Good, Bad, Ugly

The long weekend was very satisfying. I had a lot of quality time with friends and family. Jami and I were able to connect and make progress on AuroraNightOut. My political junkie heart was warm from good conversation with Max and Leslie. Sister and sibling breakfasts were easy and relaxed. Children pulled off a great party. Grandchildren were grand. Friends were present and a good time was had by all.

Late Monday afternoon I spent time with Aunt Norma in her senior resident apartment. We laughed and talked. I enjoyed our time together. I have been thinking about retirement abodes and was impressed with her living quarters and building. Keri is only several miles away.

Tuesday morning we set out for home. Sam was tired of his car seat and not eating very well either.  We traveled as fast as the law allowed and were trying to keep our stops to a minimum. About ¾’s of the way through the trip we stopped to give Sam his milk cup. I decided to run in to a convenience truck stop. Somehow my T-Mobile G2 Android phone fell to the ground at the curb in front of the store. Not realizing the loss, I went on in and bought chips and soda for Sam’s mom and me. Sam and his mom pulled down to the end of the store’s front concrete riser.

My daughter saw a trucker come out and pick up something at the curb. She realized it was my pink gel-covered phone. The trucker turned and went back into the store. When I came out she rolled her window down and asked me if I got my phone. She indicated that a man had picked it up and taken it in the store. I went back in one door and the trucker came out the other. His hands were empty.

He did not turn in the phone and he disappeared into one of the half a dozen semi’s parked in the vicinity. After my daughter described him to me, I remembered him from inside the store. She and I were a little stunned he had not turned the phone in. She did not understand why he would have looked down at the phone, pick it up, shake his head and go back into the store if he was not going to turn it in. Good questions. I do not know the answers. I do know the truckers in my family would have turned the phone in; my dad, my uncle, my cousins, my dad’s trucker friends.

The next few hours were kind of a mini-nightmare. I had T-Mobile Customer Care and then the insurance company on the phone in the rolling hills of eastern Iowa where calls are dropped in every valley. Service was immediately terminated. I kept getting the automated insurance information. It took awhile to figure out I needed a police report, officer name and badge number. Really? In eastern Iowa? Not a town in sight?

Thirty minutes later we found the right sheriff’s department and the dispatcher listened to our story and called the sheriff’s deputy on the radio. He had her take our name and number and said he would call me back. We could proceed on to our homes. A big sigh of relief because by this time we were sitting at the I- 80 Illinois Welcome Center parking lot looking at the Mississippi and did not want to turn around and go back an hour.

We arrived home several hours later than previously expected. It is now five days later and I am still not completely over the experience.  My “new” phone did not arrive until three days later.My contact numbers are missing. I had wonderful pictures of grandchildren, Mr. K, friends, family. I have to set up email, calendar, twitter, FaceBook again.

I am grateful we are safe and home. The memories of the visit are still warm and wonderful. I know in the grand scheme of life we are lucky the phone is all we lost. I am not sure exactly why I feel something else was lost, I just know I do……………….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Tea Party…….

My daughters planned a tea party for me last Sunday.  There were several generations there, my Aunt Marge and my Uncle Bob’s widow, Aunt Mary. There were cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandchildren and friends, cousin Cheryl and friend Cheryl, Girl Scout friends, childhood friends, adulthood friends.

There was cake, hot tea, finger food, conversation, sharing stories, laughter, funny cards. We had such a good time. During sharing birthday girl stories time one of my cousins told about my helping her and her mother out on a Girl Scout camp out for one of the younger cousins. The girls hiked through muddy water and I guess when Aunt Mary asked how we could let them do that I replied “they were having so much fun. “

My daughter Keri said the phrase “they were only having fun” is a Mom story in itself… children are out on the roof, up in the attic, playing in the water, crafting with scissors and glue, pounding on musical instruments, out in the snow, raking up leaves and jumping in the piles, snacking between meals, staying up late… because Mom is all about having fun. I have to agree with her. Life is way too short to not have fun. I like to plan fun, have fun and share fun.

Thanks for the party girls. The afternoon was wonderful, we had fun……

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Procrastination machination ……

It is 9:00 PM and I am sure my children are at home with their children, which has nothing to do with why I am doing a little self inventory right this moment. Sam, his mom and I are leaving for a Kansas trip in the morning and I am not packed.

