Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

Fun vs. Fear ~ How shall we live?

FearlessnessColleen Hannegan2 Comments

Summertime, and the livin's easy. It certainly is easy and beautiful living here in southern California with the cool morning  marine layer holding back sun's heat until later in the day. The sky's blue face peeks out from behind those ocean mists and the cool breezes spin through the leaves on the trees, through my hair, through  my open windows in my home. I feel safe here. Mostly.

I love summertime. Who doesn't? But this summer's beginning has been besieged and held hostage by so much fear in the world, so many terrorist attacks and bloodshed and a constant roar of doom for our country's position in world affairs, that I'm having to emotionally arm wrestle local summer FUN from the death grip of local and international FEAR. Both real and imagined.

Summer fun hike over O'Neill Regional park with views of Rancho Santa Margarita.

Summer fun hike over O'Neill Regional park with views of Rancho Santa Margarita.

I naturally thrill to welcoming each new morning into my life. Hooray, another day to play. As I've entered more mature years I suddenly want to explore more ways to have fun, even if it's usually called work. Travel adventures are calling. New creative ideas are popping up more frequently. My husband and I are enjoying the fruits of our hard labor redesigning our home even if it is back- breaking at times. The results have brought us great joy and comfort.

And at the same time, I feel gnawed at and uneasy about terror in the streets of our local neighborhoods and in the world; a world that is now so much nearer to us than it once was. What to do? WHAT TO DO?? 

Seeing Manchester, England rise up from their recent bloody and fearful night and come together again this past week-end to claim LOVE is stronger than HATE and that having FUN and FREEDOM shall reign over their FEAR, touched me very much.  As did the citizens of Portland, sharing stories of bravery of the two men who offered their life for a stranger and one gravely injured for standing up to hate towards two women.  I see and read stories of bravery as often as I do of warring bloodshed.

We humans struggle between the fear of hateful deeds and the fun of peaceful sun, every day in this crazy world. Why is there so much viscious hate and cruelty among us? How can we enjoy the beauty of a day, the pleasures and joys of all we love to do if we choose fear? Fear to go, or stay, and speak up or travel? 

We are the world, yes we are. And in my world, I'm choosing fun over fear of what might happen. There is a healthy fear that keeps us safe in our daily activities but it is the unhealthy, deep seated unconscious fear of death that will prevent us from being fully alive.

Our only control is in our thoughts for goodness and actions of tolerance and kindness in our immediate place in the world.  I have faith that my smallest act of kindness I put my hands to, has a larger, healing ripple affect that goes out to many others that I do not know. Because kindness follows kindness.  I try and stay conscious in what I can build, not tear apart.  Somedays I fail, more days I succeed. I find my own peace in this.

Love will always win. Death cannot destroy love. Fear destroys love. And when we rise up and choose love and courage, our hearts will be free to live every day as if it's a perfect summer day.

Wishing all a fun and fearless summer! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXO




Forever Middle Aged

Love, marriageColleen HanneganComment

I’m having an ongoing friendly argument with my husband. He’s checking out his feet and legs now that it’s warmer weather and he’s wearing his shorts. He laments on the condition of parts of his aging form. I accuse him of saying “old” far too much in describing himself.

It’s getting old.

In my opinion, he’s a 69+ year old man who one might guess to be closer to 60….2.

Seeing his 70th birthday speeding towards him this year is a shocker, we’ll both agree. Eight years his junior, I’m not diggin’ the math that puts my seven-oh not all that far behind his.

Outdoors keeps us feeling young--er!

Outdoors keeps us feeling young--er!

However, I refuse to say he’s old, I’m old, we’re old. Hell no. 

The old word brings to mind yellowing plastic containers that have seen too much UV light. Old as in a horse lead out to pasture. Old as in medieval. Old worn shoes and socks. Old house that creaks. Well, maybe the creaking can’t be denied.

Old roads. Oldies but goodies. Yuck. Old hat. Old records. Old is as old does. You’re as old as you feel. No one expects an old person to be sexy or sexual. 

“Please, can we agree to the word older,” I beg. “Will you please stop saying we’re old?” 

