sobriety, Sobriety

When I Write Down My Dreams at Night They Manifest the Next Day (and other unicorn hippy dippy stuff that works)

Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Australia

Photo by Unsplash

What makes my sponsor so amazing for me is that doesn’t let me complain for more than five minutes. What makes my sponsor so annoying, also, is… she doesn’t let me complain for more than five minutes.

This lack of a good complaint session? It’s troubling.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something so gratifying about a good game of vent. I can dig up the issue at hand, point the finger at someone else, have a good glass of my favorite substance – Self Righteous Indignation – and burp a sigh of Poor Me Pleasure.

The only challenge with the above mentioned scenario is that if my pity party continues too long it could go from “Poor me” to “Pour me a drink.” And while I admit 100% I had a very high bottom (meaning I didn’t lose possessions or family members due to my alcoholism) my thinking was very twisted. And since it was not the drinking but the thinking that caused my escape style drinking in the first place, I have to be mindful.

Along these lines, last night I was moaning to Lily about something I was not pleased with in my spouse. She listened patiently… until Minute #2… when she forced me to focus on all the things my husband was doing right instead of his deficiencies.

“Wait, I have 3 more minutes!” I wanted to spit, but instead I launched into a depressive tale about how I was worried my musical would never get finished with all the other stuff I’m doing to keep the bank account monster fed (as well as my teenagers.) This time she cut me off after one minute.

“If you want something to happen,” she interrupted, “You must write it down the night before so that while you’re sleeping it is burned into your subconscious. The next day, then, it will manifest.”

I scoffed. “If that isn’t the stupidest new age crap I’ve ever heard of I don’t know bumpkis. Are you serious?”

“I am,” she smiled. “Try it tonight.”

So I did.

“I’m a musical writer,” I said out loud, a moment before crawling into bed. (Note: I did not write it. It still counts.)

I had the best sleep I’ve had in months.

This morning I went to a meeting I don’t often attend due to work, but since Lily was getting a sobriety cake, I took the day off. After the meeting I walked up to a musician whose share really touched me. I told her that I, too, had fear about my work, but was inspired by her success story. She asked about my project and I told her a few details.

“Do you compose as well?” she asked.

“No,” I admitted sheepishly. “I sing into my phone and write lyrics, but no, I don’t put the notes on paper. It’s a big fear of mine and sometimes takes up far too much rental space in my head.”

She asked for a few samples which I sang – shockingly without reservation.

“I think your songs are actually brilliant,” she says. “Here’s my card. If you want to collaborate, I’ll transpose them into sheet music for you.”

Whaaat?

Then I drive to the mall to get lunch with Lily. Next to me is my favorite style BMW. On the license plate it reads the equivalent of “I Love To Write Music.”

I walk into the restaurant and what is playing? My favorite song from one of my favorite musical soundtracks, “The Greatest Showman.”

After lunch another member from the meeting, someone I’ve never met, sits down and sheepishly admits she’s always wanted to write a memoir. “That’s my specialty!” I say, telling her a bit of my story and handing her my card.

Odd or God?

The Spiritual Takeaway

Sometimes we don’t see results until we take advice and do contrary action. It’s only in completing what makes us nervous that we get the upgrade.

And write down your dreams tonight.

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. )

(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.

Uncategorized

Can You Please Stop Making That Sound or I’ll Kill You (And other tales of misophonia)

Photo from Unsplash
Artist: Noah Buscher@noahbuscher

It’s been a long time since I wrote about Tourette Syndrome. Part of that is because I needed to switch to a new direction for my own mental health. After spending years obsessing about changing my son, and then taking things way too personally in how other people reacted to him (Overly Controlling & Sensitive Mom Behind Door #3!) it became imperative to write about my other passions.

Also my 13-year-old son got tired of his syndrome being written about. If I learned anything from raising a teenage boy, it was to honor his needs, not mine, when it came to writing. And so, I cut the internet cord! (And I didn’t even need anesthesia.)

That said, when Writer of Words posted this article on certain noises driving her crazy I had to chime in. In it she talks about Misophonia.

What Exactly is Misophonia?

Harvard Health Publishing (from Harvard Medical School) describes it as follows: “People with misophonia are affected emotionally by common sounds — usually those made by others, and usually ones that other people don’t pay attention to. The examples above (breathing, yawning, or chewing) create a fight-or-flight response that triggers anger and a desire to escape.

Audiologists have found that misophonia is an inner ear issue as sufferers have acute hearing. What makes their hearing different than another person with exceptional ears is that unlike a “normal” person, misophoniacs obsess about the sound long after it’s gone. They anticipate when it’s going to come back. And often they cannot sleep for fear of it interrupting their serenity.

Where Does Misophonia Come From

Many folk with OCD deal with this, but it’s not considered a mental health issue. Misophonia hasn’t been researched much, but according to WebMd:

“The age of the onset of this lifelong condition is not known but some people report symptoms between the ages of 9 and 13. Misophonia is more common with girls and comes on quickly, although it doesn’t appear to be related to any one event.”

Symptoms of Misophonia

  • Anxiety
  • Irritation
  • Impulse to run
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Hatred
  • Despair
  • Fantasy thinking

For a long time I didn’t know I had this disorder. I just thought I was nuts. My son’s throat clears and grunts would make me insane with anger. I would either rage at him, begging him to channel his sounds a different way, or I would find myself running away.

Escape took many forms: literally leaving the house, not being present when I was with him, over spending and eventually drinking. Sure drinking took the edge off temporarily, but the sounds only felt more excruciating the next morning with a headache. It felt hopeless.

