Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Not the Destination (Tree of Life Lessons Part 2)

When I was about six I was tied to a tree on top of a hill. I was left there for at about an hour and within that hour I experienced a lot of emotions. Firstly, I was in disbelief, as I was certain that my friend who had tied me to the tree wouldn't really leave me there. And then as time ever so slowly crept by ( as it does when you are tied to trees) it became clear that I should redefine the term 'friend' and that I should start believing that my 'friend' wasn't coming back and that I was in fact being left for the birds ( you know, like every child does...) I then went into survival mode and started to scream and violently shake the tree to break free from the rope. I probably only did this for about 2 minutes before giving up and resiginging that I was stuck and was going to die a slow, lonely death...and I cried. Dear lord did I cry .

I remember that moment in my life so clearly. I remember how harsh the grass felt on my legs. I remember how tight the rope felt on my arms and how the tree's bark felt rubbing against my back. I remember how sad I was and how final this moment felt for me. It was the end. But what I don't remember is how I broke free. I don't remember the victory and only remember the struggle.

I remember the first time I performed like it was yesterday. It was a played called Virtue, Victorious (not to be confused with Victor Victoria. I had just moved to a new school, had no friends and was constantly referred to as 'new girl' even though I had been at school for over a year.

I remember getting to school one morning and hearing everyone talk about auditions for the fall melodrama. I had never auditioned for a play before and I really didn't know anything about theatre but for some reason I felt like I needed to audition for the play as well. Seeing as everyone was talking about who was going to play what part, the auditions seemed kinda pointless because the student body had already decided who was going to be cast. I don't know if knowing this lowered the stakes for me and gave me the courage to walk up to the sign up sheet after lunch and write my name down...but I did.

I spent the next couple of days perfecting a monologue. I'm sure if I saw my younger self working on this monologue, I would have a lot of laughs.
So the audition day came and I got up on the stage and I gave it my very best.
I straight up surprised myself. I was auditioning for the part of Morgana Crook. The evil side kick to the classic villain in the show and I was killing it. They gave me a whip to scare people with (I went to school in Texas.)

And I felt like I really gave a good showing.

...I didn't get the part....initially.

I was a little bummed because I had so much fun in the audition and then Mrs. White, the theatre teacher at Staly Middle School, came up to me and told me the girl who was originally cast failed Algebra and could no longer be in the show and just like that I was in the play. I wasn't the new girl anymore...I was the theatre girl.
I continued to pursue theatre all through high school. I formed a close knit group of friends, friends whom I still love and see to this day and mostly, I fell in love with stories. In high school, like everyone my age I was going through my parents divorce. It was messy and it was hard...but I always had a play to work on to distract me from what was going on at home.

I was in love.

I wanted to pursue theatre in college but because of the messy divorce there wasn't a lot of money to send me away so I went to a junior college for two years. Luckily, the local JC was the best kept theatrical secret in all of Texas. I was challenged by beautiful scripts, new and old. I was inspired by brillant teachers and amazingly talented classmates. It was there that I grew into a theatre artist. It was there that I really realized that this is the life I want. The theatre had chosen me and there was nothing I could do about it.

I wanted more though...I wanted to be in NYC. The most thrilling theatre city in the world.

The plan was to go to a really fancy NYC acting school, get an agent and immediately have a successful career.

...You know like ya do...

But that didn't happen for me. (Whaaaat?)

After alot of hard work and money saving I got here.

I went to Circle in the Square, trained with more amazing teachers, met life long friends and made a home here. After graduation I joined a group of artists and together we create new work every month, something so important to my artistic soul.

My artistic life was coming together in a way that I was proud of and that fulfilled me. But my personal life, my love life more specifically still remained stagnet and ignored. For some reason or other I just couldn't allow myself to take a risk with my heart. I would take my clothes off on stage, I would jump from a 30 foot balcony but I just couldn't take a risk in my actual life. I've been writing a blog, joking about how I am an old virgin and how weird and quirky that is but behind the jokes there is something very real I am scared of dealing with, scared of facing.

