We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonja Monsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sonja, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Between trying to manage my blog, my social media content, my social life all on top of managing Postino WIne Cafe in Gilbert; a lot of things fall to the wayside. It’s hard to put yourself first when you’re too busy to even get enough sleep, but the longer I continue to grow in my career and with my brand the more I have realized how important it is to find a balance. When the pandemic hit and restaurants were shut down, I thought this would be my opportunity to focus mainly on my blog and my Instagram content. Instead, I ended up still working full time at the restaurant doing curbside business. I was excited to have income during such a difficult time but I was hopeful for some much needed time off from management to really give my dreams of running a creative and interactive blog my full attention. Once the restaurant industry reopened I was working even more than before and then I was promoted from hourly manger to a salary position. The new found responsibilities and commitment pulled me in so many amazing directions but after a while I started to get burnt out. I needed my creative outlet and I needed time for myself. That’s when I started to understand why a work life balance were so important. Even if I were lucky enough to make my blog and social media presence my full time job, I still think I would be the type of person to put work before anything else. Although I am proud of my work ethic, I truly believe giving yourself a balance of working and having fun helps with the creative process. It’s good to give yourself time to recharge and relax. Whenever I take a day to unwind I always tend to open up a whole new world of creative ideas. Without the weight of my busy schedule and never ending to-do list, I find it easier to think of new topics to write about and content I want to make. When I first started my blog, I was working full time, taking 18 credit hours and even trying to fit in internships in between. Having that constant flow of energy was great at first. I was always going, going, going which seemed to be helpful with my creative energy. I still had time to travel and experience new things making it easy to write new blog posts. Now that I have a more demanding job title and the world has shut down it’s been harder to be creative. That being said, I think it is so important to take the time to make a new routine. Life is full of changes and challenges and that means schedules will be different, too. If you’re starting a business or a new project you may run into instances where time may not be on your side. When you’re just starting off you have to give your work a lot of TLC but once it’s up and running there are other parts that will take time away in different ares. Take a moment to sit down and really analyze your time and how to balance it. Look at it like a financial budget. Your time is valuable! Make sure you’re using it wisely, make the time for fun and always take the time to do things you love. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The restaurant industry was not something I ever intended on staying in. It was a stepping stone in what I thought was my path to a world of marketing. It was the best job to have in order to make a lot of money, with no education and flexible hours so I could finish my degree. I never intended to fall in love with the restaurant world. Growing up with a mom who owned a wine bar, everyone always assumed I’d follow in her footsteps but I assured them I had my own passions. I didn’t realize how much wine would later play a role in my life and my career. Once I started serving and learning more about culinary and beverage the more I started to respect it. I loved learning about wine and beer but then I discovered my love for teaching others about it as well. I worked hard and dedicated most of my time to my job at Postino. I took the time to study wine and understand the ways of the kitchen until finally I decided to dive in fully. I was offered an hourly management position and felt like I had found my calling. Not long after I was promoted to salary and I have been so thrilled with all I have experienced. It’s been the most rewarding job and it has opened so many doors for me. I now have a whole new appreciation for the industry which is why it’s something I want to incorporate into my blog. Although my career is insanely demanding, it’s given me the desire to make something of my own. I want to use my time with Upward Projects and Postino to really grow as a business woman and a creator. I have learned the importance of teamwork, communication and, most importantly, humility.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Arizona is booming with some of the best restaurants you can find! Whenever people come to visit I always want to take them to unique spots only Arizona can have. Pizzeria Bianco is always on the must go list. Who doesn’t love delicious pizza? Maybe I am biased but one of the best happy hours and patios near me is the Postino in Gilbert, so that’s always a great spot to hit up as well. If I want some incredible cuisine I will splurge and head to Nobuo at Teeter House or Cotton and Copper. When I need a delicious cocktail I’ll head over to Hidden House in Downtown Chandler (it doesn’t hurt that the patio is adorable) or Clever Koi, which is another spot to get some amazing food! Last but not least, Worth Takeaway. I’ve never had a better sandwich and it’s important for everyone to try it themselves, I think it’s important to work off the food and alcohol so it’s required to find a nice hiking trail with an amazing view. Pinaccle Peak is always my favorite to recommend. I also love to take people to the botanical gardens! Most of the people visiting me are from the Midwest, so I like to show them all the beauty desert life has to offer.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My passions in life and my work ethic all stem from my parents. There are so many mentors and iconic figures I look up to in my life that have influenced me and my work but I wouldn’t be where I am at without my biggest support system. My mom and dad both have work ethics that are unmatched. They grind morning to night, every day of the week without complaining and always found time for their passions. My mom even turned her passion for wine into a business! My dad also has shown me how to be a great leader and business owner all while still showing me the importance of keeping your artistic passions. He would take me to his offices and show me his company during the week and then jam out on his drum set on the weekends, Then there’s my mother who was a single mom and a wine bar owner while still being able to have a social life. These two will always be my greatest influences and heroes.

Website: https://sonnyraemonsen.wixsite.com/sunshingblog
Instagram: @Sonnyrae_

Image Credits
Kali Duvauchelle

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.