Tag: Kindness

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

Parenthood

Parenthood

I love this picture of Frenchie (Papa) with 5 of the 7 grandchildren–the joy on his face was priceless.  Most of you have probably heard this “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” I think this is a true statement My birth father was not around when I was a child, but I believe if he could do it all over again, he would have been an incredible dad. I have been blessed with some very good examples in my life of strong courageous men who didn’t have much to offer financially to their children, but provided them with love, and kindness. They taught their son’s to work hard and play hard, and taught their daughter’s to be bold, brave and to go after their dreams.

I have three son in-laws and a son who I’m proud of, they teach their children to go forth in faith-learn to laugh and enjoy life; but also give them the discipline they need to grow to be righteous and live with  integrity. Children have a respectful amount of fear for their father’s because they don’t want to let them down, their father’s are the super hero’s who they strive to become; a healthy amount of respectful fear is ok. I was a stay at home mom; I remember when my children were little they were so sick of me they’d run to the door to greet Eric yelling “Daddy is home” by the time they were teens it was a different story when the garage door opened and they knew he was home they scattered like mice to make sure they had homework done, rooms cleaned etc.  This is not to say Eric was a bad father or that they didn’t love him he told them everyday how much he loved them and still does but it’s that ‘respectful fear’ I’m talking about.

My oldest daughter Kayla and her husband Jeremy are  amazing, as I watch them raise their children with Autism I am in awe at times and wish I would have lowered my voice and softened my heart more. Blake, my only son has a good mixture of myself and his father in him. I’ve never seen a daddy more interested in his little daughter as he is, if I am watching little Weslie, Blake calls for me to do a Facetime or asks me to send pictures. His wife Chloe is a doll, I love her so much and am eternally grateful she is part of our family; very funny, smart and knows how to communicate, something I struggled with at her age. Kaitlyn, will forever be Phoenix’s and Archie’s mom….they love her and I love watching her, she is the most like me. When I watch how well she is with her boy’s I once again wish I’d done somethings different. Apparently it is true dad’s are their son’s super hero’s just ask Phoenix, he’d rather be with his dad than anyone else in the world. In his eyes’s Brian can make no mistakes and can do anything.  Haleigh is our youngest daughter, she has a son with her husband Scott they are such patient, soft spoken parents. Of course I understand little Ellis is only 8 months old but I’ve never seen them upset or filled with anxiety like I was with my first child. I look forward to seeing the personalities of all my grandchildren grow as they watch their parents and learn from example.

The truth is, I have no regrets every moment of motherhood I’ve loved.  Did I make mistakes? Ummm…YES I did, many, but right now at this moment I am in love with being a grandparent. I can’t have a ‘do over’ so I go from here, I still make mistakes, say too much, react too quickly then say “I’m sorry” Parenting is hard, according to the handbook I received when they were born I did everything wrong; but all my children are perfect to me, they found their way I did much better than my mother did and they will do even better….it’s the circle of life.

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

Who Have You Helped Today?

Who Have You Helped Today?

I haven't always been interested in the well being of other people, I mean not to a point of making it an intentional part of my day. I wonder why it sometimes takes cancer, or a tragedy to help us understand the worth of every soul is great in the sight of God?  Is it even possible for us to comprehend the Love our Father in Heaven has for us? The only feeling I can think of that would even come close to that type of unconditional love is the love a parent has for their children.

I remember a night during chemo, I was so sick I'd lost so much weight and literally wanted my life to end. I laid on the floor begging and pleading for the Lord to take it all away. That didn't happen, but since that long dreary night I learned a lesson--He has the power to take away all of our heartaches and pains, but He doesn't because He loves us that much, He wants us to learn then go out and teach others. I imagine when He see's his children going through difficult times He wants to take it all away, I know when my own children have suffered I've wanted to do everything I could do to make it better for them.

Today as I drove into my subdivision toward home, a woman waved me down. She seemed to be frantic, I rolled down my window and asked her what was wrong. She replied while pointing "Do you know that young man?" I looked over and face down in the rocks was a young man covered in dirt. Not knowing if he was dead or alive I touched his shoulder and asked "Can I help you?" He didn't move but I could tell he was still breathing, again I gave him a little shove to wake him up when he turned over he was frothing from the mouth, he was not in good shape. I believed he was overdosed on something. All around him were graham crackers and ginger ail cans.  I asked him "What is your name? where do you live?" His response was "Don't call the police I don't want any trouble." I finally convinced him to give me his mother's address so I could go get her. To avoid the police he decided to walk to Jack in the Box and I would have his mom meet him there.

