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Meet Colleen
Colleen McGuireMy aim is to live life with adventure and gusto and to humanize the world around me. What would you expect from an Aries with a moon in Pisces and Capricorn rising?

My debut on earth was a splashing event I shared with my twin sister, Cathleen. The doctor had no idea my mother was carrying two children. Apparently our heartbeats were one. It literally wasn't until I emerged that the doctor learned of Cathleen's existence. When our Dad telephoned everyone at 1:00 a.m. with the surprising news, nobody believed him—especially because we were born on April Fools Day! Cathleen and I were wombmates, and now we're roommates living together in a rent stabilized apartment in Hell's Kitchen.

Growing up in an insular farm town in Indiana (population: 900) left me with an urge to become intimate with the world. When I was nineteen I interrupted my college studies to set off for Europe and the Middle East on a shoestring budget hitchhiking and sleeping on beaches. Since then, I've continued to venture beyond my own borders: traveling has taught me to honor and respect the wealth of differences in human cultures.

I reckon I've pushed my passport through 50-60 countries. A few of my memorable experiences include:

  • Climbing the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu
  • Partaking in a circumcision ritual gathering in Timbuktu
  • Living three months on a kibbutz in northern Israel
  • Meeting Arafat at a lawyers roundtable in Tunis shortly after the Palestinian Intifada began
  • Staying in an ashram near the Ganges River in India
  • Listening to fabulous jazz in Rio de Janeiro
  • Picking grapes for a small French family in Bordeaux during the wine harvest (la vendage)
  • Bicycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam
  • Chewing qat with women in Yemen
  • Being the first member to return to my maternal family's hometown in Abruzzi, Italy
  • Visiting Moscow during Gorbachovís last years
  • Sleeping in slave castles on the coast of Ghana
  • Being stoned by boys and men in a village in lower Egypt because I wasn't "covered"
  • Attending Cuba's first national law conference with the first delegation to defy Reagan's reinstatement of the U.S. travel ban
In between my travels, I attended college in Madison, Wisconsin and Bloomington, Indiana, taught "World Cultures & Economics" at Nogales High School on the Arizona-Mexico border, and acquired a law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans. I moved to New York City in 1985 and began practicing housing law in 1986. I started my own private practice on October 1, 1987.

I confess to being an incorrigible political activist. A few causes and struggles I've been involved with over the years include:
  • Visited Latino federal inmates once a month as part of a cultural exchange program
  • Campaigned to free political prisoners incarcerated in the United States
  • Assisted the Menominee Indians in Wisconsin in their successful efforts to reinstate tribal status
  • Served on a United Nations-sponsored NGO committee seeking peace in Israel and Palestine
  • Spearheaded a conference on South Africa resulting in the creation of a vibrant anti-apartheid organization in New Orleans
  • Co-created EVE, an ecofeminist study group with a monthly newsletter my sister and I wrote for three years
  • Began a committed practice of vegetarianism in 1990 to resist collusion in environmental devastation and the suffering of factory farmed animals.
In June 1996, I woke up from a dream I couldn't shake. In the dream I saw a map of the United States with me bicycling across the country. For several days the dream haunted me until I realized that I was meant to carry out its vision. So I spent the next year preparing for my epic ride. On July 19, 1997, I set off from Manhattan on a bicycle carrying 60+ pounds: tent, tools, portable stove, food, clothes—the basics.

3,756½ miles later I reached San Francisco having pedaled across the Appalachias, the Midwest prairies, the Rocky Mountains and the Utah-Nevada desert. I averaged 75 miles a day; my personal best was 122 miles in eastern Illinois. When I arrived at the Pacific Ocean, I dipped my bike into its waters. My solo journey prompted people to call me either fearless or reckless. Take your choice. Live your Dreams.

My spiritual strength comes from my mother,
Ora Lora Spadafora McGuire


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