screen to urinate on a squirrel. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Okay, Wait… One More Thing

How’s your dreams happening, people! As Mark Batterson writes in a book I’m reading now, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.”

Last month, I was ready to vomit. Now, I’m just kind of doing it. I’m tired, but doing it. And that feels so much better than thinking and projecting. God is in the action. I take the steps and leave the results to Him. It’s less pressure.

What are the dreams that scare you? I want to hear! Leave a comment!

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncategorized

Eaze and Comfort

When you exit the freeway for a sub job in an underprivileged neighborhood to find these signs taller than many apartment buildings nearby, it’s a bit discouraging.

But when you get a phone call from someone in your TV writing workshop reminding you to check your email for tomorrow’s table read, only to find your name listed as both story editor and head writer for the 2 all day sessions, you find encouragement again to go on!

 

As I told my bestie, Tuskany, yesterday, (after finding out I didn’t win the Warner Bros. Contest) I’m getting the hang of rolling with the punches a little bit more. A few wins, a few losses… but if I can just hold on to the boat (even if a few times I vomit and turn greener than Kermit on St. Patrick’s day) something will eventually stick.

How about you? What’s your mindset like when it comes to your dreams these days?

PS: People at work and writing call me Frazer. You can see it is spelled wrong. I don’t care. I’m so tired from ducking paper airplanes and almost getting locked out of 4th period that it’s perfectly fine with me. Plus, just like last night, I can hear my sweet boy ticcing his way from the bottom of the stairs to the top. Whatevs. No time to obsess. I’ve got work to do and really, that’s the only way – to not worry about what I can’t change and change the things I can – like a few jokes!

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncategorized

Oh Brother…Warner Bros & Wonder Kids

My favorite school secretary called me last minute at 7am for a sub gig.

“Frazer, we need you.” With LuLu, it’s less of a request and more of a demand. And for this co-dependent in transition, I’m not against being bossed around… especially when it comes with a nice paycheck.

Me: “Nooooo! I was hoping to sleep! I’m exhausted from being a P.E. teacher, a choir teacher and a special ed teacher this week. I can’t handle being an English teacher now! Absolutely! I’ll be there in an hour!”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m always grateful for work. But today, man, it wasn’t easy. It mattered little what I said to some kids. Paper balls were thrown, my words were spoken over time and time again, and no one cared about me reading Wonder out loud or how valuable a well constructed paragraph is in life.

“I’m not even going to graduate highschool,” one girl told me.

That made me sad, but the more I do this job, the more I realize I can only teach those who want to be taught.

Today, at the end of sixth period, a sweet boy named Joe stayed after class.

“Miss Frizzle,” he told me, “I just had to say that I’m sorry no one listened to you. I really felt bad… and I wanted to say that I had someone in my family, like that kid in Wonder, die of a disability.” He started to tear up. “Geez, I’m sorry. I just…I miss my grandma a lot.”

There wasn’t much more spoken. I’d hug him if I could, but empathy and public school means lawsuit, so I just stood there. “You’re a good kid. Thank you,” I said.

Despite the hard kids, it’s kids like Joe that keep me coming back.

Plus, I wrote a great poem about a cockroach during my conference period. I figure if I can write one poem/day I’ll have 365 in a year. Maybe then Warner Bros. will realize what a genius they missed out on!

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The takeaway: I’m getting better at this not taking rejection personally…. 8th graders who scoff at great literature… executives who don’t want to hire 48 year old screenwriters… the teenagers who decide to give me the silent treatment because I had the audacity to remind them to do the dishes and, since they forgot conveniently AGAIN FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME to also clean up the dog doo… it’s all part of getting into the game of life.

I’m going to bed now. I can hear my sweet son ticking all the way up the stairs through the floorboards. But you know what? He’s happy. He’s not giving his teacher lip at school. And he laughed at my cockroach poem. I’d call that a good day.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncategorized

When Will It Be Enough? Oh, You Mean NOW?

kids together

Sometimes at the end of a long sub day

The kids come home and there’s hell to pay

The dishes from morning are still in the sink

There’s a lamp on the table and it sure makes me think,

“Why do I cook and do shopping and clean

And all of the other shxxx all in between

While they can do school and come home and relax

I swear those ungratefuls can go kiss my… donkey.”

And then I remember

They’re only teenagers!

With just a few short years left

Don’t you think you should savor

The fact they do homework? That they don’t argue much?

When, Andrea, when, will it be enough?

When your son stops his ticcing?

When you sell your next book?

When you get on a show?

When you hire a cook?

When you hire a maid?

When you get a new car?

Perhaps what you want is not really that far

You’ve got cars to drive in

You’ve got water to run

You’ve got food in the fridge

In a nutshell… you’ve won!

