Infinitely Polar Bear +++

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/04/2017

Last weekend I watched a remarkable movie called ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’.

As a kid I remember learning that my grandmother had spent time in a psychiatric hospital, it didn’t mean a whole lot to me then but as the years have gone by and I’ve dug deeper into mental health, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s a very real and a surprisingly common fact of human existence.

So, when I came across this article 9 Must-See Movies About Bipolar months ago, I made a note of the movies and have been making my way through watching them.

Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic depression. What’s interesting is that you can’t have bipolar disorder without also having had an episode of clinical depression.

Mania is the distinguishing symptom of bipolar disorder and what differentiates it from clinical depression.

Sadly today I am unable to sit down and speak to my grandmother about her experiences and our family history.

But that has not stopped me learning more and more about this disorder and the many other ways that mental health can show up in us all and how we can trace behaviour, patterns and certain genetic makes ups.

It’s a long journey to keep exploring but I had to share this for anyone else whose interested in how and why we tick. And, for anyone else that thinks Mark Ruffalo is the most gorgeously interesting man alive today.

My other favorite movies of his, in no specific order, include ‘THANKS FOR SHARING:

A moving and very real life interpretation of how we all have our different addictions and what it takes to live with them, live without them and not loose our connection with other humans and ourselves as we do it all.


This one is a heartfelt modern day normal family. A lesbian couple’s 2 kids want to find their donor biological father. It’s funny and honest with insight into all sorts of human emotions that play out in us as we figure out the meaning of our lives.


OK so I’m getting carried away with his movies but who cares right. They are so good!

This one’s an uplifting, it’s never to late, don’t ever give up, feel good story of loss, love and connection. Truth is I am not a Keira Knightley fan so I very nearly did not see this one, but I did, and I learnt yet again, that people can change.

And Of course this very special, very important, very well articulated film called SPOTLIGHT. Never ever tell your kids or believe in Stranger danger, it’s almost always the most charismatic, well liked, popular human that is doing bad things at the same time as he/she is doing good things.


Bill Cunningham New York – Documentary

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/22/2016

“We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

For decades, the bicycle-riding (29 bikes in his life time) cultural anthropologist Bill Cunningham has been inventively chronicling fashion trends for the Times Style section.

This documentary “BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK” is a delicate, funny and poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace.

Although I studied fashion design, with time, I now see that actually my interest and curiosity had far more to do with the way people put things together, and why, than it had to do with fashion itself.

Biographies are my first love and this documentary does not disappoint.


HUMAN by Yann Arthur de Bertrand

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/09/2016

A long time ago, just when websites were beginning, I was responsible for creating a marketing plan for the start up I was working in. At that time our goals were unique and we were breaking into a very well established market with some very new technology.

At the same time Yann Arthus-Bertrand had launched his photographs of the world from above and I had fallen in love with the way he captured our magnificent world.

I contacted his office and asked permission to use specific images for our website, without any difficulty or hesitation, they agreed.

Ever since I became have been a SUPER FAN of anything YAB works on. So, to my absolute delight I recently discovered HUMAN.

His latest project interviews men and women telling their stories facing the camera. It’s powerful, moving, mesmerizing and a reminder that we are all so very different and so very much THE SAME.

All three Volumes of HUMAN and available online free. If you have trouble finding them, send me an email and I’ll send you the links.

And, if you missed his previous movie HOME. here’s a link to the trailer. It’s also available FREE online, the whole movie!!

AND, if like me, you are a SUPER fan of the incredible man behind this important work, watch this interview below talking about WHY he does what he does………….


It’s gonna be OK

by Tanya Monteiro on 09/29/2016

My high school was an hour and a half away from my home. As a weekly boarder my mother would drive me to school on a Monday morning, I have clear memories of singing word for word the songs I liked on the radio. For some reason I could hear a song once or twice and remember the words super easily.

My mother would often say to me, “I wish you knew your school work like you know these songs”.

