Ruckus Media Group, The Whatif Monster and The Universe. It’s crazy, y’all.

About 8 years ago I stood on a beach at sunrise after a run. I watched the ocean. I listened. This is the place on earth where I most hear God, The Universe, the voice deep in my heart that tells me what I am supposed to be doing. I made a promise that day and said I would follow my heart with everything I had if the universe would help me – no matter how hard it got. I knew children were my calling. I knew that I wanted to help them see their value, feel their worth and to know how much they MATTER. We all matter so much and we all deserve to hear that – to hear that our dream, no matter what it is, matters.

I have always felt a particular need to talk to and help sick children. I have visited children’s hospitals to share my art and volunteered at Ronald McDonald House helping sick children and their parents create art for an hour or so to forget about what they are going through – even if just for a bit. My husband and I donate money every month to St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Every month or so we get a picture of a sick child and I put them up on the fridge. Everyday I look at each child, say their name and tell them I am thinking of them that day and to stay strong and fight so that they can follow their dreams. I really do this. The dogs can verify. Here is my fridge. 😉

Aren’t they the cutest? I call them ‘my kids.’

When I came up with the idea of the Whatif Monster, I immediately knew that I wanted to have a special edition monster one day that I could create and children’s hospitals and charities could use to sell and keep all proceeds. (I also have a Jimmy Buffett Whatif Monster and a Bon Jovi Whatif Monster, but that is a blog for another day – but Jimmy and Jon if you are reading this? Call me! I got big ideas!) Of course in order to have a limited edition, I needed ANY edition! So I created the green Whatif Monster that stars in Jonathan James and The Whatif Monster. No matter the book had not been bought, or my editor OR agent had not seen it yet. When I decide on something I DECIDE. I think BIG y’all. And I had the universe on my side, right?

I even decided to manufacture 1200 of the green little dudes because the handmade ones are so labor intensive and people kept ordering them. So of course, I started the $6000 process with not a dime in my pocket. (yes, my husband had to pretend he did not know what was going on – he is NOT the risk-taker I am and I am sure I have him heart palpitations that past 3 months) But pre-orders came in, generous donations arrived, school visits began. And I am happy to report I will have every dime I need to pay the rest of the deposit in January! (and my marriage is intact! Bonus!) The production samples are on the way! Now I just have to make sure I can sell about 1000 more of the little dudes or it’s gonna get all kindsa Tribble and Gremlins up in here. heh.

But sometimes you just have to go for it – just go with your gut and see what happens. Sometimes you fail HUGE, and trust me, I have – but like I tell every child at every school visit, you cannot fail if you don’t give up, you just may change some things along the way.

Yesterday I got an email that I have an OFFER from a publisher, for my book, Jonathan James and The Whatif Monster. It is still surreal to me. I mean, I thought it would happen, hoped it would happen, NEEDED it to happen (1200 monsters on the way y’all!!!) but then when it does? I kept asking my husband if I was dreaming. Because now? Think about how MUCH CLOSER I am to that special edition monster??? Crazy, right? I know! (Srsly Bon Jovi, Rock Star Whatif Monster!! GOLDEN.)

ARE Y’ALL READY FOR THIS NEXT PART? The SERENDIPITY, the UNIVERSE IS TALKING you best pay attention PART??

Because the universe wants to MAKE SURE you are paying attention and that it remembers your promise so many years ago on the beach, I was contacted by the lovely people at Ruckus Media Group. They make amazing apps for children. They work with some awesome people in the children’s publishing industry that I know personally and adore. They are GOOD people. They asked me if I would promote a partnership they just formed and it helps – are you ready? St. Jude’s Research Hospital. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I KNOW! I of course said YES! YES! YES! (See I told you they were lovely people!)

This week Ruckus Media Group, is partnering with St. Jude’s Research Hospital for the annual Thanks and Giving campaign, a holiday program that asks shoppers to Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not,” while shopping this holiday season. When customers purchase any of our interactive storybooks on the App store (now until November 28th), we will donate 100% of the net proceeds ($1.39) to saving children with cancer and other deadly illnesses. That’s every app!

You can read about their campaign here: http://www.pitchengine.com/ruckusmediagroup/black-friday-customers-can-support-st-jude-childrens-research-hospital-with-every-purchase-from-ruckus-media-group .

So? You buy an app, you help a child? Win, win, right? How amazingly cool is the universe?

So very thankful for my life and for all of you, lovely readers. Happy Thanksgiving – and don’t forget to begin following YOUR dream if you haven’t yet.

