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Got Hope? Live Outside the Box! (The Hope Box, That Is)

 

the ocean

I woke up yesterday to more clothes in my living room than Trump has haters. The reason? My kids had the duty on Sunday of moving every stitch of them from my closet upstairs to the couch to make room for my daughter to move her clothes into her soon to be “new” bedroom. This would not be a problem except I was now faced with the task of putting 1000 pieces of crap into a vintage armoire that holds – at best – 100 pieces.

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I could, of course, do what most normal people would do and get rid of some items. But that would be a tragedy. First, there was my mother’s size 11 gold wedding shoes from 1969. They will never fit me, but I take such great joy knowing that she once wore these sparkly clod hoppers with a bright pink wedding dress. Oh, that dress? I have that, too.

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And then there’s my nana’s size 2 navy pumps. I’ll never fit in those either, but they make me smile. How did such a tall granddaughter come through her genetic line?

Add in the wool overcoats lined in bright plumages of pink and purple Victorian roses… the silk panda scarf… the “I Love My Crazy Friends” tee shirt…the XL puff skirt to wear under a dress I don’t have and the mis-matched China tea cups picked up from a thrift store for $1.99 each.

Yup, that’s a whole lot of “crap”. And yet, that crap fertilizes my heart and keeps it blooming. Running my fingers through the fabric reminds me that it’s okay to slow down just a bit and just enjoy.

When I was 11, I’d spend hours sitting on the floor of my bedroom,  sifting through my hope chest. In it I’d place all the trinkets I hoped to use in my future life of awesome sauce: handkerchiefs, tea sets, lavish picture frames or art books.

While I’m not 11 anymore, there’s still a girl inside the grownup who longs for the stillness of dreaming. And so, rather than just shove all of my items in an over sized bag and donate it to the local Good Will in impulsive “THIS HAS TO GO NOW” fashion, I took one section at a time. Hats in one bag and belts in another. Those would go at the bottom of the closet until hooks were purchased.

Winter stuff went in the garage. That would go in the attic until I could afford adequate outdoor storage to access it more easily.

Mom’s wedding dress, grandma’s sweater and all the shoes – they would be placed in a box in the attic until shelves were made in my new room to store them.

Underwear and bras – side table of the bed.

Tee shirts, pjs and pants – TV room! Cause where else but a 3-drawer plastic Target bin would my every day clothes go? I would not stress. I would find a better spot another day.

Everything else went in the armoire or in a bag to donate.

The result of this process was nothing other than good old fashioned intention – that intention being that while I want to honor my needs at this time, I’m passing the baton to another 11 year old who has hopes and dreams. (Out with my salmon, in with her pink!)

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This 11 year old loves music and singing and art. She loves tea cups and lace and books.

She dreams of a corner nook to sketch with her stuffed animals and a roll top desk to correspond with her Aunt MaryAnne (whose name she still writes as “Anut MaryAnne… who am I to argue?). No one understands dreams and goals this better than I, and so accommodations will be made. Yes, there will even be space for a bright pink carousel horse named “Pink DiMayo” because who doesn’t need such an animal in their Victorian Palace?

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I might not have a hope chest anymore, but when I look at my daughter’s face, I have more joy than can ever be housed in a cedar box.

And that, my friends, makes living in my new tiny box of a bedroom worth every single bit of lost space.

One more

(my little Pip, performing as Wendy in Peter Pan a few weeks back. She was radiant if I do say so myself!)

What about you?

What do you dream of? What makes your heart sing?

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 Am. Enough.

Enter Adele Song

Hello, blog…

It’s me.

I  have lost you in the pile of the

Trash and the laundreeeee

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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…

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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.

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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

 

book cover

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7th Grade and Dropping the Rock

So Stink started school last week. The four-month summer finally ended and he couldn’t be happier about it. Great classmates, great subjects, great elective. He’s learning music! Maybe I can finally stop whining about his hair and he can be in a band. God works out all for good for those who love him, right? And his own son had long hair, so I need to just shut my pie hole apparently. (Though, really, Jesus would not be allowed on a public school campus with those open toed shoes he was so fond of wearing. That crazy Christ. He was such a rebel.)

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For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m only neurotic as hell 25% of the time rather than 99% of the time. This is no small feat. If I can find peace, then you can, too. For me, eight years into this crazy journey called Tourette Syndrome, I’ve gotten to the point where the tics are what they are. I don’t love them (vocals still pretty consistent) and his focus is abysmal (I am sooooo sick of reminding him of a zillion things) but the boy is happy. If he’s happy, I have to be happy, too.

The truth is, even if I wasn’t loving life, I wouldn’t have time to complain about it. With a third book rewrite, a few new writing clients, some Ebay on the side to fill in the gap and parenting… I don’t have time to think about my problems. Which, well, aren’t problems. Issues with his tics are my perception, not the reality. The reality is that he continues to be happy with himself so gosh darnit I must be as well.

But, if I’m being honest, it still hurts sometimes. This evening, for example, a neighbor’s kid mentioned to me that a student in his class has the same case as Stink. “Oh, you mean he has T.S.?” I asked him. “Yes,” he responded. “And he is also in his own world a lot… just like Stink.”