He laughs. If I hadn’t been enjoying one of his yummy vodka tonic’s he’s made with pineapple infused vodka, I would be irritated. But he’s making me laugh instead. I can’ t help myself.  He loves to see me getting worked up when he brings up THE WORD.

Old has no room here. No closet space either. Not even a little cubby hole somewhere. Old rhymes with mold and cold. Don’t like those words either.

“It’s okay to say we’re old because we are.” he declares. I open my mouth to protest. “Do you think you’re middle aged?” he asks. “Middle age”, he continues, “is the age from our mid 30’s to about mid 50’s; 60 at the latest.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I almost scream. “People are living longer. 62 is the new middle ages; I mean 62 is only half way cooked, I mean, well, I’ll admit to being a senior citizen.” I feel myself struggling with those two words. Ten years ago I felt far away from being categorized as senior. I’m not near ready to fast forward to any old talk.

We’re both laughing at my word jams. And we both know I love my senior discounts at the car wash, movies, anywhere I can save 10%. I love a deal. But there’s no deal here to ever agreeing we’re old.

“I’ll agree to saying I’m old when I’m 85; no when I’m 81. Okay, when I’m 81 I’ll ease up on the word old. Not until then.” I tell him with a straight face and firm resolve in every fiber of my middle aged sexy being.

He’s smiling at me with that charming smile that seduced me ten years ago when we were so young. Third time marriage for both of us was the charm. When the idea that sharing the rest of my life with him seemed like a very long and happy road with so much to see and do and share.

He lowers his voice. “You will always be beautiful and sexy. You could never be anything but lovely in my eyes.” Smart man.   

Those words will never get old.


©Colleen Hannegan


Aim for the Word

Colleen Hannegan2 Comments

She’s writing about writing. This prize winner of words. It's 4 a.m.and I can’t sleep so I turn on the light and reach for her words keeping their patient vigil on my nightstand. I want to know. How to. All my life I’ve wondered and imagined and only in my 60th year did I publish and throw a launch party and invite others to read my story. A book that took 50 years to live, seven years to bring to light and two years to see it printed.

And I wonder. How to write. Why I want to write and why can’t I let go this inner rumble of words, the feelings of words. Leave me alone. But if they left me, though no one else may ever read them I would be somehow lost.

“The page, the page, the eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch, but touching it nonetheless……"  Annie Dillard. 

I take my hand and lay it on her words and pass it over the entire last page of her chapter four. Imagining my hand and skin and blood and nervous system will absorb and transport and impress upon my magic, brewing word cauldron that never rests, the knowing and vitality of why and how the letters that become words that become sentences that will serve me and save me and keep the Earth on axis allows me to own for myself the getting of it. The yes of it. 

She has talked of the discipline of writing and chopping wood. How they relate and how the wood splitting is so much the word splitting. When you split wood correctly or write words in order, the flame that comes from either warms your body, warms your soul. The similarity is in creating oxygen, to breathe, to carry a flame and heat your room, home, heart.

“……..because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut, the page in its purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life’s strength: that page will teach you to write………”

My 10,000 pages. Surely my scribbles and stops and starts, my poems and essays and morning musings and countless journals, my articles others have paid me to write and the so many others no one wanted; my book and its words, chapters, drafts and rewrites, the letters have numbered in the millions over these sixty years. Who can claim oneself a writer just because she writes? I call myself this and hold the telling of it as though I hold a newborn. With fear and awe, with the powerful and miraculous wonder of being a mother of a child or a book or a painting or a building. A creatrix, an inventor, a magician, alchemist, healer, scientist. Alone in my laboratory adding a pinch of this and that and hoping, praying for the boiling of it.

It’s alive! It’s alive!, I shriek. 

Here on a blank page, at 4am, with the dark shadows hovering as they enjoy doing when the light flickers and invites me to play. With the words.

“…..There is another way of saying this. Aim for the chopping block. If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block.”

The words. Finding the right words, any words, some words, a word. Opening up is hard enough, as though each time I must wield my heavy wood ax and myself swing up for momentum and down with swift purpose, poise and strength. And on occasion when confidence appears, it carries with it direct aim and I strike through the words perfectly. And the words bring me some heat and air and comfort. I find the humor then, too. The essence of trickster coyote reminds me at every page numbered that my living and breathing and searching for the right words brings me the hidden joy of it all.

