Author Interview: Janet Kassalen, Author of Children’s Stories With A Grown Up Message – Part 2

Author Interview: Janet Kassalen, Author of Children’s Stories With A Grown Up Message – Part 2

Day 142 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project has been busy in the best way. I took care of some personal business that keeps me in a position to keep pursuing my business and received some wonderful feedback on the CD to accompany my book as well as on my professional growth from someone who was kind enough to share it. In addition to that, I got have lunch and with and plan my next workshop with Jenn-Quinn Wilson, the Wonderpreneur. It is tentatively set for all day Saturday, November 4th. Pink Collar Savvy & Chic and Wonder Diva will bring you: The Making Of A Pink Collar Diva: You! More on this head to toe image day soon!

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Pink Collar Coach & The Wonderpreneur. Showing off her marketing following our lunch mtg. As a plus size model, she’s gorgeous in her cold shoulder dress and I’m in my Calvin Klein casual olive green jeggins, light green top and plaid shirt with comfy flats. 

And here’s the inspiring conclusion of my interview with Janet Kassalen, author of Flip Flap Try: A Cardinal’s Journey. Her children’s book has messages for any of us who has ever struggled to find our career fit or place in this world.

Rainier had to ask for help from others along his journey. Why do you think women are so afraid to admit when they need helps in their careers? How have other played a part in your journey?

You’re not expected to do everything yourself. It’s OK to ask for others’ input and help. Some ladies out there have done amazing things and written words of wisdom we can learn from. It’s important to encourage each other along the way to reaching our goals. I’m glad I went through the process of publishing. Asking for help was a good decision. Everyone was working with and pulling for me. Kay Fittes told me, “If you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. You have to oversee it.” And my author’s assistant let me make decisions, and it helped me grow. I couldn’t just sit back and let others make the decisions. My husband has also helped me. He says the conversation is never over or ended. If you’ve had problems or misunderstandings, there’s always a chance to straighten things out and move forward.

Rainer finds a job that he enjoys. It is meaningful to him and helps him to serve his purpose. How is becoming an author enabling you to serve yours?

I wanted to encourage people and give them hope in finding their dream job or mission. To let them know there’s always a new day to start over and try again. Just go from there.

The tagline on your beautiful website is: Children’s Stories With A Grown Up Message. What inspired you to use your children’s writing to inspire adults?

At first, it was intended more to help young adults struggling with their careers. My book coach thought it would work better as a children’s story. Adults can still learn from it. Reading didn’t come easy for me, but I could understant a children’s book. It was easier to understand, colorful and full of pictures but just as meaningful. And it doesn’t take half a year to read it!

A few years ago, I worked with you to redesign your office, which you call your “Communication Center”. How has having a work space that is beautiful, comfortable, and functional impacted your writing?

I’ve watched your personal and professional transformation. You’ve gone from “timid duckling” to savvy and chic swan. What encouragement do you have for women struggling to find themselves and their place in this world?

Never give up your hope. It’s OK to ask for help. Take vacations. On vacation I had the experience that started the cardinal story.  I also have a CD player with lots of CDs that I call my “To Do” list. It helps to put in the CDs and review to make sure I’m not missing something. Sometimes, I’m not ready to complete a task – if it’s not the right time. Other times, something just appears and it’s what you were looking for. It’s good to get the whole picture of what’s going on to set your priorities. Keep believing in yourself because everyone has the ability to help someone else.

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A few years ago, I worked with Janet & her husband to redesign their shared office. They call the Communication Center. Handy hubby built the sunflower coatrack to go with the room’s theme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deciding to Be Myself with Book Decisions

Deciding to Be Myself with Book Decisions

It’s Day 90 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and it’s been a busy one! I officially began working with my publisher to select the artwork for the front and back cover of Seasons of Her Soul. There are so many choices, and there’s a time frame involved to ensure the book releases by January as planned. That being the case, I could have gone with the first options that I liked, but knowing myself the way I do, I need to see all of the options in order to make an informed decision. If not, I’m the type of person who’d choose, then keep on looking until I found something I liked even better, which would make me regret my original choice. I’ve been known to play the “If I coulda woulda shoulda” game, and don’t want to do that when the stakes are so high.

The thing is, I know myself and what I like. For instance, when I went to purchase my first brand new car ever, I had my heart set on white but they didn’t have that color in town. The salesman told me he’d never lost one over color. “You’ll lose this one,” was my immediate response. So he drove a state over to pick up my beautiful white car. Eleven years later, I’ve still never seen one I like as much as the one I’m still driving. Set as I was on car color, that pales in comparison to how I want my novel to look. While explaining how time consuming looking at the options is to my hubby, he hit the nail on the head when said he knew it would be pink.

