About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-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 Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. 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 a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taking Back My Legs

   I grew up thinking tattoos were only for men.  My mom always expressed her disapproval of most tattoos, especially those decorating a woman’s body.  My dad has an eagle with U. S. N. on his left bicep, a visual memento of his early-adult days in the United States Navy.  (Many years later, he added a heart on his right bicep, a tribute to my mom.)

   Growing up, I never wanted a tattoo; never wanted to alter my body in such an artificial way.  If anything, my teenage/early adult years could be described as “very-mild-rebel.”  I cut my waist-length hair to my shoulders.  And when I was twenty-one, I decided to get a second hole pierced in my right ear.

   Now, in my mid-thirties, my body has enough “tattoos.”  There are the stretch marks on my stomach that haven’t completely erased themselves four years after my son was born.  There’s the small white circular mark on my right wrist, a reminder of the needle that was inserted before my son was born and removed days after, when it was finally determined I wouldn’t need a blood transfusion.  There are my birthmarks - one on my right forearm, one on my left calf.  There are the beauty marks that adorn my right upper-arm, the left corner of my mouth, the left side of my neck.  With all these “tattoos,” do I really need an “official” tattoo?  The answer is no.  No one really needs a tattoo.

   A few years ago, I started to entertain the idea of adding a tattoo to my body.   A small butterfly, a tribute to the woman I was who had emerged from the cocoon of girlhood.  I was finally the most-at-peace with myself that I had ever been.  I liked who I was.  Was proud of who I was.  This butterfly was a visible reminder that I was beautiful just as I am.

   Almost three years ago, all that changed.  I wound up in the emergency room with a swollen left calf.  I was hospitalized for four days while doctors treated me.  My health unraveled after that.  Symptoms and pain worsened and began to spread.  I spent one month dependent on a walker and wheelchair to get around.

   I have since been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.  I am again a woman I don’t know, a woman who doesn’t think she’s beautiful, doesn’t think she’s adequate.  I have legs that look like a map’s rendering of an interstate - red, blue, and purple veins criss-crossing around my leg.  I have a scar, the result of a muscle biopsy.  I have a countertop full of medicine bottles.  

   My diagnosis requires regular doctor visits and blood work, both of which left me in no rush for more needles.  

   A year ago, feeling hopeless, powerless, and not seeing any improvements in my physical (or emotional) well-being, I sought an alternative treatment.  I now receive acupuncture treatments.  And, I am learning that needles can serve other purposes, can be beneficial, can be sought-after.  

   I know there’s a lesson to learn somewhere in the midst of this medical odyssey I’m on.  I think, actually, it’s a series of on-going lessons.  So far, I’ve learned that I can’t plan everything, and the biggest things in life are really out of my control.  Additionally, I’m learning (the hard way) that life is unpredictable, fragile, and I can’t always wait for later.  Who knows if later will come or what later will look like?

   My health and my appearance are out of my control.  And again, I am turning to the idea of a tattoo.  A tattoo is completely under my control and would be the only marking on my body that I would be responsible for.  Placement, size, design, color.  A tattoo, perhaps near my foot, would be my way of staking back my legs.  

   Back when I got my second piercing, I could give no explanation to the question of “Why?” except that “I want to.”  It was one of the few things I have ever done that has no logical purpose, serves no real function, and was attained simply because I wanted it.  I think this tattoo is something like that.  It’s something that intrigues me and maybe it is a reminder that some things can simply be appreciated and attained because they are desired.


  1. It kills me to know how you are having to deal with so much pain daily,and have to go through so many different tests along with all the medication you are forced to take,and if I could take it all from you I would in a minute.I will agree I am not a lover of tattoo's and never have been.Years ago you hardly ever saw a woman with a tattoo and if she had one it was always a little one,and yet today you see more women with them all over their bodies.Considering all the pain you are always in and now dealing with having all the different needles put in you to try and give you some pain relief it is hard to believe you still think about getting a tattoo.But I know it is your life and your body and what ever will help you feel better I will go along with.I love you so and I am very proud of you.

  2. A tattoo is a process where the pores of the skin are dyed. The process is not comfortable and is permanent. Most people are their own worst critic. I know I am your Father, but I can say with out basis, that you are a very attrative women. Your Mother & I are very proud of you.

    Love, Dad

  3. I hate that you have doubts about yourself.You are both BEAUTIFUL inside and out.You are truly a remarkable person.Anyone knowing you is lucky as you are a wonderful giving person.I thank God for you everyday.I love you and I am so proud of you.

  4. Honey,
    This is a very powerful article you have written. You have an incredibly clear way of communicating your ideas. I have your back in whatever you decide to do with a tattoo. I Love You with all of my heart!