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12/22/20

It Is What It Is

 


A plethora of current issues have prompted the lament of “wanting things to return to normal”. What is normal? What if things do not change? How can expanding one’s perception serve to bring personal peace? And can that peace be contagious?

Life is a series of infinite possibilities balanced by calculated risks. Life is more both/and rather than either/or. Regardless of the reasonings or explanations or arguing one might assign, the facts are… it is what it is. With God’s grace, my response is, “So what? Now what?”

Not, so what? as in arguing against, but, so what? as in how to access attitude and resources to handle effectively and kindly. All conditions were met for whatever happened to happen. Handle each event with grace.  

The word IS, is a perfect-present tense verb, meaning it never changes. Just as now is always this second, so too grace is an ever-present presence. There is an infinite amount of unseen grace floating in the invisible atmosphere to be tapped into by anyone. Grace was there yesterday, even though I may have ignored it and did my own thing. Grace is just as amply there for each tomorrow whether I recognize and utilize or go lightly on. 

Grace always is. 

 A contranym (pronounced konteinm), is a noun that has two opposite meanings. Such as yield meaning to surrender, concede, resign – or yield meaning to harvest, increase, produce. 

No matter the situation - pandemic, trying relationships, burned toast – through the plasticity of grace, let us yield to the circumstances while simultaneously harvesting peace that passes all understanding. 
Through grace, you have an opportunity to be a viable part of Infinite possibilities. 

Slow growth is sustainable. When it dawns on you that you are calm amid chaos, and you do not understand this strange conundrum, realize you have touched the hem of Christ’s garment.

12/8/20

What a Time to be Alive

What a Time to be Alive!?
Look around at all that is going on - pandemic, political unrest, social issues, environmental concerns, storms, depletion, weather changes, an uncertain future - worldwide - cosmic-sized transition. In unrest, we all receive some sort of guidance as to what to do, or not do, or how to do. With this input, we are faced with choices. 

As much as we may not want to admit it, the world situation today is the end-product of our collective choices. As difficult as it may be to see and to understand, all conditions were met for it – whichever it you may be focusing on - to happen or it would not have happened. That statement matches the laws of cause and effect, attraction, gravity, and physics from relativity (macro) to quantum (micro). 

Why do I suggest it a great time to be alive? This is fertile ground to develop empathy, show love, and to help heal a hurting world. Not only are we all in this together now, but we have been in it together from the beginning of time. Whether from history, Holy Scriptures, fables, or fairy tales, it has always been we, us, they, them, and our, knowing and not knowing. 

Only now, we know that we do not know. 

It is a great time to live in the mystery of faith. To survive – nay to thrive – by embracing learning and growing. My daughter shared that in reading a book on the Holocaust, she found deep compassion for those suffering such atrocities and separation, and great admiration of their faith and courage, while finding resolve and strength to face current situations. Makes you think doesn’t it.

 “When we cannot change a situation, we are challenged to change our self.” Viktor Frank

It is a great time to go deep and find peace regardless of upheaval. To embrace challenge irrespective of seeming insurmountable odds. Witness your pain and extend caring brings relief and lightens the load. In being together, please do so with cooperation, and with the absence of reward or punishment. It is a great time to choose not to be offended. When someone offends you, connect with them. When you offend someone, connect with them. 

Bottom line, you are responsible for reconnecting from either side of the offense. Seek to understand and clarify. If needed, agree to disagree while remaining connected. Always esteem your self and others.

Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Meditation recently did a series on Order, Disorder and Reorder. I share my understanding of his three-week series. 

Order: Everyone is born into a family or community that becomes a container of culture, values, tradition, custom, family loyalties, authority, boundaries, and morality. While not perfect, these avenues gave security, predictability, impulse control, and ego structure need before going out into the chaos of real life. The healthier the nurturing stage, the more one grows up naturally and receive freedom to be accepting of others. 

Disorder: Nothing stays fixed. Life is about constant disruptions. Earthly illusions of “happily ever after” show themselves. Humanity tends to do things their own way, whether in being true to self or in rebellion. Hurt people hurt people. 

Reorder: Acceptance. One cannot effectively deal with what has happened or is happening if one does not accept the situation for what it is. Acceptance allows freedom to consider probabilities from another point of view. There may be more than one way to skin a catfish. Acceptance takes the facts as they are – not as I think they should be. Acceptance releases creativity that is life-giving and sustainable. Whole people heal people. Acceptance is wholeness amid brokenness. 

In my own life I find that knowledge is not the problem. Action is. Spirit is. Compassion is. May the following confession strike accord that resonates in our being and inspires us to graciously respond. Together let us come to a moral conclusion for the good of the whole. 

"Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change, open to us a future in which we can be changed and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image. Aman." Quoted by Brian McLaren, Finding Our Way Again, Chapter 11, Communal Practices

11/27/20

Random Acts of Faith

There is universal encouragement to perform Random Acts of Kindness. Do something nice for someone that is unexpected and unplanned. Make their day. Or at least add a little joy. 

I suggest we also incorporate random acts of faith. As in trusting that your child does respect you. Believing that your life choices were based on good reasoning. Imagining that ‘we the people’ are getting it (kindness, love, appreciation of differences). 

Civil Rights leader, John Lewis, said the question he was asked the most is, “How did you do it? How were you peaceful and kind in the face of so much violence?” 

John Lewis’s reply? “Faith. Faith has power. It often does not become meaningful until it is tested by a challenge that we may not survive. It is then that we experience how transformative our capacity to believe truly is.” 

Do you want a transformed life? Practice random acts of faith. When stripped down to the core, life becomes simple. Things that did matter, matter less and things that do matter, matter more.

When looking for corrective measures, it benefits us to look first at self. 

There was friction between me and a co-worker. She said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.” 

My response was a perfunctory, “Okay”. 

As I walked away, I noticed my critical  thoughts – “if she had only listened, she doesn’t care”. I was placing blame, not letting my okay really be okay. I was not holding her in high regard. 

I turned back to her and said, “You know what. I’m going to believe you. I believe you didn't mean any harm.”

I chose to believe she truly was sorry for her actions and that she did not intend the error.

In a small way I experienced the power of transformative faith. It enabled room for both of us to grow. It allowed me to respond kindly. Overtime I developed a Trifecta of Faith that proves itself over and over. 

Desire + Belief + Awareness = Faith.

Faith is looking forward to something that has not happened yet. And yes, you do have faith. (Have you ever bought a lottery ticket?) Holy Scripture says everyone has been given a ‘measure of faith’. A measure. How much is a measure? Enough. 

Everybody has enough faith to listen to their wisdom heart. You have heard it. It is the guidance that directs you to do the right thing. The gentle voice that does not yell, does not condemn, and does not lead astray. 

Desire + Belief + Awareness = Faith. 

Search your wisdom heart to see who you truly desire to be. Lock into belief that as God planted that desire within you, you can be it. Become aware of hints that the faith seed is growing. Recognize that all encounters are a two-way street. What will you receive from another and what will you leave behind? We mirror each other. Somewhere inside us is their pain. Equally true, somewhere inside us is their joy and their competency. Love yourself and touch everyone with random faith

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E. B. White 

DON’T COPE. OVERCOME. We can never be certain of absolutes. Perception is what we think we see. To us that perception becomes a reality, only it may not be real. Often it is more assumption than viewpoint. Find your true north. In driving, you set your GPS for where you want to go, then follow the directions as they become available. So too by faith. Live by compass, more than a roadmap.

8/3/20

It's Just a Thought



You are going through your day when something triggers a stream of disagreeable thoughts – anger, resentment, lack, criticism, fear –or the thoughts as easily could be pining for reconciliation, preparing for an upcoming event, or taming a  huge to-do-list. 

How do you handle it?  Do you go to a dark place? Would you like to see things differently? Would you like to identify, re-frame, resolve, and smile as you go on your productive way?

More than likely, the critical thought is something you had pushed down, maybe in fear of not knowing what to do, or dread of how long I twill take, or to abandon completely. Your creative mind brings it back to your right now conscious thinking so you can be accountable.  Thoughts becomes negative and stress producing when discounted.  

What to do?    

Stop Immediately. Pause. Breath. Talk yourself down.  Beating yourself up does absolutely no good plus it compounds your stress. Gently acknowledge the thought.  Talk to the thoughts.  “Thank you for reminding me of this pressing issue.”  “I can handle this.” “I’ll take the high road.”  “I’ll do what I can to preserve this relationship.”

Know that your Creative Mind listens in on your self-talk and gently asks, “How can I help you with that?”  In that moment of pause, allow your brain chemist to organically drop calming chemicals into your system. Relax as you take pen and paper to jot down positive loving ideas as to what, when and how.  You just gave your creativity a task to decipher.   

“The faintest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” Mary Kay Ash

Get back to the business at hand while trusting and allowing your creative mind and wisdom heart to problem solve for you. 

Next time you think you have been misunderstood, violated, have a huge to-do-list – or whatever it is you want to fix - check and see if the sky has turned cloudy or the sun has stopped shinning.  If not, you will probably make it through this.  Do not allow yourself to fall down the Alice in Wonderland Rabbit Hole.  Lewis Carroll wrote, “She (Alice) generally gave herself very good advice (though she seldom followed it.)”

Give and follow your wisdom heart.  When those shoved down thoughts jettison you into the RIGHT NOW. give yourself another thought. A calmer thought.  A saner thought.  A healthier thought.

DON’T COPE. OVERCOME.  Think about these things. 

