227 The Courage to Start Writing Again – Author Jane Carroll

What You Will Hear:

  • Become a first time author – struggles and wins 
  • Career change from nurse to author;
  • Recognize it's time to release your creativity!

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More about our featured guest

What does it take to ReLaunch? For her it took a re-kindling of her love for writing and the courage to go for full self-expression. Trained as a nurse, she didn't allow stereotypical expectations stand in the way of her creativity and humorous take on life.

Jane Carroll, Life Coach, assists women in finding, owning, and living their truth. She is the bestselling author of Bertha-Size Your Life!, Becoming Bertha, and Where the Joys Are. Jane divides her time between coaching, writing, blogging, and school nursing, with a little social media thrown in for entertainment.


Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, your daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, practical steps and solutions. You can think of this show as being your personal prescription for relaunching into the life and into the business that you love. And if you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show. Thank you for tuning in and thank you for being involved in the before and the after show online conversations. And if you are new here, just know that you are among friends. On the show today, our guest helps women find, own and live in their truth. She is the best selling author of “Bertha-Size Your Life” “Becoming Bertha” and “Where the Joys Are.” Jane Carroll, wow! Are you on ReLaunch?

[01:01] Jane Carroll: I am!

[01:02] Joel: Oh my goodness, I am so excited to have you here!

[01:04] Jane: Well I'm excited to be with you today.


[01:08] Joel: Thank you for your time, and as you know Jane, this show is all about the relaunch. And while we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our life, I generally ask our guests to zero in on the relaunch that has been the most significant for them or that has been the most transformational. And then we just kind of unfold the story from there. And we'll do that here with you here in just a minute or two. But before we get into that, let's have a little lighthearted conversation if you don't mind. What has been the most memorable or maybe the funniest “ha-ha” thing that has happened to you in your journey as being an author?

[01:51] Jane: Oh my! [chuckle] It's funny everyday. Let's see… I think one of the most exciting things was that, obviously from the names of my books, my main character's name is Bertha and she's a redhead with… She wears spandex and high heels, she's just bigger than life. And the day that I first got the book in paperback, because when it was released it was before we even had e-books, I was at a Southern Women's Show in Birmingham and one of the women who came through my booth was an 83-year old woman named Bertha.


[02:28] Jane: And she had red hair, she fit the bill completely, it was like, “Really? I thought I made you up!”

[02:35] Joel: Was she doing the spandex, did she have the yoga pants going?

[02:38] Jane: She did not have on the spandex, but she wore high heels every day, so even at 83. So the more I got to know her, she had so many similarities to the Bertha in the book it was just uncanny. So I guess that would probably be my funniest moment.

[02:55] Joel: It was like her biography, basically.

[02:57] Jane: Right!

[02:58] Joel: That is just too, too funny. And that must have been, just kinda looking at her and it's like, “I know you!” [chuckle] And she's looking at you, “Well I know you!”

[03:09] Jane: And so of course, I gave her the book.

[03:12] Joel: Well of course, you've got to.

[03:13] Jane: I couldn't sell it to her, I had to give it to her.

[03:14] Joel: Absolutely, that is funny. And you know she's telling that story to every single person that she comes across. She's like, “No, this is my book! I mean they wrote this on me.” [chuckle]

[03:27] Jane: Well actually, several, two or three years later she retired and she invited me, personally, to come to her retirement reception. So she did like me.

[03:39] Joel: That would be “The Big Bertha Reception”, I guess? Something like that.

[03:43] Jane: Right! “The Big Bertha.”

[03:45] Joel: Very good story, thanks for sharing that with us. How do we get in to talking about Jane's relaunch? We've all experienced numerous launches, relaunches, things work and sometimes they don't work. But what do we need to zero in on today and go from there?

[04:01] Jane: Well I think my writing has probably been my biggest launch, relaunch, launch, relaunch, sort of coming and going. Because I started writing about 10 years ago and I really thought that once I had this book published, I was going to be a rich and famous author immediately.

[04:24] Joel: Of course, it's supposed to work that way, right?

