Tag: Beauty

Why You Should Smile

Why You Should Smile

Chloe and Blake’s Wedding

There are people who love to star-gaze; I love to smile-gaze.  I miss my smile, it’s difficult to look back on pictures and see how vibrant my smile was, and how beautiful my teeth were when I smiled. Yesterday I was looking for the picture of Eric and I in Croatia and came across so many pictures of me smiling, some had me smiling as I reminisced  and some really made me sad. Knowing Dr. Lettieri was watching the World Cup I text him the picture and told him we were rooting for Croatia.  His reply back was “If Italy isn’t there who is watching?”  (smarty pants, he’s Italian)

Then he said “Nice photo of you and Eric.”

I text “Thank you, but I miss my smile”

Dr. Lettieri “Sorry”

Me “It’s not your fault”

Dr. Lettieri “I know but I can still feel bad for you”

Me: “I know you do, and I thank you for that”

Dr. Lettieri: (rainbow emoji)

Me: “If I hadn’t lost my smile I’d never appreciate it like I do, and I never would have met you. Things can always be worse.”

Dr. Lettieri: “There are turns in our lives that help to define us, it’s a Navajo belief, Seven Turns. I came across it because of an Allman Brother’s song; Seven Turns. In my studies I came loved the philosophy.”

Then he sent me a link: The Title refers to a Navajo belief that there are seven times in life that you must make a decision that determines your path. Taking a wrong path means you must either backtrack or stay on the road to ruin.

Me: “So did I take a wrong path, somewhere along the way?”

Dr. Lettieri: “You did not take the path, you are making the decisions based on what is brought before you.”

This is the YouTube video Dr. Lettieri sent me


You can see why I love him, he really has a great heart and an old soul. I imagine he see’s so much anguish in his profession as a trauma surgeon. I appreciate his candor with me, but I love his perspective on life because of what he has seen and experienced. In my opinion-there is no trauma surgeon that even comes close to his skill, cutting edge ‘never give up’ style he is always thinking of his patients and what he can do to make life easier for them.

I downloaded that song he recommended, did some research on the Navajo traditions and thought about the philosophy behind the words of the song, today when I got in my car to go home after work it synced from my phone to my car and I played it on repeat the entire drive.  It made me smile thinking about Dr. Lettieri and his way of explaining to me my place in life right now has nothing to do with the choices I made, but more about what I am learning while given; and after receiving the trial.

So….why do I think you should smile?  Well one reason is because I can’t, so next time you bust out a giggle or two, think of me.   Another reason is because we show an exuberant amount of joy when we smile and it may just help someone who needs it.

We have so much to smile about, be happy you are not the one who can’t, you have a choice so smile and don’t ever take it for granted. It is a blessing.


XOXO Monya Williams

Living With Autism

Living With Autism

My amazing daughter Kayla is our oldest, she and her husband Jeremy have three boys diagnosed with Autism. Recker is the oldest 8 and 1/2, Ezra is 5 and Theo just turned 2. We love these boys so much, our entire family is in love with them, but even being the ‘grandmother’ (Bonbon) I don’t see the day-to-day struggle, the melt downs and the emotional rollercoaster Autism creates in a home.  Kayla does such a great job creating awareness on social media and within the walls of our home, still I can’t imagine the 24 hour care she gives them individually.  Each one of these special spirits come with their own needs, Recker is amazingly sweet and kind but is non-verbal, still wears a diaper, has to be constantly watched and shows his frustration by taking it out on mom or dad with a fist once in a while. Recker also loves to be outside, swims like a fish, is intrigued with fire and loves Disney movies.

Ezra age 5

Ezra, boy oh boy, this guy is talking up a storm but deals with emotional break downs daily, he can be irrational and moody it’s a constant wining problem. Ezra loves to be around family, plays well with other’s and wants to be an ‘ar thist’ (artist) he’s also scared to death of creepy crawly things, spiders, bugs etc. He is probably the most literal child I have ever met, if I said to him “You are cute” his response most likely would be “No, I am Ezra” This sounds like typical                                                                        behavior and yes, it could be however you’d have to see how he reacts to understand the emotions behind his fears. When he leaves our home he always comes up to me and say’s “I sad” I already know what his response is but always say “Why are you sad?” He comes back with “I going to miss you, I not want to go home” but if his parents were to leave without him there would be a total meltdown. So we hug, say “I love you” and off he goes.