I did a play called How I Learned to Drive when I was in college. It's a beautiful piece about a woman who is dealing with a past of sexual abuse. This play is hilarious. This play is honest.

I remember delivering the final monologue of the show so clearly. I remember saying the line "That was the day I stopped living in my body and I have lived in the fire in my head ever since."

I remember the moment I stopped living in my body. I remember the moment when I joined the ranks of the women who have endured rape. I was a kid. I had no idea how to deal with it. But I do remember the overwhelming desire to hide from the pain, the confusion and the fear and pretend like everything was okay. Even though I was just a kid, I knew that I didn't want my life to be defined by this one moment. This one moment that wasn't in my control. I've spent most of my life hiding from this part of who I am. I've spent most of my life convincing myself that I don't need anyone to protect me, that I don't want anyone's pity and knowing in my core, that I am not a victim.

That I can write my own story. That I can laugh at my struggles. I can learn from them and that I can stop living in the fire in my head and get back into my body and set fire to my heart.

We all have shit. We all have stories. And we can all tell our versions of them. And they can be light even when it's dark.

I have a review of that production of How I Learned to Drive, hanging beside my bed. One morning not too long ago I woke up and decided to read it for the first time in a long time.

At the end of the review it says:

"O'Connor makes the character more than a mere victim. She makes her a free and independent spirit to whom terrible things have happened."

I have the gift of story to help me heal. To help me realize that we are all in this together. We all have trauma's. We all have healing to do. The things that make us feel damaged and different are the things that connect us. We have the power of stories to act as little links in a chain that holds us all together.

And the stories, have saved me. They have revitalized me. They have given me hope. They are healing me. They have showed me that I am worthy of love, that I can love and that I won't settle for anything I don't want and that I know what I want. And I am finally ready to take a risk with my heart...and my vagina.

I wonder what Colleen now would say to that sad little 6 year old Colleen tied to that tree.

I would tell her that in a few years things are going to get even harder. But you are strong and you must remember the struggle to break free. The struggle is the victory. And you're strong enough.

Monday, June 30, 2014

An Unexpected Hand

Currently, I am sitting on my balcony, wearing a snuggie, smoking a cig, listening to music to drown out the couple across the street fighting and I have a belly full of ice cream.

It's 2:30 am.

...Today was a day.

Today was one of those days where everything you have been struggling with, everything thats just kicking you in the ass...is just sitting heavily on top of your heart like a lump of ice.

You know those days?

Yeah...like I said I just ate ice cream at 2:30am.

I was sitting on the train tonight and my thoughts were racing, screaming and doing their damnedest to make my already heavy heart... heavier.

So I popped my headphones in and I closed my eyes and I focused on the music. I could feel my eyebrows furrow in an attempt to aid in the calming process and then one of my favorite songs came on my shuffle and I could feel escape in my near future.


Just as I started to relax all of the sudden there was this loud voice filling the train car.

A homeless man.


My breathing moved into my chest and became short. I was pissed. My patience was ever so fleeting.

I sat there and stewed. No matter how great the song was I was listening to, all I could do is sit there and be angry. Angry that this asshole thinks his life is hard. That he suffers more than anyone on that train and that I owe him my attention and my money.


I turned my volume all the way up.

He continued,,,,

I refused to take out my earbuds and give him the time of day because I was busy listening to a sad song and taking a bath in my emotions. I was tired of always being the one who digs in my purse for cash, who gives their lunch away, who is the Good Samaritan.

I wanted to be left alone.

I closed my eyes and my brow furrowed again.

The voice got louder. He was getting closer.

I opened my eyes ready to just scream at him and just as I opened them, he looked at me directly...and he smiled.


No. No, that's not what was supposed to happen.

