Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, Tics, Tourettes

IGG Food Testing Vs. Traditional Allergy Testing

sss

About 10 years ago – during the time I was freaking out over my son’s Tourette Syndrome – I had Dominic tested for food allergies. I wrote about this in my book. Basically my husband thought I was a nut job as it didn’t follow the traditional route of blood testing through a lab. It instead involved vials and muscle testing. I was desperate for answers and I was relieved to find out what Dominic was allergic too:

Dom’s Allergies

  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • ham
  • …and a whole host of other things. When I removed them his tics dramatically improved

Note: He did not throw up or go into major shock when eating this food. His throat did not close up. But he was much less focused, hyper and, alternatively, lethargic afterwards.

Over time, with his resistance to bringing pizza to birthday parties that tasted like cardboard and moldy rubber, he chose to eat more of what he wanted. For him this meant consuming everything but gluten.

Then he decided he felt bad for animals so he gave up meat, chicken and even fish. I supported this. I made a lot of very bad veggie meals including gluten free mac n cheese with nutritional yeast for “flavoring.” YUM!

He continued to eat cheese and eggs (with little regard to the conditions of these animals in their cages, but hey, I figured he’d cross that bridge when he got there.)

Today we had a call with a traditional allergist today because his nose has been stuffy and he’s sick of it. The allergist gave me the same spiel that I got years ago. “Because I’ve been trained with Western Medicine, and the FDA doesn’t yet approve muscle testing, I can’t offer the IGG testing route.” But… she was great. She was honest and said that she’s seen great improvements with her patients who have gone off… wait for it… the SAME stuff Dominic went off ten years ago.

My point: Go with your gut, Mamas. If you think there’s another way to treat your child and it can benefit them, do that. If you’re only doing it out of fear, don’t do that. Take some quiet time for you and go along for the ride, because at some point your kid is going to be 17 and telling YOU what they need for their health. And if you honor them along the way, and don’t baby them when they are 5 inches taller than you, you just might be giving them the wings they need to survive in the world. And that, my friends, is far more important than fixing tics.

Until next time,

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

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. )

Need an editor, book coach (transformational non-fiction) or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

taco tuesday, Tourettes, writing

TIC-O Tuesday! Wait, I Have a Question (Coronavirus, Anxiety, TS and More!)

ddd

When the Coronavirus hit in March, many parents were faced with questions about jobs, healthcare and homeschooling. And they weren’t the only ones. Lots of kids had questions, too. Luckily authors Amber Lappin, M. Ed. and Stephanie Machado-Jenkins, M.S.W., LCSW created a delightful book Wait, I Have a Question! which put a lot of younger minds to ease.

Since anxiety is such a common co-morbid condition of T.S., I reached out to these authors who graciously granted me an interview. And so, to re-boot my Taco Tuesday (which I’m renaming TIC-O Tuesday) here’s what these professionals had to say.

Book Description

Wait! I Have a Question!  is a book written for families with young children who are trying to find out how to explain the mixed-up, wild world of social distancing. Beautiful illustrations and a relatable story help kids make a little sense of this WEIRD crisis.

What Kinds of Kids Would Benefit From this Book?

The authors wrote, “We’re hoping children ages 3-7 will relate to Sebastian, a young boy who has BIG questions about why he has to stay at home, why his brother’s home from college, and how his sister is going to school. We hope that Sebastian’s feelings will be familiar and that the ways he learns to navigate them will open discussions for families.”

Why They Wrote It? (Psst: Steph and Amber became friends in high school- Class of ‘90!)

Steph began to first see the need in her client care. Parents were struggling with navigating the challenges of little separation between work and home life, and littles were responding to the physical presence of their parents and the lack of their availability during “work” hours.  Here’s the actual text:

THE BEGINNING.jpg

(Note from Andrea – any writers out there – this is how things get started sometimes. Check out my site over here or follow me on Facebook for more encouragement!)

Stephanie and Amber’s Professional Backgrounds

ephanie

Stephanie Machado-Jenkins is a clinical Social Worker.  She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Social Psychology and USC with a Master in Social Work. She owns a private practice and specializes in treating adults with a trauma history.  “I combine old fashioned ‘talk’ with expressive therapies,” she reports. She also teaches at a local university in their School of Social Work Department and serves as a field instructor for Master level Social Work students who are learning the art of clinical work.

amber

Amber began as a preschool teacher at ABC Child Care Centers in Temecula, CA, where she still works today. “This gave me an excellent foundation for learning to love and care for children-and the people who care for them,” she says. In the years that followed, she wore many hats: in the preschools as a curriculum and literacy specialist, in a large children’s ministry as a part of the admin team, as a trainer and as a curriculum writer and consultant.

“I soon found that my biggest passion was in caring for the adults who care for children, so I went back to school to earn a BS in Human Development at Hope International University, and a M.Ed. with a specialty in Early Education at Grand Canyon University. Now, I am part of the faculty team at Mt. San Jacinto’s Teacher Education and Developmental Studies Department (TEDS), a foster parent educator for Riverside City College and I still get to work with ABC and as a freelance a conference speaker, trainer, and writer.”

Personal Background

Stephanie is a first generation Mexican American and the daughter of an immigrant Mother.  “I grew up in the Los Angeles area and moved with my family to Riverside County in my Junior year in high school. I moved to West Los Angeles in 1990. I continue to reside in Southern California with her husband David and son, Xavier.”

Amber lives in Riverside County with her husband Jason and 20 year old twin daughters. “We also have a three-legged cat and a perfect dog.” She goes on to say, “My son works as a firefighter in New Mexico- which is way too far away for my liking.” She and her husband will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary this year. “In our pre-pandemic lives, our hobbies were travel and eating at restaurants. Now, our hobbies are staying thankful and trying not to walk in on each other’s Zoom calls.”

Kids, Anxiety and This Book

In Wait! I Have a Question! Sebastian has GREAT ideas for addressing all sorts of feelings, including anxiety.  His “I CAN” list is a nice start. Instead of focusing on what he wasn’t allowed to do while social distancing, he made a list of things he could do.  Caregivers who are working with children struggling with anxiety can help kids make a list of things they can do, and then use it to help them focus on the now instead of what has happened or what might happen.

The authors stated, “Depending on your faith tradition, you may also find prayer helpful. It’s important that we don’t teach our kids that praying is a magic shield that keeps us safe from germs. Instead, we can use the time in prayer and meditation to take our worries and cares to God, and allow God to calm our hearts and minds. Incorporating deep breaths and undistracted times can settle our spirit as well as benefit our bodies.” They go on to add, “You may find apps like Calm and Headspace helpful.  Each app has a number of soothing meditation recordings that are great for kids.”

Talking About Feelings

Stephanie says, “I also strongly recommend that parents encourage their children to talk about how they feel.  Sometimes adults overlook that their children are also hearing newscasts that talk about people who are sick and the numbers of people across the world that have died.  This can have huge impacts on our children.  We have developed a conversation talking guide for this reason.  We encourage you to use the guides and get your children processing.”

In addition to talking about feelings she adds, “Movement is also a huge help.  In the last few weeks, we have enjoyed urban walking paths and outside water play (it’s been hot here) and this is also a good source of recreation and fun!”