Theo age 2

Theodore, Theo, Teddy….those are his names.  No matter what we call him he comes running.  Theo is on the spectrum, at what level we don’t know.  Kayla say’s he shows signs just like Recker and Ezra did, so right now while he seems typical we enjoy every minute of his cuteness because we never know when or if regression will start.  This little guy is pretty content, he points and shows us things he wants, takes our hand to lead us to rooms to play and is just starting to say a few words.  Sunday night he took all the Disney magnets off my freezer one at a time and brought them to me saying “who that?” and as a typical child would do at age 2 he is constantly asking “what that?” while he points to something he wants us to explain.  If I ask him “Do you want a popsicle?” (or just about anything I ask if he wants) his answer is “uh huh” while shaking his head “yes”  He also loves the outdoors, but does not like to swim in the pool like Recker and Ezra do.

Kayla and Jeremy are absolutely involved in these boys lives, caring and loving for them no matter the circumstances.  I know they have their moments when they need space to cry, I also know they sometimes just laugh because what else can they do? Even as Kayla’s mother I will never understand the constant emotions they endure. I’m not sure I could do what they have and will continue to do, but I am eternally grateful for Kayla’s openness and honesty when teaching me about ASD. She is the mom who constantly researches and studies, wanting to know everything she can to help her boys process and deal with their diagnosis.

This is something she recently posted, it broke my heart but it is the reality of any parent who has children with Autism, oh and let me interject here one of the things Kayla kindly taught me–people with Autism are diagnosed it is not ‘who they are’ saying a child or person is Autistic is defining them.

and my personal favorite post, I don’t live in ‘judgement’ so this does not offend me, if it does offend you I’m sorry but it is the real life of so many families dealing with Autism. I’d like to also insert at this moment children with or people who are diagnosed with Autism are not defined by the disease, it is something they ‘have’ not ‘who they are’ Autistic defines them, being labeled as a person who is  Autistic is hurtful and not politite

This was her post and her comment was “We are literally getting our asses kicked over here.”


XOXO Monya Bonbon



The Truth About Scars

The Truth About Scars

What the hell is beauty anyway? It seems the world in general is quick to measure something none of us can really define.  I mean let’s be real here, I adore the classic look of Jackie Kennedy, while some of my best friends think she looked stuffy and too conservative.  And what about the color of your kitchen-Do you love it?  Maybe I don’t love it, but I love that YOU love it.  I think something is beautiful because I say it is, not because the world does.  If I say the scars on my breasts, or the droopy face I am forced to live with is beautiful, then it is.  I’ve always struggled with the concept of ‘beauty’  why it matters, or what it means. Maybe because I was told as I child I was not beautiful; ‘boobless’ was a common phrase sent my way. My life was ugly growing up, I was marred by deceit, anger, trauma and pain.

My body is riddled with scars, some are visible to most people, some are hidden deep within my soul. The story behind each and every one of my scars has molded me and helped me become the woman who I am today-someone I like.  I for one do not want to live in a world where beauty is limited to what other people say it is? Do you want to live in a world where we try to contain beauty into a small little box?  Beauty is undefinable and some may say uncontrollable, it is an experience not a ‘thing’

I chose to make my own rules, define my own beauty, dismantle the boxes, and break all the celebrity rules, I am and should always be defined by my self-worth, my integrity and the love I have for all of God’s creatures……and when I say ‘creatures’ I’m including the human race, seemingly the hardest critics of all.  It wasn’t until I lost my smile that I realized I had always took my smile for granted. I want to smile so badly, I want to belly laugh with my girls, I hope they will remember me with a smile.

