Franklin Girl’s New E-book Says It is OK to Put on Polka Dot Boots and Unicorn T-Shirts – Tennessean

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She rushed towards the box that would change her life.

Ashley Ballai will never forget this day.

The contents of this box represented overcoming all of her obstacles – a disbelief in herself, a fear of cancer, a rocky attempt to achieve film fame, and a fear that she might never have a child.

“I was almost in tears when I saw this box,” said Ballai, 35, of Franklin. “I have overcome many of the fears and worries that held me back.”

There was a book in the box. Actually 150 copies of the same book with the cover designed by her: a purple sky, yellow wildflowers, a little girl with a pink umbrella and purple letters “LITTLE Miss Mismatched”.

Her book.

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Ashley Ballai plays with her daughter Bella at their home in Franklin, Tennessee on December 17, 2021.  Ballai wrote a book about a little girl who, like her daughter, wears mismatched clothes.

‘Can I paint on the walls?’

Ashley Ballai was the kind of kid who wanted to paint on walls. And she had parents who let her.

Her father, Kevin Thomas, was constantly drawing on easels all over the house. Ballai thought it was so cool.

“I inherited his creative genetics,” she said.

When she was 14, a Starbucks opened near her home and she had the idea of ​​converting her bedroom into a coffee shop. So she painted the walls in dark mocha with a rust-colored flower.

Then she asked, “Can I paint the walls in the basement?” When her parents said yes, she set to work on a mural inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

“I was an art freak,” she said.

Ashley Ballai plays with her daughter Bella at their home in Franklin, Tennessee on December 17, 2021.  Ballai wrote a book about a little girl who, like her daughter, wears mismatched clothes.

The only problem, she said, is that her skills are limited to her home. She was afraid of spreading her talents into the world because she feared that people might not like her work.

“I was afraid of criticism,” she said.

Lost key card

As young adults, she and her boyfriend moved from Tennessee to the place never to go if you are afraid of criticism.

Hollywood.

It was 2008 and she dreamed of getting to the cinema.

She began her career as an art director in small films with titles such as “Journey to Planet Sanity”, “Noobz” and “Walk Away”. She had a small role in the film “All About the Money” with Eddie Griffin and Danny Trejo.

But the friend and the film career did not stop.

In 2015, she said she vowed to herself to stop dating for a year.

That didn’t last either.

She was invited to a party in Las Vegas. Reluctantly, she went. She met a guy. His name was Miad Ballai, born in Iran and raised in Sweden.

“He was alive, a great personality,” she said. “He was cute. He was nice.”

He might never have become her husband if she hadn’t lost the key card to her Vegas hotel room. At 3 a.m., locked out of her room, she knocked on his door.

They have been together ever since.

On their first date, he made her stuffed pork tenderloin with goat cheese. She was beaten.

They were supposed to get married on August 26, 2017, but there were complications.

The call nobody wants to get

Four days before the wedding, she received a call from her doctor. She had recently gone for a routine check-up.

Ashley Ballai, who was inspired to write a book because of her daughter, sits at her home in Franklin, Tennessee on December 17, 2021.  Ballai did the artwork in the book about a little girl who, like her daughter Bella, wears inappropriate clothing.

On August 22, 2017, a nurse called from the doctor’s office. “We’re sorry,” said the nurse.

She had tested positive for invasive squamous cell carcinoma (cervical cancer), a potentially fatal disease.

She thought to herself: “Is that going to be it?”

Ballai didn’t cancel the wedding. But she and her new husband canceled their honeymoon.

Instead, they bought a house in Franklin and moved back to Tennessee.

“I wanted to be close to my mother,” she said. Her mother, Julie Johnson, lives in Franklin.

She went to the Centennial Medical Center, where part of her cervix was removed.

Then she got a call, another apology.

Her initial diagnosis was based on a sample that had been mistaken in the laboratory. A positive test result from another patient had been mixed up with hers.

Ballai sued the doctor after an operation she didn’t need and won a big settlement.

“It all worked out,” she said, knocking on wood.

Mismatching

Something strange happened when she thought she had cancer. She lived for a while as if she were going to die.

“I had the opportunity to live life,” said Ballai. “I got more in touch with my feelings. I didn’t care what people thought. That was my cosmic lesson.”

She feared the surgery would prevent her from getting pregnant. But those fears ended when Bella was born.

Ballai became a mother and she was happy. She painted. She wrote poetry. And then in 2020 she had an idea.

She heard the word “inappropriate” on television. She no longer remembers the context. She just remembers thinking it would be interesting to write about a girl everyone called “Miss Mismatched”.

Around the same time, she noticed that Bella was choosing wild, inappropriate outfits every time she got dressed.

“She wore red polka dot rain boots with paisley leggings and shirts with kittens or unicorns,” Ballai said. “And a white tutu.”

Ballai wrote a poem that began, “Little Miss Mismatched would dress and nothing would fit head to toe.”

Miad Ballai read the poem and said, “This should be a book.”

So she wrote a book. She wrote about the dedication: “Cheers to the wild, the strange, those who break the mold. Those who let others live more authentically. Those who never apologize for who they are Step out of the box boldly. That pave the way … “

“This book is dedicated to my daughter Bella.”

In the book, Little Miss Mismatched is laughed at by other children who also eventually discover the joy of disagreement. In the end, all children do not match, inspired by a girl who refuses to conform.

When the words were done. Ballai started painting, but not like when he was a child. She had to teach herself to paint with a watercolor program on the computer.

The artwork in the book is spectacular.

Her husband planned to self-publish the book. They spent their own money on 150 copies and sold them all.

The book is available from Landmark Books in Franklin and Brilliant Sky Toys and Books in Brentwood. She is working on deals with other bookstores in Middle Tennessee.

The book is also available on Amazon.com, where reviews have been positive.

One review said: “As a mother of 2 young girls, I’m so excited about this book! The bright colors and watercolor-like illustrations really shine. It’s one of those books that both kids and adults will instantly be drawn to because it’s just so beautiful.

The message is so inspiring too. In a world where children are told to “fit in”, this book encourages them to stand out and be themselves. This is exactly the kind of book I want to read with my girls! “

The important point is that Ballai did the writing and artwork for the whole world.

“I have overcome many of the fears and worries that held me back.”

Reach Keith Sharon at 615-406-1594 or [email protected] or on Twitter @KeithSharonTN.


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