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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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Here’s to New Beginnings!

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I made the recent (and for this social media mama, quite radical) decision to leave Facebook lately. Many of you readers found me over there originally… perhaps through a friend or my Happily Ticked Off page. Unfortunately, Facebook’s lull, pull and constant jabs of information and opinions became for me like tics – overwhelming, hard to decode and utterly exhausting.

Starting Over

Social media feels to me like how I used to view my son’s tics: Like everyone else knows the answer and I’m just an ignorant ass, fumbling along, trying to make sense of what is up and what is down. I was always spinning – never really present with Stink or my family because I was so busy just trying to hold on to the tornado of info that never touched down. Quite the opposite: I felt dizzy from the ride.

It wasn’t until I took the opposite approach and simplified that I found answers for my son and for me. Simplification meant less input from everyone and more input from a few trusted sources: God, my intuition, a few sites, a few good friends, and amazing naturopath.

I’m taking the same approach here. Either God is bigger than social media or he is not. Either my message is strong enough that people will seek me out or they will not. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. If 25 of you find hope and healing from what I bring here, then my life has meaning.

A New Day

It’s Sunday. I’m off to church and then to a communications class with my husband. I need it. Just last night we had an almost brawl over how to handle my 15 year old man child’s non-ending vocals. Stink is still not on medication, and he gulped approximately 7000 times during our vacation. (Yes, I estimated. I suck.) I am tired of it and want to put the hammer down: CBD oil or I’m out! But… on the other hand… I have to admit he is content. Yesterday he had 4 boys and 2 girls over for 5 hours to play video games and the board game Apples to Apples. He’s ridiculously goofy and full of joy. Who am I to demand him to change?

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And so I go… off to my quiet space… to let God know I don’t have all the answers but perhaps he can love me anyway.

And as I sit there in the chapel, praying and leaning into the grace, I will lift up a prayer for you, too. That perhaps you don’t need to have all the answers but are so worthy of love anyway.

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. 

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Stop Your Tics By Learning What Triggers Them! New book by Sheila Rogers DeMare

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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since I posted on Baby Center about Sheila Rogers DeMare’s first best selling book Natural Treatments for Tics and Tourettes. But alas, Stink is not the little five year old in the photo at Disneyland, sucking up a corn syrup/food dye laden lolly pop like a monkey at a banana sale. (Those ingredients are NOT part of DeMare’s suggested food of choice, for the record. Sugar and food dye are big triggers!) sssss

As most of you know, my kid is now ginormous and on a strict gluten-free diet (his choice). He is back on dairy after a long run without it (his choice… and yes, he has some vocal tics because of it). He occasionally indulges in food dye and, yes, his tics go nutty on them. But with him being the size of a small farm animal, I don’t freak out about it much anymore.I can’t control what he eats outside of the house – only what I bring in – and that, for the most part – is a nice combo of fruits, veggies and bread, almond milk, regular cheese, and buckets of Trader Joes bread that tastes like cardboard if not toasted.

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Is that “Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell” you might ask? Why yes it is. I used to be the secretary on that show and Stink was my recent date for a reunion we had at a pop up restaurant in West Hollywood called Saved by the Max. I bring this up for three reasons:

  1. I am so excited to dip my toe back into TV writing. We parents can’t forget about our dreams, even with scary diagnoses. In fact, I feel more than ever that writing for pay (and passion) kept me sane during Stink’s most difficult transitions. (I have zero regrets staying home and writing for websites and magazines…and my book… but now I’m ready to get back into the hussle bustle of Hollywood. We’ll see how it goes!)
  2. Dennis Haskins is a lovely human being, but he’s not a real school principal.
  3. Sheila Rogers DeMare is a lovely human being and she’s a real deal writer/advocate for Tourette Sydrome.

If your child has Tourettes or tics, do yourself a favor and pick up this highly anticipated new book.

Why THIS Book? Because It’s That Good

This book’s goal is to identify tics so that you, as a parent, can most effectively get to the source of what is causing your child to make uncontrollable movements and vocals. While DeMare never promises a simple solution, she offers an effective one. For me, her book would have been an answer to prayer if Stink were younger, because I wasn’t ready to have him go on medication.

A Natural Approach

“Easy Now, Hard Later… Hard Now, Easy Later.” That’s my favorite quote about raising kids, and the same can be said for DeMare’s approach to suppressing tics.

Unlike a pill, DeMare’s methods take a bit more time, but once the root is discovered, there is no need to cover up symptoms. (That was always my issue with meds. For me, it was like covering up a wall with with paint but never patching the holes. I’m just masking the issue.)

