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12/31/09

New Year, New Goals

The beginning of a new year lends itself to renewal, a starting-over-point. That may mean going in a completely different direction or modifying a current situation. Either way, it requires a decision. Once when I faced a choice between two options, I sensed an inner voice (I believe it was God) saying… “Go and you will be blessed; stay and you will be blessed.”

Conversely, the opposite of that is also true. Go and you will have problems; stay and you will have problems. That is not to be negative, just a realistic look at how life works. Here are some thoughts regarding enhancing the success of those important decisions and new goals.

Make a decision. There are lots of choices and not all of them can be pursued at once. Clarify your top priority; select and simplify.

Clarify the decision. See the end from the beginning by painting a picture of the intended results. Since everything is created in the mind before it becomes reality, write brief statements giving specific terms and in present tense voice. Use “I am” statements as opposed to “I am going to.” Write it down as if it is already a reality. This step gives you finality and energy; it lets you see how it looks and feels.

Get honest. Detail things that will help and things that will hinder the accomplishment of this goal. Be pro-active in seeing problems and seeking solutions. This includes personality characteristics, mechanical issues as well as the input of others. Example: your creative ideas and energy are a plus, whereas your lack of focus and procrastination slows progress. Think about alternate sources for supplies. Who may be for you and who may be against you and how will you address each?

Day-to-day. This is the nuts and bolts where you take the big picture and reduce it to stepping stones. What needs to be done today? Such as items purchased, calls made, actions taken. What nee4ds to be done tomorrow? What will I have achieved by the end of the month? Use several specific time frames – one month, two months, six months, one year. This is short-term planning that brings long-range accomplishment.

Continually evaluate. Celebrate advancements and negotiate needed adjustments. This is the living out of the “Get Honest” step. What actions need to be implemented, changed or halted? Who needs to be brought on board, consulted with or let go? What back-up resources are available? NASA reports that space voyages are frequently off course. What keeps them on target? Constant evaluation and adjustment; aligning where-we-are-now with where-we-are-going.

Goal setting and planning is an excellent way to break out of the mundane. Follow NASA’s example to discover your own new worlds.

12/23/09

Epiphany

In the Christian faith, epiphany is a term used to mark the arrival of the Magi in their search for the Christ child. Epiphany has expanded to mean a sudden realization or deep understanding brought about through ordinary circumstances that made a profound change in an individual’s life. Here are three epiphanies in my life.

Beauty is more internal than external. I struggled with self-esteem issues for years. I had the mistaken idea that if only my weight was less and I was shorter than my 5’6” height and if my nose was a different shape then magically all my problems would be over. I erroneously reasoned that I would be little and cute and everybody would like me.

An individual came into my life that was overweight, tall and with less than perfect facial features. She was loving and kind and funny and people were drawn to her. It dawned on me that there may be reasons to dislike a person, but the package is not one of them. If people did not like me, it had to be something more than looks. And, if someone did not like me because of my weight or looks, who really owned the problem.

Peace came through recognition that I could not “add one cubit to my stature” (or take away) and calm reigned with thankfulness that my nose worked okay regardless of its size. Silence descended with the realization that weight management was in my power with the exercise of self-discipline. I began to work on things that were within my control, like letting go of the chip on my shoulder.

The result has been a humble acceptance of me with continued focus on character development. My healthy self-esteem has grown into a high regard for all humanity.

Vows are not to be taken lightly. I hate to admit this, but I went into marriage with an escape clause in the back of my mind. From divorce statistics, that seems to be the irrational reasoning of society today. Through contemplation of separation I became aware of the sacredness of vows I had made before God and man. The wedding covenant is necessary because we are not capable of loving a flawed individual, (at least not for a sustainable amount of time) therefore the need for public and spiritual accountability. Instead of looking for ways out, I began to pray for grace to stay. And God’s grace is sufficient. It has been forty-two years and these two flawed individuals are still together. I am glad that we each have made the work-through-it-commitment again and again. It is imperative to fall in love again and again with the same person.

It is relationship, not religion. From childhood I have been tender toward the things of God. Even though teenage rebellion drove me in other directions, the wooing of Holy Spirit never let up – sometimes to my defiant anger. I relented and tried again and again to be godly, always messing up. In a downtime, a knowing although non-audible still small voice spoke into my conscious: “Mona, stop trying so hard. Quit trying to make me Lord and Master. Just let me be your friend.”

I needed a friend. My response was a subdued nodding of my head and a faint whisper of “Okay.” Rockets did not zoom and bells did not go off, but there was a definite change in my life from that day forward. I allowed Jesus to be my friend. It is a friend relationship that continues to grow, allowing me to be accepting of myself and compassionately charitable with a universe filled with other flawed human beings.

None of these transformations were instant but each gave enough light to foster permanent growth. Another meaning of epiphany is “a manifestation of a divine being.” The Magi were searching for solutions in a promised ruler king and were humbled to encounter the author of authority revealed in a vulnerable baby.

The peace and life-changes I have encountered, and continue to chance upon, are brought about through my search for the Christ child – born, died and resurrected. The guiding star is still shining. Follow it and receive.

11/29/09

Happy Holy Days

December is host to many multi-cultural celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Pearl Harbor Remembrance, Winter Solstice and Boxing Day. Some are sacred and some are secular. Few months have more teachable moments of love, joy, peace and good will to all men.

December is renowned for shopping and baking and decorating and giving and partying and feasting and traveling and entertaining and stressing. Am I ready for Christmas? Yes, I am. Oh, there is still baking and decorating and other chores to do, but I suggest being ready is more an attitude than an activity.

It is the attitude of living within your means rather than over-spending. It is the attitude of caring for self and others without over-extension. It is the attitude of patience with the harried clerk at the store. It is giving a smile, and refusing to gripe and complain. It is the attitude of graciousness to stressed fellow travelers. It is the attitude of compassion for those with opposing beliefs. It is the attitude of thankfulness for our many freedoms, including worshiping as we choose. It is the attitude of appreciation for the men and women near and far that willingly put themselves in harms way for our protection as well as to bring liberty to the oppressed.

Even with all the hustle and bustle, I love the holidays. Although I like to give and to receive “Merry Christmas” greetings, I am not offended by being wished “Happy Holidays”. It is a quick way of encouraging another to remember that the long celebration season is filled with holy days.

In liturgical Christian churches, the holy days begin with Advent four weeks before December 25th and ends with the Epiphany, January 6th. This period is for reflection upon the true meaning of the season; a time to prepare our homes with lights and streamers and to entertain family and friends and to give gifts, and to ready our hearts to receive afresh a baby that has already been born, with twelve days afterwards to rejoice in the love gift given to mankind.

I believe in Christmas. I believe in the Christ of Christmas. Maybe as one makes every day “holy” during the extended holiday season, he will be better able to keep focus on peace on earth, good will to all men.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”

11/22/09

Reinforcing Boundaries

In this economy of lay-offs and role reversals, boundaries often become clouded. A working wife recently mentioned the frustration of needing downtime after a hectic workday and her house-husband's failure to honor that request. Here are some thoughts for being true to yourself.

Need vs. need. Trouble ensues in any relationship when prevailing attitudes are “my need is more important than your need.” We are needy individuals and it is okay to have your needs met. And they can be, in ways that are good for you and the relationship.

The value of appreciation. Anything that appreciates goes up in value. An authentic appreciation of your mate’s role in what he does lends itself to understanding and a willingness to negotiate. Having an appreciation of your contribution to the family can give you the confidence to firmly, yet kindly, set your boundaries of what you do or do not need.

Be a polite nag. Sometimes a person has good intentions yet fails to follow through. If your boundaries are not honored, speak up with a gentle reminder. Change occurs easiest when it is the person’s idea. Say something like, “Have you forgotten that you have agreed to allow me decompression space when I get home?”

Provided his response is civil, it may be necessary that you speak up again and again until he “gets it”. And graciously accept a slip and an apology. As Alan Alda says, "Be fair with another and stay after him until he is fair with you."

Find an adequate alternative. On the way home, stop by your favorite coffee shop for quiet time. Don your headphones and jogging suit and go to the park.

Delay is not denial. Perhaps your need to be self-nurtured outweighs your need to interact. Perhaps his need for companionship outweighs his need to respect your space. What about a switch-a-roo? Come home to a loving embrace and share a few moments of casual conversation – being genuinely concerned about each other’s day - then slip away for solitude.

