Breakdown Lane…..

The past two weeks have been fraught (I like that word) with technology drama. My new android phone is working well, only it has trouble receiving some emails. Of course, the emails I want to receive are the ones not getting through. The ancient (2008) desktop computer in the home office (the only office I have right now) decided to allow one of those malware viruses past the firewall and the security system.

Mike (bless his heart) wanted to save us the computer geek charges and was able to get rid of the pesky bug in only four days. Then the print was so small I could not read anything on the screen. After a conference call to 13 year old Peter, I was able to figure out the screen settings situation and now the screen reads like one of those large type books at the library.

And I still have to take the cpu tower to the computer geek guy because my word processing program has disappeared into the bowels of the hardware.  I have had a pesky little nagging pain behind my eyes just thinking about all of my files snagged up among the electronic whatchamacallits and gizmos inside the metal box.

Since this is taking awhile to resolve, I am working on the laptop. The laptop is not my favorite place to think and dream and write and edit, plus I like my laptop downstairs. My office is upstairs where the good office chair is located. Another problem with downstairs is the printer/fax/copier/scanner is upstairs.

So the past two weeks have been a constant upstairs, downstairs, hook-up, unhook, interspersed with worry over the files I may or may not have lost. Today I made a decision to move on. I will not let my personal technology breakdown lane take over my life. There will not be any more whining over what I cannot fix right this moment. I will get right on that as soon as I go vote…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Rocky Mountain High ……………..

Spending the night somewhere in southwestern Kansas was inevitable.  Experienced from many trips to Colorado by a variety of routes I knew my overnight options in the southeastern part of the state would be thin. My plan was to spend the night in Garden City. I was familiar with one large motel on the highway into town.

The torrential downpour following the spectacular thunderstorm was not in my plan. The motel was filled. The evening motel clerk took pity upon my pathetic dripping wet self and called another motel for me. There was one room left. They would save it for me. Traipsing back out into the univinting elements I headed off with my written instructions. The vintage motor lodge was near downtown with a tiny full parking lot.  Parking on a side street, I opened the door and stepped out into swirling water halfway up to my knees. Grabbing my overnight bag, I sloshed through to the motel office. The hot bubble bath was heaven and sleep came easily.

The next morning the air was cool, clean and fresh. The sky was a wonderful shade of blue. Sticking my book-on-cassette into the tape player, I continued my adventure. Timing was great. I drove into the mountains mid-afternoon. Locating the main house and checking-in area, I received my instructions and keys. While the owner delivered my wood, I unloaded the car. After my brief tour of the pump house,  the springhouse and brand new outhouse, I was left alone to enjoy my stay.

There was a kerosene lamp on the little table, I opted for the battery operated Coleman lantern as the sun began to set behind the mountains. Starting a fire in the wood stove, I fixed an easy supper, heated water to wash my face, put on my flannel jammies and jumped into bed with a book. That night I again slept the sleep of the exhausted.

Waking up without an alarm clock is a luxury. Waking up to only take care of me was an unheard of phenomenon. The cabin was cold and I snuggled in bed until I was too hungry to wait anymore. I jumped up and started the fire. Using my old camp coffee pot I made coffee on the Coleman stove. Jumping back into bed I waited for the room to warm and coffee to perk. My breakfasts during the week were bacon and eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy or oatmeal. I made pizza, muffins, corn bread, meatloaf, baked chicken and a cake in the oven of the wood burning cook stove.

On the fourth of July the ranch family and the “dudes” gathered around a campfire for dinner and fireworks. During the day I took walks across the mountain meadow and checked out the farm or lay out on the fold up outdoor lounger I brought from home. One day in the middle of the week I drove out of the wilderness area into Gunnison and up to Crested Butte. I arrived during the summer wildflower festival and had a great time wandering through the town, eating ice cream and looking over all the flowers and arts and craft displays.  

The week I spent at the Quarter-Circle Circle Ranch was the real beginning of the rest of my life. The road trip to a remote area and taking care of myself with no running water, electricity and indoor plumbing set a new standard for how I wanted to live. The lessons learned were invaluable for my graduate school years three states away from my family support system.

My journey to find myself and carve out my own slice of life had begun………………………..

©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


Dashboards, plug-ins and widgets, oh my…….

Several months ago I thought dashboards were attached to steering wheels, a plug-in was inserted into an electrical socket and widgets were made in factories.  I had no idea these items are found everywhere in our world. Without a dashboard I could not manage my blog site or my website.  A plug-in is necessary to increase my software capabilities. Widgets enable me to install easy to use applications on my sites.

