Aleya: Hi, my name is Aleya Littleton at Wild and Wonderful Life, and I'm here with Monica King. Thank you for joining us today. Monica.
Aleya: I'm so excited to have you here. I'm just going to ask you a few questions to help future clients get to know, you know, a little bit about your style and approach and maybe ask some fun questions as well. Are you ready?
Monica: Perfect. Yes. Let's do it.
Aleya: Awesome. Well, why don't you introduce yourself to everyone?
Monica: My name is Monica King. I'm originally from New Mexico, from Santa Fe, and now out of Boulder, Colorado, and Golden, Colorado.
Aleya: That's awesome. Welcome. What made you want to be a therapist?
Monica: Great question. There was always a part of me that felt I was kind of a healer since I was a child. But then my own life story unfolded and I became a therapist in my late 30s, early 40s, and I practiced as a clinical nutritionist for a very long time. And so I brought it all together to work in the United States and incorporate my skills from abroad and offer it in a way that made sense in the Western world.
Aleya: Can you say a little bit more about your nutrition experience?
Monica: Yeah. So I studied herbal science at Bastyr University, which is a naturopathic medicine school. I was intending to become a doctor, but I met my husband and had a baby. So I got sidetracked and I wanted to keep my hands in the Earth and stay like digging herbs out of the ground. So I worked with clients for about 20 years, working with nutrition and sleep and teaching people how to let their bodies talk to them and feel good and also with kind of rights of passage and ceremonial work outdoors.
Aleya: That's really interesting. Can you say a little bit about your connection to the outdoors and ceremony work?
Monica: That's a very long answer, but to condense it, I was exposed from a very early age to ceremony and rites of passage with growing up amongst 23 Native American tribes around me and identifying as Latina within that, I learned a lot about how to interact with the elements outside at different phases in life in order to -everything from grow crops to increase fertility and help with sleep and dreams and all kinds of stuff. So it's a long answer, but that's kind of like a short version.
Aleya: So this work is really a lifelong passion for you very much. And it's continued to evolve since you first started doing it.
Monica: Yes, exactly.
Aleya: Well, so my next question is, what is your definition of health?
Monica: My definition of health would be embodiment a person who has had ups and downs in life and recognizing that health is really not a constant. It is something that comes and goes. There's an ebb and a flow and a real sign of health is going in and out of illness with ease.
Aleya: Whether it's in your physical body or your mind or your spirit in and out of illness with ease. So what does that mean?
Monica: Well, in therapy, what that means is talking about emotions and feelings and happenings in life without everything needing to be a crisis.
Monica: And learning how to do that...
Aleya: Yeah. What's your main approach to helping somebody get to that level of health?
Monica: Well, I take primarily a somatic approach, which means I help people understand the cues that are happening in their body, get to know their nervous system, get to know their circadian rhythms and patterns with sleep and emotional cycles, on a solar cycle, which is day to night, and then on a lunar cycle, which is on a monthly basis.
Aleya: So if you were to introduce yourself to a new client, what is something that they need to know about you and how you work with people?
Monica: The most important thing to know is that it's more about the client than about me in the room. I'm always aiming towards resilience. That's what I wrote my thesis about. And I really do believe that regardless of what we encounter in the past, in life, we are given tools through those experiences to learn how to navigate life from a stronger place. And so I teach people how to harness everything they've learned and all the experiences they've had and aim towards becoming who they really want to be and feel really alive.
Aleya: That's beautiful. I love that. Thank you. So a little bit more about you then. Are you a "hunter" or a "gatherer"?
Monica: That's tricky. I want to say both. I think I was more of a hunter when I was younger, and now maybe I'm becoming a gatherer.
Aleya: Some good self awareness. I appreciate that. So then, since you mentioned being more of a hunter when you were younger, what were you like in high school?
Monica: I was feisty. I was really into dark eyeliner and flirting and yeah, I think I was a little bit of a wild child. I really liked being out of doors. And I have one sibling, and I grew up in a very vivacious environment with a lot of noise, and so I guess I learned how to work with that.
Aleya: So right now then, outside of therapy or inside of therapy, either one is fine. What inspires you?
Monica: Great outfits time in nature to feel and reflect and notice oneself in the elements all year round and not much on social media.
Aleya: Say a little bit more about that?
Monica: I like to find inspiration in my direct environment, like in my city, in my town, in the people that I interact with day to day. And I think it's really important after COVID for in America, at least, to remember how to engage socially in the world around us, on the street and on the trails and in the city and in the restaurants, and just remember how to interact with humans because it's really fun.
Aleya: And that's something that we're very good at, especially post pandemic. Yeah.
Monica: Not everyone's an extrovert, but we can all learn how to socialize.
Aleya: We can. So here's kind of a non sequitur question for you.
Aleya: You are given an elephant. You cannot give it away. Sell it or anything. It's yours. What do you do with that elephant?
Monica: First, I would paint it, because that's what they do with animals like in India and Africa when they really celebrate them. And then I would try to raise money to take it back to its homeland, figuring out what continent it originally belonged to Because they're pack animals and it needs its family.
Aleya: Oh, my heart. It's lovely. Another little non sequitur for you, can you describe your perfect date?
Monica: Well, it's already happened because I have my man, but definitely a hike and maybe, like, some kombucha in the mountains with a great view. I don't know.
Aleya: It's just really low key time spent together.
Monica: Yeah. With a good view.
Aleya: Yeah. With a good view.
Monica: Yeah. Not in a building.
Aleya: No. We're so lucky to be in Colorado where both personally and in therapy we can make use of beautiful outdoor spaces like that. So finally, is there anything else that we need to know about you or that you'd like to say?
Monica: Yeah, I guess that I have a lot of experience in the world of Indigenous reality, coming from experiences studying with indigenous elders in Africa and Cuba and Mexico and Guatemala and those have all really informed my practice and how I show up as a person and how I experience other people in the room and how I help people navigate their own internal reality. So it's not purely Western and clinical, and from a book, it's informed by some really different perspectives on what healing is and a lot of spirit very existential.
Aleya: What's been a big realization or takeaway as you're applying those international and culturally diverse experiences to doing psychotherapy in the United States?
Monica: I would say it's showing up mostly in two places, one with rites of passage which occur all through life, not just like adolescence into adulthood, but also motherhood or death or finding relationship. There's so many ways to bring in rites of passage for different phases of life and how we approach self initiating into different locations in our identity. And then the second place is in psychedelics, because there is this Renaissance and there is a lot of wisdom in how those things were used in other continents that I bring through that I've experienced personally for a long time.
Aleya: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk here today, and I look forward to seeing everything that comes out of your work here at Wild and Wonderful Life. Thanks!