What was supposed to happen was I would open my eyes and look annoyed at him and he was supposed to look at me like I was a spoiled, selfish, privileged asshole.

That's how that works.

But he smiled at me. A sweet smile. A nonthreatening and friendly smile.

I turned down my music and decided that his smile bought him my attention.

As the song faded this aggressively loud homeless voice became more clear.

"Love each other. We're all the same. I am homeless. You are not. But we still love. We still can do good."


No. No, that's not what is supposed to happen.

What was supposed to happen was that I would silence my music and I would hear a tragic story and forget about what I was dealing with and give him whatever he was asking for be it pennies, nickels or dimes...

That's how that works.

But that's not what happened.

This smiling, homeless man with a loud aggressive voice melted the lump in my heart in a matter of seconds.

I couldn't take my eyes off of him as he crept past me and through the train car and every word he yelled was all I wanted to hear.

Before I knew it, I felt the tears I have been holding back for days slowly and quietly stream down my face with every kind, thoughtful reminder he shared.

I opened my purse and I pulled out the $5 I was planning spend on an overpriced water on my way home and I walked up to him and I placed it in his hand.

"Thank you, darling. You are loved."

We shared a smile and I sat back down.


As I walked home I started to laugh to myself.

I mean, what the hell?

I got home and told my roommate what had just happened. I told her about all of the horse shit poisoning my thoughts and weighing on my heart. I curled up in the fetal position on my kitchen floor and we laughed. Hard.

Then we got ice cream.

At 2:30 am.

And as I sit here on my balcony, in my snuggie, out of cigarettes and still full from ice cream...I don't feel so bad. Because I can still love. I still know things are not that bad. I still know that everyone has heavy heart days. I still know that I will do good. And I still know, that I can always laugh.

Those homeless men just really do it for me...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quinoa, Honey and Metaphors.

I went grocery shopping today.

This is big news.

I don't cook. I always claim that I am bad at it and while I have proved this claim correct many times, it's more that I just don't have time or care to.

That and I realized in the grocery store today that this may be an area of my life where I am truly ignorant and inexperienced...said the old virgin...ha.

A grocery trip for me generally consists of buying apples and cliff bars and if I am feeling wild I will throw in a pint of Ben and Jerry's Frozen Greek Yogurt.

You don't have to cook those things.

As I was aimlessly roaming the aisles I felt pretty overwhelmed. So I took a time out by the flowers and I googled "sensible grocery list for one."

Turns out typing those five words into your google search is pretty depressing.

It also turns out that when you search "a sensible grocery list for one" it doesn't pull up lists of cookies, cake, candy and cat food. I was fully expecting those results because when I hit send this feeling of loneliness coated my entire being like a base of smelly paint primer.

So I sat there sifting through all of these "Single Savvy Girl's Guides to Shopping" until I eventually gave up threw my phone in my bag grabbed a basket and I ventured forth.

In these months of stillness I have found myself searching for other people's ideas of what I should do with my time, what I should feel about my status in life and there I was looking for someone to tell me what I should buy at the store.


For a moment I was willing to just shop from someone else's list. A list full of things that I wouldn't know what to do with or even want because it was easier to just have someone tell me what to do.

But I don't eat peanut butter that often. I wouldn't have a clue what the hell to do with sunflower oil and I hate cantaloupe.

Buying these things because some woman thinks every single gal should have her kitchen stocked with these things...well it's dumb.

So what do I want?

What do I need? What can I work with?


Do I want to learn how to make quinoa? Yeah sure. I like it and it's pretty hip.

Put it in the basket.

Do I need more honey for my tea? Yep. Been meaning to get it for WEEKS!

Put it in the basket.

Do I want trail mix? Hell yeah. I love trail mix but I never buy it.

Put it in the basket.

This continued for a while until I felt I had enough food to last the week.

Perhaps all of this is fundamental and I just missed the memo or didn't read it but today I got my groceries and mostly, I got perspective.

