Colleen Hannegan

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


Take a Hike and sharpen your Senses

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This morning I decided to walk to the hardware store to make my purchase instead of automatically reaching for the car keys. My idea was to combine morning exercise with a simple chore. Three miles ’round trip. My walks and hikes are more often in the opposite direction from morning traffic but today I thought I’d see what I could see, and to hear things differently.
As I walked on the sidewalk alongside the zooming commuters, my slow and quiet pace was a stark contrast to speed and noise. I reminded myself of how often I drive too fast to make that green light and too impatiently wait for a sole pedestrian to make it across the street. Do I have to wait until they get all the way across? I sensed that was the thought for those caffeine amped worker bees waiting for me to hop back up on the sidewalk and get outta the way! This morning though, drivers were very patient with me. Not one person tried to mow me down in the crosswalk.
I stood at the busy corner waiting for the red hand to turn into the green walker, a bit self conscious, standing solo, feeling vulnerable and so “seen” while thirty odd drives looked at me. I always check out the walkers waiting for their signal to cross when I’m in my car, waiting my turn. It’s something drivers do. You can’t help it. No other walkers were nearby. I was the one pushing the crossing button and single handedly altering traffic flow. That was a power rush, a push of the button and the world demands I get a chance to cross safely.
I walked along an area near the overpass that was dense with high bushes and noticed someone had been sleeping there recently. I’d never noticed speeding by in my CRV. I walked past a man, waiting at the bus stop, his bike next to him with a flat front tire. We made eye contact and smiled. “Oh, a flat tire.” I said. He replied, “Yeah, my brother gave me a bike but didn’t include the air!” We laughed at his joke.
The landscape maintenance worker respectfully paused his mower and smiled a “Good Morning” as I passed his crew and stepped around the trimmed grass and trees.

I made my purchases then headed back home.

Walking along noisy streets is not my first choice for outdoor exercise. I’m out on wilderness trails and in neighborhood parks getting my exercise almost every day. But once in awhile, walking in my neighborhood helps me to remember how to be a conscious driver; easy on the speed, more patient with pedestrians, aware of the people around me, not just their cars, and pay better attention to what I see and hear. It’s so easy to be distracted inside your car.

I had this funny image of all the people going to work, walking, instead of driving. All lined up at the red lights, standing single file, tapping their foot impatiently. And the commuters in the opposite direction, walking quickly through the intersection while they had the green light favor. All that serious speed and heavy metal replaced with……..just people walking. If they had to yell at each other instead of use their horn, would they think twice? Afterall, cutting someone off while you’re walking would look rather ridiculous.

I love having my car. I really enjoy moving along and listening to music and getting from here to there in a very short time. But today I wanted to just move at my own easy paced 3 MPH and remind myself I have a choice, to stop look and listen, no matter how fast I’m moving.

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!”