Coaching and Wellness

Hypnotherapy for Tics and Stress

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Well, it’s not surprising that I did an interview on hypnotherapy over 4 months ago and am just getting to posting it now. As you well know if you’ve followed this here blog, it’s been a whirl wind around these parts – but I’m finally seeing above the water thanks to a few days off from substitute teaching. (No, Thanksgiving break hauling two teens to San Diego, three family events, church and holiday decorating doesn’t count as downtime. And while I’m not complaining – I thrive on the busy – even this A-personality needs some time to settle down. I got it the past few days and I am ever so grateful!)

Today I spent the whole day – and I do mean the whole day – creating a new calendar system for myself. It’s not unlike a Bullet Journal, but instead of all the bells and whistles of a key and index, I am just utilizing a monthly goal list/overview/and then a day-by-day “what needs to get done” system.

(I love that I have the birthdays listed for each month also. I really want to get back to sending cards again. That’s what this beauty is for! Bought for $40 at the Salvation Army. I love me a good secretary’s desk!)

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For some of you more tech driven folk, this pen to paper stuff might be a bit old fashioned. But my brain calms down when the ink hits the page… it’s meditative. Even as I type this, I can feel my insides have started to settle knowing I have a plan in place to organize myself.

Yup, for this creative, I walk a fine line between over-managing (which so rarely allows grace in) and under managing (which means my kids, their friends and their friends’ friends invade my home like feral beasts, inhaling food not unlike Audrey 2.

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Of course, life is far from the perfect cubes holding everything in neat little rows on my beautiful new desk (thank you, Rex, for building it!) It’s more like the corner of my office: controlled chaos. Piles of items that are precious to me but don’t quite have a space. Photos, keepsakes and the occasional odd lot of Snoopy Christmas wrapping paper… it’s all a bit jumbled but, like so many of my dreams, it is waiting their patiently… ready for the light of day when the time is right.

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And so, with that out of the way,  here is the long awaited interview! Thank you, Carrie, for providing such a lovely overview of how Hypnotherapy works.

Hypnotherapy for Tics – Does it Work?

  1. Tell us about yourself and your kids

My name is Carrie, age 48, mom of 3 (18, 15, 13).  I am an overbearing (some would use the term “helicopter”) mom.  I am working on not being so overbearing, but it is a work in progress.  I work full time and try not to screw my kids up too much.  I tend to be a worrier and an over thinker (obsesser) and growing up I had my own OCD type of issues that I believe were passed down to my son (isn’t he lucky?) LOL.

2. What was the age of your son at the onset of his tics?

He was roughly age 10.  When he was in elementary school he would shout out a particular phrase routinely.  We didn’t think anything of it, thought it was cute and moved on.

How old is your son now?

He is now 18 and will be heading off to Military College in a little over a week (he chose that, not me.) 

3. What are his symptoms?

It started when he was in elementary school, age 10, with him shouting out a particular phrase.  He did that on and off for about a year and then it just one day went away.  Then he got a sinus infection (he has allergies and is prone to sinus issues) and he then started doing this thing where he scrunched up his nose because it was either dry or stuffy.  The colds would go away, but the “tic” stayed.  It was like the feeling of “having to scrunch up his nose” didn’t go away after the cold did.  It was noticed at a Well Child Visit with his pediatrician and by that time he couldn’t control it so the pediatrician suggested we take him to a neurologist.  She diagnosed him with Chronic Tic Disorder.  She said we could put him on medication, only if that was what he wanted (if it bothered him enough).  He did not want to be on any medication. 

More Info

One day the nose scrunching went away, but in its place he started stretching his mouth.  The mouth stretching turned into a vocal tic that he would make before he started to speak.  It got pretty bad at home, but when I asked his teachers (he was in junior high then) about it none of them even recognized he was doing it.  I think he was trying really hard all day to suppress it, but when he got home he had to release it.  At one point the vocal tic got so bad that it would cause us to not be able to understand what he was saying.  That one subsided a bit (but it does come back full force if he plays too much video or computer games).  Unfortunately that was when he started playing football and wearing an extremely heavy helmet for hours a day. This brought out the neck twitch and eventually the neck stretch which got so bad that he was causing himself pain and then the pain was causing him to want to stretch it.  It was like a vicious cycle. 

4. What had you tried before?

I tried different supplements, I really felt like Taurine helped, but he wouldn’t always take it. We went to a naturopath, changed his diet, and he was taking all sorts of concoctions (which he hated).  I made him go to two different therapists/counselors with hope that they could help him redirect the movement to something else, something that wouldn’t cause him pain. Those didn’t work very much, probably because he didn’t want to be there.

