There's A Song In the Air

The Holidays are here. Makes you want to sing, doesn’t it.

What a wonderful season, full of love, joy, peace and busyness and mystery. A one-time event that is cyclable, filled with diversity, yet yearly offering us something we hadn’t noticed before.

If we are paying attention.

In Sunday’s comics of LuAnn by Greg Evans, she was preparing her classroom for the Holiday Season by writing “Merry Christmas” on the white board. A child entered and said, “We celebrate Hanukkah”. Luann added Hanukkah to the board. Another mentioned, “We celebrate Kwanzaa”. The conversation continued - as well as additions to the board - to include Omisoka, Muslim festivities, Winter Solstice and Seasons Greetings.

Luann’s final entry was “PEACE!!!”.

Does the above-mentioned comic strip bring peace to you? Or do you identify with the bold print and the three exclamation points? What is this world coming to?

I find peace. Wait! Before you quit reading, let me explain.

The Christmas message IS peace. And love and joy. But how do we find those attributes if we don’t understand the meaning of the words? I think of Jacob, our founding spiritual forefather, and his life trials and weird dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending. When he awakened, he was afraid and confused. He looked around and said, “God was here all the time and I didn’t know it.”

Then Jacob did something even more weird. He anointed a rock and proclaimed that dream holy and that place holy. Then he rolled up his stuff and continued his known, yet unknown journey. (Genesis 12)

Jacob transcended. He began to think different thoughts about his family and his God and his complicated life-journey. Does God really love a cheat like me? Can I have peace even though I have an angry brother who wants to kill me? Is truth actually written on my wisdom heart? Is joy possible when I am only concerned about me and my? What else do I know that I don’t know that I know?

In watching Christmas movies and seeing advertisements, they seem to be more about Santa and gift than the Christ child. Yet in the background there is a song in the air. A song of a Holy Night. A Song of Joy to the World. Music moves us in mysterious ways. I find the message of a God who IS love - unconditional love. The God who birthed a son like Himself. One who loves us for no good reason. One who loves us with no expectations in return

One who empowers us to transcend, to grow, to love, to rise above.

What a wonderful season, full of love, joy, peace and mystery. A one-time event that is cyclable, filled with diversity, yet yearly offering us something we hadn’t noticed before.

Pay attention. Listen to the music. Harken to the short messages from your heart. Love. Forgive. Be kind. Overlook snarks. Move past regrets. Let it go. Sing.

We are in the midst of who we are and who we are becoming. As we are open to love and forgiveness, the Christmas message of peace and love is birthed in our hearts.


Being a Blessing

Our topic today is being a blessing.

Being in the grammatical sense is a gerund. Which simply means that any time you add ing to a word – any word – it brings it into present tense – the NOW – right this second - that expresses a generalized or uncompleted action. As in “I’m going to the store.” You understand what is happening, but it is an uncompleted action.

I love ironies. One of which is, we cannot give out of an empty basket. We cannot give what we have not received. What have we received? Life. Breath. Gifts. Talents. Love. Because of these free gifts from God, we are able to give and to bless others.

In the book of Acts we have the story of Paul and Silas traveling around telling people about the one true God and his marvelous blessings bestowed on all of us, whether we give him credit for it or not. This God is the one who is always near to us, leading us, guiding us, directing us, loving us, comforting us. In trying to paint a picture of this wonderful invisible God, in poetic form, Paul said, “In Him – in this one true God – we live and move and have our being.” You are an animation of God.

We are all human beings. Beings
• Being - the quality or state of having an existence
• Being - qualities that constitute essence

All of that tells me that we’re not done yet.

You bake a cake for the recommended time and on the surface it looks done, but you stick a toothpick in it, and it’s a little gooey inside. That’s us. No matter how many years we have been in the oven, we’re not done yet.

But, no worries, we are human beings and we’re still learning.

Psychologists tells us that we are most open to learning when we are in love. When we are in love – with a person, a hobby, an adventure - we are open to new information and we willingly take it in and try it out. Being a blessing is not only being thankful and gracious and appreciative; it’s also being and staying in love with life and people and God and yourself.

Who will you re-fall in love with today? Or you could start from scratch and pretend it's for the first time.

Science and technology are discovering many new things daily. But they are not really new. King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” There is nothing new under the sun because at creation everything that was destined to be was pre-programmed into the mystery of this universe to come forth “in the fullness of time.” Just like the birth of Christ. Just like the birth of you.