Like I said in my post from last week, I am taking my time with being still. And today I forced myself to comb the aisles and to simply just get what I want and not feel like I have to subscribe to anyone else's idea of what that may be.

Needless to say, I was the most empowered girl walking down Steinway at 10am, stumbling with my groceries.

And while I cooked a big batch of lentils and quinoa (that's right, I figured it out and the apartment is not on fire) I realized that I am pretty good at cooking.

And while I sip my tea, I am thankful that I took the time to remember that I needed the honey that I so often forget about.

And while I think about my busy day tomorrow, I am excited that I have trail mix to throw into my bag.

I got what I wanted. Not what I think I should want.

And the most exciting thing of all is that I want so many things.

So many.

I just have to remember that I don't want what's on someone else's list...because taking time and searching for what's on my own list...well it's just smart.

....did I mention I love metaphors?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sound and Fury: Signifying Nothing

When I was in high school my friends and I would be cruising around in a car and they would play this game.

The game would go like this:

"Everybody be quiet until Colleen makes a noise."

I imagine this was fun for them because silence was something that made me uncomfortable.

When they would go silent I would cough, giggle, sigh...ANYTHING to fill the void.

I always wondered why I was so uncomfortable with silence. I mean I've seen the movies and I've heard the stories of how profound sharing some silence can be between people...but I didn't get it.

It wasn't until I moved to NYC that I really learned the value of sharing silence. There have been many times where I have got into a cab wrapped up in a kiss I just shared with someone. I've got into cabs when my heart was broken into a million pieces and just needed to be alone with my thoughts and not needing to worry about the social niceties of talking to someone else and to just simply sit silently there while a complete stranger drives me home.

In this city there are so many people that you are kinda forced into valuing being alone...being still...with a thousand different strangers a day.

Stillness in the chaos. Silence in the noise.

Stillness is a word I have been thinking on a lot lately.

Life goes tumbling by so quickly. I have found that my late twenties have been stressful because I feel like there are so many deadlines I have yet to meet.

I worry about money.

I worry about being a thoughtful artist.

I worry about being alone.

I worry about being proactive in life.

I worry that I am not doing enough.

These worries can be blinding. They are crippling even. And in my stillness and in my silence...I just simply had nothing to say.

Last year was so artistically full and personally rewarding and so fast paced that when it all came to a close...I felt lost. I felt uncomfortable. I felt still.

So I sat in my room. And I thought....why don't I create another piece of work. Why don't I spend 100 days rediscovering my place in the world. My place in the city that I chose to live in...and why don't I document it through social media. YES! It'll be great.

And halfway into my big cathartic, discovery project...I hated everything.

I stopped following the guidelines of my self imposed project and week by week, I let it slip away from me. I lost my vision. I wasn't saying anything somebody else wasn't saying...I was seeking validation from others on whether or not I was using my time well.

It became a pile of horses shit. And I didn't know what to do.

Do I restart the project?

Do I power through even though everything felt forced to maybe learn a lesson of endurance?

Neither of those options interested me so I told myself.

"Colleen be still."

So I became still.

Still for me was...

Watching a TON of Netflix.

Read some plays.

Took so many BuzzFeed tests....(my aura is gold if you were wondering.)

And I went stir crazy. I felt low. I felt sad and alone.

Friday night I was really feeling all of the feelings when I met a friend to see a show.

We sat down in the theatre and when the lights went up...I was instantly jealous of the actors. I wanted to be where they were. Even though the show wasn't all that good...they were creating a story. They spent hours of rehearsal discovering their characters. They endured what was likely a very long tech rehearsal together. They shared their work with an audience for a first time. They got to do all the things that I live to do. And I was jealous.

When the show was over my friend and I parted ways and I was walking through the city and I looked up while lost in my actory thoughts and I saw the Empire State Building and taxis flying by and hundreds of people filling the sidewalks and in that moment everything became...still.

