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

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Sometimes at the end of a long sub day

The kids come home and there’s hell to pay

The dishes from morning are still in the sink

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

“Why do I cook and do shopping and clean

And all of the other shxxx all in between

While they can do school and come home and relax

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

And then I remember

They’re only teenagers!

With just a few short years left

Don’t you think you should savor

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

When, Andrea, when, will it be enough?

When your son stops his ticcing?

When you sell your next book?

When you get on a show?

When you hire a cook?

When you hire a maid?

When you get a new car?

Perhaps what you want is not really that far

You’ve got cars to drive in

You’ve got water to run

You’ve got food in the fridge

In a nutshell… you’ve won!

Stop waiting for Stink to stop making those sounds…

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

The magic is happening… RIGHT AS YOU TYPE

With the neighbor kid laughing and the sweet pumpkin spice

That’s in my diffuser

Plus there’s chill in the air

It’s Fall time at last

And these days, I swear

It’s becoming more clear

That’s it’s my attitude

That keeps me most happy

That indeed sets the mood

So I’ll set all boundaries

I’ll remind them of dishes

I’ll have them fold laundry

But this mom – she wishes

To remember that mostly

This time… it’s so short

It seems yesterday, friends, they were setting up forts

And now they have cell phones

And geometry tests

So I’ll do what I can

But let God do the rest

In closing I wish

That no matter your deal

You’ll focus on things that are precious and real

The hugs and the smiles

The books by the fire

Because when kids are gone

And it’s time to retire

You’ll miss all the chaos

(Yup, even “those” sounds)

And wish those sweet donkeys were still coming around.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Dark Clouds

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

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

I had two choices:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This, of course, elicited loud cheers and guffaws.

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

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

Stillness – It’s the New Control Mechanism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Beeing Happy on Purpose

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She’s 87 or 88. Not sure. All I know is that somewhere between a 12 step meeting, my daughter’s choir concert the night before, my son’s impending “not-date” later that evening and Costco shopping I baked her a cake to celebrate.

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I say this not to be the Queen of Busyness. “Congrats! Here’s your award for stretching yourself too thin and then yelling at the kids five minutes before she arrived that “I DO EVERYTHING and all YOU have to do is sit on your butt and watch Youtube where people thirty years younger than me are making three times as much money as me and NO I AM NOT BITTER.”

I’m not at all frustrated about making that cake. Or the fact that no dishes were washed while I was shopping. (Okay, I’m frustrated about that last one.) I mention the cake because, if I’m not careful, I will be so busy busy busy doing and fretting and striving that I will forget to celebrate the people who mean the most to me.

I don’t always celebrate well, especially the past five years in this endless loop of trying to make money while raising my kids and finding my purpose. My mom will be the first to say, “I know how busy you are, Andrea, but don’t forget to call.” That said, despite not doing things as effortlessly as I did when the kids were younger, I am proud that yesterday I didn’t let a rough start with the kids bleed into the birthday celebration. Some days, like yesterday, just not throwing a fit is good enough. And I’m learning not to apologize about it.

Plus we had a lovely evening later that night at Stink’s “not-date”. While Stink was at the movies, Rex, Pip and I walked around the mall. We ended up playing this charades game, “Heads Up” on Pip’s phone. In the process, two random women walked by and started playing with us. An hour later, I learned all about one’s marriage issues, one’s scrap metal business, the fact that one of them just booked a part on Modern Family and how another wishes she could get into film editing but she’s thinking of starting a family soon. My introverted spouse and daughter just let me play Jay Leno to the latest guests on the Andrea Show while they checked out some free samples at Lush. I’d say I felt bad holding court without them, but it was a blast. I’m always in my happy spot when I can just converse – and that leads me to today’s message in church.)

Pastor Dre  was talking about Paul. He spoke about the importance of finding joy in our less than perfect circumstances. That joy happens when we leave room for God. When we don’t have to do everything ourselves. Like that conversation last night with my two new besties. Not planned. Not going to serve me financially. But honestly, made me buzz with the joy of the banter.

