Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, God, Uncategorized

Tired of Fighting with Your Teenagers?

10 tips to stay out of the power struggle and save your relationship

Originally published on Medium

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Cristina Zaragoza@styleanthropy @ Unsplash

If your teenager is more interested in his phone than talking to you, then this article is for you. It’s not going to promise you that Jesus will save you both. (Though a higher power is certainly advised to keep you from killing him.)

It’s not going to teach you how to win an argument. (Because fighting with teens is like negotiating with terrorists. It never works.)

But it will give you ten tips that have saved my butt when it comes to dealing with teenagers both at home and at school that have helped me to keep my cool, earn some respect and, when all respect is lost, to at least walk away and not make it worse.

Covid and Hormones and Boundaries, Oh My!

Let’s face it, these are some rough times. If hormones weren’t enough to deal with, Covid swooped in and locked many of us up with people we started not to recognize thanks to the stress of isolation. (The online school work, the lack of a social life, the unending complaints about food and boredom! And that’s just my bad attitude let alone my teens!)

I realized, when crap hit the fan, that I was either going to have to get better at communication or put a huge strain on my relationship with my kids. The second felt pretty sad, so here’s what I did. And while I have a long way to go, I’m getting stronger every day. You can, too. (Psst: Telling them to “Stop pissing your life away sleeping in” isn’t a great strategy. Ahem.)

10 Tips to Keep Boundaries and Relationships Strong with Your Teens When You Would Rather Just Kill Them

  1. Use “I” Statements: In simple terms, I’ve found when I stay away from “you” and keep it on “I” there is much less defense. Ex: “You spoke to me in a way that was super rude” immediately puts their walls up. “I felt very disrespected” keeps it on me and avoids them deflecting back, “You’re manipulating me!”
  2. Pick Your Battles: Does it really matter if your kid doesn’t think Barry Manilow is a real artist and that your food prep skills are, to quote their favorite new game, are “Suss?” Save the argument for when he or she wants to get in a car with a friend wearing a “Hell is Other People” tattooed on their forehead. It’s simply not worth the fight.
  3. Keep It Light: I know… I know… how stressful things can get being home all the time with restless kids. But instead of adding fuel to the fire by walking around like a somber Eeyore, make it a point to play some music. Text them a joke. Buy them a fun snack. Play a video game with them, even if your Minecraft Hut ends up looking more like a pink meth house.
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Richard Jaimes@richardconr @ Unsplash

Teenagers won’t always remember Covid as the best time of their life, but by keeping things cheerful as much as possible they can still have happy memories of being with you. Being intentional with your mood change everything.

Sidenote: I can’t tell if that person is actually a teenager, an older man, or a transman. Now that I have one child transitioning, nothing appears as it seems anymore. And perhaps this is for the best. Let people jut play their ukes and be their best unicorn selves. It’s too complicated to control it. Moving on.

4. Timing is Everything: Once a tiger is flippin’ mad, the dumbest thing to do is go poke it with a stick. You’re not “losing” if you choose to wait before you speak. Better to have patience and bring something up when your kid is more receptive to hearing than in the middle of a big blow out. Speaking of…

5. Don’t Yell: I have had my days of yelling at my kids. And later, they’ve told me it really hurt. And you know what? Who can blame them? My dissatisfaction with other areas of my life, displaced on them, didn’t feel good.

Note: I am making living amends to not yell at them again. This doesn’t mean I can’t set boundaries with love, but I don’t rage to make my point. Rage is not power anyway. Only firm rules with love works. (And cash if you have it.)

6. Don’t Threaten: It took me a long time to learn this one, but “Late is Great.” Instead of telling my kids what will happen if they don’t do x, y and z, and amp up the consequences, I simply tell them what the expectations are, and what the logical consequences will be if it’s not done. If I get kick back, I don’t try to blame, shame or case build. I don’t defend my point. I simply say, with no sarcasm at all, “Thank you for sharing.”

7. Have a Meeting of 2: By this, I mean that when you’re upset about something, you don’t need to interrupt a perfectly good outing to the beach to bring up something from the past. Make a time to talk to your teenager when both of you are calm. Keep it to “I” statements and then, here’s the hardest part of all: Listen.

8. Listen: It can be difficult to listen to a teenager’s logic when they seem, well, crazy. But that’s exactly what you need to do. In the past I’ve fought them. I’ve tried to save my ego.

My ego is not my amigo, especially when it comes to teenagers. I need to get my validation elsewhere or I’ll forever be butt hurt.

These days, unless they are directly being rude to me, I also ask two very important questions: “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” If they only want to vent about something, nothing I say is going to change their mind anyway. And isn’t life their best teacher anyway? The more I try and convince them, the more I become the target.

9. Stop Trying to Fix Everything: One of the hardest things I’m learning is that I can’t fix how my teenagers feel about anything — especially what they think about me. This goes back to #8. It’s not my kids’ job to like me or fill me up. They aren’t my friends. It’s my job to keep them safe. And, if they don’t feel safe, and they tell me that, it’s my job to decide if they are manipulating me (it’s been known to happen — I’m a softie) or if it’s something I need to change, such as how I talk to them. It can be confusing for a co-dependent in transition like myself. That leaves me with only one thing to do sometimes…

10. God: I couldn’t do this teenage thing without God. Taking time to bring in my higher power reminds me who is really in charge. It helps me to separate myself from their attitudes about me. It helps me to think clearly. It helps me to walk away when I’m getting angry.

At the end of the day, a belief in God reminds me to let go of the fear I have that either my kids hate me or I’m messing up too much. When I remember that they, too, have their own God, I can relax. I don’t have that much power. What a relief!

