Dreaming of a Blessed New Year

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

Our 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.

Each night we go through 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 occur. Scientific research reveals that everyone dreams every night, whether remembered or not. During REM sleep chemicals go to 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.

You can train yourself to remember and benefit from your dreams but it may take time. Start by deliberately putting 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.

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.


Holiday Priorities and Organization

Sunrise. Sunset. Life is a continuous, on-going process. Planting, weeding, harvesting and canning. As much as we accomplish, there is always more to do. As much as we know, there is always more to learn. Here are a few thoughts on prioritizing and organizing.

Identify the most important. Write down all the needs for the day, arrange in order of priority and tackle number one. Stay with number one until completed. Continually assess, “What am I doing now?” Weigh the current activity against what you have identified as the most important.

Make it a part of your routine. Remember the hare and the turtle? It is better to consistently devote one-hour a day to planning and implementation than hours of stressful catch-up. Habits form character and determine destiny.

Practice the One to Four Ratios. Time management experts say that for every one of planning reduces execution by four to ten times. One hour of advance preparation can take up to ten hours off the finished project. One day of concentrated planning can reduce the job by four to ten days. One week of deliberate groundwork can knock off ten weeks from the completed task.

Preto’s 80/20 Law of Predictable Imbalance. This principle ascertains that 20% effort produces 80% results. Using this predictable imbalance, 20% of your outfits are worn 80% of the time, leaving 80% of the items in your closet as clutter. Busy-ness does not mean business. In a given workday, 20% of your activities produce 80% results, leaving 80% as non-productive bustle. Twenty-percent of your social interaction will produce 80% of your leads. By eliminating 10% public commitments, you will gain time to develop better customer service.

Simplify through elimination. Be realistic about what you can do, what you cannot do and what you do not intend to do. Rather than delaying and denying, let yourself know your conclusion. Schedule in and pursue the can do’s and will do’s. Obtain help where needed and discard the rest.

Be an investigative reporter. Budget your time by asking pertinent questions, such as who? what? when? where? and how? Who needs to be involved in this task? Who will benefit from my completing this chore? What resources are needed for efficiency? What results are anticipated? What benchmarks point to accomplishment? When will supplies be available? Where do we eliminate fluff? How does this element compliment that component? Keep these qualifiers and quantifiers in sight to help you stay on track.

Find balance.
Live one day-at-a-time while planning for the future. Plan around your entire life; being diligent to include family.

Much of the business of life is repeated over and over. Michael Gerber states that the “solution is in the system.” Developing a smooth running system reduces frustration, increases productivity and is easily taught to new workers.


Home for the Holidays

The holidays are filled with family, friends, laughter, parties, decorating, shopping, cooking --- and stress. How do you take pleasure in celebrating without stressing? Allow the following thoughts to put you more at ease and increase your enjoyment.

Focus on the real issue. Holidays are about remembering a meaningful event – the founding of a free nation, the virgin birth of Christ, the miracle oil that burned eight days, celebrating family, customs and culture. Do not allow the focus to be packed calendars to prove your status in the community, or elaborate decorations to showcase your talents, or lavish spending as a display of your generosity (and pending debt).

Surrender to family time and just enjoy being together. Sure, Uncle Joe might be a bore and your in-laws a little overbearing, but they are family. Approach the visits with the right attitude and a forgiving spirit. Let your guard down and do not be so sensitive or too critical. Allow the mistakes of yesterday to pass with yesterday and enjoy the holidays without incident. Your mate was by choice, the rest are by chance, so breath deeply, laugh spontaneously and embrace the loving energy that family brings. Live one day at a time, and appreciate that one day for what it is and for who you are.

Keep it simple sweetie. A gourmet sandwich with a relaxed host is more enjoyable than a seven-course meal with an uptight party-giver. Stay within your budget when gift giving and par down the list of recipients. I suggest that buying less and paying cash for holiday expenses upfront will help you get back the true spirit of the season. After the holidays, buying less and paying cash for the needs of life will help get back the true meaning of living.

Be creative. In decorating, greenery, ribbons and lights are quite elegant. Make a centerpiece of a beautiful bowl filled with pinecones and springs of holly gathered from the woods. Add ribbons to cookie cutters and hang on the tree. Replace wire ornament hangers with sparkly ribbon. For a festive look, intertwine garland of gold or silver around pictures or non-holiday nick-knacks. Find excitement in seeing how you can take existing items and give new life with small changes. Use the Sunday comics as wrapping paper.

Attach new meaning. Change your mindset toward the things you have. When our daughter was young I wanted to buy new exciting tree decorations and discard the old. It was not in our budget. Instead of seeing it as the same old stuff, I began to look at it as tradition. We used these traditional ornaments for the next twenty-five years and they grew more special each season. They have been gently retired to the attic.

If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. The invitations were sent before the monsoon rains came and disabled our rural septic system. What to do? Without mention of the problem we welcomed our guests and continued the festivities as planned. When a guest had to go to the bathroom, he was greeted by a decorated port-a-potty and a smiley-faced sign: “Please do not flush the commode. If you prefer, Wal-Mart is five miles down the road.” The party was enhanced as others shared humorous stories of similar predicaments.

Memorize and live the Prayer of Serenity. Most people know the first four lines of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Prayer of Serenity, as they are used in all the twelve-step recovery programs. I encourage you to meditate upon the entire poem. (see below)

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: Holiday is the shortened form of the term holy day. Holidays are times of renewal. Allow your creativity to be rekindled, spirit to be renewed, relationships to be rebuilt and the holidays will indeed by happy.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr


Improved Relationships

May these Improved Relationship suggestions add to the holiness of the Holiday Season.

“But I’m doing the best I can.” Even though tempted to use that excuse, my self-awareness, social understanding and spiritual consciousness prods me until I get honest in defining my part of the problem and seeking effective solutions. Though we may think we are doing the best we can in the moment,on honest reflection we can see improvements for the next time.

Look at your own history. Do you have a string of rocky/broken relationships, unsatisfactory jobs, contention with authority, stressful living and overall lack of happiness and success? Do not joust at windmills trying to fix everyone else. Look at the common denominator – you.

As the TV commercial suggests, pointing out a problem is not enough. Look for your underlying motive through reflection and find solutions through trial and error. The path includes honest thought, sincere planning, decision making, willingness to sacrifice and unassuming action.

Questioning your hidden agenda is a good place to start. There is faith in honest doubt. Will you meet your belonging need by following the crowd or be true to your authentic self by heeding your the still small voice? And you must become quiet to hear it.

Conscious is an inward knowing of right from wrong with a compulsion to do what is right. One’s life purpose includes doing what is best for you and, by default, it is also best for others. We are all connected and our lives enter-twine.

Be responsible for your thoughts and your actions. Placing blame somewhere else puts the situation outside yourself and causes one to think the fix is up to him/her. When we identify our part of the problem and take responsibility for our thoughts, our attitude and our actions, then we have something we can work with.

That is not to say that we work independently. I/we messed this us. I/we are each responsible to some degree. I/we need course correction. The thing is, the only one over whom we have control is the “I” portion, not the “we” factor(s). To take personal responsibility results in empowerment. You have found the one and only locus of control.

life is about need verses need. Once you make the decision to quit blaming and to take responsibility for your part, the atmosphere mysteriously softens and the seeming opponent is placed in a more comfortable position to follow your lead.

