How two of my babies got born. And Not Noah and Sophie.

Look who got officially born on Friday! They know how to speak and everything! They told me their whole story and that they wanted a book. So, these two guys got a book written about them. And it only took three years of them swimming around in my head to figure out how they sounded and what they wanted to say.

Confused? Lemme ‘splain.

It all started with my husband when he was not my husband, my boyfriend. Heh. That term sounds so stupid when you are in your thirties. His father used to call me his ‘lady friend’. So he was my ‘man friend’ I guess. But off I go on a tangent.

Back to the story! My sweet husband is a worrier. He worries about everything that could possibly go wrong and prepares for it. He is a software developer and apparently they need to imagine every possible scenario and outcome that could POSSIBLY happen and account for it in computer code. So he is wired that way. I? Am not.

Then there is me. He calls me a butterfly that just flits about not worrying about anything. I wear the rose-colored glasses and can’t possibly imagine anything that could go wrong with the life long plan for success I came up with just now while I was brushing my teeth.

Our conversations go a little like this:

Me: We should TOTALLY do “X”! It will be amazing and brilliant and our lives will be PHENOMENAL!! Let’s DO “X”!!!!

Husband: Um, have you thought about what happens after we do “X”?

Me: Huh?

Husband: Well, what if “X” does not work out? What if “Y” happens?

Me: Man!! You are such a pessimist!! The chances of “Y” happening are like, a billion to one!! You worry too much!

Husband: First of all, I am not pessimistic, I am REALISTIC. And second of all,  the chances of “Y” happening are pretty high. It happens all the time.

Me: But..but…It would not happen to US because we are such good, happy people! And dude! Karma!! Hello!!! Let’s do “X”!!!!!!

Husband: So you want to risk our whole futures on karma, huh? Hmmm. How about we think about it? Prepare a bit. See what other options there are. But we will keep thinking about it, promise – it could work.

Me: God! It would totally work! It is foolproof! Geez, just trust me!!!

Husband: And have you even thought of the possibility that “Z” could happen?

Me: “Z”????????? Who would ever even THINK “Z” could happen???? How did you even imagine a “Z” scenario????? Does it hurt in your brain? Is there some sad, mean man in your brain telling you that you can’t have any fun????

Husband: Fine. You are right! I do worry too much. Let’s do ‘X’!

Me: Really??? YIPPEE!!! Just wait! you’ll see! “X” will be AMAZING!

Husband: It will!

The next day we do “X”. And within moments “Y” and “Z” happen simultaneously. And we are SCREWED.

Me: Huh. Hmm. Well lookit that. You were right. And we are totally screwed now, aren’t we?

Husband: No. Because I stayed up all night and figured out back up plans for all of it when “Y” and “Z” happened like I thought they would. And you should listen to me more, you crazy, crazy lady. Butterflies need to think more.

Me: Hmmmm. What did you just say? OMG! I just had the most amazing idea for us to do!!!! Wait until you hear it! It is BRILLIANT! ……………………..

So um, yeah. That is pretty much our life. Heh. One day after some discussion we had, I painted a little character on a tiny canvas for my husband. While I have learned that thinking things through and preparing are REALLY GOOD ideas, I also know he sometimes, needs to lighten up and take a few risks sometimes – even if they are somewhat calculated. So when he got home one day 3 years ago I presented him with this:

That is the Whatif Monster. And he sits at my husband’s desk at work and when those voices get too gloomy anbd loud in his head, he can look the Whatif Monster in the eye and tell him to take it down a notch. Simmer down there, killjoy.

And so that guy has been in my head. I call him the Whatif Monster. Then last summer a little curly-haired, red-headed boy popped up. And I just knew he was friends with the Whatif Monster. And I had a vague idea for a story. But I could not get it down on paper. Only images would come. And so I painted them. Over and over. And I tried to figure out what his name was. He would not tell me for several more weeks. I tried to write their story, but nothing. I was stumped. I finally put them on the fireplace mantle and let them play. Eventually the boy told me his name was Jonathan James. But nothing else. Then little by little they would call my name. Wanting me to try to figure them out. But I was busy. I had cats and dogs to paint! And I ignored them. But the past few weeks they have gotten louder and louder.

Then last Thursday I was working out to a DVD in my living room at 5:45am and I glanced over at Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster and DAMN if the Whatif Monster didn’t tell me six lines in his voice! I was overcome with excitement!! Suddenly I knew how to write the book! All at once, 3 years of swimming in my head, they were ready! I had to work that day, normally my day off , so that was really annoying. But I got to work and wrote the six lines down. I was ECSTATIC!!