My heart was aching for this boy, I didn't know how his mom would take the information but prayed the whole way to her house that KC would get to the Jack in the Box without any harm. When I rang her doorbell I asked her "Is your name Susie and do you have a son named KC?" Obviously this boy had a history of running away. She flung the door open ran out to my car yelling "No not my boy, please God let him be ok"  On the ride there I explained what had happened. She wanted me to drive her by the place where I found him, then quickly we went to see if he was were he promised me he'd be. He was in such bad shape a part of me thought he wouldn't have made it a mile down the road without getting hit by a car.  The embrace between mother and son is not something I will soon forget. He could barely stand, he collapsed into her arms.

We made it to a table outside and I sat across from him, he looked at me and said "I just want to die, why didn't you just let me die?" My eyes filled with tears that drizzled down my face. His mom started to talk but I took my hands and lifted his head to look into my eyes, I wanted him to hear me I mean really hear what I was telling him. She could see I was trying to connect with her son and she remained quiet for this part. With watery eyes I told him "I understand how you feel....." he cut me off  in sobbing tears "How could you possible understand?" My heart was racing, I said a little prayer in my head asking Heavenly Father to please give me the words to help this boy. "I may not know exactly what you are feeling, but I do know what it feels like to want to be dead." "Why would you want to die?" "Well, KC I was abused growing up, physically mentally and sexually I didn't want to live through that. Then a few years ago something most would say is horrible happened to me, I was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer-it forced me to see life through different lenses. I will forever be grateful that I was able to forgive, now I look intentionally everyday for people who need help. KC do you believe in God?" He began to cry uncontrollably then said "Yes why?" "Do you know that God wants you to be happy?" What happened next penetrated my soul and I will never forget it. He looked me in the eyes and said "I was sexually abused" a gasp of air came out of me, I was not prepared to hear that from him.  His mom looked at me with tears, grabbed her son and continually said "I'm so sorry that happened to you."  I explained that none of what happened to him was his fault he was only 14 years old, but until he can get some help he will always be living the nightmare that man put him through. I could see he was delicate he started to hallucinate  I suggested we get him to the hospital. His arms were so swollen, the needle tracks showed me the battle field of his life. When we got him to the hospital he asked "Does God Really want me to be happy? I mean do you really mean that or are you saying what you think I want to hear?"  Once again I held his face in my hands looked him straight in the eye and said "I KNOW He wants you to be happy, and I also know He guided me to you today." KC will enter a rehab facility tomorrow and I promised him I'd visit.

I have had sleepless nights, unimaginable pain and yes thoughts of death. Now that I am where I am in my life, all that I have learned and am still trying to understand I would never trade my life for any one else's. The Lord has been preparing me for moments like the one I had with this young man. I have been given beautiful opportunities to see miracles happen in the lives of people who want to listen.

Recovering from this last procedure I endured has been really difficult. I wake up in a sweat dreaming about the unnecessary trauma I experienced-the people who have reached out to me are little angels the Lord sends, they don't even realize the relief I get, the joy I feel from a simple "how are you doing?" So forget about making millions, or following celebrity lives--sit with someone who needs you, listen with your heart and judge no-one. Don't let people take advantage of you but be open to making friends with someone who needs you. In the end of your life you want to know you made a difference in a life. Love yourself enough, be confident in who you are then go share it.

XOXO Monya Bonbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine

My body has physically been through so much trauma, I often wonder how I have survived it all.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of picking up Recker from school. My Heavenly Father knew I needed this sweet boy in my life, he was born just four months after I was diagnosed, I was blessed to be able to watch him when his mom (my daughter) went back to work.  I will never forget the day I stood at the top of my stairs and begged Eric not to go to work, the depression was so bad during chemo I wanted to literally die. Eric looked up at me and said “Your almost done babe, just keep fighting. Recker is coming over today you need to be here for him.”  I sat on the floor and bawled as I listened to him shut the door.  I couldn’t imagine one more day of throwing up, pain and depression.

