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Tag Archives: Shauna Niequist

The Big Stuff… Don’t Miss It.

Hello blog world! It’s been about a month since we last connected. I’m not sure what you’ve been up to (would love to hear) but I’ve been up to a whole lot of everything. I’d get into the specifics for kicks and giggles, but really, they’re not that important. Let’s just say that the amount of things on my to-do list is equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I’m a Master at Being Super Human

I try to get as much done as I can, and some days I succeed in checking off every single item, but most days, I’m more like the tourist in front of that rickety structure, just marveling at the wonky design and hoping I don’t get flattened like a pancake.

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Maybe if I put lights on my to-do list, the way that Italian masterpiece is illuminated at night, the hum drum of my daily life would feel more exotic.

“Hey, check out the dog getting washed in the strobe light in the 1950’s crap tub. Now that’s sexy.”

When my dog gets a bath on a Saturday, but I don’t, I know I’m doing too much. I want to stop, but like a tube of Trader Joe gluten free Joe Joe’s, sometimes I just can’t help myself. Busyness, and cream filled cookies, are addictive. In the moment it feels amazing, but the next day, you have nothing to show for it but a bunch of guilt and a massive hangover.

Shauna Niequest has a new book about this. It’s called Present over Perfect

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I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve read some of her other stuff. She’s kind of a genius at reminding us that, as women, we simply can’t be amazing at everything. Not unlike Brene Brown’s manifestos on shame research, Shauna is one of those writers that make you feel better for being human. She, like many of us, are in transition from being a human doer to a human being.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with the doing anymore. I want to work and market my book and love on my family and cook gluten free tacos from scratch while my kids hand paint pumpkins while listening to opera. But in reality, I have no idea what’s for dinner, I’m not sure if my son is preparing for a huge test or frying his brain on video games,  and my daughter is reading Wonder for the fourth time because her mom still hasn’t gotten off her tush to take her to the library for a new series.

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And guess what? That’s okay. Why? Because while I can’t do it all, I’m learning to be happy with what I can do. And it’s a lot.

Our house is decorated for Halloween. (Granted, the laundry is scary, but everything looks better with 99 Cent Story skulls and 1970’s painted pheasants.)

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My kids like school this year and, so far, they still like each other. (Though they spend less time in the same space now that my son is a giant and has to lean down to talk to his tiny sibling only 18 months apart.)

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The cake you see my daughter holding – she made it this weekend. It’s a double decker angel food cake with handmade orange frosting. I gained ten pounds thanks to her, but it was worth it. My point – she had joy despite a kitchen that would make Martha Stewart vomit. Like Niequest’s book, the kid was present over perfect. sss

I love my job at the Middle School. Yesterday, in fact, I ran into one of my students at Trader Joes. He’s a big, sweet dude with Down Syndrome, and when we saw each other in between the pumpkin spice coffee and the Chia Bars, we ran to each other as if in slow motion. It was hard not to smile. He looks like Fred Flintstone when he runs – feet splayed forward and arms shaking as if waving a giant drum stick.

“Mrs. Frazer!” he yelled.

“Sebastian!” I shrieked with delight.

We hugged and laughed and repeated it again at 8:30 this morning when he saw me after home room.

“Mrs. Fraaaazer!” he barked. “I SAW YOU AT TRADER JOES!

“I knowwww!” I responded, equally tickled.

A few months ago I couldn’t have predicted this kind of magic, but there it was – flickering as brightly as a candle in my Halloween lanterns.

What if right now… with my over crowded house and the renter and the pitbull and the small paycheck and the non-sexy but so wonderful job… what if this very unperfect moment is the BIG THING! What if the laundry and the house cleaning and the bill paying are the  BIG THING. What if tomorrow’s trash day is the BIG THING!

What if not screaming at my son for forgetting to take those cans to the curb for the gazillionth time is the big thing!

What if foregoing a night of writing that pilot script that’s going to take me away from my low paying gig (you know, the one I love and can’t stop raving about) and instead watching an episode of Once Upon a Time with my daughter instead is THE BIG THING!

I don’t want to miss it, folks. Not one second of it. Why? Because it’s BIG! And it’s chaotic at times. And it’s painful and beautiful and comical and depressing and absolutely hilarious in all of its bigness.

If you’re out there, wondering if “only I could get the tics to stop”or “if only I had some extra money” or “if only my husband could change”things would get better, may I make the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, you might miss out on the incredible growth that comes with your life exactly as it is right now? Your journey, people, it’s important.

It’s your story.