Parents and Self-Care

(Note from Andrea – Ya’ll know I love this topic!) The writers encourage parents to engage in their own self-care. Stephanie says, “I am mindful of the fact that many of us no longer have work-life separation that could create an incredible imbalance in how we feel.  It’s important to set aside time to engage in activities that you enjoy.  Also, keep in mind that doing ‘nothing’ is in fact doing ‘something.’”

Routine vs. Play in Times of Quarantine

“Structure is important,” Stephanie says, “And it’s essential to lean into play and creativity.  Dr. Dan Siegel says, ‘Play produces possibility and potential.’ I have and will continue to stand by this. These times require an outlet so that we can move anxious and worried energy ‘up and out,’” she insists, going to on to emphasize, “All sorts of play allows us to rid ourselves of the feelings that weigh on us.  I’ll add that play is not just for kids.  Adults need to play too!  I regularly engage in play so that I feel connected to myself and that I am connected to a creative outlet that restores my soul.  I absolutely enjoy my ‘go to’ play activities such as painting, collaging, photography and baking.  I also reach out to my circle of friends and loud laugh regularly!  We clinicians have an awesome sense of humor!”

Structure

While Amber admits play is critical, she points out that structure is an equally wonderful grounding opportunity for both kids and parents. “During crises, when chaos seems to be an overarching theme, it helps when children can lean into the stability of at least a few familiar routines,” she says. “Keeping developing brains regulated with the structure of expected patterns in the day can also help minimize tantrums, anxiety, and squabbles.” I am recommending to parents of young children to draw up a loose version of the basic times of their day- a ‘flexible schedule’ if you will. As tempting as it is to let set times slide, this can be the root of some really wild behavior.”

She goes on to say, “Because it’s a totally mixed up, wild time, it’s okay to make bedtimes later and allow some ‘sleeping in.’ This may afford the parents some time to get up early and get work done before their littles wake up. But don’t forget that children under the age of 5 need about 11-13 hours of sleep a day (this can include naps.) That didn’t change just because of the pandemic! When you have a set bedtime (even if it’s later!) and a set wake up time (even though waking up small children seems plain wrong), you help your children get the sleep patterns they need to be able to rest well and function better throughout the day. (Hint: same for parents! They need healthy sleep cycles too!)

Collaboration During Times of Quarantine (For my Writers Out There!)

Amber and Steph had daily Zoom meetings including many a Sunday to get it done! They were aware of the many responsibilities they also had and were mindful of ensuring that their time spent was efficient and productive.

“We also shared Google pages so that we could jot down ideas and exchange thoughts as the book was being created,” Stephanie reports. “We were also good about the occasional late night texting so that we did not forget a critical piece of information as a thought struck us,”

Would They Do It Again?

“Absolutely!” both writers say. They have a few ideas in the hopper and would love to keep Sebastian’s adventures alive.  They are considering how they might collaborate on bringing social/emotional developmental workshops to different organizations and agencies.

The Illustrations

They had an incredible collaborator in Rock Barcellos, an illustrator in Brazil. He was able to perfectly catch the writers’ vision to bring Sebastian and his family to life!  He was also super patient with them as they were trying to work as quickly as possible to get this book out while it could still be useful for families (“We must’ve checked in with his progress several times a day!” Amber admits. “We could not be more pleased with the work that he did. He’s AMAZING.”

Tacos

Taco Tuesday is all about sharing joy with friends and family. If you were at my table, what kind of taco would you eat?

Amber says, “I’m a street tacos girl. Just give me some carne asada with some grilled veggies and some guac on a nice, soft, handmade tortilla, and you’ll not hear a single complaint out of me.”

Stephanie reports,”It has to be a chorizo potato taco!”

With that order out of the way, you can find more about these authors, the illustrator and the book here!

Facebook

Instagram

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

FREE companion printables

Until next time,

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

Andrea

Tourettes, Tics, writing

A Little Laughter Goes a Long Way (How to Keep from being a Beach on Wheels)

Mom + Daughter @Beach = Contentment

I don’t know if you can relate to this, but I’m reacting to this Covid 19 crisis in one of two ways:

  1. Everything is Fine! I will not freak out. All I can do is wash my hands, cut back on trips to the market, have faith that my job will still be there in a few months and enjoy every second I can with my kids before they graduate and try to block the memory of their mother shaking her bootie to Maroon 5’s “Sugar” every Taco Tuesday like a menopausal groupie.
  2. I am Freaking the BEEP Out.

Since #2 isn’t all that attractive, I’ve given myself some serious boundaries to make life more enjoyable in the Casa de Tic. And honestly, folk, after navigating Tourettes for over 10 years, I can promise you this: I might not have the “cure” for tics in the form of a pill or a magic diet, but my attitude goes a long way in keeping the symptoms down.

Yup, when I’m relaxed and not creating undue stress (yes, yelling and being generally a crazy person about where to place the potentially Corona infested Cheetos is not particularly helpful) my son is calm. And when he’s calm, there’s less tics!

Here’s 5 more things I’ve implemented on a daily basis that have gone a long way in setting a happy tone for the home.

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: If my son wants to have the last word on why he’s not comfortable going to the beach, despite quarantine restrictions being lifted in Ventura County – and despite my daughter and I being clear that we are going to stay 20 feet from people and just walk on the shoreline – that’s his right. I don’t have to cajole him. I don’t have to guilt him into leaving the house. I can worry all I want about him having been in the same two rooms of this house for the past six weeks, and conjure up all sorts of worst-case scenarios that involve a 35 year old man eating gluten free pizza in my basement in two decades, but I don’t have to share those projections with my son. (Also, we don’t own a basement, so that works out, doesn’t it?)
  2. Be Intentional with My Tone: Not all days are going to be winners for me, but for the most part, if I set out to have a good day, I have a good day. That often means being intentional about my attitude, even when things aren’t going particularly amazing for me. (Ex: Disagreements with my hubby about money, or my website having issues, or fear about this virus.) Despite perfection I can still play Michael Buble in the kitchen while I make toast. I can still read books every morning and take my mind into a new world rather than my own. I can still blast musicals on my way to Costco and call other people and ask how they are doing. When I go about making myself happy, I don’t take it out on my kids – especially my sensitive ticker.
  3. Stay Current: By “current” I mean that I have stopped living in the past or the future. I get to live in the “now” where the magic happens. The past, for me, includes how things used to be before he was diagnosed with Tourettes. (Back when he was three, and I thought his entire life was going to unfold as perfectly as an origami crane. But with no wrinkles. Nope, unlike you suckers, my baby bird would be perfect!) By “future” I mean I stopped judging his current situation by some ideal far ahead of where he is at this moment. I wasted a lot of years drowning in the fear of what was, or what could be, instead of grasping onto the gift of this very beautiful present. Staying current has made all the difference. I can only do this by sticking to #4:
  4. Gratitude: I am in so much gratitude these days. Yes, Dom’s tics are almost gone now – and I’m so grateful! (Parents of new tickers, did you hear that? There is HOPE!) But I’m in gratitude of far more things than tics. I’m grateful for a home. For a husband who I love and can count on. For a daughter who wants to sing show tunes with me. For a mom who still lives 15 minutes from me. For more friends than I can shake a very big stick at. By focusing on what is working in my life, as opposed to what is not, life is so much sweeter.
  5. Relaxation: With this imposed quarantine, I know how lucky I am to have a 4 bedroom house to hunker down in. I don’t want to waste this precious gift of time freaking out. Granted, I have had a few days of misery. And I give myself slack for those. This is a new normal and I’m an extrovert! It’s haaaard! But for the most part, I’ve had a ton of joy. Much of this is because I have given myself permission to keep a lighter pace. My kids also have had a lighter pace, and this helps in keeping tics to a minimum. Throw in a lot of dancing and really bad karaoke and you have one happy Andrea which, always, goes back to #1: A happier tone in the home.

