Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Insanity Keeps Us Sane

For my twenty-first birthday, my friends and I rented a limousine and went bar hopping. I’d tell you about the night but do to extenuating circumstances, i.e. alcohol, I don’t remember much beyond dancing on some tables.  

On the twenty-fifth birthday, we went bungee cord jumping off a hot air balloon. This I do remember as alcohol would not have mixed well here. The crowd below counted down and I leaped off at the shout of “one”!  The ground rushed in quickly and the bungee cord pulled me away.  In between time gravity was lost and I was in unbounded joy.

Skydiving, while attached to an instructor, hit me in for my thirties.  Trust me, there is a good reason for jumping out of a perfectly good airplane—it’s fun!!!  I had the best instructor who followed my silly wishes to spin and spin and spin.  There is nothing else like it on earth; the world below looks like a dollhouse and you get to play all the way down.

Somewhere in my thirties, I rappelled off of a three hundred foot cliff in the jungle beside a waterfall. The guide showed me the thick rope secured to a huge, well-rooted tree in reassurance of my safety. He said that most people were terrified of the drop over the edge. That never affected me, but once over the edge, I was terrified of the thought of slipping and hitting that cliff. At the same time, I was in a state of awe and bliss. Why the combinations of feelings, I don’t know, but I am so thankful I did it.

Forty, I was in the air again on a paraglider attached to an instructor. And again, I was blessed with a crazy instructor who adhered to my request to spin, spin, spin.  We sailed over the beach--almost close enough to feel its spray.  On one side was that ocean that never quits in its beauty of blue, and on the other were multi-million dollar homes to peek at how the other side lives. When we landed, I hugged the instructor and brought in another decade of joy.

Last weekend, my friends took me to a Drag Queen show to celebrate. Men in bling bling costumes flung out crude jokes, wore fabulous dresses and held hairstyles a foot high. The other birthday celebrators and I led the conga line up to the stage for dancing and revelry. Oh, what a night!

Sometimes we all need to break out of our comfort zone and do something crazy.  Sheer fun with friends keeps us sane in a world filled with stress and anxiety. I highly recommend doing something crazy as a natural stress reliever at least once a decade.


Heather Leigh
P.S. DO NOT tell my grandmother anything dangerous that I have done. After the bungee cord episode that I showed her a video of, she kindly requested that I keep my dangerous antics to myself. Thank you!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Publishing A New Book Just Feels So Good!

Publishing a new book will never give me the same high as having children, but it is way up there with feeling good.  The initial idea to the moment of publication is like a pregnancy of growing bliss, wonder, and fear.  Ideas can shake me alive in a night of sleep, splash coldly at me in the shower, or jerk me out of the mundane experience of traffic.  When ever or where ever they come from, ideas are a welcome kid in my brain.

From the idea springs the outline, journal notes, and blank new document on the computer screen. Touching the keyboard and setting up what will be happening is like writing out your best day and what you want from it--could be a trip to Disneyland or the moon, it is all up to me. With the wondrous computer, I can write, delete, cut, copy and paste my story into whatever I please. This is my story, and I'll do what I want.

Having finished an outline, I know where I will be traveling. Of course, I can always head my car in a new direction.  An outline serves me as a guide, but I will always be the commander--that's something I don't get to be with my teenagers. My journey of a thousand miles has been prepped: shoes are on, lunch is packed, water bottle filled and the keyboard is at the ready.  Story has commenced.

I will write a rough draft, read, leave it for a day, re-read, re-vise re-vise and re-vise, ask for critiques and re-vise again. Once it is ready, I feel the birthing pangs hitting.  If there is no fear in my tummy that this may be the best or worst thing ever written, then I have not done it right.  There is no done as an author, only the need to feel done because re-vising again draws the bile to my mouth.  So rather than vomit fear, I publish.

What fun and horror it is to be a writer.

