My Homework Assignment


In Cambria, one of my most favorite places. 2016

Last week, I met with one of the doctors who helps me try to manage my chronic pain.  In addition to a new medication, we talked about lifestyle changes.  So I have homework to do.

  1. I’m supposed to lower my stress.
  2. I’m supposed to get enough sleep.
  3. I’m supposed to not push myself so hard.
  4. I’m supposed to make taking care of myself a priority.

Anyone who knows me, knows that those “lifestyle changes” aren’t so easily implemented.  I worry, I make “to-do lists,” I am always trying to do what I can to make life easier for my husband and son.  I don’t easily acknowledge my own wants.

This medical condition of mine doesn’t just affect me physically.  It also has an emotional/mental impact.  Asking for help and admitting I sometimes can’t do certain (relatively simple) things are not easy for me at all.

So, it’s an ongoing homework assignment. 

What My Third Grader Is Learning


When I publish my writing, I’m often asked to contribute a brief biography.  And I always list my son and the experiences from my teaching career as my biggest sources of inspiration. 

Here’s another example of what I mean by that.  In this essay, I was able to combine both — a true event that happened to my son and my perspective of it based on the twelve years I was a public school teacher.

You can click here to read my personal essay, “Why I’m Teaching My Third Grader About Harassment” on

I Am Blessed


As part of their language arts curriculum, my fourth graders learned that there were four main reasons to write — to persuade, to explain, to inform, and to entertain.  The writer had a purpose, and conversely, the reader has a purpose in picking up a certain book, article, or pamphlet.

However, I don’t think those are the only reasons.  I also write to make a connection with others, and I read for comfort. 

This week I’m reading Maya Angelou’s Letter To My Daughter.  It’s been a very challenging week (health-wise), and when I read this passage I indeed was comforted.

“He said, ‘First write down that I said write down and think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir, or a symphony, or their own babies crying.  Write down, I can hear – Thank God.  Then write down that you can see this yellow pad, and think of the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall, or flowers blooming, or their lover’s face.  Write I can see – Thank God.  Then write down that you can read.  Think of the millions of people around the world who cannot read the news of the day, or a letter from home, a stop sign on a busy street, or … ‘ ”

Maya Angelou received those instructions from her voice teacher and mentor, Frederick Wilkerson.  It was one afternoon’s lesson that guided her from then on.

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights.  I maintain an act of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.

Today I am blessed.”

12 Life Lessons As Observed On the Playground


playground (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Often times, it feels as if most of what I see, hear, and experience would all work as the topic of a personal essay. 

As an example, this week I’d like to share with my readers a post that was recently published on 

Click here to read “12 Life Lessons As Observed On the Playground.”

When Women Were Birds


When Women Were Birds (photo by Wendy Kennar)

For the past week or so, I’ve been reading When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams.  Here are a few of the stand-out lines that really caught my attention.

“… then it was also here where I came to know I can survive what hurts.  I believed in my capacity to stand back up again and run into the waves again and again, no matter the risk.”

“Each voice is distinct and has something to say.  Each voice deserves to be heard.  But it requires the act of listening.”

“I have experienced each encounter in my life twice: once in the world, and once again on the page.”

“To be read.  To be heard.  To be seen.  I want to be read, I want to be heard.  I don’t need to be seen.  To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters.  Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones.”

These words are not mine, and they’re not about me.  Yet I read them and felt as if they were meant for me.

18 Years and Counting


wedding candle (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary!  It’s kind of crazy to write that sentence.  18 years — a whole adult person!

It got me thinking about an essay I wrote four years ago.  “13 Lessons About Marriage” was originally published at  Since then, the site and my essay’s title have been changed, but my essay remains.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, I would like to share it with my readers today.  Click here to read it.

Bricks vs. Feathers


Samantha Dunn book (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I’m in the middle of reading Samantha Dunn’s memoir Not by Accident – Reconstructing a Careless Life.  I’m reading it because I’m curious about how she structured her memoir.  I’m also reading it because I know she lived to tell the tale (she’s an instructor in the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension).

But I keep coming back to something written within the first few pages of the book.  Ms. Dunn’s friend tells her, “God touches us with a feather to get our attention.  Then if we don’t listen, he starts throwing bricks.”

Sometimes that’s how I feel.  That I don’t pay attention to the smaller, more subtle signs, and it’s not until something more drastic happens that I sit up and pay attention.  And let me just say that within the first month of 2017, there have been a few brick-throwing instances sent my way.

I’m going to really try to learn to start paying attention to the feathers.