About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a six-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each week, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, and DivineCaroline.com. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found. I am also a regular contributor at MomsLA.com.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Princess Problem

   On Sunday, my family and I were invited to the Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate show at the Staples Center.  My six-and-half-year-old son was over the moon.  And for me, the best part of the show was watching Ryan’s reactions.  Jaw dropped.  Eyes opened wide.  Whispers of, “wow!”  He was a joyful audience member which made the show worthwhile for me.

   I’m not a huge Disney fan, and not a huge fan of animated movies in general.  In fact, I think it is very telling of my personality that my favorite part of the show was the act that involved “brooms” reminiscent of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  The skaters were dressed as brooms and performed some clever choreography.  I was captivated.  

   But, a little while later, there was an act involving Minnie Mouse wondering how she would know when she found her prince.  Sitting through this act was a test of my patience.  Of course, no female can find a prince unless she has on the proper gown so cue the Fairy Godmother.  Then, Minnie needed advice from some other Disney princesses.  We saw Jasmine, Ariel the Little Mermaid, and Cinderella all happily gliding across the ice with their perfect Prince Charmings.

   And all I could think was -- what a crock!  2014 and we’re still telling little girls that the need to be rescued by a Prince, they need a gown to be lovely, and that all will end happily ever after.  I know, I know -- this is fiction and I’m probably over-reacting.  But still, it seems there are so many little girls (and grown women) walking around with these illusions regarding love and romance.

   From my experience, after almost sixteen years of marriage, I can say that my husband did not “rescue me” (if anything I think it’s safe to say I rescued him).  It wasn’t love at first sight for either of us (we first met back in high school when we were classmates in an English class our junior year).  And once we got together, it hasn’t been happily ever after.  In fact, there have been times when we’ve each wondered what we were doing and wondered how we had ever thought our relationship was a good idea.

   But it’s all because my husband and I came together and found our “ever after,” that we have our son.  And it’s our son who helps us keep things in perspective and constantly reminds us about what magic and love are really about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Melodious Discord

   Do you remember that Coca-Cola television commercial featuring the song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”?  The ad featured multicultural singers, standing on a hilltop, singing in “peaceful harmony,” and of course each one was holding a soda bottle.  Here’s the link to the video in case you want to refresh your memory:

   I’m thinking about that song because several years ago, another teacher and I chose it for our classes to sing at our school’s annual holiday show.  We were looking for a general, feel-good song that didn’t specify one winter holiday over the other.  We chose “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, a song most of our students had never heard of before.

   It’s a song I confess to having on one of my mixed-CDs I listen to in the car.  It’s a feel-good, do-good type of song, and driving around the streets of Los Angeles, music like that can only help during trying commutes.

   I’m thinking about this song now especially because it is the holiday season.  And there are so many disparities that I just can’t make any sense of.  Some people are excessively buying, spending money on gifts and extravagances.  Some people are burning down buildings and marching onto freeways.  Some people are sleeping on streets and digging through dumpsters searching for food.

   It’s all these vastly different human experiences I’m having a hard time making sense of.  And, I’ve been thinking.  Maybe we’re aiming too high.  Maybe we shouldn’t be after “perfect harmony.”  After all, I tell my son there is no such thing as perfection.  We’re all supposed to be just going through each day, trying our best.  Maybe instead of “perfect harmony,” we should be aiming for “melodious discord.”  Disagreements and differences are okay, as long as they’re kept peaceful.

   As much as I may want to, I know I can’t change the world.  But I can build a home and “furnish it with love.”  
By the way, here’s a link to the lyrics of the song and a Youtube video of a performance of the song:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pumpkins and Presents, Turkeys and Trees

   Usually, nothing Christmas-related happens in our home until after Thanksgiving.  I firmly believe that Thanksgiving, a day which is all about family and expressing gratitude, should not be disregarded or overlooked at all.  

   I have been boycotting the radio station that started playing Christmas music several weeks ago.  And our Christmas decorations are still stashed away in our upstairs closet.  

   But, this year I’ve made a few exceptions to my own rules.

   I’ve learned that the key to enjoying holiday preparations is planning early and doing early.  So this year, during my son’s week-long Thanksgiving break, we visited Santa.  It was a very mellow experience, with no crazy lines or wailing babies.  My son chatted with the jolly man, made a few gift requests, and took an adorable picture.

   Also during my son’s week-long school break, we started wrapping holiday presents.  My mom has taught me to Christmas-shop year-round.  So, while I’ve been out and about, I’ve picked up some gifts along the way, and those were the gifts we wrapped.  My six-and-a-half year old is pretty competent when it comes to wrapping presents, as long as we’re using teamwork, and I’m in no hurry to get it done.

   It’s been somewhat disconcerting for me, to have a pumpkin on our coffee table while also having a roll of snowman-themed wrapping paper propped up in the corner. 

   But now it’s December, and there’s no denying that the holiday season has arrived.  

           Cue the Christmas carols!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Remember to Stop and Smell the Roses

   I am a woman who stops and smells the roses.  Literally. 

