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On Crap Jobs and God

sunlight monster

I work full time as a special needs aid for the LA Pubic School system. Given that I used to write television, it wasn’t exactly my dream job to wittle away my hours playing body guard to a 5 foot 8 fifteen year old with low functioning autism. Strong and defiant, she wears a diaper, steals “magical markers” from fellow students’ desks and screeches more than Trump in a female locker room.

I am well aware that I’m not “living up to my abilities” when I get on Facebook and see friends of mine from my Showtime days staff writing on Disney shows and co-producing How I Met Your Mother. But, at the end of day, lest I sound like I’m making excuses, my very unglamorous job is far more glamorous in the long run as it provides me what I desire most: Insurance for my family… the ability to be home each day by 3PM to pick up my teenagers from school… to not be so bogged down in my own life I can’t sit with Stink at 4PM each day to hear about his robotic project roadblocks or Pip’s desire to join the rock climbing team. (An extra $175/month? Sure… let me poop that out of my butt. Or, on a less sarcastic note, let me focus on some better freelance gigs to make it happen. And let me be grateful my husband’s IT business is starting to really take off.)

Yes, my gig allows me connection to my children and husband, but most of all, it gives me an amazing opportunity every single day to practice my spiritual program.

Spirituality in a Crap Job? Yes

For some, a spiritual program means church – and don’t get me wrong – I adore my ridiculously large/not quite mega church/but not your garden variety chapel thanks to its rock band worship team and elevators. (And coffee… we can chug it like caffeinated apostles it in the main sanctuary. #StarbucksJesus.) But more than on Sunday’s, I’ve found God can be seen quite clearly in the things we naturally might despise. In my case, it’s a terribly tough job both emotionally and physically. What God has shown me, though, are truths that have forever altered my mindset, such as referring to my insanely exhausting and taxing struggling ward as my “blessed student”.

A Mind Shift Changes Everthing – Here’s Mine

* My blessed student can play in the mud all she wants, but I don’t have to.

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* My blessed student can attempt to run from me 20 times a day (and she does) but i don’t have to bolt from my challenges.

* My blessed student can remain undisciplined and loud, but I can stay disciplined with my daily book writing before school and get quiet in my own head about what’s important.

bru e

Today my blessed student almost bolted out the front gate. She screamed so loud during lunch that my only option was to remove her from fourth period and stick her in the garden – hoping beyond hopes she wouldn’t decide to escape and trip over a wooden vegetable post hidden beneath thick weeds and crack her head open. Thankfully she sat in peace under a shady tree and serenely pulled weeds.

Like that garden bed, my dreams sometimes seem hidden behind the weeds of worry. Deep in that mud is where my Under Achievement monster lives, lurking below my “I got this” surface with its taunts and barbs. “You suck. You are not doing enough. Give up.” But out in the sunlight… in my gut where God lives… I know that they are not weeds at all. They are seeds that are being nurtured so that my family and writing can grow healthy and strong. One day I’ll have that new book, or that new show, or that camel musical. But for now, I have peace in less than peaceful circumstances. I’m not a show runner, but I’m not running from my own head anymore. And for my family and own peace of mind, that’s enough.

How about you? Any weeds in your life that are actually seeds? And how does growing that attitude help you in your life?

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

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That Time I Got Fired from the PTA…

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Okay, I wasn’t really fired a few months back. I was just told, by text, that perhaps I might be a better fit in a big picture role. “One that doesn’t require you losing important files and actually being able to make planning meetings with the rest of the moms who, well, actually not only remember to post things before they are due but don’t take home 3-ring binders full of volunteer sign-ups and only return it when reminded about it two weeks later.”

In truth, the person who texted me did not say that last part. She was more than gracious. Her words, in essence, said, “I’m thinking we should find a better role for your talents before your challenges become a problem.”

My ego: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Who needs you!”

The reality… the really hard, “Crap I hate to admit it” truth: “Thank you. You saved me… and everyone else… a ton of headache long term.” She even sent me a Brene Brown book with a very sweet note attached. It was touching and only reinforced more that sometimes pride must be put down. Friends don’t let friends make butts of themselves. As J.K. Rowling says in the first Harry Potter, ““It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Magical vs. Miraculous Thinking

Similar to a lot of things in life, I like the idea of stuff a lot more than I like the reality of it. Ex – Magical Thinking: My after-work life is going to include hob-nobbing with  vegan moms in pencil skirts wearing amazing yoga pants and washing down GMO free delights with organic wheat grass smoothies!

Ex: Miraculous Thinking: AKA Reality: My after-work life will include powering through post-school meetings (if I even show up at all… my kid is in eighth grade… we’re both over it) to show up early for 12-step meetings where I can huddle over really bad dark coffee with other moms like me, laughing about our fantasy thinking (the more screwed up the better!) and feeling like I’ve arrived – finally – at the right watering hole.