6 Sections

Similar to a workbook, DeMare’s book is broken into six easy to read sections with ample room for notes. Each section has chapters within it as well to further cover the topic at hand. Examples include:

Section 1

  • Tics and triggers: The basics
  • The importance of trigger lists
  • The gift of discovering triggers: My story
  • Allergic, dietary, and environmental impact on tics

Section 2

  • Advice from the community

Section 3

  • Where is the research?
  • Types of tic triggers
  • How can there be so many triggers?

The rest of the sections and chapters cover everything from the ethics of ignoring triggers for tics (example: doctors offering patients pills right off the bat, or even surgery later, rather than taking a more holistic and environmental approach to triggers), how to deal with “tricky” triggers, additional resources, food additives and more.

My Personal Connection to Sheila

When my son was first diagnosed with Tourettes, I was so scared. DeMare was gracious enough to talk to me on the phone, and I soon discovered that this incredibly resourceful writer knew what she was talking about. She wasn’t giving me just platitudes and “Oh, well, tics come and go” b.s.. She offered real solution and advice that you can find in her new book.

There is Hope and Solution!

One of my favorite quotes comes from her intro. DeMare writes, “If you or someone you care about is dealing with a tic disorder, it is my hope that this book encourages you to go beyond standard medical advice and explore what may be initiating or exacerbating tic symptoms. While answers are not always easy to find, and no approach applies to everyone, when triggers are identified and avoided, positive change can be right around the corner.

You Are Not Alone!

Moms and dads, you are not alone. You have this book. You can find more of Sheila Rogers DeMare’s advice on her incredible website, ACN Latitudes, and you can even find her referred to in my book, Happily Ticked Off!

I like to think of my book as a resource to help you live with the tics you can’t change and love the hell out of your child. DeMare’s book, however, helps you say goodbye to the tics you can change.

Triggers Are Like Dating

In closing, I would love to remind you parents that DeMare’s approach to tics is like dating: Sometimes you have to face a few rough ones before you find the perfect solution to what you’ve been waiting for. Buy her book, take some time, take a breath and know that you are going to be okay – and so is your child.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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It’s Summer Time!

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Hello dear reader –

It’s summer! The job from hell is over! I did not lose my blessed ward and I did not lose my mind. I came close on a few occasions, but I did it!

I’m happy to report that I’ll be substitute teaching next year while I… drum roll… dip my toe back into the water of TV writing. It’s my dream and I’ve decided that at 48 it’s do or die. My daughter starts high school, Stink is already a Sophomore, and I’m kind of funny when I want to be, so off I go. I followed through on this post and actually wrote a Grace and Frankie for the Warner Bros. TV Writing Contest.

I’m now actively involved with another contest where I go every other Saturday for a month and hopefully get chosen to be one of twenty to work on a new pilot with a top show runner. Prayers, finger crossing and fasting welcomed for this hopeful mama!

Keeping it short for now. But my kid, well, he’s not short. He’s my sweet, ticking SIX FOOT FOUR wonder child. I adore him. (This summer he’s having his new posse of friends from high school over for pizza and game nights. He is heavily involved in “Nerd Club” at school, plays Magic the Gathering, and walks around with a pink basket some girl gave him to house his anime cat. 5 A’s and a C this semester. Just goes to show that when we let our fears of who we think our kids go, our kids can rise to the occasion every time. In my case, he has risen a whole head above me and he’s not stopping anytime soon.)

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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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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“Life Happens For You, Not To You” – Rose Heart

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Um, he’s the size of my couch now

It’s been one of those seasons – 18 months to be exact – where I didn’t think it could get any busier.

And it did.

  • Full-time work as an aid in for kids with special needs.
  • Hubby transitioning from working at home to working to at an office.
  • Moving the kids into their own rooms upstairs.
  • Rex and I moving into the dining room to give everyone space, only to realize that we truly didn’t have enough of it. (Think of a Pinterest style cat box. It had cute nicks and crannies, but in the end, it was still a cat box: small and crammed with crap.)
  • Deciding if I had to hear a dish clinking in the kitchen sink (right off my bedroom) one more second I would kill everyone, including the dog.
  • Asking our beloved roommate to leave (it was hard… she’s like family) only to finally have to face that demon of a conversation, “Where does our money actually go each month?”

The Fear Oh Crap I’m Going to Be Homeless Simple Money Questions

  • Would I make more money if I went into teaching?
  • Would I bring in even more money with Ebay? Freelance writing? DoTerra? Piano lessons?
  • Would I be able to live with the resentment that I used to sit at home and write while my husband worked in a cush corporate job and instead I was now on a tight work schedule, fitting in my 12-step meetings, church, communication classes, exercise, (would I ever see my mom and friends again?) and oh, yeah, what about that dog that needs walking and, hellz, it was your birthday? Sorry I missed it. Again.

PS: I realized in the past 18 months I was not a victim. I told my spouse to go off and start his own biz. Woops. Until I came to that conclusion, and figured out what I was not willing to accept, it wasn’t fun.

