faith, God, Jesus, parenting, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

When You Know Someone’s Story Things Change

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In December I switched from an Evangelical church to an open and affirming congregation that allows me to address doubts and concerns I’ve had for many many years.

It wasn’t an easy transition for me. I came from a background where everything I was supposed to believe was rolled out like a red carpet for me. I only needed to dance.

I’m an awkward dancer. I’m six foot tall and my husband isn’t a party guy. I’d often find myself alone on the carpet trying to figure out the beat of the songs. When the kids came along, we’d ring-around-the-rosy every Sunday and be appeased with doughnuts and life groups, but in the end, I felt exhausted from my shimmying to something that I thought I was supposed to get but just didn’t.

When I started opening my mouth about my questions, I was shocked to find many people on the carpet had the same ones as I did, but they chose to accept what worked and moved on. I have zero disrespect for these people, it’s just not me. I am not one to go with the flow if I’m not comfortable. I had to, in the end, quietly leave. Much to my inner narcissist’s surprise, there was no banner shouting “Andrea has left the building!” Nope, not even a phone call or an email. I was either that much of a disappointment or not important enough. Either way, it was an immense relief. (If not a bit terrifying. Now what?)

My New Building

No one was more shocked than I was to find that at my new tiny church God showed up even more strongly than he had before. I felt a sense of peace and belonging I had not felt in years. It’s a place where, in true Rachel Held Evan’s style, we all are called to the communion table. We don’t have an agenda to push. We have only God’s love and grace to receive.

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This kind of message seems radical and hippy dippy to many more conservative folk. But to me, it reminds me of Jesus: a rebellious conviction to love everyone. (Unfortunately this kind of acceptance got him killed. But I get it. He was no longer able to live with the hypocrites. And that goes for me being able to live with my dual personality of wanting to fit a mold I just wasn’t cut out for.)

Getting clean with who I was felt so refreshing. But I had been warned about this kind of serenity before from my more conservative church: “It’s the devil.” And yet, having done an immense amount of spiritual work through 12 step, I knew this simply wasn’t true. In my 12 step, it is crystal clear that to not live a life of honesty and integrity is to drink, and to drink for many is to die. I was not willing to die in body or spirit. Instead, I chose surrender.

The Power of Surrender

I could go on and on about the power of surrender and what that means to an over-thinker like myself, but in a nutshell it means: I am not God, neither are you, how about we just lay down or guns and admit we don’t know everything? How about we let go and trust that each person has a God of their understanding to guide them to make decisions for themselves?

For me that is Jesus. But until he shows up at my door with a cappuccino and a doughnut, I’m not willing to tell all my other friends of faith that they are 100% wrong in who their higher power is and aren’t going to heaven “until they know the truth.” The path to destruction might be wide, and the road to salvation might be narrow, but that simply cannot be true of our hearts. Hell is happening NOW, with our minds too narrow and our compassion not wide enough. People are dying. People aren’t getting the healthcare they need. People are being sent to prison for making heart wrenching decisions for their children.

Surrender also means listening. In joining a new church, I asked question after question of my gay pastor. “How do you reconcile your sexuality with the Bible? How do you keep from creating a God of your own understanding?” These open questions and resulting communication was both scary and transforming. But in the mystery, like driving through fog, light came at the other side. In being patient in the dark, I felt more of God’s all encompassing love than I ever felt listening to straight up theology.

It also meant asking my friends about their feelings on abortion. I heard story after story about why they did, or did not, choose to terminate a pregnancy. Instead of feeling judgment or elation, I was led right back to surrender. And in doing so, I was overwhelmed again and again with the idea of dignity: That a woman must decide for herself what she can or cannot live with. That her life, and others’ lives, are as valuable as the one in their womb. And as painful as that is for me to admit to my inner evangelical, it’s what I believe now to be true. No one – especially a rich white man – gets to decide this.