Twenty years ago I did not even have a DOS monitor and a CPU on my desk at work. Now we have two flat screen monitors, two towers and a laptop in three different rooms in our home. They all have access to the internet with our own Wi-Fi connector. We have a copy, fax, scanner and printer machine in our home office. In high school I refused to take a typing class because I did not want to be a secretary. Now I word process everything.  

My new G2 handheld Android lets me talk or message my friends and family, manage my bank account, send and receive emails, check Facebook, tweet people I do not even know, keep my calendar, find my way anywhere in the world and a whole lot of other things I have not even learned yet. Two days after I picked it out someone told me it was already obsolete. I told them I was okay with that. Obsolete is really relative. There are a whole lot of people in my world who do not even know what a tweet is, they never check their emails and do not have a Facebook page.

 I have at least ten email addresses for a variety of reasons, two Facebook pages, a blogsite, two websites, and an internet business. I am impatient for my bank to start letting me scan checks to make deposits from my home…. Sometime this spring, so they say.

My great-grandfather had the first radio in his farm community in 1917 and used metal photo developing plates for his photography business. I take pictures with my G2, upload to the PC and print them out and check the news feed on my home screen to see what is happening around the world.  My grandmother kept the books for my grandfather’s plumbing business on ledger sheets. I bought Quicken last year and am thinking of upgrading to QuickBooks in the next week.

Lest you think all of this technology came easily to me, I resisted even a Blackberry for years before caving a little over a year ago. Up until six months ago the last games I played with a monitor and a handheld controller was that gobbling smiley face and Donkey Kong. Regular solitaire and maybe Taipei were about my speed. Now I smash zombies with plants almost daily.

No one is more surprised than me how quickly I have adapted to the new technical world order in the last year. Excuse me; I have to get back to my writing. Soon you will be able to download my eBooks after you visit my PayPal account……….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Everyday Hero……

While reflecting and pondering life transitions and how women make them this past week, I remembered the juggling. For years a constant theme in my journals has been about finding a balance with who I wanted to be for myself and who I needed to be for those most close to me. There was a pivotal moment, a “blinding flash of the obvious” for me, when I recognized the struggle and juggle is the balance.

Remember the delicate act of keeping a teeter-totter straight across when we were children. Others wanted to go up and down. I was always fascinated with keeping a balance; the breathless concentration, wiggling forward and backwards to find the right location to keep the plank steady.

In the late 1990’s I was working as an assistant executive director at a Girl Scout council in Kansas to be closer to my young grandchildren and their mothers. I was learning as much as I could and taking every opportunity available to attend leadership and training programs locally and nationally. With a new marriage, new job, new location I wondered if I was spending enough time on important things, my new husband, my grandchildren, daughters, sisters, friends….

When my granddaughter Alice was four she was at church with me. During story time she went forward to sit at Pastor Marvin’s feet. He was talking about heroes in our lives. He asked the children if they had heroes in their lives. There was mention of policemen, firemen, Spiderman… The pastor noticed Alice waving her hand.

“Who is your hero, Alice?” he asked.

“My grandma” she replied.  

I was stunned. To this day I cannot tell you why she thought I was her hero. I only know I was humbled and proud and I knew I was still taking the right steps because if I was a hero to my granddaughter I was doing okay…..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Imaginary Friends……………..

When my oldest daughter was around 7, we lived in a 1920’s airplane bungalow. The girls’ bedroom was upstairs off of the kitchen. Standing at the kitchen sink, I could hear Jill talking to someone in her bedroom and knew she was by herself.

I was not surprised; when she was younger she would talk to her imaginary friends Polly Esther and Dac Ron while playing with material scraps under my sewing table.

As she came down the stairs into the kitchen, I saw she was dressed up in her best clothes with matching shoes.

 “Well hello, who are we today?” I asked.

 “Jill” she replied in the ‘exasperated by mother’ tone.  You know the one.

“Are you going out?” I asked.

“Yes, I am a lawyer judge and I am going on a date with my lawyer friend.”

“Well have fun”, I managed to say.

 As she moved off to continue her play, I went back to the kitchen sink, a smile on my face, thinking maybe we were heading in the right direction. She was obviously graduated from college, in a career and she was still just dating. I remember thinking we would have the ethics talk regarding which lawyers judges ought to date another time.

I shared this story today at the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Series luncheon. My topic was Women Leader Transitions. I spoke on my leadership journey. During my journey I was always wondering if I was doing the correct thing at the right time. The girls kept me grounded in the present while I was preparing for the future.

Every once in a while I think of Polly and Dac. I miss them………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Network Central….

