trauma unboxed



I just made a long post over on my Middle Child blog detailing my day last Friday of gathering the entire crime reports and trial transcripts for Cindy’s killers to take with me in a few short weeks on my sabbatical for writing this book.

I think most of you will find it interesting and hopefully in some way inspiring.  Which is my hope and intent for this entire project.

I’ll be posting a lot more over there once I immerse myself in the writing process so if you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe there too.

Much love.





I have true love on my mind right now for many reasons.  I also have poetry streaming through my consciousness- for many reasons.  I’m writing some and I’ve fallen in love with a poet who is writing me poetry daily.  It all brings me back to David Whyte who truly introduced me to poetry in about 1999 when I saw him speak, randomly and unexpectedly at a conference.

I heard him recite this poem, The Truelove which has been a prayer and now an anthem of sorts for all these years.  Believing against all seeming lack of evidence in my life that this was possible for me. That I was not beyond love as he writes (in another poem called Sweet Darkness).


The Truelove

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of baying seals

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly
so Biblically
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t
because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years
you don’t want to any more
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness
however fluid and however
dangerous to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

  — David Whyte
from The House of Belonging
©1996 Many Rivers Press

I read that poem out loud on my bridge on Valentine’s Day two years ago in to the water below and released it, hoping for a miracle.  It may have taken a couple of years to come back to me but we were incubating.  My sweetheart read it out loud to me a few nights ago, being familiar with this poem himself.

I have tears thinking of the fulfillment of this deep dream that I’d actually stopped dreaming of.  So had he, right around the same time I let go of it all, he also let go in his life.

Until, over Thanksgiving in Sedona, I had three dreams, three nights in a row where I woke up feeling in love.  I went to a sacred prayer spot with  Rob and sent healing energy to an injured friend with him. Afterward I told him about my three dreams over three nights and he said “maybe someone is coming your way”.


My love contacted me that night, inspired by my poem he’d read online and, what he described “a white aura all around you”.

And so it began.  I’m so happy.  I’m so in love.  I’m so at ease. I’m so relieved.  I feel so loved.  I feel so supported.  I feel so understood.  I feel so completed.


No one is in this more than the other.  The sameness of our feelings has created this safe ship to sail in.

I can’t begin to describe the synchronicities as they’ve unfolded in this short time but know this:  he is right there up on the left side of my Treasure Map.

treasuremap14The second largest image on it.  And I didn’t even see it until he showed me.  It was as plain as day.

My poem that inspired him to contact talked about a fox and his first words to me included:

That you seek
The fox
Not the owl.

Are the owl?

Why is he talking about an owl? I thought.  It made no sense.

And there they are, the fox and the owl.  Together, a couple right on my treasure map.


i love this picture of him

We are writing together (we created our own private blog) and sharing and learning and growing. And ready for big adventures.  Not the least of which laughing out loud constantly.  I’ve never had a man make me laugh like this.  Ever.  We jumped in to the deep end holding hands and haven’t struggled for one second.  We have let the water buoy us up in our surrender and it’s just so easy I can barely believe it.  But believing I am in spite of myself.

That’s about all I can say right now.


I will end on a little David Whyte sharing that touched me this morning.  My love speaks just like this to me.

I am so beyond lucky I , I, I just don’t have words.

Christmas Miracles


wpid-20141213_211300.jpg wpid-2014-12-15-11.54.35.jpg.jpeg

I’m rarely at a loss for words in writing or speaking but this whole amazing weekend has left me feeling a bit inadequate in that department.  I mean how do you use something as limited as language to describe a bonafide miracle?


I’ll do my best and use pictures which can tell the story much better.


My Dad and I attended all 3 concerts at Phoenix College in the John Paul Theatre where my dear brother stood tall and proud in the third tier of the risers singing his heart out and remembering ALL the words with the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus.  Naughty and Nice, Sugar and Spice holiday concert.