I am not writing this to convince you on what you should or should not do with your life and your votes, especially if you disagree with me. But I am writing to you to consider asking yourself the very tough questions that I began asking myself a few years ago:

  • If your child came to you and told you he or she was gay, would you pound them with theology and Bible verses or would you wrap them in your arms and tell them you love them?
  • Do you really believe that everything written in that Bible is 100% without error? Because if you do, you have a lot of explaining to do. And if that explaining makes sense to you only from a place where, in our society today, straight white people win, would you consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible you are wanting to interpret something that best fits your view of the world versus real people with real struggles and needs?
  • Do you truly think that God stopped talking 2000 years ago when the Bible was shut and that we can’t possibly see God in people and situations outside the book of Revelation?
  • If your 16-year-old daughter comes to you pregnant, are you willing to tell her that she must have this child or face prison time?

None of these questions are comfortable, but they are real. Is our God big enough to handle them and have us talk to others with dignity and respect? Mine is. And for that I’m so grateful.

Conversations

I am being clear with you all because, like my decision to leave a conservative church, I can’t live with pretending to be someone I’m not. While on one hand I can’t stand what the internet has done to our culture (the polarization, the vamping, the lurking) I also am in acceptance of the fact that it’s not going away anytime soon. And so, with that in mind, I felt it important to be have my virtual life match up with my human life. Unlike the Andrea of old, who might have done this out of defense or wanting to fit in, the Andrea of now is doing it from a place of transparency and truth. Right or wrong, this is who I am. Maybe you are in a place I was and need to know that someone else is out there.

Consider this your virtual red carpet to dance in the unknown. To rub shoulders with other people and ask about their stories. To make decisions based on real human beings with hearts, not just theology, and begin to trust your journey.

Services at my new church start at 10. Perhaps you’ll join me at the table.

The Table reminds us that, as brothers and sisters adopted into God’s family and invited to God’s banquet, we’re stuck with each other; we’re family. We might as well make peace. The Table teaches us that, ultimately, faith isn’t about being right or good or in agreement. Faith is about feeding and being fed. – Rachel Held Evans

Happily Ticked Off Tip #53:  When you get to know someone’s story, your heart transforms your head and not the other way around. Every 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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anne lamott prayer

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

anne med

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

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4) Reading for Fun 

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

reding anne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a Comment!

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

Until next time,

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

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

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education, God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, spirituality, Uncategorized

This Too Shall Pass

A few years ago if someone told me bad months would pass, I’d have wanted to punch them in the throat.

Then for the past two months I had the sub job from hell, my father-in-law died, another one of my family members began to lose their marbles, one of our sinks hit the skids, the dog now has a lump on her back, one kid got rejected from a club they had really wanted to join, I dealt with church moving grief and we continue to have dish wars that often end in me feeling like I am either too hard, too soft but most of all… not eating on clean flatware.

But I can honestly say that through it all, I have held on. Because I knew that this, too, shall pass.

And whatever you are going through, if you can hold on to that for tonight, I can promise tomorrow will get better.

Until next time,

Happily Ticked Off Tip #44:  All that stuff you’re worried about? Stop and breathe. This too shall pass.

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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God, Jesus, meditation, spirituality, Uncategorized

Coming Home… Literally (A Resurrection Spiritual Experience)

As many of you know, I’ve struggled for years to find my higher power. I have wrestled with the guilt of not fitting into an evangelical mold that I thought was going to save me. But I had misplaced religion with faith. I had misplaced fear of not being good enough with an impossible Biblical task list.

I have many friends who promise me that Jesus is the answer to feeling good enough. I adore them and their strong foundation for living. But for me, it took letting go of a Biblical model, and a good dose of 12 step, to get serenity. I don’t apologize for this. I’m just being honest.

I have solidly landed in the place of Anne Lamott meets Lin Manuel Miranda when it comes to my faith and, well, I couldn’t be more grateful. That said, the Evangelical devil still sometimes shouts at me. It comes in the form of angry shame poking at me:

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Acck! Run! Shut down your brain and just believe! Because, no, cults aren’t started like that, right?

