Joys of Journaling

“I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of           
 living… and since I think best with a pencil in my hand, I started naturally to write.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Thinking with a pencil in hand is an excellent way of knowing yourself. Journaling is a discipline I began in the early 1970’s and it is a luxury I continue to give myself. I journal as a way of “getting it out of my system” so I can interact with people in a more loving, kind, non-threatening, affectionate way.  Reflection on self and others is at the root of integrity. Journaling is a mirror that helps to bring resolve by being more objective; it gives me insight into my actions or reactions.
“The trouble with following the crowd is — it’s crowded.”  Infinity Car Commercial
Journaling helps brings emotions and thoughts into perspective.  There is something concrete about seeing your thoughts in black and white; it helps bring clarity and meaning, rather than just having them bounce around in your head, “driving you crazy”.  Journaling helps to bring these controlling emotions into control and makes them more manageable.  It gives you an opportunity to see what you do believe and what you want to hold on, or want to discard. 
Journaling is a sounding board from you to you.  It like talking to another person, only to one who truly understands what you are saying and who can genuinely help you find solutions.

Journaling helps to express the intensity of your emotions without harming the relationship.  You can express hate without devastating the one hated; or at least the one you hate at the moment. And when you realize the emotion is not really burning hate but a deep frustration, you are more at east being with the offender knowing you have not deliberately wounded him/her. 
Journaling is a catharsis that helps clarify in writing what you have difficulty speaking.  It is a self-awareness skill that leads to overcoming.  Journaling helps you to listen to yourself, to seek resolution and perhaps leads to relationship building ways to reconcile with those who have hurt you (or whom you have hurt). 
Journaling encourages you to make time for yourself and for spiritual quiet time.  Journaling helps to process deep and raw emotions.  It gives access to levels of understanding that otherwise would have remained elusive.  It leads to the possibilities of writing stories and teaching materials directly from my own wounds, which brings healing to myself and to others.   
Not only can journaling help you come to terms with present situations, is a way of keeping a history of your life; recording thoughts, emotions, remembrances of days gone by, special moments with children, mate or friends. It is a way to record experiences you do not want to forget.  It is a way of expressing your life to future generations (should you ever choose to share them). Failure to journal is a waste of wonderful memories.  Go ahead; discover the joys of journaling.


Getting Our Needs Met

Relationships are about need vs. need. Healthy relationships give and receive for the good of the whole. When your need is being frustrated by his need (and vice-versa) the key to maintain harmony is in learning to be responsive rather than reactive. 
You may ask, "But HOW?"
I love when people ask the question. If we try to give an answer before the question is being asked, no matter how wise our words, it falls on weak ears.  Let's start with the solution before we address the problem. 
Solution:  Start your day by choosing to invest time to set yourself up to have a great rest of the day. Making time to 'pray it forward' is enough to guarantee that you will be in charge of your thoughts throughout the day.  And, after all it is our thoughts that produce our emotions. A few minutes of sincere meditation/prayer gives you a different nervous system for the entire day.
Problem:  The content of our thinking produces our receptivity. The cells of our body have two modes, and one and only one mode operates at a time. Our cells are either open for growth or closed for defense.  By going into defense mode one compromises the optimal function of his/her nervous, endocrine and autoimmune systems.  Not only does defensiveness harm relationships, it harms you physically, emotionally and spiritually. 
Our thoughts produce our emotions.  So listen to what you are thinking because that is what is stirring up your emotions.  When you set the condition of me against you, you ironically set the conditions for you to be against yourself. It’s called “destroying your own house”.  
It is more about you than it is about them. There may be some truth to thinking that the situation will get better when the other person changes but it is not an absolute truth. How so? A person may genuinely be making strides (clumsy and inept) to cooperate but as long as we look at their actions through our angry glasses, we will fail to appreciate their effort and misjudge their intent and disregard their point. Even if our basic need is being met we neglect to notice.   
The progress s/he makes is in keeping with his innate gifting which is often different than the way we would do things.  Irony: opposites attract. We are drawn to someone whose strength compliments our weakness. We are repelled by that same someone when she does not measure up to our expectations.
But what if he never changes?  Then we have to decide if it is a deal breaker or not. If it is a not a deal breaker then look inside for your own answers.  Sometimes for the good of the whole we have to lower our expectations.  That is not to throw a wet blanket on hope; it is to dampen unrealistic expectations.  Assertive is making a request without demanding it.  
Honesty with self promotes personal growth. Every day you have a chance to set into motion positive changes in your relationships. It’s like the disgruntled office worker said when she began to appreciate her job and her co-workers, “These people around here sure have changed!” 
Maybe the Golden Rule really does work.  Respond to others in a respectful manner and give room to grow into reciprocating in kind out of their own human dignity.  Negotiate – give and receive - for the good of the whole. 
Again, you may ask, “But HOW?” 
Answer: Graciously. In the Bible verse, "God's grace is sufficient" the verb "is" is a past/present/future reality. As in…
        Past: God's grace was sufficient yesterday I just chose to say, "No thanks, I'll handle this myself, thank you anyway!" 
        Present: God's grace is sufficient today (right this second) and is a reality awaiting my acceptance and employment. 
       Future: God's grace will be present tomorrow or next week or whenever it is needed. 
There is always a current supply of grace to us and through us; grace can be refused or used but it cannot be horded or stored up. Like the manna in the wilderness saved grace becomes stale. Grace is delivered fresh, toasty warm and sweet smelling from God's outpost within you.  Receive it. Share it. Bask in the needs-fulfilling nourishment it gives in all relationships. 