School was all about sports for me, the academic side was simply something I had to get through but to this day I can remember words of songs after listening to a song once or twice.

Music and more often the lyrics have been one of the most moving and healing tools in my life.

So when I hear a song that speaks to my insides and I relate to the words I have to share.

It’s going to be ok.


The Piano Guys

by Tanya Monteiro on 09/08/2016

For some time now I’ve subscribed to a blog called A learning a day and learning, I have.

Each year I choose a song and a word that I use to help me stay focused and remember why I am doing what I am doing. 2016’s song is Rachel Platten’s “The fight song”.

Today’s discovery on A learning a day was a group called The Piano Guy’s. I absolutely love the sound of the piano and this version of the Fight song holds almost as much power for me as the one with lyrics.

My work with family sexual abuse is slow and often gruelling. It’s where the pain lies for me and it’s also a conscious choice I make each day to move towards my fear or my pain and as I do I realise it’s not nearly as powerful as I think it is when I am only thinking.

For me one of the most powerful tools to help me connect to this power and to my why is music.

Music gets me back in my body, it helps me feel when my most comfortable place is living in my head.

Recently, I was told, by someone I care deeply about, that my speaking out about my own abuse and the work I do with others to help break the silence is “my taking revenge”.

But, just like this song, it’s actually where my power is, where our power is. And the sooner we can start to say those things that we did not say the sooner we will release those internal wrecking balls and let go of the power they have over us.

For those like me that love lyrics here they are below:

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe

And all…


Grit, get it and give it

by Tanya Monteiro on 08/31/2016

For most of my life in the finance world I did not feel qualified to be there. I would work harder than most people to try to understand phrases like credit default swaps and other financial terminology. Very often I would have snide remarks made to me by engineers, in their minds I did not have a physics degree or a phd, basically I was not qualified enough to be selling trading and risk management software to our clients who were Investment Banks and Hedge Funds.

Fast forward a few years and I look back with 20/20 vision and realise that what got me through was my abundance of GRIT.

Defined via google grit is “courage and resolve; strength of character” – so when I came across Angela Duckworth and saw her 6 min TED I finally found words to describe how I got through and get through things in life.

Angela left a demanding job as a management consultant in her late twenties to teach math to seventh graders in the New York City public schools. Several years in the classroom taught her that effort was tremendously important to success.

To begin to solve the mystery of why some people work so much harder and longer than others, Angela entered the PhD program in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, (no, the irony is not lost on me) where she is now a professor.

What we need to succeed in our lives is Grit defined in Angela’s words as passion, perseverance and stamina. Sticking to our goals and living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Social Intelligence, Good Looks, Good Health and high IQ’s contribute, to be sure, but they are all useless if we do not have GRIT.

What Angela also discovered is that building GRIT in kids is about teaching them to have a growth mindset


They need to understand that the ability to learn is not fixed it can grow with effort and it can keep growing. They also need to learn that it’s ok to fail, to be willing to be wrong.


The story of US

by Tanya Monteiro on 07/11/2016

It’s been awhile since I posted. We moved home and between the move and work I’ve failed on my week day blogging commitmentment. But, today I came across something so sharable I had to sit down and make the time!

Like many of us I’m affected by the racist violence, the unnecessary gun deaths, the political leaders who seem so interested in their own ‘winning’ they have forgotten why they are leading in the first place. The general segregation. I’m very motivated to keep remembering that we are inherently all mixed up, our DNA is never pure, there is simply no such thing!

The travel company ‘Momondo’ teamed up with a company called ‘AncestryDNA’ and 67 very patriotic people to test their strong theories on countries and culture. It’s a 5 min video that is worth every second.

The results are moving and like one of the participants says I think this test should be compulsory. Living 16 years away from my “home” was the best education I ever could have received. The biggest lesson by far is that people are the same in each place that I lived. The same groups exist, classes, needs, desires and choices. Granted it’s easier to make these choices in some places but we humans, we are so alike it’s probably what is so scary for many to accept.

If we dare to question who we really are, to look at ourselves and our lives, our cultures, our families more deeply we will understand that we are all connected.

Let’s Open Our World is an invitation to travel across boundaries, embrace our differences and open our world.

Momondo believes that everybody should be able to travel the world, to meet other people, and experience other cultures and religions. Travel opens our minds: when we experience something different, we begin to see things differently. (this is possibly the most useful marketing tool I’ve ever seen, well done Momondo!)


Stop – Watch this video please

by Tanya Monteiro on 06/09/2016

My office in NYC had an incredible view of the Statue of Liberty and it’s surroundings. I would often catch myself staring out of the window dreaming. But these years were also some of my loneliest. To help me help myself I ordered flowers to be delivered to my office every Monday morning. It was usually a small bowl that could fit on my desk and they always make me happy!

I became friendly with the owner of City Blossoms a women that worked harder than most I know and still, to this day, through some very tough times, has grown City Blossoms into a Thriving business across the city.

Yesterday a friend popped in from NYC, he’s working with flowers and I immediately thought of connecting him to this amazing women. This is what Inna’s last post was on facebook. It made to stop and take a breath.

These past few weeks have been full on, almost NYC speed. I’m so grateful to technology, to old friends, to deep connections and to moments when I am reminded of what counts and I remember to pay attention.


Criminal Minds

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/26/2016

Discovering Criminal Minds the series was a big deal in my life. It’s a show that, although violent at times, has me hooked. Crimes I can’t believe people even think of let alone act out, but the best part of criminal minds for me is how often they articulate my feelings in such a way that I find myself standing in front of the TV with my phone recording a phrase like the one I am sharing today. It is so spot on that is I have to write it down. Somehow writing it down makes me feel stronger.

“The vast majority of sexual abuse victims don’t grow up to be offenders. I know this because…..and let me be direct. I was also one of XYZ’s victims. It can cause allot of isolation – there can be anger and rage – it can cause pain and suffering – but you can get through it. It can make you stronger – it does not have to destroy your life. It can make you fight back AND it can make you want spend the rest of your life protecting others.”

All this is being said while his perpetrator is watching him on TV saying, “Hell I don’t know what he’s saying, I loved that kid.”

I believe every word in that quote. Everything we experience can make us stronger or weaker, ultimately we decide. What helps me and maybe others is knowing that we are not alone.

And that bit about sexual abuse victims growing up to be offenders, that’s really an old wives tale, just like stranger danger!


A misfit finds her voice

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/25/2016

A Misfit is a person who missed fitting in. They also generally fit in badly or adapt poorly to new situations. I’ve often felt like a misfit!

Lidia Yuknavitch presentes this inspiring TED all about the idea of being a misfit.

Lidia wrote a book about her life as a competitive swimmer, a little about her crappy home life and how grief and loss can make you insane. She won a prize for this writing which was a trip to NYC and the opportunity to choose and meet three of her favorite authors.

It’s a common dream and I think most of us think that winning it would be easy but Lidia brought along her past on this trip to NYC. The abusive household in which she grew up, 2 failed marriages, a college drop out (twice), rehab for drug use and jail time (twice). Lidia also lost a daughter on the day she was born. She became homeless and it became clear that she missed fitting into any category out there.

On this trip to NYC, meeting editors and authors she had long admired, Lidia found herself speechless and full of shame. Shame for wanting something good, for deserving something good. Feeling like a total misfit.


But, after many people telling her not to listen to anyone who wants you to shut up or change your story, she finally started to believe it herself.

Sometimes the only way through is by telling our stories, by reinventing ourselves, even through the ruins of our bad choices.

Giving voice to her story and watching this made me reflect on my own experiences of silence.

It’s been almost 2 years since I checked out and retreated into my shell. Watching a person like Lidia helps me to continue to find the courage to share my story regardless of how much I am told to forget it or change it. I think we all know deep within us if our stories are suffocating us or not.

May this give you the courage to keep following your misfit qualities.