Real Chat with Monica Davis

Real Chat with Monica Davis

Monica Davis is an artist at, a Master Resilience Trainer & Development Training Coordinate at the US Army and does Outreach & Social Media for @projectrebirth. Monica is an adventurist who just completed Martins Cycling Tour of Richmond in just 3:31:34!

Instagram: @Project_Rebirth
Twitter: @ProjectRebirth

PROJECT 375: When you wake up in the morning do you know what kind of day you’re going to have?

Monica Davis: I cannot see into the future, nor do I wish I could. I like life’s surprises and I know that I have the power to control the way I approach each day. So, I may not know what kind of day I will have, but I know what kind of day I want to have. This is why I practice certain ‘rituals’ before I go to sleep and while I am getting ready in the morning. First, I literally say out loud what I am grateful for, usually in the mornings as I am pouring my first cup of coffee and my puppy is giving me morning kisses – I tell them both how grateful I am for the awesome wake-up. Yes I talk to my coffee. At night before sleep, I will say a couple positive things that happened during that day. As an Army Master Resilience Trainer, we call this ‘Hunting the GoodStuff’. Second, I make sure I give myself plenty of time, so I set my alarm a bit earlier than I really need to, and I set aside the time in the evenings to decompress, which also includes not having my cell phone by my bed. Although that is the hardest thing to do considering I am also a Social Media Director for a not-for-profit, having a clear mind right before bedtime is paramount for a good sleep! Lastly, and this one I make a point to do throughout my day no matter what kind of mood I am in – whoever I come into contact with on any given day, I make sure to offer a smile, and treat everyone with kindness. This not only brings me joy but it spreads that joy to others. Listen, kindness is free, sprinkle that shit everywhere. All of these rituals are what prep my mind to take on whatever the day throws at me, it is the little things that matter most in my world.

PROJECT 375: Where did you put your energy before you discovered art?

Monica Davis: I will always be a kid at heart, a risk-taker, a modern-hippie and a dreamer. So I spent my twenties partying, making lots of friends, making many mistakes, making money selling real estate and radio advertisements, buying my first home, selling my first home, dating the wrong guys (wait – I still make that mistake lol), all while completing my bachelor’s degree and starting my graduate studies. I didn’t start painting until after I came home from Iraq, I was 30 years old. Prior to that I was basically doing everything but focusing on my growth game – and I certainly wasn’t putting my energy towards being healthy both mentally and physically.Was I still a good person, of course. Were my mistakes human, yes. Did I care about myself enough, No. I am grateful for Iraq, I am grateful that it opened up the wounds that forced me to heal which then led me to art. I am thankful for what has come of my life since painting and I found each other, and I haven’t looked back except to see how far I’ve come. You can see my works and art journey here:

PROJECT 375: Tell us about Project Rebirth. What does it mean to you?

Monica Davis: As Project Rebirth’s Social Media Director, here is my take on what we do, and why it is so meaningful to me: We offer people hope by sharing stories of those affected deeply by the September 11th tragedy. We tell the human dimension experiences using our suite of Peabody Award-winning films, and the programs we have created across four community platforms – Military/Veterans, First Responders, Educators, and Community Leaders. We have standalone initiatives and also embed ourselves into collaborated programs with our many partners so that our impact reaches as many people as possible, and across the country they can see what resilience looks like from firsthand experiences. Project Rebirth is a grassroots organization, growing from an idea to create award-winning films, to today where we focus our efforts on creating curriculum and programs that help individuals and communities recover from grief and trauma and build resilience in the face of future challenges. We are also creating a legacy by teaching our children and their children about the resilience of the human spirit. Every single day, for fourteen years, I have seen the numbers 911 on clocks, scoreboards, license plates, watches etc… I believe I am being reminded of that day in those little waysbecause I had unfinished business associated with the tragedy. Being introduced to Project Rebirth almost two years ago now, it was if my path was telling me ‘here is your next step, a healing adventure for you, a way to share your story, support those experiencing their own grief journey, and help educate communities on resilience, hope and joy. The work I do for Project Rebirth is more than fulfilling my need to help an amazing organization and the communities we impact, they have become my extended family. I am forever grateful to them, for giving me the opportunity to use their outstanding resilience programs as the content to help others find hope, but my own growth game is achieving its greatest expression in the process. This work has become part of my own Rebirth.

PROJECT 375: What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Monica Davis: Generally when people think of accomplishments, I think they veer towards the professional life, my biggest accomplishment however is most definitely on the personal. And it’s an easy answer – Having compassion for others and using that as part of the will to survive my own healing journey. Pretty deep right? But it’s true – Having post-traumatic stress (PTS) can be a drag sometimes, and if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that helping others helps yourself. The accomplishment itself is that I literally dug myself out of the black hole that weremy demons, and to mimic an anonymous quote I recently read – I found myself to be the most beautiful person I could be once all of those wounds, sins, memories, black outs, and secretsburied within me came to the surface. I was able to face them head on by forcing myself to try new things, find new passions, and tell my story to others. I am now able to relate to others in ways that not only help me, but I can also be somewhat of an advisor to those who need help conquering their journeys. I am elated to say, my healing journey is my biggest accomplishment to date.

PROJECT 375: If you could cycle through any country in the world, where would you choose?

Monica Davis: If the Army would give me the time off, I would take my bicycle down under and go to Australia. I have always wanted to go there, even when I was young and the cycling community there is pretty amazing too!

PROJECT 375: What is a common misunderstanding you hear about mental illness? What is your diagnosis?

Monica Davis: I have Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), notice I left the D for Disorder off. I am not alone in this, that in order to lift the stigma associated with this illness, the word disorder needs to go. Although my PTS came from my childhood experiences residually returning to the surface, it was Iraq that brought them back to life. Now working directly for the Army, I totally understand what that stigma is like for our heroes who are too afraid to speak up about their trauma and grief journeys. I’ll admit that it is hard for anyone to talk about, but it has become one of my missions to implore our Military members to seek help, and leadership to accept them with open arms. Why does it have to be a disorder to be diagnosed? Different people carry their trauma and react to it in different ways. Why is one classified more serious than the other, and why is one minimized or why are PTS and PTSD even being compared at all? No matter what, whether related to deployments, losing a loved one, a car accident, abuse etc…PTS can still be severe, and the same branding is placed on people no matter what we call it. It’s amazing how powerful a single word can be. Disorder. Like there is something wrong with me, like I am unable to be normal again. Well guess what, PTS is normal. It’s totally normal and totally treatable, whether through medication, therapy, or outdoor adventures (which is my favorite)! Disorder is a dirty word, and I am glad to see movement across the country to eradicate it, thus treating anyone with PTS like a human being. I also use the word growth a lot, and at this point in my life I am proud to say that I am experiencing PTG, or Posttraumatic Growth. I more frequently call it my Growth Game. PTG happens when mental healing is occurring after trauma or a major life crises. From any perspective of your struggle, you can develop mindfulness, understanding that there is positive opportunity in your road ahead, gain a deeper appreciation for relationships and connection to others or relate even more to those who are also suffering. You can also recognize your own strength is greater than you thought, and many people have a greater appreciation for life overall. But let’s also get this straight, just because someone is experiencing post-traumatic growth, it does not mean they are entirely healed. So let’s make it easier for them, let us honor courage to seek help and treatment, rather than make people feel even more ashamed by calling them dirty words.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment