On Day 143 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, I had the honor of conducting my first interview for the blog. Fiction is usually somewhat autobiographical, so my questions for Janet Kassalen, author of Flip Flap Try: A Cardinal’s Journey, relate to how her journey to finding her career fit inspired this children’s story with a powerful grown up message.
Rainier, the cardinal and main character in your story, has a personal barrier: a wing that is damaged. This makes doing his first job a challenge. What personal barriers have you faced that impacted you professionally? How have you minimized them?
I was always a little shy and it was hard to make friends. It took me longer to do some jobs than it may have taken others and I worked lots of overtime to get work done. I’ve had some setbacks…I used running to minimize my barriers. I ran a lot! I ended up doing a marathon in 2006 and ran 26.2 miles. It helped me be more confident and to try new things. I also go to COMPEER activities. It’s an agency like Big Brothers and Sisters that matches you with someone you can socialize and do activities with. We do group actives like bowling, putt putt, crafts, and outreach to nursing homes. It helps to have friends with similar problems to communicate with, have fun, and build friendships.
Rainer has to go to his parents and tell them he wants to try a new job, and he is brave enough to do it. Many women can relate to this, having gone to school or gained experience in a certain field, but want to go a different direction. Have you had to communicate that you wanted to try something new and how did you get the courage to do it?
I went into the dietetic field and was a dietician. Again, I had some setbacks. My mom told me it didn’t matter what job I had, just as long as it was something I felt good about. Also, people weren’t disappointed in me, so in 2000, I stopped working as a dietician. I did work as a library tech, a job with lots of detail, and I liked that, but it was a little stressful. I ended up no longer in that position and stayed home. That’s when I started volunteering. Now I play in the orchestra, am involved in ladies’ groups at church, and in Toastmasters where I have been Area Governor, Sargent At Arms and President of some clubs. I’m currently a Distinguished Toastmaster.
Rainier tries different jobs but they are not a good fit for him, yet he persists in his search. What has motivated you to persist in your search for your fit of being an author?
I remembered the phrase, “Don’t give up the ship”. Though things got difficult, I just kept trying and moving forward. When I joined Toastmasters, I had to write speeches and struggled to come up with topics. I’d read to get information to write about. Even though I’m not organized, I enjoyed giving a speech on organization because I liked Steven Covey’s book, “First Things First”. So I kept working at it. When I got the storytelling manual, I remembered how my dad would tell stories and I still remember their morals. Flip Flap Try started as a Toastmasters project where I had to write an original story with a moral. After writing it and and giving my speech, I got the idea to publish the story.
Ultimately, Rainier finds a job that allows him to use all of the knowledge and skills he’s acquired in his various jobs. How have you been able to maximize all of yours to become an author?
In my jobs I had to learn computer skills and use them now as an author on my website and Facebook. As a dietician, I learned about food and I make sure to get balanced meals as a part of my self-care. I could eat better but I make sure to have fruits and veggies! Volunteering with music, I’ve learned about different instruments and kinds of music which I’m using to write songs to go along with the story. And giving speeches in Toastmasters definitely helped me learn how to tell a story.
Though Rainier didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do, he knew his strengths (singing, playing, being happy). How important is it for women to know their strengths in finding their career fit?
Looking for things we like to do and working in our strengths areas is very important. I like writing more than speaking, so I lean more toward that. In my story, I wanted to tell people my message: That it’s ok to quit along the road and try something new. Other people may hear other messages than what I intended. Some readers like the persistence piece. Others have said that I’m Rainier. With all of my setbacks and quit jobs, I kept trying different things, now my book is an accomplishment. I’m going to write more. I have a story about a penguin that’s already written. Everyone has the ability to help others. Sometimes, you may not know how, but something you say can encourage them to go forward with their dreams. I feel I’ve influenced some along the way. Writing has helped me find my voice.
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick, Janet’s journey has inspired mine. I hope it has inspired you as well and that you’ll visit tomorrow to read Part 2 of our interview.
For more information on Janet or her book, please visit http://www.janetkassalenauthor.com
Be savvy & chic,
~Pink Collar Coach