Relief from Misophonia

After giving up drinking, I was thrilled that my 12-step program had relieved so many of my unhealthy escape patterns and reactions. Hypnotherapy and meditation was also a powerful, natural sedative for my overactive brain, but it didn’t relieve all of it.

It wasn’t until someone in my daughter’s friendship circle was diagnosed with misophonia that I realized, “Oh my God, that’s me!” Knowing my out of control reactions to noise stimuli wasn’t my fault changed everything for me. It was reassuring to know I wasn’t just odd or being an intolerant mom. I had an actual condition! Plus it helped to know that many super creative folk, including Franz Kafka, dealt with the condition. Turns out that the very thing that causes misophonia sufferers distress is the same thing that allows them to so sensitively tap into the human condition.

Personally I’ve talked to many folk since my diagnosis and the one thing we’ve all had in common is that we are more triggered when we are stressed out. It was a sick co-dependent vortex in my case, because my son also ticked when he got stressed. His tics made me more ragey due to misophonia, and that made him tic more. Fun times! What next?

After trying a million miracle cures to “fix” my son (from medication and meditation to gluten-free/dairy free diets and more supplements than Frankie Bergstein has joints) I made a decision to stop the madness. Like in a bloody war battle, I had two choices: My relationship with my family could die based on my insane need for control, or I could surrender. I chose the second and my life has been on an upswing ever since.

The Spiritual Side of Misophonia

In relinquishing my need to manage my son’s noises, I began to control my own issues with sounds. As a sober alcoholic I knew only too well what a lack of discipline did to my life. And just like with giving up alcohol, I knew I didn’t have to handle my diagnosis, and my son’s, by myself.

I leaned on my community and family.

I began a spiritual practice.

I brought in amazing self-care.

I gave myself permission to not be a perfect mother.

I reached out to others who were dealing with a diagnosis they could not change. In helping others, I was infused with such purpose and hope. It turns out you really can’t obsess about your own problems while helping someone else navigate their’s. Plus it turns out that the endorphins from assisting others lasted much longer than any temporary relief from noises. And, unlike Misophonia, they brought about so much peace.

There is some serious humor in God pairing a noisy ticker with a sound sensitive mama, but now I wouldn’t change it for a thing. Tourettes and misophonia forced me to give up any preconceived ideas I had about what I needed to be happy. When I was able to surrender, I channeled my misophonia into listening for the blessings in my life instead focusing with laser beam precision on the negatives. Acceptance and transformation of what was once so ominous has brought about far more joy than any quick fix for these syndromes could.

Hope for the Misophonia Sufferer

Any fellow misophonia folk out there… it gets better. And when you’re struggling, feel free to reach out. You might say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I “hear” ya.

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.

Uncategorized

Why Surrendering Power to Teens Is Okay (Hint: It’s Not About Control… It’s Actually Strength)

Image Courtesy of Unsplash
alex bracken
@alexbracken

I had a conversation in the car today with my 15-year-old daughter that made me want to throw up. It was not unlike one of those carnival rides at the fair that go up, down and then shake you back and forth like James Bond’s famous martini.

This mama was shaken, stirred and ultimately hung over afterwards. But, since I have been physically sober for almost 4 years now, I am strong enough to handle a little emotional hangover also – especially when instead of running from my feelings I allow myself to sit in them instead.

I could go on and on about what my emotions were on the subject, how we sorted it out afterwards, and where we ultimately landed, but I’ll keep it short and simple:

  1. My daughter set a healthy boundary with me.
  2. Because I initially perceived it as a threat, not a boundary (because I couldn’t possibly be wrong, right?) my back went up.
  3. I felt the conversation getting more heated than a hot flash and told her I wanted to shelve the discussion. (Bonus points for me for doing what I should be doing! #notescalatingthecrazy)
  4. When she left the car, I called a friend. And by friend, I mean sponsor, who doesn’t beat around the bush. Lilly: “So you’re upset with your daughter for telling you the truth about something you are uncomfortable with dealing with?” Me: “Um…” What else could I say? She was right.
  5. When Pip got back in the car she immediately apologized. “Mom, I’m sorry. That was a lot of tension. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
  6. To this I said, “No, you should have. Just because I’m not good at telling people directly how I feel all the time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. It’s okay. I’m glad you’re safe enough to let me know.”

The End.

Lest I come off like a saint, let me tell you that this was a 15 year process of screwing up, wronging my kids, manipulating the conversation to make me look like the victim or, equally attractive, just plain old co-dependently saying what I thought my kids wanted me to hear so I could come off like a “good mom” only to explode moments before a big event because I was resentful, exhausted and very likely half a bottle into Two Buck Chuck at their highly anticipated Halloween excursion. (Going as Hottest Drunk Mom on the Block? It wasn’t as exciting as it sounds.)

Getting sober taught me to be rigorously honest with myself. Drinking, turns out, wasn’t my problem. It was the thinking that got to me. It was my brain telling me things like, “You just need a fxxxin break” or “You deserve so much more than this drudgery mom nonsense” and, worse of all, “You are RIGHT Andrea.”

When I’m right, it leaves very little room for my kids to have an opinion with their defensive, cranky, I must have it my way mom.

Tonight my daughter set a boundary with me. And it didn’t feel good, because in this case, she was right. I had to change my thought process on something. Ouch. Puke. Why can’t you be 5 and just think I’m amazing… even when I’ve eaten half your Halloween candy and wrapped used stuffed animals for Christmas to save an extra 5 bucks?

