Taking this new format for a test post now.

I want to christen it with some words that really moved me this week.

I follow this woman on Facebook who goes by Dreamwork with Toko-Pa.  She truly has amazing insights and food for thought.

Her website is also here Toko-Pa.

This week she shared this which struck a chord so deeply in me I’ve been thinking about it and revisiting it ever since.

I hope you get something out of it too.


There is a good kind of waiting
which trusts the agents of fermentation.
There is a waiting
which knows that in pulling away
one can more wholly return.
There is the waiting
which prepares oneself,
which anoints and adorns
and makes oneself plump
with readiness for love’s return.
There is a good kind of waiting
which doesn’t put oneself on hold
but rather adds layers to the grandness
of one’s being worthy.
This sweet waiting
for one’s fruits to ripen
doesn’t stumble over itself
to be the first to give
but waits for the giving
to issue at its own graceful pace.

2014 © Toko-pa Turner (www.toko-pa.com) | Illustration by T. Dylan Moore

Please find a way to connect with this healer.  I’m grateful she’s sharing her insights so generously.




New Year!  New Look!

Tell me what you think.

I’m a kind of techno-idiot so the fact I do any of this at all is a bonafide miracle.

I’m kinda diggin it!


soup humility



First off, I’d like to thank all you readers out there for tuning in and jumping in to the grooves of my brain.  It helps knowing other people out there are connecting and sometimes sharing and might find some meaning themselves out of these flows that fly through my fingers sometimes.  Usually right upon waking, sometimes after a shower (what is it about the shower anyway?  I know you know what I mean.  I think the water stimulates the brain cells, I do!).  Anyway, just thanks.  Means a lot.

I woke up this morning with this phrase on my mind:  “Humiliation is a good thing when it breeds humility”.

Then that got me thinking about exactly what is humility?  A feeling?  A state of mind?  A general posture toward life?  A spiritual event?  All of the above?

What I landed on, for myself in this moment, is that humility at least brings a softening.

Then I came downstairs and got in to soup ladeling and I promise you, these things go together.  Just bear with me.


My friend Amy invited me to a Soup Swap last Monday.  Since I was basically flattened by a steam roller much of the weekend I didn’t get my act together to make my soup before Monday and made it to the store at 1pm and got ‘er done (I really despise that phrase and I just wrote it, why?  WHY?  I guess I’m leaving it).  I made this, I must say, mighty delicious lemon chicken quinoa veggie soup–all organic.


I jarred it in quart glass mason jars and put my labels on and off I went.  My brother was having a rough day–rough in a different way, in a more normal way for lack of a better word, so Amy graciously said I could bring him along and I’m glad I did.  He started a new program Monday (Wellness City) and was having some normal anxiety from all the newness–new people, new drive, new facilitators.  All in all I think he handled it really well and has gone back every day since.  Yay Alfonse!  New chapters don’t always come easy.  Ask a newly hatched chick.



The soup swap was super fun!  But there was a little twist there too–we prepared to swap 5 quarts of soup but two people had to cancel at the last minute so we all had extra.  There were four of us who made it (plus Alfonse) and I had just the best time!  I met one of Amy’s friends, Michelle, who I felt in about 3 minutes like “um, ok, why have our paths not crossed before?  Really!”.  We have so much in common–films, writing, Ira Glass, foodie stuff, more I can’t remember right now.  I thought “this girl is my people!”.  Amy knew that too.


Also Yolanda was there who I’ve known for awhile and have been getting to know better bumping in to each other quite a bit out and about.  I LOVE Yolanda.  She makes these concrete blocks and some of you may be seeing all over town, at least in every cool restaurant in town.  You can check out her Facebook page here. I have one in my home that says “simplify” and one in my treatment room that says “feel”.  Besides her business Yolanda is funny, quirky and cute and I just love her.  She makes me feel good every single time I see her.  If you want to meet her yourself, she’s always at the Gilbert Farmer’s Market where I met her in person the first time.  I hugged her within about 3 minutes of meeting her.  It’s that kind of sweet connection.

Of course Amy, she’s like my mother/friend/therapist/sister wrapped in to one.  Also she’s my version of Lena Dunham which I kept telling her constantly that night as I’d just watched Girls the night before.

We all just had a great time talking about fun and deep topics, laughing, eating Amy’s Matso ball soup and Pane Bianco bread (yum), drinking wine and beer and telling about our soups we brought to share.  I felt so good being there!  It was a perfect evening.  And I got some damn good soups!


Alfonse even serenaded us  with two songs:  Happy Birthday and Crazy by Patsy Cline. This was only because I was bragging about his amazing singing voice and the girls literally gasped hearing it.  I need to revisit getting him an audition in the Men’s Chorus.


how could I forget the homemade kumquat bark?

I brought him home with me after as my Dad was at a play and we watched, well a stupid reality show that I’m embarassed to admit I watch The Bachelor.

My dear brother laid on my couch, still feeling the affects of anxiety reeling in his body/mind and said “I’m lucky to have such a good sister” (melt).  I walked over and sat next to him, hugged him and told him I’m lucky to have such an angel for a brother.  His innocence and purity just influences me in a way like no other.  He softens my heart in to butter.


Which brings me right back to that:  softening.

