Coaching and Wellness, faith, Jesus, self improvement, writing

Motivation Monday – A Business Plan!

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Swinging on a Star

Yesterday at church Pastor Craig talked about Elijah and Elisha. I can’t lie – I still don’t remember what the story was about other than the focus was on overwhelm, panic and what oh what to do hand ringing/sigh/oy vey when one is at an impasse.

My little ears perked up when he mentioned this particular theme so I wrote down his main 3 points. As it turns out, he put the same 3 points up on the screen moments later. He doesn’t normally map out his messages visually, so I took this as yet another sign that I’m a total narcissist everything is about me of synchronicity that God was showing up where I needed him most by making Himself more than clear… several times in a row.

I’m not sure how to say this in Hebrew, but I believe the translation is: “Wake up, Dumbass! I’m trying to tell you something!” (And for anyone who knows me you KNOW I’m ready for some direction.)

I am certain you’re all dying to know what Pastor Craig’s 3 take-aways are, so I’ll put them up for you right here:

  1. Ask for help
  2. Be persistent
  3. Just move forward even if you don’t know what the results will be  
    sss              (image source: Google)

Let it Unfold!

This last part hit me hardest because I like to say I’m a risk taker, but in reality, my risks are small. Not unlike boys at a high school dance waiting to move into the center of the floor and ask someone to sway to a slow song, they are often calculated, sometimes over-analyzed and often swirled in a good dose of fear. Oh, yeah, I can say I have faith to walk into a new public school every day as a sub, but it doesn’t take all that much faith to sign up for a job where you know you are going to get milk cartons thrown at your noggin by entitled pre-teens a paycheck if you just show up, shut your mouth and don’t manhandle the middle schoolers. (Quiet, Tuskany.) Nope, real faith for me is trusting in the talents I know God has designed me with: My words, my love of people, my belief in transformation and my faith. 

Along the lines of putting a stake in the ground and just moving forward (Dear, God, Andrea, just move the Beexxxp!!!! forward) I made a decision last week to pursue my Masters in Education at the end of next school year if, and only if, the writing showed no signs of making consistent higher income.

But to have a higher income, I need to choose a path. So… ladies and gentlemen… I finally chose a path. Roll out out the red carpets this has only been four years in the making!!!!

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I will write a book a year for three years and do all the necessary marketing to make it happen. I can do this while subbing! This is reasonable!!!!!

But to make that happen, I must have a business plan.

So today, for two hours, I began creating one.

And here’s something pretty shocking: I didn’t poop out a first draft and call it done. I gave it time. I’ll give it more time this whole week. And then on Monday of next week I will execute. (This will include items like a sweeter looking blog, as well as a home to house all my scripts, articles and current book which, um, never was properly marketed.)

Sidenote: Do you know to have a book sell you have to actually have a game plan and move on that game plan? Who knew???

In addition to a beginning business plan, I also gave my most recent project an hour and defended it with my life. No phones, no emails, no texts, no Facebooking, no “Oh, wow, that is the cutest puppy across the street I MUST GO SAY HELLO and then resent my kids and friends for wanting to spend time with me when I pissed all my work time away on asking the dog’s owner about the pros and cons of her Birkenstalk footgear and if she thought Sherlock was worth all the hype.”

OH MY GOD I GOT SO MUCH DONE!

Like that last point in Pastor Craig’s message, I don’t know where today’s project will land. But I do know that in taking the next indicated step a path will be made clear.

Plus I was in such a good mood all day, despite still having to work a small side job, making dinner and driving teenagers clear across town TWICE (plus falling on my butt in front of someone’s driveway like a drunk penguin) that I just didn’t have time to get into fear.

The Takeaway

My life will inform my writing (faith and joy) not the other way around (ego). And man, that feels amazing.  It makes me so happy I could spit.

Ptuyyyy! Okay, I just did spit. For good luck. Not because I totally just had a cherry seed stuck in my mouth.

Leave a Comment:

What is motivating you? If nothing, and you’re upset about it, are you willing to take a less calculated risk and put something down on paper or here in a comment? What do you have to lose other than your misery and frustration?

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.

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faith, God, Jesus, parenting, Uncategorized

You Can Manage and Control Something, but You Can’t Enjoy It at the Same Time. (Yeah, Let That Sink In.)

