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.



by Tanya Monteiro on 05/24/2016

For all the years I lived in London I never had a TV and I never missed it. However, since moving in with William, and much to the demise of my reading skills, I’ve discovered a newfound love of series.

My latest discovery is Togetherness. Sadly, as I did my research for this post I discovered that they will not continue past Season two. Both seasons are out now and although I have not started watching season two yet I highly recommend this funny and very real show.

Togetherness explores marriage and friendship through the lives of a couple and two singles living on the fringes of Los Angeles. It is so real and true to life in parts that I’ve found myself laughing till I cry.

They cover aspects of married life and coupledom (is there such a word?) that even I, who is relatively new to being in a couple can relate.

The show is a reminder that getting older and having kids doesn’t necessarily spare one from angst, emptiness and confusion over the question posed in the old song, “Is that all there is?”

It zeroes in on today’s yuppie problems, folks thinking they are the first ever to experience any of these emotions. Like having their marriage tested through nagging unhappiness and infidelity.

It also touches on the aspect of searching, which seems to be a human trait regardless of our current circumstances.

As winter finally starts to arrive here in Durban I’m looking forward to watching Season two.

If you have any shows you loved and would like to share please let me know in the comments below. (Thank you Susie for your inspiration today)


Love oh Love – Lionel Richie

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/19/2016

This song popped into my life again the other day. My father was a devout Lionel Richie fan and I took to his tunes like a duck to water too.

This was one of my favorites, a good reminder of what it’s all about in the end – LOVE


TED TALK – BJ Miller

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/18/2016

11 000 volts went through BJ Miller’s body after he and some friends decided to have some fun on the top of a train.

His talk focuses on death and dying and how we can actually choose how we live because if it.

How we all need a reason to wake up and without question we will all be faced with moments where we can choose to turn anguish into a flower or let that anguish paralyze us.

The word Patient means one who suffers. We are all patients at some stage in our lives and BJ’s idea is that we begin at the end. Since dying is a necessary part of living he is asking for us to make space for aging because how we die is something we can effect.

At the Zen Hospice Project, BJ focuses on living well not despite death but because of it.


Tom Ford – A Love Story

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/17/2016

Every now and again I come across a story that is just beautiful and I must share. When that story is about a long term love relationship I am drawn to learning what I can about how they made it work and why they are together.

Goodness knows I’m a novice in the world of relationships with a partner.

In June William and I will celebrate 4 years together, a record for me and one I am not taking lightly.

It’s still an area of my life that I consider to be at it’s infancy but it’s a partnership I am deeply grateful for.

I have always found it easier to be alone. As I child I spent hours and hour plotting how I was going to run away and I think I created a default pattern for myself in my own mind.

love relationship growth

But, even though I still often want to run away these four years have shown me that I am learning way more in a relationship about myself than I ever did controlling it all alone.

I add here that I don’t think a love relationship is the only relationship we have that forces us to grow. I believe all relationships, if real engagement is happening, force us to grow or hide more. We choose.

So back to what moved me so much about this article.

When Tom Ford’s husband, Richard Buckley, got throat cancer some friends assumed he had AIDS and they might catch it. Without hesitation Tom Ford cut all ties with those friends, standing by Richard.

I’ve experienced this on more than 3 occasions with William in the 4 years we have been together.  Both with family and with friends he has made it clear in words and actions that he supports me.

Not the kind of support that is blind and unreasonable. I’m talking about the kind of support that someone like me, whose boundaries are not very well defined, can be reminded that some behaviours are just not acceptable.

I also love this excerpt ;

One of the things that always amuses me — amuses isn’t even the right word, because it doesn’t amuse me — but often, I’m at dinner parties with very close friends, straight, and they realize that Richard and I have been together 24 years, and the response is often, ‘Wow, you guys have been together 24 years! That’s so amazing. I don’t think of gay men being together that long.’ And I’m, like, ‘Why? What are you talking about?’ Some of the longest relationships I know of are same-sex couples. A lot of my straight friends have married and divorced and married and divorced in the time Richard and I have been together. I think that preconception, from even very educated liberal friends, that being gay is possibly more sex-based than emotionally based, is surprising and shocking in today’s world. I’m someone who likes being part of a couple and always wanted that and always sought that, and it would probably be true for me whether I was gay or straight. Richard and I are bound together, and I think that’s what that recognition is when you look someone in the eyes and you feel like you’ve known them forever. It is a kind of coming home.

Tom Ford and Richard Buckley

Tom Ford and Richard Buckley

Although this article was published in 2011, their story is not old and they have gone on to have a son in 2012 and got married in 2014. It must be going on to 29 years together.

Mazel Tov to them both.


Never play to the Gallery

by Tanya Monteiro on 05/16/2016

In 1 min David Bowie nails why he brought so much art, feeling and connection to the world.

He reminds us to never work for other people in what we do – I wonder why are we not taught this at school?

He also mentions how important it is to feel a little out of our depth because that’s where the real growth and genius lives.