A season in every thing……..

According to my former flower shop/green house owner cousin, any plant is a weed if it is not growing where you want. I have pulled up and replanted my fair share of plants and bulbs. I admit to having a hard time actually throwing away a flower or plant. If I dig them up and leave them around long enough before finding an appropriate place to relocate, Mike has no such compunction. 

Last summer we lost our beautiful Bradbury pear tree during a summer storm. I say tornado, in Illinois they refer to the circular motion as a microburst. We were pulling into our driveway after an early evening round of storm chasing. There were sirens going off and based on the wind whipping the tops of trees we decided to come home and go to the basement. We watched the neighbors 100+ year old birch tree twist, turn and crack down the middle, falling onto our house and splitting our tree.

We went from beautiful shade gardens to lots of direct sun. Our hostas were banged up and looked pretty ragged the rest of the summer. The impatiens we always plant flattened and did not do well with the sun and heat. We were not sure which plants would make a comeback this spring. I am happy to report the gardens look good for the time being. We are having a cool, wet spring. I am not sure how the July and August sun will affect the previous more shade-than-not plantings. We will be keeping an eye on them this summer.

The parallels of planting, nurturing and growing gardens and living a balanced life have always been obvious to me. The need to weed out unwanted plants and unwanted behaviors and attitudes in our lives are the same need. The cycle of life is the same as the cycle of seasons. Just as there are seasons of planting seeds, growth, maintaining and dying off in a garden, our lives are about birth, growth, maturity and death.

The annual cycle is a microcosm of our entire life journey. I see it as a smaller spiraling circle moving up, or down, within the larger upward spiraling circle of an individual’s life passage. Occasionally the smaller circle loses ground and may spiral down before continuing the upward journey.  Sometimes the downward spiral is a blip and sometimes it is a massive derail.

There are all kinds of psychological diagnoses and names for blips, derails, perversions, neuroses, psychoses……when I think of them in the context of my spiraling circle analogy I think we are sometimes stuck in a particular place in the spiral. Some of us more than others and none of us for the same reason or reasons. We are all unique in our own way, just as we all fall down and get up, or not, in our own way.

What happened in our shade garden last summer was a cycle interrupted. Things are looking pretty good at the moment, I am thinking they may not look so good later on this summer; we are moving upward and hoping for the best. The past year of my seasonal cycle has been filled with ups and downs. This year the downs have never gone below the previous spiral up.

I am feeling thankful and grateful and blessed……..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


I believe……

Inspiration for good is easy to find if you are looking……

Laughing with a baby is the most joyous pleasure in the world….

Teenagers really think they do know it all…….

The darkest hours of the night are meant to be slept through….

Insanity really is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results….

Life is meant to be lived not observed from the porch….

If you do get off the porch expect to play with the big dogs….

Love means wanting only the best for your beloved……

Gardens are the closest place to heaven on earth……

Intergenerational relationships are essential for a balanced life…….

Bacon and eggs cooked outside over an open fire and eaten while watching the morning sun reflect on Lake Isabel are the best…….

The walking wounded are everywhere among us…..

There is no obstacle too large to overcome with tenacity, stubbornness, determination and sheer willpower…..

New England in the fall is so beautiful it hurts to look for too long……..

Purple majesty does describe the Rocky Mountains….

The call of the loon is a lonely sound……..

Children are “the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself”, Kahlil Gibran……..

Friends are essential to the elixir of life……

The perfume of viburnum blooms in the spring is incomparable….

In You………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Moral Courage……

On a mission to determine the difference between courage and moral courage, I discovered differing opinions and a wealth of information. This research project was based on already published information about courage, moral, physical or otherwise. The search for information began because I heard the founder of the Moral Courage Project* Irshad Manji on  HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher tonight and began wondering exactly how moral courage is defined.

Is having the “courage of our convictions” moral courage? Can someone have immoral courage? My belief that I am acting with the courage of MY convictions might not be moral courage to someone who disagrees with me. The definition of immoral**is to act outside acceptable moral behaviors. Who decides what moral behavior is acceptable? Who are the morality police? Amoral**means neither right nor wrong, outside of the moral arena; science falls in this category. Who decides amorality?

