Author Archives: colleen

love, Uncategorized, zen shit
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happiness is an inside job

^^ It’s the title of a self help book which I may or may not have read years ago. I don’t recall. I’ve read so many … Nowadays I think self help books don’t work. If you’re constantly seeking, constantly looking for answers, for a new, superlative amazingly simple solution, you’ll never be satisfied.

image1 (1)All peace, confidence and self-knowledge is auto-generated. We create it ourselves by staying present in the moment, expressing gratitude for the goodness in our lives, by observing ourselves, feeling our emotions and then once we’ve felt them,  letting them pass.

There is no external fix, no panacea. No geographic cure, no perfect relationship, no spiritual or religious solution, no ideal job, career or marriage. Nothing external can “fix” us or make us happy or secure. Until we acknowledge this… until we take responsibility for our own experience, we’ll repeat negative patterns and attempt to avoid pain by focusing on the external, shallow and fleeting. Those around us may also get unwittingly and unwillingly drawn into our drama.

We owe it to ourselves and those we love to find the love, acceptance and answers we seek first within ourselves.

 

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zen shit
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How To Prepare For A Presentation or a Performance

miss-south-carolina1. Know what the hell you are talking about, or know your lines and moves
2. Care about it, understand it, and think about how you can enrich someone’s day with even one bit of new knowledge, understanding or entertainment
3. Go to YouTube
4. Search Miss South Carolina
5. Watch it. Laugh and repeat as needed.
6. Remind yourself that if the WORST CASE SCENARIO came true, you still won’t EVER be as bad as this young woman, like such as…
7. Take deep breaths
8. Focus on individuals in the front. Just speak to them. If they think you’re dumb or boring or annoying, WHATEVER. Who cares. You know your shit and if they’re smart they’ll listen and learn something new.
9. Act like you’re dancing… just let loose and have fun.

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because it’s all about me

my shoulder in the NYT vows column, at the wedding of my dear friend elizabeth. perhaps the most beautiful and unique wedding i have ever attended. very cool to see liz & lauren’s story memorialized in the failing new york times!

VOWS: Worthy of a Romance Novel, With a Touch of Mystery

elizabethandlaurenswedding

 

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i have zero tolerance for Trump and his GOP

Like everything else from this wretched administration, the family separation policy was a terrible idea, executed poorly. But the stakes are inordinately higher than with all the preceding bumbles and fumbles because actual children’s lives are at stake and in our hands, right now, every minute of every day.

Each day since the policy was introduced at the end of April, roughly 70 children have been ripped from their parents and taken to child prisons, not knowing when or whether they will see their loved ones ever again. Can you imagine your own babies/toddlers/kids experiencing this trauma?

While some may debate the conditions in the facilities, no one can deny that the children are deprived of the one thing they actually need: their parents, and that the experience will adversely affect them for the rest of their lives.

Truth is relative but facts are not. Donald Trump’s administration created this policy. And Donald Trump, with the stroke of a pen in his tiny hand will soon undo it now that he’s being forced to.  But the damage is done to those children and the toxic environment for all immigrants, asylum seekers, naturalized citizens and people of color in America persists. I for one cannot wait to vote in November to rebuke the GOP, the gross old party of Trump.

trumpsterfire

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love, Uncategorized, zen shit
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Father’s Day

It does not sting so much anymore. My Dad has been gone eight years. I healed, realized what the heck happened, and forgave. When the whole #MeToo thing happened Sarah Silverman wrote a piece asking if you can love someone who did bad things.  I can relate to that. My Dad did some really shitty things. To himself and those he loved. He was a clinically depressed alcoholic whose antics hijacked my early adult life. His repressed, undealt with emotions led to escalating depression, addiction and eventually terminal cancer. Those around him were sucked into the vortex as those who love addicts always are. We wanted to help him, we couldn’t and in the process, we were forced to put our own lives and desires on hold.

Letting go of all that took a while. At first there was relief. Then the anger came. I was also so tired of only hearing the good stuff about him. My Dad was handsome, charismatic and funny and everybody loved him. But at home he was very moody and emotionally unpredictable.  He was kind of a dick to my Mom which is never a good thing for a kid to see. And I resented his utter selfishness. But over the years I’ve come to accept and forgive him. He was doing the best he could. He had a crappy young life himself in many regards. He himself dealt with a home life marked by emotional unpredictability –a father with a serious gambling problem who was frequently MIA, and a stoic Irish mother who thought life was something to be endured. Despite all that he managed to be a pretty good Dad when we were little. Fun, loving, virtuous. Teaching me lessons about this and that. Always around, always ready with a joke, a hug and a smile. He loved music and shared his love of it every night playing new vinyl on his Yamaha sound system. The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Paul Simon … the list goes on and on but those stand out. He was funny and had endless jokes and stories.

dadHe was a spiritual guy with real curiosity about metaphysics, which was contrary to his strict cultural identity as an Irish Catholic from Washington Heights. He had a brief stint with Transcendental Meditation, and I remember him reading Dianetics (which was advertised on TV relentlessly in the 80s). Later on when I lived in the city post grad school, he and I would have dinner once a week after he came in for his therapy appointment. We had such fun nights. He was in a good phase – steady, hopeful and sober. He said that he regretted his career choices. That he stuck with the financial advisor gig because he felt he had to give us a stable life. But in his heart of hearts he wished he had pursued something creative – being an actor, singer, performer or even a history professor.

