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 28, 2015

Is It Over Yet?

               I’ve written it before, and I’m writing it again.  I’m not a fan of Halloween.  (In fact, here’s a link to a blog post I wrote a few years ago in case you missed it then.  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2012/11/contrary-costumes.html  And here’s a link to a post I wrote on Divine Caroline a few years ago.  http://www.divinecaroline.com/life-etc/culture-causes/tricky-treats)    

   In our family, we celebrate Halloween in a minimalist type of fashion.  We’ve got some decorations up (mostly things my son has made at school during previous years).  We’ve got treats to pass out to random children who will ring our doorbell Saturday night.  My son’s got his costume ready to go.  (This year, he’ll be dressing as Michael Jackson!)  And we’ll take him trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, only ringing the doorbells of people we actually know.  But other than that, it’s just another day for us.  A day I’m not particularly looking forward to.

   Because there’s this whole other side of Halloween that I don’t understand.  This gruesome side that, frankly, I could do without.  For instance, how do you explain the families who decorate their homes with fake blood and artificial limbs hanging from trees?  The house across the street from us has covered their front window.  So when we look over we see what is supposed to be shadows, red blood, and the words “help.”  In contrast, when they look over at our house, they see a sparkly jack-o-lantern on our front door.

   The saving grace is that my son’s elementary school doesn’t celebrate Halloween so there’s no school-wide parade (like there was when I was teaching) and no in-class celebration.  Instead, they’re going on a field trip on Friday (which is a whole other blog post).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Would You Give Up?

   I’m currently taking a writing course through UCLA Extension.  In addition to our weekly class meetings, we have homework assignments.  Basically, there are two things writers must do on a regular basis -- read and write.  So one of our ongoing assignments is to read a book a week.  Preferably a non-fiction book since that’s what we’re writing in class.  

   Last week I read Mary Carlomagno’s Give It Up! - My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less.  I don’t know where I first heard about this book, but it was marked as a “want to read” on my Goodreads list.  And at 196 pages, it was readable in a week.

   The basic premise -- Mary, the author, has decided that there’s just too much stuff in her life.  Too many items, too many stresses, too many complications.  Her solution -- to give up one item each month.  To experiment and see how living without that one item changes her life (positively or negatively).  I like the idea behind the book because it’s realistic.  It’s something anyone can do, at any time in his/her life.  (The author documented the changes she made over the course of a year).

   In terms of my reading enjoyment, I was disappointed.  I just couldn’t connect with a woman who was struggling to give up alcohol (can’t drink it), coffee (I prefer mochas -- blended or hot), eating out (maybe we do it once a week), and cursing (I was a teacher for 12 years and have a second grader at home so I’ve got that one under control).

   Then there were other things the author cut out of her life that simply aren’t an option for me.  One month, even though her office was on the 10th floor, she stopped using elevators (not possible in my case).  And another month, she swore off chocolate (life’s too short and full of too much pain not to regularly enjoy a sweet treat).

   Another month she stopped reading the newspaper.  I must admit, that one did intrigue me.  Reading the paper has become such a chore.  (I wrote about this in another blog post.  Here’s the link in case you missed it:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-sunday-chore.html)  Would I really feel so out of the loop if I stopped reading the paper and instead devoted that time to reading more books?  I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet.

   After reading the book, I gave it 2 stars (out of 5) on Goodreads.  But it did make me think about changes I could make in my life, and it inspired this blog.

   By the way, here’s the complete list of items Ms. Carlomagno gave up:  alcohol, shopping, elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, multitasking.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Brain, Child Magazine

Dear Readers,
   I'm proud to say that one of my personal essays has been published at Brain, Child Magazine.  Here's the link:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Quoted in the Los Angeles Times

I'm pleased to share that I have been quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about the need for parents and teachers to have ongoing communication. (Disregard the slight error that refers to me as a middle-school teacher).  Here's the link:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Personal Essay at XOJane

Dear Readers,
   I write personal essays.  Some though (like about my college backpack for instance, see last week's post if you missed that) aren't quite as personal as others.  Here's a perfect example.  XOJane has published a piece I wrote originally titled, "Sex, Drugs, and Rheumatology."  Here's the link:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Keeping it Local

                                                              The view we enjoyed during our coffee date

   My husband and I have been living together for seventeen years now.  Happily renting in Los Angeles.  That’s usually the cue for gasps and the inevitable questions of “Why don’t they own their own home?  Or a condo at least?”

