Donika Gunther Every Setback Is A Comeback
Donika Gunther has an inspiring story a teacher and mindset coach and teacher. She is the co-founder of mindfulness with a purpose. She immigrated to the United States from Albania for a better life for her and her family. She has overcome many bricks living in Albania during the war, immigrating to a new country, the tragic loss of her three brothers, and a divorce. Through it all, she has listened to whispers and keeps going teaching and helping others to have the confidence to follow their dreams. It is a remarkable story you don’t want to miss!
Ari: Welcome to whispers and Briggs. My name is Ari Schonbrun, and I’m your host. I have with me today as a guest Donita Gunther. She is the founder of mindfulness with a purpose She’s based in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Nika empowers and motivates women, men and children globally to get in touch and activate their healing power to gain unlimited confidence to live a mindful life full of abundance. It is her long, challenging life journey that ignited her light, her truthfulness and her path to support not just her journey, but all souls around. for over 30 years, she has been helping people from all walks of life, to master their confidence, Ignite self love, and embrace success and abundance. There is nothing more rewarding to her than listening to her clients say, quote, you changed my life for the better and quote, to all those who have dreams waiting are on the way to make their dreams come true, either in the personal or professional level. She is here to say, keep going. Keep moving forward. It’s your journey. It’s your story. Start creating what you want. Just make sure you’re happy with how you feel during the process. Please help me welcome Dr. Nika. Gunther, Nika. How are you?
Donika: I’m doing great. Thank you for having me.
Ari: It’s my pleasure. I heard your story. And I was so amazed. And I’m so happy that you agreed to appear as a guest on the show. How’s your day going so far? Good.
Donika: It a is a blessing day. Thank you for asking.
Ari: That’s wonderful. Well, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks. The Whispers are those voices telling us what the right thing to do is and the good things in life. And they represent the good things in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. Now it’s no secret that everybody in the world at some point in time or another has a brick or several bricks thrown at them. Mine, obviously, my biggest brick was 911 when I was on the seventh floor of Taiwan when the first plane hit. But my audience knows my story. You know what they don’t know. They don’t know your story. Now, it sounds like life was great for you. All right, from what I just read. But as we know, we all get hit with bricks throughout our lifetime. Now in your life, you’ve had some bricks thrown at you, including coming to the US as an immigrant, a marriage that ended in divorce in divorce, just to name a few. But can you take us back back to those early years? And tell us how you managed to get through it all?
Donika: Yes. So I was born in Albania, in a family of six siblings, and I have two wonderful parents, mom and dad. But at the time that I was born and growing was communist country, we were under China and Russia, you know, regime, and it was very poor. And we from the food, how much we have from this school rules and family rules, you know, but one thing that we learned from that his rules and discipline and respect, because we didn’t have much but we have each other we have the parents we have a lot of friends you know, we share what we have. So sometimes out we have to see like, like, what come out of that. What is the lesson then we learn? So it was very hard to grow up. We were really poor didn’t have much. But that is not all because everybody can pass like eating once in a day. But my family was hit three times with the death of three brothers. So I have Yes.
Ari: Oh my god, Three brothers.
Donika: Well, I have three brothers. They were older than me. And I was the fourth child. And now I have two sisters. So my older my first brother went to visit my grandma, and he was passing the street and a drunk driver killed him. He was only 12. So
Ari: what was that? What country was that in Albania? Okay, right.
Donika: So the second brother was three years old and he had yellow fever. And he kind of he went too far. They couldn’t save him. And my last brother, and you know, the only the one was left, he was 29 and he left in Greece for a better life before cause he wanted to provide for the family better life. And he was passing the road. And it was on the white line, a drunk driver was like curse killed him instantly threw him up in the air. So he died too. And he left his wife 27. He was 29, a son and the unborn that the daughter was born two weeks after that. So. So this is too much to him, though, because, but what I learned from that in the family, he kept us close. And he gave us a lot of compassion, to how to help people through the pain and suffering and death. Because when you know, all three of that pain, suffering and death is like you become really soft. And you understand people even without talking, and that he helped me as very intuitive person, I am very intuitive to understand people even without opening the mouth. And this is the gift that I always give to them.
Ari: Let me ask you this. How old were you? At each stage?
Donika: The first brother, I was three, the second brother. I was six. And the last brother. I was 21. I had two weeks. I just finished college two weeks after I finished college. And that happened.
