Listen to today's episode, "Seeing Beyond the Surface: Jill Monaco's "Miranda's Mirror" for Teaching Girls About Inner Beauty" as children's book author, life coach, speaker, and professional voiceover narrator Jill Monaco joins Dori Durbin and shares how her whole book idea came like a flood after nap on an airplane ride home and how Jill's "Miranda's Mirror" reflects how Jill inspires people to be all that God wants them to be. Jill also speaks about:
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More about Jill Monaco
Jill Monaco is the founder and CEO of Jill Monaco Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has a passion to encourage people to pursue the presence of God and find freedom in Christ. She is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) life coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a Certified Master Christian Life Coach (CMCLC) and Mentorship Coach with ICCI.
Jill has developed Freedom Coaching®, a model that blends hearing God, prayer, and coaching tools. Her first book, The Freedom Coach Model® went to #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. And the author of a kids book, Miranda's Mirror which helps little ones find their identity in Christ.
As a Bible teacher, podcaster, and speaker, Jill is known for captivating audiences with her high- energy, humorous approach to life’s serious issues. Her faith-filled and transparent stories encourage listeners to become all that God has created them to be!
Buy her book:
www.jillmonaco.com/miranda for a free activity guide
More about Dori Durbin:
Dori Durbin is a Christian wife, mom, author, illustrator, and a kids’ book coach who after experiencing a life-changing illness, quickly switched gears to follow her dream. She creates kids’ books to provide a fun and safe passageway for kids and parents to dig deeper and experience empowered lives. Dori also coaches non-fiction authors and aspiring authors to “kid-size” their content into informational and engaging kids’ books!
Buy Dori's Kids' Books:
How to Celebrate Your Girl's Personal Beauty in "Miranda's Mirror" with Jill Monaco
[00:00:00.650] - Dori Durbin
As parents, we want our children to have very strong sense of who they are, but what happens when they realize that they're really quite a bit different than other people? Jill Monaco tackles that issue with her book Miranda's Mirror. jill is the founder and CEO of Jill Monaco Ministries. She's also a Bible teacher, a podcaster, and a speaker, and is known for captivating audiences with her high energy, humorous approach to life serious issues. Her faith filled and transparent stories encourage listeners to become all that God has created them to be. Let's listen in. Hello, and welcome to The Power of Kids Books podcast, where we believe books are a catalyst for empowering and inspiring change. I'm your host, dori durbin. And today we have Jill Monaco. Jill, welcome!
[00:00:53.550] - Jill Monaco
Hi. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:55.640] - Dori Durbin
Absolutely. I am so thrilled that we had time to get together, and I just want to share what you do. I know that you're the CEO and the founder of jill monaco mysteries Ministries.
[00:01:07.250] - Jill Monaco
Sometimes it's a mystery to me, too.
[00:01:09.990] - Dori Durbin
[00:01:10.750] - Jill Monaco
[00:01:11.580] - Dori Durbin
You're a life coach, a speaker, and you've done professional voiceovers, even for Disney. So tell me about that. Yeah, all of it.
[00:01:20.300] - Jill Monaco
Oh, gosh, so fun. Well, I'm a voiceover and doing kids book voiceovers. I was a musical theater major, and so I was an actor professionally for over 20 years, and I loved it. In the midst of that, you get agents and opportunities to do different things. And so I've been hired several kids books for Disney, where it's The Push button, or My Little pony, where I'm reading the whole story to kids and it's a video interactive or clifford the Big Red Dog. So I've done a bunch of kids books, so that's so fun. And then I made the transition into more life coaching and running jill monaco Ministries the last 15 years. But in that transition, I still do voiceover. In fact, I have an audition later today to submit. So yeah, so that's kind of it.
[00:02:11.850] - Dori Durbin
Will you still audition after all of the stuff that you've done? I would think that wouldn't even be a question.
[00:02:17.690] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, no, I think that's just for the big Hollywood stars. But, yeah, we still audition whether it's for voiceover projects or on camera work. And it's really my full time thing that turned into side hustle just for lots of different reasons. And I love it, but I really love what I'm doing now, which is just helping people be everything that God created them to be. And I do that through courses and coaching and books and podcasts, et cetera. Wow.
