The 2 Things You Have Control Over

My father is probably the smartest man I know, and I’m about to share some of his advice with you — so strap yourself in and get ready for some dad truths! But first, the story of how I came to hear said dad truths:

A few years ago, my dad was in Austin visiting my brother Haydon and I, when a drunken frat boy approached us on Guadalupe and invited himself into our lives.

We’d been walking down the drag on the way to the car, minding our own. Haydon had just played a gig at Hole in the Wall and we were off to continue the merriment at a friend of dad’s place in south Austin.

I’d noticed the gaggle of shit-housed frat guys behind us a few blocks back, but hadn’t thought much about it. They were as a natural part of the scenery as the scantily clad coeds crossing the street ahead of us. It was Saturday night in Austin and the students of UT were out to get schwasted. All was as it should be in the universe.

Only this kid had decided to take his Saturday night up a notch by accosting a group of innocent bystanders (us) with his slovenliness. On first glance, he appeared to be the drunkest of the group of testosterone-ridden drunks he ran with. And upon opening his mouth, he convicted himself guilty as charged.

Fratty stumbled up to us in his designer jeans and obnoxious pastel button-down, put his arm around my father, and said, “Hey old man. You’ve lived a long time — prolly learned a lot. Got any advice for me?”

My father is not an old man. He doesn’t look it. He doesn’t act it. He was undeserving of this uninvited insult and would have been every bit justified in giving this whippersnapper his answer in the form of a stiff right hook. But, my father also isn’t a man of violence.

He’s a meditator and a reader of books like Elson Quick’s Baddha and Stuart Wilde’s Weight Loss for the Mind. Books about positivity and unconventional but witty, all-too-true wisdoms that he often enjoys referencing to me and anyone else within earshot. At the time, he was the dean of students at a law school, and students were his very favorite standing audience for these pearls of wisdom. He’s also something of a storyteller, and now he had what every storyteller craves: an invitation.

In other words, this kid had hit the jackpot of people to drunkenly barge into of an evening. My father seized on his opportunity to shape this young, wasted mind.

Without missing a beat, Dad turned to him and said, “There are only two things you have control over in the world. Do you know what they are?”

To which the frat boy immediately replied, “your females and your finances!”

“No,” Dad answered. “That’s not it.” Undeterred by the revelation that he was dealing with an egotistical asshat of epic proportions, he pressed on.

“It’s your actions, and your attitude.”

We’d stopped walking at this point. The drunk guy’s friends had hung back, waiting to see what would happened next. I saw a look come over Fratty’s face, a glimmer in his eyes that suggested what was left of his brain might be telling him he’d better pay attention to this crazy old man, because he was on the cusp of learning something of value.

Dad went on to explain:

“You can’t control what happens to you. Circumstances can and will be less than ideal. The weather or a fire might destroy your possessions. People you love might get sick, or die. You also can’t control how other people act toward you. People might be cruel, or neglectful, or selfish, or just plain thoughtless. And you can’t do anything to change their actions.

“The past is the past, the future will be, and people are who they are. You get to ask the question ‘why?’ once. Then it’s time to ask the only question that really matters, which is, ‘what am I going to do about this now?’ In action, we have power — you are never powerless when you can control of how you frame life’s road bumps to yourself, and what actions you take to move forward.”

The drunk guy was speechless. The glimmer was still there, but fading as the mistress alcohol did her best to soothe his discomfort. His friends pulled him away shortly thereafter, and the moment passed.

As we continued our walk toward the car, my brother shook his head and said, “Jesus. ‘Your females and your finances!’ Those are the two things I have the least control over.”

Laughing, we headed off to south Austin for fun by a fire with a handful of fine folks who then got the chance to enjoy a recap of our discouraging encounter with the youth of America.

I don’t know if Fratty remembered it even having happened through his inevitable epic hangover when he woke up the next day on the floor of the party they were headed to.

But I remember it well, and have referred to that bit of advice often. I tell that story as a segue to talking about the latest new, scary thing I’ve tried.