Scary as that shame can feel, I can’t do the “Must Do’s” anymore to fit into some Christian design for living that only one group of people adhere to. There’s other interpretations. I’m not such a pile of poo for leaning toward those. That said, I’m not ready to give up Jesus. He still calls me. In fact, when I pray to him, and I comb the scriptures and his messages, I see nothing about hard core “Must Do’s.” I do, however, see a hell of a lot of love and acceptance. Yeah, filling up on that feels amazing. (It’s either that or a tube of Trader Joe’s Ho Ho’s. Jesus is better for my figure.)

 

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“This concept of yours? That’s not love, that’s wishful thinking to create a God based on your human understanding,” many of my church friends have told me. “That’s you wanting to play God.”

Comments like that had me second guessing myself, but I trudged ahead with my new found peace anyway. My serenity must have irritated a friend of mine, because when I told her about my new found contentment she remarked, “Of course you feel relaxed. That’s exactly where the devil wants you.”

Side Note: When someone is struggling with something spiritual, telling them that they are falling into the clutches of Satan’s evil grip is not particularly helpful.

Last week felt particularly stressful. Between burying my husband’s father, some work shake ups, and being alone with my thoughts for an entire week while on vacation (oh yeah, this over-thinker sure knows how to do Spring Break!) I was pretty uncomfortable. That’s when I had a life changing conversation with my sponsor, Rosa. She reminded me to stop thinking and start praying. Specifically, “Pray that God shows you in a way you can understand.”

This was on Wednesday.

I started praying… really praying... every day. When I’d feel guilt or shame for bucking the system, I’d pray, “God please show me in a way I can understand.”

And then something incredible happened.

On Sunday I brought my friend Annie my new church. She brought a friend, Tina. Both had never attended services there.

As a reminder, this is a church I had attended as a little girl. I have had dreams about it for years. I could literally smell the pepper trees and feel the calming presence of God from the old school chapel. In those times of quiet, and in my dreams, I could almost hear the words, “Go home… go home…” so I finally did. For the past 3 months, despite feeling like a rebel without a clue, I kept going home. I felt safe there. It felt right. And on Easter I knew why.

When Tina asked me why I drove to this church instead of staying closer to home, I told her the above story.

Tina: “Where did you live as a little girl?”

Me: “Woodland Park.”

Tina: “I live in Woodland Park. What street did you live on?”

Me: “Martinez.”

Tina: “I live on Martinez.”

In my gut I knew before she even asked the last question.

Tina: “What house #?”

Me: “21309”

Tina: “That’s MY house!”

It was then, truly then, that I knew I had heard from the God of my understanding. All those peacocks… all those many eyes of God… I had finally listened. I found home. Literally. And for that amazing experience, on Easter Sunday no less, I am so grateful and humbled.

What Length Are You Willing to Go to Find Your Resurrection Story?

Happily Ticked Off Tip #43:  Careful about asking God to show you in a way you can understand. He just might… and it’s unbelievable! Be ready!

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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meditation, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

Why I’m a Christian. Worries. And Toilets.

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I have decided, encouraged by this post by Fractured Faith, and a week of contemplation thanks to glorious… oh so glorious… vacation… that I’m giving up worry.

It really makes sense. I mean, why did I get sober, or why do I believe that this God of mine died and rose from the dead if he wasn’t going to take care of me and all my concerns that really, in the end, I can’t control anyway?

Yup, it’s time to tell my negative thinking to take a hike. I mean, if you looked at me, with all my gazillion friends (I’m blessed) and happy go lucky attitude, you might think I had it all together. And on many fronts I do. But inside there is always a bit of restless discontent or anxiety. If I were a doctor, I’d call it a bit of OCD mixed with a bit of ADHD and a sprinkle of good old fashioned neurotic wiring.

But I’m not a doctor. But I do know this: When I sleep, eat, laugh and connect with my friends, family and God, sometimes my little anxious friend goes away. Hey, I have an idea: Why don’t I just do that! Connect and laugh every day!