Choosing to be happy is a decision we must make every day. It might seem like an odd thing – finding small bits of glee when things don’t feel so easy in the grand scheme. But that’s kind of the point. We must choose gratitude over what is working, and not focus on what isn’t. That’s where the peace comes in.

As of this moment, I don’t feel particularly joyful. I am tired of the thought of waking at 5am to wait for a sub call I may or may not get. Why don’t I just finally go and get that Masters in Education and be done with it? But if I do that, there’s no more writing. At least not for a few years. Am I okay with that? Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. I’m sick of having no consistent income. So what am I waiting on?

And so, round and round I go. But, to quote my sponsor, sometimes the hallway is exactly where we need to be. If we’re so busy trying to fill it up with fixes, we may just block the door to the freedom and purpose that we’ve been waiting for.

For tonight – just for tonight – I will put on my sneakers and enjoy the beautiful Fall air.

I will relish in the fact that I have a clean car and a script to work on tomorrow.

I will focus on happy children downstairs and a pizza being made by my husband.

And I will remember that I don’t have all the answers to everything right this second. But God does. And that’s enough for now.

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Bee photo from here.

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Uncertainty: Do or Don’t Do (But Don’t Complain!)

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I’m subbing these days for the LA Unified School System. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at once. I love the kids. I love the bell schedule. It’s comforting to know that no matter how awful a hormonal middle schooler can be that in fifty five minutes he will, indeed, get off his desk and turn his cell phone on in someone else’s classroom.

What I don’t love about subbing is how inconsistent it can be. Some weeks I am on top of the world – everyone’s favorite sub and putting out flames like Miss Frizzle on a firetruck. Other days it’s slow. It’s me at 530am, barely awake with my phone on my chest, hoping above hope that the phone will ring – I can stumble through a quick shower – and I’ll be able to put 200 bucks in my bank account.

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Add in the fact that I need to book at least 100 days this year to qualify for insurance for next year and the pressure, like Donkey Kong, is on.

When I start to question my sanity on doing this job, rather than get a 9-6 office job or stay at the steady eddy school aid job that paid very little but gave me insurance, I have to remember a few things:

Reasons for Taking Chances

  1. Not working on certain days this entire week damnit would give me a chance to write my tv pilot! My dream! I am doing just that.
  2. Working as a sub would give me a better understanding of what it takes to teach. (I’m getting that. What used to terrify me now makes me a bit giddy. Who knew I could handle 46 stinky general ed 7th graders, or a class of 9 non-verbal/diaper wearing 8th graders, and not lose my cookies? It’s been an incredibly exciting challenge and full of personality and joy.)

The Uncertainty of Life

The issues I am facing with both the writing as well as the work is that they are both incredibly uncertain. Maybe I’ll get called for the day, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll sell a script, maybe I won’t. (Oh, and tics? Those are kind of uncertain also. Fun times, this uncertainty!) Bottom line: I can’t have it both ways. There is ZERO point in taking these leaps of faith if I’m going to complain, protest and be a general crazy person for my family. (This week taught me that. As of this moment, I am putting it down. Dear Courage, Dear Jesus, I’m ready… Bring it on! And please bring coffee, too. Panic attacks are so much better with Starbucks.)

Fantasy vs. Reality

Let’s get real: The chances of selling like a show, at my age, are slim. It’s not that I am not talented, but it’s so much more than that. This business, as I am experiencing yet again through a class I’m taking, is incredibly, incredibly laced with competition, fear and desperation. I was told by more than a few students in my class that I came on “too strong” and like I had “something to prove.” The truth? I did have something to prove. I wanted people to know I could write! But guess what? They didn’t care! And that’s, sadly, the reality of this business. EVERYONE wants EVERYONE to know how good they are. It’s not just about writing well, it’s about navigating complicated personalities. Knowing when to open your mouth and when to just shut up. The truth? I failed and it cost me a potential workshop win.

Truth vs. Lies

Losing the contest was a bigger blow than I had anticipated. I originally told myself, “It’s just one class… get used to it…” but I’m realizing now the wound went much deeper. It triggered a core belief I had about myself… a belief that turned out to be a lie. And that’s this: Somewhere along the way I told myself this big story that unless I sell a TV show I’m a loser.