I spoke with my good friend who kind of went through the wreck of a weekend events right along side me and because of that, we were in touch quite a bit.  We checked in last night about how we were both feeling.  We shared that ironically or unexpectedly or as I’m sure she’d say through God’s grace, we were feeling amazing.  Much better than before this series of events even happened!  Like something came through like a wrecking ball to knock down some walls in our hearts that we didn’t even know were there.


We were laughing that way you would (and I have) when you’ve  been through something super scary (in my case an example would be my car spinning around and landing in a ditch in rural Mexico with a flat tire with my 80 something yr old GRANDMA with me who landed in my LAP not wearing her seatbelt–true story) then you look at each other once you’ve realized that you survived without any broken bones or anything and you do the only natural thing you can do:  burst out laughing.

Yes it was like that last night.  We were both kind of assessing the damage then laughing about silly things like “ok what was THAT?” and knowing it had all washed away.  Yet also knowing that something really important had occurred.  Like some kind of deep healing and feeling the relief and gratitude that comes with it.


Which brings me back to soup ladeling this morning.

As I shared, I ended up with an insane amount of soup left over.  I didn’t gauge how much I needed in the first place so probably made a double batch anyway then I had the soups I brought home from the swap and this:


I put a shout on Facebook “who wants soup?”.  And I got quite a few takers!

So my soup-that-keeps-on-giving has become a bit of a metaphor for life right now.  Sometimes seeming mistakes really end up being gifts wrapped up in a Mason jar.


I’m having fun making soup deliveries now this week.  My friend Marisa is picking hers up this morning along with the WINE I’ve been holding here for, ahem, a couple years now, that I hand carried back from MAINE when she was house sitting for me and I’ve never gotten to her.


I get to bring a quart to my hair dresser today.  Amy’s daughter loved my soup so she gets more.  Delivered some to Mya yesterday and will to Mari today.  I’ll share some with my family.

And speaking of that, something opened there too.  A softening occurred in my entire family this weekend as well.  A deep opening of doors that have been long locked from old traumas and love flowed in.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  Love is flowing through our circle in a way I’ve not felt in a very very long time.


They came over last night and brought me a bottle of wine, we took my new air fryer for a test spin, ate pasta and listened to jazz and talked and shared and enjoyed a family dinner.  Do you know how long I’ve been on my own and now my family is 5 minutes away and we can share meals together during the week as a matter of course?

Miracles all around.  Softening all within.

And for that, I say thank you to humiliation.  

You took me straight to the Grand Scheme, didn’t you?

You are my best friend right about now.







strength 007

Hunker down folks, this is gonna be a good one cuz I’ve got something to say. Something that had a momentum strong enough to drive me out of my cozy flannel sheets where I was sleeping so solidly, so comfortably, so peacefully because I just had to get my fingers to the keys. I guess I’d say the subject of this post is how to get strong.


I’m not gonna lie, I went through some serious angst, over several things colliding in the last few days.  Some deep, some more superficial but flavored the deep wound with their particular brand of seasoning (salt) and some just decided it was their time to rise.  I thank all of it for driving me in to that fire to cleanse.

I remember the first time I heard that Scorpios tend to transform by crashing and burning then rising from the fire transformed, like the Phoenix, I felt in some satisfying deep way;  understood.  Yep, I get that completely.


Of course you can resist that fire through a number of means but I stopped being able to resist long ago and funny how life has a way of running a forest fire through your house on a weekend where you had no real structured plans, by choice, in order to have the time and space to burn. I’ll continue the starting out of this post now by sharing the center piece of it:  my completed treasure map.  Yay!


I swiftly drove after work Friday to Office Max to get this new friend laminated which to me is a sealing of the deal.  The commitment is made, everything is exactly where I want it, now time to let go and let the magic begin.  I’ve not hung it yet as I’ve spent most of my time this weekend in my living room but today, it goes on the wall.  Under a skylight with it’s own illumination and connection to unlimited space.

Maybe I’ll grab another shot once the sun is up fully to show it in it’s Home (with better lighting 😉 ). I love it and can’t wait to watch the miracles unfold.

Speaking of magic, I made an unexpected friend through the Travis Alexander trial last year.  I can’t go in to the entire story here but the Reader’s Digest version is, she was the first to send me a large box of gifts to pass to the Alexander family during that trial.  She sought me out on the crime forum I was posting on and asked for my address and sent me this large package.  I’ll never forget opening it with it’s beautifully tissue wrapped items inside each with a note attached.  Who they were intended for and one for me too.  It was like opening a treasure box.


The magic of this box became, literally, the gift that kept on giving because the day after I received it was a weekend day and the first time I’d ever seen any of the Alexander family outside of court.  I’d been invited to a day where, among other things, one of his sisters wanted to go see Travis’ house.

So a group of us went to support her.  I brought the treasure box along with me to pass to her.  I considered it perfect timing as I didn’t know how I was gonna schlep that big box up to the courtroom. One of the main things it contained was a collection of Vera Bradley cosmetic bags for all of the sisters and Travis’ aunt.

I thought that was a very thoughtful gift as they were living their lives on the road.  It’s nice to have something new and special like that, as well as useful. I had heard from this woman, who chose and chooses to remain anonymous in this gift, that she was essentially housebound from illness.  Yet she had managed to get out of her house, get to a store, walk all the way to the back of the store, find these bags and be so drawn to them that she bought every single one out of that store. I still use the one she gave me to this day for my makeup when I travel.