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Benjamin Voros@vorosbenisop @ Unsplash

I’m Not a Perfect Parent

My true friends know that things have been rough lately. I have struggled between standing my ground in love and wanting to lay down the hammer like a pissed off porcupine with a tube of “Don’t screw with me juice” up its behind. But, thanks to some wonderful 12 step groups, I’ve also seen my part in creating a few dynamics that are playing out in my household. (Not always having clear enough guidelines, not trusting myself enough, wanting them to like me. Accck! I hate writing that last part, but it’s true.)

For a while there, not even realizing it, I parented from a place of lack. Subconsciously I didn’t see my true value. It’s something that I’m actively changing now, and it’ll take a bit of time for it to settle in. That’s okay. It’s Covid. I’ve got all the time in the world!

I can’t come in like a mafia boss now and gain respect in a day. It’s going to take more than a hot second to establish the new routine… to show up as a mom who says what she means, but isn’t mean.

To show up as someone who doesn’t feel hurt when something is said to me — not because that child is particularly awful (though it might feel that way) but perhaps because they, too, are hurting.

It’s going to take a little bit of willingness on their part to see me in a new light — as a mother who cares deeply for their feelings, but is no longer willing to be a doormat and put my fairy dust on their problems at the expense of my own soul.

Motherhood is brutal and exhausting. It requires the power of a Steam Engine with the heart of a hummingbird.

My goal is to raise happy and confident adults, but that means I get to be one first. And only when I’m filling my own cup every day can I manage to follow the advice I just gave to you.

I know how hard I work at this parenting gig. Whether my teenagers understand that, at this point in their lives, is none of my business. I just need to do the footwork and leave the rest to God.

And when all else fails, I can drink another cup of decaf. (Yeah, that whole “I Gave Up Coffee and Didn’t Die” post? That’s bullshit. I caved after 3 weeks. I already don’t drink alcohol. I’m not giving up my java, too.)

About Me

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That’s me!

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, writing

Is Your Dream Job a Hobby or a Business?

Knowing that answer will make all the difference in its success

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Arnel Hasanovic @ Unsplash

As I type this blog post up my husband is sitting downstairs watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Earlier in the evening he was kind enough to bring me home El Pollo Loco. This gave my oldest daughter a much needed break on cooking… or better put, it gave the rest of us a much needed break on her taco salad buffet. I mean, it’s a good dish, but we eat it every single Monday, and it gets older than an uncovered can of frijoles in the fridge.

Other Amazing Things My Husband Did Recently

He hung up some hooks on a bathroom mirror to hold my favorite holiday twinkle lights so when I do my business I can pretend I’m in the middle of a Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer claymation episode. (The part where the dentist goes to sleep in the hut? It’s so cozy. I want to live there and not come out. Ever. It’s like being drunk on a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. It’s escape at its highest form but no nasty hangover.)

He helped me take down holiday boxes from the garage. He did this while listening to ridiculous Christmas music and was more than patient as I sifted through boxes of old photos of Great Grandma Stella as well as her scrapbook. (OMG, I found out that there really was a football player named John Dominus. I had heard about him for years. She told me he was the love of her life before her husband. To be truthful, I wasn’t sure if he was actually a real person, but there he was in his football suited glory, right after the cigarette ad! And hubba hubba, I can’t blame her for holding a torch these past 80 years.)

Speaking of Grandma Stella, while I slept in one morning, my hubby made a ride out to his mom’s home and surprised me with Grandma Stella’s antique green tea cart, which his mom had taken when Grandma had to be moved to a dementia care unit. I had been drooling over it for about as long as she had been drooling over John Dominus. I was half delighted, half racked with sobs, to see it sitting in my driveway (complete with her little sticky notes to remind her of things that were important. “Andrea’s #805-xxx-xxxx” … “Bingo at 5.” … “Jimmy called on 10/20/19 and said he’d visit.”)

He went walking with me every day, including a beautiful hike in the canyons with some dear friends of ours, socially distanced.

He grocery shopped with me.

He chopped wood and lit a fire for us almost every night.

That’s why when he asked me just now if I wanted to go walking with him I said… “No.”

“No?” you might ask. That guy sounds like he’s done a LOT for you. Why the heck not?”

My answer to you is simple. “I do a lot, too. And I scheduled that particular time to work on my coaching business.”

“That sounds super bitchy,” you might say, and old Andrea would agree with that statement. That same Andrea had a writing hobby, and she built it around her life. But these days, the new Andrea is building a business and she’s building her life around that business.

Would I tell my boss I can’t turn in a spreadsheet because a cute guy asked me to power walk with him? (And my husband really is cute.)

No. So why would I sell New Andrea down the river either? I can’t.

Better to say “No” and stay grounded in my personal needs than say “Yes” and be resentful later.

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NeONBRAND@neonbrand @ Unsplash

You’re Not Just Building a Business — You’re Building Your Character

When I think I have to have everything perfect in order to move forward, I am destined to fail because, well, it’s not perfect. But these days, I can’t afford to do that. There’s a lot in marketing that I’m still learning:

The truth is, I’m learning as I go.

What Don’t You Know? Learn As You Go! (Hey, that rhymed!)

I’m learning around a full-time job and adjusting to my older daughter transitioning from male to female.

I’m learning around helping my mom sell my childhood home of 45 years and move into a much smaller living situation.

I’m learning it around navigating the emotions that rack both my kids that come with online learning and social limitations thanks to Covid.