5. What is hypnotherapy?

I took this from the website of the Hypnotherapist that he sees:

“A means of communication between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Many human problems, habits, stresses, anxieties, attitudes or apparent deficiencies can be traced to interpretations by the subconscious mind which, when understood by the conscious mind, can reduce or resolve specific problems”.

6. How does it work?

From my understanding of what the hypnotherapist told us, he talks you into a relaxed state and then based on what he and the patient determine are the root cause of the issue (habit) he provides the patient with suggestions that reside in the subconscious.  I haven’t asked Mathew exactly as I don’t want to jinx the positive effects by having him start thinking about the tic again.

7. Were you skeptical?

I was hopeful!  Nothing else worked and I had seen an article in ACN about Dr. Lazarus and how he treated a boy that had a CHRONIC cough (tic) and in 4 sessions the boy wasn’t doing it anymore.  There was also an article about a teen that was able to help control his stutter with hypnosis. 

I was hoping it would work for Mathew because it appeared to my husband and I that his tics were all based on his compulsion to move a certain way, based on an obsession to a feeling (hope that makes sense).

My thoughts were that if he is this suggestable, maybe the hypnotherapist could offer him positive suggestions.

8. Is the process ongoing?

Mathew initially had two session and the results were AMAZING!  Gone was the overstretching of the neck and in its place was a slight movement from either side to side or back to front.  But, it was 80% better than it was.  My son described it as the little movement appeased the need of the compulsion to move it.  He had these results for about two months and then the stretch started become a little bit bigger movement.  It was still not as often as it had been, but I was worried that it would get there so he went in for another session, just yesterday.

I think that a person should be open to on-going sessions (as needed, of course) as you never know what might trigger the tic to come back again.  Mathew is going to be going to a very high stress environment when he leaves for Military College, so my thoughts are that if he needs to he can see his therapist when he is home on breaks.

9. Is it expensive?

Our insurance doesn’t cover it and the sessions were $160 each.  To be honest, I would have paid just about anything to get my son some relief.

10: Why has this worked vs. others? Thoughts?

Mathew tends to over think and stress about things that are suggested to him.  As an example; he was having chest discomfort because of all the swimming he was doing (his muscles were sore), so he started googling symptoms and was stressing about having a heart attack.  Poor kid got that from me – I do the same thing).

I think this worked because it dealt with his subconscious, which is where the compulsion/habit is coming from.

11. Advice for parents of a child who tics?

I am still searching for answers myself.  I try and tell my own self not to worry so much about my son, but as his mom I want to “fix” everything for him and I tend to obsess about doing just that (geez, wonder where he gets it from).  I am trying to not worry so much, easier said than done.

What do you think?

So, what do you think? Is it something you might be interested to try for your kids or for you? Personally I’m going to give it a go for my own ruminations.

Until then, I’ll keep on blasting my essential oils (that’s Peppermint and Thieves on my desk – smells like Christmas and delicious tea) sticking to my exercise and prayer routine, and loving my sweet kids exactly as they are. Teenagers are not easy, but I find when I stop demanding so much (translation: me trying to control and manage) and stay silent (um, not easy… pass the muzzle) they are so much more willing to talk to me. And when they do, it’s quite beautiful. Even with the tics. Because love over perfection wins every time.

check it out

I am now offering two services

  1. Essential Oils: If you are interested in learning about how these all natural and organic oils can calm you down so you can better serve your child and family, check out Jen’s website here You can either buy retail or become a member and save 20%. Click here!  (Not gonna lie – I wish these products were around when my son was younger – I hear amazing things about their results with tics.)

2. Coaching

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I am currently offering over-the-phone sessions to help you deal with the  frustrations of a diagnosis that you were not expecting. $49 gets you a one hour phone call where I’ll dive in, get your story, tell you mine and get you on a plan to feeling better soon. (I promise – it does get better!)

9Click on this link and send $49 to AndreaPaventi@Yahoo.com.

Email Me!

Whether you are interested in oils or a session, feel free to email me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com

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

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Coaching and Wellness

10 Ways to Jump Start your Dark Mood, Essential Oils and Tic Coaches. It’s a Thing!

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Okay, so my last post wasn’t all that encouraging. I was down and out over the sounds of these tics over and over (and over and over… and over and over) and I was ashamed that I was so angry. Shame comes in many levels, and here’s what my inner voice yelled at me:

  • “Again? The same complaint again?”
  • “How can you have published a book about being Happily Ticked Off and still feel so mad?
  • “Why can’t you concentrate on the great things that are going right?”

Here’s the answer I got back

  • “Because you’re human. Duh.”