After several hours of viewing things that were almost it but not quite – the model wasn’t right, or the colors, or the decor, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Ready to take a break from it, I finally came upon some images where the woman truly resembles Lee, the novel’s heroin. She’s dressed the way I would have drawn her, has the right facial expressions, and her surroundings are Shabby Chic. I’m so close and know, if I follow my heart, I’ll find the image that matches what’s in my imagination.

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Saw this at TJ Maxx and snapped a quick picture. Confirmation that I need to be myself!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who really does know myself, I decided today to be myself, not only with the selection of my novel’s cover, but with every aspect of its publication. And in the moment I did, the beautiful vision I hold in my heart for the cover of Seasons of Her Soul began to come to life. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

What about you? In what situations do you need to decide to be yourself? When you do, you’ll experience true beauty.

~Pink Collar Coach

 

 

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 3 of 3

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 3 of 3

It’s Day 79/80 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and I’m so excited to finally finish my second short story. I actually started it on Day 79 but realized there were some holes from Post 2 that I needed to fill. Doing that took me over into today. It’s been more than a week since I posted that, so I hope if there is anyone out there still interested in the story that this will be a satisfying conclusion. I appreciate you reading!

Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 3 of 3 

Happy business woman in suit jumping isolated

Following  a fabulous date night with her husband, Phil, Bonnie was more thankful than ever that she was married to her best friend. Well, her best friend with skin on him! “I’m a real Jesus Freak”, Bonnie said aloud, then laughed at herself.  Laughter aside, the  Christian rap and rock trio DC Talk’s lyrics about some thinking it strange that a best friend could be born in a manger applied to her and she was proud of it. As she’d responded to Nicole’s email question, her husband and her faith had been instrumental in her overcoming challenges and maximizing rock bottom to build the best of her life.

True as all of that was, Bonnie was a little concerned that she’d focused too much on the personal side of what had helped her overcome challenges and not enough on the professional. The fact that she’d been fortunate enough to have mentors who saw something in her that she didn’t see in herself, even when she was just getting back on her feet, was huge. She’d read Cheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and knew several women who were in the unfortunate position of having to ask other women the question that was a title of one chapter:  Are You My Mentor? Fortunately for Bonnie, she’d never had to ask it and was blessed with several.

First, there was the dynamic workshop presenter who helped women with strategies to overcome workplace challenges who had not only helped her to move from surviving to thriving as a new Center Director, she’d taken her under her wing and mentored her ever since. Bonnie was so honored that she was the only other person Elle had ever partnered with to write and present workshops. It had boosted Bonnie’s confidence and served as a springboard for her to launch her own business. Not only that, within a few short years, she’d moved Bonnie from talking about it to making her twenty-year-old dream of earning her Master’s degree a reality. Bonnie had dithered between Adult Education with Instructional Design or Leadership and Coaching and Elle had coached her to choose the latter which aligned more with her purpose and passions.

Then there were the women in leadership positions  or with influence who had either exposed Bonnie to opportunities, helped her get her foot in the door, or both. These amazing women included master trainers, executive directors, directors,  authors, book and magazine editors, and retirees who provided a heads up that vacancies were on the horizon. Because of them, Bonnie’s resume included titles such as Training Consultant, Director, Leadership and Life Coach, Featured Presenter, Magazine Columnist, and would soon include Author. Each woman had seen her potential, largely due to the way she not only soaked in everything they taught or exposed her to, but by the way she maximized it all. She read voraciously and attended every professional development workshop and seminar that would strengthen her skills and advance her career.

“I’ve never seen a woman maximize her every opportunity they way you do,” Elle had commented one day.

And Bonnie had the name of her future business.

Now Bonnie sat in her home office at Maximize Her. The agency provided comprehensive coaching services to women. She poured herself a second cup of Starbucks coffee from the Keurig machine conveniently placed near her desk. After adding sugar-free vanilla syrup and fat-free powered creamer, she took it and meandered out to her back deck. She worked there on days when the temperamental Cincinnati weather permitted. It was the rainiest July she could remember, and having lived in the city or its suburbs all of her forty-plus years, that was saying something. This week alone she’d set up her laptop outdoors twice to catch up on email and had to go in because of sudden thunderstorms. Today looked promising, without a cloud in sight, so she looked forward to completing the final phase of the selection process for the inspiring women book anthology.

She sat in her favorite wicker chair, opened  her laptop, pulled up the latest email from Nicole, and read:

Bonnie, 

I’ve truly enjoyed hearing your story thus far and have been inspired by it. 

For the next stage of the selection process, please list the top five lessons you’ve learned along  your journey.