Becoming a Blessing is synonymous with becoming yourself – your true self, your essence - your DNA God-Code self. It’s that simple, and it’s also that difficult. It’s difficult because we too often second guess our self. We listen to our ego instead of our wisdom heart. Wayne Dwyer suggests that ego means “edging God out”.

When I have a not so gracious feeling toward me - and Jesus said I am to love me as I love you, my neighbor - I pause and evaluate: “Even though I burned the pie, I’m still a pretty good cook.” Likewise, when I have a not so gracious feeling toward someone else - and Jesus said I am to love my neighbor as much as I love me - I pause and evaluate: “Just like me, that person is doing the best they can.”

Loving attributes acknowledged. Grace restored.

The Heart-Math Institute says that our heart sends out more neuro transmissions than our brain does. Sadly, those transmissions don’t always reach our brain -- until we prepare our mind to receive the wisdom from our heart. Our heart’s invisible transmissions expand up to a three-feet circumference outside our bodies. It is something we unknowingly transmit whether positive or negative.

So how do we attune our mind to receive the heart’s wisdom? My go-to is the holy language of Scripture.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:43-48) Jesus contrasts what we think or what we have heard with what he says. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate our enemy’, but I say, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you and pry for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” He goes on to talk about how good God is to everyone; sending sunshine and rain equally on the righteous as well as the unrighteous. Sending drought and tornados equally on the righteous and the unrighteous – no respecter of persons.

Jesus completed the thought with “Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

A long-time friend of mind has a delightful habit of smiling and giving a nodding approval and openly says “God love it” when someone does something special. She is not speaking to anyone in particular, but the heart-math translation is there.

When someone acts out, she gives an understanding nod and openly says – to no one in particular – “You gotta love ‘em”.

I may want to say, “I most certainly do not ‘gotta love ‘em.” And God gently speaks to my wisdom heart, “Yea, you do. That is, if you really want my kingdom to come to earth, that as above so below.”

Me? Perfect? How? One definition of perfect is “just right for the stage of growth”. An apple seed is a perfect apple, for its stage of growth. The goal is to keep on growing.

I suggest we attune to our wisdom heart by meditating daily for divine favor through the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). “Our Father” …. Pause and think about people groups all over the world, diverse socio economic, intelligence and abilities. Yet they are all our neighbors, and God is their Father. Even if you don’t get past the Our Father part, that can be enough.

We grow into our true essence by realizing that we have enough. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt 6:31-34) Enough. We have enough. Sometimes we try to be thankful, but it seems difficult because we really focus on lack. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy. …I’m not enough. What we focus on is what we draw to us. Begin to proclaim, "I have enough for today." That mysterious portal of ‘enough’ overflows into natural abundance through creativity, repurposing, thankfulness, generosity, appreciation, celebrating, blessings, accomplishments, good-will.

A wonderful measuring rod of being is III John 2, “May you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.” May you prosper – mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, relationally – even as your soul prospers. Pause and evaluate. Content yourself by having enough.

All through the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to be happy, glad and content (enough). This is not Paul in the Penthouse speaking, but Paul in the jailhouse. In all things give thanks. For all things give thanks. “Rejoice in the Lord always….” I can just see him pacing around the prison writing or dictating and searching to bring it to a powerful conclusion…. “And again, I say ‘Rejoice’.” Enough.

I examine my own life and how to be more thankful.

• 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 and leads to repentance for failures
• 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 we have.
• I am thankful for challenges that taxes every fiber of my being forcing 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.

Some may say, “but I don’t have that kind of faith.” Au Contraire! The Scripture says that everyone has been given a ‘measure of faith’. A measure. How much is a measure? Enough.

Everyone has enough faith to listen to their wisdom heart. You know what that is. It’s the inner guidance that directs you to do the right thing. It is the gentle inner voice that does not yell, does not condemn and does not lead astray. Just as everyone of us has been given life, so too have we been given breath for a certain number of days. Breath that breaths us.

God is sometimes seen as being too big, too powerful, too holy, too far away to have anything to do with me. Maybe we have a longing to serve God and others, but first we have to clean our self up.

Don't Cope, Overcome. About 45 years ago God spoke to my confused mind, “Just let me be your friend.” It resonated. I needed a friend. Out loud I said a faint, “okay”. No big deal. But it was a big deal. The friendship took and continues to grow.

May it do the same for you.