Some of the songs were quite complicated, especially a mashed up version of the 12 Days of Christmas that was like a whole bunch of Christmas Carols all blended up mishmash style from 12 Days to Rudolf to Hark How the Bells, all wildly thrown together.  It even ended on Toto’s Africa “I spent Christmas down in Africa”…it was so hilarious and fun!  It had to be so hard to learn and was so fun to hear.  I love surprises on the familiar like that.

wpid-2014-12-15-11.59.15.jpg.jpeg wpid-2014-12-15-11.54.58.jpg.jpeg

I haven’t indicated this ever in the blog before and asked John’s permission last night to share that my brother is in fact, gay.  When I asked him if it was ok he said “sure, I’m out”.  I think it’s important to just be open about this at this point for all of us.  This is a gay men’s chorus he’s singing in and a huge part of the reason I got so insistent he try out.  He’s been living outside his people, struggling, for so long and I felt his finding a sense of community was so important for him.  Once I saw these guys perform, it became a dream to hook my dear brother up with them somehow.  And we all know how that turned out.  😉  It’s an absolutely perfect fit for him.  He keeps sharing  with me how “nice everyone is”.  He’s been welcomed with open and warm arms and I couldn’t be more relieved and happy.


My Boys Rob and Sean who are now legally married in AZ!

Their mission is to help support and educate issues around LGBT awareness and as the conductor said “hopefully bring entertainment as well”.  This is such an important thing to understand about Alfonse’s participation with this group.  It’s so critical to know your tribe and those men are people who can understand him in a way no one else can, including me.  John’s illness started around the time he was realizing his sexuality and struggling intensely with it.  As much support and acceptance he can find, I believe, will help him be as healthy as he can be.  The conductor also mentioned something about music having the power to heal which of course made tears spring to my eyes watching my darling brother up there, in a tuxedo, singing away with peers, healthy peers.  And fitting in. He truly is a walking, singing, miracle for ALL of us.


The show dedicated a segment of songs to their mission statement that directly addressed issues our gay brothers and sisters face during the holidays–isolation, non-acceptance, depression, things like that.  I think that section of the performance was the most meaningful for me.


They did 3 songs which tugged at my heartstrings so hard and I cried every single performance (and forgot Kleenex every single time).  The one that really got me was a song from the musical Kinky Boots called “Not My Father’s Son”.  Whew, tears just thinking of it.  I’ll put a video here.  Beautiful, poignant song. And to see all those men sweetly expressing those lyrics, all of whom can relate I think….breathtaking.  And the soloists at these shows, some very very real talent in there.


The other song that I keep hearing in my head and remembering and that opened my heart like a Polar Express running through it is called “My Grown up Christmas Wish”.  Whew…more tears!


The fellas were in festive holiday clothes for the first Act then in to their tuxedos for the second.  So handsome!  There were lots of fun and funny performances too like an rendition of the Grinch, a totally hilarious and irreverent take on the Three Kings and a salute to the Muppet Christmas.  I loved it all.  The stage was bright and festive with garlands and trees and choreographed lighting.


The Chorus also sponsors a smaller chorus for teens called Omaggio and they did some performing as well.  It’s so impressive to see these young kids, at that age, claiming themselves in that way.  On a stage!  Another tear jerker.

Photos were disallowed so I waited until they were taking their bows to snap a few–I had to get my brother taking his bow and share it.


I could go on and on but I’ll let you absorb the photos.

On the social front, Cathy Hughes had Dad and I for dinner Friday then went with us.  Saturday I hosted a little soiree at my house and my Boys Rob and Sean  came down from Sedona and my darling Mya came along!

wpid-20141213_173541.jpg wpid-20141213_164730.jpg wpid-20141213_222356.jpg

I made fresh juice clementine margaritas, shrimp ceviche, a cheese plate and this delicious Sopa Verde chicken soup filled with kale, spinach, cilantro, garlic, lime, english peas, avocado, green onions…green and more green!  I adapted a couple recipes I saw online and have to say it turned out delicious.  We returned after the Saturday night performance and toasted with champagne and pomegrante seeds (gotta bling it out ya know) in my mother’s crystal.  I felt so overwhelmed by her presence during that Sat. night performance and opened myself to feeling her love shining down on her baby boy.  She exited the planet when John was just 3.  I can’t imagine what that must have been like for her.  I felt her love and warmth and pride flowing through my tears.


Mya brought him flowers…awww

The Sunday performance was at 2pm so just my Dad and I went.  Then afterward the three of us went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate.  John even got the deep fried ice cream.  😉


This is his “in awe” face LOL

It was so wonderful seeing him being basked in the spotlight by everyone.  He sat in my living room Saturday night with all of our friends showering him with love and attention.  Something he may have never had in his life and he was soaking it up.  I was/am so proud of my brother.


I’m telling each and every one of you out there reading right now, if my brother can leap from the dark place he was in just over a year ago to standing on a stage in a tuxedo, part of something, singing his heart out, NOTHING absolutely NOTHING is beyond your/our/my grasp.  KNOW THIS!  Feel it!


