Tag: Faith

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

See You Later

See You Later

To say it’s been a whirlwind of emotions the past 6 weeks would be an understatement. This is Shane Wright, his son Brian is married to my daughter Kaitlyn. Shane celebrated his birthday on May 24th with his wife children and nine grandchildren; two of which we share grand parenting with. Kaitlyn said his birthday was so fun, they played and danced together ate pizza had ice cream and cake. Shane sat watching his children and grandchildren laugh and play together from his own words “We’re told by Heavenly Father we may have joy in our posterity. Nothing compares to the joy that I feel when our family is all together. It’s the purest joy a parent can have. My heart is full” On Wednesday May 30th this giant of a man left this life to live with his Heavenly Father.

Shane’s posterity, such a beautiful family.

The first time I met Brian I knew he was a special man; most parents think their daughters are too good for most men but Eric and I are were so impressed with Brian we were afraid Kaitlyn would scare him off. When Brian asked Eric for Kaitlyn’s hand in marriage, he actually told him no twice. Poor Brian was living in Utah and chose to drive to Arizona twice to get Eric’s approval. I explained to Eric it is always hard on father’s to finally hand their daughter’s over to another man for them to care and love for, but it was time. We had the opportunity to meet Shane and Dee Dee Wright before they were married and immediately our hearts were bonded to them. Kaitlyn and Brian were married and had their wedding reception in our backyard in November of 2009.  I was diagnosed with cancer during their engagement and started chemo therapy just two days after their wedding; I will never forget Shane and Dee Dee’s constant prayer’s on my behalf.

Shane (grandad) Phoenix and Dee Dee (Mimi)

Over the years and two grandchildren later we grew to love this man and were so proud to have the opportunity to co-grandparent with he and Dee Dee.  Shane was a stone mason, he had an eye for perfection when it came to his profession. He also raised his children to have respect for other’s and to share the knowledge they had of the Gospel of Christ. The last time I spoke to Shane he was visiting in Arizona and had helped pick out stone for a fireplace in Haleigh and Scott’s home. We stood outside next to his truck while Phoenix played and ate snacks from his granddad’s truck.

He asked me how I was doing and told me he never misses a day of praying for me. Then he looked at me and said “Perspectives change when you know you are not going to be on earth forever, we have truly been blessed.”  Shane knew he had some time left but was also realistic enough to know what he was diagnosed with was incurable and unless he was struck by lightning or hit by a car, he would definitely die from his diagnosis.

It was evident when I sat in the Chapel at his funeral and watched over 300 people sit and listened to his family speak of Shane and his incredible accomplishments in life; and when I say accomplishments it had nothing to do with money. Shane helped youth, many young boys grow and become fine men, husbands and fathers. They testified of Shane’s undying sacrifice’s as he served others unconditionally.  I don’t believe Shane had an enemy’s, everyone loved him. His smile and attention to details lit up any room he entered. Each and every time Eric and I saw him he looked at us in the eyes and asked about us, how we were doing, how each of our children and grandchildren were–simply put he cared genuinely for people.

When Brian spoke at the funeral, he was speaking about his father but was describing himself in every way. I love Brian, I love everything about him we are blessed to have him in our family and know he will miss his father deeply but will carry on the traditions of his father and pass down his work ethic and compassion for other people to his own children.

I will miss Shane and still have a hard time believing he is gone from our lives for now; so until we meet again I will do my best to be a good person, share memories with Phoenix, Archer and their future children about the amazing grandad they had.  I never say good-bye so see you later Shane

Monya Bonbon

Grands

Grands

There is simply nothing better than being a grandparent; and one who is needed. Kaitlyn and Brian flew to Utah a couple of weeks ago to say their final words of love to a beloved husband, father and grandfather; we will truly miss Shane Wright’s presence in our lives. Sharing grandchildren with he and his darling wife Dee Dee has been such a joy.

Haleigh, Kayla and Chloe and Blake stayed with the boys while I recovered enough to help out. They have been with me 24/7 for the past 4 days; tomorrow we will fly to Utah for the funeral. It’s hard to imagine these sweet grandsons not having the opportunity to remember what a giant of a man Shane Wright was. I imagine, as I did with Eric’s mom Kaitlyn and Brian will keep granddad Wright alive in the lives of these boys.

For me, the recovery process after this last surgery with Dr. Lettieri is going a little bit slower than I imagined it would. After visiting with Dr. Lettieri this week, he was pleased with how things look, the flap took and the stitches from one side of my head to the other are beginning to dissolve. The pain is subsiding; well it was until Archer flung his head into the area where I had my surgery, yes I saw some stars but mostly wanted Archie to know it was not his fault.