Stop waiting for Stink to stop making those sounds…

For the toilet seat lid to just for once to go down

The magic is happening… RIGHT AS YOU TYPE

With the neighbor kid laughing and the sweet pumpkin spice

That’s in my diffuser

Plus there’s chill in the air

It’s Fall time at last

And these days, I swear

It’s becoming more clear

That’s it’s my attitude

That keeps me most happy

That indeed sets the mood

So I’ll set all boundaries

I’ll remind them of dishes

I’ll have them fold laundry

But this mom – she wishes

To remember that mostly

This time… it’s so short

It seems yesterday, friends, they were setting up forts

And now they have cell phones

And geometry tests

So I’ll do what I can

But let God do the rest

In closing I wish

That no matter your deal

You’ll focus on things that are precious and real

The hugs and the smiles

The books by the fire

Because when kids are gone

And it’s time to retire

You’ll miss all the chaos

(Yup, even “those” sounds)

And wish those sweet donkeys were still coming around.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncategorized

Dark Clouds

I subbed today in a music class. What started out as a sweet group of sixth graders who thought I was the bees knees for having penned a song about their favorite show, Gravity Falls, eventually morphed into a mob of horny, obnoxious, loud eighth graders who walked around their seats, took selfies and thought it was their God given right to pound the drums or bang on piano keys just because they felt like it.

The I-pad wasn’t working, so the regular scheduled programming of Mulan wasn’t an option to kill the time. (Not that a kids Disney movie was going to do much to squelch the angry mob of hormones anyway.)

I had two choices:

  1. Let them run wild, potentially causing me more grief in the end if a desk gets toppled or an administrator swings open the door, causing me to be fired, my kids not to eat, and us landing on the street (not that I’m dramatic much…) or:
  2. Educate them the best I could.

I chose Door #2, giving them the background to Hamilton and playing them some of my favorite songs through the speaker.

“What does our hero mean when he says, ‘I’m not throwing away my shot?'” I asked.

“He means, ‘I need to pee. Can I use the bathroom?” one answered, hand flailing like one of those inflatable wobbly men used to advertise gas stations and car washes.

“No,” I said, hedging my bets that they were just looking for a way to distract themselves from show tunes and I wasn’t going to have to clean up urine near the drum sets.

“Why would Lin Manuel Miranda write a musical about a founding father in charge of the U.S. Treasury?” I continued, to which someone else replied, “Because he’s una idiota. This musica suckas!”

This, of course, elicited loud cheers and guffaws.

The inner school girl in me wanted to tell them what idiotas they were being. “Don’t you want to ensure you get an education beyond ‘paper or plastic? I wanted to scream.”

Instead, I just ignored the naysayers and focused on the kids who lit up the way my eyes would have lit up if a teacher in cat eye glasses, complete with a Hamilton tee shirt and Harry Potter necklace gave me a welcome distraction from the regular scheduled routine of chords and a-hole ring leaders.

Stillness – It’s the New Control Mechanism

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Meeting chaos with quiet. It’s a new thing I’m practicing. Some days I actually think I’m managing well. Other days family members ask if I’m depressed. I think serenity on this a-personality type must be akin to if Mother Theresa got decked out in my thrift store overalls. It’s that different.

But, scout’s honor, I’m not depressed. I’m surrendering. I’m tired of fighting windmills. Maybe, while I wait for direction for my next phase of life, I can simply do my best to spread love and education to those that want it, and those that don’t, I can simply let go. It’s not like forcing my way on them is going to do anything but cause me grief anyway.

In the movie Broadcast News, Holly Hunter’s character starts each day crying. It’s simply to get out her angst so she can go on with the madness of her day. One of my favorite lines is:

sss

I can relate. But somehow, the world is going to have to live without my constant opinion every single second.

In closing, I went to the shi-rage (a cross between “she” and “garage”) this evening for a little reading. (I’m going through Present Over Perfect for a second time. I really wish Shauna Niequist would just read this blog and invite me for coffee or to her Sunday night Practice gathering. I’m no rabbi or priest, but I could do a rap about sobriety, writing, Tourettes and Substitute teaching like nobody’s business. I think that qualifies me.)

Stretched out on my recliner, I said a few prayers of thanks first and watched the clouds move across the sky – big chunks of gray with some bright sunlight peeking through. To me, that’s what this season of life is like: A bit fuzzy, but moving… every so slightly… into a glorious light of purpose. I’m not 100% sure yet what that purpose is, but as I always say, God does, and that’s enough.

And, as the God of my understanding always shows up in syncronicities, here’s the quote Shauna used for the most recent chapter I read. It pretty much sums up my feelings on slowing down.

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I considered for a brief second reading this quote to those surly eighth graders the next time I substitute teach, but I decided I like my head on my shoulders.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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