In the writer’s club I belong to, a topic was brought up which made me think about what role risk has played in my life. I was never afraid of taking a risk as long as I could evaluate the downside and conclude that I would be able to live with the worst-case scenario. So where did that side of me go?

A visit to France and Belgium and time with cherished friends is something I desire with all my heart. So why don’t I jump into a plane and go? Am I hiding behind my health? Have I become so dependent on the Mayo Clinic that everything has to be within driving distance? Am I afraid of taking a risk?

I recalled a time, when I still owned my real estate company on the East coast. I urgently needed surgery, but I had a very big transaction being closed on St. Kitts in the Caribbean. The local broker was trying to cut me out and I needed the money for my company. My surgeon told me that I could bleed to death if I did not have surgery as soon as possible. When I asked him how long it would take me to bleed out and he gave me his estimate, I did some research and learned that I could make it in an emergency with an airlift evacuation from St. Kitts to Florida to get the surgery and necessary blood transfusions. It would be tight, but possible. It was a risk I was willing to take. I flew to St. Kitts, walked into the closing to the surprise of the local realtor, and made sure a check was drawn for my company. All went well, I flew home on a regular commercial flight and had the surgery in New York.

This memory also brought back how I felt when I took risks. I recalled feeling empowered and like a winner. The question I asked myself was why have I changed? I came to the conclusion that it was indeed my fear of being too far from the Mayo. I also realized that this was completely unjustified. There is a very well-known hematologist-oncologist in Paris who I met a few years ago, and who specializes in myeloproliferative neoplasms. Much research is being conducted in Europe in that field of medicine, which includes Myelofibrosis, the rare blood cancer I suffer from, but I am certain I could find a qualified doctor should I need one.

After this soul-searching experience, I am now seriously considering the idea of a trip to see my friends, and I am evaluating if I am strong enough to handle security, check-in, luggage, layovers, jet lag, etc. I will also look at the downside, like becoming seriously ill and requiring urgent medical attention, such as blood transfusions for example. Another consideration will be how it would affect Steve and our little Romeo. One thing I am sure of is that the excitement of returning to Europe and seeing my dear friends could play a big role in my wellbeing.

Some of you might be afraid of taking a risk like I was. You might not be aware of it, and the fear might be disguised as a justified hesitation or concern. It might even have become a habit. Keep in mind thoug, that fear may limit you and slow your personal growth.

Spring is a time for renewal of nature and also for ourselves. Let’s evaluate our feelings and get rid of fear. Even if I don’t go to Europe, I am grateful the writer’s club brought up the topic and prompted me to think seriously about risk. It opened a door for me, and I found the old Silvia again, who is no longer afraid of taking risks as long as I can accept the downside.

I wish you a happy Easter and a beautiful Spring.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com


Resist and Resistance

There are many areas in our lives where resistance is required and welcome so reform can take place. Looking at history, resistance was often the beginning of change. It is not so much a question of whether you share the philosophy behind the resistance, but about the energy it can create.

However, as a life coach, I would like to consider resistance from the perspective of our own personal lives. Let’s imagine the following scenario: You hear or experience something you don’t like, and which is painful. A spontaneous and natural response is to resist, to push back against the unpleasantness and pain. But does resistance help? Resisting and pushing against makes the unwanted stronger, and it affects you emotionally. You cannot avoid thinking about the experience, and it occupies your mind. You become increasingly more stressed, and if you cannot stop this process, you can even become physically ill. Your joy slowly disappears, and it feels like wearing dirty glasses that give a distorted image of yourself and your surroundings. And the question then becomes, “What can you do to get out of this vicious spiral?”

Personally, I like to use meditation and mantras. Imagine your body being blocked by wearing body armor. Nothing can pass through unless you remove the resistance, so that light, love and wellbeing can flow again. How can you do this? One way is to breathe deeply and repeat the mantra, “let resistance go and love and wellness flow”. Visualize the blockage dissolving and being replaced by a stream of light, love and wellbeing. The more often you do this, the stronger you become, and eventually there will be no need to resist or to push against. You are back in balance.

There is nothing wrong with getting emotional and feeling hurt as long as you don’t dwell too long in that stressful place. Kick, scream or do whatever you need, and then utilize meditation and the mantra above so that harmony can come back into your life.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com






Winter Rain

It seemed that Tucson would have no rain this winter, and I was becoming concerned. Will we slide into another drought? Our temperatures had been high for the season and the plants in our yard were starting to bloom. I could feel their confusion. Is it spring or winter?

