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Freedom in Giving Up

Colleen Hannegan

The idea of surrender is always a tough pill to swallow for me. My (sometimes) huge ego always makes a stand for having things my way. Everything. That is, when I'm not in touch with my Inner Girl who knows to trust LOVE. The LOVE that oversees and cares for and gently guides me and everyone around me in the best direction when I listen. To the quiet. It's the only way I can hear Her reasssure me that I'm so LOVED that if I would continue to surrender to the FLOW of things, all my needs will be met. In fact I already possess all the gifts and talents I need to move forward....IF....I surrender to not ALWAYS having my way. That requires trust in powers bigger than myself and yet knowing all that power is within me. 

I just need to let go and F.L.O.W.

Foundation of LOVE. Leadership by LOVE. Organization by LOVE. And the Wonder of LOVE.

Freedom from freedumb. A daily process.


Ride with care, please.

Colleen Hannegan

A letter to the Stewards of the Orange County Parks

Yesterday, on Sunday January 4th, during one of my frequent hikes into Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness park, my daughter and I along with an elder couple hiking near us were accosted by a group of 100-200 aggressive mountain bikers as we were heading down a rather narrow section of the Wood Canyon trail. They were racing up the hill across the entire path and running everyone off the trail. We were very close to being hit. Other riders not in this group and runners and hikers were all forced into nearby bushes.

For the ten years I have enjoyed the beauty and restorative experience of hiking and riding my own mountain bike into ”Aliso”, there have been an occasional errant biker. But the majority of the experience has always been considerate and careful riders sharing the trails. 

But yesterday, Rock and Road cyclery hosted an A1 event in the park that included motosport riders, professional racing mountain bike riders and 200 of their customers to race and basically tear up the trail and everyone in their way. No courtesy shown, no patience with hikers, rude remarks from riders when we asked them to stay on one side. It was a free-for-all that left us all feeling sick that OC Parks had allowed a mob-mentality to unleash itself on our beloved park.

 The OC Parks Vision Statement is to “Preserve Orange County’s Parks in perpetuity for the recreation, education, and inspiration of ALL visitors.”

“As a steward of significant natural and cultural resources, Orange County Parks manages and operates a system of regional parks, beaches, harbors, trails and historic sites that are places of recreation and enduring value.”

The sacred space that is our community park system is a gift to our community I value a great deal. It is not a racetrack! I so love my wilderness park at Aliso and the positive healing and joy I’ve discovered biking and hiking in the park, that I wrote a book to share with the world about the healing power and joy there is for all if they will step off the sidewalk and onto a wilderness trail.  

As a professional speaker on the subject of healing in the outdoors, and how being in nature provides better health and happiness,  I teach others to seek peace and healing in the outdoors; in the wilderness. I am a member of the North American Chapter of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine and a teacher of Shin-rin Yoku, the Japanese term for healing in the outdoors.

Well, yesterday we were mowed down on that wilderness trail by a mob, who should have never been allowed to have that large a number of aggressive racers on the trail on a very busy Sunday morning. There  were no signs posted that we would be walking right into the eye of a storm of riders. It created a very hazardous situation.

This is no place for that kind of event. This is a preserved space for respectful and careful guests who will do their part to preserve our wild, not rip it up and upset this precious and delicate eco-system.

Who will care for all we’ve saved in the wild if OC Parks, the steward who represents the people, does not?

No more racing! No more large crowds of bikers! Set a limit to the size of riding groups on weekends! No more Sunday events that crowd out everyone else on the most active day of the week!


A wilderness loving guest.


End of something, start of something.....else!

Colleen Hannegan

Three more days to wrestle with the final resolutions I made 362 days ago. To tell the truth, I don't remember what they were. If I wrote them down, I don't know where January's journal is. Nor do I care. I woke up this morning and didn't want to get out of bed. Once your feet hit the floor and your toes slip into your slippers, you're committed. You've left cozy dream land and all those fluffy warm blankets and soothing pillows  that keep you floating away from reality and you're instantly adrift instead, into the cold morning air, and your worrisome waking mind; oh what a bitch she is if I don't rein her in!

Today she won. All of me. She claimed me at the pre-dawn glow when I daily mind-wrestle the holy and the unholy. One second I'm feeling dejected and worrisome, disappointed with all that IS, the next moment, I'm in awe of the swirling LOVE I feel when I'm in that just awakening state of bliss. Or blah. I have to deliberately reach out for bliss because blah is always sooo demanding of my thoughts! 

