Life’s Blessings

Sometimes we don’t see or feel the blessings we are graced with, because we are too busy with other things, and our minds are in overdrive. Does this sound familiar? Nonetheless, with or without our awareness, the blessings are there for us to accept and to appreciate.

Blessings can come in different ways depending on what we need at that moment. Here is one of my recent lessons:

After years of only sporadic contacts with Steve’s brother, his son and family were visiting a cousin in Tucson. We enjoyed brunch with them, and it was delightful. Seeing Ken again after a long time, a proud and loving father, meeting his wife Dawna and the two children, Ephram and Abigale, was indeed a blessing and a gift. I nearly missed this opportunity, though. With a suppressed immune system and not feeling well, I could have passed because of my illness but decided that the universe would protect me, and I am so grateful. I would have missed a heartwarming visit. Watching my grandniece and grandnephew, I saw how children are living in the moment. They didn’t worry about why they never met their grandaunt or when they will see me again. They had fun during the time we were together and were ready to enjoy the rest of their day, whatever it might bring. A lesson to be learned and lived.

Your choice to live in the moment, the Now, is a fundamental life decision. It will shape your life and how you feel about it. Children and animals do this naturally. As grown-ups, we tend to overthink and forget that the only day we can influence is today. The Dalai Lama says it so well: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

How many blessings do we ignore in our busy lives? We’ll never know, but we can make sure that we will be more attentive and don’t allow fear to paralyze us. I would have never been aware of what I missed, but am so grateful that I didn’t. There are so many reasons we don’t accept or see a blessing. Fear is one example. Hiding behind a disease or being worried about what could happen are excuses that we should evaluate. Are these concerns valid and necessary? Blessings are a gift. Accept and enjoy them.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
author and founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Living an Inspired Life

Inspirations allow our creativity to flow. There are many examples of people who were able to transform their inspired thoughts into reality and change the world. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, Buddha, and Beethoven come to mind, to name a few. This mental stimulation can arise from many diverse sources. It might feel like it appears from within, out of nowhere, but it originated somewhere, maybe a former experience or a previous life.

I watched a television reality show called “I Was Prey,” featuring survivors of horrifying attacks by wild animals. They talked about finding the strength they needed to continue fighting back by thinking of people they loved. When they were safe, they felt humbled, not angry or revengeful, but filled with gratitude. Isn’t it inspiring that these victims, although they were critically injured and maimed, did not harbor feelings of blame or hatred for animals, but instead they focused on the beauty of their survival?

Their stories revealed that regardless of how vulnerable we humans can be or how ferocious animals can become, there is always hope of survival. It was clear to me that the power of love allowed them to fight back and find ways to survive. Love is a powerful motivator!

Almost anything can become a source of inspiration. It depends on whether we are ready and willing to see the opportunity. You can watch a TV show, for example, and see only the action, or you can go beyond and feel the power behind it. In this TV series, there are no actors, and the victims tell their own story. I could feel their fear as they recalled the horrible events of the attack, the desperate struggle, and then their overwhelming gratitude to be alive.

We can apply inspiration in our daily lives in many ways. Perhaps listening more attentively when others share experiences and putting ourselves in their position allowing us to feel more compassion and empathy. This simple change can be the beginning of a more mindful life loving everyone, including ourselves.

Living an inspired life brings joy and happiness and influences the world surrounding you. Merely giving a smile to someone can make a big difference for that person as well as for you.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
author and founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Our Little Boy

It was a little over 2 years ago that we picked up our little Romeo, and he has brought us so much joy and happiness since then. Our little, inquisitive puppy grew into a handsome young man, still with the same curiosity, playfulness and love. He truly lives up to his name. You love him, he will love you back multifold. There is not one aggressive bone in his body and we feel blessed.

As you might recall, we were very concerned about taking a little boy, mostly because of his lifting the leg. Nothing wrong with it, but we wanted to paper train. Well, he is paper trained and does his duties like a little girl. There was a time during his first year when he stood on the wee-wee pad trying to lift a hind leg and asking himself: “Shouldn’t I do something with my hind leg”? And then he forgot about it.

He is the happiest little guy, and I feel much love and joy just looking at him. He is always ready to play and to give kisses, and there is never a moment when he seems sad. He is happy no matter what, with a new toy, something to eat, walking, playing, a sunbath with mommy, it doesn’t matter. Life is filled with joy for our little Romeo.

Isn’t it happiness that we all seek? Romeo is my role model, and when we get up in the morning he always makes me laugh. He is a little clown and definitely has an audience in me. Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we could be in the “zone” all the time? I believe when we stop looking outward for something or someone to bring us happiness, and realize that happiness comes from within, we get closer to our goal. One thing is certain, getting up every morning with Romeo is a blessing that leaves no space for sadness or worry.

I have started thinking about everything that makes me happy in my life several times a day. Just doing so makes me feel in peace, and I know that by doing this frequently, I will find more and more sources of happiness. Hopefully one day I will be happy all the time, as taught by Paramhansa Yogananda in his book How to Be Happy All the Time. With my health challenges it is easy to forget my blessings and the wonderful things surrounding me. Knowing this, I focus on good and positive things, and it works.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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