Christmas Miracles


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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.

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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!

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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.





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.


thank you for reading



First of all, thank you to everyone who’s been reading lately.  The stats are booming and there are visitors from as far as Indonesia and Australia (allo!).  It warms my heart that people care enough to take the time to sign on and read the things that are important to me.  I will be writing more as this Arias trial unfolds about some causes I champion in my own small way related to death penalty trials and victims’ rights/interests.  I hope it sparks some change somewhere even if it’s just some lightbulbs going off in regular people’s heads like you and me.  Sometime’s that’s the best you can do and sometimes that’s exactly what it takes.

women with lightbulb

This morning I head back up to beautiful Sedona to teach a dance class tonite.  I expect around 50 people to show up!  I’m excited.  I just teach this once or twice a year to my professional community and I dearly love this opportunity so this is a big deal for me.


I had a beautiful, absolutely stellar evening out last night with one of my best friends, Amy.  She also writes a blog here.  We celebrated our birthdays early with going to a really fun and enriching event held a few times a year called Lit Lounge.  Our good friend Kim Porter was one of the readers and she is ALWAYS amazing at everything she does.  I would pay to see her read me the phone book, she’s just that good and starlike.


We then headed to our favorite restaurant FnB where we had an abundance of gourmet vegetables from a Thai style eggplant to chargrilled Okra with this lime lebne sauce to falafel to this beautiful squash which I managed to leave behind in the doggie box .


We shared a half chicken and had two Negronis and opened gifts and talked and talked and talked.  It was just such an evening filled with love, laughter, thought provoking conversation, great food and friendship.  I’m so lucky.


John and my Dad tonite head to a “Salon” concert the Chorus is presenting as a fundraiser for the upcoming season.  He’s doing really really really REALLY well and this community is definitely turning out to be everything I’d hoped for for him.  And more.  A sense of belonging, friendship, fun, camaraderie, normalcy. 

He is doing very very well with the singing part also and isn’t even nervous about performing!  Next week we may start the business about getting him a tux.  Yes, my brother will be owning his own tuxedo.  WOW.  Who would have thought?

Phoenix Metropolitan Men's Chorus

Now that I’ve made the commitment to head back to Edmonds for 4 weeks in Jan/Feb to write my book, so many ideas are coming to me.  It won’t be easy but it’s time.  Our family has so much tragedy but we have so much shining success as well.  I think we can be an inspiration to many.

Happy Weekend everyone!


One final parting shot.  Got a Halloween manicure yesterday at my favorite salon–yes that spider web and ghost do glow in the dark in case you were wondering.  😉

fa la la la la


Phoenix Metropolitan Men's Chorus

We have firm concert dates!

Just found out today that the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus Holiday concert dates are December 13, 14, 15.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The Friday and Saturday concerts will be evening and the Sunday will be a matinee at 2pm.  He’s doing fantastic and this is turning out very very well for him I’m very pleased to say!


Of course I will be perched front and center at all 3 shows. 😀

If you are out there reading and local and would like a ticket, please let me know–I’ll arrange one for you (they are running $25 for adults with discounts for seniors and kids) and we can all go together!  And you can meet my famous, singing brother!  😀

Proud sister!


doggie dreaming



My little doggie dream continues to unfold in the most unexpected magical ways.

I’ve written about my treasure map before.   When I started feeling this irresistible magnetic pull toward getting a puppy, I realized this has got to be somewhere on my treasure map.  I went a’lookin and there, right at the center was this fox.  Carrying a large egg.  With a rhinestone on it just in case it hadn’t captured my attention enough. 😉


 I remember the day I spent hours creating this treasure map up in Prescott and how I waited and waited for my central image.  And the moment I saw this large fox photo and realized that was it. I love making these maps in the almost entirely intuitive way–selecting and placing images based on how they make me feel without fully understanding their meaning.  For me, it’s a way to tap in to this deeper longing that is far beyond the conscious mind that chooses all day long.  It’s like a conduit to the dreams within the dreams waiting to be born.


I remembered the day I saw that fox on this patio down at the Ranch on my birthday trip last year and how I had that instant heartburst watching him scamper across.  I’d been obsessed with foxes before that but that incident sealed the deal.   I spent much of that week with my eyes peeled hoping for another sighting.  It was like someone waved a magic wand over me.


I have several fox images on my treasure map but the central one is clearly the strongest.  It’s the largest image and smack dab in the center.

Contemplating this I realize this fox is a CANINE but also sort of feline.  I’ve said “a fox is like a cross between a dog and a cat”.  I went a googlin this morning and was surprised and not surprised to find this:

Foxes are part of a large family called Canidae, which includes wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs. They all have long snouts, but unlike most other canines, you’ll find a little cat in every fox.

My friend Max said “that fox represents the transition from cat to dog for you”.  Wow.  Nailed it.

Then there’s the egg. I remember feeling like this was kind of a fierce, almost unsettling image in a way when I put it there but at the same time I knew it was the only one to take center stage.

I was so focused on that egg that I even put that little rhinestone bling over the laminate, highlighting it.  Again, I had no idea why I did that other than it was just what was needed or felt right.  This is what makes the treasure map making process mysterious and magical.  At the point I chose this image I had absolutely no thought of getting a dog anytime in the near future.


Well, as I meditated more on this, I realized my little puppy is an egg right now.  He’s likely not even conceived!  I made this treasure map for this year and in this  year my new little addition is just at the stage of an egg.  This cat/dog fox is presenting me with a blinged out egg!  haha  It definitely wanted my attention and got it!


Last Saturday four of us went to see the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus in their summer concert which was fantastic!  It was so great to go see them again and realize Alfonse will be on that stage with them performing in just a few months!  In fact, he starts rehearsals  It was a great evening out and we were all so psyched for him getting involved with this wonderful, warm, welcoming community.  We mingled after the show and he got introduced to several more members.  They even have a 92 year old man who sang from a seat in the front row of the chorus.  How cool was that?

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Before we left, Steve came over and we were talking about my puppy plans.  He has had dogs much of his life so he totally got my dream.  I found myself admitting something to him that I was also admitting to myself for the first time out loud.  That although I’ve lived alone much if not most of my adult life, I go to bed many many nights–both here and in Sedona (more there I think)–with a feeling a trepidation or insecurity.  Not a feeling of total relaxation, feeling slightly unsafe that someone could break in while I’m sleeping.  I’m not as hypervigilant as I once was (another story of waking up at 2am with a man crouched next to my bed in a townhouse I rented shortly after my divorce–I will write that one sometime).  But there is often this lingering fear that disallows me from feeling fully relaxed when I go to bed.  It’s been hard to admit that even to myself.


I was sharing about how I think having a dog will really alleviate that for me and will help me on that very important level of health.  Sleep is a big deal!


The next day I went again to look at my Treasure Map to just browse and look what I found, unnoticed before.  Overlaying my fox image at the bottom are these words:

Get a good night’s sleep

This thing keeps unfolding in the most surprising and charming ways.  I just love it.  Again I feel like I’m listening deeply and following the bread crumbs.  Which is really the way I want to live every single day, untethered by the mundane and tripping down a light filled path.


With my little doggie.  Soon.