I’ve taken on a freelance client that has me entering the world of public relations. It’s an exciting challenge, but it’s definitely a challenge as I adjust to writing professionally in a different style from the one I’m most familiar with, which is marketing. Instead of creating product pages and blog posts and brochures and sales sheets and things that, well, sell, I’m writing articles that aren’t meant to sell but to inform. Which is pretty cool and interesting, but there’s that same pesky learning curve that’s involved whenever you try something new. And I’m hugging the turn.

I know I’ll eventually make it to the open road — as long as I maintain control over the two things I can: my actions and my attitude.

Sharing this dad truth for those of you who, like me, can sometimes use a bit of extra help to take situations into your own hands and make them what you want them to be!

***

Try something new lately? Leave your story in the comments, plz. I’d love to read ’em.

And to be the first to hear about my next post, subscribe to the email list.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Try Something | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Crystal Healing at My Co-working Space

crystal-healing

Last week, I tried something pretty off-the-wall for me. I had a crystal healing session at my new co-working space.

At this point in the blog post, you may have questions. What’s a crystal healing session? And what’s a co-working space? And, but seriously, WHAT IS A CRYSTAL HEALING SESSION?

I’ll take on the co-working space question first. Always nice to save the best for last, no?

A co-working space is a building where people who work remotely, like I do, come together to create a sort of remote working community. It provides people with a dedicated workspace, and the opportunity to socialize a bit so that they don’t become insane recluses reduced to making friends with the paperclips in their desk drawers. (Good morning, Polly the Paperclip. My, you’re looking bent out of shape today! Ha. Ha. Ha. Don’t you get it? [Polly never gets it.])

So, to stave off the serious chance of losing my sanity while working solo, I’ve rented a desk at Sol Healing and Wellness Center for 20 hours a week. I work mornings at my apartment, but in the afternoon, I leave my apartment and go there to work. And that’s key, folks. I LEAVE MY APARTMENT.

“But Leigh,” you might be asking. “Why not just work from a coffee shop? That would also afford you with the opportunity to leave your apartment.”

Good question, oddly formal fake audience member. The very first day I went freelance full-time, I realized working from a coffee shop would be a problem for me. That’s because the coffee shop I wanted to work from, Thunderbird, was full.

I walked in, realized there was nowhere to sit, and had to leave. And even though the next coffee shop I drove to had desk space available (Monkey’s Nest, if you’re curious), I knew I couldn’t structure my days based on a variable as big as whether or not I’d have a place to sit.

Now when I leave my place, I can make a beeline toward productivity without worrying about a last-minute location change killing my buzz. :D

So, that’s hunky-dory. But, as we all well know, the funny thing about cake is, you can’t seem to have it and eat it, too.

While Sol is an established wellness center with an awesome, well-equipped co-working space, the co-working space component is brand spankin’ new, and as of now, I am the only co-worker on the premises. That means that even though I work within the general proximity of several therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other healers, I “co-work” alone in a large room surrounded by empty desks.

The irony of this is not lost on me.

But the way I see it, I’m getting in on the ground floor! When the other co-workers arrive, I’ll have a certain je ne sais quoi that will assure a level of respect and admiration befitting of my more senior position within the co-working space.

The new co-workers will all gather around and I’ll show them the ropes—and will let them in on all the juicy gossip going on in the paperclip drawer. Polly should really be a bit more discrete about her fling with Peter, for instance. You can tell something’s up by the way they always make it a point to stick close together by the rubber bands.

“C’mon, Polly,” we’ll all chide. “That’s the third time you’ve used the ‘oops, we got magnetized!’ line this week.” That Polly won’t be fooling anyone, except maybe her poor sap of a steady beau, Steve the Stapler.

But I digress. As I was saying, I rented a desk at a co-working space for sanity and structure reasons. Any more questions?

WHAT IS CRYSTAL HEALING?

Right you are, eager fake audience member number two! What is crystal healing?

According to Google, “crystal healing is an alternative medical technique in which crystals and other stones are used to cure ailments and protect against disease.” I’ll supplement that definition with a little of what I learned from my session—crystal healing uses special stones to energize our bodies’ chakras.

Chak-whats? Chakras.