This voice of reason (which I call the Holy Spirit… he’s a cheeky fellow) was quickly followed by another revelation… one that used to take me months, years, therapists, wine and meds to figure out: I can start over.

So… 8 hours later (and one trip to Wood Ranch BBQ thanks to a very patient husband who listened to me fret over my life, career, tics, worries about holidays, money and wrinkles while stuffing myself silly with overpriced but delicious chopped salad and more bread than the Pillsbury doughboy) I did.

I started over.

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(Oh, wait, that’s not my husband. That’s my spoiled pit bull who is not allowed on the bed no way needed some love just like me.)

Solution

Thanks to years of getting better tools in my tool belt, I did indeed begin anew the next day. Why? It’s the only way. I refuse to play the victim. As someone in my Sunday group likes to say, “Blame, Shame, Explain… it’s a nasty cycle.”

And so with that in mind, I reminded myself once again of a few things that maybe you need reminders of today.

A) No one is in charge of my feelings.

B) I can grieve, but self-pity has to go. It’s not productive.

Inability to Move Forward 

“But I’m sad! I can’t move on!” you might moan. I was like that, too – for more time than I’d like to admit. I remember the feelings of frustration and the well of despair that the sounds of tics brought on. (Heck, I lived in that space for eight hours the other night!) But I have done enough mental and spiritual work to know that tics aren’t truly my problem. Tics are simply a trigger for deep rooted beliefs that who I am is not enough.

And that, my friends, is a big fat, hairy lie.

Would I like less tics? Of course. But that’s not what I really need. What I really need is to get out of self, let my son be who he wants to be, so I can become the woman God intended me to be.

Who Am I?

These days I am substitute teaching, writing a pilot for a producer I truly adore, and considering getting a Masters/teaching full time next year if said pilot is not sold. (I am not trying to be negative… just realistic. I love teaching. I need income. And I’m almost 50. I need to go where God – and a paycheck – would have me be. That destination is not one of confusion but of peace.) And so there’s no point spinning in a bad mood now. Instead, I have options! And here’s what a few of them were that I took the day after my emotional 8 hour self-pity fest.

10 Ways I Jumpstarted My Attitude (Perhaps these will help you, too!)

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  1. Acceptance: I once again reminded myself that my son has Tourette Syndrome. There’s not a damn thing I can do about it in the moment the sounds are happening.

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2. Let Go: While there are solutions to some of the sounds that my son could employ (Acupuncture, Brain Balance classes, meditation, supplements, testing for leaky gut, CBD oil and more) he’s not willing to do embark on this journey at this time. I once again chose relationship over pushing my point. As my mentor likes to remind me, at this stage of my particular dance with tics, it’s like dealing with a chronic alcoholic where you think there’s maybe “Just one more thing” you could have done to keep them from going on a bender. Instead, I reminded myself,”There is no ‘One more thing to try. There is only acceptance. Let go.”

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3. Powerlessness: This is such a tough thing, but #1 and #2 drive me to my knees every time. I am powerless over the tics right now. I just am. There is no “one more fix.” I reminded myself, for this moment in time, “I am powerless.” That might sound like defeat, but it’s actually victory, because when I realize I have no control, I don’t have the burden of fixing it. It’s such a relief.

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4. Service: Thanksgiving was coming up. I could either ruin the holiday with my frustration or I could pour myself into making it a beautiful night. I chose the second and I am forever grateful. (High lite: Getting Western Bagels with my daughter and playing Christmas music in the kitchen while she baked and I cleaned the dishes. It’s a combo that works for us every time!)

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5. God: I remembered, once again, that I am not God. If I could fix the tics, and my frustration with them, I would. As of today, I don’t need a human fix. I need a supernatural fix – one that reminds me that there is something far bigger at play than what I see on the surface. When I can surrender to the fact that God has a plan for my life, and my sweet son’s, my entire mindset switches and I can get into #6…

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6. Gratitude: Gratitude is not something that comes naturally to me. Naturally I am a whiny, self-centered, give me comfort/instant gratification kind of gal. But when I remember all my blessings, and then thank God and everyone around me for them, I am immediately catapulted into a new dimension: one of peace and contentment. There is always, always, did I mention ALWAYS something to be grateful for. The lie: I think I can only be grateful when the tics go away or the house is clean. The truth: Happiness is an inside job. I get happy first and the tics bug me far less, never the other way around. Never.

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7. Friendship: I called a good friend and had an ugly cry. Instead of trying to find instant solution, I grieved what I had hoped would be a relaxing vacation without noises. She promptly reminded me of #8. (Personal shout out to Tuskany, Barbs, my sister, Susan, my 12-step homies, Ria, Linda, Rose, Karen, Lavender, PrairieMom, Jodee and so many other women in my tribe who I just couldn’t imagine life without. You ground me. You let me be me. And I am so grateful.

