Covering a variety of topics under the ubrella of "lifestyle", at times this blog takes the form of advice column.

Feel free to contact Colleen to ask a question.

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How do I DO when I don't know WHAT to do?

I had a lovely conversation recently with a musician who feels stuck.  He doesn’t quite know what the next step is and therefore doesn’t know what to do or where to begin.  It is this conversation that inspired me to address this question:  How do I DO when I don’t know WHAT to do?

Many of us have a fantasy-like idea that we will find the perfect life or the perfect career, and we will just know it when we see it.  Unfortunately this idea is most often not reality.  But when we look at people who are far into their careers, or have lifestyles that suit them, sometimes it might look like they ARE living our fantasy.  It is easy to think “they had it so easy”, or “they really have it all together”, when in actuality their life was not built overnight, but rather is the result of many little decisions along the way as well as much focused time spent.

Everything is built one piece, one step at a time.  I have been fortunate in life to have been raised building tangible things.  I built a deck with my Dad when I was 8 years old… yes, I really did help my dad build.  I was his right hand man.  I saw the project from plans to building materials, to effort and time put forward, to the finished product; a deck that is , 28 years later, still in great working order.  This was a wonderful education.  The catch phrase in my house was “make a plan, work the plan”.  It was simple, straight forward advice.  

But what I did not learn or get much practice in was the process of deciding what to do. I was not always able to apply this sound family advice simply because I didn’t know what I wanted to build.

How do we decide what project (or goal) is worth planning and executing? 

We all have different challenges.  My challenge has often been my desire to build too many things, finding the multitude of choices overwhelming… and then most of the time not bothering to start.  Some others may have the challenge of wanting to build a skyscraper before learning to build a shack?  Others may be trying to build something for the wrong reasons; something that is not right for them? 

We must begin by asking: How do I decide what to do? Once you answer this question, then (and only then) will you be able to “make a plan and work the plan”.

Step One:  Discover your motivation.
What do I have to do?  This can be “I have to”in a metaphoric sense- like this is really important / exciting / meaningful – OR – “I have to”in the practical sense- like I need to get a job that pays me $2000 per month.  Either way, what we decide to build needs to feel necessary. This is a BIG question. It may come with many answers.  It is possible to have several motivations and even to work toward several things at one time.  But quite often one or two motivations will feel most necessary now.  This does not mean you abandon the others, you simply decide to focus on one or two motivations for now.

Step Two:  Prioritize your time & schedule it.
Hold that which is necessary in your mind and decide how much time you can devote to it.  Assess if there is enough time, and if there isn’t make necessary adjustments.  The more you hold that which is necessary in your mind the less you will feel tempted to waste your time in social media or TV.  Rome wasn’t built by people who sat in front of an entertainment screen all day.  You know what is necessary, so it’s best to not make excuses or distractions to keep you from putting in the time and energy.

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Pack Light!

Written by the request of my dear friend Samantha Mason.


I do quite a lot of traveling. My husband and I devote a sizable chunk of our finances to travel. It’s enriching, enjoyable; a priority. Along with enrichment and enjoyment, all of this traveling has also availed me with mad packing skills that my girlfriends marvel at.  So, in this post I share my thoughts about packing light with you, and per Samantha’s request, I have documented what I packed for my 3 ½ week trip to Europe.  You too can learn to “pack light”!

Okay, let’s get started. It’s important to be in the right frame of mind while packing, so the following “Reality Checks” should get you ready.

Reality Check #1 : *Let’s be real* – No one you see on your travels needs to know how versatile your wardrobe is. *real-er* Other than your loved ones, no one you see on your travels will see you more than one day anyway. *real-est* No one you see on your travels will even notice what you’re wearing (do I hear heads deflating), that is, unless you look hideous (more on this later).

