faith, reading, Uncategorized

How to Read 5 Books in 4 Weeks in Ten Minutes/Day (Hint: You Gotta Think SMART)

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Most of you know I’m a sub. And ya’ll might think subs are just in it for the glory and fame. The feeling we get when we are pounded 100 times in less than five minutes with questions like “Where’s our real teacher?” and “You don’t have a credential, do you?” and “We don’t have to sit where you want us to sit because you don’t know what you’re doing anyway.” It’s really fun.

All the perks aside, I didn’t get sober a while back to freeload off the education system. And so, while I far from teach them how to dissect War and Peace and form it into a Haiku, I do attempt to help them to think differently.

Because Yeah, I Care So I Do This

At the beginning of every class I give a short life lesson. It’s the one time of day I insist they put down their phones and don’t talk. (Note: It’s not that I think being on the phone during the movie we are watching is an amazing use of their time, but I’m realistic. I’m a long term sub the last month of their senior year. If they choose to “sneak” behind my back and text friends ideas for their ideal promposal rather than be illuminated by Adrian Broady’s incredible performance in The Pianist, it’s up to them.)

Similar to the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, another movie we are finishing up this week, I can either freak out about what I can’t control and spray the problem kids with Windex, or I can be like Ian Miller’s character: Chill, go with the flow, change what I can and ignore the rest. (Ah, Ian Miller…. Played by the handsome, rugged and oh so sexy John Corbett who I did not just announce here on the blog is actually in the running for world’s hunkiest man right up there with Rex. No, I did not. Oh, and I did I just use the word “hunky?” Yes, this 1970’s child certainly did. Along with my penchant for flared jeans and the word “groovy” I am not ashamed.)

Inspired by Kelly Corrigan’s father in The Middle Place, I enthusiastically tell each class what I tell myself when I wake up every day. Picture a big smile on my six foot frame, likely surrounded in polka dots, shouting: “This is going to be a GREAT day!” I remind them that I no longer wait for circumstances to dictate my mood. So now I’ll tell you that also. I mean, if I look hard enough (especially the last few months) I’ll find plenty to complain about. Sure, my ship might go off course a bit even under the best circumstances with my emotional rudder, but if I don’t set my sails right at the beginning of my daily voyage I won’t just veer off course, I’ll go to another destination all together. If you catch me on a day with little food or sleep, I might drown.

In relaying this to my kids yesterday, I realized that I should also model for them what new thought looks like. And what better way to do this than with a book? And right on the spot this idea was born: Read out loud 10 minutes before the film starts. And… since I have five classes…. I can read five books! That means by June I’ll have read stuff I might not have time to read after class.

As I mentioned a few days back, I’m already reading The Great Gatsby at home. And I have decided to read Tales of the City to Period 2 and The Alchemist to Period 3. That leaves 3 other books I could use suggestions on. Thoughts? (I have already read Tales of the City but that’s it. I’d love to read 4 that are new to me.)

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Okay, I’m ready for book suggestions for 18 year olds! Go!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #51:  Reading 10 minutes 5 times/day can grant you 5 books in a month! It’s worth taking the 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. 

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faith, self improvement, spirituality

Life Death and Big Pink Flowers

Today we officially said goodbye to my father in law. It wasn’t a big funeral. It was a small group of us: my husband, his mom, sister, me and the kids. We took my father in law’s ashes and spread them out on the ocean.

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It was a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness that my husband and his family had to bid farewell to a man they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. (It happened so fast. Good for him, not so easy for the rest of us.) But relief, too, because now everyone can move forward with the healing process.

I have found that the best support I’ve been able to offer is to give less advice, ask more questions and just listen. This is not the time for me to “fix” anything. Sometimes things just are what they are. At least I’m not fixing problems that occurred from putting my foot in my mouth.

All this silence has given me an awful lot of time to think. And today, what struck me most during the solemn affair was how, in the end, we all go back to the earth. We can strive to sell books or teach classes or have nice homes, but at some point… if we’re lucky… someone is carrying our remains in a bag and wishing us well on journey into the next spiritual realm.