It is my consensus that the most mature one in the relationship will make the most concessions. But never do so at the expense of you. Stuffing your irritation and later exploding is unfair to both of you. Make relationship more important than rights. When sacrifice is for the betterment of all, it transcends, and is no longer a sacrifice.

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net.

11/13/09

RESILIENCY

There has been a lot of press about studies from the Blue Zone; countries and townships where the inhabitants are healthy and live into the nineties and even one-hundreds. Contributing factors are diet, relationships, activity, spirituality and resiliency.

New Webster’s Dictionary defines resiliency as “Capable of resuming its shape or position after being subjected to stress. Capable of recovering rapidly, especially from an emotional shock. To spring back."

Life, lemons and lemonade. Sounds a lot like the adage, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Resiliency is the ability to take negatives and make positives, and in the process, to become a stronger individual. Resiliency is the belief that life - all life -has meaning, and finding the courage to see significance beyond the pain.

Being a resilient person may not seem natural to the human condition. But it is something you can teach yourself. It begins with a decision. Let’s look at becoming a resilient person by making an acrostic.

R – Relationships Realize that each person (you included) has infinite worth and value as a human being created in God’s image, regardless of labels or circumstances. See relationship as more important than opinion. Being moral and upright in all your affairs.

E – Emend Emend comes from a Latin word meaning, “to take the fault out”. It is to stop placing blame and look at reality. It is to give up the stress of controlling another by taking (or leaving) him as he is, instead of manipulating him to your ideal.

S – Spirituality Seeing you as a human being, subject to death, but also as an eternal spirit, destined to live forever. To surrender to a higher purpose that brings ultimate meaning to life. To recognize we are spiritual beings on a human journey.

I – Insight See beyond the surface to deeper meaning. Ask tough questions and give honest answers. Get brutally honest with you.

L – Larder Have a storehouse of new information and skills from which to draw. Being curious about the universe and open to learning. Be willing to evaluate, test and to stretch yourself.

I – Interdependence Realize we live in community and need each other. Learn to set healthy boundaries for self and respect wishes of others. Take initiative and exercise control of your own thoughts, actions and behaviors.

E – Embrace To hold in one’s arms. To see life as a precious gift and look forward to the dawning of each new day. See change as a means for growth.

N – Natural Know who you are and being comfortable in your own skin. Develop your innate gifts and talents.

C– Creativity See with different eyes. Learn to bring beauty out of chaos, meaning out of pain, and purpose from troubling experiences. Finding humor in the tragic.

Y – Yield To resist too stringently is to break. Be flexible. Know when to concede. Yield is also to bring forth fruit, to be productive, to give birth to.

Resiliency is the suitable combination of optimism and realism. You cannot control the events of life, but by choosing what you dwell on, you can control how you respond.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”

10/30/09

Fall Renewal

I love fall. Football games and frost in the air. Changing colors, festivals and cooler days. Even though it is preparation for winter, after a long hot summer, it is a great time for renewal. At the beginning of the year, goal setting is a big focus. As the year is winding down now is good time to review those commitments. It is not too late to make those dreams a reality. Here are some thought for the completion.

Continually re-evaluate. Maria Bartiromo is the voice of CNBC’s Closing Bell and a regular contributor to The Reader’s Digest. She says, “I constantly prioritize and reprioritize my daily schedule, which is broken into 10-minute intervals (emphasis mine). This exercise reminds me what’s important and what I still have left to do.”

Reprioritizes every ten minutes! That seems extreme to me. But then maybe I want to put a negative spin on those disciplines I am not willing to do. To make your 2009 goals a reality, first things must come first. Always.

Disturb the undisturbed. In January I mentioned my long-term strategy to de-clutter. I affixed markers that would indicate non-use, such as clothes hangers turned backward, safety pins attached to linens, post-it notes in files and duct tape reminders on select items. The goal was that if the marker was undisturbed after a set season, it indicated the item was no longer a viable space taker. I am boxing and pricing for an end-of-the month garage sale. What do you need to get rid of to free your energy field for productivity?

Be the best you possible. Within reason, go with you personal style. If your organization is piles of files, at least label and put in alphabetical ordered for easy retrieval. If you go for piles of piles, use decorative container as storage. Have a neat mess. A pleasant workspace pays great psychological dividends. When things are scattered it is messy; when in place it is neat and easily accessible that contributes to accomplishment.

Get emotionally honest. Are there things on your goals chart that you keep thinking about yet fail to do anything to bring it into fruition? And then you feel guilty about not doing it? There is true guilt and false guilt. True guilt is when you have harmed someone for your own selfish gain. False guilt is the failure to live up to expectations. Maybe it is time to determine what “I don’t intend to do” and remove the self-imposed drain.

Determine what you have done and feel good about it. In the fall of 2006 I lamented to my daughter of still unaccomplished yearly goals. She lovingly said, “But Mom, you really have done a lot.” And she was right. I had published my first book and was learning about Internet marketing. What a welcome relief that much had been completed and was acknowledged. With renewed vigor I embraced that winning feeling and preceded full steam ahead. Whether another notices or not, look at what all you really have done and embrace that feeling of accomplishment.

The holiday season is upon us: a time for family, friends and fun; a time to reflect on what is really important; a time to release old hurts and find humor in idiocy; a time of project completion and spiritual renewal. Enjoy.


We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.” Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net. 30

10/22/09

Handling a Slob

At an Organization Seminars, a lady who had established a home business with her husband asked, “How do you live and work peaceably with a slob?” Although a Felix Unger and Oscar Madison combination is difficult, following are a few thoughts that may contribute to harmony.

State it, don’t stuff it. Rather than stuff your frustration, state your position in a positive manner and with a pleasant attitude. Use “I” statements. Focus on things that can be changed and do not stack attack. Have a resolve suggestion in mind before addressing.

Do not respond negatively to negativity. Relationship has a lot to do with maturity and a mark of maturity is emotional stability. See love as an action rather than an emotion. Responding pleasantly to another’s reaction lessens the impact of their actions on you.

Ask for change without demanding change. Demands engender defensiveness whereas asking lends to cooperation. Be specific. Do not beat around the bush and do not hint. Openly communicate. You cannot control another’s ambition nor lack thereof.

Assess the situation.
Is the mess a character flaw or lack of resources? Is there a need for file cabinets, or storage bins? Could a closet be added? In tight quarters, utilize wall space for shelves over existing furniture. Has the time come to move to a larger space? Do you need to hire office assistance or cleaning help?

Eliminate, simplify or be neat. Some have a knack for organization and others do not. Rather than berate his/her weakness, offer non-threatening ideas. Stack it neatly. Box it up. Put it in drawers or behind cabinet doors. Throw or give it away or recycle. Offer to help in the tidiness project.

Everything needs a home. If it doesn’t have a home, it is clutter. A lady come to me out of frustrated with her husband and children because they threw things down and the home was constantly cluttered. After assessing the situation, we purchased baskets and organization items. We labeled the baskets and placed them in strategically. A large basket by the den door and a coat-hanger strip became home to sports equipment. Baskets on the kitchen counter became home for mail, coupons, pens/scissors, keys and pocket change. A basket was placed on the fireplace with each child’s name. As the room became cluttered with shoes, books, or toys, the wayward items were temporarily placed in the child’s box for him/her to return to its original home. Even though the husband had been a major contributor to the clutter, he told his wife, “I am so glad you did this. All that junk made me nervous.” Go figure.

What if they will not cooperate? First, assess your options. Is the mess unbearable or just not up to your standards? Is the disorderly situation new, or have you failed to set boundaries and now have had your fill? What is more important, neatness or the relationship? Is the clutter contributing to lost sales? Secondly, assess the locos of control. Being pleasant in a difficult situation is more about you than them. I love the Catholic prayer, “For the sake of Your passion, grant us grace.” Grace is giving undeserved leniency. As an aside, being a peacemaker sometimes involves making waves.

Relationships are difficult. Handle with love.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.” Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net.

10/13/09

Stress and Significance

All of us are searching for identity, position, purpose and significance. Often in the process we encounter stress.