This morning I slipped into blah, big time. Maybe I was due for a sloppy morning cry. Maybe it was  plain and simple exhaustion at calling to mind 362 days of trying my best to progress! Maybe it was all that sugar I've been enjoying since Thanksgiving! But I confess, I didn't resist. I let her have her way and I wailed outloud to the FP (field of potentiality as author Pam Grout likes to call it.) I still call it The Great Listener, God, sometimes Goddess, sometimes Great Spirit, sometimes Universe, sometimes Me. That force of Energy that I know is ever present and ever listening and always waiting for my instructions. I moaned and groaned and had a pity parade for what didn't make sense, what was slow in coming (in my humble opinion) and what I'd lost and wished I still had, and I wailed about the picture in front of me that just didn't seem right!! And I'm tired, I cried! I've done the work, passed the tests, made the grade....haven't I??? 

All my assorted works-in-progress lay waiting for me on my desk, like a taskmaster. All that self-promoting I should be doing. All that social media fan-fare that would bring the results I'm hoping for. All that big smiling, happy facing, "because I'm happy" dancing I should be throwing myself into after my high-energy protein shake and one hour fitness routine that keeps me on top of the pile!  Ugh. Today, double ugh.

No. No. No. I climbed out of my blanket hideout, slipped on my painting clothes from yesterday and prepared the kitchen for it's final coat.  I turned on Pandora and lined up new music by Xavier Rudd, Iron and Wine, Ben Howard and Ali Farka Toure and of course, some Bruno Mars. Awesome new tunes. I cranked up the heat and pointed my paint brush towards finish.

Ending a year is as great a plan as beginning a new one. No matter what humble job lays before you, moving forward is all that matters. To measure ones' own progress is to always fall short. To leave the test results to the Higher Power that knows you and loves you so completely it makes your head spin is a nicer way to treat oneself. Nobody is as hard on me as me. My Bigger Self loves me; adores me, even when I whine.

As I held my brush firmly, and committed it to a fine job of keeping within the lines and making my kitchen shine, I felt a new dance flowing in from my feet to the top of me. 

Today would be a paint day, a music day, a day to say no to obligations, and say yes to an easy completion. As the second coat dried, I took an hour spin on my bike into the waiting wilderness park. Bright sun, crisp fresh air and blue overhead cleared my murky mind and grey spirit.  

Painting complete. Kitchen re-assembled.

Inspired to make dinner, I  prepared a killer rib-eye steak with super-yummy garlic mashed potatoes and stir fry veggies for my sweetheart when he got home from work. T'was a successful day afterall. 

It's so easy to flow and so difficult to force life.  Maybe this should be my new year commitment to self. May the FLOW be with me. And make dinner for someone I LOVE.

More often.


Super-Yummy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Peel ten small red potatoes. Cut into quarters. Boil until soft, about 15 min. Drain. Add 3 TBL butter and a 1/4-1/2 cup half and half. Add a heaping teas. of crushed garlic ( I buy mine in a jar, thank you Trade Joes).  Mash to music. 

Enjoy. And may your New Years joy-producing resolves be a whole lot more fun than any difficult resolutions you had in mind!


From a 1915 New Year's Postcard . 

From a 1915 New Year's Postcard . 

Pam and Carlos..... "Con tu luz, si se puede."

Colleen Hannegan

Of the myriad of books on my nightstand, Pam Grout's just released, E-3 (or E-Cubed), Nine More Energy Experiments that Prove Manifesting Magic and Miracles is Your Full-Time Gig, has my full attention. Pam is a #1 New York Times best-selling author of 17 books. I've read E-3 cover to cover, underlined multiple sections that zeroed in on me and what's cooking at the moment, then started re-reading it to absorb the lessons more completely. I've tried many of the experiments she suggests and am enjoying the results! (Pennies, James Brown, my placebo remedies, messaging with my thoughts, to name a few.) 

Ever since I was 10 years old I've been tuned in, you might say, to looking for magic and miracles in my life.  Follow the yellow brick road, right?

Yes, I've been sidetracked along the way, no doubt, confusing doctrine and have to's and must have's for E-tickets to happiness, belonging somewhere (love and confidence) and prosperity. Hoping I could control people and events in my life, I often had my hands hard-pressed on the wheel steering away from conflict and situations that frightened me.  I fought hard when push came to shove and was relentless in learning to find my own way, a better way to being me.

It was so much work most of the time!

But according to Pam,  "E-Cubed is  really about not helping yourself.....about not making your own decisions...about not assuming you know best. It's about letting go- giving up all mental constructs and surrendering to the all-loving, all powerful energy force she likes to refer to as the FP, the field of potentiality, or the Sacred Buzz.  Really, that easy? Awesome.

Pam's book helps guide the reader in fun and powerful experiments to demonstrate you are in control of every area of your life when you surrender to controlling it. I know. It's definitely a new mind set.

But I'm so ready for my new year, my new Sacred Buzz flowing through all the currents of my life and my new way of seeing. I believe I knew all I needed to know about happiness from birth to 10 years of age. But the way we've been programmed to "figure things out" and the message we're basically sinners, helped turned off my natural knowing at that young age and set me on a course to eradicate what was "wrong with me". 