Positive Outcome Stories

I want to share a snippet of a letter I got from a dad who says he read my book two times. He wrote me to let me know how happy he was that this blog, and my next book, would be focusing on positive outcomes. To summarize, he wrote, “The internet is full of worse case scenarios…we need more writing out there that reminds us worried parents that our kids will be okay.”

So that, my friends, is what you will continue to get. You will get a ton of posts that remind you that a positive attitude can go a very very long way in raising a child that is successful despite a few tics. And, of course, I will continue to bring you interviews with top experts, parents of kids who are older and doing well (right, Carrie?), videos, books and… wait for it… a chance for you parents of younger kids to sign up to play Minecraft with Dom.

In closing, as I always say, thank you for reading. If you’re scared, feeling alone, worried about your child or generally confused about what to do next, I have a suggestion for you. Sign up for this blog (bottom of this page), join me on Facebook and let this sink into your bones: Your child is perfect, Tourettes or not. You are not alone. We’re in this together.

So happy almost Monday! And remember, if you can’t fix the tics, fix yourself! Do something fun for yourself, okay? I promise you – it will make all the difference.

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.

Andrea

faith, God, humor, meditation, sobriety, spirituality, writing

Coronavirus Rushed in While Our Focus Was Elsewhere


Jez Timms @Unspash
The click bait title above was waiting for me in my in-box first thing this morning.
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Trump impeachment. The death of Kobe Bryant. The crowded Democratic presidential field. We dive into the fleeting days of 2019 and the first three months of 2020, when America and the world were looking elsewhere as an intruder crept in.”

That’s some heavy stuff. I’m not surprised, with headlines like this, that everyone looks at each other in the super market with just a little less kindness. As if simply asking about their day is some sort of manipulative gesture to snatch from extra toilet paper from under their cart. I can’t help but wonder if we put as much in energy into focusing on what was working, instead of what wasn’t, if our mental attitudes wouldn’t be that much more serene.

More Gratitude/Less Attitude

Okay, so that sounds super cheesy, but but I do feel like I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve been in 12 step too long, also, to not see the miracles that happen to me and those around me when I look for the good. It doesn’t mean that bad things aren’t happening in the world, but it does mean that good things are happening, too.

Covid 10 is a Virus, But So is Love. And Guess What? Both Are Contagious.

It is a simple fact that so many of us are feeling the strain of Covid 19, but my geraniums? Not so much. In fact, they’re more alive than ever! (Including a new baby second to the front that I snatched from a neighbor’s garden. My son, ever the honest chap, was not so happy at my thievery. I told him to go back and play some video games. Jesus would understand.)

On the subject of gratitude, when I stepped outside tonight with my husband and daughter for our nightly walk around the block, I smiled as my eye spotted a wind chime given to me by my ex-inlaws for Christmas one year. (Did you know I was married for a year back in college? Well, now you do. He is no longer alive, sadly, but his parents and I still keep in touch. Sidenote: This is why you and I can never meet in real life, because once I know you, you’re stuck with me for eternity. Right, Jodee? And that’s a lot of Christmas gifts to be sending everyone!)

Windchime toward the top.

I have a fridge full of food, a husband making pizza and Alexa is currently playing Christmas classics because, in a pandemic, I need a little cheer to remind me that there will be gifts at the end of this crisis. The gifts might not come in the form of material items, but when I’m patient, I can find them just about everywhere I look.

Reading – My Favorite Gift to Stay Present

Today’s reading from Mark Nepo spoke about trust, and for me, it’s become very clear that when I trust God, I’m fine. When I don’t trust Him – when I think it’s up to me to run the entire show – I get agitated, cranky and I blame everyone else for my issues.

Mark Nepo’s The Endless Practice – such great insight and beauty

I don’t want to live like that, people. But yesterday, despite a great beginning to my day, it didn’t end so well. The trick for me, because I’m in constant gratitude, is that I didn’t have to live in my pile of resentment. Unlike my drinking days, where I didn’t like being stuck in my crap but at least it was warm, these days it stinks too much.

So this morning, after sleeping in from an emotional hangover, I got up and meditated. I read some Mark Nepo. I journaled and I said to God what I often say when I can’t get out of my own head: God, help me set aside everything I think I know about this particular issue, and direct my attention to how you’d have me be.

Notice it’s not “What would you have me do.” Either God is, or he isn’t. I don’t need to self-will my way into “fixing” everything. Sometimes I just to let it pass, whether that means butting into someone’s business, giving unwanted advice or somehow thinking I know more than the next person. Um, not true.

I don’t know who your God is, but maybe you can relate to what happens you don’t trust this energy source. It never ends well. I’m so grateful for do-overs every single day.

Here’s what I published on my Facebook page. And I’m happy to say that all’s well that ends well. Not all days are gonna be winners, but with some trust in God – especially on Easter – I’m grateful to rise above my own anger and start over with love again.

Who remembers this episode?

Easter, 12PM

Yesterday started out so beautiful. I woke up deliciously late. I prayed and I meditated. I journaled.

For the first time in a very long time I allowed myself to rest.

No agenda.

No rushed pace.

I prayed for the world in crisis, but I also made an intention to enjoy my present. And that present was mine for the taking: beautiful weather, a walk with my husband, and a trip to Costco where I’d shop for myself and a few folk who can’t get out. Given I would not be back for two weeks at least (please no more messages to me about hand washing and shopping – I get it!) I thought I was in great mental and spiritual shape to get my groceries and go.

But when I got there, the mask kept steaming my glasses. And while I remained patient and asked for help, I started to feel defeated. “Is this what it’s like to be old?” I sighed. “To take 15 minutes to find beans because I can’t read the numbers on the aisles?”

When I got to the register – exhausted – the women (looking more like surgeons than cashiers with their gloves and face coverings) kept pushing me to get my items on the conveyor belt quicker than was my comfort level. “I need to split these items into sections,” I explained. “Are you ready now?” they would bark any time I’d stop briefly to check my cart.

“I’m not ready” I told them, inhaling air to center myself (as best I could with the little oxygen I had inside my mask) and attempting to remember that they deal with crazy customers like me all day long.

“Please wait while I figure it out,” I stated calmly, watching my food roll forward at a pace not unlike the episode where Lucy finds herself madly rearranging chocolates at the candy factory.

