Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

True champions are not bags of douche

When I coached actors, writers and directors - I advised them: what good does it do to strive to be a champion at anything (I'm all about having a championship mentality) if in your private life you are a bag of douche (trans: douchebag)?

Get your act together.

Abusing drugs, alcohol, sex or being the slave of any addiction will ultimately undo all the good you've achieved or want to accomplish in your work and with your life.

Lacking integrity - lying, cheating, using performance-enhancing drugs, stealing, taking advantage of vulnerable people around you or with whom you work (or worse, who work for you), whatever, will ultimately undo all the good you've achieved or want to accomplish - even if that does not sound "fair".

The bottom line is that if you are an addict, if you lack integrity, if you hurt or destroy others to either "protect" yourself or in a misguided attempt to get ahead, you are broadcasting to the world what a genuine loser you are - regardless of your scorecard on the golf course, stats, popularity, wealth or box office numbers.

It's not just a matter of disappointing fans and people who may believe your hype - it's a matter of you knowing in your heart what a bag of douche you are. At some point you will sabotage yourself - your relationships and your career - because deep inside you "know" you don't deserve all the accolades and money coming your way.

You "know" you are not really worthy.

Well, listen up, because here's the truth: you DO deserve all the accolades, adoration and (possibly) money coming to you from brilliant performances and fairly attained achievements.

But until you clean up your inside act and live life in a way that makes you feel good about who you are as not only as an artist or student or professional or on the job, but as a person, a parent, a partner, a businessperson, a friend, whatever - you will be the cause of your own undoing sooner or later.

And believe me, once the yarn starts to unravel, all those you have wronged in the past who were too frightened or obsequious to speak up will pitch in to pull it apart.

As I put it, if you don't take care of the inside now, the more you appear to succeed, the worse the downfall when self sabotage sets in.

Interestingly, those who chose to continue abusing alcohol, drugs, etc., moved on - insisting that their "private life" has nothing to do with their art or craft.

Actually, it does - but in more subtle ways. Like addictions cut us off from our feelings, and the artist is all about exposing emotions. Lots of great actors and musicians, for example, have gotten clean and sober to enhance their work and their lives.

And may she rest in peace, stories of Brittany Murphy's drug abuse and body issues hurt her personally and professionally - ultimately killing her. She was never able to find ways to truly love herself - much as she was loved by her fans, family and friends.

The process has to start early, because without that early start, awareness can be harder to come by. Like becoming so egotistical you can't understand the injurious or destructive effect on those with whom you work or live. Ego maniacal behavior only makes for a desperate, delusional dragoon.

Bernie Madoff, for example, long considered a financial "star," is so out of touch with his humanity he feels literally NO compassion for those whose lives he ruined (some even committed suicide) by stealing their money, or even a shred of regret for what he's done. None.

Madoff's biographer Andrew Kirtzman said that was his greatest from his research.

Imagine all the engineers of US "health care" industries that make their billions from finding ways to deny the claims of their sick clients - people who have paid them over the years to "protect" them - causing more physical, emotional and financial pain.

The very people they were hired, and well paid, to "protect." Going on to actually cause the deaths of so many paying "clients" for which they will remain forever unaccountable. Except, one day, to themselves and a Higher Power if they believe in one.

Yet Madoff, like those under the heat lamp of scrutiny for their inhumane actions, want us to empathize with them, don't they? Have pity on them for perhaps losing a job - something millions of Americans are suffering this moment. Losing their lifestyle. Their money.

Worst of all - the greedy businesspeople in certain multinational corporations who have lost all contact with their humanity. Whose insatiable greed coupled with an undeserved sense of entitlement make them believe they should be paid many millions of dollars just for breathing.

In the end, it won't matter if they've been seen as generous contributors to great and worthy causes, or how much their progeny achieve after them, when who they are turns out to be a bag of douche. Alas, that reputation will still be their legacy, no matter the other accomplishments. Just ask Joseph Kennedy if you happen to encounter him in hell.