Add in a few tics and high school panic and I could have lost my ever loving mind.

And yet I didn’t.

One thing was different, and so I’m sharing this secret with you in case you, too, might find yourself in a situation more unmanageable than Trump’s ego and hairdo: “Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.”

That came to me from my mentor and fellow writer, Rose Heart, and it bears repeating:

“Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.” – Rose Heart ,Writer

That statement has changed forever how I view life. Once you’re a pickle, you can never be a cucumber again. And so it is with truth when it hit me square in the eye.

I could either choose to bemoan my lack of time and funds, or I could be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new about myself.

I could either freak out about tics, or I could be grateful my boy still wants me to come in his room at night, say prayers, and show me his video game.

I could be steaming mad at my spouse – deflecting my own need to change – or I could learn to stand my ground on the things I need, let go of the ones I don’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

All these things lead me to my glorious glorious news: I am dedicated once again to what this blog is about. It’s not about changing people, places, things, tics or the weather in order to feel better in my own skin. It’s about changing what’s under my skin so radically that other things barely bug me.

It’s not always easy, but when I remember to radically love myself to love others because I know, deep in my gut, that God loves me, it works. It really does.

I hope you’ll come back to me here. I have missed writing. I have missed you.

And if you’ve missed you, it’s never too late to find yourself again. Because, at the end of the day, you are all you got. And whatever in your life you find so awful you can’t take it, remember that it’s not happening to you. It’s happening for you. You can either unwrap the gift of clarity every single day and go forth with courage or you can throw it away.

But believe me – until you take ownership – that gift will keep landing on your doorstep, begging you to use it, incorporate it into your life as it is (not as you want it to be… hello, reality!) and upgrade it for something better.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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“Huh.” It’s a Complete Sentence and Will Revolutionize Your Relationship With Your Teen. (I Swear.)

For me, having my children become teenagers was like having a cherished family pet die. I had been so accustomed to the presence of sweet, happy go-lucky kids that the intrusion of unexpected and prolonged silence was unexpected. No more jumping up to see me when I came home from work. No more following me around the house. Granted, there was less whining, but a lot less sprinting for joy at the site of my mediocre cooking.

With teenagers came aloofness and quiet.

The change felt jarring.

And sad.

And for this mama who – despite trying really hard not to be a helicopter mama – still swelled with joy at every little milestone, it felt terribly lonely.

All the prep in the world couldn’t have prepared me for my 13-year-old / size 13 shoe wearing boy turning me down for In and Out Burger this summer. “Sorry, Mom. I’ve got a Minecraft hangout scheduled with the guys.”

All the chats with moms of girls older than mine didn’t ease the blow when my curvy hipped 13-year-old this year started declining watching Mama movies with me. (Apparently Youtube is more exciting than classics like The Breakfast Club or kitshy Brady Bunch re-runs. Who knew?)

While I figured I would make it through the moody “Leave me alone” stage, I wasn’t expecting the “everything you say sucks, Mom” stage. Sure, I’ve read in all those fancy journals about how kids practice on Mom to learn to set boundaries elsewhere, but it still hurt.

And, despite my best efforts to let it roll off my back, I sometimes hurt them right back. Door slam for door slam, verbal insult for verbal insult, the three of us had some pretty exciting car rides. The most fulfilling were always on the way to church. On route to being holy, we held each other hostage within locked doors, each one-upping the other’s statements in a vicious attempt to win an argument over who made who late.

If I had to put it simply, all that “relationship over being right” theory sounded good until they developed body hair. And then it all went to crap, along with my hopes of ever being close to them again.

Until last month, when my daughter locked herself in the bathroom on Halloween, and my world forever changed. While I hadn’t tried to cajole her out the door to trick or treat with her brother and bestie, I did attempt to insert my opinion when the whole ordeal was over.

“What’s your part?” I asked her, after listening to every painstaking detail about why things just didn’t “go her way” and how “unfair it was.”

I didn’t see a thing wrong with my words. After all, I didn’t interrupt her once. I was a good listener. Now was her time to listen so she wouldn’t lose out on future opportunities to have fun. Right?

Wrong.

Pip: “Mom, to be honest, I just wanted you to listen and not say anything.”

For whatever reason, instead of defending my statements (which, come on, were totally amazing points and great advice… saving her thousands of dollars in future therapy) I asked her the simple question, “You mean, not say anything? At all?”

Pip: “Yeah. Nothing.”

Me: “Huh.”

People, did you know “Huh” is a complete sentence? With that very caveman response, I unintentionally broke through the teenage time space contingency and found an oasis of understanding, hearing and safety. Unexpectedly, I heard something that could have blown me over with a feather:

Pip: “Yeah. I would have been open maybe tomorrow, but today I just wanted to be heard.”

