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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

gratitude - goals - guidance = grounded

Life's a roller coaster these days, so the way I keep grounded is a three step process I developed that's easy to remember and recite to myself to maintain my focus: gratitude, goals, guidance.

I have so much for which to be grateful - I maintain a gratitude list to which I keep adding; time for review. I also have a list of what is working in my life that I review. Sometimes when tumult strikes, it's hard to remember just how much is working just fine - bumps are the oddity, not the norm.

I review and renew my goals; prioritizing them and picking just one or two so they feel manageable with all the upheaval surrounding me.

Then I get, like, spiritual and ask for guidance - as I do the legwork, I also let myself be open to whatever insight, inspiration, instigation or intuition I need to make it all come together and go forward. Whatever pops up is worth considering, no matter how unrelated it seems.

Somehow, this works to put me on the right path to whatever next step I must take, doing what I need to in order to create the next chapter in my life in a way that is positive, contributing and rewarding.

Whether it's an up or down day, I enjoy some degree of happiness because I remain convinced I'm in the right place at the right time doing the right thing with all the right people (and animals) for all the right reasons.

'cause I welcome the changes that make that true day after day. The real priorities remain - health and nurturing the important relationships in my life.

It all adds up to feeling grounded in an insecure, dynamic, uncertain world.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

War: easier than peace. The cost: health, prosperity

Think about it.

1. The key to peace and healthy interaction with anyone in any situation is relationship skills.

By that I mean the ability to communicate, negotiate, conciliate, reconcile, mediate, understand both sides; have confidence and poise; use diplomacy, have enough knowledge to propose a plan; savoir-faire, and the ability to articulate objectives, purpose and the desired outcome(s). In most cases, not to take things personally but work on behalf of the relationship with both sides benefiting from the outcome of the agreements reached.

Whether it's at the negotiating table or the kitchen table, it is much easier to bring up old resentments and grudges, to blame the other person for the problems that exist, to get angry and refuse to communicate rather than spend the energy and time it takes to unify, humble oneself, find common ground and do whatever it takes to "work things out."

Both sides must be equally dedicated to finding ways to gain clarity, find beneficial solutions and communicate successfully - for themselves individually and collectively - or there is no hope for a positive outcome.

In some cases, one side must convince the other to engage earnestly - openly, honestly and directly - especially when a third party, such as a child, is involved in a dispute like divorce.

Ruthless actions and war break out when one party stops listening, refuses to listen, negotiate or care about the other person/side and takes violent action against him or her out of anger in an attempt to overthrow, subdue or eliminate the other person, or even entire populations, from mediation.

It's a "my way or the highway" mentality for one of the parties that creates the warring action.

Despite the protestations of caring for or even loving the person or people they hurt, the violent individual ceases to care the moment s/he plans to put them in harm's way.

Again, it matters not whether we're talking about the US and Iraq, the Nazi's and Europe in WWII, or hostile actions taken in the privacy of homes.

It's no secret that 85-95% of domestic violence victims are women, that the leading cause of injury to women is domestic violence -- and that pregnant women compose the highest percentage of all categories of people killed in acts of domestic violence by male intimate partners, boyfriends and husbands.

The men who beat, abuse and/or kill the women in their lives generally blame the women for "making" or "driving" them to take their anger out on "their" women because the women did not behave the way the men wanted them to. Since they realized they could not force the women to do what they want, they injure, cripple or murder them.

Essentially, the men who do not get their way refuse to negotiate - an action that would help them find a common ground to continue communication and a positive relationship in some way. Instead, they simply take their aggression out on people less capable of defending themselves - women and often their own children

So the aggressor in war, by this reasoning, would be the government that stops listening, refuses to negotiate, communicate or care about working through differences with the other side and strikes out to gain power over the other government, nation or populations. So that targeted people will behave the way the aggressor wants them to.

