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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

book front and back

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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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I Am. Enough.

Enter Adele Song

Hello, blog…

It’s me.

I  have lost you in the pile of the

Trash and the laundreeeee

blog 11blog 8

But I’m finding…

My waaaaaay out…

Of the construction and the shipments so this post is all about….

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(Big bridge)

Hello from the other side

My freelancing career done died

No more Ebay… and clients

It was all way too much

So I’m now… going full time…

So I don’t go any more nuts…

blog 14

Anymore…..

Yes, hello from the other side… the side that is getting back to the me-that used to be. Like my kid who tried to rock the Robert Plant rocker look only to finally get a haircut yesterday, sometimes we have to cut off the old in order to grow something new.

after

I’m not sure if you’re like me, but sometimes things can feel overwhelming. It can feel absolutely impossible to get everything done in one day and do it well. And, well, that’s because it IS impossible. How does one mother, work, clean the house, shop, exercise and, God forbid, stoke the fires of her own soul?

I could overthink until I’m blue in the face (or pink like my kid’s pic above) but the real answer is: YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL.

Knowing this, and giving oneself the permission to not get it all done, are two different things. I’m making baby steps toward the second option and cutting myself some slack. But here’s the deal. I love to write. Some of my favorite times were when the kids were little and I wrote for a few big name blogs in addition to keeping my own personal blog. There was something connective about it. Something exhilarating about getting a comment. It felt like I made a difference. When other people wrote and I read their words, they often pierced into the very marrow of my bones as if to say, “I get it. I’ve been there. Keep going.”

I want that again. Full-time job or not, family obligations or not, I want to do the thing that makes me feel most alive. I want to do what God wired me to do.  I’m a story teller. And while for a season of my life it seems I’ll be adding commuter to my title, I’ll still need a place to share my stories. And that’s here.

Today on a walk with a friend, we were discussing the notion of balancing “want to’s” with “have to’s”. She, too, is a worker, a mama of two (one with some extra needs). She, too, knows the frustration of feeling like, in her words, a “piece of silly putty… pulled in a zillion directions.”

She told me about a sign she has on her computer screen at work that reads, “I am enough.” Yes, she is. So am  I. And so are you. How do I know this? Because I have a God who, in translation, literally means “I am.” Add a period to her sign and you’d get, “I Am. Enough.” I can’t help but believe this is the very God I choose to worship, telling me to cool my jets. “Slow down, Andrea. I am here. Stop with the spinning. Enough.”

And so, just for today, I will breathe.

I will get that transcript ordered from my college to turn into my potential full-time gig.

I will go back to the grocery store and pick up the items I had to leave yesterday when my checking account disagreed with the amount of food I was attempting to purchase.

I will take my son to Bible Study with his best buddy, Ty, because it’s Tournament Series and nothing says Jesus like a bunch of stinky tweens with painted faces and wrestling capes screaming “Lucha Libre!”

lucha libre

I will take the $100 a neighbor so kindly gave me out of the blue (“for always helping my son out”) and bring my daughter to the mall for a dress for her first middle school dance. (Visa bill, you can suck it for one more month. My kid needs some ruffles.)

I will send a reformatted galley copy of my book to my publisher so that I can get my #s up on Amazon from 200 sold to 201. (Nothing says hitting the big time like a $90 residual check.)

I will grit my teeth when I feel like screaming and tell my husband that he is “smart” and “courageous” and that I “have his back” with his business, even though what I really want to do is fall face first into my raised garden bed and cry about having to work full-time because I DON’T WANNA I DON’T WANNA I DON’T WANNA!)

The truth is, despite what can seem like a pretty daunting to-do list, all of it is do-able thanks to my God. This God helps me do big things. I don’t need to be scared. I have a teammate. I am no longer alone.

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How can I let go of fear of the future? I can live in the present. In His presence. Because there, in His embrace instead of my own anxious mind, I am secure.

I am brave.

I can do this.

(And so can you.)

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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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Joy. Every Day. Just Cuz.

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My daughter knows how to have joy. Whether it’s baking, or playing the piano, or singing or just playing with the timer on her new camera (see above!) she commits to beauty and contentment.

She is strong. She does not cater to popular opinion. Bring on the Justice sparkles and the “Peace Love and Monkey” tee shirts. NO THANK YOU. She’ll sit there quietly, back straight, with crisp black Mary Janes at the ends of her perfectly crossed ballet legs. She is kind and respectful, but she accommodates no one.

This mama has been has been watching her and taking notes. She’s onto something. Why NOT commit to joy, even with my to-do list bursting? Even with demands pressing at me wherever I turn?

I’ve had this realization that while I Ebay, write my articles, consider full time work and attempt to take care of my children (at times I feel like I’m lagging on that last part) I might as well enjoy every second of it. And while you’ll never catch me baking or taking artsy pictures, I sure as hell enjoy a Costco trip. Grocery shopping and budgets be damn, I can squeeze enough laughs out of a one hour run to last me for the day.

Take yesterday.

After downing more samples than a drug addict at a cocaine-for-all buffet, I was making my way from the Rotisserie Chicken section to canned beans when I  had to stop. A burly man and his wife were blocking my cart as they eyeballed the Vitamixers.

Wife: (startled) Oh, are we blocking you?

Me: Yes, you are. But it’s fine. I’m not in a hurry. (Which was true.)

Wife: (thrilled) Oh, thank you! How kind!

It was a little thing, but I could totally feel her light up from the inside over the fact that I didn’t call her a lazy ass slow poke for halting my progress.

Later on, while in line to pay, I saw the same couple next to me. The wife had just finished asking an elderly lady if she needed help lifting the 2000 pound bag of Pedigree. I suppose the wife could have been one of those predators that take advantage of needy octogenarians, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I could sniff her faith out a mile away, too, and just had to ask.