When Recker arrived I dried my eyes and held him in my arms.  I’d make it through another day staring into his beautiful eyes, the focus on him kept me alive I loved taking care of him he needed me and I needed him.  Within a year he was diagnosed with Autism, although we were incredibly sad, we also had no idea what autism was or how it would effect our family.  Eight years later, I constantly wish I could be in his head and understand what he is feeling or thinking.

When I picked him up from school, he got in the back seat put on his seat belt–I looked back at him to make sure he was safe, smiled put my finger to my chin and said “I love you Recker” he then put his finger to his chin and said what sounded to be “I love you.”  We drove in silence, well except me talking to him about his day and how school was–he stared into the open air with no response.  When we arrived at my home he immediately put his swim suit on and was ready to dive into the not so warm water.  I sat and watched him swim for over two hours with no verbal communication.  He was perfectly content and so happy.

I realized while watching him, it’s us that are sad for him-he will eventually if he hasn’t already understand that he is different, but we try to teach him he is not less than any other child or person-just different. That night I went to see the movie ‘I Can Only Imagine’ a true story I recommend everyone to see.  It was difficult to sit through, this boy was abused physically and verbally by his father and so many parts of it reminded me of my younger years.

Tonight as I ponder the words from that song, I tried to lose myself in the words of the beautiful words. I can only imagine what it will be like to be in Heaven once again with Recker, both of us with perfect bodies and minds, no more trauma or mis-understandings just pure love. I will finally be surrounded by the unconditional love of a God who has reached down and pulled me out of difficult times. I can only imagine when that day comes my heart will be entwined with perfect knowledge of exactly what God see’s in each one of us.. I will probably have a hard time speaking, but we will not be able to get Recker to stop talking, it’s interesting in our lives we take so much for granted. I cannot image living in a world where you want so badly to communicate with people, especially the people you love most-family. Imagine how hard it would be to understand every word other’s are saying but not being able to respond. What a joyous day it will be for me to see Recker embrace our Savior and hear Him tell Recker what a special boy he is.

On a few occasions I have had the opportunity during surgeries to visit Heaven and see a glimps of what I believe is the most beautiful, perfect place I have ever visited.  Because of those visits I have been granted,  I want to live my life in a way my family will be proud of, I want to help and serve other’s I will do anything it takes to live there for Eternity once my body is ready to part from this world. It is glorious and beautiful nothing hear on earth compares to Heaven–I will be with Recker, Ezra and Theo and hopefully my entire family for eternity–I love that thought.

Love 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

There is an upside to feeling Down

There is an upside to feeling Down

Positive emotions always feel good but experts say the negative ones are just as important.
I think social media has so many good features and the idea of seeing into other’s lives can be used for good. Scroll through your social media outlets chances are you will see smiling faces and stories of perfect children. Couples holding hands walking at sunset on the beach. friends toasting over celebrations and promotions. There are some who post about somber moments or topics, but overall, positivity outshines negativity.

The problem with this, real life isn’t always roses and candy. Live is full of disappointments, both small and large. We are all thrown curveballs, form lay offs to losing a loved one. The problem with this is we live in an age when people put only their most perfect moments on display, it therefore would be easy to feel as if you’re the only one who ever goes through tough times.

Surprise, you are not alone, and the hard parts are just as important for a life full of happiness as positive experiences.It is irrational to think we can rid our lives of all negative experiences. I’ve always said “It’s less about what happens and more about how you deal with it”

Despite what articles, books and social media suggest, human beings are not designed to feel happy every second of everyday. Negative emotions do serve a purpose, both evolutionarily and emotionally. When we think of emotions such as sadness, stress and anxiety as red flags that your mind wants you to pay attention to, sadness and other negative feelings indicate that we nee to make some changes. When we are angry usually it is because we feel we have been wrongly accused of and feel the need to correct. If you feel anxious there may be a threat you need to address. When you are sad it means you care about a situation so deeply that it’s causing you distress. In my life negative situations have always leg me to something better like a job or new relationships. I never beat myself up when I have these feelings because it has been proven repressing negative moods can actually make you feel worse.People who are able to accept their emotions both the light and the dark-without judgement are better able to cope with stress and feel better in the long run. We need to remember Happiness is not static-it’s more about moving towards your goals. I’ve said before, when I am having a difficult day or given a not so positive diagnosis I go into my closet shut the door and either scream, yell, cry or pray. When I’m done throwing my tissy fit I go out the door and it’s over, I’ve trained my brain to deal with disappointments by doing this.