Not taking myself so seriously means quite a few things for my ego, though. Poor little ego. This shame thriller doesn’t get to invade my present with its insistence on dwelling on the past or the future. It means:

  • I’m not going to overthink if I’m a good enough Christian for not believing everything I read hook line and sinker in the Bible. (Yup, I worry about that.)
  • I’m not going to worry that I like meditating more than I like doing memorized prayers from my childhood. (Yup, I worry about that.)
  • I’m not going to worry that I’m 20 pounds over the bobble head Los Angeles model range. (Yup I worry about that. Well, no I don’t. The emaciated pre-menopausal crone is so 1996.)
  • I’m not going to worry that my house isn’t perfectly clean or that I have formica countertops with a burn mark circa Carol Brady 1968. (Yup, I sometimes worry about that.)

What Gives Me the Audacity to Kill Worry You Might Ask?

Because if I can show up to Good Friday services at a church located in a perfectly respectable tree lined suburb where someone found it 100% respectable to put their toilet on the curb next to my car, then I don’t have to be so buttoned up either.

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It means I can give myself permission to enjoy pancakes with 3/4 of my family while the other 1/4 sleeps in. (Hey, newsflash: I don’t have to control everything! That even includes using plastic striped plates with an old table cloth and a crusty Maple Syrup container!)

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It means just giving in and letting the dog get up on the fainting couch while I book some camping sites with my husband. My very cute husband who, might I add, loves it when I’m not quite so serious also.

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It might mean dancing whackily in the kitchen to Maroon 5’s Sugar, eating M and M’s for breakfast on occasion and not getting as much done on my pilot this week as I’d hoped.

But given the incredible outpouring of love, friendship and family I had this vacation, I know that everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to. A little discipline… a little letting go… and a lot of trusting that this God of mine rose above some oh too serious Pharisees in his day. I can rise above my worry, too, then. I can throw my head back, and laugh.

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At the very least I can eat pancakes and, worse case, I don’t feel well? I know of a free toilet not too far away in an emergency.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #42:  Give up worrying if you can by just not taking yourself so damn seriously.

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, 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. 

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faith, parenting, self improvement, spirituality

I Am Not God: A Brilliant Offering on Letting Kids Fail (Of course, not my offering… but what was given to me. Just read.)

not-god

So this week was hard but amazing. I’ve known for a long time with my teens that there’s this fine line between letting go and setting boundaries.

But deeper than that is the underbelly of motivations. What am I doing from fear? What am I doing from my own selfish need to re-live pieces of my past through them? And, as was the case this week, what do I not know about what drives me?

That last place can be some pretty murky water for a control freak like me. I am lucky enough to have someone I really value. Who literally knows every single thing about me and still loves me (kind of a scary thing) and she pointed a bright flashlight into those dark waters to illuminate something out that I had no idea I was even doing.

What the Hell Are You Talking About, Andrea?

I had bought some lessons for one of my kids, but they weren’t practicing as much as I’d have liked them to. When I was frustrated about this, my sponsor said, “Are those lessons a gift?” I responded that they were, indeed, a gift. To which she said, “Then you need to stop having expectations about it. She can feel your expectations. Yuck.” Before I could get too offended she remarked, “That’s manipulating. And controlling.” (So much better! Thanks!)

Honestly, I was pissed. But I also trust her. She has not steered me wrong yet. When I get irked, it’s usually because she’s right. My ego just wants to down a six pack and eat a case of Oreos. But I didn’t get sober for my ego. I got sober to live in reality. And that means honoring the sad truth that when I’m irked enough, it’s never about the person, place or thing that’s bugging me. It’s always about me and my expectation. Not 80% of the time. not 99.8% of the time. 100% of time.

Like a masochist I dug further.

“But what about teaching my kid how to be responsible?” (Yeah, that seems reasonable. Plus, as Tuskany wisely pointed out, “Are lessons really a gift? Aren’t there some strings?” Yes! Yes there ARE I decided. Now I was really confused!)

