Mindfulness and Living With Purpose
By Ellen Smith
Donika Gunther is a life coach based in USA. She helps women to step out of their comfort zones, to achieve their desires, and create their realities with their thoughts, beliefs and actions. Her vision is to help women create a balance and the perfect harmony between their body, mind and soul. She believes that for every woman it is very important to have the right tools to connect the missing pieces of their puzzle, and putting their skills into action in order to invest in a higher level of happiness, confidence and fulfilment with their thoughts, beliefs and actions.
Donika, you have had an amazing personal journey that has molded you into the person you are today. Can you tell us more about that?
I am grateful for every moment and every experience that life has given me, because today
I embrace everything with gratitude, compassion and open arms. Nothing has come easily
in my life; it has been a long journey to create, believe and have faith in everything that I
created. And I will continue to learn and grow. I was born in Albania and I had a great life
with my family and friends. I left Albania when I was 28 years old and moved to Anguilla, a British island to be with my sister Bobbi and her husband David. That is where I met my
husband at the time and got married, eventually blessed with my daughter Kristina.
After a few years, we moved back to the USA where I currently live, working as a teacher up to this day. But I know that there was more that I wanted to reach in life, besides being a teacher, a mother, a sibling, and a friend. I listened to my calling, to share my life experiences with others. I had this urge, this fire that I could not hold back anymore. I was awake, and it was time for transition and for me to take actions in life. So I decided to become a life coach and an inspirational and motivational speaker to help myself and others that are going through the same spiritual journey. My life took a u-turn when my sister Brunilda invited me to the “Global Woman Summit” in New-York last year, where I got to meet so many influential and inspirational leaders. Mirela Sula, co-founder of Global Woman and a friend of mine, my coach-to-be dr. Sonja Sribling (with whom I did eight weeks long courses called “Position for Power – Next Level Living”), Les Brown, Bill Walsh and so many more.
That Summit changed my life and motivated me to start my “Mindfulness with a Purpose”- Life Coaching. I am doing my workshops, have been working with non-profit organisations such as AAUW, Mercy Center for Women-Erie, Global Friends and Coffee Club Divas. I participated and contributed as a Life Coach with Xperience University’s Learn `N` Lead 1.0 Online Summit, speaking about “Overcoming Obstacles: Finding the Strength to Build a More Empowering Life”. I am in the process of writing my book “Mindfulness with a Purpose”. I gave my story a voice, because I want to inspire other women, showing from my experiences how I overcome the Past Struggles and how I fall in love with MY Present Life.
You are Albanian by origin but you have also lived in a communist regime. How do you remember that time?
As mentioned, I was born in Albania during the communist regime. Growing up in a communist country was hard, because you are not respected, there is no freedom of speech or independence. A place that intelligence and a comment about foreign lands, listening to foreign music, practicing any religion could get you persecuted or executed. If you attempted to leave the country you were shot dead. We lived in poverty: food was rationed, and we had to stay in line for long hours to get food. Apartments were small and cramped up. I lived in such conditions with my family of 8, living in a very small 2-bedroom apartment, with just enough to eat and my parents were working hard to just make a living. I remember how we were forced to do military training, where we would be training all the time up until I finished university. We had to hide in unsanitary, small bunkers in the dark and cold, and I remember being scared waking up in the middle of the night because the”enemies” are coming. But from all of these things, I learned the values of life.
You don’t need a big house to be happy. All you need is your family and friends to be happy.
You don’t need a lot in life, just enough to need for yourself and to share with others. My
mother was the best at knowing how to share our home, food, and laughter in spite of
everything going on. All the military training taught me how to have a system in my life, to be organised and respect rules and be find opportunities in life to achieve more. And today I am independent, free of fear, free to speak my mind and free to share my story with my daughter, students, and others that want to break free of any “I can’t do mindset”. My message is: “It’s not where you come from but where you are going.” What are the lessons that you learn from your life experiences? You have the power to reinvent yourself, and be who you want to be.
What have been the most difficult moments of your life as a migrant woman?
I left behind my foundation, my family, security, what I know, my home country Albania. When I left Albania and moved to Anguilla, a British Island, I thought that that kind of life exists only in the movies, I felt like Cinderella. But I was so unprepared for the road ahead of me, without speaking the language (English) coming from an all different lifestyle and background, I was facing reality straight on. I always wanted a better life like anyone else: I wrote many journals, I brewed in my mind and imagination where and how I wanted my future, but that wasn’t reality. I got married to the father of my daughter, and the first struggles began with miscommunication between us. There was also emotional struggles; I felt alone, misunderstood, and left out; not because of others but myself.
After I moved to the USA, other difficulties showed up such as finding a new job, and learning how to fit in this life. I was made fun of the way I spoke, bullied, even from my colleagues… Something said as a joke can be very hurtful as people don’t know you.
I didn’t have all the resources that I have now, not seeing or listening to the faces and
voices of my loved ones was hard. I left a piece of me behind that will never be replaced. There were times I’d be overlooked, bullied, left out, and not valued. I’d need family, friends, and a social life to build the new life, and keep moving.
