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Life Lessons

I gave a talk for Women in Banking. Since at one point in my career I worked in a bank, I entitled my talk Life Lessons from Banking. But they are really life lessons from life.

Whatever your hand finds to do… I entered the work force directly out of high school and loved the excitement of being in a grown-up world. I was a secretary and felt so important. I answered phones and interacted with clients and solved problems. I loved it. I looked forward to Monday mornings and TGIF was not a part of my vocabulary. Then I began to listen to the office chatter; the complaints and taking extra minutes at break. My zeal began to wane. In my daily reading was the axiom, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” I learned the power of enthusiasm. I learned the power of personal accountability. This newly found work ethic served me well then and continues to do so to this day.

The creativity of uniform. We wore uniforms. They were red, white and blue and included blazers, skirt, pants and vests. I loved it. The more we dressed alike, the more individual we became; the more personalities shown through. The sameness released creativity in accessorizing. The standardized dress code saved time and energy in the morning. And in travel, it cut down on packing. This dress simplicity is a life lesson I continue to incorporate. The rewards are innumerable. The application has spread to other areas for effortless stress-free living.

A penny earned is a penny earned. When I became pregnant and wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, we curtailed our spending and began to put every penny toward paying off our home loan. When you have purpose, sacrifice transcends and is no longer sacrifice. This principle has come in handy in situations like working through rocky patches in our forty-three year marriage. In choosing to be the caretaker for Garland’s aging Mom. When we released our growing daughter to become her own person, there was no worries for the relationship had been early solidified. With the current economic situation and downturn in the stock market, the value of frugality redeems itself.

Be a lifelong learner. The bank offered reimbursement for credit classes. I began to see how my job interrelated to other jobs in the organization, helping all to run efficiently as a whole. We are connected and what we do effect others. We live in community; happiness and success are about relationships.

I choose to live looking for the deeper meaning in every situation. And it is a choice. We can live haphazardly or we can live with intention. I want to live with conscious intention and encourage you to do the same. Together we can continually grow and bloom and blossom.

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Challenge Your Beliefs

Everyone has something that represents the center of his being – a career, a relationship, a dream, a concept – and that something determines his priorities and attitudes.

Concepts become a part of your life only through agreement, and once you agree, you believe. Once you believe, you act in keeping with the belief. Your beliefs become who you are. Sometimes the concept agreed to is not truth, and the things believed are faulty and the values adopted are in opposition to the freedom sought.

A person will believe what he believes until he believes something different. The values you have been taught influence who you are. The values you choose to ascribe to determine whom you become. We are not static individuals. We have been given a mind with which to reason and a free will with which to make choices. When we see the validly for change, we can make new agreements.

For example, suppose a person is taught that “plaid” people are not to be trusted, and he agrees because he values the culture that taught him this concept. When he agrees that plaid people are unreliable then his actions follow suit, and he shunned them. In time he encounters plaid people at work, in the neighborhood and at civic events. This continued exposure would either affirm or disavow his belief about plaid people. If the concept holds true, he is a much happier man for he has discovered truth. But, if the original concept proves to be faulty, value conflicts arise and he becomes an increasingly unhappy and angry man, even though he may hold on to the negative belief about plaid people.

I encourage people to challenge their beliefs. If you challenge what you believe and it begins to crumble, then you are in a position to look for truth. If you challenge the belief and it holds true, you become a stronger and more settled person. Warning: If your challenged conception proves to be genuine, allow that truth to motivate you toward compassion for the one still deceived, rather than being judgmental.

We, as fellow human beings, are more alike than we are different. Ethics cannot be legislated, however, there are universal laws of human conduct, and to violate them brings choas. There is a wide spectrum of what constitutes value, there also are standards that people around the world, and that all major religions, adhere to. Webster’s Dictionary defines conscious as, “as inner knowing of right from wrong, with a compulsion to do right.” Psychiatrist Carl Jung calls it “the collective unconscious,” meaning an inner knowing whether you heed it or not.