Thank you, 

Nicole

Bonnie had thought long and hard about this list and had painstakingly worked to narrow it down to the the most valuable lessons she’d learned in her transition from mess to sustained success. Toggling over to review it once more, she scrutinized what she’d written:

Lessons Learned Along the Way: How to Maximize Rock Bottom  

  1. Most of life isn’t what happens to us, it’s our response to it. My response to rock bottom is, it didn’t happen to me, it happened for me, so I could build my best life  and coach, encourage and inspire other women to live theirs.
  2. Set backs are a set up for an even greater comeback. (Joel Olsteen said it first, and it is true!). Rock bottom provided the firm foundation, and the circumstances that got me there served as the catalyst for me to acquire and/or utilize the tools needed to build my best life.
  3. Rock bottom’s firm foundation must be set on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, so our lives can withstand the storms.
  4. As we’re building our lives, storms will come, and we may get weathered, but that makes us even better because we’re authentic, credible, and relateable.
  5. Though our lives may gotten leveled, if we turn over control to Him, God’s plan for our new lives is better than anything we could have designed ourselves.

“That’ll have to do,” she murmured as she typed a brief note to Nicole, hit “Send”and shut her laptop case.

“What’ll have to do?” Phil asked as he stepped onto the deck and closed the french door to his wife’s office behind him. He often worked from home as well which could be a blessing and a curse since they often distracted one another.

Bonnie reached for his hand as he sat in the wicker chair next to hers. After he’d adjusted it to be in a spot of shade, Bonnie updated him on the latest with the book anthology.

“You’re Chris Gardner,” he told her when she’d finished. Early in the relationship, they’d watched Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness, and both had been profoundly moved. She’d just gone from being homeless like the real life character portrayed in the movie, to being offered directorship positions from the nation’s top two corporate childcare providers, and Bonnie’s joy had equalled that of the actor when offered his dream job. Since then, whenever she made another career advancement, or accomplished something big, he’d call her Chris Gardner.

Squeezing his hand she explained, “If I’m selected, the final part of my story is sharing how I’m using my unique gift to inspire others. That part would be easy. One of the first things I did when I started my job as the director of the coaching program was to sit in during class when purpose statements were created. I was forty-six and had never done that!”

“So, love, what is your purpose statement?” Phil asked though he could probably say it by heart given all the times she’d repeated it to him.

“My purpose is to use my unique God-given strengths to coach, encourage and inspire other women to live their best lives and to become the best version of themselves, all to His glory.”

Phil looked at her with a look so tender, it took her breath away. Clearing his throat, to hide his emotions, he said, “Your purpose is one more reason I adore you. And for the record, you were living it long before you ever set it down on paper.” With that, he rose and pulled her to her feet with him. “What time is your image consultation?” he asked now with a flirtatious gleam in his eyes.

That blessing and curse thing…Bonnie would have loved to spend the morning with her gorgeous husband, but she was very disciplined about working her business during the day so she would be available in the afternoons and evenings for him and the children. The children weren’t an issue at the moment as they were away with their father for summer break. On one hand this left more time for Phil. On the other, it afforded opportunities to do work she couldn’t when the children were around. While she was building her business, work during the day had to be a priority.

Furthermore, Bonnie loved the image consultation side of her business because it allowed her to help women own their sense of professional style so they could step up their professional image, which often resulted in career advancements, promotions, and increased recognition. In fact, her wearing a suit very similar to the one she had on now had been the difference in her being offered a directorship vs. the assistant directorship position she’d applied for nearly a decade ago when she made her whirlwind return to the workforce.

“Honey, the consultation is in twenty minutes, so I have to leave now.”

Looking crestfallen, Phil kissed her chastely and then let go of her hand.

“Don’t look so forlorn. I’ll be home early afternoon and I’ll make it up to you.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Phil grinned just as Bonnie’s cell phone rang.

When Bonnie grabbed it and mouthed, “It’s Nicole,” then worked really hard to reign in her joy until the call ended, Phil watched her and could barely contain the pride he felt because she’d obviously been selected to co-author the book anthology.

As Bonnie leapt repeatedly into the air, pumped her fist, and clapped her hands above her head, much like Will Smith’s character, Chris Gardner had, Phil was reminded again of the Pursuit of Happiness.

Like Chris Gardner, Bonnie was resilient and had truly bounced back.

The End

 

Thank you for reading this short story! I hope it encouraged and inspired you! 

~Pink Collar      Coach

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 2 of 3

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 2 of 3

Day 71 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project confirmed some things about haters. Haters are going to hate. The good thing is, Joel Osteen once said haters were like crows and those of us who aren’t are eagles. A crow will try to nip at an eagle and the eagle will never even acknowledge it. It will just soar higher and higher, and eventually the crow will have to fall back because they were not created to soar.

So, if you are a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick who’s got some haters biting at you, it’s beneath you to sink to their level. Just spread your wings and fly even higher.