Seriously, what good does it do to be the worlds greatest ... most famous ... whatever, when as a person you are a bag of douche?

This is one type of douche bag------>

It is not to be confused with a bag of douche or douchebag:

Don't misunderstand.

I'm not saying that audiences will shun bags of douche, because in some cases it makes them more like freaks in a fishbowl to glare at, and people will pay for that.

Exposed bags of douche can actually make us feel better about our own sorry lives.

I am saying that if you want to live in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and proud of your achievements and hang around people who understand, love and care for the real you - do right by yourself. Start the process early if you want to bring attention to yourself because the pressure only grows as you succeed and there will be many attempting to dethrone you.

If you know you've been a bag of douche - to yourself and others? Now's the best time to turn that around.

Find ways to make you feel worthy - of love, money, adoration, whatever you seek or whatever good comes your way. Because when you are genuinely in touch with your own worth - you experience the worth of others and seek to continue to enhance not only your own sense of well being, but theirs.

I'm fortunate.

I know people in the public eye (I hesitate to use the word "celebrity" because I think of celebrities as those who have done nothing worthwhile to actually deserve attention; the folks I know are hard working, down to earth, accomplished individuals) who are not bags of douche, who have integrity, who live positive lives, who are devoted parents, friends, siblings, artists and humanitarians whose souls shine for those who know them privately as well as their adoring public because they, at some point, cared enough to learn how to take care of themselves - their minds, their bodies and their souls.

And the world is a much better, richer, well entertained place because of them.

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Friday, February 08, 2008


I don't know why - at this point I shouldn't be.

But I'm always amazed when I encounter or hear a partner - whether spouse or girl/boyfriend -- does not support the creative endeavors of the artists with whom I work.

Singing, writing, acting, and other artistic pursuits are, IMO, a spiritual quest. We create our personal artistic masterpieces in relationship with a universal energy or other spiritual power. I find artists who believe they are entirely on their own as they attempt to create do so at their peril, because creativity always taps into the artist's demons - which can be insurmoutable without the power of a spiritual energy to help the artist deal with them.

If we develop our inner core, our character, we can become our own personal masterpiece. So in that respect, I guess we're all artists.

I find the problem with having a non-supportive partner is that they actively work to kill the experience, the dream, the passion, the existence of the artistic pursuit. In a way, it's a destructive way to control and even alter the artist's identity.

While the notion of creating and devotion to one's art is pure -- it is not about the money for the true artist, though many are ultimately recognized with remuneration -- the desire to crush that drive, that desire, that passion and work is negative; in fact it can be outright hostile.

When bridled with an unsupportive partner, the artist, for no factual reason, is made to feel as though he or she is doing something wrong by doing what feels authentic, positive, right and truthful.

The reasons the unsupportive partner might work to sabotage the artist's inspiration and work are many: jealousy, fear of losing control over the partner, fear of losing the partner to someone who shares his or her passion, fear that the practical matters like finances might suffer, and more.

One wife told her husband to quit his artisic work because she said that all the time and passion he invested in his artisitic pursuit should be invested in her and their marriage. He did quit, as she desired.

In a healthy relationship, that artistic passion is encouraged and the happy artist brings home more passion, creating a happier relationship. Further, the "other" partner is encouraged to seek his or her own personal creative passion.

In an unhealthy relationship? Not so much happiness for several reason.

The first is that the unsupportive partner may resent the artist coming home so happy and enthused when the reason for that elation appears to have nothing to do with them. He or she may not understand the notion of the Muse - the spiritual inspiration of all that is created by the artist - who most frequently is the partner.

But, when the artist stifles feelings of joy coming home to "keep the peace," so the partner won't feel threatened by the work, those emotional "secrets" only build to a boiling point on both sides. Sooner or later, feelings emerge and not always in the way we'd like.

It's heartbreaking to see this happen - and I've seen it so many times I wish they'd do a show on Oprah about it so families and partners can understand why everyone - especially the partner - wins when the artist is supported and that emotional support comes right back from the artist to the family.