I was in Jersey City on the Hudson to attend and to present at the International Conference of the William Glasser Institute. The vendors were nearly finished setting up when I arrived at the book room to display my materials. Only I did not have the books with me as I had previously shipped them to the hotel and they were still in storage. The vendor room attendant was ready to lock up and agreed to wait if I would quickly go to the Concierge and retrieve the books.

The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency and the personnel’s helpfulness and attitudes were exemplary. The young lady graciously took my request and assured me the books would soon arrive. I waited. I went back to the vendor room to give a progress report to the attendant. I waited some more. I checked with the Concierge again. She made a phone call. I waited some more.

I did not set my stopwatch but I am certain that the actual wait time was not as long as it seemed. Choosing to not stress, I breathed deeply and turned to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The Hyatt Regency is located on the Hudson River directly across from New York City’s financial district and the vacant twin-towers lot. I had visited the site earlier. It is a sobering experience.

As I stood there I reflected on the Chinese Proverb, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” I realized my stress was not over a slight delay in retrieving books but in my over exaggerated sense of self-importance.

In the book , The Camel Knows the Way, Lorna Kelly recounts being overwhelmed with Calcutta’s mass filth and poverty-stricken humanity. Lorna commented to Mother Theresa that all of her work was like a drop of water in a bucket. Mother Theresa countered. “No, my child. All our work is like a drop of water in the ocean.”

When I feel stressed over lack of quick acknowledgement, I realize my priorities are out of order. The more I am in touch with the vastness of the universe and the widespread wounds of the world, the more I realize the significance of each human being and the importance of every act of kindness. And the more content I am with who I am.

Humility is a do-it-yourself job. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. We overcome the stress of self-importance by adopting humility, and in the process we find significance. Have a great Thanksgiving.


Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net. -30-

10/7/09

Creative Problem Solving

Creativity is a matter of perspective. It is the ability to look at the ordinary and see the extra-ordinary. When face with problems, we can take the low road of pain, frustration, and unhappiness or we can take the high road of information, value, and happiness. Your choose.

Learn to develop your creativity. Work puzzles. Engage in something artistic like paints or clay. Turn on the music and do impression dancing. Play games or rhymes or tongue-twisters with a child. Rearrange furniture. Prepare an exotic cru sine. Go camping. Make do. Giving freedom to your innate creativity lends itself to solutions.

Live life in pencil. There is usually more than one answer to a problem, or at least many sections to the overall answer. You are continually choosing from many possibilities. Try, fail, learn and try again. Brainstorm and come up with many possibilities, then focus on the most plausible without ruling out the absurd. Photo Journalist Dewitt Jones of National Geographic uses 400 roles of film and 14,000 pictures taken per assignment with the results of 30 photos per issue.

Ask pertinent questions. Reframe problems into possibilities.
* what factors/causes/variables are we ignoring?
* what information do you still need?
* whom do you need to consult?
* for clarity, define the problem in writing
* what is the worst that could happen?
* what good could come even if the worst happened?

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Lighten up; a mistake is a behavior that does not get what you want. Break the pattern. If you continue in a habit long enough, it becomes organized behavior performed by habit and never improved. Summons the courage to make the hard decisions.

Train your techniques. Until you own your new behavior, when pressure comes, you revert back to the old pattern. Set up a safe environment in which to change and to practice. Practice becomes permanent as you practice correctly. Remember, you are always practicing. That is how habits are formed – or broken.

Accept problems as a passage of life. Once you realize that life is difficult, you transcend the difficulty and can creatively concentrate on problem solving.

9/18/09

Moving On Down the Road

After forty years in the wilderness, Moses proclaimed “You have stayed around this mountain too long.” What wilderness have you been in far too long? How did you get stuck? Why did you stay stuck? More importantly, how can you get unstuck? Here are some insights and suggestions to aid you in moving on down the road to success.

How we get stuck: Our emotions hold memories we may not consciously be aware of. Life experiences write on the background of our mind and continue to play out in the everyday world. Our unawareness leads us to avow that everything is okay, when in reality, it is not. We are stuck.

Why We Stay Stuck: Following are some feelings that can hinder progress and affect our relationships, healing and success. Although I have chosen to look at the emotions separately, they rarely work independently.

Fear - Fear is a multifaceted emotion in both positive and negative to keep us in a locked in a familiar rut and stops life exploration. The fear of failure may equally be related to the fear of success. Acknowledge the fear and answer the door with faith. Faith looks forward to the unknown possibilities.

Anger – Anger is a secondary emotion after fear. Whereas fear stops us in our tracks, anger propels us forward, only often in hasty and ineffective actions. Anger is rooted in hurt over injustice or having been disavowed. Acknowledge the reality that you are a person of infinite worth and value with gifts and talents to offer and give yourself room to grow. Trust your dreams and insights. Through assertive behavior show yourself to be an individual of strength.

Guilt – True guilt is a fact that you have harmed another in some way, either thoughtlessly or deliberately. Acknowledge it, repent, apologize and make needed restitutions. This sets you free to move beyond the act. False guilt is the feeling that you have not lived up to expectations, either your own impossible standards or those of others. Accept your humanity. Try, fail, learn and try again.

Resentment – Resentment is disappointment taken to extreme. It is the most damaging of relationship emotions. Resentment leads to feeling things are pointless and teaches one to become helpless. Accept their humanity. Everyone in your life will disappoint you at one time or another. Respond with grace and mercy.

Getting Unstuck – Awareness is a key factor. Carry a small notebook with you and record every thought, feeling and reaction you want to let go of. Accept the emotion (rather than deny it) and make a deliberate decision to overcome.

Moving beyond – Dreams, goals and growth are marvelous motivators. In your notebook, make a section for appreciations, celebrations, thankfulness, positive interactions and successes. Purposely dwell on these. Personal development and peace is a work in progress.

Moving on down the road does not mean leaving mate/family or quitting the job. It means to get in touch with your authentic self so you can be the best you possible. In the process, the family and job situation will improve and no longer seem stale. As you lovingly and humbly accept and believe in you, you flow in positive influence of others.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”

9/11/09

Creative Conflict Resolution

There seems to be two constants in life: change and conflict. Conflict comes from the Latin words con (together) plus fliere (to strike). Conflict is to strike together or together to strike. Conflict is an ongoing state of hostility between two or more people or groups of people. To bring a satisfactory end to the conflict takes creativity, not necessarily something never tried before, but something you have not yet put into practice.

My definition of resolution is "to find an answer". “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6
Conflict may seem inevitable but does not have to be permanent. Resolve comes from a Latin word meaning “to loosen”. Thus, conflict is solved when we loosen our grip and allow a decision to be made.


There is a big difference in an answer and a comeback. A comeback engenders the "big but" syndrome. Resolution – decision to find an answer. Answer vs. comeback. "Big but" syndrome.
Creative – construct, give birth to, originate

You can buy matches that are "strike anywhere" and others that will strike only on a certain surface. The reasons for conflict, in a word is differences. Differences attract. Differences compliment.

Differences help retain identity. Differences lead to disagreement. The greater the emotion in the disagreement over differences, the wider the difference gap becomes.
Emotion Tense Action
Resentment Past Revenge
Anger Present Justify
Fear Future Withdraw/Push Away

1. Determine your real objective.
Is it domination or win/win. Ask yourself, "Am I willing to not win?"

2. Ascertain what may be clouding your vision? We cannot see clearly when controlled by preconceptions. Be willing to overlook some misbehaviors and differences.

3. Be willing to accept compromise for the good of the whole. What is more important,
being right or relationship? Do not be offensive. Do not be defensive.

4. Develop several options. Recognize there are multiple nuances. Consider other solutions.

5. Evaluate outcomes of winning, losing and compromising. What is a stake here? For you? For them? What have you really won? What have you really lost? How much? You can win a battle and still lose the war. You can win the issue and still lose a relationship. Is it really worth it? Will it matter next week? Next year?

6. Clarify communications. Have I effectively communicated my choices and reasoning? Have I painted understandable word pictures. Has my position been received? Have I listened to his/her choices and reasoning? Have I acknowledged his/her input? If you think communication is all talking, you haven’t been listening.

7. Explore commitment. What else do I need to do to work out this situation? How much do you appreciate the other side’s hard work to resolve this issue? How much do you value the relationship with the individual or appreciate the job? Is this issue totally incompatible?

There are two constants in life: change and conflict. I suggest the more adept we are at being flexible, the less we will engage in conflict.


