Opportunities

Opportunities are all around us, we see them or don’t, we take advantage of them or let them slip by. They are there to grasp, but one has to have an open mind and open heart.

My widowed mother raised me in postwar Germany. Looking back, we had very little, although there was always food, clothing and a roof over our heads. I remember vividly that I sometimes took my doll and went to the tennis club. There was a bench outside the courts of the club, and I sat watching the people play. They were so beautiful in their white outfits, swinging their rackets and gliding over the clay courts. I sat there, watching and dreaming, and promised myself that one day I would play tennis like that as well. For a poor girl in post-war Germany, that was an outrageous dream. It was so far out that I never shared it with my mother. I didn’t want her to shatter my dream. I knew she meant well, but I always heard “be reasonable, that is not possible for people like us”, and so on. As an adult, I joined a club and played tennis on clay courts in a white skirt and top just like my dream. I saw an opportunity, took it, and made my dream come true.

I have always questioned and rejected the concept that there are limitations on what I can dream and achieve, although I had to conform when I was young. I would have loved to become a professional like a doctor or a lawyer, but it was out of reach. I had to compromise and take opportunities that were open to me, mostly for financial reasons, and I have no regrets. During my earlier years the pressure of postwar Germany, family, and the German class system made for a limited life, but I was always sustained by my dreams. The easiest way for many was to go to America, the land of opportunities, where anyone could succeed and live the life so much desired. America was a shining beacon of hope in those difficult times and a promise for a better life.

When I started studying metaphysics, I realized that I had choices, that in effect I had all the choices, and that I did not have to give my power away to tradition. The thought was intoxicating, and I felt my wings growing. I took my power back and opened my heart and my eyes to opportunities. I let many of them go by or saw them too late. It was up to me how I wanted to look at the missed opportunities: do I want to play the “if only game” and watch with regret some missed opportunities sail down the river, or do I turn my eyes upstream to see and accept new ones coming to me? This is a choice we all have to make more often than we realize, and sometimes we make this choice unconsciously based on old beliefs or imagined limitations. If you feel you don’t have opportunities, that you are an unfortunate and unlucky person stuck in a situation through no fault of yours, then now is a perfect time to reevaluate, regroup and develop new dreams. Watch your mind and clean out limiting beliefs and negative thoughts. Open your heart and mind to new opportunities. They are all around you, you are not excluded, and there are no exceptions.

It is your choice, and yours alone. Believe in your dreams and opportunities will appear, so that you will be able to live the life you are seeking.

Like many others, I immigrated to America after living in Belgium. My life unfolded, with obstacles sometimes barring my way. But I never gave up dreaming and believing in opportunities. I am still the young girl watching people play tennis and dreaming about my future. I will always dream, it is the beginning and the opening of the portal to opportunities. When the day comes that I no longer dream, it will be my time to say good bye.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Life Is Full of Surprises

We make plans, and then something happens and we must regroup and realign. Does this sound familiar? How do we react to these unexpected changes? Do we allow them to throw us out of balance or do we look at them with an open mind?

My health challenges have taught me to be ready for change and to accept them with open arms, so to speak. How often have I been looking forward to seeing a friend, to go to an event or just to go shopping, and in the last minute I had to change my plans because of my health. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but then I realized that there was a great lesson to be learned, and that I didn’t have to feel guilty about my friends or within myself.

How often do we send ourselves on guilt trips about letting people down and not living up to expectations? And the question to ask is: whose expectations? Ours or someone else’s? Good friends will understand that life is full of surprises and that we are not always in control. The answer is: our own expectations are causing us to feel guilty.

And have you ever felt compelled to make up excuses because you thought the truth would not be acceptable? I had to work on this since I didn’t want to tell people I was sick for quite a long time. I felt that they would pity me, or not want to be part of my diminished life any longer. How wrong can one be?

We cannot change that life will bring wanted and unwanted surprises. But we can take control of how we look at it. Do we embrace these challenges or do we resist and fight them? I have learned rapidly since I fell ill that resisting change certainly doesn’t make things better. There are so many ways to look at things. When I have to cancel a visit with a friend, for example, I feel sad, but I try not to dwell on it. I am grateful that my friend understands, and then I’ll take a book and spend some quiet time in a comfortable chair until I feel better. I still feel the loss of not seeing my friend, but I look at it with peace in my heart knowing that it was just a rain check.

My life has taught me to embrace surprises. Sometimes it takes a little more effort than others. The key is to keep on trying and to remember that avoiding guilt and self judgement makes us stronger.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

The Monsoon Is Back

There has never been a time when I was more looking forward to the monsoon bringing rain and more bearable temperatures than this year. We have lived in Tucson since 2002, and I do not remember the searing heat we have endured this year. I missed my walks and being able to spend time outdoors. But all this is now changing with the arrival of the Arizona monsoon, and I am rejoicing and happy. We have had only a few brief showers so far, but the monsoon has started and everything and everyone delights in it.

Although the monsoon in Arizona is not as strong and persistent as in other parts of the world, it shares the same characteristics. Wikipedia explains it like this: “There is a shift in wind patterns in summer which occurs as Mexico and the southwest U.S. warm under intense solar heating. As this happens, the flow reverses. The prevailing winds start to flow from moist ocean areas into dry land areas”.

