Spunky (do people still say that?), energetic and one of the purest souls I have ever met. I met Monica when I began working at Ardene at the Atwater Mall in Downtown Montreal and our connection was pretty instant (I hope she agrees). Maybe it’s because we had similar immigrant stories, of trying to adjust to life in Quebec or just the fact that I was so impressed by how cultered she was at such a young age! But, I look back extremely fondly at shifts filled with laughter and so much fun, but most of all- she thought me about being myself and fighting for what I believed. She was my go to when it came to all things long distance love and was a huge shoulder to cry on when I was feeling down. Also, I don’t think my French has ever been at its peak than when I worked with her, which believe it or not- I really loved. Last year, she messaged me out of the blue to see if I wanted to catch up and I took the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend and I’ll tell you- I have never left a meeting feeling more lifted! We realized that we shared a common experience dealing with mental ill health, with someone we loved and it felt like such a weight being lifted from you, when you have someone who could relate to your experience. Full of wisdom and fair advise, it has been such a welcomed surprise to call her a friend again. Read along and pick up some gems!
Q: What is the tone/sound of your alarm clock?
A: Haha, “Being in love is like being on drugs” by Jontron and Schmoyoho. Don’t ask! haha
Q: Morning person or night owl?
A: Definitely night owl. So much so that I am not functional before noon, and even after months/years of trying to wake up early for work, all I need is one day to revert back to night life.
Q: What’s your fave quote?
A: Hmm, hard to pick just one. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” “Nothing is impossible,” “Do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed?”
Q: Sandals or Sneakers?
A: Flip-flips? Yes, I know. Classy. 😉
Q: Your word for the year?
A: Brobdingnagian. Yup, that’s a word! Haha.
Q: What’s the last picture you took?
A: A picture of a click-bait article displaying an image of a foot with a band-aid on it in the same spot and on the same foot as a cut I had. I took the picture to show Peter.
Q: What book would you recommend?
A: Lexicon by Max Barry. There are too many books I love. But this one was a surprise find. So it stands out at the moment.
Q: Countryside or beach?
A: Beach! When I was growing up, our main vacation was to the sea. The sound of the waves, the smell of saltwater, and the sand on my toes all have a special place in my heart.
Q: One fun fact about you.
A: I jumped out of a plane when I was 15? Is that a fun fact?
Q: Electronic or paper calendar?
A: Paper… Okay, I guess I need to explain that. I use the standard computer calendar to figure out what day we are. But for planning, I prefer paper or dry eraser board.
Q: Fave flower?
A: I’m not sure I have one. I love the smell of lilacs and I like receiving roses. So I guess that? Not much of a flower person.
Q: Savoury or sweet?
A: Every flavor in the extreme. If it’s spicy, it needs to be extra spicy. If it’s salty, it needs to be extra salty. If it’s sour, bitter, sweet, I want the extra, intense version!
Q: Fave artists?
A: Hmm. This is another tricky one. I like things more than I follow a person, I guess. So I’ll like a painting or a sculpture or a drawing, but I won’t necessarily be a fan of that artist and like all their work.
Q: Fave season?
A: This one is easy! Fall! Not too hot, not too cold, pretty colors, and my birthday! 😀
Q: Coffee or Tea?
Q: What’s your favourite dessert?
A: Never thought about it. I guess the Romanian Gogosi! Yum!
Q: How would you describe your fashion style?
A: Comfy, I guess? T-shirt and/or hoodie and jeans or “harem” pants. I know, I’m so stylish 😉
Q: How would your best friend describe you?
A: I didn’t know, so I went and asked. This is her response: “You’re zany, wild, always down for an adventure, a great listener, a kind-hearted person who’d do anything for anyone.” Aww! 😀
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: Read, watch TV, play video games
Q: Of the books, you read this year, which was your favourite and why?
A: I’ve only had time to read books for work this year, sadly. So I can’t pick. That wouldn’t be fair. 🙂
Q: Current role model?
A: I don’t really have role models. There are people I like and admire, and there are qualities they have that I try to develop, but that’s as far as it goes. So I guess if I were to answer that question instead, the qualities I admire in people are the ability to move forward with a plan or a vision or an idea despite people telling you you can’t, being able to do whatever it takes to get to where you want to go (like getting in super shape!), not being afraid of standing up for what you believe in. Those would be the qualities that I try to adopt at the moment.
Q: What is “home” to you?
A: A place where you’re comfortable and where you feel safe and happy. A place that has memories. I’ve moved a lot in my life, including changing countries when I was young. A lot of the places where I’ve lived feel like home. Even now.
Q: What are you most grateful for?
A: So many things. But I guess the thing I’m most grateful for is that I found my dream job. I love what I do, and I get to do it on my terms. I’m not sure there’s much better than that. I am very lucky.
Q: If you could change one event from history, what would it be?