To this my sponsor responded, “Life will teach them all the consequences that they need.”

Okay, that sounds nice on paper. But my bank account was vomiting in protest. “But I’m spending $200/month on this,” I balked. “That’s one expensive life lesson.”

My sponsor got silent. (That pretty much means Yoda is about to speak some serious truth. I braced myself. And good thing. Because what came next really shook me to my core in its brilliance.)

“How do you know that this ‘practice’ you want them to do is really going to change the outcome anyway? What if they are supposed to learn something by failing? Or maybe they won’t fail at all? Or maybe this ‘thing’ you are hoping they will be by taking these classes turns out not the be the thing God wants for them in the first place? Why do you think you know better than God? YOU ARE NOT GOD.”

Um, schooled.

NOTE: I use the word “they” to keep the privacy of the “he” and “she” people in my house. I am trying very carefully to honor them by pulling out my nuggets of learning – for what that is worth – and not compromise them with pics and details. Such is this stage of life. I adore them.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #39: You are not God. Stop predicting every outcome like you think you know everything and let your kids fail. In doing so life becomes the enemy, not you.

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. 

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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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education, faith, self improvement, Uncategorized

Resentment, Submitting and Refunds

Every day in my classes I learn more than the 200 kids teach me. I learn that if I don’t want to resent something or someone, I must always (not 99% but ALWAYS) accept the challenging situation. It’s a lesson in submitting to what is, not what I wish it could be.

Yesterday’s lesson was in the form of a 150 pound hairy eighth grader who threw a basketball in frustration when I kicked him out of my class (after asking him to be quiet… then moving his seat… then giving him a personal work plan to help him stay on track… and then having the audacity to tell him to “rethink his actions next door” after he got up from his chair again and stole someone’s ear buds).

Today was a new day so I reminded him before class, “Let’s start over!” He agreed. Then he proceeded to play poker at his table rather than sketching. This was followed by playing loud rap music and then texting on his phone after I moved him yet again. (I’m sure tomorrow I’ll get the memo that my class is actually supposed to be an ‘Introduction to Partying.” I’ll bring the punch on Monday.)

I suppose I don’t get enough of these lessons at school, because tonight I found out that someone opened a case against me on Ebay for not sending a jacket quickly enough.

Ah, crap.

I had totally forgotten to check Ebay with all my classroom activities, but that wasn’t the buyer’s fault. They just wanted their item! And so, like what I did to my eighth grader, they opened a case.

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The thing is, though, unlike my student, I had communicated my part in the error and told them I would ship the jacket. Which I did. They even received the jacket.

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But that didn’t keep them from letting go of their resentment. They wanted a full refund. What could I do? I looked at my part more closely which was… in addition to shipping the jacket late to begin with, I didn’t ship it until late Monday after saying I’d ship it early morning.

Prior to getting sober and my spiritual practice – which henceforth will be known as My Master’s Class – I’d have seen every damn thing wrong with this buyer’s case against me “Lighten up!” I’d scoff. “It’s only $4 fucking ninety nine… BIG DEAL!”

But that voice inside me, which doesn’t curse… who enjoys tacos as much as I do… who I refer to as the Holy Spirit, whispered, “Andrea, child, forgetting to mail something isn’t going to get you cynical. But continuing to defend it will.”

What could I do? I didn’t want to resent the buyer resenting me, so I did the only thing I could think to do in my Resentment/Submit/Refund formula.

I hit “Submit” on Paypal and “Refunded” him.

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The bad news? Some schmo in Southbay has a perfectly lovely faux velvet Prince jacket for their toddler for free because of my error.

Not being angry and letting it go? I’d have refunded a hundred bucks for that. ($101? That’d be too much. I’d rather stay pissed a few more days. But I have a big weekend coming up. I’ll take the serenity win now.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #33: Submit to Win. You’ll be Refunded in Serenity and suffer zero Resentments. Or be right and burn. It’s up to you.

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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Until next time