Then Friday I dropped Sophie off at school, came home, made a pot of coffee and sat down to write. And DAMN if their story did not come pouring out of me. And DAMN if it is not the most favorite thing I have EVER written. I am really proud of it!! I know exactly how to illustrate it too! I emailed the text and a few sample pics to my agent and am waiting to hear.

And that is how Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster got born. 🙂

Mini Goals – I love em!

Man, oh man….two days in a row! Crazy, right? I know. Yesterday after pulling out all those journals I started looking through them. What a trip down memory lane. Some amazing ideas and drawings I will revisit and some absolutely heart breaking entries where I had no idea what the hell I was doing. So nice to look back and see how it worked out. And that I never killed myself or quit in those moments of desperation. Phew!

I have so many long term career goals I am working on. A successful book publishing career, a career in the craft industry, licensing industry…I write it all down and get overwhelmed often. I am a goal oriented, type-A person when it come to almost everything in my life. I do however, manage to relax when it comes to cooking, cleaning and laundry. My poor husband, he thought he got it all. Not quite. 😉

So what I like to do when I have a huge life to do list? I like to add to it. Goals like, run a half marathon and train for it. Right when I am in the middle of trying to finish all the art for my new books in a crazy short period of time. And then I like to sucker my husband into running the races with me. Then I mask the whole thing and pretend it is a ‘vacation’ get my family to show up and then my poor, unsuspecting husband is in a great mood right up until the night before when he realizes, “Holy crap! You did it to me again, Michelle! How is it I agreed to run 13 miles tomorrow and why can you not EVER find a race to run when it is not freezing out??” Ah, well, it is all about meeting goals. I never said it was always gonna be fun!

So my awesome parents came to meet us at Tybee Island for the half marathon. It is a very special place because we got married on the beach there. We basically eloped and only took the kids. So we brought the kids back with us for the run and had a great family time. And so what if it rained for the first 8 miles. Lots of rain. In the cold. And the wet. They played Jimmy Buffett music all over the island and the locals were AMAZING! They stood on the streets with umbrellas waving and telling us crazy runners what a good job we were doing!!

And so WHAT if I trained my big ol’ butt off and did all my long runs and did all the right things but did not hydrate enough and got cramped legs at mile 10 and had to walk/run the last 3 miles. And SO WHAT if my husband never trained for more than 50 minutes and ran the whole thing in 2:14 and had an awesome run. Men….GRRRR…. 😉

In the end it was so much fun. I love my parents and am so glad they came for the race. It was wonderful. Here are some pics!

My Awesome Parents. All lovey dovey!

All of us the night of the race. Rested and happy. But sore. I was sooooo sore. And Noah and I had the pirate thing going on. Because we are that cool. THAT. COOL.

5 minutes before the race started. It just started to rain. Look how happy we are! Isn’t my husband such a good sport?!

This is us right after I finished. My legs are all cramped up and sore. My husband has been done for over 20 minutes and is all, “Want some beer??? Want some of this chili?? It’s great!” and I am all, “Um, how about some advil. What does a chick need to do to get an advil?”

And this is us with our awesome medals!!! Look how I am smiling and pretending like I can feel my legs. I should be an actress.

And this is the MOST AWESOME seagull ever! And it was $14 and I convinced my husband I HAD to have it for my studio. It would be my beach house seagull until we got an actual beach house. Doesn’t it look perfect in my studio? I know, right?

And it was a lovely weekend. And my legs have recovered nicely and another goal was met. Now I will find another one to do with my husband to make him do that really cute head shake eye-roll thing. 😀

Goals and Dreams

See that? That is just about every journal and sketchbook I have ever had since I was 15. I am sure there are a few missing that are in some bin or box packed away. I would never in a million years throw them out. They contain every dream, every thought, every sorrow, every joy I have had for over 23 years now. If there was a fire? Yeah, after people and pets? These are what I am taking. These are a part of my soul. And while going back and rereading some of them is heart-breaking, and joyful and yes, downright CRINGE-FILLED, they are me. To the core.

I am a big believer in writing down what you want. What you need. What you want to see happen in your life. I believe it is how you signal to the universe* your greatest desires. And you begin the process of the universe helping you achieve your dreams. There is a quote I will look up, but to paraphrase it it something like, “Once you tell the universe what it is you want, the universe does everything in its power to conspire to help you.” Once I read that and got it? It began happening. Not necessarily in the time frame I would have liked, but in the time that it was necessary.