A: This one is an especially hard one because I am not very good with history. But I think the invention of the atomic bomb is a pretty good one. Or anything nuclear. I am not a fan of nuclear power.
Q: What causes you anxiety?
A: Thinking about global change and how powerless I am to save the planet. Also, reading news about how horribly things are going, and thinking of the possible future we’ll have and how unprepared we are for it. 😦
Q: If I could grant you one wish, what would it be?
A: I would heal my boyfriend of his health problems, both mental and physical. That, or the planet. I would heal the planet.
Q: What 3 things bring you joy?
A: Doggies, helping others, solving problems.
Q: What steps do you take to ensure you take time out for yourself?
A: Not enough, sadly. When I started my business, I heard all the warnings about how you still have to set boundaries: days off, times of day when you won’t answer emails. And I scoffed at them. The whole point of having your own business is that you can work whenever, make your own schedule, be available in the middle of the night, and I’m doing something I love. So I don’t need that, right? Well, I’ve reached a point where I’m realizing that I do need it. Even if I don’t work 24/7, my mind is still in “work-mode” 24/7, and I never get to REALLY relax and recuperate. It’s starting to show. So I guess I’ll get back to you with that one once I figure it out. 😉
Q: When was the last time you meditated/prayed?
A: Too long ago. I used to when I was in high school and shortly after. I don’t think there was ever a reason for it to stop. It’s just how life goes.
Q: Would you say religion is central in your life?
A: No. I’ve never believed that “Man’s” representation of “God” is the “right” one. I believe there is a higher power. But I don’t believe that reading from a book written by men saying they were inspired by God, or going into a building built by men supposedly for God, doing rites that were made up by men supposedly cause that’s what God wanted, is the way to do things. I think if there is a god, he doesn’t care if we are at home or in a church or if we say the right words or light the right candle. I think he knows what’s in our head and heart.
Q: When did that change for you?
A: I don’t think it’s ever been a part of my life. I went to a religious school, but since I was orthodox instead of catholic, I didn’t take part in most of the religious events.
Q: Can you recall a pivotal moment when your faith/belief helped you deal with something in your life?
A: I can remember moments when I proved that you can do anything if you just believe with all your heart and soul that you can. I’m not sure if it’s a faith or belief thing. I guess to some extent it is. But I’ve been able to do things that should have been impossible just because I didn’t think about the failure option. It’s super hard to do. So even if I know how it works and have done it before. I can’t replicate it at will. But if you honestly believe something can be done/will happen, without a single inkling of a doubt in your mind, it will. It’s that simple, and yet that complicated.
Q: What would you like your legacy to be?
A: This is going to sound really bad, but I don’t really care about legacies. I don’t want to die. I don’t understand the need to leave something behind. Why would I care? I’m not going to be around to see the results of it anyway. As long as I live a happy life and people are happy with me and around me, and that I can help some people while I’m here, I’m not really concerned about what I leave behind. I guess I see it as a bit egocentric. Why would a person think they are so important that they need future generations to remember their name? I don’t know. Not a thing I care about too much.
Q: Describe yourself in one word.
Q: If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
A: I thought about this for a very long, but nothing comes to mind other than Freddie Mercury, and that’s only because that’s my default answer. Why would I meet him and what would I say? I don’t know.
Q: We’ve had some personal and in-depth conversations about mental health and how it’s changed and affected both of us. What made you be so open and honest about your journey?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever been closed about it. Maybe because of how I was raised. I like to understand how my brain works and how people around me work. Every time something happens that affects me, my first reaction is to try to analyze what is happening and how it’s affecting me and others. How my actions are being affected by my thoughts or circumstances. I don’t try to shy away from what happened. And when I feel a certain way, I try to understand why. I’ll give a few examples to make this clear. First time I took the pill, it messed up my emotions and I was crying all the time and losing patience all the time. When my boyfriend tried to bring it up, I got really mad at him because “my emotions are valid and how dare you say it’s because of the pill!” Eventually, I stopped taking it and I realized what a mess I was, looking back. I am still amazed by how I couldn’t see that it wasn’t me or my emotions, but it was all due to the hormones in the pill. Since then, when I think I might be acting different because of some other reason, I ask my boyfriend to tell me if I am acting normal or not. And now I trust his view. Because I know I might not see things clearly from my point of view. Another example was when I got into a deep depression for a year and couldn’t leave my apartment. I tried to use logic on it and figure out what I needed to get out of it. Then asked people to come get me and help me. Sure it didn’t work with everyone and I learned who my real friends were, but I also got to know my mind a bit better. And if/when this happens again, I know how to handle it and what I need to get better. Mental health has never been taboo for me. Just something you deal with in the same way you deal with any other illness. I am not a fan of taking medication for it (for myself anyway), but I don’t think people who have mental health issues are lying or can easily get over it. Baby steps, therapy, help from others, it’s the same thing as soups, lying in bed, sweating, a brace for a broken bone, etc. for physical illnesses. Ways to help you heal.
