Living a ritualistic life…….

One Easter Sunday I sat in our Illinois church home. I listened to the story I have heard annually all of my life. The story of how Peter denied he was a follower of Jesus.  I remembered when I first realized without the stories of Judas betraying Jesus, Peter denying Jesus and Paul persecuting Stephen and being blinded on the road to Damascus there might not be a religious movement we now know as Christianity. Around the same time as the Christianity epiphany, I made the leap to the reasons for the collection of stories that brought forth the Jewish monotheistic faith…

One God focuses our faith…..

One God consolidates our thoughts…..

One God gives us a universal reason for working together….

One God allows us to pray, worship and share our spiritual rituals with each other…..

Spiritual rituals sooth our souls….

Spiritual rituals allow us to be present…..

Spiritual rituals remind us to be mindful of our better selves….

Spiritual rituals calm our troubled minds…..

God is good…..

Embracing the ebb and flow of my walk with God strengthens my faith in good…..

Honoring the good in my life holds evil at bay….

Celebrating the good in Christmas, Lent, Easter, Epiphany, All Saints Day gives me common ground with my family and friends…..

All is well and good with my soul……


©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved


Happy Mothering Day…


…is fundamental to all beings.

…involves nurturing and raising children.

…extends far beyond biology and bodies.

…is the act and practice of love and the passing on of knowledge.

…occurs across multiple times and spaces

…is political.

…is life.

“Mothering is not limited to relationships between a female parent and her biological offspring. Mothering, as a relationship and practice, is a social and cultural act that occurs between multiple configurations of people of many generations – individually and communally. This is something Indigenous peoples have always known, celebrating extended families and lauding the wisdom of matriarchs as it applied and was transmitted to all the younger generations of a community. Mothering, understood in this way as a complex web of relational practices, was and is fundamental to life. This is perhaps also why mothering has often been so threatened while simultaneously holding the potential for (re)building the inherent strengths in our communities.

Aboriginal mothering is recognized as extending beyond the biological act of giving birth and involving a multitude of roles and relationships across times, spaces and generations. Strength to move forward as healthy individuals, families and communities is inextricably linked to Aboriginal women, mothers, grandmothers and aunties….”

The Sacred Space of Womanhood- A National Showcase on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women and Mothering

©2012 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved



Wedding Fever….

So 33.3% of the world is slated to watch the “wedding of the century” tomorrow morning.  Thirty years ago, Sam’s mom and Keri set their alarm and were up in the dark to watch Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry.* They remember the procession in the horse drawn carriage, the ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the recessional back to Buckingham Castle. Sam’s mom told me it was a”‘fairy tale comes true; every little girl wants to grow up and be a princess.” She went on to say if mothers do not believe in the princess dream, why do we read our little girls princess stories. Ouch. My oldest daughter generally drills down to the main issue pretty ruthlessly.

Weddings are family, friends, fun, music, food, lots of pictures and memories. My very favorite part of our weddings is what I call ‘wedding prep.’ We book the hairdressers and manicurists and literally take over the establishment. Everyone dresses together in a special room at the church. Aunts, moms, grandmas, female in-laws, bride’s attendants, flower girls, candle lighters,friends are all coming and going. The photographer is taking candid shots. The whole pre-wedding scene is the ultimate dress-up party.

For the record, I am not setting my alarm and getting up to watch  Prince William and his fairy tale come true “commoner” bride, Kate Middleton, tie the knot.  I wish them well in their marriage.

I hope Kate has as much fun with her wedding prep as we do with ours…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



Welcome to the world, baby girl……………

Eighteen years ago today, Kyra Rose appeared in the early morning hours at Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas.  The years have slipped by somehow and now we are celebrating her entry into legal adulthood. She can vote, sign her own paperwork and join the military. The most important legal advice I have is to remember ignorance of federal, state and local laws is not a defense in a court of law. Rules of engagement for a productive adult we all want to be around are the rules of civility, etiquette, fairplay and commonsense.

Some of my personal favorites:

Please, thank you and your welcome are always appropriate.

Listen to your elders, including your parents. Their opinion might make your list of viable options.

Think global, act local.

Respect the environment.

Continuing education is never wasted.

Bosses are always correct, not always right, just correct.

Think before you act.

Be the change you want to see.

Doing the same thing over and over will get the same results. If you want different results, change it up a little or a lot.

Fake it till you make it.

Love your Grandma.

Friends are important; siblings are forever.

Sometimes being good enough is all we get.

Remember when you were 17, waiting for this big day. When I was 18, I could still buy 3.2 beer. A friend and I bought a Coors six-pack at the Kwik Shop on the corner of Chester and Sardou in my Oakland neighborhood. I choked down half a can and ended up pouring the rest out on the dirt road where we went to drink our no longer clandestine beverage. One of life’s little lessons: pre-purchase taste testing is a good thing. My Uncle Ed might have given me a taste of beer if I had only stopped by his house earlier in the day.