If you look closely on this print, you see an elephant marching across it. As Travis’ sister opened this large treasure box that day, she gasped.  Literally gasped out loud when she saw these bags.  She immediately reached down to her waist and clipped off a tiny stuffed elephant danging from a beltloop.

She looked at her husband, also wide eyed and nodding and then began to tell us three different, unbelievable stories of how Travis had been visiting her since his death, through the images of elephants.  I remember her stories but will hold them in my heart.  Just trust me, pure magic.


This was the inception of my relationship with who I later simply referred to as BB (Beautiful Benefactor).  She was posting among all of us on that crime forum and no one ever knew who she was–the person who started this avalanche of miracles that people felt around the globe who read about it as I posted the unfolding of this story that evening.

MANY people were then inspired to send things to the Alexanders, also some anonymously.  I rarely walked in that courtroom over those long months without something in my hand for them (and sometimes for Juan Martinez too, including custom M and M’s with his words on them).

It was a magical time for me being used by God in that way–the delivery person of all this outpouring of love. BB and I started a beautiful friendship that way and just this past weekend, during my own Dark Night of the Soul, she became my own benefactor.

She delivered me a compass.  One which guide me this entire year (and beyond).  And she delivered it through one simple question.


Without going in to details, I ended up feeling left out of something important.  Well I felt left out because I was left out.  Plain and simple that’s just what happened. I’ve written about this before though so this seems to be a bit of a learning curve for me.

Sometimes, just because a door closes, you want it back open but really you are not longing for what’s on the other side of it as much as just wanting it opened again.  I wrote a whole post on this idea–guess I’m still contemplating it.  😉

Woman Walking Through Door into Meadow

Let me tell  you though something first about my BB.  I call her  my own personal “hotline” ( aka a lifeline).   She is literally, most days, at my beck and call.  To quote Pretty Woman, she’s my Beck and Call Girl.  😉  The reason for this is that she is “stuck” at home with her illness.

She has shared with me that she herself lost much of her social circle due to being sick basically causing her to “drop out” (I won’t go in to details but this woman lives near the most important city in our country and swung in some serious circles all the way, literally, to the White House).  Her ability for activities changed dramatically so friends coming by to hang out, after a period of years, just has diminished.  She shares this with a wistfulness but also an understanding that this kind of thing just happens sometimes.


Then comes along me.  I drive to Sedona often.  We developed this ritual where I call her most times on that drive and she keeps me company.  I talk to her, most of the time, nearly that entire drive–both ways.  She has become my sounding board, my confidante, my friend and my therapist at times.

We’ve gotten to know each other very very well although we’ve yet to meet in person. What’s she’s shared with me though, is that I’ve brought her life back some meaning. You see, we have so much in common–both former nurses (she was an ER nurse) and both of us lost a sibling to homicide (me a sister/she a brother).

My BB and I, we get each other.  In that deep unspoken way those of us walking this path of tragedy know. She’s shared that my reaching out to her in need has reminded her she still has value in this life.  That never occurred to me until she said it.  She may not be able to get on a plane just now (I’m working on that one though, subtlely 😉 ) or go out frolicking with friends.  But she is my lifeline on the other end of that phone.

We have a total win/win situation going on here.  I consider myself lucky. She has also become my champion and guard dog or “pit bull” as she calls it.  She makes me laugh.


She answers every phone call with the words “tell me” and I laugh.  She knows there is likely something going on and I need to share it (between my brother, my Dad, myself there always seems to be something I’m needing to sort out in my head).  She helps me. This weekend was no exception as so many worlds were colliding in that fire it was a situation they invented the word chaos to describe. And my BB is the one who handed me the compass with this one simple question:

Does this make you stronger or does this make you weaker?

I’m pretty sure I gasped out loud when she said that as this question shot right in to my soul like an arrow.  I knew the answer instantaneously and she said something like “it’s as simple as that isn’t it?”.  And it was.

Weaker you walk away from, stronger you walk in to.


It really can be that simple.

I decided to add to this compass one more question:

Is this on your treasure map?


I put all that time, energy, love and commitment in to that map for a reason and I better respect it!

I don’t know about you, but I can complicate the most simple decision or dilemna like I’m building some kind of tunnel to China single handedly.  So this compass is serious business for me.  A tool to help me breathe deeper and navigate more swiftly.  It’s like standing before a raging muddy river, not knowing how to cross or even IF to cross and someone hands you a magic wand that all you do is wave and the bridge appears before your eyes.


That’s how important this aha moment, this compass, is to me right now.

I thought about this all day yesterday and shared this awareness with two friends who’s eyes lit up (well one of them over the phone but I could hear her eyes light up) with the same sense of magical relief I felt.


I sat across from my brother at lunch yesterday, my brother who’s really been struggling, who’s Dr. wants to have a serious talk with the entire family soon about “the future”, who I’ve been worried about every single day lately and asked myself the question “does this person make me weaker or stronger?” and the resounding STRONGER came immediately to my mind with no hesitation.

As my dear brother sat across from me, holding both my hands, thanking me for all I’ve done for him, tears in both of our eyes telling each other raw truths about how we need each other and will never leave each other.


he invited me for Mediterranean food-yum

That makes me stronger, no matter his illness or needs;  he makes me stronger.

My BB makes me stronger though her presence is across the country and her “limitations” as she’s seen them;  she is strengthening me.