Maybe this sounds depressing, but to me, it takes the pressure off. In my faith, either Jesus died for me or he didn’t. If he did, then maybe I don’t have to sweat the tough stuff so much. Maybe I can grieve and feel those pains of loss, but at the same time laugh and feel the joy because I don’t call the shots. If this Jesus is who I hope he is, he promises something better after the dark fades. He promises that while certain people have gone back to the earth, new life will pop up with glory and color.

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I will try and remember that tomorrow morning when I face that same student who decided I was a terrible teacher. I will take a look at this same pink tree as I drive down the street and pray that whatever darkness she experiences in her home she can bury. I can pray that, like my savior, she can rise into something more vibrant and beautiful that brings joy and color to all who behold her.

And, well, if she can’t, I can, and I’ll let go. Because honestly, I can’t take on the world. Instead, like this picture taken last night when I stepped out of a house full of guests to breathe in the dusk, sometimes you just have to be reminded to sit ON shit rather sit IN it.

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(Yup, that’s four big stinky bags of fertilizer.)

Bottom line: May you grow flowers in your bullshit this week and make the best of whatever comes your way.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #35: When you’re dealt a lot of crap, grow flowers.

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, Uncategorized

Ah, The Joys of Being Appreciated!

The alarm went off as usual at 530 am. And, as always, I jumped out of bed like a spring rooster crowing for joy.  With glorious anticipation I said the first three words of the day that always put me in a spiritual mind frame:

“Oh fuck this.”

Then I meditated for 7 minutes.

And didn’t do my Bible reading.

But I got up.

Only to discover we had no coffee.

But that’s okay. I would plow through anyway. I would eat well, drink water and just be of service.

But then I changed my mind and got two cups of coffee at the local Arco followed by a six pack of mini donuts.

The day continued with a pack of peanuts from the vending machine, a slice of pizza from a merciful student and one large brown banana. Nothing says health like lots of white flour, sugar and grease, right?

With that diet of champions, I had just enough energy to bust a student per class for sneaking their phone. By sixth period I was so done. Especially because the girl caught red handed has snuck her device on multiple occasions. Instead of sending her to the dean for each infraction, I thought I’d teach her the bigger lesson of accountability.

Today’s was: “Write me an essay about why you shouldn’t be on the phone, even if you don’t get caught,” I told her.

I wasn’t expecting a 10 page saga about integrity and how her loser sub kept her from sneaking clothing out of a department store down the road… about how I shifted her consciousness from a victim mindset to one of responsibility. But somehow I wasn’t expecting this either:

 

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She went on to add this gem:

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I had to scratch my head at that last line. I allow kids to sit together. I let them play music when they are sketching. We make vision boards and flip books. We listen to musicals and create super heroes. I even allow them to tell me what they are interested in learning and I will make that happen.

Oh well. At least she is a rare student who is unhappy with with me. Oh, wait, not true!

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Wow, she sure knows how to make a gal feel good. I can already hear the soundtrack to the montage of the film playing. .

I won’t lie. This letter really hurt my feelings. I have been trying really hard to make the best of a hard job. But at the same time, when I see these kinds of excuses and finger pointing, I have to remember that this attitude has nothing to do with me. It will only bite her in the rear down the road when someone far more important than a substitute art teacher (a crappy one at that) doesn’t put up with her sneakiness.

Or maybe this outcome will never happen. Maybe, like some of those entitled kids whose parents buy their way into everything, she will just float on through.

But somehow, somewhere, she will pay. Because when we don’t do what’s right we have relationships with folks who don’t do what’s right. We marry at our level of dysfunction and we have kids who learn that dysfunction. And then those kids land in our schools and they have the opportunity to bump into a teacher “who knows nothing about art” but knows a lot about making the best of a situation no one expects themselves to be in.

And to lose the opportunity to gain a bit of wisdom, well, that’s on them.