·      Give yourself room to grow
·       Take yourself out of the middle
·       Witness you from a balcony position – not to look down on, but to see all sides with more clarity
·       Be aware of negative identity thoughts and reframe – “I’m learning.” “I used to think that way.”
·       Know that you are enough - you are enough, you have enough, you do enough. Be okay with that.  
·       Find a way to be kind and accept regardless of rather than because of – as is, warts and all
·       Find an honorable way to release your ideal caricature expectation 
·       Respect without dismissing, ignoring, or trying to change another’s quirks
·       Be willing to make reasonable concessions
·       Develop communication skills of speaking your truth as well as listening to understand
·       Become aware how you may be demoralizing another to make yourself look good
·       Know that being “right” gains nothing and deepens the separation


7/1/20

Thankful To Be an American

Happy 4th of July. In our world of time and space, wishes before or after are in bounds. Timeliness is usually a good thing until it becomes drudgery. Please honor this emancipating freedom every moment of your life.

On US holidays I wear the colors. Dressed in my red shirt and flag-vest, someone mentioned that I must"be a proud American." My reply, “I am a thankful American”.

I am humbled to be a born-in-America-white-privilege-woman with unlimited opportunities. I am saddened by the continued unrest on many fronts. Previous events in our time/space continuum meant to correct errors are being revealed as illusions.

Through marvels of the internet, my incomplete education is becoming competent. I am learning such things as “Why Christopher Columbus wasn't the hero we studied about in school.” https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/12/us/christopher-columbus-slavery-disease-trnd/index.html

It's not that Columbus was not a man with skills, talents and value, it’s just that he didn’t do what he is credited. He was not the first to discover the Americas. Not only were natural born citizens living here, but others had been embarking on these shores centuries before 1492. With history’s error being corrected, statutes of Columbus are being torn down and replaced with figures of indigenous people. Acknowledging and respecting all people as heroes.

And the needed push back continues.

Although multitudes have risked oceanic peril, arriving penniless and with a dream of making good, far too many were captured, kid-napped and forced. It is a sad history upon which the US is built and continues; from pre-Civil War slaves to sex trafficking slaves. Same immorality and devaluing of person hood for selfish gain.

Motivational speaker Krish Dhanam, born in India, tells of his families struggle to come to the US to live the American dream. He notes his deep disappointment in complaining ungrateful Americans. I may want to dismiss these assessments despite an inner conviction of reality.

July 4th is a grand celebration of our freedom. Unfortunately, freedom has the potential for harm as well as intended good. Perhaps the blessings of America have rendered many of us with a spirit of entitlement.

Freedom without moral living turns to debauchery. Freedom of speech has led to profane language in music, movies, TV programs and literature. Freedom of expression has led to vulgar displays in the media and the arts. Freedom to bear arms has given leeway to school massacres and drive-by-shootings. Freedom of independence has led to littered highways, “me attitudes”, wasting of natural resources and lack of community.

Freedom is not the liberty to do what one wants, but the freedom to do the right thing. Right and wrong, good and evil are moral facts. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recommended a Statue of Responsibility be erected on the west coast to balance the Statue of Liberty on the east coast. We can have no true liberty without being responsible for our choices.

I find that the more gently responsible I am, the greater my freedom. The more disciplined I am, the more numerous my options. The more respectful I am of all others, the deeper the depth of my happiness. Let us live interdependently so future generations will judge our everyday deeds as honorable and respectful, for the good of the whole.

For a healthy pride to be restored, may each of us individually embrace truth, even when the revelation is ugly. And the truth is, on some level, each of us has varying degrees and shades of good and evil. Except for the grace of loving kindness.

5/25/20

Memorial Day Tribute to Veterans Past and Present


Author unknown. The following poem does not give the author’s name. It saddens me when someone has been gifted to write such a beautiful memorial and they did not receive credit for it. Maybe it is an indication of how we truly are a part of each other. As you read the poem and your heart stirs, or a lump is caught in your throat or tears form in your eyes, know those are noble emotions. Feel it, embrace it. And be thankful.


JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

He was getting old and paunchy, and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion telling stories of his past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies – they were heroes, every one.
And though sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer, for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He was just a common soldier, and his ranks are growing thin.
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that others often start.
If we cannot give him honor, while he’s around to hear our praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage, at the ending of his days.

Perhaps a simple notice in a paper that would say,
“Our Country is in mourning, cause a Soldier passed away”.
Author Unknown

May we always remember that it is the soldier who gave us freedom of speech – even though it has been abused. It is the soldier who has given us freedom of the press – even though it has been taken to extremes. It is the soldier who has allowed us the freedom to fly the flag – or to burn it in protest. It is the soldier who has given us peace in the past, and it is the soldier who will restore peace and enact justice in the present.

