The Truth Will Not Set Us Free

by Tanya Monteiro on 03/04/2015

This morning I got an email from my father in Mozambique saying how a prominent lawyer had been shot a number of times outside the coffee shop he frequents most mornings. I’ve just spent 2 weeks visiting him and would pop in to this delightful cafe daily.

My Dad ended his email saying, “I was shocked at how “flimsy” life is!”.

I did a quick google search and found this article on the event. Turns out the lawyer “was killed for having expressed his opinions regarding the most contentious political issues in the country.” Bottom line = He did not agree with some very powerful people.

This reminded me of a TED talk (posted the video below) that I’ve had rattling around in my brain for a few days. It’s 13 minutes about how most people instinctively avoid conflict. Yet, it’s almost always good disagreements that are central to progress.

People often say that the “truth will set you free” but really that’s bullshit, I know that first hand.

What needs to replace that useless statement is The truth will not set you freethat “the truth won’t set us free till we dare to use it”.

In almost all cases of what is wrong with the world, the data is out there, BUT no one wants to know. On the other side of the spectrum just being open cannot drive change. What is clear and proven is that using the conflict we encounter and, making sure we surround ourselves with people whose opinions are different to ours, drives change. As counterintuitive as that feels.

85% of people in organizations when asked, were afraid of conflict and would rather keep silent about issues and concerns at work. The idea of “whistleblowers” has a part to play in this theory, however, most often whistleblowers are also afraid of conflict until finally they become more afraid of the silence.

This is abundantly clear in my own life. I told my family at 19 that I had been sexually abused by my step father from the age of 12 until I was 16. At 19 I went to see my first psychologist, alone, my mother was absolutely certain she did not need to see anyone and since then the conversations with my family about what happened in those 4 years have been very few and very far between.

Then last year April (at 43) I released this video of the Face to Face meeting I had with my step farther and his wife.  Since then the silence from my family has been deafening. “An absence of words speaks loudly”.

Prior to releasing this video I’d tried to discuss the topic with members of my family and every time the conversation was either forgotten (ignored) or I was told that it’s best to forget about it and what’s the point of bringing it up now 25 years later?

It’s moments like today and video’s created by people like Margaret Heffernan that remind me of how important it is to act on our truth. It’s also a stark reminder that the extreme of “telling the truth” might result in the end of a life, just like what happened to the prominent lawyer in Mozambique a day ago.

What ever my fate I know I want to encourage more than telling the truth, acting on it over and over again is what counts, and, doing what I can to stimulate questions about how we have these conversations more easily and more often?

Our need to connect with people we love is more fundamental and more basic than our need for food and shelter. Far too many of us die not having felt this connection within us regularly. I’d like to think the prominent lawyer died knowing exactly what he was doing and feeling the connection within himself that so few of us ever do.

Conflict enables thinking, the truth won’t set us free but what we do with our truths will, we all really do matter.

Speak up, Be heard

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Finding Meaning in Adversity – Andrew Solomon

by Tanya Monteiro on 02/17/2015

Finding meaning in adversity is something I think about allot. It’s clear to me that without adversity, big AND small, we humans do not grow. And, what’s crystal clear to me now, is that no matter what, we will all experience some adversity in our lifetime.

Finding meaning in Adversity

Andrew Solomon asks the big questions like – “How did an illness become an identity?”. He’s referring to how being gay, was once perceived as an illness and is now accepted as an identity, (thank heavens!!) how did we make this transition?

I recently came across another of Andrew’s TED Talks “Love no matter what”. I’d posted on his other TED a while back, How the Worst moments make us who we are. At the time I was doing research on why it’s so hard to share our stories and Andrew’s TED provided me with exactly what I needed. “Stories are the foundation of our identity yet how is it that so many of us are ashamed to share our stories?”

It’s lead me think of how we Cure vs Accept. This is especially true in times of illness or in how we raise our children. An example is found in another TED talk by Nicky Abdinor. Nicky was born with no arms and remembers, often, how her parents would make their decisions on how to raise her based on “what can Nicky do?” as opposed to “how can Nicky do this?” as a result Nicky was brought up believing in herself.

In his studies Andrew has found that there needs to be three levels of acceptance in understanding horizontal identities, (the ones that people try to cure, things that are generally alien to your parents and accepted by your peers).

1) Self Acceptance
2) Family acceptance
3) Social Acceptance

We get angry cause we think our parents don’t love us but what is actually happening is that our family does not accept us, acceptance takes time.

Andrew talk focuses on ‘How we see people that are different to us’? What do we validate in our children and what do we CURE in them? Reminding us that people engage with the life they have, being who ever it is they have come to be.

When speaking to the mother of kid from the Columbine massacre Dillon, about what she would say to him had he survived. Dillon’s mom says, “I would ask him to forgive me for being his mother and not knowing what was going on in his head.” What it boils down to is finding meaning in the experience. With meaning, we love our children with our flaws and with their flaws. Learning to negotiating the difference within our families because its our differences and our negotiation of our differences that unite us.

Finding meaning in Adversity

As a species we need diversity to survive (and Thrive) and of course that translates into needing diversity in human families for us to go on.

We want to protect our children from illness but really and mostly we want to protect ourselves from illness.

Watch his video and try stay connected till the end. You will hear a beautiful story resulting from one of his children having an almost fatal cramp.

“We seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences. We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe it’s purposeful”


Hiding who I am

by Tanya Monteiro on 01/28/2015

The idea of hiding who we are is something most of us would rather ignore, hell, I think a large majority of our population don’t even realise they are hiding who they are.

But, I know in my gut and in the deepest part of myself that the moment I started to become aware that I was living my life based on other people’s goals and I started to figure out what my own deep down goals were, at that very time, I also started to hide. The voice in my head did not want to be defined by the word “sexual abuse” yet I longed to do something in the world that could shed light on this fact of life. Then, the voice got louder when I started to become clear that I wanted to do something about sexual abuse “within families” so loud in fact that it would take me 2 years to share a recording that I made of the face to face meeting that lasted 40mins with my step father, the man who abused me for 4 years in my teens.

So when I came across this TED today by Morgana Bailey I had to hear what she was hiding and why. Morgana is a lesbian and took 16 years to say out loud who she was inside. Again, the paralyzing fear of being defined by “that word” helped Morgana keep her secret on the outside but on the inside caused untold stress.

There-are-more-scary Quote

There are so many ways to hide ourselves from ourselves, so many ways that don’t even include addtional substance’s, people or habits. We can appear to be operating very well in life and have all the external props but if what’s on the outside and what’s on the inside does not feel in alignment we’ll get to a point of numbing or figuring out that path less travelled.

That’s the place I’m at right now, both in my professional and my personal life. It’s scary as hell and I often wonder what on earth I did to let go of that career that felt so comfortable on the outside cause I know I can hide what’s on the inside, but, then I remember how out of alignment it felt, even if I could not explain it, and especially cause I hardly told anyone for fear of appearing confused.

So, Now I’m changing my life’s story, and including what’s meaningful to me and I’m doing something about it and making a difference, to myself and to others. And, although I don’t know the path and I have to stay really awake each day, I do know that I have no choice if I am to STOP HIDING.


Durban Documentary National Geographic

by Tanya Monteiro on 01/16/2015

Being back in Tropical Durban often brings a burst of JOY to my heart. Next month I would have been back home for 3 years. As mentioned in this documentary, Durban is a red blooded city, full of mixed cultures, mixed smells and mixed people. I love that!

Take a look at this 50 min video on the city I love to live in.


Stephen Collins speaks

by Tanya Monteiro on 12/18/2014

Watching this 1 min answer to Katie Couric’s question, “Did you feel at times that you were leading a double life in any way?” brought chills to my insides.

The words of Stephen Collins echoed almost exactly the words of my stepfather when I met with him face to face to ask him my own set of questions in 2012.

There is no question that the theme that lies here is in how one is able to justify almost any behaviour to ones own self. I’m not sure if god or jesus or religion for that matter has to play a lead role in this self forgiveness, I’ll have to think much more on that.

What I do know is that I hear this over and over and over again. This ability to justify ones own forgiveness and find ways to minimize a behaviour that increases one person’s power and takes away another’s.

Please take 1 min to watch Katie Couric listen to the answer to her question in this video and just let it sink in.

If we are ever to understand how manipulation works, this video is a good start.

More ABC News Videos | ABC World News


Age is an Advantage

by Tanya Monteiro on 12/09/2014

Seth Godin is someone I cannot help but pay a huge amount of attention to. Every day I receive his mails, it’s one of the very few daily’s that I still receive AND read since my zero inbox rule at the beginning of this year.

Every time I read that daily mail I learn something new or, I think in a way that is new, and often inspiring, many times I’ll tweet a line he wrote but then there are days, like today, when I am directed by Seth to a video that just resonates so deeply I have to share more than a line.

Growing up I remember telling people that I would not have long hair at 30 cause I don’t like old ladies with long hair. I’m 44 years old now and my hair is the longest it’s ever been. I remember being told that when you have a baby you get fat, I have friends who have 2, 3 and 6 children and got themselves back to a size 10 or 12.

Over and over through my life I have heard this “it’s old age” theory from family, from friends, from people I’ve worked with and from TV: “I’m too old to make a difference, take a leap, change the game…”

The Breaking News is: It’s bullsh*t.

There’s a high probability that I’m writing here what I best need to learn. Regardless, I need to say it as it is to me and as it is to Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein.

After years of research and his own life experiences Jonathan knows that Wisdom is earned over years, through experiences and that age is the advantage to making the difference.

Regret does build, it does create pressure and when we live in our minds we try to find ways to release that pressure so we tell ourselves that we have to be young or younger to do or to be XY or Z. This then relieves, in our minds, some of the pressure within us and so we STAY STUCK. The cycle continues, we say so much to ourselves to alleviate that regret.

This talk will help you see that we can all set up to make the difference we tell others to do or we wish we could do. (Yes, this part is directly targeted at myself). He’s inspired me to keep making an impact on the people around me and to keep looking for my mould, notice it and ACT on it.

In the words of another ever inspiring soul Richard Branson: “Older employees who have learned how to inspire and lead people, and how to remain persistent and optimistic despite changes in circumstances, will have an edge. Senior entrepreneurs can bring the best of both worlds to new ventures: experience and the contagious enthusiasm of a youthful mindset. Remain flexible and look around yourself for inspiration, and you may soon find that you’re onto a winning idea.”


Homeless to TV Star

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/06/2014

A couple of days ago I posted Liz Murray’s story, ‘Homeless to Harvard’ and today I discovered our very own South Africa ‘homeless to TV star’ story.

Marietjie Bothma, was abandoned as a baby, then adopted by a family who didn’t treat her so well. She spent 2 years homeless on the streets of Johannesburg before starting her TV and MC career.

It’s stories like these that remind me how resilient we really are and most of all, I remember that we ALL have a choice. It’s knowing we have a choice that can sometimes be harder to remember.

And just because I can, here’s the “KING PIE” advertisement that is guaranteed to make you smile.


Vinyasa’s 3 glue poses

by Tanya Monteiro on 11/05/2014

In last night’s yoga class I promised to find some good “basic 3 poses” video’s to share with a student whose relatively new to yoga. To my surprise it took some time but I eventually found all three in one video by a teacher I rate as one of the best I have ever ever learnt from Seane Corn, love when that happens. As a side note it usually drives me mad when I open a website only hear music but you might want to pop over to Seane’s site just for the music, it’s great!

Back to the three poses — chaturanga, upward dog and downward dog, the three poses that link together the vinyasa flow series. Mastering these poses helps us develop our strength and deepens our experience to yoga and more importantly to ourselves.

I also promised to share some simple meditations. Tara Brach has a variety that are worth taking a look at. The shortest is 10 minutes.


Homeless to Harvard

by Tanya Monteiro on 10/28/2014

I came across THIS article that lead me to this TED talk below, in which Liz shares a beautiful story about Ben. A 3 year old boy who has cancer in both eyes and whose mother makes the decision to remove them and still inspire her son to see with all the other parts of him. Liz goes on to talk about possibility and the idea of falling in love with possibility in our lives at any age or stage.

That TED then lead me to this 3 min clip

and finally that lead me to reminding myself that I can only Focus on what I can control.

It’s a consistant thought in my mind, the idea of what is it inside of us that refuses to label ourselves as Victims.

A powerful reminder that a New moment IS a New Opportunity.



Stop saying I am fine!

by Tanya Monteiro on 10/27/2014

From this moment on I will never use the words ‘i am fine’ again, EVER!

This reminded me of when I decided not to use BUT again, EVER. I’d read this book that talked about how incredibly powerful BUT was at eliminating everything you’d just said. Like, “I am sorry BUT…..”. There is no way sorry and BUT can be in the same sentence and you really mean it, no way.

So this morning I watched a video that reminded me of my need to eliminate BUT and add the word FINE to the list of “I will never use that word again, EVER”.

In my own life there is no question I am fully in the “i am fine” whirlpool right now. I know what I need to do or at least try to do yet I find ways, new ways daily, on how NOT to do the work. So, this is my way of committing to myself and making my life count.

Thank you and Lydia Lee for posting the video onto your facebook page.