The Pinwheel Girl
I had the honor of meeting Kendra Kett at a Ladies Who Launch workshop I attended about a month ago and knew immediately that I wanted to feature her in a Ms. Career Girl post. Even before I got the chance to speak with Kendra one-on-one, I was intrigued by her. Kendra is the author and illustrator of “The Pinwheel Girl Takes Flight,” a poetic and unique book which illustrates every woman’s journey through seven stages of transformation.
Here are some excerpts from my interview with Ms. Kett. Although the concepts may seem a bit artsy or foreign at first, I think many of us can relate to having an
inner-voice that we don’t always listen to as much as we should.
What is a Pinwheel Girl?
The Pinwheel Girl is a new icon for womanhood! She is a metaphor for the Inner Voice — always whispering to us, nudging us along, reminding us of the essential Truths of our lives. She is always accessible and ever present — if we seek her and listen to her, she is there. She teaches us that the life of a Woman is to go in and out of stages of transitions and transformations with courage, grace, dignity, and compassion for ourselves. She is always encouraging you to – and through – the stages of your life. The Pinwheel Girl is Every Woman.
What inspired you to write the book, The Pinwheel Girl Takes Flight ~ Every Woman’s Journey Through Seven Stages of Transformation?
I wrote the book in response to many things happening all at once that seemed to reach critical mass. I’d been a novice writer all my life, since I was two years old, and also an artist, always drawing, pasting, cutting, writing — and dreaming. I have a poetic way of speaking sometimes and I tend to “see” in metaphor and symbolism.
As I grew older, though, my emphasis became that of following the rules, doing what was expected of me, playing parts, and just “going along” without a real plan for my life. The sheer routine of life, marriage, parenthood, and career propelled me forward in a non-thinking manner and the next thing I knew I was at a midlife crossroads filled with deep regret and depression about the choices I had made and not made, as well as fear for my future.
Interestingly enough, however, all along I had been collecting art supplies sort of on a subconscious level, and storing them in a room above my garage, even though I had long ago abandoned any artistic outlets. One day I “saw” that I had enough supplies to create an art studio and that is what I did. It was a moment of clarity amidst all the confusion.
I desperately wanted to express somehow the pain, despair and heartache that I was experiencing. I felt that somehow I had just not lived up to my potential. I had abandoned so much of my dreams and myself and left them laying on the side of some road somewhere. So the first thing that I drew was a pinwheel. Stuck on a stick. Spinning in a circle. Going nowhere.
Eventually I made the little pinwheel “jump” off the stick and fly free in the wind. And when it landed I saw that the now unfolded flaps looked like arms and legs and they were communicating in a pose. So I morphed the little pinwheel, now free and un-tethered, into a woman and the Pinwheel Girl was born. See her belly button? She got that from the nail that used to hold her down on the stick.
To cope with an impending midlife transition and a divorce, I drew and drew. And drew. I had over 100 images of the Pinwheel Girl and over 100 “messages from the wind” to go with them — poetic little phrases culled from my experiences, my journals, my dreams, and my own Inner Voice which was helping me face my situation with sheer determination and courage despite the sorrow.
I saw that as I evolved and changed through my midlife experience, divorce, and a lot of self-help, the drawings and messages of the Pinwheel Girl conveyed those changes and they were organized into seven distinct stages. It was then that I thought I should create a book and product line for other women who might also be feeling loss, betrayal, confusion, despair, fear, uncertainty, and a need to heal herself.
What do you think young women in their twenties can most learn from the Pinwheel Girl?
I think the Pinwheel Girl has so much to offer any woman of any age!
The Pinwheel Girl offers many nuggets of wisdom and guidance to young women. First and foremost, she is an advocate of honoring yourself, listening to yourself, trusting in yourself, and heeding your intuitive wisdom.
For example, “You know what to do” is one of her messages and she really means this! “You know what to do!” On the surface level this means you don’t need anyone bossing you around. On a deeper level it means that you have the answers to all of your questions and pursuits — those answers lie within you.
The Pinwheel Girl offers young women the courage, strength, and curiosity to excavate that intuitive knowledge and to stay with it. To stay the course. Too often our culture marginalizes what young women think and feel and with this pressure it is easy for us to give up on ourselves, resign ourselves, or to minimize our thoughts, feelings and intuition. The Pinwheel Girl helps you to resist that temptation. She is your strongest ally!
Secondly, I feel that the Pinwheel Girl offers a new way of encouraging and healing ourselves. She taps into your reservoirs of strength and shows that to you. Young women have so much to face today, so much to juggle, many stresses and concerns about their future, and so many overwhelming options to consider. The mission of the Pinwheel Girl is to empower women to live the life they love and want, to pursue their dreams fearlessly, and to cultivate courage to face the tough times that will inevitably arise. She reminds you that no matter what you are invincible, larger than life, and eternal — so she’s a source of comfort. We can all use that these days!
The Pinwheel Girl also offers young women the idea that each stage of life, each stage of transition, each “change” we must face, has its merits no matter how negative and stressful some of those changes may feel at the start. She points out how the light is always brighter when you first see it in the dark. Managing change is often not as scary as we think it is. She says “hold on…even if it’s unfamiliar…” That’s the key, I think. Even when things are unfamiliar and unsteady, as our culture and climate is now, the Pinwheel Girl reminds young women that they can see in the dark.
Thank you Kendra for sharing your story and the story of The Pin Wheel girl!