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A BIG new chapter.....

Colleen Hannegan

Certain birthdays seem to shake, rattle and roll you sort of like an earthquake. It comes on all of a sudden, even though you know you live in earthquake country and are as prepared as one can be. It just shows up one day and you want to roll under the nearest desk and cover your head with your hands until it goes away.

That best describes how my recent birthday felt. It was a big one, more than a little shake, it woke me up from a dream and smacked me upside the head. YOU ARE HERE NOW. No I can't be. YES YOU ARE!!     and................... you're going to be just fine.

My brother Brian told me when he needs to get a grip on how old he is, he imagines himself much much older, then looks back in time at where he is now, and says to himself....hey, I'm not this old yet! Ha! I can see how that may work for awhile until.............. you're REALLY OLD!! And time has run out. 

Many of us are CONSUMED with thinking about how not young we are anymore. Maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe truer is, this society we live in is consumed with youth power. And it has always tended to underate the amazing power of  bright and healthy elder energy.

Maybe we're two worlds (Young vs Not Young)  trying to live in the same world and sometimes the overlapping of desires and comparisons brings negative judgment. "What do they know??" That can apply to either world.

As much as I refused to believe that getting to this age would not change anything about my life, I must be honest and say it has changed a few things. And to rail against being here now is fruitless, a major energy suck and idiotic. Youth cannot and maybe should not be worried or concerned about getting old(er). Life is for the living. And Living is all about being present in the moment. Being 16 or 60 should not alter what being HERE NOW means. THAT I would have preferred to learn in my youth!

So here's my list of what has arrived with my turning "seasca". (Gaelic)

~~ Realizing as hard as I work out and eat right, my body will never look like it did when I was younger. It's okay! I look really great for my age! (I repeat that to myself often.) And I have a good fitness plan weekly.

~~ Happiness is a daily choice over unhappy, doubt and worry. REPEAT OUTLOUD.

~~ I leave my house without makeup or wearing a bra as often as it works. Freedom!

~~ I listen to my feet when they say they're tired. And any other body part that is speaking up about how it feels. 

~~ Self-care is a part-time job that is more important than ANYTHING. An afternoon cocktail may be in order, or a visit to my esthetician for a beauty treatment.  A tough ride out on my mountain bike may be required. Whatever! 

~~ I'm MUCH more accepting of other people. Though I still wonder about the oddness, selfishness and stupidity of my fellow person, I'm much more likely to wonder where they hurt and be a point anyway.

~~ Great sex is the best vitamin. Lucky me I have a wonderful and engaging partner, that knows how to have fun. And, BTW, he's aging gracefully and that's a bonus.

~~ Girlfriends; more precious than gold. Way more precious than anything I own for that matter, The level of laughter highs and shared life journies keeps me going!

~~Sisters! Real ones. Got lucky there too. Supportive, all the way. They know the stories, all of them and rally for me when I'm down and know what to say to get me back on my feet.

~~I've looked over all I've lived and all I've achieved in life and came to the conclusion of late, that I've lived a successful life and many people in my life would miss me if I died. LOVE rules my world and when I forget that, I slip up. Guess there's more to be done since I'm still here. But I no longer feel pressure to perform. What's mine will come to me and I'm sure I'll recognize it when it shows up.

~~ I'm more open to trying new things without pre-judging  it's fun factor.

~~And, finally, I absolutely need to sign up for more outdoor, physical adventure. I have spent most of these years on adventures of the Spirit and Relationships and Mental Travels. It's time to pull out the paper passport and road map to new places and people. GO!

These days  I'm learning to balance being out in the world and being quietly at home. The joy of being quietly at home is feeling very good lately. But I hear the pied piper of future age playing the tune that enticingly sings.....enjoy this healthy life while you can!!! Get OUT THERE!!


A constant state of change.....

Colleen Hannegan

Today I splashed in the pool with two teenage nieces. We listened to Jack Johnson on my iPhone as we laid out and worked on tans. They made me laugh. I felt so happy. And in touch with some very special feelings of summer joy that have eluded me for some time.

No one's fault but mine.

I've been so busy being a grown up that I'd temporarily forgotten all I know about my fun inner girl and how she always waits and waits and waits for me to let go. So that she can show me the way to happiness. The read deal happiness. The kind that has no age, no time limit, no deadline. The Divine Happiness that knows Play is what we are here to do. It really is ALL a game.

So today, Lina and Raina reminded their Aunt Colleen that joy is best shared and happiness has nothing whatsoever to do with Doing........ it's all about BEing.

Happiness is a state of Being.

I have decided to move there.  Permanently.


Can you ever be 100% anything?

Colleen Hannegan

Doubt and me are frequent walking companions. My morning power walks in nature (sometimes I walk on concrete but prefer dirt), is my time for solo mind chatter. No human to dicuss my life with, no feedback from a sympathizer (girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, daughter), just me and SHE and doubt. I refer to the Greater Power than me, as SHE.

I find it's the best way to question everything. Oftentimes I talk it all out loud. Other times I'm just thinking, thinking, thinking. It may sound much like whining, (it could be), or praying, (help me help me help me,) but mostly I've started to become AWARE of how much of my early morning outdoor ramblings are doubt-based. 

So let's back up sixty minutes. When my sleeping mind transforms back to a waking mind and 5 a.m. stirs my soul. And my first thoughts are all about LOVE and healing and my deepest desires to connect with WOW POWER and G-D and the UNIVERSE. And I feel it from the soles of my feet  traveling up and through all parts of me.  And I know PEACE and faith and hope and the pure  deliciousness of being human and part of all creation. And I know how to receive it and spread it outward to my loved ones. Yeah, I know that's alot before breakfast.  But I've learned through the years, that I received a big dose of DIVINE KNOWING the day I was born. Lucky me. 

So here I am out on my walks, and I'm all about the doubt, 'bout the doubt, no kidding, I'm all about the doubt, 'bout the doubt. And I wonder why am I not 100% LOVE POWER AND ABSOLUTE SURENESS all the time, especially when my first thoughts are so juicy positive and powerful?  I don't know. All the time. 

So I decided to allow myself to doubt out loud as I start on my walks, but when it's time to turn and head back, I have to SHUT UP and LISTEN. What I've learned is, it's positively okay to be doubtful and look at the negative side of life and to vent and wonder and wrestle with my choices. It's part of my human experience. As long as I allow equal time for quiet trust, faithful reflection and acceptance. The listening is soooo rewarding.

By the time I get home it always feels like my daily doubt got left behind out there and recycled into something much more useful.

If it only lasts 24 hours, that's okay. Doubt and me go way back, but making friends with her has most definitely lightened my load over the years.


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.