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My daughter got up early today to join me at Magic Church. I call it Magic Church because for the past six months I’ve been attending this 125 person community that all believes different things about the Gospel. Some are married, some are divorced, some are gay and married, some are gay and single. Not everyone believes in the same path to God but all believe in one thing: Letting each other figure it out the best way we can.

I’ve struggled with certain elements of right wing religion for a while, so the freedom to breathe for this A-personality control freak has been nothing other than MAGIC. Even with my doubts on some of progressive Christianity’s approach, I feel in my gut such a joy and peace. From the moment I step under the oak trees my soul whispers, “I am home. I am safe.”

The inner Evangelical in me is not too happy with this concept. With big hair and long nails (with her purse matching her shoes) she finger wags, “This is blasphemy! You need JAYSUS! That’s where the healing is!”

The only problem with Evangelical Annie’s proclamation is that such advice has not turned out to be the case. The healing has not come in the form of dogma and a one-way scripture reading ticket. Transformation, like a flower emerging from a bud, has come with colorful questions and the fragrant ability to share my story with honesty and transparency. I have found the only requirement to a beautiful garden of peace is to ask the master gardener, God himself, to show me who he is in a way I can understand. No control games. No strings attached. (Ding ding ding! He’s shown up every single time. Like a true gentleman, he never barges in without me asking, but once invited, boy does he wine and dine me! That Holy Spirit is such a cheeky one.)

Control + My Kids = Bad Move

This same concept of control has been very true with my kids. In the past I attempted to manage and control them to fit my exact specifications of how they should behave (from healthcare to grooming and study choices) but I could not enjoy easy relationship. To quote Sam, Rex and my mentor, “Control is never loving.” How true that statement was for me and my kids. Our relationship was fraught with tension, hurts and inevitable rebellion. It was only in relinquishing my need to be in charge that freedom came in. And in that freedom, a beautiful connection and bond formed.

Side note: I am not talking about letting go of stuff that matters. Serious bodily injury or outright defiance? Not happening. But if they don’t want to change their pillows every other day, despite my concern that their face could be clearer if they did so, I let it go. I’d rather have a kid with a few pimples who is happy with themselves than a brow beaten acne free teenager who begrudgingly complies. And if it means that much to me, I can just change the damn sheets myself. Some days I do just that. But most days I look at it, sigh, and refill my coffee cup. That seems more reasonable. (Oh, and do I change my own pillow every other day despite my acne? Oooh, snap! Not so much. Moving on.)

Today in church, when my daughter rolled into my pew in the back right hand corner, one kid after another smashed their way into her row like little spiritual sardines. “Pip!” they shouted. “I want a piggy back ride after service!”

Later, when Pastor Craig announced that the kids approach the front of the sanctuary for Children’s Hour (Ages 13 and under) Pip went right up there with the kids. She’s almost 15, but it didn’t matter. Flanked by kids on both side of her, she joined the Jesus mosh pit, participated in the message, and marched right out the door with them to Sunday School.

I bring this up because none of it was planned, but it was perfectly acceptable. No need to argue over technicalities. It just was. Magic.

The fact that my son was at my previous church and my husband was home washing the car? No big deal. Lack of worry about this less than ideal set up? Magic!

The old Andrea would have been in despair over such a fractured family. The new Andrea knows that every one of us gets to be spiritually fed the way we need it.

I won’t lie. I sometimes see the families with matching tee shirts and Bible verses from my old church and think, “Man, where did I go wrong?” But these days I’m mostly seeing where I went right:

  • Not sweating the small stuff to allow space for God’s miracles to manifest
  • Allowing humor to replace critical comments and sarcasm
  • Opening up our home to friends and family regardless of perfectly cleaned floors
  • Choosing to live with older cars and furniture so that newer belief structures could replace antiquated fears (fears that served only to root me in shame and second guessing)

Some of you might feel very differently than I do about this subject, and that’s okay. All I know is that the world sometimes feels very very unsafe. But in my little neck of the world, at least at this very moment with my daughter still swimming at her new church friend’s house and a belly full of pizza just hand delivered by Rex, my universe feels so full of joy and gratitude that I can only refer to it like I refer to my church: Magic.

Like the Jesus I follow who I believe died not just for me but for all of us, it only took dying to my old ideas of management and control to find it.

Might have taken 49 years to figure it out, but that’s better than nothing.