But in the end, I’d rather lose my butt than save my face. And seeing my daughter’s face flooded with relief that I was not going to shut her down was worth every second of my ego deflation.

I’m now off to take my son to a group activity he doesn’t want to go to but… Rex and I set a boundary with him and so off he goes.

Subbing, surrender to the God of my understanding and more driving than a New York taxi driver – such is this season of motherhood for me. But it beats drinking and crashing into all my relationships because I’m just not present with my honest, hairy and often uncomfortable truth.

Cheers to you this Friday. Mamas, you are not alone! We’re in this together.

My Strong, Fierce 15 year old Daughter Who Is Teaching Me That Surrender Is Actually Power

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.

Uncategorized

I Aspire to Inspire Before I Expire (But Enjoy My Family First)

Photo Credit: Unsplash Toa Heftiba@heftiba

I got the call at 6am this morning. “P.E. Van Nuys. Voice instructions are none.”

I’m just getting over a cold, so to be honest, getting my butt out of bed to be on my feet all day with horny stinky middle schoolers did not seem like an attractive option. But getting a small paycheck next month didn’t sound that amazing either, so off I went. (Lucky for me I remembered not to shout, “Get your hands off the balls!” You know, cause that’s always a great way to keep them quiet.)

I have two thoughts about my day. On one hand, it can be disheartening to be doing this job still. I had sort of hoped I’d be working full time as a writer by now. Perhaps in an office or on a set. Or even freelancing from home.

On the other hand, have I finished that website that shows off all my articles that I’ve written? No. Am I almost 50 and going to be competing against a lot of people much younger than me? Yes. And have I applied yet for anything? No.

Hmmmm. There might be a reason I’m still doing this job!

On the other side of the coin, I have hardly been sitting on my bootie. I am almost done with that pilot script. I put a huge stake in the “Am I going to get a Masters and Teach Full Time” dragon. (That would be a negative.) I’m almost done with step 12 in my don’t drink booze program which I’m not allowed to say per one of their traditions. And my marriage is running smoothly which, one only has to read my book to know, was not always the case. (You also could read in between the lines at my GoodHousekeeping.com blog. I was a mess.)

I say all this because there’s a fine line between making excuses and doing one’s best. For me, I needed to make money for my family. I needed to heal. I needed direction from a good sponsor and time with God to break down the constructs of the person I thought I was supposed to be to become the person I was meant to be. Or, better stated, to become the person GOD would have me be.

I’d love to have a sexy title right now, but I’ve learned that my ego is not my amigo. No, the soul always trumps my lust for fain and fortune. I refuse to give up precious holiday and weekend time to plug away for “success” when James and my two favorite “little” people on the planet are growing up right before my very eyes. Stink is 6’6 people. He has whiskers! Pip is my height when she wears her heels.

I’m pretty sure that when they graduate and leave my house for good continue to live with me I’m not going to say, “Oh, Gee, I wish I had not gone to the thriftstores with them over Martin Luther King weekend and eaten overpriced veggie burgers at the hippy dippy market in the barrio.

Follow Your Heart, Canoga Park (Veggie Tacos) Photo From Their Website

No, my life continues to be full of hopes and dreams, disappointments and regrets, but if 49% of me wishes I could have done things differently 51% of me knows that my family will always be the best piece of art I could have created.

Thanks for continuing to be part of the journey.

And, for accountability, I will continue to blog daily here until I start up again at Medium. I will finish my one paragraph – one paragraph people – on my pilot on Thursday. And this weekend I will fire up my old resume website and start building it again so I can apply for full time writing work in April. Next week, with the pilot out of the way, I will get back to my musical. I gotta stay on it but not lose site of the beauty right before my eyes. Anyone else relate?

How About You? What Are Your Plans?

Special shout out to Carol from Brisbane, Australia, who googled me the other day to see how I was. I love it! I have people in my life I didn’t even know I had. That is just about the coolest thing in the world.

Next to my TV show selling.

Until next time,

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.

God, Jesus, meditation, parenting, writing

God Bless the Broken Road… That Led Me Back to You. And Polka Dot Jellies

Something in me has always wanted more than what is achievable in 24 hours. I want more time writing, more time eating, more time working and more time with family. And then (here’s the real fun part) it’s still not enough.

I believe, my friends, this is what you call an addiction. The antidote to this hamster wheel of delusion is simple. It requires being more present. Executing on this action, however, is less than easy, for it requires an absolute stake into the heart of a belief structure. It means acknowledgement that said belief structure is no longer working. And for me, my friends, that structure is none other than OMTS: One More Thing Syndrome.

“No, dear, you cannot Ebay and Clean Out Someone’s House for $20/hr AND write your blog and finish rewrites to that screenplay. KILL THE BEAST OF DELUSION!”

Like most people who hit bottom with their addictions, my OMTS came to a crashing halt on Saturday afternoon. I had been up since 6am to run a garage sell for a friend. As if it wasn’t enough incomprehensible demoralization that we did not sell one single item in three hours (nope, no one wanted used Halloween items from 1987 that looked like pumpkins on acid) her neighbor made a quick 20 bucks by just walking over, dropping off an old wheelchair, and going back into her house to watch Downton Abbey. Now whose the winner in this scenario? Ding ding ding! It wasn’t me!

I could have gotten pissed off, but in a way, I was secretly relieved for the clarity. How many ring around the rosy’s selling other people’s used items will it take for me to heal from OMTS? How much time spent driving to the post office to drop off packages for folks in other zip codes that could have been spent reading the rest of the Narnia series with my son or learning to sew with my daughter in the most precious zip code of all – the present?