I forgot how demanding little one’s can be when they are in your constant care 24/7. Archer has not been feeling well and unfortunately I believe he has passed it on to me.

Monya Bonbon

 

Happiness at every Age

Happiness at every Age

I believe some of my best days are yet to come. There are researchers who say levels of happiness are different as life changes throughout our lives.

Depending on what was happening in our life at different ages, happiness kind of follows a U-shape curve as we age. Your peak years of happiness seem to be not only when you are young, in great health and having fun but also again in retirement when your mind and body may not be as sharp and fit but you have a new outlook and want to make every moment count.

I love that our Heavenly Father created us all equal but with different spirits and gave us choices. What makes one person happy or content may be different from what makes someone else happy and elated. Throughout life our expectations of happiness change, as my journey from one phase of life to the next I’ve definetly matured and learned from all my experiences.

Most people in their 20’s are motivated by school, involved with causes and comparing themselves to other’s their age. My 20’s were filled with heartache and disappointment. Balancing dating and career choices can be challenging. My advice; focus on what you can control-doing your best. Try getting into the best school for YOU, and start a good job. Ignore what you cannot control–don’t compare your ‘likes’ on Facebook or social media to what everyone else is doing…just be you the beautiful flower you are beginning to bloom into.

In the third decade of life many people have established themselves in careers and began families. If you choose to experience a career or become an entrepreneur or being a wife and mother be the best at it as you can. Pray for patience. In a career, George Vaillant M.D. says there are four C’s to finding joy. “Find something you are competent at, committed to, compensated for and contented with.” As a young mother I made so many mistakes, and compared myself to mother’s who I believed were completely out of my league of knowledge in parenting.
Now looking back my advice would be this; it’s important to be sure you’re being valuable to someone else, maybe your children or husband. Form and cultivate relationships, not just at work but in all aspects of your life, where you have something to offer that someone else wants.

When I turned 40 I felt I was in the best health of my life, eating right, working out everyday and enjoying my teenagers. For some people it’s a balancing act to take care of their children and care for their aging parents. I didn’t have the pleasure of caring for my mother as she aged, so I concentrated on my family life. The mothering ‘guilt’ was gone I felt I had done well at raising intelligent beautiful children. In my 40’s I began to understand a little about happiness, I was more calm and peaceful. My story is not quite typical, as in my late 40’s I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but for the typical person in their 40’s it’s a time of self assurance, finding joy in what they have accomplished in life thus far.

Now I am in my 50’s–I read one time that the younger generation believes when you wake up on your 50th birthday you suddenly want to move to a small village in Costa Rica to open up a dog shelter…..ha ha, if my family is reading this they will laugh because that is that last thing on earth I would do–no matter what age. As funny as that is, it’s simply not my reality. I have always been someone’s mom, or Eric’s wife. I have had to redefine myself seek out new hobbies, try new things. I’ve had to learn to not compare my wealth to the health I had in my 20’s. I now realize I don’t get everything in life, but I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit. I happy on a different level, everyday I thank my Heavenly Father for allowing me to experience another sunrise, or the opportunity to play with my beautiful grandchildren. I’ve learned I am enough, I am strong, brave and compassionate. I am celebrating the small miracles I see in my life and look forward to exploring more of who I am. I listen to my heart and ask for help through prayer. I love my life right now, I’m true to myself and work hard to serve others.

I am looking forward to doors opening up for me as I move into my 60’s and beyond. Above all my family means more to me than ever before. I have faith and hope for a future full of pure joy.

XOXO Monya Bonbon

Resilience

Resilience

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Life is not always peaches and cream.  Learning how to bounce back when times are tough can help you enjoy the inevitable roller coaster we sometimes ride.

Have you ever met someone who seems bulletproof when it comes to life’s trials? I often wonder why some of the kindest people I know are constantly bombarded with challenges of life; and how they always seem to bounce back very quickly with little or no damage to their soul.  I have seen them emotional, so I know they are not hiding with their head in the sand. I believe they are simply resilient.

According to the American Psychological  Association, resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats of significant sources of stress-such as family and relationship problems, serious health issues, or workplace, and financial stressors.  It’s basically bending instead of breaking.

Anyone can learn to be resilient, I was forced to choose resilience or stay in bed and cry it out….(I actually have done that a few times)

I’d like to share with you some of the things I have found useful to build my resilience and be prepared for the next time life decides to throw me a curve ball.

