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

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Um, he’s the size of my couch now

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

And it did.

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

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

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

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

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

And yet I didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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What Is Your Why? And Other Questions

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time (or not for a very long time given my lazy blogging skills as of lately) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of seeking. Perhaps you, too, fall into the Who What Where When and Why category, thus you seek, too:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you love most?
  • Who do you love spending most time with?
  • When do you find enough hours in the day?

And by far, the most important question:

  • Why do you even care?

I ask that last question because, at almost 48, it’s become crystal clear to me that if I don’t know why I am doing something, I won’t be able to adequately answer when I should allocate time for it, who I should do it with (or for), what I should be doing, and who I am most… that spirit within my bones… that seeks with a hunger to be someone of purpose… to carry out meaning in my every day life… to find joy and calm among the clanging and chaos of daily living.

On Friday night I had my first Sabbath dinner for my kids and their friends. As a Christian, this didn’t mean pulling out the Torah and reading Hebrew prayers over lit candles, though that does sound amazing. Especially with Neil Diamond singing “Hello” to me.

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No, my husband and I decided to do it because Friday is, in the Jewish tradition, a day of rest. We are intentionally slowing down and connecting more this year. This extends to our teenagers and their friends. We figure if we don’t offer them a place of comfort and warmth when they still want to spend time with us, they might just find some other place to go.  We don’t say this out of fear. It’s out of selfishness – we kind of still adore them.

And so, on Friday night, we had a little Shalom in our home. With the Christmas houses still on the piano (yes, we’re that family who has not yet put away our decorations) we taught six kids how to make lasagna with four ingredients. In teams of two, they made one dish gluten free (for my sweet ticker) and one with long curly strips. Cell phones went off, stove flames went on, and the table was set.

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One might ask if I really felt like doing this after a long week of work. The answer was, without a doubt, YES. It was because, despite still not knowing a lot of things about where my career is headed, when I want to bring in new job opportunities and say goodbye to old ones, who I might be transforming into as a writer/teacher/human or what this future is going to look like, I do know why I’m open to life – and that life is my kids.

What do To When You Love Your Why

For me, when I know my why, it never feels like work. God has my back, so I can let the stuff I can’t control go and just enjoy the things I can change. For me, that looks like a lot of humor and, when I’m not being rigid and controlling, forgiveness of myself and others. It especially means light heartedness and forgiveness over what I thought I would be able to provide my kids and enjoying what I can. Ex: I might not be able to send them to fancy private school or Italy for vacations, but there’s no reason I can’t school them on how to have conversations with friends outside of video gaming and teach them to cook lasagna in a 1958 styled kitchen. Perfection be damned – if I waited until the house was perfectly clean or I wasn’t ready to pass out from the day job it would never happen.

At one point in the evening, one of the kids put out a bag of Trader Joes Salt and Pepper chips on the dining room table (chips being each kid’s entry fee to the Frazer Sabbath.) Stink’s friend got so excited about the possibility of junk food he did a giant leap over the couch, landed on his feet and started sprinting out the room.

“Beep beep beep!” I muttered, signaling him back. “Rewind!”

He did just that – in zombie-like,slow-mo style. He ended the scene by jumping back over the couch again and landing back on his feet. (Impressive, I must say.)

“Dude, you can’t hurdle over my couch,” I told him. “It’s not great manners.” (The fact that this couch was a roadside find a few years back is not the point. And hey, don’t judge. It’s NICE.)

He looked at his friends sheepishly, who were all laughing at his goofy performance. “I am saying it out loud, in front of your buddies, because you all don’t want to be doing this at some girl’s house in a few years.” I remarked, waiting a moment, before adding, “Where are your ‘thank you’s!’ This is priceless advice!”

He responded in the way this shaggy hair boy normally responds. He grunted.

I continued. “Do you know why I’m even having these dinners?” I asked. And then he said the only two words I heard from him for the rest of night.

“Life skills?”