Try it:  it’s a very clear question and you will get a very clear immediate answer.  And then you simply, quietly, pick path you’re gonna walk, the smart one and you just start walking.


All I know is this life needs me.  It doesn’t need me weak, it needs me strong.  I’m needed somewhere just like I was needed in that Alexander courtroom to be that conduit for all of our giving/receiving/healing.


And I know this compass will guide me where I’m needed next.





Yesterday was a rough one.  For several reasons I don’t really want to revisit.  Yet sometimes life just needs to hammer us open–sometimes we learn why; often we don’t.

Thomas Moore said last week it’s not about going higher, it’s about going deeper.  That really struck a chord in me and I’ve been thinking about those words ever since.

I sure felt in that deep space yesterday.  Like stuck at the bottom of a blender being ground up kind of deep.  Spinning off tears.  I rarely cry for hours or all day.  Yesterday, yes.

These are the moments we really burn.  The tests that hone us in their fire.  I’m still kind of in that fire and I’m still letting it work it’s magic on me.  A strong spirit is made during these dark nights of the soul.  And I sure have had my share this round.


I got to thinking about imagery and the one that kept coming to mind was a fox stuck in a well.  I got out my sketch book and began drawing it.  All day I felt like no way could I be around other human beings feeling like this–like I just couldn’t survive it.


Yet the best party of the year was happening last night.  My dear friend Peter and his lovely wife Anya’s annual “Life, Wine and Jazz” party, created celebrating Peter’s survival from a serious car accident right around the time I first met him (he’s another Myofascial Release practitioner).

I started texting Mya mid day saying I really didn’t know if I could get it up for this and she just knew the right words to say to mobilize me without pushing me.  Basically she extended a rope down that well and looked down at me with loving eyes saying “I think it’s best you take this”.


So I did.  And that party was truly amazing.  No one throws parties like this anymore…it was like old school with a three piece jazz band, as many different wines as you could imagine to taste and exotic Polish food everywhere you looked.  Peter and Anya are Polish and I swear he’s met every Polish person in Phoenix and knows them all, including the rescue person who came for him in that crash.  That man who saved his life and was the one who called Anya speaking in her own tongue.

20140126-064940.jpg 20140126-064950.jpg 20140126-064958.jpg 20140126-065010.jpg 20140126-065017.jpg 20140126-065030.jpg 20140126-065044.jpg

Just like Mya spoke to me in my own tongue yesterday reminding me of true friendship and someone who believes in me no matter what.


i love this dear gal, so much

The friends who belong in that inner circle are the ones who remember who you are when you’ve forgotten it yourself. And they remind you simply by their holding steadfast to that knowing, quietly or like a whisper;  their piercing reflection straight to your (my) heart.

I’m lucky to have so many of those in my life.  And the ones who drop away, well, they just create space don’t they?

My light is still shining even if it’s in someone else’s memory of me.

And that my friends, is a blessing.


me, Peter, Mya


it’s about time


Hello 2014

Maybe I’ll dream…tonite about the guy who’ll be comin my way…so I’ll take the chance to celebrate the day…

Jamie Cullum

It’s About Time

from Twentysomething

treasure mapping



Oh what a weekend I just had!

I drove up to the quaint town of Prescott, AZ to hang with two of my galpals; Wendy and Ann, then go to a Treasure Map workshop.  In fact, it was the 30th installment of this workshop created by my former therapist Wendy McCord who now lives up there in Prescott.  And the last. She’s retiring this workshop now after last weekend.


Ann and I attended the Dance for Universal Peace that Wendy helped facilitate Sat. evening–this is her guitar 😉

me, Ann, Wendy

I look forward to spending more time with these gals this  year.  We had an absolute blast!

I did my first treasure map with Wendy, back in the other Wendy’s studio Bodyworks.  Wendy W. my dear longtime friend, owned a yoga/dance studio in my same complex for around 15 years.  We became fast friends from the moment I took one of her classes and formed the organization “Business Owners Who Know Nothing About Business”. We usually held our meetings at local coffee houses and discussed the state of affairs of our personal lives more than anything.  Occasionally we’d lead each other blindly on how to move forward with our businesses, neither of us ever having taken a business class in our lives.  Yet somehow, we managed to keep ours afloat through many many storms.

Wendy W. lives in Sedona now (imagine that!) and works at the world famous Mi Amo Spa at the Enchantment Resort up there.  Our lives will now take on a new chapter living (at least part time, me) in the same town again.  I love it.

She told me about Wendy’s workshop as I’d not attended for years but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been making my treasure maps on my own.  In fact the one I’m retiring right now has been on my wall for about four years.  I spent all day with a friend making it in my living room.


I’ve had a hard time letting that one go simply because I’ve loved it so much.  Yet after taking the plunge in to this workshop, I realized why it had outgrown itself.  I’ll detail some of those things in a moment.

A treasure map (also called vision board or dream board) is a tool to manifest dreams.  You use pictures and words and create a collage of things you’d like to see happen in your future then hang it in a vicinity where you will glance at it often. I say my treasure map works on me vs the other way around.

The most magical images, to me, are those that I use simply because I love them or are drawn to them for some unknown reason and just have to put them on the map.  That’s really speaking to the unconscious which is where I believe dreams manifest are born.

On Sunday Wendy asked any of us to share stories of how our treasure maps have manifested in our lives before we embarked on the meat of the workshop.