4/24/20

Truth or Dare with Social Distancing



In the long ago Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In TV series (1967-1973), actress Lily Tomlin portrayed Edith Ann, a five-year old with outlandish truths about life. Edith Ann sat in a huge rocking chair and recounted strange adventures from her childish point of view. Each segment ended with her looking directly into the camera and boldly proclaiming, “And that’s the truth!”

Life tickles your funny bones. The audience saw comedy in Edith Ann’s truth because it emphasized how we, too, may see things askew. You find humor in situations with which you identify. And sometimes it’s good to laugh at ourselves. To see our foibles. To recognize our shadow side.

Sometimes life breaks your hearts.
The heart ache is not from seeing truth, but from refusing to be set free by the truth we see. Truth hurts only when it is supposed to. Allow the sting to take you to self-evaluation for loving adjustment or forgiveness.

Feelings don’t tell you the truth; they just emphasize how you feel. Beliefs are not necessarily truth, they are just what you tell yourself you believe. What you believe is your best guess in the moment at what is real. Your best guess at reality is conditioned by the society in which you live.

Society doesn’t tell you the truth; society goes with fads, trends or the in-thing. Your thoughts don’t tell you the truth; they just try to tell how you measure up to society’s dictates. Or not. Circumstances don’t tell you the truth. No matter how real they seem to be they are really your thoughts trying to prove to you that your beliefs and that your feelings and your viewpoints are truth.

What does tell you the truth? Life.

Life demonstrates truth. Truth is universal and applies to everyone equally. Life speaks truth whether we believe it or not, whether we can handle it or not. Rain or drought, hurricanes or tsunamis falls equally on the just and on the unjust.

Life reveals when actions are plume. It matters not if one is a skilled iron worker or a nuclear scientist or an adventurous roof-scaling child, the truthful law of gravity shows itself to always be accurate. Whether gravity works for us or against us depends on our respect for its truth.

Don’t Cope, Overcome. There is a big difference in thinking you are a fool and in thinking you did a foolish thing. When your thoughts bring increased frustration, anger, sadness or instability, then maybe it is time to challenge your truth. Does what you believe hold water? Is your attitude working for you or not?

When circumstances are less than ideal, look deep inside to see what lesson life is teaching you. Obey the rules of the road and the chances of a speeding ticket, wreck or traffic violation are greatly diminished. Listen to your internal moral compass. NOTE: it speaks quietly, softly and gently. It must be tuned into to be heard. It must be given space to grow. It must be proven to stand firm.

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

2/6/20

Happy Relationship Day



Happy Relationship Day!


Only most people call it Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s is a nice tradition with lovely sentiments. and I’m certainly okay with that. My stance is that Valentine’s Day - or at least TV and media ads - seem to isolate it to romantic love. And love is so much wider, deeper, higher, greater, funner and a bunch of other fulfilling descriptive words.

A Course if Miracles states that anything that draws love from you is of Divine origin. Which gives me pause when the neighborhood feral cat beats up on my kitten and I have equal compassion for the scruffy castaway.

Dr. William Glasser suggests that love and belonging is a basic genetic need of every living creature. And that all human misery, with the exception of abject poverty, living under tyranny and debilitating disease, is the result of unhappy relationships.

My definition of relationship is the ability to relate to and to relate with another, even if another is an other. As in other color, other class, other personality, other belief, other opinion. Since all eight-plus billion of us others are on this Planet-Earth Spaceship together, we might as well get along. After all, we are more alike than we are different.

I teach a class entitled “Getting Along With Difficult People, Whether You Know One or Are One”. It can be quite humbling to recognize our contribution to a miserable, difficult relationship. I had a gentleman tell me, “After taking this class, I need to apologize to everyone I have ever met.”

The bottom line is, we are all flawed and fabulous, which renders each difficult and wonderful.

A little compassion oils the get-along gear.

Even if you can’t reason with the feral bully. (Cat that is) The disagreeable one is still one of us others. The disagreeable one still has infinite worth and value as a human being, created in God’s image, a work of art with a Designer label.

Relating to and with another is found in common ground as well as uncommon ground. Every one has a story. Be open to sharing yours and listening to theirs. Ask relationship building questions; not to grill but to understand the sameness and differences. How monotone life would be if we all sang the same note. It’s the cacophony that makes music.

Who do you love this relationship month? Make it easy on yourself by starting with you and expand out. Remember the holy instructions to “love yourself as your neighbor.” That’s a like-to-like descriptive statement; as you love you, you are freed to love others.

Regardless of any dark circumstances surrounding one’s conception and upbringing, I suggest the union has a holiness to it. The office is untarnished. The child is innocent and came from the original system of divine love.

Whether the home produces benevolent leaders or malevolent dictators, all of us share in the propagation of love, light and darkness. The human condition is a complicated mix of good and not so good. Climbing to a higher plane is all ‘Thanks Be To God’. Relationship Day is a good place to start.