Standing on the corner of 13th St. and Broadway....in stillness.

Standing in the city I've always dreamed of living in...stillness.

Knowing in that life goes from 100mph to 0mph and 0mph to 100mph in the blink of an eye and that to truly enjoy it you just have to be...still...sometimes.

I am proud of my accomplishments.

I am hopeful for my future.

I know what I want.

I am lucky.

And when I forget that...I will remember to tell myself

"Colleen, be still. You got this."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Click and Clatter of My Feet On Lonely Crooked Cobbled Streets.

Consciousness is defined as: the quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.

This week, week one of my 100 day journey to rediscovering the city and myself, I have been the utmost conscious.

I have walked through the streets of New York with my eyes wide open and the effect that just one week has had on me...well, it makes me quite grateful.

When I was trying to figure out how this project would work and how I would kick it off, I had a little trouble settling on a theme for the first week. I knew I wanted to go to Grand Central Station and take a pictures because not only is that particular location incredibly iconic but there is so much life there past and present.

So I took a boat load of pictures. And none of them did justice to the feeling that you get when you are standing in the middle of the main court. And like every other person bustling through the station...I was in a rush. So I decided I would make do with what I had and maybe something would come to me. So I put my phone away and headed downstairs to the 4 train and waited to go to work.

While I waited for the train my mind started to race.
I started to think about my bank account. I got anxious.

I started to think about how I was running late to work because I was taking pictures. I got even more anxious.

I started to wonder why I was even doing this project, whether or not it was even remotely going to make a difference in my life or anyone else's for that matter. Anxious.

So much wondering and anxiety and as the speakers above announced that my train was approaching I glanced down and saw "Step Aside" imprinted onto the platform.

So I quickly whipped out my phone and snapped a picture.

Step Aside.

If you travel by subway in this city chances are you see these signs almost everyday. Chances are that when you see those signs you think about how much it would suck to fall onto the tracks when a train approaches.

Because it would suck. You know...getting hit by a train.

But when I glanced down and saw that sign on that day, I read it with a new perspective.

I read it not as a warning...but as a reminder.

A reminder to not let myself get in the way of my own happiness maybe?

A reminder that "Stressed Out Colleen" loves to hog the covers in the proverbial bed in my mind. And "Stressed Out Colleen" is a real bitch. She keeps me from seeing clearly. From breathing. From enjoying the fact that I am embarking on an important process for myself and hopefully those around me.

And as the train approached and I stepped on...I knew what the first week's theme was.

Subtle Signs.

So the next day I kept my eyes open and I searched for little signs...little reminders and if you are looking...the streets of NYC are FULL of signs, markings and scribbles left by strangers. Strangers whom you've never seen and probably will never meet, but strangers who want to express an idea or thought to you.

How wonderful.

So the days that followed were like a little scavenger hunt. What was the city going to say to me? What will I learn from these strangers?

Well I learned that there are a lot of people "IN PURSUIT OF MAGIC." Almost every single day walking through the streets you will see maybe 5 or 6 of these little spray painted signs reminding you to pursue your own personal magic. Every single time I see these signs now I smile and remember the moments of magic this city has provided me. I've experienced the magic of creating effective artistic work. I have experienced the magic of meeting people who have changed my life. I have experienced the magic of bravery. And I am grateful.

The next day I found a marking that simply said "I will miss..." with a big heart drawn below it. I was leaving work when I found this one and on the train ride home I thought of all of the things and people I miss.

I miss my family. I miss hearing my nieces laugh. I miss flying remote controlled helicopters with my dad. I miss watching my sister glow when she is playing with my nieces. I miss going to out to eat with my mom and dissecting life's ups and downs with her. I miss wandering through Target with my stepmom and buying supplies for the family and friend gatherings that she always so thoughtfully plans out for me and everyone else. I miss my favorites sack of fur and love ChloeBear. I miss having dance parties in the parking lots of drugstores with Laura. I miss watching Law and Order and eating ice cream with Taylor. I miss having a battle of wits with Aidan. I miss getting hugs from Gretchen. I miss the way my stomach hurts when I laugh with Melissa.