Yesterday I launched my first non-fiction eBook for Kindle.  It is a how-to for massage therapists wanting to break into the world of working in a luxury spa--something I did for close to ten years.  I hope to help therapists, pros and newbies, get into the field that I loved and served me well.  Being in a profession that helps people feel good is insanely wonderful.  Being I writer, I get to reach more people and hope to entertain in a different way, but the role of the therapist was a good one for me.

Now I will watch as my newly launched book goes forth into the world like the boys on their first day of school.  Being the successful young men they now are, I can only hope my books do as well as they have.

Oh, the possibilities of where this book will go!

Heather Leigh

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dragging Birthday

Last Friday evening, my core group of friends took me out to see a Drag Queen show for my birthday. Yes, it was crazy fun.  All of us celebrating our birthdays were led via conga line to the stage for some dancing.  Sometimes we all need to shed our 'roles'--Mom, Sister, friend, children's book author, and  dog walker--and experience a night of bliss outside the box. Yelling and hollering along with the joy seeking revelers as men in bling bling costumes sang and danced and made us laugh is by far one of the best ways to celebrate turning forty-five that I can think of.

Looking back on the wild night, what really strikes me is the love, support and joy that I get from my friends. Can there be a greater better birthday gift? There were five of us and we make a group, but the unique personality of each needs to be appreciated to really capture the significance of how blessed I am.

In talking with one of these friends a few days ago about the significance of a loved one, I said that for me it is their physical body; the way they hold and express themselves, move, and laugh. She thinks of things that they have done together, events shared.  One of our friends was missing from the group due to a retreat she is on, and her presence was with us.  But that is not the same thing.

As I think of each friend at the Show, and the one at the retreat, I see a part of me in them.  Friends are like a refracted version of ourselves; like looking through five windows at how your life could have been if you had been born at a different time, location, and through different parents. At the same time, I know that I would still have a personality that, like a snowflake, would be a modified version of who they are.  The variance of the individual is as amazing as my friends.

But the most amazing thing is that I am blessed with some really good friends, ones who take me out for an evening with men dressed as women.

Heather Leigh

Monday, October 7, 2013

OMG! Two Teens In One House!

Saturday was my son's birthday, the big thirteen, meaning that there are now two creatures in my house called teenage boys.  They hover over me at 6'1" and 5'8", eat enough to fill a small cow daily, and combined let me know that they are more knowledgeable on every subject in the Universe while I daily grow more slow and stupid. Their sweat is more potent than any being on earth, if I ask for something to be done twice in one day then I am a nag, and they have attitude that could stretch to China.

Oh, how I love them.

They are figuring out who they are, what girls are about, how much relationships can hurt and give joy, and how to drive a car (the oldest). Getting away from me to hang out with their friends is paramount to their happiness, but want to know when I will be home when I am fifteen minutes late. The fact that I may have ever, could ever, have possibly gone through similar feelings, emotions and experiences as a teenager is as elusive a thought as cleaning the bathroom toilet without being told.

Their relationship is love/hate. Hate when the other drank the last soda in the house and love when they collaborate to get me to buy something new. Oh, and when they play computer games together--nothing brings together a family like League of Legends.

Every stage of their lives, I step back and recognize the wonder of what they are going through. It's like watching reality television in my home. There are times when I get caught up in the drama, hurt by insensitive remarks, angry over chores not done, and exasperated with the attitude. As I get better with the parenting thing, my times of reacting to situations lessons and is filled instead with clarity of response.

The teen years are about passion, discovery, and breaking away from parents. They learn about the loyalty of good friends and how to be a friend. Life long memories are created, good and bad, that can only be experienced with such intensity when it is for the first time. There is nothing else like the teen years for the rest of our lives.

And I get to be a part of it. Albeit, from a distance, some times more, some times less, but always present--even if its just by cell phone or a ride home. They push me away but want to be certain that I am around to be pushed.

Every stage they've gone through, I've sworn that this is the best one. Emotionally, this is the most challenging for me; watching them go through hurts and not being allowed in to help.  But I thank everything there is to thank that I am a part of their wonderful lives.