Let’s go for big dreams now, ok?  Can you get on board with us?

Just a tiny snippet because I want to share it , speaking of big dreams:  I’ve fallen madly in love with someone.  It’s mutual, it’s real and it’s someone I feel I’ve waited my whole life for.  I’m sure I will write more about this when the time is right but this just fell out of the sky.  He read a poem online that I’d written, felt compelled to contact me, did and, well here we are, flying.  It’s quite the time in the Monkman world right now.


I will leave you on what Alfonse said was his favorite song of all in the concert–a beautiful and touching song from the movie Polar Express called Believe.  He said “I like it because it ends on such a positive note”.  Which my friends is exactly where we are sitting right now…right in the middle of a positive note.


Happy Holidays all.  Let’s believe even bigger now, ok?  If my family, with all of our trauma at the holidays, can be walking this sparkling path right now, you can land on one too.  Stay open, please stay as open as you can.



There are signs all around you.





first night – Alfonse sings!



I really just have a quick minute here to post some pics from last night and share that my brother did AMAZING at the concert!  He remembered ALL the words to ALL the songs and just was absolutely amazing to watch.


Of course I sat back there and bawled watching him, witnessing a true miracle.  I was really pretty nervous before the show but I relaxed by the second act and was really able to be there with him.


(pretty packed for a Friday night!)

He said he thought he did well and seemed on a natural high after it was over.  He called me a couple of times late last night to talk about it.


Cathy Hughes!

Tonite is the second concert and Rob and Sean come down as well as Mya comes over.  I just made some, hafta say, kickass delicious Sopa Verde chicken soup with kale and sweet potatoes and chicken and garlic and tomatillo and lime and cilantro.  It tastes like healing.  Everyone is coming over for a bite then we head out to the concert.



I’m so proud of my brother I can barely contain it!  He changed out of his tux too fast for me to get a pic last night but I will get one for sure this evening.


Thank you for all the love and support.  You all reading know what we’ve been through and what this all means.  I hope my brother is an inspiration in your lives as he is in all of ours.


Much love!  Naughty and Nice Sugar and Spice Love!


(that’s him in the back exiting the stage at the end)

More pics and stories to come…we have two more shows.

Stage Sister signing off!

rev up your sleighs!



Twas the Night before the concert and Stage Sister can’t sleep.

Yes the first of the three holiday concerts my brother will be singing in is tomorrow night!  Wow, that came fast didn’t it?  From his big audition/acceptance last summer to….gulp…now!


Naughty, Nice, Sugar and Spice…how fun, right?

Alfonse and I had a Brother/Sister banquet today starting at a men’s clothing store where I bought him a new outfit for the concerts–a cranberry dress shirt, crisp black dress pants and a new black belt.  This will be the second outfit he’ll be wearing because he will also be wearing a tuxedo in the concert!


He’s been rehearsing most days this week and when not with the chorus, he’s intensely studying the music.  He’s had to memorize 8 songs and 4 more will be sung with their notebooks–one is in Italian (he called it “The Prayer”).  He reminded me today of his learning disability and how hard it is for him to memorize but dangit, he’s doing it.  None of us have any excuses for anything do we?


How excited are we all?  Many friends are coming along.  Tomorrow night Cathy Hughes has invited Dad and I to dinner before the concert and she will go with us.  My friend Amy will meet us there with her little daughters.  Rob and Sean come down Sat from Sedona and Mya will go with us…and I will be cooking/serving dinner beforehand. Another friend joins us at the Sunday show.

How lucky are we to have all these friends supporting us?


After our shopping excursion, Alfonse and I went to an empanada restaurant for lunch.  It was my second time there in two days (ok truth be told I left my credit card there the other night so had to go back and retrieve it).  I had the most delicious Verde Sopa chicken soup that I hope to replicate for my dinner party Sat. night.


After lunch, Alfonse said he wanted to go for my mani/pedi with me.  He got a pedicure and I got both–white sparkly nails.  It’s holiday time!


And love is in the air all around me.  ❤

I hope love is finding it’s way in to your hearts and minds and if you think of it, please send a good thought my dear brother’s way tomorrow night (Friday the 12th) at 8pm AZ time.  Or maybe some to me too as I’m completely sure I’m more nervous than he is (shhhhh don’t tell him).


The time is here!  The time is now!  It’s time to live the life we were all born to live.

I’m embracing it all and I hope you feel even a little bit of it through my words here.

I love you all.