And just as I started to feel overwhelmed by how much I miss...I realized that I have so many people in my life that have made me who I am and they believe in me. And oh man...do I love them. I also realized that if I were back home with all of the people I miss...I would have an equally long list of the people that I love in NYC that I would miss dearly. And some of the people that I miss most live in NYC right along with me. But life is life and if you are lucky... no matter what you do...you will always have a long list of amazing people that you miss...who are far and near because of the love you feel for them...that's beautiful.

My following sign came to me by way of Houston Street. I was running about 15 minutes late to a rehearsal and trying to get to a damn train and I was cold, tired and pissed off by how slowly people were walking. And as I was waiting to cross the street I saw a sticker sitting boldly on a red fire hydrant in the distance.


These streets knew I was ready to scream and burst into tears when it so simply asked me to stop and love where I am. And even though I was running late I told myself, "Colleen stop...find three things you love RIGHT NOW. You're already late. You need this."

1. I loved when a seemingly wealthy and snobby business man saw an old woman drop a glove and picked it up and ran after her to return it.
2. I loved the way the city glowed as the sun set.
3. I loved that when I stopped and stepped to the side (call back to sign one ya'll +5 pts) I saw at least one hundred different people from a million different places in the world and country.

I was super late...but who cares? I did indeed need that.

The Upper East Side gave me a gift on Friday. There I was at work, walking hand in hand with the coolest 5 year old in New York City when he shouted out "BECOME YOUR DREAM!" At first I looked at the little guy perplexed at his random yet infinite wisdom and then he told me to look at the little gray box we had just passed. And there it was...


Naturally, I snapped a picture.

I've heard this phrase before. I've read this phrase on many people's status updates but after I dropped my little Buddha off to his mom I went back again to this sign and I read it again and I found that the word "become" stood out to me.

To become something is a process. It takes time. It takes work. It takes persistence. And I realized that many moons ago I dreamed of being an artist in New York City. I realized that I am an artist in New York City and now I am dreaming of how to be the best artist that I can possibly be here...and slowly but surely I am becoming that dream. A kind reminder from a stranger, to be kind to oneself and one's dreams. Yes...yes indeed.

So that leads us to my final picture of the first week. This sign is a sign that I walk past almost every single day. When I first saw it I thought "how urban" and I never really comprehended the sign. "TAKE THE BRICKS YOUR ENEMIES THROW AT YOU AND BUILD YOUR CASTLE" and below it says "IT'S BETTER TO LOSE A MINUTE OF YOUR LIFE THAN YOUR LIFE IN A MINUTE." It's a two for one.

As with all signs, it can be interpreted in anyway depending on where you are at in life when you see it. At first I thought of it as a piece of graffiti that added to the ambiance that is Queens but today when I read it I was coming back from a concert that the kids I have the pleasure of teaching put on this morning. These kids are by and large some of the most special humans I have had the pleasure of working with. Today they all performed songs that they have written in front of a sold out house at the famous Joe's Pub. Most of their songs were about self acceptance, loving the world and those in it. It was moving. I spent our lunch break chatting with one little boy in particular who opened up to me about how he had recently been bullied at school and how writing songs helps him deal with the pain that causes him. His song...it made me cry. He hit me right in the heart when he sang the phrase...

"Open your eyes, see what's around you...I bet the bad things will disappear if you think more clear."


This kid has quite literally taken the bricks that his bullies threw at him and he has created a beautiful song with a profound and ageless message. As you can imagine...he brought the house down.