I write because I continue to search the whys and hows. And for those words that do come from time to time with answers. The answers to question I’d forgotten to ask until I present myself before the honest white, and the pulsing, patient, trusting curser.

I take aim.

And always, learning to  laugh at the magical wonder of it all.


Seeing Clearly every day~

Colleen HanneganComment

The day I left the optometrist's office in downtown St. Louis with my first pair of glasses, and noticed the leaves on trees from across the street, I was hooked. I was in love with seeing my life more clearly. At 8 years old, wearing my sky blue, aluminum cat eyes, with tiny crystal embellishments, my world came into focus. It was the beginning of a life long love of wearing beautiful eyewear  and appreciating clarity.

My chosen path as a eyecare visionary, has included every aspect of the optical business since 1980, including owning my own optical shop for 22 years. From trainee, to lead optician, to store manager of a large optical chain, to ownership, to frame buyer for a multi-OD office and now retail optical consultant and speaker.  Seeing life more clearly, and teaching others what I've learned, has been a joyful journey!

Working in optical is new and rewarding every day because every client walks in needing something unique. No two are alike. The daily delight of how I can help and the reward of guiding others to see their very best has been, in a word, enlightening!

As I move on from the daily retail, into more speaking, teaching, writing, and consulting other eyewear professionals, the larger arena this presents  carries with it, a bigger world. And in this larger view, once again I see even clearer, that people and places and things are all ONE, searching for ways to see the leaves on the trees. And in doing so, discover the amazingly beautiful world we live in.

And what a grand profession for us to be in.

Farberware, Farewells and Birthdays.

Colleen Hannegan1 Comment

She's cooked her last goose. After 40 years, the ol' girl is just plain done, finitio, caput, with being a Farberware pan. I unplugged her tired out circuit board, took back my little ceramic cup that held up her one missing leg, cleaned her up one last time and said...."Thank you for an era I'll always miss but was thrilled to have spent it with you just they way we were."

Tears. Almost. Not exactly, but close to it. She really belonged to my husband, a gift from his mother for his first marriage, 40 years ago. I've held her close and kept her going for the past 7 years. Time spent in his kitchen during our dating years and for the past year here in our married home together.

And it was reminiscent of my youthful years; Mom had a Farberware, and didn't every other Mom from the 50's 60's, made here in the good ol' USA when we still made stuff that lasted 40+ years??!!  I had my own through two previous marriages. I regret they got away from me; not the husbands but the Farberware! So I've taken extra care of this one,  imagining the day might come where she might have to be retired from a life she worked so hard for and accomplished so much in; mostly an expert job on my buttermilk pancakes, only to be sent off to be recycled? Oh, I hate to think about it.

I had to replace her with a CucinaPro....made in China. Ugh. Broke her in this morning. She's got strong legs, I'll say that for her. But my kitchen has lost a bit of nostalgia, herstory, and a quality tool. She will be missed.

What has me all worked up about unplugging her hotness, is facing down a birthday this month that has me land locked in my 60's. Down with one, beginning a second one and wondering how long I can maintain my own hotness, my warranty, my legs and my circuit board. 

I took everything out of my closet, tossed it all on my bed, shoes across the floor and stood facing an empty wall and rack. I feel a recycle coming on for myself.  An end, a beginning, closure, an opening, wondering what's worth keeping and what no longer belongs here, in that closet, on my body, showing off who I am 

Miss Farberware had her run. She was a class act all the way. A winner, champion, beautifully made, hard worker, faithful and resilient to change.

And so am I. I still have miles to go, things to do, places to be and stories to tell.  My circuit board still works and needs regulating to keep it from getting too hot and burning out. I have my Mom's legs and Dad's height and a healthy body like a race horse, some days. Other times, I pace myself like a tortoise, slow and steady.  Not so fast but I always get to my finish line.  

So thank you Farberware for your toughness and for your even temperature throughout and for those hundreds of homemade batches of buttermilk pancakes we made together. Wasn't it fun! The time has come and we must part ways, just as I must sat farewell to my previous 60 years.

Here's hoping that when it's my turn to unplug it all there will be someone to say, "That woman had quite the life, and wasn't she something we'll miss!"

Time to go shopping!