Building Memories

“The memories we share today become more magical tomorrow.”
Infinity car commercial
Memories evoke scattered pictures of the past – some pleasant, some not so much so. Although memories are emotionally based, they take hold serendipitously; out of those times spent together.   
Our memories are selective. My siblings and I are so dissimilar my sister-in-law declares we each must have been reared in different families.  Before death claimed two brothers, the four of us, plus our spouses, gathered together monthly to dine, reminisce and enjoy each other’s company.  Regardless of who shared a memory, there seemed to be four distinct responses to said account:
  • One viewed it as a cherished moment, giving grand details and quoting dialog
  • One saw it as a source of irritation and was ready to debate the topic or dismiss it
  •  Another could not remember the incident at all
  •  And yet another remembered it happening but it was no big deal.
 We are masters at constructing the boundaries of our reality. According to Psychiatrists William Glasser, all we can ever receive from our environment is information. Information gets into our brains through a filtering system comprised of our five senses. When information passes us by, it is because it did not merit our filter test as being important. When the information is received it activates a response of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. 
Memories come to bear in random fashion activated by current information received by one or more of our five senses. When I walked into Mrs. Mathias’s dining room of cherry mahogany, I was instantly transported back to my wonder years of Sunday dinners at grandmother’s huge table.  Since memories are random events set in motion through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, I have chosen not to organize my collection of pictures and memorabilia but to view them unsystematically.   
The teaching that life is an illusion is a mystical principle. We can lose our power by believing something is “real” or “unreal” when, in fact, it is one’s perception of the matter. Be careful about programmed memorable times together so they do not become too stressful. When tension is there to force making a pleasant memory, it may backfire.

Although we are complicated individuals, truth be told, life is simple. It is about enjoying the moment and one another. Now that is a memory builder. (9/23/12 388)
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In Every Thing Give Thanks

In all things give thanks for this is God’s will for you. Apostle Paul

Even though the day set aside to celebrate Thanksgiving has past, It is always good to give pause to count our blessings.

I am thankful for being born an American where we have certain unalienable rights and where we are free to exercise them, or to take them for granted, or to ignore them.

I am thankful for the Pilgrims who braved an angry ocean and withstood seeming insurmountable hardships to blaze a country with freedom to worship.

I am thankful for our forefathers and their foresight and wisdom of our Constitution and the many freedoms afforded us. Even though it has been abused and taken to extremes, I am thankful for free speech.

I am thankful for my family of chance: For parents who lived godly values and taught me character, integrity and an appreciation for work. I am thankful for my sister who begged for a sibling and then mothered me to a fault. I am thankful for my brothers who taught me to be tough and tender.

I am especially thankful for my family of choice. I am thankful for my husband of 45 years; a gentle man who is secure enough in himself to give me the freedom to be who I am. I am thankful for our daughter and her special love, laughter and inspiration. I am thankful for our son-in-law for being so good to us, to our daughter and to our grandchildren. I am thankful for our four beautiful, funny and delightful grandchildren. I am thankful for the fifth grandchild on the way.

I am thankful for assorted relatives who have touched my life in various ways – some good, some bad – but all uniting us as a family. I am thankful for friends, neighbors, acquaintances and for those special comrades, who laugh with me, cry with me, grow with me. I am thankful for each person who has touched my person in a unique way.

I am thankful for less obvious reasons.  I am thankful for misunderstandings, because they teach me to strive to be a better communicator; for criticism, for it forces me to examine actions and attitudes of self-righteousness, and leads to repentance; for failures, because they make me appreciate successes; for adversity, because it is in the winter that roots grow deepest to find fresh nourishment; for financial reverses, because it helps me to be grateful for what I have.

I am thankful for challenges that tax every fiber of my being, for it forces me to grow in new directions. I am thankful for dreams, ideas and goals, for they keep me active and energetic and alive. I am thankful for a contented mind and a grateful heart.

When it may seem difficult to be thankful in those trying times, may you receive understanding through the insights of Author Oswald Chambers:

weaknesses that show our need for His strength
difficulties that can keep us close to Jesus
hardships that keep us hidden in Him each moment
earthly disappointments that set our hearts on eternity.

Need a Life Coach? Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mona@monadunkin.com


How to Think Objectively

“Everyone is partially right.” Ken Wilber, Philosopher

It is difficult to objectively observe attitudes and actions with which one identifies. Unfortunately, as long as we identify with the problem, we remain stuck. To identify with the problem is to develop a victim mentality of “I can’t help it; that’s just the way I am, bless God!”

Only, it does not bless God. I suggest it does not bless your co-workers or family members either. It probably does not even bless you.

The way to “help it” is to consciously become aware of the thoughts you think. Everything begins in the mind. Thoughts lead to the language used that drives emotions into actions. To give pause and see your thoughts and actions from a detached vantage point – even with a lean toward knowing your intentions - allows your self-observation will be more objective.

Negativity sets one up to see self as a loser and others as being against you. Nether is accurate. Separate action from personhood. See the event as an isolated happening; as in “I made a foolish remark” rather than “I am a fool.” This allows you to be gracious to yourself – maybe even to see some humor – and the recovery is much quicker.

Rather than proclaiming another as “judgmental”, narrow the scope to “she seems to have a limited viewpoint on politics.” Agree to disagree while holding the dissenting voice in high regard as a person of interest – not to be suspect of but someone you might be able to learn from.

All we bring to the table at any given moment is our collected past experiences. And none of us perceive issues the same way. Keeping an open mind does not mean you are wrong. An open mind lends to objectivity; to be able to walk around the issue and view from all sides.

Objectivity asks what needs to be added to current info; what needs to be jettisoned; what needs to be kept. Appreciate the incompleteness of your information and approach learning with a fun sense of curiosity. Appreciate the viewpoint of another, either as a point of humor or a need for compassion.

Be aware of hot topics and shy away until you can respond to stimuli rather than reacting. Think of consequences and aim for those that are for the good of the whole rather than to prove a point. In the long run, what does it matter who is right?

Riding a bicycle (or walking a tight wire), one needs to continually move forward, to adjust position and monitor speed. Rather than quantify any experiences as worst or best, put a monetary value to it. Instead of “This is the best Mexican food I have ever eaten,” be more objective and rate it as a 10. There may be several Mexican restaurants in the ten category while each remains unique.

If everyone is partially right, does that also mean everyone is partially wrong? Including self? When we have problems with others it is a good idea to do some self-reflection and consider how our flaws might be making the situation worse; how is our attitude playing a part in the drama.

It is only by accepting something that we can handle it. Objectively.