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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
*****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