9/4/09

Taking the Mystery Out of Scheduling

To the uninitiated, scheduling may seem like a daunting task. Truth is, what gets scheduled gets done. It is that simple. What seemed like a mystery becomes magical as the secrets are discovered and applied.

Finish the day off right. Plan tomorrow before leaving the office and before going to bed at night. Prepare for the next day today, then set everything aside and get a good night’s rest. Awake refreshed and raring to go.

The seven most important things. Seven is considered a complete number; it cannot be divided. There are seven major aspects of life that encompass our whole being. Each area should be considered and joyfully incorporated into your daily living. In a nutshell, they are:

Survival – health, rest, exercise, nutrition, protection, relationships
Spirituality – appreciation of the sacred, connectedness with God, morality and ethics
Purpose – drive, calling on your life, the reason for being on planet earth
Family – relations, descendants, ancestors, lineage
Financial – means of exchange, career choice, spending habits and attitude toward money
Community – the public, society, neighborhood, co-workers, the world
Mental – attitude, education, interests, outlook

Tame a racing mind. People frequently say, “I have a million things to do”.

No, you do not.

Do not exaggerate. You may have a lot of demands, but not a million. A million is not doable; six to ten are. Take all the scattered thoughts running through your head and put them on paper. Just write them down. Organize this random list by separating the main tasks from elements needed to accomplish the main task. This makes things more manageable.

Teach others to cooperate. To teach is to stimulate the appetite for. If you are telling, demanding or coercing others, I suggest the wish to please you has not yet been kindled. Work on relationship by being a good finder – notice and comment on positives. Be sincere, not coercive.

A word about deadlines. Some people declare that deadlines motivate because they work better under pressure. I suggest it is not the pressure but rather the limited time frame forces focused attention. Choose to devote focused attention at the beginning and revel in the flow of completing the project before deadline. A missed deadline is probably not fatal so cut yourself some slack and commit to improved time management. Feel good about what you have accomplished so far and recommit to the goal.

You will never rise above your calendar. Get more accomplished by scheduling in the task and outlining steps. Take the pressure off by going for 80% completion.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”

9/3/09

Fighting Fair

In an episode from Lesson from Little House on the Prairie, Laura admitted to her mom, “I meant to be hurtful, but it didn’t stop my hurting.”

Her Ma gave sage advice: “Nothing is solved by shutting off the other person’s argument. Quarrels would never last long if there was only one person at fault. Don’t be afraid to hurt. Hurt is a part of life. Hurt is a way to measure happiness by. It is a lie to try to change yourself to make someone else happy. Somewhere deep down inside there is a trueness in all of us, telling us who we really are. Find it.”

Use feedback as information only. The person is giving his perception. Take it at face value and do not read a hidden agenda into it. Take yourself out of the middle and evaluate the information from a non-emotional stance. Take what is important to you and make changes that will result in personal growth.

Be approachable. Make the confronter feel that it is okay to share with you. Do not become defensive, argumentative, animated or push back. Disavowing another’s right to speak into your life may cause him to shut down verbally but he will act on his feelings anyway.

Respond rather than react. Reacting had a negative aspect, whereas responding is problem solving. Prevent a blowout so you can focus on the issue. Be calm, non-confrontational and rational. Address the issue not the personality.

Divide and conquer. Divide a legal page in half. Take a minute and write down all his/her offenses in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, write down how you react to the offense. Tear the sheet down the middle and throw the left side away. Reflect on the right side – your reactions - and change your behavior. Change the only thing you can change – you – and stand in amazement at how the relationship improves.

No comparisons. Do not try to make yourself out to be better than others, or your mate to be worse. Justifying your actions by comparison to another is not helpful. Each person is responsible for his/her behavior. Accept your weaknesses without judging another. Accept your mate’s flaws without character assignation.

Avoid destructive criticism. Pointing out the weakness of others is a weakness. When it is necessary to address an issue, make the person feel safe, not threatened or abandoned. You have got to let her know her welfare is your top priority even when discussing concerns.

When, like Laura, you come to the conclusion that your anger was a deliberate attempt to hurt another, the wisdom of living the trueness of whom you are becomes a reality.

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Please feel free to use this article in your newsletters and include these links www.monadunkin.blogpost.com and www.monadunkin.com. Drop me a note about using an article or anything you would like me to cover in an upcoming blog. Blessings. Mona

7/28/09

Perception and Emotions

Aaron Beck, a cognitive behavior therapist, said, “emotion follows perception.” Meaning that the way you feel about something is based on the way you see it. Since the human condition leans to the negative, if one sees the situation as difficult, he might also feel it is hopeless and that he is defeated even before trying.

This does not have to be a permanent condition. All have experienced a time of being caught up in a flurry of emotions, only to have them instantly dissipate when new information presents itself. We can learn to monitor our perceptions before engaging emotions and thus have a more pleasant outcome.

Our brains store all information received through our many senses. The brain continually seeks patterns by evaluating new sensory information over and against previous sensory input. When patterns appear, the brain attached “meaning” to it and creates expectations for the future. Thus, emotions follow these perceptions.

Over a lifetime, this storage unit becomes full and the brain becomes confused in sorting through all the messages. The childhood reaction of fear “meaning” to seeing a spider should not control the adult response to the insect. Emotional arousal fixates on what happened in the past and clouds the reality of what is happening now.

From another’s point of view. How might your feelings toward an individual soften if you see him as a fellow human being with struggles and fears? Realizing that each person is doing the best he can with his limited resources and with his imperfect insight can transform your emotions toward him from frustration or anger to caring.

Input of perspective. When another gives their opinion, choose to see the comments as perspective rather than a personal attack. Listen to the words and filter out a supposed hidden agenda. Monitor that you are responding to the information, not the person’s rotten personality. After all, when do you want to know that the boat won’t float? When it is in the middle of the lake or while still on the shoreline? This will allow you to reflect and answer in a calm manner.

Acquisition of skills. When something happens “again”, rather than reverting to an emotional outburst, ask yourself, “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?” Consider the abilities you have at your disposal and use them, such as improved communication, self-defense, enforcement of boundaries, outside resources, financial reserves, reasoning capabilities and personal power.

Locus of control. When you tense at another’s attempts to control your decisions, how might peace come when you consider that their unwelcomed input might be motivated by their concern for you? Regardless of their input or your response, you are self-determining in attitude as well as in actions taken.

As you see situations based on what is transpiring now, rather than dredging up similar past events, internal positive results will automatically happen. You will be pleased with the emotional shift to a mature perspective. Although the spider may not be adopted as a pet, you are in a position to take effective measures for pest control.

7/19/09

Realistic Thinking

We live in the limits of our own thinking. Your perception is your reality; only it may not be really real. The answers you give are not necessarily facts; they are simply your interpretation of the situation as you see them. However, your perceptions and beliefs have a powerful impact on both the present and your future. Your direction is dependent upon your perception. Here are some thoughts on how to reframe pre-conceived perceptions.

It’s Fixable. I am all for positive thinking and make it a continual practice. However, it takes more than seeing the glass as half full as opposed to half empty. Realistic thinking sees the glass not as either-or, but as capable of being filled to the brim or completely emptied as the need dictates.

Be Thankful Thus Far. Soren Kierkegaard observed that “life is lived forward and understood backward”. It has taken the trials, triumphs and tragedies thus far to get you where you are now. Use every experience as a learning tool to see what needs to be repeated and what needs to be adjusted or avoided.

Address it with compassion. In trying circumstances, have compassion on those difficult people. The crucified Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” You may wish to argue that he does most certainly know what he is doing. But do we really know the extent of our actions? Adopting an attitude of caring – for them and for you – gives grace to handle the situation with calm.

Yes, You Can. A life-long slacker in transitional housing was forced to get a job or be kicked out. After rejection and discouragement, he honestly looked at how he was presenting himself to prospective employers. On the fifteen-day-deadline, he was hired.

Two weeks later he was a changed man. He said, “All my life I have been a screw-up. You made me get a job and now I have a ‘can do’ attitude.” And you can too.

Grow into the New. Studies show that practicing grateful thinking makes people more energetic and enthusiastic. At the above-mentioned transitional housing residents are tested for drugs. Some are incensed. Change your view. Instead of seeing it as a controlling act, view it as your opportunity to prove you are living a clean life. See any accountability – forced or not - as a way to show you are responsible.