   Well, before we moved into our present home, we did look.  And the truth is we couldn’t afford to own anything in our neighborhood.  So we made a decision to continue to rent so that we could live and work in the same community.  For neither one of us likes our cars enough to be trapped in them for hours on a daily basis.

   But last week, I had one of those moments where I thought, “How many other people can do this?”  And we could simply because of where we live.

   Let me share.

   After we took our son to our local public elementary school, my husband and I decided to get a coffee.  A coffee from the little cafe within our gated community.  We sat in a park-like setting, marveling at the blue sky, the tall palm trees, the relaxing sound of the fountain.  We drank our coffees, we talked, and we relaxed.  We even went for a short walk.  All within a few minutes of our front door.

   And I don’t think many people can have that experience.  They’re busy commuting.  Spending time in their cars, far away from home.  Seventeen years later, we’re content to be renters.  

   And then it occurred to me that it wasn’t just where we were but what we were doing that was pretty exceptional as well.  My husband (of sixteen years) and I were enjoying each other’s company.  No frills, no distractions.  Just the two of us, sitting and talking, and liking each other.

   And I think that’s pretty remarkable.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Unintentional Time Capsule

   I recently spent some time looking through a time capsule of sorts.  I say “of sorts” because it’s a rather unintentional time capsule.  It’s more like something from the past that’s been sitting in my closet, and I hadn’t really taken the time to go through it until now.

   This time capsule takes the form of my college backpack.

   I don’t remember how long I used this backpack, and I vaguely remember a different one I used before this one.  But this is the one that I used to finish up my classes, earn my B.A. degree, and graduate Summa Cum Laude.  This is the one that has had a spot in my closet since I “retired” it upon graduating in 2001.

   Back then, my backpack had to be a sort of “survival kit.”  For most of my college years, I didn’t use a car for my daily commute, so my backpack had to have everything I might need for the day -- books, coursework, Walkman (remember those?), money, Kleenex, food.  Back then, I was out of the house for most of the day.  I felt so far away from home, even though I was just “over the hill” at California State University Northridge.

   I went through my backpack, checked all the zippered compartments (all empty), and fingered the key rings.  One from Lake Arrowhead, one from Sea World.  I looked at the buttons -- one featuring the Earth, a scuffed up “Just Do It” pin, one for Laguna Beach, another for Santa Barbara, one reminding me to “Practice Random Acts of Kindness.”

   Inside my backpack, I found my notebook.  Still with dividers and extra sheets of paper.  And still with a written copy of  my last semester’s schedule -- a Kinesiology class and two English classes.

      Inside the notebook, I found my “feel good reminders.”  A typed copy of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman.  A small credit-card-sized card with a “Follow Your Dream” poem on it.  Pictures of my husband and I.  A sticker-picture of my sister and I.  A worn-out Webster’s Notebook Dictionary, something I remember using back in elementary school.

   This backpack was a part of who I was then -- a college student trying to do it all (earn good grades, work, figure out marriage, plan for my career).  

   What I found inside my backpack, my notebook, is still a part of who I am now.  A writer, a wife, a woman who needs occasional reassurances and feel-good messages.

   Some things don’t change.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MomsLA post: "When Did the Rules Change?"

Often, I write to try and make sense of the world around me.  So after yet another photo of a scantily-clad female celebrity, I wrote this piece.  Read it at MomsLA.com.

Friday, October 2, 2015

MomsLA Post: Family Oriented Halloween Celebrations

Dear Readers,

   If you're starting to look ahead to Halloween, you might want to check out this post I wrote for MomsLA.com.  You'll find a list of 10 southern California Halloween celebrations.  Some are for a particular day, some are month-long.  Enjoy!