[00:02:45.480] - Dori Durbin
And do you work with a certain group of people? Like, are you working just with women, working with families?
[00:02:50.850] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, it started with me working with men and women right away, and everyone says, well, pick a demographic, and most women work with women. But what I teach are some really universal truths. So I think I attract both in my coaching business, and then I also mentor coaches that are learning coaching and helping them get their credentials. And then I'm on the board of an institute for teaching coaching. So I think that's what facilitates it being men and women is coaches who want to learn how to be a better coach and who want to grow their business. I do a little both, but the universal truths are that there are lies that we all believe, and we have to dispel those lies with the truth. And in a ministry context, it's the truth of what God's Word says and how he sees us and who we are. So we work through fear and rejection and all these normal coachy things from a Christian perspective, which is also a little bit of a message in my kids book.
[00:03:50.120] - Dori Durbin
Okay, all of that is amazing. First of all, let me say that. And I think you're right. Those universal truths, they follow us from early on all the way up. I know people who are much older, thank goodness, than me, who still struggle with some of those universal truths as well. So is that what prompted you to write the kids books, or how did that come about?
[00:04:11.520] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, it was one of those strange things where I was on a plane and I was going to a speaking engagement. It was a late night flight and the planes are so quiet at night. Everyone's taking a nap or sleeping, and it's dark. And I was in that half awake, half sleep mode. And all of a sudden, I had, like, this movie play out in my head, which is this story. And it's the story of Miranda. And the name came to me at the same time miranda's Mirror. And I got out my iphone, and I typed it in to my iphone, and then I shared it with my literary agent, or I shared it with people, and they're like, yeah, that's sweet. But nobody seemed, like, really excited about it, and I thought, all right. But I just felt like it was a message, and at the right time, I would know when to release it. And so in the last last in 2022, last summer, I really felt like this is the time to do it. And it's it's a book on identity, so it addresses those things that I said everyone struggles with and are up and replacing lies with truth.
[00:05:09.020] - Jill Monaco
And so Miranda goes through her own journey. And so, yeah, I got it in a download. I wrote it down in a second, and I tweaked it a little bit after that, but it was probably not the same way. Everyone gets their kids story in a different way.
[00:05:23.030] - Dori Durbin
I think they do. And I peeked at your book. It's adorable. The character is adorable, and I love that she is seeing herself through this mirror, which is really if I can make this analogy, it's probably through God's eyes, right, is kind of where you're going with it. And so I think looking through parents eyes is having older kids myself. I think back to when they were little and they were playing dress up and they were going through some of these probably identity things that you as a parent, might not even really made the connection that that was a crucial moment in their life right then. And you just really picked up on it, which is awesome.
[00:06:04.150] - Jill Monaco
Yeah. I think this is geared more towards little girls. And you look at the stages of development, right? When they're little, they find a mirror and they're fascinated and they're playing and they're laughing with their imaginary little friend, which is them in the mirror. And as women, we're like, oh, you look so beautiful, and you look pretty. There's something in our nature that wants to be feminine and delicate and pretty. And I think sometimes in the church world, we're taught only character. It's who you are on the inside. Not to discount that that's so important, but there needed to be a bridge between the reality. If I'm always saying my outside doesn't matter, then I am putting down an attribute and a character of God that he designed us all uniquely. And he chose these things, the color of our hair and eyes, as much as he made the birds to fly in, the fish to swim. So he loves being creative, and we should embrace that. And so Miranda goes on this journey to and I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but she goes on the journey of playing in the mirror, and it's fun.
[00:07:09.290] - Jill Monaco
And then she gets to a point where she's standing with her friend in front of the mirror when she's a little older, and she notices that she's different, and she doesn't know if that's okay. And so then she starts changing clothes a lot, as we know little girls do. They start hearing things at school that put them down about things they can't control, like you have braces or something. And so then it chips away at our self esteem and our identity. So, yes, the stories about Miranda discovering who she really is, what is her value, not only on the inside, but that how God made her, is perfect just the way she is.
