I have always been a big believer in the metaphysical. When most of my friends wanted to go to Disney World, I begged my parents to take me to haunted bed-and-breakfasts. When my dog started mysteriously barking at nothing at 11:16 every night, I immediately chalked it up to the supernatural (and not the reasonable solution that she just wanted food). So when the opportunity to receive a reading from a celebrity medium from the Freeform show "Monica the Medium" came, I jumped at the chance.
Upon meeting Monica Ten-Kate, she seemed like any other 20-something girl -- she’s outgoing, gushes about her boyfriend and is addicted to Snapchat. However, as we strolled through the HuffPost office discussing our favorite Starbucks drinks, she casually remarked that she’d already been receiving messages from the other side since she walked in the door.
I imagine it is her ability to casually switch between everyday topics of conversation and life-altering messages from the dead that has allowed her to maintain somewhat of a normal life. (“Monica the Medium” chronicles Monica and her friends hosting barbecues and going on dates in between her readings.) Her palpable energy surprisingly put me at ease, and I could see why she's had so much success as a medium. Though receiving messages from the dead is a bizarre experience at the very least, Monica’s amiable personality likely puts her clients at ease as well.
Monica admitted it was not initially easy to create this balance. “It was really hard to be balancing everything else you’re dealing with as a teenager and then talking to dead people. You’re at lunch like, ‘Who’s going to the football game tonight?’ and I’m like, ‘I saw a dead person last night!’ It’s just not normal,” she said.
It was not until she attended college at Pennsylvania State University that she began to really accept her gift.
“In college, it got a little bit easier because at least I realized, 'OK, I’m not crazy, this is all a good thing,'” she said. Monica began to give readings on campus and realized that she had been presented with an opportunity to help and heal others.
“I would be sitting and writing an essay and it would seem to be, like, out of 40,000 people, the person that would end up taking the chair right next to me -- their brother had just committed suicide or their mom had just passed away from breast cancer -- were the people who need it the most,” she said.
Though she made it clear that readings cannot be guaranteed, Monica offered a reading to me and HuffPost Entertainment’s social media editor, Melissa Radzimski. She remarked that, luckily, no spirits were instantly coming through very strongly, which meant that neither of us had lost someone in our immediate families.
Monica explained that she receives messages from spirits through her own sort of sign language, in which those who have passed communicate with her using symbols in her own life, such as her own family members or experiences. For example, she said that a spirit was first showing her her own uncle Miguel, and asked if either of us connected with that name.
When Melissa said that her deceased grandfather’s name was Miguel, I lost any slight traces of skepticism that were lingering. She went on to describe her grandparents and family dynamic almost perfectly, and passed along well wishes to her living relatives.
Monica continued to surprise us throughout the reading, connecting with various people we had both lost and mentioning names and references that were so specific, it gave all three of us the chills. She said that it’s common for spirits to share messages to relay to people they were close with when they were living, even if those messages don’t pertain to the person she's giving the reading to.
For example, Monica said she had a message to deliver from a grandmother for someone named "Lisa," my mother, I was slightly confused as to why my great-grandmother, who died before I was born, was coming through instead of some of my mother’s other relatives who I had known before they passed. (I was also amazed that Monica knew my mother’s name, but she had already stunned us so many times with her name accuracy.) When I later gave my mother the message that her grandmother had communicated to me, she tearily told me that while cleaning out her bedroom earlier that morning, she had found some of her grandmother’s letters and belongings. Monica said this is common and not a coincidence -- spirits will often give loved ones signs when they know they might have the opportunity to deliver a message.
As I walked Monica out after the reading, I remarked how I was emotionally exhausted and could not imagine how she does this every day. She laughed and told me how she still had multiple interviews and readings to complete that afternoon.
“It takes a lot of Starbucks,” she said, “but the pleasure I get from helping people heal is worth it.”
Watch "Monica the Medium" on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform.mon