Monica: Blogger

Name: Monica Dutia

Age: 27

City: Washington, DC

Main Hustle: Marketing at George Washington University

Side Hustle: Founder & Editor of MonicaDutia.com

How did you get started?: I initially created a blog during the summer of 2012 when I was living and interning in DC. It was food-focused: mostly basic recipes and concoctions I was creating in my apartment. During the following year (my senior year of college), I posted maybe 2-3 times and went beyond just food. During this time, I’d started reading more blogs in my free time and right after graduation, I decided to really run with my blog in a more formal way. I purchased a domain, started posting consistently, and very, VERY slowly, started telling people about the site!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on my side hustle whenever, wherever! I’m much more of a morning person than a night owl, so I tend to wake up early and aim to get 1-2 hours of work done before heading off to my 9-5. We did recently get a puppy, so the routine has been really off lately! I also make sure to have several hours available on the weekends and work on it most weeknights as well. I’ll also utilize the “Notes” app on my iPhone and knock out written content while on the metro–I’ve found myself to be weirdly productive during this time, and it’s nice coming home with content that’s close to ready to go!

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Making the time to do everything! Having a side hustle means so many more boxes to check, but the other responsibilities in your life still need your full attention, too. Time management is key and while I feel like it’s one of my strong suits, there are definitely times when it feels impossible to get it all done.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: I’ve gained amazing friends and a wonderful mentor through my side hustle! There are so many rewards, but that’s probably my most valued one.

It’s also really incredible being able to see the outcome of your work…I really just started my blog because I loved sharing things that inspired or resonated with me, and it’s really cool that people from all over care about the same things!

Who is your greatest supporter?: This is a tough one! I feel lucky to be surrounded by a very supportive group of friends and family. My family is very entrepreneurial so there has always been enthusiasm from their side, and even my friends who don’t read blogs at all offer their advice, encouragement, and ideas, which means a lot! My boyfriend has been a massive help, too…he helps photograph content, weighs in on the admin side, gives great advice, deals with me when I’m stressed (a lifesaver!), and picks up the slack in so many other ways.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I don’t know that I have a specific, great source of inspiration because so much of what I see and do on a daily basis inspires me. Travel does play a huge role, though, as do aesthetically-pleasing things and good food. So, everything I guess?!

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I have a few ideas in mind but being able to work for myself full time has always been a goal of mine. I initially wanted to get to that point in my late 20s, but I feel like I still have so much to learn from others that I’d be content waiting a few more years to get some more experience under my belt.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

It’s worth the hard work and long hours! Keep trekking on even if things don’t fall into place immediately, and make sure you’re doing what you’re doing because YOU love it! Also, don’t compare yourself to others. People will always have more followers, make more money, and have cooler partnerships. Don’t worry about them–do YOUR thing!

To learn more about Monica and her blog, check out her site, follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

monica_dutia_logo1

Perfect is Boring

I thought, if I can’t make it look perfect, I’ll make it look real.Meme: Cooking & Nutrition Blogger

Talk, Listen, Respond, Repeat

It’s been a tough week. Two high-profile suicides in the span of a few days that have wrecked a lot of hearts around the world, including my own. I couldn’t let this week go by without using this platform as a means to spread awareness about mental health. So if you are one of those, the ones who wear a cloak of invisibility when confronted with the harsh reality of addiction, anxiety, depression, or other forms of mental illness, please stay, but leave the cloak at the door. Shit’s about to get real.

On Tuesday we lost one of the most recognizable names in fashion, Kate Spade. Every girl growing up where I lived had a Kate Spade backpack purse, a Kate Spade wallet, a Kate Spade everything. To me she symbolized bright color, bold femininity, and loud confidence. At the ripe age of 13, a Kate Spade purse made me feel like a woman. What I never knew was that this same woman who burst onto the fashion scene with Scotch-taped paper designs and turned them into a booming handbag brand also battled anxiety and depression. Her family knew about it, she talked to some friends about it, but it was not enough. On Tuesday it cost her her life.

