Updated: Sep 1, 2020
So, how did The Kaleidoscopic Life come about? I was with my friend Chuck who'd spent two very different parts of one day with me. During the first half of the day, he'd attended a somewhat swanky event (think high-level corporate attendees, city officials, community leaders) that I'd planned and organized in my day gig as a communications director for the fourth largest employer in our county. Then, late that evening, we found ourselves at another event that I'd organized as founding executive director of an arts non-profit organization.
This event, my friends, was in the dimly-lit brick basement of a century old building that was home to the most rockin' LGBTQ bar in the big college town down the interstate. Music grooved, poetry floated freely from the mic, beers clanked, laughter and profanity mingled in cool air, and there was not a tie in sight. This was my life and I loved the dichotomous nature of it. But, in that moment, it occurred to me just how bizarrely dichotomous (almost dizzyingly carnivalesque) it would be to anyone outside of myself experiencing those same events in the same day. (The difference between the two was literally night and day.) That's about the moment Chuck looked at me and said, "Wow." I could tell the same thought had just occurred to him. "I'm just struck by how we've spent the day."
"Crazy, isn't it?" I said.
And he was absolutely right. And suddenly it was more beautiful than bizarre. And even not as bizarre as it might seem on the surface because what was true of both of those disparate experiences (and everything in between and throughout my life) are these core values:
I'm a lover of words. I’ve always appreciated language and the power it holds to engage, influence, and ultimately transform a person or a culture. That love for words has manifested in my art as a writer and performer as well as in my professional life as a communications administrator, most recently as the Director of Communications for the second largest school district in my state. As an artist, I’ve always said that I write “words that are meant to be heard.” There’s an intentional duality there, but in the literal sense, I mean that I write words primarily meant to be experienced in audible form, rather than on the page. I perform my words, do voice over work, write scripts for the stage and film. But, mostly, I try to use words to build community.
I thirst for change. I’m working to become, if not unapologetic, at least less apologetic about that. This manifests in everything from frequent changes at home (furniture, the use of space, paint colors—my family has gotten used to expecting that any day of the week, something will be different) to my “job” or employer (I’ve bounced around a bit). I’m deeply comfortable with change -- unless, I'm finding -- it's thrust upon me in the shape of a Derecho. Still, I believe change leads to growth, transformation, and – at least for me – consistent awakenings, self-awareness and joy. I thirst for change, which is to say I thirst for growth.
I believe in doing good. My name mean’s “peace maker” and, in a way, I’ve naturally tried to be that all my life in classrooms and among peer groups or in professional settings, though I didn’t realize I was naturally inclined to this sort of “bridge-building” until my 20s. I also play this role as Mother. I have two teenage daughters and, while I want them to do well (you, know, experience success or be successful or whatever we want to call it), I’m constantly teaching them to focus, first, on doing good. This means being good to themselves by self-advocating; caring for their bodies, hearts, and brains; identifying, honoring, and cultivating their uniqueness. This also, of course, means being good to others. We talk a lot about equity, identity, advocacy in the context of human rights, politics, and religious beliefs.
I love art. I love celebrating other artists, too, and examining the mutual relationship
between art/artists impacting culture and culture impacting art/artist. During my 11-year teaching career, my favorite class to teach was Humanities as it offered a rich opportunity to explore, with my students, the relationship between visual art, architecture, dance, music, literature, and history. I’m currently an Iowa Arts Council board member, have served as an advisor for projects with Arts Midwest, and will soon serve as a partner with The Kennedy Center for their Arts Across America series. I enjoy collaborating with other artists and deeply appreciate the opportunity those collaborations provide for my own artistic growth. And I certainly enjoy fostering my daughters’ own artistic abilities and interests.
I believe in you. I'm looking forward to getting to know you, too! If something I create or write resonates with you, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you.