Well, and that happened in Greece. He was in Greece when that happened.
Donika: All right. He wasn’t you were and you were? You’re in American Albania, and you’re still in Albania. Correct. And as soon as that happened, my dad had a stroke. And he stayed for 12 years. And my mom had a heart attack. So it was really hard. So it was very, some big bricks to handle.
Ari: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I don’t know how you come back from that. How did you deal with that?
Donika: I think my parents were so strong. Because they everyday told us we weren’t prepared for that. We didn’t ask for whatever God did it, you know, was a purpose for that. And there are angels, they came here finish their journey. And they went back home. We all are going one day but meanwhile have to love each other support each other. And they give us the best gift to love and support each other. Me and my sister are really really close. One is in London. I am in here. The other one in Albania every day we talk and and support each other.
Ari: Are your parents still around?
They passed away 14 years ago? Six months? Which other
Ari: six months? Wow. Wow. Okay, so, so they’re gone. So you’re here, sister in London? Sister in Albania?
Yes. Does your sister Albania have any desire or wants or care to come to America to move to America? Or she very happy where she is?
Donika: She is a dermatologist and she’s the president of our dermatology in Albania. So she build up everything from scratch. So she’s a skull Brunhilde Barbie, she’s well known. And my baby sister. She has 25 years in London. She’s married with a British guy and she’s a very famous youtuber artist and everything. Yes. So every every single one have their own passion. And you know, they’re creative in different way. But we came from third world country. It was like, I never thought that I ever am going to travel outside of Albania even in Italy or Greece, because was close was communist. I became Democrat. When the year then I finished college. Because when I left Albania, I was 27 years old, and it was the Kosovo War. Oh, wow. Yes, I remember that. Mm hmm. That is the time that I left. Wow.
Ari: Okay, so what did you do when you got here?
Donika: So I see me college for biology, chemistry, and now I work as a teacher for a few years in Albania. So my baby sister was married to a British guy. He worked for the British governor in Ireland in guila. Next to Crete to St Maarten in Caribbean. So was the first time for her she left Albania and she was like I’m alone. I need to see somebody. So I decided to visit her because it was a summer break. And I went there and never left. They introduced me to my ex husband. He has a house and business in there and I lived there for five years but was very hard to work because they don’t give me a work permit so I needed to work is good to go for tourism and everything but you know, I just I was too young not to work. So, birth to my daughter, Christina, she’s 21 right now. Yes. Was a beautiful life. It changed everything I think like, for every setback is a comeback. I think like up like my brother paid, paved the road for us, like, their love and protection and everything is taught towards us, you know, they given this ideas and this love and guidance and everything. I always feel like my parents is always around and celebrate with us.
Ari: Wow. So tell us, what are you doing now?
Donika: I am, okay. I’m a teacher, I daily I work as a teacher, I teach science. I’ve been teaching for 32 years. So I love teaching kids.
Ari: But what what, what, what age group? What do you teach you a grade?
Donika: Eighth grade right now. So the eighth, yes, 14 years ago, I when I came here, I didn’t know any English. So zero. I knew French and Italian and Albanian. But I started to tell young kids like preschool, kindergarten and even better than I become with my English. I advance. So I work for four years in high school. And two years ago, because the program expanded. And I wanted to help schools and especially the young kids with mindfulness. So eight years ago, I opened a program is called Mindfulness with a purpose for kids. And I teach them through yoga and meditation, leadership, self love, confidence, how to let go and not to hurt themselves, because you know, is is a very fragile age for the kids to love themselves and his environment, peers and family. So any he has expand, and I’ve helped loading community. But when I saw how successful I was with kids, and I was like, Oh, my God, woman need this many things. Right? So I opened my mindfulness with a purpose, and has been a success. Because I do life coaching one on one, I do group coaching. And during the COVID, I’ve worked every single day to inspire people uplift them, give some tools and techniques to reduce stress and anxiety. And he has been well, but I have most of my clients then come, they don’t know how to release the pain and let go from the past. And that’s all I do through the healing. I guide them what center I do chakra healing, what center is blocked, how to let go. And I bring the awareness to them hopes and to believe on themselves. So they understand, wait, what is the root cause and how to unblock that and see the light? So pretty much they’re very happy.