Chakras, pronounced “shock-ras,” are a Hindu concept, and according to that belief system, they are the centers of spiritual power in the human body. There are seven main ones, and you can learn all about them here, if you’re in the mood for some extra credit reading.

And what in the world does this have to do with my co-working space?

The fabulous Tracy King, a chakra energy healer who rents one of the offices at Sol Wellness Center, recently completed her crystal healing training and offered a special rate to those us of at Sol who wanted to try it out. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to see what in the world this crystal thing was all about. So we set up an appointment.

On my way to the session, I suddenly had a horrible thought. I had done next to no research into this whole thing, preferring to go in with a clear, open mind, and it occurred to me that maybe the crystals had to be put on bare skin to work. Would I then be mostly nude and under a sheet or something, like with a massage?

In that case, I definitely should have picked cuter (or at least less visibly worn) undergarments for the occasion. But it was too late to turn back around and change. Tracy would just have to accept me as I was if it came down to it.

We met in her room at Sol. It’s called the “tent room” because she has it covered in the most beautiful, draped fabric. And luckily, the most intimate we got was with her pre-session questionnaire and subsequent discussion.

The questionnaire asked me about my organizational levels, eating and drinking habits, typical energy levels, level of comfort with physical touch, physical well-being, spiritual beliefs, and more. I wrote down my answers before driving to the session, and Tracy reviewed them and discussed them with me more in depth just before we got started. (Suffice it to say Tracy got to know me real well, real quick.)

Then she had me lie down on her table while she covered me in a blanket and put me into a deep meditative state so that she could get to work.

You guys. That part—the session part—was so awesome. There are almost no words to describe it. But I’ve found some after much digging, and here they are:

The room was nice and warm and smelled fantastic, like essential oils or candles or some sort of inoffensive incense, or all three. And, to top it all off, for the next forty-five minutes my only job was to lie there, covered in a blanket, while I focused on new ideas for me about energy, and light, and breath.

She started off by putting two larger crystals at my feet (root chakra) and another one at my head (crown chakra) to keep us grounded throughout the session and, I think she said, to help stimulate a good alignment of energy.

I could also feel crystals being put on my lower belly (sacral chakra), the spot between my belly button and my sternum (solar plexus chakra), my heart (heart chakra—an easy one), beside my throat (throat chakra, ‘nother easy one), and on my forehead (third eye chakra). Tracy would place a few crystals, wait a minute, then add more or take away a few. I lost track after a while. Truthfully, I was so relaxed I nearly fell asleep. And maybe I actually fell asleep and didn’t realize it, which is an indication of ultimate relaxation in my book.

How often do you get permission to just be still for forty-five minutes, to just breathe and be and know this is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at this moment—and that you’re doing a damn good job of it? It felt deliciously self-indulgent and I was in absolute heaven.

After we were done, Tracy talked me out of my meditative state. Up until that point, I had been certain I was going to have to ask her to wheel me out of there after the session. I had been total dead weight while it was going on, and felt like I’d be unable to lift even my arms if I wanted to.

But when she was through having me wriggle my fingers and toes, I opened my eyes and was surprised to find myself completely energized. I felt like a million bucks. Or a million crystals. Take your pick—but keep in mind some of those stones looked pretty expensive. Here’s a pic of her worktable after our session was through:

crystal-healing-stones

After the session we talked more about what she’d discovered. I hadn’t known it at the time, but while I was on the table, Tracy had been using a pendulum to assess the energy levels of my chakras, and then adding crystals to improve those that could use a little love.

The pendulum had revealed that my solar chakra was the one that needed the most work—though my third eye, crown, and, to a lesser extent, my heart chakra had also been in need of a boost. My throat chakra, or the one responsible for my communication skills, had been peachy keen, which was a big boost to my writer ego. The solar chakra, the one I’d needed the most help with per Tracy’s diagnosis, is associated with my actual ego. It’s where my core identity lives, and it made sense to me that in this time of transition (going from full-time to freelance) that might be a little shaky.