Years ago, maybe 1981 or 1982, I read an article on procrastination. The only thing I remember is the phrase “procrastinators have a fear of failure”. This statement became part of my mantra whenever I was tempted to wait until the last minute to prepare for a test, presentation, training…. just about anything at all. I repeated the phrase over and over as I created a list and/or timeline to organize myself.  I ask myself why I think I might fail and what actions might I take to avoid failing. The ritual helps me even now.

Several areas of my life still have serious procrastination symptoms. One of them is preparing and packing for a trip. Wondering why I would be afraid of failing a trip, I typed procrastination into my search engine. Reading the information* helped me avoid the packing for awhile.  I learned “fear of success” and “afraid of failure” are still among top reasons for procrastinating. Imagine that, procrastination 30 years ago is the same as procrastination now.

I will have to worry about my trip packing procrastinating behavior and whether or not Procrastinators Anonymous is the group for me when I return, because it is now 10 PM. Maybe I will go to bed and pack really early in the morning…..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved




It’s the culture……….

Over twenty years ago I was a new program director. My executive director wanted me to explore diversity programs we might be able to offer our members. She gave me brochures and pamphlets she had been collecting for years. Her personal favorite was a Philadelphia, PA based Green Circle Program started in 1957 by Gladys Rawlins. The program was being used by schools, youth organizations, Girl Scout councils and the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) to name a few.

While attending new program director training at the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) national conference center in New York, I met a Green Circle and Valuing Diversity facilitator trainer from Wichita, KS. My home was only 2 ½ hours away from her. We had found our program.

The first week back from the training I contacted my new friend and Green Circle Program ally. The dates for the next facilitator training were about six weeks away. I put together a program proposal and budget and set out to recruit a volunteer advisory group. First I needed a volunteer committee chair or at least a potential facilitator to take the training with me.  With a little help from the membership directors we found a former leader, a woman of color who had helped with a council diversity program in the past. She agreed to go to the training with me.

Let me be clear. I was a novice in the “how to’s” of developing a valuing differences program and clueless when it came to understanding and identifying institutional racism. I have a very basic belief in equality of all humans. This deep conviction is drawn from family dinner table conversations regarding injustices perpetuated on Jews, Gypsies and other enemies of the Third Riech in German Occupied Countries during World War II and the Civil Rights movement playing itself out on the nightly news throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. What I did not have was the language necessary to be an intelligent articulate spokesperson on the importance of valuing differences programs to the development of effective leaders or the knowledge of how to develop and integrate a program like this into an organization.

My experience during the two days we were in Wichita “rocked my world.” I became uncomfortably aware of how people of color are ignored and overlooked.  Both the white desk clerk at our motel and the white waitress at the restaurant where we ate looked at and talked only to me. They glanced at my companion only when necessary and other wise ignored her. We stopped at a mall and had fast food from a taco diner. As it happened I was the only white person eating there. I was not subjected to the same treatment my companion experienced earlier. We had not even had the first session of the training and my education had begun.

The two four hour trainings and the all day session with the regional Green Circle facilitator trainer were invaluable to me in my valuing differences and diversity awareness journey. My training with those facilitators laid the groundwork for years of effective work.

My most important take aways from those days in Wichita…. Our cultural environment incubates either prejudice and discrimnation or tolerance and understanding. We cannot ignore our differences, be they color, economic, environment, family, sexual orientation. Acknowledging and accepting our cultural differences will lead to less intolerance. Education will lead to less ignorance.

Color me convicted and committed to valuing cultural differences , eradicating institutional racism and changing his and her story………………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Authentic Living..……

My first visit to my very own therapist, not the marriage counselor or the family therapist for the adolescent behavior disordered female living in our home, was a relief. The therapist asked me to make her a list of everything I was responsible for in my life. Two weeks later I turned in my homework and went to the washroom.

“Well, well, here comes the walking life jacket,” she said to me as she sat at her desk, watching me walk down the hall towards her, holding said list.

With those words my axis tilted and I experienced a paradigm shift. This ‘blinding flash of the obvious’ forced me to examine and re-examine everything I thought was true about myself and the role I had chosen to play in my life. At that moment I really understood what being a co-dependent caretaker meant.  I, also, understood the need  to change my behavior or lose myself.

So the journey began. In the beginning I read everything I could get my hands on. I was at the public library at least once a week. There was a book outlet at the mall were my daughter worked in her college town. Whenever I visited her I checked out the self-help section to see if there was new reading material on the subject. Eventually I stopped reading so much about changing behavior and embraced the behavior change work in earnest.