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8. Self care: I’m often the last person my list, and then I blame and shame other people for not meeting my needs. Um, not such a great dynamic. Instead, I took my friends advice and employed radical self care. I took 2 baths/day for a few days and didn’t obsess over people who had no water in Africa while I relaxed in an amazing tub

(Note: my tub does not look like this photo. I did use a candle, but it had half its wax missing. Brown stuff lined the shower grout… if the grout that was not missing… and my legs are so long they practically smash me in the face when I soak, but this picture is so much more alluring. And she has amazing legs!) I had that extra cup of coffee. I bought myself some amazing MAC Ruby Woo lipstick. I did some glorious window shopping at the mall and whenever negative thoughts came into my head, I told them, “Thank you, you are no longer welcome here. Now go piss off.”

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9. Exercise: I walked every day this vacation. Just 20 minutes. I did not lose 20 pounds, but I did get into gratitude for how lucky I am to live on a beautiful street, to walk as a woman without feeling fear for my life, and enjoy a wave hello or goodbye with a neighbor. (When negative thoughts about world politics entered my mind, I refused to feel guilty. I voted. I did what I could. But negative news does not negate my obligation to have joy regardless. It’s a must.)

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10. Organization/Decoration: I cleaned my house and decorated for Christmas. (See that tree? My daughter and hubby surprised me with it on Saturday. And by “surprise” I mean I put it on my Christmas list. I didn’t wait to get nothing while I shopped for everyone and then felt angry that I had nothing for me. Nope! I have always wanted a white tree and this is what they found. Perfect! It looks like candy on taffy. I truly could eat it. If I had a design company, I’d call it “Lickable Designs: Products So Amazing You Could Lick Them!” (Don’t judge.)

Beyond My Book and Blog

Many of you readers have bought my book. I’ve gotten so many letters from you on how it inspired you to move beyond diagnosis into acceptance, but some of you wanted additional support.

With that in mind, I am dipping my toe in the water of offering two things that could really help.

Two Services I’m Offering

this one

  1. Essential Oils: They have saved me. Over and over. If you are interested in learning about how these oils can calm you down so you can better serve your child and family, check out this website here. If you want more info, email me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com (Put essential oils in the subject line) and ask away. Or feel to purchase through my website. You can either buy retail or save by becoming a member. Check it out here!

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2. Coaching: I am currently offering over-the-phone sessions to help you deal with the  frustrations of a diagnosis that you were not expecting.

NOTE: I am not a doctor. I am not a vitamin specialist. What I am, however, is a mom who has been down this road and has, despite many twists and turns, managed to raise a son who is happy and content in his own skin.

For $49 I will give you a one hour phone call where I will listen, give advice and get you started on a plan to feel better yourself so that you can best be there for your own sweet baby. Maybe you’ve always wanted to write? I write! I can help! (And if you live in a different state and want help researching who would be the best specialist to see your child, I can help with that also.)

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If interested, click on this link – PayPal – and send $49 to AndreaPaventi@Yahoo.com.

Then email me so we can set up a time that works best for you!

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

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I’m Ticked. I’m Venting. How YOU Doin’?

I’m angry. There’s no other way around it. The tics are firing at me… up from my son’s bedroom into my office at a machine gun rate just as they have every ten seconds for the past 9 months and I’m just done. DONE.

He won’t take medication.

He won’t consider supplements.

He’s a vegetarian, also. My silver bullet was going to be some pill that would fix his nutrition deficit since we can’t talk Tourettes anymore and this pill would naturally STOP THE TICS oh my gosh, lucky lucky lucky for Mom! But oh, no, his vitamin report came back totally normal. No B-12 methylated unicorn shit in the name of no noises/good health for my six five giant! Oh no.

So here’s the deal – I surrender.

Again.

Just like every day, I surrender.

Every.

Single.

Day.

And most days, I’m okay. I really am.

Why Tics and I Are Mostly Sympatico

I exercise and I pray. I try to sleep well and substitute teach for kids far less advantaged than my own son. Combined with a few 12-step programs and reminding myself that I’m not, indeed, Queen of the Universe (and neither are you) I’m pretty happy. Even the writing is going okay! Turns out the workshop script didn’t work out for me. (I didn’t want to write for free with no credit, go figure). I recently landed a contract by another producer to write a parenting pilot for her. A writing conference wants me to teach this summer again. It’s all kind of cool when I remember to step back from the tics and remember what is working, not what isn’t.