Yesterday, with the sun beating into my car and stress building up about having to clean out Great Grandma Stella’s mobile home later in the day, I got it. I didn’t hear God speaking to me in a loud voice, but it was my very spirit that had finally surrendered and was gracious enough to make itself crystal clear.

“Enough,” it whispered. “How long before you put a stake into the fear of ‘I am not making enough?’ and just remember to ‘become enough because God is enough.’ ”

And so I made a promise to both my sweet husband and our sponsor couple: NO MORE SIDE GIGS.

No more extra income helping people move but costing me a fortune in burn out.

No more Ebay listings that give no return on my spiritual path.

For the rest of the summer – outside of taking care of myself and my very sweet family – I will spend my free time writing and writing only.

Today was the first day of this new routine, and it was beautiful. It was a day spent singing with my daughter at church as well as delivering a message. (Who knew I had something to say to a church full of people? A small church, but never-the-less, people didn’t freak out or grow tails.)

It was a day remembering last night’s visit to Great Grandma Stella who was so happy to see us at her door she cried tears of gratitude. (As well as told us that she thought her legs looked “pretty damn sexy for a 98-year-old.”)

It was an afternoon drive home from my communication class with Rex to talk a bit more about what I need to do to get my writing off the ground while subbing. (Guess what people! It doesn’t involve OTMS!!!! Nope, extras that don’t matter have got to go!)

Mostly it was a day of peace. Because in surrendering the happy shiny marbles that ultimately lead to nothing, I am making room for God to work diamonds of true meaning in my life.

I am not where I want to be, but I am grateful for the wisdom and willingness to keep on pressing on toward what matters most.

Oh, and although I am no longer allowing myself to flip crap on Ebay, I did purchase these beauties for myself at a thrift store yesterday. I saw them in between waiting for coffee at In and Out Burger and my son happily sorting through a bin of vintage Scooby Doo DVDs. It’s not every day that a pair of pink jellies in size 10, for ten bucks, comes my way.

I had to.

Don’t judge.

Leave a Comment!

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.

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.

books

 

education, God, Jesus, reading, self improvement, Uncategorized, writing

Writing Conferences: Yes They Are Worth It

I had had the privilege of teaching a tv pilot writing class today at a weekend conference. I got so much more than I gave thanks to all the other workshops I got to attend. Being that I’m at a crossroads in my career, it’s a bit overwhelming to consider “Do I do tv? Movies? Books? And why did I never promote my last book correctly? Is it too late for a relaunch?”

Tonight my roommate, who happens to be an agent, said she would love to see a funny chapter book for kids. I have one half written. How this will fit into me maybe getting a masters and teaching I don’t know, but I do know that God loves me. If I just be willing to trust the right path it will all work out.

Here’s to new beginnings and new friendships, like this one with Zena, an adjunct screenwriter at a college. I am lucky to meet so many beautiful people. Til Sunday, take care!!!!

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education, faith, God, parenting, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Writing Wednesday: Happily Ticked Off, Chapter 1

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The the next couple of months for writing Wednesdays I am posting a chapter of my book, Happily Ticked Off. If you like it what you see, you can buy one in the link below. If you just want to read it week after week for free, that works, too.

Why Post a Chapter a Week for Folk? (Um, that’s putting it up for free, Dumb Ass.)

My goal is to get people to think about their own writing projects as well as give some love to moms and dads out there who have struggled with this condition in their households. (Though it was dedicated to the mamas.)

This book was not about fixing Tourette Syndrome. It was about helping people have a transition in their thinking: To know that while they might not be able to change a disorder they most certainly can use it as an opportunity to transform themselves.

For those that just want quick fixes, I say go for it. There’s a ton of resources out there to promise you the moon on that. But here’s the real truth: if you don’t come to terms first with your perspective on the diagnosis… on any diagnosis… you might end up like me: frustrated and discontent when the next weed comes along to ruin your perfect garden.

Life doesn’t always happen to us as we expect. But it’s what we do with our challenges growth opportunities that can make us bitter or make us better. While I’m still unsure sometimes of my path (just ask my bff Tuskany or Amelia) I know that when I remember I don’t know the answers, but God does, I stop struggling and just live in… what’s that word? Oh, yeah. Peace.

And so, with no further adieu, here you go! Let me know what you think and let me know about your projects, too!

book cover

Dedication

This is for you, Mamas.

When my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome seven years ago, I encountered loads of disheartening information on the internet about tics, ADHD, OCD and disturbed children with behavior problems.

I found blogs full of victimhood stories and medications gone wrong.

I found a few helpful but ultimately dry informational books written from medical and nutritional viewpoints on how to suppress tics through natural or pharmaceutical means.

What I didn’t encounter, however, was a book on humor, support and most importantly, hope.

So I wrote one.

This book is not just for mamas dealing with Tourette Syndrome. It’s a love letter for all you moms dealing with an unexpected diagnosis. It’s the book I wish someone had written for me when I was hopeless, angry, and feeling so very alone.

It’s my sincere hope that this mom-moir will serve as one giant hug for your fears. May it whisper into your heart, “You did not cause this disorder. You are strong enough to handle it. Your child is perfect despite some medical challenges. You are not alone. I am here. YOU CAN DO THIS.”

For all you mamas out there who are hanging by a thread, I’m asking you to tie a knot and hang on. Happily Ticked Off was written for you.