Making Me Kinda Speechless – and that is hard to do with me.

Where to start? With the incredible children I am meeting everywhere that are changing my life one little face at a time? Or the incredible donation I got for my Whatif Monsters? Or perhaps the email I got from my agent as I pulled in to my driveway after two days and 10 presentations and on a SUPER high to get an email saying a publisher really wants to buy my book?

It seems unfair to have this much good all at once. I want to share it with everyone! At least when I can comp visits for schools with no budget for my visits I am doing something. And mark my words, I will give back more and more and more as I am able. I have BIG plans y’all, big ‘uns!!

So first I will start with the visits. These children never fail to touch me, to give me hope, to make me so utterly optimistic for our future. These children, OUR children – ALL of us in the AWESOME country, are AMAZING.

At the end of every presentation I make the kids listen to a promise I want them to make me. I tell them to really think about it before they agree to it, because I take promises VERY seriously and I try VERY hard to keep every promise I make. This is what I say:
“You all are young right now. You are learning so much. Some of you might already be hearing the little voice in your heart telling you what you are passionate about, what you love, what you are meant to do. Some of you might not hear that little voice for a while – and that is okay. Because one day, if you listen and really pay attention, I promise you will hear it. And I want you to promise me, that when you do, you will follow your heart, follow your passion, listen to that voice. Now, your goals might change a bit along the way, that is okay. Keep going. And you have to keep going even when it gets hard – and it WILL get hard. You might have to study longer and harder than all your friends, or practice something over and over when you would rather be playing a video game, or you might need to figure out how to get the money – I worked 3 part time jobs in art school, I know that part is extra hard, but if you DO NOT QUIT, you will make this world so amazing, so beautiful. And in 20 years, I want you to find me. I promise you will be able to find me somehow, I am everywhere out there on the internet and will be on whatever else is out there then. And I want you to call and say, ‘Miss. Michelle, when I was 6 you came and talked to my in Alabama. And now I am a doctor/teacher/artist/dancer/football player/writer/computer programmer… I kept my promise.’ Because can you imagine how amazing this world is gonna be in about 20 years of all of you follow your hearts and your dreams?? That is the future I am looking forward to! I am counting on all of you! now, who will make this promise?”

And when they raise their hands I tell them this is a pinkie promise and it is sacred, so they cannot break it. And people, these kids took it seriously. So rest assured, one child at a time, I am making this world EPIC in about 20 years! I have talked to about 5,000 kids so far and have pretty close to that many pinkie promises! Our future is set, I trust these kids! You’re welcome. 😉

And you might be thinking that kids don’t keep promises. Well, you are wrong, lemme tell you. Just look at these letters I have already gotten. BAM! So don’t you tell me this country is going down the toilet – these kids GOT THIS PEOPLE!

You visited my school on Nov. 2, Wellborn Elementary!!! You never even saw me but I wanted to Thank you!! You were an inspiration to me. You gave me the hope to follow my dream to be a vet!! I am just a plain ordinary girl in 5th grade, Nothing Special. I am just another kid wanting to make a difference. I hope you don’t think when you read this that these are just foolish words coming from a kid! Your story is a hope for all kids!!

Sincerely,
S

My response:
S,

Let me just tell you, you are something SO SPECIAL!!! Never write that or speak that you are nothing special ever again!

Do you know how few people would take the time to write me like you did? That alone puts you so far ahead of so many others!! I have absolutely NO doubt you will achieve your dreams and you absolutely will make a difference. You already have, sweetheart, you already have – by writing me. Your email to me means more than you might ever know. Never doubt how much impact one person has on this world. You will make a difference in this world, I am sure of it already.

Thank you for writing me a million times over from the bottom of my heart!

Have a wonderful day tomorrow and PLEASE keep in touch!

My very best,
Michelle

…………………….
Hi…I met you today at Wellborn Elementary…I asked you to paint my dog…my name is John and I promise to make something of my life, with God’s help and guidance.

I really enjoyed meeting you today and I am asking Santa Claus for your books…love, John

My response:
Dear John,

Your letter to me means more than I can ever explain in words. I have no doubt you already are, and are going to become an amazing man and be amazing at whatever it is YOUR little voice and God tells you to do and become!

I am going to talk to Santa and make sure he knows how to get you my books, too!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, John.

Love,
Miss Michelle
ps what kind of dog do you have?

Awesome, right? And then I melted in a puddle of love and happy.