The conveyor belt doesn’t stop!” grunted one of the women who I swear was a Sue Sylvester look-alike.

I took a deep breath, looked at her in the eye and stated not unlike a female Terminator of big bulk shopping: “Stop the belt.

Which she did.

A miracle!

Either she found the pause button on the endless metal machine or she, like me, decided if she didn’t pause her own mouth she would murder me before ringing up my total.

$325 later, one stop to a friend and a big unload to a neighbor, I made it home.

It was now 7PM. I had promised my son I’d play Dungeons and Dragons by 730PM. Assuming that nothing got in the way of unpacking, all would be well. (Side note: I’m really working on being someone of follow through. If I can’t be on time for my kids, how can I expect them to be on time for me?)

But somehow in that limited 30 minutes left I had allotted myself, I forgot about dinner. And then my husband – in an effort to be helpful to get us closer to our 730 game time – put the food I had intended to sit out for 3 days to “de-Corona bug” on the clean side of the table. Oh, and my nutritious intake that day? Nothin’ but some dry toast and jelly. (It’s shocking I wasn’t in my fittest spiritual and mental condition.)

I lost it.

In front of the kids.

In essence, I forgot to tell myself to “Stop the belt!”

“Noooo! That’s the clean table cloth side! Now I have to remove the table cloth, do laundry and start over again before the game!” I barked.

In my mind I was going to be that hipster doctor from Michigan, calmly separating the food and spraying down the cardboard/cans with clean white rags and measured breath. Instead I morphed into the Tazmanian devil jacked up on Starbucks fighting invisible germ bugs with In and Out Burger napkins because Lysol Wipes have been about as elusive as the end to this crisis. It wasn’t pretty. #insanity

And all those big attempts to be present for my family and be a good neighbor went to hell. There would be no game because James and I were not speaking. The kids, who aren’t used to us arguing anymore, went into their shells and began drawing instead. I once tried to sit down to which my daughter, calm as a cucumber, said, “We would like a little time to ourselves, Mom. No disrespect.” None taken. Who could blame them? I wanted some time away from myself as well, but I don’t drink anymore. There was no where to hide. I just would have to sit in my feelings for a little bit.

I was consumed with guilt. What’s the point of praying and meditating if I’m going to let my own family down. And, more to the point, let myself down?

And then this voice came into my head that answered that very question – that voice that I can only hear when I don’t try to fix stuff but instead allow myself just to feel what is going on. “Because you are human, Andrea. You are not God. How about you let it go. These aren’t exactly normal times.”

So I attempted to do that. James had gone to bed so my apology to him would have to wait until later. But I told my kids that I was sorry for not being my best.

I listened to them instead of making excuses. (Ouch, that wasn’t easy.)

And at midnight, when I still couldn’t sleep, I took a long ride through the city with my daughter. We looked at the empty streets and I finished listening to her new love “Hadestown.” I then offered up one of my old favorites, “The Jazz Singer” (“Those are some serious power ballads, Mom!” she informed me).

We then sat in the dark front of my childhood church – the one I would not be able to go to for Easter services a few hours later thanks to Covid 19 – and just took a breath.

Like today’s reading from Mark Nepo, I’m starting to really get the fact that life isn’t always about the ups. The downs are part of it also. It’s in the acceptance that I don’t have to get it right, but keep pushing that ball of light up the hill, that I can find serenity.

This Easter morning are no eggs. There are no baskets. But perhaps new life can begin again with my family. I can talk to my husband about what was really behind my reaction to the food on the table. (Fear.) I can play some music and make some lunch. (Nurture.) I can ask if my kids want to try again on Dungeons and Dragons next Saturday. (Openness) And I can trust that the God of my understanding doesn’t expect me to be perfect. I just need to get off that Costco Conveyor belt of life and remember that this, too, shall pass.

Happy Easter, everyone. May you die to the harsh expectations you have of yourself and others and live in the new life of today. Even with our struggles, if we are present to them, there is so much joy to be found in their teachings.

Andrea

Happy Easter everybody!

Until next time,

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

Want to Write a Book? Contact Me!

Need an editor, a mentor or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

education, writing

Ready to Finally Write That Musical or Book? (7 ways to do it in a year)

Note to my WordPress friends (my faves): This is my latest article on Medium. It comes to you after a long day of shopping for the Great Hunkering Down that is about to hit L.A..

I, like many of you, fluctuate between fear and faith. But mostly, for whatever reason, I’m calm. I went to the beach with my daughter today (keeping a good gajillion feet away from everybody else.)

I had a lovely dinner in front of our fire.

I played music and I shopped for neighbors and I called friends.

This is a time in history, more than ever, that we need art and music. We need less fear and more love.

And we need each other.

Thank you for being there for me always.

David Beal @ Unspash

Most people aren’t exactly breaking out in song over their forced unemployment and quarantine or writing their Great American Corona Novel. But I’m not one of them.

Part of this because I have a pretty strong spiritual practice where I just refuse to fall into self pity. Either God’s got this or he doesn’t. Part of it is because, as a sober alcoholic, I can’t afford to be play the victim. “One day at a time” is how the saying goes. But the biggest reason I’m not freaking out is because I can finally write my musical.

I’ve had the idea in my brain for three years. I even have one whole song and a few others started. Now that I’m not going into class every day to sub, I don’t have any excuses to not take at least one hour/day and knock this sucker out.

I’ve Never Written a Musical. I Don’t Give a Poop.

I’m not trying to sound delusional here when I say, “I’m writing a musical with no experience.” I’m simply stating that I’m doing it. For those who want to question my logic, I have a very simple answer: “When I think about not following through with it I feel like throwing up.”

I Refuse to Hit the Snooze Alarm on My Dream

Malvestida Magazine @ Unsplash

Time is ticking by. I just turned 50. I have spent my life raising my kids and writing for a gajillon outlets for pay. And while I’m proud of my ability to context switch from blogs and magazines to everything in between, there’s something in my soul that wants to write something that comes just from me.

My passion project is not about my ego. It’s about about my purpose.

I didn’t get sober to live someone else’s life. I got sober to live mine. In doing so, I was able to untangle all the lies of who I thought I was supposed to be and lean into the person God wanted me to be all along. That person is an artist. (Surprise!)

But I Have to Make Money (And All Those Lies We Tell Ourselves)

I’m not that different from many of you who read and write here on Medium. I have a day job, too. In addition to my freelance writing, I substitute teach. I have kids and a husband. I have friends. I’m not exactly loaded with Benjamins.

But if I’m being totally honest with myself, there is always an hour a day I can spend on my musical if I choose to do it. (I can use my lunch break, get up early, take an hour after school, etc.) And now that I have 3–6 months of unemployment, I can do it in the mornings while the kids are sleeping.

What Are Your Gifts? Whatever They Are, Do That

If someone asked me what I loved more than anything in the world, I could very easily tell them. I love music. I love books. I love writing. And I love to laugh. If that isn’t the perfect formula for a musical I don’t know what is. Now I only need to do it.

Here’s 7 ways I’m planning on getting started to make my dream happen. Perhaps you can use some of these tips for your dream, too!