The day Kyra was born; my mother drove my grandmother to welcome the 8 hour old precious baby girl into our family. Five generations gathered in the hospital room April 22, 1993. My cup of gratitude was overflowing as we shared the day with Jami and Kyra.

Happy Birthday, Kyra Rose.…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Walls Were Talking….

Our church family was an important part of our life growing up. My parents were married in the First Church of the Brethren at Eighth and Topeka Avenue.  When I was five or so a new church building was built in the Rochester Community north of Topeka. There is a postcard of the church building that pops up every once in awhile among old photographs and other paper memorabilia. Whenever I see the picture a really warm feeling fills me and memories flood through me.

There were weddings. Aunt Mary’s wedding, with more children than adults in the wedding party. Aunt Margie’s wedding with 2 flower girls and 2 ring bearers. I can still see the matching white dresses.  There was Rick’s, Penny’s, Sally’s, Deb’s, Keri’s, Jami’s, mine, Jill’s blessing ceremony, as well as, extended family and friend weddings. There are lots of memories and stories. Sally’s wedding story is one of our more memorable family legends.

Sally was in the Navy in the mid 1980’s. She met a Marine while stationed at Rota, Spain. They became engaged. My mother started planning a wedding in Kansas. The bride and groom began figuring out how to be there. The groom was in a training school in Texas during the month before the tentative wedding date.  We lived in Illinois and were responsible for two candle lighters and a flower girl. I bought the Jessica McClintock matching candle lighter dresses off the rack at Carson, Pirie, Scott’s and made a floor length pink flower girl dress.

We left after work on Friday and drove to Kansas, arriving about 3 AM. The rehearsal was at 10:00 AM with an early evening church ceremony and reception, followed by an informal party at my parents large Victorian home. Sally had arrived several days before. The groom’s parents arrived from Wisconsin before the groom. The introductions to their new daughter-in-law and her family were made and the wait for his arrival by military flight to Forbes Air Field in Topeka began

We all made it to the rehearsal. While the wedding party walked through their steps and Deb practiced her music, Leslie and I were in the church kitchen pulling out crystal glassware and setting up for cake and punch. Somehow everyone was dressed and ready on time.

The candles were lit; the minister, groom and best man were sequestered in the little room to the right of the sanctuary. The sanctuary was bathed in beautiful candle light and filled with soaring organ music. Penny decided to walk down the aisle early, taking the head usher in charge of the procession by surprise. The organist looked up in surprise, shuffled music until she found the traditional bride’s processional and met the challenge. Penny arrived at the front and realized she was there alone. She looked back down the aisle sharply waving her arm and hand forward indicating to flower girl Jami she was needed at the front. Never mind the head usher clutching the back of his flower girl daughter’s dress to keep her from following.

Penny kept sharply flicking her wrist and hand to Jami until Jami swished her body hard, releasing her father’s hold and marched down the aisle for her Aunt Penny, who gave a sigh of relief and straightened to see a stunned audience. The look on Penny’s face was priceless. As if on cue the audience laughed all together.  Penny flushed and Jami arrived at her side.

Meanwhile the minister, groom and best man had hustled out the side door as soon as the organ music changed. We were all waiting with baited breath to see what would happen next. The bride and our father made it down the aisle, vows were made and parties ensued. Later on, Dad was the center of attention as he told the tale from his perspective. He says he grabbed Sally’s wedding skirt as she tried to hightail it out the front door in embarrassment. Or at least that was his story and he stuck to it. Sally was not available for a rebuttal. She slipped out with her new husband, probably hoping to never see any of us again.

Actually, the walls of the church were not just talking, they were belly laughing………….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Everlasting Love……

My 17 year old granddaughter “loves” my blog. She messaged me from Facebook and I am so touched.

I was present at her birth. The tension and angst of her mother’s pregnancy fell away as I spent the first day of Kyra Rose’s life with my daughter. New grandchild euphoria consumed me. I found out the truth behind the “If I had only known how wonderful grandchildren were, I would have had them first” crowd.

For the next two years she and her mother and then her sister lived in our home. She and Alice were shiny bright stars during what was otherwise a dark time in my journey.

Her grandfather and I had her with us a lot as her mother finished up her high school credits at the alternative high school, attended the local college and worked a part time job. The three of us shared child care duties as we were working full time and I was taking nine hours a semester at the same local college.

Kyra was old enough and sensitive enough to feel the tension surrounding the breakup of an almost 25 year marriage. One day, shortly after her grandfather was back in the house after a one month separation, we had Kyra in our bedroom watching TV with us while her mother was with Alice. In her cute little pajamas, fresh from her bath, she was the center of our attention. Kyra leaned over and took her grandfather’s hand placing it over mine. She sat looking at us and holding our hands. We were both overcome with the longing in her gaze and knew exactly what she wanted. Filled with bittersweet regret we were both unsure of how we would ever find our way back together, even for her.