[00:07:47.960] - Dori Durbin
I love that. I love that. Absolutely love that. It's such an important piece, like I said, that people still struggle with when they're older. So that's so pertinent to our timing, especially now, too. I want people to hear a little bit of it. And I know it's probably hard to pick exactly how much to share, so.
[00:08:05.390] - Jill Monaco
I'll let you decide. Okay, I will. And really, the pivotal point is that scene that I talked about with her friend. And so this is the first time they're standing from the mirror. So it says, years went by, and Miranda grew. Her friend came over to play and said, I've never seen a mirror so big before. As the girl stood side by side, miranda noticed she looked different from her friend. For the first time, she thought, I'm not beautiful. So that's like the change point. And the next day, she's changing clothes. And then all of a sudden, this is the fun part. There is a sticky note that shows up on her mirror, and it says, one day, Miranda saw something on her mirror. It was a pink sticky note that said, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And so as she starts seeing these truths about who she is, these sticky notes show up. Then she starts feeling good about herself, and you see the change in her countenance because of that. And then the whole mystery is, who wrote the sticky notes? Who's leaving them? She asked her mom. It's not her mom.
[00:09:19.170] - Jill Monaco
So that's the thing kids will discover.
[00:09:22.870] - Dori Durbin
That's awesome. Oh, I love the whole context of it. And just having the two girls together in the mirror, that's such a real situation of comparing. Right. And something like I said, that starts so early, so much earlier than we think, especially for girls.
[00:09:39.010] - Jill Monaco
Yeah. And different does mean beautiful. We're beautiful in different ways. I think that needs to be embraced. And if we would teach little girls to see, like, through the eyes of God themselves, but also see others that way, I think it would make a big difference. I've taught my nieces, well, what do you love about that friend? Okay, you had a fight, but what do you know about them to be true? And, oh, I know they're really kind or they know. And so we try and help little kids process their pain. And if we can do it through a story where they're processing it without talking to us at first and little things are going on their minds, then we can have a conversation. And I'm sure you know this as raising kids. And in the education system, whoever tells somebody something first as a kid, that's what they believe. And so it's our responsibility as adults to be the first one to tell little kids who they are. And so in the back of my book, I have a couple questions and activities that parents can do with their kids. And so it's built into the book so that they can continue the conversation.
[00:10:45.220] - Jill Monaco
And of course, there's a free activity guide on my website, too, for coloring and crossword puzzles and all kinds of other little things. But I really want parents to have this discussion with their children early on. So this is just beauty. Which, by the way, this is fun. I didn't tell you this. So later I found out Miranda, the name, what her name means is beautiful. No, wait, I didn't know that on purpose. No, remember I told you on the plane the title and everything was just a download yeah.
[00:11:12.650] - Dori Durbin
[00:11:13.210] - Jill Monaco
So I was like, only like, I think God's in this because there's no way I'm not that smart. And I didn't know anybody named Miranda.
[00:11:19.740] - Dori Durbin
So well, just the fact that it came to you alone, much less gave you the name that actually meant beauty, that's amazing. Definitely.
[00:11:26.780] - Jill Monaco
I know. Yeah, it's so fun.
[00:11:29.490] - Dori Durbin
So here's something kind of crazy. You're reading all these books from Disney you're spending and not Disney. It sounds like a mix. When you were reading the books, did it give you that much more motivation to write your own book? And if so, why?
[00:11:45.330] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I don't know if it gave me more motivation, but I knew that I found something I really loved and I thought, this is so much fun. I love bringing characters to life. I think the pinky Pie series was one of my favorites because there's different characters. And when I read authors books that are fiction and there's a lot of characters, I get to really this is the actor in me that's like, oh, I get to bring this character to life. But I think as an actor, as that background, my brain works in story, and so I like to see a natural arch to it. So I think just the way I'm wired and my gifting and training just made me feel like this wasn't overwhelming or too hard. And I think if I've interacted with more children's book authors, I think one of the keys is if you want to write a children's book, let it come from an inspired place. Not a place where you think somebody needs it, but out of your own experience. I've heard of authors who write books because their child had a disability and they don't actually put the disability in the book, but it's a metaphor because those kinds of things really reach a lot more readers and a lot more people because you want kids and adults to identify them or see themselves in the book.
