Grandpa K…….

My dad’s father always seemed to be working the swing shift, when my cousin, Cheryl, and I spent the night with them. Grandma K would pack us in the old Chevy and we would go pick him up at 11 PM. We would giggle and be silly in the back seat in our pajamas, all ready to be tucked in as soon as we were back at their house. What fun, to be out so late at night. I loved the drive to the mill where Grandpa K worked.  We took the River Road with its curves and the big dip under the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge.  The Kansas River was beautiful and mysterious with the moon reflecting on the water.

The words we shared with our grandparents on those rides are long gone, only the feeling of being valued and loved remains. Grandpa K would greet us and tease us a little. Later, Cheryl and I would giggle and whisper in bed. Grandma K would shush us, we would be still for a second, and then start whispering again.

Grandpa K was a sports fan. He knew all kinds of facts and trivia about all kinds of sports. We were very quiet whenever ball games of any kind were on his TV. Always interested in history and genealogy, I spent hours making family tree charts with information Grandpa and Grandma K gave me. Grandpa K never talked much about his childhood. What little I know I gleaned from Dad, Aunt Norma, Aunt Margie and Grandpa K’s youngest brother, Orville.

West Virginia is where Grandpa K was born in 1901. He was third from the oldest in a family of nine surviving children.  His parents came to Kansas in a covered wagon when he was three. When Grandpa was a young teenager, his father packed them all in a covered wagon again. This time they were off to the “Promised Land” on the Canadian plains. On their way back south from the ‘not so promised land’ up north, they had no food and were starving. Grandpa K walked to the nearest town and begged to work for food for his mother and younger siblings.

In 1918, Grandpa K went to McPherson College in McPherson, KS to become a minister. He fell ill with the influenza. The doctor sent him to Arizona for his health. When he got there, he said there were too many sick people. He turned around and came back home.  After that, he farmed and did whatever he needed to support himself and his family.

The other day I was talking to my Dad’s sister, Norma. I asked her to tell me the warmest memory she had of her father.  Two memories popped into her mind. He would tie one end of a rope to the fencepost and turn the rope from the other end so she and Margie could jump rope together. She said he would be outside, after school when she was in the first grade. They would walk home holding hands. She remembered she has the Bible her mother gave him for his 40th birthday. He could quote Bible verses all day long.

Grandpa K was born 110 years ago today. In 1982, we went back to the small south central Kansas town he loved for his funeral.  An older gentleman approached us. He told my dad that Grandpa K was the hired man on his father’s farm many years ago. He came to pay his respects to the hard working young man he remembered.

Grandpa would have been pleased.………………….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


The Name Game……..

Being the oldest in my family I was around for most of the naming games my parents played. As previously reported, I was Susan Kay not Susan Lee or Sylvia Kay. The first born son was named after my dad.  It was the fifties; there were a lot of Juniors in my extended family.  After him was Leslie Ann, pronounced Lesss-lie not Lez-lie, which annoyed my sister no end because Leslie, emphasizing the “s”, was, generally, known as the masculine pronunciation.  Her middle name was, also, my mother’s.

Deb was next in line. To our knowledge there was not a Debra in the family. And the Jean was the same middle name as my Aunt Norma. The drama for Deb’s name was with the spelling. Dad wanted Deborah. Mom wanted Debra. If they had consulted Deb, the name would have been Catherine or Elizabeth. She would have settled for Deborah, pronounced De–boar–ah, and she HATED Debbie. It took her years of glaring looks and annoyed flipping of her long red hair to convince us to call her Deb instead of Debbie.

My second brother was fairly easy. My Dad’s best friend was Max Wade. Max was killed in a car accident when Dad was eighteen. He never really got over picking up the paper one cold winter Sunday morning and finding his best friend had been killed the night before. Now we have a Max Wade, too. After Max is Rick. The Richard came out of nowhere. His middle name was my mother’s father’s middle name, Murrel. My dad’s father’s name was part of the whole Junior thing with my first brother.

