We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Hannifin-MacNab and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Susan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business happened quite by accident. Literally. At the age of 41, I was an educator, social worker, wife and mother- until my husband was killed in a car accident and I became a traumatized professional, a grieving widow and a solo parent to our 5 year old son. That day, I was thrown into an unknown world and eventually propelled to uncover every possible tool and resource in San Diego County that would help me restore, renew, and rebuild a new life. Because I was an organized teacher, I filed all of these helpful healing resources into a 3-ringed binder (A= Animals, B= Breathwork, C= Couseling, etc) and because I was a social worker, I started sharing these powerful a-z healing tools with everyone I knew. I was invited to speak at conferences for bereaved spouses, parents and siblings; present workshops for professionals at hospices, mortuaries, and medical retreats; train student interns and professional therapists who work in the fields of grief and trauma; and motivate others through blogs, podcasts, television spots, newspaper interviews, and magazine articles. The 3-ringed binder of a-z healing resources eventually became a book entitled “A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention” (2018), which has since won five independent publishing awards in the fields of psychology, mental health, and health & wellness. My late husband Brent was a professor of International Business and my biggest fan. He used to say to me, with a twinkle in his eye, “Someday, you should start your own business! You are a leader, you are organized, you are a fabulous writer and speaker. Plus, you’re cute so maybe I’ll help you out with that.” Little did Brent know that A2Z Healing Toolbox® would begin because of our life together… and that he is still helping me out every day.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
A2Z Healing Toolbox® is a heart-based business that emphasizes healing with intention, education through action, and post-traumatic growth and healing. Through A2Z Healing Toolbox®, I provide practical workshops for bereaved individuals and families, staff training and development for helping professionals, keynote speaking engagements, podcast interviews, webinar facilitations and award-winning grief and trauma healing guidebooks. Our culture has so much work to do in the way of helping people heal after profound loss and life-changing experiences. I feel grateful that I am now able to provide some assistance as I walk with others on their journey of restoration, renewal, and rebuilding. Some lessons I’ve learned along the way? – Believe that you CAN and you WILL. Surround yourself with people who believe you can and will too. – Know what you know and know what you DON’T know. Find experts and professionals to fill in the gaps. – Community is key. Rely on others. Ask for help. Accept the help. – People want to assist but don’t know how. Show them. Let them. – These 5 lessons of Post-Traumatic Growth can shape our futures: 1) New OPPORTUNITIES will arise through our struggles. 2) Greater APPRECIATION of life will appear. 3) Inner STRENGTH will propel us forward. 4) IMPROVED relationships with strangers (new friends!) will arise. 5) Personal SPIRITUAL beliefs may shift, change and guide.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I was born and raised in San Diego and really am an athletic minded nature-nut at heart. When friends and family come to town, our itinerary always includes lots of outdoor time! It usually goes something like this: A walk up the hill at Torrey Pines State Reserve then down along the coastline, with a stop for brunch at Stratford Court Cafe in Del Mar. A hike up Iron Mountain or Mt. Woodson beginning at Lake Poway, with a shower stop at home then dinner at Boto Sushi in Carmel Mountain Ranch or Poway Sushi in Poway. A scenic paddle-board in Mission Bay, followed by a picnic lunch anywhere along the shoreline and then a ride on the Mission Bay Coaster. An urban kayak in San Diego Bay- pushing off from the Coronado side, heading under the bridge and skirting the golf course- with lunch outdoors at Spiro’s Greek Cafe on the Coronado Ferry Landing and dessert at the Coronado Cupcakery. My all time favorite San Diego restaurant is Jake’s Del Mar- the food, the atmosphere, the ocean view!- so we usually wind up here on any given night. Favorites with Kids and for Family Days: Moonlight Beach, Del Mar Beach, San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Sea World, Miramar Lake, and the Corvette Diner.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This ShoutOut is dedicated to Robin Litrenta of Robin Litrenta Photography. Robin started dragging me along the road of my new life several years ago, after I met her in a class at our local gym. It was right after my husband died in a car accident and four years after her husband died of pancreatic cancer. We lifted weights together and did hundreds of squats, crunches, and push-ups, all the while speaking about life and death, solo parenting school-aged children, exercising for sanity, and willing ourselves to survive. Over time, Robin became my unofficial peer mentor, and she has continued to encourage me, support me, and lift me up. Over the years, Robin has dragged me out of bed, dragged me to eat, dragged me to the gym, dragged me to spiritual healing retreats, dragged me to weekend widow conferences, dragged me through family school events, dragged me to new hairdressers, dragged me to massage therapists. Robin even dragged me into the world of social media and business marketing, cheering me on with my book and business along the way! All photos on my website and book cover are thanks to Robin Litrenta Photography.

Website: www.a2zhealingtoolbox.com
Instagram: #a2zhealingtoolbox
Facebook: A2Z Healing Toolbox

Image Credits
Robin Litrenta Photography