“Ding ding ding!” I shouted, pretending to be a game show host. “Thank you for playing!”

And with that, he walked around my sofa, entered the kitchen and stuffed down enough chips to clog 90% of his arteries.

Connection, table manners and cooking skills – for my own kids and the greater good. That’s a pretty good why in my book.

What is your why?

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

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

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

With teenagers came aloofness and quiet.

The change felt jarring.

And sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

Pip: “Yeah. Nothing.”

Me: “Huh.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her response: “Yeah.”

His followup: “Want to play Minecraft?”

Her response: “Let’s do it.”

Done.

The End.

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

2 more things

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

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

“Huh.”

 

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

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That Time I Got Fired from the PTA…

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

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

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

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

Magical vs. Miraculous Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s up with you all!?

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

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

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Ode to Finding My Blessings (And Yours!)

It’s busy as a working mom

My sanity… it’s sometimes gone

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There’s always last minute dirty dishes

Laundry, shopping and teenage wishes

What? My husband? He wants sex?

The dog is barking? Oh, no , what’s next?

Halloween… Thanksgiving… Christmas, too?

Plus in my family, we’ve also got Jews

That means Hannukah and 8 days of light

An 8 day cruise? Now THAT sounds right

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Maybe instead of all this shopping

This tired mom could go island hopping

How many hours could I lose?

Chillin’ on an Alaska cruise…

Maybe Hawaii, Alaska or even France?

A captains lunch… a dinner dance…

And yet… as nice as this all may sound

As day dream thoughts in my head go round

I think of the world… and all that’s insane

The far right marches… the hurricanes…

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North Korea missles… and refugees

Guess who’s lucky? Yup, that’s me.

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So I don’t have a maid…

I don’t have a cook

Compared to most

I’m like a crook

I’ve made off with the health

I’ve made off with sweet kiddos

Safe home and a job?

Ditto and ditto

And so while there’s always some things I would swap for another

I’m one lucky wife. I’m a damn lucky mother.

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So with that this small poem

Is almost complete

I’ve got a bath to be taken

And a pit bull at my feet

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I hope that you readers

Can find blessings, too

In all who you love

And in all that you do.

Got any gratitude? Leave it in the comment below.

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

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10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

I’m not really sure what everyone is complaining about when it comes to having teens in the house. They are joys and help me learn and grow and become a better person in Jesus. I just turn on the Holy Spirit and it’s like Joyce Meyers on steroids round here. 

I’ve decided that having teenagers is akin to turning on one of those giant car vacuums. Except instead of using it to clean out your car, it gets attached to your body, and all your insides get sucked out.

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Until you’re left starting the morning feeling like this:

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And you end the afternoon looking like this:

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And then you get ready for bed with this tape playing in your brain:

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I’m fully aware that it’s not my job to make my kids happy. In fact, the more I give, the more unhappy they are. Too much does not breed contentment. It breeds entitlement. And while I aim to listen to my kids and not judge, the truth is that often I hear them complain about all the things they are not getting compared to some of their friends and family members (trips to Europe, extra curricular classes, new clothes, park passes).  I am getting to the point where it’s time to put the hammer down. They don’t need more stuff. They need more chores. (Yup, I’m going there.)

The trick for me, when it comes to getting off the rat wheel of, “Am I doing an adequate job with these kids?” is to engage in the following. It’s helps me so much. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