Bonnie had some haters and other challenges. Please read on to see how she dealt with them. Hope you enjoy and take away something you can use to maximize your personal and/or professional life. Thanks for reading.

Pink Collar Coach

Oh, and I still haven’t figured out how to get the Shutterstock image off, but I have paid so should be okay…

Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 2 of 3 

Thrilled that she’d made it to the next step in the selection process and might actually be included in the book anthology, Bonnie read the email Doctor Nicole sent her following yesterday’s phone conversation.

Dear Bonnie:

Thank you for telling me your unique gift and how you discovered it.

I’m please to inform you that your story was compelling enough that we’d like you to answer a few more questions to help us determine if your story would make an impactful contribution to the anthology being compiled.

During the phone conversation you told your story in narrative form. This is a writing exercise that will demonstrate your ability to “write tight”. Please answer the following using bullet points and a succinct explanation:

What were five ways you overcame the obstacles in your way? 

Thank you for your participation, 

Doctor Nicole

Taking a sip of her iced green tea chai latte (with non-fat milk of course), Bonnie jotted down her initial thoughts. Then, since she tended to think in acronyms and mnemonics and had since learning the planets using “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies”, she rearranged them into the acronym DEMPS for easy recall should she be asked to share. Next, she went back and added the explanations. When she finally had the answer down the way she wanted it, she hit the “Spelling and Grammar Check” key just to be safe, clicked “Save Draft” and read it aloud:

  • Deep Faith – When at rock bottom, my troubles ran deep. My trust ran deeper.
  • Education – Applied my old elementary ed degree in new ways; earned an advanced degree.
  • Mentoring – Aligned myself with people who were smarter, successful, and had reached where I wanted to go; showed them I was worth their investment in me.
  • Professional Development – Self-motivated, intentional and ongoing; through workshops, trainings, online resources, books, etc.
  • Soul Supporters -My husband, friends and tribe; I chose the family I wasn’t born into but wanted.

Pleased with her final product, Bonnie hit the “Send” key and stood to go get ready for date night with her hubby. The exercise she’d just completed naturally made her nostalgic about the things and people who’d helped her weather the storms she’d faced, but none more so than her faith and her husband. For Bonnie, the two were inextricably linked. She wouldn’t have believed it possible, but she loved both more today than she did back then.

Now she joined her husband in their bedroom and stood on tiptoe to wrap her arms around his neck. At barely 5’1″, Bonnie was almost a foot and a half shorter than her tall, handsome soul mate.

Phil kissed the top of her head and asked, “Did you send the email about your story?” He was ever supportive of his wife.

“Yes, and it made me think about how our love story began.”

“Is that so? How?”

“I had to list five ways I’d overcome obstacles and then provide a short explanation. Of course my relationship with you and my relationship with the Lord are at the top of that list.”

“Yeah, when I met you, I thought, How is this woman doing it? When you told me your life’s story up to this point, it was so over the top, I could have doubted you, but then, you couldn’t make up what you’d been through. And you were still going through it. It made me think long and hard about whether I wanted to take up with you.” The last was said in a teasing tone.

Bonnie feigned offense and stepped out of his embrace.

“Hey, I was just kidding! Seriously though, the nonsense happening to you was not going to continue on my watch, so hot mess or not, I was all in.”

Laughing, Bonnie turned back and planted a kiss on his cheek. She wasn’t a woman who felt she needed rescuing, but he’d been her champion from day one. Looking forward to their time together, she reached into her closet for the red dress she wanted to wear on their dinner date. “You’re funny,” she said as she passed him to go into the bathroom. “That was one of the things I loved about you from the night we met at that divorce care group. When you asked where I lived and I told you, you couldn’t believe it was your neighborhood. You actually stomped your foot and said, ‘You do not live in Indian Springs!’ It was hilarious!”

As funny as he was, Phil had a dry sense of humor and seldom laughed. “What was hilarious was that you thought you could write the sequel to Sleeping with the Enemy. I told you then and everything that’s happened with your ex since has confirmed that it’s already been written. It’s called The Return of the Anti-Christ.”

Bonnie merely laughed again and shook her head at how he could say such outrageous things deadpan and not crack a smile.

Laughter aside, when they’d met, she’d truly been at rock bottom. Rather than the courts returning custody when the truth about what her wasband had done came out, it had taken her nearly a year to get them back. She was working a temp job making no money, living in subsidized housing, and could barely afford gas for the borrowed clunker she was driving, let alone food, milk and diapers for her parenting time with the children.

