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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When life throws you curves ...

Spiff up your karma.

Even when others don't - keep your word.

Maintain your integrity.

Do great work.

Be aware of what is really going on, not what is expressed.

Keep learning.

Treat people well, even when they do not return the favor - but get away from anyone who does not treat you well.

Get reliable support; people with good judgement.

Speak up - tell the truth as you see it.

Realize the universe has something much much better in store for us as long as we don't get mired and stuck in a situation that leaves us no options to improve.

Beware the person unwilling to listen, budge or negotiate.

Define what you want that's different from what you have now; how you'd like to see your situation change.

Be grateful for every experience and lesson this situation (or relationship) taught you.

Move on. To a healthier, more positive, communicative and supportive situation/relationship.

Most importantly - get everything you need to take care of yourself in writing; don't expect anyone to watch out for you, even if they insist they will.

Have fun through it all; as long as no one is seriously injured - emotionally or physically or both - don't take any of it too seriously.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The year is ending ...

and I don't know about you, but on so many levels I'm happy to see its backside!

For me it's been a year of massive learning, growth, clarifying direction, solidifying substantial plans for the future and becoming a Friar!

A couple disappointments along the way were pretty intense, but coming out the other side - good things happened from the gear shifting that resulted.

Reflecting, researching and resolving have put the approach of January 1, 2010, in good working order because of something I've learned to put between "awareness" and "action" in my life: intention.

Every night before I fall asleep, into the netherworld of dreams, I declare my intentions for the next day. When I awaken, I do the same, generally remembering exactly what I declared my intentions to be the eight hours before, when I left the planet for inner worlds unknown.

Keeping my heart and mind open, I strive to maintain an awareness of what's transpiring around and inside me - what's really going on, not what I wish were happening! This helps me see what I must do to make the difference in my life that I desire. I then declare my intention to do or get what I wish or need - resolving to take the action necessary to help it materialize.

If it seems complicated, it's not. And it takes only a couple seconds morning and night, but it keeps my subconscious on the right track as I move through my day - and dreams, I think.

So there you are - my way of greeting the new year.

I'm looking forward to it; feeling as if I'm hitting the floor running. No need for a "fresh" start January 1, my mojo is already running in fifth gear.

May you have the most wonderful, fulfilling and rewarding new year ever.

May all your dreams come to fruition; may every wish come true and may you embrace every day with the welcoming wonder of a child eager to behold every new experience and feeling that will greet her!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shoulder to shoulder

I'm not talking about marching or working together, I'm talking about tension.

Stress. And the management thereof!

I've had a lot on "my plate" recently, and I finally realized how much when I looked in the mirror and saw my shoulders were up past my ears, plastered against my head. They're so high my arms reach out several inches above everything I'm trying to touch, pick up or hold.

Time to de-stress. Relax.

Interestingly, my four pets don't tend to reflect my stressed out periods. They continue to be chill, which is *great.* I'm not sure what I would do if all 5 of us were on our very last nerve!


Perhaps that is why pets are supposed to be so good for our blood pressure. They know what's really important - naps, pets and hugs, food, water, toys, access to a yard, safety - and not necessarily in that order.

I sent the first draft of my screenplay to the committee in LA, so that's a huge relief. While I was writing it, I outlined another screenplay to work on now. Or I could also work on the rewrite of another script that is a kiss away from being sale-able.

The story/outline for my new story reads like it's a drama, but I want to write it as a comedy because watching the drama would be less enticing.

So, back to deep breathing exercises, meditating, massages, taking a jacuzzi, a nice bath with candles at night, planning meals and having meals on at least somewhat of a scheduled basis, more walking, working out at the gym, getting a full night's sleep, putting my house back together, cleaning it, paying bills and socializing!

I'm getting together next week with a dear friend for an extended period of several hours over a meal through the evening, which I just love. Chat, chat, chat. And that includes a simultaneous animal play date for our pets!

Movies and Mariners games, visiting a friend and her baby, walking around Green Lake, tennis, going to a batting cage and more. Whew. Back on track.

Something I want to change: when I work on the final writing stages of any project - which can take from one to three weeks - I tend to become tunnel-visioned about working on it, and I'd like to make it more of a strategic, streamlined schedule.

That's a little difficult when I spend several hours a week coaching and working on a variety of other projects, such as my column for movieScope magazine and other exciting ventures people ask or hire me to do. And I love being a think tanker. Or a thinker tank person. Or a thinker tanker .. or .. Anyway, it feels good to be asked for my opinion of this or that and get paid for it!

So I want to keep more careful track of my working schedule with all I have going on, and I'm getting very good at saying no to things I simply can't do because I need not to overextend myself - that puts me in the stressed mindset to get so much work done in a short time, because even though I'm pretty good at everything I do, something loses in its quality and I can't tolerate sacrificing quality for anything.

My work, projects, coaching, relationships or life.

Balance. Scheduling. Being flexible but not to the point of breaking from trying to respond to too many jobs and too many requests. And naps. I have a very good friend who is a best-selling author and screenwriter and wonderful, charming individual who swears by her naps, and I'm getting in the swing of them now!

It also makes a difference that my hair is finally growing back in after being done with chemotherapy more than two years, now. That stuff is finally, finally working its way out of my system in a noticeable way. That feels great!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Imagine ....

You have just one year left to live. 12 months.

What would you do?



This is the first exercise I gave to a group of actors, a broadcast journalist and stand-up comedian I coach who attended a camera performing/career workshop I held over the weekend.