As for me, that student today taught me more than any university a rich parent could have bribed me into. She once again reminded me that we cannot worry about what another person thinks about us (or in my case a whole classroom!) but we have to just do our best, show kindness, and move on.

In Andrea speak, “Zero Fucks Given!”

Three slices of pizza, an extra large fries and large Diet Coke later, I’m ready to stop ruminating about my less than ideal day. Instead I will sleep tight because of my carb coma knowing I did my best and wake up to some delicious San Francisco Bay coffee. (Yup, this girl stopped at Costco before it closed. 8 packages of dark roasted pods prove to me that miracles are always at our finger tips.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #34: Not everyone’s going to love you. Love yourself enough to try your best and then give them to God. (Bonus points if you pray for them. Extra bonus points if you’ll pray for me tonight!)

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, Uncategorized

When You Let Go, It Happens

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be teaching art full time for LAUSD, in North Hollywood no less, I’d tell you that you were nuts. But today, after a two week sub assignment, I was asked to step into a role full time until June. This class – with its painting and noise and Vision Boards is pure chaos mixed with fun. It’s loud and different and intimidating all at once. AKA: Perfect for me.

The money is so needed. (And I’ll get my 100 days now for insurance next year!) It’s not without its downsides, tho. A close family member recently passed. I’ve got a writing assignment that is not yet done. The distance isn’t ideal.

And yet, the circumstances have all played out so well. When life flows, I know God is in it. Less resistance and organic movement are also signs that a power higher than my understanding is orchestrating the wacky music of my life.

Peace in my circumstances are always a sign. It reminds me to not stress about outcomes I can’t control (the recent teacher’s strike for example). Life is always more manageable when I just put one foot in front of the other and leave the outcome to God. I can have an attitude of fear (too far! not enough experience! too tiring!) or I can view everything happening exactly as it’s supposed to be unfolding. And when I do that, worry becomes an adventure. And in this rodeo mistakes alongside fearlessness coupled with exhaustion is part of the norm. Adventure expectations mean zero expectations. And in such mad cap “down is up”, joy can break through.

It beats being broke having anxiety attacks. You should try it.

Happily Ticked Off #15: When you let go of what you think you are supposed to be there’s room to become who you are meant to be.

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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Gratitude: It’s the Answer to Homicide and Suicide(and ulcers)

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I’m hardly a saint of happiness but I am way more content than I used to be. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has everything to do with gratitude – Not just acknowledging it here and there but actually practicing it every single day by writing it down. My husband shares this practice with me and we each text another couple for accountability.

We first started doing this because our misery was killing us.  And I won’t lie, it felt very cheesy.  But as I learned in my primary program, my ability to feel serenity is in direct proportion to how willing I am to be inconvenienced.  And when you are brought to your knees with exhaustion it’s a perfect time to pray and be willing.

At first my gratitude lists looked like this: “I am grateful for food, a car to drive, a walk, kids who love me and a job.“ (Nope, Rex didn’t make the list in the early days.)

Most of the time, though, I wasn’t truly truly grateful. It just felt like something to say,  because if I didn’t, I’d sound like a complete self indulgent schmo. Truthfully I was always annoyed at somebody or something. And the coveting and jealousy? Guilty. I was forever looking at what I could have more of…. her body, their job, your house, you name it. I could not have admitted that before either – it just didn’t sound nice – but in getting real I got aware. And by getting grateful for what I had (not what was missing) it got easier to let go of those other negative attributes.

After a while my negative mindset literally started to shift and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was in actuality. Soon I started incorporating more things in my gratitude list, and in becoming happier I became happier with Rex. I became less angry at my kids. Call it “odd” or “God” but more work started coming in also. I started enjoying even the hard days. Because most of the time it’s was my perspective that needed to change, not my circumstances.

Today in class a kid was back talking me and I was getting irritated. We were both locked in defensive blame. Instead of  staying mired in a power battle (old pattern and no one wins) I walked away. A few moments later I came back and asked her why she was upset. She told me that she wasn’t there yesterday for the assignment and didn’t know what was going on. I took a breath (“Did I really have to go through this explanation  again?”)  and blocked out the rest of the chattering kids. In that moment it was just her and me and I was grateful for the opportunity to start again.

