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, June 25, 2014

An Invisible Disability

   Here’s one of the problems with my medical condition -- most people don’t know I have one.  On the outside, I look okay.  There’s nothing visibly wrong with me.  There’s no walking stick, no walker, and no wheelchair.  There’s no cane, no crutch, and no cast.  Thankfully. 

   Which means that most people look at me and assume I can walk across the street at a rather quick pace.  Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.

   A few months ago, my husband and I were crossing the street to our local Coffee Bean.  It wasn’t one of my better days.  I could have stayed home and waited for him to bring home our beverages.  Instead, I pushed myself to walk a little bit.  Part of our walk requires us to use a marked crosswalk to walk across a major street.  That section has a very slight incline.  For most people, it’s not a problem.  For me, on this particular day, that slight incline felt like a steep incline. 

   I did my best to walk, and the traffic light was still green, but I certainly was struggling to make it across.  We were walking which meant cars were waiting to make a right-hand turn.  The driver of the first car waiting to turn looked right at me and muttered, “Come on, come on, come on.” 

   I tried to laugh it off; teasing my husband that perhaps she was really in a rush to get home and use the restroom.  Or maybe she was hurrying to the hospital down the street to witness the birth of her first grandchild.  I don’t know the circumstances involved in her bad mood.  And I’m fairly certain that I’ve thought more about her and that one instance than she’s thought about me.

   But here’s the lesson I would hope to pass on to all my readers:  Please, exercise patience when interacting with those around you.  Don’t be so quick to judge someone who displays a disabled placard from their rearview mirror and don’t criticize the person who is slowly crossing the street for no apparent reason.  There are reasons, we just don’t know them all.  I’m not the only one with an “invisible disability.”

   Truthfully, I didn’t learn this lesson until it directly affected me, until I became one of the “disabled.”  (And I use the quotation marks because still, the word doesn’t seem like the correct word for me.)  So while you may not see it, know that I, and others like me, do our best to persevere through the pain.  And, sometimes it’s at a slow and steady pace.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Life

I am a writer who came of a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.
- Eudora Welty

   The first time I read this quote in Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously, I just kept reading.  It didn’t resonate with me in any way.

   The second time I read this quote, more than a year after the original reading, I felt something inside me shift.  I highlighted the quote and tagged the page with a Post-It.  

   In many respects, and most likely by other people’s standards, I have led a sheltered life.  I spent my entire childhood in one home.  I now live ten minutes away from that home.  I haven’t traveled the world, haven’t put myself in dangerous situations, haven’t made the news headlines.

   And yet, with each birthday, as the numbers keep creeping steadily forward, I am able to look at my life and realize that it has indeed been daring.  And I strive to keep it that way.

   At the age of twenty-two, I moved in with the man who would become my husband.  I put myself through college, relying on public transportation, and not letting a daily commute requiring six buses stop me from earning my degree.  I witnessed a drug deal on the street as I anxiously waited for my bus, had to handle unwanted attention from men considerably older than myself, and I did it each day and would then wake up and do it again the next day.  

   I have traveled to Paris, have gone parasailing on Catalina Island, and have ridden in a hot air balloon with my dad.  I drove the road to Hana in Maui and explored San Francisco by myself.

   My writing has been published in national papers, and several years ago, I recorded one of my personal essays for an NPR segment.  I currently write two weekly columns for a popular website.  

   I think what is really changing are my definitions -- what really defines a “sheltered life” and “daring.”

   All my acts of “daring” were done for me.  I wasn’t trying to impress anyone else.  I wasn’t trying to set a record or earn kudos from others.  And truthfully, I never stopped to think that I was behaving in a daring way.  I was merely living the way that was right for me at the time.

   I am a woman who plans and organizes and maps things out.  And while that works to a certain extent, these last few years have taught me that no one can plan and organize and map out everything.  And as I adjust, as I adapt, I continue to try to live in the way that is most right for me and my family.