Ari: Wow. That’s amazing. So you, you had a very difficult childhood, you lose three brothers. You wind up coming to America, you don’t speak a word of English. But you’re obviously very smart. You went to college, you got degrees in in, or you majored in sciences and math and the like. And you just worked your way up. And that’s just it’s amazing. It’s it’s, it’s like the you know, I want to say, it’s like the immigrant dream. You know, you come from you come from a communist country. And you come to the United States, where you can, you know, realize your dreams. I have to ask you, and I never, I really don’t get political. I really, really don’t. But I have to ask you, you know, coming from a communist country. What was it? Like? I mean, what was like when you came to America? Alright. And and like, did you feel that you had all this opportunity that all you needed to do was, you know, go out and get it? What was it like? What were you feeling was it was there? I mean, obviously, there was a difference in the country’s you know, in the two forms of government one was a dictatorship or communism, I’m sorry, one was caught. It was one was a communist country. This is a capitalist country. What was it like?
Donika: So communist country we had scheduled for everything like, I’ll tell you some funny, funny stories, for example. We have two channels to watch TV, Yugoslavia and Albania. People walk around to see like, if you talk anything bad about Governor, you go in prison for the rest of your life. There have been so many people that have died. You couldn’t write anything like poem or movies. Everything has to be about our leadership and He’s like a fake life. You know, it’s like, we have to write like everybody’s happy, and no complaining ever. So the only people that travel out of Albania were people then they were like doctors politician and their families. So like a middle class, never other one food, we have like six people at home, we have like to buy one pound of sugar, and flour and bread, like two three loaves of bread. And you stay in line for milk and yogurt and meat we we used to wake up at two, three o’clock. And we used to put like, plastic jars or rocks or twigs, and we know which one was in go back to sleep because six o’clock they open and whatever, but the milk or yogurt, but the rest go empty handed homes. So so many times was not enough food. And we have uniform in school, we have to go with uniform, we have to have black dress like red scarf in white collar white socks every day, they come and check everyday like fingernails, not to be dirty your hair not to have a glass every day. If you’re dirty, and they send you home and said that. And once a month we have meeting in the town. And if the kids didn’t behave good, the parents didn’t get good. They called you in front of the city like your name is Bear. Everybody knows what’s going on. So it was like so much pain to go through that he’s like big bullies.
Ari: So how did you? How did you how did you manage to leave?
Donika: Well, my brother in law because you work for the governor?
Ari: And he was the one in England?
Donika: Yes, yeah. So
you work for Governor Albanian embassy in there for a few years. So he knew all the people and he helped me to get a visa to live. So no, everybody was so lucky. So when I came here, oh my god, I never have seen Walmart. It was so big. And I was like, wow. And my ex husband say Oh, honey, this is small. He was like wait, you go in America because I was in Anguilla. And we went in some Martin That is gorgeous. You know he’s like sir. So Croix Barbados all the places them. But I was beautiful. When I came in America is like one thing I want to say if people have dreams and want to make the change, you can make the change. Be that change. Nobody can stop you. I feel like that little kid Alice in Wonderland then I fall in that hole. And little by little I keep going up and up. I didn’t rediscover myself I was like wow, when did we leave all these years because we saw movie but only come in person is different energy environment a life unfolding different way. But don’t give up because that is another chance is a second chance is inviting you Hey, do it you see is like Apple stole from the tree in your hands. Any you have it? Don’t throw away so to me it was I’m very grateful for everything. I came educated the only thing I didn’t know English. And as soon as I learned, you know, I upgrade, you know, my social study and everything. But my ex husband was American. So he’s from Erie, Pennsylvania. He helped me my father in law, friends, you know, they is something in America. If you work hard, then you are kinda always help you always. But if you come with the attitude, I know everything. Nobody wants to be around. So ask for help. Be who you are, say I need help, you know, or I don’t understand that. Can you teach me just like a kid because I was a woman. But I was a kid. I need to start over everything. So I enjoyed everything. This process has been so good to learn a new life.
Ari: Wow. So let me ask you this. Did you ever reach a point in your life where you were so low? You know, things just weren’t going your way? Obviously, you know, you had it when when your brothers died and like, but we were ever in a situation where you you just like, threw your hands up and says, You know what, I can’t do this anymore. I’m giving up. I don’t care about my dreams anymore. I just can’t do it. And if you did reach that point, how did you get out of it? How did you climb out of that type of situation?