[04:26] Jane: Right. And like most authors, who did I think was gonna call me? Oprah, hello? Why wouldn't she? So I did something really risky at the time. And I was living in Gulf Shores, Alabama at the height of the real estate peak, and I sold my house. I was moved back to North Alabama where things were a little cheaper, and I was gonna live on the equity in this house until I was rich and famous, which was gonna take less than two years, of course.

[04:56] Joel: Yeah, it was right around the corner.

[04:58] Jane: Right, right around the corner. So what happened was when the two years came, I had sold some books, I had done some talks, I had coached some clients but I wasn't paying the bills. And so I had to go back to work which was really painful for me. I felt like a failure. And I realize now that I wasn't, but at the time it felt like that because I told the world, “I'm going to be an author and I'm going to make a living at this and be rich!” So I had to go back to work and I'm a nurse by original trade. So I was lucky enough to secure a job as a school nurse. But I was so frustrated and so dejected that I totally gave up writing. I put the copies of Bertha that were left in the closet and I just didn't talk about it. I didn't tell anybody at my new job I had written a book, I didn't do anything.

[05:59] Jane: I just quit writing and left it alone. And that was okay for about two and a half years or so, and then I had started having some medical problems with some numbness and pain in my neck, and back and face and arms and things. And so, I went to the doctor. I found out that I had a condition which is called “Chiari 1 malformation”, which basically means the base of your skull is malformed and your brain doesn't fit in, so that it starts to creep down your neck.

[06:33] Joel: Never heard of that.

[06:35] Jane: Well, you don't wanna hear about it either. It's not a lot of fun. So that required me to have a reconstructive surgery. So long story short, what I finally realized was, oh my God, if I had not been working for the school system, which has incredible insurance, I paid something like $300 for that surgery. If I had had that little independent policy I'd had before, I would never have dug myself out of medical bills. It would have totally been devastating. So that was sort of like a little “Well, maybe there was a good thing in there.”

[07:10] Joel: Sure.

[07:11] Jane: But I still wasn't writing for probably a good 10 months after the surgery. I wasn't doing a lot of anything, really did not feel well for about a year after the surgery. But gradually I was encouraged, but started to blog again. And then I entered a contest for an author remake and I got a trailer out of that. And so I sort of started bringing Bertha out of the closet a little bit and talking to her.

[07:45] Joel: Bertha comes back.

[07:46] Jane: Bertha comes back, exactly. Since then I have gone with a new publisher because my original publisher had gone out of business, it was a small press.

[07:54] Joel: Okay, well, let me jump in here. This is a fascinating story. I appreciate you sharing. So, you left writing, right? Because you were working as a school nurse? Is that it?

[08:06] Jane: Correct.

[08:06] Joel: Okay.

[08:07] Jane: Correct.

[08:07] Joel: Gotcha. So let's kind of talk about how you, if you will, gave birth again to Bertha and got back into writing. Here's why I ask you this. There is some amazing activity going on right now in the relaunch of Fan Club. It's little private group that we have on Facebook and it is growing like gang busters, and just one of the ladies had just commented, I think it was a day or two ago, it might have been two or three days ago, but she just commented that because of all of the encouragement and all of the wonderful stories and all of the support that she's finding in that community, that she is actually getting reacquainted and renewing and relaunching, if you will, into her passion and she proudly said the other day that she had just signed up for her first singing lesson. And this is… I mean, you can almost feel the love that was going on in that fan club because everyone was pulling for her, because what she was doing is she was giving herself the permission, like you did, to get back into what turns her on, what fires her up, and I want you to talk about getting back into your thing. Go ahead, Pei, you have something to…

[09:33] Pei: Exactly, 'cause Jane, you mentioned that you were encouraged to start a blog. So tell us a little bit how that started.

[09:43] Jane: Well, as things happen, they normally happen in more than one place. One was, I was working with a coach energy healer personally and she was encouraging me to get back into writing. And then it would just so happened that I would start seeing people who knew I had written the book and they would say, “When are you gonna write another book? When are you gonna write again?” and “What are you writing? What are you working on?” And it just was like everyone I would run into would start asking me. So I took that as the big sign. I'm big on signs, and I took that as the sign that okay everybody thinks you need to start writing, you need to start writing again.