Developing a Spending Plan

 “A budget feels like a diet. It curtails your freedom. But with a spending plan, the choices are yours.”
Deena Katz Moral

1. Determine monthly income. Income is the money you bring in on a consistent basis and includes, but is not limited to, the following: regular income from primary job(s), regular overtime, tips, public assistance, child support, pension, social security, disability, commissions, bonuses, etc. If some of the regular income is flexible, choose a smaller amount but do include it in the total.

2. Determine monthly expenses. Expenses are things you spend money on/for and includes housing (rent/mortgage), utilities, telephone, car payment(s), car repair and maintenance, gasoline and oil, insurance, medicals, groceries, eating out, clothing, snack items, doctor visits, pet supplies, etc. Include small expenditures as well as large ones.

Calculate yearly car repairs and maintenance (gas/oil/washes) and divide by twelve to arrive at the monthly expense. Do this on other items also that are not spent on a given date, such as groceries and clothing. Relegate the new school clothes purchases to a monthly expense. This way you will not be caught unawares and be in crunch time.

3. Know where your money goes. For the next two months, record all of your purchases. Record what you bought, the amount, the date and time, whether you used cash, check/debit or charge card, and your emotions at the moment.

Note the impulse buys. Become aware of emotional purchases. Buying to feel good is a temporary false fix and makes you feel worse in the long run. Think and reason before buying. Remember, stuff does not bring happiness.

4. Look at other expenses and rank them in order of importance to you. Are you spending too much on fast foods? Where are you wasting money? “Don’t worry that you’re going to lose your dignity. Engrave this motto on your mind, ‘Wherever I am, whatever I do, there is a way to do it for less’.” Mary Hunt

5. All successful spending plans require trade-offs. When you determine your core values and have something worth sacrificing for, it transcends the situation and sacrifice is not a sacrifice. “I choose to live within my budget; I will buy cool aid instead of more expensive soft drinks.” “We can rent movies rather than going to the movie house.” “I choose to live within my budget, so we can do without cable for a while.”

6. All successful spending plans require trade-offs. When you determine your core values and have something worth sacrificing for, it transcends the situation and sacrifice is not a sacrifice. “I choose to live within my budget; I will buy cool aid instead of more expensive soft drinks.” “We can rent movies rather than going to the movie house.” “I choose to live within my budget, so we can do without cable for a while.” Give up about keeping up with the neighbors. Make relationships more important than stuff.

7. Discipline yourself to paying by cash, debit card, or check. If the money is not in the bank, do not stress yourself by extending credit.