I got to thinking about my current one.

Last winter when I was down for a week at Rancho La Puerta for New Year’s, I brought a memoir with me called What Remains by Carole Radziwill.  I was so completely moved by her story and I couldn’t put it down. I’d sit for hours in the mornings and evenings in my cozy window seat reading until sadly it was finished.  I remember sitting there for a long time just staring in to space with tears in my eyes as that sad and compelling story ended.  I just felt/feel such a connection to her.  This gal knows tragedy and still has managed to maintain her spark.  This is someone I’d like to emulate and can relate to.


I met a lovely woman on that trip who was a recent widow and gave her the book after I finished it.  She later wrote me and told me how it had also fed her soul.  Camaraderie living on.

I came home after that trip and wanted to know more about her so researched her blog a bit and ran in to a very familiar photo to me.  This one:


a wedding photo of Carole and her husband

Yes, Carole Radziwill had been on my treasure map for about three years at that point yet I had no idea it was her.  I ran upstairs to see and yes, there she was.  Then I glanced above and there she was again.

I rarely put two of the same person or image on my board but in this case, I put two pictures of this couple.  I know exactly why I did it too.  I loved the way he was looking at her.  I thought I want to have a man look at me like that.


I can’t describe the feeling this gave me.  That kind of magical I’m living in a dream yet awake kind of feeling.

When I shared this story on Sunday I also said “it’s not exactly a manifestation but…” and Wendy stopped me and said “oh yes it is, you manifested a feeling that all is right in the world and you are exactly where are supposed to be”.

Yes, that was the feeling.  And a feeling like I’m not alone.  This woman had been influencing me for years and I just ran in to her again.  It’s truly an amazing feeling.

I wrote her a letter detailing this whole deal.  I hope she got it.  🙂

The first part of Wendy’s workshop involves doing a lot of writing. You write all about your last year with a variety of instructions (she has it trademarked so I’m not going to share them here).  We had two hours to do our writing.  So I went outside to the charming town square and sat in front of what I call the Back to the Future building at an old picnic table and got to writing.


Wow, what a year.  No wonder I’m fighting exhaustion.  I was at The Ranch at the beginning then hit the ground running with the Travis Alexander trial as soon as I returned.  Unexpectedly I ended up being invited to sit with the family and did so for nearly five months.  I ended up doing a lot of writing about the trial and fund raising for the Alexander family.  I juggled my practice, the trial, my brother who landed in the hospital twice during that time, visiting him/watching his cats and maintaining a semblance of my own life.  I spent half the year in a whirlwind.   I was invited to appear on the Ricki Lake Show and was flown over to LA to tape that.  I met another woman, Susan Markowitz who I’d been communicating for years online as Nick’s Mom who was another guest.  I don’t think I’ve written yet about that whole experience but I will.

At the urging of a complete stranger (a former journalist and editor  wrote me this line “you should pursue writing”)  who’d been reading my postings on the Alexander trial, I started this blog last Spring!

We bought the Sedona house in Jan. so I spent most of the Spring traveling back and forth getting it set up with window treatments, furniture/furnishings, everything that’s needed to set up a home.


I went again to the Ranch in the summer and met Sebastian and Watsu (the world throwing me a liferaft to recover from the previous months).  My brother entered the hospital again around that time.  When he’s in the hospital I visit him every day driving in to Phoenix and sit with him no matter what state he’s in which believe me, that last hospitalization was a version of Hell I never want any of us to revisit ever again.

I jumped in to fiercely being his case manager, social worker, advocate and sister finally realizing I needed help and asked for it.  I found our attorney, new Psychiatrist, his Advocate and a whole new slew of services for him.  I also asked my Dad for support so I could go in to a kind of semi retirement with my practice as I felt like I was working two full time jobs.  And I got that support.

I started back in therapy with an amazing Psychologist last Spring.

I lost my beloved cat Buddy in the summer.



I traveled to Maine and Vermont with my Dad in the Fall.

I went to Washington and had a life changing weekend beckoning me back to Edmonds to pursue writing more deeply (which is on my new treasure map).  I found out one of my favorite authors Erica Bauermeister was reading my blog (gulp!).

I went back to the Ranch for my birthday and again the world reminded me I can get supported as Sebastian traded weeks to be there for me and treated me like Royalty for a solid week.  That connection with him was a big one for me last year.  In so many ways, some I’m sure I don’t even know yet.


Some new relationships were formed and let go of like the wind and old friends reunited.  I faced a whole lot of re-evalulation on the friendship level and the whole schemata sort of shifted.

My health has been a bit sketchy I think from all the stress so I made some serious changes starting a program called Intermittent fasting and joining a gym which I love.

These are some of the heavy hitting issues I dealt with just in one year!  Whew!

After doing the writing assignment, we were ready to think about what we wanted for the new year.  You see gaps, mistakes, things you’d like to emphasize.

I also had some aha moments about why I need to let my last treasure map retire itself.

For example, after I met Sebastian that second time, I came home and looked at it knowing he’d be on there somewhere (by the way he makes treasure maps too–calling them vision boards).  I saw this image and knew it was him.


