The Spaces Between: Taking time for your personal development

What if you spent 30 minutes on your personal development every day? Reading. Blogging. Journaling. Drawing. Imagining. Networking. Planning your future. A half hour. Every. Single. Day.

A friend recently told me that in a “How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile” seminar, she learned that we should spend a certain amount of time each day focused on our personal and professional development. Each day? Wow, that sounded like a lot. I mean seriously, how many meaningful moments do you average each day, working on developing your strengths? Or your resume? Or your network?  Pffft, my answer to the question wasn’t all that great, so I decided to try out the concept.


For one month, I’ve spent 30 minutes each day with focused attention on my personal development. Reading, writing, sharing, listening, and absorbing myself in energy focused on my growth as a professional and as a person. The results are predictably exciting and positive, but not for the reasons I’d expected.

Of course I learned a lot through tuning in to authors and speakers and mentors and idea-makers. But it wasn’t those active learning moments that made the biggest difference. It was the spaces bewteen that yielded a refreshing and unexpected rush of creativity, clarity and focus.

I believe that investing in your personal and professional growth is an iterative process best achieved through small, meaningful steps over time. Just like a great athlete or musician or speaker, it takes sustained and consistent effort to build the muscle memory needed to become fluent in any worthy pursuit. Intentional practice in directional increments is often said to be the secret to reaching a development goal. But I believe that in between those efforts of intention, the silent “pauses” are just as important. A pause can be a time of silent introspection or just a rest from the norm of day-to-day goal pursuit.

The pause is for me is about allowing thoughtful spaces between my rushed and hurried emails, calls, and meetings. It’s about protecting and valuing those spaces, rather than rushing to fill them with urgent-but-not-important matters…Allowing those spaces to be dedicated to developing my strengths and focusing on where I want to be, not just where I am.

English musician Gordon Sumner, better known as The Police’s Sting, once said,

“Paradoxically, I’m coming to believe in the importance of silence in music. The power of silence after a phrase of music for example; the dramatic silence after the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or the space between the notes of a Miles Davis solo. There is something very specific about a rest in music. You take your foot off the pedal and pay attention. I’m wondering whether, as musicians, the most important thing we do is merely to provide a frame for silence. I’m wondering if silence itself is perhaps the mystery at the heart of music? And is silence the most perfect music of all?”

What are you doing with the “spaces between” in your life?

Harmony Photo Challenge

Ever feel like the world is falling apart at the hands of hate? Need a ray of hope? Want to make a difference, but not sure what to do? Try the HARMONY PHOTO CHALLENGE. Try these 3 simple steps to make the world a little bit better:

  • Step 1: Take a photograph of people being good to each other
  • Step 2: Post your photo to Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, or anywhere that could use some positivity
  • Step 3: Tag your photo with #harmonyphotochallenge

Let’s build a huge pile of positivity!


Example: In this example you can see Holocaust survivors Dorothy Finger and Morris “Freschie” Freschman chatting about the power of forgiveness. ‪#‎harmonyphotochallenge

Thank you for visiting!

Susan E. Hendrich


Solve a real problem – digital trendspotting for the rest of us


How many new digital trends and tools have you heard about in recent years?

QR codes. Virtual Reality. Google Glass. Geotagging. Alexa. OneNote. SnapChat. GoPro. Instagram. Twitter. Periscope. Home drones. Storyline. PhotoMyne. The mix of new innovations can be dizzying.

So many possibilites bubble up in the cauldron of innovative possibilities…how are we to know which innovations to follow, and which ones to let drift on by?

Here’s an example of a tech trend question we’ve all asked ourselves:

Should I sign up for ________ (insert popular trend of the day, like Periscope, Twitter, Facebook Messenger), or should I stay with ________ (insert your current way of living)?”