And with that last statement, as if by some magical alien implanting a chip, everything flashed before my eyes, including a resolution:

  1. If I just stay silent, she’ll tell me more.
  2. If I ask if I can give an opinion first, she’ll feel more respected
  3. If I don’t ask and just give the opinion, she might not be listening anyway
  4. Unless what she is saying to me is directly affecting me, my schedule or my life in a negative way, there’s no need to say anything at all.

NOTE: Pay most attention to #4 – it helps in the heat of battle to know when to lobby a missle or flee.

As if to hit the nail on the head even more, my son asked his sister the very next day, “Hey, Pip, do you mind telling me what happened? Only if you want to?”

She did. In the same painstaking, blow by blow, OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP detail.

His response, “Ahhh. That must have been hard.”

Her response: “Yeah.”

His followup: “Want to play Minecraft?”

Her response: “Let’s do it.”

Done.

The End.

The real takeaway: Saying less really does mean more in the life of a teen. 

2 more things

  1. Since Halloween, I’ve used the word “Huh” more times than I can count. And it’s been more peaceful in this house than it’s been in a year.
  2. My son will be 15 next month. He’s 6’3, wears a size 14 shoe, and eats more than large farm animal. (Oh, he hasn’t eaten animals in a year, either. In addition to being psychologically more in tune than me, he’s also a vegetarian.)

Ask me how little Stink is now bigger than my fridge? You’ll only get one response so I don’t cry.

“Huh.”

 

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

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That Time I Got Fired from the PTA…

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Okay, I wasn’t really fired a few months back. I was just told, by text, that perhaps I might be a better fit in a big picture role. “One that doesn’t require you losing important files and actually being able to make planning meetings with the rest of the moms who, well, actually not only remember to post things before they are due but don’t take home 3-ring binders full of volunteer sign-ups and only return it when reminded about it two weeks later.”

In truth, the person who texted me did not say that last part. She was more than gracious. Her words, in essence, said, “I’m thinking we should find a better role for your talents before your challenges become a problem.”

My ego: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Who needs you!”

The reality… the really hard, “Crap I hate to admit it” truth: “Thank you. You saved me… and everyone else… a ton of headache long term.” She even sent me a Brene Brown book with a very sweet note attached. It was touching and only reinforced more that sometimes pride must be put down. Friends don’t let friends make butts of themselves. As J.K. Rowling says in the first Harry Potter, ““It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Magical vs. Miraculous Thinking

Similar to a lot of things in life, I like the idea of stuff a lot more than I like the reality of it. Ex – Magical Thinking: My after-work life is going to include hob-nobbing with  vegan moms in pencil skirts wearing amazing yoga pants and washing down GMO free delights with organic wheat grass smoothies!

Ex: Miraculous Thinking: AKA Reality: My after-work life will include powering through post-school meetings (if I even show up at all… my kid is in eighth grade… we’re both over it) to show up early for 12-step meetings where I can huddle over really bad dark coffee with other moms like me, laughing about our fantasy thinking (the more screwed up the better!) and feeling like I’ve arrived – finally – at the right watering hole.

Lest it comes off like I’m some nut job who can’t get my act together, let me be the first to say that it’s far that. Instead, I’m finally starting to see who I am: I’m not better than anyone else or worse than anyone else. I’m right in the middle where the grace lives. Where I can wade and sometimes splash in the beautiful, messy and ridiculous waves of, “Well, that was a disaster but at least I tried!” It’s so much better than sitting on the shore watching everyone else surf (or drown.) And If I’m lucky, I might even score a free beach ball.

God is great – because He lets you practice your thinking over and over… and (in my case) over again!

Today, as I drove home from downtown Los Angeles, I had an opportunity to choose magical vs. miraculous thinking. Once again, a job I thought I had in the bag – one that would be really good for my family – didn’t work out. I was offered the opportunity to do something else – one that would require I go back to school at night.

At first I was honored and my brain started to spin with the oh-so-familiar, “What if this is the life-line I need? What if this is God telling me to put down the writing for a bit and go for the safe route? I could decorate my classroom like the Magic School Bus? I could learn how to play the guitar and buy cute shoes with school books on them. And I could face my fear of angry parents during I.E.P. meetings!”

But, to quote one of my favorite lines from Moonstruck, “Playing it safe is one of the worst things a girl like you can do.”

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What if my whole life I haven’t actually been hitting road blocks from trying? What if it’s been from trying too hard to play it safe? What if, like so many dreamers out there, God might just have me exactly where I am? Finishing up that book proposal… working on that movie idea next… coming back to this blog… going to my 12-step groups… going to church… and remembering that who I am, exactly at this moment, is exactly where I’m meant to be?

And with the right Good Will find, a 1960’s pencil skirt might be in my future yet.

What’s up with you all!?

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(Brene Brown talks a lot about having the courage to fail. Quote idea from one of her Ted Talks.)

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

book front and back