[10:26] Joel: Nothing like noticing the obvious, huh?

[10:28] Jane: Right, and as I do… One thing about writing for me is, it helps me process my thoughts and get my feelings out. So I just started out thinking I don't know if I'll blog once, I don't know if I'll blog everyday, I don't know what I'll do, but I'm just gonna say hello to the world every morning in a blog. And so I started doing that for about two months before I got back into Bertha again. At first, I didn't even know if she was gonna get to come on the blog. And then she did, but it was like that just the more that I did it, the more I wanted to do it and the better I felt over all because, as I said, I still wasn't feeling really good after that surgery. But the more that I would start to write, the better I would start to feel because that's an energy builder.

[11:22] Joel: Okay, talk about that process. You, Pei, you wanna jump in on that one?

[11:27] Pei: Well, I'm amazed that sometimes that releasing that creativity that we have to release is a healing process.

[11:38] Joel: Mm-hmm.

[11:39] Jane: Oh, absolutely, it really is because there's, and anything that you can do that gets your energy level higher, that can get you excited can make you wanna get out of the bed in the morning and put your fingers on the keyboard or anything else.

[11:56] Joel: Sure.

[11:56] Jane: Means that gives you a passion, that gives you something to do. And I felt like I was connecting with the world again in a whole new way.

[12:05] Joel: Okay. So talk about the more you did it, the more you wanted to do it. I think a lot of people, they struggle with that, getting started 'cause as you know that's the hardest part oftentimes.

[12:20] Jane: It really is, and there's that fear that went along with it like, “Okay, when I wrote Bertha before or the original book and I had a little blog then, but that was before social media really, and so nobody really read it. I put it out there but nobody ever found it.” And so with this one I said, “Okay, am I gonna put it on Facebook or am I not gonna put it on Facebook?” And so tentatively I put it on Facebook, and then several people read it and they commented, and they liked it. And that was frightening for me because this was my friends. It's one thing sometimes to do things in front of strangers, and you don't quite maybe be as nervous, but when you're in front of your friends, and family, and neighbors it's a little more uncomfortable.

[13:15] Jane: So I put it out there and few friends started reading it and that was encouraging, and so the more encouragement that I got then, the more I wanted to write and continue to write, and see “Oh, did this person like it again?” And so that really, that helped the momentum of it.

[13:33] Joel: You bet.

[13:34] Jane: And then I joined a writing group online.

[13:37] Joel: It helped.

[13:39] Jane: And that helped.

[13:39] Joel: Surrounding yourself. One of the things that Pei and I talk about when when we speak publicly together is the three Rs of relaunch, and one of those Rs is, you've got to surround yourself with relaunch relationships, you know what I'm talking about? The relationships that people believe in you, that will support you and then will, at times, let you stand on their shoulders.

[14:07] Jane: Absolutely.

[14:07] Jane: Tell me this Jane, how did you get past the fear? Because we all struggle with it and if we say we don't, well then we lie about other things too but…

[14:17] Pei: Jane, when we talk about fear, what were you fearing? ‘Cause earlier…

[14:24] Joel: Good question.

[14:24] Pei: Before you got back to being a school nurse, you actually started writing, you were excited about it. So when you got back to writing again, were you fearing that this is not gonna result in anything?

[14:44] Jane: That's a very good question Pei, and I'm not sure I've ever really considered it like that before. I think I was primarily concerned and afraid that nobody would read it, that nobody would like it. Like I said, I had had limited success with a paperback book before there was any way to really market it. A lot of the people that I knew had not even read the book, so there was just that fear of being my authentic self really and truly, which goes into how the rest of the story, but just being my authentic self in front of these people that I really knew and who knew me, and would they like it, and would they think I was really dumb? Or [chuckle] What would they think? And I really think was it. It was just that… It was starting all over again and being afraid of what are people gonna think of me? What if everybody hates it?

[15:48] Joel: Sure. So I'm curious about this, what did you learn about yourself in that process? Yeah, go ahead.

