A Joyful Purpose
I’ve been writing poetry since the age of eight. It was such a comfort to me growing up knowing that I could translate my experiences into a beautiful collection of rhyming words to always keep close to my heart. Friends of mine would share with me in confidence their own stories of hardships and struggles. I would then write a poem for them with the same emotion that I would have had writing for myself. I felt a deep sensation of joy knowing of their healing as they read their life through the eyes of a poet as I painted a bright way through their darkest hours. This is when I knew I had a gift, and I knew that it was as much a part of me as the prints upon my fingers.
It was many, many years later after marrying my best friend Mr. Z and starting our family that I was reminded of the trials of childhood vicariously through our daughters that I began to write again.
Becoming a mother has been my greatest joy in life and one that gives purpose to all areas of my life. I have relished in the small magic moments of make-believe, story-time, and creating memories filled with love, laughter, trust, and empathy. I have always made sure that I was present for my girls, and having conversations about the tough stuff was and still is easy for us to talk about. The gift of empathy is one that I cherish, and it has allowed me to never minimize their life experiences.
Growing up is hard, especially the time and day that we are in with social media, bullying, and anxiety. My purpose as a mother is to raise mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy children.
When my oldest daughter was ten she choked on a piece of candy at school and it truly scared her. She then started worrying about everything. Her worries began to spiral turning one worry into two and three and so on. I knew exactly what I must do. I sat down and wrote her a poem. It was called The Worriest Worrier in the Whole Wide World. When Mr. Z read it he said that this one is the one that should become a book and that there are so many who worry that would heal reading it.
I knew he was right. I felt a little scared myself because I knew I would not want anyone else to illustrate it because it had to look like Zaynah and all of her worries. I knew I had to illustrate it but there was just one problem. I had never illustrated anything before. So many thoughts went through my head, “I’m a writer, not an artist.”, “I have no formal training.”, ”How could I possibly illustrate an entire book with characters, and environments, and cool effects?!”, “I’m going to fail!”. I had to have a heart-to-heart conversation with myself about all the encouraging words I would give to my daughters, my husband, family, and friends, and why wasn’t I lending them to myself.
I made the commitment that I was going to charge full steam ahead and turn the poem I wrote my daughter into that book that is now called “The Bravest Worrier”.
It took me just forty-five minutes to write The Bravest Worrier but one-thousand days to paint all the pictures. That’s two and a half years. I sure did have a lot of worries in the beginning. Have you ever seen something in your mind that you would like to draw and when attempt to draw it, it ends up looking nothing like what you saw in your mind? That was the mental and physical roadblock I was having. I didn’t realize at the time when I was sketching out my pages that I did actually have a hidden artistic talent just waiting for the opportunity to shine. I love 16th-century Dutch art. I wanted to incorporate some of this style to the best of my abilities which was setting the bar quite high. I decided to focus on one piece to paint to test my skills. I chose a lantern that is on the first page of the story. Here is the lantern when I finished. You can click through to see the process from sketch to finished piece.
It took me two days to paint that lantern and when I did, I knew that I had the talent to forge ahead. I had no idea it would take as long as it did to complete but it wouldn’t have stopped me even if I did.
Since The Bravest Worrier hit the bookshelves in 2016 I created an author event for The Bravest Worrier called ‘A Day to be Brave’! I have been touring for 4 ½ years and presented to over 50,000 students at schools, Barnes & Noble bookstores, children’s hospitals, and mental health summits and conferences. I am currently scheduled to host a statewide virtual A Day to be Brave for the foster children in Georgia. They will have an opportunity to see where and how the magic happens in my studio while I inspire my message of bravery and hope. It has been a wonderful journey and The Bravest Worrier has become more than a book it’s a movement.
Mr. Z created a free companion augmented reality app for The Bravest Worrier that brings the whole book to life. The character comes to life to read all the pages as you go on an adventure making the worry monster disappear. It’s magical, whimsical, and encourages readers to see just how much braver than they think. Our daughter Zaynah did the voiceover for the app’s character which is such a treat for young readers to hear the real girl’s voice bring the book to life.
You can learn more about The Bravest Worrier by visiting www.thebravestworrier.com.
I am currently working on my second book and hope to have that done in early 2023. The artwork for my second book is much more detailed as my art abilities have continued to grow and develop. I cannot wait to share it with the world.
The journey for me…Angelique Monet, is just beginning. The ups and downs and stagnate and chaotic moments are all wonderful as they are the patchwork that makes up my life’s joyful purpose.
Thank you for taking the time to read a little about me and this brave journey I have embarked upon. I hope that you never give up on your dreams and life pursuits. They are worthy of your efforts and you are worthy of their reward. Always be brave!