The Power of Self-Evaluation

I am good at teaching, but not always so good at living what I teach -- and that is exactly why I teach. Teaching holds me accountable to what I say and do. I was late-in-life learning a lot of things – like Goal Setting and Planning – but self-evaluating was ingrained in me as a child.

During my West Virginia wonder years we gathered on Sundays at our little circuit-rider United Methodist Church.  Each Communion Sunday the pastor emphasized the sacredness of the sacrament and the value of self-evaluation.  You know, to make sure we were living right; that we weren't harboring any lies, didn’t need to apologize for,  or “lest something worse come upon you.” 

Thankfully, my Aunt Erma explained that self-evaluation is not dumping guilt on yourself, but is taking responsibility for our missteps. If we don’t own up to our part of the problem, then it leads us to stack attack misbehavior that hurts us and others.

The purpose of self-evaluation is to see our self as we really are, so we can either keep on a good path or take corrective steps. It’s all Total Behavior. What we think, what we do, how we feel about our thinking and doing, effects of physiology and our mental health and our sleep, our digestion, our energy level and our relationships and our success and…

In other words, everything within us touches everything about us and everything we do effects everything we do.  To stay whole and healthy, self-evaluation is a discipline I practice daily.

Self-evaluation is tied in with the Ten Axioms of Choice Theory Psychology.

·  #1 states that "The only person whose behavior we can control is our own".  I suppose the inference is that way too often we do not control our self and need to think about the outcome.
·  #2 says "All we can do is give or receive information."  Inference - don't place blame, don't criticize, be nice, use your inside voice, get honest with yourself. 
· #6 states "We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World" (i.e. pics in our head).  Inference: ongoing negative guilting thoughts suggest we're not too satisfied with our life so self-evaluate and make changes. 

A theory is something not yet proven.  When we consider the possibility of a smidgen of reality in Choice Theory, then the practice of the theory becomes real. And we prove to our self, for our self what is or is not effective.  Long term. 
The key word in Self-Evaluation is “Self”. Only it’s not really “self” because we are never alone. We have a great “cloud of witnesses”, whether in that DNA molecule syphoned from a long dead ancestor or the influencing thoughts gleaned from a stranger or the mystical concept of God.

So what are the benefits?
  • Challenge you to excellence
  • Lessens dependency on the approval of others
  • Promotes healthy competition
  • Encourages non-judgmental judgment (see Axiom #2) 
  • Ask and answer tough questions
  • Live in the present 
And all this accumulates into personal empowerment.  You have to experience it for yourself. Enjoy.  

“One breath began the journey of life;
Ambiguous with joys and strife.
What makes one, breaks another;
All of earth’s travels are for us to discover
The value of self, sister and brother.”

Choice Theory Basic Intensive Training, Waco, Texas, Mona Dunkin, CTRTC,LM
254-749-6594 monadunkin@gmail.com  https://wglasser.com/trainings/2019-03/


Conflict and Resolution

With so many different personality traits interacting, conflict may seem inevitable. Take heart, it does not have to be permanent. Conflicts can be resolved. Resolve comes from a Latin word meaning “to loosen”. Thus, conflict is solved when we loosen our grip on being right or having it ‘my way’.  Make relationship more important than being right.

I define conflict as “having opposing views without grace.” It does not matter with whom the opposing views are (you with you, you with your heritage, you and God, you and another) conflict ceases to be conflict when seasoned with grace.

Conflict happens through unchallenged beliefs. To blindly accept hand-me-down lore as the only viable way closes one’s mind to the wondrous variety of humanity. It is okay to identify with one’s culture, just not to the exclusion of others. Each ethnicity has valid worth.

 Everything has a trade off. In all relationships there is give and take for the good of the whole. I could have a fulfilled life without ever playing “Hi-Ho Cheerio” again. Because I love my grandchildren, I lay my preference aside for their benefit. While I may not be excited about the game, I am thoroughly involved in building relationship.

Choose your battles.  When you do engage, stick with the issue at hand. Do not ambush with a “stack attack”.  up past transgressions as evidence for present conflict does nothing to solve bring resolution.  State your position but have no point to prove.  Use “I” statements.  Communicate from your view. 

Choose your attitude. Never take the position “I am right and you are wrong.”  Be open to the fact that you could be wrong.  Even if right in facts, could be wrong in attitude.  Let your words be seasoned with grace. There is a difference in an answer and a comeback. A comeback engenders strife whereas an answer gives or asks for information.  