So many people have left their training/career because the partner gave them a choice: their work or the relationship.

Of all the people with whom I've worked who have selected a relationship at the cost of their art, I would say most have contacted me years later, full of regret. Love is love. And either people love you for who you are or they do not.

I don't mean the artist should be self-absorbed at the expense of family, friends and a full life. But a healthy relationship is a collaboration, constructed in a way that both achieve what they wish, especially when the goals are positive and constructive - the artist being as supportive to a partner and she or he is for the artist.

I find genuine support and growing trust work to develop splendid business partnerships as well.
The toughest cases are those in which the partner says he or she is totally supportive of the artist, while hiding feelings of resentment and jealousy until one day POW! Again, problems of communication and trust between the partners preceed the explosion - where once again the artists are made to feel as though they've done something wrong, when in fact they have not.

It's a matter of control - and of the jealous, resentful partner missing something within themselves and taking out their own failings or emotional voids on their partner; blaming the artist, instead of understanding that they themselves are creating their own hell - then making false accusations and acting out with some sort of emotional abuse to the artist to "equalize" the situation in their minds.

I know this first hand because I lived with a very unsupportive partner who made my life miserable with jealousy, hostility and resentment for not only the work I did and the recognition I received for it, but for the (recognized, accomplished) people I knew because of my work.

I can't believe I stayed in that abusive situation as long as I did. Then I realized I stayed because I kept trying to "make the situation right," feeling as it I was doing something wrong, when in fact I was not. When the relationship mercifully ended, I didn't skip a beat, I felt so free and was so clear about what happened. I've been perhaps a little overzealous protecting myself and my work since, and know that my 50% was choosing someone who would behave this way.

Homey don't play that game no mo'!

It won't surprise you to know that my family was decidely unsupportive when I left journalism to become a writer and filmmaker. And I mean *decidedly.*

However! I'm happy to report today they are 100% behind me, my work and my career. They even tell me how proud they are of me and what I do!

While I think most people suffer with unsupportive families and partners, I'm delighted to report more good news recently came in the form of two professional writers I know -- their husbands are not only supportive, but these women are supportive of their husbands' artistic pursuits.

In fact, after a discussion about this, one approached her long-time partner, telling him if he wanted to pursue *more* acting work, she'd be happy to pick up any slack that might follow around the home, with the kids, and so on. She said the look on his face was priceless, he was so excited.

Imagine hearing your partner say to you, out of nowhere, "Hey, if you want to take more singing lessons? I figured out how we can adjust our finances to afford them. We can do without (whatever), and (whatever) instead."

Likewise, a couple members of my writers' group have unconditionally supportive partners - and they are as supportive of their partners' artistic quests!

That, dear Reader, is the way it's supposed to work. And it's no wonder these people are so happy with their spouses and kids, while of course going through the ups and downs any life offers.

My wish for everyone is an amazing, inspiring artistic experience, supported by a loving family and partner!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


It is so important for artists to be supported in their quest to find themselves, their artistic voice and have the time to learn and perfect their craft.

The US is unique in that it generally does not support its artists financially nearly as much as other nations do. I think it's probably because the attitude toward the arts formed in American schools is that they are "extra curricular" activities rather than substantial subjects to be pursued.

At least until they hit the University level.

The arts are reflections of culture, and they are considered a serious, respected professions in most nations.

Those supporting the competitive US practice of seeking what money is available to support artists and the arts say that the financial and other support made to artists in other countries doesn't necessarily equate to exquisite work, believing that the US still produces great work despite the disparity.

And the fact is, every nation - even those who revere artists - is tightening its arts support budgets because of the crucial demands made by a world economy.

But that's not what this blog is about.

This blog is about the personal support we all need for any art we undertake - especially if we want to establish a career in that art or craft.