[00:13:05.130] - Jill Monaco
And so I don't know if it gave me more confidence, but it didn't feel overwhelming to me. But I don't know if it's because I did audio books, because I have a background in acting. I'm not sure.
[00:13:16.350] - Dori Durbin
I just imagine you reading other people's books and having characters that would be more like you, more comfortable. And to me, I'm not an actor, but it seems like there would be some of those characters and I don't know, embolden you in a way to be able to come up with the story, but also to see the need for the story as well. I think it's really interesting that you have that background and that path to where you are.
[00:13:43.160] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I think it probably did give me more confidence that I could actually read a kid's book. Like, when I went into the studio, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And the audio book for Miranda's Mirror actually has a song with it that a friend of mine wrote. It's an original song and she's a dove Award winning artist, which is like the Christian grammys. And so she wrote the song and it's so precious. And so I put it all together because I wanted kids to be able to just music connects with people. Right? So it's on YouTube for free right now, so you can hear the song and hear me read the book. And it's a read along or read aloud.
[00:14:20.490] - Dori Durbin
That is awesome. Now, are you finding that you're using your book in your practice?
[00:14:25.130] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, it's so interesting because a lot of my coaching clients or people who have been following me for years and know that I do coaching, I think what it did was, first of all, I had credibility already in certain ways. So when the book came out, I sold more books. I did a lot of pre orders because they already knew me and were familiar. But what I wasn't really expecting was people to say, I want to get this in my kids school. And so I've had a call from a principal already and we're planning a school visit for me to go and share this message with the kids. And so it is expanding my business in a way for I'm reaching more kids, but I'm also reaching more adults. So more adults have come to me wanting coaching because the message in the book gives a little more credibility to my business, I think. And then it also helps with bringing a different stream of income into a business as well. You won't get rich off of any book. It's like kids book, regular book, no one gets rich off of it. But it's so rewarding.
[00:15:30.090] - Jill Monaco
It's nice to have another stream of income, but the key is that you impact more people like you help more people, and that whenever you're excited about a project in life or in your business, it fuels other areas of your business. So joy does that. It's infectious. And so I've been having so much fun with this kids book. I think I'm showing up better in other areas of my business too.
[00:15:51.630] - Dori Durbin
That's awesome. I can totally imagine you going into a classroom or into a school and having that opportunity to read in front of the kids and the power just for you, much less for them. I'm focusing on you for just a second of being able to take that book that you wrote and act out the characters that you were given and to bless them with. That is just so powerful in my mind. Is that how it feels?
[00:16:18.000] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I'm really excited. I haven't done the school visit yet because this book is newly released. But yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.
[00:16:24.190] - Dori Durbin
You are going to be a superstar instantly. They're just going to block to you. I'm telling you, this will be awesome. I might have to have you back on after you go because it'll be a totally different experience for you, I bet.
[00:16:36.530] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I look forward to it.
[00:16:37.860] - Dori Durbin
And then just even the fact that you're making these connections with people, it's opened a door that's different and unique to you and it's giving you different kind of traffic through that book.
[00:16:48.500] - Jill Monaco
Right, yeah. I think the overall arching mission of our ministry is to encourage people to pursue the presence of God and find freedom in Christ. So my whole ministry is about if you spend enough time with the Lord, if you look into his eyes so you can see who you are and see how who others are, you learn how to love God, love yourself and love others. So my whole ministry is about identity, is really meeting with God and finding freedom to be who he made you to be. And so this kid's book is an extension of that message. And so it's just a different medium to say the same thing. I have had adults read this book and start crying. My niece, who is 18, read the book when it was in the very beginning stages. And she's not a tear jerker kind of percy doesn't lose some tears and she was like, Why am I crying? She was all embarrassed. And so I think there's something when you write something organically out of who you are and your experience and your passion, whether it shows up as an adult fiction book, nonfiction book, or kids book, when you're authentic to who you are and share the message that's on your heart.