   It is my sheltered life that provides me with the protection and security to do the things that are daring for me.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Springing for Flowers

   I pride myself on being somewhat frugal and not at all frivolous with my money.  I remember babysitting for $2.50 an hour and receiving my first paycheck where I earned the minimum wage of $4.25 an hour.  During those times, I used to calculate how many hours I would need to work so that I could buy whatever-it-was I was eyeing.  Turns out, after I made that calculation, many of those “I want them” items became “I don’t need them” items.  

   However, there is one area in my life that I realize I am spending more, even as I am earning less:  fresh flowers.

   I spent some of my college years working in a flower shop.  I loved being surrounded by happy gerber daisies, exotic purple orchids, roses that weren’t red, and my favorite -- sunflowers.  But, money was tight and I very rarely bought myself flowers.  Instead, after a closing shift, I would bring home the “popped” roses that were doomed for the trash.  These were the roses that had already bloomed, and while beautiful to look at, they wouldn’t last through the next twenty-four hours and thus we couldn’t sell them.  I brought them home where my family and I enjoyed their final few hours of loveliness.

   When my husband and I moved in together and did our weekly grocery shopping, I would eye the fresh flowers on display.  At that time, 3 bunches of flowers could be purchased for $10 (later the price increased to $15).  But even at $10, it was an extravagance we couldn’t afford.  We budgeted every penny we spent during those early years together.  Flowers, with their short life span, were an unnecessary purchase.

   My husband and I no longer write down each purchase, although I do still shop with coupons and discounts whenever I can.  But recently, I’ve begun treating myself to two bunches of flowers a week.  It began with one bunch for our dining table.  A burst of color with purple mums or a striking table piece with tall white gladiolas.  My family seemed to enjoy the regular addition to our dining table, but truthfully, I didn’t buy the flowers for them.  They were for me.

   Then, I began eyeing the small decorative table in our bedroom.  The table held a vase filled with the “Happy Mother’s Day” balloons from last year.  I eyed that table and realized that when I ever get my own room, my own writing space, that table would be in my room and it would always have flowers on it.

   My own room isn’t happening any time soon, but there was no reason I couldn’t begin to use that table to hold a bouquet of flowers.  Hence, my second weekly bunch.  I buy these flowers knowing that in a few days (sometimes a week if I’m lucky) the flowers will be in the trash, and I will need to replenish them.  It’s taken me a while to realize that money spent doesn’t always have to mean money spent for food or clothes or something for the house.  Money spent can be spent simply for aesthetic value and because it makes me happy.

   And as I hope my husband and my six-year-old son realize, a happy mommy and a happy wife means a happy family.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Am ...

I am a woman.
I think the women I know are stronger than the men I know.

I am a mother.
I think being a good mother means walking the tightrope of sometimes being selfish so that you can be selfless for your child.

I am a wife.
I think the longer we’re married, the easier it is to forget to show gratitude for this person who has promised to be by your side.
I am a daughter.
I think I didn’t realize all my parents did for me until I had to start doing them for my son.
I am a writer.
I think everyday life provides me with a never-ending wealth of inspiration.

I am an individual.
I think I stand out in a crowd without being ostentatious.

I am a list-maker.
I think lists help me not forget and help me feel a sense of accomplishment in acknowledging all that I did each day, even when I know there is plenty I didn’t do.

I am quiet on the outside.
I think, ponder, ruminate, consider.

I am outspoken.
I think there are certain things I can’t be quiet about.

I am fond of silver and gemstones.
I think wearing jewelry is one way I express myself.

I am curious.
I think I will never run out of things to read and learn.

I am patient.
I think children deserve hugs, kisses, “I love you’s,” and the opportunity to be heard.

I am terrified of earthquakes.
I think earthquicks (as my son calls them) are a reminder that I have no control.

I am scared.
I think my body isn’t as strong as I used to believe, and I fear it will fail me.
I am in pain.
I think I will never again know no-pain, just hopefully, less pain.

I am tired.
I think being a parent means never feeling completely well-rested.
I am alive.
I think as long as I’m alive I will keep growing and changing and staying the same.