Lights, camera, action …..Hollywood has decided that beauty is in the glossy pages of a magazine, or a wafer thin model.  Beauty has become superficial; eye color, hair texture, and the number on the scale. Beauty has become something to be weighed and measured.  I may have fed into that before I was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured over 41 surgeries in 8 years.  I no longer see beauty as merely something flawless or perfect.  To me beauty is a grace point between what hurts and what heals, between the shadow of tragedy and the light of joy. I see beauty in my scars, emotional and physical. Doesn’t everyone have some scars?  Whether freckles from sun damage, triggers- hearing, tasting or smelling a reminder of the past.  Maybe you’ve had a broken heart or a broken bone. Whatever it is, or when it comes (and it will) live with no regrets, do what you can to protect yourself, but love the scar it may leave on you.

Scars, I mean my scars are beautiful, it means I’ve lived an amazing life, I’m a fighter they remind me of my inner strength and propel me to want to be a  warrior and survivor.

XOXO Monya

Memory Of Cleveland Clinic

Memory Of Cleveland Clinic

Every 3rd of July I am reminded of fighting for my life in The Cleveland Clinic. Four years ago today I was in surgery, literally hoping for a miracle. Little did I know the miracle was sitting right here in Arizona, with Doctor Lettieri.

On July 3rd 2014 I was rolled into surgery, Eric gave me a kiss on the forehead as they wheeled me into the operating room. Tears rolled down my cheeks onto the pillow, nurses kindly asked what they could do to help; shaking my head, watching them walk away I knew there was nothing anyone could do. Not even with the best surgeons on the face of the earth, no one could be able to bring my smile back.

The worst was still ahead of me, waking up in the recovery room after an eleven hour surgery I felt my head. It was full of staples, like a train track from one side to the other and down the back of my skull. My ear was pounding and swollen. I just wanted to see Eric and go home; after seven weeks in Cleveland I was depressed, sad and disoriented.

The next day, the fourth of July 2014 is a day I will never forget. No attending’s were in the ICU, the residents were in charge for the Holiday. Pain beyond my belief was surging through my body; a senior resident forgot to put orders in for pain medicine; I thought I would die on that day. I was prepared with letters to my children and dear husband. When the resident did not answer page after page to come to the ICU-I went further and further into a deep dark place, actually wanting my life to end because the pain was so bad. Nurses rubbed my legs and listened to me sing “Be Still My Soul” and “I am a Child of God” over and over again. It was an hour and fifteen minutes the senior resident finally make it to my room, followed behind him were other junior residents. He questioned my pain like I was faking; wondered why I was crying, and asked me too many questions; which I believe now was a senior resident showing off for the junior residents. I was gasping for air I couldn’t speak without trembling, he finally gave me the pain medicine. Even after the pain medicine was in my system my body shook like a baby, composing myself was difficult.

This is one of the junior residents Brendan Alleyne-he came to visit me after that incident and held my hand. The compassion he showed was nothing I will ever forget, I wish I could tell him what his acts of kindness did for my faith in the future of medicine. I’m thinking about him today, Dr. Lettieri is constantly telling me about the ego’s of residents, just like the senior resident I encountered at Cleveland Clinic. They forget who they are serving, I often wonder if he would have treated me different if I had been his mother, wife or child. Thank you Dr. Alleyne wherever you are today, I believe you are caring and sharing for your own patients now and hopefully learned something from this experience that will help you always remember patients are real people, with real families and a story to tell.

XOXO Monya

His Grace

His Grace


So Much To See

I remember taking this picture in 2015, just a year after being diagnosed with facial paralysis. Frenchie took me on a trip between surgeries; funny I can’t remember where we were. We’ve been on so many trips together trying hard to mark everything off of my bucket list. I do recall looking out of the window far above the clouds and seeing this breath-taking view; it was at this moment I realized I have taken so much for granted; our world is beautiful so many nooks and crannies we will never explore, but just knowing they are out there gives me hope and a sense of a spirit much larger than my soul can imagine.