The greatest threat to taking back your own life is comparing yourself with others and deeming self as having fallen short. This leads to following the crowd and participating in group think. It becomes a self-depreciating way that leads to stagnation and conflict (with you more than them).

Understand the necessity of self-imposed limits. I define responsibility as “having ability to determine how to respond”. It is through discipline that we move from dissatisfaction to hopeful. Placing limits leads to fulfillment.

Don’t Cope, Overcome: Flourish and overcome by really doing the best you can. Think it through, make a choice, act upon your decision and relish the feel good results. Your life is a gift worth receiving (or taking back).


Overcoming Holiday Stress

We are a nation of stressors and the holidays seem to exacerbate the condition. My definition of stress is “living outside your resources.” Use these thoughts to keep your balance and enjoy the festivities of the season.

Maintain structured routine. Mental and physical involvement in the tasks of the day can keep your mind off worries and provide a feeling of accomplishment. Keep the to-do list within the scope of your energy and resources.

Build your faith. Numerous studies show the connection between religious practices and the positive impact on health. Belief in a Higher Power boosts spirits and gives life purpose and meaning. Find the true meaning of the holiday celebrations – family, thanks, relationship, joy, goodwill and peace.

Do something absurd and out of the ordinary. Laugh. Make yourself smile and give a few forced “ha ha’s”. Works doesn’t it. Keep it going by remembering an amusing incident and relate it to a friend. Read the comics out loud in a dramatic fashion with made-up voices.

Make room for moments of joy and pleasure. Listen to music; sing along and dance. Take a short brisk walk and revel in the beauty of the outdoors. Savor a small bite of a forbidden treat. Look through a picture album and relieve cherished memories. Spend time with a child and really listen to his/her magic wishes.

Get things in perspective. Imagine that everything is gone. You are all alone in the middle of nowhere. You have no family, no home, no job and nothing to celebrate. Do you have the picture? Do you feel sad and empty? Now, all of a sudden, you get everything back. Don’t you feel rich? Don’t you feel loved? Aren’t you glad for the holidays?

Find the magic of pets. Pets have been proven to be stress reducers. They make understanding companions, help combat loneliness, reduce blood pressure and their playful antics bring smiles. So stroke the cat, pat the puppy or watch the fish and allow you stress to melt away.

We are made for community and we have a need to serve. Keep the entertaining simple. Keep spending within your income. Bask in the comity of family and friends. Make time for quiet reflection. Allow the joy of the holidays to embrace you and see the revelry of by-gone days become afresh.


Let Us Give Thanks

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is a time for us to pause and reflect on the things for which we are 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 we have so many freedoms. Even though it has been abused and taken to extremes, I am thankful for free speech

I am thankful for the Pilgrims who braved an angry ocean and withstood seeming insurmountable hardships to blaze a country with freedom to worship according to the dictates of each one’s heart.
            I am thankful for our forefathers and the foresight and wisdom of our Constitution. Harpers Magazine, in 1858, published the fate of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: two had sons kidnapped; five were captured as British traitors; nine died on the battle field; twelve had their houses ransacked and burned; all suffered hardships, ridicule and rejection. All died with a clear conscience of having served their country well.
 I am thankful for my family…

            For parents who reared me to have character, integrity, security, freedom and roots. They taught me responsibility by allowing me to suffer the consequences of wrong choices.I am thankful for my brothers whose harassing taught me endurance and whose kidding taught me to laugh at life, and at myself.
         I am thankful for my sister whose unconditional love taught me to accept myself as I am, and whose tolerance of my childish acts taught me patience. I am thankful for my elderly aunt who, until her death at 96, taught me that life is fun at any age and worth living to the fullest.
            I am thankful for my husband whose encouragement has supported my dreams, whose strengths have complimented my weaknesses, and whose security with who he is has given me the freedom to remain who I am.

         I am thankful for our daughter whose sheer delight in life brings joy to my days and gives purpose to my existence. I am thankful for our son-in-law who has added a wonderful dimension to our family. I am thankful for our five grandchildren whose winning ways melt my heart and reestablishes hope for the future.

         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. For acquaintances whose smiling greetings make casual encounters more fun; for neighbors whose comity lends unity to my corner of the world; 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 the less obvious things…
           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 taxes every fiber of my being, for it forces me to grow in new directions. I am thankful for dreams, for ideas and for goals, for they keep me active and energetic and alive. I am thankful for a contented mind and a grateful heart.

Once a year we celebrate Thanksgiving. Everyday let us celebrate Thanksliving.
Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach. 254-749-6594



Effective Leadership

To advance your career it is important to learn new skills. You cannot have quality service without trained and motivated people. Leadership is blending the tough and tender sides to take people and the business to new heights. Leadership is balancing the demanding and the caring.

Know Yourself. Effective leaders know their innate talents, strengths and weaknesses. They capitalize on strengths while encouraging growth in others. They work on their weaknesses while offsetting the disparity with co-workers who excel in that area. They pursue personal growth; address fears head on, eliminate negative emotions and continually set forward goals.

Establish trust through relationship. Correction fears or evaluation dreads disappear as you develop relationship. Everyone wants constructive input from a friend.

Provide a learning atmosphere. Learn and improve by holding ‘group think’ sessions. My definition of synergy is “all of us are smarter than any of us.” Put egos aside. Allow each person to give positive points as well as improvement points. Brain storm together to determine effective communication, customer service, or whatever the issue may be.

Handle losses with grace and maturity. Everybody has difficulties; it is how you handle them that set you apart from the pack.

Grade on the curve. Give the benefit of the doubt while holding to accountability.

“What” verses “Why”. Asking “Why” comes off as accusing and encourages excuses and arouses negative emotions. Looking at “What” promotes accountability and problem solving. “Why” looks at the here and now; “What” looks at the present and future.

Play “What If”. Not for doom and gloom and do not get bogged down in worst case scenarios, but evaluate the possible outcome and what fail safes need to be put in place.

Assign tasks and accountability. Name a specific individual to a specific task. Giving general directions such as “someone needs to ..” leads to no follow through because of lack of delegation. When ambiguous orders are given, staff assumes another will do the task and your problems are compounded by personality conflicts.

Assess if your message is getting through. According to Management Resources, a person’s body language indicates confusion. A confused person will do one of the following six things: 1) Avoid eye contact; 2) Tilt their head; 3) Squint the eyes; 4) Close their mouth and keep it closed; 5) Lower their eye brows; 6) Cross their arms and/or legs.

Take Action. The best laid plan will never work without action. Use the 48-hour rule. The longer the delay in starting a project, increases the waning of enthusiasm for solving issues and the more the problems are compound. Set project deadlines as well as incremental action steps for accomplishment.

Baby steps are okay as long as you are going in the right direction. Several small leaps prepares you for the big jump when it comes.


Letting Go of Anger, Part 2

Here are more suggestions for letting go of anger.

Slow your response time.  Most conflicts can be avoided if you do not act in haste.   The other person may be wrong but his value as a human being remains intact.  You may not agree with the other person and by being objective you are able to disagree without being disagreeable.  By being objective you are open to others insights and greatly avoid engendering strife.  I have found that by being objective the other person is more willing to listen to my point of view.  Where there are no logs, the fire goes out. 

A soft answers turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1
A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he that is slow to anger appeases strife.  Proverbs 15:18

Take personal responsibility for your part.  Each person is self-determining.  To say the other person made you mad is to admit you are a puppet and he is pulling your strings.  How much were you a part of the problem?  What attitudes were you projecting?  What facial expressions and body language did you use?  What was your tone of voice?  How were you selfishly seeing only your unmet needs?  Psychologist Carl Jung says others are mirrors reflecting us back to ourselves.  How much do you see your own faults in others and, rather than correcting your shortcomings, you angrily demanding they shape up?  

He that quickly becomes angry is foolish, and a man of wicked devises is hated.  Proverbs 14:17

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his own spirit is
better than he that conquers a city.  Proverbs 16:32

Move past it.   An unclean physical wound is easily infected and made worse.  The same is true with emotional wounds.  When not cleaned, they aggregate and spread from being angry with one person to being angry with a whole group of people, to being angry with the world.  Perhaps one plaid person did you wrong.  When nursed, cursed and rehearsed, the insult spreads to being angry with all plaid people.  If you choose (and it is a choice) to hold on to wrongs, harbor grudges, wallow in self-pity and devalue the offender, you become a bitter person who is unpleasant to be around.  Anger toward anyone collects in your system and colors your interaction with everyone. 

Choosing to get over the offense is a great liberator no matter how severe it is.  To pass over irritations requires great strength of character.  It sets you up for true peace.  It sets you up to be less stressful.  It sets you up to develop a healthier self-image.  It sets you up to appropriately appreciate others. We set our selves up for continued resentment, when we fail to get over the minor things or to confront the major issues.  I find one of the ironies of life is the human propensity to ignore genuine offenses and to explode over irrelevant ones. 

Be angry and sin not.  Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.  Ephesians 4:26

My translation of Ephesians 4:26 is, “There are reasons to become angry, but in doing so do not miss the mark and destroy the relationship.  Whether the issue is resolved or not, move past it before sundown. For the sun that goes down on anger rises on anger."  

Learn to care-front.  There are times when hurts and misconduct need to be confronted.  Choose your battles and do not make every conflict a major confrontation.  Care enough about the situation and about the individuals involved that you confront the issue in love (care-front).


Letting Go of Anger, Part 1

We live in a painful that inflicts anger producing situations. How you respond determines your emotional, spiritual and physical well being. According to Dwight L. Carlson, M. D., anger and psychological problems are directly connected. Dr. Bernie S. Siegel asserts that anger and physical disease have an unswerving correlation. My experience tells me that anger and relationship difficulties are one and the same. Anger is a spiritual issue.

Here are a few thoughts on letting go of anger.

Be willing to change. Change is an inside job. Each person is self-determining and your approach to life is exactly what you want it to be. If it were not, you would change it. Relating to people in anger is a misguided attempt to control them to get your way. Since it does not really work, be willing to use a different approach.

Take personal responsibility for change. Just wanting something is not enough. It takes desire and discipline to determine destiny. Discipline is being personally responsible for your thoughts, your judgments, your prejudices, your words, your tone of voice, your facial expressions and your actions. Taking personal responsibility may, on occasion, mean literally biting your tongue. Because you have a thought does not mean you have to express it.

Insights into change. We easily lie to ourselves by thinking if we want something badly enough it will happen. And so we see ourselves as changing, when in reality we have rearranged our prejudices and put a new face on the same old problem.

Do not allow your emotions to rule. Emotions are fickle, often false, and always fast fleeting. When emotions rise, thinking plummets. When emotions rise, blood flow to the brain decreases resulting in irrational thoughts and irresponsible behavior. The more emotionally involved you are, the more aggressive the behavior. The more emotional attachment the greater the propensity for hurt. The more emotions are involved the more hasty the reaction.

Not all needs are unmet. Sometimes we feel we have been wronged when we have not. Sometimes we feel we have a right to be angry when we do not. We feel our needs have not been met when they have. Because you wanted steak and got a hotdog does not mean you have been treated unfairly. Because you overslept and was late to work does not mean the world is out to get you. Sometimes a person feels he has no way out when there are solutions. Because expectations are so high, if they are not met precisely, a person feels wronged, hurt and devalued. When emotions are overly involved, the pain and injustice becomes distorted.

Be objective. Take yourself out of the middle. Replace feelings with thinking – rational thinking. Carrying a chip on your shoulder lends to a slight infraction being taken as a personal affront. Instead of viewing others as out to ruin your day, accept human frailty for what it is; selfish and imperfect - your as well as theirs. Get honest and analyze the problem.

Begin to notice and put these suggestions into practice. We will look at more strategies next week. Share your ways of letting go with us.


Overcome Being Overwhelmed

Overcome being overwhelmed by recognizing the pattern. This pattern includes exaggerated thinking – “I have a million things to do” – confused emotions – “I’m so stupid” – relentless mind chatter and physical sensations of fatigue, frustration and fear.

Knowing that you want a change is easier than knowing what to do. We are intelligent beings. We are also emotional beings. When overwhelming emotions take over, thinking takes a holiday.

The secret to keeping our total behavior of thinking, doing, emoting and physiology is found in breathing. Slow. Deep. Purposeful. Deliberately. Allow incoming oxygen to calm the passion and send blood flow to the brain to re-engage rational thinking.

Think rationally about your to-do-list. Yes, several things demand your attention but it is nowhere near a million.

Gracious thinking about your self-esteem. You may have made a less than stellar choice, but you are not stupid.

Conscious, focused breathing calms the body’s systems to respond humanely. Use it for you to lessen opposition. Gently give it to your perceived adversaries. Without fanfare, allow him to take a minute to calm down. Do not demand answers.

In heightened emotions, we do not have answers anyway; we only have rationalizations that cloud rather than clarify. Or defenses that destroys rather than build.

The higher your energy level the more efficient your body – your total behavior. Focus helps you to prioritize your choices to pursue and to eliminate.

We become overwhelmed when we take things personally – as though we are the savior of the world – and it’s all about us to do or die.

We overcome when we come to terms that the stress from the situation is more about our own thinking than it is about the actual tasks at hand. That is not to discount the responsibilities of work and home and community involvements. It is to say that trying to do – or think about and plan for – at the same time is humanly impossible. It is too confusing; mind-boggling,

Go for excellence by doing the best you can do while in a state of calm learning. Let go of the paralyzing, stressing idea of perfectionism.

Don’t Cope. Overcome. Once you buy into being aware and put the awareness into practice, you become empowered - which is the highest form of power/control there is - internal rather than external; control of self rather than control of others.  When we are in control mode, our forced control over the others backfires into making them push back with equal or greater force (whether that force is aggressive or passive). When we give up control techniques we are in a much greater position to influence the offender to the positive.   


An Attitude Shift

In Science 101 we learned the structure of atoms. The nucleus of the atom contains a mix of positively charged protons along side of neutrally charged neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus of the atom is a cloud of negatively charged electrons.

Everything inside the nucleus of the atom is positive or neutral. Everything swirling around the nucleus of the atom is negative. I suggest the core of our God-given humanity is to be positive or neutral. But, like the atom, the world-swirl surrounding us is negatively charged.

The negatively charged electrons affect the structure of things. Science continually discovers new mysteries of the atom; seeing as true things never imagined (i.e. an atom can occupy two spaces at the same time).

Insight is a mysterious function that makes a huge difference in the way we view things. Insight can transform the negative into neutral or positive. Insight gives meaning in the midst of the negative swirl of life.

You are not as unhappy as you might think you are. You are in charge of your own happiness. Trying to parlay it to others is futile – as in expecting someone else to make you happy. They can contribute to your enjoyment of life, but you alone make yourself happy. It is done through finding inner joy even in the midst of difficulties.

Not all my needs have gone unmet. From the day of my birth until this present moment I have been surrounded by love (whether I recognized it or not). I have been nurtured and cared for. I (we) have had adequate - actually more than adequate - food, shelter, protection, supplies, money; the things we often mistake as necessities of life. How about you? Are your needs as unmet as your down-days project?

All we can give or receive is information. Receive information at face value without construing hidden agendas. Only give information that is truthful, respectful and for the good of all.

It is okay to not know. We are finite individuals and the scope of information is unfathomable. The more we learn about humanity, technology, space, minerals and on and on the greater the knowledge disparity grows. Over and above what we know is the expanse of our imaginations.

Choose to not be offended by disagreements. In any given exchange one brings to the table the totality of his life experiences. Are there UFO’s? What about life after death? How did they build the pyramids? There are too many variables – real and imagined - to be upset by one’s slant of the subject. Regardless of the view taken, his worth as a human being is neither diminished nor added to. When one is right or wrong, that is all s/he gets to be (not superior or inferior).

Be open to life. In childlike wonder embrace shifts with “Oh, yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t see that before?” Epiphany is an intuitive leap of understanding brought about through ordinary but striking occurrence. Epiphany is the awareness of the Divine at work in and through the mundane of life.

The law of gravity holds sway over all of us. Drag is the force that opposes movement through water or holds you down from jumping. It takes lift and thrust to overcome pull and drag. Not only can it be triumphed in aviation but also in our thinking.

Have a shift in attitude by attending Take Charge of Your Life Seminar at Central Texas College, Killeen, TX.  Take Charge of Your Life, Fall 2016, Page 6


Fun Filled School Days

Dr. William Glasser, founder of The Quality School, believes that nature gave us a gene that craves fun, and that this fun-need is satisfied through learning. Think about it. Children are born explorers, wanting to know what is out there and testing everything to see what it looks like, tastes like, feels like, sounds like or smells like.

The philosopher Socrates saw education as a spontaneous process. Although school definitely has its place, learning has more to do with living and experiences than with books and classrooms. Teachers are planters of ideas and cultivators of a person's own imagination. All a teacher can do is give information and explain its application. What you do with that information is up to you. Let's embrace it.

Attitude is a major player in successful learning. Education prepares one for an unknown future so develop a personal taste for learning and encourage your children to love learning. Our technological has grown exponentially because we, as a nation, refuse to settle for the status quo.

There is a direct correlation between a poor attitude and low achievement. A negative attitude breeds frustration and produces stress. See learning and life as a challenge to be met and overcome. Watch your self-talk. “I enjoy learning. I will understand this. I feel good about increasing my knowledge. Math is fun.”

Learning is not only obtaining knowledge but also knowing how to use that knowledge and how retrieve it at a later date. A disinterested student might question, “Why do I have to know this anyway?” Knowledge will make you a more interesting person and the world a more interesting place.

Learning is fun. Reflect on your most fun filled days. It is probably because you were learning something. Perhaps you were improving a skill, enjoying nature or improving an interpersonal relationship. Bottom line, you were learning. And enjoying.

Each person is wonderful, special, unique and important. The trouble comes when we expect others to treat us like we are wonderful, special, unique and important. The more you we see your good qualities and the more you see what is good about others, the more often you will perform accordingly. And life will reward you accordingly.

Make your school days quality by wanting to learn and by always doing your best. Get a good night’s sleep so you will be refreshed and ready for fun. When needed, be sure to ask your teacher for help. The teacher is your friend and co-partner in learning.


Control Issues

“Give me a BIG ’C’, little ‘o’, little ‘n’, little ‘t’, little ‘r’, little ‘o’, little ‘l’.
What have I got? Control - CONTROL – CONTROL!!! Yea!”

Okay, so maybe we do not make a cheer out of it, but do our actions and attitudes yell – nay, demand – control?

Here is the irony about control. The more controlling you are of others and of situations, the less in control you are of yourself. The more in control you are of yourself, the less controlling you will be of others. Or things or situations for that matter.

Control yourself – your attitudes, your actions, your thoughts, your behaviors, your prejudices – and see how much life begins to flow. You cannot control another, but you do influence him/her. And the less controlling your demeanor is, the more influential you are.

YES YOU CAN control your thoughts. As a youth, I went to a horror movie that impacted my life forever, but at the time I thought the only thing I learned was to never attend scary movies again. Planet earth had been invaded by alien creatures with the intent to destroy all humans. The aliens looked alike and had the ability to read a person’s mind – but only the frontal lobe. Since the aliens could read the human’s frontal lobe, they were aware of plans to destroy them, and thus thwarted all attempts. Except for one man. He prepared a bomb to blow up the intruders, but when he was in their presence, he consciously made himself think only of a brick wall.

He would deliberately say to himself, “Brick wall. Brick wall. Brick wall” over and over to keep his other thoughts at bay. It worked. All the aliens gathered around him, trying to determine the meaning of ‘brick wall’; the bomb went off and - amid eerie music - the aliens were blasted to bits, with their eyes glowing in the fire.

When destructive thinking invades, I consciously make myself think only of a brick wall. I deliberately say to myself, “Brick wall. Brick wall. Brick wall” over and over to keep other thoughts at bay. It took time to learn, but it works.

The gossip I wanted to share, the ill feelings toward another person, the negatives about myself and life, the fantasies that invaded, I deliberately destroyed them all by blocking the thoughts. And although their eyes glowed for awhile, they soon faded and are no longer a part of my life. When new destructive thoughts try to come in, it is easy to shoot them down. You can change your mind. And doing so keeps it clean and happy.

YES YOU CAN control your attitude. Attitude is habits of thoughts, and habits can be changed. Change your attitude by developing a larger perspective than the one you have now. Challenge yourself to see outside yourself, to celebrate a life other than your own. Deliberately raise your horizons and consciously grow less selfish. Changing your attitude is accomplished by being open to change, by welcoming diversity, by appreciating all people and by a willingness to learn from all experiences.

YES YOU CAN control your life. Victor Frankl wrote in Man‘s Search for Meaning, “Man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment… Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.”

YES YOU CAN Take Charge of Your Life and be in control of many - perhaps most - personal elements of your life. NO YOU CANNOT control another and certain other things such as the weather.


Assertive Living

Assertive living is to be positive, confident, and self-assured. It is to be forceful in a polite manner that shows respects for yourself and to others. To be assertive is learning to be firm, yet kind. Firmness shows respect for yourself; kindness shows respect for the other person. Here are some other characteristics of assertive living:

I can express my needs in a clear, non-demanding way.
We all have needs and it is alright to have those needs met as long as they do not impinge on another’s needs. Assertive living is to use your words to tell or to ask, rather than assuming or demanding.

I can graciously receive a compliment without embarrassment or discounting it. The confidence and self-assurance of assertive living lets you know you are a person of worth and value and when someone commends an attribute, you humbly say “Thank you”.

I ask questions when I do not understand or the issue is not clear. It is back to using your words. To be assertive is to not fake it or try to slide by. It is having a genuine interest in the issue and to ask clarifying questions.

I am fair with others while seeing to it they are fair with me. It is respecting boundaries. It is being courteous and polite. It is graciously accepting a “No”. It is graciously saying “No” when it is in your own best interest.

I am not concerned with winning, but with equalizing the balance of power. It is realizing I am a person of worth and value and you are a person of worth and value. It is learning to create win-win situations. It is solving problems in a manner that is most beneficial and fair to all.

I understand others have a right to express their wants, needs, feelings, ideas and desires.
Assertive living is not just standing up for yourself and your rights, it is also allowing someone to voice a differing view from yours and - even though you may disagree with the statement – continue to still hold the person in high regard.

I can enjoy the assertiveness of others without being intimidated.
As the Chinese proverb states, “Behind an able man there are always other able men.”


“I cannot respond to that right now.” “I need more information.”
“I like...” “I don’t like....” “I need….”
“I need you to…..” “I need you to stop…”
“I feel…” “I choose to….” “I choose not to…”
“Thank you.” “No thank you.”


Overcoming Internal Conflict

The human condition is one of continual conflicts. The greatest argument is the one we have with ourselves over polar extremes such as being comfortable with the status quo vs. restlessness for change. Failure comes from wanting to change results rather than attitudes and actions. If you are honest with yourself you will find that most obstacles to a meaningful life lie within yourself, not in the hands of others and not within the environment. Here are some thoughts for overcoming this internal conflict.

1. Wipe the slate clean. Let go of past failures and successes. Failures can keep you anchored; successes can keep you lazy. Even the negative person is part of the collective unconscious that spurs us to “start over” – New Year and resolutions, spring time and fresh growth, the crisp air of fall and returning to school. There is something mysterious about endings and beginnings. We seek a specific demarcation of leaving old things behind us and making a fresh new start. Allow every morning to brings new possibilities. Make new beginnings a part of your daily routine.

2. Step out of your comfort zone. We do not have the ability to perform beyond our own self-concept. Face fear by deliberately choosing to do something you are not comfortable doing. Speak to a stranger, eat alone at a public restaurant, volunteer out of your field of expertise, take a college course, experiment with the computer/internet, give a talk at a civic event, become involved in sports.

3. Be at peace with the man in the mirror. Be more concerned with what you think of you than what others think of you, because they probably are not thinking of you. There are two dangers: 1) thinking you are somebody and 2) thinking you are nobody. You have both flaws to be worked on and talents to offer that will make the world a better place.

4. Find your courage. No one can have courage for you; it is a do-it-yourself job. Find it, use it, exercise it and embrace it. Encouragement means to “pour courage into” so pour courage into you through positive self-talk and constructive affirmations.

5. Make every day a great event. Find something to be thankful for such as the awesome privilege of being alive. Embrace the health that you have and work to improve it. Relish your relationships and make time to nurture them. Appreciate your employment and be a productive worker. Allow a job well done to be its own reward.

Following these simple, yet profound, concepts on an on-going basis will work wonders in solving the internal conflict. Try them. They work.


Blueprint for Success

We are on the downhill slide of 2016, so let's revamp our goals to make this our best year yet. To do so we must take action step. How? Set goals that motivate and inspire. Be specific. Generalized statements leads to self-deception. The person whose intention is to become more successful and does not lay concrete steps for accomplishment, sets himself up to be deceived. Saying it but not making plans for attainment causes one to falsely think “I am accomplishing my goal” as there is no guidelines by which to measure results.

1. Plan to Change and to Keep on Changing. In our instant society, we want things to happen immediately. Get real. Learning and living new attitudes, actions, and skills take time to develop. But it does not have to take forever. If you do not start, you will never change. You do it by doing it. You stop by stopping. It is that simple. And that complex.

2. Draw a Mental Picture of Who You Want To Become. See yourself as being thinner and healthier. Visualize yourself being assertive and developing healthy relationships. Picture yourself disciplined and successful. Feel how good it is to live within your income, and to become more open, honest and genuine. See yourself as drug free and high on life, not substances.

3. Determine where you are now.
What are your values? What are your dreams? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Do you have an accurate knowledge of your capabilities? What are your expectations of yourself? Of others? Can you receive feedback and open communication?

4. Determine your course of action. Determination without plans is fantasy. What do you need from outside yourself? Whose advice do you need to seek? Who has done this before you that can lend support? What change in thinking needs to be addressed? What needs may arise in the future? What are my short, mid, and long-term goals? How can I determine ways to assess staying on target? To whom will I be accountable? What are your plans for handling the down times?

5. Take an attitude check. A goal must include personality change. You do not attract what you want, but what you are. Change is the most imperative price for success and yet the main reason for failure. You must know that you can change. If you are not willing to change, you can’t expect things to get better. Only man shackles himself. Change comes not with words, but with attitude.

6. BEGIN. You start by starting; the greatest determination will never work without action.

7. Expect problems. Motion causes friction. Learn to adjust and refocus. Know the difference between a set back and a defeat. Two steps forward and one step back will still get you to your goal. If a thought or attitude tries to overtake you, you do not have to wait until “tomorrow” to correct it. Get up immediately as soon as you falter. Know that one slip is just that, a slip, not a total failure. Get up, brush yourself off and start over.

8. Focus on successes. Catch yourself doing something right and give yourself an “Atta girl” or an “Atta boy”. Stop for a moment and revel in the feeling of the success. See yourself doing the right things over and over until they become second nature.

Give yourself room to grow. Allow acceptance time and become comfortable with your changes and the resolves will become permanent.


Effective Planning

“You can never rise above your calendar.”  Ed Eudis

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished without planning. Because an occasionally wish comes true, one may erroneously think a goal has been set and attained. Here are strategies to move you beyond hoping and wishing to a plan with results.

Plan to plan and to keep on planning.  Schedule in time for planning and evaluation.  The more time one spends in planning means less time spent in execution.  Without a plan to continue planning,  new problems may go unnoticed until many hours of execution time has been spent.

Prepare a mission statement.  Determine the primary purpose and the ways to get there. 
    * Strategic planning = vision casting, big picture, overall scope of project, enthusiasm
    * Operational planning = who, what, when, where, cost, time line, means of evaluation

Determine where you are now. 
  •  who and what do we have within the organization?
  • are the right people at the top to accomplish our goals?
  • do we have complete knowledge of the mission? 
  • do we have complete knowledge of our capabilities?  of my team’s capabilities? 
  • are we set up to receive constant feedback and open communication?
  • who and what do we need from outside the organization?
  • whose advice do we need to seek?  who has done this before us?
  • what trends are developing?  where is the market going?
  • what needs should be addressed now?  What needs may arise in the future?
  • who are we serving now and in the future?
  • what needs are we meeting now or will need to meet in the future? 
  • what are our short, mid, and long-term steps (goals)?
  • who is responsible for what area (chain of command)?
  • how do we make our objectives known to those above us, those below us, the public?
  • what will be our expenses and source of funding/income?
  • how will we determine ways to assess staying on target?

Prioritize.  Priorities are those things that come first in importance and take precedence over the little two minute jobs that seem so important. They are those things that bring the most results and personal satisfaction when completed or engaged in.

Plan and schedule.  It takes both to get results.  Remember, planning is the “what” you need or want to do to make your life meaningful and effective. Scheduling is the “when” you will do the things you have planned.

Use effective planning to make all your dreams come true.


Taking Positive Control

Have you ever considered that if others perceive you as being angry, or sad, or aloof, and you insist that you are not, then it is up to you to change the demeanor you are projecting. The more in control we are of ourselves, the less controlling we will be of others. Even though it may seem difficult we can learn to control or thoughts. It's all in predetermining what to think about and then periodically monitoring if we are on track.

Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do… Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Phil. 4:5-8 TLB 

Do your thoughts measure up? If the answer is “No”, then change your mind.

YES YOU CAN control your prejudices.
Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion, usually unfavorable, unquestioned, unjustified and unreasonable bias or disregard of a person or thing The way to control it is to challenge your preconceived ideas. Challenge your assumptions. Do you want truth, or what you have been taught? Everyone is both flawed and fabulous. There may be a reason to dislike a person, but the package deal is not one of them (i.e. skin color, handicapping condition, financial status, job selection, nationality, creed, etc.)

YES YOU CAN control your bigotry.
A bigot is defined as being narrow-minded, obstinate and intolerably devoted to his/her own beliefs, creed or party. Do not allow these to be fighting world in our present political arena. These are usually beliefs that have never been challenged, but passed down from one generation to another. Open your mind, and this is a do-it-yourself project, no one can give you a new perspective on life unless you are willing to receive it.

YES YOU CAN control your demeanor. If someone continually asks you, “Wha's wrong?” and you insist that “Nothing is wrong”, then one of two things is happening. 1) Something really is wrong and you are not honest enough to admit it, or, 2) nothing is wrong, but you have not alerted your face to this fact. If others perceive you as being angry, sad, aloof, etc., and you insist that you are not, then it is up to you to change the demeanor you are projecting. Having a pleasant expression is a choice.

FAST TRACT TO CHANGE. The biggest complaint is, “It is so hard. I don’t feel like I can change my attitude or _______ (you fill in the blank).” Emotions follow actions and thoughts, not the other way around. Change the way you think and act and you automatically change the way you feel. Switch the thinking from "It's so hard" to "It's not easy." That one simple switch gives the brain energy to do switch from assessing the problem as difficult.

FIRST, change your language. Instead of calling some an ugly name, or referring to them by a prejudiced or bigoted title, keep quiet. Bite your tongue if need be, but be silent. It is impossible to feel kindly toward someone if you are calling him a jerk.

SECOND, change your actions. Instead of pacing, sit down. Instead of flailing your arms, or making obscene gestures, put your hands in your pocket. Instead of yelling, speak in a whisper. The more extreme your negative reactions are now, the more extreme the initial softening measures are needed. It is easier to act yourself in to feeling differently, than it is in feeling yourself into acting differently. Feelings follow actions. Actions stir up feelings.

THIRD, change your thoughts. Instead of condemning someone for their rash behavior, realize you do not know what hurts – past or present – is driving this person to be so irresponsible.

Which leads us to number FOUR, which is automatic: feelings change as your develop compassion. Compassion is realizing the humanness of all human beings, yourself included. When you overreact, give yourself a break and get back in effective control of your life.

Need personal coaching to do so? Contact me. Mona Dunkin mona@solutionprinciples.com


For the Love of Snuggles

Snuggles was a bonus. She earned her name and was faithful to it to the end.

Buttons, a stray cat that wandered to our rural address, blessed us with a litter of beautiful, long-haired, good-natured kittens. She was a wonderful mother whose babies were in demand and we allowed her to have three litters before the knife. The reputation of her off-spring caused us to have repeat customers.

After a few years of not having litters, my then eight year old daughter wanted a kitten – a yellow one. We began our search for this special being through families that had previously adopted one of Button’s babies. Sure enough, we found a litter that had a big, robust yellow male cat. In the weaning period, we visited – to ensure bonding. His dominant nature earned him the name Thumper from the beginning. The owner commented on his robust personality, and that – although he would not be denied in the dinner department – he seemed to favor, even to take care of – the runt kitty. Whether sleeping or playing, she said those two were always together.

That’s how we got our bonus kitty. Their personalities were opposite from the beginning. Thumper was a typical independent-I’ll-love-you-on-my-own-terms cat. But at the slightest outreach of a hand, Snuggles came running for head rubs and cuddles. Thumper never met a stranger. Snuggles was strictly a three-person cat, forming friendships only with my daughter, my husband and myself. Thumper ran to greet guests when the door bell rang; Snuggles hid under the bed until all scent of another human was past. We loved them both and they each brought a special joy to our lives. And they continued to be best buddies.

Days go by one at a time and lives change. Our daughter went off to college and we all missed her dearly. In an effort to fill the void, I reached out to the cats even more. Soon, they were sleeping on our bed and were following me around like a puppy-cat.

Thumper was the adventurous one and met an accidental death at age twelve. Snuggles visibly grieved for him for a long time. She turned to me for solace, becoming my constant companion. As I did my morning routine at the dressing table, Snuggles perched on the corner for a birds eye view. I would give her a nose-to-nose kiss and say, “I love you.” She would “Meow” back as if to say, “I love you, too.” This became our frequent greeting to each other.

Snuggles lived a long and healthy life, belying her runt beginnings. At age eighteen she slept day and night and moved slowly. She all but quit eating, and her breathing became laborious. The vet assured me she was not in pain so I chose to keep her with us, tending to her needs, until the end. I put her on a pillow and carried her from place to place to be wherever I was – at the dressing table, by my computer while working, on my lap for TV time, and in her normal place by my head at night.

I hand fed her. I cuddled her and talked to her, telling her how much she had added to our home. Although she had quit meowing, in her own special way, she communicated back. One night as I held her, I said, “Snuggles, do you know how much I love you?” She looked deep into my eyes and uttered a weak “Meow” as if to say, “Do you know how much I love you?”

That night, Snuggles died peacefully in her sleep. I took my silky dressing gown and wrapped her frail body in it as a burial shroud. We placed her amid the iris outside my office window. As they bloom in the spring sunshine, I am reminded of the cycles of life, the serendipity of bonuses, and the love of Snuggles.


Financial Freedom

"Money has never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce
happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it creates one.
If it satisfies one want, it doubles and triples that want in other ways. - Benjamin Franklin

Step up to the challenge of getting debt free and living within your means. Use wisdom in planning and in spending. Be frugal. Shop for bargains and sales. Time is currency. Are you willing to trade time with your family – which you can never get back – for time spend to get money to buy stuff. Anything worth anything takes discipline. Most Americans put spending ahead of saving, yet saving is what builds security. Spending patterns account for your future. Living within your income contributes to happiness, and living outside your income compounds misery. The number one cause of financial failure is THE INABILITY TO DELAY GRATIFICATION. The number one means of failure to delay gratification is CREDIT CARDS

“Don’t charge anything that is down the drain before you get the bill. That includes gasoline,
restaurant meals, grocery purchases, hair cuts, etc. Here’s my promise: If you will stop incurring
new unsecured debt and commit to pay every month the same minimum payments you were required to
pay this month – not paying a lower amount as your balance goes down- you will be out of debt
completely in about 36 months – that’s the average amount of time it takes. It’s really simple.”
Mary Hunt, Cheapskate News

Make a radical commitment to be content with what you have. Adjust your focus of the important. I would suggest that buying less and paying cash will help will help get back the true meaning of living. Lower your expectations and develop contentment. Want what you have.

“Wants may be easily satisfied, either by producing much or desiring little.” Marshall Sahlins

Develop a healthy respect for “Just $1.00”. Depending on your income tax bracket, you have to earn more than $1.00 to replace the $1.00. Fifteen percent bracket repays $1.41; 28% = $1.73; $31% = $1.82; 36% = $2.01; $39% = $2.16. When you spend, you are spending more than $1.00. When you save, you are saving more than $1.00. You can nickle and dime yourself into financial misery.

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.“ Ben Franklin

Challenge your spending habits. On a scale of 1-10, will you use it? How often will you use it? It is of value to you? Can you afford it? Budgeting focuses on lack and attracts spending. Focus on savings; see the challenge of getting a bargain. Let the savings feeling supersede the spending feeling. Become dignified and independent by learning to live within your income. You can do it!

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important,
as living within your means.” - Calvin Coolidge

Get in touch with your God-given creativity.

“One of the biggest things we lose by getting caught up in all this is the capacity for
imagination. People are at a loss to imagine what kind of existence they would have if
it were not for the ever-constant purchasing of new gadgets.” -Scott Moore, BU Philosophy Professor


As A Seed Grows

Growth is a natural by-product of a seed being planted in harmony with nurturing elements. Some seeds are released only through harsh circumstances.

Ego is a seed shell of one’s identity held in place until circumstances breaks the hard outer covering so the internal nugget can emerge and grow from form into substance. Ego is designed to keep you the same while giving the illusion of change. Ego set point returns us to identity.

You make positive changes in your life and have a measure of success. A setback happens. In frustration you zombie out in front of the TV. You don’t even realize that you have just reinforced your set-point of only earning so much. Or the weight battle treadmill; lose, gain, lose, regain. All returns to ego identity set points.

So you stop. You gather information. You listen to other ideas. You go in another direction, change jobs or get a new mate. Like a thermostat set to kick-in or off to keep the room at a certain temperature, so too the ego holds on to a ‘set points’ to keep us from changing.

That is not “just the way you are”. That is the way the neural pathways of your brain have been laid down as your internal set-point. They were laid down through habit of thoughts and actions. Habits of thought formed mostly pre-conscious and pre-verbal. Before we could talk and before we thought about what we were agreeing to. The more these neural pathways are traversed - the more we think and act in an unaware state - the more ingrained they become.

Even when the habit road is rutty and rough and difficult, your habit thought says "you can’t" and your habit action stays lazy.

Your soul’s set point is not permanent. The spirit of soul is ever ready to change. That is why you know deep down in your knower that you are more than what you are currently being. Failure to thrive is not your soul’s set point; it is your ego’s set point.

Unless a seed dies it cannot bring forth fruit. When a seed dies – if it had conscious awareness – it would reject dying, put the brakes on and become devastated because it was falling apart. But the shell has to be removed before the interior nugget can root and grow.

Can your ego identity change? Sure. Your ego identity changes as you nurture it to identify with a new stage of development. That becomes your new set-point. And then you grow into another identity set-point. No matter how broken the body, the soul is never broken. There is a part of you that is always whole and complete.

A corrupted damaged seed will grow in cultivated soil. Accept your defeats with grace and self-compassion and begin again. Be your own master gardener and nurture your own soul.

Happy Changing. Mona Dunkin, Success Coach mona@monadunkin.com


Ineffective Control

When driving a car, one needs to be in control of the vehicle for the good of all. Being in control is to be alert, courteous and law abiding. Sometimes a driver takes ineffective control by going too fast, passing dangerously, drinking and driving, tail gating, running red lights, yelling at other drivers, making obscene gestures, acting as though he/she owns the road, being impatient, etc.

Ineffective Control is about more than driving a vehicle. It includes interaction with people on a daily basis.

Trying to control another is ineffective and destructive. The more you try to control things outside the scope of your power, the more stress you put on you and on those relationships important to you. The only thing over which you have the power, right, or ethical responsibility to change is your own mind and attitude.

You cannot control another. One may bully, confine, coerce, intimidate, reward or manipulate but you cannot control. It is like the defiant little boy who proclaimed, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I am standing up on the inside.”

Compliance is not control. Just because you give in to another’s demands, does not mean he is controlling you. Even though you may feel controlled it was a choice you made, you just have not let yourself know it. Just because someone submits to your demands, does not mean you have controlled him. A person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.

Trying to control another is also destructive to you. You are expending energy that is not converted to effective power. Control builds resentment and rebellion in family, friends, co-workers and mere acquaintances.

On a TV program several people were gathered around a table trying to have fun although one man was controlling the conversation and was over-bearing. A companion got his attention and said, “They want you to eat with them over at that table.”

The man, in his arrogance (which is a major symptom of ineffective control) straightened his tie, cocked his head and said, “Really? Who?”

To which the woman replied, ”Everyone at this table.”

Change your mind and you will change your life. Change your attitude and you will be in a better position to effect positive influence over others. You can set a good example they will want to emulate. You can use your words – ask, tell, make suggestions.

So what’s the problem? Parents are responsible for setting guidelines and insisting upon appropriate behavior, which can be construed by an immature child as control. In our determination to overthrow this control, in turn, we become controlling of others. It is ineffective and relationship destroying. People just will not mind us, no matter how grand our advice!

The Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I thought as a child, I acted like a child, but now that I am a man, I have put away childish behaviors.” It is time to grow up and be in control of the only one you can be – YOU.


Follow Up to Follow Through

Do you think you rush to find and answer your phone because it rings? Actually, you answer the phone because you want to connect with the person on the other end. Everyone likes to hear from a friend. Make all your clients and prospects friends and get over call reluctance.

Here are a few suggestions for growing your business.

1. That’s great, now do it again. It takes a while to grow your business. When your efforts produce smaller results than expected, instead of becoming discouraged, say to yourself, “That was great. Now get out there and do it again.” As you do it again and again, results grow in direct proportion to your growth.

2. Make melody even if you can’t sing. Mary Kay Ash says everyone has a sign around his neck that says, “Make me feel important.” What better way to make someone feel important than by using his/her name. Hearing your own name is music to your ears.

3. Have an agenda of “I want to connect with you.” It is all about relationship. As you develop relationship with clients and potential clients, future calls are not to be dreaded, but embraced. After all, who does not like to hear from a friend.

4. Rekindle the lost art of snail mail. A hand written note speaks volumes, and a postcard works great. E-mails are okay, but a hand-written note is even more special because it is considered heartfelt. A hand written note is so rare, that the receiver will a) feel extra important, b) tell others or display it on a bulletin board, and c) remember you. Through the written word, though absent, you speak.

5. Rise above perceived rejection. As you follow up, some will say “yes” and some will say “no”. So what? “No” is not fatal unless you allow it to be. Someone else is waiting. Instead of seeing it as a rejection, change your focus and see it as another opportunity to have touched this person’s life.

6. Establish yearly check-ups. Dentists and Doctors do it. Lawyers and Investment Officers do it. You do it. Make a point to contact each client, contact, and potential client at least once a year. Sample dialogue: Hello, Tom! This is Mona Dunkin, I met you at Rotary in April. How are things going? I can’t believe how time has flown and I wanted to check to see how I may serve you. May I have ten minutes of your time next Wednesday? Great, see you then.”

7. Smile before making a call. It shows in your voice.

Every time you make follow up calls - on the phone or in person - and every time you go networking, repeat to yourself, “I love making calls to new people that will end up being great clients and wonderful friends.”

Then do it.


Communicatoin Challenges

A challenge in communication is assuming the other party is as interested in the subject as you are.

Our daughter frequently baby-sat while growing up. One child was quite loquacious and would talk on and on. In the midst of a lengthy tirade, she stopped abruptly and proclaimed, “Who cares? Nobody cares!” 

Initially I found the comment amusing.  But as I observed the child’s crestfallen expression, I realized she was repeating to herself what had been replicated to her by someone she loved.  I felt her pain of being dismissed. 

Allow the following suggestions to help you ward off such rejection. 

Consider self before condemning another. How many times have you been guilty of the following scenarios?
  • Hearing but not listening? 
  • Taking a mental vacation when someone is pouring out their heart to you? 
  • Asking a question without giving heed to the answer?  Interrupting? 
  • Preferring the TV over your companion’s conversation? 
  • Dismissal through a variety of attitudes and actions? 

Discern casual comments vs. committed inquiry.  On the receiving end, “How was your day” is more of a pleasant greeting than an invitation for an in depth conversation.  On the giving end, if you not are genuinely interested in a detailed account of another’s health, rather than asking, “How are you”, simply make a pleasant comment to acknowledge their presence. 

Choose to stop pushing.  A definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.  To force attention is to fend off what you are pursuing.  Instead of getting louder or more demanding, simply decide to speaker slower, softer or perhaps to lovingly simply quit speaking. 

Be gracious. Attitude is always more important than the action. Whether stopping or pursuing, monitor your attitude. Give a civil response; make your voice soft, your facial expression pleasant and your words agreeable.  Do not engage in resentment or revenge.      

Choose to not be offended.  And it is a choice.  We have a need to connect with others.  The deeper our human contact need, the more easily a presumed disregard hurts. 

Teach others how to treat you.  When the offending party comments on your withdrawal, politely respond by continuing the dialogue and bring your remarks to a quick conclusion.  When you respect them by not pushing, they learn to respect you by becoming more caring.     

Give/receive forgiveness.
  If the offending party does not acknowledge that you have abandoned your input, make up your mind to forgive him/her anyway.  When the offending party apologizes – then or later – cordially accept. 

By following these guidelines perhaps the connection will occur more frequently.

And the little girl? I smiled and encouraged her to continue.  I took care not only to listen, but also to hear.  


Get Rid of 'Stinkin Thinkin'

Getting rid of Stinkin Thinkin is a battle that is fought and won in the mind; then attitudes and actions obediently follow. Right thinking produces effective health and happiness.
  • Take care of the anger in the mind and you do not have to worry about damage repair later.
  • Take care of prejudicial thoughts in the mind and you do not have to worry about being tolerant of others.
  • Take care of lust in the mind and you do not have to worry about torn lives resulting from an affair.
  • Take care of honesty in the mind and you do not have to worry about being found out.

Here are five inane thoughts that can cause us to perpetuate anger and co-dependency.

1. I have to take what life hands me. I am incapable of making other choices.

Wrong! There is a multitude of options available to most problems and at least one other option to the most stringent. The greatest choice is your attitude. Put your thinking cap on. Get input (not advice) from others, then make your own decisions. But make decisions you can live with, not something you will have to “exist with” the remainder of your life.

2. If this is wrong, God will stop me.

Do not give God credit for human choices. believe it or not, God never says "Yes" or "No". We have simply been given a free which God will not coerce. If your credit is the least bit workable, the bank (or furniture loan company) will give you the money, even if it makes an extreme hardship on your budget. If you persist in a harmful relationship, a marriage license will be issued, even if the situation turns abusive.

3. To stop being angry will wipe the offender's slate clean.

Forgiveness does not dismiss the injustices done against you, forgiveness does release you to live and laugh again. To forgive is to release you from being prosecutor, judge, jury and hangman. It is to put the offense into the hands of the proper authorities, whether that be civic, civil, federal or divine.

4. I am so extremely unique that rules of life do not apply to me and my special situation.

This is a very self-righteous attitude. It is irrational beliefs that usually begins with an attitude of “What do you mean?” “What do you mean, don’t drink and drive, I can handle my liquor and a car.” Rules do apply and do effect us, even if occasionally we seem to get-by with breaking one.

5. I am responsible for the happiness of others.

Nope. No one can make you happy or content – it is always a choice. You cannot make another happy or content. Your actions and attitudes may lend to it, but does not cause it.

Learn to live and let live. Learn to have a balanced view of life and people which puts you in effective control.

Call Mona Dunkin to conduct people skills classes for you and your employees.


Seeing Beyond the Mental Fog

When fog settles in visibility lessens. Ordinary objects become distorted, perception is askew and navigation treacherous. Some souls have been lost at sea or driven over a cliff.

The same is true on the road of life when emotions cloud one’s vision. Annoyance become paramount, perception is out of kilter and course-plotting underhanded. Jobs are lost, relationships are harmed and happiness is illusive.

Where you are is where you are. The meaning you give to where you are is your perception based on the meaning you attach to where you are. Anxiety is the body’s response to thinking and feeling. When one makes a clear distinction between the event and the meaning given to it, one is better prepared to handle the realities of life.

Example: Driving on an unfamiliar road one may think, “I don’t know where I am.” “I’m lost.” You feel you should have gone another way; that you should have stayed home, that this road is too dangerous. Your body is tense and anxiety sets in.

Reframe: Distinguish between event and the meaning it warrants. “I am unfamiliar with the road and the surroundings. I am a good driver and will navigate cautiously. I will slow down and arrive alive. It is okay to be a little late.” Tension abates.

Example: You are told what to do when you already know what to do! You begin to mind read; “You think I am stupid.” “You think you are so smart.” “Get off my back!” You feel judged and criticized. Your body tenses as anger rises and hard feelings compound.

Reframe: "He/she means well. Maybe they know something I have overlooked or have not yet learned. Either way, I will respect their input and treat them with civility." Calm is restored. Relationship remains intact.

Example: A botched performance. Meaning attached, “I am a big goof. I ruined the entire event.” “People are placating me.” Feelings attached are discouragement, despair and failure. Body’s response is tight muscles, headache and depressing.

Reframe: Make a clear distinction between event and the meaning you give it. “Even though I messed up a little I gave some salient points. I am learning to be a presenter and will do better the next time.” Let yourself off the hook. Be able to receive compliments.

All day, every day four things are happening simultaneously:
1) the event
2) your thought regarding the event
3) your emotions associated with what you perceive about the event
4) your body responding to how you see, think and feel about the event

Reframing helps you to see what was not clean when clouded by emotions. Reframing takes you to a detached position where you might be able to see what a bystander would see (about the situation as well as about you).

Rethink and let the sunshine reflect a better light on success, relationships and happiness.