Reality Check #2 : Washing machines exist in other countries, most of the time those washing machines are going to be your hands. Pack a little detergent, fill up the sink and get scrubbing. It’s a relaxing thing to do when you are not watching TV at night. CNN will get old, trust me. All underwear and most shirts will dry over night, roll them in a dry towel after you wring them out then hang in the shower. You will be pleased to discover that machines do not always do a better job, and since your case is now a carry-on, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage again.

Reality Check #3 : Have you ever stared into your closet and wondered, hmmn, what should I wear? Well, good news, you only packed 4 choices. Wow, that was fast, let’s go have breakfast.

Reality Check #4 : Whatever you need, you will also be able to buy wherever you go. Even when it comes to toiletries, pack lightly. For example, I pack a couple bandages and if I do get a cut, which btw has never happened, I know I can always buy some more or ask the hotel.

Reality Check #5 : You are going to buy fabulous little must haves while you are traveling and need extra room in your tiny carry-on bag for those items.  Imagine those wonderful things, and leave room for them.

Okay, so, you’ve read the reality checks and are in the right frame of mind to get packing.  Now we can move onto my tips on what to pack. Continue to Part 2 »


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Practical Joy
Pragmatic focus on obtaining a joyful life through practical means: one moment & one choice at a time.


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In Action.

It is my intention to create a movement that shifts global economic focus toward achieving a sensible living standard for all people.  A standard of life that is both in harmony with sustained living on earth and allows free time away from the work of survival so as to provide the opportunity for community connection, spiritual and educational fulfillment, and the freedom to create.  This begins with new thinking, and new conversations about what we value and what we need. Much of change begins with practical everyday decisions.  Today, let’s quiet our minds and OPEN to our INNATE INTELLIGENCE. We are of this world and everything we need is available to us.  We know how to do what we must, we only need to shift focus, ask new questions, and with new understanding and a cultivated connection with our presence, we put one foot in front of the other.

Let’s begin by changing the conversation!

Have you noticed that much of the political talk lately is about jobs?  Jobs and the economy.  50+ years ago most families lived comfortably on ONE full time income.  So doesn’t that mean that there were even less jobs then than there are now?  Since laborers united through unions, that full time income was commonly earned strictly within a 40 hour work week.  Labor and quality of life was in the American conversation.  There were national reporters who were devoted to labor reporting.  People who labored and produced were admired; the importance of putting in an honest day’s work: essential. Quality of living was so much a part of the fabric of the American life that scientists and technologists eagerly spoke about how new technology would inevitably allow for a 4 day work week freeing up more time to enjoy family & friends, arts & culture, the outdoors & hobbies!

What happened?  If we look back to the 1960’s we can see that the conversation about shorter work weeks and higher quality of life was drown out by manipulative advertising created to solely to grow the consumption economy: think “MADMEN”.  At the time it was not likely understood what negative effects this would have on our environment and quality of life.  People were having fun buying new things and indulging in conveniences that initially did improve quality of life.  But we now see the negative effects of our money focused consumer culture.  We see it in environmental damage, in growing corporations focused on profit over people, and increased personal stress due to debt and clutter. We are over stimulated and burdened by mounting pressure to make money so that we can buy more stuff to prove our value in this culture.  We feel stuck.  We stay in jobs that are void of meaning to pay for the life that we’ve been told we must have, but a life that is not making us happier.  On top of this, much of our stuff is also distracting us from finding the meaning that we truly seek.  We’re stuck on this hamster wheel and we’re not happy; we seek meaning and don’t know where to find it.

On this blog I will explore any number of practical approaches and considerations that will contribute to creating a more meaning driven, joyful world.  It begins in our thoughts and in the questions we ask ourselves.  If we want a better world, we must start within our own life, within our own thoughts, and within our spirit.

We can start today.  Find a space of peace and stillness. Connect with your breath.  We are beginning a conversation that for some brings up fear and nervousness.  If you experience anxiety or any other intense emotions while exploring any topic, give yourself a breather.  Focus on your breath, breathe deeply, and with each exhale give yourself permission to let go.  We don’t have to have the answers now.  We don’t have fix anything.  First we can simply be with all that is while connecting with our breath.

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