If your life becoming more glorious? Are all your important relationships becoming more loving? Is every aspect of your success more enjoyable? Is your overall well-being becoming healthier? Is your sleep sweet? If the answer to any of these is questionable, perhaps it is time to challenge your beliefs. Listen to the still small voice inside, and heed it.

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, or”


Overcome Being Overwhelmed

It is a common malady. Saying “Yes” when “No” is really in your own best interest. Assuming responsible for others and overstepping your bounds. Fall into the try-to-be-all-things-to-all-people syndrome and being unappreciated. Erroneously thinking “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

Evaluate responsibility. Responsibility is an honorable trait and it is imperative to understand its limits. Be responsible for you and to others. You are responsible for your choices, your attitude, your thoughts, your actions, and whom you associate with. You are not responsible for another’s choices, attitude, actions and associations. In trying to control what (whom) we cannot control that contributes to being overwhelmed. Assess your position and adjust. Being responsible for the world is too heavy a burden for your shoulders. It creates stress, guilt and unnecessary frustration. Let it go! Embrace the flowing freedom on being less responsible. Pause before ever considering a “Yes” response or a dictate of what “should” be done.

Relationships are not one-sided. Unmet expectations breed frustration that is played out in negatives acts (consciously or unconsciously). You are not obligated to cajole your mate out of his snit. Let him work through it on his own. The same is true for teens and co-workers. You can speak to the need for an attitude adjustment, but you are not the mechanic. Step out of the emotion of the moment into a detach frame to assess if the mood is vindictive. If the intention was not for harm, then together engage in clean up.

Do not keep score. Tit-for-tat is futile. If someone accomplished more on the project than you, appreciate it. Go for teamwork where all win together. If the neighbor has a bigger house so what? Your worth and value is not attached to material things. Maybe he did not apologize, but if his actions changed then receive it graciously. Another may be better looking or have a greater physique, but your significance is not tied to externals.

Re-think and Re-teach. We teach others how to treat us by the things we allow and/or do not allow. Mistaken cooperation allows the offender to get away with disrespect; to break boundaries; to intrude and wreck our space. Speak up. Say something like, "I realize that I have led you to believe that my time is your time. I have allowed you to disrespect me and acted as if it didn't matter. It does matter. I apologize for being weak. I ask you to never speak to me in that manner again."

Take care of you. You cannot give out of an empty basket. When you are running on fumes, not only are you depleting you, you are also shortchanging them. Put yourself to bed at night. Make alone time for you to regenerate. Do something special just for you. Sit down to eat and make it healthy stuff. Leave a project undone; the sun will still rise tomorrow.

Let’s revisit the “If it’s to be it’s up to me” statement. In some instances that is exactly true. And this is one of them. Overcoming is a do-it-yourself job. To rise above being overwhelmed the ball is in your court. Say “No” and feel good about it. Be responsible to but not for others (family included with the exception of small children). With surrender comes a big exhale. Enjoy.

NEED A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: One of America's most interesting motivational speakers can be enjoyed in person in a presentation tailored to your specific need. Whether organizational, business or civic, you will be entertained with her humor, challenged with her gift of uncommon insights, and motivated by her thought provoking poems. Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or


Just Say "No"

You can learn to say “No” when it is in your own best interest. It is not difficult. Actually it comes naturally; just ask any two-year-old. What happened to take away your power is not relevant now. It is imperative that you get it back.

Start by moving. The key is to go forward. When you are paralyzed by fear or anxiety - start moving and start speaking. We are drawn to the familiar. This makes it hard to step into the unknown even when that action holds a promise of a better future. Let go of the familiar rut and reach for something new. Search deep inside for courage and trust. Trust yourself, trust others and trust God (higher power). You are equipped to handle things beyond your seeming capacity.
Find your own beginning and ending. Boundaries make trust and intimacy possible. Allowing another to make all the decisions may give a brief sense of security, but it is not sustaining. Loving someone too much is a disguise for your own insecurity. The feeling of bondage to another is more than physical; it is also psychological and spiritual. Get in touch with you to know where you end and another begins. “No” is a good word. It claries what an individual can or cannot do; what they can or cannot expect from you.