  1.  FACE YOUR FEAR: I had no choice but to face my fears; cancer was a fear I never knew I had until I was diagnosed with it.  I took time to learn everything I could about the nasty villain; from reliable sources. I soon found out if I didn’t face this head on, it would restrict my life but not extinguish the villain. In other words, even if I ignored it, I still had cancer. So I asked questions (a lot of questions) I didn’t want to know statistics but wanted to know what I could do to help myself get through the difficult times.
  2. BUILD FRIENDSHIPS THAT MATTER: One of my coping skills I mastered was my blog, I used it to connect with people who were going through the same process; but restricted it to those who were interested in being positive. One of the most important things to have when you are going through a difficult time is to open your circle of friends-and be open to new relationships. I learned the hard way it is important to have people you can rely on and who can rely on you. Giving support to others to just as important as receiving it. As brave or determined you might think you are, you need a support system that can catch you when you fall.
  3. FIND A SENSE OF PURPOSE: Nietzsche a German philosopher  said it well “He who has a why to live for, can bear almost anything” I learned really fast what was important to me; family. Living your life on purpose gives you purpose and meaning in a way you probably never knew you could. There are so many distractions in life to keep you from living in the moment. When you find a reason to live and fight for you can be pretty darn strong.  One of the everyday purposeful things I do is give back to other’s-service get’s you out of your own world and gives you a sense of wellbeing.
  4. BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE: This one was harder for me to grasp and took a few years to realize I needed to re-evaluate my physical activity.  Before my diagnosis I was training for my first Marathon. Most of my life I have been an athlete, I love running, cycling, lifting weights and cross-training. It was a part of my life, 6 days a week I was in the gym and running the track. It came to a complete halt when the doctors suggested I stop running and cut down in my gym classes.  When asked to just walk or do some exercises at home I was appalled thinking “walking? seriously? who does that?” I’ve now opened my mind to the idea that some exercise is helpful for both emotional and physical resilience.
  5. EMBRACE CHANGE: While change is not always easy, it’s an inevitable part of life. Why fight it? You cannot control some of the things that happen to you, but you can control how you handle them.  I try to to tackle things head on and stay optimistic in regards to the out come.

We don’t always know when stress will strike, but we can be better prepared to meet it when it does by following these 5 steps I have learned to embrace. Resilience is a learned behavior–but it’s ok to feel sad, angry or disappointed. When that happens to me I go into my closet, scream, cry, yell or pray for help but when I step out of that closet I know it is game on and I dry my tears.

XOXO Monya Bonbon

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

I’ve been asked by several people “How did you learn to forgive?” This question has caused me to really think about the process of forgiveness. I’m not quite certain there is a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question.

When you are hurt by another person, especially if it is someone you are supposed to love–there is a confusion between doing what is ‘right’ and holding onto every bit of vengeance and anger you have.

For me personally I had to go through the emotions of, hatred, anger, sadness, depression, fear, shame and guilt. Each and every one of these emotions took years to overcome and I took it out on those around me. I rationalized how I felt by saying “He needs to acknowledge what he has done and ask for forgiveness.”

When I finally decided enough was enough, I realized I was allowing the person who offended me to still be in control. I didn’t want my life to be ruled by him any longer. I began by taking time for myself everyday to say out loud “I can forgive you” even if I didn’t honestly feel like I had forgiven I did this anyway. This was not any easy practice many times I stumbled on my words with tears running down my cheeks.

I read a book called ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness” and began to soften my heart. I believe, just like there are different levels of sin, there are also different levels of forgiveness. For example, if someone were to lie or steal from me I could forgive and move forward, I may not ever do business with them but I could accept them in my life. However, if someone where to abuse one of my children or grandchildren, it would take some work on my part but I could forgive them but I would never invite them over for dinner. There has to be a separation sometimes for safety and sanity.

I started to feel sorry for my offender, I even wondered if he had been hurt as a child. Slowly but surely I began to see myself through the eyes of God and knew He loved me and wanted me to heal, completely. The only possible way for me to rebuild my life was to fully forgive. I prayed for my offender everyday, and asked for peace to fill my heart. Remember this was a daily battle I fought for years, this did not come over night.

When I was finally able to let go of the expectations I had, I discovered all the wonderful possibilities I had been shutting out. Instead of living in a dark lonely place, I saw each day as an opportunity to make a change, to shift directions and to get a little closer to the things my heart desired. This was no longer about forgiving the offender. I now had the knowledge of how to do it, this was about my happiness. Once and for all I was able to say “I forgive you”

I think the only advice I can give now is live in the present, do not lose it to past regrets or future worry.

Monya Bonbon

Mother’s

Mother’s

 

What is it about Mother’s that make us celebrate and dedicate an entire day to them?  I loved being pregnant, was sleep deprived when they were infants, frustrated when they were toddlers and spent a lot of time on my knees when they became teenagers.

