Writer-creator, puzzle addict and enthusiastic connector Susan Terkel has a natural curiosity about people and their stories. She has a marvelous way of finding commonalities with strangers, usually within 30 seconds of meeting them.
Kate saw this play out recently at PodPopuli, a recording studio in Hudson, Ohio, just before Susan's recording session. Then, a couple of weeks later, Kate had her own Susan Terkel moment at another studio 19 miles away in Akron.
When an engineer at Akron's Area 67 Recording Studio heard that Kate lives in Hudson, he said, "I know a famous author there. Susan Terkel." Turns out he lived in Hudson for a while himself and hung out with one of Susan and her husband Larry's sons.
Small world, isn't it? Susan comes to this realization on a very regular basis and, yet, every single time she's surprised and delighted. It's magical, she says, and she never takes that magic for granted.
In this wide-ranging conversation, Susan covers a lot of topics including:
- Being a worrier (she's a Jewish mother, after all)
- Comparing life to a puzzle
- Meditating every day
- Writing (plus advice for would-be writers)
- Knitting, sewing and "upcyling"
- Doing for others
- Making friends with people of all ages
- Sharing her secrets to a successful marriage
Listen, learn and laugh.
This is the script for Susan Terkel's episode, although it bears little resemblance to the actual recording. Once the microphone was live, Susan was off and running with stories, humor and insight. Her answers below were based on a conversation that took place prior to the recording session.
At Home Radio - Ep 31
This is At Home Radio, a welcoming space for insights, stories and creativity.
I’m your host Kate Jones, and today’s conversation is with Susan Terkel, author, artist and enthusiast for, well, so many things!
Susan, thank you for being on the show today. One of your many traits I admire is that you enjoy making connections. For instance, when you think people ought to know about something or someone, whether it’s information or a particular person, you don’t hesitate to try to put that connection into motion.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I would like to start with three short quotes that continue to inspire me in what I do in life:
Raymond Carver: And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.
Robert Browning: Ah, but a man's reach should be further than his grasp … or what’s a heaven for? (Why I don't mind failing or getting rejected!)
And last, Edward Everette Hall: I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything. But still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
I used this quote — but changed it — in the ethics book I wrote for kids: Here’s what I told them: “Nobody made a greater mistake … that he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
Finally: There are never final drafts … only deadlines. (My quote!)
Speaking of deadlines, you relish delving into a subject and then telling the world what you know about it. How many books have you written?
Please talk about your favorites — unless it’s like children and you couldn’t possibly show favoritism.
How about books that you’ve worked on but haven’t had published?
Even if a book doesn’t get published, you learn from the research you’ve done. What topic are you thinking of tackling next?
Write a book about trying to show people that there is more than one side of a issue to at least have some comparison or understanding for someone who holds a different view.
You have two sons and a daughter? What have you learned being a mom?
A friend told me that our children are an exaggeration of yourself.
What I've learned: How to worry all the time and not just some of the time.
You’ve got an arty house and even decorated the garage! Why?
You need to respect your house and make it cheerful. I like to say it’s my house in Hudson, my house in Ohio, my house in the Midwest, my house in North America, my house on Earth and actually, my house in the entire universe. Which is why it is so sacred.
Clearly, you have a reverence or respect for your surroundings. And respect also is something we sure can use in our relationships. What are your secrets to a successful relationship?
Continually lower your standards.
Use the 17-second rule.
See the positive side of what happens. Viktor Frankl talking about when the guards closed the doors in the Nazi concentration camp, the prisoners did standup.
[Man's Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.]
How long have you and your husband, Larry, been married?
Larry is an author too. He teaches World Religion at Kent State University, and he’s a yoga teacher. You both meditate every day. Why?
We’ve been meditating since we were in college at Cornell. That was 1969 — it’s the most important thing we’ve done in our life. We do it every day.
You made how many masks during the pandemic? What are some of your other recent artistic projects? Do you ever slow down?
Susan, such a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for sharing stories and your ideas and enthusiasm.
This is Kate Jones, with At Home Radio. Until next time, thanks for joining us.
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