According to wikipedia.com “Moral courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences. Courage is required to take action when one has doubts or fears about the consequences. Moral courage therefore involves deliberation or careful thought. Reflex action or dogmatic fanaticism does not involve moral courage because such impulsive actions are not based upon moral reasoning. Moral courage may also require physical courage when the consequences are punishment or other bodily peril.”

Now I have more questions than answers. I do have a lot of research……..

Wikipedia References:

  1. ^ P. Aarne Vesilind, “The Courage To Do The Right Thing”, The right thing to do: an ethics guide for engineering students, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=s6cXR36GYA4C&pg=PA55 
  2. ^ Douglas N. Walton, “Moral Deliberation and Conduct”, Courage, a philosophical investigation, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AIKS-59iyxwC&pg=PA116 
  3. ^ Daniel A. Putman, Psychological courage




©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


A very sad day in history……

Being interested in process and change management led to my degrees in public administration. My interest in history led me to lifelong learning of United States history.  My ancestors immigrated to this country as early as the 1650’s. The last emigrant arrived in the 1890’s. I have always had a feeling of pride in the origins of our form of democracy and government “of the people, by the people.”

Today I am sad and discouraged. The President of the United States produced his long form birth certificate. Outwardly, I applaud his generosity of spirit and wonder why he wants to be POTUS. Inside, I am appalled and outraged that a percentage of my countrymen and countrywomen believe a person can even be on the ballot if his or her native born citizenship is even in doubt.  

Having been a Diversity Awareness Instructor/trainer I recognize the reason behind the rhetoric and vitriol. I have watched the overt acts and speech of racism by a large portion of USA citizens with horror.

Will the insanity ever stop…… If I keep quiet, am I a part of the problem…….. How do I “make a change for the better, make a change for good.” as the Elphaba character sings in the musical Wicked………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Soothing waters…

After the rain let up and the sun came out we went for a drive down the Fox River on Highway 25. There is a small riverside park on the water’s edge. We parked and watched the river flow past. Water watching is soul soothing.

As we watched the rain swollen water roll swiftly by, I thought of canoe trips to the Minnesota Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness  in Canada, trips on the Wisconsin River, the Current River in Missouri and the Fox and DuPage Rivers in Illinois. No matter how tough those trips were, the experience of being on the water is life changing.

Water therapy, in, on or out, is great for a stress filled, troubled mind and body. My becoming a swimmer with lifeguard certifications and a Red Cross Canoe Instructor was not an accident. I remember Aunt Mary taking me into the Gage Park swimming pool when I was three or four. I stayed close to the steps and railing in the shallow end and loved every minute of it.  

One of my stress relievers after a particularly hard day of divorce negotiations mixed in with school and work was a stop by the Copper Oven to pick up a cup of cheddar and broccoli soup and their wonderfully moist corn bread followed by a drive out to Lake Shawnee. There I would eat my meal and then walk along the water’s edge until dusk.

There are at least eight water sound CD’s in my CD case. Another stress reliever is a hot bubble bath with water sounds playing softly in the background. And I love hot tubs and whirlpools, beaches and hammocks on Jeness Pond.

Mike is not an in-the-water person. He is a water watcher. He did  notice the riverside park was a canoe and kayak put-in location and asked if canoes tipped easily. My response was swift – the only time I have tipped over in a canoe was during training when we deliberately simulate a tipping incident. He wondered about canoeing and camping.

 Maybe there are more canoe experiences in my future………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved





Navigational Pull……

We were the grandparents in charge Saturday night. Sam’s parents went out to a friend’s birthday party. Staying over for Easter festivities was an added benefit. According to his mother’s video, Sam had a great time coloring eggs before we arrived. Seven eggs survived the drop into the dye and were waiting for the Easter bunny to hide.

After the obligatory crying jag at the door following his parents departure. Sam settled down to play with his Baby Einstein music square and help me polish the silver tea service. Around 8:00 he was tired and led me into the bedroom where he was asleep in the middle of the second song he likes me to sing. When I came back to the living room, Mike looked up, smiled and said, this was a really easy gig.