So, is there a secret to being a good mom? It’s the hardest, most exhausting job I’ve ever had.  I was never interviewed to determine if I met the requirements, I wasn’t given a manual when I left the hospital but I also never questioned the unconditional love I had for each one of my babies.

Did I make mistakes? Yes I did, I made plenty of mistakes, I still do.  Even though my children are now parents themselves I’m still their mother, I will always be their mother yet still there are times I want to be better.

The truth is motherhood is an amazing gift, not a competition I spent too much time comparing myself to other women who I ‘thought’ were doing a much better ‘job’ then I did.  I always dread sitting through church on Mother’s Day.  Every year, every speaker talks about how wonderfully perfect their mother is. I know none of my children can honestly say I was a perfect mother.

This year I loved listening to the stories about mothers.  I finally realize it’s ok to not be perfect, in fact it’s annoying to even try to be perfect.  I am perfectly imperfect and I’m feeling fantastic about it.  Frenchie and I have done our very best;  I have no regrets. Our four children are incredible but it has nothing to do with our parenting skills or lack of.

Each one of our children are unique and talented in their own way, as much as I’d like to take credit for their incredible attributes; I can’t. So to every mother out there who beats themselves up for not being the mom you ‘think’  you should be or could have been STOP THAT– Motherhood is hard for every woman, finding balance in every move you make is gut wrenching at times but at the end of the day if you can say “I did my best today” you’ve done your job. If you feel frustrated and wish you’d done something different, then do it; there is always tomorrow.

Monya Bonbon

 

 

Beauty

Beauty

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

Disneyland 2016

Disneyland 2016

I had a wonderful time sharing Disneyland with Kaitlyn-Brian-Phoenix–Blake-Chloe-Wesley–and Haleigh and Scott–

My legs were so heavy and in pain most of the time, but it was well worth the memories we made. I only wish Kayla-Jeremy-Recker-Ezra and Theo could have been there with us.

Haleigh and Phoenix mesmerized by the parade
Kaitlyn Brian and of course Phoenix
Blake and Chloe are the perfect match–ask Wesley
I love this ride–it gives so much HOPE for our world

What’s Up?

What’s Up?

Ok so I haven’t been the best at blogging my true feelings about the unfortunate facial paralysis I have.  Here is a quick synapse of what has happened just in the last 2 years.

 

  • Mastoid (layman’s tumor) in the inner ear canal, burned black skin, very long difficult surgeries.
  • Woke up one day with the right side of my face partially paralyzed–spent 3 weeks in the ICU and had 3 surgeries to find out exactly what happened.
  • The nerve in my face that controls the right side went completely dead–no reason except an infection we had a hard time getting rid of.
  • I was told to go home and learn how to deal with the new face, Eric was told “Get used to your new wife, she will never smile again.” (I love this Doctor, I am just stating how we heard it, not necessarily how he delivered it.)
  • Went to Cleveland Clinic for 7 weeks waiting to have another at least 12-15 hour surgery. Had what I thought was a near death experience.
  • Came home to Arizona, searched for a surgeon who specialized in facial trauma…found him, love him and he’s at Mayo Clinic or Maricopa (options are nice)
  • Had a nerve crossover surgery (layman’s…they took the nerve from my calf and threaded it through the left side of my head, down to my cheek.
  • Waited one year, and the nerve grew one inch a month–Dr. Lettieri very pleased..me too.
  • Had the next part of of the nerve surgery, everything was great until it wasn’t…infection again this time compromising the parotid gland (Layman’s–your saliva gland)
Yesterday Dr. Lettieri called me to advise I will be having surgery tomorrow.  I realized tonight as I mentally prepared to enter surgery tomorrow….I am a professional at surgery.  The hospital admittance receptionist called and said
“Monya, we are planning on seeing you at 5:30 am”
“Ok I will be there.”
So simple, so comfortable and so REAL.  It’s not normal for hospital staff to actually know a patient well enough to talk to them with such ease. No questions about health history or medications I take, not even the routine of no aspirin, no eating after midnight….nothing just “See you tomorrow”
I’m so tired of telling my family and friends about surgeries, asking for prayers, it’s almost embarrassing for me I done it so many times.  I know those who pray for me don’t feel like it’s a burden but this story is getting old and needs an ending of Happy, and thriving in life.
When I start to feel sorry for myself I think about all the people who have shown me so much faith and hope during the last seven years.  I also think about my strength and the spiritual growth I have gained by going through these hard times. I’m not the same person I was pre cancer.  I know Heaven is watching over me and everything that has happened is for a reason….I have no idea what that reason is but I know the Lord knows and has a plan for me.  So as I retire to bed tonight I will kneel to pray once again to ask for guidance and inspiration for Dr. Lettieri to have steady hands and a clear mind as he enters the O.R. once again with me.