  1. Follow Your Destiny

“Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are ultimately to be at peace with themselves. What humans can be, they must be.” ―Abraham Maslow

As I already alluded to, I can’t not write this musical. The idea came to me over three years ago when I was going through a particularly rough period of my life. It was as if all the pieces of this transformational story were drop shipped into my brain one night in the bathtub. I literally heard the tune to my flagship song, along with lyrics, singing in my brain. Either I’m psychotic or finally listening to the signs in my life. I’m going with Door #2.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Your Own Power

I was bullied a lot in school. Subconsciously I bought into a belief structure that I simply wasn’t as good as everybody else. And though I knew in my head that wasn’t in true, in my heart it was as if my soul had frozen.

This frozen belief structure became a problem because, also within my soul, was where my true power lived- my voice- and it was throwing a pretty major tantrum to be let out.

Instead of seeing this power for what it was, “Oh, hello, powerful Andrea. Let’s get you moving toward your destiny!” I got scared. It felt like an enemy attack, and I shut down. I drank to keep it quiet and acting dignified.

But that power, like a true love, remained. It was a gentleman. It didn’t force me into submission. Instead it waited, like a lover, for the time I would put away my fears and dance with it. Now is that time.

Thomas AE @ Unsplash

3. Get a Theme Song

My theme song is “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. I speak about this song a lot in my book, Happily Ticked Off. In it the Wicked Witch (from the Wizard of Oz) decides she is tired of listening to everyone else. She is ready to fly. She is ready to defy gravity. To her I say, “Amen, sister!” (Plus it doesn’t matter how many times I hear Idina Menzel sing that last note. I cry. Every. Time.)

“Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone’s else’s game.” — Elphaba (Lyrics by Steven Schwartz)

4. Don’t Judge Your Past.

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall

If I had a dime for all the jobs I’ve held over the past 30 years I’d be living in Beverly Hills. I’ve been an usher at the movies, a tour Guide for NBC Studios, a TV writers’ assistant, a TV writer, a production secretary, a receptionist, an Ebayer, a special education assistant, a substitute teacher and even a barista at Starbucks.

Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I’m ashamed of my checkered job past. Why couldn’t I just be a middle school teacher? Or a doctor? Something stable? But when I put the emotional whip down, I see a different picture— that I have tons of material to write my musical with. Besides, my kids, family and friends love me just as am, not for what I do. Maybe it’s time I start agreeing with them about how fabulous I am.

5. Stop Second Guessing Yourself

“Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts… to close my eyes, and leap…” — Elphaba, Wicked

I’m gonna have to give #5 to my girl, Elphaba, again. She didn’t really know what she was doing when she picked up that broom and ascended into the heavens. Like her, I don’t know 100% what I’m doing with this musical. But she flew anyway, mistakes be damn. What if I follow in her footsteps? Even Lin Manuel Miranda got laughed at for wanting to write a hip hop musical about the treasury department.

And no, I’m not Lin Manuel Miranda, but Lin Manuel Miranda wasn’t Lin Manuel Miranda until he did the same things I’m doing now to become Lin Manuel Miranda.

(That makes perfect sense to me. I hope it does to you, also.)

6. Stop Talking and Start Doing

Everyone in my immediate circle knows about my musical. The kids at school know me as the sub who is writing a funny show about camels. I’m honestly tired of talking about it. It’s time to sit down and do it. I am committed to one hour/day, five days/week. It’ll be done in a year.

Here’s what Sebastian, the blind mole rat from my musical, has to say to a very princess-y camel, Rose, about her long trek through the desert:

Sebastian: “If you want to go to the Great Mirage, first you have to get out of the garage.”

Rose: “But what I really want is a massage…”

Sebastian: “It doesn’t work that way.”

If my characters have to do the hard work to find their destiny, so do I. And that leads me to #7:

7. Have Faith

Joseph Plenino @ Unsplash

I don’t know exactly how all this will pan out. I don’t have a producer in mind. I don’t know any producers. I don’t write music notes. But I have seen enough of my Higher Power to work in my own life that if I just take the action the results will follow. Translation: I will meet the right people to come alongside me when the time is right. But first I must get started.

“God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” ―St. Augustine

Are You Willing to Get Started?

I know some of you are so scared about our current times. So am I. But friends, we need art now more than ever. We need you. Come on back and support me as I continue my journey. You know I’ll support you!

Need a Writing Coach? I Got Ya Covered!

Want someone to coach you toward your dream? I’ve already got two clients I’m working with to make their books a reality. I can help you, too! Reach out at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com.

Until next time,

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

Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, God, humor, self improvement, sobriety

Confessions from an Enmeshed Parent

How I broke the toxic cycle of co-dependent parenting to let my teens live their own damn lives.

(Also published on Medium.com)

Bonnie Kittle @ Unsplash

I love this picture. It brings up images of parents that are there for their child but willing to let them run free. It’s a wonderful symbol for what I strive to be for my own kids.

In my last post I spoke about how I was going to take advantage of my forced vacation from school (AKA: My Coronacation) to spend more time with my children. By “children” I mean “very tall teenagers.” And by “spend time” with them I mean “not micro-manage their every move.”

To be clear, I by no means am going to let my 4-bedroom home become a movie set for Lord of the Flies, Coronavirus 2. Nor am I sewing myself a cosplay outfit ala Captain Vontrapp either, complete with a military style schedule and a whistle. (I could never look as hot as Christopher Plummer, so why bother?)

But this wasn’t always the case. There was a time in my parenting career where I lived and breathed everything my children did. I wasn’t a helicopter parent, but I was absolutely an enmeshed one.

Mitch Lensink @ Unsplash

Definition of an Emeshed Parent

According to Psyche Central, you might be an enmeshed parent if this applies to you:

  • “Your children’s good or difficult behavior, and successful or unsuccessful achievements, define your worth.”
  • “Your children are the center of your life — your sole purpose in life.”
  • “Your entire focus is on taking care of your children, rather than also taking care of yourself.”
  • “Your happiness or pain is determined solely by your children.”
  • “You are invasive — you need to know everything about what your children think and do.”

If you asked me if I fit that description, I’d give you a hearty, “Hell, no! Just look at my house. Do their disorganized bedrooms, and their less than perfect school grades, match the traits of someone who is overly concerned with her kids?

But the more I researched it, the more I realized how wrong I was.

An enmeshed parent doesn’t apply to a child’s exterior life. It applies to their emotional ones which, to their supreme detriment, is bound up co-dependently with their parent’s feelings of well being.


My Daughter and Her Enmeshed Mother in Transition

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter is super independent. She’s smart and sassy and doesn’t take to people telling her what to do. That said, she is still only 15. She simply doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. As her mom, it’s my job to set boundaries with love.

It just so happens that yesterday, on our first day of our Coronacation, we decided to take a walk on the beach. There were no people there… lots of open space… no fears of people coughing Covid 19 over our sun screened faces. It was a perfect time to talk about something that had been on my mind for a long time: her grades, her time management skills, and a particular class next year she really wants to get in.

That last item? She doesn’t just want a spot in this prized class. It’s all she’s been talking about all year. There is an audition component to getting in and, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been super anxious about her getting in myself.