The Nazi's in Germany are classic examples of not just cutting off negotiations but of instigating an all out propagandist hate war against Jews, which then gave Hitler permission imprison and kill not only millions of Jews but millions of other "unpopular" groups as well - homosexuals, Catholics and anyone who opposed his drive for a "pure" Aryan race.

Because he fomented his nation to see enemies everywhere instead of negotiating partners, he literally declared war against the world with the blessing of Germans who participated because they drank Hitler's Kool-Aid.

Any time war breaks out, someone has drunk some aggressor's Kool-Aid.

Which apparently has the effect of preventing the drinker from being capable of thinking for himself or willing to investigate statements made that are intended to manipulate and control their behavior, making them willing to kill others for the cause.

In short: communicating honestly and earnestly=negotiating, building a relationship. It's tough. Very tough. Ask anyone in a healthy relationship, let alone a troubled coupling.

Cutting off communication, withholding "affection," wanting and trying to control and manipulate others=warring behavior.

Which can be as simple as trying to control someone by hurthing him or her with words, "that" look, silence, a slap, hiding his/her favorite ice cream, rumors, distance, lies or propaganda.

Or as complex as torturing and/or killing, or ordering people to torture and/or kill others for specific or unknown reasons and goals created by the person declaring the war.

Either way, violence is way easier than doing everything possible to "work it out" and go the limit to prevent unnecessary injury, harm or death.

If the two parties are very very different? Then it takes even more relationship skills to gain momentum to perhaps even outwit the withholding partner in order to negotiate honestly and forthrightly with a positive outcome in mind.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007


When I worked more than full time as a mainstream media journalist in TV, radio and newspapers, my life was all about deadlines.

I would think far ahead to make the most of my available story gathering-writing-editing time before the deadline.

I was constantly thinking hours, days, weeks and even months ahead of the present time - especially for television news - to make certain I would be able to have all the elements of a story lined up, contact the right sources, get enough - and the correct - background information, shoot the right visuals, and so on.

Not for just one story, but several that I would be covering in the future.

In addition to doing the larger stories over a period of time, there were those on which I would report during the day. When, again, I would think ahead: I'd write and edit the story in my head before I was back at the station so I could barrel through, getting it done properly (sometimes my stories were a little visually/audio complex) with narration voiced, in time to build it in the program.

When I worked at combined TV/radio stations, I'd also file stories for the radio station.

I always enjoyed doing the lead story for TV newscasts, but of course that means the story has to be done *before* everyone else's stories get on the air! Which means I had less time to get it all together.

I *loved* my work, to be sure. I feel that pure journalism is a true and honorable calling.

But ... The management of news operations (commercial and non-commercial) drove me batty, so I left. Every time I took a job in radio or TV news, I felt like I lost IQ points. I can't afford to lose any, let alone many.

The same time line pressure of deadlines is true for newspapers, which also have their own serious management problems.

When I left journalism, the energy change was so great, my legs felt wobbly - as if I had been on a small boat for a long time and stepped onto land. I had to regain my land legs and start to think in real time. That took many months - and I couldn't help but note all the stories and information I found missing in newscasts--

But I digress.

While deadlines exist for every aspect of our lives - from anniversaries to graduation to taking tests to making dinner - it's as important, perhaps even more so, to think in real time and not create faux deadlines.

Old school Hollywood and lots of actors actually believe that if you haven't "made it" by the time you're 21, you are TOO OLD! I described a very talented actress to a long-established talent agent in Hollywood. He was very interested. Until I told him she was 27. "That's ancient here," he responded.

Well, guess what?

Another talent agent told me that the demand for *older* actors (30-60) was greater than the younger age category these days.

You are where you are. You are the age you are. If you're good - or better yet, great? You'll get work.

In short, while I love to live in the moment, making the most of every day? I don't see myself on some sort of living deadline, because face it - I could get whacked by a car any moment, and never see it coming.

It's all about that balance thing. What makes for your most fulfilling life? Go for it, and do it in a way that brings happiness to you and yours as you take the journey.