After sharing the plans he made for his "remaining time," one of my actors said, "I realized as I wrote my list -- why should I wait to do these things?"


Good job!

It started the gathering on just the right note, intensifying everyone's resolve to work hard and get the most out of the day. When they left, they were exhausted from the tsunami of information and tasks.

Our futures are created now. This very second.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Trees=breathing humans

You know how trees "breathe in" carbon dioxide and "exhale" oxygen?

And how we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide?

My friend and acting/writing coachee Frank Colcher has a theory about trees and humans, and I think he's got a serious "talking point."

He believes trees were here first.

That God put us here to keep them alive with our exhaled carbon dioxide.

To make the cycle of life complete, the trees provide us with the oxygen we need to survive.

Because trees are immobile - they can't pull up roots and walk somewhere they'd be safe - they must rely on us to make certain they are cared for properly so they can keep us alive.

That's the deal. The bargain. We keep them alive? They keep us alive.

Seems to me we've broken that bargain, which will have severe consequences.

Every time we clear a forest without replacing it, knock out another rain forest without considering the significance of our destruction, or strip trees of their ability to thrive - we choke off that much more oxygen.

Oxygen I bet we could use a few years from now - as "rumored" global warming and smog begin to suffocate all life because we destroyed one of our primary breathing resources.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

The only thing we have to fear ...

... is fear itself.

So said US President Franklin D. Roosevelt all those years ago .. but it remains more true than ever today.

It seems to me that I know a lot of people who are afraid of themselves.

Afraid they can't do something that is their passion so they quit instead of facing their fears and doing their best - persevering at any and all odds to experience living a full life because they are afraid of the unknown - they don't know exactly how things will happen, how their efforts will turn out.

Others are afraid of being alone so they get - and stay - in unhealthy relationships believing it's better than not being with *someone.* Again, fear of not being able to find someone to treat them well, afraid of the unknown.

Others are afraid they'll lose their security if they don't do everything in their power to stay in an unhealthy job or an unhealthy relationship from which they believe they derive security. Yep, afraid of getting out there because they are afraid of the unknown, not giving their lives the opportunity to explore other avenues and find true happiness.

Others are afraid that the success they enjoy is undeserved, and they are afraid of facing their fears about that so they run ram shod over others - keeping them at a distance so they won't discover this sad "secret."

More, others start to face themselves, but draw the line at a certain point early on. I know actors who get so involved in activities that are nothing more than diversions from what they really want to do - where they really want to go - or at least say they really want to become professional actors.

As a coach, all I can do is point this out and let people make their own decisions. The toughest part of being a coach is to watch as people wade through the outcome of their less than healthy decisions.

But I see the fear in their eyes - they have to distract themselves because they're too afraid to stay on track. I know each person has a different reason for doing this, and when people don't face themselves early on in their careers - to really know who they are before they start messing with their futures and their characters' lives? It can be scary.

Still others are so afraid of doing anything to change themselves, believing that facing the unknown in anything is just to scary so they literally kill themselves staying with what they know -- whether it's unhealthy, destructive to themselves and others, or simply a means to survive since they're terrified of seeking other ways - or other people with whom to survive.

Many women - and men - in abusive relationships refuse to get the help they need to find healthy ways to relate for fear that they will somehow lose one another. Tragically, they can go on for *years* and *years* playing their miserable cat and mouse games because they are too frightened to face the truth, face the music, and honestly determine who they are, what will make them genuinely happy and how to enjoy truly happy, fulfilling relationships.

A partner who refuses to grow, as we have seen far too many times in our culture, can become homicidal - kill his partner and/or himself rather than allow anything to change - even when children are involved.

In part because healthy intimate relationships are not something they have witnessed personally; in part because each individual in this sort of cat and mouse relationship frequently is in it for himself or herself so they continue to live in their paranoid fear - not in it for each other and the partnership.

As we reach young adulthood, these things are always based on choice. Deciding whether we want to have a healthy relationship and then to learn about them; how to achieve them as well as seek counseling or help from friends who are in healthy relationships.

Great fodder for drama and comedy.

Tragedy, however, and many, many wasted years in real life because it's as if people who live in such stark fear spend their lives in those little gerbil cage wheels. The cute little furry guy looks so adorable as he believes he's going somewhere because he's making the wheel turn.

The faster he makes it go? The farther he believes he is moving.

But we, looking from the outside, know what's really going on.

And those of us who see the truth in the people around us whose motivation is ultimately and almost always based on fear have the obligation to live courageously. To constantly work to face the truth in our own lives so we can live with personal integrity and avoid the misery caused by being afraid to face who we really are - and what isn't working in our lives.

As difficult and frightening as it is to begin the path of exploring the unknown and facing our fears? It becomes more simple and fulfilling as we continue to live that way.

Once you start living this way, however, you really can't go back to unnecessarily cowering again, because you not only know what fear is, intimately, but understand how to react to it when it surges through us.

"Good" fear arises when we must protect ourselves; "other" fear is unnecessary and only paralyzes us from living as fully, capably and enjoyably as we can.

It's important that we learn how to make ourselves feel safe enough to make it through every subsequent step we must take to get where we want to go.

Those who are deeply spiritual - as am I - believe that we are intended to live courageously. I guess it's because I basically feel safe; I don't feel alone and have a deep, abiding belief that I can handle anything thrown at me by life because I don't feel alone.

But like everyone, I have fears; I just choose to move through them to see what's on the other side. My greatest fear is that I will one day fail to live courageously by not recognizing a fear within me.

When it comes to fear, what do you believe?

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