The dawn of my life changing journey was almost twenty years ago. Several years into the journey, shortly after my divorce, I found myself in graduate school. There was a young woman in the program with an internship in the same village as me. We carpooled to work sometimes. She began asking me questions about my marriage and the breakup. She was married with young children. Her struggle to maintain her current life soon became apparent. One day, as I cautiously shared a little of my story with her, the phrase “care-dependent co-taker” rolled off my tongue. I literally stunned myself into silence as I realized the implications of my words.

Looking back I can see a pattern to my life changes. Realizations and epiphany’s abounded in the beginning.  The pendulum swing of realizations and old behavior versus new behavior changes was extreme for awhile. Practicing new behavior years and distancing from old behaviors years were covert emotional wringers. There came a point when the best of the new was integrated with the best of the old and I did not question my motives as much. And now life is less tied to others perceptions and more to my reality.

Living an authentic life for me is embracing myself, flaws and all, for who I was and who I have become. Being the best person I know how to be is the legacy I want to leave to my daughters and grandchildren……..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


More Favorite Things……

Gingerbread trim…. coconut bunny cakes…. lazy rivers…. four-leaf clovers…… red, white and blue bunting…… tiramisu….. new box of crayons…. Maple syrup ….. slipper socks…… sunflowers…. Aunt Betty’s German chocolate cake….. blooming Bradbury pear trees…. Rocky Mountains….. Georgette Heyer regency novels…… campfires……. dark chocolate …….. waterfalls ….. parades …. pedicure….. rocking chairs….. estate sales….. blue skies….. Autumn colors……. Teddy bears…. Clown cars…… ear muffs…… Barnes and Noble….. flannel pajamas…….  

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Going with the flow ……

When I was around eight or nine, I received a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, A Child’s Garden of Verses, as a present. This book is one of my treasure, the cover has long since disintegrated. I read the poems at night before bed. I read them sitting outside under trees on warm, sunny days. My favorite was “Where Go the Boats?”

 I used to wonder why liked the poem so much. I memorized the verses and thought about the words whenever I was near water, especially rivers. When studying geography in school I would look at the Danube, Rhine, Nile, Yangtze, Mekong, Euphrates, Tigris, Amazon, Mississippi, Missouri, Hudson, Colorado, Snake, Colombia Rivers and wonder where the water ended. I wondered about the people on the river banks watching the boats go by.

When we drive back and forth to Kansas we pass over the Rock, Mississippi, Cedar, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas Rivers and a host of smaller streams and creeks. My head is turning back and forth looking up or down the waterways. I fantasize about taking another canoe trip on the Wisconsin or Current Rivers.

What is it about the water and the flow? I do not know if I can define my feelings on the subject. The flow of the water makes me smile. Water relaxes me, whether I am on top of it, floating in it or listening to it. I have a four CD set titled the Waterfall Suite with lots of wonderful water themed music. Even the backyard pond with tiny waterfall is soothing to me.

The why I love the poem does not matter. I just do……….

 ©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

Where Go the Boats?

from A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark brown is the river,

     Golden is the sand.

It flows along for ever,

     With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,

     Castles of the foam,

Boats of mine a-boating–

     Where will all come home?

On goes the river

     And out past the mill,

Away down the valley,

     Away down the hill.

Away down the river,

     A hundred miles or more,

Other little children

     Shall bring my boats ashore.


Inspiring words……

“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.”
Virginia Satir

“We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.”
Jean Toomer

“it is best to learn as we go, not go as we have learned.”
Leslie Jeanne Sahler

“What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows.”
Alexandra Stoddard

“The only place you’ll find success before work is in the dictionary.”
May B. Smith

“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”
Mary Kay Ash

“Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.”
Billie Jean King

“That’s the way things come clear – all of a sudden. Then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along.”
Madeline L’Engle

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”
Agnes Repplier

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”
Oprah Winfrey


Man Stores……..

We have set some kind of record in our household. We made it almost seven weeks without a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot. There was one short stop at Menard’s about a month ago to pick up Orville Redenbacher’s 94% Fat Free Kettle Corn Microwave Popcorn. I am not sure why this particular big box home hardware store sells our favorite popcorn in a larger quantity and at a cheaper price than either Jewel or Walmart. One of life’s little mysteries, I guess.