The importance of the way you perceive life is that people seek out experiences that reinforce their beliefs. If you believe yourself to be stupid you will see a wise choice as a fluke. Regardless of what you are facing it is within your power to choose your responses. You have 100% control over your thinking and attitudes. You can be grumpy, miserable and hateful or you can reframe to see things in a different light.

Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach of Solution Principles, specializes in maximum people development. Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mdunkin@flash.net Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com

7/15/09

What Is Your Goal?

What is your goal for a successful life? Or for a fruitful marriage? For effective parenting? For job fulfillment? For financial security? For wellness? Although most people say they have goals, the truth is, what they have is a vague ‘I-want-this-or-that” mentality. Because the object is not specific, you wind up multi-tasking and getting very little accomplished.

In the 60’s Harvard University conducted a student survey as to how many had life goals. All answered in the affirmative. “Yes.” After all, they were in Harvard, what would you expect? Then they were asked how many had written these goals down. The responses fell sharply.

Only 3% of the student body of Harvard had a written goal for their life.

Harvard did a follow-up study thirty years later. The results were staggering. The 3% that had written down their goals had accomplished more and had a greater market value than the other 97% combined. Wow. And what had made the difference? It was the power of written down and clarifying the goals.

As long as your objectives remain vaguely stuck in your head, you run the risk of them remaining a fantasy rather than becoming a reality. It is imperative that you put your goals into writing. Writing down goals pin-points intent, makes the illusive concrete and energizes you to accomplishment.

If you have never written goals before the concept can seem overwhelming. Here is my KISS plan – keep it simple, sweetie.

One: Get a legal pad and randomly write down everything you want to accomplish in your lifetime. Do not put a time limit on it, a proficiency boundary, financial abilities or the need to receive permission.

Two: Group all of these “want to’s” into the following categories: family, financial, career, health, spirituality, community.

Three: Pick one category to work on for the next two weeks. Ferret through your general “to do” list and select those items that directly apply to the one category you have chosen. Now, for the next fourteen days, focus exclusively on those things. As other issues may need to be addressed, spend minimum time and then get back quickly to your focal points.

You feel more organized now than you did at the start of this article because order has been brought to your thinking. You are more focused about what you want and where to start and what to do. As you begin to write down what you want and plans to achieve it, it mysteriously becomes real and attainable. Get busy. Make your “yes” answer to “Do you have goals” a reality.

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net. -30-

7/14/09

Getting a Handle on Irritants

Do people frequently get on your nerves? And if so, how do you handle the situation? Here are suggestions on how to minimize the annoyance so the encounter does not “ruin your day” and does not diminish the individual’s value in your eyes.

Go from personal to general. Focusing on my circumstances makes events overwhelming. My car broke down. My child disobeys. My spouse is inconsiderate. My job is demanding. Consider the same situations with the detachment of somebody. Somebody’s car broke down. Somebody’s child disobeys. Somebody’s spouse is inconsiderate. Somebody’s job is demanding. All of a sudden it is not a big deal. When viewing it from another’s perspective, you are open to see the problem more clearly and to find solutions. Do not take yourself so seriously.

They, You, I. Psycharitist Carl Jung says that what drives you crazy in another person is, in reality, a denied character defect in you. When we embrace our flaws, not only does it free us to acknowledge and discard the behavior, it also alleviates our frustration with the irritating individual displaying the same attributes. It sets us up for compassion toward the offender.

Try this focus changer: 1) Get alone and privately speak aloud about the irritating person in third person tense (she/he). 2) Repeat the frustration in second person (you) as though you are addressing the individual. 3) Then speak of the annoyance in the first person (I). Example below:

Speak in third person tense. “She interrupted my conversation and didn’t even care! She is so rude and selfish.”

Speak in second person tense. “You really offended me when you butted into my conversation as though you are the most important person in the universe.”

Speak in first person tense from based on your personal honesty. “I am selfish and guilty of speaking up when I have something to say. I am sure I come across as being ill-mannered and uncaring.”

Changed compassionate perspective is this: I am guilty of having done the same type of behavior. I acknowledge it and become aware and will stop before interrupting. Even though it is irritating in my co-worker, I have compassion for her and choose to hold her in high regard. With my anger subdued, I am in a better position to either speak up or overlook it should future such incidents occur.”

Those times when you are guilty of proclaiming “I am having one of those days”, remember, that statement is true only as long as you claim it to be so.

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net. -30-

Anger Busting

Anger is an emotion common to all. Anger is a legitimate feeling with a valid cause, at least from the victim’s point of view. Aggression is an expression of anger that may seem like an automatic response, but it is controllable. Here are thoughts to gain control of yourself before anger becomes danger.

Become aware. Pay attention to your body and emotions to pre-determine when frustration is building so you can “nip it in the bud” before it becomes a full-blown outrage that is damaging to you and your family or co-workers. Keep an angry calendar; mark down every time you become frustrated. Make a list of hot topics that push your button so you can pre-determine to not engage. This will let you see how frequently you turn to negative responses.

Voice it. Give a verbal warning that you are nearing the end of your patience. This puts you in a more aware position and gives strength to not over-react. It also alerts your children or constituents to alter their behavior or to duck-and-cover.

Take a time out. Being emotions driven cause fuzzy thinking. Give yourself a five minute break so feelings can calm down and rational thinking can reconnect. Think of a past event when a positive outcome would probably have been affected had you given yourself a short time-out.

Give up the defense. Hold your position loosely - just in case you may possibly be wrong. When you change how you react, you change the way another’s actions affect you. Right or wrong, angry responses do not solve problems.

Regard self and others. Anger is destructive and is powerless to effect positive change in a relationship. Healthy regard for you holds you accountable to behaving like a mature adult. Healthy regard for others prevents aggressive behavior toward them.

Become aware. The first become aware is to determine the nearness of short-circuiting. This become aware is to congratulate yourself that you handled it well. The mind tends to think “what has happened will happen.” As you put these suggestions into practice, you will change your response. Reflect on your improved behavior and feel good about it. And be confident that the next time you will handle it even better.

Although anger prodding events may occur, allow your new anger busting skills to treat it as being an irritation. This change of view will equip you to handle it with grace and not outbursts of anger.

7/7/09

Staying Up In a Down Economy

Major unemployment, economic woes, falling stock rates, mounting foreclosures, rising gas prices – it is a current reality that brings with it the potential for despair. Without discounting the severity of the situation, how you make it through depends on your outlook. Here are suggestions to keep an upbeat attitude regardless.

Think About What You Think About. Pay attention to your thoughts and interrupt them when they turn negative, worrisome or anxious. Say “STOP” out loud, then deliberately change your mind. Turn to prayer, joys, successes, past accomplishments, future plans - anything that will keep your spirits up.

Search for the Silver Lining. Without rain the flowers would not grow. Without mountains, the valleys would be ordinary. Without the night the sun would be too much. With unlimited funds, gratitude would be jeopardized. Without financial restraints, debt becomes unbearable.

Use Your Creativity. Yes, you are creative. To thrive in a recession, adopt the mind set of “how much can I make do with what I already have.” What tasty meals can you make from the hodge-podge of staples in the pantry? How can you repurpose items in the tool shed or attic, either to use or to sell? Adopt the shaker philosophy of “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Do without.”

Lighten Your Load. Few things expand your buoyancy like extra space. Look through closets, cabinets and drawers and get rid of at least ten items in each room. Donate the discards to charity to brighten another’s day. This exercise has psychological benefits in that it breaks emotional attachments to things that no longer serve you.

Be Thankful. With a heart of gratitude focus on what you do have rather than what you do not have. Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a safe place in which to sleep? Multitudes of people world-wide do not. Do you have at least one person who cares bout you? Are you able to take care of most of your bodily needs?

Pay It Forward. The law of reciprocity really works: what you give into the lives of others is returned to you. Volunteer at a charity of your choice. Help out weekly at a soup kitchen. Commit random acts of kindness with no regard of praise. Be gentle with the infirmed and compassionate to a child.

Rest and Refresh. Make it a point to be in bed by 10 PM. It is amazing how differently the world looks after a good night’s sleep. While your body is in relax-mode, your unconscious mind is busily searching for solutions. Insurmountable problems are lessened by rest.

