Archives for 2011


DiMaggio, Joseph Paul Jr.: His Love for MM

Marilyn Monroe was his friend, step-mother, idealized woman and sexual fantasy. How do I know this? I married Joe DiMaggio Jr. when I was seventeen and he was twenty-one.

When I met him he was still mired in the grief of her recent death, while I found myself adoring him, bereft of family and father myself. Like misfits, we were lost, grasping, and broken. Absent were the makings for any type of healthy relationship but I loved him as only a seventeen year old heart can love, with every part, holding nothing back for myself. Do I regret my time with him? Not for a moment.

Marilyn Monroe came into his life when he was only ten years old. At that tender age he was already separated most of the time from his parents while attending boarding school. He once told me that he felt like a bother to his parents.


Marilyn Monroe vs. Norma Jeanne and Dawn

I do not relate to the Marilyn Monroe persona in any conceivable way. Not in beauty, sex appeal, style, dress, voice, talent, or life experience as a world renowned starlet. But I do believe I understand and relate to Norma Jeane, the compliant child-woman, the person she was behind the persona, the real person who is the subject of this post.

I have often wondered if it was the Norma Jeane quality that compelled my young husband Joey, Marilyn Monroe’s step-son, to chose me, marry me and then fervently try to re-make me into his Marilyn Monroe idealized image by changing the way I dressed and behaved.


Like Norma Jeane not Marilyn Monroe

In my memoir, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe, I write about the many ways in which I relate to Norma Jeane.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, one of my earliest attachments was to trees. I want to talk about my love of trees now because it’s something that I shared with Norma Jeane. Perhaps it’s because I feel shy about things I reveal in my book that I am choosing to start with more cautious, less invasive comparisons. The other stuff, the embarrassing stuff, can wait until later, when I am feeling less reticent. Always one to ease slowly into unfamiliar situations, I try to tread lightly.


“Sacred Living and Sacred Dying”


“One does not need to evoke theological or religious arguments to defend

the case for life after biological death. In the world of particle physics, all

annihilation means transformation, not into nihilism, but into something radically

new and vibrant. “ Diarmuid O’ Murchu


Dawn, I do appreciate our on-going conversations about death and dying, especially the need to confront our issues …. before ….. we can really get on with living our lives fully. I like your thoughtful questions, a person could ask, such as: “What will happen when we die, what do I need to do, believe, change …. etc.  Following are some of the thoughts and insights that are guiding me these days. I would like to think they are enriched by the learnings coming out of the IFS work around the higher Self.



“Spiritual unfolding is a universal field of influence and belonging. We all inhabit it and are inhabited by it.

It constitutes a central aspect of our being and becoming and unites us indelibly with the tapestry of creation itself.”

Diarmuid O’Murchu


Hello Dear Friends and Readers,

This week I blogged my tenth post having to do with my cancer experiences. For the second time I am rejoicing in the closure of that particular topic. After my guest post next week, I will submit 4 posts about my connection to Marilyn Monroe or rather Norma Jeane in preparation for my upcoming book, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the shadow of Marilyn Monroe.

I am writing an extra post this week for two reasons. First, to thank all of you who have supported me throughout this blogging adventure. Those of you who know me know that writing is quite a challenge for me.


Rejected by Victoria Secret

“The core paradox that underlies spirituality is the haunting sense of incompleteness, of being somehow unfinished…..For to be human is to be incomplete, yet yearn for completeness…” Ernest Kurtz

In 2004, I was a vibrant, successful, fifty-nine year old kick butt racket-ball player. Suddenly faced with a mastectomy, then abruptly relegated to drab, colorless, unfashionable bras ─ the ugly bra syndrome ─ was quite disconcerting. Despite the absence of one breast, I still wanted to feel sensual through the look and feel of lovely undergarments. No longer available to post mastectomy women were the vibrant colors and various materials that I preferred.

Reconstruction proved unattainable due to protracted radiation. The ever tenacious part of me sprang into action. For as long as I can remember, when faced with obstacles, I won’t stop until I have exhausted every possible means to the end. Then I think of another possible approach then another…. Driving home, resigned, having being told by the surgeon that breast reconstruction would have over a 50% failure rate my next course of action was forming.


Breast Reconstruction Foiled

One year after my mastectomy, I was thrilled to finally have my consult with a reconstruction surgeon. Of course the treatment team had informed me that radiation would most likely preclude the possibility of breast reconstruction but I only heard the “possibility” part of that sentence. Women need to be 100% certain that we understand radiation treatments may (probably) rule out reconstruction. For a person like me who thinks she can buck up under any circumstance involving pain, I didn’t understand that the radiation in and of itself would compromise skin tissue thereby affectively eliminating my choice.

Filled with confidence and ready to get on with the next phase of my recovery process I awaited the surgeon’s footsteps with excited anticipation.


Cancer: Bald, burnt and tired

“Learning to befriend the dark means learning to befriend nothingness.”

“Our experience of nothingness can be personal or political; they can be at times the most affirming and unitive experiences of our lives and at other times the most devastating and earth-shaking experiences. What is certain is that our nothingness experiences are never superficial. They are always rock-bottom, radical, of our roots.” Matthew Fox

36 radiation treatments after months of chemo therapy, bald, burnt and tired I was dropped off of the conveyor built of cancer treatments. Close to one year had passed since I was first diagnosed with cancer. Grateful, I was ready for my reward, a cruise to Alaska.

Except for feeling self-conscious about my baldness, I was delirious with gratitude. Oh, the many levels of thoughts and feelings that simultaneously occur within each of us are truly stunning.


Radiation treatment: Danger Keep out



“Like water I am poured out, disjointed are all my bones. My heart has become like wax, it is melted within my breast. Parched a burnt clay is my throat, my tongue cleaves to my jaws.”  (Ps. 22:14-16)


Scheduled for thirty six radiation treatments, four small marks resembling large freckles were permanently tattooed on my chest precisely pinpointing the boundaries to correspond with the area needing radiation.

Sitting in the waiting room, lacking any semblance of a spiritual being, drool leaked down my chin. Three women, also in hospital gowns opened at the back, mirrored the terror in my eyes.

The moment I saw the sign on the entrance door to the radiation room, I began my “chin-quivering-drool-tic”. Large letters read “DANGER – KEEP OUT”. Panic enveloped me when my name was called.


Chemotherapy, Skydiving and Drooling

“Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled, made nothing? Are you willing to be made nothing? dipped into oblivion? If not, you will never really change.” D.H. Lawrence

I have an unattractive motion in my chin when I have exceeded my terror level. It gets numb and quivers pathetically causing me to drool. This happened during my one and only sky dive and just prior to a scuba dive off of the Great Barrier Reef. It happened as I followed the nurse down the long foreboding hallway to the hospital bed. The chin thing started when the nurse approached me in the waiting room.