Becoming Balanced

A new year filled with new possibilities lends itself to seeking the age-old dilemma of becoming balanced; how to find it and how to keep it. The truth is, there is no magic formula of 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, 4 hours family time, 4 hours personal time, etc. As much as one might like neatly pocketed time slots and agendas, the real world does not work that way.

The way we see our outer world is a symptom of what is going on inside. Evaluate: What do you feel deprived of? What is your level of appreciation for the ordinary? How is your life out of sync? What are you really searching for? What expectations are too high or too low?

How to walk a tight wire. Like a trapeze artist or a bicycle rider, balance knows when to lean left or right - and how much - while continuing to move forward. With a little lean, you adjust and regain equilibrium. If you over-correct and crash, get back in the game with a renewed commitment to balance.

Do not allow work to control you. The just-one-more-thing syndrome will keep you bound to work; often at the sacrifice of family and health. Do not allow the seduction of ambition to distract you from what is truly important.

How do you eat an elephant? An elephant is too big to be consumed in one setting. Not only is it to be eaten “one bite at a time”, but also with lapses for processing, digesting and elimination. The large carcass may need to be shared with others and some may need to be frozen for another time.

Do not expect easy. Most tasks have a learning curve, so give yourself room to grow. This goes for relationships also. Give you room to grow. Give them room to grow. Make the focus and intention on growing together, not apart.

Make routine your friend. Author Michael Gerber says “the solution is in the system”. A well-reviewed accounting system keeps the books in balance. A well-planned and executed schedule keeps life in flow. Continually reviewed priorities keep first-things-first. A running list of to-do’s keep you on track and the joy of marking off a task add to the feeling of accomplishment. .

If you assign the same priority to everything then you feel overwhelmed. Balance is making plans in keeping with your priorities and adjusting along the way. Balance is doing what needs to be done within an acceptable time frame. A key factor is to know what to focus on and when.

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For Auld Lang Syne

New Years celebrations. One has probably attempted to sing Auld Lang Syne even if not knowing the words or the meaning. Basically, the song is an encouragement to remember – nay – to rekindle long ago relationships. The melancholy tune draws us into the sentimental moment. But it takes more than sentiment to prepare one’s heart to mend the past.

Life is fraught with misunderstandings. The details are less important than the resulting consequences. Once we settle into satisfying way to meet a need, it becomes difficult to change. When seen as “her/his fault”, then you think she needs to change. When one sees self as being right, he crosses the line into being the one who makes the offender change. When you demand someone to change to please you, the line is crossed into controlling. And the relationship suffers. Becomes fragmented. Strained.

Close yet far. The song speaks of once scaling mountains together and picking daisies, but now are distant weary travelers. Relationship tension knows no bounds. You can be close in proximity yet remote. Conversely, you can be thousands of miles apart, yet hold the offender in close disdain. Even death does not remove the discord.

God I’ve got a problem: It’s me. When I have been at odds with people, marriage, work or churches, God's all-encompassing wisdom to me has been: "Go and I will bless you. Stay and I will bless you. Go and you will have problems. Stay and you will have problems."

I take this to mean that I am a part of the problem as well as a part of the solution. But it takes work from all involved for there to be an amiable solution. Unfortunately, too many seek quick answers from their individual point of view.

Life is fair; whether we agree or not. There is a Master bookkeeper. Ultimately, whatever you plant, on purpose or by default, is what you receive.

Do it for kindness sake. “And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give us a hand o’ thine! …We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.” For days of long ago. Be the initiator. Choose to forgive and extend compassion. Whether received or not, it will set you free. It allows you, as well as the departed, to rest in peace.

As you let go of pain or grudges you are elevated to new heights. You can enter the new-year with thoughtful benevolence for days of long ago and anticipation of today and the future. (Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burns’ Scotts version of James Watson’s poem, 1711)


Dreaming of a White Christmas

The Christmas Story is filled with angels, dreams and interpretations. That phenonemon was not just for long-ago and is still prevelent for us today.

The dream center. Our conscious awake mind takes in information and responds. Sleep allows the brain to rearranges recent memories, a process that can lead to insight and new knowledge. Researchers believe that sleep is not only good for our physical health but also for our mental well-being.

Stages of sleep. In the process of falling asleep breathing and pulse slows and muscles relax. The brain waves are regular and the body can be easily awakened. In deep sleep the brain waves slow down with occasional spikes depending on surrounding noise or interference. In the deepest sleep, known as REM or rapid-eye-movement, the brain stem releases chemicals and fires electrical signals. The muscles are so relaxed the body is virtually paralyzed.

During REM is when dreams occurr. Scientific research reveals that everyone dreams every night, whether remembered or not. During REM sleep chemicals go all parts of the brain gathering a mix of visual images and emotional feelings and coalescing them into a dream that has elements of both the real and the bizarre.

Train yourself. You can remember and benefit from your dreams but it may take time to train yourself. Put you to bed, quiet your breathing and deliberately turn off your mind’s rehearsal of the day’s events or tomorrow’s worries. Tell yourself that you will remember your dream upon awakening. Learn to wake naturally, without an alarm.

Write it down. Up on awakening, continue to lie still and concentrate on remembering your dream. Keep a pad and pencil by your bedside and immediately jot down the dream exactly as you remember it. Do not embellish and do not edit.

Think on it. At off moments during the day, reflect on your dream for insights. Was it meaningful or simply entertainment? Embrace success and look forward to more.

An example. I had a recurring dream of various meetings and demands made on me. Mixed up with all this was a nagging that I had lost a library book and a huge fine was awaiting. Upon awaking I was puzzled. The thing that stood out the most was the library book. It made no sense since I prefer to own the books I read.

My interpretation. I began to reflect upon the last time I had visited a library. Then I remembered having called several bookstores and the library trying to find a certain book for a client. The library had it and put it aside, in my name, to be picked up. I gave the information to my client. He never went. Consciously I dismissed it. Unconsciously my name was on the line. Once the problem came to light a solution was formulated.

Science gives validity to Mom’s advice to “sleep on it”. The function of the unconscious mind is to protect you. When you have a decision to make or a problem to solve, your mind works over-time - day and night - to honor you. Sleep allows the brain to rearranges recent memories, a process that can lead to insight and new knowledge.

Sweet dreams.

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.”


Holiday Perspectives

“The incarnation of the Son of God emphasizes the great dignity of
human nature, and reveals the value of every human being ….” Pope John Paul II

Advent is a season pregnant with what is to come. It allows us to participate in sacred history as we reflect on ancient truth and future hope. Christmas affords a time to prepare our hearts to receive again a baby who has already been born. A time to understand the four hundred year silence and anticipate the promised Savior. Advent prepares us to receive Christ anew into our lives, refreshing and restoring our faith.

Newcaster Paul Harvey told a story of a man who was synical about the Christmas story. One bitter Christmas eve the man’s family went to the local church to worship while he sat alone in front of a warm fireplace. The drapes on the picture window were open to reveal the tree lights inside. The man was startled by a crashing sound against the plate glass.

Going outside he found a little bird dead in the snow. Apparently the bird was attempting to fly in to the warm room and met his fate against the window. The man looked around at other birds shivering in the cold. He had an idea.

He opened the garage door so the birds could fly inside and be sheltered from the blustery, icy winds. He waited. The birds did not come in. He beaconed to them. They did not come. He sprinkled bird food from outside leading into the garage. Still, the birds did not come.

He thought, “If some how I could just become a bird for a few minutes, I would fly among them, chirp their language and then show them the garage is a safe haven.”

As the man was thinking these thoughts the Christmas bells chimed to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. He fell to his knees. “Dear God, now I understand. You spoke from heaven and the people thought it was thunder. You sent prophets and they still did not heed. You had to become man to show the way.”

The more I think of this story, the more real the incarnation becomes. If the man could have become a bird, he would have retained his human thinking, while being limited to the language and abilities of a bird. In like manner, Jesus incarnated as a human being, and while retaining his Godly knowledge and omniscience, lived on earth for thirty-three years with the limitations of humanity.

Religion is man’s reach for God. Christmas is God’s reach for man.

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.”