A beautiful man with great arms and hair alone in a bed.  Get that?  Alone.  Now that really didn’t do the job I thought it was going to which was magnetize a man in to my bed (ha) but it did magnetize a man, a beautiful man, to my life who would be in a bed alone.  Sebastian is gay, out and proud, and we won’t be sharing a bed like that.  But he’s coming to visit me this spring and will be in my home in a bed.  By himself.  (this makes me chuckle).  These treasure maps can be quite literal, gotta be careful!  Don’t get me wrong, I still fell in love with Sebastian and this whole relationship has told me that the world of love can be more expansive and less defined as one might think.

I read Carole’s book and accomplished that one but those images started kind of working against me in a way I think.  Now that I knew these were pictures of a man who is now deceased, they become like ghost images.  A reflection of a relationship that is now gone.  And I spent quite of bit of time last year reflecting on past loves.  Interesting huh?


I also manifested this branch in this big tree like sculpture in my treatment room that I hung crystals all over.


I found this exact wooden spoon with silver handles in my Grandma’s old silverware which I also started using as my regular utensils.


Alfonse and I started ballroom dancing classes.


I spent quite a few years living behind this curtain that I decided to rip away and step out of this year on Jan. 1.


I got this exact pedicure countless times.


I spent far too much time in metaphorical safe trees, alone.


And I sit in this exact white chair, most every morning, drinking coffee and writing this blog, just as I’m doing right in this moment.


In fact, here it is, without me and the coffee 😉 .


And then there is this bridge.  I’ve not landed her yet so last night decided, since my map this time is smaller than the last one, I’m going to overlay it and allow this bridge to continue peeking out over the top.


I didn’t complete my treasure map on Sunday as I had some specific images I still wanted to find.  So I spent last night for about two hours combing through more magazines seeking them.


I found some but not all so not ready to take it and laminate it just yet.  I think I’ll print a couple out from my computer (once I get more ink today ) and that will be that.  Another masterpiece.

In the meantime, here are some sneak previews.

20140122-104538.jpg 20140122-104521.jpg


Then there is this image, taking center stage.  The center image is always super important to me and this one I landed on without question.  Not ready to explain it just yet but it’s clear as a bell to me.



I’ll get a good pic of the whole thing once it’s finished, laminated and on the wall.

I highly recommend this artful way about going about goal setting.  Or magical lilypad jumping.  Or just an afternoon of creativity and right brain swimming.

And I’ll let you all know as each. and every. one of my dreams.

Comes true.

badass listening



Did any of you out there read the book “The Gift of Fear” in the 90’s?

I not only read it but bought it on tape and have listened to it several times actually.  I listen to books on tape while painting and I’ve done a hell of a lot of painting (walls I mean) in my life.  I’ve painted my entire house at least three times turning my bedroom from it’s first incarnation of Neopolitan ice cream (not on purpose but an old boyfriend pointed  out my french vanilla, milk chocolate and hint of Martha Stewart geranium pink walls as they collided in one corner by my bed) to five shades of white.  Yes, literally five shades of white are on the walls, ceiling, trim, cabinets and some furniture in my bedroom. And that doesn’t even count the tile work.  But damn I’m totally digressing now!


kinda like this but messier 😉

The Gift of Fear.  A must-read book for any woman or man for that sake.

Now you would think this book is about self defense or tips for protecting yourself in the world as it’s written by a former CIA guy who literally wrote the protocol for protecting the Supreme Court Justices.

And the full title with tag line reads:

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence

But this book is about something much deeper and more primal.  It’s entirely about intuition.


He writes about listening intently to that “spidey sense” inside that signals danger.  But not only listening to it; acting on it.  100%.  Not talking yourself out of it or rationalizing it away but taking action simply on that feeling;  full on committed with no apologies.  He reveals how this can save your life.

He gives real life example after example of incidents where people responded to this innate self defense system and literally saved their own lives.  And some where they didn’t.

This book will scare you and at the same time wake you up as you sit there  nodding your own head over and over in agreement.  At least I did.


Shortly after reading this book, I had an incident in my neighborhood where I had to practice the teaching he offers.  It also happened to be the day I decided to leave my husband, that very day, and this incident played in to that decision although I never told him that.  It was the tipping point.

We lived in a then quite rural area outside of Mesa, actually now that I think of it, not all that far from where Travis Alexander’s house was.  We were one of the first to build in that subdivision so although there were homes, not many were occupied yet.  It was bordered by some still wild desert which I’m sure is all covered in concrete now but it was very quiet and new at the time.

I decided one Sunday to go out for a morning walk.

I took off down our quiet street and just a couple of houses down noticed a “Dial A Ride” van inching along with the driver looking intently at me out his window.  I immediately thought he was lost and looking for an address and expected him to roll down his window and ask me directions but he just kept creeping along as I walked in the opposite direction and he disappeared down the street.


Before I got to the end of our block, he came back around again, still driving slowly and looking sideways outside of his driver’s seat.  Again, I expected him to ask directions as he just appeared lost to me.  I mean what could be more innocent than a person picking up an old lady who doesn’t drive to take them to church on a Sunday morning which is what I suspected this was about.

Our street ended abruptly at some barricades that bordered the desert and that was my intended goal:  to go walking in that desert area to just get some wild space around me.  Let’s see if I can describe this.  As the street was designed to keep going eventually in to another subdivision not developed yet, it extended about half a block past civilization before it hit those barricades.  And all of that was entirely visible.


Meaning as I walked in to that last half a block I had essentially left the cocoon of homes in my neighborhood and was already in a bit of no man’s land.