None of us know what’s going on in other peoples lives, but when we develop a new attitude, we allow a little bit of space between our circumstances and our reactions. In that space connection can grow. As for those feelings of joy that come from relationship restored? You guessed it: I’m grateful.❤️

Happily Ticked Off Tip #10: Texting someone 5 things a day you are grateful for can dramatically improve your mental outlook. 

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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It’s My Birthday! So Here’s a Poem

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It’s my birthday. The big 49. As one friend wrote me, it’s my last “birthday around the block before the big 50.”

I’m fine with it, really. In fact, now that I’m more focused on what I’m finally supposed to be doing with my life (the whole writing, taking things as they come and staying in God’s will deal) I’m enjoying taking it as it is. No big expectations.

Lest I not ask for anything and then have a big pity party instead of a birthday party, I did request some home made pizza and a cake courtesy of my husband and daughter. My bff Tuskany is coming over with her family to play Apples and Apples. We’ll have a fire, a cup of coffee with some icecream for toppers, and call it a wonderful night.

I thought in honor of my new goals I’d share one of the 100 poems I aim to have completed for each 100 days of subbing. Here’s one I wrote on Day 22.

  • Note: All poems are written from the perspective of an 8 year old boy being raised by a single mom.

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MommiTations

The best time of day

Is always the morning

When I’m still half awake

And our pit bull is snoring

 

Incense fills the air

And the sound of harp strings

Floats through an old Smart Phone

Set on silent ring

 

Light streams through the window

As the sun starts its day

There’s a candle and coffee

And toast on the tray

 

There’s the ring of some chimes

And the purr of a cat

And if I’m real quiet

I can sit on Mom’s lap

 

My ears hear her heartbeat

It’s utter elation

Just deep breaths and stillness.

It’s name? Mommytations

Shout Out to the wonderful Mr. Fish Lee who I’d love to illustrate it if my publisher doesn’t go with someone in house. Check him out at https://twitter.com/MrFishLee. Here’s just one of his amazing samples. (But no, my poem book is not dealing with Tourettes. I just know of him from the T.S. community. He’s uber talented.)

this one

That’s all I got for you today. I’d love your feedback.

Until then, I’ll be enjoying my birthday fiesta and heading over to North Hollywood again tomorrow where we’ll continue a lesson I started on Langston Hughes’ poem, Dreams, combined with a Vision Board and Evan Hansen’s song, You Will Be Found.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #9: Don’t stop your goal, even on your birthday. It’s a present to yourself. 

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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Waving Through a Window (And the Feeling of Connection)

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It’s my second day subbing in North Hollywood for an art teacher who has been gone quite a while. This scenario is a lot like my own ruminating brain: Too much free time = feral behavior. 

With no prepared art lesson, I went into sub ninja mode in a hurry.

Me: “Who here knows the musical Hamilton?”

1/4 of the kids raise their hands.

Me: “Who here knows the musical Dear Evan Hansen?

5 kids out of 40 wave. 3 out of the 5 have dyed hair, more than a few piercings and outfits that look like soldiers who had a knife fight with anime characters.

Me:”Dear Evan Hansen is a story about a kid named Evan Hansen who fakes the friendship of another high school senior, Conner Murphy, who has recently killed himself. He writes letters to Connor, and vice versa back to him, to pretend he had a huge friendship with this troubled boy. The sole purpose for this ruse is to date the dead kid’s sister.”

Student #1: “What’s a ruse?”

Student #2: “It means, ‘You’re a dumbshit,’ Carlos.”

Me: “It means ‘fake game’ and it also means if you call out profanity again without raising your hand I will be sending you to the office. And that’s no ruse.”

Ooohs and ‘That is cold, man'”erupt, along with a few, “Roasted!!!!!!!!”