When I read this sign, I read it with him in mind. When I read the second part of the sign (IT'S BETTER TO LOSE A MINUTE OF YOUR LIFE THAN YOU'RE LIFE IN A MINUTE) I was thankful to be on this journey. I've slowed down and opened my eyes. I have given myself a week of much needed consciousnesss and when I put my head down on the pillow tonight I won't be thinking about how many times I was late to something this week or how stressed and rushed this city made me feel...

... but instead I will be thinking about how I stepped aside, pursued a little magic of my own, thought fondly on everyone I miss, how I loved the colors and characters of this city, how I got a step closer to becoming my dream and how many castles are being built everyday by those who are making the most of their precious minutes.

You did me good this week New York.

Onto week 2!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Surfing Santa

Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving? More so, can you believe we are about to enter the last month of this year?

I find that as I get older, every single time we get to Thanksgiving, I am blown away by how quickly the year is coming to an end.

Why does that happen?


I think that it may because the older we get the more aware of time we become. Because in all actuality time is moving at the same pace it was moving 20 years ago...but 20 years ago the thing that consumed my thoughts was the harsh realization that Santa Clause didn't exist.

And while I am still bummed that the North Pole is more than likely just an arctic tundra with no jolly fellows with elf friends and reindeer powered modes of transportation...it does not consume my thoughts anymore.

However what is consuming my thoughts is the sheer chaos and triumph that has been 2013. This year has been so full of people, experiences and magical happenings that I am utterly thankful for. And thus I've had one of the best years of my life.

I am so thankful for that.

It all just happened so fast.

I feel like I got swept up in the most wonderful, painful, scary, exciting and rewarding wave of my life and now I am standing on the shore looking out to sea and wondering how to jump back in and keep swimming.

Jumping back in is a little daunting though.

After my show...I was (and still am) filled with this new found vitality. I feel more myself than I have ever before. And that is an intoxicating feeling.

Now the feeling of invincibility that I am discovering...well, it's tricky. It has lead to some dangerous (read: naive) decisions. And it would be insincere of me to tell you that I didn't make some profoundly dangerous (read: super naive) decisions while I was trying to figure out how to jump back in.

You see, when my show ended I was inundated with the same two questions for a good week and a half.

What's your next project?

So do you think you will have sex now?

These questions don't bother me. Not really. But I didn't know how to answer them.

No clue.

I am very accustomed to a having no clue on how to answer what my next project will be. It's the inevitable nature of the performer's life. This question is not unknown waters...I know exactly how to tread these waters.

The other question...well that was a new body of water for me...

And new is exciting.

However, I am not very accustomed to having to answer if I am ready to finally have sex. It's uncomfortable. It's a lot of pressure. This question is completely unknown territory for me and I know the answer for myself but there has been an overwhelming need to prove to myself that I have changed and that I'm not all talk and no action (pun only slightly intended) and I jumped in...hoping that everything I had discovered about myself was all I needed to keep my head above water.

As it turns out...jumping into the unknown to prove something to oneself or others, is no reason to jump into anything.

I jumped into waters that were attractive and misleading. I jumped into waters that were unkind and thoughtless. And I found myself washed up on shore, feeling confused, manipulated (by my misguided desire to prove something to myself and by those attractive, charming and manipulating waters) but also feeling glad that I knew when to get out before I let these waters take away things that were not theirs to take.

Sitting on the preverbal shore of my life...looking back on this month, this month of new found life, courage and confidence...this month of jumping into things that threatened my new hope, I can't help but think how great it would be if the only thing I was questioning was whether or not Santa Clause was real and not questioning myself.

Silly though it may sound...maybe where I was 20 years ago and where I am now aren't too terribly different.

20 years ago I didn't want to stop believing in magic.

Today I don't want to stop believing in magic.

But how do you sustain that magical feeling? How do you keep believing anything is possible when life goes astray?

I have no definitive answer except to say that I think it has a lot to do with trust, reflection and time.

Trusting that if you feel something and truly believe in something...then there is no need to prove anything because what you feel and believe are real and they are true.