10 Ways to Be Around Teens Without Wanting to Stab Your Eyes Out

  1. Building Adults: I remind myself it’s not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to teach them how to be self-sufficient people so they can take care of themselves. (Yes, you have to do the laundry every Monday. Yes, you have to take the trash out every Tuesday. No, I’m not giving you an award for your mediocrity. Thank you have a nice day buh bye.)
  2. Talk to Others: When I share with others my insecurities about not providing enough “fun” for my kids, I feel better. “Oh, you can’t give your daughter a 24,000 dollar education at a private hippy school either? Phewww! Let’s slum it together at public school in a nice zipcode like inner city mall rats!” (I am very lucky. I know it. My kids don’t yet.)
  3. Stay in Gratitude: When I remind myself of all the amazing things they do do for others – when they are not being self-centered and pestering me for cash to get our ridiculously entitled pitbull fancy dog training to keep from massacring small rodents and cats- I stop being so hard on both them and me.
  4. Give Myself a Break: Every day I spend $3.00 on a Starbucks Americano for myself. Yes, that’s $80 a month. It’s a lot. But it’s mental health. I don’t buy fancy clothes, haircuts or even skincare. I’m worth this luxury. It’s not about the taste alone. The cup, subconsciously, shows my kids that I feel I’m worth spending some cash on when they don’t often see that.
  5. Remember I’m Important! Along the lines of #4, I need to remember that I matter. It’s not just about serving my kids. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
  6. Model Good Behavior: It’s not all about me all the time (who knew?). I make sure to reach out to others every day and ask how they are. It takes me out of myself and gives my world perspective.
  7. Get Comfy with Change: Kids change. Life changes. It’s supposed to be this way. I can hold onto the past forever, but it’s not going to make a very fun present, and certainly not pave the way toward a new future.
  8. Take Time for Myself: Every day I take some time away and read. I’m actually starting to journal again, too. Sure, most people might not take Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” to Loews and sit in the patio section. But for me, it’s a break from my house. It’s a way to stay cool. And it’s a place full of beautiful lights, plants and furniture. It makes my “everything is perfect” portion of my brain light up. (Especially when life is far from perfect.)
  9. Let Go: I start every day with a list of things I can’t control. It sounds like I’m in victimhood, but I assure you, it’s to remember that there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my son’s tics sometimes, or my daughter’s attitude, but I can write it on the list and then give it to God to handle for me. PS: This works out well because not only does my son not want me to care about his tics, but my daughter also doesn’t need me bowing down to her hormones. Just like my willingness to give my problems to a God bigger than me, I am not my daughter’s God. She needs to learn to self-soothe on her own sometimes. (And so do I.)
  10. Pray: This is the most important thing on my list. If I don’t pray, I’m a mess. I have seen over and over that God can heal what I can’t change. He might not heal the circumstances, but he can change my perspective on how to handle them. God is my rock (and my salvation) and someone who I know loves me no matter what. “Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

And God loves you, too. (Even if your teenagers do not.)

What Would You Add to the List?

How’s teen life in your home? If you don’t have teens yet, what do you think of my list? If you’ve had them, I’d love your input!

Until next time…

Andrea

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

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Fun Friday #3 – Gratitude Over Attitude

Life Ain’t a TV Show – But Sometimes A Commercial Gets Shot on My Street

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(Photo of a neighbor’s house 3 doors down. They shot a Walmart commercial there last night. It was fun to see the fake snow, talk to the actors, and let my kids steal granola bars and chips off the craft service truck in front of our house.)

As a kid, I always thought life would be like the sitcoms I loved to watch. Fade in funny family.

Action and fighting.

The makeup scene.

Fade out – Happily Ever After.

(Oh, and don’t forget the applause along the way. Even during the pie fight… hair would always look amazing!)

I was one of the lucky ones. I actually got to write for TV. It was during that time of life I met my husband – the slow and steady Ricky to my discombobulated Lucy. Family would visit me on the set and I’d introduce them to Roger Daltry who was playing an alcoholic in recovery. Or I’d have them chat up Lynn Redgrave who, in a glorious British accent, would run up to them and say, “Oooh, Frazer is lovely! How do you like California???”

Lest I sound like I’m reliving my glory days (which, well, I am) I have found that it’s nothing short of ironic to be where I’m at now in life… dealing with moody teenagers, moving toward the next phase of my writing career and working a steady day job – the only TV life being the commercials they shoot down the street from my house. If I’m not careful, I can get overwhelmed in regret fast.

