Life without excitement is like champagne without bubbles, it has lost its appeal and attraction. Would we drink flat champagne? Of course not! So why do we think that sometimes we have to live a life without excitement?

In the various stages of our life we are attracted and enthralled by different things, and our excitement changes as well. The simple things, which are so exciting for a young child, become bolder and usually more costly with increasing age. But one fact remains the same: we feel that we can conquer the world, and that there are no limitations. Everything seems possible; we are riding the waves of life feeling the wind in our hair and the energy flowing through us. It is like a drug and we want more. Do you remember your first date? The excitement of getting ready, your beating heart and you couldn’t think of anything else? Yes, at that moment you drank bubbly champagne and enjoyed every moment of it.

There is never a reason to drink flat champagne, we are always worth a good bubbly. And if you find yourself asking the question why the world became so bland or why you became so blasé, then it is time to lighten up and bring some spice into your life.  Do something you have never done but always wanted to do. A cruise? Riding a horse? Buying a sports car? Taking dance lessons to become the dancer you always wanted to be? Let your imagination fly, feel the excitement, and soar like an eagle. Excitement is what keeps us young and going strong.

Excitement can be laced with fear and doubts, but the thrill of being excited is worth the trepidations. Excitement is contagious, we like to be around people ready to embrace life’s many opportunities and challenges, and just listening to them gives birth to our own excitement. I fondly remember a recent get together with friends during which they enthusiastically talked about the safari they had planned. My love and passion for Africa started stirring, and I found myself googling safari possibilities, imagining myself in Africa and it was like taking a short mini trip. Yes, reality had to set in a little later, but the excitement of those moments cannot be replaced and I still cherish them.

So, what are you waiting for? Pop the cork and enjoy your bubbly! Live and enjoy the moment and some excitement regularly.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com


Angel Gowns

Angel Gowns are a gift of love and compassion from both a bride and a seamstress to honor a baby who has been born too early or still, and to give comfort to the distraught family. Knowing that these little sweeties take their last journey in a beautifully and lovingly sewn gown brings peace and comfort. When I saw the little masterpieces, it was clear to me that only a special person can offer such a gift. It requires talent as a seamstress and designer as well as a heart filled with love, compassion, empathy, and a deep desire to help others. These beautiful custom gowns are used for burial services and final photos, and the comfort this gift offers to the bereaved families cannot be measured.

It all starts with a wedding gown, symbolizing love and the passage from singlehood to partnership. Little girls dream about the day, see themselves walking down the aisle on the arm of their father knowing that they are beautiful and loved. When the day comes at last, the dress represents the fulfillment of those aspirations and the bride sees herself as a queen in the mirror, remembering the dreams of her younger years and the life she will have with her Prince Charming. After the wedding celebration, the dress is packed away for future brides or just for the memories, and although the wedding day will always be cherished, the gown may soon be forgotten. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By donating the wedding gown to a seamstress sewing Angel Gowns, the wedding gown takes on a new life, a new purpose and represents love and caring and each gown brings beauty to the babies’ last journey.

It takes a special person to donate their talent and time to sew such endearing gowns. I was fortunate to recently meet just such a lady. She touched me so deeply that I decided to write about her and this wonderful program. Connie is a true angel, who likes to give but prefers to stay in the background. I watched her stitching together some tiny gowns, and every seam is perfect and done with love. She told me that the seams must be smooth so they cannot chafe the delicate skin of the baby, and the garment must be perfect and beautiful. She uses the whole wedding gown, fabric, embellishments, and even the veil. The results are spectacular. In case a little baby is not buried but cremated, she also sews small pouches to hold the ashes. And, as a final touch she affixes a special angel wing to each gown and pouch.

It not only requires considerable talent to transform a wedding gown into magnificent angel gowns, but also the desire to give and to make a difference in someone’s life. And what better way to honor a little baby whose life ended so prematurely and to give comfort to the parents. It is a true gift of love and compassion. When some angel gowns and pouches are finished, Connie drops them off to a hospital
where the grieving parents or caring nurses will choose the best gown or pouch for the little angel.

Connie is a special lady, and there are other Angel seamstresses throughout the country. Words cannot express the awe I felt when I saw these tiny angel gowns. My heart and soul were touched, and I feel blessed knowing Connie. My life is better because of her.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com



downsizingDownsizing is something that will appear in our lives at one time or another. Our society is very mobile and staying in the same place is more an exception than the norm. Downsizing can be easy and fun when we are doing it in anticipation of a new and exciting life. I always had a great time with it. Most of the time the new homes were larger and my downsizing consisted of getting rid of things we didn’t want to keep.

But now Steve and I have reached a time in our lives that requires another downsizing, the final one most likely. We decided to start with the books. We were always avid bookworms. Fortunately, the new ones are digital and don’t take physical space, but we have an unbelievable number of books. My love for books went to so deep that I brought quite a few with me carefully packed into crates when I immigrated to the United States. We decided to start with a first batch and to select the books we absolutely want to keep and which ones we are willing to let go. Well, of the first batch of about 100 books we felt comfortable divesting one book – one book! We looked at each other and cracked up seeing the irony and humor in it. We were not only bookworms, but hording ones! When we went through it again and we still came up with only one book, the same one! Not sure why I think I need to keep cook books which I have never consulted. But all of a sudden it seemed urgent that I cook an Ethiopian meal! So we tabled the decision for another time. Will it be more successful? Only if we leave our emotions outside of the room and adopt a more brutal approach. I already see myself as a butcher with a big cleaver cutting my emotional attachments to the books. Can I handle it? Not sure, but I will have to find a way.