Networking is as natural to me as breathing. I am curious about people and like connecting them with other people or organizations for both personal and professional reasons. A friend once told me I was a bridge to other people and places for her.  And she appreciated it.

Translating this gift into a more material resource lucrative proposition is a challenge. A woman I met at a workshop suggested I ought to become a recruiter. She meant a professional headhunter type recruiter. They work under a lot of pressure. These days I am interested in a little lower key lifestyle, thank you very much.

My professional career was about recruiting the right people for both volunteer positions and paid employment to accomplish the organization mission. I enjoyed the work and believe wholeheartedly in the objective to provide leadership opportunities for girls. Now I am transitioning my own leadership skills, experiences and education to the next best place for me to be.

Two days ago I updated my Linked In connections by requesting connections to just about everyone on my email lists and searching through the Linked In subscribers. The response has been great.

On Monday I connected someone with a need for a website content writer to a copywriter I met through crossover circles. They are meeting today to see if they can meet each other’s needs. Last night I had a conversation with a friend from New York I had not spoken to for over six months. We made arrangements to get together when she is in Chicago in March. On Wednesday I am having lunch with a classmate from my graduate school days to see if we can work together.

A lesson learned in my 53 years as a girl, volunteer and professional Girl Scout is to look wide for connections, friends, experiences, life lessons. The friendships, understandings and personal growth are the reward. Any resources manifested from them are a bonus.

Taking a deep breath, leaping and looking wider still…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Twitter Doodle…….

Today I was researching the feasibility of having a Twitter account for our business. The Twitter website announces the new TWITTER.COM and assures us we will all have access to the new and improved version. New and improved, or not, the thought of having to tweet 50 – 60 messages with a sales message every 5 tweets still sounds daunting.

While contemplating the feasibility of coming up with tweet content 16-18 hours a day, Jami called to update me on her progress with the Facebook site. She has to deactivate and start over because I messed up the profile information she wanted me to input. Sigh.

We had a business owner/administrative specialist discussion regarding Twitter. Imagine my surprise when my tech savvy, hyperactive, constant motion, cell phone and Facebook addict daughter was a little reluctant to enter the constant tweet social media world. Okay, my dependence had been on her, we will table the discussion for a day or so.

While on the Twitter site I read some of the Twitter examples they had running down the page. One of the tweets was a message on “How doodling sharpens concentration, increases retention, and enhances access to the problem solving unconscious.” Being a lifetime member of the marathon doodler club, I went to the website. Fascinating article about how doodling helps with learning by integrating our visual, auditory and kinesthetic sensory systems. The article was filled with wonderful examples of doodling techniques.


Fig. 3: Bullets, frames, and connectors create connection and contrast. ©

Maybe I will doodle awhile………….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Exhilaratingly Exhausted……..

We spent the second day of our workshop determining our Ideal Amazing Customers, Creating Multiple Streams of Revenue, Marketing Maximization, Creating a Success Support Team and developing our Inspired Action Plan. We each have an accountability partner. My partner and I will be touching base every day for 10 minutes to let the other know how we are doing with our three daily tasks.

My entrepreneur muse has been whispering in my ear for longer than I realized. As I walked the talk of the Fresh Entrepreneurial weekend, my desire to be responsible for my own income streams and be the boss of myself manifested itself all over the exercises. There were more inspiring quotes and lots of support from the women in attendance. And the view of Navy Pier from Lake Point Tower was wonderful.

Did you know that Zappos has close to 1 million followers on Twitter?  Did you know that Google has a “maniacal focus on the user”? I didn’t and I am impressed with Google’s commitment to their customer and Zappos understanding of the need for customer relationships. That is what we want for customers.

Ready to rock and roll or at least grab hold and grow…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Facing My Fears…….

Facing My Fears……

Yesterday and today I am attending the Fresh Entrepreneur Boot Camp sponsored by Ladies Who Launch Chicago, facilitated by Traci Ellis, Attorney and Market Leader for LWL Chicago. My personal goal was to come away with the promised 90 day inspired action plan. Yesterday we “peeled back the layers of the onion” to our Life mission and I was sweating with every layer. We worked on our Vibrant Vision Statement and I found my Business Why.

Most importantly I was reminded of a quote which changed my life almost 20 years ago. The quote was as important to where I was in my journey then as to where I am in my journey now.

Drum roll please………………….

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson*

And what a fear that is. There is the fear we will find our power. The fear we will not find our power. The fear others will not understand our power. The fear we will not know how to use our power. The fear …… We could procrastinate forever because we fear failing our power. You get the picture of fear. Power comes from facing the fear and becoming our “most powerful beyond measure selves.”

Okay. I am ready………………

* “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles


©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved