Our U. S. Heritage and Thanksgiving

I visited with a Russian immigrant and mentioned our upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. He attested that America is special in so many ways and how appropriate for her citizenry to have a yearly holiday devoted to being thankful.

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite as it is the only one that remains unmarred by crass commercialism. It is a special time for us as a nation to pause and reflect on the things for which we are thankful. In spite of the recent destruction life and property by storms and other issues of unrest, there is much to be thankful for.

With the exception of the American Indian, all of us have our roots in other soil. We are all children of immigrants from oppressed countries who came to this land in search of freedom. One of the greatest freedoms sought is religious freedom.

The Pilgrims withstood hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds to come to a land and establish freedom of worship. The freedom to worship. The freedom to worship God according to the convictions of your one’s own heart, not according to the dictates of a church state.

Still today there continues to be a mass worldwide exodus of people leaving established homes in search of freedom. The freedom to be safe. The freedom to be educated. The freedom to worship.

As a child I learned Emma Lazarus’s poem that is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

                   “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.
                     Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.
                     I life my lamp beside the golden doors.”

In spite of the destruction of life and property in recent storms we can always be thankful for what we have left. We can renew our appreciation for what has been, what is and what is yet to come. Renew an appreciation to value people and our homes as never before. A renewed appreciation to value the wonderful gift of life and to take nothing - and no one - for granted.

A renewed love for our neighbor – no matter the color, age, size or cultural. And to realize our neighbor is global. A renewed appreciation for the infinite worth and value of each individual - including yourself.

O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
William Shakespeare

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues. Cicero

NEED A SPEAKER: Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Contact her at mona@monadunkin.com 254-749-6594


A Progressive Blessing

May you awaken each morning filled with excitement over a new day.

May you eagerly taste the deliciousness of life.

May you revel in challenges presented and humbly triumph.

May heaven shower you with love, joy, mercy, compassion and faith to overflowing.

May you be overcome by the awe of a sacred moment.

May you embrace change and see it as the life-giving force that it is.

May you be healed of poverty, lack, intimidation, or anything that keeps you bound.

May you be released from unforgiveness, anxiety, or whatever that may keep you stuck.

May you allow God to love you and to bless you.

May you receive the gift of yourself.

May you be free from fear, doubt, scarcity and be empowered to risk success.

May you be encompassed by peace in the midst of turbulence.

May you experience restful sleep and pleasant dreams.

May your last thought of the day be one of profound, yet simple, “Thanks”.

© Mona Dunkin 2008


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

With the holidays upon us what better time to become spending conscious. Preparing for and living within one's budget contributes to peace on earth, good will to mankind.

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.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.


Learning to Set Boundaries

A boundary is a line - visible or invisible - that defines and establishes identity. Boundaries (picture a fence) enclose and exclude to protect. Some invisible boundaries are beliefs, creeds, rules and regulations by which we order our lives. These bonds surround and define whether it be political, religious, military, civic, familial, gang or cult. This is who we are, what we believe, what we stand for and what we do. Without boundaries, you cease to exist.

Boundaries determine who you are. To establish who you are and who you want to become, clarify who you are not and what you will not allow. Examples: I am not a dumping ground or a punching bag. I do not like foul language so I will not use it or permit it in my presence. I am a person of value and will not be diminished, dismissed or disregarded.   

Speak up. Although being pro-active is preferred, in the learning stages post-active is okay. It is better late than never. Do not be too concerned about what other think. Whether the issue is addressed pre-present-or post, the other person (with selfish motive and raw emotions) may see it as nagging. That is irrelevant. You have to be confident that you are broaching the issue for the good of all. Yes, it will bring peace to you but know that it will also benefit them as they learn to become better citizens of family and society.

Be firm yet kind. Firmness shows respect for yourself and that your boundaries are not to be violated; kindness shows respect to the one being corrected. We teach people how to treat us. That they can dump or disregard and we will take it, or that we will not be treated in that manner. Until you become comfortable in speaking up, it may initially come off as hostile. Do not be put off by their off putting. Do not be intimidated and do not back down. As you become proficient in speaking up, your demeanor will be strongly soft and relationships will improve.

Change you; influence others. The only person we can change is us. Our changing greatly influences others. Human nature being the sheep-mentality that it is, most people respond in kind rather than being the initial change agent. I encourage you to be that influencing, initial change agent. Life is faithful to give us the lessons over and over until we either learn and the situation is relieved, or we learn and can stay sane and unstressed in the midst of the surrounding immaturity. Regardless, the limits we have set still hold whether they are respected in peace or in protest.

Picture it. Take a tip from professional athletes and see yourself making the shot before being on the court. In your mind re-live a boundary eroding incident and see you responding differently. See you specifically addressing an issue. Formulate the words needed that will clarify your position. Feel yourself being confident and politely forceful.

Learning to set personal boundaries may be intimidating but it is not difficult. Know that you are worth protecting and stand up for yourself. Work it, cause you’re worth it!


Dynamics of Change

It has been said that change is the only thing that is permanent. Yet many rebel at change. The following dynamics may help give you a handle on the inevitable changes of life.

When change is seen as threatening, it causes distress. When change is embraced as positive and welcomed, it can be seen as stressful, yet produce a good stress that pumps you up and keeps you going. Positive changes which can be a combination of good and bad stress include weddings, new birth, graduation, job change, moving, buying new house, etc., etc. Change can represent the end of comfort and predictability, but it can also be seen as a challenge to embrace. Change should not be approached in a random fashion, but seen as an opportunity for personal growth. The following dynamics may help give you a handle on the inevitable changes of life.

Give yourself permission to change. Give yourself permission to become something you have not been before (i.e. spouse, parent, executive). We have a friend who was a stocker with Wal-Mart. He is a nice guy, but rather shy and retiring. Failing health necessitated a change. Wal-Mart moved him from stocker to greeter, and he was stressed in a negative way. I encouraged him to “give himself permission to be friendly.” Once he saw a positive slant and gave himself permission to become something that had not come naturally in the past, he blossomed in the new position.

Visualize change in small increments. See the new position as something into which you can grow. My father was a builder. As a child I sat at the table with him drawing plans, and at age nine, designed my “dream home”. It was fashioned after Tara of Gone with the Wind – large columnar porch, winding staircase, and more rooms than anyone would know what to do with. When I married we moved into a small apartment, it was difficult to see us as changing into the type of people who would live in a Tara mansion. When we moved to an 1800 square foot home, the possibility became a little clearer. When we nearly doubled the size of our house through expansion, the ability to change into a “plantation owner” has become even clearer. We are not there yet, but thorough embracing life changes and goal setting, it will become a reality.

Look at where you were, to more accurately measure where you are. Because I was good at my job, I was advanced to an executive position. I felt like a fish out of water.
  • First, I gave myself permission to change.
  • Second, I saw myself changing from staff to executive.
  • Third, I looked at what kind of job I had done in the past that allowed the board to see possibilities in me that I did not see.

I knew a young lady who had been in a power position for two years and was still overwhelmed. I encouraged her to look at how much she had grown, how much she had learned, how much she had changed, how many good decisions she had made. When you recognize past change, future change becomes easier.

Change is scary because it takes more effort for transition.
Change is not the problem, but transition. - John Maxwell

We continually have to challenge our though patterns to see if they are serving us well, and when not, change them. When change is seen as threatening, it causes distress. Change can represent the end of comfort and predictability, but it can also be seen as a challenge to embrace.