Why yes, that’s me, live on the banana cam. Why? Because it’s Tico Tuesday – the day of the joyful taco as well as the reminder that if we can’t fix tics (and other unmanageables in our lives) we can fix ourselves. That often means adding some joy and whimsy to your day.
For me personally, it meant showing up for class even though, sigh, I didn’t want to. And, well, this makes me a not so great candidate to get a degree in teaching. I wanted to get this degree.
THE SKINNY, ON MY NOT SO COVID 5 EXTRA POUNDS SKINNY, ON TRUSTING MY GUT
Listen, people. I wanted to love the stability and the pay check and influencing other kids’ lives. But it came down, yet again, to the very real and true fact that if I’m not doing what I’ve been put on this earth to do, then what am I really teaching young kids? “Suck it up, buttercup, and give up your dreams of gender studies. Stick to business and working for the man, get a great house and raise your kids to be unhappy robots just like yourself.”
FOR MY STABLE JOB PEOPLE – YOU DO YOU!
Note to the business degree people with the nice houses: This is not an affront to you if that is what you want to do! And it’s not an affront to those of you who “have” to do this to put food on the table and feed the kids. I get it! But it is a note to me to trust that I, too, can put food on the table. But I have to do it as myself, not a version of myself that makes not just me miserable but everyone around me.
I finally listened to my Higher Power, who came to me loud and clear during this Covid crisis (oy, it’s been crazy at my house.) Our conversation went like this:
Higher Power: “Andrea, do you have to be a teacher to put food on the table?”
HIgher Power: “Really?”
Me: “Okay, no.”
Higher Power, “Then why are you doing it?”
Me: “Because I feel like I have to. To be, you know, responsible and shit.”
Enter self-flogging and shame.
Higher Power: “A little deeper, please.”
Me: “Because I want to be consistent for my family.”
Higher Power: “Deeper.”
Me: “Because I don’t trust you and I’m too scared to do what I really have always wanted to do my whole life which is to once and for all finish my musical and start my own writing and coaching business to help other women face their own fears and trust you so they, too, can write their books and heal and create e-books for their businesses and finally step into their own power to be who they were meant to be all along!”
Higher Power: “Now you got it.”
Come back on Tuesdays where we’ll discuss stuff like this! Joy! Tacos! Following our gut! What’s not to love?
CALLING TOURETTES MAMAS!
Here’s your reminder for you mamas with kids with tics. Their spirit is more valuable than their disorder. And the best way to encourage their spirit is to become free yourself.
I swear. That’s it.
Until next Tuesday, enjoy a taco tonight. And if all fails, stick a banana hat on your head, go back to work, and trust God to move forward, one bit at a time, with your authentic purpose. You might find it very… a-peeeeling.
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If your teenager is more interested in his phone than talking to you, then this article is for you. It’s not going to promise you that Jesus will save you both. (Though a higher power is certainly advised to keep you from killing him.)
It’s not going to teach you how to win an argument. (Because fighting with teens is like negotiating with terrorists. It never works.)
But it will give you ten tips that have saved my butt when it comes to dealing with teenagers both at home and at school that have helped me to keep my cool, earn some respect and, when all respect is lost, to at least walk away and not make it worse.
Covid and Hormones and Boundaries, Oh My!
Let’s face it, these are some rough times. If hormones weren’t enough to deal with, Covid swooped in and locked many of us up with people we started not to recognize thanks to the stress of isolation. (The online school work, the lack of a social life, the unending complaints about food and boredom! And that’s just my bad attitude let alone my teens!)
I realized, when crap hit the fan, that I was either going to have to get better at communication or put a huge strain on my relationship with my kids. The second felt pretty sad, so here’s what I did. And while I have a long way to go, I’m getting stronger every day. You can, too. (Psst: Telling them to “Stop pissing your life away sleeping in” isn’t a great strategy. Ahem.)
10 Tips to Keep Boundaries and Relationships Strong with Your Teens When You Would Rather Just Kill Them
Use “I” Statements: In simple terms, I’ve found when I stay away from “you” and keep it on “I” there is much less defense. Ex: “You spoke to me in a way that was super rude” immediately puts their walls up. “I felt very disrespected” keeps it on me and avoids them deflecting back, “You’re manipulating me!”
Pick Your Battles: Does it really matter if your kid doesn’t think Barry Manilow is a real artist and that your food prep skills are, to quote their favorite new game, are “Suss?” Save the argument for when he or she wants to get in a car with a friend wearing a “Hell is Other People” tattooed on their forehead. It’s simply not worth the fight.
Keep It Light: I know… I know… how stressful things can get being home all the time with restless kids. But instead of adding fuel to the fire by walking around like a somber Eeyore, make it a point to play some music. Text them a joke. Buy them a fun snack. Play a video game with them, even if your Minecraft Hut ends up looking more like a pink meth house.