Happy vs. Enmeshed in Our Kids Lives

I mean, who wouldn’t want their kid to be happy, right? But if I’m being honest, it’s more than that. I have the tendency to want her to be happy so I can be happy, and that’s never a good combination. That’s enmeshment.

I’m really careful about these days about this toxic parenting. But I wasn’t always. The old Andrea would have been up my daughter’s butt for six months telling her what she needed to do to get ready for the big try out. But this new Andrea — the one who is writing enough herself to not have to live through her daughter’s dreams — was able to be more chill about it.

I’m pretty proud of how the conversation went. It involved more questions than directives. I only brought up the topic when I was calm. (Hence not in the car when I was still pretty irritated about a dental appointment that didn’t go so well.)

Instead of launching into a lecture, I said a little prayer before I began speaking: God, let this conversation be about what is best for Evie’s life, not my enmeshed Mama ego. Let me remember that this is her life, not mine. Let me remember the difference between control and suggestion and have the wisdom to know the difference. (That last bit, God, I suck at. So feel free to smite me when I go overboard.)

Our Healthy Conversation Along the Beach

Tyler Nix@jtylernix @ Unsplash

Me: So, Evie, I’d like to talk to you about your tryout. Is this a good time?

If she said no, I’d have dropped it. I mean, what’s the point of having a conversation with your teenager, unless it’s truly life threatening, if they are not ready to listen?

Her: Sure. What’s up?

Me: Well, I know how badly you want this particular class. And I told you in September I wouldn’t bring this up anymore — and I didn’t. But… you now have three extra weeks to prepare for the tryouts thanks to our enforced time off from school.

Her: And?

Me: And… I’m not seeing you rehearse that much for it. What’s up with that?

Her: Oh that’s simple. I’m not rehearsing!

Me: And… this is because…

Her: It’s because there’s another piece to the audition that I’m much weaker on. I have been using my time to work on that instead.

Me: (Starting to get frustrated… enter enmeshed mama trying to break in) So the first piece isn’t that important?

Her: Oh, no, it totally is.

Me: (Truly stumped) Can you explain to my why, if it’s so important, you’re not doing it?

Her: Yeah. It’s because forever I felt that you wanted me to have this more than I did. And that didn’t feel particularly amazing.

Me: Hmmm.

Note: “Hmmm” is my go-to when I know my kid just needs me to listen. And also when I know she’s right. Translation: May day! May day! My ego has just taken a big hit and it needs comfort big time! Pass the wine!

Crap, you don’t drink anymore! Pray! Breathe!

So I did. Then I pressed her for more detail and braced myself. (Her frankness is not always pretty.)

Her: I sometimes think you don’t see how hard I’m working at other areas of my life and just focus on the areas that are important to you.

Me: Yeah, I can see that. But on this occasion, I do know how much you want this class. I wouldn’t be a great mom if I didn’t at least point out where you have an opportunity to improve.

Her: I know. It just reminds me of how you used to be.

I wanted to scream, “And I was right then, too! Just as I am now!” Instead I went with:

Me: Okay, you have my word I won’t bring it up again.

Her: You won’t have to. Because, don’t freak out, Mama Llama, I’m going to practice more. I just needed you to back off first.

Enter angels singing on the beach! (Okay, not that last part — but it was a victory!)

Lest the above conversation sounds like a cheesy script for the Family Channel, those sentences really did come out of each of our mouths.

We didn’t yell. We didn’t get snarky. We just shared from the heart. None of it would have been possible had I still been acting from my enmeshed mama’s ego.

I Want My Kids to Succeed!

Of course I want my daughter to get into her class, but more important to me is that she wants it. There is nothing in my kids’ lives, minus their health, that I should want more than they do. If I do, I’m bordering on obsessive again. And that, my friends, isn’t healthy.

As an adult, I’m only now finding my way in this world without needing to be propped up by anyone but my own higher power. Rather than have my kids have to figure this out in 12-step rooms, I’d rather they learn this now.

This comes from being a mom who listens more than she talks.

Who asks more questions rather than assumes.

And who has enough of her own life that my kids can go on to have their’s.

As far as my daughter goes, it means that if (worse case) she doesn’t get into that coveted class, she has a safe person to share her disappointment with.

Until next time, may you be less enmeshed, ask questions and, when in doubt, go for a walk on the beach. It really is the balm for all grrrr. (Even more than wine. I promise.)

Until next time,

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

education, faith, God, parenting, self improvement

Coronavirus Isn’t Happening to Us

It’s happening for us… to wake us from complacency to joy

David Mao @ Unsplash

So I get it. This virus is a big deal. Italy is on lock down. Vulnerable people can die more easily. The President is taking credit for acting quickly over something he should have been on top of months ago. We might have to start washing our butts with garden hoses and, just when our kids might finally be allowed back at school, they will be out again for summer break. (#insanestyearever)

None of this is easy. I, for one (as a Class A Extrovert) am super bummed about missing my AA meetings, not going to Magic Church for the foreseeable future, not meeting my bestie for a cup of Starbucks that I shouldn’t really be spending money on anyway, and those Disneyland gift cards I got for my big 50th birthday? By the time I cash those in for annual passes I wouldn’t be surprised if the price is doubled to pay for all those weeks the park was closed. (Plus I hear the payments on that Millenium Falcon are a bitch.)

Perhaps most disturbing of all is that, as a substitute teacher, I’m not one of those lucky educators who is getting paid while we’re off school. And while I am not playing the victim card here (I have an English degree, not a teaching degree) I am losing quite a bit of income.

All of the things above is enough to send me into a wave of self-pity — and believe me, despair is dancing on the surface — but when I take a breath I feel something much deeper that is buoying me up: Hope.

Hope in a Quarantine? Are You Kidding Me?

Putting aside my worry for those who are most risk with this ridiculous beast, there is a side of me that is relieved to be home. These feelings are not that different than how I felt when both my babies were born. During their precious stages of early life, there wasn’t much I could do while they napped. So I focused on on staying as present as possible.

I stayed close to the phone.

I read books.

I occasionally watched television.

And I wrote.

Life was smaller back then. I had tremendous worry about what the future could hold, but stronger than the worry of what could be was the absolute joy and excitement for what I had in my little cozy nest: two humans that I loved with all my heart.

Coronavirus Can Suck It

Cristian Escobar @ Unsplash

I refuse to let Coronavirus steal that joy from me now. Granted my two babies are no longer co-sleeping in Scooby Doo sheets and wearing matching Dora the Explorer panties… they are almost six foot and six foot six… but they’re still under my roof. And with their insane high school schedules, and my teaching and freelance schedule, it’s been a loooong time since we’ve had such a long span of uninterrupted time together. With only a year and a half until my son graduates, I am going to take full advantage of this unique, if not unusual, opportunity.