I believe that suppressing his ambitions, desires and feelings led to his deterioration later in life. Once he was no longer needed as a provider he became rootless, remorseful and sought refuge in the bottom of the bottle. Just as our adult lives were beginning and as my parents’ retirements laid ahead of them, my Dad’s drama took over.

For me, it is therapeutic to put it all out there and be honest with myself and others about what happened. It’s a sigh of relief. It’s what allows me to look back with love. He was a good man with good intentions. He was my father, he gave me life and so much more … my sense of fun, my independence, my healthy skepticism and love of family. I cherish him and am grateful he was my Dad.

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Uncategorized, zen shit
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responsibility

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, “The World as I See It,”
Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann, p. 8 (1954).

looking at all the madness in the world right now, i am constantly questioning whether i am doing enough. for my children and the world they are inheriting.
– is it enough to just provide material comfort and moral guidance to one’s own children?
– is it enough to just write checks to causes we say we support?
– do we not have a broader responsibility to all children and to the earth to work every day to create a better world?

 

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the yamas and niyamas

yamasi first learned about the yamas and niyamas, the ethical code of yoga, while practicing with my fave hippy teacher of the past couple of years.

the yamas are self-regulating behaviors involving our interactions with other people and the world at large.

They are:
1) Ahimsa: nonviolence
2) Satya: truthfulness
3) Asteya: non-stealing
4) Brahmacharya: non-excess (often interpreted as celibacy
5) Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed

The five niyamas, personal practices that relate to our inner world. They are:
1) Saucha: purity
2) Santosha: contentment
3) Tapas: self-discipline, training your senses
4) Svadhyaya: self-study, inner exploration
5) Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (to God)

 

I recently picked up this book to delve a bit deeper. It is readable AND relatable. Excerpt:

“To be a bold person of truth is to constantly look for what we are not seeing and to expose ourselves to different views than the ones we hold sacred. What are you not seeing because you are seeing what you are seeing?”

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virtue

Remember virtue, that quaint thing leaders used to strive for? (Or so we thought?) Moral excellence, not just material success? It’s a concept with a lot of history … and the version that’s always resonated with me the most is Aristotle’s version. From Spark Notes (because it’s just easy):

Aristotle is clear that we arrive at moral virtue primarily through practice and that the value of studying ethical texts such as the one he has written is limited.

This view makes sense when we consider that moral virtue is not essentially different from other forms of excellence as far as the Greeks are concerned. If we want to achieve excellence in rock climbing, for instance, it helps to study texts that show us how to improve our technique, but we can’t make any significant improvements except by getting on a rock wall and practicing.

Analogously, it helps to read texts like the Nicomachean Ethics to get a clearer understanding of moral virtue, but the only way to become more virtuous is through practice. We can only become more courageous by making a point of facing down our fears, and we can only become more patient by making a habit of controlling our anger.

Since practice, not study, is the key to becoming virtuous, Aristotle takes a strong interest in the education of the young. He perceives that there is only so much we can do to improve a nasty adult, and we can more easily mold virtuous youths by instilling the proper habits in them from a young age.

Meanwhile on Planet Earth circa 2018, here we are pondering just how much more human grotesquery can we tolerate … in the air, in the water, in public life, in politics, business and government. The mess is bewildering. It makes one want to recoil, withdraw and start anew. It’s like as a society we need to have a “Walden” moment. Some kind of resetting of values, expectations and most definitely, leadership.

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love, Uncategorized, zen shit
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2018

Begin again to begin again. A new year. I am grateful for what I have, for those I love, for this moment in space and time.

2017 was a tough one. When someone you love dearly is in a life or death situation, it really drains you. To the point you are consumed with it, hemorrhaging into all aspects of your day to day. But you learn to fight back. To keep it in its place. To reclaim your peace. You don’t surrender to the old unhealed wounds that have been quiet for the few years prior. You steel yourself and you keep on keepin’ on. And eventually the crisis abates. And once again here you are. Such is life.

There is something cool about aging. You learn to trust the cycle. You learn that the low moment is as temporary as the high moment. And everything in between is the true stuff of life.

newyearsday2018

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zen shit
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ZEN PRAYER FOR THANKSGIVING

For all the things that have ever happened to me…

I am grateful.

For all the gifts that I have ever been given …

I am grateful.

For all of the people I have known …

I am grateful.

For everything good ever manifested through me …

I am grateful.

May this gratitude be expressed through my body, my speech, and my mind.

With infinite kindness to the past,

Infinite service to the present,

Infinite responsibility to the future.

I give thanks.

 

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