To be honest with you readers, I don’t know what I believe about whether or not those crystals effected changes in my core energy, or if core energy is a thing I should be thinking about and working on. But I do know that her diagnosis rang true to me in a surprising way, and also that there was something wonderful about letting myself relax for a good forty-five minutes while someone else focused solely on helping me out. That was healing in every sense of the word.

Any Austin-based readers interested in experiencing crystal healing for themselves can email me for a coupon to try a 45-minute crystal chakra clearing & balancing session with Tracy for $40—half-off the usual price. It needs to be used by the end of December, and I’ve only got two of them, so don’t be shy. First come, first serve!

Namaste, y’all. :) Please leave me stories about new, scary things you’ve tried in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

***

Be the first to hear about my next post—subscribe to the email list.

Posted in Try Something | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

First Big Freelance Win: A Freshly Published Book!

Some of y’all know this, but for those of you who don’t, since I left my 9-to-5, my biggest client has been my Uncle Mike. He approached me early this year with a wildly wonderful idea: He wanted to know if I would help him self-publish his books.

He’s a Naval doctor and commander who’s been in the military over thirty years and has also spent the last decade writing fiction military/medical/political thrillers, along with a handful of manuscripts he describes as being in the “touchy-feely” vein, AKA love stories :). When he came to me, he had over ten manuscripts waiting for publication, but was having trouble getting traditional book publishing houses to bite.

I have experience working for book publishers—one a large traditional house and one an indie house—and his difficulties didn’t surprise me a bit. Publishing is a bit of a gambling industry, when you think about it. Publishers pay advances to authors which they hope to earn back with book sales, then they invest a ton of money in the production, marketing, printing, distributing, and warehousing of the book. If the book doesn’t sell, they’re in the red, and more and more publishing houses are looking for a safe bet.

This unfortunately means that without a huge social media presence (if you aren’t, say, Kim Kardashian) many first-time authors are passed over. Publishing houses run the cost-benefit analysis and decide, “too risky.”

Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there’s an alternative: self-publishing. I encouraged my uncle to go for that, and when he hired me to help him out, I was thrilled to be a part of the venture. Both because I was excited to see him accomplish his dreams, and, more selfishly, I was eager to figure out how this self-publishing business works with his books so that I’ll have the process down pat when I self-publish my own manuscript, hopefully sometime next year.

He and I have been hard at work since May on his first title: Vector | Tradecraft: Phase Zero.

We’ve had the manuscript copyedited, then typeset, then proofread. We hired a cover designer who did a fabulous job. And we hired a marvelous marketing consultant who is in the throws of campaigning to get the word out. I’ve been acting as the project manager for the book, reviewing all edits prior to approval, coordinating between vendors, facilitating payment of invoices, setting up distribution accounts, and managing all other manner of housekeeping items so that Uncle Mike can focus on what he does best: writing great manuscripts.

And I’m so very thrilled to announce that this first great manuscript is so no longer a manuscript but an actual published book! Vector is available for sale on Amazon. Order your print copy today, or preorder the ebook, scheduled to release Nov. 9.

Vector Book Cover with Spine

Vector is a millitary/medical/politcal thriller that follows DHS Agent Lee Jansen and Dr. Emma Hess as they try to solve the mystery of exactly what kind of weapon researcher Jawad Khattib was working on before he died from its effects in the Massachusetts General Hospital ER. When they discover the truth, it’s worse than they ever could have imagined. The weapon isn’t just capable of killing hundreds—it’s capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what’s been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it’s too late? Read the book to find out! :D

This title is the first in a six-book series my Uncle Mike and I are working to release. Read more about the book on his website, and sign up for the email list to be kept in the loop on when the next book in the series is scheduled to come out.

Again, I’m so very thrilled that this book is out. It feels like a huge personal win. I get to see a product of me going freelance in tangible form. The book is beautiful, and it’s a really great read. It feels amazing to have been a part of making it available to readers worldwide.

I hope you’ll order the book and enjoy reading it as much as I did. In any case, thank you all for following my blog and supporting me in my crazy passions and letting me word-vomit my excitement over Vector’s release!

***
Be the first to hear about my next post—subscribe to the email list.

Posted in Try Something | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments