Monthly Archives: June 2008

It’s never too late!

It’s never too late!

"This isn’t what I meant to do!"  "This isn’t where I meant to be!"  "What the heck happened to all those years?"

Often in our lives, through a series of conscious and unconscious choices, we find ourselves in a different place in our lives than we had once imagined we would be.  We reach a milestone age, or we see friends or even public figures accomplishing something, and as we compare ourselves, we feel a poignant mixture of jealousy, desire, regret, and hope about where we are.  Many of us will take the exit ramp right there, and drown in these thoughts and emotions.  Some of us divert ourselves from even feeling the emotions by watching television, drinking, eating, falling in love, etc…

Yet no matter how we try to avoid that call, that little phone will keep ringing.  Picking it up, even when it’s yapping about what’s wrong, is in fact a great step to take!  This is a really powerful moment of choice, and it’s important to listen to the deeper message beneath the surface.  By identifying and dealing compassionately with the "chatter", we can get to what’s really important.  Notice the voices that say, "If I really was meant to be successful, I wouldn’t have wasted all this time." "I shouldn’t have taken time off from my career while everyone else was getting ahead."  "There are so many people who want to succeed in my field more than me, how can I possibly make it?" 

Make a list of what all those voices say, and then put it aside for now.  Next, take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind.  What is the deep desire beneath your fears?  What is your spirit longing for?  What does your heart whisper to your ears?  This wish will never be extinguished. And even if you discover it in your last breath, it won’t have been too late.  Each twist and turn along your journey has brought you to this perfect moment, and your soul has its own perfect way of fulfilling its purpose right where you are, right now.  Everything you need is available to you now. 

Could you summon the courage to surrender to your own spirit, just for this moment?

        -"The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."

        -Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working."

What is “coaching?”

What is “coaching?”

You’ve probably heard lots of talk in the last few years about Life Coaching.  Everybody and their dog has a coach these days.  Your mom has a personal trainer.  Your brother has a financial coach.  Your uncle has a comedy coach.  Your wife has a relationship coach…   :)

Life coaching is a process whereby we are supported to discover and live out our deepest desires and highest aims.  Coaching differs from therapy in that it does not diagnose or treat any condition.  Coaching deals with the condition of being human (as any good therapy, art, or relationship does.) 

My aim as a creativity coach is to assist you on the path to getting what you really, really want.  And as an artist (performer, writer, comedian) I know what it’s like to walk this path.  I do this by helping you to hold your vision and stay in integrity with your vision.  And the way I’ve gotten what I really, really want is simple.  I follow Gandhi. 

        "Be the change you want to see in the world." (or in your life.) -Ghandi

Free Your Creativity with Free-Writing

Free Your Creativity with Free-Writing

Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and many other books on writing has dedicated her life’s work to teaching people how to increase their flow of creativity.  A big component of her workshops is free-writing.  Free-writing is the practice of picking a topic, setting a timer, putting your pen to the page, and writing until the timer dings.  When you do it in a group, you can set the timer for five, ten, or twenty minutes at a time, and then take turns reading what you’ve just written. 

I have found this group practice to be really liberating; I find support to sit with whatever I am feeling, I find camaraderie and connection with whom I’m sharing my writing, freedom in not having any aim for my writing to reach.  The real aim is to quiet the inner censor and critic that stops me from creating.  Later, I can always edit and evaluate.  Often, after I’ve done a couple of hours of free-writing with people, I notice that I’m less judgmental about whatever art that comes out, I’m a lot more productive and I’m happier with the work after all the gunk has been "blown out the tubes." 

Try this:  Sit down with a pad and paper (best to avoid typing for this exercise, as it’s easier to connect emotionally to the physical sensation of writing) and set a timer for five minutes on each of the following topics.  Try to use as much detail as possible.

  • right now…
  • flowers
  • third grade
  • I hate…
  • baseball
  • magic



  "You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves.  Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life.  This is not an easy struggle.  Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening."

        -Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese peace activist and Buddhist Leader

Creative Heart Coaching

Creative Heart Coaching

Coach_logo_small You have a unique gift to offer the world.  What if you have an idea of what that gift is, but don’t know how to use it or trust it?  In a unique process tailored to your goals, visions, and ideals, I can help you bridge the gap between possessing your gifts and talents and expressing them.

As a creativity coach, I can support you to crystalize your vision, unfurl your natural rainbow of imagination, and cultivate tools and habits to effectively inhabit the life you truly want to lead.  You can find deep satisfaction, joy, and connection in the artistic process as you create a pathway to actualize your dreams.

Creative Coaching is for performers, artists, writers (even if you’ve never performed, painted, or written) who want to jump-start a career or enliven an avocation.  The Creative Coaching style is rooted in the work I’ve done to transform my own creative blocks; I offer compassionate, authentic reflection for the places you want to shift. 

As a professional performer and writer maintaining daily creative practices, I can model ways of working creativity.  As a natural entrepreneur I can also help you work externally, addressing organization, time-management, self-promotion, marketing, branding, and business planning.

I am called in this life to share what I have learned and applied to my own creative work.  Fostering growth in others is a great honor and privilege.  I believe each of us is imbued with gifts to share with humanity, and unlocking them brings us a powerful sense of appreciation, value, and connection.

Your Partner in Possibility,

Alicia Dattner

        "Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

                   -Howard Thurman (1900-1981)  educator, minister, civil rights leader

Land of coconut shakes, less garbage, and very affordable foot rubs.

Land of coconut shakes, less garbage, and very affordable foot rubs.

Calcutta, City of Kali
I leave the Sunflower Hotel in Calcutta (Kolkata) on Sunday, April 19th. ?? The day before I had visited the Ramakrishna Math. ?? Everything was wonderful except the cab driver, who was in a bad mood because I didn't want to give him an extra 50 rupees. ?? The cab driver was a friend of the hotel manager. ?? When I ask for a cab for dinner that night, he calls the same guy, and the guy is two hours late picking me up. ?? I try to say, "Cancel–I find taxi."??  But they don't speak much English, and they don't have his phone number. ?? After the cab ride, he asks for more money again. ?? I tell the hotel manager I don't want him to bring me to the airport at 6:30 am.??  "Cancel car. ?? I find car myself."??  He says "Ok." By this point I really don't want to see him again, and I doubt he wants to see me, either. ?? In the morning I get dressed watching MTV India, pack my things, and walk downstairs to find a cab to the airport. ?? And there's the same cab driver, ready to go. ?? I'm so annoyed I start laughing.??  I remember to pack the chili powder in my checked bag, as it's illegal to carry on the plane.


I arrive in Bangkok that afternoon for the first time dressed in the flowing white garments I imagine we're all wearing when angels descend from the heavens. ?? My boyfriend's plane is supposed to have landed hours ago, and he's not waiting for me adoringly at the gate. ?? I leave a note at the information desk, and when he goes to the desk to announce my name, they recognize him from my description and get excited and hand him my note. ?? We finally find each other, and he's grown this funky week-old goatee, and I'm trying to remember who he is after three months away.
We take the bus to Khao San Road, the tourist ghetto of Bangkok. ?? The streets are lined with shops selling strings of colored paper mach??? lights and freshly squeezed orange juice.??  Foreign women walk around with too little clothing for my newly founded Indian modesty. ?? The storefronts go like this: tailor, restaurant, tailor, massage place (legit), tailor, wedding dress tailor, tailor, middle eastern restaurant, tailor, internet place.
We arrive on the first night of Passover. ?? My boyfriend shaves his "goatee," and we head for the Chabad House seder, which is completely in Hebrew. ?? He provides a running translation. ?? We hang out in Bangkok for a few days to catch our breath and see some temples, and then take an overnight train up north to Chiang Mai. ?? 

Chiang Mai
We learn to cook ten indulgent Thai dishes at the Siam Rice cookery school…??  coconut milk soup, papaya salad, pad thai, pad see yiu, red, green, yellow, and panang curry, and best of all sticky rice with mango and pumpkin in coconut milk…
And but so we've booked a trekking tour up to the hill tribes. ?? We arrive at the elephant trail, feed the elephants some bananas, and then climb on them. ?? There are four people on our elephant, and I have the honor of riding bareback, sitting on the elephant's head! ?? The ears kind of grip your legs when they're not fanned out, and it's a little like balancing on a mechanical bull in slow motion. ?? After the elephant ride we climb 8 km up the mountain on a rocky not-for-slackers path. ?? I am in fact gasping for breath, my muscles are shaking, and I think something might pop. ?? (Did I mention I didn't get any exercise in India because the tuk tuk drivers don't let you walk anywhere, and even if they did, you don't walk because you don't know where you're going.)
We stay with the hill tribe people, and I feel quite out of place invading their village, as so foreigners do every few days. ?? We light a campfire and later fall asleep as the rain beats down the thatched roof at the top of the mountain.??  The view is exquisite; as the fog lifts, you can also see the smoke rising from the slash-and-burn jobs the hill tribe have been doing (you don't need to practice sustainable agriculture when there are only 50,000 people in the whole country.) ?? The next day we hike down the mountain and stop to play in a waterfall. ?? The steep, slippery hike down is almost more painful than the one going up. ?? We gently whitewater raft down the rest of the way, which is really fun.
We entrain for yet another overnight train back to Bangkok and then fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see the temples of Angkor Wat. ?? Cambodia has a peacefulness and also a post-Khmer Rouge despair that is a very strange combination. ?? The traditional dance is beautiful, the architecture of the pointed roofs is picturesque, but the food pales in comparison to Thai.??  Aaron wants you to know that if you enjoy temple-gazing, you shouldn't cut your Angkor Wat trip short–stay five days or so.??  Three days is fine for me.??  I want to get to the beach.
The Beach

We fly to the island of Phuket back in Thailand and head for the beach, which has been my initial goal all along.??  They're erecting a giant hundred meter high sitting buddha on the top of the mountain, and it glows white at night. ?? We take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi, a smaller island, and spend several days snorkeling, getting massages, and drinking coconut shakes on the beach. ?? 
On the last day we rent a nicer room for 1000 bhat (33 dollars) with AC and a TV, which is timely because it's pouring rain all day. ?? As we leave on the boat and but to Surat Tani and the 16 hour train back to Bangkok, we see a newspaper headline: ?? 10,000 dead in Burmese cyclone. ?? The same weather system that poured buckets on Koh Phi Phi also wiped out so many lives and homes in the neighboring Burma. ?? We are very lucky that it misses us, and also very sad about the devastation, especially considering the already tenuous political situation.
New York
We fly back to NY. ?? I do standup at Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, featuring some brand new material about India, which went over really well (with my whole family in the audience!) ?? 

"Eat, Pray, Laugh!"
This summer I'll be developing my new show about India and spirituality (sic) and putting it on in workshop form at 975 Howard in San Francisco.??  (Of course) the title is "Eat, Pray, Laugh!
Tanks, Y'all
Thanks for accompanying me on my journey. ?? It was great to know you've been following along, to get encouragement and cheers on the other side of the earth. ?? India says hi. ?? I almost went skydiving this weekend… ?? maybe I'm missing the thrill of the oncoming tractor trailer on a two-lane Indian road?

P. S.
Oh, and I penned this silly phrase while doing some joke-writing in India: ?? "People pleasers rarely do so, whereas people eaters do so rarely."

Alicia's Mendhi Feet
McDonald's Wins