Typing it out loud, it sounds so silly, but deep in my gut, my motivation for this genre was flawed. And flawed never works. Even if I sold something, I’d be happy for a bit, but then that roaring lion would come out soon again, taunting me with its “You’re not good enough” barbs and roaring at my inadequacies.

My dear friend, Barbs, said it best, “Andrea, it’s not about writing. It’s about your idol. As soon as you make something bigger than God you are going to lose out on your true purpose for doing what you do. Set it down. See what happens.”

Purpose

And so, on that note, I leave you with the idea of purpose. What is your purpose? What do you do when you think it’s one thing and it turns out, maybe, that God has other plans? Ex: I thought for a long time my purpose was to STOP THOSE TICS. And guess what? That was not the case. In terms of T.S., the purpose there was to teach me to not be so controlling – to accept my son for who he was. (Note: I fail with this a lot.)

With the writing, I know my purpose, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is to do this. But in what form? I don’t know. But God does. And until I am willing to surrender outcome 100% to him, everything else will be just a false idol of ego and proving that in the end will leave me flat.

A teacher I really respect, Graham Cooke, talked about this today.

graham cooke

I don’t know where I’m going these days, but I know that God knows. So for today, just for today, I will finish up that pilot for a workshop I didn’t win, and once again remember that when my sweet ticker comes home from school, it’s not about me wishing he would make different choices with his Tourettes. My son knows he is a child of the King whose voice deserves to be heard. And, whether in Hollywood, books, magazines or just here in my beautiful new office, mine does, too.

And so does yours.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebookbookcover profile pic

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It’s Summer Time!

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Hello dear reader –

It’s summer! The job from hell is over! I did not lose my blessed ward and I did not lose my mind. I came close on a few occasions, but I did it!

I’m happy to report that I’ll be substitute teaching next year while I… drum roll… dip my toe back into the water of TV writing. It’s my dream and I’ve decided that at 48 it’s do or die. My daughter starts high school, Stink is already a Sophomore, and I’m kind of funny when I want to be, so off I go. I followed through on this post and actually wrote a Grace and Frankie for the Warner Bros. TV Writing Contest.

I’m now actively involved with another contest where I go every other Saturday for a month and hopefully get chosen to be one of twenty to work on a new pilot with a top show runner. Prayers, finger crossing and fasting welcomed for this hopeful mama!

Keeping it short for now. But my kid, well, he’s not short. He’s my sweet, ticking SIX FOOT FOUR wonder child. I adore him. (This summer he’s having his new posse of friends from high school over for pizza and game nights. He is heavily involved in “Nerd Club” at school, plays Magic the Gathering, and walks around with a pink basket some girl gave him to house his anime cat. 5 A’s and a C this semester. Just goes to show that when we let our fears of who we think our kids go, our kids can rise to the occasion every time. In my case, he has risen a whole head above me and he’s not stopping anytime soon.)

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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“Life Happens For You, Not To You” – Rose Heart

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Um, he’s the size of my couch now

It’s been one of those seasons – 18 months to be exact – where I didn’t think it could get any busier.

And it did.

  • Full-time work as an aid in for kids with special needs.
  • Hubby transitioning from working at home to working to at an office.
  • Moving the kids into their own rooms upstairs.
  • Rex and I moving into the dining room to give everyone space, only to realize that we truly didn’t have enough of it. (Think of a Pinterest style cat box. It had cute nicks and crannies, but in the end, it was still a cat box: small and crammed with crap.)
  • Deciding if I had to hear a dish clinking in the kitchen sink (right off my bedroom) one more second I would kill everyone, including the dog.
  • Asking our beloved roommate to leave (it was hard… she’s like family) only to finally have to face that demon of a conversation, “Where does our money actually go each month?”