Families should be our first line of support, but frequently families are our first detractors. I've found that few families understand or support the relative who decides to become a professional writer, actor, musician, painter, dancer, singer - let alone want to contribute their money or good will.

Mind you, they say they are only thinking of what's best for the deluded brother, sister, mother, father, son, daughter, yanga yanga yanga when they do their damndest to discourage them from making a decision that comes with no guarantees, no certain future, that requires so much passion, dedication, persistence, training, practice and money for materials, training, as well as the time it takes to pull it all together in your own inimitable way.

The arts are not for the faint of heart to be sure - and our support teams can't be either.

Many a yearning artist is dissuaded from following his or her dream because they believe they can't afford to. They believe they "should" follow a more practical route - and lots of those who make that decision live lives of quiet desperation, always wishing they had instead followed their hearts; pursued their passion and lived their dream.

Not of being rich and famous, but simply of doing what they genuinely love; what makes them feel more alive and on fire than anything else they've ever done.

I've coached hundreds of people who realize that what they *really* wanted to do was become an artist and regret the years that have passed since they listened to those - including their own inner demon - who said that they shouldn't.

Some who try to re-discover their art get caught up in the carousel of classes. They become seminar junkies, not artists because few of the classes actually help them do the real work of the art.

This is perfect and plenty for the individual who is happy being the amateur and wants to hang out in classes and that is his or her goal.

But many kid themselves into believing they are creating a future in the arts without actually seeking ways to make a living working in their art.

On the other hand, people who work with me have decided they want to make this work a career, or already have a career and want to enhance it.

And therein lies the rub.

In my experience, partners and spouses support taking those classes as long as he or she remains an amateur, but *fuh-reak out* when their partners and spouses start pursuing their artistic passion as a career. In-laws and relatives also try to dissuade the budding successful artist from becoming professional, even on a part-time basis.

I don't recommend people become stars (though it's fine with me if they want to become a beam of light), but making a living as a working artist can be a very rewarding and great life. And my goodness, after seeing how many really bad camera actors are working now in cable television, there's got to be plenty of room for people who are talented, skilled and properly trained!

I'll never forget one young fantastically talented actress I coached. As I was helping her create a modified career, she told me her in-laws, who were fundamentalist Christian, told her not to continue her work with me because she was "too serious" about it. They told her she should be at home being a wife and mother.

Meanwhile, she was the co-lead in a classic play - her first venture onstage - and stole the show. She was like a little Tinker Bell light we couldn't take our eyes off as she moved onstage.

Her first audition, she was cast in a commercial. A paid job. If memory serves me correctly, she got a few more in a short time as well.

But her husband and in-laws insisted she cut out acting and get pregnant.

I met them all and I was, for some reason I didn't understand, frightened for my fledgling and felt a little protective (I tend to be a little protective of folks I coach anyway, but I *try* to mind my own beeswax). I felt they were trying to control her. She was so happy, free and having so much fun pursuing her passion for acting. Her attitude changed drastically when she was around her husband and his parents.

Sure enough, a couple months later, she was pregnant. With twins. And had to spend several weeks in the hospital to protect her pregnancy. I visited her a couple times in the hospital, where she made clear that any plans she may have had for herself as an actor were now permanently derailed, and was nearly in tears.

She said she was looking forward to having her children. I told her lots of actors have kids.

I never heard from - or about - her again.

Husbands, wives and boyfriends tend to support those amateur classes - just not the careers. The only people who work with me want - or already have - careers they want to enhance.

The most interesting cases unfold when boyfriends and husbands who say they support their wives/girlfriends' careers - but in reality (and secretly) do not. Wives are very outspoken about not wanting their husbands to pursue a career in the arts, especially if the couple has children.

The relationship issue is among the first questions I ask new coachees: how does your husband/wife/boyfriend/partner feel about you doing this work and making it a career.

My coachees guarantee me their husbands/boyfriends/wives/partners are totally behind their decision, that everything is terrific on the relationship front. One person told me she and her husband had actually been in counseling about it to make sure they were on the same page, enthusiastic about her work. She worked hard and was making her way up the career food chain when ....

