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

 

Are You Confused?

Most of us are these days. But then, who wouldn’t be? We hear one thing, then a few hours later or the next day we hear the contrary. It is like a Merry-Go-Round, constant movement without stopping but getting nowhere. It can make us feel dizzy and confused.

Throwing our arms up and telling ourselves: “who cares?” may be an automatic response, but it doesn’t reflect how we honestly feel. We do care. The question is: How do we get through this maze and keep our sanity?

Staying focused within and basing our opinions on our values gives us strength and keeps us balanced. With all the noise and confusion, hearing our inner voice reminding us of our core values can sometimes become challenging. But our inner voice is speaking to us, and by taking a few minutes to relax and breathe deeply, we can open the channel again and obtain a clear reception.

It is essential to keep this channel open so that we can think clearly and form our own opinions, which makes us feel good by being in harmony with our values. Feeling good is the key. As long as we base our action on our values, we are in balance and at peace. We all become unbalanced from time to time, and how did it make us feel? Most likely we felt agitated, our thoughts were hopping around in our minds like wild monkeys, and we felt troubled and uncomfortable.

Living in a confused world makes life complicated. Discussions can become passionate and subjective, friendships can move onto shaky ground, and everything seems to enhance our discomfort and confusion. How can we escape this dilemma? Building an inner castle where one can find peace and comfort is an excellent remedy. Our castle is a place where we can analyze the issues and reach opinions which are in harmony with who we are. It is a comforting thought that we all have that option. But how do you get to that place? A great way is finding a quiet place, breathing deeply, and visualizing your castle. It will be different for everyone. You might prefer the ocean or a mountaintop. Be comfortable and go where your inner being takes you. And then your inner voice can reach you. It is critical to our mental and physical health to take regular breaks from the confused and stressful surroundings. A few minutes will do wonders.

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

 

Man Plans and God Laughs


“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” … Does this old Yiddish adage apply to some aspects of your life? You carefully plan, envision the road you want to travel, and then unexpected events sidetrack you and take you on another path.

When this happens, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. You might enjoy the new direction and ultimately be thankful for the change in your planned route.

I have had many of these moments and like to think that it all turned out to be for the best. Of course, I don’t know how my original plans would have worked out since they never happened. Fortunately, I don’t look back and play the “if” game because that can never bring peace and happiness.

My first major and unexpected plan change came when my mother died. Losing her was a very painful and shattering experience for me. I was 17 years old and not prepared to be an orphan. She and I had made many plans, and I not only lost her, but I also felt I had lost my future. My intention was to study languages, specifically English, French, Spanish and Russian. All of a sudden, with my mother gone, my whole world fell apart and I had to rethink my life. I completed English and French, but my plans for the other languages couldn’t happen. My future seemed very bleak for a while, and I wasn’t sure how my life would unfold. But after some time, things fell into place, new plans took shape, and I was able to live a fulfilling life.

Unexpected course changes don’t have to be feared, but they usually are. Sometimes we are stuck and have such tunnel vision that a change in plans is overwhelming. But with time we most likely will be able to see the rerouting as positive and beneficial.

Such an unexpected change happened to me shortly after my marriage. Since my first introduction to foreign languages in high school, I saw myself working as an interpreter. I didn’t imagine myself in any job that didn’t include working with my language skills. And then out of the blue came an opportunity to work in real estate. I wasn’t sure if a sales career was where I belonged or where I wanted to be, but I decided to look into it. Although the possibility to use my foreign languages was not immediately obvious, I realized later that doing some international real estate would allow me to use them. After a long and successful career in real estate, I am grateful for this wonderful experience, the people I met, and the fun I had. Changing my plans was the right choice, although I didn’t know it right away.

Your life will often become richer when you embrace unexpected changes. Imagine a canvas and every change from your plan adds another color to it. The canvas will become more and more colorful and vibrant – like your life. Maybe not exactly the life you planned, but hopefully one much better. This acceptance of change doesn’t mean that you are a passive passenger on your life journey. By accepting unexpected changes, you can fill your life with excitement and adventure. Then you can laugh with God!

Wishing you a happy 4th of July!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
author and founder of NotJustCooking.com

Creating and Cherishing Happy Memories

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day offering a wonderful opportunity for creating unforgettable memories. My step-daughter flew in for a long weekend and we spent some enchanted days together. The visit culminated on Mother’s Day with her cooking an exquisite meal and other thoughtful gestures.  She touched me deeply, and there are not enough words to express my gratitude. Our days together were filled with love and joy and gave birth to many happy memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Memories are so important. Good ones, like the ones above, bring happiness and are relived often. Hopefully you have gathered many during your life journey so you can enjoy them over and over again.

Of course, there will also be the less happy memories, filled with pain and disappointment. I don’t perceive them as “bad” memories, but as learning opportunities. They always bring personal growth. How do you remove the pain from them? I forgive myself for the role I played, then I forgive the others for theirs and replace the sadness with positive thoughts so that peace can enter my heart. You might need to practice this a little while but be patient and persevere. Our painful memories will not go away completely, you will always remember them, but they will lose their sting and will no longer hurt.

There are many memories in our lives, some are vivid, and others hide in the background. I am writing my memoires and I am astonished what pops up in my mind. There are many beautiful moments I haven’t thought about for a long time. I smile and feel happy all over again. My trip down memory lane is very rewarding and, in some cases, even cathartic. And we create new memories every day. Isn’t that an incredible gift we receive at birth and which we use our entire life?

Memories are like a treasure box. We can open the box whenever we feel that we need a positive stimulus or just a pleasant journey in our mind and heart. They are always there and ready to take us away to those happy times again. As we age, the box becomes bigger and bigger and we most likely open it more and more frequently. Being more confined at an older age doesn’t mean one’s life’s journey has to become dull and boring. Open your treasure box and relive some of the colorful moments of your life. You can feel the excitement and joy you experienced at that time all over again. Life is what you make it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

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