****

Prologue

Happily TICked Off

 

“Your son has Tourette Syndrome.”

I looked up at a stern woman in her late 30’s. She had her arms folded tightly against her heart. (If she had a heart. The verdict was still out.) Black and silver hair spilled down her white lab coat, covering up her name tag. “Dr. Badbedside Manners.”

Combined with her pale skin and silver jewelry, she looked like a cross between Stevie Nicks and the Bride of Frankenstein. The diagnosis she just handed me didn’t make me less terrified of her.

Stop being a wussy, I told myself.

I glanced at the diploma on her wall and collected my thoughts. I had to admit, only a delusional freak would be surprised by her words. After all, my four-year-old had been referred to her only after I had already depleted every cent of my family’s HMO deductible on allergy testing, vision tests and more pediatric visits than my son had Scooby Doo band-aids. I was hoping all these visits would provide an answer to why my kid would transition from clearing his throat several times per minute to rolling his eyes side to side in rapid succession.

How I loved the pattern of those eyes on my retro kitty tic-toc clock! The predictable back and forth motion never ceased to instill a profound sense of joy and fun as I sipped my morning coffee and stared at them. Seeing them on my child? Not so much fun. Far from viewing it as kooky and eccentric, those eye rolls inspired nothing less than primal fear.

And anger.

Which… I’m ashamed to say… I took out on the kit-kat clock earlier that morning.

Only a bad mother would take out her irritation on a preschooler.  But that cat? She was fair game.

First she lost her tail. Then she was shattered to bits in a moment of pure frustration when my son morphed from eye rolls into unexpected gulps. Those tics, and that cat, had to go.

I tried to squelch the tears brimming behind my eyes. I wish my husband were here to hold my murderous little hand.

He was not. And that stunk.

Perhaps it was because I was alone on that ill-fated day that the revelation hit me so hard. Perhaps if Rex had been there to steady me . . . to wrap me in those strong, lithe arms of his . . . the blow would have felt less intense.

Lucky for me, I recovered quickly. I was the queen of composure.

“Tourette’s? You mean… But how…Wah wah HUH?”

Dr. Badbedside Manners didn’t twitch, and not just because she didn’t have Tourette Syndrome.  Likely she was used to moms like me. Moms who, despite hope against hope … despite seeing the signs themselves for months on end …were banking on a different outcome.

I’d hoped to hear he had a vitamin deficiency. Instead, I was handed a nightmare. With nothing more than a few words about this little known syndrome, I was told to come back in six months.

When I called my husband on the car ride home, I had only one statement: “Nicky has Tourette Syndrome.”

My husband had only one answer. “What happened to the kitchen clock?”

I hung up the phone and sobbed like a baby.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of a hellish six years.

Determined that no mama should go through what I did, I wrote a book.

This is the story I wish someone had written for me. My hopes are that it saves not only people’s sanities, and their marriages, but also perfectly innocent kit-cat clocks. No time-piece, no matter how annoying, deserves that kind of brutality.

This is my journey.

This is my story.

If you’re up upset at your child’s diagnosis, whether it be T.S., Autism or some other spectrum disorder, I want you to know I’ve been there.

I’ll have you Happily Ticked Off in no time. How about we start with a few facts I wish someone had sent to me during the first lonely, dark leg of this journey.

 FACTS and HOPE

 Tics or a T.S. Diagnosis

If you’ve picked up this book there’s a decent chance your child has recently begun to tic or has just been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.  You’re pretty ticked off.

My son was diagnosed at 4 years with T.S.. He’s now 12. He’s well-adjusted, funny and loaded with friends. With the right plan and perspective your child can have a similar outcome.

Freak-out time

You want to believe me, but you’re still panicked. Second only to dismay over this new diagnosis is the regret that you didn’t invest stock in the Kleenex Corporation. You can’t stop crying.

Neither could I. I’d sob to myself, my friends, my family – even bewildered gas station cashiers who simply wanted to sell me a Diet Coke – not hear a dissertation on the boring clinical definition of Tourette’s.

Boring Clinical Definition of Tourette’s

Named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1885, Tourette’s consists of both vocal and physical tics that wax and wane in nature and last up to one year.  I’ll get into more detail later, but for now, let’s move on to something you can really relate to… like whining!

 “What happened to my perfect little boy?” was my broken record, twenty four hours a day. No one had an answer, but I have one for you: nothing has happened to your child. Your child is still perfect. Just hang tight. I survived this initial scary period and you will, too. I promise.

It’s Not Fair

You know life isn’t perfect and this condition could be a heck of a lot worse, but you’re still upset. You can’t see the big picture when you’re living the unsettling, fearful present.

In the subconscious recesses of my mind, I knew Tourette’s would one day be viewed as a present, but that didn’t keep me from spending the next seven years looking for the gift receipt. “Thank you, but no thank you. I appreciate the thought, but I’d like to return this for something else. Perhaps a good case of musical genius, a pitcher’s arm, or the ability to burp the Ave Maria.”

The Symptoms

Maybe you have no official label yet, but something is wrong and you’re freaking out. What you used to see as your child’s occasional quirky habits has morphed into unrelenting blinks, eye rolls, jerky head nods and spastic facial grimaces.

It’s hard to watch your child go through this, but stay strong. Tics are like visiting in-laws who invade over Thanksgiving – they’re annoying, can drive you to drink, and just when you get used to them they take off as quickly as they arrived.

The Nature of Tics

Like the departure of your extended family, you feel immense relief that the tics are gone. But Christmas is just around the corner. You have a deep sense of foreboding that those tics – and those in-laws – will be back. What if this time they bring friends?