The Fear Oh Crap I’m Going to Be Homeless Simple Money Questions

  • Would I make more money if I went into teaching?
  • Would I bring in even more money with Ebay? Freelance writing? DoTerra? Piano lessons?
  • Would I be able to live with the resentment that I used to sit at home and write while my husband worked in a cush corporate job and instead I was now on a tight work schedule, fitting in my 12-step meetings, church, communication classes, exercise, (would I ever see my mom and friends again?) and oh, yeah, what about that dog that needs walking and, hellz, it was your birthday? Sorry I missed it. Again.

PS: I realized in the past 18 months I was not a victim. I told my spouse to go off and start his own biz. Woops. Until I came to that conclusion, and figured out what I was not willing to accept, it wasn’t fun.

Add in a few tics and high school panic and I could have lost my ever loving mind.

And yet I didn’t.

One thing was different, and so I’m sharing this secret with you in case you, too, might find yourself in a situation more unmanageable than Trump’s ego and hairdo: “Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.”

That came to me from my mentor and fellow writer, Rose Heart, and it bears repeating:

“Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.” – Rose Heart ,Writer

That statement has changed forever how I view life. Once you’re a pickle, you can never be a cucumber again. And so it is with truth when it hit me square in the eye.

I could either choose to bemoan my lack of time and funds, or I could be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new about myself.

I could either freak out about tics, or I could be grateful my boy still wants me to come in his room at night, say prayers, and show me his video game.

I could be steaming mad at my spouse – deflecting my own need to change – or I could learn to stand my ground on the things I need, let go of the ones I don’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

All these things lead me to my glorious glorious news: I am dedicated once again to what this blog is about. It’s not about changing people, places, things, tics or the weather in order to feel better in my own skin. It’s about changing what’s under my skin so radically that other things barely bug me.

It’s not always easy, but when I remember to radically love myself to love others because I know, deep in my gut, that God loves me, it works. It really does.

I hope you’ll come back to me here. I have missed writing. I have missed you.

And if you’ve missed you, it’s never too late to find yourself again. Because, at the end of the day, you are all you got. And whatever in your life you find so awful you can’t take it, remember that it’s not happening to you. It’s happening for you. You can either unwrap the gift of clarity every single day and go forth with courage or you can throw it away.

But believe me – until you take ownership – that gift will keep landing on your doorstep, begging you to use it, incorporate it into your life as it is (not as you want it to be… hello, reality!) and upgrade it for something better.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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It’s Not About the Fixing the Tics… It’s About Fixing Our Eyes on The One Who Matters Most

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Many of you who have read this blog know that I went through hell and back trying to come to terms with my son’s Tourette Syndrome. I tried everything including, but not limited to:

  • Acupuncture
  • Gluten free/dairy free diet
  • Naturopath visits
  • Brain balance
  • Medication
  • ….and more

Despite my efforts to suppress the tics, they still came back. Do I think we could have done more? Yes. But we didn’t. Why? Stink could care less about them. Even at 14, they are still here, head nodding their way through an exciting episode of Gravity Falls… eye rolling their way through a video game… – but they are background players to a movie script full of life, excitement and drama. They are part of who he is, not who he is.

Got Special Needs? My Book Will be Your BFF

Despite my book starting out as a “How to Fix Tics” novela, it quickly became a book on how to love your child for who he is, despite the tics. It became a book for parents of special needs in general – a guide to navigating a diagnosis that you weren’t expecting with some humor, strength and hope.

My Book Will Make You Feel Less Alone

If you are dealing with a diagnosis that is threatening to take you under, Happily Ticked Off is for you. It will make you feel less alone. Why? Because I’ve been there, done that. I’ve been in the I.E.P. meetings. I’ve been to the doctors and the shrinks. I’ve been the lunatic in the grocery store aisles mortgaging my house on organic food because I was positive that if we just had gluten free bread and some Taurine life would become more manageable.

I’m Not God

Threaded through my book is my journey towards a God I came to call Jesus. Why did I end up there? (“Dear God, she’s becoming a holy roller. What happened to our fun Pass the Zoloft cabernet swigging writer friend?” I’ll tell you, people: she realized she simply couldn’t be God. She was a writer, but someone else wrote her story.)