And I’m learning it around my own old mindset that doesn’t hesitate to remind me, “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Old Mindset Vs. New Mindset

I don’t know about you, but the process of unlearning old habits is almost harder than learning new ones. It takes discipline and courage. It takes follow through. It takes willingness to check oneself and look at the the fear behind moving ahead. And for me, it takes something bigger than myself to push me ahead.

Every day can remember that I no longer need to tell God about my mountains but I can tell my mountains about my God.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow (And All That Shit. Yeah, It’s True.)

I’m keeping this short tonight because I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is a new day.

A day of working on my biz in the morning.

Of teaching during the day.

Of more work in the afternoon to touch base with a friend who is teaching me about slide decks.

And then, of course, the very important marketing meeting with my new Instagram consultant: my 16-year-old daughter. (She charges $5 every half hour and let me say she is worth every penny.)

I am remembering that every day as I learn one new thing, three more items are revealed that I’ve never heard of in my life. I mean, what the hell is a click funnel? I can either freak out about it, or I can be grateful for what I don’t know.

I can decide to not be a victim.

I can look at what is working, not at what isn’t.

I can remember that while I have written for pay for years, this doesn’t mean crap if people can’t find my coaching services online. In order to find my services, I need to treat Andrea Frazer Writes like a business, not a hobby.

And with that mindset, everything works out just fine.

(Now if only I can figure what the hell a click funnel is.)

#OkBoomer

About Me

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NEED A WRITING COACH?

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, parenting, self improvement, Sobriety, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

Want Peace? Stop Defending Yourself and Let Go

How silence, not explanation, was the answer to all my relationship nonsense

Originally published on Medium.

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@cooljonez @ Unsplash

I got a private message today from the father of a friend of my almost full grown daughter. After a brief “Hello, how are you?” he launched into a full blown expose about the potential reasons my kid wasn’t returning her daughter’s texts and emails. The deductions he came up with for my kid’s silence were quite impressive. If it were a soap opera script, the dialogue could have won an Emmy.

The old Andrea would have freaked out about this person’s discomfort. After all, that Andrea’s only happiness rested on someone’s opinion about me. If someone was happy with me, I was happy. If someone was upset, it was my job… my duty… to make it right so they could feel better. And, better put, so I could feel better. Today my response to such insanity is super simple: silence.

Strong Silence vs. Punishing Silence

I’m not a fan of giving someone the quiet treatment just to be cruel. That kind of act is manipulation at its finest and not kind.

But when someone sets me up for a game I can’t possibly win, I am a fan of the quiet that says what words cannot ever express: “I am not playing this game.”

In a perfect world, having dodged their emotional overhand, the ball ricochets back from the wall and hits them upside the head, forcing them to bellow, “Ouch! That hurt!” followed by a quick, “Golly, gee, maybe I should look at my asinine behavior!”

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world full of people who put their soul over their ego and give people the benefit of the doubt. We live in a very real world full of very real, hurting, dysfunctional people… people who are not willing to take the time to heal from their past hurts. And that’s a problem.

If we don’t heal our wounds from the past we will bleed all over people who never cut us.

I should know. I used to be that person. It was much easier (and low brow) to blame and shame others than it was to stop, look my actions squarely in the eye, and change. But, as they say in many a 12-step programs, “Grow or Die.” Me? I didn’t want to physically die. The only death I wanted was death of my old behavior to become a better Andrea. So I took the ball in the face a few times.

Okay, a few thousand times.

But I don’t regret a thing.

The Gift of Pain

Pain is no fun. It would be so much easier to drink, drug or deflect. This kind of emotional escape is akin to a ball hitting a catcher’s mask. The catcher might get klunked on occasion. They might get shook up. But it doesn’t hurt them. They don’t truly change from the experience. They just take off their mask and go home.

But what if the mask wasn’t there? What if, without thinking of the consequences, the masked man, “Protection be gone! I’d rather chew gum and look at my phone?” Then what?

We all know the answer. They’d get socked in the face. Hard. That would suuuuck. It would require potential surgery and loads of therapy and recovery, but eventually, if they were lucky, they would not go blind from the injury. They would heal and they wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

Now I’m no masochist, but sometimes we need a little hurt as a wake up call to ask the right questions and transform. I know I did, especially when it came to raising kids, marriage and friendship. After at first not even being aware of my transgressions, I eventually caught on and started asking myself, “Hey, is my behavior helping or hurting a relationship?”

When I learned to ask the right questions my life shifted. The fact finding process of truly seeing my part was not unlike being hit in the face by a ball. Except for one difference: I wasn’t alone. I had begun to bring God into the batting cage with me. I had someone reminding me when to duck, when to dodge and when to sit still.

“But what about other people’s part?” you might ask. The answer, with all due respect, none of our business. If we want peace we must stay in our own lane. (Or batting cage as this analogy calls for.) I didn’t get sober five years ago to take the bait from people anymore.

I’ve done the hard work to figure out what my defects are. If someone else doesn’t want to grow, and would rather concoct a story and project their insecurities on me, that’s on them. But I’m not losing sleep over the drama any longer.

Here are just a few tips I’ve learned when it comes to engaging with drama queens and stop defending myself.