There is so much to see in this beautiful world of ours; but my favorite place to be is with my family, there is no other joy and peace I feel watching my children grow into happy, healthy adults who cherish one another and understand the importance of time, time together making memories to last for eternity.

I started back to work yesterday, it was physically painful however I’ll take the pain over depression any day any time. There is something about being through so many surgeries, procedures, pokes and tests that make me wonder once again what I am supposed to be learning.  I am well aware of all my weaknesses-I say damn and hell every once in a while, I judge people when I should be reaching out to them, I’m simply not perfect and not ready to die. I try daily to be better than I was the day before and so often fail in my attempt; but one thing I never do is leave my Heavenly Father out of my daily routine. He guides me and helps me to become the woman I strive to be.

This was me on May 1st, 2014 I thought I was so happy, look at my smile, my beautiful teeth. Oh how I loved to smile.  I’d finished chemo, radiation and several surgeries and was well on my way to being ‘ok’ with living with cancer. I see some wrinkles, but mostly I see joy in my eyes for the happiness I felt being alive. Then life came to a screeching halt and I was once again faced with an unfortunate life altering transfiguration.

On May 15, 2014 this was me lying in the Mayo Clinic hospital fighting for my life.  There was a sadness I had never experienced. My life would never be the same, my face would show the sadness and sorrow. There was simply no one on earth who could possibly understand what it felt like to hear my surgeon tell me “I’m sorry to tell you, your face will never be the same again, you need to get used to the new you”

That task seemed daunting and unachievable I didn’t know how I could face a world where physical beauty had become the main focus for so many people. I never realized I was one of those people, I was vain I wanted my smile back I wanted to be normal, heck I’d even take typical. With help from Dr.Lettieri teaching me grace comes from within, I have been able to somewhat come to accept who I am, what I am meant to do here on earth; and it is definitely not to be a fashion model. My Heavenly Father has so much more in store for me and I’ve come to understand true authenticity and absolute beauty comes from knowing who you are and where you are going, it comes from first loving yourself no matter the circumstances life throws at us.  It certainly sounds easier than it actually is to do, I have spent 3 years working on myself, studying and trying to teach our  youth to love their life. If all of us could see ourselves through our Father in Heaven’s eyes I think we would be surprised to know what He sees in each of us; I believe He knows my heart, He feels my pain but mostly He understands I am trying everyday to become a worthy woman of infinite worth in His eyes.

This was me just a few days ago at Shane Wright’s luncheon after his funeral; I love this picture with Archer, still bruised and swollen looking at this picture I realize my grandchildren will never know the face or person I used to be they only know Bonbon exactly how I am today, and they love me unconditionally as I do them. The woman in this picture has come a long way with still so much to learn about herself and other’s. There is no better Hope than knowing I have many years to learn and teach other’s how to cope with unforeseen circumstances and to accept to love themselves in away no one on earth can understand. I am truly blessed and Amazed at the grace He so fully offers all of us.

Monya Bonbon

Dr. Lettieri Post Op

Dr. Lettieri Post Op

This is the REAL Dr. Lettieri–my Flip Phone Doctor is back-with his Converse, humor and beautiful blue eyes. After assessing my bruising and clotting, we have decided to wait a couple of weeks to see how it looks-we are not afraid of the blood clots traveling. My face feels like it did when I had Capsular Contracture in my breasts–extremely hard to the touch–but the bruising is almost gone. Dr. Lettieri said because of how much work he needed to do my face will take longer to heal. I will be undergoing a few more surgeries this year. My sinus reconstruction will be toward the end of the year, and Dr. Lettieri referred me to someone he said he would “allow to operate on his family’ If knew Dr. Lettieri like I do that is quite a compliment. He picked up  his handy dandy flip phone and contacted Dr. Howard’s office to send me asap. It’s nice to have a surgeon who is humble enough to understand there maybe another doctor (who was trained by Lettieri) he trusts and admires. I told him how nervous I was to see a different surgeon, he explained to me on the next surgery Dr. Lettieri will be in attendance, but not for the nasal reconstruction, to perform the rest of the facial reconstruction. (and possibly to check in on me) So three surgeries in one if if works out.–Can’t wait for that recovery;  if it wasn’t for my perfectionist surgeon he would have kicked my out and given up on my by now.