The real family negotiations came with my two youngest sisters names. Mom’s favorite soap opera was As the World Turns. Someone on the show had a baby named Sarah Louise. Mom loved the name. She would call her Sally. Dad liked Penelope Jo and we would call her Penny.  The discussion went on for months. Their boy names were Mark Dwayne or Kevin Dwayne. When my second to the youngest sister was born a name was not assigned immediately. Finally, they determined her name was Sally Jo. Sister Sally would have much rather been Sarah Louise. Oh well, the vagaries of parents.

The eighth child name discussion was heated until the end. The boy name was now Mark Dwayne. For a girl, Mom wanted Penny Louise and Dad wanted Penelope Louise. He would call her Penny Lou. The birth certificate was held up because they could not agree.  Penny Louise finally came home from the hospital. To this day, we still tease her by calling her Penelope or Penny Lou.

Happy Birthday, Baby Sister……………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Sesquicentennial Kansas……

The State of Kansas turned 100 years old when I was in the fourth grade.  My classmates and I had a double dose of all things Kansas because fourth grade was the designated year to study Kansas history. My mother was the official classroom mother. She asked my grandmother to make a Kansas map cake.

Making the cake was fairly easy, a rectangle with a squiggly line representing the Missouri River cutting off the northeast corner. What was amazing is she made a map showing all 105 counties on the top of the cake. There was discussion as to what color a Kansas map ought to be. Grandma made beige colored icing for the background. She added cocoa and coffee to make the chocolate county lines.

Fascinated, I watched  as she created a decorating tube with wax paper, dropped her straight line silver tip in the bottom of the cone and added the brown icing. She carefully ran the lines across the cake, occasionally glancing at the enlarged drawing of the Kansas map with counties my mother had made on newsprint. The tip of her tongue was just visible between her teeth. I could feel her concentration.

When she was done we all stood looking at that cake. It was a beauty to behold. I know someone took a picture.  I called to ask my ‘keeper of almost all things archival in the family’ sister, Leslie, if she had the picture in her coffee-table-picture-holding trunk. She does not remember the cake, let alone a picture. Oh well, there is a picture in my mind. All of the teachers and the school principal came to our classroom to see the wonderful cake.

We were to dress in Kansas pioneer clothes. I wore a long skirt, long sleeved blouse with an apron and small handkerchief shawl tied around my shoulders from my grandmother’s upstairs trunk AND I wore my great-grandmother’s lace up high-topped shoes. There was a sunbonnet on my head. I was looking good and walking proud.

Great-grandmother's shoes

Kansas officially became a state in the United States of America 150 years ago today, January 29, 2011. The story of Kansas begins much earlier. There were the oceans and glaciers and the extremely hot dry arid conditions. There are the Kanza* Indians and other Native American tribes which hunted buffalo and used the trade routes which later expanded to become the Santa Fe Trail, the Smoky Hill Trail, the Oregon Trail…….

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led an expedition looking for golden cities in 1541. European settlers came in 1830. Eastern state explorers and then pioneers came out in the 1850’s. Kansas was known as ‘bleeding Kansas’ in the late 1850’s when Free State and pro-slavery sympathizers fought over whether Kansas would enter the union as a free or slave state.

After the civil war, Kansas opened up as a good place to grow corn, in the northeast, a good place to grow wheat, south central, and good prairie grass for cattle in most other parts. All of my family came to Kansas in the mid-nineteenth century to very early twentieth century. My great-grandfather came from Sweden in the 1890’s. He married Myrtle, high top shoe owner, and eventually settled on a farm in the Kansas Flint Hills.

The farm is named Meadowbrook Farm and has been in the family for 100 years this year. There is a family reunion scheduled there the first weekend in September. Meadowbrook is English for Engstrom, the name my great-grandfathers’ family took when they stopped using the “son of or daughter of” designation in his native land. He would have been Anders Jonson and his sister would have been Mary Jonsdotter.

Knowing where I come from is as important as knowing where I am going. Most importantly, I know where I am right now.

Happy Birthday, Kansas……………………

*Kanza was the word for “people of the wind”

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


A Sam Down Day

Sam has a fever and an earache. His Mama took him to the walk-in hours at his pediatrician office in the morning. Walk-in hours at a children’s doctor’s office are a really great innovation. The sick children are separated from the well children, the doctor can see you without an appointment and the parent’s anxiety over what is wrong may be relieved quicker.