Making the Most of Our Corona-cation

So it’s not exactly a stay-cation or a trip to Hawaii (nope, my daughter’s choir trip was canceled) but we will make the most of it anyway. Here’s a list of just few things we’ll do to keep our souls happy and our brains from flatlining more than getting stuck at a Costco canned food stampede. We will:

  • Come up with a schedule of chores
  • Listen to each other’s playlists on Spotify
  • Swap books (I will finally read my son’s book choice, Fahrenheit 451, my daughter will read The Help and my son will likely be forced by my daughter to cry over any one of her John Green novels.)
  • Netflix binge! I will drink tea with my daughter as she catches me up on Stephen Universe and explains in great detail the difference between gems, humans and how Steven himself is actually a combination of the two and why Pearl never shows signs of aging. (Spoiler alert: It’s a gem thing.) My son and I will trudge our way through a truly terrible, but hilarious, What’s New Scooby Doo series.
  • Paint the bathroom. My son has a collection of 214 rubber ducks, all different faces, from nurses to a quacking navity set. These rubber fowls have been sitting in a trunk at the edge of his bed for five years. Now’s the time to paint the stall walls bright blue and display them on rain gutters. Who doesn’t want to use the facilities while being stared out by an Abraham Lincoln duck? Plus it’ll make the experience more enjoyable when, ultimately, there is no toilet paper to finish the job.)
  • Jog around the block
  • Learn a new language on Duolingo
  • Clean out our bedrooms
  • Get back into a prayer routine
  • Play some video games (with a limit… they go off at 10pm and don’t go on until 10am. If no one is up before 10am then no computers.)
  • Check in on our family and friends that are hurting and do a little bit more cooking than we normally have time for. (That’s assuming there’s anything left on the store shelves to eat.)

Coronavirus has been the frosting on the bitch cake of 2020,but I refuse to let it ruin my appetite for what nurtures me most: my family.

When I remember that this damn virus didn’t happen to me, but it happened for me, to slow down and appreciate the blessings I have right here in my home, quarantine has never looked so good.

Here’s to flattening the curb with social distancing and also raising the line with our connection to the people that matter most.

As for my personal goals? I’m gonna finally get cracking again on that musical I’ve been putting off. Plus I’ll be writing here daily as a personal commitment to what makes me happiest: words, thoughts and hopefully a little engagement with you beautiful people.

We are in this together. See you tomorrow.

Until next time,

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

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, humor, self improvement, Sobriety, spirituality, writing

Why Putting Off Your Dream Is a Terrible, Furry, Hellacious Mistake (And that lie we all believe about working a “real job”)

(Also published on Medium.com)

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Happy weekend, people! I survived my 50th birthday and so far haven’t died from the Coronavirus. I’m grateful to have had so many friends and family celebrate with me. My good friend, Irish Mama, came out to visit with me and I must say it was glorious. One of the highlites was fish tacos in Malibu and watching her giggle with joy when she saw a pod of dolphins frolicking through the waves.

In honor of those dolphins, I’m continuing my pursuit of frolicking in my own life. That begins with my writing.

Thanks to all of you here at WordPress who inspire me every day to read and continue writing. Below is a post that was also published on Medium. I’m giving myself permission to double up on the sites until I figure out what each site will be. (Medium will for sure be more of a niche while this site will be more personal. That said, even if I double up, please go over there and give me some love. Your time on my post gives me financial support and I will of course do the same for you.)

Stay safe, wash your hands and for fxxx sake enjoy your life. (This comin’ from an official old lady, so listen to me!)

“You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Not too long ago I was subbing for a public school. I was attempting to teach middle school kids to go after their dreams while simultaneously dodging milk cartons being lobbed at my noggin. It turns out something even more powerful than cow juice was directed at my brain. It was a life changing thought: “How can I empower students to live their dreams when I‘m not living mine?”

This insight was not an obsessive compulsive devil in disguise, taunting me on my shoulder. It wasn’t my misfiring mind out to derail me. This knowledge was a real deal truth bomb that lodged into my heart and exploded like emotional shrapnel right into the center of my soul. It shattered the glass walls I had been constructing around me that kept me from doing what I knew was my life’s purpose: to write.

Working a “Real Job”

It’s not like I hadn’t made money writing before, but life, kids, marriage, sobriety (and a pesky pit bull who insists on flying through window screens to maniacally search for our dearly departed roommate) got in the way.

I thought I needed a “real job” to keep all the nuts and bolts of my complicated existence purring like a top. The only problem was that while my family was able to go to the doctor for every scrape and ailment, thanks to my amazing insurance package, they were suffering daily with the sickness of my discontent.

After this one fateful day of subbing, it dawned on me that my “real job” wasn’t just to put braces on my kids so they could one day have perfect teeth while working at a job they also hated. My only “real job” was to show up as my authentic self so I could model for my children what they needed to do to live their true purpose.

Photo by Ian Dooley at Unsplash

“But I Can’t Just Leave My Day Job” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Listen, people, if you’re yelling at the computer screen, I relate. I told myself for years that I, too, could not just quit my job and go after what I really wanted to do with my life. But honestly, I wasn’t asking the right question. And perhaps you aren’t either. So let me help you out with this million dollar inquiry: If you’re not ready to bolt from your secure but lifeless job, are you at least ready to leave your negative thinking behind so that one day you will have the power to leave?

For me, this last question was a game changer, because subconsciously I was addicted to my victim thinking. “I’m too old.”… “I’m not good enough.”… “My family will be mad at me”… “I need the money.”

The real facts are that I was not lacking talent in writing. I was lacking in faith. Yup, I was missing the divine belief that the shepherd boy possessed in The Alchemist. I was not trusting that something much bigger than my own human plans could work everything out.

What Good Is a Higher Power if You Don’t Trust It?

When I got sober, I had to choose a higher power that was bigger than myself to keep me from downing a bottle of Two Buck Chuck over my daily restlessness, irritability and discontent. This higher power was absolutely vital because, as it turns out, it wasn’t my drinking that was my biggest demon — it was my thinking.

Sobriety encouraged me to accept that my higher power, who I choose to call God, loves me unconditionally. But that sweet emotional froth means nothing if I don’t trust it to work in my life. I had to take the plunge. Like Indiana Jones in the second movie, I had to trust that if I took a leap, something invisible would appear beneath my feet and allow me to not crash to my death.

Did I leave my job Norma Ray style in the arms of a handsome man that looked like a cross between Jamie Fraser and Liam Neeson? I wish. But no. Instead, I made the simple decision to cut down from working five days a week to three. I already had a small writing gig in my pocket, and I trusted that with some time off to breathe I’d get more.

Spirituality Can Be as Simple as Getting off Your Ass

Trust is lovely, but action seals the deal. That very night, fingers trembling, I reached out to Sesame Street. I ignored the lie that told me, “You’re nervous. This is a sign you shouldn’t be doing this, Dumbass.” How many times had I gone out with a man who didn’t wear his pants above his butt cheeks and convinced myself he was Prince Charming? Maybe my mind wasn’t such a good source of help after all. No, this time I would go with my gut where truth lives, not my head where confusion lives.

I told this iconic television show that I had a computer full of songs and scripts. I told them that I had exactly the talent they needed to creatively partner with them for new story ideas and lyrics. I was so proud of myself! (You need a melody and poem to tell kids to not fear the Coronavirus? I’m your gal!)

