We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Monica Blied and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Monica, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by the chronic illness warriors who live day in and day out with chronic pain – along with the debilitating effects of fatigue, internal inflammation, and so many other symptoms of invisible disabilities – yet, if you just saw them passing by you would never know their struggle. I am in awe of their strength. Resilience walks with them like a faithful companion, and gives them the extra push to persevere. I am inspired by those of us who are able keep trying even when it is hard; and, to take off our masks, give voice to our challenges, and accept help from our support systems. I am so super proud of those who have the courage to seek support when we don’t have it, and to glean hope from others’ stories of thriving with medical illnesses. I am most inspired by those who are determined to find meaning and purpose from their illnesses, and then share their stories with others who aren’t as far along on their journey. Living the “spoonie” life is a rollercoaster. I believe we can learn to appreciate the ride when we are surrounded by others who love us and who get it.
What should our readers know about your business?
“Faces of Health” is a whole-health centric, culturally relevant, wellness center dedicated to serving diverse individuals who live outside the margins of what our society considers “in good health”. These are people who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions such as lupus or fibromyalgia (I live with both conditions), or HIV/AIDS, Ehlers Danlers Syndrome, MCAS, Multiple Sclerosis … you name it! I attend to the mental health and wellness needs of such individuals using an integrative approach. Clients learn to adjust to their “new normal” and strengthen skills that help their mind, body, and spirit. I do this by using a combination of interventions that are backed by science, including: Biofeedback, Brainspotting, EMDR, Mindfulness Training, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Chair Yoga, and education on the mind/body and brain/gut health connection.
These are also people struggling with focus and executive functioning or social communication issues, and wondering if they are actually neurodivergent (i.e., living with ADHD and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder). I provide comprehensive testing to help both teens and young adults finally understand why they’ve been struggling and to gain insight into how their brains are working. The assessment process helps these individuals learn how to maximize their strengths while also effectively managing their challenges.
Although developing and growing “Faces of Health” has come with its challenges, it has also brought about many opportunities for me. Mainly, I have been able to turn my pain into power and purpose! I have lived with chronic medical illnesses since 2012. It took time for me to understand how to best navigate life as a “sick chick.” I’m a mother, wife, business owner, therapist, psychology professor, sister, friend, and a daughter. That is all to say: I have many roles that pull against my time and energy. The way my personality is set up, I would normally try doing “all the things, all the time.” However, lupus has forced me to slow down and to stop overbooking my body. I now have a fresh perspective on wellness. Developing “Faces of Health” has created space for me to share these learned experiences with others (well, that and my 24 years of education, including 5 advanced degrees (humble brag)). These experiences keep me grounded, and remind me of both the beauty and brevity of life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have been super fortunate for the past few years to live and work in the city of Claremont, California. Best known as “The City of Trees and PhDs.” If a friend were visiting, I would take them to the Village for a stroll through quaint shops, tasty restaurants, and bakeries with delectable treats. My favorite spot for Thai milk tea in the area is Last Drop Cafe, where the boba is made fresh every morning and the owners remember your name. I would also take them to the California Botanical Gardens as well as for a stroll through the beautiful, green grounds of any one of the 5 undergraduate and 3 graduate universities located within Claremont. I’ve had folks from out-of-town comment that our city is like a cute, friendly college town that you see in the movies. And, that it is!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this Shoutout to all the trailblazers who have made it possible for me to pursue my dreams to the fullest. This includes brave and brazen women of color entrepreneurs, mentors, spiritual sisters, professional “mothers” and my own mother! They are all radical in their pursuit of better. Thank you for inspiring me, and pushing me to continue moving forward no matter what.
Susan Brunasso, Maria Nunez