I have no idea what she's doing today.

Heterosexual men I've coached haven't had to deal with those pressures with girlfriends, but I've coached some gay men who had similar problems with their partners.

If you're married or are in a relationship, the only thing you can do is try to work it out with your partner. Hopefully they'll be truthful and you'll be realistic about the time and commitment involved; communicate as much as possible about what you're doing and the artistic, creative process.

I think the real problem is that pursuing one's art makes us happy; because it's an intense relationship between us and what we create (I also consider it a spiritual experience) - by definition they can feel excluded from the process.

Perhaps they resent the fact that their partner has found his or her passion and they haven't; or that the happiness of their spouse or partner regarding their art feels greater than the happiness expressed in the relationship.

Whatever it is, I wish these partners could just be happy and proud of their partners pursuing their passion, as we should be when they pursue their own passion and do something of which they're proud.

I coach a couple who are both artists - and they are near fans for one another, as artists and individuals. Lots of growth - personal and professional - is experienced by both and they're fantastic folks with whom to work. Because they are dedicated to a passion, they seem to bring another layer of passion to their relationship.

And I've found that couples who communicate and have a healthy relationship tend to continue that healthy relationship as the artist becomes a professional.

Personal support and nurturing is so important to the blossoming artist - and some classes do provide that nurturing. It's always good to investigate how the teacher works and stimulates his or her students.

You can start your own support group for artists seeking support and nurturing when your families and/or friends won't. Speak with others in your craft or art (or who wish to be) and find out how they find personal support for their work.

Books you find personally fulfilling and supportive can also help; activities that have nothing to do with your art also help a lot; perhaps seeing a counselor or coach might be a good move; learning to love and support yourself is most important, for sure.

An outstanding design artist I know says that what it really takes to be an artist is confidence. Confidence to do what it takes, as long as it takes, and deal with everyone along the way in a manner that allows you to do what you must.

For in the end, the artist doesn't do his or her art because they simply "want" to, or for a lark. They do it because they know they must or feel as if they will die. I know for myself, I simply can't *not* write and direct. I have to do it, no matter the risks or costs. I can't help it.

I know other artists - whether professional or not - who feel the same way. It's something they believe in their heart they must do. So in the end it's up to us to decide whether we are, indeed, artists, and if we are, figure out what sort of support we need and then how to find it. And not let anything stop us from doing what we know we must.

Not to the exclusion of anything else in life, but in addition. For isn't it all about making the most of our lives and who we are as we live it?

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Friday, June 08, 2007


I normally write a minimum of two hours a day, up to 16 hours if I'm in a creative frenzy because the words won't stop flying through my fingers.

No one tells me what to do or how much. Just me.

Any artist must be a self-starter. Self-motivated to not only create but to share and market what we create.

Best-selling author John Grisham used to write in the early morning before he went to work as a prosecuting attorney. I doubt if he thought he would become the uber-popular writer he has become, but for sure he was driven to write, to finish his book, to find someone to sell it and get it published. No one pushed him to do this, it was either inherent in his personality or he trained himself to create a successful habit.

Some have said that in fact, success is a habit.

Self-starting is not always a natural trait, but it surely is the only way we can succeed in almost any field, most particularly any of the arts. Writing, directing, acting, painting, dancing, you name it.

Good journalists must also be particularly driven to research, dig up the truth, take chances to find information that people intentionally attempt to obfuscate or hide.

While tabloid reporters and photographers in the US may risk catching a chill waiting around to catch a pathetic glimpse of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, more than 100 real journalists were killed last year world-wide trying to get the truth out to us about wars, corruption, criminals and the exploitation of innocent citizens.

An actor told me that he "missed acting" when he wasn't in a class. Um, when I want to act, I dig up a script, develop a character, subtext, movement, and make it happen. If I want to do scene work? I call someone and we get together.

