Do you ever meet someone who, after just seconds of conversation, you realize you could talk to for hours and hours? That is what it's like meeting Susan Hendee. Her powerful stories, openness, energy and light make her magnetic, and her words will have a lasting impression on you. We got to delve deep with Susan in this Q+A to learn a bit more about her life and philosophy. You also won't want to miss her feature in our December issue of En Root, Moving Beyond Borders. Happy reading!
This month's theme is all about Crossing Borders. Tell us about how that concept has played a role in your life.
This is the thread of my existence- a path to glory through defeat. Most importantly, the two words,"Crossing Boundaries," have allowed this ESL person (Spanish was my first language) to reflect with healing boundaries. I love researching, but hate writing, still, even after taking a refresher Spanish course in 2013 at a local community college. My teacher said, "You write beautifully in Spanish. The reason you are having a problem with writing in English is that you are forming your sentences in Spanish." All those years of naysayers as to my writing style thought I was lacking, but alas a pearl was thrown on my path. To quote Forrest Gump- "Stupid is as stupid does."
At OutGrowth, we are committed to growth. What do you think we as individuals and communities can do to begin to grow beyond our own boundaries and limits?
Simply said, we can all be passionate about a subject matter, understand the impact it has made on our lives, and discover how this may influence others. I believe and know, as many others do, that the direct correlation of food and culture is universal.
Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment where you encountered a major life shift. How did you handle it?
The death of my husband in 1995 allowed me the energy not to hide both of our addictions. For the last 10 years of our 20 years together, much was kept in secret- his weekend rehabs and lost days, not sharing this with anyone. It was painful and debilitating. I kept moving on, but not forward.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?
I sobered up eventually, but not until 2005, 10 years later. Remember I had many many successes, but little joy, trying to recover my idea that I was not dumb. But boy, was I stupid.
What are your top three pieces of advice for students and professionals for navigating the (very) uncharted and uncertain road ahead?
The power of yet, growth mindset, no one knows everything at once, at the start or at 100%. And it's okay to stumble but keep growing.
Be authentic and transparent to all- students, friends, and mostly self.
Find something you love that is joyful to you, that you can immerse yourself in. Mine is walking Rosey, popcorn with Loring and watching a foreign detective series on TV. I used to love going to the movies, where I would forget everything, and oh, the buttered popcorn and sweet lemonade.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don't believe you are the stupid one in the family.
What is your favorite quote?
I have three -
"I've been lost here once before" - Me
"I had a lover's quarrel with the world." - Frost
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices." - Thoreau
Based on your professional experience, what are the top three career competencies that you believe can be gained/developed as a result of pushing past limits?
Susan Hendee is a professor at Morgan State University. She teaches her secondary discipline- Computer Hardware and Software Applications. In her words, "I came, I saw, I conquered. I went, I saw, I failed. I won, I felt, I prospered."