Friday, June 28, 2013

The Having It All Project: Monina Wagner

I reconnected to Monina, a classmate of mine at good old Solon High School, through the magic that is Twitter. Monina was a year ahead of me at SHS, and I can't remember what class we shared, but I do remember her bubbly and effervescent personality, which comes through in both her professional writing career and on her blog. Here's how Monina is having it all.
Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.  
I'm a single mom living in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. As ordinary as it may seem on the surface, my life is anything but. I have a sassy 10-year-old daughter who has gone through more heartache than any child should have ever had to endure. We recently rescued a senior Jack Russell terrier even though some days I'll skip dinner to make sure we have enough money to get us to my next paycheck. I have as close to my dream job as I can get right now - just in the wrong city. And I've done well for myself professionally but life sometimes deals you lemons so your wallet gets drenched with lemonade. Everyone leads a unique life. 

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos? 
On my wedding day, one of our groomsmen gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me to this day. And surprisingly, it's a philosophy I take with me to this day. One of the most common pieces of advice is to have a great relationship, you must compromise, compromise, compromise. But my groomsman told me this: Marriage is not 50/50. It's not about compromise, but about bringing your all to the table daily. It's 100/100. 

Shouldn't all aspects of our lives be that way? Only we can control our own actions, our own destinies. You shouldn't cave, but make thoughtful decisions.

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it. 
At some point in my marriage, I realized the algebra equation was off. We were closer to 50/50. I was losing a part of myself. Dreams went unfulfilled. Life was unhappy. We tried counseling. Years went by, and eventually we separated. Having the burden of my daughter's well being on my shoulders, reconciling my feelings and determining my financial future overwhelmed me. I tried to internalize it. I became intimate with Jack (Daniels) and Jose (Cuervo). But what brought me through this and other trying times were my friends. There are still days when I'm stressed out and think I should face it alone, but my friends are there to remind me not to be stubborn.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you? 
I went from college to career to motherhood to whatever stage I'm in now. I'm forging my own direction and beginning to learn who I am again. Once I identify who I am, I can stop trying to be someone else or looking to another as a role model. We all lead such different lives. And no one leads a balanced life. If they say they do, I'm convinced they are lying. Live life the way you want.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then? 
Had I hoped to divorce before age 40? Did I want to build not one but two houses in the suburbs? Did I think a career at an ad agency would be the path I would end up on?

No. Yet ask if teens graduating high school know exactly what the future holds and I will answer honestly. I did.

On my 18th birthday, I guarantee I said I didn't want to be married until I was 40 because I wanted to establish my career. Apartment living is tailor-made for me. Little upkeep, small it. I began my journalism career in high school, but I knew my longevity in the field would be dependent on many factors. So I knew there would eventually be a detour. 

I'm living life exactly how I want. I only hope I can predict the future now as well as I did then.

Relate to what Monina is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at!

1 comment:

  1. "I'm living exactly as I want," is the best attitude ever. I love it. I feel the same way. Great interview!