Colleen Hannegan

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


Imagine All Those People, Living for Today...

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photo by Al Patterson

photo by Al Patterson

When I got out of bed this Sunday morning, I never IMAGINED I would be building a little snowwoman at 3,200 ft at 2 p.m. this afternoon.  After brunch, I talked us into a walk in the wilderness park just outside my partner’s condo. The rain had cleared for a bit,  bright- blue sky was bursting through huge billowy cumulus and a bit of exercise seemed like such a good idea to combat that extra waffle I could not deny.

Freezing wind was no match to our relaxed Sunday attitude, or our clothes or my crazy laughter at Al’s face barely visible through his zipped up hoody. I cannot recall EVER feeling so cold, taking a walk in the park on a sunny Southern California day. We turned our backs to the wind after 50 paces and laughed our asses back toward warmth. As we faced the backdrop of the Saddleback mountains heading back to forced heat, we were looking at snow capped peaks for miles. “How would you like to take a drive up the Ortega (Hwy.) to Blue Jay campground and see if we find some snow ?” Both of us long for any free time in nature, by foot, by bike, by truck. There’s always this weird “what if” conversation that precedes the  going.

We went through the usual decision making….”Do we really want to leave the warm condo today?” “What if the roads are closed?” “What if there’s no snow?” “Are you tired?” “Are YOU tired?” “Are we TOO tired?” “What about this?” “Well, what about THAT?”  ”Do you want to go?” “Well, do YOU want to go?” “I just put new tires on the truck yesterday so let’s test them out!!” Goodyears made the decision for us. Adventure it would be.


photo by Al Patterson

Yesterday I finished reading Martha Beck’s brand new book, “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.” She teaches all of us “wayfinders” that our “wayfinding Imagination runs on fun, not stress.” What I’ve been really good at these past 100 years is working really hard. Now I am learning the joy, the ease, the GIFT that is my Imagination and learning to have FUN, creates a life worth living, more than a life created through hard labor. “The wayfinder’s puzzle-cracking Imagination isn’t the conscious mind at work, but the subconscious mind at play.”

Today was a good day to play in the snow and even build a snowwoman. My Imagination took me there today and along with it, happiness, love and laughter came along for the ride.

I piled big heaps of snow on the truck windshield and smiled like an 8 year old all the way back through the Ortega, watching it melt and fly off piece by piece.

"Do you think we'll find any snow up there??

Note to Martha….”Thanks for writing the most inspired book I’ve ever read. It will require a second read from me to be sure I really absorbed it all. And yes, I have met my rhinoceros (a couple of times) and it absolutely is healing my life!”

Digging for Gold When Away from Home

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Whenever I plan on a trip, or vacation or journey, or any overnight, out of town adventure, I freak out. The invitation to go and see and do something new always brings a rush of excitement. But after saying yes, and making plans, the panic attacks would begin.

The “what if’s” start rolling on in and in no time I’m wearing doubt like a pair of ill fitting shoes that pinch. What if the drive or flight is too long and uncomfortable? What if I forget to bring something I really need? (Of course I don’t know what I might really need, or forget, or want when I arrive, but what IF I forgot a very important THING? ) What if I don’t enjoy myself as much as I do when I’m home? What if I I’m too cold at night or too hot during the day? What if I don’t have the right clothes with me?

And then there’s the “should I’s”. Should I bring three pair of pants instead of two? Should I bring a skirt or dress because I seem to always wear pants only? Should I bring my morning prunes just in case they don’t sell prunes nearby? Should I bring the small tube of “travel” toothpaste I don’t particularly enjoy or pack the large tube of Vita-Myr I prefer? Should I bring my robe or are my jammies enough? What about slippers? Won’ they take up too much valuable room in my carry bag? I don’t want to take two overnight bags do I ? Or do I??

And then there are my choices for eyewear……………..

Truth is I’m so much less anxious then I was just a few years ago. I would go into such a panic, I would make myself sick and would therefore have to cancel. Once I woke up in the middle of the night after making travel plans, I thought for sure, I’d broken off a piece of my back tooth and therefore could not travel! My morning visit to my dentist assured me that no, there were no missing pieces and yes, all my teeth were still intact. I confessed to her my extreme “sky-dive” panic of taking trips. She was the first one I confided in that plans for travel keep me grounded and parked.

Ahhh, to cancel. I was always so happy to not have to go through the torture of packing decisions and monumental emotions of what it meant to temporarily leave the comfort and familiarity of home and habit. Confiding with my understanding dentist helped bring my problem out into the open for healing. She listened to me and held my hand and said the sweetest words I dont’ remember.

So to get over myself and solve the anxiety and fear I was allowing to limit my life experiences, I decided to play a game with myself. Every time an offer to take a trip came up, I imagined finding “gold” on this trip. Gold being, some wonderful nugget of experience that would make this trip really memorable. Maybe I’d discover something amazing about myself while I’m away. Or maybe I’d meet some interesting person, or enjoy an amazing meal or be a part of some gorgeous scenery. What if I learned some secret only available from this particular destination? What if a bit of magic and mystery showed up there, wherever “there” is? What if’s started sounding much more interesting.

Today I’m going on an adventure. That’s what I call “taking a trip” now. So when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning and started in on my wacked out prune theories and stressing about what to remember to put in my cosmetic bag (earplugs), I brought to mind my “looking for gold”.

And while I will admit, to imagining my “adventure angels” traveling with me, praying for safety on the road, a perfect drive experience, no potholes traffic jams or rude drivers, bottled water within reach, my Payday and apple slices next to my seat, windows cleaned and seat properly adjusted, bags placed just behind me in the center seat, long sleeved sweater to prevent sun damage on my left arm and keep me comfy, the perfect pair of practical driving shoes, nothing too tight around my waist for adequate circulation, and cell phone properly charged in case of roadside emergencies and to let loved ones know where I am every hour…………. I will have fun. 

Here’s what Francis Bacon said about travel….”Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education: in the elder, a part of experience.”  So here I go on a new adventure experience!

Now, time to check the weather and the air in my tires………………….