[15:57] Jane: Well, I did it anyway. There comes that point that I think that you're ready to be your true self, and you're ready to be true to that, and my phrase for that is, as you read in my bio, is “You ready to know, own and live your truth?” And my truth was, I'm a writer. I love to write. I love it, and I love putting words together. I love when people read it, and I love when they tell me that they enjoyed it. I like to watch people's faces when they read it. I'm a writer, so whether I was afraid or not, it didn't change the fact that I'm a writer, that's who I really am. And so one of the things I would do is I'd just say, “Well, this is what I'm gonna say and probably nobody is gonna read it today anyway, but I'm just put it out there. [chuckle]

[16:52] Joel: Sorry to interrupt you but I love what you're saying here because, when people do what it is that they cannot not do.

[17:00] Jane: Mm-hmm.

[17:01] Joel: That's when the courage shows up. That's when the consistency shows up. That's when the “want to” shows up and the “will do” also shows up, which is exactly what happened for you. When you're standing in your truth as you put it, you've got that courage to feel the fear and do it anyways.

[17:23] Jane: Right. And it becomes like the next step, once you get to that point it's not like jumping from here to there, but you've been making those little inroads toward it all along, and then it's just one more step and then it's not quite so hard, but it was just like… And I'd still tell myself that sometimes. I'll put out a blog, or one of the stories that I wrote in one of the books. I'm thinking, “Well, maybe that's not,” And I'm thinking, “Oh nobody's gonna read it anyway, I'm just gonna put it out there.” And invariably those will be the one that I'll get the most responses on, 'cause somebody else needed to hear that.

[18:00] Pei: Very good. Let me just ask you a couple of questions here, Jane. If I understood it right, you actually became a writer… Well, you've always been a writer, but you start seriously writing after you've reached 40, or 40 or older, is that right?

[18:21] Jane: Right. It's closer to 50.

[18:23] Pei: Oh, wow. Okay. So…

[18:25] Jane: Actually it was 50. [chuckle]

[18:26] Pei: And with your career as a nurse, how has that influenced your writing, or has it influenced you at all?

[18:36] Jane: Well, the writing that I do is very much personal growth. It's very healing in a different way. And my nursing per se does not come into it very much. It does sometimes in my blog, but in the Bertha books themselves I would say nursing is mentioned as my former career, but it really doesn't… The care of patients and that kind of thing, doesn't. But when I was young and decided to go to nursing school, I wanted to take care of people and I wanted to help people feel better.

[19:16] Joel: Sure.

[19:16] Jane: And that was really the only way I knew to do it.

[19:20] Joel: Okay. Now I love this because what you've done right there is you've just connected some powerful, powerful dots. And what you said… Just kind of bare with me here. You said that you wanted to make people feel better, you wanted to care for, you wanted to bring them healing as a young nursing student. Did I hear you correctly?

[19:42] Jane: Correct.

[19:43] Joel: Okay. Fantastic. So that desire and passion that was in you, that just came out in a different way. Now that you're writing books and you're speaking, and you're empowering women and teaching them how to stand in their truth, Jane, you're doing the exact same thing. The mechanics might be different.

[20:05] Jane: Exactly.

[20:06] Joel: You may not be taking blood pressure or temperature or other things that nurses do… Thank God for good nurses, too. But you're bringing your own healing to them based on the written and the spoken word. And one of the things that I love seeing this A-ha, just like you do, Jane, is when people are able to see that, “Oh my gosh, so these are connected. It's not two polar opposites on separate playing fields, but this is actually just part of me. And that they are woven together.” Yes?

[20:42] Jane: Yes. Oh, absolutely. I feel like now at this point, my mission is actually to inspire people to heal, especially women because I feel most comfortable working with women, and so inspiring women to heal is actually what I feel like my purpose is now.

[21:03] Joel: Okay. Fantastic. So let's get right into the practical application of today's show. Let's talk about how you personally, or from the stage, you help women understood, know, own, and stand in their truths.

[21:23] Jane: That's right.

[21:24] Joel: How do you do it?

