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4/18/10

Thriving on Bare Bones

AARP ran an excellent article entitled 15 Tips to Save Hundreds. Some of the replies ragged the author as not being creative; saying the tips were common sense things they have been doing for years. These tips may not be new but possibly a reframing.

Limits can be empowering. Remember the old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Allow scarcity to stimulate ingenuity and embrace challenges. Make it fun. As newlyweds on bare bones I gave myself the challenge to see how many different and creative meals I could make from ground meat.

Transcend sacrifice. Maybe life is fairer than we want to acknowledge. To thrive is to refuse to dwell on what is not a reality. This frees your creativity to non-grudgingly adopt the Shaker philosophy of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”. Adjust your spirit to your forced lifestyle. When scarcity is embraced as meaningful, it transforms the current situation into having an important effect.

Remember the Holocaust. It did happen. It is a sad reality of history. Read stories of survivors and how they ate rotting potatoes, managed on discards from trash, and cooked “rock” soup. Allow it not only to inspire you but also to kick up your gratitude meter for your current situation, meager though it may be.

One plant, many potatoes. Gardening experts report that the return on dollars invested in seeds is upwards of 1 to 10. Try your hand at growing veggies in a small plot of earth, in bags of potting soil split open or in pots on the windowsill. It’s therapeutic.

If the old one still works, appreciate it. Anything that appreciates goes up in value. It is a mystery why empty houses deteriorate faster than unimproved lived-in homes. Perhaps it is the spirit of the inhabitants that has an uncanny effect on inanimate objects. I suggest that thankfulness toward the clunker would inspire you to treat it with tender loving care and thus extend its fragile life.

Adopt the homeless mentality. Prolonged life on the street lends itself to the mindset of “How little can I live on.” Even to the sever point of refusing charity. I am not suggesting that one snub the kind generosity of family and friends. Discover what really matters and see how little one needs to be content. The best things in life are free; open up and enjoy.

Surviving in difficult times is possible, although stressful. Thriving in those difficult times is a decision of the heart. When struggles are seen as meaningful the situation is transformed.

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.”

4/1/10

Letting Go of Stress

Just let go of stress! Yeah, right!

We think in picture. Visualizing an image makes the transfer from a thought to a reality somewhat easier. It is like having a light bulb go off in the brain. Picture a trapeze artist swinging from pole to pole, readying to make one precarious mid-space maneuver. He/she must release one reality (the pole), make a swift unsupported 360 degree turn and grasp a solid handhold (the other pole). With training, the tactic is handled with grace and facility.

Determine what is neutral. No matter how much you may protest, the signal light did not turn red just to ruin your day. The signal light is a neutral devise set on a timer, blinking green, yellow, red - over and over, day-in, day-out, regardless if the driver is harried or relaxed. How might you be more relaxed if you choose to view inconveniences as simply that and not as a personal affront. How might your relationships improve if you choose to see all encounters as neutral – a mere request for information, a simple comment on your performance, or an appeal for your help?

Practice makes permanent. Practice makes perfect only if you are practicing correctly. Choose to mentally rehearse phrases that put you in effective control. Phrases such as “This too shall pass”, “I will take the high road”, or “I will not be ruled by my emotions.” Make visual notes to self that will keep your new-found tension releases at the forefront of your mind. Think: we are always practicing; do you want your responses to be perfunctory or perfecting?

Practice marks improvement. There is a learning curve to every worthwhile endeavor. Imagine a stressful situation occurring again, only this time you are more prepared: You are early instead of late; relaxed instead of rushed; rested instead of cranky. You have given mental thought to strategy and worked through possible problems to find solutions. You are pro-active rather than reactive.

See the big picture. Erica Black’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live. Erica came to terms with everyday life and what is really important. She looked at all the things she should be doing and willingly put them on the back burner. She said, “We’re going to be with Mom. It’s just knowing what needs to be done at that moment instead of stressing out about being here or there.” Keeping Balance, Wacoan Dec. 09, www.wacoan.com

Pressure vs. anxiety. Know the difference. Although there are demands on one’s time, the truth remains that if you do not set your schedule, then someone else will set it for you. In accepting life’s responsibilities, do not turn duty into drudgery. Have a willingness to do whatever you agree to do, even if it was thrust upon you. Make it your choice and set yourself up to receive creative ideas.

Make it fun. Remember learning to ride a bicycle? You would fall, skin your knee and get back on again. It was the challenge that kept you going and you found it fun in the process. Accept the dare to see something humorous and self-improving in every stressful situation. Philosopher Brian Johnson encourages us to “eat stress like an Energy Bar”.

My friend, Linda Austin, proclaims “I don’t do stress.” Unfortunately, I am not there yet, but getting closer every day. Join me in letting go of stress.

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.”