Ka-plunk. 

Ouch.

What does that even mean? That my son is alone a lot at school? That he forgets a lot? That he is day dreaming and considered weird and strange and odd and eccentric and okay going too far, Andrea, STOP.

The old Andrea would have had a panic attack right there on the porch, called ten friends, sobbed to my mom, screamed at my husband for not supporting me on a diet that would absolutely eradicate tics thereby catapulting him to the top of the seventh grade social structure and then passed out on a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and a bucket of Trader Joe ho ho’s. .

This new Andrea. This sober thinking Andrea? I just let it go. Deep breath. Quick prayer. “God, take it.” As my sponsor is so fond of telling me, “Drop the rock, Andrea. It doesn’t matter. What matters is life on life’s terms.”

So, friends, with the goal to live life on life’s terms, here’s where I’m at.

  • I am not picking up burdens that aren’t mine.
  • When I do pick up burdens that hurt me, I will talk about them, but attempt to set them back down where they belong.
  • I will always run my burdens before other people who know more than I do when I’m feeling exhausted. Like tonight.
  • I will continue to give my problems to God who, apparently, doesn’t need my help. (What the hell is His problem? Does He not know how smart I am and if He just did as I said the world would work so. Much. Better?)
  • I will continue to learn more about this Jesus dude. (I don’t really get him. I just don’t. Who is He? Did he really die for me? If so, why don’t I feel it more?)
  • I will get back to taking care of me a bit more. (If I miss my personal writing so much, why don’t I blog more? Time to start that again.)
  • I will continue to look at the fine line between being of service (truly my key to contentment these days) and self-care.
  • I will continue to live in gratitude, because really, that calms me down. And a calm mom is such a better mom. At least for me, anyway.

I don’t know a lot. But I do know that I am so in love with my children. They are growing so fast. In six years Stink will be out of high school. I DO want to minimize his tics as much as possible through diet or medication, but I don’t want this to be my sole purpose anymore. My sole purpose is to love the hell out of him. He is what matters.

It is time to drop the rock.

But sometimes, when that rock lands on your foot, it hurts.

And, well, that’s where I am at tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I wear steel toed boots and start over.

And you can, too.

Love you and miss you all.

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Staying TRU to You!

tru

Meet Tru, Kaiser Permanente Therapy dog. She makes sick people feel well, even if for a few moments only. Do you think she cares that she has a crooked shamrock on her head or that her spots don’t match? I think not! Tru says to the world that you can have joy in less than peaceful circumstances. She is Tru (pun intended) to herself.

This is a theme for me these days.  Our house, for the past six months, has been in a constant state of change/upheaval/mess.

First came the renter in October, so the office went buh bye.

So did our dining room which became the new office.

So did the TV room which became the new dining room.

The living room stayed the same! Woo hoo! Good news!

The bad news… we had to get rid of 600 square feet worth of junk, not to mention that the kids had to choose what they valued most from their junk pile of flammable crap treasures in the TV room and consolidate it into their shared bedroom. Which has not shelves.

Which meant hallway linen closets had to be rearranged. (Do we really need 923 towels from 1974? I think not.)

It also meant that the kids had to throw out some of their crap treasures when it all didn’t fit in the hallway closet.

There were, to say the least, lots of tears, fits, anxiety and tantrums. I eventually wiped my eyes the kids’ eyes though and helped them see this as a learning experience. Tourettes truly taught me this. Ask any of my friends, and they will tell you that when Stink was first diagnosed, I was a basket case. Every tic was cause for alarm bells. No doctor could see me fast enough. No amount of “It’ll be okay” shoulder rubbing would suffice. I wanted perfection (no tics) and I wanted it immediately.

Of course, this didn’t work. I had to come up with a better game plan. And while it wasn’t easy, I started viewing his diagnosis as a marathon, not a sprint. I started having joy in the process. I mean, if you’re going to embark on killing your family with gluten free bread, why not subscribe to Pandora and teach your kids the art of show tunes while you bake? If you’re going to sit in traffic for 2 hours on the way to UCLA, why not get Harry Potter on tape or count sky scrapers and explain what it means to be an architect or bring your mom along who can point out the area of UCLA she used to work in back in the days of the covered wagon? (Sorry, Mom. I had to.)

I say all this because, finally… dare I type this… my house is sliding into place again. And with that place – and space – I am finding peace. But it wasn’t instantaneous. It took patience and time and work and, yeah, a few tears. But no one could do it but me. I had to set the tone – for my kids, my husband, my friends (who pitched in) and for, most important of all, ME.

It seems that as women we are bombarded with what it means to run a tight home and have successful kids. But what is the point of perfectly waxed floors and an organizational system to rival Martha Stewart – along with a tic free child – if we are miserable in the process? Why not submit sometimes to the chaos and give yourself the grace that you, your child, your home – YOUR LIFE – is a work in progress? And then, rather than berating yourself for your less that stellar outcome or getting into credit card debt for perfection that doesn’t exist, you can make slow and steady progress, small and steady goals, and look back over your progress and think, “Damn, I’m really growing as a person! Nice job, me!”

Just a few thoughts I had this Monday afternoon.

What about you? Whatcha thinking? I want to know!