Take comments seriously, but not personally.  Take yourself out of the middle; be objective.  Focus on the problem, not the personality.  When do you want to know that the boat won’t float?   There may be genuine value in the information given.  Leave the emotions behind. Listen to the words rather than presumed hidden agenda. If the encounter turns ugly, back off, take the high road by choosing to not be offended.

Participate in the wonderful dance of life.  For the sake of relationship, agree to disagree while continuing to hold the person in high regard.  Know when to let go. Choose to flow.  As my jitterbugging arthritic friend proclaimed, “You can’t be uptight when you’re dancing.”


The Greatest of These Is Love

February’s history is of being a month of love. I trust you receive lots of Valentines and special attention to celebrate the special person you are. You are unique and special and very loveable. Please believe it. Love is complicated.

My sister - in her high school days - was given a homework assignment to define love. She interviewed couples. Their advice ranged from the melancholy - “being able to see through each other and still enjoy the view”, to the cynical -“something sent down from heaven to aggravate the hell out of you.”

Love is complicated.

Which brings us to this article. The greatest of what is love? The Apostle Paul was looking at qualities valued in leaders and parents and ordinary folk like you and me. After a long discourse on being charitable – i.e. loving - he concluded with “And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Corinthians 13)

It’s all Greek to me. As if love was not complicated enough, we Americans use the word love to express our affection for everything from people to popcorn to places to puzzles to pets. The Greek language has different words for different loving emotions.

“Eros” (cupid) is the romantic love, “Philio” is friendship or brotherly love and “Stoic” is the kind of love for whatever is left over - things, places, activities, chocolate. There is also “Agape” love which is God’s kind. A love that is unconditional, eternal and healing.

Love, passive and active. The Hebrew language has two words for love and both are in the present active tense. “Ahab” is choosing to love from afar with the intent to pursue and to woo. Ahab love is hopeful. “Hessedh” is choosing to love and to keep-on-loving whether received or rejected. Hessedh love is steadfast and eternal.

Faith, hope, love. The Apostle Paul gave a benchmark for us mortals to use to measure our romantic and brotherly love. He said outrageous things such as; “Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not get puffed up or pouty. Love does not always have to have its own way. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13)
A flip of the coin. In meditating, I like to look at words from all sides. To observe the direct meaning as well as seeing what is inferred. One day in measuring myself by Paul’s love yardstick I noticed two phrases coupled together. “Love is long-suffering and is kind.”

It dawned on me that I had that long-suffering to a fine art. I could roll my eyes and sigh deeply and it was so obvious I was suffering in my patience. But Paul concluded with “and is kind.” Oh no! In my suffering, I was not so kind.

Give me a break. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I said out loud, “Surely You jest! Are You telling me You expect me to be kind to my mother-in-law?!” (Or mate, or child, or boss or neighbor; you fill in the blank. Especially when they….)

Another word for love is “charity”. “Charity” is used instead of “love” in that passage in the King James Bible translation. I like that. I find in some incidents that it is easier to be charitable than it is to be loving. I am learning to be kind to the lovely and the unlovely alike. To overlook bad attitudes and respond in kindness to irritants or rudeness or disrespect.

Charity begins at home. Garland and I married fifty-two ago February 24th. I am humbled by the fact that this guy loves me and keeps on loving me. Opposites attract. Over time, that refreshing opposite way of seeing life from the way you view life becomes stale. Irritating. Wrong. Often opposites attack. Let’s be charitable.

How to be charitable. The hormonal passive love of Eros and Ahab may draw a couple together, but it is the active, on-going, over-and-over choosing to love of Hessedh that keeps a family together. And it is the friendship of Phileo love and the fun-seeking-shared-interests of Stoic love that makes the relationship enjoyable. It grows into the love that “endures all things” – hardships, grief, difficulties – and “believes all things” – sees the good in the midst of the not-so-good. A love that is in it for the long haul. A commitment with no escape clause.

Fifty-two years and counting for me and Garland. It has been quite difficult at times. It has also been a wonderful, magical adventure and the road ahead looks promising. A love that lasts is one rooted in friendship and mutual respect.

It’s a lifetime and counting for genuine Agape love and me. Because I am the willing benefactor of God’s universal blessings and unconditional love, I am able to accept myself as I am and be charitable to others as they are.