Heather Leigh

Friday, October 4, 2013

Writing Perks

I'm learning how to write a how-to ebook for Kindle.  It will be a must have for massage therapists wanting to get in to the spa business, which was my career for almost a decade before dedicating my life to the joys of writing full time.

The teacher is unbelievably awesome. She seems to know everything about the subject and is constantly giving creative examples. Every class I feel like my brain is going to burst with all the stuffing I've tried to do to it.  And she remains perky and alert through the entire class. She was a NFL Cheerleader, so that attitude must be ingrained in her.

Although the class is too late in the evening for me to share her perkiness, I am excited with what we've been learning.  There is information on researching keywords, formatting the book, covers, marketing, and how to make everyone want to read what I have to say. Who wouldn't want to listen?

This is what I love about writing: no matter how much I learn, there is always some new genre or way to write to be explored.  The potential is boundless.  And not just new genres, but just plain being a better writer is a life time process. The more I learn and practice at this gig, the less I feel I know.  There is always more to learn. It's the kitten tail chase that never gets less cute.

Now you are on the edge of your seat with bated breath awaiting the release of this book (two cliches in one sentence--I am writing at my best tonight!). I know because an ex-NFL cheerleader is teaching me how to make you want to devour every work I put to print. Calm yourself, it will be about a month before it is ready on Kindle for only $2.99.  I'll send you a Save the Date for publication and we can celebrate its release together. Until then, go back to breathing and feel compensated in the fact that I will still be blogging and you can purchase one of my other extraordinary works of literary art--right now!

Keep reading,

Heather Leigh

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Classical, Writer Geek

Driving into the library parking lot yesterday with my car radio blaring out a Beethoven concert, I was hit with the realization that I am the epitome of geekness.  Not sure if it was the Classical music that my teenage boys do not allow me to play in their presence, or the fact that discovering a novel that I fall in love with makes me giddy, but I was hit with the self-realization that I will never be cool.  Never.

I just can't do it. In college, I attempted to blend in by wearing the popular dress code of college t-shirt, blue jean shorts, and flip flops.  The shirts were boring, jean shorts never felt comfortable, and flip flops hurt my toes.  Try as I might, blouses and skirts and summer dresses would always sneak into my closet and beg to be worn.  I don't even know how those clothes got there.

The most popular form of social entertainment, the television, has not been in my house for over a decade. After a few years, I learned to stop revealing this oddity as the reactions I received were severe.  Most strove to be thoughtful and offered me one of theirs, thinking that the only possible reason for my lack of TV was that I was too poor to afford one.  When I said it was a choice, that I preferred to read, they would look at me as if to say, 'Oh, okay, we'll just accept your lie and know that the reality is that you don't want to accept my charity.'  The best reaction that I ever got was from a friend who was shocked into asking what on earth I talked about with others.  People were trying to be helpful, but I decided to keep the non-TV choice to myself--a discussion to be avoided like politics and religion.

So let me keep my secret that I love to read over watch TV. Don't bring it up if we meet, it brings up so many bad memories.

The music issue is painful. While I love Rock n Roll, the lyrics pull me in and insist that I listen to them.  This may seem innocent enough, but then I am not open to dwelling on a story that I'm writing. There must be something wrong with my brain that I am at so challenged to think about one thing and listen to something else at the same time. Seems like every other car driver in America can do this but me.

Now I sound like the ultimate whiner, but in reality I embrace being a Geek.  There are more of us out there--we make up a significant number of a niche market.  Look for us on the fringes. We often lurk in libraries, dark shadowed coffee houses with a book in hand, and the far corners of used bookstores. We'll be the ones at the symphony who stay awake throughout the performance--and probably even know some of the pieces.

When you see one of us, please don't run away, or laugh at us. We have feelings too.  Just leave us to our music and books, and we will never bite you.

Best melodies,

Heather Leigh