Dr. Lettieri is Italian and loves Canolis–so this is what I brought him today. The plate says “Be Happy Always”

As I waited for Dr. Lettieri, I realized they brought me into a surgical procedure room. This is the bright light he uses to see EVERYTHING–it’s pretty bright.

One time on my way to MIHS to visit with Dr. Lettieri, I watched 2 teens having full on sex under this tree. I honked; many times yelling at them to stop. I seriously would have given anything to have a hose and spray them down likes dogs in heat. I told Dr.Lettieri since it was happening just outside his window but off campus; his answer “Nothing surprises me here, I’ve seen it all” I shouldn’t have been surprised either; it did shock me. Today as I was leaving the Clinic I watched a van open and police officers escort a prisoner in an orange jump suit and shackled by his feet, secured with handcuffs on his arms.

I didn’t judge him, he was typical looking nothing to scare or offend me, in fact it made me want to show compassion for him, especially not knowing is story or the journey he has been on.

Yes I am definitely in a surgical room–what are they going to do to me today?

Bored……? Yes, soon Dr. Lettieri entered the room, stuck his large hands into my mouth to feel for the blood clot, and I’m pretty sure created another bruise. However, we are getting close to perfection he was very happy with the surgery outcome; still he has some follow up-but we need the swelling and bruising to go down, he thinks he can work on it at the same time Dr. Howard performs my nasal reconstruction; not crossing my fingers on that one. Dr. Lettieri hugged me and said “I will see you soon, we have been through a lot together but remember I’d let Dr. Howard work on me, you need to listen to me she’s good” I now have an appointment with her in the end of June–but l’m not having another surgery until I decide.

Monya Bonbon



Dr. Lettieri (Update Post Op)

Dr. Lettieri (Update Post Op)

This morning Frenchie drove me to Mayo Clinic to have a little visit with Dr. Lettieri and Lindsay his resident (she’s super sweet) This is what I do while I wait, I sit in Dr. Lettieri’s chair and pretend to be him  until he walks in with his big smile and with no hesitation starred at my face, starts to examine-he didn’t even recognize I was sitting in THE CHAIR–the same one I’ve received amazingly bad and good news from many times, not necessarily from him but Dr.Kreymerman.

As you an see I still have some significant swelling and that dang hematoma–not my best look-but still grateful for an exceptional surgeon like Dr. Lettieri. He stuck his fingers in my mouth squeezed (that hurt) We sat and laughed, he asked Frenchie about business blah blah blah. Then made an appointment for me to get an ultra sound guided probe to look for liquid. So many surgeons have tried to help me and I adore them, especially Dr.Kreymerman who I am still friends with, but at this moment Dr. Lettieri is my hero–We discussed a sinus reconstruction…I told him since the chemo broke my septum I cannot breathe, I carry a Kleenex ALWAYS no matter what winter, spring, summer and fall…I need it to go away it is disrupting my life. I simply cannot live with it like this dripping and clogging. When I am pubic speaking my nose runs–then later I get a the comment “get that lady a Kleenex, that is disgusting” I am not living a quality life with this problem. More about that later.

Next stop my favorite Audrey–she’s been with me at Mayo since day one, cheering me on. She is a dear friend now with so much to offer the world. Her smile lights up any room and she always greets me with a sincere hug and kiss on the cheek.