Today we lost one of the brightest minds in the culinary and cultural world, Anthony Bourdain. He is known for traveling all over the world, mingling with presidents and street vendors, using a plate of food to pull a treasure trove of stories from deep inside strangers who quickly turned into friends. He was quoted once saying,

“If you sit down with people and just say, ‘Hey, what makes you happy? What do you like to eat?’ They’ll tell you extraordinary things.”

For years we were able to reap the benefits of those beautiful conversations made possible by a man who allowed food to do what it does best: bring people together.

My favorite description of him came from CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, on Twitter today, when she described Bourdain as “deeply, deeply human.” What an authentically moving testimony of an authentically lived life.

But his life was not all culinary dreams and cultural pursuits. He battled an addiction to cocaine and heroin, and though he managed to outrun his habits for a while, it was not enough. Today it cost him his life.

While Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are exceptional losses, they are not an anomaly. According to an article released by NPR yesterday, “Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half of all states have seen rates increase by more than 30%.” This is reality. The numbers don’t lie.

I reached out to three people in my life who have battled one or more of the big three, and I asked them to share a little bit about what it looks like, what it feels like, to suffer from a mental health issue. I can’t express enough my admiration for their immediate willingness, humble bravery, and complete transparency. They will remain anonymous below, not by fear of being known, but for the purpose of providing a glimpse into mental health with no strings attached, no background information, just the facts.

Addiction:

“Addiction wasn’t part of my life plan. I grew up in a happy home with two wonderful parents and was on the path to success until my freshman year of college, when I discovered Adderall. Over the course of four years, I lost most of my friends, found myself in a severely unhealthy relationship, and lost 45 pounds. I abused prescription after prescription. My dependence morphed itself into an addiction to not only Adderall but also Xanax and alcohol. I was no longer the goofy, sweet, loving person who people knew me to be. I was a shell of myself: isolated, violent, numb. I saw demons. I didn’t care about my future, only where my next fix was coming from. After college I tried many, many times to break free of my habits. Although I made slight progress, most of my efforts were to no avail. I ended up overdosing four different times. Although suicide wasn’t my goal, I genuinely couldn’t keep myself from taking all those pills. I had zero control.

My last overdose consisted of me taking 60 Xanax and washing it down with alcohol. I knew I was lucky to come out alive. I knew I needed a change or I would die. So, for the first time, I became willing. I became willing to go to an AA meeting every day for my first 90 days of sobriety. I became willing to get a sponsor and actually listen to what she told me to do. I became willing to give my life over to my God. And I haven’t looked back since. God LITERALLY has taken away my desire to drink and do drugs. Like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That is NOTHING short of a miracle. I continue to go to meetings three times a week. I have been clean and sober coming up on a year in August.

There is hope. There is a way out. You just have to be willing to find it.”

Anxiety:

“Sometimes it feels like you’re dying, like your organs are actually failing. Other times it feels like you’re trapped—it’s as if you get claustrophobic in your own body. It’s not rational; it’s terrifying. And when you finally come out of it, you feel like you’ve run a marathon, but you’re confused as to how you made it to the finish line.”

Depression:

“I would never use the term sadness to describe depression. Depression is not sad. Depression is black, empty. It’s a deep, dark hole with no way out. It can make you feel like the smallest person in the world, underserving of every ounce of your life, whether it’s in regard to your marriage, career, happiness, or even your own right to these dark emotions. You feel inadequate, incapable of even the smallest tasks like cleaning your house or making a phone call. It makes you doubt your self-worth; it makes you self-destruct. It breeds isolation. It’s quicksand.

I’ve learned we each only have so much resilience in ourselves. We can’t be the hero of every single chapter in the book of our lives. Part of succeeding is being vulnerable, accepting that you are flawed, that you are imperfect, that you are a human being with weaknesses, and that sometimes you need help. It can become a habit to put on a suit of armor every time you walk into the office, the house, the party, etc., but when you are open and honest with others, when you talk and when you listen, it allows everyone to be open and honest, it allows everyone to be human, and we all become stronger because of that.”