Another of life’s little mysteries is why men like hardware stores. I confess to enjoying a little bit of hardware store browsing every so often. There is a hardware store in Yoder, Kansas where members from the surrounding Amish community shop for lumber, shingles, tools, nails, etc., as well as, every day home hardware necessities, Dazey Churns, meat grinders, sausage stuffers, Radio Flyer wagons…. you get the picture.

If you visit around mealtime stop by Carriage Crossings, the local restaurant, and park your vehicle with the horse and buggy crowd. If you are there for breakfast you can have really good biscuits and gravy and my personal favorite, fried mush and syrup with homemade sausage patties. They, also, have an excellent pie selection. The pies are baked daily in local households and delivered to the restaurant early every morning. The pecan pie is a seasonal favorite and the coconut meringue pie is the best I have ever tasted. I have been taste testing coconut pies for almost 60 years. They have a wonderful gift shop…..I digress.

My enjoyment of hardware stores, at least the big box variety is limited to two, maybe, three times a year. Since Mike and I have been married we have remodeled and re-decorated two homes. Plus, Mike is a Mr. Fix-it. He can fix most anything if he has the right equipment, tools, parts, materials, paint, brushes, rollers, etc. There was one memorable day when working on the basement TV room in our Kansas house years ago, when I was at Lowe’s or Home Depot or Star Lumber at least 15 times. Sometimes we stop by to walk around the outside aisle of Lowe’s or Home Depot. We are checking to see if they have some obscure item we did not even know we needed until we found it on the end cap of aisle 30.

Why Mike invites me along on these trips is another mystery. I complain and sigh and call him on his cell phone when I cannot find him. For some inexplicable reason he continues to ask me along. He does like me to interface with the checkout clerk and he never brings his reading glasses, so I have speculated he needs me to be his personal assistant. He assures me he just likes my company.

Today it was about 20 degrees and snowing. We were on our way to pick up a vacuum cleaner belt. We visited Lowe’s, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. There was not a Sharp vacuum cleaner belt to be found. Since there is a good case to be made for popcorn really not being a hardware item, we are still on a seven week no purchase streak for home hardware, which is a good thing.

If someone had checked online before we left the house we might have kept the no trip streak going until spring planting……..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


In Cat Years……..

Chinese New Year is celebrated on the 2nd new moon after the Winter Solstice. This day is also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. Chinese people around the world gathered for their annual reunion dinner on February 3. They wear new red clothing to ward off evil spirits and start the year anew.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar is a yearly one, based on the cycles of the moon. A cycle is made up of 12 months each. A complete cycle is 60 years comprising five 12 month cycles. The Chinese legend has it that Lord Buddha summoned all of the animals before he departed the earth. Only twelve came. He rewarded those twelve by naming a year after each one in the order they presented themselves. An interesting twist is found in the Vietnamese Zodiak where Cat is the fourth cycle animal. According to the Vietnamese legend, Rat tricked Cat into missing the banquet and Rabbit received the honor instead. So the Vietnamese Zodiac honors Cat.

In the Chinese Zodiac I was born in the Year of the Rabbit. Cat’s characteristics are just enough different from Rabbit’s to make me wonder if I really lean more toward the Vietnamese Zodiac lifestyle. Rabbit people are articulate. Cat people are smooth talkers and I am a very convincing recruiter, which is not the same as articulate. Cat and Rabbit people are both talented and ambitious. Rabbit people are reserved, have excellent taste, admired, trusted and often financially lucky. Cat people have supple minds, a patient personality and know how to wait for favorable conditions before taking action. They succeed in their studies and are in conflict with Rat. I am really in conflict with Rat and I patiently wait for the right time; sometimes to the chagrin of family and friends.

There is even more confusion in my life these days. You may have heard there was a dust up recently over the possibility of astrological signs changing. An astronomer, who does not even believe in astrology, gave voice to his interpretation of what early astronomers and astrology believers were thinking all those years ago when they left out some 13th thing. He told his tale to a reporter and the rest is history. Not quite as exciting as the “Colorado Bubble Boy” or “OJ chase,” the astrological sign change was still good for a 24 hour news cycle.

Being a curious sort I checked out my new astrological sign. There is a happy outcome. Others may stick to the old astrological chart. I am going with the new one. I was always uncomfortable with my Aries characteristics before the shifting universe. I am much more in tune with my new sign.

From now on I am a Pisces Cat. I wonder if the whole twelve year cycle thing makes me 5 years old in cat years….……

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved