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Dormant Not Dead

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It’s been almost a month since the teachers’ strike, and I’m excited to say I’ve subbed every day but one since then. If things continue along this line, I’ll make my 100 days without a problem.

Insurance! Yay! This sounds great until you hear the other part of that scenario. You see, I had to give up insurance this year to put in my time to get my benefits next year. (That’s how LAUSD traps you. It’s so scary to do this, and one is so grateful once they get the insurance, they fear leaving the machine lest zombies of “I Told You This Was Dumb Butt Wipe” stalk you for life and you never recover.)

Given this toxic insanity, my husband and I went back and forth for a few months on whether this new gig would be such a good idea. Sure, it would mean more money per day, but only if I worked every day. And it wouldn’t matter this year as the extra cash would have to pay for our insurance. But next year it would work. If I banked the hours.

Lots of buts and ifs. This kind of someday/maybe thinking is not for the faint of heart. But we made a decision on faith and haven’t looked back. (Well, I looked back. I didn’t suffer the fate of Lot’s wife, but my normal low blood pressure rose from the faux salt stress increase anyway.)  Rex? He’s been surprisingly optimistic about my subbing. In the end, thanks to a lot of prayer, meditation, 12 step meetings, family, friends and the occasional pit bull lick of support, I can now say I am thrilled made the choice to try something new. Here’s what I’ve learned which I’ve applied to my life in general.

5 Ways I Got Happily Ticked Off About Substitute Teaching

1) Fearlessness: I learned that to do new things I had to be fearless. Jobs weren’t always a guarantee, and setting the alarm each morning at 5am so I could be ready for the 530am sub call took some adjustment. But instead of going into meltdown mode (okay, once or twice I went there) I incorporated some morning meditation into my routine for the wait. I set the intention of being where God would have me for the day. Turns out, it wasn’t to dwell in Complainville. My spirit daily whispered that I could cry or have a good attitude. The good attitude made all the difference.

2) Laughter: Things didn’t always going to go smoothly. (Like the time I marched 61 middle schoolers into a darkened gym without knowing where the light key was. This meant 61 hairy, stinky 13 year olds yelling, shrieking, making hump sounds and playing BTS on recurrent loop from phones way more expensive than mine. Yeah, that was about as fun as a colonoscopy.) Despite the discomfort of living in the dark sometimes (literally as it turns out), not taking screwups so seriously gave me courage to try it again. (With light keys in tow.)

3) Confidence: Big shocker coming: I can overthink things and get insecure when I don’t know what’s happening. Whether it’s taking roll on an antiquated system, working with a school wide computer system that’s slower than I am during my 5am wakeup call, or getting 12 kids with special needs and wheelchairs onto a bus, I worry that I won’t get it right. Guess what? I often don’t. But I came up with a motto that keeps me from being paralyzed with perfectionism: “If don’t kill anyone, that’s good enough.” So far so good. And in just doing stuff over and over I gain more confidence.

4) Honesty: I don’t pretend to know what I don’t know – especially in front of the middle schoolers. They see through b.s. quicker than Windex.  Being honest about the fact that sometimes “I just don’t get Geometry but I can talk a great game about John Green Books” gets me a lot of respect. (Plus wearing a Nine and Three Quarter necklace along with some floral Doc Martin’s doesn’t hurt either. “Who is this 6 foot muggle?” They are thinking. I’m funky enough, and scary huge enough, to keep their attention.)

5) Joy: Going back to my Ms. Frizzle meets Hogwarts fashion statements, I remember each day to have joy. I don’t just remember. I radically insist on it. Without it, my soul suffers and so do the people around me. And how is that helpful? It isn’t.  I no longer allow myself to be a victim of my circumstances or my often fluctuating moods. I am here to be of service to the kids, my family and to myself. That means focusing on what is working, not what isn’t. And to do that, I must have joy. That comes from practicing #1 – 4 .

My Committment

I have made this commitment before, but it’s become even more apparent the past few months that I need to make it again: I am going to blog every day. EVERY DAY. Even if it’s just a line about my kid’s new mouth gear. (Note: Stink got braces! But… he was supposed to get Invisalign. That means I was pretty surprised yesterday to walk into the dental exam room and find his mouth full of shining metal. So I asked the orthodontist “Hey, what happened?” At which she showed me the contract I signed which, at the very top in bold letters read: “FULL BRACES.”