Me: “Back to Evan Hansen’s lie: It’s not a great scenario, but in the process of dissecting this kid’s past we learn that Connor was bullied and felt alone. Connor felt like he had no other choice but to end his life. Dear Evan Hansen is about what can happen when people feel connected. Like they matter.”

All eyes are now on me. (Except for this one female couple who have their hands intertwined and are drawing happy hearts up and down each other’s forearms. You can’t win them all with your . Moving on.)

Me: “In the beginning of the show, Evan sings a song about what it’s like to wave through a window at a scene he can’t be a part of. We are going to listen to this song and then create a drawing based on the emotion it draws out of you.”

Grumbles and mumbling.

Me: “Oh, you don’t want to that?”

Epic shouts of protest.

Me: “Why don’t you ask me if you really have to participate?”

Them: “Do we really have to participate, Ms. Frizzle?”

Me: (Stonefaced) Yup. Now listen.

And they did.

And while some of them created something akin to stick figures on crack, some of them did masterpieces this.

this one

And that made it all worth it.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #8: Push through and teach a lesson in the classroom of your choice, even if at first it seems like no one is listening. They just might be and you’ll be glad for the connection. 

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Who did you make a connection with today?

  • Note: Artwork granted with permission from amazing student.
  • 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. books
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Dark Clouds

I subbed today in a music class. What started out as a sweet group of sixth graders who thought I was the bees knees for having penned a song about their favorite show, Gravity Falls, eventually morphed into a mob of horny, obnoxious, loud eighth graders who walked around their seats, took selfies and thought it was their God given right to pound the drums or bang on piano keys just because they felt like it.

The I-pad wasn’t working, so the regular scheduled programming of Mulan wasn’t an option to kill the time. (Not that a kids Disney movie was going to do much to squelch the angry mob of hormones anyway.)

I had two choices:

  1. Let them run wild, potentially causing me more grief in the end if a desk gets toppled or an administrator swings open the door, causing me to be fired, my kids not to eat, and us landing on the street (not that I’m dramatic much…) or:
  2. Educate them the best I could.

I chose Door #2, giving them the background to Hamilton and playing them some of my favorite songs through the speaker.

“What does our hero mean when he says, ‘I’m not throwing away my shot?'” I asked.

“He means, ‘I need to pee. Can I use the bathroom?” one answered, hand flailing like one of those inflatable wobbly men used to advertise gas stations and car washes.

“No,” I said, hedging my bets that they were just looking for a way to distract themselves from show tunes and I wasn’t going to have to clean up urine near the drum sets.

“Why would Lin Manuel Miranda write a musical about a founding father in charge of the U.S. Treasury?” I continued, to which someone else replied, “Because he’s una idiota. This musica suckas!”

This, of course, elicited loud cheers and guffaws.

The inner school girl in me wanted to tell them what idiotas they were being. “Don’t you want to ensure you get an education beyond ‘paper or plastic? I wanted to scream.”

Instead, I just ignored the naysayers and focused on the kids who lit up the way my eyes would have lit up if a teacher in cat eye glasses, complete with a Hamilton tee shirt and Harry Potter necklace gave me a welcome distraction from the regular scheduled routine of chords and a-hole ring leaders.

Stillness – It’s the New Control Mechanism

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Meeting chaos with quiet. It’s a new thing I’m practicing. Some days I actually think I’m managing well. Other days family members ask if I’m depressed. I think serenity on this a-personality type must be akin to if Mother Theresa got decked out in my thrift store overalls. It’s that different.

But, scout’s honor, I’m not depressed. I’m surrendering. I’m tired of fighting windmills. Maybe, while I wait for direction for my next phase of life, I can simply do my best to spread love and education to those that want it, and those that don’t, I can simply let go. It’s not like forcing my way on them is going to do anything but cause me grief anyway.

In the movie Broadcast News, Holly Hunter’s character starts each day crying. It’s simply to get out her angst so she can go on with the madness of her day. One of my favorite lines is:

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I can relate. But somehow, the world is going to have to live without my constant opinion every single second.