Friends, I wish you joy, peace, love and the ability to let go of managing every little thing that doesn’t matter so you can truly enjoy what does this week.

Until next time,

Andrea

PS: I picked up quite a few new readers this week. Glad to have you on board! You are so welcome here! Leave a comment so we can get to know 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.

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God, humor, Jesus, meditation, Uncategorized

Motivation Monday: Let’s Dish!

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Please tell me that some of you experience life like these dishes? That no matter how diligent you are, events, illnesses, random neighbors and challenges pile up. Some days are easier than others, but one thing is certain: the rack is hardly clean.

That’s the way it’s been for me the past… forever… but today just felt so good it didn’t really matter. I have money in the bank, Amelia went to Costco with me, Tuskany chatted with me on the phone while I watched Pip rock climb and the weather made it so pleasant to run back and forth to my car for my daily four (yes FOUR) trips to my kids’ college campuses where they are taking language.

I supposed the drive could be drudgery, but I cherish the moments with these half baked adults. I say half baked with affection, because they are old enough to have some really decent banter but young enough to still have ideals and joy toward their future. Stink  wants to work for Nintendo and create video games. Pip wants to sing on Broadway and maybe get into nursing. Will those things happen for them? As my father would say, “I don’t have the foggiest notion.” But the passion they have toward learning those skills will serve them in whatever they choose to do. Who am I to dash their dreams?

When I forget to pray in the morning, my perspective on the above paragraph isn’t always so great. I can easily get plagued with uncertainty: “Am I not encouraging their academics enough? Should I be pushing them more toward work? Should I be better about asking them to clean their rooms?”

But on days like today when I meditate and start the morning with prayer, despite only 5 hours of sleep, I can relax into the beauty that is God’s grace when I just let conversations be. When I don’t have to be the smartest one in the car, or the funniest person at the dinner table. I can ask more questions and give space for hurts to be shared and laughter to flow. From that place of intention, how can things go badly? Even a stack of dishes is just a giant reminder of gratitude that we have food in the house, people to sit at our table, and water to wash them with.

So that leaves me with my goals for the week – to hold onto this feeling of contentment that joy doesn’t come with one more writing assignment completed. It comes with knowing that I have a God, and so do my kids, so I don’t have to worry about any fears that I have. I can just rest and remember that, as Amelia always reminds me, “Everything is working out perfectly.”

And it is for you, too.

What are your goals this week? 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. 

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education, parenting, reading, spirituality, taco tuesday, teenagers, Uncategorized

Taco Tuesday #1: The Book: Middle School Matters (Author Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC Talks Writing, Middle School and… Sigh… “Balancing It All”)

Taco Tuesday 1 Phyllis Fagell

Every morning at 5:45 I meditate and pray for 15 minutes with  my husband. We levitate above our bodies and let the world’s sorrows and money woes slip into the ethers all before our Venti triple shot Starbucks hold the sugar Americano . We do a quick spiritual reading and then share about our day. It is an anchoring process that helps us each put what matters most at the beginning of our busy schedules. Being intentional with our priorities is grounding, illuminating, sometimes challenging (when I am hit with revelations about myself I would rather avoid) but always connective.

A theme I find myself circling round a lot is this idea of being present for my teenagers and family while making daily time for my writing pursuits. (Oh yeah, and the work thing! I gotta make a living – enter substitute teaching and freelance articles.) It’s not Rex’s job to fulfill me. It’s mine – not 99% of the time. 100% of the time. This ownership of personal responsibility has led me into a personal strength I didn’t know I had, but at the end of the day, sometimes my purpose still eludes me.

I write this all to say that I know I’m not alone. And while I know that who I am is what is most valuable, I often feel this pull to get more done. Regardless of my insecurities growth challenges, would I want to pass this striving onto my teens who are already in enough angst about surviving school? No. My goal has always been to help them focus on being kind, good and engaged people who are so very worthy. So far so good, minus a few 2 day couch protests over the horror of doing dishes and the Lock-Thyself-in-Thy-Bathroom-for-Holiday-Plans-Not-Working out Incident of 2016.  (Okay, I’m talking about me, not them.)

