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2/24/15

Accidental Grace or Clumsiness

You have had times when life flows effortlessly. When all the pieces fit together? A plethora of events - including people and places - collide for accidental grace.

Or an accidental mishap? When something negative happens that we did not knowingly choose it is often labeled as an accident. It may seem to have ‘just happened’ but in truth all the conditions were met.

All accidents, happy or otherwise, are intentional.

Events are intentional even though we may loudly protest that we did not intend to… (fill in the blank).

And that is the crust of the problem. All accidents, positive or negative, are life displaying itself by design or default.

Can we set ourselves up to lean toward grace? To be accident-prone toward happy outcomes?

Yes! It’s called by a number of names like meditation, self-evaluation or living in the now. Life becomes more gracious when we live on purpose. When we let ourselves know that we are making the choice to do or not to do.

As in, choosing to drive distracted and thereby greatly increasing a wreck outcome. (Note: A wreck is a by-product of reckless driving – or living.)

Embrace the act of being aware of what you do and taking full responsible for the outcome of such action. And not just every now and then.

The proof is in the practice. Neuroscience says we can build new pathways in our brain that will reroute our thinking and become our new default position thus eliminating old habits of thought and action.

You can cultivate the habit of being fully present and mindful and engaged and happier. Practice until it becomes habit. Practice - like the habit of brushing your teeth – where you feel fuzzy until you meditate. Practice until a new supersonic highway bridge is built over the old reactive turbulence.

That is not to say that others are not contributors; but it is to acknowledge that you have no control over the part they play. It is to say that you will lean toward positive influence as you interact with clarity, grace and calm.

Every area of your life benefits – relationships, work, health – everything is enhanced through meditative self-evaluation and conscious decision making.

Go on. Not only is the proof in the practice but also practice makes permanent.

Mona Dunkin, Solution Principles, Maximum People Development. Please remember us for your training needs. mona@monadunkin.com

2/19/15

Do You Love Me?

If you love me, keep my commandments. Jesus
  • Love shows itself.
  • Feed my sheep.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Be punctual.
  • Speak in a respectful manner.

Showing love goes hand-in-hand with the golden rule:

“Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” 


Respect is treating another as though you were the other person. Respect looks different to everyone. You know what respect looks like to your mate (child, boss, neighbor). Give what s/he wants not what you want in a similar situation.

Suppose your favorite dessert is chocolate cake and my favorite dessert is ice cream. Both of these delicacies are at my disposal but I choose to give you ice cream because I like ice cream with no regard to offering you chocolate cake.

One might protest.  “So. What’s wrong with that?”

One might argue that I treated you the way I wanted to be treated.

But did I really? Or did my preference supersede your liking?

I’m not talking about splitting hairs on minor matter; it’s just that little things lead to bigger things. The way we do one thing is the way we do everything. When we get real honest with ourselves, our heart knows what that means even though our mind may play brain-games.

Showing love is being selfless while maintaining a healthy self-love. It is manners dressed up in its Sunday best, even on grungy Friday. It is deliberately giving of respect to the one with irritating qualities.

Emotions are fragile. Love, trust and respect are easily broken and difficult to repair.

Star, our outside cat, loves to spend her days in the storage shed. She has a cozy warm bed to curl up in and a window ledge from which to observe the world. She has food and fresh water at her disposal.

One day a stray cat wandered into her sanctuary and disrespected her territory. She fled. She spent her days hidden in the culvert and nights in the tree top. Our cajoling failed to satisfy Star that her abode was safe.

Frustrated, I said, “Okay, Miss Independence, have it your way.”

Immediately my spirit was checked. It is my own independent spirit that draws me to liking cats! Yes, Lord, teach me to show my love to you by keeping your commandments rather than rebelling or running away hiding or doing it my way.

Eventually Star returned to the storage shed and purrs loudly when we approach.

I’m still working on being secure enough to allow God’s love to give me grace to respect others in keeping with his commandments. It starts and stops with me loving me (or not).

Mona Dunkin, Solution Principles, Maximum People Development. Please remember us for your training needs. www.monadunkin.com mona@monadunkin.com

2/16/15

Thanks Be To God

Life is filled with tension. What to do? What not to do? What is too much? What is not enough? Knowing. Not knowing. Not caring. Emotional highs and lows. Joys and disappointments. All at the same time!

Thank be to God for this Holy Easter Holiday. When rightly observed, Easter can teach us to die to life's tension in order to live abundantly. With the approaching of Ash Wednesday, I wish to share my last year's Lenten experience with you.

Although I have celebrated Easter all my life, I had never observed the 40-day Lenten fast. 2014 was a first for me. I am sad to say it had never seemed that important in preparation for Easter. How blind I have been.

We must choose to be awake to receive the Son-rise.

My Lenten fast was actually pretty petty. I choose to forgo the 2PM-4PM-half-price-drinks-run to Sonic. This everyday 44oz drink habit I had fallen into had taken on a life of its own. At 1:30 in the afternoon – I don’t want to miss it - my attention was drawn to my senses. Like Pavlov's dog, I salivated just thinking of the treat.

Everything is spiritual. How is it that denying the self can be as fulfilling as satisfying the self? Lent is not about the ego-self (edging God out) but the true-self (centering God in).

Self-control is an essential part of the spiritual life. As the appetite is tamed the soul flourishes. This iota of surrender made an enormous shift in my thinking. My afternoon attention is being refocused from Dr. Pepper to the Great Physician. My thirst is being translated from soda pop to Living Waters.

And in the process every sense is becoming sharper.

God’s silence speaks volumes and my stillness listens and my wisdom heart hears. How many times does God speak and we do not hear for our spiritual ear is dulled by the illusion of pleasures and pains of life?

In The Liturgical Year, Sister Joan Chittister relates the story of a disciple who heard a voice calling, “Who is there?”

Sensing a holy moment, she replied, “It is I, Lord.” But there was only silence.

Years later she again heard the voice and again she answered, “It is I, Lord. It is I.”

But there was only silence. In later years, the voice called a third time, “Who is there?”

This time she answered, “It is You, Lord, only You.”


Apostle Paul expressed it as decreasing so that God might increase.

Diane Bardwell sings, “Ever dying into You am I, until there is only You.”

Everything we learn in life, it is all Thanks Be To God.


For counsel or speaking engagements, contact Mona at mona@solutionprinciples.com

2/10/15

Put First Things First

In a cold February, Valentines and love celebration is a welcomed warm spot.

But what is love anyway?
  • Is it a word we casually attach to people, pets, pleasures, places and provisions?
  • Is it a fickle emotion we precariously fall into and out of?
  • Is it something we take for granted?
  • Is it something we demanded when it’s absent yet discounted when it’s genuine?
  • Is love an illusion?
  • Is love the only thing that is real?

Dr. William Glasser, founder of Choice Theory Psychology, identifies love as a genetic need that drives us to belong. Love is a physical and psychological need to fit in.

Love is a spiritual need that drives us to fit into our world. When loved the way we need to be loved, we are more whole and content. 

Love is the need for relationship. From the cradle to the grave life is all about relationship. No matter the venue – home, workforce, salesmanship, community, government, law enforcement, time, money, energy or breakthrough science like Albert’s Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is all about the state or quality of one thing relating to another.

  • It is about one thing -you - relating to one thing - me.
  • Love is about our relationship with those near and dear to us.
  • Love is about our relationship a Supreme Being.
  • Love is about our relationship with self; being comfortable in our own skin.
  • Love is about our relationship with stuff (time, money, energy, possessions.
  • Love is about our relationship with the rest of the world- as in the IT Tech in China, all the drivers in all the cars on the highway in this universe, all the workers in all the business in all the cities and townships, and all seven-point-two-billion souls on planet earth with unknown names and unseen faces.
  • Love is about our relationship with theories, science,politics, religion, education.... the list is endless.

WOW. That’s a lot to relate to.

How do you cultivate a loving relationship? How do you nurture, develop and grow love for self let alone for all of humanity? How to you sustain love for those “near and dear to us” when they are flawed?

And that brings us to the title of this article: Put First Things First.

Put First Things First is actually habit #3 in Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Covey says, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage- pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, - to say “no” to other things."

We were a twinkle in God’s eye long before a spark in dad’s. God first loved us. As we receive God’s love and bask in the source of Love from which we came, our love tank becomes full and is continually topped off. In the overflow, we can effectively relate to others.

“When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving toward the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed, but increased. Second things are corrupted when they are put first.”
C. S. Lewis


Mona Dunkin, Solution Principles, Maximum People Development. Please remember us for your training needs. mona@monadunkin.com

2/4/15

Self Love

              "We shall not cease from exploration but at the end of all of our exploring will be to return to                 the placed from which we originated and to know it for the first time.” T. S. Eliot

You were a twinkle in God’s eye before you were ever a gleam in Dad’s. Eventually we return to the place of our beginning. Earth to earth; dust to dust, created to Creator. We go back to the source from which we came, back to the love of God.

So why wait? Just as the be-happy-attitudes are for today on planet earth as well as in the sweet-by-and-by, so, too, is a healthy earthly self-love.

Self-love is primal to physical and mental health and to spiritual well-being. Wireless technology and scientific discoveries confirm what mystics have known all along – we are all connected. From the vastness of the universe to the quantum iota of the atom, we are all connected.

Because God is Love, then you – his offspring – are love. And lovely. And loveable. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your conception, you were born from God’s womb of Love. Regardless of the condition of the parents – marital relationship, unloving sex, rape – you originated in God’s source of love.

Love is one of our greatest needs. Lovingly acts buds, blossom and bloom. Unloving acts that kinda resemble love may become distorted and perverted.

Failure to love and accept yourself is also failure to accept God’s special creation of you; the one with a totally unique fingerprint design.

Why is self-love so difficult?
Is it because we know ourselves well enough to know that we have unloving thoughts and do unloving deeds? Is it because we reject the parts of us that are in pain? Or that causes pain?



“Consider the lilies of the field.”

Think about flowers. All have beauty yet some are poisonous and some have thorns. Some are planted and admired in the boundary of a garden, yet are considered weeds when they jump bounds.

Self love is accepting all sides of our personality. Each facet of who we are simultaneously play a part in our life lessons.

“Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.” Rumi

Live in the question, the wonder and the awe. Live in the not-knowing-yet-longing-to-know. Learning to love yourself is a baby-step to trusting the infinite wisdom that created you.

We can only draw to us what we are. As we receive God's Love that is our birthright, our genes expression alchemically changes and we become a new creation with a fidelity to the original.

You become who you really are; you become your best self.

Invite Mona to speak to your group or organization. mona@monadunkin.com