“It’s a weird place to be,” I often tell Tuskany during our Thursday afternoon chats. While I sit in her beautiful wooden floor home with her seven perfectly groomed cats (yes… SEVEN cats) we talk about who we used to be at 27 vs. 47. We chat about public school vs. private school, politics and exactly what is the magic sauce that makes kids self-assured. God? Exercise? Education?

I asked my kids this very question on the way home from her house and my son’s answer was pretty simple: “We keep it simple. We like being weird. Mostly, we’re just wired like this.”

My kids might be wired for zen, but their mother certainly isn’t. I worry about everything. A lot. (And believe me when I say “a lot” is a drastic improvement over “all the time.” ) With my neurotic brain, I can’t change my genetics, or  some circumstances, but I can change my attitude. Which, when you’re dealing with teens, is everything.

Traffic… No Parking… Rocky Beach… OH MY!

The above statement couldn’t be more true than it was today, and that leads me to Fun Friday Tip #3 – Gratitude over Attitude. (Ten years ago, if I read that, I would have punched the writer in the face. Today, though? I cling to it.) I can’t change my kids’ attitude all the time, but I can change mine.

I can decide to be angry at the L.A. traffic, (it took 2 hours to get to the Santa Monica Pier) the closed parking lot (which took us a half hour to navitate to) and my one child who decided that the alternate “rocky” beach with the free parking ten miles away was a dull alternative to a roller coaster and bumper cars over the ocean.

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To her credit, she did not throw a hissy by any means, but she was wistful and disappointed to say the least.

To MY credit – and even more exciting – I didn’t throw a hissy either. I was not wistful, nor disappointed, because I’m learning to separate my kids’ experiences from my own. It is not their job to fulfill any lonely crevices in my soul, and it’s not my job to fill theirs. The only thing I am committed to these days is to do my best to walk next to them as they journey the complicated road of life’s ups and downs.

I chose to be grateful for the water. To be grateful for the sand. To be grateful for some extra cash in my pocket from a generous location manager who more than compensated me for use of our dirt filled backyard to set up tables and chairs.

Later that afternoon I texted their father.

Me: “Would you like to meet us at the Reel Inn?”

Him: “But we have all that food left over from the catering trucks in our fridge. Why eat out?”

Me: “Because it’s joyful. And spontaneous. And I want to.”

Him: “I guess.”

The Old Me: (worried about his opinion) “Oh, well, it’s okay if you don’t want to…” Or worse…”You’re right. I’ll come home.” (Cut to resentment, temporary depression, ultimate angry explosion. Helpful, huh?)

The New Me: “We’d love to see you! If you can’t make it, we’ll be home at 7!”

He came.

We ate.

It was lovely.

Takeaway: My attitude toward not owning my family’s feelings led to a fun day for me, even if was not an amazing day for them. I am not in charge of their emotions, nor are they in charge of mine. What a lovely place to live! (Well, not as lovely as the beach. My second time in a week… and I’m going tomorrow! It’s my happy spot for sure. If any of you readers live in So Cal, we should totally do a beach day one weekend!)

Andrea

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How are you at separating your emotions from your kids and family’s so you can have fun no matter what?

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

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On The Couch: Mystery Monday #3

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Today was a day from hell.

It started with one of my kids’ continued refusal of chores which shall hereto be known as “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”

Other than informing said child they had until 5 p.m. to either get necessary work done or I would be throwing out their clothes myself… and if they still did not do them by tomorrow I would be disassembling their bed so I could have a room to myself (oh and I might also be giving the dog away in a week since I can’t handle undone dog poo on top of undone laundry) I  remained very very VERY calm.

Minus the screaming match with my spouse in the kitchen.

Which turned into me driving to Hollywood to meet a friend… alone.

Note: Child’s sibling didn’t want to go with me to Hollywood because they needed “More than a day’s notice” which was just as fine with me. (Rabbit trail: Finding out I was pregnant with them unexpectedly thanks to a leftover 99 Cent Store pee stick didn’t exactly give me very much notice one surprising summer…. but I digress.)