Oh, wait, a little PS.  For those of you reading who “met” me via the Arias trial, I got together last night with Katie Wick.  It’s hard to imagine it had been a year since we’d seen each other. We’ve been in touch but a year since we actually saw each other.  It was a totally fun night catching up.  She is fully involved in law school and on track to become a prosecutor, lives downtown near the courthouse (how odd right?) and is doing great.  We were so happy to be together as evidenced in these pics.


I met Katie the very first day of the trial and who knew this friendship would stick like it has?  She’s the best thing that has emerged from that trial experience and it was so wonderful to reflect on all that offered us, setting us on our own trajectories.  She, in law school, an idea she’d all but abandoned then inspired again by the trial.  Me, ready to head off to write my memoir also inspired by the trial experience.  I think Travis Alexander would be proud we were so affected by his life and we are living a legacy he would be proud of.  I believe so anyway.

I’m fighting the good fight on Twitter with some issues related to the trial for the duration so you might want to check me out there.  I’m gaining some momentum so the hows might not be evident right now but I’m determined to kick as many pebbles as I can hoping for an avalanche of change for some issues that directly relate to crime victims.  I’m a force to be reckoned with so have decided to use my God given bossy  powerful voice for good.  I’ll keep ya posted.


mya magic



Good morning all!  I’m finally getting around to taking the proper time to make a post about my fabulous birthday treasure hunt created by my darling friend Mya before Thanksgiving.  And pure magic it was, pure.

Mya and I take at least one day per month to offer what’s called “co-treatments” in our therapeutic modality, Myofascial Release.  This means we get together at her office and work on patients together (two on one) all day.  It’s amazing for us, for them, for the world. 😉  It’s just a great opportunity and I’m very very fortunate to have it.

We get along like peas and carrots.  We work so harmoniously together it’s almost scary.  We have never had one power struggle or conflict…we trust each other and just flow.  I think this is why the therapy is so deep for people because we become four hands from the same therapeutic body.  I learn from her, she learns from me and everyone wins.


We also have developed a very very close bond personally.  Mya is one of my friends who despite having a very very busy life with a business/practice and two young children, always makes time for me.  I am typically revolving, being single and without kids, around other people’s schedules as I’m just more flexible.  But I have a couple of friends who prioritize me in a way that just feels, well special.

The tale I’m about to tell involves that but in such a huge momentous way, it’s hard for me to believe but I believe it.  Maybe this is why it’s taken me a few weeks to write it up…maybe I’ve needed the time to digest it.

AppleHeart-BC v2.2 FA-3

That Friday was like any other co treatment day but we decided to get together after work and go celebrate my birthday a couple of weeks late (I was out of the country the week of my birthday as you may recall).  She asked to get together and easy peasy we were already together so it was perfect timing.

I thought we’d treat til 1:30 then head over to our favorite local hangout the Crepe Bar for lunch.  Perfect!

Oh no, this chick had other ideas and plans and magic up her sleeve.

I asked if we should go in separate cars or what and she sneakily said “no let’s go together in my car, let’s just go out and sit for a moment and decide where we want to go”.

“No problem” I said.  I had been following her lead all day, why stop now?

We climb in to her little sports car and sit and she pulls out this envelope that says Clue #1.


“Huh”?  I think as I see this sly little grin on her face.

“OMG you’re taking me on a scavenger hunt!”

I knew she’d done this recently for her daughter’s BD and so wanted to participate but was in Sedona. She was doing this for ME!

So I opened the first clue which was mysterious but I eventually figured out we were going to a restaurant for lunch called the Pomegrante Cafe.  I’d been wanting to go there forever.  Healthy fresh cuisine, nearby.


Before we pulled out of the parking lot though, she reached back and handed me a big bag with this wonderful gift inside.


We had a delicious leisurely lunch there which I was thinking was the whole day until she pulled out Clue 2!  AND another present!

I finally guessed the next stop…my favorite local book store, near my house.  We drove there and she said “you have something waiting for you at the desk”.  I went up and they handed me another bag with two books in it–one related to writing and one related to dogs–my two big goals in life.  This girl pays attention!


And then yet another Clue surfaced!

This one was right next door…my favorite nail salon and we got matching pedicures. And you guessed it–another present, some fuzzy socks and another clue!


I could hardly believe it…this was a HUNT full of TREASURES the most being the time I was getting to spend with this beautiful creature called Mya.


According to the nail salon clue, I figured we were headed back to her office where my car was parked in full circle.  The final chapter of this magical mystery tour.