5 Ways to Stop Defending Yourself and Be Free of Insanity

  1. Nature of the Friendship: I have learned to ask myself, “Is this person a friend or an acquaintance?” If they are just an acquaintance, I don’t explain. I don’t engage. I stay silent. If they are a true friend who maybe crossed a line, I either let it go or, if it’s really really bugging me, I will make an appointment to talk to them. But… and this is a big “but”, if I can’t talk to them without being mad, I wait.
  2. No Texts: I don’t engage in long, spirited texts anymore. It’s too easy to have my words misunderstood. I, too, can’t always read the emotional nuances behind other’s words. It’s a set-up for more anger and hurt.
  3. Detach With Love: When I remember that people who cause drama are often just hurt people, I’m able to disengage with love instead of anger. I can pray for them because they, like me, are sometimes spiritually sick.
  4. Forgive: This has been, and still proves to be, the hardest act for me. But it’s a fact that everyone makes mistakes. If I want to be forgiven for my past mistakes, I must remember that one wave does not define the whole ocean. I can forgive someone for dumping on me and let go.
  5. Let Go: When I remember I’m not King of the Universe, I can let stuff go. When I think everything has to go my way, and people need to behave in a certain way for me to function, I am miserable.
  6. Trust God: When I trust God, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, says or writes. I can stay calm. On the flipside, if I have forgotten to meditate or pray that day, I take everything personally.

God’s Doesn’t Explain Himself (or Herself) so Why Should I?

The truth is that I’m here to God’s work, not explain myself. The quicker I get out of someone else’s way, the quicker they can potentially look at their behavior and have a spiritual awakening also. (It’s been my experience that 99 times out of 100 they ain’t gonna be lookin’ to change themselves. But I changed, and that’s good enough.)

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Denise Jones @cooljonez @ Unsplash

When people get crazy on me, I remember that I owe them nothing. Happiness is an inside job.

I love the picture above, because the street is not lined with defensive statements. It’s not littered with “If only you would stop talking” notices. It’s just quiet… a path leading toward some new and exciting destination.

If you’re ready to go some place new, far away from the old mindset that tells you to fight insane people, places and things, I encourage you to keep your ego in check and let go. I encourage you, when tempted to retaliate, to sit in silence and ask God what he would have you do.

These days life is simpler and peace flows where negativity and hurt used to live. And while I don’t live in Serenityville all the time, I’m happy to say it’s a solid summer home for me. As long as I keep trusting God I’ll be there year round soon enough.

And, with practice, you can be, too.

About Me

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I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, God, writing

How to Create Your Dream Job in Just 45 Minutes/Day

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Andreea-Maria Juganaru@andreeajuganaru @ Unsplash

And other tips on balancing a day job with a passion

Originally published on Medium.

I’m not gonna pretend I have this big, sexy, Everything I Could EVER WANT IN A DREAM JOB.

Yet.

But I’m getting closer every day. Or, better put, every morning.

In good times and bad, in sickness and health, Monday through Friday, I’m getting closer and closer to it every day in just 45 minute bursts.

Now that might not sound too amazing — to build a business in just 45 minutes per day. But given all the interruptions that come with modern life, from social media and teenagers to extended family responsibilities… to my spiritual and 12 step practice and… oh yeah, an actual decent paying job with benefits because my kids actually need to eat every single day, this tiny block of undistracted attention has proven to be crucial to the development of my coaching business. Besides, how can I tell the women I work with to defend their 45 minutes/day of passion project time if I can’t defend mine?

Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be only afraid of standing still. — Chinese Proverb

There’s so many reasons why I will defend this 45 minute block to the death, but here are just 10.

Nick Morrison@nickmorrisonunsplash

10 Reasons to Work 45 Minutes a Day Toward Your Dream

  1. Focus Focus Focus: So I said it already, but I can’t stress it enough, it’s so easy to get stuck taking care of other things or, equally as challenging, just being distracted. Knowing that from 8:15–9, come hell or high water I’m building my business, has kept my hummingbird brain laser focused on what my end goal is: to quit my day job and coach women full time.
  2. Start with the End: A coach of mine told me a long time ago that if I wanted to succeed at my goals, I needed to think about what the end-goal was. I know mine for sure: In addition to coaching women to write their memoirs and e-books, I want to have financial and time freedom. I KNOW this possible with doing only a small portion each day, so I lay down my comfort of catching up on Schitt’s Creek and just do the work. (Plus I love those characters so much, I’m almost terrified to watch the last season. I already went into a mild depression thinking Season 5 was “It” and then, praise Jesus, Netflix dropped season 6 in like a ray of light in a Covid nightmare. But I’m digressing… something I do not do from 8:15–9am each day! I swear!)
  3. Set a Timer: “Alexa, set timer for 45 minutes!” Yup, that’s me, every single morning after rushing in from my walk. I don’t check Instagram. I don’t look at my phone. I don’t check personal email. All I do for 45 minutes is whatever is on the task list that day. If I can’t get it done, no worries. I refer to #4.
  4. Stop Worrying: One of the hardest things for me with the 45 minute deal is to know that while I’m getting things done, they aren’t necessarily being completed in that exact time frame. The control freak in me has to work super hard at chilling out, letting go and trusting that, in time, it will get done and I will move onto the next task at hand. It’s progress, not perfection. When I remember that, it’s nothing but rainbows and sparkles. 
  5. The Power of “Yet”: One of the best things I’ve learned from teaching special ed math is that in teaching my kids the power of a growth mindset, I’m re-wiring my brain as well. I often tell them when they are frustrated, “I know it’s annoying that you haven’t figured out that problem…But you will. You just haven’t figured it out YET.” The same goes with any new skill I’m learning. For 45 minutes/day, I work on saturating myself with a positive mindset so fresh concepts and skills can stick, and besides…
  6. “I Can Do Anything 45 Minutes/Day”: I got that little nugget from one of my teacher friends. When I was just an assistant and chasing an autistic girl across campus every day who would run as far as she could away from me, scream and punch me (yeah, that was amazing) Cathi would often remind me, “Andrea, you can do anything for an hour/day” (referring to the periods of class I would be in charge of my little escape artist). I have adjusted that to my business building, and it sure takes the pressure off. But that can only happen with #7.
  7. Your Spiritual Life: Did you think you’d see a post from me without a nod to my Higher Power? No such luck! I could never do my 45 minutes of focused attention to my business — with all my negative thoughts pounding at me to “give up!” if it weren’t for belief in a power greater than me that wants me to succeed. So I’m reminding you, too, that with the help of your higher power you can tap into an energy that believes in you! You can ask the God of your understanding in to help you learn, grow and create your dream. (And here’s the best news: your higher power already sees you as successful! He/She has no timeline on where you are at in the process. If your Higher Power doesn’t subscribe to this unconditional belief in your bad ass self, by all means, borrow mine!)
  8. Defend Your Quiet: I admit I’m lucky to have my own office. Granted, it came only after years of renting our house out to make ends meet while my husband started his own business and I went back to school as a special ed aid/then substitute teacher. (My hubby and I used to to live in the dining room to give space to the renter — no joke!) But even if you don’t have your own office, you might have your own bedroom. Or a corner of the kitchen. Or your car. It doesn’t matter. Wherever you must do your work, do it. Make headphones your friend. Trade with your sister to help with the kids. Do it when the kids go to bed or during naps. And, special shout out to the moms, our kids don’t need more stuff. What they need is the example of a woman who lives out her own dreams so they can grow up and live out there. Show them your positive mindset!