I nodded and mentioned easy was good. The past year has been dramatic enough. What with my early retirement, Mike’s unemployment, new job and being unemployed again, my new business ventures, mortgage loan modification, trees down during last summer’s storm, budgeting with the Peter ‘n Paul school of personal finance, everyday has been harder than life ought to be at our age. We have found a contentment and peace in life’s small pleasures and are learning “old dogs” still have new tricks to learn.

Sam picked up the ‘finding eggs and putting them in the basket’ skill pretty quick. He appreciates the little things in life. We enjoyed our Easter Sunday with Sam, his parents and our son-in-law’s family. There was good food, conversation and babies to watch… a very good holiday.

On the way home this afternoon we drove down Lake Shore Drive. Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline never fails to thrill and inspire me. The grandeur of the skyscraping buildings are awe –inspiring and satisfy an inner need to know we humans are capable of achieving greatness. We followed the detour signs to I-290. This route took us on Wacker Drive, across Michigan Ave., where I always pause to think about Fort Dearborn wilderness growing into a vibrant metropolis. Mike wanted to know where the Trump building was and mentioned his desire to take a boat ride on the Chicago River.

As we wound around through downtown and eventually found our way to I-290, we acknowledged detours, gave us the opportunity to see things we have not seen before, provide us with new knowledge as we make our way forward and show us there is more than one way to reach our destination. Good information to know as we follow the navigational pullls our lives take.

Easter greetings from the lily pad float, where we float with our navigational pulls ………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



My favorite movies to watch again and again……

Sound of Music – The hills are definitely alive and so is Rogers and Hammerstein’s music. I first saw this movie in Mexico City in English with Spanish subtitles. Good for me, my host family, not so much.

White Christmas – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing Crosby, et al. I watch this every Christmas and sometimes in July!

Holiday Inn – Irving Berlin score sung by Bing and danced by Fred. Another annually viewed favorite.

Miracle on 34th Street – Original with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is my favorite. There is a Santa Claus, my mother said, for those of us who believe.

Little Women –  June Allyson as Jo, Peter Lawford as Laurie Lawrence version is my favorite, although Susan Sarandon as Marmee in the third remake is good and Katherine Hepburn as Jo in the first version are close.

Scaramouch – Bastard nobleman raised by foster parents falls in love with natural brother’s girlfriend. Determined to avenge foster brother’s death at hand of brother, hides out with acting troupe traveling through French country side. Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh are great as the hero and heroine.

Friendly Persuasion – Gary Cooper at his finest in this Quaker way of life clashes with Civil War cultural mores classic. This movie was on KCMO Channel 5 classic movie theatre program with numerous cut s for commercials and to accommodate a two hour time slot, 10:15 PM – 12:15 AM. In the 1960’s the Indian Chief head in a circle test pattern came on at 12:16 AM.

Shenandoah – James Stewart with a fine group of sons unsuccessfully trying to sit out the Civil War. This movie was playing at a Kansas City drive-in theatre the summer several of my siblings and I spent a few days at Aunt Norma’s.

Kid Galahad and Blue Hawaii  – Great Elvis songs sung by Elvis. The plots are weak; the other actors carry these movies.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Great musical with hunky backwoods brothers kidnapping town girls like Romans and Sabine women.

Barefoot in the Park – Funny, sexy, tender, beautiful, sympathetic characters played with humor and insight by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. What’s not to like?

The Way We Were – Smart, savvy, vulnerable woman lives life her way, while fantastic looking preppy man loses his way. The ex-man and I had a huge difference of opinion over who was the injured party in this flick.

Electric Horseman – Smart, sassy reporter meets intense, sarcastic cynical cowboy. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda together again, sigh, with my heart to my chest, better than ever was really great.

Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day-Lewis with hair! Great scenery and believable setting in this classic remake of James Fennimore Cooper’s classic novel set in the 1760’s American wilderness.

Steel Magnolias – Strong southern women support each other through good and bad times. Strong ensemble cast makes my day.

Fried Green Tomatoes – Macabre twists only found in southern culture! Tawanda!  Ensemble cast of strong women played by strong women. Kathy Bates is a joy!

Love Actually – This movie is just plain wonderful. I laugh and cry through this one at least once a year. All of my favorite British actors in one place makes for a real feel good.

Diet Pepsi, popcorn and peanut M&M’s are calling me………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Harley Riders………….