Yup, it’s often a struggle for me to stay present. Perhaps if a book like Middle School Matters, by Phyliss L. Fagell, LCPC, was around when I was growing up, more educators would have focused on teens being human beings, not human doers. I might have found my artistic passion earlier instead of my penchant toward people pleasing/perfection and having to take every single stray planting pot found on the side of the room home. And while I can’t place blame on anyone else for my own personal wiring, I can every day strive to lay down perfection and encourage both my kids, and myself, to be who they are meant to be, not who they think they are supposed to be.

In this first Taco Tuesday interview of many to come I’m thrilled to give you an interview with someone who wrote a book explaining just how focusing on what matters is possible.

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Taco Tuesday with Phyliss L Fagell, LPCP

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Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m originally from Newton, Massachusetts and now live in Bethesda, Maryland. 

What do you do for a living?

I’m the counselor at a K-8 school in Washington, DC; a psychotherapist who sees tweens and teens in private practice; and a journalist. I frequently contribute to publications including The Washington Post and Your Teen magazine. I’m also a regular columnist for Kappan and The Association for Middle Level Education magazines.

How has that influenced your decision to write a book?

I started my career as a health and science writer and magazine editor. I went back to school for school counseling after the birth of my second child (I have three kids–two teens and a tween). I took a fourteen-year break from writing, then found myself writing for The Washington Post about counseling issues. My kids were a little older at that point, I had the bandwidth to take on writing assignments, and stuff was getting me fired up–things such as gender stereotypes, myths about middle schoolers, breakdowns in parent-teen communication, unhealthy perfectionism and achievement pressure, and stigma around mental health issues. The book is a natural extension of my freelance work and a way of compiling all my thoughts on middle school in one place.

Have you always wanted to write?

I wrote my first article for The Boston Globe when I was 14, about the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (!), but I wrote my first creative “book” in second grade. I stumbled upon it the last time I was in my childhood bedroom, and it’s a very clear rip-off of The Velveteen Rabbit.Plagiarism notwithstanding, I remember how much I loved writing, illustrating and binding that book. I was seven at the time, and it’s probably when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. I was an English literature and creative writing major in college, then got my master’s in journalism, so if anything, it’s surprising to me that I switched to counseling and stopped writing for so long. It’s all come together nicely in a way I never anticipated.

What is your marketing strategy and how important is this for writers who are publishing their first books?

I’m learning as I go, especially as a first-time author. Many writers, myself included, are more comfortable with the writing part than the publicity part. I’ve had to remind myself repeatedly that this is about sharing ideas, not about having a big ego. I think women in particular are uncomfortable with self-promotion and have a tough time taking ownership of their work. I’ve been lucky in that a lot of other writers– both men and women– have been incredibly supportive and have given me great advice. But mostly I leave the strategizing to the publicists. I know my strengths, and that isn’t one of them!

What was the most difficult part about writing your book?

I struggled the most with work-life balance. I work full time and then some, and as I mentioned, I have three kids. I had to let a lot of stuff go in order to meet my book deadline. After I finished the first draft, I realized I hadn’t opened any mail in months. I also picked up a LOT of Chipotle along the way. My kids probably never want to see another burrito. Fortunately, my husband appreciated what I was trying to accomplish and really kept all the balls in the air. I’m glad I didn’t know what I was getting into before I started, as I might have had second thoughts!

What was the most fun about writing your book?

I loved, loved, loved talking to experts across the world in industries ranging from technology to maker learning to education to psychology and medicine. There’s nothing like talking to people who are most enthusiastic and knowledgeable about whatever subject you’re covering, whether it’s learning or resiliency or teaching tweens about sexuality. I enjoyed nerding out and learning from the best, most passionate people. Writing can be lonely, but pulling this book together was not a solitary pursuit. I made real connections with individuals who share my obsession with everything middle school-related.

How did you go from “ticked off” to “happily” ticked off? (Basically, how did you use any of your challenges to motivate you to move ahead?)

That’s a great question — one that no one has asked me before! I definitely was agitated prior to writing this book. I wanted to write something preventative, something that would get all of us — kids and adults alike — back on track and focused on the right priorities. College isn’t the end goal, and achievement shouldn’t trump kindness. I also wanted to provide both educators and parents with some concrete, evidence-based strategies. Basically, I saw a giant unmet need and felt we were missing out on this prime opportunity to raise good people. Middle school is probably the most neglected and most critical developmental phase. I’m hopeful that the tide is shifting. As for the “happily ticked off” part of your question, writing this book has been an empowering experience. There’s nothing like amassing and sharing a book’s worth of tips with readers.