[00:18:00.890] - Jill Monaco
It will touch people because that's what you are made to do is write on a certain theme or share a certain message. So I think that's what's happened.
[00:18:09.080] - Dori Durbin
And I think you're hitting it exactly because I think each of us have these experiences that later in the time, in the moment, we're wondering why it happened. It's something that it just kind of almost haunts you and then somehow it shows up later and connects and you think, oh, that is amazing. That's why that happened. I actually do have some experience with this that I can actually use to help other people. And that's exactly what you're doing when you say that.
[00:18:35.590] - Jill Monaco
It reminds me and I don't share this very often, but I mean, it's all over my blog. But in the context of a kid's book, I don't share it often, but the truth is I was bullied incessantly as a kid and all the way through high school. And I look back and I'm like, I was cute. There was no reason. Obviously it was there in security, but you don't know that as a kid. And then I go into acting where it is all about what I look like. Was I skinny enough, pretty enough? Did I look like the role? What I looked like meant whether I could make a living or not. I lived a life of always worrying what I looked like. And so I think even though I wrote this and I wasn't in a place of insecurity at the time, I really connect with this book for those reasons, and I just don't want little girls to go through what I want them to just embrace who they are. And there's got to be another message. I'm sure there's books on bullying, like, how do we say to someone, and so sorry you don't like my hair, but that's how God made me, and I love it.
[00:19:41.230] - Jill Monaco
Right. And even as adults, we deal with that stuff. Someone doesn't like our personality or our inflections or our choice of words, and we won't be able to please everyone. And I hope this book brings us back to the grounding that we are all work in progress, but we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
[00:20:02.450] - Dori Durbin
That's just beautiful all by itself. jill, honestly, that is awesome. I think you're right, though. I think it's a piece of who we are that we have to accept and trying to figure out how to circumvent some of that bullying that happens, and it happens more often than probably we even realize as adults if we look back. I think that needs to be your next book.
[00:20:27.110] - Jill Monaco
Okay, I will take that. I've already got a couple other yeah, that'll be my challenge. Well, I've had people say, well, you write a book for boys on this subject.
[00:20:37.030] - Dori Durbin
[00:20:37.630] - Jill Monaco
And so I've been getting some interesting feedback, and I already have another book in the works, and so I've got, like, four or five different ideas, and one is already written. It's just starting to flow now, and I think that's what happens in creativity, like, when we're again walking in joy, we become more creative when we walk in peace and rest. It's just anybody can write a kids book, but can you do it from a place that you're not trying to prove who you are, you're not trying to make money, you're not trying to earn your significance in any way, but if it's an extension, like your arm, then it's joyful, and it helps people.
[00:21:14.970] - Dori Durbin
Yeah. It's a tool for serving, right?
[00:21:17.310] - Jill Monaco
[00:21:19.210] - Dori Durbin
All right, so let me ask you this. I think you've pretty well sold this, but this is a common question for me. What are two reasons that you think that any business or any business owner should have their own kids book?
[00:21:33.820] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I think you said it serving. If we focus on serving others, then it will come back to us. It's a biblical principle of you reap what you sow, so just so really good things, so into other people, help other people, and it may not come back in your business in the same way you expect. Like, I may put this book out there and not find income out of this book, but I may find relationships and other opportunities that down the line. Bless my business. In a different way. So I think the number one reason people should have a kid's book is to find what is the need out there and find a way to serve, and it will come back to you in a good way. And I think the other reason really why to have a kid's book for your business, and any book in that matter, but a kid's book specifically, is because you will reach people that you haven't been able to reach already through whatever you're known for. But if it's still related to your business, it will help your business grow. Just being strategic about it. Another income stream, visibility, connections, networking, all of those things is another reason.
[00:22:43.330] - Jill Monaco
It doesn't matter what field you're in, you can be a realtor or a nurse, and it'll just give you more credibility and you'll have more influence. And we only should want influence in order to help other people. If it's for our own ego and pride, most likely it will fall flat.
[00:22:58.820] - Dori Durbin
100% and it only lasts for so long. If it does do well, it's going to dial.