Andrea, Where Are You Really on the Contentment Front

If I had to label it, I’d say I’m a solid B most of the time – not because of what I’ve accomplished, but because of what God has accomplished in me. Five years ago I was a wreck. These days, I rarely go there. (Once a month – usually with Tuskany – over too much coffee and not enough real food.) I know that the secret to happiness is not about my comfort, but about helping others. (Yes, I truly believe that. I tried it the other way – the striving and perfectionism… and if you’ve read my book, you know the result: abject failure and demoralization.)

Despite my wins, however, at this exact moment, I’m at a C-. Show canceled. Hack. Give it up.

Despite me being of service and roses and sunshine to everyone I have come in contact with at Trader Joes, Sprouts and Western Bagel… the neighbor kid and a friend whose kids needed a place to crash for a few hours… it still feels black and icky and ugly in my soul that just wants the gulps to cease.

No Sympathy/No Fixes

I don’t want anyone telling me how how to fix it. I don’t want any well meaning family members to tell me it doesn’t sound bad to them at all.

I just want to be honest and tell you that sometimes it’s just hard.

And after I hit “Post” I will go downstairs and make a few things for Thanksgiving dinner and be grateful that my son wasn’t at Borderline – a mere 20 minutes from my house.

He wasn’t in the coffin of the 21 year old girl whose memorial service my son and I attended yesterday.

He wasn’t bit by a tic in France like his best friend was two summers ago and who is now unable to attend high school or walk without a cane.

He cleans his own bathroom, makes his own bed, is getting straight A’s and has a million friends. He is blessed beyond measure.

But right now, despite all my sincere gratitude, it’s still hard.

You’re Not Alone

If your child is ticking, and you’ve done what you can, and you’re at a loss, please know that I’m right there with you. And it’s going to be okay. Most days for me it really is okay.

But today, right now, it’s not.

And maybe it’s not for you.

But I have a God who loves me.

And he loves you.

And despite the tics or the darkness, the shootings or the fires, God is good.

All time time.

And this, too, shall pass. Peace is through the doorway of serve and sharing, and we will come out the other side.

You are not alone.

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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If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You It’s Too Small

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It’s been insane….Showing up at different schools… Sometimes I’m a P.E. coach, sometimes a choir teacher. Sometimes I’m a math teacher. Other times a science or robotics instructor. Translation for all this: I take roll and make sure the kids don’t kill each other.

In addition I’m doing my writing class on Saturdays. Am I doing too much? Of course. But when is it ever a good time to go after my dream? It turns out that being put on as “head writer” on another person’s script didn’t go at all how I planned on Saturday. (Big shock.) I mostly just sat at the table while the big producer who is teaching the class did all the talking. I contributed one big idea that was accepted. The rest? Not so much. (I could swear that he looked in pain when I spoke most of the time. Note to self: Keep it brief.)

Now I’m assigned to work with the show creator as well as an Improv person to take this script from the first draft to the show runner’s direction. Can I do this? I don’t know. Do I care? Yes. Will I freak out if it doesn’t go? Not really. It’s a crap shoot in the end. All I can do is my best.

“It’s going to go to Big Actress A,” the producer says.

That would be nice. But in the meantime, I have to show up at public school and keep kids from riding the shopping carts full of old P.E. equipment while I take attendance.

I have to cook dinner and do shopping and hope my son’s size 15 (yes, you heard that right) SIZE 15 black rainboots arrive in time for Halloween for me to paint bright red with sparkles.

No he is not going as Captain Underpants. He is going as Papyrus from a videogame, Undertale. He will have two sidekicks – Miss L the ever present neighbor girl and Amber, a girl he’s known since he was 2.

Have I cured Tourettes? No. Is he trick or treating with two beautiful girls as well as making additional plans to hang out with his “friend” from school – a 17 year old Junior girl? Yes.

It’s like this script I’m writing… and figuring out my career… I don’t know where it’s all going, but God does, and that’s enough.

Oh, I did get a residual check today for my book. I think after royalties I’ll make $14.00. Woo hoo! I’m on fire! If any of you readers ever visit L.A. I can buy you a Starbucks. If 14 of you come by I’ll take you McDonalds for a dollar coffee. I know. I’m generous.

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Well, I’m off to call my mom. And crash. Tomorrow starts early and I have middle schoolers to wrangle, a house to clean for 3 writers who are going to revise a script in my office upstairs, and a pit bull to be sure has peed before she jumps out of our living room window screen to urinate on a squirrel. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Okay, Wait… One More Thing

How’s your dreams happening, people! As Mark Batterson writes in a book I’m reading now, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.”

Last month, I was ready to vomit. Now, I’m just kind of doing it. I’m tired, but doing it. And that feels so much better than thinking and projecting. God is in the action. I take the steps and leave the results to Him. It’s less pressure.