It’s true that after a quiet period, tics often return. Sometimes kids exhibit the same tic as before and add a different one. Sometimes one tic goes completely away only to be replaced by a new one altogether. Like your Aunt Sally, tics are eccentric and always changing. At least they don’t wear housecoats and smell like old musk.

The Evil of the Internet

You are a normally well-balanced person, but you begin to worry something more serious is at the root.  After searching like a mad woman on the internet, you’re bombarded with hundreds of frightening outcomes for your child.

Seriously, this isn’t helpful. Turn off the computer. (Okay, fine. Don’t listen to me. Keep researching deep into the night like a crazed lunatic. I did the same. But let me reiterate THIS ISN’T HELPFUL.)

Perspective Lost

You begin to slide down the rabbit hole. In that dark pit, you become dizzy and disoriented. You lose perspective. You go to dismal places like brain cancer.

It’s not brain cancer. Your overworked mama brain, however, is spinning like a jacked up tilt-o-whirl on truck stop java. Stop the ride!  Minus some extra dopamine, your child’s brain is perfectly healthy.

Perspective Gained

In most cases – as will be the journey relayed in this book – T.S. and tics remain mild to moderate until adulthood.  Then like your wonky Uncle Donny and Cousin Frankie, they disappear altogether. (Pssst…it’s such a relief no one goes looking for them!)

Focusing on positive outcomes can really keep your negative thinking in check. If you can’t instantly change the tics, change your thinking.

Severe Cases & Seeking Medical Attention

In extreme scenarios (which you’ll get plenty of if you don’t listen to me and scour the internet into all hours of the night) you’ll find cases of children screeching, spitting, jerking and having to be hospitalized.  This is rare. The thought, however, is understandably upsetting.  As with mild tics, it’s always advisable to seek medical attention.

Start with your primary care physician who can then refer you to a neurologist if needed. Don’t be surprised if, after seeing your pediatrician, they seem very unconcerned. Your “emergency tic OH MY GOD IT COULD BE SEIZURES” situation is very commonplace to doctors. It can take months to see a neurologist. I say this not to frustrate you but to assure you that your child isn’t the first one to ever experience this.

Identifying the Triggers (as well as the ever-important legal term known as “Butt Coverage”).

I am not a doctor. I am not a certified nutritionist. I am not a psychologist. I am, however, a mother who has been dealing with Tourette’s for over eight years. This book will share what has eased my son’s symptoms, what has exasperated them, what has eased my symptoms of panic, and what has exasperated them.

Even if your child is dealing with an acute onslaught of tics, the present doesn’t need to indicate the future. Many mothers, with time and patience, have pinpointed triggers for their children’s symptoms. Once these triggers were eliminated, they were able to drastically reduce the tics.

Medication vs. Supplements

You are not a patient person. You want to stop the tics this instant and are bent on getting a prescription for Clonodine or Tenex quicker than you can say Giles De la Tourette. You want a quick fix, and medication is your answer.

That is a very personal choice and I support you on that journey.  I have considered this possibility for my own son, especially now that he’s in those tumultuous ‘tween years. I’ll keep you updated on this at my blog, http://www.HappilyTickedOff.com.

Self-Esteem

Many of you will opt for a more natural route to easing tics, but you worry about your child’s self-esteem while you work out a game plan. You don’t want him teased. Your heart breaks that some nasty kid will poke fun at his arm-thrusting tic.

I understand your concern. I was crushed at the prospect of some bully tormenting my baby. But I set my emotions aside and focused on a more important reality:  Cruel kids are going to tease other children whether or not those children have tics.  My son’s heart, character and personality would define him, not his tics.

“That’s easier said than done,” you might wail.

To that I will respond with a resounding, “Duh.” But with practice, you’ll learn to focus on your child’s strengths, not his tics.

Mild Tics/Mild Annoyance

If your child has mild tics, there’s a good chance he doesn’t notice them or isn’t bothered by them.

This last statement is hard to believe, but it’s true. Your kid might be happily watching Spongebob, coughing like a bronchitis-stricken seal six times a minute, and his only complaint at the end of the show will be, “Mommy, I could really go for a bologna and cheese sandwich.”

Your Child’s Life Is Not Over

To highly tuned-in mamas like yourselves, your children’s inability to be affected by tics is baffling, because every minor gulp, throat clear and tongue click will be magnified into LOUD! RICOCHETING! EXPLOSIONS!  They will boom like a foghorn in your ringing ears, taunting you that your child’s life is O-V-E-R.

Your child’s life is far from over. Tics or T.S. is not a death sentence. The only thing that needs to die is your old vision of what you thought your child’s life would look like. He can experience as much success as a non-ticking child.

It’s Not Your Fault

I’d lie if I said I have 100% embraced T.S., but with some experience under my belt, I have better days than worse days. I might make my kid eat broccoli on purpose, but I didn’t give him T.S. on purpose. I don’t blame myself for his condition.

Whether your child has a unique case of T.S. or he had a genetic pre-disposition to it, stop feeling guilty about it. Focus instead on passing down other incredible gifts to your child, such as the ability to stay curious about life, the ability to love, the ability to experience endless joy and the ability to tell a killer joke. (Never underestimate that last talent. It far surpasses tics any day of the week.)

You Feel Like You Could Die

“I’m devastated,” you might moan. “Acceptance is about as likely to happen for me as winning the Lottery. And frankly, I’d trade in tics for a million dollar jackpot any day of the week.”

