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, October 30, 2013

Me? Meditate?

   Apparently, I look like someone who meditates.  

   Or so thinks a neuropsychologist I’ve been seeing.  For several weeks now, I’ve been a member of a chronic pain group.  Twice a week, we see a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and the neuropsychologist.  It was the neuropsychologist who had been talking about mindfulness, about the need for us to be aware of our feelings, our thoughts, our behaviors, and the ways in which the three co-exist and influence each other.  One of the recommendations she made was that the patients experiment with meditation -- slowing our minds, focusing on our bodies, breathing deeply.  

   At a recent appointment, I confided that meditation isn’t something that comes easily to me.  My mind wanders.  A lot.  I find it hard just to sit and breathe and relax.  And she was surprised.  Because according to this doctor, based on the clothes and jewelry I wear and the type of purse I use, I look like someone who regularly meditates.  I laughed.  I had never heard that particular assumption before.  (Years ago, a student’s parent once remarked that because of all my silver rings, I must be a real “party girl.”  At the time, I was flabbergasted because “party girl” is certainly not a term that accurately describes me.)

   So much for people keeping an open mind, and not making assumptions or having preconceived ideas about someone based solely on how they look and what they wear.

   As we talked further, it was determined that part of my problem is the need to be in control.  Well, obviously, I’m used to being in control.  I was a public school teacher for twelve years; I had to be in control.  I’m the mother of a five-year-old son, again another job that requires control.  According to this doctor, I need to work on letting go, accepting my current medical condition, and surrendering to it.  

   I just don’t know how to do that.  I realize now that I’ve spent a lot of time and energy essentially trying to either fight or ignore my medical condition.  I realize that I had foolishly thought I could keep on going, much as I had before my illness.  I had regarded my autoimmune disease as a minor inconvenience and kept barreling through, working and mothering the way I always had.  Leaving my teaching career was a huge step, namely because I couldn’t ignore the fact that I am living with a chronic pain condition that isn’t going away.  Life as I knew it, had to change.  I had to change.  And I was fighting it, every step of the way.

   I don’t always like change.  I don’t like it when Yahoo changes their mail service, or when I have to learn how to use a new cell phone or alarm clock.  I am a planner, and becoming someone who qualifies for a chronic pain group, certainly wasn’t part of any of my plans.

   I had thought the neuropsychologist was going to tell me that my coordinated outfits and matching jewelry were further proof of my need to have order and be in control.  She did tell me not to completely give up on meditation; that maybe buried within me somewhere is a Wendy who meditates.  I don’t know about that.  For now, I’m just Wendy who is trying to figure out who she is and how she’s going to keep it all together. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Official!

Dear Readers:  I am now an official contributor at MomsLA.com!!!  Each week, you'll find me posting an education-related essay.  MomsLA.com offers posts about all different aspects of family life in Los Angeles.  Stop by and check it out!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Writing Desks


                       (This is my upstairs writing desk)

            I’m intrigued by a book I recently discovered.  The Writer’s Desk by Jill Krementz depicts fifty-five writers at their desks.  Actually, desks may be too broad a term; “work space” might be more accurate.

   It got me thinking about my desks and where I do most of my writing.

   Upstairs, in a corner of my bedroom, is a small, white desk with a pink rolling chair.  The desk is functional.  It’s small enough so that it doesn’t get cluttered with extras.  And I have consciously decorated it with only a few special items (a candle, a miniature Eiffel Tower statue,  a gorgeous heart paperweight - to name a few).  My little desk has a purpose:  it provides me with a work space, a hard table surface for my laptop.  A place where I can escape and try to squeeze in a little bit of writing time.  It’s not the most comfortable work space (akin to those found in coffee shops), but it gets the job done.

   Downstairs, up against a window in our living room, is my main desk, or “mission control” as my husband refers to it.  It is at this large wooden desk, that bills are paid, cards are written, appointments are made.  It is here where papers used to be graded and lessons planned.  This desk is where I keep our family, our home, functioning and running smoothly.  It is here, among reminders to call about my car insurance, that I also write.  

    And on days when the weather is agreeable, I love to write on my back patio.  Fresh air, the occasional hummingbird sighting, and I am in my own peaceful, writing bubble.  However, my writing is not limited to these areas. If it were, I wouldn’t get half as much writing done.  Sometimes, it’s just not helpful for me to write at home.  There are too many distractions:  the phone ringing, the pile of laundry that needs to get done, the dishwasher that needs to be emptied, the phone call about the car insurance that needs to be made.

   On days when I know my mind will be pre-occupied with household tasks, I choose to write elsewhere:  a favorite bookstore cafe, a local, independent coffee house, a bagel place.  While these establishments are certainly not free of distractions (crying children, loud cell-phone conversations), I am there to write.  I therefore can only do one of two things:  read or write.  And when both of those activities fail to keep me occupied, then I know it’s time for me to leave and return home.  

   I do fantasize about what my own “writing room” would look like (notice, I’ve upped the ante and moved beyond a writer’s desk to a whole room).  A small table that would always hold fresh flowers.  Candles.  Overflowing bookcases.  A large desk, just for writing.  For now, it’s a vague fantasy, but I am reminded of a Cosby Show episode from Season 8, “Clair’s Place.”  Finally, after twenty-years of waiting, Clair was given her own refuge, a soundproof room of her own.  I need to bide my time and just keep writing.

   And for now, my writer’s desk is wherever I’m writing.

                                           (This is my desk downstairs:  "mission control")

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How Do You Act Your Age?