It’s your legacy.

It’s a BIG THING.

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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A Place of My Own

As I sit here typing, my daughter sits quietly behind me. She’s painting in her art center. By “art center” I mean “re-purposed 1980’s ply board shelf unit” covered in discount white paint. Her legs are crossed. Her eyes are focused. And she hasn’t moved in one hour. I’d poke her to be sure she wasn’t a statue, but in case she fidgets, I don’t want cobalt blue on my favorite thrift store cardigan.

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Me? I’m the opposite of disciplined and steady. I bolt up up to take a picture. I plop down to write a blog post. I get up to get a cup of coffee. I sit down to check an email. Oh, what was that meme on Facebook? I’ll look at that really quick. And ha! That vimeo is hilarious. That cat sure knows how meow Jingle Bells like a pro. Oh, and for the record, my elf name is Perky McJiggles. Score!

By the time I’m done, I’ve got nothing accomplished but a spinning brain. My daughter, on the other hand, has a beautifully painted rainbow-colored dog which will soon house shiny new crayons. With my little Hermione Granger, this translates to magic. Precise, practical, whimsical but contained magic. With her mother, there is magic also, but things often explode.

When the kids were younger, I’d pass of my messed up experiments as “creativity!” and “mad cap hilarity!” I’d hail the virtues of being flexible and turning lemons into lemonade! But the truth is, I wasn’t (and continue to not always be) prepared for events and every day occurrences in my domicile.

Last year, I almost missed my daughter’s choir performance because I assumed the start time was the same as rehearsals, despite mounds of paperwork saying the contrary. Where was the paperwork? In the piles of everything else on my desk. I had meant to file it, but somehow, that resolution never took off from its first inception.

In 1992.

This has all started to change since my job ended in October. I’m getting more organized. I have to be. Not only is my family worth it, but so am I. Where do I want to work next? What do I really want to write? WHO THE HECK AM I? The verdict is still out, but I can promise one thing: As long as I’m reacting to life, rather than producing it, I’m only going to get half measured results. I need to be intentional.

Living on purpose is kind of like living life sober. It’s got a lot of potential. You know things are going to be really exciting. (Not as exciting as making anatomically correct gingerbread men with your bff-  half a bottle of Two Buck Chuck in – but exciting none the less.) In the meantime, however, it’s kind of painful. I mean, ouuuch. Life is so… real. And complicated. And this time of year, it’s so MERRY! And BRIGHT! For Godsake, the emotional and literal piles seem so overwhelming. Can’t we just shut the curtains?

In many ways, when the kids were younger, things felt more peaceful. Less was expected of me. I could enjoy the last minute walks to the gas station for Diet Coke. If I wanted coffee instead, but I didn’t have milk, I’d borrow some from a neighbor. If a friend popped by, we could hop in the car and grab coffee at the local Starbucks. A few hours could pass as we shared our hopes, dreams and struggles with everything from parenting to views on faith. Heck, sometimes we would even end our night with a glass of wine. Or three. So what if it was Tuesday! We were spontaneous! And Lord knows it was more fun than filing that stack of papers.

Things are not like that anymore. I no longer imbibe in the evenings. It’s my own spirit I infuse, and wow, what great books I’ve been enjoying!

Healing is a Choice, Steve Arterburn

After the Sucker Punch, Lorraine Devon Wilke

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

On the list

Carry On Warrior Glennon Doyle Melton

Cold Tangerines Shauna Niequist

Interrupted Jen Hatmaker

Traveling Mercies Anne Lamott

While I’m on a faith and memoir kick now, I can just as easily slip into a romance or adventure series. A good book is a reminder that a world outside of my own self-centered thinking exists. I can travel to heaven, the slums of Africa or around the table of a tired mother and her preacher husband.

Words, read from a space of my own (in this case my trusted green couch) remind me that there is redemption in the dishes and the laundry. That there is a grace to our days, a rhythm to our sometimes ho-hum lives. A break in routine from the daunting to-do list and “please oh please hire me” job searches.

I used to read so I could be a better writer. But now I read to be a better Andrea. Because at the end of the day (or the beginning as is so often the case) there’s nothing I love more than putting down my books and embracing these two people.

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Until next time, I’d love to know if you have a space of your own to be inspired.

Me? What I’d really like is something like this.

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What I’ll have to settle for in the meantime is something secluded like this:

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Because this space is already taken.

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Does anyone want to commit to designating a space for ourselves to be inspired in 2015?

Find me at Twitter @AndreaFrazer. I’d love to  hear from you!