The one thing I can promise you is that as hard as it is sometimes to find 45 minutes a day, it’s worse spending the rest of the day thinking you COULD have worked toward your dream… but you didn’t.

Sonja Langford@sonjalangfordUnsplash

9. Remember You are Worth It: Sometimes we say we don’t have 45 minutes/day to work on our dream, but that’s a lie. The real reason so many of us don’t spend that time is because somewhere deep in our soul we don’t think we’re worth it. When we face that lie for what it is and wrestle it to the ground, dreams can come true.

Note: If you are an A student at dream deprivation, don’t be surprised if the first month you spend the entire time just staring at your screen. I’m here to tell you, “So what!” As long as your intention is to build your dream, eventually your brain will catch on with your body and your new habit will pay off in major productivity — 45 minutes at a time.

10. Take Opposite Action: This one is always the hardest for my clients. They often think that because it feels wrong, it is wrong. I could say the same thing about giving up drinking. Every ounce of my body was screaming, “Gulp the wine! It’s just a glass. Or six!” But my soul, where the God of my understanding lives, reminded me, “Andrea, it’s hard now. But think of how much closer you’ll get to living as your authentic self if you aren’t buzzed every night.” The same can be said when it comes to taking action on our dreams.

When we stop listening to the lies that tell us our dreams aren’t worth it, and instead bring the God of our understanding in and work 45 minutes on our projects, something miraculous happens. We land on the flip side fear.

Today was a great day. After 3 months of dealing with a book formatter out of Australia and knowing in my gut that he was wrong for the job, I hired a woman from the U.S. who is going to get my book formatted within a week. And it looks soooo good. There is no way I would have been able to pull the trigger and hire her if I hadn’t put in the 45/minutes a day of hard work to know what was working for my business and what was not.

This is my book cover!

Along with my new graphic designer’s typesetting, I will have my new book out within a month. Am I nervous? Heck yeah! But I’ll just keep taking my own advice and inch it forward a bit each day. I will use all these new skills to help my future clients with their amazing books.

And, each day, I will thank God that when I wanted to quit I just put on my big girl panties, fired up my computer and kept going… 45 minutes at a time.

I’d love to hear where you are with your dreams. You are worth it! Push forward!

About Me

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

faith, God, parenting, spirituality, writing

Simple Pleasures Are the Best Pleasures

And other decisions to consciously slow down.

Originally published on Medium.

Patrick Fore@patrickian4Unsplash

I was standing in the middle of a choir room with 70 middle schoolers when I first heard an 1848 Quaker song that made me my stop in my tracks. As a war torn sub racing day to day across the city to a variety of dark and dingy public schools (that looked more like prisons than educational facilities), this moment of unexpected pleasure was nothing short of a miracle – like waking up to a dozen deliciously wrapped presents on the kitchen table in July when your birthday isn’t until mid December.

What a gift it was to find myself in a 1930’s brick building building complete with wood floors and industrial lighting that looked like a scene out of Matilda the Musical. Add in vaulted ceilings, wood paned windows, diamond tiled linoleum and fresh paint, it was if I was transported back in time — to a time that was simpler.

The chatty kids were called to attention by a peppy sixth grade comrade in afro puffs who commanded the respect of even the largest Draco Malfoy’esque 8th grader. She whistled shrilly, picked up what could only be a magic wand (as it even got the attention of the lovebirds sneaking a kiss in the corner to high tail it to the risers) and soon the whole room bellowed:

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Antoine Julien@antoinejulienUnsplash

With their voices blending in perfect pitch and harmony, I almost forgot how tired I was from the hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic I endured to get here on time. (Not to mention my frantic search for a Starbuck’s pitstop — just one more reason I’ve given up my morning java.)

Being among those soaring young voices, I forgot about the musical project I desperately wanted to complete but, due to bills and parenting and life responsibilities, remained lagging on my desktop.

I stopped obsessing about whether I would, or would not, get enough days to cover my insurance for the following year.

I just remained in the classroom, in the moment, soaking in the beauty of the notes and the fresh faces before me.

