RnR Interview: Solika Ry

This is Solika Ry. We met when we were in elementary (primary) school, Cedarcrest, I believe. Over the years we lost touch (I moved to the West Island), but that’s not to say that I haven’t been following her life online. She is always so honest and so encouraging with her posts, speaking openly about her health and well-being and offering positives she finds within her life. I just knew I needed to feature her on the blog, because we can take a lot from her experience and from her advice. Read along and see what we mean!

Light Conversation

Q: What is the tone/sound of your alarm clock?
A: “Bright morning” on Android, a delicate mix of dulled chimes.

Q: Morning person or night owl?
A: Morning person!

Q: What’s your fave quote?
A: “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” – Michael Jordan

Q: Sandals or Sneakers?
A: Sneakers

Q: What’s the last picture you took?
A: A really large, sawed-out pine tree branch that fell into my dad’s yard from the strong winds that will now be used as firewood.

Q: What book would you recommend?
A: Grit by Angela Duckworth

Q: Countryside or beach?
A: Beach

Q: One fun fact about you.
A: I had a full conversation with Angelina Jolie before.

Q: Electronic or paper calendar?
A: Electronic

Q: Most used emoji?
A: 😂

Q: Fave flower.
A: Rose

Q: Savoury or sweet?
A: Savoury (I do have a sweet tooth though!)

Q: Favourite Animal?
A: Whale shark

Q: Fave music artists.
A: Lauryn Hill, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, The Weeknd, Missy Elliott, Michael Jackson.

Q: Fave season.
A: Summer

Q: What was your favourite book as a child?
A: The Velveteen Rabbit

Q: How would you describe your fashion style?
A: A large collection of dresses. I don’t have many pants, except for hikes or errands.

Q: What do you do to relax?
A: Have a warm cup of tea, read, light candles in my room, clean my home, watch videos of marine creatures doing marine creature things underwater.

Q: What’s your most favourite place, you’ve travelled?
A: I’ll never forget Italy. I went to Rome and Florence. What made it so unique is it was the first real time I’ve ever travelled alone, so I ran on my own schedule: I took cooking classes, visited museums, explored the in-depth tours of the Colosseum, took my sweet time in the Vatican Map rooms, rode on the back of a Vespa, and shopped in the markets.

Q: Which element best represents you?
A: Water

Deep Conversation

Q: How would you spend an ideal day?
A: With my boyfriend on a diving expedition, where we get to hang out with humpback whales, sharks, and sea turtles. Then ending it with a delicious dinner and glass of wine by the sunset.

Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: My health. We really take it for granted, and our entire lives could change based on our health. We need to take care of ourselves.

Q: Current role model?
A: Michelle Obama for her intelligence, Angelina Jolie for her compassion, Beyonce for her hard work and confidence.

Q: What causes you anxiety?
A: When other people have anxiety around me. Being unprepared also comes with lots of anxiety.

Q: If I could grant you one wish, what would it be?
A: The ability to teleport.

Q: What 3 things bring you joy?
A: Time back from a day, 2. When I see results accomplished, 3. Available parking spots in crowded areas

Q: When was the last time you meditated/prayed?
A: I meditate twice a week. I would do this daily but with time constraints, I’ve reduced it to as long as I take time to reflect and empty my mind before bed.

Q: Would you say your religion is central in your life?
A: It’s unfortunately not heavily present except on key occasions (usually involving new years or ancestry recognition), but I do have a moral code I abide by that is central to me.

Q: Can you recall a pivotal moment when your faith/belief helped you deal with something in your life?
A: In Buddhism, we learn that life is filled with suffering. From birth to death, we suffer. Understanding that we suffer, the practice attempts to bring us to a place where we eventually liberate from this suffering by reaching nirvana. The principle allows me to put in perspective that no matter what stress I’m going through in life, I’ll need to accept it, work with it, and realize that there’s an end to all events in our lives. It’s a cycle. I recalled a time in my young life that I’ve taken some wrong turns, I saw my mother’s pain, then I saw my own in the process. It was something that snapped in my mind, where I said “I can only be the one to get myself out of this”, and so I changed my attitude and worked on ways to undo the suffering. It’s been a lifetime project ever since!

Q: Describe yourself in one word.
A: Headstrong

Q: If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?
A: Tupac Shakur

Q: What is one thing you would like to overcome/conquer?
A: My fear of getting into a car accident again. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt at all, but the residual psychological impact is there. Today, I am able to take highways but I tend to err a lot on the safe side when I’m behind the wheel. I’m working on rebuilding and conquering this fear daily, but there’s a lot of work ahead.