Bonnie prayed from the first day she was away from her abusive ex that God would give her a good husband and father for her children. Phil had walked into the divorce care group six months later. Bonnie had been attending for a few weeks. Phil’s friend had encouraged him to go from the time his marriage had ended a year before that. He’d never taken him up on it until the night he and Bonnie met. Some would call that sweet serendipity. Bonnie called it a God-thing. From their first conversation that evening, which lasted all night at a pancake house, they were best friends. And though the spark was there nearly from the beginning, they let the romance come in God’s timing. Bonnie knew he was special and didn’t want to mess things up. Phil truly was and remained the answer to her prayers.

As she slid the red dress over her head, Bonnie whispered a prayer of thanksgiving. God, you and Phil are inextricably linked. Together, you helped me bounce back from rock bottom.

Hope you’ll come back and read the conclusion of Bonnie’s story in Post 3. Thank you!

~ Pink      Collar Coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 1 of 3

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 1 of 3

Day 71 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project was another productive one. So much so that I missed my deadline to post by midnight. It’s all good though because I accomplished many purposeful things:
1. Learned that Shutterstock images are NEVER free.
2. Bit the bullet and paid for an annual subscription. Beware fellow bloggers and check out the license agreement terms before using images for your site! I’m a bit frustrated because I paid my fee and the Shutterstock imprint is still visible on my blog…I’ll have to check into that.
3. Finished my Gender Equity and Inclusion statement.
4. Reviewed a pre-assessment for an image consultation.
4. Explored an exciting new opportunity.
5. Made a new connection to be interviewed for a radio broadcast.
So, as a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Chick I’m learning that while I may have a plan for my days, I need to trust the greater plan…
Hope you enjoy post 1 of 3 from the 2nd Pink Collar Short Story. Thanks for reading!
Bonnie Bounces Back from Rock Bottom – Post 1 of 3 

 

Sitting in her home office, which was decorated with carefully curated items and inspirational messages that reinforced her agency’s theme, Maximize Her, Bonnie thought about the information call she’d been invited to join. Earlier the week before she’d typed a spontaneous response to an LinkedIn request for women to share their stories for a book anthology. Given the overwhelming response to the request, Bonnie had been pleasantly surprised when she was asked to register for the info session that evening.

As she reflected on what she would share should she be selected to contribute to the book, Bonnie wanted to pinch herself because where her life now was so radically different than it had been only a decade ago.

“We live a beautiful life, Loveday”, Bonnie told the cat when her feline companion wound herself around Bonnie’s leg and then leapt to her lap. “I hope you appreciate it, because it hasn’t always been this way.” Stroking the petite cat absently beneath the chin with one hand, she picked up her iPhone with the other and tapped it to bring up the message from the motivational speaker who’d sent it. After reading it and thinking through her next action step, Bonnie told the cat, “Hmm, Loveday. I believe I need to make a list”. She got no response, however, as Loveday, who’d been lulled to sleep by her person’s tender ministrations, had fallen asleep. Not wanting to wake her, Bonnie reached across the desk, pulled her laptop within reach and began outlining her story based on the criteria in the message. She’d be ready when asked to share it, and she felt fairly confident that she would be.

Two days later, Bonnie said a quick prayer, drew in her breath, and dialed the number she’d been provided following the information call. She and the other women had been assured it would be a conversation, not an interview, yet Bonnie still felt as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

“Hello, Bonnie. This is Doctor Nicole,” the book anthology interviewer answered pleasantly.

“Hello. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me,” Bonnie stated clearly. She was a petite woman, with a small voice, and she’d been coached to speak confidently.

“My pleasure. We’re so excited that you are interested in sharing your story. As you know, the anthology will be a collection of stories about women who have uncovered their unique gifts and are now using them to inspire others. So, Bonnie, please tell me, what is your unique gift, and how did you uncover it?”

Channeling everything she’d ever learned about interviewing, Bonnie sat up straighter and told the story she’d shared during Orientation at her last job where she’d been the Director of Life Coaching and Care and had served at-risk individuals who were facing barriers to living successful lives.

“One of my top strengths is that I’m a maximizer. I learned that when I was working as a Leadership Coach and took Strength Finder 2.O. But I didn’t fully discover how this strength is also my unique gift. I learned that when realized that I’d maximized hitting rock bottom to rebuild my life.”

The line was quiet for a moment, and Bonnie thought she’d lost Nicole. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard, “Please tell me how you did that.”

Bonnie relaxed, knowing her Ds story was powerful and that she told it the only way she could. From the heart. “I grew up in a poor community to parents who were divorced by the time I was a year old. The divorce led to my mother’s depression, which led her to drink. Eventually, the drinking led to drug use and that brought the dope dealers into our home. I was a victim of domestic violence and the dysfunction was so severe that I was desperate to get out. So, before I was twenty, I married Dwayne, and he was the worst “d” of them all. For the next decade I was caught up in a circle of domestic abuse that culminated when Dwayne committed some dastardly deeds that I don’t speak aloud. I lost everything including my home, my car, and all of my possessions. I was destitute. Worst of all, I lost custody of my infant and toddler child when he kidnapped the children and filed for custody. I was devastated and so depressed that I wanted to die. I’d hit rock bottom.” Before she could finish, Nicole interjected.