After meeting with Audrey we headed to the next appointment on our itinerary–an ultra sound check for the hematoma. Frenchie and I got checked in and I told him I wanted to take a picture of this lit up sign. I proceeded to take the picture from down the hall and a security guard walked up to me and said “Um, you can’t take pictures in here” I replied “Since when?” She said “Since forever, it’s never been allowed, even if you were outside taking a picture we would ask for you to delete it.” I was so flabbergasted I ssid “How long have you worked here at Mayo Clinic?” she then looked at me and said with pride “I’ve been here a year” I looked her in the eye and said “Guess how long I’ve been here? …… 8 years, and I have pictures from every department I have ever been too” She very politely said “Well it’s against the rules” Just then I heard the registration and admittance lady call my name. I registered got my hospital hospitla band, showed the proof of insurance etc and asked the woman “Why am I not allowed to take pictures around here anymore?” She asked “Who told you that you couldn’t?” I pointed to the security guard, then the kind lady said “Unless it’s a new rule I don’t know, let me go check with my manager” She soon came back and said “Honey you can take pictures of anything you want, and if anyone gives you a problem tell them to see Jason”  I went and sat down to tell Frenchie about it and he went to the security guard and said “I am going to take a picture of my wife in front of that Mayo sign” She tried the same thing on him, but he quickly said “Go see Jason if you have a problem” …..well I got my picture and decided since we had a couple hours of down time I was going to take pictures of everything.

I love Mayo Clinic

Suddenly a flock of new baby 1st year residents came bubbly walking through ready for their lunch break. During this recovery I did some binge TV watching Grey’s Anatomy–totally reminded me of that.

I love this piano, especially when it is being played, but I also spy Frenchie taking a little nap. This is a perfect example of why I usually go so-lo to my appointments, it always makes me feel so bad when people have to sit around and wait for me. Frenchie is never bothered, but it does bother me when I know he could be out doing something fun on his one day off.

I’ll never forget Eric sitting in this room just after we were told my face would never be the same again….I wandered off with a pic line handing from my chest in a total fog…..

While ‘Code Blue’ was being called to the entrance of Mayo Clinic, Frenchie told me to stay away but I walked towards it..I needed to see what was going on.  What I saw was a person who dropped down on their way out. They worked very hard to keep this person alive, but right in front of me they took their last breath right here ⇡. The worst part….I was jealous, when I look back on that it was a dark and dreary time; I don’t feel like that any longer. I have 7 grandchildren now, and a chance to become better for the hand I have been dealt. Still when I walk through this area I always remember that day.

I decided to take a little walk while Frenchie took a little nap. There really is so much to see in this massive building.
Through these doors many lives are saved and many are lost. I’m still around and no security guard is going to tell me I cant take a picture of my second home.
I walked by this area and had to stand, stare and laugh. I used to meet Heather and Dr. Kreymerman quite often for lunch. One day I brought lunch from Paradise Bakery, text them and told them I was waiting whenever they were ready. Soon I received a text from Heather saying “Where are you, I can’t see you anywhere” My response “I’m outside, it’s beautiful let’s eat out here” When Dr. Kreymerman and Heather showed up they laughed at me, when I inquired why it was so funny. Dr. Kreymerman said “You know this area is for Attendings, you know doctors? Patients don’t eat here” Well, to say the least I didn’t move; we ate with the docs.
If you’ve ever been to Mayo Clinic finding a parking place is like finding a needle in a haystack. I parked here front and center many times while going through treatments. These are actually coveted parking places, well only to the radiated or chemo patient.

My beeper went off and I darted to wake up Frenchie and get admitted. When we walked in they called me immediately. The Technician took me back had me lay on a table and began asking questions “So why are you here? We have no notes from a doctor” I rolled my eyes “Do you know Dr. Lettieri?” “Nope never heard of him, what are we supposed to be doing today?” I explained about the hematoma….not a word out of nurse crabby face. She called in Dr. Patel I asked him “Do you know Dr. Lettieri?” “Well of course, I have his orders here. We are going to use an ultra sound guided way to find exactly where the hematoma is then we will extract the blood”  He asked me how much I liked Dr. Lettieri….right out of my mouth before he could even finish I said “Oh, I love him, he’s brilliant, I’d never let anyone work on me but him” …”So how many surgeries have you had with him?” …”Ummm, too many to count” Then he said something I won’t forget…”I like you, you have a great sense of humor, I’m sure Dr. Lettieri likes that about you” Then he said it was time to clean the area and insert the needle. I love when they say “This will only sting a little” After inserting the needle and having nothing come out, he said “Sorry I need a bigger needle and you are going to feel some pressure” Since I was facing the ultra sound screen and could see the needle being inserted I asked for my eyes to be covered until they were finished. End result…it felt like he was adding all his weight to the needle the pressure was so intense but I made it through. All of the hematoma could not be removed so unless they spread I will deal with them until I see Dr. L again.