In closing, I went to the shi-rage (a cross between “she” and “garage”) this evening for a little reading. (I’m going through Present Over Perfect for a second time. I really wish Shauna Niequist would just read this blog and invite me for coffee or to her Sunday night Practice gathering. I’m no rabbi or priest, but I could do a rap about sobriety, writing, Tourettes and Substitute teaching like nobody’s business. I think that qualifies me.)

Stretched out on my recliner, I said a few prayers of thanks first and watched the clouds move across the sky – big chunks of gray with some bright sunlight peeking through. To me, that’s what this season of life is like: A bit fuzzy, but moving… every so slightly… into a glorious light of purpose. I’m not 100% sure yet what that purpose is, but as I always say, God does, and that’s enough.

And, as the God of my understanding always shows up in syncronicities, here’s the quote Shauna used for the most recent chapter I read. It pretty much sums up my feelings on slowing down.

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I considered for a brief second reading this quote to those surly eighth graders the next time I substitute teach, but I decided I like my head on my shoulders.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Freedom to Suck

I’ve been up since 430 am. I’ve had 5 hours of sleep. In addition to driving my daughter to Simi Valley to board a bus to Disneyland for a music field trip, I shot across the Valley to work as a P.E. teacher at a new school. It was a long day on the blacktop, pushing a cart of balls in the hot sun and reminding Middle Schoolers to “Sit Down!” “Be Quiet!” “Get your hands off your phone and pay attention!” I go back to my  homeschool for two days tomorrow and Wednesday, this time as a music and math teacher.

I am starting to get the hang of this sub job – mostly the part about not taking everything so seriously. Some days the kids are amazing. Other days they tell me I look old and wonder why I’m wearing my Del Taco on my shirt.

It’s not what I’m doing, however, that matters as much as my attitude. When I stay in gratitude, I’m excited about the possibility of making my quota for health insurance… grateful I can do this while still being there for my kids after school. Not every day is going to be a winner, but the overall prize is waiting for me.

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The same goes with my writing. When I obsess over every single bad joke in my spec script, it’s easy for me to think, “Oh, man, you suck. Stop now. Why bother.” But when I remember it’s okay to fail… that just getting something on paper is a win… it’s quite exciting.

Last night, Stink told me, “Mom, I’m shutting down the Pokemon Club.”

Me: “Why? Not enough people interested?”

Him: “No. Just not interested anymore.”

I just looked at him, all 6’5 of him leaning against the door frame like a teenage giraffe. He wasn’t wanting to fight me. I could tell he needed to be convinced. So, in a non-Andrea move (I’m usually pretty hands – off) I said, “Dude, you owe it to the club to stay. It’s hard, but I can help you. You aren’t in this alone. And no matter what, you’re not quitting.”

And he said, much to my delight, “Okay.”

Later that night, when I had a good cry over what the heck I’m doing with my life, my husband just looked at me and said the same thing about my writing, “Andrea, you owe it to yourself to stay. It’s hard, but I can help you. You aren’t in this alone. And no matter what, you’re not quitting.”

It’s times like this I know that all the fighting and praying and therapy to keep this family together has been so worth it. We just had to give ourselves permission to not be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, and never give up.

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For you writers out there, here is a great article I found on Pixar’s writing process. I have a movie script a la Pixar style I’m going to write in March and this is going on my desktop.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncertainty: Do or Don’t Do (But Don’t Complain!)

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I’m subbing these days for the LA Unified School System. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at once. I love the kids. I love the bell schedule. It’s comforting to know that no matter how awful a hormonal middle schooler can be that in fifty five minutes he will, indeed, get off his desk and turn his cell phone on in someone else’s classroom.

What I don’t love about subbing is how inconsistent it can be. Some weeks I am on top of the world – everyone’s favorite sub and putting out flames like Miss Frizzle on a firetruck. Other days it’s slow. It’s me at 530am, barely awake with my phone on my chest, hoping above hope that the phone will ring – I can stumble through a quick shower – and I’ll be able to put 200 bucks in my bank account.

