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Seeing Clearly every day~

Colleen Hannegan

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 Hannegan

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!







Choose a color....

Colleen Hannegan

After writing a really great post about my recent urge to try watercoloring, and feeling so inspired and waxing on about the wonder of it all, and finding all the right words about writing about the experience , just at the wonderful computer BLIPPED and POOF, this page went blank.

Oh drat! So instead of one more cuss word to end my evening, and after so many months not even writing a post here.... I shall keep it short, as the day has ended and I'm tired. Too tired to try and capture all I said so well, just moments before!

And share with you my beginner watercolor art thanks to a teacher from youtube and my beginner supplies from AAron Bros.Two lovely hours last Sunday afternoon.

Listening to my inner SHE, always surprises me with new ways to find beauty in my world.

And the best compliment my husband offered was that he hadn't seen me so calm and relaxed for two hours straight...ever.

Hmmmmmm. I think I need larger paper; bigger brushes.


Reading other writers........

Colleen Hannegan

I just finished reading the almost 900 page Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. The non-fiction story follows Theo, a sensitive and thoughtful boy who loses his mother in a bomb blast while visiting the Metropolitan museum with her in NYC. Theo survives (hence the story), mother does not. His alcoholic father had left home previously so Theo must learn to survive the devastation of his mother's death alone. Just before the bomb explodes, he meets an interesting man and young girl who will change the course of his life; and, he (barely) walks out of the museum unnoticed with the famous oil painting, The Goldfinch by the 17th century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius, under his arm. Together, Theo and the painting, begin an odyssey of hardship, foster homes, adventure, love, disappointments and  resurrection until the climatic end. You'll have to read the story to find out what happened to Theo and "his" painting.  Was the story deserving of 900 pages? I'll leave that up to you, should you decide to read it. Experts gave it a Pultizer prize! Who cares what I thought of it.

But this is my blog about writing and more, so here are my thoughts! Author Tartt's dedication to her craft of story-telling with an almost tsunami approach to details and description had me feeling overwhelmed and drowning frequently; glaze eyed at sections. I realize now, my preference for fiction of 300 words or less better suits my short attention span as a high energy, fidgety, impatient speed reader. My loss at times, I know. I judge myself here as a reader and as a memorist. My editor had me kicking and screaming to expand where descriptions and details were weak and a bit lackluster in my own story. I wanted to write in the way I enjoy reading....get to the point. It was and still is, very difficult for me to expand. The effort though, is completely rewarding.

Boredom to me is sheer torture. I'm always concerned my readers will feel like I do. Just tell me what happened!

What I appreciated about Tartt's work, is knowing she took seven years to write it and in doing so applied every descriptive paragraph and each detailed dialogue, leaving no adjective, simile or verb forgotten. Her in-depth characters were all stand outs. As I worked hard to be patient through her story telling, I marvelled at the discipline successful writers posses to work their craft of words and stories. I could not write a story like this. It's not in my DNA, to stay seated so long or return so often to the same seat.  

But here's the rub............ four years ago I read a 900 page novel based on true events in the authors' life.  Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.  From the first sentence..."It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.",  until the climatic end, I rarely skipped a paragraph.

Hollywood is going to make a movie of The Goldfinch. I'm amazed Shantaram never made it to the big screen.

I've always chosen autobiographies, memoirs, true stories that inspire me. Only in the past four years have I found myself  enjoying reading novels regularly. Up until then, with occasional novels that found themselves on my nightstands, my reading time was all about discovering my spiritual path. Read it all. Twenty+ years later.....I don't feel I need more instructions. Seems I've graduated myself, along with those early eighteen years of religious education.

Get to the point! I cheer the writer, any writer, all writers, be it a 1,000 word essay, a two line poem or a 900 page story that takes us around the world and leaves us exhausted from the journey.... it's all about the story. The cheering on, the hopes and dreams and rise and fall, and heart pulling, devastating, life affirming chaos that has every reader wanting to know how will it end. And when it finally does, will the reader be better for having taken the trip and will the writer make us feel like we've read some of our own story within those pages? If you can answer yes, then every word was worth it. Every     single        word.

That's my point, exactly. 



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!!