There's really no reason we can't do our art any time of the day or night, alone or with someone else. Some of my actors work with one another on the phone. That can be anything from an improvised conversation as specific characters to rehearsing a scripted scene to just chatting about subtext or other elements of character development.

I've met so many people who consider themselves artists, particularly actors, who sit around waiting for their agent to call, reading call boards or relying on others to make their careers happen for them.

I can only suggest reading my recent blog "MAKE IT HAPPEN!" (June 1, 2007) if you need any role models.

One thing I can say that makes the difference: the people, in my experience, who succeed are people who show up. There are people who, through thick and thin, show up here, plugging away. Slow and steady can create a more substantial, enduring career than fast and erratic. Probably because any work that involves humans must develop organically. That takes time and patience, steady learning and practice - and all people have peaks and valleys in the developmental process of any work that emanates from the soul.

In the end we have to ask if your heart is really in the work you're pursuing. If it's not? It's not your passion. You're just not that into it. If you're not? Keep searching for your real passion.

Believe me, when you find what you are intended to do, what makes you soar, what brings you happiness and excitement, self-starting won't even be an issue. You'll find yourself researching, doing all sorts of things on your own, finding the right coach, finding the type of a certain discipline you'd like to pursue (such as watercolors or acrylics if you're interested in painting).

To find your passion requires self-starting to begin that search.

Many people are unhappy they haven't found their passion - but they don't seem to understand that waiting around won't make that happen.

If you have the intention of finding your passion and actually tell yourself AND write out, "I want to find and practice my passion," your quest is underway. Test the waters in the area that captures your fancy. Take a class. Talk with a trusted counselor.

Do something.

Most importantly, get started. Figure out what it takes to help you be a self-starter. Is it making a list? Scheduling tasks to make it happen? Chatting with a friend? Perhaps talking with a counselor to find why you are blocking yourself from enjoying your life to its fullest might be in order.

The question to ask yourself in order to find your own path to action? "How can I find and pursue my true passion?"

And if, in the end, you need someone to push you?

You! Yeah, you!

Get started!

Good luck!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Getaway to arrive

I'm off to a writers' retreat for the weekend with members of my Master Writers' group.

We're going to our mentor's cabin out in the boonies (that's US slang for in the country, far from the city), hosting a large garden featuring a plethora of flowers and fruits and vegetables and other paraphernalia boasting beauty and great taste.

We're bringing bedding, food, drink, partners, children, dogs and .. writing.

I'm bringing my wee Pomeranian pup JR, who at 5 pounds needs to stick with me as closely as he normally does so the wildlife in the neighborhood doesn't consider him a tasty morsel.

Our group is significant, uncommon and exceptional. There are five members - each a gifted artist with a very different background, personality, goals and writing style. None of us is *anything* alike.

We meet every week, bringing something we've written, created, or a discovery about writing to share with the group for feedback or, more than likely, sheer enjoyment.

Interestingly, it was initially suggested that we invite several more people than just us because informal writers' groups are notorious for their dropout rates.

New people were, in fact, included. But for whatever reason, it seems to come down to us five. And for some reason, inexplicably, we always show up. Maybe it's just a habit, now.

With each meeting, our writing becomes sharper, keener; our artistic voices noticeably unique and increasingly clear.

There is no real "leader." Our original mentor is busy teaching another group at the same time, but he drops in on us at his break since we commandeered an empty room nearby to assemble. We consider ourselves, um, an "extension" self-study course.

One thing about writers. We tend to tell our truth. That's what it's all about for all artists, isn't it? Maybe that's what draws us to our gatherings. To hear what those truths are this week. What we have to share.

Sharing is the nature of the weekend. Sharing our families - whom we'll meet for the first time. Sharing food, fun, frivolity, festivities, fostering good will and creativity, mixed with a sip or two of humanity.

The sky will be clear, stars flickering, a new moon glowing.

Alone time. In The Zone time.