As Eric and I walked out to the car, we wanted to stay out of the sun so we strolled through the new Cancer Center–I told Frenchie “we are walking straight through, not going to the third floor” He looked confused “The chemo lab, the smells…not today”
One of the original Mayo Clinic ambulance’s. I love the wording on the railing “Swiftly and Safely-Transporting Patients to Mayo Clinic” — how cool is this?

last picture on our way out through the cafeteria area–Next time a security guard tells me I can’t take pictures at Mayo Clinic…Go see Jason.

I will see Dr. Lettieri in a couple of weeks and when the swelling goes down and there is still a hematoma then Dr. Lettieri will make an incision in my lower cheek area and clean out the blood clotted area.

Monya Bonbon










Tale as old as time? Perhaps, with a few modern changes. I’ve always loved the original animated movie. Kaitlyn was obsessed with watching. She’d wake up every morning, I’d hear the pitter patter of her little feet running as fast as she could to ask “Bu Beez?” I think we watched it several times a day, for over a year.  I thought I remembered the story and beautiful music, especially after allowing Kaitlyn to monopolize the television for days, weeks and months on end. I still love the music however, the meaning behind the plot of the story took on a whole new meaning to me.

The movie will live on forever because the message is about pure love, It’s not about how pretty somebody is, but about someone’s heart and soul. The love between Belle and the Beast is honest, and that makes the film so special. Another attribute I noticed about Belle I hadn’t thought about when my children were younger, is that she has the intelligence, humor,  a special spirit and she’s stunningly beautiful.

She’s an old soul,  she’s a nurturing person. She’s got a lot of compassion and forgiveness in her. And she has her stubborn side too, which makes her fun and charming. When you’ve experienced death in your family, then you realize how incredibly moving that moment was and how truly remarkable it was for Belle to give up everything for her father. It shows how courageous she is.

I left this movie feeling grateful and renewed for hope in the world.  Thank you Disney for re-creating another uplifting, beautiful story.

Monya Bonbon

Love The Ordinary

Love The Ordinary

 Sometimes it’s good to sit back and enjoy an ordinary, normal day.  It is a treasure to be completely aware of who you are and where you are going.  I love to learn from other people, I’d love to learn from you!

“Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a lot to love a leaf.  It’s ordinary to love the beautiful, but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary.”  –Unknown Source
As I stumble through my life, I’ve come to realize how many things I have taken for granted.  Mostly  the ‘typical‘ everyday stuff we all seem to skip over.  The ordinary is often overlooked for the beautiful.  There is so much to love and appreciate about the routine day to day affairs of our lives.  
my view from the road

Recently I was driving towards Mayo Clinic for an appointment-I take the beeline highway which I have usually viewed as not very scenic; but on this day I noticed everyday beauty.  I had seen these a thousand times on that drive, but on that day they were beautiful.  I wondered why I had never taken the time to notice the cactus, or the artistry of the desert.
My personal philosophy leads me to believe our Heavenly Father, who created all things loves ordinary people as much as he loves what the world deems as ‘beautiful’ people. My personal beliefs also affirm that there is goodness in all of God’s creations, not just the things that are easy on the eyes. I’m convinced that the ordinary-both people and nature-deserve much more of our attention.
I am more spiritually in tune and mature than I was seven years ago–now when I recognize beauty I’m able to see with a different lens-viewing ‘ordinary’ things through the eyes of God is a beautiful sight indeed.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could see the world through the looking glass in this manner? How lovely it would be.
The skinny on skinny

The skinny on skinny


Me and Taryn, dinner before the show.