Perhaps the best way to stay up in a down economy is in to summons the courage of “I will try again tomorrow.” Be thankful for today and do not worry about tomorrow; stand in amazement at how things work out – in the long run - for the better.

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net. -30-

6/30/09

Tribute to Lacy Williams

Today is my brother's birthday. He would have been a young 73 years. He died June 19, 2009 from rapid onset of dormant pulmonary fibrosis. I was humbled to be asked to speak at his interment. Following is my tribute to a wonderful brother.

For all of us, at some time, we will come to the end our lives. What will be remembered? Accomplishments? Fame? Wealth? Or will they remember the times you made a difference in their life and in the lives of others? That is what we will remember most about Lacy; his smiles, his humor and his encouragement.

One of the missions of Hospice is to help patient and family avoid the obvious ‘death-elephant’ in the room, and to talk at ease with each other about hopes and dreams and regrets and wishes – to make the last days as fulfilling and comfortable as possible –to tie up loose ends. Lacy, being Lacy, began to do this on his own without the help of Hospice. He had his list of to-do’s and was actively pursuing them. And he talked openly about faith and questions and his past-the-due-date amount of time allotted to mankind (three-score and ten).

He was so proud of the letter Amy sent him and the e-mail from Wendell. I told him, “Well, I guess I need to write you a letter.” His bold reply, “Yes, you do!” Although I have no regrets for not penning it sooner, I guess this is my letter to him.

Jerre used three words to describe Lacy: provider, protector and teacher. I am sure you have your own special expression of who he was to you.

He was an entrepreneur and inventor. Years ago, in his burnt-orange truck, he stopped by the house one day with a magazine in hand to show me an innovative bridge-building devise he had invented. I read the advertisement again and again and did not see his name anywhere. He said, “That was my idea, they just beat me to it.” There is a current display at the Mayborn Center of Leonardo DiVinci’s before-his-time invention ideas.

Lacy was always going forward: in more ways than the idiocies of his truck. Not only did he found his own construction company, but even when he worked for someone else, he still was his own boss. He always had some kind of a pyramid scheme and all too often, he got me involved. (You too?) He had me help him develop and write up plans for “My Brother’s Keeper” – a pyramid method to get rich while giving your money away.

The other word I might assign to him is agitator, except I think it was unwitting. In his openness and honesty and being real, he often came across as brash that could provoke you to anger or reduce you to tears. But you always knew where you stood with him. I appreciate that. What appeared to be criticism, I think was his unpolished attempt to prod you to live up to your full potential. Lacy had faith in God, faith in himself, faith in humanity and faith in each of you.

In his own way, Lacy was a nurturing parent. He gave me good advice when Melinda was a child and I wanted her to change from her favorite, although faded, dress before we went somewhere. Pointing his finger at me, he said, “If she feels pretty in that dress, you let her wear it.” I did.

When Aunt Erma was nearing the end of her life, Melinda and John paid the airfare for me to go visit her. Although I was quite capable of going alone, Melinda insisted I not go by myself. Lacy became my chaperone and I am so thankful we had that bonding time together. In the long flight and lay-over and drive from Blacksburg, VA to the WV farm (we worked in a visit to Clyde and Rosie), he regaled me with far-fetched adventure tales. Late in the day he leaned back and asked, “Did I ever tell you my bull story?”

My query to him was, “And just exactly what were these others tales?” (Seems he taunted a bull like a matador and barely escaped with his life.)

Lacy is one-of-a kind. He is much loved and will be greatly missed. His legacy is long and strong through his children and grandchildren.

Henriette Meyers said, “For every sigh, there is a Psalm.” The majority of the Psalms were written by David the Shepherd boy. In the open field he had time to think and question and reason, as are reflected in the poems he wrote. Maybe the same was true of Lacy. He had many questions about faith.

He said, “You know there are a lot of things that I just don’t believe. I am not sure I believe there was a world-wide floor or an ark big enough to hold all the animals.”

I told him that from my understanding the only critical believes for eternal life was faith in God and Jesus as his son, born of a virgin, died and resurrected as our Savior. He readily proclaimed his faith and friendship with Jesus.

“Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

He told me he had been involved in church and worked on committees, but was concerned that he had not confessed his faith to others. I told him that works of them self does not save a person but the attitude of the heart in which they are performed. And I reminded him of the words of James, sometimes called “the apostle in work boots”.

“So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it… I say that without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” James 2:14-18 MD paraphrased

Lacy did not quote Scriptures, but he lived it. As John Wesley said, “Preach the gospel always. Sometimes use words."

Amid David’s questioning, he came to an amicable conclusion. I think Lacy did too.

"But as for me… when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied." Psalm 17:15

Jerre asked that we end our time together today by all singing Will the Circle be Unbroken, another of Lacy’s songs. Copies are in your handout. I have modified it to fit this service and Gary Moore added the sixth verse.

Will the Circle be Unbroken

1) I was standing by my window on one sad and lonely day
When I sensed death angel calling for to carry my loved one away

Chorus: Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by.
There's a better home awaiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky.

2) Well, I told the undertaker, “Undertaker please drive slow,
For the loved one you are taking,” Lord, I hate to see him go.

Chorus:

3) I will follow close behind him, try to hold on and be brave.
But I could not hide my sorrow, when they laid him in the grave

Chorus:

4) When I went home, it was lonely, missed my loved one, he was gone.
All my family, neighbors crying, how we hurt to see him go.

Chorus:

5) We sang the songs of childhood, hymns of faith that made us strong.
Ones that Lacy loved to listen and the angels sang along.

Chorus:

6) We are standing in the circle, of a family that is blest,
With fond memories and dedication, we lay Vera and Lacy to rest.

Chorus: Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by.
There's a better home awaiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky


Written by: Franks, Tillman/Houston, Davie/Sherrill, Billy
Modified by Mona Dunkin for Lacy’s service
Verse six written by Gary Moore

We are comforted that the circle will be unbroken. Regardless of when the passage, and at what age – mother and daddy, Lacy, baby Joshua. One day we will be together again.

At Lacy’s funeral service, the 23rd Psalm was read twice. At the beginning, it was presented in the traditional way to comfort us with the promise of safe passage for our loved one. At the ending, it was read again as comfort for the family. When we, who are alive and remain, experience the death of a dear one, the Shepherd is there with us, with His rod and staff to comfort and lead, and to protect us from the enemy that would destroy.

I will end with the prayer our Pastor gave Sunday morning. “Father, we pray your blessings on the family of Lacy Williams. With joy they release him to you, and with sorrow they relinquish him from being with them.”

6/15/09

Perception and Reality

Your perception is your reality. Only it may not be a true reality. A hard reality to receive is that our vision may be blurred and our opinions biased. The saying that “Truth hurts” is only relevant when the truth is supposed to hurt. If any of these thoughts give you an “Ouch”, challenge your perception versus reality.

The lenses we look through determine our viewpoint. I am reminded of a story of a family that moved to a new location. On the outskirts of town, the Dad approached an elderly gentleman as to the kind of city it was. The gentleman asked, “The place you are moving from, what was it like?”

The man exclaimed, “Oh, I am so glad to get out of there. We hated it. My job stank, the schools are horrible, our neighbors were the worst, people are rude and the police are crooked.”

The old gentleman replied. “I think you will find this place much the same way.”

Another traveler encountered the old gentleman and explained, “My family and I have been transferred here, what kind of city is it?”

The old gentleman inquired, “The place you are moving from, what was it like?”

The second man replied, “It was real hard for us to leave. We loved it. My job was challenging, my co-workers were helpful, the community was great and the schools were wonderful.”

The old gentleman replied. “I think you will find this place much the same way.”
Perception is multifaceted. Perception is shaped by our unique personality, expectations, values and hopes. It is formed by our distinctive experiences and the way we see and understand the world. It is shaped by culture and the way we were taught to deal with situations and the meaning placed on events.

The interpretation you render is not necessarily truth, it is simply your viewpoint based on the complex meshing of a lifetime of experiences. However, these beliefs have a powerful impact on your present and your future. The answers you give are not necessarily facts; they are merely your biased interpretation (even though you may declare them unbiased).

Perception impacts the way you present yourself. People act and speak the way they feel about themselves, whether that is a wallflower or a braggart. The reason one’s life perception is important is because people seek experiences that reinforce their belief. If you believe yourself to be stupid you will see a wise choice as a fluke.

