INSIDE ALL OF US -PASSION

You know the 573 Magazine loves to find people with a passion for something. In a time of a zillion entertainment choices and a gazillion opportunities, so few of us actually find time to pursue a dream. The reasons are many—the economy, peer pressure, lack of funding, lack of education—the list for not doing something is endless. Now consider this: we are living in the only place on the planet where we can actually be dirt poor one day and a millionaire the next so…why aren’t YOU pursuing your dream? Any dream will do. You just have to get up one day and decide to make it happen. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who has come to this country because of all the opportunities. Rich or poor, black or white, male or female… we all have the exact same opportunity to make the life we want, and we all have the ability to make ourselves happy.

Recently we met a guy with an idea for a series of illustrated books for children. Actually, it was a series of medical books that help children understand the body. It was a very cool idea, but the only problem was he wasn’t an illustrator. Yet, like all people with a dream, he just decided he was going to get his books written, illustrated, and published. And that’s exactly what he did. And in pursuing his dream, he was able to help a talented young illustrator pursue hers. Yeah, this is right up our alley. Meet the ever positive Dr. Paul Moniz and his illustrator 17-year-old Alicia Boyer.

Dr. Paul Moniz
I have been a family doctor for 17 years and absolutely love it! I am so blessed to be able to care for so many people. I am thankful for our practice at Midwest Health Group, my great business partner and the greatest staff a businessman could ask for. Most importantly, I am so blessed to be surrounded by three wonderful, beautiful women: my wife Stephanie and my daughters Lindsey and Jenna.

I think a lot of my positive spirit stems from my parents. My father was Portuguese and though very stern, there was never a question of his love. In addition, he instilled values in me and my brothers: do what’s Right, have Respect, and be Responsible for your actions. I call them the 3 R’s. My mom, likewise, is a wonderful woman. She, like me, was born in Bermuda and as such I was always surrounded by lush green tropical plants, pink sand and turquoise clear water. In fact, our home in Bermuda is pink with green shutters! My mom raised us with love and was always the epitome of positivity. I remember her always singing, even when she would wake us up! One of my favorite phrases from her is “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

The idea for the books, The World Inside Us, came, as cliché as it may sound, in a dream. As a physician it is so difficult to correct problems after they occur, especially poor lifestyle habits. In addition there is such a void in medical education among people in general. I feel we know so much about the world outside, but so little about the world inside. I thought that by creating engaging characters, a wonderful children’s book series could be created that is funny, colorful and educational. The primary characters, Professor Ann Attamaee (anatomy) and “Fizzy” OLLA-G (physiology) take kids on an engaging journey through different disease processes and parts of the human body.

Young people, especially toddlers, are virtual information sponges. Think about it; they have to learn an entire culture, language, colors, numbers, everything, with no frame of reference or past experience to correlate. They truly are the “tabula rasa” or blank slate. By teaching health concepts early we can hopefully prevent disease and also foster understanding of difficult illnesses that we may eventually encounter.

I have no talent for illustration. I know “good” when I see it, but I knew the illustration part of my big plan was certainly my Achilles’ heel of sorts. I would have to solve that problem before I could get my books made. I first met Alicia at my office while treating her grandmother. She was sitting quietly in the corner playing on her phone. I remember asking her if she was playing “Flappy Bird” which was a popular game at the time. At that point her grandmother chimed in and said, “No, Dr. Paul. She is an artist.” I had already written the first manuscript about digestion and needed an illustrator. I had Alicia read the manuscript and provide some concept art; her character vision was virtually identical to mine! She has made the book fantastic to look at.

Our next book is called Kickin’ Ash! and is about smoking and what it does to the body. It is brilliantly illustrated and introduces a great villain, Ash. He is so easy to dislike and hopefully both young and old alike will gain a fresh understanding of the dangers of smoking. Future books will include Allergies (a reader request!), The Body of Bones, and the Dementia Dimension.

My name is Alicia Boyer and I was born and raised in Farmington Missouri. I’m 17 years old and I’m a high school junior.

I love to draw, and I always have. I think I got the passion when I started watching the anime show, Sailor Moon, every time I went to my grandma’s house. I was absolutely infatuated with it. I always thought, “I wish I could draw like that.”

People ask me, “How did you learn to draw? Did you take classes?” And I tell them no, I didn’t take any classes. I just kept drawing and I progressed at it. And when they say, “I wish I could draw,” I tell them straight, “You can’t become a good illustrator in ten minutes. It certainly DID NOT take me 10 minutes! It took me eight years to get where I am now, and I’m still learning about things.”

Once I started working with Dr. Moniz, it hit me that little kids watch cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Bubble Guppies. I decided to mix what American cartoons look like with Japanese cartoons (anime). The characters in The World Inside Us is a great example of this. Professor Ann has big shoes and gloves kind of like Mickey Mouse, but her big eyes and hair are more on the anime side.

Working with Dr. Moniz is absolutely amazing! He certainly has made things easier for me to get closer to what I want to do for a career, and I greatly appreciate that. It’s made me come out of my shell. I’m more confident about the world around me.

In the future, I hope to go to an art school or college and get a degree in fine arts. I hope that I can move and travel overseas and meet new people and broaden my horizons in other cultures.

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