The truth is skinny does not equal happiness or health.  I am the thinest I’ve been since my twenties, I’m also the most unhealthy I have ever been.  I know friends who with age have gained weight–it happens but they are healthy–they run, cycle and eat well balanced meals–they are beautiful.

I was recently asked to be on a Q and A panel immediately following the documentary called Embrace.  Taryn Brumfitt did incredible research on the subject of body image. She interviewed some pretty amazing people.  One common thread that most of them had was they never learned how to love themselves, or their body.  I too struggled with body image as a teenager, I was too skinny and ‘boobless.’ (more about that in my book I CAN-cer vive)  Some people are pre-disposed because of their genes to be thin or heavy.  It’s not the ‘fatty’s’ against the ‘skinny’s’ we are all a part of the human race and deserve love and laughter.

What if I were to say “I wish I wasn’t so thin? or I wish I could gain weight?” If you are honest most people would say or think “I wish I had that problem.” I know this to be true because I have heard people say it to me.  Be careful with your words, what may be an acceptable weight for yourself may not be a healthy weight for another.  When as a youth I heard friends say “You are so skinny!” It hurt, those words were as hard for me to hear as someone saying to another person “You are so fat!” I tried hard to gain weight and never quite accomplished my goal. When I graduated from high school I was 5′ 9″ and weighed only 96 pounds–that my friends is not healthy!!

When I speak to youth about body image it’s interesting to open up for Q and A–most hesitate to ask questions knowing their peers are surrounding them and what they have to contribute may not be acceptable.  The few moments of silence tells me they all are squirming in their seats because the thought of talking about their body is embarrassing–

I usually break the ice by asking this question, “If you could change anything about your physical body what would it be?” I laugh and say “I’d change my smile I loved my smile before my paralysis” When the dialogue begins it is magical to hear–most of our youth are not happy with something, usually I hear them talk about their weight, or things they were born with–like a not so perfect nose or believe it or not their feet or toes.  I love that one.  I remember a very handsome kid in high school who determined the girls he would date by looking at their toes–he needed the perfect shape- no toes were allowed to be taller than another–Say whaaaat? Seriously, toes? You may be wondering why I find this conversation magical–let me explain.  When our youth collectively come together and are able to say out loud “I don’t like___about myself”  It gives everyone in the room a safe environment to talk about these issues, the youth usually walk away realizing they are not alone, but more importantly they are not perfect, imperfections are what make them unique. For some of them it is the beginning of embracing who they are and the endless possibilities they have to make a difference in our world.

When I was diagnosed with permanent facial paralysis, it was devastating.  I went into a deep depression wondering how I would fit in, I still have moments of doubt but now I’ve learned how to harness that silly thinking by allowing myself a few minutes to mourn then looking myself in the mirror and telling myself I am uniquely beautiful from the inside out.  Another healing thing I did was write a letter to myself, I scribbled down a few things I needed to let go of and let be. Those unimportant things that were serving no good purpose to my life are now a part of my past not my future, then I burned the paper.




This sweet lady is featured in the documentary Embrace. I was privileged to meet and talk to her. She has facial paralysis, obviously not as pronounced as mine but just as real.  This was a moment I never thought I would have.  Permanent paralysis from a nerve dying only effects 2% of people. Jade had a benign brain tumor that caused hers. I have to admit I teared up talking to someone who knows exactly what I am feeling–the messy eating–and the frozen eyebrow were just a few things we talked about coming to the conclusion we are imperfectly perfect

So, I’ve asked myself plenty of times over the past couple of years “How can I make this a positive experience? How can I endure and be blissfully happy with a disfigured face? Who will I allow in MY circle of trust and friendship?”  I cannot change the world, but I can create a ripple effect by speaking out, embracing other’s and being inclusive.

**Just a side note and after thought, our youth need to understand they are beautiful they way they are, but they also need to know this is not an excuse to feed their insecurities with food, we are a nation of obese people–this too needs to stop and is not healthy. Childhood obesity is on the rise, as parents we need to teach them a healthy balance of all natural foods–and guess what? It’s ok to eat dessert first, once in awhile.