Teenagers won’t always remember Covid as the best time of their life, but by keeping things cheerful as much as possible they can still have happy memories of being with you. Being intentional with your mood change everything.
Sidenote: I can’t tell if that person is actually a teenager, an older man, or a transman. Now that I have one child transitioning, nothing appears as it seems anymore. And perhaps this is for the best. Let people jut play their ukes and be their best unicorn selves. It’s too complicated to control it. Moving on.
4. Timing is Everything: Once a tiger is flippin’ mad, the dumbest thing to do is go poke it with a stick. You’re not “losing” if you choose to wait before you speak. Better to have patience and bring something up when your kid is more receptive to hearing than in the middle of a big blow out. Speaking of…
5. Don’t Yell: I have had my days of yelling at my kids. And later, they’ve told me it really hurt. And you know what? Who can blame them? My dissatisfaction with other areas of my life, displaced on them, didn’t feel good.
Note: I am making living amends to not yell at them again. This doesn’t mean I can’t set boundaries with love, but I don’t rage to make my point. Rage is not power anyway. Only firm rules with love works. (And cash if you have it.)
6. Don’t Threaten: It took me a long time to learn this one, but “Late is Great.” Instead of telling my kids what will happen if they don’t do x, y and z, and amp up the consequences, I simply tell them what the expectations are, and what the logical consequences will be if it’s not done. If I get kick back, I don’t try to blame, shame or case build. I don’t defend my point. I simply say, with no sarcasm at all, “Thank you for sharing.”
7. Have a Meeting of 2: By this, I mean that when you’re upset about something, you don’t need to interrupt a perfectly good outing to the beach to bring up something from the past. Make a time to talk to your teenager when both of you are calm. Keep it to “I” statements and then, here’s the hardest part of all: Listen.
8. Listen: It can be difficult to listen to a teenager’s logic when they seem, well, crazy. But that’s exactly what you need to do. In the past I’ve fought them. I’ve tried to save my ego.
My ego is not my amigo, especially when it comes to teenagers. I need to get my validation elsewhere or I’ll forever be butt hurt.
These days, unless they are directly being rude to me, I also ask two very important questions: “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” If they only want to vent about something, nothing I say is going to change their mind anyway. And isn’t life their best teacher anyway? The more I try and convince them, the more I become the target.
9. Stop Trying to Fix Everything: One of the hardest things I’m learning is that I can’t fix how my teenagers feel about anything — especially what they think about me. This goes back to #8. It’s not my kids’ job to like me or fill me up. They aren’t my friends. It’s my job to keep them safe. And, if they don’t feel safe, and they tell me that, it’s my job to decide if they are manipulating me (it’s been known to happen — I’m a softie) or if it’s something I need to change, such as how I talk to them. It can be confusing for a co-dependent in transition like myself. That leaves me with only one thing to do sometimes…
10. God: I couldn’t do this teenage thing without God. Taking time to bring in my higher power reminds me who is really in charge. It helps me to separate myself from their attitudes about me. It helps me to think clearly. It helps me to walk away when I’m getting angry.
At the end of the day, a belief in God reminds me to let go of the fear I have that either my kids hate me or I’m messing up too much. When I remember that they, too, have their own God, I can relax. I don’t have that much power. What a relief!
I’m Not a Perfect Parent
My true friends know that things have been rough lately. I have struggled between standing my ground in love and wanting to lay down the hammer like a pissed off porcupine with a tube of “Don’t screw with me juice” up its behind. But, thanks to some wonderful 12 step groups, I’ve also seen my part in creating a few dynamics that are playing out in my household. (Not always having clear enough guidelines, not trusting myself enough, wanting them to like me. Accck! I hate writing that last part, but it’s true.)
For a while there, not even realizing it, I parented from a place of lack. Subconsciously I didn’t see my true value. It’s something that I’m actively changing now, and it’ll take a bit of time for it to settle in. That’s okay. It’s Covid. I’ve got all the time in the world!
I can’t come in like a mafia boss now and gain respect in a day. It’s going to take more than a hot second to establish the new routine… to show up as a mom who says what she means, but isn’t mean.
To show up as someone who doesn’t feel hurt when something is said to me — not because that child is particularly awful (though it might feel that way) but perhaps because they, too, are hurting.
It’s going to take a little bit of willingness on their part to see me in a new light — as a mother who cares deeply for their feelings, but is no longer willing to be a doormat and put my fairy dust on their problems at the expense of my own soul.
Motherhood is brutal and exhausting. It requires the power of a Steam Engine with the heart of a hummingbird.
My goal is to raise happy and confident adults, but that means I get to be one first. And only when I’m filling my own cup every day can I manage to follow the advice I just gave to you.
I know how hard I work at this parenting gig. Whether my teenagers understand that, at this point in their lives, is none of my business. I just need to do the footwork and leave the rest to God.