Now I’m not naive. It was possible that some of those kids had more checkered pasts at 13 then I did at 48. But there’s something about being still, about being as Eckhart Tolle reminds us, in “the power of NOW”, that showered me with unexpected peace.

The same could be said this weekend when I found a book, Simple Abundance, that had been sitting in “Andrea’s Box of Books” for 20 years in the garage. I had recently transferred this behemoth of literature to my closet and, in my own answer to my soul’s cluttered spirit, I finally picked through the titles one by one.

I tossed most of the books to make room on my shelf for the ones I truly cherished (not ones I “may” or “may not” ever read) but this beautiful pink treasure I kept. It was brand new, and something called me to set it aside. I’m so glad I did, because every single page in this 365 day devotion to simplicity speaks to my fractured spirit.

Each page reminds us to slow down. To get rid of what we don’t use. To make room for the richness of experience. To remember that we do not lack a thing to have a life of joy, peace and beauty. We only need to notice.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, I can find more things to do in a day than is possible to get done.

I can live in the past in my mistakes, or I can live in the future with my fear, but in doing so I tend to forget the beautiful wonder and joy of what is right in front of me.

One of the things the author reminds us to do is to not only to not forget to notice the loveliness right in front of us… the scent of a beeswax candle… the beauty of a clean pavement after an overdue rain… but to cultivate it.

From the January 7 entry, she writes, “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. Experiment with a new cookie recipe. Take the time to slowly arrange a bouquet of flowers in order to appreciate their colors, fragrance, and beauty. Sip a cup of tea on the front stoop in the sunshine. Pause for five minutes to pet a purring cat. Simple pleasures are waiting to be enjoyed. Simple pleasures often overlooked.”

Is this possible to really do? Even when politics suck? Even when someone is mean to you on Facebook? Even when the kids don’t understand you? (No, I’m not talking about me. Ahem.) The answer is, YES. To live a life of richness means to intentionally seek it out, no matter how simple they are.

I did just that on Sunday. After returning from a trip away by myself to a cottage by the beach that had, gulp, two fireplaces, a kitchen and a sunken tub- more than simple abundance by a landslide- I stopped by the market to grab some wood to continue the cozy vibe at home. 

Side note on the cottage: I might have kept both fireplaces running at the same time just to giddily run back and forth, buck naked, for the sheer joy of being able to do so in splendid, blessed quiet. #noregrets

(Pier Point Inn, Ventura. Beautiful and, turns out, possibly haunted. I did feel a spooky vibe but I didn’t care. .It was too quaint to worry about and likely any ghosts, seeing a six foot 50 year old racing through the parlor, would have been more terrified of me than I of them.

After getting a jumpstart on my car, I finally returned home to my own lovely cottage — a two story house I’ve been lucky enough to inhabit for almost 20 years. Sitting in the driveway, I made a conscious decision to not get irritated about dishes that would inevitably be left in the sink. (They were.) I refused to get crazy about the dog who would likely jump all over me with excitement at her long lost mistress finally back from the salt mines (She did… complete with a puddle.)

Instead, I did what I often do before I enter my house these days. I took a breath and offered up a simple, hopeful prayer, “God, go before me.”

And so, with my Higher Power’s help and a mind set on acceptance of the simple abundance that could be mine if I kept my mind as calm as the two bedroom rental I just nested in, I brought my full suitcases and my full heart into the house.

“Mama, you’re home!” both teenagers said, getting offline for just a moment to hug me.

“I missed you!” I said back. And, to my surprise even after the stressful past few weeks we’ve had, it was true.

After doing dishes, I put on my pajamas and sat on the couch. I took in the smells of the pizza my husband was baking in the kitchen. I made a point to thank him… to not take this simple Sunday ritual for granted. I then lit a fire.

Before long, the teenagers and their friend sauntered in. Sitting 10 feet apart, we laughed and watched the crackle of the flames. There were no phones. No Netflix. Just the five of us trading stories about Star Wars and our favorite books.

I can’t lie. As much as I loved getting away by myself, the very best part of the whole weekend was tea in front of my very own fire. It was simple. It was comforting. And the mood was, yes, abundant with peace.

The next day, my dog must have felt the vibes, because I found her happily snoring on the couch. Normally a stickler for tidiness, I was content enough from the night before that I didn’t even feel the need to clean up the dishes left under the couch. I didn’t straighten the magazines or the pillows. I left it all there for the day as a reminder that, indeed, “Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free.”

It has been my experience that happiness is not a destination. It’s a choice to live in peace, to take notice of the little things in our lives and set a tone for radical joy that is not dependent on stuff but on love. Always love.

DAILY QUESTION: “Is there something you can do that is simple that can bring joy to your home… that can set the tone not just for you but for everyone you come in contact with?”

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

About Me

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor.

CONTACT ME

Find out more at Andrea Frazer Writes or at Facebook. Email me at Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where I’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, writing

Want Peace? Build Your Life Around Your Spiritual Practice (And not the other way around)

Ellieelien@ellienelie @ Unsplash

I actually wrote this post yesterday, but got rather heavy withdrawl symptoms from giving up coffee. I bring this up to remind all of you that sometimes we have to rest, despite our obligations, and trust that all will get done that is supposed to get done. And so, on that note, here is yesterday’s post!

As I mentioned yesterday, life has lately felt like walking up Mt. Everest in cement boots. With cast iron cylinders on my head. In the rain. And yet, one thing has kept me consistent and calm despite the world seemingly seeming to fall apart around me — and that is my spiritual practice.