[00:23:04.010] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, because then you need the next high. You didn't get your pads on the background as often, and you need to find a different pad on the back. But when you do something out of who you are, you can talk about it easily and people can tell whether you're scamming them and just trying to get something from them or if you really want to help and not just with your words. People can feel it.
[00:23:26.470] - Dori Durbin
Agreed. This is the people that you trust the fastest, are the ones that you know are genuine and they want to help you. They want to serve. Yeah. All right, last question I've asked you that weren't on the script. So thank you for hanging in there.
[00:23:40.650] - Jill Monaco
[00:23:42.070] - Dori Durbin
So I was thinking about your book, thinking about the mirror, and I'm just wondering, do you feel that if I was a parent who wanted my daughter to have a solid self confidence, a mirror is something that you would suggest? And would you do what you do in the book?
[00:23:58.000] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, that's a really good question. I think it depends on the child, right? Like, everything that we do for our kids is kind of you treat all the kids different based on who they are. I don't have a problem with kids having a mirror. And if you are noticing they're dressing different or talking bad about their bodies or comparing or spending too much time on social media watching girls always do make up, that might be a conversation that needs to happen. And I don't think taking the mirror away is going to take away the problem. A conversation is going to help resolve it. But what I have had some people say is, I need to get a mirror now for my daughter because I want to put the sticky notes on it. And so in my activity guide, I made like twelve sticky notes that you can just cut out and tape up that have affirmations and positive declarations or scriptures for kids. But I'm hearing that people are like, oh yeah, I could put it on the bathroom, but it would be fun to celebrate my daughter and say, oh my goodness, look at that dress on you.
[00:25:02.450] - Jill Monaco
Look in the mirror. Don't you look beautiful? And then follow it up with the character thing. I love the choices you make. I love that the mirror makes you feel pretty because you are. But I also like when you walk away that you treat others with kindness. Just those kinds of conversations. I had a father reach out to me and he said he didn't realize that his daughter needed to be told she's beautiful, separate from all the other stuff. And he said, I always tell her she's beautiful and she's kind and she's smart and she's courageous. He said, I tell her all of that. He said, but when she read your book and just heard beautiful, she lit up and something different happened in her. And he said, I just didn't know she needed just that. Okay, so I just heard this and I'm still processing it. Why do we need just that? The only thing I can imagine is, and again from a Christian standpoint, the enemy, the devil hates us being made in the image of God. And so he will do anything to attack us. Because if we are focused on our image, then we aren't focused on the things we're supposed to be focused on and making the world a better place in being kind and loving and all those things.
[00:26:15.270] - Jill Monaco
So I think it's strategic to make us hate ourselves because then we don't show up really well for anything else in life. But if we can be so self absorbed, we're not seeing others. So I think the identity piece, especially what we look like, is really important for little girls to just embrace it. I don't have it all unpacked yet, but that's what I've got so far.
[00:26:36.270] - Dori Durbin
That's great feedback, though, from a dad to see that difference and to be aware enough that he saw a difference when that focus was just on beauty. That's amazing.
[00:26:45.570] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, I know, right?
[00:26:49.250] - Dori Durbin
So many books waiting for you, jill. So many books.
[00:26:51.960] - Jill Monaco
Oh, well, thanks. I'm excited about it. I will tell new authors it is expensive to publish your own kids book. Oh my goodness. So you're doing preorders or kickstarter. Other people will believe in your vision. That's what I did. I have a nonprofit, so we raised money for it and paid for it. But just don't let it deter you. That would be my last piece of advice. If you feel the message in your heart, go for it and get it done.
[00:27:16.490] - Dori Durbin
That's a great advice, for sure. Well, jill, I hate to cut us off, but I. Really want people to check out your book, miranda's Mirror. They can go to your website, which I'll add some links below our recording for.
[00:27:29.610] - Jill Monaco
Yeah, yeah. It's easy to find jillmonico.com and monaco is like the country, M-O-N-A-C-O miranda. And so they can find all the miranda tools there, and then you can find it on social media and YouTube, too.
[00:27:44.740] - Dori Durbin
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today. It was wonderful chatty.
[00:27:49.340] - Jill Monaco
It is so good. Thank you for having me. Absolutely.