And when all else fails, I can drink another cup of decaf. (Yeah, that whole “I Gave Up Coffee and Didn’t Die” post? That’s bullshit. I caved after 3 weeks. I already don’t drink alcohol. I’m not giving up my java, too.)
I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.
Knowing that answer will make all the difference in its success
As I type this blog post up my husband is sitting downstairs watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Earlier in the evening he was kind enough to bring me home El Pollo Loco. This gave my oldest daughter a much needed break on cooking… or better put, it gave the rest of us a much needed break on her taco salad buffet. I mean, it’s a good dish, but we eat it every single Monday, and it gets older than an uncovered can of frijoles in the fridge.
Other Amazing Things My Husband Did Recently
He hung up some hooks on a bathroom mirror to hold my favorite holiday twinkle lights so when I do my business I can pretend I’m in the middle of a Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer claymation episode. (The part where the dentist goes to sleep in the hut? It’s so cozy. I want to live there and not come out. Ever. It’s like being drunk on a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. It’s escape at its highest form but no nasty hangover.)
He helped me take down holiday boxes from the garage. He did this while listening to ridiculous Christmas music and was more than patient as I sifted through boxes of old photos of Great Grandma Stella as well as her scrapbook. (OMG, I found out that there really was a football player named John Dominus. I had heard about him for years. She told me he was the love of her life before her husband. To be truthful, I wasn’t sure if he was actually a real person, but there he was in his football suited glory, right after the cigarette ad! And hubba hubba, I can’t blame her for holding a torch these past 80 years.)
Speaking of Grandma Stella, while I slept in one morning, my hubby made a ride out to his mom’s home and surprised me with Grandma Stella’s antique green tea cart, which his mom had taken when Grandma had to be moved to a dementia care unit. I had been drooling over it for about as long as she had been drooling over John Dominus. I was half delighted, half racked with sobs, to see it sitting in my driveway (complete with her little sticky notes to remind her of things that were important. “Andrea’s #805-xxx-xxxx” … “Bingo at 5.” … “Jimmy called on 10/20/19 and said he’d visit.”)
He went walking with me every day, including a beautiful hike in the canyons with some dear friends of ours, socially distanced.
He grocery shopped with me.
He chopped wood and lit a fire for us almost every night.
That’s why when he asked me just now if I wanted to go walking with him I said… “No.”
“No?” you might ask. That guy sounds like he’s done a LOT for you. Why the heck not?”
My answer to you is simple. “I do a lot, too. And I scheduled that particular time to work on my coaching business.”
“That sounds super bitchy,” you might say, and old Andrea would agree with that statement. That same Andrea had a writing hobby, and she built it around her life. But these days, the new Andrea is building a business and she’s building her life around that business.
Would I tell my boss I can’t turn in a spreadsheet because a cute guy asked me to power walk with him? (And my husband really is cute.)
No. So why would I sell New Andrea down the river either? I can’t.
Better to say “No” and stay grounded in my personal needs than say “Yes” and be resentful later.
You’re Not Just Building a Business — You’re Building Your Character
When I think I have to have everything perfect in order to move forward, I am destined to fail because, well, it’s not perfect. But these days, I can’t afford to do that. There’s a lot in marketing that I’m still learning:
What Don’t You Know? Learn As You Go! (Hey, that rhymed!)
I’m learning around a full-time job and adjusting to my older daughter transitioning from male to female.
I’m learning around helping my mom sell my childhood home of 45 years and move into a much smaller living situation.
I’m learning it around navigating the emotions that rack both my kids that come with online learning and social limitations thanks to Covid.
And I’m learning it around my own old mindset that doesn’t hesitate to remind me, “Who the hell do you think you are?”
Old Mindset Vs. New Mindset
I don’t know about you, but the process of unlearning old habits is almost harder than learning new ones. It takes discipline and courage. It takes follow through. It takes willingness to check oneself and look at the the fear behind moving ahead. And for me, it takes something bigger than myself to push me ahead.
Every day can remember that I no longer need to tell God about my mountains but I can tell my mountains about my God.
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow (And All That Shit. Yeah, It’s True.)
I’m keeping this short tonight because I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is a new day.
A day of working on my biz in the morning.
Of teaching during the day.
Of more work in the afternoon to touch base with a friend who is teaching me about slide decks.
And then, of course, the very important marketing meeting with my new Instagram consultant: my 16-year-old daughter. (She charges $5 every half hour and let me say she is worth every penny.)
I am remembering that every day as I learn one new thing, three more items are revealed that I’ve never heard of in my life. I mean, what the hell is a click funnel? I can either freak out about it, or I can be grateful for what I don’t know.
I can decide to not be a victim.
I can look at what is working, not at what isn’t.
I can remember that while I have written for pay for years, this doesn’t mean crap if people can’t find my coaching services online. In order to find my services, I need to treat Andrea Frazer Writes like a business, not a hobby.
And with that mindset, everything works out just fine.
(Now if only I can figure what the hell a click funnel is.)
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I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.