 Unlike tics that often appear out of nowhere, transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need time to both accept this crazy syndrome as well as come up with a protocol that will lessen your child’s symptoms. You need to be patient.

Patience-Schmatience

“How can I be patient?” You’ll snap. “As if I didn’t already have the stress of bills, housecleaning, work and a husband who, for the record, seems eerily unshaken by these tics and has no idea why I’m freaking out, I now have to listen to lip smacking five times a minute for three hours straight?!?!”

To this I’ll respond, “Patience comes when you stop paying such close attention.”

And to that you will respond with something that sounds like “I hate you, you self-righteous –know-it- all- bad-bad-lying-liar-who-lies writer lady.”

Go ahead. I can take it. I can also handle your protests about how you’ve tried not to pay attention to your kid’s noises, but you can’t help yourself.

It Gets Better

“There he goes again!” you’ll complain, as you read this introduction and scan for tics with the obsession of a hound dog sniffing out convicts. (Congrats on the multi-tasking, btw.)

To all this I will heartily add that I have been there. I get it. It will get better.

No one Understands!

You very likely will roll your eyes, wondering for a brief moment if you yourself have tics but then realize you’re simply being catty to me which, again, I forgive you. You will then convince yourself that no one else could possibly understand your frustration and hopelessness.

But I do understand it.  I have been locked in car rides through the desert where no amount of country music could drown out my son’s post swimming throat clears. For days afterwards, similar to Old Faithful, I couldn’t help watching and waiting for his well-timed and unremitting eruptions.

Other People Don’t Notice Tics Like You Do

“Old Faithful is an excellent analogy,” you agree, “because everyone is going to stare at him in public – clapping and jeering at this unique and boisterous spectacle.”

Unlike visiting a national monument, most people are not interested in the incredible national treasure that is your child. They simply will not notice the minor sounds and vocal movements. (Note: As a narcissist in transition, I am constantly working on that last piece of advice myself.)

No Room for Fear

But I’m terrified he will be ostracized by his peers!  What if he barks after busses and curses the F-Word in circle time!”

Get that fear a muzzle, because like your bad high school boyfriend, it lies like a rug. (For the record, less than 10% of T.S. kids uncontrollably curse. So let’s keep this worry in check and take it one step at a time, okay?)

Moms’ Survival Tactics

You consider getting earplugs but figure good mothers would never avoid the sounds of their children. You berate yourself for finding excuses to fold laundry to avoid watching your daughter blink and jaw thrust over her chapter book.

One of the best mothers I know rearranged her houseplants so she wouldn’t have to see her daughter nod her head over and over at the breakfast table.

Many people would call foliage adjustment poor parenting.

I call it brilliant. It’s a perfectly acceptable survival mechanism.

Perseverance

By now you’re not sure if I’ve completely lost my mind, but a small part of your brain is telling you I might be making sense. You agree to try out a little patience, but aren’t sure how to start.

How about right now?

Take a deep breath.

Tell yourself that for just this moment everything is going to be fine.

All you have to do is be your child’s mother – in whatever state he or she is in.

Tell yourself that you don’t have all the answers, but you’re going to try your best to take it one step at a time.

Take another deep breath.

And now allow me to share a little story with you as you take your first jaunt down that long and windy road of patience. This inspirational tale is one I heard long before my Nicky was diagnosed with Tourette’s. On rough days for me – which at the beginning were every day – its encouraging message would soothe my brain like a good cabernet.

Side Note: Drinking

During the early days, a bad cabernet worked just as well. If you, too, find yourself drinking a bit more to calm down at the end of the day, you wouldn’t be the first frazzled mama to do so. But I encourage you to keep it in check. T.S. isn’t going away anytime soon. Does your ticking son really need to be flanked by a slurring mother hopped up on Two Buck Chuck? And really, it’s going to be hard enough to find time to cook healthier meals, schedule in more exercise, shop for supplements and fit in a meditation schedule.  Combined with AA meetings, you’ll soon find yourself ticking, too. Careful, okay?  

Now, back to our regular scheduled programming of inspirational story-telling.

Story Time

One of my favorite all time stories about special needs is called “Welcome to Holland.” I took the liberty of adapting it for my experience with Tourette’s.

One day a family of five boarded a plane headed for London. It was winter, which meant their luggage was filled with sweaters, thick wooly socks, mittens and scarves. The mother, who had dreamed of this vacation ever since she had children ten years prior, had planned out the entire trip in painstaking detail. They would have tea near Buckingham Palace after shopping at Harrods. They would tour the Tate and take a family Christmas photo in front of Big Ben.  They would catch a show in the West End and go to mass at St. Paul’s.

After two hours on the plane, she looked over at her three children who had magically fallen asleep in the seats between herself and her handsome husband. She grabbed her mate’s strong hand, smiling at how perfectly everything had fallen into place.

At one point the captain’s voice streamed over the P.A. system.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for flying with us today. Due to some unexpected orders from the ground crew, this plane will no longer be flying to England. We will be changing directions entirely and landing in Africa. I can’t give you much information other than we cannot alter our course. You will have no choice but to make the best of the new arrangement. We’re not sure when we’ll be able to get you back home but you all seem like capable people who can wing it just fine. So, with that in mind, enjoy your new destination!”

Understandably, the mother was horrified at this news. Her husband remained cool and collected. She was both grateful, and horrified, that he wasn’t as freaked out as she was. How could he be so calm??! How could this enormous error happen? She wasn’t prepared for this abrupt switch of plans! This was not the way her dream vacation was supposed to go. The remainder of the flight was spent in abject misery as she ruminated, sulked, cried, moaned, hollered and generally cursed her fate.

