When it came time to update my travel blog to something more comprehensive, I hit a wall. People say that you should focus on a single topic, pick a persona and go with it. Do you travel? Be travely. Do you write? Be literary. Like science? Be sciency. You get the idea. You’re encouraged to focus on one angle, highlight the most prominent part of your life and BE THAT. Awesome. Except, I couldn’t do it.
I started making pie charts and bar graphs in order to find out just exactly who I was. I wrote poetry about it (horrible poetry), but I’d heard Michael Rosen say recently that writing poetry can often make it easier to communicate difficult ideas. I hoped my poem would help me clarify the difficult analysis of who exactly I was. My poem about myself bounced around with simplistic words and thoughts: “I’m a mother and wife watching time morph my life. I’m a teacher and student, always learning and prudent.” Blah. I ended up with an embarrassingly puerile list of rhyming attributes that did nothing to help in my quest to define a single persona except prove that I shouldn’t have tried to tackle the problem in poetic form.
Making pie charts wasn’t any better. One slice about traveling was nearly equal to the next about kid-related stuff. I decided that I couldn’t limit myself to just one thing, and I continue to question how to deal with that in my blog. Do I make a blog for each interest? Lump them all together into one blog and make a messy attempt to mash all my interests into one single portal? I still don’t have the answer, but this self-examination led me to the idea of a kaleidoscope.
Within a single cylinder, colors mix, images tumble, angles slide and all of it commingles in a dazzling new creation of color, wonder and surprise. The kaleidoscope, I felt, was a tangible representation of my exact feelings about my life. To separate the glass or paper pieces from the tube makes them dull and lack dimension. Mixed together in just the right way, they become a fascination, a child’s beloved toy, a favorite childhood memory. I suddenly remembered that, as a child, I adored kaleidoscopes. They seemed magical to me. I recalled an old-fashioned-looking kaleidoscope I once had and remembered its colorful outer design and the shaking sound it made. It was, at one point, my favorite possession. I determined that my life was like that kaleidoscope. If I looked at it one way, I clearly saw one particular image, but if I twirled it around, I saw something new. I also identified with that memory on another level. I have maintained a connection to things of my childhood. A baby wall plaque of the cow jumping over the moon, favorite childhood story books, and beloved Fisher-Price toys still decorate the shelves of my bookcase nearly 40 years later.
The memory of my old kaleidoscope touched that childlike part of my mind. I thought, “My life is like that kaleidoscope.” It’s also sort of kaleidoscopic — a mixture of many bits and also constantly changing. I looked up the word in the dictionary to check its spelling and to make sure it was, in fact, a real word. I came across this beautiful definition.
ka⋅lei⋅do⋅scop⋅ic –adjective changing form, pattern, color, etc., in a manner suggesting a kaleidoscope; continually shifting from one set of relations to another; rapidly changing: the kaleidoscopic events of the past year. SYNONYMS ever-changing, fluid, protean, unpredictable, impermanent,multicolored
This hit home with me in so many ways. I felt it was magnificent. I had found my word. This word would allow me to combine my passions, my strengths and my interests into one persona — a kaleidoscopic form. I could talk about my kaleidoscopic life, my kaleidoscope of interests. This word inspired me.
Check out the coolest site where you can make your own kaleidoscope images from your photos!
Here’s one I made from boxes of colored incense in Insadong, Korea.
My Short Bio Blurb
I am just another Jenny writing jenonymously about my kaleidoscopic life. Published writer, SCBWI advisor, mother, friend, collaborator, traveler, lifelong learner, student of Asian culture and Japanese language.
My Expanded Bio With A Bunch More Stuff About Me
Jenny Desmond Walters is the daughter of a mathematics professor and an early childhood specialist. Teaching and learning were a part of my life from an early age. After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood and elementary education, I led the educational services department at PBS television affiliate, WSRE, where I received national recognition for my outstanding implementation of several educational initiatives such as MathLine, a mathematics initiative for middle school math teachers and Sesame Street PEP, a preschool education program for early childhood professionals. Later, I was the Tennessee state educational consultant for Steck-Vaughn Publishing, a Harcourt Brace Company, where I worked with book industry professionals promoting new books, writing curriculum and conducting workshops. Additionally, I worked as an educational consultant and sales representative for The Wright Group, Scholastic, Lakeshore Learning Materials and ABC School Supply.
After having children, I left the world of outside employment and dedicated my time, organizational skills and creativity to raising my children. During this time, I was president of an international support group for mothers with young children, and soon after, became the southeast regional advisor for this organization, overseeing around 30 chapters. Later, I founded and directed a 200-member, Nashville-area network of parents and children who were devoted to seeking educational excellence through community collaborations with local businesses, institutions, agencies and each other.
In 2006 my family moved to Japan after having spent 10 years in Nashville, Tennessee. In Japan I served on the PTO leadership board, conducted bilingual mother and baby workshops at the local Kodomo (children’s) Center, and, again, started a support and activity group for mothers of preschoolers living in Japan. My third daughter was also born here.
During this time, I began writing about the many new experiences our family was having. I published several children’s magazine articles (AppleSeeds, Odyssey, SCBWI Bulletin) and became an avid writer and observer of life. I currently live in Seoul, Republic of Korea, with my husband and three beautiful daughters, and now, rarely run out of interesting stories to write. I’m living and enjoying my kaleidoscopic life.