Lest it comes off like I’m some nut job who can’t get my act together, let me be the first to say that it’s far that. Instead, I’m finally starting to see who I am: I’m not better than anyone else or worse than anyone else. I’m right in the middle where the grace lives. Where I can wade and sometimes splash in the beautiful, messy and ridiculous waves of, “Well, that was a disaster but at least I tried!” It’s so much better than sitting on the shore watching everyone else surf (or drown.) And If I’m lucky, I might even score a free beach ball.

God is great – because He lets you practice your thinking over and over… and (in my case) over again!

Today, as I drove home from downtown Los Angeles, I had an opportunity to choose magical vs. miraculous thinking. Once again, a job I thought I had in the bag – one that would be really good for my family – didn’t work out. I was offered the opportunity to do something else – one that would require I go back to school at night.

At first I was honored and my brain started to spin with the oh-so-familiar, “What if this is the life-line I need? What if this is God telling me to put down the writing for a bit and go for the safe route? I could decorate my classroom like the Magic School Bus? I could learn how to play the guitar and buy cute shoes with school books on them. And I could face my fear of angry parents during I.E.P. meetings!”

But, to quote one of my favorite lines from Moonstruck, “Playing it safe is one of the worst things a girl like you can do.”

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What if my whole life I haven’t actually been hitting road blocks from trying? What if it’s been from trying too hard to play it safe? What if, like so many dreamers out there, God might just have me exactly where I am? Finishing up that book proposal… working on that movie idea next… coming back to this blog… going to my 12-step groups… going to church… and remembering that who I am, exactly at this moment, is exactly where I’m meant to be?

And with the right Good Will find, a 1960’s pencil skirt might be in my future yet.

What’s up with you all!?

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(Brene Brown talks a lot about having the courage to fail. Quote idea from one of her Ted Talks.)

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

book front and back

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Faith, Supplements and Hope: Welcome!

After everything we went through this summer and last Spring with UCLA and their “wonderful” Intuniv program, Stink’s tics are worse than ever. His focus is up, but what is the trade off? The ability to sit still while clicking 50 times/minute plus, oh this is a fun one, at least three shudders/minute? Should we get on yet another medication to help ease this? Maybe some nice narcotic? And then, down the road, shall we go with an anti-depressant to ease some of the social stigma from all the stares and questions about his tics?

NONSENSE.

I am easing away from this stupid drug and all these ridiculous labels about what it means to have T.S.. I always say it, but far greater than a “classification” for symptoms is confidence, and God bless Stink, he has it in spades.

I am not going down the drug route anymore unless absolutely necessary.

And, as fate will have it, UCLA isn’t returning my call anyway. I have tried, for 2 months, to get a hold of Dr. McCracken, via email and phone. He had promised me, after we thought we found a silver bullet in helping Stink’s tics and focus, to tweak the meds if there was a problem. HELLO THERE IS A PROBLEM! But where is Dr. McCracken? Likely busy with yet another study that is funding his research or perhaps a child with more severe issues than Stink.

Which is fine with me. I wish him no ill will. He is very good at what he does.

But I’m good at what I do. It’s called calling B.S. when I see B.S..

I will moderate these tics with diet and some better supplements and, in three months, I will have good news to share with you!

Until then, please love your kids for who they are, not their tics. They are worth it. Life is short. Our kids are growing up fast. Time, like our kids, is ticking. Don’t let fear and a medical community who only knows “pills” tell you how to raise your kid. If the drugs work for you, yeah! But if they don’t, do not give up hope. There is always another way. And that way, my friends, is perseverance and faith and some mama kick butt humor and strength. We’re all in this together.

Next post: Supplements! We started today. I’ll keep you posted.

Tics, Tourettes

Brain Balance, Change, Cancer and More!

WARNING: Loooooong post ahead. I am not journaling these days, but I need to. Lucky for me, I have a blog to fill in the gap! Sadly for you, it’s a mouthful. You were warned.

I don’t know about you guys, but there’s a lot of change in the air around the Frazer household.

Renting a Room We’re in the process of bringing in a renter. She’s a lovely assistant at the kid’s school who doesn’t have a car. She’s thrilled to walk the one mile to campus each day rather than take the bus. We’re thrilled because it will give my husband something we both need so badly: Time. The kids love this lady, so to work off rent, she’ll watch the kids 10 – 20 hours a month, giving Rex and I an opportunity to breathe.

Upon hearing we’ve consolidated our livingroom/TV room into one room, turned the dining room into an office, and turned the office into a bedroom for R, most people are really shocked. We get one of two reactions:

1. You only have 3 bedrooms! Why are you doing this!?

2. I can’t believe Rex – who is so private – thinks this is a good idea!

The answers to those inquiries are quite simple:

1. We have needed to get rid of crud for years. The kids aren’t ready to transition to their own rooms yet, so why not get a little income to fix up the house before they finally separate next year?

It’s taken one month of solid work, but we’ve disposed of about 800 square feet of stuff, leaving us with more room and organization than ever before.