In the latest Harvard Business Review technology post, “How to Know Which Digital Trends Are Worth Chasing,” Robert Haslehurst, Chris Randall, Jon Weber, and Charlie Sullivan break down 3 simple ways recognize a true digital differentiator when you see it.  You can read more in the full article about how a real innovation is one that:

  1. Eliminates customer pain points
  2. Elevates customer service
  3. Creates a differentiated, personalized customer experience

All three of these methods are about solving a real problem for other people. So, as you prepare to check out the article, I challenge to you think about a problem that you experienced. It could be a minor annoyance like an extra step in a bureaucratic process or a major pain point in your daily life.

Now, imagine what would it be like if someone came up with a solution for your problem?  It would feel like magic, right?

That’s the power of innovation – the welcomed relief or joy that comes when someone removes a barrier to your living a peaceful, prosperous and happy life.

Now, go check out the HBR article so you can be a real trendspotter and help bring the next great eWidget to the rest of us.

Source: How to Know Which Digital Trends Are Worth Chasing


Courage and Resilience

Courage and Resilience: Inspiration from a Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Morris Freschman allowed me a freedom I have never before experienced, and he inspired me to design Courage and Resilience, a project that began as a poster commemorating Morris and all Holocaust survivors, liberators, and righteous gentiles.

“You cannot keep a grudge; you cannot have hate because it destroys people. You have to forgive people or it will destroy you.” – Morris Freschman, Holocaust Survivor


Meet Morris

Anyone who’s shopped the New Castle Farmers Market in Delaware may recall Freschies Deli, where Morris Freschman sold delicious fresh food for many years. He warmly greeted his customers with a twinkle in his eye and an infectious smile. Behind those sparkling eyes, Morris carries the memories of losing most of his family to murder, and suffering four horrific years of his youth in the concentration camps of Blechhammer (a satellite camp of Auschwitz), Gross-Rosen, and Buchenwald. Underneath the sleeve of his crisply ironed shirt, the number 177060 is emblazoned on his arm, tattooing more than just his survival, but his courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable suffering.

Morris was born in Sarnov, Poland on May 3, 1929 to David and Ida Freschman. David and Ida, along with all but one of Morris’ eight siblings, would perish along with millions in the Holocaust. Somehow, through a series of miracles, Morris survived. But it wasn’t until 2004 that Morris was able to speak publicly about his Holocaust experience, when he was interviewed by documentary producer Steve Gonser. In April 2016, I had the honor of meeting Morris and five other Holocaust survivors at the home of my parents’ friends, Roger and Danna Levy, where more than 60 people gathered to hear the stories of survivors, liberators and righteous gentiles through an excerpted screening of  the documentary No Denying: Delawareans Bear Witness to the Holocaust,” by filmmaker by Steve Gonzer on behalf of the Halina Wind Preston Holocaust Education Center.

Once the film snippets concluded, and with hesitation and heavy sighs, Morris stood among the crowd and spoke of his own times of courage and resistance. He shared five miracles that kept him alive during the Holocaust:

