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, May 27, 2015

The Idea of the Favor Bank

“...the ‘Favor Bank’ concept, which asserts that the whole world is one giant ‘Favor Bank.’  We go through life making deposits whenever we do favors for people, and that means that whenever we need a favor, we’re entitled to a withdrawal.  It’s just as important to take out as it is to put in, because each time we accept a favor, we are allowing someone to make a deposit.  I like introducing this idea of people who have trouble ‘taking.’”
- the voice of Rita Golden Gelman in her memoir Tales of a Female Nomad

   I have a hard time asking for help.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve got a few ideas -- I don’t want to be a burden, and I don’t want anyone to resent me for asking for help.  And then there are instances when I don’t feel like I should need to ask for help, that those around me should somehow just know what I need and step in and offer the help without me having to come out and ask for it.

   Asking for help means I’m not in control of the situation.  It means I’m incompetent, weak, vulnerable.  (At least in my opinion).  And none of those are good things to be.
   This scenario, of me finding it difficult to ask for help, is something I have discussed with my therapist.  And she suspects that it was probably difficult for me to ask for help even before my autoimmune disease.  Who remembers any more?  

   But last week I was reading Rita Golden Gelman’s memoir (actually it was a re-read, I originally read it many years ago) and came across the passage above.  From the entire three-hundred page book, this is the one passage that really struck a chord with me.   I have no problem doing favors for others.  Most times, I’m happy to.  But, when the situation is reversed, it’s not so easy for me.  But, maybe I can try to re-program my mind to look at the giving and taking of favors as necessary for both parties involved, and then maybe I’ll be more inclined to accept help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Getting What I Want (At Least When It Comes to Hotels)

                                                       Ryan, on his 7th birthday, relaxing at our hotel in Cambria

   I’m not what you would call an experienced traveler.  But when it comes to hotels, I know what I want.  I want a hotel that is centrally located to wherever I plan on being.  I want a hotel that offers a free breakfast each morning.  And I want a hotel that doesn’t charge for parking.

   I’m fortunate that the hotel we stay at each year in Cambria meets these requirements.  But I had no idea that what I was expecting to receive isn’t the norm at a lot of hotels.  It’s not until I go searching for a hotel in a new destination (we’re planning a summer trip to Santa Barbara) that I’m shocked to discover what hotels do and do not provide.

   First off, the nightly rate at a hotel covers less than 24 hours now.  Check-in isn’t until 3 or 4 p.m. with check-out the following day at 11 a.m.  Now, hotels want to charge for parking.  That is outrageous to me.  Where else are you supposed to park?  You go eat at a restaurant, and unless you’re using a valet service, you park for free in the lot.  Same thing should hold true for hotels.

   And don’t even get me started on these so-called resort fees.  I think it’s absolutely ridiculous how some hotels try to nickel-and-dime their guests for every little thing.  And as a matter of principle, I won’t stay at any of those locations.  Instead, I go searching online, ask friends for suggestions, re-read old travel articles I’ve got filed away, until I find a hotel that will suit our needs. 

   In the movie When Harry Met Sally, Sally was described as being “high maintenance” based on the way she ordered her food.  Meg Ryan’s character replied, “I just want it the way I want it.”  And I’m the same when it comes to hotels.  We don’t go away all that often, and when we do, I want it to be as pleasurable and cost-efficient as possible.

By the way, if any of my readers are planning a trip to Legoland, just thought I’d mention the West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad.  We stayed there last summer and enjoyed free parking, free shuttle service to Legoland, free breakfast, friendly staff, and an overall really nice hotel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Purple Trees Are Back!

   We don’t have regular seasons here in southern California.  In Los Angeles, the norm is year-round sunshine.  Other states know that certain months, like January or November, are traditionally cold months, and will require cozy sweaters and layering in order to remain comfortable.  Yet, in Los Angeles you never know.  In fact, last Thanksgiving, my family wore short-sleeves.  And anyone who watches the Rose Parade knows that January 1st is typically nice and sunny here.

   Because it is perpetually sunny and warm(-ish), it can be hard to remember what season it is.  But there are markers around that help.

   For me, it’s the blooming of the jacaranda trees.  When I see those purple blooms, I know it’s spring.  

   I think I appreciate those purple trees more now than I did a few years ago.  You see, for a while, jacaranda trees were just a giant nuisance.  Those pretty purple flowers fall off the trees and leave a sticky residue on the sidewalk.  And when my son was stroller-bound, those purple flowers would stick to the stroller wheels and would then make their way into my home.  Which meant my floors required a daily clean-up.

   Additionally, jacaranda trees also serve as a giant “in-your-face” to one of my elementary school teachers.  Now, my readers know that I was an elementary school teacher and hold teachers in high esteem and believe they should be treated with the upmost respect.  But there are always a few that don’t do the profession justice (which I believe is true for people in any profession).  This teacher had a very strict view on art.  In her mind, trees were brown on the bottom and green on top.  And these jacaranda trees just serve as a visual reminder that it isn’t always so.  (In fact, years ago I wrote an essay that was published in the Christian Science Monitor about teachers and children’s art.  Here’s the link if you’re interested:  http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0928/p14s01-legn.html)

   In any event, they’re blooming.  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Words That Still Hurt

Write the one thing someone said to you a long time ago that still hurts.

   That’s the writing prompt I discovered in a book.  And I knew instantly, what that one thing would be.  

   Back during my high school days (we’re talking about the years 1991-1994), a friend of mine told me something that I have carried with me, locked away in my memory.  

“Your sister is prettier than you.”

   I didn’t doubt it.  My sister is three years younger than me.  She’s always been taller and thinner than me.  She never had the same problems with acne that I did.  She was pretty.  No question about it. 

   To this day though, I don’t know what good can come of a comment like that.  It hurt me then, and it still hurts, and it made me look at things differently.  Because I realized then that people would look at my sister and I and compare us -- “the pretty one” and the “not-so-pretty one.”

                         My seventeenth birthday

   I never felt my looks were my strength.  I knew what my strengths were.  My neat handwriting.  My good grades.  My reading speed.  My quick math calculations.  I was a good student.  Studious, serious, and sincere.  (And in all fairness, my sister was also a good student.)  

   I accepted, quite a while ago, that I would never be pretty in the way that beauty pageants describe pretty.  I’m too “me” to be that kind of pretty.  And by me, I mean “authentic.”  I won’t wear clothes that aren’t comfortable.  I won’t wear a bathing suit that covers less than my underwear.  I won’t wear shoes that I can’t walk in.  I won’t wear a bra that adds sizes to my breasts.  I won’t wear gold jewelry or big diamonds.  

   It’s been more than twenty years since Sally spoke those words to me.  They were mean and unnecessary (as I’ve found, most hurtful words are).  And they’re just that -- words.

     And I’m sure those words, like the Preamble to the Constitution (which I first memorized during elementary school), will continue to remain in my memory.