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Dormant Not Dead

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It’s been almost a month since the teachers’ strike, and I’m excited to say I’ve subbed every day but one since then. If things continue along this line, I’ll make my 100 days without a problem.

Insurance! Yay! This sounds great until you hear the other part of that scenario. You see, I had to give up insurance this year to put in my time to get my benefits next year. (That’s how LAUSD traps you. It’s so scary to do this, and one is so grateful once they get the insurance, they fear leaving the machine lest zombies of “I Told You This Was Dumb Butt Wipe” stalk you for life and you never recover.)

Given this toxic insanity, my husband and I went back and forth for a few months on whether this new gig would be such a good idea. Sure, it would mean more money per day, but only if I worked every day. And it wouldn’t matter this year as the extra cash would have to pay for our insurance. But next year it would work. If I banked the hours.

Lots of buts and ifs. This kind of someday/maybe thinking is not for the faint of heart. But we made a decision on faith and haven’t looked back. (Well, I looked back. I didn’t suffer the fate of Lot’s wife, but my normal low blood pressure rose from the faux salt stress increase anyway.)  Rex? He’s been surprisingly optimistic about my subbing. In the end, thanks to a lot of prayer, meditation, 12 step meetings, family, friends and the occasional pit bull lick of support, I can now say I am thrilled made the choice to try something new. Here’s what I’ve learned which I’ve applied to my life in general.

5 Ways I Got Happily Ticked Off About Substitute Teaching

1) Fearlessness: I learned that to do new things I had to be fearless. Jobs weren’t always a guarantee, and setting the alarm each morning at 5am so I could be ready for the 530am sub call took some adjustment. But instead of going into meltdown mode (okay, once or twice I went there) I incorporated some morning meditation into my routine for the wait. I set the intention of being where God would have me for the day. Turns out, it wasn’t to dwell in Complainville. My spirit daily whispered that I could cry or have a good attitude. The good attitude made all the difference.

2) Laughter: Things didn’t always going to go smoothly. (Like the time I marched 61 middle schoolers into a darkened gym without knowing where the light key was. This meant 61 hairy, stinky 13 year olds yelling, shrieking, making hump sounds and playing BTS on recurrent loop from phones way more expensive than mine. Yeah, that was about as fun as a colonoscopy.) Despite the discomfort of living in the dark sometimes (literally as it turns out), not taking screwups so seriously gave me courage to try it again. (With light keys in tow.)

3) Confidence: Big shocker coming: I can overthink things and get insecure when I don’t know what’s happening. Whether it’s taking roll on an antiquated system, working with a school wide computer system that’s slower than I am during my 5am wakeup call, or getting 12 kids with special needs and wheelchairs onto a bus, I worry that I won’t get it right. Guess what? I often don’t. But I came up with a motto that keeps me from being paralyzed with perfectionism: “If don’t kill anyone, that’s good enough.” So far so good. And in just doing stuff over and over I gain more confidence.

4) Honesty: I don’t pretend to know what I don’t know – especially in front of the middle schoolers. They see through b.s. quicker than Windex.  Being honest about the fact that sometimes “I just don’t get Geometry but I can talk a great game about John Green Books” gets me a lot of respect. (Plus wearing a Nine and Three Quarter necklace along with some floral Doc Martin’s doesn’t hurt either. “Who is this 6 foot muggle?” They are thinking. I’m funky enough, and scary huge enough, to keep their attention.)

5) Joy: Going back to my Ms. Frizzle meets Hogwarts fashion statements, I remember each day to have joy. I don’t just remember. I radically insist on it. Without it, my soul suffers and so do the people around me. And how is that helpful? It isn’t.  I no longer allow myself to be a victim of my circumstances or my often fluctuating moods. I am here to be of service to the kids, my family and to myself. That means focusing on what is working, not what isn’t. And to do that, I must have joy. That comes from practicing #1 – 4 .

My Committment

I have made this commitment before, but it’s become even more apparent the past few months that I need to make it again: I am going to blog every day. EVERY DAY. Even if it’s just a line about my kid’s new mouth gear. (Note: Stink got braces! But… he was supposed to get Invisalign. That means I was pretty surprised yesterday to walk into the dental exam room and find his mouth full of shining metal. So I asked the orthodontist “Hey, what happened?” At which she showed me the contract I signed which, at the very top in bold letters read: “FULL BRACES.”

