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On Crap Jobs and God

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I work full time as a special needs aid for the LA Pubic School system. Given that I used to write television, it wasn’t exactly my dream job to wittle away my hours playing body guard to a 5 foot 8 fifteen year old with low functioning autism. Strong and defiant, she wears a diaper, steals “magical markers” from fellow students’ desks and screeches more than Trump in a female locker room.

I am well aware that I’m not “living up to my abilities” when I get on Facebook and see friends of mine from my Showtime days staff writing on Disney shows and co-producing How I Met Your Mother. But, at the end of day, lest I sound like I’m making excuses, my very unglamorous job is far more glamorous in the long run as it provides me what I desire most: Insurance for my family… the ability to be home each day by 3PM to pick up my teenagers from school… to not be so bogged down in my own life I can’t sit with Stink at 4PM each day to hear about his robotic project roadblocks or Pip’s desire to join the rock climbing team. (An extra $175/month? Sure… let me poop that out of my butt. Or, on a less sarcastic note, let me focus on some better freelance gigs to make it happen. And let me be grateful my husband’s IT business is starting to really take off.)

Yes, my gig allows me connection to my children and husband, but most of all, it gives me an amazing opportunity every single day to practice my spiritual program.

Spirituality in a Crap Job? Yes

For some, a spiritual program means church – and don’t get me wrong – I adore my ridiculously large/not quite mega church/but not your garden variety chapel thanks to its rock band worship team and elevators. (And coffee… we can chug it like caffeinated apostles it in the main sanctuary. #StarbucksJesus.) But more than on Sunday’s, I’ve found God can be seen quite clearly in the things we naturally might despise. In my case, it’s a terribly tough job both emotionally and physically. What God has shown me, though, are truths that have forever altered my mindset, such as referring to my insanely exhausting and taxing struggling ward as my “blessed student”.

A Mind Shift Changes Everthing – Here’s Mine

* My blessed student can play in the mud all she wants, but I don’t have to.

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* My blessed student can attempt to run from me 20 times a day (and she does) but i don’t have to bolt from my challenges.

* My blessed student can remain undisciplined and loud, but I can stay disciplined with my daily book writing before school and get quiet in my own head about what’s important.

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Today my blessed student almost bolted out the front gate. She screamed so loud during lunch that my only option was to remove her from fourth period and stick her in the garden – hoping beyond hopes she wouldn’t decide to escape and trip over a wooden vegetable post hidden beneath thick weeds and crack her head open. Thankfully she sat in peace under a shady tree and serenely pulled weeds.

Like that garden bed, my dreams sometimes seem hidden behind the weeds of worry. Deep in that mud is where my Under Achievement monster lives, lurking below my “I got this” surface with its taunts and barbs. “You suck. You are not doing enough. Give up.” But out in the sunlight… in my gut where God lives… I know that they are not weeds at all. They are seeds that are being nurtured so that my family and writing can grow healthy and strong. One day I’ll have that new book, or that new show, or that camel musical. But for now, I have peace in less than peaceful circumstances. I’m not a show runner, but I’m not running from my own head anymore. And for my family and own peace of mind, that’s enough.

How about you? Any weeds in your life that are actually seeds? And how does growing that attitude help you in your life?

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

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10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

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

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

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

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And you end the afternoon looking like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Would You Add to the List?

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

Until next time…

Andrea

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

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