2. Rex is as ready as I am to take some of the pressure off, both financially and emotionally. He can’t work 60 hours a week and then always be the beacon of calm when I’m freaking out over Stink’s tics which, is less and less these days, but some weeks I’m human. Last week? Not good. I could use some adult conversation on the nights my hub works late. Also, I am ready to build out my office to get writing work again, but need a better place to create in. The renter is our answer.

Stink’s Tics

Regarding Stink, the tics are still pretty yukky. I’ve decided to go full bore and save for Brain Balance. This is the one time I will mention here that I am accepting donations for this. After I’ve saved $ for Stink, all additional income, minus a small amount I will keep as compensation for writing this blog, will fund other children and families to go to Brain Balance or get additional support in their area for tics.

Please don’t feel obligated to give me a penny. I’ll keep on writing here forever. I just figured, with so many people with less worthy causes making $ off their blog, I would finally try and create a small stream of income for something I find quite worthwhile.

Note: I am open to comments telling me I’m extremely tacky to do this when I have a husband with a decent paying job. I would not disagree. At the same time, I’ve always been quite honest that Rex and I disagree over therapy for tics. He thinks Stink is fine the way he is – which is awesome. Me? I think there’s more we can do. Rex and I have agreed to disagree that if we are going after Brain Balance, this is my project to fund. He will be more than happy to support us and cheer us on, but he  is concerned with saving for college and things that will definitely be in our future, not the maybe’s of an alternative program.

House Transition

Here are some pictures of our progress with the house. Believe it or not, it has taken hours and hours to get cabinets cleaned out. The kids have cried over getting rid of old dressers and bags of plastic toys they don’t need. But in the long run, they are so relieved to have a nice space to call their room. Life, like tics, are always changing. My job isn’t to make them content with everything and spare them from yuk. My job is to give them inner tools to have peace while chaos is happening.

Here are some pics of stuff in progress

LIVING ROOM

We removed a brown couch that was blocking the window. We took out a huge armoire that was taking up space and put the piano there. We now have paths to walk around! Plus, in getting rid of the old, we had room for the new – like the lovely 100-year-old sewing machine you see in the 2nd picture.

Small Fixes: Paint and patch walls, add new photographs as Pip is no longer a new-born, and another cool seat in the corner for more entertaining.)

Dream Fix

OFFICE

The dining room used to look like this

It now looks like this:

Small Fix: Bring the big armoire that is currently storing Ebay stuff (used to be in living room) to the cabin. Bring in old office desk and use the plastic rolling carts for the time being until you can do this:

Dream Fix:

TV Room

It used to look like this

It was very crowded with the art center, the little table, the couch, the TV, the book shelves, the science center…. don’t make me go on. Now the shelves are going into the renter’s room. The old stained couch is gone. We’re building some shelves under the bar area (an un-used space) for all my dishes. The only thing in the room now is the big table and the TV.

Small fix: Take down 1980’s plastic blinds, put up toille curtains. Put a nice curtain over the corner of the TV area (as we don’t want TV in living room) and get a nice tall couch for one side of the table near window that will double as both TV viewing and eating. Build shelves under the bar and cover with a curtain. (Maybe get a nice sideboard when the shelves are moved into the renters room. Shelves not pictured here.) Paint the walls gray and get a chandelier over the center of the table.

Dream fix

RENTER’S ROOM

Here is our old work space office in transition. If you think moving computers into the kids’ shared bedroom, moving 10000 pieces of Ebay into the new “office” and hauling out 10 bags of trash was fun, you would be more wrong than many of the political rants I see on Facebook these days.

But the kid’s room is moving along! Here it is without a good paint job, and with many baskets still on the floor. Not bad for a shared space.

KIDS ROOM

I’m not sure why the last 2 pics won’t right themselves up, but it’s fine. These days life is getting comfortable with things I’m not normally comfortable with. I just know it’s all going to be okay.

Dream Fix (taken from Babble)

OTHER THINGS OF NOTE

Ebay

Today I need to get 20 items of Ebay up today as I’m selling for other people in an attempt to not work for $7/hour retail while I write my book.

Breast Cancer

I need to make an enchilada for a friend who just had breast cancer surgery.

Leukemia

I need to find time to see my other friend, Karen, who is on her third round of chemo for leukemia.

Look how amazing she looks!

Food Shopping

Apparently kids need to eat, and so do Rex and I.

Book

At some point this week I need to write my book some more. I’ve been at a road block which I’ll talk about in the next post.

Ex Husband

My ex-husband died a few weeks ago leaving a 10 year old boy and 2 living parents. He had a random brain tumor. Uggg. We haven’t been close, but I did see him in Christmas, 2011, for a brief visit. I’m glad we caught up and mended some bridges. This was a pic he posted on Facebook with the quote “Me the ex-Mrs. Ingman, taken 19 years after our wedding.” Um, I wasn’t thrilled by that. But hey, that’s FB for you. May you rest in peace, dear Jim!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I don’t know what to say except bring on the tics, bring on the house upheaval, bring on the illnesses. We can this together.

Love you all.

Thanks for listening.