Q: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A: I see a woman who has seen a lot in her life, and a woman who will always learn.

Q: What advice would you give anyone who is struggling with embracing their uniqueness?
A: Everyone has a special power, take what sets you apart from everyone else and own it.

Q: What relationship advice would you give?
A: Be intentional with your dating. If you don’t like games, make it so. If you are looking for your soulmate, own that. If you’re in a grey area, it’s likely a “no”. Pack it up and move on to the next best thing waiting for you. There’s nothing more disappointing than losing potential with someone who isn’t in the same “heartspace” as you.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, it’s okay to ask questions when it doesn’t make sense, it’s okay to say “no”.

Q: Do you ever struggle with being “too” open on social media?
A: Sometimes yes. It must be similar to anyone in creative who needs to make the call on if they express a raw emotion on a platform, we need to ask if it can have the ability to hurt or bring unwelcomed energy? There’s lines I try not to cross but still remain human about my thought process.

Q: What is something you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?
A: I ended last year with a breakup through a text, a car accident, and I lost my job from a massive layoff. Today, I’m having a pretty good year: I love myself, I have an amazing boyfriend who calms me, I’m back on the road, and I run my own project management company with a fortune 500 client. Don’t ever let your past define you. Your ability to recover and be a better version of yourself starts now.

Q: What steps do you take in order to maintain your mental well-being?
A: Very good question. I prioritize my well-being as part of any scheduled appointment. I check in with myself on a daily basis on how I’m really doing. There’s so much that can happen in a day, and it’s so important to start spotting if any symptoms are creeping up. I ask myself if I am about to take something on that I cannot support wholeheartedly. I ask how realistically I can invest my time and emotions on something, and I am more firm with saying “no” in order to protect my time. I really value my rest days — whether that’s in the evening, on weekends, or time to pack up and escape for a bit, it’s important to recognize that the brain needs rest, and cannot sustain “flight-or-flight” mode as the norm.

Q: Has it always been “easy” for you to be open about your health, mental including? What made the shift?
A:  It has not been easy. I was very cryptic at first because I used to think that showing what happened to my mental health would put me at a disadvantage, that I would never be hired again, or people wouldn’t understand me because I went through this. After hearing and seeing my own friends and colleagues experience their share of burnouts, I realized that this is big. We as a society are now exposed to an over saturation of information, social requests, pressure to perform at work and at home. There’s a lot going on. In this kind of daily exposure, we need to recognize that resting is so important. Look at our professional athletes, they have practice days and they certainly have rest days — in fact, resting and recovery is such an important part of their training plan. Why is anyone else any different? Today, I’m here to share that it’s possible to be driven in our success, but also possible to value our mental health as part of this process.

Q: What was something that was difficult for you at the beginning of the year, but is no longer difficult?
A: There’s likely a point in our lives when we’ve had the whole world on our shoulders, and continued in silence until it was too late. This happened to me a few years back. I was promoted to my first project management role, and the pressure was really high. Everyday was a miracle-making day, everything was an emergency, and no one was satisfied despite that we’re delivering above and beyond our standard. Then my body caught up with me. My body and mind wanted out of this ride, and they both stopped communicating with each other. I woke up one day, and it was painful to even get out of bed and get ready. This is what a burnout and depression looks like. It took myself and a strong team of professionals 3 years to come back from this. Today, I put so much importance in my rest and recovery no matter what goals there are to reach. I always check in with myself before taking on another big project, and I really listen to my body. Do not feel guilty about resting, we all need it for the long game.

Q: What 3 most important things have you learned this year?
A: Listen to their words but watch what they do, 2. If it looks impossible, find another way, 3. All issues can be solved under water (this was from my first diving experience, I kept shooting up to the surface when I panicked, which puts me at other risks. When the instructor gave me that advice, it clicked to me that I needed to unlock my brain in my environment to resolve my problems).

Q: What’s your most important goal for this year?
A: Accelerating my career by taking jobs that are really out of my comfort zone. It turns out that while we seek stability in our jobs, it’s also important to leap and learn quickly while we’re still “young” in our career development. This is how we set ourselves up for the next decade of change.

Q: How do you plan on achieving them?
A: By keep showing up the next day, especially if I had a day of failure the day before.

Q: Of the books, you read this year, which was your favourite and why?
A: Grit by Angela Duckworth, this book shows how talent isn’t the answer to success as much as deliberate practice is. What this means is, if we put in the discipline to water our patch, and tie a purpose to our mission, it will already separate our efforts from the pack.

Q: What do you love most about yourself?
A: My ability to control my pride and admit that I’m wrong, that I’m always learning, and I’m here to listen.

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