For instance, two years ago I got my agent. I was SURE this was it!!! Hot diggity dog my ship had come in!! I was making plans to quit my job and be writing and painting all day long! Hoo boy! And then the rejections came. And came. And came. And came. Um, you get the picture. I cried. I decided to quit many times. It is really hard to have someone tell you that your heart and soul poured out on paper is not what they are looking for, not what they want, and here is a real heart-ripper-outter –  ‘not special enough’ – OUCH. Pardon me, I will be over here on the couch dying a slow and painful death from blood loss and lack of a heart.

But when I got my agent, I wrote this in a journal:

What? Can’t read my horrendous penmanship that Sister Sebastian** tried to beat out of me in Catholic school? It says:
9.17.08
Patience. I need to have more of it. I know with all of my heart that good things will happen. I will be quitting my job soon. I will be financially independent and will be able to pay all my bills by myself. My art makes me more money than I need.

9.18.08
Deborah Warren will get my book published. She will get me a great advance. Deborah Warren sold my books. (written 14 times. Ahem.)

Note the date, September 17 and 18, 2008. Over 2 years ago. This email came in September 9, 2010.

Hello awesome universe!!! Now, in those two years I got married, moved into a new house, turned a formal living room (does anyone use those REALLY??) into a studio, convinced my husband I need to go part time to work on my career and of course asked the universe a million and one times WHY WAS MY CAREER NOT HAPPENING?!?!?! I sent many an email to my agent after YET ANOTHER REJECTION if I should just throw in the towel and go learn something useful. Ya know, like accounting. So I could know how much money my art was NOT making me. : |

But a funny thing if you look back, right? Three weeks after I went part time, when I had the extra time, when I had the studio space, when I was ridiculously happy in my home life, when ideas were flowing like crazy, when I was making connections in the art and publishing world, when the universe conspired for years to make the timing just right….I got an offer on not one, but two books. That? Was a GOOD FREAKING DAY.

And they wanted them FAST. They wanted them ready by late summer to be on sale in fall 2011. So luckily I was part time and willing to work every weekend, every night, all through Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation in order to finish all the art. And I did. Because you do not get handed everything you ever wanted in the world and ask for more time to do it. You DO IT. When THEY want it. And I did.

And now, just because I have an iron set of bal… I am asking for MORE.

Yeah, that’s right. It says not only will the books I just submitted be best sellers, but the book that hardly anyone even knows about will be one. I have submitted a new book to my publisher. I have submitted that book idea as an app idea to another company and told my husband I will need to quit my design job completely by May. Of this year. Because I will be so busy with another book and an app and licensing deals (another post for another day) that I will need to be in my office full time. He sighs. And says in that loving husband of a crazy artist type way, “We’ll see.” 😀

And so I will work my tookus off trying to make that happen. Because of course the secret to all of this is not making the wish and then sitting back waiting for it to happen. The universe will laugh in your face over that. You have to work. Hard. SO hard. Even when you are tired. Even when you doubt yourself. Even when you compare yourself to every other person that you think has it better than you and you may as well quit because you are just an untalented wanna be who doesn’t have an original idea in her head….Oh…woops. Too much sharing? 😉

The point is it takes a dream, LOTS if hard work, perseverance and a bit of luck. But it WILL happen for you. Promise. You can’t fail if you don’t quit. Even if you are not the best when you start something? If you don’t quit and you keep trying for 10 years? Think how much practice you will get in 10 years! Surely you will be awesome at whatever it is in 10 years of practicing??? Right? Right! Now put that clown makeup back on, get back on the unicycle and keep trying to get into Barnum and Baileys! No one is stopping you!!!

And just so you know my future dreams besides the New York Times Best Seller list, here is another one.

I want to live at the beach and have a studio on the top floor of a beach house. The three bedroom condos at The Purple Parrot in Perdido Key, Florida will be perfect. I even drew out my studio with the custom built drawing table I want, but I could not find where that sketch is. But I assure you. It is AWESOME. So I have told the universe to make it so. And I know it will.

And um, as long as we’re going for the gusto, meeting him would be awesome too, ok universe?

(What??? Shoot for the moon, right??)

*Universe: I do believe in God, I just am not very traditional about it. I will not get into religious beliefs or variations, but feel free to insert the word God everywhere I use universe. I mean no offense, it is just my particular view of the world.

**Sister Sabastian was actually my kindergarten teacher. And while I did witness corporal punishment in Catholic school, it was NOT used against me. And I loved Sister Sabastian. I even baked her a cake once. And wanted to name my son Sabastian. I still love that name and tried really hard to get my younger sister to name her new son Sabastian. I lost on both counts. I may need to get another pet and name him Sabastian. (just kidding husband. Maybe…I DO need a lap dog for book signings I think. What’s ten more pounds of dog in the midst of 300 lbs of current dog, right? heh.)