Easter Celebration

My mother was a religious person and I was raised in the Catholic faith where Easter is an important church holiday. But our celebrations also included the old pagan traditions, like Easter bunnies and egg hunting. They are the fun left over from former times.

It always amazes me when I read how old traditions were included in religions, despite the fact that they originated from pagan cultures, and at first glance wouldn’t seem to be able to coexist. Somehow people made the effort to make them blend without creating problems or stress. One can only wonder why we cannot do this in our times? Have we become so intolerant by believing that only our values can exist and that there is no space for diversity?

So where did the bunnies and eggs come from? The bunnies come from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. The exchange of eggs can be traced back to ancient times and was celebrated in many different cultures.

And how did they arrive in America? According to some sources, the Easter bunny arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania, and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase”. Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs.

I always enjoy Easter. For me it is synonymous with the arrival of spring and the rebirth of nature. I enjoyed the egg hunting when I was a child believing the “Osterhase” colored them. Then I progressed to artfully decorated eggs, which were used as displays. Time passed and I did Easter hunts with little McKell, our adoptive granddaughter, and she and our little dogs ran around the yards to find their goodies.

This year is Romeo’s first Easter with us, and I cannot wait to see this bundle of energy cruising through the yard searching for his lovingly hidden Easter “cookies”.

Easter is a time for renewal, and I like to go within to eliminate resistance and the thoughts that hold me back. Just as nature renews itself and shows off with the most awesome colors and flowers, I like to bring my best self forward and although I cannot shine like nature, I feel refreshed and renewed.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Talking Openly

Saguaro-NPGrowing up in Germany I learned when very young to keep certain things buried within me to avoid punishment or arguments. What things were considered inappropriate to talk about? Opinions on friends and family, politics, religion, anything that didn’t fit into the Catholic indoctrination (my mother was a devout Catholic and one could only speak with respect and devotion about the priest and the church). And then there was the taboo for saying anything that could point to dissatisfaction, which my mother would have taken as a personal insult. So I started writing and developing a creative and imaginative mind to express my thoughts and also my frustration, and it worked well for quite a while.

As a teenager, I was still comfortable with it until my mother died. The grief, loss and shock of losing my mother and home, combined with a cruel and unloving family created such uproar in me that I was unable to make believe everything was acceptable. I spoke out and the consequences were painful. I wondered why people couldn’t talk openly, agree to disagree, have different opinions but still love each other?

When I finally became independent, I started studying metaphysics, and I found ways to express my thoughts and feelings without stepping on other people’s toes. What a relief. And who would have known that later in my life this practice of talking openly and honestly would help me with my failing health and allow me to embrace my future with peace and joy. Steve is learning to talk more openly with me and I am grateful that he able to jump over his shadow. There are still areas I would like to talk about but he does not feel comfortable doing so. With time I hope completely open conversations will be possible, and I know this would help me tremendously.

Talking openly doesn’t mean being hurtful or harsh. It means listening and then sharing one’s own thoughts and feelings. There is no reason for criticism or blame. There are subjects in everyone’s life, which are touchy and vulnerable, but it is those protective feelings that block us from growing spiritually. Finding a way to bring those feelings to the light and let them go is not easy but very beneficial. I do not talk about secrets, things we do not want to share with other people, I talk about traditions and habits that stifle us and don’t allow us to be who we really are.  For example “boys don’t cry”. It is cruel to force a little boy to keep tears unshed and to bury emotions within. No wonder many men have such a hard time to express their feelings and emotions.

I am glad that my husband has decided that he can travel my journey with me. As a Texan, he has many taboos and talking about feelings is one of them. He is slowly taking his fences down and I know he does it out of love for me.

I wanted to share this with you because we all need open and honest conversations that come from the heart.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Downsizing

downsizingDownsizing is something that will appear in our lives at one time or another. Our society is very mobile and staying in the same place is more an exception than the norm. Downsizing can be easy and fun when we are doing it in anticipation of a new and exciting life. I always had a great time with it. Most of the time the new homes were larger and my downsizing consisted of getting rid of things we didn’t want to keep.

But now Steve and I have reached a time in our lives that requires another downsizing, the final one most likely. We decided to start with the books. We were always avid bookworms. Fortunately, the new ones are digital and don’t take physical space, but we have an unbelievable number of books. My love for books went to so deep that I brought quite a few with me carefully packed into crates when I immigrated to the United States. We decided to start with a first batch and to select the books we absolutely want to keep and which ones we are willing to let go. Well, of the first batch of about 100 books we felt comfortable divesting one book – one book! We looked at each other and cracked up seeing the irony and humor in it. We were not only bookworms, but hording ones! When we went through it again and we still came up with only one book, the same one! Not sure why I think I need to keep cook books which I have never consulted. But all of a sudden it seemed urgent that I cook an Ethiopian meal! So we tabled the decision for another time. Will it be more successful? Only if we leave our emotions outside of the room and adopt a more brutal approach. I already see myself as a butcher with a big cleaver cutting my emotional attachments to the books. Can I handle it? Not sure, but I will have to find a way.