“So My Kid has Tourettes? I’m Supposed to Just Sit Back and Pray the Shoulder Shrugs Away?”

NO. Far from it! The truth is – and I mean this – there is a lot you can do with diet and exercise, but that’s not my expertise. It’s not my story. My son’s special needs life took a turn when he threw his diagnosis on its head and decided that his personality and soul were far superior to his twitches. The story didn’t end with an answer to tics. It began with God being my answer first – then everything else fell into place.

How Can This Book Help You?

If your son or daughter is really struggling with their diagnosis, tics or other, you might wonder why my book can help? It can help you because while I show my own journey to sanity (one that you can learn a lot from – both the ups and downs). It will keep you grounded on what is important while you find your way to peace.

Peace and Special Needs – Is That Possible? YES

Peace can come with a diet that helps tics.

Peace can come with a medication that helps ADD or ADHD.

Peace can come with a vitamin or therapy that helps with Autism issues.

But in the end, peace comes first when we realize that who we are as parents are good enough.

That our kids were created in the image of a God who loves us no matter what.

When we start with the notion that our kids are perfect despite some imperfections because the God who made them is perfect, then we are more relaxed to love them, find solutions and help them become adults who have confidence, strength and purpose to help others.

When they become rooted in who they are in God, the tics, autism and everything else become, like my son’s challenges, background noises in a script full of life, hope, peace and joy.

Moms, You Are Going to Be Okay!

And your child is going to be okay.

That’s because God is good enough to be with us every step of the way.

How Can I Pray for You?

Leave me a comment and let me know how I can pray for you and support you.

 

Until next time…

Andrea

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

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10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

I’m not really sure what everyone is complaining about when it comes to having teens in the house. They are joys and help me learn and grow and become a better person in Jesus. I just turn on the Holy Spirit and it’s like Joyce Meyers on steroids round here. 

I’ve decided that having teenagers is akin to turning on one of those giant car vacuums. Except instead of using it to clean out your car, it gets attached to your body, and all your insides get sucked out.

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Until you’re left starting the morning feeling like this:

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And you end the afternoon looking like this:

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And then you get ready for bed with this tape playing in your brain:

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I’m fully aware that it’s not my job to make my kids happy. In fact, the more I give, the more unhappy they are. Too much does not breed contentment. It breeds entitlement. And while I aim to listen to my kids and not judge, the truth is that often I hear them complain about all the things they are not getting compared to some of their friends and family members (trips to Europe, extra curricular classes, new clothes, park passes).  I am getting to the point where it’s time to put the hammer down. They don’t need more stuff. They need more chores. (Yup, I’m going there.)

The trick for me, when it comes to getting off the rat wheel of, “Am I doing an adequate job with these kids?” is to engage in the following. It’s helps me so much. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

