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

Quality of Life

Quality of life is hard to define or to describe, and I have never spent much time thinking about it.  My life has been interesting. I loved my work, traveled extensively, socialized, entertained and in a few words, did what I wanted to do, and what I thought would make me happy and bring me joy. Looking back, I can honestly say that I enjoyed a great quality of life when I was master of my ship.

But then, everything changed. It suddenly felt like I was living in a tumbling house of cards. My doctors talked to me about choosing between quality of life and length of life. I was in shock. I had the quality of life I wanted, but it was evaporating. What am I to do with my limited physical capabilities to create a new quality of life and what would that include? I was certain of one thing. It would have to be new and different, something I never thought would be the center of my daily life. Would it be possible or would I fall into a depression? I decided to find a new quality of life, and to never allow self-pity to hold me back.

So, after a lot of soul searching it all came together. I can still see my friends, just in different ways. Late-night and long dinners have been replaced by early bird dining and “happy hour” is becoming a favorite of mine. I have replaced my cherished dinner parties with invitations to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. I realized that I can still socialize, just in different ways.  Then we got an adorable Yorkie puppy, Romeo, a true lover and a sunbeam of love in my heart. I always loved to read and now I have the time to do it. Workouts at the gym are no longer possible, but I take delight in vigorous walks. And of course, I love to write, and I stay busy with my memoires, blog and other projects.

I realized that one’s quality of life is fluid and needs to be adaptable under any circumstances. But it requires an open heart and mind to do so. I know I will have to adapt again, but as long as I can fit some of the activities I enjoy into my daily life, I know I can tell my doctor, “Yes, I still have a good and acceptable quality of life”.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Friendships

FriendshipsFriends are so important in our lives, they listen, make us feel good, share our happiness and our sorrows. They also support us in difficult situations and lend a helpful hand to assist in making necessary changes. A life without friends is very lonely and not fulfilling.

More and more communities for the aging stress the importance of friends and like-minded people with whom one can share activities and interests. Specialists in senior living are aware of the connection between good health and uplifting friendships. They also know how important it is having good friends to laugh with and to share one’s life.

Sometimes it is not easy to maintain friendships. I am a living example of it. I have immigrated twice and was up-rooted from where I grew up in Germany in my teens. But I worked hard to maintain my close ties with my “second” mother in Germany until she passed away. I loved her dearly, and I often drove from Belgium to Germany, just to see her.

During my years in Belgium I was so fortunate to have made dear friends who are still in my life. When I immigrated to the United States, the departure was very painful, but we all promised to stay in touch. Still, my heart was heavy and filled with sorrow. I still see myself sitting in that airplane so completely miserable, doubting my decision to immigrate because of my friends. They sent champagne on the plane and when it was served to me, I cried my heart out. But we did keep our friendship over the years. They visited me in the States, and I made a point of seeing them as often as possible. When I met Steve, they insisted I bring him over ‘for inspection – and he passed!!! All these years, we still have the fire of friendship within us. I know it is possible, but it takes work and passion. Lasting friendships are not routine, they evolve and change, and they are a gift. But when we have our heart in it, when we truly care and love, friendships will last forever.

I have wonderful friends in the States as well, and I am grateful for all of them. I don’t know if I could have traveled through some of the turmoil of my life without my friends who were always there, loving and caring without judgment or criticism. A friend is a gem who always makes life better.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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