8. Limit yourself to one credit card and pay the balance each month. If you have existing credit card debt, pay off the high interest cards first, then use the extra amount to reduce the next highest, etc. This is also an excellent strategy to apply to reducing mortgage and car loans.

Here is a formula for financial success:   Income - Outgo = Zero

If you do not tell your money where to go, you will wonder where it went. Look at every penny that comes in and determine where it will go - giving, saving, living.


Sharing Information

Communication consists of the giving and receiving of information. We decide whom we are based on how others interact with us. Although humanity seems to focus more on the negative than the positive, I suggest that is not true. In a backwards-crazy-mixed-up way, a judgment against someone is a disconnecting way of wanting that individual to live up to his own potential. 

Have I lost you yet? Stated more plainly: Criticism is an ugly way of making a request.

A child is told, "Do not touch that"; and he touches it anyway.  The study of linguistics suggests the child is not deliberately disobeying. His body reaches for what his emotions want and acts on what his mind heard which was "Touch that." Signals received/sent become our perception that in turn becomes our reality - only it may not be real. 

No wonder we are so complicated. No wonder life is so wonderful (full of wonder).

Watch out for the “boomerang effect”.  Information given may ricochet on you and the one to whom you gripped thinks less of you.  She sees you as being petty. Even if you put on a good act, the gossip (and that’s what it is) shows your true colors.
Be compassionate.  All are broken and all have faults. What are your struggles? Be careful lest you attempt to make another measure up to your standards. It’s more about you than him. 
Adopt a balcony perspective; step back and really see.  Take yourself out of the middle and allow the conversation to be different. This stance motivates to self-discovery and leads to responding rather than reacting. You shift from authority to stakeholder. 
Even when you think you have something constructive to say, make strides to remain silent. It can be difficult to simply be an observer when you interact with those who are not living as we think they should. Hurt, anger and condemnation are a natural response; certainly not open-hearted acceptance. If your comments are met with silence, graciously accept their response as a “do not interfere” position.
Speak truth only when done so in love. Real love.  Truth teaches with respect and kindness. Always choose high regard. Being obsessed with others and their problems keeps one a safe distance from working on his own issues.

Please let me hear from you. 


Needs, Needs, We All Have Needs

“Go internal to find the eternal.”  Sargent Shriver

All of us are searching for the spiritual qualities of meaning, significance, and purpose.  We use tangible things as a way of determining that we have found these illusive intangibles. But you cannot compare apples to oranges. They are alike – both fruit - but are not the same – succulent and acidic.    
We are spiritual beings on a human journey. The limitations, demands and perceptions of this human life often cause us to lose sight of just how spiritual we are. 
So who are you? We are the columniations of generations past that came together into one tiny embryo to make you, you. Certain needs have been encoded into us. Among those is the need to survive; to live and keep on living. This is the need for food, air, light, water, shelter, protection, exercise and other things that keep us alive and healthy. It is done by obeying the rules of the road and staying safe.
We also have psychological needs, not just to survive but also to thrive. They include:
Love and Belonging: This is the need to fit in and to get along well with others, especially the people important to you. This is done through family, friends, cooperation, and involvement, caring and connecting.
Purpose: This is the need to feel important and to be appreciated for what we do. It is done through confidence in who you are, using your gifts and talents to benefit mankind,  being heard and understood, accomplishments, service and in giving and receiving of respect.
Enjoyment:  This is the need to laugh and be happy. This is done through learning, relaxing, appreciating and looking for the good in all situations. Being entertained plays a small part in enjoying life.
Freedom: This is the need to make your own decisions and to feel good about the outcome. It is done by thinking things through and making a wise decision.
Spiritual: This is the need for a connection with others-past and present - and with a higher power. It is that something that makes your heart soar. This is done through meditation, worship and in finding meaning and purpose in life.
And it is okay to have those needs met.  Only sometimes they are pacified - not genuinely met – in ways that are detrimental to us physically as well as spiritually. The spiritual part of life is what makes the material part of life take on meaning. Go internal to find the answer to that riddle; it’s there. 
Need a Life Coach?  Contact Mona at 254-749-6594 or mona@monadunkin.com   


May your spirituality bloom and grow.