Reflecting back on a a year that seems to have passed so quickly yet seeing just how far you can come within 12 short little months.

And time. Time to trust yourself. Time to reflect on everything you've done because you believed in possibility and you believed in yourself.

I definitely don't have all the answers. But I definitely know that life ebbs and flows in a really fascinating way. I definitely know that I believe in magic and that I am capable of creating it. I definitely know that no matter how banged up I am when I wash up on shore, I will always jump back in because I know that the next great wave is waiting for me to catch it and I won't miss it.

I used to wonder if I would tell my future kids about Santa Clause. After this year, I know that I will because I want them to know that magic exists and when they feel like they've lost it...I will tell them about that one time their mom caught a wave that showed her that you can always get it back...and that it still exists.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flowers of Kindness

We all know I hate the summer in the city. I feel as though I have made that abundantly clear through this blog and through my willingness to jump down the emotional drain when the temperatures rise.

The sad drain. The sad and confused drain.

...the lonely drain.


Jumping down drains is dumb...and draining.

(Rim shot)

When the summer began I was hopeful for the season and I fought against the yuck.

I could feel myself losing my battle and then a series of unfortunate events blew the lid off my ability to hold my composure.

And this week I lost it.

Now we are talking ugly girl crying and lots of sad girl music on repeat.

Guys, I am talking lots of sad girl music.

....I'm listening to sad girl music right now.

Shut up.

The culmination of my summer break down came to a head on Monday.

Everything went wrong.

I found myself at work trying to power through and hanging on by a very thin thread and as my night was winding down I turned around and my friend and co-worker Francisco was standing there.

Now let me tell you about this guy.

To put it simply...he's the best. His heart is so big, so beautiful and he's always helped me out by covering shifts for me when I have rehearsal or a show. This last part is a big deal because getting shifts covered last minute in a restaurant is like pulling teeth and when you work in a restaurant with a lack of actors its like pulling teeth from an old man who has no teeth to pull.

But he always has my back. And on Monday it was no different.

He knew how upset I was on Monday. The night came to a close. He left and I continued on through the rest of my shift.

And then all the sudden Francisico walks back in with flowers, hands them to me and says:

"Everything happens for a reason, Colleen. I believe that."

A simple and surprising kindness.

I cried. (contain your shock)

I was so moved by Francisico's kindness. He could never know how much I needed that. At that point, after a long weekend of sad news, heartbreak and confusion, I could have never imagined that Francisico's kindness would be just the hand I needed to help me climb out of my drain.

Kindness...it sure is powerful.

Kindness is simple but profound.

As I look at the purple flowers sitting in my vase, I am reminded how important it is to care for each other...to love each other...and to be kind to each other.

I think I don't like the summer because for some reason I get trapped in my own thoughts, my own struggles and I am not kind to myself, which inevitably results in me just focusing on all the negative aspects of life and love and kindness don't come as easily to me. I have a hard time getting out of that viscous cycle.

I started the summer with strangers showing me random acts of kindness. And then I lost my way and I fell down until a caring friend reached out a hand and offered me a simple kindness.

I look back on this weekend and I think about a friend back home who passed away Saturday and all I can think about is how much kindness he shared with anyone he met, how much love he gave to the world and all of us who were lucky to be his acquaintance, his friend or his fellow actor. And I feel inspired by the light that he still shines on the world.

I look back on Monday and I think of Francisico who took the time to give me a kindness and a wise reminder. And I am deeply thankful.

The summer isn't over yet and I am still climbing back up out of my drain. But now the climb isn't a struggle as much as it is a journey towards change. Climbing towards an existence that is less self centered and more...well, kind.

Kind to others. Kind to myself.

An existence of trusting that there is always someone walking right beside you. Whether it be a stranger, a coworker, or a friend.

We just have to choose to take in the kindness and let it pull us through.

And of course, return it whenever we can because after all...

Everything happens for a reason.