Mona's Timely Tips for Efficiency

There is no more time to be made. Everyone is allotted twenty-four hours in a day. At one time or another, everyone has felt like the Egyptian mummy - pressed for time. How you invest in time is up to you. Here are a few suggestions for making the most of your time.

1. Find the freedom of a schedule. "Finding" time produces anxiety and guilt; making time results in success,relaxation and fulfillment. What is important is scheduled; what is scheduled, gets done.

2. Keep a calendar. Before going to bed write down "The Six Most Important Things I Must Do Tomorrow"

3. Write it down - in a planner, not on scraps of paper to be lost. The faintest ink is worth more than the most retentive memory.

4. Record ideas. Everything that has ever been accomplished was once an idea. If not written down, it will be forgotten and therefore, not done.

5. Use wait time productively. Book, pad, pencil, calendar - don't leave home without them.

6. Organize your work area and keep it neat. Have proper equipment within your reach.

7. Handle it once.

8. Do one job at a time and give it your full attention. This one thing I do...

9. Say "No" without feeling guilty. Never say "Yes" just to be liked.

10. Develop your listening skills. Ask pertinent questions. Think about and picture the results.

11. Bunch tasks together.

12. Can you give it fifteen minutes?

13. Effectively use "think" time.

14. Work on your dream every day without exception. "What did I do today to make my dreams come true?"

15. Set limits on how long a task will take.

16. Learn the joy of a job well done. Give up perfectionism.

17. TNT - today not tomorrow

18. Do it right the first time. If you are expending energy on a project, do it with excellence.

19. Cooperate with others. Work together.

20. Know the limits of "your job".

21. Determine the difference between urgent and important. "What would happen if I don't do this?"

22. Focus on priorities daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

23. Do not become involved in problems others can handle without your input. Determine who owns the problem.

24. Make a commitment to someone else of what you are going to do.

25. The best minute spent is the one invested in people. People are our greatest assets.


The Turtle's Edge

You remember the story, the turtle and the hare, and how slow consistency won over spurts of speed. Although I love those inspirational moments of quantum leap productivity, I am finding that persistent intermittent activity proves to be more sustaining of long-term success. Does persistent
intermittent sound contradictory? Let me explain.

Decision vs. Circumstances: Words carry weight. To a hare, commitment is heavy, demanding onerous; with little or no fun. A decision is simply changing one’s mind from doing this to doing that. A decision is lighter, easier to handle, even energizing. The benefits of following your decision are such a blessing that one unconsciously slides into being committed to the goal.

Stretch/Grow/Stretch: The human body is equipped to meet challenges. Adrenaline may be released to power-up for a Herculean feat, or the parasympathetic system may be activated to power-down to preserve life (trauma in a fall, fatigue from overwork).

Small Steps: Ironically, speed walking is not in the length of the gait but in short steps. A health article predicted an individual’s longevity based on the time in which he completed a mile. The suggestion to increase speed was to take smaller steps. I tried it. It works. I am now applying this strategy to projects and receiving quicker results. As the task is broken down into small steps for quicker completion, energy is increased to keep on going.

Six-a-Day/Three-a-Day: The story goes that Ivy Lee proposed to Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, a strategy to increase his company’s efficiency. Each executive was asked to take a few minutes at the end of each day to make a list of the six most important things to be done the next day; then number the tasks in order of importance. Early the next morning, they were to tackle number one and continue down the list until closing time. Whatever was left over would move to the top of tomorrow’s list. It worked.

This plan still works today. Pre-determine where your energy will go and start at the top. Feel good about marking off an accomplished task and proceed to the next. In my turtle’s edge frame, I go for three-a-day and anything else is a bonus.

Four/Seven: Release the popular 24/7/365 self-defeating attitude for performance. Decide to devote a minimum of four days out of seven to the newly formulated goal. I think back to a goal on my to-do-list that kept being moved to tomorrow until it became a drudgery to even think about doing it. So I marked it off. There. Forget about it. Go on to other things. Only subconsciously that goal was too important to mark off. Once I took it out of my have-to sphere of to-do, I found myself excitedly making plans and looking forward to doing them.

Just as the rising tide elevates all boats in the harbor, so, too, improvement in one area positively influences all. That is the power of decision; it creates a domino effect in the composite whole of your life.

For all your speaking and training needs, contact Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, monadunkin@gmail.com www.monadunkin.com.” Basic Intensive Training, Introduction of Choice Theory Psychology scheduled in Waco, Tx for January 25-27, 2019 Call me today.  254-749-6594