That’s just one example. Everything has memories and emotions attached to it, and I have to find a way to allow those feelings to come up, enjoy the memories, recreate precious moments from the past , and then let them go. It will take time and I will allow myself that luxury. It took a lifetime to accumulate everything and I deserve a few months to make these important decisions. Years ago we hired an organizer who had a sterile and surgical approach.  From a business point it was the way to go. I was younger, still in the accumulation mode and didn’t worry too much about things. She handled the less emotional aspect of things, but when it came to personal belongings, I had to stop her. I needed to respect my memories of people longtime gone, and places I cherished. It was too painful to do this with a stranger. With this new downsizing, my husband and I know that we will have to be disciplied and do the right thing. Will it be easy? Hardly, but at the same time we will relive wonderful moments and that’s what will make it special and possible. It will simplify our lives, eliminate clutter and bring more peace and harmony when we are finished. Of course, if we continue eliminating one item at a time, it will be a slow and frustrating process. We promised to do better …. two books the next time?

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com



MeditationUnder “Food For Thought” on the NotJustCooking.com website, I wrote some time ago about Prayer and Meditation, that essentially Prayer is asking and Meditation is listening. I believe very strongly in this but we often forget to listen after our prayers. It is only in the stillness of the mind that we can hear an answer. It is not necessarily a voice; it can be an intuition, a feeling, or just a vibrational awareness.

Meditation is a very important part of wellbeing, it helps us to find balance and to release unwanted thoughts and feelings. When I taught yoga years ago, I always ended my lesson with a meditation. My students loved it. I gave a brief guided meditation followed by music and breathing. I believe that to feel whole one needs to address the body and the mind.

Meditation has been practiced since antiquity and there are multiple traditions and ways. We are all different and are not attracted by the same things. That’s why we have to find the discipline which speaks to us and which allows us to relax and let resistance go. It really doesn’t matter if you like guided meditations, complete silence or music. You might want to lie down, sit comfortably or even engage in a walking meditation. One thing is important and doesn’t change: you have to be comfortable, breath deeply and regularly and let unwanted thoughts and feeling flow away. Watch them but don’t hold on or think about them. Breathe deeply and invite better feeling thoughts. The more you practice, the easier it gets, and then the day comes when you can meditate under any circumstances. Just the breathing will help you not overreact to an unwanted situation. For example, clearing your mind and attracting positive thoughts will assist you in not responding to or mishandling a challenge. This is not a traditional meditation, but I use it when necessary in congested and frustrating traffic, in a meeting when things become too emotional, just to mention a couple. But you cannot forget to follow up later with a deep meditation so you can release the stragglers, which might have lodged in your mind without your noticing them.

I will always remember a meditation practice that a yogi I worked with used when he was traveling. He settled in his seat in the airplane, closed his hand into a fist during take off and very slowly, one couldn’t see the movement, opened the fist and his hand was fully open when the plane landed. It was mind-boggling, and although I tried it many times, I was never able to even come close.

Meditation can become your constant companion and assist you in maintaining your balance and wellbeing more easily, no matter what!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com


SmilingI wrote earlier this year about Happy Moments, and today I want to add Smiling. Smiles are important and bring us an immediate, positive change and make us feel better.

I have decided to smile no matter what. Sometimes I forget, but when I realize that my mouth is tending down and my thoughts are gloomy, I put a smile on my face and consciously change my thoughts. I smile at people I pass on my way, and it is amazing how most of them will smile back at me. I consider their smiles as a gift and treasure them immensely. No words have to be exchanged, just a smile is all it takes to bring a change. I look at it like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. The more rays, the fewer clouds and pretty soon my sky is sunny and all is well.

It all starts with lifting the corners of your mouth and putting a smile on your face. You immediately feel a change in how you feel. It is still a cloudy day, but it brings hope the sun will break through and disperse the dark clouds.

While writing this blog I have had a smile on my face that I hope you can feel as you are reading. The sun is coming through and my heart is beginning to sing.

Smiles are free, and they are a gift you can give to anyone. When I feel that I need more help than just putting a smile on my face, I add a mantra. I repeat it a few times and together with my smile my attitude changes and I am in full sunshine and feel blessed. Here is the mantra I like to use, but please compose your own. Your mantra should have meaning to you and can consist of just a few words or a sentence or rhyme like below. The key is that you can repeat it with feeling.

I let resistance go,
And love and wellness flow.
I am, I am, I am.
I am one with God my Source.
I am.

You can sing it, say it aloud, or just repeat it in your mind. It is powerful and helps you find balance and harmony.

Life is worth living to the fullest. Troublesome things happen, but it is up to you to get yourself back to a smooth and happy place. Smiling helps!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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