Give a shout out to a few bloggers or writers who have influenced you the most.

This could be a long list! Jess Lahey, Michelle Borba, Rachel Simmons, Andrew Reiner, Ken Ginsburg, Katie Hurley, Amy Morin, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Brene Brown, Claire Shipman, Josh Starr, Richard Weissbourd, Amy Joyce, Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Mary Alvord, and Amy Cuddy, to name a few!

What do you want people to know most about your book? 

I’m proud that Middle School Matters just got a starred review from Booklist! To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m more thrilled or relieved. It’s the first official review, and being a first-time author is nerve-wracking. The book is really a guide to everything that could happen during the phase, and also a road map for raising a decent, self-aware, accepting, confident, inclusive, capable, resourceful, and ethical human being. It’s a mix of stories, articles from the news, conversation starters, concrete tips, my own perspective, advice from experts and current research. It’s available for pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/Middle-School-Matters-Beyond-Parents/dp/0738235083. I also have a professional website where you can find my articles:www.phyllisfagell.com. I tweet frequently about related issues at @pfagell as well.

Questions for Phyllis?

Leave a comment if you any questions and consider purchasing her book if you’ve got kids or grandkids entering this period. I know I could have used all the help I could get.

Until next time, let’s all try to remember that relationship is so much more important than being right.

And always eat tacos.

They really do make ya feel better.

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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faith, God, Jesus, parenting, Tourettes, writing

When Life Happens For You, Everything Changes

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Today at church Pastor Craig spoke about shame and pain. I honestly don’t remember the passage he read from in Romans, but in a nutshell, he spoke about how hard times don’t have to define us. Instead, these hard times can be used for good when we are transformed and then reach down to help someone else.

I found him in the cake and coffee line and I told him I had an edit to his sermon. At this point an elderly lady in the congregation took her leave (“Oh, Lord, it’s going to get sassy now!”) but Pastor Craig just stood there smiling. It’s what I love about him most. He’s comfortable enough with God, and himself, that he can listen… truly listen…. to other’s viewpoints without being offended. At our progressive church, it’s actually welcomed. (Both the listening and the questioning. It’s like my 12 step minus the drunk-a-logs!)

Me: “I like what you said about shame transforming, but I feel what could have been added is a piece on acceptance.”

Craig: “Go on,” he said.

Me: “I feel that people suffer a lot because they don’t admit that what is going on in the first place is not working… or that they are out of options… or have just hit bottom. If they could just accept it, then they could grieve it, give it to God, and then the beautiful work of healing could begin.”

He just smiled and nodded his head. “I couldn’t agree more,” he said.

A few years ago the idea of questioning a passage of scripture would have made me feel like a heathen. Now it feels the more I question the more welcome I am. It’s kind of like my 12 step group. If someone says, “I drank a few glasses of wine and now I’m here” people smile and offer them a cup of coffee. But if someone says, “I drank two six packs a night, had four DUIs and danced naked at my daughter’s quinceanera” raucous laughter peals out. The worse the story the better the welcome.

The deeper the death of ego the higher the resurrection of the better self.

Such radical honesty is a refreshing way to heal… to just be oneself and know one is welcome anyway. No right or wrong. Just honest truth about where one finds oneself.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling transparent and raw. I don’t like admitting that I don’t know everything. That sometimes my husband and I still fight about the stupidest stuff. That my son’s tics sometimes hit my ear drums and I just want silence. Blessed quiet. That I worry about my kids going to college or that I’m almost 50 and see yet another wrinkle creeping in. Oh my God! I can’t stop time! I can’t stop inherited conditions! Why am I not over it  yet?! Suffering suffering angst and grrrr!!!!

And yet, when I just surrender that I don’t have to have it all figured out…. That I’m not perfect, nor is my husband… that my son is doing just fine with his little noises and my kids are perfectly content with their lot in life…. that it’s just me with my ego and my hopes and my not yet fulfilled dreams not trusting God… I can then do what I should have done from the very beginning. I can tell God I am scared and sad. And when I do, the funny thing is, I feel relief. And then, like Pastor Craig talked about, I can let God in to fill the places that no one ever could in the first place. Not my husband or a non-ticking kid or script being sold or a full scholarship for my kids to Harvard.

Happiness is not when things are better.