Fifty years later (almost), I'm coming back full circle to what I knew a very long time ago. The only thing we have to "do" is follow our joy and be the light we wish to see in our world.  We don't need to save the whales; we need to save ourselves, the whales and the dolphins and the seals and the areas of the world we see as lacking and in pain, will be alright. It's a domino effect. That's how miracles work. Without pushing and shoving. No finger pointing. We already possess E-tickets to personal freedom and joy. We just need to cash them in on a daily basis.

Carlos Santana, in his new memoir titled, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light, says it all, "Con tu luz, si se puede."  With your light, it can be done.

Today, I'm thinking about the light I wish for my own life in the new year up ahead. I am not worrying about everyone else. (That never helps anyway.) I'm completely sure that the getting done will be an easier result from just keeping my light switch ON.

6 Keys to a Successful Book Launch Party!

Colleen Hannegan

Planning a book launch party is a grand event and one that takes 3-6 months to plan and prepare AND to make it a success. You'll need a party planner, (yourself most likely), a great venue, (I chose my local country club), delicious appetizers and drinks. I had a full wine bar and chilled water and there wasn't a drop of vino left at the end of a very successful evening.

Here are a SIX things I did to make it top-notch and memorable. After all, a book launch party is often times the culmination of YEARS of work (seven for me), and you feel like even if this book never makes it to the best seller list (but I do hold that vision), even if all this incredibly hard work falls short of finding a big audience ( I'm working on it), the love affair you've had with conceiving and birthing this story to the World deserves the caliber of debut party that is deserving of a beautiful love affair. Because you DO love this story. You've chaperoned it into being and hold full responsiblity for getting it out there to share with others. You believe 200% that every moment you stayed glued to the writing chair was a sincere commitment to the gift, the story, the healing, the wonder, the enchanted forest that dwells within from The Beginning to The End.

There are no mistakes in creating a good story, only in not giving it every opportunity to be great. And that includes a great editor, a great proofreader, a great co-book designer, a great book coach, and you yourself a great writer. And you are, are you not? Because a great book launch party can only become your reality if you believe you've truly written a great story and hired great caretakers to assist you in it's birthing. You stand in front of your crowd, and behind you are the many who've held your hand and helped you make your dream come true.

1. Plan a budget of $1000+ for the party, at least. (Mine cost $1200).Depending on venue, food and beverages, size of crowd, a first class book launch will provide a great opportunity to debut your book. Don't skimp. Choose a great venue. Planning far enough in advance can help with budget matters. I saved money by having my evening reserved a week before more expensive dates during the holidays. You can always negotiate the terms. You never know what you may get at no charge if you don't ask and work with the event planner.  I was able to negotiate using their projector and screen for my slideshow for no extra charge. And I brought my own wine, paid a corkage fee per bottle (saved $5 a bottle for better wine), and was given bar service at no additional charge (usually $150). Plan far enough ahead and you'll save lots of worry, stress and money.

2. Seek corporate sponsors. I had guest speakers/sponsors who were able to invite their clients to the party and share their products with new people in the crowd. Win/Win. They shared in the expense of food and wine. Their message paired well with my book subject and kept the audience interested, entertained and warmed up before I took the stage. Each sponsor spoke for 10-15 minutes only. My talk was 45+ minutes.

3. I had an MC for the evening, like any well planned event. He kept things flowing and timely. HIs ease and humor held us all together throughout the evening.

4. I chose to make it a free event. I was confident enough in my event, in my guest speakers and in my own talk, that I would sell books at the end of the evening. I thought to myself, if I was invited to a book launch party, would I attend if I had to pay? Maybe. But I'd feel alot more welcome if it was free and I was allowed to decide to buy or not to buy. Some authors charge $20-$40 and it includes a book and food. That is a valid idea. Others invite a donation to attend their book launch; say $25 and it includes a book! Good idea, too. No matter what you decide, it's your party and from start to finish, you have to be your own rockstar and have the party you've dreamed about, the one that will keep you smiling for a long time after because you did it your way and it was successful.

5. I hired 3 girlfriends and 1 sister and my daughter to act as 'hostesses" for the evening. They welcomed guests at the front door, at the guest book signing table, acted as timers in the back of the room for speakers, made sure guests found their way to the food and bar, and helped at the book signing table with payments and thank you's. This made a HUGE difference in my being relaxed knowing I didn't have to watch over EVERYTHING. They were friendly faces in a crowd and worked the room and made sure things went smoothly. I also hired a videographer and photographer and let them roam free. 

6. I wore a fabulous outfit I felt totally comfortable and beautiful wearing. I'd made my hair appointment earlier in the day so I'd feel all bright and shiny new. Presentation is KEY when you've invited 100 people to your show. Because it IS a grand event. You want your guests to feel as special attending as you do presenting.

Go 1st class. It's the only way to step onto your new stage as author and to compete in this great big world of writing. Trust me, it was SO worth it, every step of the way!