California-bred, former lawyer, pie baker on a mission with a flair for writing, Monica Voicu Denniston takes the spotlight and talks to us about her Romanian heritage and the new hobbies sparking joy in her life.
What brought you to Madrid a year and a half ago?
My husband is a US Air Force pilot on a NATO staff assignment at Torrejón Air Base.
How would you define that connection that bonds trailing spouses of military or civilian expat spouses?
I feel an almost-immediate connection with them as they truly empathize with the experience of having to transport your life from A to B. With military spouses, there´s the added kinship of having experienced deployments and separation that civilians can´t understand. Both types of spouses are worthy of huge respect and admiration.
You emigrated to California from Romania when you were 8, how has that experience shaped your life?
It has deeply affected multiple aspects of my life. It has made me more resilient and comfortable tackling new situations; even more open-minded and inclusive of others. I have found learning foreign languages easier, having already had to master English at a young age. Conversely, it’s made me feel like a little bit of an outsider and long for a lasting community.
Has anything surprised you about Spain and its people? Do you think they have some similarities with Romanian people?
I have been pleasantly surprised about how at home I am in Spain. I truly feel I could live here forever. There is a warmth to the Spanish people that reminds me of Romanian people. I love the focus on family, slowing down, and enjoying life.
How did Marie Kondo, the world-famous queen of decluttering, inspire you to quit as a litigation lawyer?
During a trip to Australia I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” in which Kondo advises letting go of anything that doesn’t spark joy. At that moment, it hit me that my job as a litigation associate for a big law firm had never truly excited me and that all I really wanted to do was stay home with my toddler daughter. I quit my job the day after we got back from vacation.
You’re really enjoying the INC E-news Editor role, tell us about your interest in writing.
I’ve always been passionate about writing, though I’ve only recently started to realize that about myself! From writing my own “newspapers” and books as a child, to blogging all about my wedding and life in Spain, to legal writing during my law career. I have even written a children’s picture book manuscript and am trying to get that published.
You also have several artistic and culinary hobbies that are key in your life.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve found it important for my mental health to continue to have creative outlets and hobbies. To that end, I have taken various art classes, including ceramics, oil painting, and children’s book illustration. I also love cooking and have recently made it a goal to bake every pie in a pie cookbook I picked up in Copenhagen over the summer.
If you could wave a magic wand where would you go next?
That’s a tough question, because I love it here so much that it’s hard to think of somewhere else I’d rather be. It would be fun to live somewhere tropical, like Hawaii, for a few years. I also would love to end up in Northern California again…I will always be a California girl at heart.