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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our brains are "elastic!"

Which means we can literally, physically, change our minds.

When we move our emotions from anger to compassion or love, scientists are finding our brains not only light up in MRI scans, but actually create a change in physiology. Sort of like growing a healthy brain - it's possible at any age.

In short, we can actually find happiness through experiencing feelings like love and compassion; they can actually replace negative and self-defeating emotions. This opens us up to new ways of perceiving and dealing with the same problems we've always dealt with in our lives that lead to more positive outcomes.

It's not a way to dismiss or deny the issues, it just gives us more tools to work with.

The article even includes a way to help you move from stuck in negativity to positive processing.

Here's the story, reported on oprah.com.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

What's working in your life? What's not?

With all that's going on regarding not just our upcoming appearance at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival for THE WHOLE TRUTH, but our next film THE LONELY GOATHERD ("All Harry Lochman ever wanted was a wife and kids. He got half his wish."), future projects, personal and professional transitions and of course something called "a life," I had to take inventory to be sure I won't be overwhelmed by it all.

After speaking about this with my best friend, I decided you may like to know my process in case it might help you.

The first thing I do is write down everything that's working in my life. I don't mean things that I want to work, or that are almost or nearly working or that will be working soon, but only those things that are clicking like a well oiled metronome.

I don't just mean the "big" items, but things we can take for granted, like healthy pets, a car - paid for - that works perfectly, a car that doesn't show up on any list of cars most (or even least) likely to be stolen, the Internet, breathing easily, Mad Men, my cell phone, high energy, hands that are pain-free and write effortlessly, my favorite masseuse Crystal, and so on.

Fortunately, that list is long, and I'm extremely grateful for that.

The next thing I do is write what is NOT working in my life - from my perspective.

Like my new eating/exercise plan, which needs much more attention; deciding specifically which script I should write for our third project and get cracking on it; finishing the housework properly so I'm free to write without the pressure of feeling I MUST take care of it before I can concentrate fully, and there are also a couple more personal/professional items.

After reviewing both columns carefully, thoughtfully and extensively - adding or subtracting as the case may be, I focus on the "not working" side and ascertain how I can put each of those things into the "working" column.

I take responsibility for what is not working; I can't blame other people for what is not working in my life. It's my life, not anyone else's. What doesn't work for me may work just fine for someone else.

What part of this not working business is mine? I ask myself what is it I have to do in order to resolve the issue, putting everything back on track so it can remain that way?

Should I apply a little more elbow grease? Dedicate more time and/or energy to something or someone? Jennifer Aniston says the death of any relationship is caused by laziness - and subsequent neglect of the other person. Do I need to make a phone call? Complete a task I've been postponing?

Or do I have to accept that something simply isn't working - that it's an action or issue over which I have absolutely no power and need to let go?

Even realizing there's nothing I can do (that I haven't already done) is taking action, and I think that's the most important part of this process. Knowing that I've taken as much action as I can to help things work as well as they can; knowing I've not neglected it or let anything fall to the wayside because I've not paid proper attention.

Buddhist tradition says as long as we act with clear intention, thoughtfully, we're good to go.

That is how I like to live; with clear intention and thoughtfully. Doing what I say, saying what I'll do.

It's pretty simple to me, but I'm always amazed at how many people don't seem to understand the concept - or even want to.

Here's hoping everything in your life falls into the "working!" category!

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Monday, March 05, 2007


What are your priorities?

Basically, we create priorities based on what we believe we have to do, what we believe we "should" do and what we actually want to do.

Pursuing our passion deserves our attention - do you make yours a priority?

To become great actors, writers, directors, stand-up comics, etc., growing artists need to make doing homework, finding time to audition and work a priority.

Note I say, a priority, not the main or only priority.

Everyone has a myriad of matters that need to be made a priority throughout the day - relationships, families, pets, children, home care, health matters, physical activities, and so on.

For me it's a matter of lining up tasks and activities on a daily basis - then reprioritizing them constantly throughout my day because there are so many variables and changes that can occur over which I have no power.

No two days are *ever* the same.

Someone needs an emergency coaching session, an unexpected meeting (via phone or in person) needs to take place immediately and lasts far longer than I thought it would, someone becomes ill, a friend needs a ride to the doctor, etc.

I've so many tasks that need to be prioritized daily, it's become second nature over the years.

When I prioritize I understand that some things on my list need and receive longer periods of time to complete - and others may just receive a few minutes (or even seconds).

When I prioritize I realize it's important to do certain things just about every day - even if it's just a few minutes.

That's the key - attending to things for just a couple minutes a day makes all the difference.

I recommend to writers I coach that they start with as little as ONE MINUTE a day. Do you realize how much you can write after months of just committing yourself to 1 minute a day?

Before you know it, one minute doesn't seem like enough so you bump it up to three or five - reprioritizing the other time or tasks in your day to accommodate those "lost" two to four minutes.

When he was just getting started, novelist John Grisham wrote in the mornings before going to work as a prosecutor for as many minutes as his schedule allowed - standing up with his laptop (or typewriter - I forget which) sitting on the top of his dresser drawers in his bedroom.

Often when I speak about making something a priority, I'm misunderstood to be saying that it should be catapulted to the top - as the #1 priority, when all I really mean is that it needs to find some time in a day's schedule - even if it's for a minute or two.

One thing about prioritizing - for me, it's like living in disciplined chaos. I feel like I have a little more control in this otherwise uncontrollable thing called life!

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