It is always, in all ways, the journey that matters and what will be remembered most fondly, not the destination. Reaching a goal only means the beginning of another journey.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Heard the story of the man who "could hardly wait?"

Instead of appreciating where he was, what he had and enjoying living in the moment - making the most of the milestones he attained and creating special memories to mark each occasion - he always looked ahead to the next one. And the next one. And the next one-

In college he didn't take a class to learn, only to be able to take the next one after it.

He'd also try to finish whatever he was doing earlier than the original deadline so he could move on to what's next more quickly.

In some cases, before he sought his next destination, he would wonder why he wanted it so badly - he would ask, "Is that all there is?"

But still, when he reached those milestones or destinations, he had the same response - next!

From finding a job to finishing project after project to joining his boss's golf club to getting a promotion to finding a girlfriend to getting married to... whatever.


He could hardly wait.

When he died?

He was shocked. Stumped. And lost. There was nothing more for which he could "hardly wait" to do.

Instead, dazed, he experienced only an insatiable sense of emptiness. Looking back on his life, he sadly realized he hadn't lived it, he had only moved through it.

He never experienced satisfaction, only desire.

"Delayed gratification" was never part of his vocabulary.

There's nothing wrong with desiring anything, but perhaps achieving satisfaction from what is desired is a greater - more satistfying - goal.

As Sheryl Crow sings in her hit "Gonna Soak Up The Sun":

It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got

And for those who wonder how to achieve satisfaction .. that's a much deeper question.

Just ask the Rolling Stones.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Look where you WANT to go!

I met someone at a dinner party recently who had the opportunity to take a course in race car driving - one lesson of which she takes with her through life now.

Basically, when a race car driver sees himself heading toward a collision, he must not look in the direction of the oncoming crash, but instead at where he wants to go to prevent the accident!

My dinner companion said she was certain she could do it. She understood its reasoning, how it would indeed prevent a tragedy and how effective the idea is for racing and for living.

But when she found herself behind the wheel of a simulated race car on the track, as she was barrellng toward a brick wall, she was paralyzed, staring at the oncoming barricade, caught like a deer in headlights.

The pro driver/teacher sitting beside her actually pushed her face toward where she needed to go to prevent the simulated smash-up.

"Look where you *want* to go, not where you're going," he admonished her.

Impressive advice.

I thought of all the times I had simply looked straight ahead unconsciously at where I was already going rather than awarely viewing - surveying - where I really wanted to go.

I'm very good about taking in the world around me when I take a walk, go for a ferry ride, hike, and drive. As Sherlock Holmes would put it, I like to observe rather than only see.

But to make a concerted effort to see and observe where I want to go, what I want to do? This concept is not just a way to live past a potential pile-up literally, but a great philosophy.

Let's say you're working as a plumber and where you really want to go - what you really want to do - is become a singer.

So instead of staring directly ahead at plumbing work day after day and feeling stuck there, you start looking where you want to go while still using your plumbing skills to keep you on the road.
You take voice lessons, study music, watch/listen to your favorite artists, perform at open mikes, network with pro's and work your way up the live performance and recording food chain, kicking off your career.

Or who knows? You may find something else along the way that turns you on even more because you're looking for how you want to feel as well as where you want to go!

In relationships, work, hobbies, special interests, volunteer opportunities, weight loss, releasing addictions, or life in general: are you aware of where you want to go? Looking in that direction? Keeping an eye out to find your personal passion or fulfilling work if you aren't sure what it is now?

Or are you gazing straight ahead, unaware where you're going or why, simply letting life happen to you without considering what else living may offer you - or what you have to offer yourself and the world?

There are times I have to remember to push my face in the direction I want to go because sometimes it's easier to keep marching straight ahead without listening to myself, becoming lost in the din of the world's white noise.

Then I realize if I don't give myself the opportunity to at least glance in the direction I want to go, no matter how difficult that might be, the only collision I have to worry about is running into myself.

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