Happiness is right now in the mess and the chaos and the unanswered questions and just knowing that I don’t need to have all the answers because God does.

When I remember that hard things life doesn’t happen to me but they happen for me to let go and let God transform my pea sized mind from negativity to absolute acceptance, life is so incredibly beautiful I could just die.

Or, at least at this very moment, go to bed. Fathers Day kicked my ass this year.

What Do You Need to Surrender to Be Happy? I’d Love to Know 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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4) Reading for Fun 

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

reding anne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a Comment!

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

Until next time,

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

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

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education, meditation, self improvement, writing

I’m Glad To Be Here! (Oh, Wait… I’m Not!) okay fine i am…

Yesterday I was determined to have a fun fantastic fleepinglishious day of subbing. To ensure this I:

  • Slept for 8 hours
  • Prayed
  • Meditated
  • Walked
  • Ate a healthy breakfast
  • Took my vitamins

Most importantly, I took a deep breath.

I stood in front of 40 kids in Period 1 and declared what I promised I’d declare in front of every single class thereafter. “I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

And then the unruly mob rambunctious class moved seats, flipped on their phones, threw paper airplanes, ran around the classroom, chewed gum, threw taffy at each other and ditched. (Minus a few kids who snuck in from other classes just to socialize.)

Okay, so I couldn’t change the kids. Even the other teacher who was with me was no help. Lucky for me I could change myself! Yay! Luckily I could put this in practice right away as I had remembered to buy a gift card for the unknown stranger whose lunch I had eaten at 3PM on Friday. It was an honest mistake. A friend of mine had bought one for me and I gratefully munched it down.

Except the unknown stranger turned out to be a very well known uppity up at the school I was subbing at. And such stranger did not take my gift card with grace. Instead it was returned with a note reminding me, in no uncertain terms, to never take things out the fridge that don’t belong to me. (Glad it was clarified because, you know, I totally ingest other people’s nutrition on purpose just to irritate them.)

The cherry on the top of this “I can’t do anything right EVER” pie was one of my children who took the opportunity to remind me of something they had been keeping in their hearts for 2 years. Something I did which apparently earned the title of “The Worst Day of Their Lives.”

I won’t lie. I went dark. Feelings I haven’t felt in a very very VERY long time pounded me.

“Screw all your mantras. Screw all your prayer. You’re a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. YOU FAILED!

My nightly walk with my husband did not consist of asking about him or admiring the flowers. It consisted of quiet rumination and feelings of shame that I am working a gig I’m just not cut out for. What could have been a reset opportunity for me became a Compare and Despair fight in my brain about what I could be doing… what other people are doing… while I’m living out Plan B. Oh, and all that crap about how I stayed home with my kids during the early years and helped mold them into good humans… the silver lining that subbing works with my kids schedule and I’m getting insurance for my family? FUCK THAT.

I finally had the good sense to call Tuskany who reminded me that Queen Elizabeth is 92 and still taking all her appointments. She impressed upon me that by age 50 only half her leadership role was over. “You still have time to rewrite your life, Andrea. So do I.”

Okay, that sounded pretty good.

Later that night my husband whispered in my ear, “Andrea, you’re not just a loser sub. You’re figuring a LOT out. You’re not where you want to be, but you’re not where you were before. You’re in the hallway.”

It’s words like that which encouraged me to get up and start today over. Guess what day it is, folks???I ook

blog

Hump Day is not only the holiest and most beautiful day of the week, but it’s a chance to take the same mantra I give to students and listen to the words myself:

“I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

Okay, if you insist.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #41:  When life feels overwhelming, remind yourself “I am glad to be here!” The lie: it all has the be perfect to be okay. The truth: we’re all in the hallway and figuring it out as we go. That’s okay.

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

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meditation, self improvement, spirituality, Uncategorized

Fear: It’s Not a Great Spiritual Advisor (Then Why Is It On the Payroll?)

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So you’ll be tired of me saying this (or you won’t… you’ll just leave and only people interested in this topic will stay) but I pray and meditate daily. Faith isn’t something I just kind of have in the background. Instead, God is my everything. I don’t build God around my life anymore. I build my life around God.