We act on our perceptions. I had a client who was the motivating force in her husband’s health walking regiment. She resented his inertia and only acting at her participation. She saw herself as a nag, or worse yet, as his “mommie”. I encouraged her to see herself as his coach. Sometimes we need to “change the noun.” What a difference a slight change of view makes.

Have the goal of an open mind. Rather than being locked into your limited perspective, be willing to receive information, either to add to or take away. Challenge your current beliefs as to how they affect the life you are choosing to live.

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: Being grateful in the midst of difficulty gives perspective into the reason for the pain. Once reason is understood, solution is forthcoming

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net.

6/2/09

Breaking Patterns

There is a bigger disparity between knowing and doing than between ignorance and knowledge. The tension is not only in having the necessary mental tools, but also in having the will to put them into practice. Allow these suggestions to be instrumental in putting your know-how into action.

Make your intentions known. Spend time thinking about who you want to become rather than what you want to do or to have. We become frustrated when our actions do not match our core values. Become aware of your intentions and watch your actions harmonize. Verbalize your goals to a trusted friend who can help you stay on track. Do not become defensive when he/she holds you to your objective.

Monitor mood regulators. It is difficult to make positive changes when you are self-sabotaging. The obvious mood managers are adequate sleep, reduced stress, enough exercise and healthy eating. Other temperament supervisors have to do with the thoughts you think and the perspective you take. It is “one of those days” only as long as you claim it. Look for the best in every situation.

Develop a learner’s spirit. Do not set yourself up as the standard of right and wrong. Your way may have worked in a limp-along-manner, but be open to improved ways. Give up the “but I always thought” attitude and embrace change. Enlarge your view by listening to other perspectives and rationally consider the possibilities. At all times, look for the lessons to be learned

Anything that is appreciated goes up in value. Look at the worse case scenario, not to be negative but to develop appreciation for what you already have or where you already are on the success scale. In relationships, appreciate the individual for who he/she is, not as you would have them to be, and see how dramatically your rapport will improve.

The bottom line is, you stop by stopping. It’s that simple. And also that profound. Make the rest of 2009 your time to overcome.

Changing Perspectives

All we have to bring to the table is our experience thus far. Those experiences are both general (with people) and specific (with individuals). When specific understanding is confirmed by generalities, perceptions become concrete. When general experiences are matched by specifics, perception changes.

Every choice has it own set of new circumstances. Restlessness causes one to consider that the devil-you-do-not-know is better than the devil-you-know. However, quitting the job or leaving the marriage brings with it both solutions and problems. If the problem within you has not been settled, it shows up in the next employment or relationship.

Look within. Monitor your pre-conceived perceptions for truth or error. Check your attitude for off-putting or engaging. Screen your responses for answers rather than comebacks.

Change your mind. Each time you feel negative, stop, acknowledge the thought and deliberately dismiss it. Look deeply to find the root of your emotion and consciously replace it with the greater truth of your potential. As Coach Lombardi says, “Potential meals you ain’t done it yet.” This practice is profoundly spiritual and life changing. Use it. Embrace it.

Make a decision. Indecision keeps you stuck. Wrong decisions can be examined and corrected but indecision causes one to stagnate.

Renew your environment. The space in which you live and work have a major impact on the way you see things. Move the furniture, add new accents, and replace dated items. Changing small things about your environment gives the opportunity to think differently as your mind will not have the familiar rut to fall back into. A commitment to date-night can work wonders in a sagging marriage.

Use the zoom focus. When you are overwhelmed with tiny, yet significant details, zoom out and see the bigger picture. When the demands of marriage, parenting or work seem too much, project years down the road to relaxation, grandchildren and retirement. Mentally see the end result of your current struggles. This skill can be your saving grace.

Consciously relax. The ability to relax is directly connected to constructive critical thinking. Look honestly at the situation and develop an “even though” mantra. “Even though I am engulfed with frustration, I lovingly accept that I am a person of infinite worth and value and I release my failure.”

Think about what you think about. The soil will return whatever seeds you sow, but the land does not care what you plant. You become what you think. Whatever seeds you nurture in your mind will return to you. Make them encouraging and positive about you and about others.

Even though bring to the table our experience thus far, we are not static individuals; we are continually being exposed to new information. Become aware of it and be open to change.

5/18/09

Moth or Miracle?

God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

I heard a story about a passenger train traveling at high speed through a dangerous mountain pass. In the night darkness the engineer was mysteriously waved to a stop by a reappearing ghostly figure. Upon stopping, the conductor became weak in the knees as he realized the bridge was out and hundreds of lives were saved.

The mysterious stranger could not be found.

As society is in wanting to know cause and effect, great study was done to determine the origin of the phantom ghost. After much examination a dead moth was found plastered to the train’s headlight. When an alert crime scene investigator wet the moth and flickered the spotlight to simulate a rumbling train, the moth appeared to be a person jumping up and down, flailing his arms.

The mystery of the ghostly figure was solved by a reasonable explanation. It was only a coincidence.

Upon hearing the conclusion, Queen Victoria said, “The moth landing on the headlight at the right time and flapping its wings before death, was no mere accident, it was God’s way of protecting us.”

Cleddie Keith says “There is no such thing as a coincident; it is a Godcident.”

God uses natural phonenon to produce supernatural events. He uses ordinary things to bring about extra-ordinary circumstances. He uses frail people to bring about faithful conclusions.

Become sensitive to the mysterious working of God in your life. Allow him to use ordinary you to bring to pass a miracle in someone’s life.

5/14/09

More on Being Effective and Efficient

Here are more helpful suggestions to make the most of your organization and time management. And a wonderful by-product is reduced stress and more life enjoyment.

16. Set limits on how long a task will take. Murphy’s law of work expanding to the allotted time is true. Be realistic in the time assigned, but do set a limit.

17. Learn the joy of a job well done. Give up the stress of perfectionism; it stifles fun and creativity.

18. TNT – today not tomorrow.

19. Do it right the first time. We lie to ourselves with the promise to do it over and better later. Anytime you are expending energy on a project, do it with excellence and be done with it. If it is not up to your standards, promise yourself to learn from your mistakes and make every effort to do better the next time.

20. Cooperate with others. Work together. Get your family involved, from the youngest to the oldest, including your mate.

21. Know the limits of “your job”. Are you taking on too much by trying to do yours and everyone else’s job also?

22. Determine the difference between urgent and important. What would happen if you don’t do this?

23. Focus on priorities - daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Get in touch and stay in touch.

24. Trust others. Do not become involved in problems others can handle without your input. Determine who owns the problem and let him/her work it out for himself/herself.

25. Make a commitment to someone else of what you are going to do. Let him/her share in your accomplishment. This is a great way of holding yourself accountable to your goals.

26. The best minute spent is the one invested in people. People are our greatest assets. Never lose sight of the importance of relationships.

27. The value of relationship. Since people are our greatest assets, see family members, customers and fellow workers as investments, not as time wasters.

28. Carpe Diem – Seize the moment.

29. Seconds count. Know that seconds are attached to minutes, minutes are attached to hours, hours are attached to days, days are attached to weeks, weeks are attached to years, years are attached to a lifetime, a lifetime is attached to eternity.

Time is important. Manage it well. May this paraphrase of Scriptures speak to your spirit.

Wake up! Live life, and Christ will make the day to dawn upon you and give you light.
Watch your step; walk in wisdom and not foolishness.
Redeem the time – make the most of each second - for the days
are evil and fast approaching the end. So do not be unwise
(waste your time and energy pursuing things that do not count)
but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:14-17 MD paraphrase
Soon I will revisit these topics and write more extensively on each one. Let me hear from you regarding any topic you would like to see addressed. mdunkin@flash.net

Being Efficient and Effective

In the Time Management game, here are a few more ideas for becoming more efficient and effective.

1. Find the freedom of a schedule. “Finding” time produces anxiety and guilt; making time results in success, relaxation and fulfillment. What is important is scheduled. What is scheduled gets done.

2. Keep a calendar. The faintest ink is better than the most retentive memory. Check your calendar each night before leaving the office and again first thing in the morning.

3. At the end of each day, schedule out tomorrow’s activities and six high priority items you need to accomplish. First thing in the AM, start with priority #1, proceed to 2, etc., stopping only for the scheduled activity such as an appointment. Proceed until all six items are checked off. If anything is left over, transfer to tomorrow’s list and begin again.