What are the dreams that scare you? I want to hear! Leave a comment!

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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Oh Brother…Warner Bros & Wonder Kids

My favorite school secretary called me last minute at 7am for a sub gig.

“Frazer, we need you.” With LuLu, it’s less of a request and more of a demand. And for this co-dependent in transition, I’m not against being bossed around… especially when it comes with a nice paycheck.

Me: “Nooooo! I was hoping to sleep! I’m exhausted from being a P.E. teacher, a choir teacher and a special ed teacher this week. I can’t handle being an English teacher now! Absolutely! I’ll be there in an hour!”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m always grateful for work. But today, man, it wasn’t easy. It mattered little what I said to some kids. Paper balls were thrown, my words were spoken over time and time again, and no one cared about me reading Wonder out loud or how valuable a well constructed paragraph is in life.

“I’m not even going to graduate highschool,” one girl told me.

That made me sad, but the more I do this job, the more I realize I can only teach those who want to be taught.

Today, at the end of sixth period, a sweet boy named Joe stayed after class.

“Miss Frizzle,” he told me, “I just had to say that I’m sorry no one listened to you. I really felt bad… and I wanted to say that I had someone in my family, like that kid in Wonder, die of a disability.” He started to tear up. “Geez, I’m sorry. I just…I miss my grandma a lot.”

There wasn’t much more spoken. I’d hug him if I could, but empathy and public school means lawsuit, so I just stood there. “You’re a good kid. Thank you,” I said.

Despite the hard kids, it’s kids like Joe that keep me coming back.

Plus, I wrote a great poem about a cockroach during my conference period. I figure if I can write one poem/day I’ll have 365 in a year. Maybe then Warner Bros. will realize what a genius they missed out on!

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The takeaway: I’m getting better at this not taking rejection personally…. 8th graders who scoff at great literature… executives who don’t want to hire 48 year old screenwriters… the teenagers who decide to give me the silent treatment because I had the audacity to remind them to do the dishes and, since they forgot conveniently AGAIN FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME to also clean up the dog doo… it’s all part of getting into the game of life.

I’m going to bed now. I can hear my sweet son ticking all the way up the stairs through the floorboards. But you know what? He’s happy. He’s not giving his teacher lip at school. And he laughed at my cockroach poem. I’d call that a good day.

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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When Will It Be Enough? Oh, You Mean NOW?

kids together

Sometimes at the end of a long sub day

The kids come home and there’s hell to pay

The dishes from morning are still in the sink

There’s a lamp on the table and it sure makes me think,

“Why do I cook and do shopping and clean

And all of the other shxxx all in between

While they can do school and come home and relax

I swear those ungratefuls can go kiss my… donkey.”

And then I remember

They’re only teenagers!

With just a few short years left

Don’t you think you should savor

The fact they do homework? That they don’t argue much?

When, Andrea, when, will it be enough?

When your son stops his ticcing?

When you sell your next book?

When you get on a show?

When you hire a cook?

When you hire a maid?

When you get a new car?

Perhaps what you want is not really that far

You’ve got cars to drive in

You’ve got water to run

You’ve got food in the fridge

In a nutshell… you’ve won!

Stop waiting for Stink to stop making those sounds…

For the toilet seat lid to just for once to go down

The magic is happening… RIGHT AS YOU TYPE

With the neighbor kid laughing and the sweet pumpkin spice

That’s in my diffuser

Plus there’s chill in the air

It’s Fall time at last

And these days, I swear

It’s becoming more clear

That’s it’s my attitude

That keeps me most happy

That indeed sets the mood

So I’ll set all boundaries

I’ll remind them of dishes

I’ll have them fold laundry

But this mom – she wishes

To remember that mostly

This time… it’s so short

It seems yesterday, friends, they were setting up forts

And now they have cell phones

And geometry tests

So I’ll do what I can

But let God do the rest

In closing I wish

That no matter your deal

You’ll focus on things that are precious and real

The hugs and the smiles

The books by the fire

Because when kids are gone

And it’s time to retire

You’ll miss all the chaos

(Yup, even “those” sounds)

And wish those sweet donkeys were still coming around.

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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Beeing Happy on Purpose

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She’s 87 or 88. Not sure. All I know is that somewhere between a 12 step meeting, my daughter’s choir concert the night before, my son’s impending “not-date” later that evening and Costco shopping I baked her a cake to celebrate.

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I say this not to be the Queen of Busyness. “Congrats! Here’s your award for stretching yourself too thin and then yelling at the kids five minutes before she arrived that “I DO EVERYTHING and all YOU have to do is sit on your butt and watch Youtube where people thirty years younger than me are making three times as much money as me and NO I AM NOT BITTER.”