It's already memorable - at least in my mind. I can hardly wait to experience the real deal.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Growing up too fast"

There are several news stories out now in newspapers, TV and radio about protecting kids from "growing up too fast" - from being exposed to - and partaking in - drugs, alcohol and violence.

But ask any psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor: engaging in these activities and abusing mood-altering chemicals at a young age results in preventing an individual from growing up.

They actually keep us immature.

Significant steps in our maturation stop literally the day a child takes his or her first drink, drug or is severly traumatized by violence. Addiction is much more likely to occur if a kid takes a drink or drug at a younger age.

According to Robert Downey Jr., his father gave him his first hit of marijuana when he was 8 years old and was allowed to partake in addictive substances, including alcohol, as a child. According to addiction experts, children and women are more easily addicted to alcohol and drugs because of their physiology than adult men.

And addiction is no stranger to grown men.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, a noted child psychiatrist I interviewed from Seattle's Children's Hosptial and Medical Center told me the way children can recover from even the most traumatic experiences is to talk about their feelings.

However, addictions prevent abusers from processing - recognizing and talking about - memories or feelings in order to mature. When kids aren't taught systems with which to handle negative emotions or experiences, the fallout from those feelings and troubles can linger and fester - harming the individual's ability to deal effectively with life's ups and downs as well as blocking a significant part of the emotional and intellectual maturation process.

Several adult friends of mine regret ever lighting up that first cigarette or joint, or abusing alcohol. Not because they ever got "hooked" or addicted, nor were these "gateway" drugs ("lighter" drugs that lead to hard drug abuse) or because their lives were in any way messed up or ruined by them, but because they simply were not necessary.

They only took time away from the clarity they enjoy now not taking any mind-altering substances - especially the misery and time it took to quit smoking!

I'm one of them. What a waste of time. Even though I started when I was a young adult and not a kid, and quit smoking and drinking decades ago, I still wish I had never started. I'm someone who wants to make the most of her life; chemicals don't enhance that experience for me - they detract from it.

It's probably impossible to convince youngsters how much of their youth is robbed by sucking up cigarettes and booze or taking drugs because they mistakingly believe abusing drugs and alcohol is a sign of maturity - where in fact it is a sign of immaturity.

It's immature to get behind the wheel of a one-ton lethal weapon after drinking or drugging.

It's immature to escape feelings and refusing to grow up drinking and drugging.

It's immature to instigate violence.

Violence not only enforces simplistic, ineffective solutions for complex problems, but witnessing violence traumatizes not just those who experience it, but even those who execute it; those doing the shooting and hurting others.

Why do you think there are so many soldiers - who firmly believe they're doing the right thing - suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?

Again, from all I've seen and experienced, smoking, drinking, drugs and violence keeps those parts of us that have not developed immature. Literally preventing us from becoming all we can become, all we can genuinely experience in order to live life fully.

It always makes me laugh when notorious alcoholics and drug addicts die and are described as people who "lived life to the fullest."

Um, no. Drugs, alcohol and violence actually prevent us from living life fully - I mean, what good is having a "great time" if we can't remember it or suffer the sickness of a hangover the next day or two or three after - preventing us from doing anything except recovering?

Or suffer from life-altering injuries, severe trauma, are killed or put in jail because of violent acts?

It's true of artists. Who can create honestly, love openly, share our talent fully, if we're "under the influence" that prevents us from accessing our deepest thoughts and feelings.

An interesting study in Canada revealed that great artists don't do great work while they were under the influence or suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, but in fact when they were free from those things - lucid, sober and not distracted by demons.

However, because those experiences tended to be their most vivid and recent memories, that is what they tend to create in their work - painting, writing, and so on.

You may consider these things when you are creating characters as a writer, actor or director.

To be clear - I personally don't care if adults imbibe or partake of anything they choose as long as they don't endanger anyone else as they do it.

However you choose to define living your life to its fullest and being genuinely happy - whatever that is - is just right for you.

It is your body, your mind, your life.

I thought you might find these thoughts interesting.

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