Every day, whether I feel like it or not, I get out of bed, hit my knees, say a prayer, grab some tea and do my Morning Pages. (More on this another day! In simplest form, they are 3 pages worth of free flowing writing to get your grr out at the beginning of the day so you can feel fresh, balanced and ready for new adventures to begin.)

When my writing is complete, I do 5 minutes of meditation with my husband (a miracle in and of itself) and then we do a spiritual reading.

When that is done, I read my own devotions and, if there is time, I’ll do ten minutes of meditation myself.

This whole routine takes about 1 hour. And while, yes, I could use this time to finish up some house cleaning, move ahead with paperwork or scroll through Social Media, the bigger question is, “Why?” I have found that unless I am centered — allowing the God of my understanding to connect with the most sacred part of me where my creativity, love and true being live, I view life only through a lense of fear and anxiety.

Keeping a small routine allows me to stay anchored when the storms of life blow all around me. And, unlike much of my younger days when my happiness depended on other people, places and things, keeping a practice reminds me to count on one thing and one thing only: God.

God is Not Weakness

Reliance on the God of my understanding does not make me a little woman, content to just sit around and let success pass her by. Do I want my musical to sell? Yes. Would I love Covid to be over so I could finally use my Disney passes and hang out with my friends in a beautiful cafe and watch babies in ridiculous outfits shriek in delight at oversized park characters? Of course! But if the spirit I bring to this job or event is restless, irritable and discontent, why would it matter if Covid ended and I could go to such an event? I wouldn’t enjoy my time there and, more importantly, I wouldn’t be of service to those around me. Anger, like a virus, is contagious, too.

Focusing on the Inside

Simply put, when I don’t take quiet time in the morning with God, I focus on the outsides of life, then try to control people, places and things to fix my insides. This never works. Just try it on some teenagers and you’ll see what I mean!

You Are Worth Rest

Christopher Burns @ Unsplash

Keeping a spiritual practice reminds me of a lighthouse on the water. It might be freezing outside, and ships are sinking all around me, but in that lighthouse is a warm bed, a fire, a hot cup of tea and beautiful music playing. (Okay, so my lighthouse is more of an AirBnB but you get the idea!)

Instead of focusing on the chaos on the stormy sea, I can stay in gratitude that I am cared for inside. Because God is my keeper, I don’t need to worry about the rent or people coming in to steal my stuff. That house is open 24 hours for me with a sign on the door, “Come on in, Andrea. You are loved. You are welcome.”

There, in that lighthouse, I can lay down any expectations I have of myself and remember that I am a child of God and nothing else matters.

And, from that place of rest and contentment, I can light a candle and look out my window. Sometimes I’ll see sun. But sometimes I’ll see other fellow travelers who are drowning in horrific waves. Having been there myself, I can understand their struggle. And then, best of all — and only because I will have had my time of rest — I can leave the safety of the lighthouse with a sense of purpose. I can get into my boat and, with a spirit stronger than the weather around me, motor out to help some of them.

My purpose isn’t to do better, it’s to be better.

As a perfectionist, I struggle with always wanting things done a certain way. But when I remember I don’t have to be perfect, because only God is, I can relax and let my true nature come out to play. I don’t need to check off one more box on an endless to do list. I simply need to sit still and, once again, be reminded who I really am… who my authentic nature is. Who is that nature? She is someone who likes to feed people. She has Taco Tuesday complete with mariachi hats… who is writing a musical about camels… who reads Roald Dahl to her homeroom every day and can’t pass up a yard sale or a stray dog. I love that Andrea, but the only way I can let her out to play and to “be” is to bring God in. And the only way to do that is to begin each day in prayer and meditation.

My practice is my answer.

And so, friends, if you already have a morning practice where you can connect to the God of your understanding, that’s awesome! If not, I encourage you to start. It’s not easy at first (that’s why they call it “practice”) but in time, like any routine, a pattern will establish. I can promise you that in nurturing your spirit, you will find you are more able to face whatever comes your way each day. And not only will your soul thank you, everyone around you will, too.

Until tomorrow,

Andrea

About Me

Image for post

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where ’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

FOLLOW ME

Follow me @FacebookAndreaFrazerWrites or drop me a line: Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

faith, sobriety, spirituality, writing

Want An Amazing Life? There’s Only One Thing to Do: Ask the Right Questions

So yes, tonight is Election Day. It’s also the day I decided to move ahead with my blogging again. I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. So I’m back.

Emily Morter@emilymorter @ Unsplash

I woke up yesterday morning like I’ve woken up the past 60 days: tired, exhausted, and hell bent on starting my day again.

I did my Morning Pages. (Thanks, Julia Cameron! You’ve yet to let me down.)

I meditated for ten minutes with my husband.

I cleaned out my wreck of an office the best I could and took my sorry ass for a walk.

I wanted to feel joy and be in the moment, but all I could think about was the horrible feeling of dread I had in my stomach for everything that conspired against me like an epic shot of “Screw You” juice.

The Past 2 Months of Hell

In addition to the “normal” life of Covid, elections were looming.

I’ve had a LOT of personal challenges in my immediate family and my extended family.

I had unexpected stitches followed by surgery on my hand. (Um, don’t ever push your hand down as hard as you can on a trash can that is full of broken glass.)

My husband had mouth surgery last week. Add in a full time job teaching special ed as well as my consulting job coaching women to write books, and I was exhausted.

Normally a person of deep gratitude, I felt the weight of unwanted burdens piling up to the point where I was having a hard time concentrating. I was cranky with my family. I was angry at the dog. Despite my best efforts to “let go” and do the next indicated step — as my 12 step program so magnificently reminds me on a daily basis — I felt stuck.