Guilt about leaving my children with nothing to do on a Monday faded into the Malibu sunset when I reasoned they could find lunch within the couch cushions that my one child remain prostate on. (Lord knows there was plenty of carbs, half eaten granola bars and crackers left with the chores not done.)

After a long ride to Hollywood where I ruminated on everything from my ineffective parenting, 17 years of marriage and the fact that L.A. drivers maneuver the roads like drunks on doobage, my friend never ended up being able to meet me because the parking was so bad.

Which resulted in me driving through traffic back towards home.

Except I didn’t want to go home what with the boycotting and the overall hating of me.

So I drove to my old stomping grounds for tacos instead.

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(It’s pretty impossible to be in a bad mood with surfers, homeless people, Hollywood writers and happy lights.)

A full and very happy belly later I walked across the street to the beach.

This move worked out smashingly if I do so myself, for when I sat in the sand, I looked up to my left and there I saw an incredible rainbow in the sky. (Look closely at photo on top of page!)

Odd or God?

I’m sure it was just that time of day….the way the sun hit the clouds at just the right moment… but the closest I’d seen to a rainbow in these here parts was the West Hollywood Halloween Parade. I’m just going to assume that my higher power put it there to remind me that there is hope.

That I am never alone.

That end even in times of darkness where I don’t know what to do there’s color, beauty, joy and radiance that transcends my understanding. For that, I’m so grateful.

The Takeaway (Besides leftover fish tacos?)

Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing. It is there, with that beautiful empty space, that I can move out of the way and let God make His magic.

PS: Big thanks to Tuscany who afforded a generous ear to the play-by-play drama which is my life with teenagers.

Thanks also to Valerie Coulman, a generous writer and friend who I met at the Southern California Christian Women’s Conference. While I stuffed my face with extra fries we laughed and prayed together and realize just how strong we are – especially when we don’t take ourselves so seriously.

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Let me know about anything cool that happened to you this Monday. Let’s connect!

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

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Writing Wednesday – #2 – 30 Minutes/Day Is All You Need

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If you’re like me, you have a LOT of things going on.

  • Day job
  • Maybe some freelance jobs
  • Kids/Friends/Spouse
  • The Windows… They are so smudgy…Is that grime in the shape of unicorn riding a squirrel?—FOCUS!

It can be hard to find time to do the writing you really want to do – the heart project that makes you sing. The one you know can actually get you OUT of your day job down the road.

Undisciplined? Hey, I Resemble That Remark!

I hemmed and hawed over “no time” and “too much going on with the kids” for years, and it finally became crystal clear to me that the guilt and frustration in my soul of not doing it far outweighed the inconvenience of actually doing it.

And so, now, I’m doing it.

And the kids still love me.

In fact, they are seeing a far happier mother.

And it that feels amazing.

And you can do it, too. Kids or no kids, spouse or no spouse, dirty windows full of mystical riding rodents or not.

Here’s how.

10 Tips For Writing 5 Days/Week – No Matter What

  1. Put it on the Calendar: Every day, put that one heart project on the calendar. My motto is “I build my busy time around my writing and not the other way around.” NOTE: Mothering is not busy time. Attending to my children’s needs is not busy time. Organizing their closets while screaming at them to not make “Street Urchin” a career because I’m procrastinating about what I really need to be doing? That’s busy time.
  2. Keep it Short: 30 minutes from start to finish is all you need. If you are like me and need some wind up, schedule in a bit more time, but know that 30 is all you need to really write.
  3. Let your Family Know: Let your unending pit of needs from everyone in the universe sweet family and friends ones know when you are going to write and be clear about it. (Tip: This might take a few weeks to get running. Expect that. You might be like me – used to being there at the drop of a hat. That has to change. The kids won’t die if you aren’t there to solve the mystery of where the last juice box went and whose it really belongs to. In fact, if they can’t solve it on their own – peacefully – they don’t need it.)
  4. Dedicate Space: For me, it’s my Clowfice (Closet/Office)