10 Ways to Be Around Teens Without Wanting to Stab Your Eyes Out

  1. Building Adults: I remind myself it’s not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to teach them how to be self-sufficient people so they can take care of themselves. (Yes, you have to do the laundry every Monday. Yes, you have to take the trash out every Tuesday. No, I’m not giving you an award for your mediocrity. Thank you have a nice day buh bye.)
  2. Talk to Others: When I share with others my insecurities about not providing enough “fun” for my kids, I feel better. “Oh, you can’t give your daughter a 24,000 dollar education at a private hippy school either? Phewww! Let’s slum it together at public school in a nice zipcode like inner city mall rats!” (I am very lucky. I know it. My kids don’t yet.)
  3. Stay in Gratitude: When I remind myself of all the amazing things they do do for others – when they are not being self-centered and pestering me for cash to get our ridiculously entitled pitbull fancy dog training to keep from massacring small rodents and cats- I stop being so hard on both them and me.
  4. Give Myself a Break: Every day I spend $3.00 on a Starbucks Americano for myself. Yes, that’s $80 a month. It’s a lot. But it’s mental health. I don’t buy fancy clothes, haircuts or even skincare. I’m worth this luxury. It’s not about the taste alone. The cup, subconsciously, shows my kids that I feel I’m worth spending some cash on when they don’t often see that.
  5. Remember I’m Important! Along the lines of #4, I need to remember that I matter. It’s not just about serving my kids. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
  6. Model Good Behavior: It’s not all about me all the time (who knew?). I make sure to reach out to others every day and ask how they are. It takes me out of myself and gives my world perspective.
  7. Get Comfy with Change: Kids change. Life changes. It’s supposed to be this way. I can hold onto the past forever, but it’s not going to make a very fun present, and certainly not pave the way toward a new future.
  8. Take Time for Myself: Every day I take some time away and read. I’m actually starting to journal again, too. Sure, most people might not take Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” to Loews and sit in the patio section. But for me, it’s a break from my house. It’s a way to stay cool. And it’s a place full of beautiful lights, plants and furniture. It makes my “everything is perfect” portion of my brain light up. (Especially when life is far from perfect.)
  9. Let Go: I start every day with a list of things I can’t control. It sounds like I’m in victimhood, but I assure you, it’s to remember that there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my son’s tics sometimes, or my daughter’s attitude, but I can write it on the list and then give it to God to handle for me. PS: This works out well because not only does my son not want me to care about his tics, but my daughter also doesn’t need me bowing down to her hormones. Just like my willingness to give my problems to a God bigger than me, I am not my daughter’s God. She needs to learn to self-soothe on her own sometimes. (And so do I.)
  10. Pray: This is the most important thing on my list. If I don’t pray, I’m a mess. I have seen over and over that God can heal what I can’t change. He might not heal the circumstances, but he can change my perspective on how to handle them. God is my rock (and my salvation) and someone who I know loves me no matter what. “Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

And God loves you, too. (Even if your teenagers do not.)

What Would You Add to the List?

How’s teen life in your home? If you don’t have teens yet, what do you think of my list? If you’ve had them, I’d love your input!

Until next time…

Andrea

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

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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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I’ll Take a Venti Life with 3 Pumps of Sweetness and a Side of Career. Oh, And I Have a Coupon

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So the award for the longest title goes to me.

Also the award for the biggest tantrum on the planet. It has been going on for two days two years. And now it’s ending. What I really needed to do two years ago was give myself a spanking to snap out of it, but I don’t believe in corporal punishment, so instead I whined and complained and basically made myself and many around me miserable.

And then last week I threw water at my argumentative teenager which was my wake up call to give myself a time out on my nuttiness. And here’s what I learned.

Right now I’m exactly where I need to be.

I’m not God so I can stop pretending to run the universe. He has a plan for my kids, my hubby, my job, my entitled sausage of a dog… all of us.

I’m working at Starbucks.

I can stop feeling bad about it. It’s not because I suck at writing or because I couldn’t get something better. It’s because it’s an honest living. I get to stretch that side of me that hates discipline, order and routine and become good at it. Why? Because how can I expect my kids to do the same if I haven’t learned that lesson?

In taking a little time to myself the other day (a long time coming, I might add) it really sank in that my current job situation is tough for a creative like me. But it’s not impossible. And it’s not necessarily a punishment or a burden. It’s quite the opposite.

Getting paid pennies to show up on time, flex new sides of my brain and show professionalism when I want to scream are valuable life skills that I need to be ready when the bigger stuff hits. It’s allowing me to become a warrior in my own life. This is not a crap job. It’s a magic tool belt to refine my spirit. It’s a petri dish for my character defects and because of it I get to grow.

Life is not a Starbucks drink. I don’t get to stand in line with a kushy gift card and order a Venti Existence with Three Pumps of Joy and a Side of Career. (With a gift card no less!) I get to earn it fair and square so I’m ready when the big stuff comes along.

And here’s the real kicker: What if the big stuff is not out there? What if this is the big stuff… this very minute? This very “smells like Pike standing on my feet working it all out in a green apron” minute? Is that good enough?

The very plain answer is yes. Because right here… right now… is where my kids get to be 12 and 13. Where I get to work on my relationship with my spouse. Where I get to serve others and love on my nasty customers and try to make someone else’s world better each and every day.

And in doing so I get the greatest riches of all.

Peace.

Just a few thoughts for today.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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