Father’s Day

Today is the celebration of a special man in your life, the one who held you in his arms at birth, showered you with love and guidance while you were growing up, and supported you as an adult. He doesn’t ask for much, but he gives you all he’s got. 

Father’s Day is a great tradition celebrating fathers and male parenting. In Catholic Europe this celebration of fatherhood can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It is much more recent in the US where it was introduced in June 1910.

Our present celebration has come a long way since America’s first Father’s Day which took place at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington. Today everything is geared toward making fathers feel special. They play an important role in raising children, biological or children of the heart. Many men are father figures to young people providing inspiration and guidance. And, I don’t want to be amiss and not mention the dads of our furry friends who are family members and loved as such.

I grew up in post-war Germany without a father, like so many other children, and have no memories of Father’s Day. My father died when I was 10 weeks old, and my mother never remarried. Father’s Day only came into my life when I married Steve. He has a daughter from his first marriage and although he had to be a father from afar, he was always there for Katharine. He also became the dad of my little Yorkie Sunny, whom I brought from Europe. It took him quite a while to convince her of his paternal role since she was an only child raised by a single mom. She was followed by Gigi, Bijou, Mignonne and now Romeo. All of them adored him, and Romeo will help make his Father’s Day truly special today.

Fathers, like mothers, deserve to have their special day, their personal celebration of who they are and the love they give. I can truly say that I missed having a dad during my childhood, and even as an adult I often wondered how I would feel had I been able to talk to a man who had known me my whole life. I know that I missed out on a very special relationship, and I am happy for everyone who could or still can enjoy it. When you are celebrating this special person in your life, still with you or in your heart, please feel grateful for this wonderful gift. A dad is someone special to be cherished.

Wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
author and founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

Risk

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

 

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

 

Happy New Year

Standing at the threshold of the New Year, I feel nostalgic and excited at the same time. I am looking forward to writing a new chapter in my book of life reflecting lessons learned and new dreams.

When you lift your glass and toast to a happy and healthy New Year, don’t forget that you want to start a fresh New Year, not one burdened with unresolved issues. Find peace within, love and forgive yourself, and then forgive the people who hurt you. You can do this in various ways. I like to relive my year, make peace, and then visualize a blank page waiting for me to begin the new chapter in my book of life. I see myself surrounded by love, compassion and empathy, and my heart is filled with the same feelings for others. My goal is to love, laugh a lot, and not to sweat the small stuff. Remember the serenity prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change
 the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Reinhold Niebuhr

The beginning of a New Year can be a continuation of what is, or it can be a fresh start. Maybe your 2018 just needs a little tweaking, a commitment to change a few things to make you happier and more fulfilled. Starting a new chapter in your book of life is a great opportunity to look at yourself and the life you live. If you are satisfied and happy with what you see, then congratulate yourself on your achievement and enjoy 2018. But many of us would like to make some changes. If so, don’t procrastinate but don’t be overly ambitious. Keep in mind that any resolution you make becomes a journey. Success will come to you as long as you stay focused on your goal and believe in yourself.

Imagine your book of life with all the chapters you have lived and all the blank pages waiting for you. There is great wisdom in your book of life and much more to be added.  Always remember that only you can be the author of your book of life. Be kind, patient, and confident that it will be a great year, filled with good health, lots of joy, and happiness.

Wishing you “einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr” (Happy New Year)!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

 

Holiday Season

My heart is filled with gratitude this holiday season, and I am enjoying every day. Advent is bringing me happiness.

The holiday season means different things to everyone, depending on religious beliefs and origins. It is a great time of the year to show our respect and acceptance of diversity. Maybe we can even participate in a new kind of celebration, if the opportunity presents itself. Broadening our understanding allows us to grow, and that is always beneficial.

I was raised a Catholic, and my mother instilled in me that Christmas is a time to give and to share. For us it wasn’t about gifts, since we had very limited funds, but about the spirit of Christmas. And, she taught me that there are always people who have less than us.

In Germany, the holiday season started with Advent. Then, on December 6th, “Sankt Nikolaus” and “Knecht Ruprecht” came. When I was in Kindergarten, they both physically showed up, “Sankt Nikolaus” had a golden book with the names of the “good” children and “Ruprecht” had a sack on his back where he stuck the “bad” children. The anticipation and fear was great, and I remember how terrifying it was when “Ruprech”t put a boy, who was considered “bad”, into his sack and walked out. We all hoped to be mentioned in “Sankt Nikolaus” book which meant we received some sweets and a pat on the head. At home, we put a shoe outside hoping that it would be filled with sweets and chocolates the next morning. A little story: one year I thought that maybe I could put a boot out so that I would get more goodies. Well, the boot was empty the next morning, and I was told that greedy children are not rewarded.

Christmas time was magic for me. My mother, who was an incredible baker, somehow managed to bake the Christmas cookies without leaving a trace behind. When I came back from Kindergarten and smelled the aromas of baking, she told me that the angels were making Christmas cookies and then she showed me the sunset sky. I believed her explanation and that the pink sky reflected the fire from the ovens of the angels. We didn’t have much, but magic was free, and I will always be grateful for this gift since it stimulated me to use my imagination.

Christmas Eve for a German child was about the Christkind (Christ-child) who brought gifts. The tree was put up on Christmas Eve and my mother was able to keep it secret. She decorated it and lit all the candles, and then we were called in. It was magical and I still remember how my little heart was pounding. We didn’t have a television, but my sister and I listened to the radio in the kitchen which featured programming for children to increase our anticipation and excitement.

There were few gifts in our family, but delicious home baked cookies were brought out and my sister and I each received two oranges. It was special because in my early years oranges were a rare treat. Before we went to midnight mass, my sister and I had to choose something we received that day to give to people who had less than us. I always took one of my oranges, which was a big gift since I didn’t know when I would see another one. I can still remember the big basket at church where everyone deposited something for the ones in need. It was a great lesson which I never forgot.

For me Christmas is a special time to remember the ones we love and to tell them how much they mean to us in whatever way we wish to express our feelings. It is also a time to make peace, to forgive, and to have faith in the future.

I have shared my childhood Christmas memories and hopefully you cherish wonderful seasonal memories as well, of Christmas or any other celebration you observe during the holiday season. Times change, and I am sure German children celebrate differently now. But I am grateful that my mother taught me at a young age that giving is more rewarding than receiving, that being greedy is nothing to be proud of, and that beauty and magic can be created from very little. Yes, Christmas is special for me, and I am still just a little girl when I see the shimmering lights and feel blessed that I have loved ones with whom to share.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling holiday season.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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