  • Miracle 1: The first miracle happened when Morris was ten years old and was forced along with his family to live in the Polish ghetto. Morris was working to smuggle food to his cousin’s store, and was hiding two packages of eggs in his shirt when a Gestapo policeman stopped him. When asked what he was carrying in his shirt, Morris replied “potatoes.” The policeman “smacked against my shirt and broke all the eggs.” A moment of terror. Morris bravely told the officer that if he would release him, Morris would have his cousin pay, but instead the officer took him to the police station. Morris knew that he would be executed on sight at the police station, as smuggling bore a death sentence. Just as they arrived at the station’s door, the Gestapo policeman kicked Morris hard and said he would come that night for the money, and released Morris.
  • Miracle 2: At age 12, Morris was taken by cattle car to Blechhammer. One of the Jewish overseers recognized Morris’ face and spared him by moving him to the line of those destined for labor camp, rather than being immediately killed. “Every day, you saw death. Everywhere you turned,” he said. “As a skinny 12 year-old kid torn from my family, I spent the rest of my days praying to live another hour or day. All of my energy was spent looking behind my back and trying not to become obvious to the guards, who would not hesitate to shoot you or send you to the gas chambers.”
  • Miracle 3: In June of 1944, Morris was an inmate working at a chemical plant. As allies bombed the plant Morris and 14 other boys tried to run to a bunker. The 14 other boys sneaked past the Germans who had at first forced them away, but Morris went into a sewer filled with human waste. Bombs killed all of the people in the bunker, but Morris survived.
  • Miracle 4: Somehow, Morris avoided being killed at Buchenwald during his four months there, where 85,000 people were murdered. That’s nearly the entire population of the city Wilmington, Delaware. All murdered at a single concentration camp between January and April of 1945. “They couldn’t burn the bodies fast enough,” Morris remembered. An African American Unit of the United States Army liberated Buchenwald on April 12, 1945 – the same day that President Roosevelt died. “The first American I ever saw – and I will never forget it – he was a 6-foot-4 black man. The joy when we were liberated, you cannot imagine.” Morris had spoken English, German and Polish, so the American liberators asked him to join them as an interpreter. After all he’d been through, Morris gladly enlisted and served a year in a Medical Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit with the United State Army.
  • “As for the other miracle? What are you ladies doing tonight?” Morris asked, and the room erupted with laughter.

How Morris Impacted Me

Amazingly, at 87 years old and with all he suffered among the worst of human atrocities, Morris carries his sparkly spirit to this day. “So, how does a person who has been through so much, have still so much to give?” I asked myself, sensing that it was time for me to change.

My prior exposure to World War II history was academic – focusing on the suffering and the numbers of the masses. Rarely did I connect to the individual lives of those impacted. I’d read Elie Wiesel’s “Night” several times in high school and college, but somehow maintained a scholarly distance from any emotional impact. I simply could not fathom that such things could happen to people – my people. Instead, I distanced myself from a part of my own being. My Jewishness.

This April, for the first time in my life, thanks to Morris, I decided to own a part of myself that until now I had hidden. That day of Holocaust remembrance opened a channel of courage for me.

As a child of a mixed religion marriage, I’d clung to my mother’s Christianity both out of familiarity, and because my father was not religious and rarely spoke of his Jewish heritage. When I asked, he always seemed sad and said that his family never spoke of being Jewish and that they actively tried to “fit in” within the Brooklyn community where they lived during World War II and beyond. I internalized shame and fear associated with my Jewish side. Stories of Jews being persecuted in the Bible, coupled with witnessing anti-Semitism in my early schooling, made me fearful of acknowledging my Jewish heritage. I recognized my avoidance as a form of cowardice, but rationalized it as being a product of the society in which I live.

Shame. Fear. Sadness. Disbelief. Anger…Emotions I was avoiding. Hearing Morris speak of these same emotions as part of his Holocaust experience, I connected the freedoms I enjoy today as an American citizen with the Courage and Resilience shown by Morris and so many others like him, who refused to be silenced even in the face of death. In that moment of insight and realizing how small my fears are compared to what Morris had suffered, I made a pledge to learn about and embrace my own family’s Jewish history. Writing this article is part of that pledge, however small or inconsequential it may seem.

I now have begun to research my Jewish heritage, thanks in part to Morris’ courage, and to the resilience of those who survived, those who liberated, and those who righteously stood up for Holocaust victims’ survival, dignity and honor.

I hope you enjoy this poster, and thank you for taking time to read my story.

Susan E. Hendrich


  • Personal interview with Morris Freschman, April 3, 2016.



Periscope: A Must-Have for Any Travel Experience!

Periscope app lets you live-cast film yourself

Check out this interesting blog post from global traveler, Chris Hickey, who talks about the value of the Periscope mobile app for live broadcasting yourself while traveling…

Hickey says,

As someone who recently studied abroad I tried to create the most interactive experience for my followers. Creating a blog so people could live vicariously through my travels was extremely important…

Source: Periscope: A Must-Have for Any Travel Experience!