Wednesday, February 18, 2015


By Kay Kendall

A few times during my many years, I’ve reached a level of calm stability. My home life and work are nicely balanced. My near and dear ones are healthy and reasonably happy. All seems well.

When I realize I’m in this condition, then I think, ah, this is great. Once this stability becomes stasis, however, I get a little bored. And then things* change, and the hits just keep on a’comin and they don’t let up. At this point, I long to be bored again.

Last August I‘d reached the point of stasis. However, by then I’d learned enough to fear what lay ahead. And, boy, was I right.
>My elderly mother-in-law declined, and my husband spent a month in her faraway city tending to her. She passed on. 
>He immediately was diagnosed with a bad illness and went into gruesome treatment.
>My daughter-in-law had a strange illness that no doctor could fathom.
>A dear friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She proceeded to have two strokes. I visited her today in the nursing home.
>My writing had to give way for three months.
>My hairdresser of 22 years retired. 
In short, the roof fell in.                                              

And then the house next door was torn down. See photo.

Now, here’s a funny thing. That house was the worst on our block and had been deteriorating visibly for twenty years. We waited and waited for someone to buy it, to tear it down (this being Houston, after all, and everything gets torn down), and to rebuild. I dreamed of when we'd live beside a McMansion, and our home's value would soar.

When all that finally, finally began to happen, did I rejoice? No, I did not. Instead, I worried. The jackhammers tearing up the cement would hurt our foundation. Our house would develop cracks. The new neighbors would be dreadful. Things, in short, would all go to hell. Or so I worried.

I have discerned a pattern in myself regarding change. After I look forward to—even long for—change, then when it finally arrives, I am displeased. Well, perhaps I do exaggerate. I’m upset a little, and then I do adjust. But not until I have gone through a period of great gnashing of teeth and ranting and raving.

Thank heavens that upset stage has shortened over the years. These days I tend to get on with doing what I must until, one day, I look up and see that everything is all right with my world again. I used to fear I’d get stuck on a cycle I abhorred. Now I know that’s not true. Things do change, whether you really want them to or not. They change.

My husband’s illness has taught me to stay in the half-full position. I eschew the half-empty one. That way happiness does not lie. His condition is dangerous…it could be so much worse. The doctors are fabulous in my large city. He will get well. So the treatment is tough. He will get well. He is lucky. I am lucky.

I now apply this half-full approach to everything I can think of that torments me. I haven't become a Pollyanna. I don’t think everything works out for the best. Instead, I’ve learned good things can grow out of bad. If you only let them.

While all this may not make sense to you, it does to me, and it took me a while to arrive at this philosophical state. I celebrated a major birthday this week, by the way. As my friend (since kindergarten) likes to say, we are still on the right side of the grass.

Once I thought her saying was gruesome. I don’t anymore. It’s accurate. I know I’m lucky to be achieving this large number of years. Some people never do. I'm one of the lucky ones. Tell yourself that, too, no matter what. It can always get worse. Enjoy what you have....By the way, I gave myself a new nickname. You may call me Zen. Or at least…Zen-esque
* For brevity’s sake, I use the inexact term things to cover a multitude of events, conditions, situations, settings, etc. etc 
Kay Kendall set her debut novel, DESOLATION ROW--AN AUSTIN STARR MYSTERY in 1968. The sequel RAINY DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving her best friend didn't murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s what novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. She is also an award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 


  1. Life is full of changes--and we humans seem to have a problem with them. "Things" never stay the same no matter how we may wish they did. Great post.

    1. Thank you, Marilyn. I felt compelled to do a tiny footnote on "things" since my editor has such a fit when I use that generalized term in my mysteries. I suppose I could have referenced stuff/sh-t happens in my post, but I thought that didn't set the tone I wanted.

  2. So glad things have evened out for you -- for now. As you always say, "Write on."

    1. Thanks, Julie. Stay tuned, though. You never know. Things look good right now, knock on wood! And the house next door hasn't begun development yet. The empty lot is very pleasant!

  3. Yep,Debra, I've been pensive a lot lately. I've had to THINK lots in order to maintain mental equilibrium. You don't have to think at all to just feel sorry for yourself, feel hard done by, or poor me poor me poor me. That's easy...but unwarranted.


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