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Or the Shirage. (Combo of She Shed and Garage)

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It’s not fancy but my ego is not my amigo. Until I get my swanky studio, I’ll make due with what I can. Some of you lucky ducks actually have a real office. If you happen to live locally to me, don’t be shocked to see a six foot wacky writer at your door. Confused? Refer to #5:

5. Have an Alternate Space: Can’t work at home? Join the club. Find a friend’s house, a coffee shop, the library or even the car. Any place that you can work outside your home if being in your home will turn you into a crazy person.

6. Have a Mentor: For me, this is a fellow writing friend who is kicking my butt. She stays at home full-time and makes as much writing as I do working at a school. (Maybe more? None of my business. In fact, she’s not even my official mentor, but I study her business model and find her counsel wise. Plus she talks to me without wanting to throw up, so that’s a plus. ) I value her because this saint is not hiring me to work for her, nor is she living with me. Her only concern is my heart, what I want to do, and making sure I’m not more lazy than Stink and my dog whose whose current summer schedule includes sleeping until 12PM which, frankly, works for me. More time to write!

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7. Task vs. Time: This one is HUGE for me. My A-Type personality used to freeeeeeaky freak out that I didn’t make allotted calendar time. My mentor gently reminded me to calm the blexxx! down and instead focus on getting what I need to accomplish that day. (She doesn’t say bleexx! She’s a good Christian devotional writer. I think nasty comments for her.) My point: apparently I can get my task done at a different time than anticipated. Who knew!? (Note: This means planning out my writing so I know what my task is! I know… organized! It’s crazy! And guess what! I still don’t do that! Work in progress!)

8. Get Inspired: Put something on the wall that speaks to your soul. For me it’s this handmade 8 x 10 canvas created by Lily (name changed) – a sweet friend from my private Tourettes support group, Twitch and Bitch.

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She created it for me about 3 years ago. It came at a time when I didn’t know what my purpose was. It reminds me that I am not the center of the universe and that writing is awesome, but only if it’s done to serve others. I am God’s kid, first. My talents are from Him. (Again, my ego is not my amigo and throws a tantrum about this daily. It’s fun watching the duel when I remember not to take myself too seriously.)

9. Turn Off Devices: Facebook? Cell phone? Twitter? Buh Bye. Enough said.

10. Turn Off Your Brain: This is often the hardest. For me, it’s saying a prayer before I start. It’s kind self-talk. “Andrea, you are worth this time to work on you.”

What Kind of Writing to Spend 30 Minutes On?

For me, this writing is not my freelance jobs or my blogging. This is my heart work.

  • My pilot
  • My musical outline
  • My new book idea.

Those 3 items above? They will easily take me a year at the rate I’m going. I’m sorry, but my kids are a priority. I work a day job. It’s the reality of my life.

The Schedule’s Affect on My Psyche

Sweet relief!

Why?

My dreams are not being forgotten.

My soul can come out and play again.

And so can yours.

So, what do you think of the list? Any suggestions?

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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Writing Wednesday: Websites, Schedules and the reminder to JUST DO IT

The day before I left for Mt. Shasta I was supposed to be marketing for my husband’s business. As he sat to my left, back erect, hair as in place as the retirement account he’d love us to have, I sat at his right: tank top stained, gray hairs popping up, pretending to be actively finding new clients for his computer business, but instead, I was website hunting.

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For a writer like me, website hunting is like house hunting. It’s all about location location location. What’s the address? Will people be comfortable there? As much as I’d like a “fix it up myself” charmer, I’m not sure I can handle the creaks and leaks that come with a DIY space that involves website ads, video posts and more than a few pages with back splashes containing more than its share of kitsch meets damask. And pit bulls. I love those suckers.

