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Monique Stefens

Professional Experiences

  • Master’s Degree in Adult & Higher Education
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
  • Nonviolent Communication Training
  • Trauma-Informed Coaches Training
  • Conscious Leadership Group Coaches Training
  • Excellence Northwest Facilitator Training
  • Human Centered Design Certificate – Luma Institute
  • Workforce Development Training
  • Communities of Practice Training – Wenger-Trayner
  • Design Clinic Facilitator – Community Engagement Fellows
  • NEAR (Neuroscience, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experience, & Resilience) Training
  • Adaptive Leadership Certificate – Acumen Academy
  • Disability & Equity Training

Monique’s Story

Both of my parents struggled with mental health across my lifetime, resulting in adverse childhood experiences that led me to deep introspection at an early age. Healthy self-focus was not modeled by my father’s clinical narcissistic personality disorder. Nor was it modeled by my mother whose borderline personality disorder was not diagnosed until well into my adulthood. My brother, sister, and I were lifelines for each other; yet we emerged into adulthood with more questions than answers. I fell in love and married at age 20 to a man who loved me dearly and helped me see my value as a person. Yet he struggled with his gender identity and we both found ourselves floundering. We moved to the Pacific Northwest of the United States and had two children, Zoelle and Tarin. As they entered elementary school my husband became increasingly restless; eventually he chose to explore his womanhood and I became a single mother. Through our marriage’s decline I threw myself into maintaining order around me; a clean house became my go-to sidetracking technique to calm the chaos in my heart and mind. As a divorcee I realized I had lost track of who I was and what I wanted; I had been so focused on the people around me I had lost sight of myself. I had sidetracked myself through tending to others. The needs of my two young children felt of paramount importance; it took me a few years to realize nurturing myself was not in competition with that.

As I looked around at my life and the people I loved I realized I wanted to spend intentional time investigating identity and mental health. I started getting glimpses of what healthy self-love was. I started noticing how much joy and energy I felt when with my children and wondered how I could create that way of being with others. I went back to school and earned two degrees with incredible support from my kids, though they were sometimes frustrated by me having so much homework. Little did we know my homework was as much internal as the assignments I turned in for grades. I still get goosebumps thinking about when I walked in commencement for my first degree; I swear I could hear my kids’ clapping and cheers above all the others in the room.

After graduating, I found myself doing advocacy work, drawn to those whose identities aren’t affirmed by mainstream culture and those who navigated poverty, incarceration, and abuse. I started to see my own identities, roles, and life events more clearly. This lead to me taking courses in personal and professional development with a desire to heal myself to more effectively guide others. Across this chapter of my life I found my opinion of how others should be treated was a projection of how I wanted to be treated. It took me a couple of years of other-focused work to learn the same lesson I had started earlier; advocate for myself first, it supports healthy, effective advocacy of others.

During this journey I met my life partner, George, and his son, Jordie. Our family grew; I was learning about new roles and gaining skills to nurture others while nurturing myself. I found myself in joy when facilitating workshops, having deep philosophical conversations with loved ones, and committing to my desires, needs, and wellness. I started to realize that I could tackle serious topics playfully to expand my and other’s curiosity and collaboration. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging became a theme of my work as a relationship and communication coach. I continue to do advocacy work for individuals and non-profit organizations in my career. I see so clearly now how each of our journeys is woven through the journeys of others. I continue to dedicate my life and learning to my wellbeing, family, friends, and community. I am passionately pursuing my vision of everyone expanding our love by being increasingly kind and compassionate to ourselves and each other.

And I love doing all things playfully.

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