“Wow. I must say, I’m not often surprised by what I hear, but your story is exceptional. How did you manage to go on?” Nicole rushed on without waiting for Bonnie’s response. “My apologies for interrupting. Please continue.”

“Through divine intervention.” Bonnie closed her eyes and reigned in her emotions. She’d never cease to be overwhelmed with gratitude that she’d had her faith to lean on and couldn’t imagine how people did go on without it. “And through determination to put my good education and teaching experience to use. I maximized rock bottom and made it the firm foundation upon which I built the rest of my life. I was able to work my way up into a position as director at a day care center and not only regained custody of the children but was able to take them to school with me every day. Ultimately I decided to pursue an advanced degree and now get to live out my purpose every day in my dream job.” Bonnie paused, and then concluded,  “So, I maximized rock bottom to not only build the rest of my life, but to build the best of my life.”

For what seemed like minutes to Bonnie but was actually only a few seconds, Nicole didn’t say anything. When she finally did, she cleared her throat and told Bonnie in a voice thick with unshed tears, “Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing that with me. I’d love to have you tell me the rest of your story, but must adhere to the selection process. You’ll  receive an email with the next question should you make it to the next round.”

“I appreciate that,” Bonnie replied as her heart sunk. Nicole sounded close to tears alright. Tears of boredom! I talked too long and nearly put her to sleep. Trying to keep from crying herself, Bonnie thanked Nicole for her time and consideration and ended the call.

Frustrated with herself, Bonnie told Loveday, “Well, that’s the end of that,” but had to eat her words a few minutes later when her phone pinged letting her know she had an email. Opening it and seeing it was Nicole did get Bonnie crying. Tears of joy!

Please stay tuned for Post 2. Thank you!

~Pink Collar Coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post 3 of 3

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post 3 of 3

It’s Friday night on Day 67 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and I can’t imagine spending it any better. I’m so excited to finish my the first short story in my effort to blog a book and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.

I’m trying to figure out how to emphasize the strategy and solution pieces so this initial attempt won’t have those outlined, though they are embedded in the story. Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you!

And, as Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose chicks, even if you won’t be making a career change, I hope you find ways to incorporate your avocation into your vocation. : )

Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post 3 of 3

Determined to eventually make advocating for women her full-time career, Ava resumed teaching that fall, but rather than limiting her court advocate work to summers as she’d originally planned when she started volunteering at Women Helping Women, she made it clear to the Volunteer Coordinator that she was available during breaks and holidays as well. And since court arraignments also took place on Saturdays until noon, Ava took those on too. As if that wasn’t enough, in addition to attending the continuous educational opportunities available as part of the support offered to volunteers through WHW, Ava she spent so much time checking out nonfiction and fiction books on domestic violence from her local library on Saturday mornings that the librarian started greeting her, “Good morning, Ava the Avid Reader.” Ava was a little embarrassed but more pleased by the name and wondered how no one, including herself, had come up with it before.

Considering it was the early 90s, Ava also took full advantage of the booming World Wide Web which had been gaining in popularity since its invention her junior year in college. A lifelong learner, Ava was delighted with the wealth of information available only a few finger clicks away and wished it had been around when she had to use microfiche back in her middle school research project days! She shared this with her students and realized how much she’d dated herself when one asked, “Uh, how old are you anyway?” So much for being the cool teacher, Ava thought to herself.

Ava’s cool factor may have dropped a bit with her students, but it was pretty high with the women she accompanied to court. All of them were special to Ava, but Solange held a special place in her heart. The young woman had arrived in the United States after fleeing persecution in her native Cameroon, Africa. With skin the rich brown of dark roast coffee and English spoken with a French accent just as smooth, Solange was a unique blend of sweet, smart and incredibly strong. In a short amount of time she’d gotten a work visa, a good job at a customer service center, her own apartment, a car, and was even studying for her citizenship test. All of that was threatened when a man she’d gone on one date with began harassing and stalking her. Recently, she’d come home to find him waiting outside the door of her apartment complex. When she’d asked him to leave, he’d grabbed her by the arm. Thankfully, the landlord just happened to be in the building showing a vacant unit down the hall. He’d intervened and sent the man packing. A father of teenage girls, he’d then insisted Solange file a temporary protection order, which lead her to Women Helping Women.

“Ms. Ava”, she lamented when they met for the first time outside the court room before the arraignment began.  “I shouldn’t have gone on that date with him. He works in my department and it is against the rules. I tried to tell him no, but he would not accept my refusal.”

“We call that ‘not taking no for an answer’,” Ava responded, with no censure. Solange wasn’t interested in returning to Africa given the danger she’d escaped. America was now her home and she was eager to assimilate.

“Exactly!” she exclaimed then, her voice louder than Ava had ever heard it. “He would not take no for an answer. I thought if I accompanied him on one date, I could tell him we were not well suited.”

About to say, “You weren’t a good match”, instead Ava held her tongue. One of the best ways to support women, she’d learned, was to do more listening than talking.

Solange continued, wringing her hands. “I do not want to go in front of the judge. It is bad enough that Michael has already been suspended from work since he is forbidden to be near me with the temporary protection order in place. If the judge issues a permanent one, he will lose his job and then come after me. It is better if I say nothing.”

For a long moment, Ava was at a loss for what to do or say, so she remained quiet. Solange was so distressed that she leaned forward and began to take in quick, jerky breaths. Recognizing a panic attack when it was about to happen, Ava asked, “May I touch you?”

Solange merely nodded.

Ava placed her hand firmly on Solange’s back. “First, you need to slow down and breathe properly. Take in a deep breath, hold it and count to four, then exhale as I count back down. Alright, now breathe.” Normally Ava wasn’t this authoritative, but Solange’s case was next on the docket, so time was of the essence. While Solange did as she was instructed, Ava summoned the courage to tell the story she’d never told anyone. Once the other woman’s breathing was normal, Ava forged ahead.

“You were about to hyperventilate. It reminded me of when I was a little girl. My babysitter’s teenage son molested me. He pushed me down on the bed and called it tickling, but it was really touching my body all over in places he had no business. That only happened once because I threw such a fit I didn’t have to go back to his house.”

“It is good that you did something to prevent him from touching you again.” Solange had listened intently and Ava could tell she’d forgotten her own situation for a moment.

“Yes, Solange. I did something to stop me from having to go back to the house, but I didn’t say anything to stop him from trying to hurt me again. Shortly after that, he followed me home and came in through my bedroom window.” Solange gasped, anticipating that he’d gotten what he came for. Ava patted her knee and assured her, “No, thankfully, a neighbor saw him. She made sure I got out of the house and called the police. He was arrested and went to juvenile detention. That’s jail for young adults,” Ava clarified for Solange’s sake. It took her a moment to compose herself before she continued. “He went to prison for raping and killing a girl who grew up on my street.” Ava recalled how she’d seen one of the older guys who used to attend her Sunshine Club in the parking lot of the grocery store a while back. They’d had a great time catching up until she asked about his sister and learned that Dougie had raped and murdered her and was serving a life sentence. Ava shuddered involuntarily, still unable to process it.

“Ms. Ava. You did not deserve what that boy did to you. And the woman he brutally attacked and killed did not deserve it. You carry what he did to you and you blame yourself for her death because you did not speak up. But you were a child. The Bible says, ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish ways.’ You could not understand what needed to be done then. And you could not speak what you didn’t know how to speak. Now, you are a woman, Ms. Ava. You understand as a woman. You speak as a woman. Not only for yourself, but you give others the courage to speak for themselves.”

By this time, both women had tears rolling down their cheeks. Then suddenly, the bailiff appeared and called Solange’s name.

“Some advocate I am!” Ava cried. “I’m supposed to be cheering you on, and instead I took too much time telling you my story. Now it’s time for you to take the stand,” She squeezed Solange’s hand in a last show of solidarity. “Lord, please, help Solange to speak boldly and with confidence. Help her to win.”

“Don’t worry, Ms. Ava. You found your voice and told your story. That will help me tell mine. I believe we’ll have victory,” Solange said as she squeezed Ava’s hand then rose to enter the courtroom. Just before she did, she turned and said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better cheerleader.”

Solange was granted the protection order and fortunately never saw Michael again after the arraignment. He didn’t return to her office and she later heard on good faith that he’d moved several states away, so the trial was never held. There was a warrant out for his arrest but those who knew him well doubted he’d ever resurface, for which she was relieved.

For Ava, finally speaking about her childhood trauma freed and empowered her to finally make the career change she’d been contemplating. Instead of earning her master’s in education as she’d planned before she started volunteering with Women Helping Women, she earned one in nonprofit management.

“Wow!” Collette marveled when she visited Ava’s new office soon after she applied for and got the recently vacant Director of Advocacy position at Women Helping Women. “Who’d have thought you’d turn volunteering into a new career?”

Though Ava was a cheerleader and an advocate who used her voice well, she smiled but remained quiet. She’d done it! She’d turned her avocation into a vocation!

In her mind’s eye she could see that sign hanging above the doors of the church. Smiling an even broader smile, she opened her laptop and the folder where she captured writing ideas lest they slip away. Having shared an apartment for five years, Collette knew what she was doing and wandered around checking out her best friend’s new work digs.