That’s just one example. Everything has memories and emotions attached to it, and I have to find a way to allow those feelings to come up, enjoy the memories, recreate precious moments from the past , and then let them go. It will take time and I will allow myself that luxury. It took a lifetime to accumulate everything and I deserve a few months to make these important decisions. Years ago we hired an organizer who had a sterile and surgical approach.  From a business point it was the way to go. I was younger, still in the accumulation mode and didn’t worry too much about things. She handled the less emotional aspect of things, but when it came to personal belongings, I had to stop her. I needed to respect my memories of people longtime gone, and places I cherished. It was too painful to do this with a stranger. With this new downsizing, my husband and I know that we will have to be disciplied and do the right thing. Will it be easy? Hardly, but at the same time we will relive wonderful moments and that’s what will make it special and possible. It will simplify our lives, eliminate clutter and bring more peace and harmony when we are finished. Of course, if we continue eliminating one item at a time, it will be a slow and frustrating process. We promised to do better …. two books the next time?

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's DayWe all like to feel loved and to be someone’s Valentine, because it makes us feel special and accepted. It is not about gifts, dinners and flowers, but about making someone feel unique and appreciated. Just knowing that we are a Valentine quickens our steps and brings a song to our heart.

I am blessed to have celebrated Valentine’s Day with my husband for 35 years. We always make it a special day, no matter what. There were times when we were thousands of miles apart, but we never forgot to make each other feel remembered and loved.

The history of Valentine is murky and unclear, but it was always linked to love. The oldest poem known was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. In one of the historic archives Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest who refused the decree that soldiers couldn’t be married so that they could better perform in battle. Valentine believed in love and defied the Roman Emperor Claudius and married soldiers in secrecy. Valentine was executed in the year 269AD for his disobedience and his stand on marriage. He has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. The expressions “To my Valentine”, “Your Valentine” is based on the legend that when Valentine was imprisoned he healed his jailor’s daughter and signed his farewell letter to her “Your Valentine”. So Valentine’s Day is an old tradition that has kept its sense and purpose … romantic love!

I always include in my Valentines our furry family members, and this year Romeo, who truly has the appropriate name, will be my special Valentine. I am sure Steve, my husband, will tell Romeo precisely what to do and I cannot wait. Two loving men will make me feel special, and it doesn’t get better.

But then there are my other Valentines, my family and friends who I will remember on this special day as well as my loved ones who are no longer here. They all make or have made a difference, offered me their love, and allowed me to be part of their lives.

My commitment this Valentine’s Day is that I will bring my Valentine gift of love to people in my life whenever possible during the year. An uplifting phone call, a loving letter, or a caring visit, just to name a few, will hopefully bring a special light into their lives by knowing that they are loved . Life is a gift and our loved ones are as well. Let’s treasure them.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not About The Nail

satamshootDid this heading catch your attention? The video  link below will make you laugh but don’t stop there because it has deep meaning for both women and men. Before watching it though, please let me tell you my story.

We all know that men and women are different in how they perceive things and people, and how they approach and solve problems. Most likely you have read or heard of the book Men Are From Mars – Women Are From Venus, by John Gray, but how does it translate into day-to-day life?

My husband and I were sitting in front of my doctor at the Mayo Clinic and Steve, my husband, asks the doctor how he can best assist and help me. The doctor told him that he should support me in sleeping well, eating right and getting more exercise, but that the key was not to become a “nagging mother” but to be my supportive spouse. Then he suggested we watch a YouTube video, which he then played for us. It was short, but to the point, and although it was very amusing, it had a deep psychological meaning and impact. We enjoyed it so much that I decided to share it with you.

“It’s NOT About The Nail”

https://youtu.be/-4EDhdAHrOg

What an eye opener and what a clever and humorous way of bringing focus to an important point. Struggling myself with poor health, this video was very meaningful to me and brought the point home. I really could relate to it. As women we like to nurture and are mostly good listeners. But sometimes we don’t realize that we can become smothering and stifling to the person we want to help, being too nurturing. In contrast, men are mostly action oriented, and are normally not very good at listening. They become frustrated and helpless because they cannot jump into action and fix it. They think they have the solution, so why lose time talking about the problem? My husband is a typical male from Mars, but he has slowly changed during my illness. He has become a nurturing partner in my life, leaving me space to breath, and even more importantly he has learned how to listen without having to fix anything. His transformation was a breath of fresh air and has sharply reduced our mutual stress levels. It still happens sometimes, but now we can laugh about the gender differences and remain in a balanced and good place.

So, next time you find yourself in a similar situation, recall this video and remember, that for most women listening trumps fixing every time. And don’t forget, that the men and women who try to help you mean well, it is just the execution of their nurturing that needs some tweaking. Their hearts are in the right place.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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