The stigma around mental health silences those seeking treatment and dismisses the authority they should have to ask for help in fighting their own inner battles. By ignoring the existence of mental illnesses, we eliminate any possibility of treating them.

We can do better; we must do better. It is a choice of empathy, compassion, patience, understanding, support, love, and kindness. We all could use more of that.

If you are battling addiction, anxiety, depression, or any form of mental illness, you are not alone.

There is a way out. There are hands to hold. There are ears to listen. There is love to be felt. There is life for you yet. Please, choose it.

If you or a loved one is suffering from suicidal thoughts or actions, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8355).

Kirsten: Personal Trainer, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach

Name: Kirsten Carruthers

Age: 31

City: Calgary, Alberta

Main Hustle: Registered Nurse in a busy metropolitan Emergency Department

Side Hustle: A Personal Trainer and Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach.

How did you get started?: After the birth of my son, I experienced pelvic floor dysfunction and was later diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse. This experience, combined with my existing passion, steered me toward the path I’m on now. I learned so much about navigating fitness through pregnancy & postpartum while living with pelvic floor dysfunction, and I wanted to share it with other women to help remove the taboo around the changes that come with this chapter in our lives.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: At my kitchen table during nap time! I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 6 month old and am currently on maternity leave from my RN job, so it’s grind time on the side hustle while the kids are snoozing!

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Balancing work and family time. With a lot of it to do with online presence and social media, it’s hard to learn to disconnect when it is family time because you have such limited time to do work as it is with two young children!

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Helping other women feel strong and empowered in their bodies! So often women are told that discomforts they have after childbirth are normal and to just push through or ignore them, when often that is not the case! The majority of problems women face in their bodies postpartum are fixable or manageable with the right tools and guidance.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My mom friends! They all come out when I hold classes and workshops and support me in every endeavor I take along this journey!

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: My online community.

The following I’ve built, especially on Instagram, has become like a second family to me. We connect daily, and I feel they know me on a deeper level than some of my in-person friends because of our shared experiences. It’s amazing that the Internet and social media allow us to develop these intimate relationships with people we’ve never met in person who may live world’s away!

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: To progress to an online platform where I can help even more women than I do currently in person and via social media.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Keep at it. Choose something you’re passionate about, because if you love it you will be able to find time to make it work. Don’t be discouraged by comparison with other hustlers; just do you and your message will resonate with those who need to hear it.

Learn more about Kirsten and her Side Hustle on her website, follow along on Facebook and Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

IMG_20170316_141134_824

Theresa: Associate Market Builder

Name: Theresa Hunnakko

Age: 32

City: Barrie, Ontario

Main Hustle: Flight Attendant for Air Canada

Side Hustle: Associate Market Builder for Monat, a cruelty-free haircare company

How did you get started?: I started with Monat in February first because I was passionate about the products. I love that they’re naturally-based, cruelty-free, and free of harmful ingredients.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on my Side Hustle during my downtime or while I’m on layovers when flying.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: The biggest challenge with my Side Hustle is time management.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: The team atmosphere and recognition is extremely rewarding. I absolutely love that I’m helping people build confidence and feel excited about their hair! Monat has allowed me to provide more for my family and has given me the financial freedom to afford extra luxuries.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My greatest supporters are my fiancé, Martin, and my daughter, Suvi.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: My daughter inspires me every day to be better and to show her what it means to be strong, independent, and female.

Have you received recognition for your work? If so, please toot your horn below: I was recently promoted to Associate Market Builder and received a large bonus.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I’d like to reach more people and help them with their haircare needs. I’d love to do some charity work and donate a large amount of my proceeds to the children’s hospital.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Carve out specific times of the day for your Side Hustle, so that you can disconnect for your family. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Find out more about Monat on Theresa’s website, follow along on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!