Riding a Ferris wheel and baking biscuits in a wood burning cook stove oven were moved from my “to do” list to my “ta da” list. Harley Davidson riding was next. Finding a Harley rider to take a single mid-forties woman on a ride is harder than one might think.

Dating my potential Harley rider candidates was not part of my vision so I weeded out the owners interested in a “dating me if you want a ride” scenario. Spring break found me back in Kansas staying with my daughter and her roommates. Visiting a biker bar on Saturday night, we were trying to convince one of her roommate’s Harley owner biker friends to give me a ride around the block. He kept assuring us he was having no part of giving the mother of his friend’s friend a ride, even around the parking lot, while “under the influence” no matter how persuasive she was. Respecting his convictions I waited for another opportunity.

My first Harley ride came later in August at another friend’s annual northern Illinois suburb backyard fish fry. The guy’s wife said sure, why not. The ride was everything I thought it would be. An interesting twist finds Harley riders okay with not wearing a helmet for themselves, their passengers not so much. For me, even with the helmet, there is a feeling of being close with the world. Being surrounded by metal and steel does not give me the same feeling of exhilaration. There is not a doubt in my mind riding a motorcycle is risky business, which is part of the allure.

A year later I was given a second ride on a Harley Davidson motorcycle while visiting with a friend at a local bar and grill hangout. This time our route took us out Interstate 70 west of Topeka through the Flint Hills. Words describing the thrill escape me. We were gone longer than I expected. My friend was a little annoyed when we joined her back at the bar.

My anecdotal evidence finds that Harley Riders hang out at bars and whether they are married or not are very interested in picking up women. Pursuing the experience, I had no idea my naive interest would lead men to think I was really interested in them and not their ownership of the bike I wanted to ride.

Of course, this predilection might be an individual’s character trait rather than a motorcycle owner characteristic………………..

©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


St. Patrick’s Day……..

The day began at Le Chocolat’ in Naperville with a Raspberry Mocha Latte and my Ladies Who Launch group. We swapped women entrepreneur stories and talked about helping each other “push forward” our businesses. Once again I was impressed with and uplifted by how empowered women are and what we are doing with our lives.

For lunch I had quiche and a nonfat latte at one of my favorite Barnes and Noble bookstores in downtown Naperville. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I bought two books and a CD. The CD is a collection of Celtic Woman Lullaby’. The inspirational book of the day was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubib. My brain candy read is a two book collection of Linda Lael Miller’s McKettrick family characters.

I listened to the CD as I drove from place to place all day. The music is wonderful, of course.  I started reading The Happiness Project over lunch and am saving the brain candy reads for a really relaxing ‘put my feet up and enjoy a fire in the fireplace day’ in the next week, maybe my birthday.

Sam and his mom met me at the outlet mall. We shopped for new clothes for Sam and birthday clothes for Hayley. Sam’s mom is sending the birthday package in the next few days. Hayley is the proud new owner of a really cute pair of sweatpant Capri’s with the roll-up bottoms and a really pretty lavender-purple GAP shirt. She will be styling. Sam’s present to Hayley is play food for her play kitchen.  I wish Sam and I could be there to play with her.

Sam clothes shopping is always fun.  His mother is into design, style and color. Sam is developing some really strong feelings surrounding his attire. We discovered in Kansas last week his preference for his long sleeved grey hoodie. He cries when his mom takes it off and would wear it to bed of she would let him. The problem is the size. He needs to move into an 18-24 months and GAP does not have the grey. The color this season is navy blue. He was not having any of it yesterday.

I used my $20 off birthday coupon at the Vera Bradley outlet. Purse shopping is almost as satisfying as shoe shopping. We met Mike at Cracker Barrel for a wonderful dinner. Thursday is sweet potato casserole day at CB. Their sweet potato casserole is made with walnuts and eats like a dessert. YUM.

I closed out the day at Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca. The once a year National Girl Scout CEO meeting was being held there. Three of my CEO training colleagues are still part of this elite group. We met after their last session for the day for a really good catch-up session. We all met as new CEO’s 10 years ago this week and have become  good friends.

Home by 10:30, slept like a baby. Very satisfying day…………………..

 ©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved