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Be inspired! How I created something powerful and beautiful out of my tragedy and illness - Monique Hohnberg

#INTERVIEW|"I CREATED SOMETHING POWERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL OUT OF MY TRAGEDY AND ILLNESS” – MONIQUE HOHNBERG


Monique started tweeting when she was very ill in bed. In the first year, her platform grew to 60,000 and in the second year another 120,000 joined her. Now she has over 207,000 followers. Monique is an Inspirational Leader and  the founder of #RiseRegardless, a twitter platform that aims to create your best quality of life no matter how hard the circumstances.
As well as inspiration, insights to life and the occasional kick up the pants she also tweets about photography, food and health, and travel.
Monique Hohnberg

Only a few months ago Monique reached full health. Rather than being trapped in her flat and housebound she is running around in the world.


 In an interview with Women of Rubies, Monique shares her life experience and how she rose to achieve her potential regardless of her ill health.


Growing up?
I grew up in a very strong religious community. My brother is a minister as is my uncle and there are many spiritual leaders in my extended family. My parents have always served the community through Rotary or church. It’s in my blood; faith, helping others, spiritual realities, etc. But my twitter platform is not Christian. I leave that to my brother. I respect many faiths and my tweets have spiritual elements to them, but I want everyone to feel welcome at my site. So, my followers range from Christian, New Age, Muslims, Buddhists and more.

I also grew up on a sheep property in the Australian bush. We had good years and really hard years of drought, where we had no money for a long time. We grew food so we could eat. My parents have excellent entrepreneurial skills and I learnt a lot from them. Growing up on the land taught me to be free-spirited and flexible in life.
When I was sixteen, I read a powerful self-help book and implemented each chapter in my life. It led me to getting a scholarship to move to Sydney to study, a year at Leeds University in the UK, and leadership positions on campus. It opened many doors for me. I learnt then what concentrated effort in my life could do. That is, concentrated effort with the right tools. It changes your life.
Monique Hohnberg

Background.
I had brain surgery when I was 22. That experience of looking death in the eye completely changed me as a person. So many ideas I had about myself were stripped away. My personal and spiritual growth went through the roof. So, I have a profound respect for the struggle, the tragedy, the darkest before dawn experience and how it transforms you into something powerful beyond measure.
I am also a multi-passionate artist who loves to create and I apply this to everything. When I cook, take a picture or write, I create. At those times, I feel a deep sense of peace and flow. I am completely absorbed in my task, which gets rid of the mind chatter of daily frustrations and stress disappears.
I have been living a very simple, almost monastic lifestyle these last 15 years. Now, that I have cured my condition and have full energy, I’m expanding my life. It’s a wonderful process of discovery for me. Although, I still make time for myself. Wisdom grows when we have time for reflection and introspection.
I am also a freelance film journalist and teach English at the university.


Passion for blogging and public speaking?
I knew from a young age I would write but I didn’t pursue it at all. However, when I first became ill, writing was one of the few things I could still do. My writing skills at this point were not great. My essays at the university were terrible and I nearly failed with some of them but I kept at it because like they say, practice makes perfect.
My love for public speaking originally came from working as an actress – I am very comfortable in front of the camera. Later, I became a teacher, which is another form of public speaking. Now, I just love inspiring and helping people. The energy from doing public speaking is terrific.
Inspiration behind #RiseRegardless
Our society is very driven by outside measures of success and despite what motivational types tell us, we do not all start out life equally. Some of us come from wealth, others do not. Some of us are smarter or not. Some come from countries with amazing access to education and health services or not. I am interested in making the best life you can with the hand that has been dealt to you. I am not a fan of self help books that say you can get anything you want if you work hard enough. I believe you should go for it, but sometimes life says otherwise. I also believe we are all priceless beyond measure regardless of one’s life journey which is why I focus on helping people no matter where they are at.
For me, it is vital that the nuggets of wisdom I provide be used anytime by anybody because in some ways I have had experience with both the good and bad sides of life. I have been through a ridiculous number of tragedies and health problems. I have had many low points, but each time, I tried to make my life as good as it could be. So, #RiseRegardless is the culmination of a philosophy I have built up for over 20 years.
Other projects and activities
To help people with their journey I have made inspirational items that can be bought online. They are items such as posters, postcards, notebooks, coffee mugs. They all have inspirational messages on them and they all use my photography. I also sell Rise Regardless t-shirts.
I’m also writing a book that is packed with practical advice and inspiration for getting through tough times.

Giving up?
Never. I am casting my mind back through all my worst times – and there have been many – but I have never thought of giving up. People say to me all the time, ‘Tragedy, how did you get through it?’ And I say, ‘I had no choice so I made it happen’. You are much stronger than you know. I’ve lost everything – health, money, career, relationships – a few times so I know how bad it can get. I think that is why my Twitter platform #RiseRegardless is successful. It is real and not airy-fairy stuff that makes you feel good for a minute but has no application in real life.
Because of all my health problems I have always had to find a way to wriggle out from between a rock and a hard place. I could not work in film and do the long hours, so I became a freelance film journalist, and taught myself how to write. This kept me in the industry. Also, I became a photographer so I could still work in a visual medium. When I crashed in 2013 I could not write my book or teach so I got onto Twitter. I was well enough to write 140 characters – the length of a tweet.

Greatest reward
Every time I get feedback from someone my heart glows a little warmer. I am blown away by how many people tell me I am helping them through stuff. To be of use to others is life affirming. It all just took off from there so I did not feel useless and isolated on my sick bed. I was connected and helping. Twenty years of experience just got useful.
On a personal note, I am always observing life but I don’t speak about it at coffee catch-ups with friends, etc. I would be losing friends non-stop for being a know-it-all! So, Twitter gives me a legitimate avenue for all my thoughts about life.
Feedbacks from inspiring others?
I have received over a thousand messages from people thanking me or telling me how much I have helped. Some that stand out for me are, when I helped a young man from Uganda get employment where there was 80% unemployment for young people. He has really made something of his life and I know he’ll be doing great things in the future. Also a gentleman from India who underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery said my tweets each day helped him recover faster and get back on his feet. I could go on and on.
Challenges faced in line of work?
Some people are very cynical about the nature of Twitter and ask me how could 140 characters help someone. We all know staying motivated in life means much more than 140 characters but I do my best when I can.
Another challenge is some people in my personal life don’t believe it is really me. They think I just get quotes from somewhere. They do not want to understand the words come from me, my wisdom, my life experiences, my years of research and practice of personal development theories and spiritual faiths. These people did get into my head and mess with my confidence in the beginning. I had to give myself a good talking to. Their lack of belief in me made me stronger.

Advice for young budding female entrepreneurs and social crusaders?
I have discovered time and time again that when you put your ego aside and make your first priority to serve others, powerful change happens. Your products/service gets better. Your message and ability to effect CHANGE gets better. Your attitude of serving underlines everything you do in powerful subtle ways.
People respond very strongly to your energy of ‘what I can do to make the world better’. Many people have a ‘taking energy’. A ‘giving energy’ is like a gust of fresh air. People love it. It opens doors and creates opportunities you never thought possible. However, remember that giving and serving others does not mean having no boundaries. You must look after yourself too. Self-love first lets you conquer the world.

Monique Hohnberg

Being a Woman of Rubies
First let me say, thank you for honoring me as a Woman of Rubies. I have helped out with International Women’s Day in Nigeria for the last two years and it is wonderful to be doing more projects in Nigeria.
I created something powerful and beautiful out of my tragedy and illness. I helped people from all over the world with their problems, when nearly everyone thought I had nothing to offer because I was so ill. I wanted to help people live quality lives no matter their circumstances. I did this every day with my illness and wanted others to learn how to as well.

Final words for women all over the world
Life can be really tough. We can be hit with a vicious divorce, chronic bad health, a car accident, no income, no spouse to support us. The list goes on. Then all we can do is truly accept where we are at and make it as good as can be – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Rising regardless means working on your life, and developing your mind so you have strength and grace in abundance. The pay-off is enormous personal growth.

*****Monique will be speaking on the Monday, 4th July at The Naked Challenge Creative Mastery Global Summit. Topics include how to reinvent yourself using social media, why all creatives should be using social media and how to grow a cult following on Twitter. She’ll be throwing in some inspiration and life changing thoughts as well! Find Monique on Twitter at twitter.com/MoniqueHohnberg or #RiseRegardless.


 Read more inspiring stories on Women of Rubies Blog

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