I neared the orange barricades and I heard him first.  The Dial A Ride van creeping along on the opposite side of the road toward the barricades himself.

I immediately felt terrified.  I didn’t rationally do the math yet–like how there was no reason for him to be driving in to an obvious dead end— but I knew I was in danger.


I remembered Gavin De Becker’s instruction of what to do in that exact situation.  He said what a predator is seeking is prey.  That’s what turns them on;  fearfulness, so don’t show it.  He gave one example of a woman in a parking lot being fearful that a man was following her to her car.  He instructs instead of fumbling with her keys in a nervous way, stepping up her gait hurriedly glancing over her shoulder (which is part of the attraction for the predator), turning sharply in her tracks, facing the man, puffing up her body and in a strong stern voice simply ask “are you following me?”.  This tactic kills that predatory buzz immediately and since they are essentially cowards at the core, it sends them on another trajectory.


I walked straight up to those barricades, leaned down, picked up two large rocks and held them in my hands not looking at the van and just started banging them together LOUDLY.  I pulled back my shoulders, jutted out my chin, got the most “do not fuck with me” look on my face and as far as I was concerned was armed and dangerous.  I pivoted and walked straight back banging those rocks together as hard and loud as I could.  I was prepared and ready to beat his face in with them and felt it.

He never got out of his car but I suddenly heard the beepbeepbeep of a vehicle like that backing up as he slowly backed out of that dead end following me in reverse now.

What was terrifying to me, on the inside, is that I knew even though I’d reached civilization again once I got that half a block up, I also knew that the majority of those homes were uninhabited.  If I even ran up to one of them and it was empty, I was in his trap.  I just marched like a fierce soldier banging my rocks down that sidewalk as that asshole backed his van in to the middle of the intersection, blocking it behind me, just watching me.  I could feel his eyes all over me as he just sat there.


I finally saw ahead a man come out of his house and open his garage door and could finally exhale knowing I was safe now.  He was still sitting idling in the middle of the intersection down at the base of that road I was on, watching me, stalking me.

I dropped my rocks, walked straight in to the middle of the road and double-birded that man.


Then turned and shaking like a leaf found my way home on an alternate circuitous route, worried the entire time he’d show up again and see me as I was walking up to my door thus knowing where I lived.

How my husband responded to that moment was the deal breaker for our marriage.  It’s such a long story and not the one I want to tell right now but just suffice it to say I married not for love but for safety and he showed me in that moment that safety was not on the menu in that relationship thus breaking the spell for me.  I went out alone in our car as I realized I’d not gotten a license plate and he didn’t bat an eye.  I was out of flight and in pure fight at that moment and handled the entire thing by myself.  That kind of says it all.

Later that day a male friend, after hearing the story, insisted on calling the Dial A Ride company and found out there was no record of any of their vans being in the vicinity of my neighborhood that day.  Legitimately anyway.

My friend also demonstrated how a husband should have behaved.  Boom.


I don’t know why I woke up thinking of that story this morning but as I cleaned my kitchen, I was thinking about intuition and trusting that spidey sense and the most important part of that equation:  ACTING ON IT.

I’ve had two opportunities for that in just the last two months really.  In both cases, I’m putting on my Psych Nurse hat and deciding they are both full blown personality disorders.  Those are ones to avoid and back. away. slowly. from.  And trust me, your first clue will always be your spidey sense there.


I had to get a little bit stung in one case for not acting sooner although I’d been plagued with the creep factor over this person for months and in the other I think I headed serious damage to my family off at the pass.  When I think of it, the first more meaningless situation prepared me for the second–to find my voice and set a firm boundary.   To have a practice session at that I mean.   The second was more close to home, dangerous and scary to confront and I’d been avoiding it for a decade.  Obviously a lot harder to step in to.


I’m proud of myself honestly.

I’m getting stronger and listening more acutely and what’s more important, trusting those signals.

Ruthlessly, unapologetically (if that’s a word) championing for myself, my life and those who are closest to me.

I’m thinking I’m uncovering that inner badass that Ricki Lake saw in me.

And I gotta say, it feels pretty damn good.

come on down


I posted earlier about joining an online creativity group.  It’s run by the acclaimed artist Erin Gafill from Big Sur and is called Awaken the Artist Within. 


one of Erin Gafill’s paintings

I met Erin down at Rancho La Puerta over my birthday and I felt so inspired being in her classes that I signed up for this eight week course as part of my 2014 set of goals to enliven myself.  So much of last year (and the beginning of this one honestly) was spent in very dark places of murder and mental illness that I’ve decided I need to balance all of that out with very uplifting, positive activities/relationships/travels, etc.

For me, most of the time I tend to pull myself out a funk with some kind of creative project.

This year had such a dramatic rough start that I’ve not fully engaged in this course yet.  BUT I did manage to get out to Michael’s and pick up all my supplies which was really REALLY fun.  I’ve got charcoal, watercolors, pastels, pencils, papers and brushes.  All still in the bags at the moment. :/


As today is a day off, I’m promising myself to get started on something.  At the very least, organize my supplies and see where it takes me.  I have an easel just sitting there waiting for me!


I also did some digging in my craft room (yes I have a full on craft room in my house) and ran in to lots of old art pieces.  Back when I was in college and my sister was working for the Mesa School District as a Nutritionist, she actually hired me as an independent contractor to design their monthly school menus with an artistic flair.  She always had such higher perceptions of me than I ever had for myself.  I always liked to draw and do all kinds of artsy crafty things, but she hired ME to create these flyers…and I got paid for it.  It was my second part time job I had while in college.