[21:25] Jane: Well, obviously through my writing and in the relaunching, before my surgery, I had a small coaching practice still, and after the surgery I gave that up. So I'm reopening that coaching practice with the focus of truth. And so that's just… And do it through a lot of different, all the different coaching techniques that you use. But one of the things that… And when you get to know Bertha, I mean she's like a real character. She's actually my inner voice, that voice of wisdom that we all have. And she's just dressed up in those wild clothes. But anyway, so Bertha sort of talks to me. But one of the things that she was asking me lately in relation to learning new truth is just like, okay, simple things. I think you have to dig down, because so many women, and I was one of these, have given their life to whoever, whomever, whether it was their spouse or their children, or their parents or their job, to the point they'd made so many sacrifices, they don't know who they are anymore. And that was originally who the books were written for, was for women, especially empty nest, whose children were grown and they didn't know who they were.

[22:55] Jane: So Bertha was giving me a series of questions. They're very simple, just like, “Is this who I want to be? Is this how I want to feed my body?” You're about to eat a cupcake. You look at the cupcake, and you just ask, “Is this how I really want to nurture my body?” And maybe you say no, or maybe you eat it anyway. But as you start just looking very simply at each area of your life with the things that you're doing. When you're getting dressed in the morning, “Is this really how I want to dress? Is this how I want to look? Is this the way I want the world to think of me? Are these the memories I want to be making? Is this the way I want to treat that person?” You know, just really start doing an inventory so that you get to know little by little who you are again.

[23:52] Joel: Very, very, very self-reflective questions.

[23:57] Jane: Absolutely.

[23:58] Joel: That's kind of hard to say. So I'm curious about this. What did you learn as you reflected on these questions that basically you were writing to yourself?

[24:09] Jane: Well, [chuckle] I've learned that in many areas of my life, I am very true to myself and there are still some areas that I really am not. And nutrition and exercise is one of those areas that I really have not been true to myself in the last year. So that's something that I really want to work on again. Other areas of my life, I feel really good about. So I've got homework to do this year too.


[24:42] Joel: I understand, but don't we all, Jane?

[24:45] Jane: I think we're continuously growing. There's levels. We grow and we think, “A-ha. Well, I learned that lesson,” and then it comes up again in a different way, a little different, with a little different twist, a little deeper, but there's always more to learn.

[24:59] Joel: You bet. And what a great way to come in for a landing here. Because, I agree with you Joan, or rather Jane, we are always in a relaunch. And we're always growing. We're always learning. We're always discovering new things about our potential, our possibilities and the difference that we wanna make in this world. Really appreciate your time today. Jane Carroll is our guest today, Bertha-Size Your Life is one of her books. Got a few other books available. Of course, we're gonna make all of the books available in the blog article that accompanies this episode. Plus, we'll link you up with all of the social media hotspots. Really appreciate your time today, Jane.

[25:50] Jane: Oh, thank you. I have really enjoyed being here. And I'm still thinking about Pei's question about, “What was my fear?” So, I may have to do an addendum to that.

[26:00] Joel: Okay.

[26:01] Pei: You better. [chuckle]

[26:05] Joel: Well done. Jane, have a wonderful, wonderful, rest of your day. Thank you again for being on the show.

[26:11] Jane: Thank you so much for having me.

[26:13] Joel: Bye-bye.


Follow Jane on Twitter, Facebook, and visit her site.

Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


  1. Sheila Callaham on January 30, 2015 at 7:24 am

    What a wonderful interview! I love to hear stories about people finding the courage to live their truth! Go Jane and Bertha!

  2. Joyce Kaiser (@Driftseed) on January 29, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Loved it! I love chatting with Jane in the Fan Club and in PMs, but this interview really brings it all together for me. Jane, you are amazing! (you too Joel & Pei 😉 )

  3. Jane Carroll on January 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing my ReLaunch story. I so enjoyed visiting with both of youQ

  4. Brenda Perlin on January 29, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Very nice. Jane Carroll always inspires me. Her Bertha books make a profound difference in my life. Thank you for sharing!

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