Poppycock June/July 2014 - Page 23

parasites in your mind. As a warrior, as a human being, but also as an artist it’s about slaying the parasites; creating your own story. The cruelest month is that period of time when everything is really dark and terrible and you are really down and you want to give up.” At 17, Monica was hospitalized for an auto-immune disorder. During that time when she felt distanced from the rest of the world, music got her through. She knows that music has helped her survive some of the most painful periods in her life, and is what has kept her emotionally stable. “I have to do it. If I don’t do music, I’ll go crazy. For me it’s a mental health issue. For a lot of artists, that’s the truth. In the old Aztec traditions February was the cruelest month. That is the month when a lot of people would die. I could just give up. I could have some nice job, have music as a hobby, and I could do ok. Or I can fight. It’s that split-second where you decide if you are going to flee or if you are going to fight. I’m not done fighting.” Monica credits music with providing her an outlet for her creative force, and wants to give that back through her music therapy and working with kids. She is a music teacher at My Voice Music, leading music therapy workshops for kids. Her latest workshop is for teens with illness sponsored by a grant from The Pollination Project. “This is who I am. This is what I want. I don’t want to apologize for it anymore. I’m not going to ask permission to do something I know is right for me. I know music is what I have to offer. I can’t imagine my life without it. For me it’s just survival. Whether or not I want to push it into the public realm, I don’t know, it will always happen for me. But this is a period of my life where I’m just going to do it.” Monica is truly the embodiment of seeing the light in the darkness. Her latest album is a manifestation of this idea. She wanted to create something beautiful from so much pain. Monica recognizes that she struggles with painful emotions, and that serves as the greatest inspiration for her music. “You think, ‘We shouldn’t feel bad. We shouldn’t feel like this. This should be easy. It should be effortless.’ But it’s not going to be that way, so don’t deny the gift of that darkness. Sometimes you have to feel like you are on the wrong path or you are not doing it right. So, I think it is super important to have a ‘cruelest month’, but not too much. It’s a thin line, but you have to accept it.” Monica is the first to admit that being an artist is a different way of living, and if anything, she has mastered the art of being an artist. “In my thirties I’m finally coming into myself understanding the tools needed to navigate this wild, creative emotion. What came first? I don’t know. Are artists just sensitive and different? Or is it that the process brings it up? I definitely feel the pressure of getting a career at this point in my life. Being thirty years old and having people say, ‘What are you going to do?’” She is always changing, always evolving, constantly expanding and diverging from what she knows. Music is how she has gotten to know herself and understand the world. “It’s very personal, but at the same time it’s universal too, because we are all creative. I think everybody is creative. I think they can tap into that. It’s a very interesting process of self-reflection, and that’s what I love about music. I’ve learned so much about myself through music; more than I ever could have if I hadn’t done music. “I think I bring to the music authenticity, which is synonymous with vulnerability…and I feel like it’s that sort of vulnerability which I feel like is a lost art these days in music sometimes. The artists I love are vulnerable. You know it, you hear it, you see it, you experience it. It takes me to that place with them. It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to feel messed up. It’s ok to feel like you are not worthy. We all do that. Let’s not pretend otherwise. So, why don’t I use my experience to help you with your experience?” If anything, Monica is an inspiration for everyone to take the