Get real. The person who continually apologizes for repeated wrongs is not sorry. If the person apologizes each time, then he knows his behavior is inappropriate and his regret is mere passive inaction. If you continue to accept the apology without a change in behavior then in effect you are saying, “It is okay for you to disrespect me.” Your lack of boundary inadvertently gives permission for the abuse to continue. Failure to say “No” to offensive behavior is perceived to be the same as accepting it. Establishing this boundary may present a minor conflict, but it is worth the effort.

Give grace. This is not to say that good intentions do not occasionally go awry and a person needs to apologize again and renew commitment to change. I am talking about a pattern of repeated conning with no effort to change. When marked genuine and accountable effort is given, then and only then, graciously allow the individual to regroup, recommit and start again.

Just say “No” is meant to be empowering, not glib. Even when you free yourself and begin to become assertive one is often still bound by fear, doubt and uncertainty. It is especially difficult when the odds seem stacked against you by a lack of resources, money or education. The overwhelming feeling is to negotiate, retreat or surrender. Help is available. Speak with local clergy or law enforcement to find assistance and support groups. Call Abuse Hot Line: 800-283-8401.

NEED A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: One of America's most interesting motivational speakers can be enjoyed in person in a presentation tailored to your specific need. Whether organizational, business or civic, you will be entertained with her humor, challenged with her gift of uncommon insights, and motivated by her thought provoking poems. Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or


From Suffering to Meaning

All of us are searching for meaning. This search leads to the need for change. The change process encounters pain. It is easy to lie to ourselves. We think we know our intensions and that we also understand our reasoning for lack of follow through. And therein lies the self-sabotage that begs for self-honesty. Speaker/Writer John Maxwell observes that people change only “when they hurt enough they have to, they learn enough they are able to, or they experience enough they want to.”

Need for control: Problems can be a manifestation of deep-seated fear or worry that weighs us down. It is often related to anxiety or anger about losing control. Problems may begin during a particularly stressful situation and progress with on-going “out-of-control” phases of your life. Pay attention to your feelings and see notice patterns of blame, shame or victimization.

Live today today. Be present. Objectively observe self and applaud or correct. Observe the things you avoid and determine why. Avoidance narrows your life.

This too shall pass. When negative emotions arise, you have the power to decide what to do with them. You can nurse, curse and rehearse the offense or you can chose to move past the hurt. To stay infects; to move beyond promotes healing.

Values clarification. Sacrifice transcends and is no longer sacrifice when you see the meaning of sacrifice. It is always need versus need. Such as the need to be your own unique self against the need for peer-acceptance. Be aware of conflicting values and make conscious choices rather than settling.

Evaluate your mental state. An overly emotional reaction to an event leads to neuroses. When you feel the room is closing in on you, sit calmly and breathe deeply. Focus on a distance object and say aloud, “That is over there and I am over here.” Look at your hands and say aloud, “I am over here and that is over there.” Repeat. Feel the space opening up. Verify that a Mac truck is not barreling down on you.

Develop discipline. Make intentional decisions and let yourself know you have reached a conclusion. The bottom line is, you either do or you do not. No decision is a decision.

Tests prove that brain chemistry changes positively when one interacts with people he trusts. For genuine transformation we need feedback from those who love us and we need to be accountable to them. It is through community that we learn enough and experience enough to be able to change. And in the process we find meaning.

NEED A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: One of America's most interesting motivational speakers can be enjoyed in person in a presentation tailored to your specific need. Whether organizational, business or civic, you will be entertained with her humor, challenged with her gift of uncommon insights, and motivated by her thought provoking poems. Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or