By the time the plane landed, she was in quite a quandary. While this was one of the most unsettling experiences of her life, she also knew that falling apart would not help anyone. She’d have to be strong for the kids. She’d have to lean on her husband when she could. But mostly, she’d have to lean on herself. She’d attempt to make the best of it. What choice did she have?

Once on the ground, the luggage never arrived. Everyone was sweltering in their woolen sweaters and itchy pants. She borrowed a pair of scissors from a ticket agent and cut off the sleeves, which they used as headbands. She took the scissors to their pants, made makeshift shorts and hailed a taxi.

As this disheveled family of five crowded into a cab, the driver had a good laugh at their outfits. It turns out he spoke English and asked what happened. Against her normally private nature, she told him. He invited her family to his home and she said yes. Clearly she needed help and couldn’t rely on herself anymore.

For the next two weeks, her family did not shop. They did not tour museums. They did not eat at restaurants.

They ate home-cooked meals around a plain wooden table with the taxi driver’s wife, her sisters, their kids and 20 other people with names she could barely pronounce on Day 1  but by Day 20, she knew them as well as her own family’s names.

The kids ran around barefoot with  children who didn’t speak their language but sure knew how to laugh.

Her husband helped re-upholster the taxi driver’s car, which earned the family some extra money, which they turned around and used for a goodbye feast when the time came to finally fly back home.

With bellies full of food and hearts full of gratitude, they said their tearful goodbyes and boarded the plane.  As they flew back, the mother couldn’t help but think that Africa was a far cry from England. It wasn’t as civilized. It wasn’t as comfortable. But it was exotic. It was different. And her family bonded more in that two-week unplanned adventure in an African village than they ever would have in a pristine London hotel.

That mama, despite feeling like she would drown in despair, faked a good attitude until a true, authentic joy bubbled up from the pit of her soul. Despite not signing up for it, she made the best of the situation and had an adventure of a lifetime.

You will, too. Grab your T.S. passport. T.S. is an adventure. It might seem scary, but let this book be your road map.

Let me be your tour guide. Let my story serve to remind you that you’re not the first to take this scary trip. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I promise you’ll land safely with your child intact.

Buckle your seatbelt. It’s time to Happily Tick Off.

Until next time,

Leave a comment or write me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com

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

poems, Uncategorized, writing, writing wednesday

Writing Wednesday and Pink Umbrellas

 

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It’s Writing Wednesday so I’m going to share a poem I’ve written. I aim to include it in my poem book, along with 100 more that I wrote while subbing 100 days for LA Unified School District. (Hey, if I’m dealing with crazy middle schoolers I’m going to make it work for me! As I heard someone say, “I aspire to inspire before I expire.”

With that in mind, my goal is to get an agent that needs Shel Silverstein meets Dr. Seuss meets a bit of Judy Blume and all Andrea Frazer.

So, without further adieu, here’s one of my older ones. Next week will be one from this year.

Pink Umbrella

Mom said kids might laugh at me

And even cause a scuffle

If I took this umbrella to school with me

It’s pink (and it has a ruffle)

“Honey,” she said, “You know I don’t care

But since you’re a boy… some kids might stare

So here’s a tip that is tried and true:

Be prepared for an answer that works for you.”

My mom’s pretty sharp so I thought of an answer

‘Bout why boys could wear pink and could sing and be dancers

So when Markus asked, “Dude, why are you carrying THAT?”

I said, “Friend, can’t you see that some girls don’t have hats?

I don’t want their hair-do’s to get wet in the rain

So I’ll walk them to class and they’ll never complain.”

And then while he stood there, kind of biting his lips

I decided to get one more thing in real quick

“My papa says girls like boys who can groove

So if I save their hair then one day you’ll see, Dude,

That I’ll have a date to any dance that I please”

And then something happened that you wouldn’t believe

At school the next day… under those rainy day showers

Marcus brought an umbrella – it was purple… with flowers

Leave a link to one of your writings and comment below. I’d love to learn about 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. )

(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, self improvement, Uncategorized

Motivation Monday

Okay, guys, it’s the first of my many Motivation Mondays to come! I’m going to keep these simple and list 5 do-able tasks I can do this week to keep me on track towards my writing goals.

  1. Finish a second pitch to the producer who took my first pitch. (Bug her for notes if I don’t hear by Friday.)
  2. Put all my poems that I’ve written this year (50 in total) into one document.
  3. Re-read your Ray McRubble Chapter book and get it ready for your writing conference you’re teaching at next weekend. (So Cal Christian Writers Conference)

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4. Stick to your marketing/tweeting plan. Just ten minutes 3x day to learn about other people and how strategy works so that you are moving toward a place to sell your next book.

5. Write up another query (to a major magazine this time) so I can be closer to selling on that level.

To conclude, I will continue to pray and meditate each day. A positive mindset is key. Why shouldn’t I make my dreams happen? And why shouldn’t you?

So, what is your plan to motivate you? Let’s check back next week! Leave a comment. (Note: Nothing is too small! “I plan on cleaning the cat crap and not complaining so my house smells better.” That works! Get your ‘claws’ on that goal! (Oh don’t judge.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #58: Make a list of goals and stick to them, no matter how small. You wouldn’t flake on a friend, so why flake on yourself? Ask God for help if you need it but whatever you do, don’t stop.

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. 

books