I’m not at all frustrated about making that cake. Or the fact that no dishes were washed while I was shopping. (Okay, I’m frustrated about that last one.) I mention the cake because, if I’m not careful, I will be so busy busy busy doing and fretting and striving that I will forget to celebrate the people who mean the most to me.

I don’t always celebrate well, especially the past five years in this endless loop of trying to make money while raising my kids and finding my purpose. My mom will be the first to say, “I know how busy you are, Andrea, but don’t forget to call.” That said, despite not doing things as effortlessly as I did when the kids were younger, I am proud that yesterday I didn’t let a rough start with the kids bleed into the birthday celebration. Some days, like yesterday, just not throwing a fit is good enough. And I’m learning not to apologize about it.

Plus we had a lovely evening later that night at Stink’s “not-date”. While Stink was at the movies, Rex, Pip and I walked around the mall. We ended up playing this charades game, “Heads Up” on Pip’s phone. In the process, two random women walked by and started playing with us. An hour later, I learned all about one’s marriage issues, one’s scrap metal business, the fact that one of them just booked a part on Modern Family and how another wishes she could get into film editing but she’s thinking of starting a family soon. My introverted spouse and daughter just let me play Jay Leno to the latest guests on the Andrea Show while they checked out some free samples at Lush. I’d say I felt bad holding court without them, but it was a blast. I’m always in my happy spot when I can just converse – and that leads me to today’s message in church.)

Pastor Dre  was talking about Paul. He spoke about the importance of finding joy in our less than perfect circumstances. That joy happens when we leave room for God. When we don’t have to do everything ourselves. Like that conversation last night with my two new besties. Not planned. Not going to serve me financially. But honestly, made me buzz with the joy of the banter.

Choosing to be happy is a decision we must make every day. It might seem like an odd thing – finding small bits of glee when things don’t feel so easy in the grand scheme. But that’s kind of the point. We must choose gratitude over what is working, and not focus on what isn’t. That’s where the peace comes in.

As of this moment, I don’t feel particularly joyful. I am tired of the thought of waking at 5am to wait for a sub call I may or may not get. Why don’t I just finally go and get that Masters in Education and be done with it? But if I do that, there’s no more writing. At least not for a few years. Am I okay with that? Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. I’m sick of having no consistent income. So what am I waiting on?

And so, round and round I go. But, to quote my sponsor, sometimes the hallway is exactly where we need to be. If we’re so busy trying to fill it up with fixes, we may just block the door to the freedom and purpose that we’ve been waiting for.

For tonight – just for tonight – I will put on my sneakers and enjoy the beautiful Fall air.

I will relish in the fact that I have a clean car and a script to work on tomorrow.

I will focus on happy children downstairs and a pizza being made by my husband.

And I will remember that I don’t have all the answers to everything right this second. But God does. And that’s enough for now.

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Bee photo from here.

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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.

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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

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Acceptance Begins with Sleep! And Coffee Never Hurts

Summer is officially over. I went from hiking each dawn with some fellow teachers and mornings of glorious reading and meditation, to the grind “Mom, have you seen the cheese?” and “We need 1 million and 1 school supplies RIGHT NOW LET’S GO RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL!”

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Yesterday I was up at 445 AM for a meeting and didn’t go to bed until 1030 PM. Add in a visit to my mom, getting my kids to and from their first day of high school, picking my daughter back up and taking her for a Starbucks treat and taking care of a dog who insists on jumping through our living room windows, it was nuts.
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I write this not to earn a badge of courage. I write it to say that some days are just unmanageable. Fears come in. For those of you who read my book, you know it’s Rhonda, the voice of an old school yard bully. “How are you ever going to finish that writing pilot? What if you don’t win that contest? Your life is over! What about that messy office? No wonder you aren’t a successful writer! And by the way, those five pounds from not hiking are starting to creep back in. Watch it, Tubby!” (She’s a real bitch, that one.)
 
This morning, instead of freaking out, a nicer voice entered my head. Her name is Glinda, named after the Good Witch of the West, and she gently whispered, “Andrea, you need to rest on days you can. There’s no shame in celebrating some silence. And your curves – muy magnificente! And by the way, class or no class, you just sold an idea to a producer for another TV pilot. No pay now, but it’s great on your resume, so let’s just concentrate on what is real joy, not future fear, okay? Toodles!”)
 