Five months later I found Kyra standing in her grandfather’s side of the closet surrounded by what few clothes he had left hanging. She was keening his name. I had read about keening with grief and was unprepared for the reality of the emotions the words conveyed. There was such a depth of longing for what she could not ever have again in the sounds she made, as she held on to his clothes and called his name. We cried together and I held her in my arms on the floor of the closet for a very long time.

Kyra has an indomitable spirit. She has been faced with unimaginable loss several times in her life and finds a way through. Like others in her gene pool she embraces her journey with an understanding of the vagaries in life and love.

Love finds a way and Kyra Rose has a whole lot of love in her life……………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Ever After……

After Mike proposed, I suggested we wait a year to be married. Valentine’s Day would be on a Saturday the next year so why not get married one year from the proposal. Mike agreed. He is always getting man congratulations for having the foresight to propose and be married on Valentine’s Day.

The year in between the proposal and wedding was busy. I finished my graduate school coursework, took a job in Kansas, welcomed a new grandchild and planned a daughter wedding. My wedding vision included standing in a living room in front of a fireplace filled with love for Mike, surrounded by family and friends. We were living in a leased duplex in Wichita, and we had children in Topeka and Olathe, KS and Woodridge, IL. There would need to be some pretty fancy coordination to carry this off.

We rented The Governor’s Row House in Topeka within two weeks of the proposal and started the planning process. My journals and lists from February 14, 1997 – February 14, 1998 are filled with guest lists, food lists, vendor lists, DJ lists, music lists for two weddings. There are drawings of cakes, dresses, shoes, flower arrangements intertwined with job interview angst, dithering over staying in Illinois or moving to Kansas, marketing plans to increase GS membership, new grandbaby, wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping, moving vans, housing deposits, new children…..

There were times when I wondered if we ought to go to the courthouse and save the money. My Aunt Mary reminded me of all our families had been through the past few years, deaths, divorce. She thought we needed to go ahead and have a ceremony and party. Everyone needed a celebration.

Our big day finally arrived. We stood in front of a Victorian fireplace surrounded by family and friends.  The buffet table was beautiful. Flower arrangements were made by daughter Keri. The fondant icing cake I wanted was affordable because Sister Sally had a friend. Our snowbirds, Aunt Mary and Uncle Chuck, were in from Florida. The reception room was decorated beautifully with hearts, flowers and burgundy tablecloths. The DJ was ready. We were ready.

Upstairs in The Governor’s Row House there were rooms where small children would be entertained throughout the festivities. We hired another sister friend, brought in videos players, monitors, books, games, toys for after the ceremony. The children were upstairs and doing great for several hours. Around 9:30 PM the child care provider was distracted by babies. A 3 ½ year old Alice crept down the stairs. She found her way to the ballroom at the back of the house. Aunt Mary spotted her at the entryway. The child look of delight was shining bright. Aunt Mary told me later when she saw Alice floating across the dance floor she knew it was all over, the children were coming to the party.

A really good time was had by all. There was good food, good friends, good music and great fun. Happily ever after is a good place to start ………


©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Bee My Valentine….

Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday. Fourth of July is red, white and blue bunting, parades and fireworks. Halloween is all about creepy crawlies and dressing up. Thanksgiving is giving thanks, stuffing turkeys and eating pumpkin pie. Christmas is …well… Christmas family, friends, snowmen, Santa Claus, presents, music, trees, stockings, lights….

I loved decorating a box or bag to hold my Valentines; working with construction paper, glue, crepe paper and sequins is just plain cool. At home we would each have our package of valentines, a ballpoint pen and our list of classmate’s names.  Carefully selecting the appropriate valentine, writing each name and checking the name off of the list gave me such a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of goodwill toward classmates.

The origin of Valentine’s Day was not really important to me. I have vague memories of elementary school teachers talking about a saint in Italy, patron saint of affianced couples, marriages, love, beekeepers ….

Winter in DeKalb, IL was cold and snowy. Mike and I had been long distant dating for several months. Jill and Mike traveled from Kansas to visit me over Valentine’s Day weekend. For our Valentine’s Day dinner I fried chicken and made mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, biscuits, apple pie and ice cream. Jill’s eyes were wide and she mouthed a big “WOW”. She told Mike her Mom had not cooked a meal like that for a really long time.

After dinner Mike and I went for a drive. He pulled into the parking area of a small forest preserve on the north side of DeKalb. He was very quiet. After a minute or so he raised his head, looked at me and asked me to marry him. I was very quiet and thought about what he was asking. He knew I was not sure if I ever wanted to marry again and there were many things still left for me to accomplish.  Speaking from the heart, he told me he loved me and understood my fear of committing to being part of a couple again. He said all he knew for sure was I was the woman he had been waiting for and wanted to be with me for always.

Taking a big breath, I agreed. The rest is now our story. Through the years I have given and received many valentines from family, friends and a husband or two. The night in the forest preserve parking lot on the north side of DeKalb is where I received my very best Valentine Gift.

Now about Saint Valentine and those beekeepers ………………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved