The title of my blog post is the name of a book I just devoured by author Donald Miller. It's a novel about a writer who was going to have his life turned into a screenplay. But in the process of learning about the true essence of a story, he realized that his life was kind of boring. (Um, no, I don't relate to that last sentence at all. And before you snicker, neither do you.) 

Against his fear and insecurity, Miller set the wheels in motion to live a better life. He soon found himself taking famed screenwriter Robert McKee's screenwriting course. He learned that characters are what they do. If he was a character and his life was a screenplay, what would he do to further his plot? How would he set his story in motion? How would he write something into nothing - the blank page - and how would he find meaning in what used to seem a meaningless world?

I won't give the plot away, but I will tell you one piece that made more sense than anything else to me: That being part of a bigger picture outside himself was far more enriching than the years he spent behind the computer talking about himself.

It's a trite statement that we all hear - help others to help yourself - but it also couldn't be more true. I've found in the past six months that doing for others has given me far more satisfaction than any yoga, self-help course, exercise or job could.

I am far from Mother Teresa. I plan on writing my book and I plan on making a good living from my talent in the near future. But there's a vast difference between doing it to simply make myself feel more comfortable (comfortable because of what? what I am so terribly restless from?) and something I'm doing because something outside of myself is calling me to write it. I no longer want to write simply to make ends meet. I want my work to be a gift. For me, this entails writing for moms who are dealing with the new diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome for their child.

Tics and twitches is a small market. It might not get picked up by a publisher, but I don't care. I'm writing it. Worse case, I'll self-publish. Freaking out women need to know that their children's lives are not over. T.S. is not a curse. If viewed right, it can be the biggest gift they have ever been given, because it forces them, in the words of Donald Miller, to live a better story. 

Graham Cooke - a Christian speaker and writer - speaks about how we don't have to already be something in order to fulfill God's work. That God was the same before, now and in the future. God's timeline is eternal and He knows what your gift is. It's already been achieved on his timeline - just not on ours. We can't see it, but it doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

If for you, your life's work is to raise those children or chickens or sell pots on Ebay to raise money for single moms, then in God's timeline, it's already been fulfilled! You are now just doing what it takes to catch up to something that has already been accomplished. Put into that perspective, the dishes and the diapers... the smell of the chicken coop... the cranky grandma punching out the automatic stamp machine at the post office... none of it seems like such a boring routine anymore, does it? You have passion and a higher purpose - a reason to tell that story. 

In closing, my mind is still swirling with what it means to be a character in my own life. I know, for sure, that I wouldn't swap out the supporting players in my 3 bedroom L.A. set for anyone else. 

This motley crew give heart, ebb and flow to the days God has already had planned out from the beginning. I need my family's stability like our geraniums need rain. It's how I'm planted. It's how I can grow.

But when I double think that extra cup of coffee with a stranger I just met at a local java joint... When I wonder if I'm somehow being a bit excessive when I yank the kids out of bed at 9PM on a school night to say last minute prayers under our backyard tree under a beautiful canopy of stars... I can put those fears to rest. God didn't put me on this earth to live a boring story. A little magic never hurt anyone. I am beyond grateful that I can live out this plot with the people I love most - and meet new folk in the process. 

Happy Fathers Day, also, to all the amazing men out there who make our stories so rich. That means you, Rex. And you, Dad. I wish you were here today to celebrate this occasion. From what I keep you of you in my heart, you definitely were. And hey, just for you, I'm about to eat a big bowl of icecream at 9:15PM. I know - it's so crazy. But hey, no one knew, or lived, a better story than you.