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On my list of many things to do to move forward with my writing is brand it. That means a new site. Which, well, is scary, because that costs money. And time. And how will I get it done in between getting the kids off to camp (or worse, keeping them out of my hair while they are not at camp so I can write) and feeding the family (and feeding the pit bull) and OH MY GOSH THAT NEIGHBOR KID IS HERE AGAIN and the LAUNDRY… THE LAUNDRY… KILL ME NOW!

Get Over It, Andrea

After talking to a dear writer friend last week, as well as an agent from the Blythe Daniel Agency today, a few things have become crystal clear to me. In addition to a newer website, I need to be able to answer a few questions. Then, and only then, will I be able to jump off the rat’s wheel of working a day job and leave my smaller freelance article writing behind.  (Though bless you freelance gigs… you’re amazing and… note to self… update your freelance site, girl!)

If you want to join me in moving forward with your writing career, you’ll need to answer the same questions I am about to.

4 Questions to Answer to Write Full Time

  1. What do you want to focus on?
  2. How will you build your brand?
  3. How much time per week will you commit to it?
  4. Can you have fun doing it?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my main goal – in all of this – is to be present for my family. If I can’t have fun and stay connected to my kids, then all of this is in vain.

To quote my sweet friend, “You need to get disciplined. It’s the only way. JUST DO IT.”

And so I am. Here is how I broke down what I want and how I want to get there. Maybe you will have something similar?

My Dreams

  1. Make a full time income from writing

What Kind of Writing?

TV Writing & Books

How?

  • Finish pilot this summer
  • Outline next book this summer

When?

2 hours/day – Monday – Thursday (Friday is my off day to be with my babies!)

1 Saturday/month where hubby takes kids so I can write.

Branding?

Tweet, FB and blog 4x/week

Don’t Like Marketing Social Media?

Too bad. Just do it.

Reminder to Self Why I Must Market on Social Media (Even if I don’t want to)

To sell the books I’ll need an audience.

To get an audience, I’ll need content.

Once the content is created, I’ll need to put it out on social media so people can find me.

Then, and only then, will I have the opportunity to push my next book through a larger distribution channel such as a Harper Collins. (Full disclosure: I met an agent from Harper Collins at the Southern California Christian Writers Conference. She was connected, smart and brutally honest.

Her: “Your book sounds amazing.”

Me: “Thanks! (Stars in my eyes I know I’m going to make a million dollars thank God I spent 20 bucks in gas to get to this conference)

Her: “How many followers do you have on Twitter?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “How many followers do you have on Facebook?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “How many subscribers do you have on your blog?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “Why should we bring you on board with us?”

Me: “I know. (Gulp of Reality) You shouldn’t.”

But What About Your Small Press?

Small presses are great, such as the one my book is already with at Armonia Publishing.

The downside of a small press? Less distribution.

The upside? More residuals.

The downside? Less distribution means less copies sold, so not a heck of a lot of money.

The upside: If I market my books like I’m supposed to – if I BRAND myself better – I’ll have a built in audience which means more books sell which means more money in my pocket.

OH MY GOD IT’S SO BORING

Reality sucks go back to drinking and live in your land of delusion. Having a plan may seem boring, but in reality, it’s liberating. I’m tired of waiting for my husband to make a fortune so I can sit and write and dream and create without the day job. Creating and writing happens within the laundry, the cooking, the doctor’s appointments, the day to day grind of work at a school combined with freelance and the very messy/unpredictable/when will it stop deal we call life.

How Do I Know the Above List Makes Sense?

The idea of it doesn’t make me sad. My brain might have told me last year, “Get a job teaching Special Ed! It’s predictable and you love the kids and it’s good pay!” But my soul screamed at me, “No! Don’t do it! Choose me! Be free! Do what God put you on the earth to do!”

And so I will.

And that makes me so incredibly happy. Because for the first time in a very long time, I’m putting me at the top of the to-do list.

dreaming big

And you can, too. Are you ready to get organized to make your dreams happen? Tell me about your plan in the comments below.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

 

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