   There’s a few things I need to explain in regards to that statement.  First off, many roses have no fragrance.  It’s a little known fact, but those oh-so-common, florist-bought red roses will be absent of scent.  However, some garden roses are much more varied in color and scent.  And whenever possible, I do stop and smell them.  The ideal rose scent is a delicious blend of sweet and subtle.

   Recently, as I was walking to the Barnes and Noble Cafe at the Grove I passed by some roses growing outside a nearby restaurant.  I leaned over and smelled a few.  (Very faint fragrance).  Next thing I know, I heard a woman’s voice saying, “Excuse me.”  I turned back expecting someone to ask me where the Apple store was.  Instead, she said, “I just love that you’re smelling the roses.  Literally.”  I thanked her and wished her a nice day.

   I didn’t smell the roses to impress anyone or garner a compliment.  I didn’t smell the roses because I thought someone was watching.  I smelled them for me, because pausing for a few seconds to smell the roses would make me happy.  

   Large portions of  my days are spent doing things for other people and/or feeling badly (physically and/or emotionally).  But I’m learning that I can do certain things to make myself happier.  When I was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love there was a passage about happiness that I tagged with a Post-It.  

...people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough.  But that’s not how happiness works.  Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.”
  So, just a little reminder, in the midst of chaos and pain and sadness, whenever you can, stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gems From The Journal Keeper

   This past week I read The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux.  My only regret is that it’s a library copy.  While I read, I tagged several pages with Post-Its.  These were pages that had words that I found to be especially wise or meaningful or poignant (or all three).  The library copy has been returned which means I’ll need to add this book to my wish list so I can own my copy and highlight the passages that resonated so strongly with me.

   Because I am still thinking of Phyllis Theroux’s beautiful writing, I’d like to share some of these eloquent statements with you.  I hope you may find one (or more) that speak to you as well.

Being a writer does not have the global reach of a canonized saint, but, at its best, writing is a deeply spiritual act that can have a profound effect upon the practitioner.  

There are times when you must treat yourself like a child, with tenderness and belief and encouragement.

What keeps you from being fully alive is what you are most afraid to go through.  - Lawrence McCafferty

If you don’t consider your life a pilgrimage, it gets downgraded to a trip or even an aimless journey.  It is we who make that decision.

But it suddenly struck me that true enlightenment consists in being empty, not full, of answers, that people who are full of answers must drag them around all day like an overpacked suitcase, with no room for anything new.

The effort it takes to stretch either the mind or the body is so easy to avoid. 

   Isn’t it wonderful when a book touches you and stays with you long after you’ve read the last page?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Passionate for Paris

   Technically, I live in Los Angeles.  But my dad used to tell me that when asked, I should always say I live in Hollywood.  Hollywood was famous, after all.  People know of Hollywood.  And while most days, I can see the Hollywood sign fairly easily, Hollywood isn’t my community.

   With the emergence of The Grove, a major shopping center, I can tell people I live near The Grove and that immediately narrows down the large umbrella of “Los Angeles.”  And The Grove is my neighborhood.  Across the street, is a small Italian restaurant where I have eaten since I was a young girl.  A few blocks from The Grove is my son’s elementary school.  For me, this neighborhood is home.  

   And for others, my neighborhood is their vacation destination.  For each day, I see tour buses taking visitors to The Grove and The Original Farmers Market.  

   And while it’s an international tourist destination, Los Angeles is not an incredibly beautiful city.  At least, not beautiful the way Paris is.  Granted, I’ve only traveled to Paris once and that was in 2005.  But still, there’s no denying Paris was then (and I believe is now) a city of beauty.  Historic buildings that have stories to tell.  An abundance of parks.  Open grace spaces and gardens.  Bookstores on every block.

   Paris is a city that has fascinated me since elementary school.  And even now, at the age of thirty-eight, I have multiple items in my home that are adorned with a representation of the Eiffel Tower.  A keychain, notepads, a shower curtain.    

   And I wonder.  Is there a woman somewhere on another continent who writes in a journal with a picture of the Hollywood sign on the front cover?  In a country whose currency isn’t dollar bills, is there a woman who sits at a desk with a mini-statue of the Farmers Market’s clock tower?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Heart of Our Home

   It started with a red teapot.  After the teapot, it was a floor mat placed near the sink.  Little by little the red accessories increased, and now, more than ten years later, I have a red-themed kitchen.

   Our latest addition was a red microwave.  Our previous microwave was purchased more than sixteen years ago.  Once it was no longer working properly, we went shopping for a new one.  And, of course, it was the red one that found its way into our home.

   In a certain sense, a kitchen serves as the heart of a family’s home.  So it seems quite logical to me that our kitchen would be red; the color associated with hearts.  (Coincidentally, red is also our son’s favorite color).  It is the place where you prepare food that will sustain your loved ones.  The place with the essentials -- water, milk, bread.  The place with the celebratory -- birthday meals and cakes.  The place where you fuel up and pack up before leaving the sanctuary of home -- daily breakfasts and lunch boxes.  

   Red is a color that has many emotions attached to it.  Red is the color of love and passion.  Anger and heat.  Happiness and festivity.  And a family’s life goes through all of those emotions.  

   So it is here, surrounded by my red cooking utensils, my red pots, and my red vases that I strive to meet my family’s nourishment needs.