Oh no…another clue when we got there…in fact TWO more!  I was searching for a dark veil and looked behind her curtains then remembered a little storage space she has behind another curtain and there it was, a bouquet of balloons!  And in the refrigerator two single bundt cakes!  Yay, the birthday party was complete!  Balloons and cake shared in her office.



Oh no…………I was wrong, so premature!  There was yet another clue and we were back on the road again, guess where?





Everyone who knows me kind of knows of my magical relationship with the Tempe Pedestrian bridge.  It’s a portal to another dimension for me. I’d never been there with Mya yet so off we went, balloons and cake in hand, to the bridge.  And she had a plan.


Once we got over there, there was some huge music festival going on so my regular parking lot reserved and people people people everywhere!  Then I remembered a sneaky parking lot on the other side of the lake I go with my client who takes me kayaking.  It’s right by the beach where we launch the boats.

Mya and I found it and quickly named it “The Sketchy Parking Lot” because at night it’s very very different.  It’s under the freeway and you just feel the nefariousness that’s going on there.  We paid no nevermind, armed with cake and balloons, we headed for the bridge.


We sat for a moment then she told me her plan.  I was to write things with a Sharpie she’d also brought, on the balloons then release them on the bridge walk.

My usual bridge ritual involves walking one way releasing something then the way back filling in the spaces with something new.  Now Mya added a twist.

She had 4 different balloons with ribbons and also had brought scissors (this gal was prepared!) to cut as the balloons released.  I thought of 3 things for myself and insisted she take the fourth.  You see Mya and I were talking all day about a BIG dream she was standing right in the middle of herself.  She and her husband had made an offer on their dream home that very day or at least the day before and were waiting for a response.  It was on our minds all afternoon.


So we both wrote words and drew pictures on our balloons, then held hands as we stepped over the threshold of that bridge.


We decided my balloons would represent 1. something to let go of  2.  something to fill that void and 3. the biggest dream I could imagine.

I think hers was basically the dream part. 😉

We decided to let the actual releasing process happen organically and magically it did unfold.


My first balloon, the something to let go of, decided to get stuck in the arch structure of the bridge.  I just said “it’s ok, it will work it’s way out in time, let’s keep walking” and turned and started on.

Each balloon had it’s own story, it’s own trajectory, it’s own unique way of releasing itself to the heavens.


Mya’s was so astounding as we kept seeing it, in the dark, with this shining blue light embedded inside that reminded me of the third eye blue pearl remaining visible up to what looked like literally the stars.  My eyes were kind of straining so I looked away to adjust them and just as I did, Mya saw that balloon burst releasing the blue pearl in to the atmosphere like a brilliant explosion of blue light.  I missed it so that must have needed to be her personal message.

wpid-img_0144.jpg wpid-img_0147.jpg

As we walked back to the beginning, the “stuck” balloon was gone.  Mya said “you just turned your back on it and it worked itself out”.


I remember feeling no worry about it, just confidence it would find where it needed to be.  That’s how much I trust that bridge.  I aspire to trust my whole life like that.

It was a very good lesson for me though to consider just turning my back on something that is a block to my growth and letting it find it’s way out.  I tend to be a dog with a bone sometimes and this particular word I was releasing is one I have little control over so turning my back with confidence is something that I think will develop in me for a very long time.

After walking both ways, which took significant time, we sat and ate the most delicious moist cakes I think I’ve ever had–in two flavors.


We didn’t head back to the Sketchy Parking Lot until about 9:30 (scissors in hand 😉 ) but we weren’t really afraid.

Mya took me back to my car at her office only to find it completely dead!  The battery had just gone kaput.  Way too much energy to take in I guess.  She drove me home and I wasn’t even upset or worried.  I went back the next day, got a new battery thankful this happened in a safe place, not on the road to Seattle in an open wilderness.

And the next morning, Mya’s offer on her dream home was accepted.


I really don’t think I can add anything more to that.

I’ll let you know as my own dreams start to materialize although for this moment, it feels like I’m living in one big materialized dream.

55 is my best year yet, maybe ever in my entire life.

Now that I think of it, my mother died when I was 5 so maybe this is some kind of do-over.  I don’t know but it’s filled with miracles and love so far.

I can’t wait to see what else it’s to bring.


I love you Mya Swan Rueda!  So much!


My assortment of clues and gifts.  I can’t wait to wear that soft purple scarf over the holidays and those fuzzy socks in Seattle.  ❤