Gradually, I let the thoughts, feelings and mind to rebuild a new life; the life that I always wanted and dreamed about. I realised that when you learn how to let go the old you and learn and know your worth and values you become fearless, confident and unstoppable. I was hungry to change my life and others around me.
How would you describe your life now? Who is Donika?
Oh, right now I am grateful, thankful and happy, because that scared little girl, that young
woman is gone and now I am a confident and fierce woman living life to the fullest. I love myself, I love the people in my life and I love what the universe is offering to me. I have an attitude of gratitude. I have been working as a teacher for the past 16 years in Erie, and I love my job. I was born to talk, to share and learn from others. Being a teacher is being an educator, provider, healer, hero to many others. This year has been a year of achievements and recognitions from my students and people that I am in contact with daily.
On April 12, 2019 I received a “SAVING LIVES AWARD”. I was honored as a Community Member and Nation Wide for the services and the heroism to my respected community, as an inspiring speaker and life coach. On May, 2019 I was invited by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf to honor Educators that Encourage, Inspire and Impact Children’s Lives. On June 6 I received “A COMMENDATION BY MAYOR JOSEPH V. SCHEMBER. RECOGNIZING AAPI EDUCATION RECOGNITION RECIPIENTS IN THE CITY OF ERIE.”
Recognising refugees and immigrants that are vital part of Erie in the areas of education, heritage, language, education access and equality, unlocks their transitional service to help and guide our children to their future. I will continue my services of helping others in the future with pride and care as an Migrant Woman, Single Mother, Teacher and a Life Coach.
Who was the most influential person in your life?
She was our angel on EARTH and continues to inspire, love and provide for us from above.
My mother is the epitome of an unbreakable woman, life wasn’t easy on her. My parents
lost 3 sons and we lost our 3 brothers. In my lifetime I have had her not as much as a mother but as a role model, she showed me what strength is. She showed me how to deal with pain and sorrow, how to overcome things in life and see what life has to offer you, and take things as they come. She was beautiful, nurturing, funny, hard working, and powerful. She always made sure that food was warm for us and clothes were made by her hands. She always made us feel beautiful, special, important and loved and care for. She always made the best with the little she had but we always had unlimited richness of love.
I learned from my mother how to love myself, my family and not let the pain and obstacles to break you. Parents usually leave this physical world too early, but they are the biggest cheerleaders from above. I thank my mother and my wonderful sweet father and my three brothers for daily sending me signs that reinforce the bond of love we had.
Love your parents and learn from their wisdom. I am today a great mother because I learned
from my wonderful mother how to be one.
What is the one key insight that you have learned throughout it all?
I have a magic key that opens all the doors, it’s called “Never give up”.
I can use this if I need courage, wisdom, strength, time to cry alone, celebrate, create,
motivate and succeed without trying hard. I just use my magic, my life experiences and it
can open any door that I want to share and connect with others. Invest in yourself if you
want to create your dream life; read, get a coach, get connected with like minded people
and put yourself out there. Be bold. Your breaking point is your making point. Changes are difficult but necessary; don’t lose your faith. Your story matters, your messages are needed, world is calling your name. Just Deliver.
How would you describe your approach in Coaching and Speaking?
This is the generation of the mindfulness and connecting for a better spiritual life and
well-being. I am one of many who work to change the lives of others, to see the power
from within, to find the strength and the gift that you came equipped with and use it to
make this world a better place. My mission is to help women to transform and elevate all aspects of their life, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually using mindfulness and positivity to make peace with the past and create a future that is beyond their expectations. My battles are mine but the lessons I learned I am offering to you today. Working together to create a book of lessons for our future generations.
Where do you get inspiration from in challenging times?
Easy answer, my daughter Kristina. She is the most important person in my life, my
Inspiration, my muse. She is 19 years old and is studying at The Pennsylvania State
University for Political Science. We have this special relationship together built on love,
respect, trust, and support. Being a divorced and single mother since she was 7 years old, I learned how to be more humble, tender, love more, heal faster, grow and live behind a blue print. Daughters are the mirrors of their mothers. Give to your children unconditionally, build a strong foundation and enjoy the outcomes of life. I am blessed with a daughter, friend, and an amazing human being. And not to forget my family, friends, and people that inspire my daily.
What kept you believing in the vision of the world you wanted to create?
I believe that I can make an impact on many people’s lives. I came here as a gift in this
planet and I want to share my gift by building a strong bridge from the past, to the present
and future for our children to walk strong with trust, confidence, power, leadership gratitude and grace.
Grace is something that guides my life, because I know I am something bigger than myself,
and together we are here to share our energy, power, and acknowledge as a circle of love.
What message would you pass on to women thinking about changing their lives, either personal or professional?
Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams no matter how big or small they are. Embrace
being different, authentic and unique. Being different has served me to find my life purpose. It has been a long journey of traveling through my life lessons but I have a passport full of stamps, and each is a reminder of where I was and where I am going. Create your life map, pin it down, and travel in your journey. Discover what is there for you, know who you are, and break your old belief system. Invest in yourself if you want to create your dream life; read, get a coach, get connected with like minded people and put yourself out there. Education is the key to become independent and successful emotionally, financially and socially. Be a powerful woman leader, a role model to others. Find peace and joy within yourself and this world is going to benefit from you more. Build a more Empowering Life.