I took her advice. And while Glinda would never take off her tiara and her bra, I did. Today the hanging twins and I took advantage of my husband driving the kids to school and no substitute teaching calls and slept in until 9. We sipped coffee, nibbled on toast, and watched three episodes of Call the Midwife.
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I was reminded once again through the lives of these nuns and young nurses that love comes in many forms. That in birthing babies we birth new ideas. That in burying ill friends or toxic relationships, we can let go of thoughts and patterns that don’t work for us.
For me, it’s realizing I’m doing a lot better than I sometimes think. That perhaps I never found a cure to tics, but am trusting that in allowing my son – my very ticky and twitchy son – to be exactly who he is, that this just might be a cure to what the world needs most: acceptance for who we are just as we are designed, not how others want us to be.
 
Last night I walked into Stink’s room to say good night and I heard a sound out of his chest that I had never heard before. These muffled honks came out while he was happily pounding his keyboard, writing to a good friend from 10th grade. My gut clenched. (I can’t lie. Each time it gets me. More to come on a diagnosis that explains a lot!) 
“You’re never going to get used to this. Give up now,” Rhonda snapped at me. But then Glinda came in. “Give yourself a break. Go upstairs, put on the loud fan, and go to bed. You’re worth it. And so is your son. He just needs you to love him as he is.”
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So with the power of a mom who loves this kid more than I can say. I kissed him good night and headed upstairs. I fell asleep fast – not out of sadness or despair, but from knowing that I spent a day doing what God asked of me: being of service, letting go of my old ideas, and loving my child just as he needs at this moment of his life.
What Can I Change? What Can You Change?
 
I can’t change my son’s decision to not medicate his tics, but I can change the grease on my kitchen cabinets.
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I can tape off the walls of my office so my husband can spray a neat white line on the ceiling.aa.jpg
And I can remind you that, if you’re hurting or lonely, you are not alone. Change what you can, and give the rest back to God. Because take it from me – the answer is not in fixing things or getting what we want. It’s would be nice! (Believe me, I’m ready for tics to end and get a TV writing gig to make some cash again!) But true serenity comes in loving what we have, not what we don’t.
And we can do this every day, one day at a time, with good friends, a little faith and, if you’re like me, a little coffee and hiking never hurts.

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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Game Over. I Surrender. Enter Peace.

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I’m keeping this short because I really smell like a truck stop fueled by Trump’s lies went hiking this morning and was too busy writing, watching Call the Midwife and getting my house ready for camping to do so earlier. But I had to check in.

As of two weeks ago, I have made a big decision.

No more asking my son if he wants to try CBD oil or change his diet.

No more asking him to be tested for MTFHR in case he’s not properly digesting his food – thus the cause of his gulping, shoulder shrugging, head nodding and eye rolling.

No more going round and round with my husband about “Why don’t you care more about Stink’s noises?” and calling specialists on the sly for naturopath treatments I know I can’t afford anyway (both emotionally when my spouse isn’t on the same page as me and figuratively based on my current employment.)

I wish I could say I came to this conclusion because I’m an angel of serenity.

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But the truth is, I had a final conversation with Stink about it a few weeks back.

We had just come home from a trip where, over the course of five days, proceeded to vocally tic approximately 4000 times. (I counted. I’m an donkey hole. I know.) I was really losing it.

Me: “Stink, I know I haven’t brought this up in a while, but do you think maybe, just maybe, you would consider taking a little something for your sounds?”

Stink: “Oh, Mom, I know how hard they are on you. I’m sorry.”

Me: (Sensing hope. I’ll take the CBD oil behind door #3… finally!)

Stink: “Yeah, well, as much as the sounds bug you… and I get it… I won’t take anything – ever – just to make you feel better.”

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Ouch… right in the gut.

I was so upset. At myself for asking, but at him for not even be willing to try. How dare he not be co-dependent!

At my weekly call with my sponsors, with Rex by my side, I started sobbing. “Why can’t he at least try?” I cried. “We live as a family. It’s noise pollution! It’s unfair!”

My sponsor, very kindly but directly, said, “Andrea, it’s not your son’s job to make you comfortable.”

Ouch again.

But you know what, for whatever reason, hearing it from him (and not my spouse) I got it.

And I felt the feelings.

And I cried for a week.

I mourned the decade long quest for picking up the problem that my kid never wanted me to pick up.

I mourned the years of frustration when, in the end, the tics haven’t changed all that much.

But, if I’m being honest, I also mourned the end of an obsession. Because when I can’t spend my time trying to figure out my kid, I am going to have to shine that laser like focus on me. What are my dreams? What are my fears? How can I live out my best life?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the answer can’t only be that I get what I want. Sometimes the answer is to lay down and surrender that we lost. But when we get up, we might just find a whole new beautiful life awaits.

And so that’s where I am today. A little less mournful, a little more joyful, and – as always – grateful that my strong boy is showing me that being oneself trumps tics and fear every single time.

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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