How did I make that mistake? Because my mind had been all over the place this month: Working, kid pickup, cleaning, shopping, worry over finding time to write this script I’m on deadline for, a new pop up camper and why oh why is the dog using my wooden spoon as a bone? When will I ever get those Christmas thank you notes out and what ever happened to my book of poems? The point: I just signed that contract without really looking at the fine print. (The upside: My poor son will be shiny example to me to SLOW DOWN in the future. Two years of an example, in fact!)

I can’t give you answers to all the neurotic questions that often bombard my brain, but I can say this: When I blog life flows better. It makes the orthodontic mistakes funny instead of shameful. It connects me to those of you who also wonder sometimes if you’re doing enough for your teenagers in this world of instant gratification and social media confusion. It validates the simple truth that shared happiness, and pain, through honest postings means far more than memes on Facebook that talk about personal growth without actually growing.

When I’m blogging, I’m growing. Like the plant in the photo above from a classroom I subbed at last week, I’m not dead. Just dormant. I’m thrilled to be back in the place that waters my soul and brings me a little light.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #7: Commit to doing something you love every day. 

Leave a Comment

What about you? What hobby makes you Happily Ticked Off?

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. 

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There’s Nothing Outside of Yourself You Need to Be Happy (Except Maybe Headphones)

 

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I live in house with a husband, 2 kids, a pit bull and a room mate. Given that we have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, this does not give us a lot of space. (I admit it. I’ve peed in the backyard at times. No one knows this but a few close friends. And, well, now everyone who reads this blog. Don’t judge.)

I’m completely aware that people in other countries live 8 to a room (heck, the kids I assist at a Title 1 grammar school one city away live 8 to an apartment) so I try not to complain. Each day I write gratitude lists.

“Thank you God for the giant oak tree that shades the cramped dining room poor excuse for a bedroom  sacred space I share with Rex.”

“Thank you God for our fridge full of vegan hot dogs and gelitin-free food for my entitled/have no idea how much it costs big-hearted teenagers whose sweet souls are always thinking of animals.”

And, speaking of teenagers, “Thank you God for my beautiful daughter who today is 13. Today.”

Today, folks.

My round faced china doll girl of yore has morphed into long legs and curvy hips. Her Betty Page throw back hair style has been replaced with long brown locks. She has zits near those gorgeous dimples. And, as much as I grieve the few stains on her lovely face, I pray sometimes that, to borrow a similar statement from Farmer Stacey, ‘May God keep her pimply and humble.’ I’m not ready for what comes with the other.

Today I picked up my son from the train station. He had just returned from five days of visiting his best friend who lives 4 hours away. I swear, he stepped off that train and I didn’t recognize him.

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Stink: (Low Man Voice) “Hey, Pipsqueak.”

Pip: “Hi, Stink!”

Miss L: “Give us your bag!”

And so he did. My girl, her bestie and him. They walked side by side to the car, talking the pros and cons of the Hogswart Express vs. Amtrak. (Yes, there’s delicious food. Unfortunately no chocolate frogs or magical playing cards. Darnit.)

I often wear headphones, like the ones below, to get some space from the constant noise and chaos that surrounds this busy home.

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But when I stay in gratitude, I am so often overwhelmed with how it’s also a happy home with all its clanking, banging and raucous laughter. And I will miss these days when they are gone.

Quiet is good to calm the mind, but when push comes to shove, I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.

As my sponsor often tells me, “You don’t need anything outside of yourself to be happy.” And while I often want to punch her in the face cringe when she says that, she’s right. I am learning, slowly, that there is a lesson in everything.

And today, the lesson was clear yet again: head phones can give me a little breathing room to find myself amongst the dog barking, the door bell ringing, the Jehovah Witnesses preaching, but always remember I am my best self when I am surrounded by people I love.

And so, I will be taking off these suckers in a moment. I will be saying prayers with my kids upstairs. I will crawl into bed next to Rex, and I will once again say thank you to a God who I don’t always understand, but I know gives me everything I need. And I don’t need to find him outside of myself.

And neither do you.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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