I excitedly emailed my sponsor to let her know that, despite wanting to puke all over my new chevron gray and white rug, I was finally following her guidance: to take the steps and leave the results up to God.

While I’d love to say that Sesame Street immediately returned my email and I’m now writing award winning songs for Cookie Monster, that did not happen. But something else cool did happen: My sponsor informed me that someone in our group composed music for Sesame Street. “Write him!” she nudged me. So I did.

As it turns out, he was just in a similar place to me: confronting his financial fears and wishing he could go after his real dream of writing. What we had here was a miraculous problem: He was a composer that wanted to write, I was a writer that needed help composing music. We made an appointment to meet the very next day to talk about it. Crazy timing. Was it odd or God?

Since that day I have not only begun a fledgling partnership with a brilliant thinker, I have polished up my resume, landed a few more freelance writing clients and begun working sub jobs only in high schools where kids’ brains are more fully developed than a lump of Trader Joe’s pizza dough. (Plus I don’t need to worry about 8th graders smoking Mary Jane in the middle of a math quiz. Yes, that’s happened.)

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Have I gotten rid of my real job yet? No. It’s only been two weeks! But to quote one of my favorite songs from Frozen, “For the first time in forever….” I am trusting that what I’ve been gifted to do is not an accident. I don’t have to people please my family, my culture, my parents or even, most importantly of all, myself. I only need to trust that when I lead with my heart, everything else will roll out like a red carpet, ready to have me dance toward my prize of serenity and joy.

Living Your Dreams is Actually Quite Simple

I had been making everything so complicated, and it’s really quite simple: I have a purpose that was planted in my soul. When I go against that purpose, I feel like crap. When I work toward that purpose, I feel good. And not just that: When I run toward my talents with God at my side, doors fly open quicker than the castle gates at Arendelle. I deserve to feel content and satisfied. And friends, you do, too.

God is everything or he is nothing.

Until next time,

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

education, faith, God, writing

Starting a Freelance Writing Business (picking a niche and trusting my gifts)

Danielle MacInnes@dsmacinnes
www.unsplash.com

I ended up subbing in a high school today. It was a bright start to the day with the Dean of Students barging in on me first period.

Him: (stone faced) “Here’s a new student. Don’t let her pee. Don’t let her leave the classroom. Dial 99-4923 if you need security ASAP.”

Me: (smiling) “I can’t wait!”

I was surprised to hear this frozen faced statue of a man giggle hysterically at my response. Hopefully he was still laughing a half hour later when said student decided she didn’t want to do math and would rather ditch my class to roam the hallway with her bestie and do who knows what in the bathroom of her choice.

A year ago I’d have freaked out. “OMG! I lost a student!” These days? I don’t care. It’s not my fault the kid doesn’t want to learn. I can only do what I can do.

I say this with zero judgment, for that student is a giant mirror for my own yearnings. How often do I not want to sit in the stuff of my life that is difficult? I, like her, would rather ditch than do the hard work of figuring it out.

But it’s becoming crystal clear to me that the more I run, the less I will have something to show for myself – at least financially. And one thing I know for sure is that if I’m going to have to make a living it’s not going to be teaching. So then what?

I have lots of reasons I haven’t landed on something yet.

Kids.

Getting sober.

Working on my marriage.

Just not being sure of myself.

And, for lack of sounding like an egotistical ass, there’s about ten million things I could do writing wise (and I have) but it’s time to choose something consistent.

On tonight’s walk with Rex my mind started spinning like a top again. “Oh my God, I was here four years ago! Why am I still here!” But a quieter voice came in that reminded me, “No, you were not this centered as a person four years ago. At least you have awareness now that you don’t have consistency. That is HUGE.”

My prayer then became, “God, show me in a way I can understand what you would have me do with my writing.”

With a bit of calm, it became even more clear that I don’t think it’s corporate writing, as fun as a job at Netflix would be. And the money would be lovely.

But at 50, where is a job like this going to lead me? What I really want, in my heart, is to write another pilot (or take meetings for the one I have already written) and finally finish that musical, but…. I need bread and butter while I do this.

With that mental masturbation satisfied, I started thinking again about starting up a freelance writing business while I write my dream stuff on the side. I’m already memoir writing for folk for pay. The ticket to sustainability then becomes about choosing a niche – something I have never buckled down to do before.

If that is the case, I’m considering focusing on being a story teller/content writer. I could be the go-to gal for memoirs, articles about people, blogs on corporate websites that deal with people, newsletters, etc. No products. No blow up hot tubs or direct sales marketing. No click through SEO bait donkey dung key words to lure people into buying organic horse crap.

Basically I’d be paid as a story teller and showcase this in whatever way a company or individual wants to promote themselves or their business. This kind of niche also lends itself to writing at Medium.com and getting another book out there.

In closing, I realize I’ve been a bit all over the board lately, but I choose not to judge myself. I’ve been so consistent with my marriage and my kids. This is an area that I have not truly given myself time to consider, so I am open to failing and fumbling as I find my way.

What do you think? Would love your take. I would love to know.

As always, when I go into fear, I will remember:

God is everything or he is nothing.

Until next time,

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

faith, God

Today Sucked. I Don’t Trust God. And Subbing.

 @krisroller at Unsplash

So I did what I said I would do in my last post: I wrote down my dreams. “Dear God, I want to write the musical you want me to write. Amen.”

Then I proceeded to be bullied by a kid in class. I told him I’d call his mom if he kept acting nuts.

“Oh, okay,” he said, dead eyed. “I’ll tell her what you did last semester and you’ll be fired.”

Um, I got on his case last October for acting like a butt wipe, and when I realized I was a harsher with my tone than I’d liked, I immediately apologized.

“She won’t do anything,” he says out loud to the class. “She’s afraid of me.”

The truth? I kind of am. I don’t want to be sued. I don’t want to lose my job. I don’t want… on and on.

You know what? That kind of fear sucks.

I proceeded to call my sponsor who flat out told me that I don’t trust God. If I did, I wouldn’t be on Year 2 of going in the opposite direction of what I’ve been gifted in.

I agree with that statement, but I’m also a fan of putting food on the table for my kids. And so I find myself, yet again, like the beautiful lady in the above photo. I’m half way between where I find myself working and half way between my dream. I’m just sitting still… and yet the chasm isn’t that large. Why? Why do I fill my days with busy busy busy? One more kid to watch. One more Ebay item to sell (despite saying I wouldn’t do that anymore). Oh, right… because I don’t trust God enough.

But why have I not worked harder at a new job?

Why have I not yet turned in that pilot?

Why have I not really sat down and looked at my musical outline in 6 months?

Am I just a big talker?

Lucky for me the night ended with a blog comment from someone who had read a Tourettes post. She said, “You are so inspiring. Thanks for your book.”

Just kidding.

“You’re an axxhole” she writes. “Get educated on what Tourettes is. There are kids who are really hurting out there.”

I think this day will just go down as the day I might agree I don’t trust God 100%. But also it will go down as the day that I’m realizing I can’t figure out this stuff all at once. I have come so far. I’m so proud of my family and my internal strength.

But today, to quote that commenter, I feel like an axxhole.

Hope your day went better.

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. )