Before moving to Tucson, I never appreciated the rain as I do now. It reminded me that when we have too much of something, we start losing our appreciation for it. Rain was never my thing because I had more than my share growing up in Germany and then living in Belgium. I couldn’t wait to vacation in a place with sunshine and no rain.

But we can change and learn to appreciate things we really didn’t care for. It all depends on how we look at it and if we keep an open mind and open heart. I love change, it allows me to grow and expand. If I would be younger, I would have danced in those first monsoon rains. I embraced the lightning and thunder and was all sad when the clouds moved on to bring life and moisture to another area.

There is so much to be grateful for and I count my blessings every day. The monsoon and rain are very much part of my appreciation right now. I look out of the window and imagine that the rain is washing away all worries, concerns and painful memories. I feel its gentle cleaning. I cannot wait for the next storm and rain and I know that I will enjoy it to the fullest. Nature is powerful and inspirational, and I am genuinely happy feeling I am part of it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Staying Positive

We are now living in a world where negativity seems to overshadow everything. Just turning on the television can make me depressed. People often seem to be on edge and short tempered. We can decide if we want to run with the herd, or if we will consciously fill our life with love, joy and happiness.

This is not as t as one might think, although it does take some effort. I know how I want to live the rest of my life. I will not listen to the bickering, doomsday preaching, blaming, finger pointing, and rough language. I am focused on a future filled with kindness, compassion, love, and empathy. I still watch the news, but I don’t linger there, staying just long enough to learn what is going on in the world. Then I go on with my life knowing that there is a bright future ahead, that things will work out, and that good ultimately prevails. I avoid blaming and judging and remind myself that there is no way to know why someone behaves in a certain way.

Meditation, mindfulness and affirmations are key to remaining positive, and I use them throughout the day and under any circumstances. Sometimes just counting to 10 before replying or reacting can be a great help. I practice this regularly and my life has become much easier and more peaceful. I listen, but I do not necessarily internalize what I hear. I respect other’s opinions and beliefs, even if they feel foreign and unreal. And by focusing on the good in everyone, even tense relationships can become pleasant.

Facing serious health challenges every day, I quickly realized that I don’t want to spend too much energy worrying and trying to change people. I really cannot change anyone. The future is uncertain for everyone, but I envision it bright and shining. By focusing on hope, optimism and faith, I remain positive and live in joy and harmony. Staying positive is and has always been a supporting pillar in my life.

Happy 4th of July!

Silvia Coggin, CPF
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day

We honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood on Father’s Day, not only for their status within the family but also their influence within society. It is an old tradition in Europe dating back to the Middle Ages where fathers were celebrated on March nineteenth – St. Joseph’s Day.ince then, most countries have adopted the US date which is the third Sunday in June.

Fathers are a special pillar of strength within the family unit giving balance so the feminine and masculine energy can become strongly bonded. Having grown up without any masculine influence, I know how difficult it was for me to understand and relate to the opposite sex. For a long time, I was looking for a father figure to fill the void within me. But despite never having a father, I strongly related to the relationships of my friends and my husband with their fathers. They played or are still playing an important part in their lives and the pain from losing this strong and supporting love is deep and distressing.

The love of a father is a gift and I include all fathers, biological, adoptive or just a kind soul who becomes that pillar in a child’s life. This brings me to a touching wildlife story. Last year a male quail and his tiny offsprings landed in our yard and one could clearly see the distress in this overwhelmed dad. He knew his role was to look out for danger by sitting on an elevated spot, but his partner wasn’t with them. Most likely she lost her life shortly after the eggs hatched. The little baby quail were very spooked and frightened and they ran wildly around the yard. The dad finally decided to come down from his observation post and he tried to put them all under his wings. It was quite difficult for him, but he managed. The chaos and distress of the situation was palpable, but the father quail took his responsibility seriously and ultimately made his babies feel safe, despite the painful loss to his family. I watched him playing daddy and mommy, and as nature does so beautifully, he managed successfully.

I would be amiss if I wouldn’t mention the loving and caring dads of our pets. Watching my husband with our little Romeo touches my heart deeply and I know he has a deep love for this endearing little boy.

When I grew up in Germany, fathers were the economic providers and the rest of the responsibilities fell to the mother. This was not only in Germany, but in most parts of the world. Over the years, this changed and now dads push a stroller as easily and comfortably as moms. They even change diapers! The role of a father has expanded in many parts of the world and most dads have taken to the change with enthusiasm and pride. Just looking into the face of a future daddy, one sees the joy and happiness he feels, then the awe and devotion when the baby is born and he cradles it for the first time in his arms. It brings tears into my eyes and I feel grateful and filled with awe. This love and bond is meant to lasts a life time, but sometimes circumstances play out differently. And when finally the circle closes and the now adult child starts his/her own family, he feels pride and looks forward to becoming a grandfather.

Yes, fathers deserve a special celebration, showing them how much they are loved, appreciated and respected. Fathers are a powerful presence and life without them is not complete.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Happy Father’s Day !

 

 

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