Knowing she’d write about it one day, Ava typed: Worship begins when you enter; Service begins when you depart.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post 2 0f 3

Pink Collar Savvy & Chic Short Story – Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post 2 0f 3

It’s Day 66 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, I’m getting this post in just under the wire. Thanks to those who read Post I. I hope you’ll enjoy this continuation.

Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post II

Ava did indeed get to college and became a middle school teacher, just as Aunt Bitsy predicted. Hired straight out of college, she was the youngest teacher on staff at a small, private Christian school. All of the students viewed her as “the cool” teacher because of her hands on approach. Most days her class could be found acting out plays they’d written or erupting volcanoes they’d built in class. Between teaching and coaching the school’s squad for the football and basketball seasons, Ava couldn’t say which she enjoyed more. She’d earned a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and easily made the cheerleading squad, making her long held dream come true. And her former UC Bear Kitten status definitely added to her cool factor with the students. She really didn’t like the notoriety, but since the tween boys were in awe of her, they went out of their way to be respectful. At barely five feet, her height made her a great flyer on the UC squad but probably wouldn’t have served her well as far as classroom management was concerned.

Not interested in marrying until she was much older, Ava had some good friends and was content to remain single and to go on living in the small apartment she shared with one of them near the school. As fulfilled as she was, the words stenciled above the doors of the sanctuary at the church where she grew up niggled at her. Worship begins when you enter; Service begins when you depart. Ava felt as though she was serving, had in fact gone into what she considered full time ministry at a Christian school so she could serve. Still, she felt she could be doing something more. She was off in the summers, so she hoped she’d figure out what she could do to serve in another way then.

“What do you think about volunteering this summer?” Ava’s roommate, Collette asked soon after their first school year ended. Collette was a full-time tutor at the same school.

Ava’s curiosity was immediately piqued. “Where?”

“Someone from Women Helping Women was the speaker at my church’s Mother’s Day Brunch and she passed out information about volunteering after her presentation.” Collette dug the brochure out of her handbag and looked it over before continuing. “The organization helps female victims of domestic violence. The training is forty hours. There’s an option for daytime that’s a full week or there’s an evening option that’s spread out over several weeks”.

“Hmm,” Ava responded thoughtfully. The idea sounded as if it could be the answer to her prayers. “Since we’re off, I say if we’re going to do it, let’s just take the plunge and do the solid week,” she finished with a grin.

“So you’re in?” Collette returned the grin.

“I’m all in!” Ava exclaimed as she jumped up and held out her hand for the flier so she could read all about it herself.

A few weeks later, after completing an intensive training that included an in-depth look at domestic violence, indicators that someone may be in an abusive relationship, how to support victims and survivors, including helping them to create a safety plan, an overview of the women’s shelter, and how law enforcement and the courts are involved, both young women felt as though some of their innocence was gone. They’d both fought to reign in their emotions when a rape kit was introduced to their group and the facilitator walked them through what the woman experiences during the examination.

When asked where they thought they’d see themselves volunteering, Collette was torn between wanting to work with the children at the shelter while their mothers attended counseling or supporting the women during the hospital examinations.

Ava had no trouble stating where she’d best fit. She’d known long before they visited the courthouse where a volunteer attorney vividly painted the picture of what happens inside the court room. How too often the woman is re-victimized from the stand. Ava had known it back when she was nine years old and had narrowly escaped being a victim herself. She’d lost her voice then; her ability to stand up for herself. She’d vowed to be a cheerleader for herself and other girls and women one day. She hadn’t known the grown up term back then but stated it in a clear, strong voice now.

“I’m going to be an advocate. A women’s court advocate.”

The rest of that summer, Ava took every opportunity to be at the courthouse to cheer on the women who had to testify against husbands, boyfriends, exes, and even family members. Each time she picked a woman up, most often from the shelter, and escorted her to court, she began advocating long before they were physically together. “God, I pray you will give this woman the courage and strength to speak up and to tell her story in a way that moves the judge to sentence the perpetrator in a way that he’ll not be able to hurt her or her children anymore,” she’d pray alone and then with the woman if she was open to that.

Then, right before the woman was summoned into the hearing or trial, Ava would ask if she could take her hand. “Do you mind if I pray?” By that point, most women welcomed it, no matter their beliefs. “God, You have not given your daughter a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. May she feel Your presence and peace and speak the truth boldly. Amen.” Most of the time, the woman would then squeeze her hand, square her shoulders and march in to not only fight, but to win.

It was in times like those that Ava most loved being a real cheerleader for women. So much so that she began to wonder how she could do it not as her volunteer work or avocation, but as her career. Ava wanted to make being an advocate her vocation.

Stay tuned for Post 3!