This is not to say I’m perfect or think I have it all figured out. I do not. As my friend Ava likes to remind me, “I just don’t like to feel pain. I’ll avoid it at all costs!”This means I must take my medicine. When I take these pills in the form of a few simple steps to get out of self (hence prayer and meditation) I have a little space in between to respond rather than react. It means:

  •  I don’t have to flip off the sixteen year old driving single in the carpool lane when I’m running late to work and can’t, thanks to my damn conscious, do the same thing.
  • I don’t have to scream at 200 middle schoolers who just WON’T. STOP.TALKING simply because I was having a bad day and didn’t feel like dealing with their incessant “Can I use the bathrooms?” and “I can’t find my composition books” and “Why did I get a ‘D’ in this class… I mean… I don’t do anything, but I thought you liked me, Ms. Frizzle?!!!”
  • I can calmly listen to my husband growl at me when I’ve cut him off in conversation (when I swear to God I thought he was done with that topic 10 blocks ago) and just say, “Okay, I’m sorry.”

Prayer and meditation keep me from living in the What If’s. It allows me to live in faith, not fear. To quote my sponsor, “Fear is not a great spiritual advisor.” Fear keeps us looking to the worst case scenario. Faith keeps us in the moment. And in the moment, if we stay centered and breathe, it’s nearly impossible to not see God. I saw him today in:

  • That reckless teenage driver. “Dear God, keep him safe. That will be my boy in a few months.”
  • Those obnoxious annoying blessed middle schoolers. “Dear God, how wonderful that they have so much energy. May I learn to channel it and not squash their joy.”
  • My husband. He is dealing with a terrible personal loss. Maybe I wasn’t listening as closely as I could have been. How can I be of service and not make this about me?

I am not a saint. But I’m also not a victim. And this means I get to fire bad counselors. That means “See ya later, Fear! Your services are no longer needed.”

And guess what? If you relate to this statement, I give you permission to fire your advisor also. Let’s freelance life together!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #30: Fear is a terrible spiritual advisor. Hire yourself some faith today!

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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self improvement

Asking Questions. It’s My New Form of Talking

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This just in: I am talking less and asking more questions.

I’ll just let that sink in and get back to you tomorrow.

Until then, I’d love to ask you a question – and be honest: Do you listen to truly listen, or are you computing info to best formulate a comeback that proves your side of the street?

Leave a comment and we’ll talk tomorrow!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #24: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When I remember that, life goes along just fine!

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

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faith, meditation, spirituality, Uncategorized

I Meditated. I Didn’t Kill Anyone or Myself.

I was much calmer today thanks to meditation. Because of my time spent in quiet stillness, first thing in the morning, my whole day passed without me being either suicidal or homicidal. #yayformeandmyfamily

All sarcasm aside, I’ve never wanted to kill anyone or myself, but when I’m wound really tight, I’m killing the joy in life. Starting my day with some still breathing, readings and prayer, helped me move from one task to the next with way more ease than yesterday.

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God Calling is the devotional I read. I love it because it’s just one scripture verse per page per day. Sometimes there is an old hymn verse thrown in for good measure.

I also read this every day.

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It talks about acceptance. For this control freak, acceptance is everything. If I think I am running the show, I am basically saying that I know better than God. I do not know better than God. We are all God’s kids. Reading this reminds me to keep my trap shut and trust that if someone wants my opinion they will ask. (That concept, my friends, has been the absolute hardest thing for me to change. Lucky for this lady, when I pray and meditate each day, God does it for me.)

“Meditation Is Not For Me!”

One of my readers, The Bookworm, commented, “I’m sure meditating is good for the soul. I’ve never been able to do it myself, I feel like I have too much nervous energy but for me, it’s running. That’s my form of meditation.”

I say whatever you need to do to not be a lunatic you do that!

As I have mentioned before, I have no real structure or expectations to my meditation routine. I don’t sit up. I drink coffee. And the closest I’ve ever been to Nirvana is to be interrupted by an LAUSD automated system telling me my sub job for the day has been canceled and I can crawl back in the covers with the crazy pitbull mix and sleep in.

I will add that while intention in life means nothing without action to back it up, intention in meditation is different. For me, it simply means, “I don’t have all the answers. Here is some time to get still because God does. Period.”

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Happily Ticked Off Tip #23: Meditation doesn’t have to involve an ashram and a yogi. It can be any time you set aside to allow someone other than you to break through your ego and run the show so you don’t have to. PS: Ego stands for “Edging God Out.” That’s good, huh?

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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