According to the doctor Sam has a “flaming ear infection”. Mom brings him home to me and then goes out to pick up the prescription. Generally, Sam is upset when anyone leaves his condo, let alone his Mama. He did not even seem to notice.

A child in pain tugs at emotional heartstrings differently than a happy, smiling, playful or sleeping child. They are small and vulnerable. They hurt without knowing why. When sick, I am crabby and cranky and miserable and I know what is going on.

After his Tylenol, Sam was distracted from his pain long enough to give me a little grin every now and then. He wanted me to play our little game only he did not even run from me. He would walk several steps and look back at me. I would pick him up, kiss his neck and put him down. He would take another step and we would repeat the whole process. In a very short while he wanted to be held again.

He ate all of his cereal and mashed bananas as his mother left for her hair appointment. He barely noticed her leaving. We sat on the sofa. He would lean on me or set on my lap or slide down to the floor. Curious George was on the TV. He liked that for a little while. Then he was back on the sofa, leaning on me, sitting on my lap, sliding to the floor. At one point he clearly wanted me to rock him and I complied. So unlike Sam, he fears the sandman during the day something fierce.

Fifteen minutes before his Dad came home, Sam slid to the floor, laid his head down and was asleep almost instantaneously.

Glancing back as I left, my heartstrings tugged, poor baby Sam………..

Disclaimer: Pseudonyms will be used for persons 17 years of age and under

©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


As Seasons Turn…….

Herb Garden Kansas Corner

Greetings from northern Illinois where it is a sunny 3 degrees. Jem is curled up in his warm spot. I have to shoo and push Princess and Eugene  out the pet door. Every day Mike is emailing me really good home deals in Florida. It is hard to make myself leave the house; the decision to swim yesterday was inspired, today is much colder. Wrapping myself in a snuggie at the back of my cave and waiting for more spring like weather is tempting.

My sister is booking a flight to work in Florida next week. Jealous thoughts are flickering through my mind. Why don’t I have clients in Fort Lauderdale?  Do I need to refocus my marketing efforts?  Are four seasons really necessary? What were we thinking?

Take a deep breath. If everyone rushed off to the Gulf States or the southwest part of the country or southern California the country would tilt and Wisconsin would slide into Illinois and Green Bay would smack into Chicago and Packer and Bear fans would have to find other outlets for their aggressions.

Winter wheat needs cold and snow for the germination to grow a crop in the spring.  Even spring wheat does not tolerate heat very well. Winter dormancy* is necessary to most woody perennial plants. It seems these plants cannot continue their life cycle if they do not have this endodormancy period.  “The endodormant plant tracks the amount of time above 0 C and below 10 C and does not respond or grow in warm spells until their necessary counted cold time is met. Species adapt to latitude by having different number of ‘chill hours’ that must pass before they can break dormancy.”**

Interesting new information for my brain files. Apparently, some plants need to “chill” before they can complete their life cycle. I am thinking some humans might take a leaf off of the branches of those trees and shrubs. Okay. Okay.  There are reasons for some dormancy. After all, I like trees and shrubs. And I am not sure palm trees provide a lot of shade in sunny warm weather. Maybe the cold is necessary for us to appreciate the warmth of spring, summer and fall.

And maybe the memory of the cold is all a snowbird needs to appreciate the warm………….

*Dormancy: A period in which a plant does not grow, awaiting necessary environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, nutrient availability. Dormancy is a state of quiet inaction, quiet and inactive restfulness. When organisms are in unfavorable conditions and slow down their metabolic processes to a minimum to retain resources until conditions are more favorable.


©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


My Favorite Things…….

   Birdhouses….. boxes ….fluffy clouds ….toasted marshmallows… babies laughing…. children playing…. unicorns…. kittens…. puppies…. Fourth of July parades…. white sand beaches…. purple mountain majesties… waving golden wheat fields…… glass of Merlot…. blue patterned china… magic of Christmas…. music boxes…. chocolate…. campfires,,,, clean sheets…. marching bands…. hammock time on Jeness Pond…. river otters…. smell of new mown grass….. rainbows…. blue moons…… picnics… road trips…. penguins… panda bears…… sunflowers……. meadowlarks….. lily pad floats……

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved