Waking Up With: Melissa Sonico
Melissa Sonico is a Southern California-based mother of two, whose creative pursuits extend from writing and teaching to content creation to jewelry design. Here, we discuss her path to becoming a writer and professor, finding inspiration in unpredictability, and creating a family friendly home.
Hello! First off, tell us a little about yourself and what you’ve been up to lately.
I’m a fiction writer and college English professor. I also do some freelance writing and other things like jewelry design; my jewelry was recently sold and featured as part of Madewell’s Hometown Heroes Collective. I have two kids, a 6 year old son and 2 year old daughter, and we live with my husband in Southern California. He’s also in education.
What is your morning ritual?
I drink water first thing, and always a Yakult and some sort of tea every morning with breakfast. Some weekdays I don’t have time for breakfast since most mornings I have to get the kids ready to drop the older one off to school and then my daughter and I go for a walk somewhere or just sit out in the sun for a while. I’ll have a tea and watch her pick dandelions or draw on the walkway with chalk before starting work. On weekends, I can have a little more time for myself.
You are an english professor and a writer, how did you get started on this path? Was design always also part of your plan or did that come to be later?
I was always interested in books and reading. When I was very young, we’d drive up at family parties and a cousin or someone would inevitably ask whether I’d brought my book with me. I was an editor for the high school newspaper, and later got my B.A. in English and M.F.A. in Creative Writing which led to teaching gigs and writing jobs.
Design definitely came later, but that creative aspect was always present in all my previous work.
What about your work continues to inspire you?
I think the malleability of it keeps things interesting. That might sound a little unstable and maybe it is, but it also fuels creativity, right?
You have two adorable children, what is your favorite part of being a mother?
It’s hard to pin down, but it might be the same as my inspiration for work. It’s always surprising and always feels worth it even in the difficult moments, which are many.
How do you balance being a professor, a writer, a designer, and a mother? What do you do to stay grounded?
You know, I’m not entirely sure but I know it comes with some help from my husband who pulls his own weight and more. A great support system always helps… and also just not being hard on yourself. That’s a big one. Don’t live and die by expectations–give yourself (and others) some grace. Staying grounded? Being able to make myself take time to myself. I’m a people-pleaser so it’s hard for me to say no when I need to sometimes. Getting better at it, though.
Can you tell us a little bit about your home? What is your approach to decorating?
Right now, I’m going for lived-in but still minimal. I have more things than I should at the moment but have made a conscious effort to only have things that I love around that don’t necessarily need to be stashed away. If things are beautiful and functional and necessary, the clutter itself won’t seem like clutter, if that makes sense?
How did you balance creating a home that you’re excited about aesthetically while also making it kid friendly?
In the same vein, I think of it like this: it’s the kids’ home too, so why not let them have things in the common rooms? They have little corners of the living room that house some of their books and things, and the kitchen has designated cupboards where they can grab their own plates and snacks.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You’re never totally ready for anything, especially the important things, but don’t let that stop you from going for it.
Fill in the blanks:
The coolest place I’ve ever woken up in is: probably the Philippines when I was two (but I was too young to remember,
so I’ll say New York)
The best cup of coffee/tea is at: Civil Coffee in Highland Park. I love their green tea from August Uncommon. I actually hunted it down online after having it a few years ago and now I can make it at home since I don’t live as close to LA.
A thing about mornings I’ll never get sick of is: Snuggling with my babes in bed. They’re both piled in with me by 6 AM every morning without fail, until we have to get up for the day. I’m taking all I can get because I know it isn’t going to last forever.