How did I make that mistake? Because my mind had been all over the place this month: Working, kid pickup, cleaning, shopping, worry over finding time to write this script I’m on deadline for, a new pop up camper and why oh why is the dog using my wooden spoon as a bone? When will I ever get those Christmas thank you notes out and what ever happened to my book of poems? The point: I just signed that contract without really looking at the fine print. (The upside: My poor son will be shiny example to me to SLOW DOWN in the future. Two years of an example, in fact!)

I can’t give you answers to all the neurotic questions that often bombard my brain, but I can say this: When I blog life flows better. It makes the orthodontic mistakes funny instead of shameful. It connects me to those of you who also wonder sometimes if you’re doing enough for your teenagers in this world of instant gratification and social media confusion. It validates the simple truth that shared happiness, and pain, through honest postings means far more than memes on Facebook that talk about personal growth without actually growing.

When I’m blogging, I’m growing. Like the plant in the photo above from a classroom I subbed at last week, I’m not dead. Just dormant. I’m thrilled to be back in the place that waters my soul and brings me a little light.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #7: Commit to doing something you love every day. 

Leave a Comment

What about you? What hobby makes you Happily Ticked Off?

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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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.)

I hope this list helped you! I know that it helped me writing it out. 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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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?

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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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Dark Clouds

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

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

I had two choices:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This, of course, elicited loud cheers and guffaws.

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

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

Stillness – It’s the New Control Mechanism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

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

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Freedom to Suck

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “Why? Not enough people interested?”

Him: “No. Just not interested anymore.”

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

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

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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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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Being in the Present On Purpose

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I’m subbing today at the Middle School I worked as a special needs aid for two years. I feel lucky that, out of 8 days subbing so far this year, 7 have been here at this school. These teachers know me and support me. I can make mistakes with people that already are aware of my successes. No more reinventing the wheel. It feels, in a nutshell, glorious. It feels safe. And from that place of safety, I can grow to be who God most wants me to be.

I have not always felt safe. I have the kind of mind that lives in the past or in the future. The present? It’s too frustrating. Here in the present is where the reality lives. The messy house. The lack of funds. The fears over my son’s Tourette’s. It’s also where my greatest joy lives when I remember to lean into it.

  • A delicious cup of coffee at 530am with my morning prayers

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  • A beautiful new office to dream in

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  • A husband who works very hard to be on the same team with me these days.

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  • Trader Joes pumpkin spice samples and old ladies at Costco who hand out burrito squares and tell me about immigrating from Cuba. (Sidenote: Has anyone seen One Day at a TimOne Day at a Time on Netflix? Rita Morena plays a Cuban grandma in this remake and she is amazing! So funny!)aaa

 

As I edge closer and closer to 50, I’m becoming more and more aware that my present only need be frustrating when I make it so. When I choose to accept reality exactly as it is… when I commit to being someone whose goal is to give to others, not take for myself,  things feel perfect.

Last week, in a special day class, I had the kids begin home room by talking about what they were most grateful for. Most kids couldn’t think of anything (minus the few who were thankful for Fortnight and Sephora) so I created gratitude for them. “How about, you are happy for your sweatshirt, because you’re not cold?” or “How about you’re grateful for the free breakfast you are eating because now you can concentrate.” From there we went on to study the solar system and discuss why Pluto is more than just a Disney character and no longer considered a planet.

“I wonder if he feels rejected?” I quipped, following it up with, “And your phone will soon be rejected by YOU who will give it to ME if I see it again.”

With the phones safely stored away in oversized sweatshirts we finished the class. At the end, a short boy with floppy brown hair ambled up to me. He looked into my face with amber eyes and mumbled, “Ms. Frizzle, I’m graaaful fa mefily.”

“What?” I asked, having no idea what he said.

He repeated in a soft whisper, “Ms. Frizzle, I’m graaaful fa mefily.”

I still couldn’t decipher it. “One more time, sweetie,” I asked, leaning in even closer.

“I’M GRATEFUL FOR MY FAMILY.”

He walked away then, big smile on his face.

And if I chose to look back, he’d see one on mine.

And maybe a little tear. (But don’t tell anyone. I work with Middle Schoolers. I don’t want them thinking I’m going soft.)

Until next time…

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

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons for Taking Chances

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

The Uncertainty of Life

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

Fantasy vs. Reality

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

Truth vs. Lies

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

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

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

Purpose

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

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

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

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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