I’ve learned there are a lot of strategies to get past the difficult times. I learned from David Byrd to be present and focus on the good you have in your life right now. If you are able to use your senses to help you snap back into the present it helps. For example if you are sitting you car, feel the back of your leg touching the seat. Feel the air-conditioning blowing on you. This helps remind your brain in sensations that everything is going to be ok- you can find some peace in whatever is going on. Another good old fashion way to remove problems is to have some distractions, my grandchildren are my favorite distractions. Go to a movie, go get a manicure or pedicure maybe even a massage.

Not everything in life is black and white, some people try to sort things that happen into these neat little categories; either good or bad. I am not one of those people I live in the gray area. I think when we focus on either end of the spectrum it ignores the in-between part, the area where I usually live, the gray part. I think the gray area is an exciting are to live in, it shows that you are transitioning, and signals you’re brain that things are finally falling into place. The happiest people I know wouldn’t feel that way if they didn’t experience hard times. We grow and become who we are supposed to be when we experience all of the areas on the spectrum. Most of the people I know who have been through really tough things come out better people because of it–was it fun? Ummmm….No but the strange thing about going through the worst possible scenarios in life is that eventually they become the best things that could have happened to us.

XOXO Monya Bonbon

Happy Children

Happy Children

There are actually steps you can take to make sure you are raising children who will always look on the sunny side of things.

How many of you know happiness can be learned? Happiness is a skill trait rather than an inborn personality trait. We were all born with the natural ability to feel sadness, anger, and frustration. However, if we teach our children at a young age the language of happiness they will naturally gravitate to it first.

So many times children focus on their own needs rather than on helping others. When a child see’s their parents giving and helping other’s they are raised in an environment of intentionally looking for service to give. It’s interesting; children who are raised thinking when they ‘have’ material things they are happy vs. children who are raised to give usually end up being the one’s who get more.

When parents teach a child that making caring for other’s a priority by stressing kindness over happiness and provide opportunities for their children to actually practice caring and gratitude
it expands the child’s circle of concern to more than just a ‘me’ or ‘mine’ thinking.

This all starts with parents and grandparents attitudes. Children watched and hear everything we do and say. I recently attended a conference with Martin Seligman, director of the positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. One thing I wrote in my notes was him giving this advice as an example for parents to use rather than complaining that the line in the grocery store is too long, try saying “This line is moving so fast, we’ll be out of here in no time at all.” Optimism needs to be directed by the adults and the children will follow.

I also do not think parents should focus on perfection. Children need to hear that they should do the best they can. Psychologist say it’s more important to praise children for their effort and hard work than for their intelligence or skills. We need to teach our children that it is totally ok to make mistakes–teach them that most of life’s lessons are learned from mistakes that have been made. I was not a very great student and had a hard time focusing, I think a B+ is cause for a celebration. Perfection will and never has been achieved by anyone I know.

Some Do’s and Don’ts from my perspective:
Do: Allow your children some downtime–less stress equals happier children
Don’t: Be the mom who pushes her children to succeed at all costs

Do: Make some “me” time a happy mom leads to happy children
Don’t: Devote every second you have to your children, no matter how much they want you to

Do: Encourage quality time with their dad. Feeling loved by dad is more important than feeling loved by mom.
Don’t: Think you’re doing your children’s father a favor by handling all child-rearing responsibilities, we don’t live in the 50’s

Do: Customize your parenting approach to your child’s personality. Some children need structure, while other’s may flourish with authority. Every child is different
Don’t: Use a one size fits all approach to parenting or discipline

Do: Draw boundaries. Children thrive on routine, so stick to your guns and enforce bedtime.
Don’t: Try to be your child’s best friend

Do: Relish the messes. Too often I missed moments of joy because I was worried about small insignificant things like the dishes in the sink
Don’t: Be a neat freak, forgetting to have fun and quality time for a bunch of chores.

XOXO Monya Bonbon