4. Write it down! And write it down on your calendar or in your planner, not on scraps of paper to be lost.

5. Record ideas immediately. Thoughts are fleeting. Everything that has ever been accomplished was first an idea. If not written down, it will be forgotten. If not written down, it will not be done.

6. Use "wait time" productively. Book, pad, pencil, calendar – don’t leave home without them.

7. Organize your work area and keep it neat. Have proper equipment and keep it within your reach. Keep things filed or in their place.

8. Handle it once. While it is in your hand, take care of it or place it in an appropriate place to be done as a “batch item” - i.e. mail, orders to fill, errands to run, phone calls to make.

9. Bunch tasks together. Pay bills twice a month. Use one day for correspondence. Go through publications once a month. Run errands once a week. Buy office supplies once a month. Do other shopping once a month.

10. Do one job at a time and give it your full attention. “This one thing I do.”

11. Learn to say “No” and feel good about it. Just because you are good at something, does not mean you have to do it. Never say, “Yes” just to be liked. People like you for your personality, not for your accomplishments.

12. Develop listening skills. Ask pertinent questions. Think about and picture the results.

13. Can you give it fifteen minutes? It is amazing how much stuff you can knock out in 15 minutes of concentrated work. You will not be able to organize the entire office in one fifteen-minute segment, but you can start with one drawer or one file.

14. Use “think” time effectively. Schedule in time for refreshment and reflection.. Genuinely think about your goals, values and decisions. Ask yourself these questions. “Is what I am doing helping or hurting? What can I do to improve the situation?”

15. Work on your dream every day. No exceptions. The longest journey is made one step at a time. What seems like not much today, adds up to the collective whole. “What did you do today to make your dreams come true?”

Begin working on these and let me know your results. mdunkin@flash.net

Time Management Tips

There is no more time to be made. Everyone is allotted 24 hours a day, how we use it is up to us. Effective is doing things in order of priority that results in production and fulfillment.

Efficient is getting the job done without expending undue energy or resources, or engaging in stress. I would like to help you be both effective and efficient. This is done through personal management, not just of time but also of every aspect of your life: physical and emotional, tangible and intangible.

Read the definitions below.

Effective – doing the right things in order of priority which results in production and fulfillment

Efficient – doing things right the first time without expending undue energy or resources

Personal Management – accepting personal responsibility for my personal actions, attitudes and results

Pro-Active – acting before a crises arrives; pre-planning

Values – measure of desire; worthwhile, treasure, important

Planning – what you need to do or want to do to make your life more meaningful Scheduling - when to do the things you have planned

Vision – having a clear sense of what is possible

Commitment – the method of transforming potential into reality

As you learn to be both effective and efficient, remember planning is what and scheduling is when. First determine what. Get a legal pad and divide a page into several sections, i.e. kid’s activities, organizing my home, me-time, my schooling needs, chores, errands, etc. As you go through the day and things come to mind, write down what you want or need to do in each area. Right now all you are doing is writing it down.

Look at the things you have written down and get a calendar and begin to consider when these things will be done. Some are scheduled for you, such as doctor’s appointments or ball games. Other things you need to schedule in between those already mandated. Spread the items on your legal pad over a month.

It is also effective to have a Family Command Center where you can see at a glance the activities provided and plan the ones you can attend. Here's how:

FAMILY COMMAND CENTER

Place a month-at-a-glance appointment calendar in a central location

Train each family member to write in appointments or activities as scheduled

In a convenient location, have a box or basket labeled with each family member’s name. Place mail or found stray-items in the box for the individual to take care of.

Train each individual to audit his box frequently, a minimum of once a day.

Use an initial reward system for compliance. Have a tough-love method of truth or consequences.

In a convenient location, keep an on-going categorized list of items needed or errands to run.

Train each individual to be pro-active to keep a well-stocked pantry by adding to the list when something needs to be purchased or replaced (i.e. the cereal is getting low).
Following these ideas can add hours to your day and enjoyment to your life. Let me know how they are working for you. Also share your time management tricks with me. Let me hear from you. mdunkin@flash.net

4/8/09

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

In most instances, we are our own worst enemy. That is not to say that others did not play a part; but the bottom line is, we are each self-determining.

Challenge the naysayers. Dreams are fragile and easily crushed, especially when spoken against by those held in high esteem. Were they really discouraging you or trying to prepare you for obstacles? Did you allow their self-doubt and their lack of personal success to place limitations on your goals? Are those voices still relevant? How have you grown in maturity, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities?

Face down fear. In the immortal words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Someone defined F E A R by the acronym = False Evidence Appearing Real. Just as darkness flees when light appears so too fear tucks tail and runs when faith boldly steps up to bat.

Refuse to settle. As with most words, “settle” has both a positive and negative connotation. To resolve an issue to bring peace is one thing; to give up without paying the price to overcome is entirely another. Instead of pausing to rest and rejuvenate, did you repress and rust? Shake off the lethargy and get back in the game.

Move past disappointments. The failure was real, the hurt was painful, the results were embarrassing and the experience was ego-deflating. But that was yesterday and this is a new day. The sun came up again confirming a new opportunity to go forward. I will not be so chevalier as to suggest getting-over the trauma, but for the good of you and the universe, please move past it.

Sheer up your confidence. As baseball great Satchel Page said, “You win a few, you lose a few and some get rained out. But you gotta dress for all of ‘em.” Life goes in cycles. Reach deep down inside and find the courageous to be the wonderful person you are. Suit up. Show up. Speak up. Stand up. Rise up and overcome.

Tap into your creativity. God did not make junk and He did not make human beings without imagination. Without vision it is easy to stay small. Focus your mind’s eye to see possibilities and to formulate plans for accomplishment.

Get a goal and go. A goal is more than a wish. A goal is a carefully thought through plan of action that is put to paper and placed into reality. The very act of writing it down gives it legitimacy. It lets you see, feel and experience the reality while still in the formative stages. A goal releases energy to keep on keeping on.

It is time to become your own best friend. By reading this article you sense the urgency to conquer those things that have interfered with your success. Do not let the momentum pass. Do it now. Take the steps to overcome.

Please share your comments. I'd love to hear from you. Blessings, Mona

3/23/09

Push Beyond Your Limits

The human body is a remarkable machine. Scientists tell us that within every cell of your body is enough power to light the world. You have infinitely more going for you than you can believe. Do not allow your self-imposed limits to keep you confined.

"No" is not fatal. There may be those who count you a failure and mark a big red “F” on your forehead, but do not you be one of them. As Olympic luge champion Ruben Gonzales says, “Do not listen to dream stealers.”

Problematic probabilities. I love the irony of the lottery. People who often consider themselves to be born losers in life invest hard earned money in million-to-one-odds that they will win the lottery. And yet, someone, some one person, will win. Know that you are born to win. The fact that you are alive on planet earth shows that God has faith in you. Adopt the philosophy of “If it is to be, it will be me.” Invest in yourself again and again and overcome the odds you feel are against you.

Practice smart. For years Babe Ruth was hailed as baseball’s home-run-king. He also was baseball’s strike-out-king. Babe Ruth kept his eye on the ball and tried again and again and again. Practice does not necessarily make perfect; practice makes permanent.
With focused attention to his delivery and honest feedback in the results, he continually improved his swing.

Keep the end in mind. Focus on results, not present performance. Continually ask yourself, “What needs to be changed?” Be open to new insights and approaches. Try and fail until you succeed.

Setbacks test stamina. Randy Prause, the beloved Carneige Mellon professor, believed that walls are not put there to keep us out but to test us to see how badly we want the goal. Recover quickly and do not lose your momentum. Refocus, regroup, recommit and re-enter the race. Get up, dust yourself off and get back in the game.

Build community. We need others – to love us (“aah”), to encourage us (“yea”), to challenge us (what?), and to criticize us (ouch!). Share your goals with family and make them a part of your dream team. Seek mentors who will believe in you to believing in yourself. Surround yourself with positive people.

The game of life is a marathon not a sprint. You are in it for the long haul, make it count.

Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach of Solution Principles, specializes in maximum people development. Contact Mona at mdunkin@flash.net Read past articles at www.monadunkin.blogspot.com