We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Hannifin-MacNab and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
My older brother and I were raised by two outstanding parents who instilled a value system that encouraged specific lifestyle habits. My mother was a Nurse Practitioner, who spent her career helping and healing others in the local community. My father was a Pilot in the US Navy, who spent his career serving the country both at home and abroad. Structure, order, discipline, commitment, charity, education and service to others were expectations that carried over into my daily adult life. I owe them such gratitude! I have incorporated these daily habits into my life and I feel they help me succeed: 1) I exercise often… which gives me structure, order, discipline- and good health! 2) I stay committed to my career… which allows me to help others globally as a social worker. 3) I volunteer my time, treasure and talent to others… which provides a win-win situation for all involved. 4) I continue to educate myself both personally and professionally… which increases my awareness of the world around me. 5) I work at maintaining a growth mindset… which bolsters my optimism that all things are truly possible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a social worker, educator, and author who holds a Masters in Social Work from San Diego State University, a Bachelors in Education from Boston College and credentials as a teacher and school social worker. I am currently the Programs and Education Manager for Soaring Spirits International (a nonprofit organization that supports the global widowed community) and the Founder of A2Z Healing Toolbox® (a heart-based business that assists the bereaved in integrating authentic, practical, action-based tools into their lives). I facilitate both live and virtual conference workshops, professional development trainings and keynote presentations, as well as guest speak on podcast, radio and television interviews.
Collaborating with other organizations- both national and international- is something I am passionate about. I believe that we learn and grow by interacting with one another, especially in times of crisis, hardship or challenge. My newest community collaboration is with Circles® (www.circlesup.com). Circles® is an organization dedicated to providing small, effective and affordable emotional support groups run by professional grief therapists- virtually! Circles® groups enable people from all across the globe to gather from the comfort of their own homes and begin to build strength and resilience in a safe, welcoming community.
My first publication and five-time award-winning book, A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention, is used by mental health practitioners and bereaved communities world-wide. The road to this professional place has not been easy. Although I was a motivated educator and social worker for over two decades, I never intended to author and publish a book. My life turned upside down in 2012 when my surfer-professor-bagpiper husband was killed suddenly and I was left to pick up the pieces of my young family’s life. There have been so many lessons learned, including: Learning to ask others for help, searching for people who understand, and surrounding myself and my son with positive experiences. In my quest to heal, I made it a point to offer help to those who would walk the grief and trauma path behind me and thus published a book full of practical tools to help others on their journey. We really are all connected.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a nature nut at heart, so I always head for the hills or the ocean… then go grab a bite! These are some of my favorite San Diego spots: Heading to the hills… Hike to the top of Black Mountain in Rancho Penasquitos. Hike to the summit of Iron Mountain in Poway. Hike up the hill at Torrey Pines State Beach then walk to Del Mar Beach at low tide. Heading to the ocean… Grab the standup paddleboard and launch the board at Tidelands Park in Coronado. Grab the kayak and head to Mission Bay, San Diego Bay or La Jolla Shores. Grab the beach umbrella, boogie boards and sand toys and set up at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Heading to find a bite… Stratford Court Cafe in Del Mar is amazing for an outdoor breakfast and lunch. Yannis Bar and Grill in Scripps Ranch has fabulous Greek lunch and dinner. Pernicanos Ristorante in Scripps Ranch is the place to go for pizza, pasta and all things Italian.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Soaring Spirits International deserves a HUGE shoutout for helping me get back on my feet again- and providing the opportunity to create a new career path- after the death of my young husband when our son was 5 years old. Soaring Spirts is a global nonprofit organization that supports the widowed community and their surviving children with copious amounts of peer support. Through their unique programs, widowed people from all walks of life know that they are not alone. Soaring Spirits’ innovative, life-affirming events, groups, conferences and on-line programs provide vital access to hope for widowed people everywhere; hope for the moment, as well as hope for the future. www.soaringspirits.org
Instagram: #A2Z Healing Toolbox
Linkedin: Susan Hannifin-MacNab, MSW, PPSC
Facebook: A2Z Healing Toolbox
Robin Litrenta Photography