Me: I know this might sound odd, but are you a church goer?

Wife: Yes I am! How could you tell?

Me: I guess you just had a whole lot of God coming out of you. It’s nice.

Wife: You, too! Praise Jesus!

What could I say to that?

Me: Sounds good to me!

Lest any of you non-Christian readers think I’m about to get into a “Your kid’s tics will be healed if you drink the Jesus juice” rant, rest assured I’m not the Bible Thumper type. But I do love to connect with people, which is why seconds later I found myself at the coffee grinder, talking 20 minutes to man whose name turned out to be Bob. Come to find out he was also a member of the same 12 step association I belonged to. He later introduced me as a new friend to his wife, which of course I turned to and said, “Um, mam, I hate to break his anonymity, but did you know that your husband is an ALCOHOLIC?”

On the way out the door, I spoke to the transgendered item checker who, despite looking more manly than the week before, still goes by the name Krystal. She agreed that it is indeed cold outside but it’s no excuse for people to drive like mother cluckers.

On the way out the parking lot I looked the other way at the teenagers joy racing in the electric disabled carts. Why? Because I was young once, too, and their smile made me smile and that meant joy.

Later that night, I heard thump thump thump coming from upstairs. I could have gotten annoyed, but I didn’t. That was the sound of the two people I love most, having some joy with my daughter’s new camera. Apparently the timer feature is awesome for flying shots. Who can argue with that?

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A few hours later, while painting my nails with my daughter, I heard more squeak squeak squeaks coming from my son’s room. I sighed deeply.

Pip: Mom, you wrote a book for other people to deal with the tics. Why don’t you read it again for yourself?

Me: You have a point, kid. I’m working on it. But I’m not perfect yet. I’m trying.

After that, despite flogging myself like I normally do for just not being over sounds that my kid can’t control, I went on painting my nails. I joked around with my daughter (who of course scolded me for the inappropriate ones. How did I give birth to Jane Eyre?) And I internally gave a quick “Thank you, God” that my kids are still here in my home, safe and sound, despite  a few noises.

And joyful.

Thank you God, for the joyful.

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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

book cover

 

 

 

 

 

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I Could Be Ticked Off, But I’m Too Bleepin’ Excited

kids start school

Greetings from Happily Ticked Off. Remember me? That once faithful blogger who helped you navigate through the highs and lows of tics? The person who gave you all sorts of encouragement when you felt worse than a nit in your kid’s hair after a session with the lice lady?

Side note: Do any of you non-L.A./New York readers have this service? A real, live nit-picker who will comb baby lice out of your kid’s hair one painstaking strand at a time? Yes, even with much of our world in dire poverty, I say without apologies that I blew $400 bucks a few years back to deal with what I can only refer to as the Lice Infestation of 2010. It’s chronicled in this article, “Of Lice and Men.”

SUMMER

Did you all have a good summer? I, personally, did not. Mine consisted of this:

* Commute 1 and a half hours each way for a writing gig that kept promising insurance but didn’t give it

* Schedule kids for play dates and camp dates around my husband’s work schedule – that schedule being his very own I.T. company start up which, of course, does not pay insurance, but we have a dream, people! Dental, schemntal, insurance. Who needs teeth! I’ll start on my smoothie regime, lose weight, save money on the gym, and buy health insurance!

* Ebay on the side to make $29/month to put toward elusive insurance, only to inevitably spend it by the end of the month because I can’t take cooking, cleaning and kid wrangling ONE.MORE.SECOND. so I give my hard earned income to El Pollo Loco, Taco Bell or some other fast food joint that is not full of gluten but inevitably causes me to worry that I’m going to make my kids die an early death from their GMO-laden, toxic, hormone pumped chicken/cows, not to mention increase tics because, you know, I’m going to cure this whole syndrome with food alone.

* Have a few people close to me be less close to me because I’ve been so busy working my patience resembles a burned out elecrical chord on a dried out Christmas tree and, well, apparently I’m not as much fun to be around when I’m on four hours of sleep, six cups of coffee, and enough Oreo cookies to make Santa vomit. 

After 8 weeks of this insanity routine, my kids started school.

Normally I cry.

This year, it was all I could do to numbly kiss them goodbye at the classroom door. On one hand, it saved me the agony of worrying about my sixth (yes, SIXTH) grade boy’s tics increasing. I was too tired to freak out. “He’s a strong kid,” I told myself, and I meant it. “If he’s fine, then stop.” Work, with all it’s zillion tasks and responsibilities, simply didn’t allow for excess rumination. It was fall down and die of fear, or keep moving. I chose the latter.

On the other hand, numbness and stone cold resolve was a real sign for me that in running such a rapid pace I was not only outrunning grief, I was outrunning joy.

When was the last time I sat with my kids and read a book?

When was the last time I had coffee with my mom at the mall?

When was the last time I sat in my room, organized my photos, and just laughed at some of my family and friends’ ridiculous hair-do’s, not to mention my own?

While I can’t say I didn’t do any of those things mentioned above, I wasn’t as present as I’d like to be.

But today, after almost 10 months of marathon training, I was given my walking papers at work. (Well, not 100% true. My job was reduced to 75% of its original description. Which means 75% less pay.)

Fear? Anxiety? A wee bit. But truthfully, not that much. I truly feel God has a plan for me. Despite a whole lot of uncertainty ahead, joy and hope is bubbling up to the surface.

I’ll get to be present.

Present on my site.

Present in my home.

Present in my community.

And people, that is SUCH a gift.

I’ve missed you.

Andrea

(Pic of Stink, Pip and Miss L, starting 6th and 5th)

Wait, there’s more!

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

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