The Power of Contrary Action

Dmitry Schemelev@enioku @Unsplash

In an attempt to avoid self-pity, I took the opposite action of sitting in my house ruminating like an old record player stuck on a bad song and went for a walk. But when the beauty of the Fall leaves, a Labrador puppy, a waving/smiley baby and the smell of baking bread didn’t unhinge my negative mind, I did the only thing I could think of. In true Anne Lamott fashion, I muttered under my breath the most holy of holy prayers that one does when they are sinking in a quagmire of despair and unshakeable grief: “Help.”

And that’s when a tiny, but strong voice, came bubbling up. “Call your sponsor,” it told me.

So I did.

And what she said absolutely changed my life. I told her everything. How I couldn’t see the sun no matter how hard I tried. How I was in so much grief over my childhood home being sold. How I was terribly worried about one of my children’s life path and how if I heard my husband click his fork against his molar ONE. MORE. TIME. I would slide across the table Bruce Lee style and strangle him with the Italian cloth napkin. I mean, that would really put a bust on our lovely Italian meal out and then I’d be stuck with the bill.

“Why is all this stuff happening to me?” I lamented. “I pray. I meditate. I go to meetings. I am of service to people. I admit when I’m wrong. Why can’t I feel better?”

“You’re asking the wrong questions,” she told me.

“What do you mean?” I shot back, dumbfounded. I realized, with some irony, that that was yet another question, but I shut my mouth and let her continue.

“When you do things to feel better, you are in self-will. When you do things to be better, you are in God’s will.”

I had to admit she got me on that one, but I wasn’t ready to give in yet. I was paralyzed in a trance of Self-Righteous indignation with Self Pity rising. This state of mind didn’t feel amazing, but it was like a toxic ex-boyfriend from 1998… I knew he was gay, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go. (“Couldn’t I just have one more night of musical theater with him before we went our separate ways?” I used to ask myself. Of course, in the context of my sponsor’s statement, perhaps if I had asked a better question I would have saved myself endless mornings of remorse. But that was before I was sober. And I didn’t give up booze to repeat stupid patterns over and over, so I continued listening.)

“Instead of asking ‘Why are these things happening?’” she gently stated, “You need to be asking ‘What is this here to teach me?’ ”

Okay, she had me there. And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, all my circumstances, ALL of them, came down to the one character defect that gets me every time: control.

Yes, on the surface, my life felt like a Shit Show Circus. But in not trusting God, I was the only one to blame for constantly buying the tickets.

Image courtesy of Cyrus Crossan@cys_escapes @ Unsplash

She continued, “When you insist that your way is the right way, Andrea, you are not leaving room for God to act. And worse than that, you are playing the victim so that you don’t have to change.”

“Ouch!” my ego shrieked.

“#TRUTH” my spirit leapt, not unlike a tight rope walker at the Greatest Show On Earth — my very own life.

Her final question went straight into the center of my being, “What if, from this point on, you never tried to control anybody ever again? What would that do to your relationships?”

I didn’t say anything. How could I? She was right. But I can tell you how I felt — like I was going to throw up.

“Are you willing to never again blame anyone else for what is happening to you? Are you willing instead to look at your life like a giant game and see what it can teach your soul?” she asked.

“I guess,” I said, half-heartedly. I felt destroyed — like my gut had taken a giant hit. Which, of course, it did. I mean, if I couldn’t blame anyone, then it was all up to me. And if was all up to me, then I was really doomed to fail. Because me, just little old Andrea? She was only human. And how could little old human Andrea manage everything going on?

“What if I am not capable of not blaming people?” I asked her.

“You’re asking the wrong questions again,” she told me. “A better one might be, ‘Are you capable of doing this with God’s help?’”

And that’s when, for just tiny moment, I felt the giant weight of the entire world that had been my life for the past 60 days ease. And, just as quickly, all these questions started flooding in — questions that my very own soul had the answers for.

The Beauty of the Right Question

“What if I’m not in charge of my almost adult child’s life decisions at this time?”

“What if I focused on what was going right with my kids instead of what was going wrong?”

“What if it didn’t matter if my husband and I agreed on everything financially?’

“What if my childhood home being sold was not a travesty but the best thing in the world to bring on new beginnings for my mom, my brother and my entire family — to gather in a beautiful new place and create new memories?”

“What if in not ever playing the victim I can expose some of those final tapes from my past that are holding me back so I can release them to God and transform into the person I have meant to be all along?

I couldn’t believe all the questions my soul had for me.

But I can promise you this. I already knew the answers. And one of them, friends, was to fire up this old blog again and write.

I’ve missed it. And I’ve missed you. And most of all, I’ve missed the me that is always happiest when I’m writing. And so, I leave you with this:

“How are you feeling about life these days?”

“Are you asking the right questions?”

And, most important:

“Are you willing to not be a victim in your own life and see what life has to teach you so you can be better, instead of do better?”

If so, you’re in the right place. Follow me as I write Monday — Friday. I can’t wait to grow with you again!

About Me

Image for post

I’m a published TV, blog, magazine and book writer who also coaches moms and grandmoms to write books rooted in wisdom, spirituality and humor. Come back Monday — Friday where I’ll post about spirituality, writing and sobriety. And sometimes tacos. Because Tacos make everything better. Always.

DON’T MISS A NEWSLETTER!

You can sign up for my email list here where ’ll send you a newsletter all about book writing every Wednesday. Happy Hump Day indeed!

Follow me @Facebook, AndreaFrazerWrites or drop me a line: Andrea@AndreaFrazerWrites.com

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!

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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

Tics, Tourettes, 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