Donika: Yeah, that my divorce was the hardest one. So I stayed married for 10 years beginning was really good. You know, was communication as much as we know, but it was so much love in there. But when we came here is like I start more and more soulful person, no material person. And I wanted, I always like love people when I was out there. And the conflicts that my ex husband had that, you know, you wanted his own stuff I wanted, and we start clashing. And it was more about home now than you are here, you know, is that control. And I never drove, the only thing he always told me, you can drive because you don’t have driving skills. And if you drive, you’re going to kill our daughter. So you don’t know how to write the check. You never can do anything without me was a lot of that. Oh, wow. verbally abused sometime, you know, when physical. So one day I want to know Albania one year, and it was I was so sad. And I was hiding from my parents. But my mom said, this is not the daughter, then I raised something is wrong with you. And I said, I’m not happy in the marriage. And she was like, what stop you to gain your freedom. You left Albania with nothing, and you are in in America and you don’t think then you can do it again. She was like, I told you to have respect for yourself to love yourself. And nobody ever can put a finger on you. It’s like that is not love. So I came home and I told my ex I said I need a divorce. And he said no. But we don’t want it to get divorce because my daughter was seven. But it didn’t work anymore. And that is when I lost myself. I was so sad. So hurt. A shame. I am the first one in the family to go in college after my sister went and to get divorced. Nobody, I’ve got divorce. But my parents, my sister, my family supporting because they know who I am. I never will do anything to hurt anybody. But I have to to save myself and show my daughter then, you know, we have to move from this toxic environment and live a life you know, healthy life.
Ari: Wow. Wow. So you serve but you climbed out of it. You climbed out of it. That’s amazing. And then you started the coaching business and teaching and and just Wow, it sounds like you did you you’ve you know, you you’re happy that you didn’t give up on your dreams because you attained your dreams. You’ve got your goals. It that’s just wonderful. So um so let me ask you this before we get before we before we leave? Do you have any like words of wisdom for my audience? You know, something that they can take away from this conversation?
Donika: Yes, I do. No matter where you come from. No matter what people say about you. No matter what that little voice, the ego voice tells you, then you are not good enough. You can do it. You can can reach your dreams and success, pleats all the time. When you wake up, open your heart and be grateful gratitude is everything. If you have one more day, ask yourself what can I do today, to make myself better version of myself and to serve others with love and compassion. You are here. Because you came to live your blueprint as a person. You are a spirit that came in this planet in this earth to leave a message to others to improve and empower the next generation doesn’t matter. You are a chef, a doctor, a teacher, a coach anything. You have your voice you have your skills you give your talent, please share even the smile. Sometimes a bit is the best eyes or the the window for the soul smile is the connection is I’m here for you. So give it unconditionally. People need connection. I am connected. I think I came from Albania in America to connect people. So when I come and do interview, I talk Albanian English. I bridge both lives. And I say keep the faith, the hope in be grateful for everything. Every second chance is a chance. Every new day is for you to go a ladder up to step up. Not to go down. Don’t look down and change the fear to courage. Be faithful to your dreams. Be faithful to your passion and to your purpose. Don’t lose your passion and purpose. If you don’t have passion and purpose. You live in an empty Nice.
Ari: That is That is amazing. That is so incredible. That’s okay. So let me ask you this if people want to get a hold of you, whether they want coaching or whether they want one of your programs where they just want to schmooze with you, how would they do that? How would they get ahold of you? Do you have a website, you have a email address?
Donika: Tell us, I have my, my website, I just, I’m just redoing the website, but we’ll be next week up and go, but they can reach me at Coach firstname.lastname@example.org and I am Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, anywhere, they can take me through the Facebook Messenger or I can put the phone number in that you have I think in my bio, everything is in there.
Okay. That’s wonderful. So it’s email@example.com. And what is the what is the website?
Ari: Donica gunther.com Donica. Do Nika, Ke, U N. D, H, E, R, E. r.com. Don’t go concert.com Donica. That’s it. Great story. Amazing story. We’re happy that you are in this country. You’ve become a productive member of society in this country, which is wonderful. You’re no different than, you know, half the country where, you know, I mean, this country is a melting pot. I mean, most people, you know, have, you know, are like third generation, you know, maybe the third generation Americans. So don’t worry, immigrants. I’m sure you touch the hearts of all right. So you give a lot of courage to a lot of people. All right. And we’re so happy that you’re here. And I thank you so much for being on my show. Like many people, my audience, good luck going forward. You were listening to whispers and bricks, and I’m your host, Gary Sherman. Until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.