Finally, we got some of the much-anticipated winter rain, and I felt excited and happy. I stood at the window and took it all in. The gentle rain quieted my mind, and I was filled with gratitude. Closing my eyes and listening to the soothing sound of the rain brought me peace, and I saw in my mind the animals drinking this elixir from heaven and the plants absorbing the moisture and becoming rejuvenated.

My friends in Europe wouldn’t have believed that I could get so turned on by rain. But then, there was a lot of rain in Belgium, and I always felt excited when I saw sun and blue skies. Opinions and attitudes change depending on our environment and life experiences, and when there is an abundance of something, we may lose our appreciation for it. We can become complaisant when we are on cruise control and when everything unfolds well and comfortably. We can easily overlook our blessings until they are gone. Let’s look around, count our blessings, as the saying goes, and give a gratitude prayer. Nothing in life is a given, our blessings are gifts to be appreciated and cherished.

Pondering this as I watched the gentle rain, I felt gratitude for my mental journey and for the clarity it created in my mind. Everything and everyone can be a teacher, even the rain, but it requires clear vision and an open heart.

Now I look at rain with a thankful heart. And should I get wet, I just remember being the child who loved to dance in the rain.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com







Happy Valentine’s Day

Although the history of St. Valentine is murky and unclear, Valentine’s Day is a wonderful tradition. A day of romance and love, and an opportunity to express our feelings.

Having been raised in Germany, I don’t remember having celebrated Valentine’s Day, but it has since become popular showing that Germans can be romantic!

I truly enjoy Valentine’s Day. My husband has always made Valentine’s special, and I have many fond memories. This year, like so many before, he will cook a delicious meal for me, and I am so touched by his effort and skill. I still remember the Bouillabaisse he prepared for me some years ago, one of my favorite dishes from Southern France. I don’t know what he is planning to prepare for this Valentine’s Day, but am sure it will be remarkable.

I will make Steve my special Valentine together with our little Romeo, who will have his first professional hair cut on Valentine’s Day! He doesn’t need to be reminded to love. He freely gives out affection, and as long as someone wants to be kissed and loved, he is your boy! He truly lives up to his name! I will also include my dear friends and loved ones. My life wouldn’t be the same without any of them, and I am so grateful. What would a life be without love? The Sahara Desert with endless sand comes to mind.

It seems that with age the expression of our feelings becomes more subdued and subtle. The exuberance of younger years has been tempered. But the intensity of our feelings hasn’t changed. In our hearts and minds we still are the young woman or man being loved and loving back. We can remain young despite some wrinkles and less energy. It is what we feel and think which defines our age, not our looks.

Enjoy being a Valentine. Show your love to others and it will come back manyfold. There is nothing more powerful than love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com


Staying Balanced

It is quite difficult to remain focused and balanced these days with all the tension and controversy sweeping the world. We can easily get side tracked by emotions which then increase our stress level and cause us to feel unhappy and out of balance. Avoiding news can help, but most of us like to stay informed and severing ourselves from current events is not the solution. So how can we remain balanced and aligned?

One way is to watch, listen and evaluate what we see and hear in accordance to our own value system. We accept or reject without getting emotionally involved. We remind ourselves that we most likely cannot change what is happening but that we can choose how we react. Sometimes it is very difficult to be just an observer, especially when it affects or offends our core values. But getting upset and pushing against what is happening, doesn’t change or solve anything. It only affects our wellbeing and brings us unhappiness.

This choice of how we react and what attitude we adopt presents itself in every aspect of our lives. Learning it in one area will make it easier to apply it in others. Having struggled with serious health issues for years, I had to make a decision if I wanted to remain balanced or to focus only on the inevitable. I decided to remain centered and although there are moments when it is more difficult than others, I have maintained a positive outlook. We all have certain burdens, like health challenges, difficult relationships, loss of a loved one, or being unemployed, just to name a few. It is up to us to decide how we look at them and what attitude we adopt to handle our issues. No matter what is happening to us, we can remain strong, positive and hopeful. Connect with your inner being and have faith that compassion, love and empathy will prevail.

I like to see the world in bright colors, and I believe in the good of everyone and everything. But that is not always easy, and sometimes I have to repeat my mantras frequently during a single day. I breath slowly and deeply, and the unwanted emotions gradually disappear. Once my balance returns it feels like a burden has been lifted. Do my disturbing thoughts come back and try to make me agitated again? The key word is “try”, for as soon as I am aware of it, I start my breathing and mantras. Remember the saying “that which you resist persists”. Fighting the unwanted thoughts just makes them stronger. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and quieting your mind will take time as well.

Staying balanced means keeping your emotions on an even keel. To achieve this, we decide that no matter what comes our way, we will stay strong and avoid any emotional turmoil. Not only will we make better decisions, but we will also be happier and healthier.

Life is what you make it!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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