I ran in to several of those flyers, then I also ran in to this.


the invitation I made for Cindy’s Price is Right party in 1984

Cindy and I went to California every year to visit our Grandma Buddha for her birthday on March 18th.  She always spent the winter there in a small hotel near the beach.  She would arrange for the adjoining room to hers and we would fly or drive out and have these wild long weekends with her running around LA doing touristy things and wining/dining.  We always had a BLAST with her.


Cindy, since childhood, was obsessed with the show The Price is Right.  In fact, on long camper trips, she’d pull out grocery items from the cupboards and force my brother and I in to these long games of guessing prices and competing against each other using Price is Right games.  I never really liked that show myself but she was obsessed with it.

So of course, she decided one year we would go and try and get in the audience.  Which we did, after waiting HOURS AND HOURS in lines outside the studio.  Even Buddha, such a good sport, waited in line with us.  The first time we went, we really studied the whole process and figured out their game and our strategy.

Once we made it inside the building, you were given some kind of form to fill out with your name, then they would take you, three by three in front of a panel of producers who would ask you basic questions.  You’d also get a price tag name badge with your name written on it to wear.


We noticed several things after going through that line the first time (none of us got called).  They tended to pick people in bright colors, big personalities, a funny T shirt or hat, big boobed women, something that clearly made them stand out.

So the following year we went prepared.  Very prepared.  We had planned it before packing for the trip.  We decided, since Cindy wanted to get on the show and I was mortified at the thought, we would dress her in BIG bright colors and me in dowdy greys.  We did her hair huge (it was the 80’s) and mine flat, we gave her big makeup and a top that made her bustline accentuated. I wore no makeup.  We also downdressed Grandma.  We manipulated the whole thing where the three of us would end up in that little interview with Cindy in the middle.  Buddha and I sort of looked down and away as Cindy pushed herself forward with her big huge smile, bright teeth, big makeup and huge personality.


And, I just knew she’d get called.

And she did.

Cynthia Monkman Come on Down!!!!


I was both shocked and not surprised at all.  I just had a feeling!

My sister made it all the way through that show to the Showcase Showdown!!! She was on that stage the entire second half of that hour long show!  They even showed Buddha and I in the audience screaming and clapping.  I was so incredibly happy for her and proud of my sister for fulfilling this lifelong dream! She had the chance to win a trip to New Orleans, a new fangled video camera, many many other big prizes.


And she choked.  She guessed a number so low that she lost. 😦  She was bummed but she was really also completely elated that she even got on the show, met her idol Bob Barker and won a small acrylic fish aquarium which was the first prize that got her on the stage.  She got to spin the big wheel and play several games as she kept advancing.


I don’t recall her ever being really too bummed out or embarrassed that she missed that Showcase prize.  None of us were really.  We just shook it off and went out for Happy Hour and dinner, celebrating as usual.

She never put fish in the aquarium but used it as kind of a decoration in her home.

It took me years to get rid of that stupid thing as it was really just a dust catcher and sat in my garage for years.


it looked something like this but came with no aquarium supplies, just the box

I shouldn’t say stupid thing because it held lots of memories.  But as time goes on, you just have to let things go.  I remember years after her death when I had a garage sale and went through boxes of her belongings stacked in my garage, standing there turning a match book over and over in my hand unable to let it go.

Finally, over time, you wind down to a few important items, photos and your memories.

I remember the day I sold her 1977 powder blue Volkswagen convertible bug.  A man flew in from out of state to buy it and ship it home. I wondered if I’d tell him the story of it and I eventually had to as I broke down in tears in front of this stranger.  That was probably fifteen years after her death.


Time has no real role in the grieving process I’ve determined.  It’s something that winds around and around the chambers of your heart with it’s own rhythm.  Sometimes it makes sense but most of the time it doesn’t.

I have that entire Price is Right Show on video tape.  I need to get it transferred to dvd or digital.

I hosted a big viewing party to watch the show the evening it aired as everyone was at school or work during the day.  I made a director’s chair with her name on the back of it, had all of these snacks reflecting the show like these Pepperidge Farm cookies she’d bid on and we all watched while rewinding and laughing our asses off.  I covered my bathroom mirror with homemade yellow name tags with all the funny quotes she said during the show.  I even had name tags for all the guests to wear.  It was a blast.


inside of the invitation–this would have been 1984 –she was gone four short years later

So many little quips were born from that show like her saying “I’ll go for the cookies Bob” or “that’s ok Bob” when he said he was sorry she lost.  Or “I love New Orleans!” she excitedly mouthed when they showed her the Showcase.  And she’d only been to New Orleans, with me, for about 3 hours in a strange road trip we once took.

These memories are bittersweet.  I have tears rolling down my face right now, actually, remembering.

Losing someone so important to your entire life, your soulmate, makes you feel on one hand lucky you ever had it and cursed you ever had it because the loss runs so deep.


Again, I’m reminded she’s out there/up there/around me somewhere even if it’s only in my memories or a belief and still with me.

I have to think that.

To keep living.

Maybe if I ask her today, she’ll come on down, back to me for awhile.

She could even show up on a sketch pad.  Guess it’s time for me to open my right brain and take a look…