         I’ve been thinking a lot about age lately.  I’m thirty-seven years old, and suddenly the big “4-0” is rapidly approaching.  It’s gotten me thinking about Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, from When Harry Met Sally, lamenting that she would someday be 40.  She felt it was a big dead-end just waiting for her.  I certainly don’t feel like it’s a dead-end, but it is definitely closer than further.  Then there’s Stella, the protagonist in Terry McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back.  I remember reading the novel, seeing the movie, and thinking that 40 was so far away.  Not anymore.

   I’m not really sure how thirty-seven is supposed to feel, but it’s not what I expected.    Disability and retirement are not usual topics of conversation for a couple in their thirties with a young son.  Yet, they are frequent topics of conversation in our home.  There are times I feel much older, weighted down by restrictions and medical issues that are at the forefront of my life.

   Other times, I feel hopeful.  I am only thirty-seven years old.  I had a successful teaching career.  I’m beginning a successful, I hope, writing career.  There’s so much time ahead of me, so many possibilities.

      We are advised to “act our age.”  But how do you act your age, when your insides don’t always match your outsides?

   At times, I’m young like my son.  Stretched across the floor playing a game of tickle and chase.  Sitting in the grass, observing a ladybug on a blade of grass.  Outside, looking up, marveling at the moon that greets us on the way to school.

   Other times, I’m old, senior citizen old.  Retired from my teaching position.  A calendar of doctor’s appointments.  A multitude of pills.  Physical limitations restricting my activities.  Needing help getting up from the floor.

   And I’m too young for that.  I feel too young to be retired due to a chronic medical condition.  I feel too young to be tied down to doctors’ appointments and prescription bottles.  Too young to own a walker, too young to be declared physically unable to serve on jury duty (Okay, that one I don’t mind.  At all.)

   Maybe I had to get this disease to leave teaching and give me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mommy, concentrating on my writing.  I never, voluntarily, would have left teaching, regardless of how frustrated or disappointed I may have become with the educational system.  I was there for the kids, and I believed I could help and make a positive difference in their lives.

   When I think about it, some of my major life events occurred at ages I didn’t expect them to.  At the age of twenty-two, I moved out of my parents’ home and in with the man who is now my husband.  I was married a few weeks shy of my twenty-third birthday.  Sometimes, plans happen on a different timetable than the one we originally imagined for ourselves.  I think my disability and retirement are like that.

   At any rate, I’m thirty-seven years old, and much like when I was seventeen, I’m figuring things out as I go.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


(Ryan and I in the hospital, awaiting word that we could go home)

             When my newborn son was placed on my chest, I gushed, “He’s perfect.”  

  I spent my entire teaching career encouraging my students to just try their best.  Their effort was just as important (if not more) than the outcome.  I always reminded them that there was no such thing as “perfect” -- we were people after all, not robots.  They knew I wasn’t perfect:  I mis-spelled words occasionally (“occasionally” being one of the words I mis-spelled), I spilled paint on my shoes, I couldn’t whistle.  But I tried my best, and I always wanted my students to try their best.

  But, when my infant son was placed on my chest, I saw perfection.  Thankfully, he was born healthy and happy -- content and not screaming, with wide open brown eyes, eager to look around and take in his surroundings.  He was a miracle; a new human being, that a short time before hadn’t even existed.  

  He was the epitome of the potential of the human race:  purity and goodness, faith and innocence, honesty and honor.

  Five years later, and I am back to the belief that there is no such thing as “perfection.”  It doesn’t exist long-term.  Motherhood has taught me that there are moments of perfection, if not whole days than hours, that could pass off as perfect.  No arguments, no conflicts, no struggles -- a happy family enjoying one another’s company.  And to better appreciate these fleeting moments of perfection, there are the “anything-but-perfect” moments.  Moments when a broken slice of American cheese will send a child into hysterics.

  Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the not-perfect moments, and forget that until the last five minutes, it was a great day, filled with a laughing, happy, safe family.  I now aspire for moments of perfection to help me get through all the other moments.  My son may not always behave “perfectly,” but when he’s sleeping, when our home is cozy and settled and safe, all is right and perfect in my world.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

iPhone, My Phone

   I finally did it.  I finally gave up my flip phone and purchased an iPhone.  My husband has wanted me to upgrade my cell phone for quite some time.  Actually, the big push for an iPhone came after I spent forty-five minutes stuck in the elevator at the elementary school where I used to teach.  You see, while I was in the elevator, my cell phone had no signal, and I had never texted before.  I had no idea how to capitalize, how to space out words, and the text I sent to the friend that finally called 9-1-1, looked something like:  “stuckinelevator.”  Thankfully, he knew what I meant, and he got me help.  My husband said that if nothing else, texting would have been easier on an iPhone.

   I bought the iPhone and spent the first day ignoring it.  I didn’t have a case yet, and was absolutely terrified I would drop it.  It seemed safer not to carry it with me at all.  Now, with a solid case on it, my husband tells me it’s quite secure, and since I have it, I should be carrying my fancy-shmancy new iPhone with me.

   I wanted the phone because my flip phone, reminiscent of the gadget Captain Kirk used to command, “Beam me up, Scotty,” wasn’t working well anymore.  The signal was often weak.  And, when out on adventures with my son, I always had to carry our digital camera with me.  An iPhone would make it easier for me to capture those “Kodak moments.”

   Except now that I have it, I’m intimidated and overwhelmed by my iPhone.  I don’t want to check emails with it, don’t want to look anything up on the internet.  I primarily want it to be a phone that also takes great pictures.  Maybe, as time goes on, I’ll grow braver -- experiment with setting the alarm when the laundry is in the dryer and use the calculator to determine my breakfast server’s tip.  

   Little steps, that for me aren’t so little.  I bought the iPhone.  I have it with me.  

   Now I just have to use it.