Hangin’ Tough with Monika Rued

By Monika Rued, Miss May 2017

When Arkansas Women Bloggers asked me to be Miss May 2017, I was super stoked. And when I saw the theme is “Hangin’ Tough,” I thought it must be fate because this has been on my mind for some time now.

I’m a rock climber and immediately thought I could write about climbing and pushing through fear. I’d reluctantly admit that I’ve wept softly both during and after climbs as the adrenaline coursed through my body; that the fear of falling is much less than the fear of failing for me. I was going to be self-deprecating and relatable. I planned to make rock solid (see what I did there?) analogies about life, conquering fear, and finding your “climbing” partners you trust to help “get through this thing called life.”


I was going to show you this picture of me climbing a crazy hard 75-foot route, “Pepsi Challenge,” at Mount Magazine State Park; a route that is both mentally and physically challenging. OK, I’m still sharing this picture. Just give it to me y’all.

But, then I kept hearing this little voice in my head that wasn’t what I should share with this opportunity. That maybe I should dive deeper and share something more personal and outside of my comfort zone. I don’t know about you all but I hate it when that happens! I had a plan; a good plan that would be easy breezy for me to write. But instead, after prayer and asking several times, “Are you sure God? Really sure?” I’m going down and a different path.

Let’s think about this a minute. Answer these questions: What does a woman who “hangs tough” look like? What does she sound like? And most important, what does she act like?  Do you see yourself? We all know steel magnolias in the South. Women who get things done. Women who make herding cats daily look easy. Women who have Tim Gunn moments frequently and “make it work.” Women who seem to rally at all the right times.

My mother is one of these women. Someone you want in your corner. Someone who makes everything better. Someone who invited family to live with us when they needed a safe place to fall. Someone who—before my stepfather passed away—I had only seen cry a handful of times. She was always able to hide it from us, so we wouldn’t be burdened, afraid, or feel unsafe. If anyone was able to “hang tough” it was my mother.

Photo used with permission from Wren Bird Arts

Me on the other hand? Not so much when it comes to sucking it up. My tears will not be defeated! And I’m an ugly crier; you can tell I’ve been crying long after the tears have dried up. I found those hankies on Etsy and need that full pack. (Link’s in photo if you do too.) I’m a ginger and what starts as a pink rash spreading up my neck to my face and ears, ends up as red splotches all over my face for a good 30 minutes. It’s embarrassing. I actually feel disappointed in myself for not being able to control my emotions, a lack of “emotional intelligence.”

Grace is a funny thing. We seem to wrap everyone else in it but ourselves. I’m not sure what hangin’ tough looks like in the real world anymore. Maybe it’s doing the best you can in the moment. Maybe it’s cutting yourself some slack and letting go of guilt and regret. Maybe it’s knowing that if you’re granted a second chance with tomorrow, you have a chance to be better. Maybe it’s just finishing putting on your mascara after you poke yourself in the eye with the wand! Maybe it’s all of these things.


  1. Love your post. For starters, I admire anyone who will scale rock that far up, but I can also relate to the message you settled on. I’ve found that women who can hang tough usually have a soft heart. And I think all the things you mentioned are elements of grace. For sure, cut yourself some slack.

    • Monika says:

      Thanks Dorothy. I love this: “women who can hang tough usually have a soft heart.” Grace is a tricky thing for sure. And I don’t know why we have such a difficult time allowing grace for ourselves. I’m glad you can relate to the message and appreciate the kind note.

  2. Bill Fitzgerald says:

    I know you, and you DO hang tough. I’m proud of you for climbing the routes you’ve chosen and for having grace in all its forms.

  3. Robyn Richardson says:

    So proud of you. Enjoyed reading this. I’ll hang tough with you anytime just not on a rock wall. Ha! Love ya!

Comments are closed.