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Add in the fact that I need to book at least 100 days this year to qualify for insurance for next year and the pressure, like Donkey Kong, is on.

When I start to question my sanity on doing this job, rather than get a 9-6 office job or stay at the steady eddy school aid job that paid very little but gave me insurance, I have to remember a few things:

Reasons for Taking Chances

  1. Not working on certain days this entire week damnit would give me a chance to write my tv pilot! My dream! I am doing just that.
  2. Working as a sub would give me a better understanding of what it takes to teach. (I’m getting that. What used to terrify me now makes me a bit giddy. Who knew I could handle 46 stinky general ed 7th graders, or a class of 9 non-verbal/diaper wearing 8th graders, and not lose my cookies? It’s been an incredibly exciting challenge and full of personality and joy.)

The Uncertainty of Life

The issues I am facing with both the writing as well as the work is that they are both incredibly uncertain. Maybe I’ll get called for the day, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll sell a script, maybe I won’t. (Oh, and tics? Those are kind of uncertain also. Fun times, this uncertainty!) Bottom line: I can’t have it both ways. There is ZERO point in taking these leaps of faith if I’m going to complain, protest and be a general crazy person for my family. (This week taught me that. As of this moment, I am putting it down. Dear Courage, Dear Jesus, I’m ready… Bring it on! And please bring coffee, too. Panic attacks are so much better with Starbucks.)

Fantasy vs. Reality

Let’s get real: The chances of selling like a show, at my age, are slim. It’s not that I am not talented, but it’s so much more than that. This business, as I am experiencing yet again through a class I’m taking, is incredibly, incredibly laced with competition, fear and desperation. I was told by more than a few students in my class that I came on “too strong” and like I had “something to prove.” The truth? I did have something to prove. I wanted people to know I could write! But guess what? They didn’t care! And that’s, sadly, the reality of this business. EVERYONE wants EVERYONE to know how good they are. It’s not just about writing well, it’s about navigating complicated personalities. Knowing when to open your mouth and when to just shut up. The truth? I failed and it cost me a potential workshop win.

Truth vs. Lies

Losing the contest was a bigger blow than I had anticipated. I originally told myself, “It’s just one class… get used to it…” but I’m realizing now the wound went much deeper. It triggered a core belief I had about myself… a belief that turned out to be a lie. And that’s this: Somewhere along the way I told myself this big story that unless I sell a TV show I’m a loser.

Typing it out loud, it sounds so silly, but deep in my gut, my motivation for this genre was flawed. And flawed never works. Even if I sold something, I’d be happy for a bit, but then that roaring lion would come out soon again, taunting me with its “You’re not good enough” barbs and roaring at my inadequacies.

My dear friend, Barbs, said it best, “Andrea, it’s not about writing. It’s about your idol. As soon as you make something bigger than God you are going to lose out on your true purpose for doing what you do. Set it down. See what happens.”

Purpose

And so, on that note, I leave you with the idea of purpose. What is your purpose? What do you do when you think it’s one thing and it turns out, maybe, that God has other plans? Ex: I thought for a long time my purpose was to STOP THOSE TICS. And guess what? That was not the case. In terms of T.S., the purpose there was to teach me to not be so controlling – to accept my son for who he was. (Note: I fail with this a lot.)

With the writing, I know my purpose, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is to do this. But in what form? I don’t know. But God does. And until I am willing to surrender outcome 100% to him, everything else will be just a false idol of ego and proving that in the end will leave me flat.

A teacher I really respect, Graham Cooke, talked about this today.

graham cooke

I don’t know where I’m going these days, but I know that God knows. So for today, just for today, I will finish up that pilot for a workshop I didn’t win, and once again remember that when my sweet ticker comes home from school, it’s not about me wishing he would make different choices with his Tourettes. My son knows he is a child of the King whose voice deserves to be heard. And, whether in Hollywood, books, magazines or just here in my beautiful new office, mine does, too.

And so does yours.

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 Facebookbookcover profile pic