Q: What advice would you give anyone regarding their mental wellness?
A: Try to understand what works for you. Find people you trust and then TRUST them with things you can’t trust yourself with, and keep trying new things until you find what works. It’s not one solution for everyone, so it might take a bit of time, but eventually you’ll get through it. Just don’t give up.
Q: We used to work together over 10 years ago! Based on what you know now, what advice would you give young Monica?
A: Hmm, you see, I’m not a big believer in regret and changing the past. I believe everything young me went through is what made the me I am today. I guess I could tell young me “Editing is a possible career path!” and save myself the 10+ years of searching for what I want to do, but then maybe I wouldn’t be such a great editor or able to manage my own business as well, because I wouldn’t have the work experience I’ve amassed in those 10 years. So I guess it would just be “You’re doing great. It will all turn out okay. Keep going”
Q: What advice would you give her about love?
A: This is going to sound a bit weird, but I figured out love really well really early on. When I was in high school, I heard all the stories about girls getting pregnant really young, getting raped, being abused, bending over backwards to please a guy. And I decided really early on that wasn’t going to be me. I guess the advice about love that I would give would be to anyone else, not younger me, she did pretty good 😉 My advice would be, know your boundaries and what you find acceptable and what is not BEFORE you get into any relationship. Make a clear list of it and drill it into your head. That way, once you’re faced with a situation, you won’t be distracted by your feelings. You’ll know right away if this is okay or not. And you’ll know not to put up with anything you’re not okay with.
Q: You have always been so versatile when it comes to your hair colour and looks, what do you see when you look in the mirror?
A: Haha, that’s another interesting one. Also, I just dyed my hair purple yesterday. Haha. I don’t hate myself, and I don’t think I am good looking. I’ve never hated myself, and I’ve never considered myself hot. I just accept that that’s what I look like. Even as a young kid, I used to tell people “if you don’t like me, don’t look at me.” I don’t spend time looking at myself in the mirror, and I never did. I don’t like what I look like, so I avoid looking at myself. That frees up time to do other stuff and not worry about what I look like. The hair color changes is just cause I like them. I get bored of having the same hair color or length or whatever. So then I change it. That’s my standard response. But then, here’s another thought-provoking idea. I read somewhere that one changes what they don’t like about themselves. That people dye their hair cause they hate their hair color or wear contacts cause they hate their eye color. While I LOVE the idea of color contacts and I’ve used purple ones once or twice before, I normally just leave my eyes the way they are. I also LOVE my eye color while I think my natural hair color is lame and bland. Is that why I dye my hair and don’t use contacts? Maybe subconsciously. It’s an interesting thought.
Q: What do you love most about yourself?
A: My eyes? If we are talking physically. Otherwise, I love that my body does weird stuff. For example, it rejects piercings. It likes the blue color in my hair and won’t even let it be bleached out, but it refuses to accept certain purples. My dentist said my wisdom tooth wasn’t going to grow and my body proved him wrong. I know most of that stuff is annoying, but I love that my body does what it wants.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling with loving themselves?
A: Don’t! Ha! That sounds terrible. But really, every single person looks different. And not everyone likes the same things. While we can all agree that there’s a “Standard of beauty” that opens doors and makes life a lot easier for those lucky enough to have it, it’s temporary. And most of us don’t have it. Someone out there will find you pretty. And those “beautiful” people will lose that beauty. Plus you can be pretty and miserable. You can have a “plain” look and be considered the sexiest person alive. It’s mostly in your personality. If you ignore your looks and focus on loving life and those around you. On being fun and engaging. People will find you beautiful. Be yourself, find things you like about your life, either something you’re good at, or even a tiny part of your physical appearance, and be proud of that and focus on that. And then just go on and enjoy life!
Q: What has being in a relationship taught you about yourself and about love?
A: That I am stronger than I thought, and that I was right when I figured out what a relationship should be and shouldn’t be back when I was in high school.
Q: What is something you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?
A: I started growing my own vegetables. I am terrible at gardening or keeping plants alive. So the fact that I succeeded with 4.5 out of the 10 attempts, I’m pretty proud of myself! Haha
Q: What was something that was difficult for you at the beginning of the year, but is no longer difficult?
A: Driving! OMG, I could not do it at all at the start of the year. Now I still struggle, but it’s so much easier.
Q: What was the most challenging thing for you this year? Or in the last few years?
A: Recently, learning to drive and passing my exam!
Q: What 3 most important things have you learned this year?
A: That I need time off. How to drive. How to grow veggies.
Q: What’s your most important goal for next year?
A: Getting my business to a place where I’m stable financially and have a schedule that doesn’t drive me insane.
Q: How do you plan on achieving it?
A: Reworking my website to make it reflect what I’ve learned these past few years. Setting clear times off when I don’t work. Finding a few more clients.