Until next time... 
If anyone has ever been to San Franciso, you're likely aware of the breathtaking views from Nob Hill.You've got buildings, you've got ocean, you've got really interesting (and darn expensive) architecture.
I've informed my dear Rex that we need to save about $100 grand toward a year of living there when the kids go to college. I don't want to skimp on the experience. I want the views, I want the walks to the fresh fruit markets. I want the theatre, the cafe's, the wooden floors, the cozy walk ups and the roof top dining for my Yuban relief moments!
I don't mind saving for this myself by working at the art I love most. Looking back at one of the first blog posts I ever wrote, my dreams weren't too different. That's the beauty of blogging: One can see how they have grown. They can also see where they've stagnated. In the case of my big city dreams, I have neither grown (yup, still live in a retro charm suburb) nor have I stagnated in my desires to hear a busy city while my busy brain drifts off to sleep.
I don't regret not living my San Fran dream like Gala Darling- a funky single gal living in New York who I love to live vicariously through. My babies - and my own restless soul - need the stability and routine that only a sleepier town can provide. The relationships I have formed here are a true testament to community life - one I might not have if I were floating from art show to musical review seven nights a week. (Though please check out Neil Patrick Harris opening up the Tony's. Oh, man, I could enjoy more of that!)
Now that my soul, like the heart of my favorite cities, is feeling alive again, it has dawned on me that the reason I like cities is because, like fun people, they are always awake.
They are up.
They are alive.
When you're in the dumps, it's easy to think that the big trek uphill... perhaps Nob Hill... is too steep.
But that's when you need a cable car! Or, in my case, a support system.
It's so much easier to coast with friends! I am thankful to all my friends and family who helped me over that yukky hump. I'm now walking a lot more on my own and have the strong calves to prove it!
Someone else who is getting strong from pursuing her dreams is my friend Jennifer. As I mentioned in the last post, she's using her background as a Warner Bros. animator to launch her own design company.
Like anything worthwhile, it's not always easy work. The sanding... the cutting... the PAINT. But wait until you see everything all shiny and white with vintage style depression era green knobs. That's the kind of depression everyone needs. Come to think of it, thanks to Jennifer, I'll have my own little Knob Hill right in my fifties kitchen. Can you "handle" it?
And now I'm done with the kitchen chat.
Tell me... what are your dreams? I want to know. How can we all support each other?
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About two weeks ago I made what I'd call a final return to Andrea of yore. Call it the Zoloft kicking in. Call it my continual walk of faith. Call it my continual walks to school.
Call it a miracle, but my mojo - like a crazed thrifter at a 99cent designer sale with dreams of 80% Ebay profit swimming in her Yuban buzzed mama brain - returned! (And along with it my penchant for run-on sentences more winding than the point I'm about to make. So let me just say it now.)
I vowed to stop complaining.
I mean, really, I decided to just put the same old same old whiny rants to bed.
For accountability sake, I called up my 80 year old mother and told her that I was officially 41 and she didn't have to baby my pity parties anymore.
I called up Topanga T and informed her that I'd only be venting if blood was squirting. (My period does not count.)
This was not an easy task for a self-proclaimed neurotic writer like myself, but I did it.
I figured it would take weeks for real positive to catch up with my false optimism. (Deep inside, like my old TV writing career, I didn't think it would work.)
But lo and behold - one day later - I felt a relief so incredible it can only be described as miraculous.
"I can't complain right now," I thought as I dialed my dear friend, "I made a promise. So that means I will have to talk about something else! Like..."
Wait for it...
My book!
Or my cooking plans!
Or Ebay goals to gain some cash while I write my book. Or...
My kitchen remodel thanks to the talented Jennifer over at
Castleberry Designs.
This $2000 upgrade is being gifted to me in exchange for time spent at
my cabin as well as a soon-to-be website revamp for her. It's a win-win for both of us where we can use our gifts to help a tired mama out!
Honestly, I'm getting a waaaaay better end of the deal. She's giving my pitiful kitchen a facelift far superior than any L.A. cosmetic surgeon could give to my tired noggin.
Here's what it used to look like.
Quiz: Notice the caked-on greasy cream paint and chipped knobs on the cabinets?  See the missing doors? Can Jennifer really fix those monstrosities without doing a complete demolition?
Answer: Could I revamp my complaining self without Eat, Pray And Loving myself across the world?
Can you, too, revamp your exhausting old habits (and kitchen) with a little kick butt determination, prayer and powerful designer buddy like Jennifer to pull you through?
I think you know the answer. Stay tuned as more upgrades are happening daily - in physical, mental and spiritual places! Here's hoping the same is true for you!

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