The Best and the Worst

During times like this pandemic, the best and the worst have come out in people. Just watching the news makes this extremely clear. For some people, it is no longer about remaining safe and healthy and keeping our thoughts and actions focused on logic and caring for others. The worst is brought out in them, and kindness and caring are transformed into a platform for political bias.

Then there is sincere kindness and caring for our fellow citizens when the best comes out in people, and it makes one’s heart sing. It affects not only people but also pets, animals, and the environment.

We can sit home during quarantine, watch television, and focus on what is going on in our country and the rest of the world, and we can decide where we can help most. For example, in our neighborhood, many women were busy sewing face masks, which made a huge difference when none were available. I have never regretted being ill as much as I did when I realized that I could not be as helpful and supportive as I would like to be. I had to accept that I could no longer provide physical relief and assistance. As with many other things, I had to go within me and open up my flood gates of well-wishing, positive affirmations, and prayers. In the end, it is all up to us; we can bring out our best or our worst. It is our choice.

And then I wonder if the people who mostly focus on what’s wrong are aware of what they are doing? Do they realize how they are hurting themselves by living in this negative and obtrusive fog they have created and how they are moving further away from joy and happiness? When I was diagnosed with progressive and incurable cancer and finally reached the end-stage a few years ago, I had to make a serious decision. Did I want to live a good and happy life or feel sorry for myself and eliminate any chance for quality of life? I knew it was my choice, and although progressive cancer caused the situation, it was my decision how I look at it. I decided to focus on what I had left, not what I had lost, so I am able to live a joyful life. We can all do this not only for health but also in other areas of life. Stressful relationships are an example. We can bring peace and balance through meditation or affirmations. One of my favorite affirmations, which I have used for many years is, “Let resistance go, and love and wellness flow”. And then there is the current pandemic, of course.

We can all live a happy life, but it takes effort and a clear will, it doesn’t just happen miraculously. We can look at this pandemic, for example, as a great learning opportunity. Are we focusing on what we have or what we have lost? Are my nails professionally maintained, or am I doing the best I can? Looking at them, I even feel some pride that I got the varnish on the nails and not my fingers! And I know I will get better at it with some practice. Living a happy life is the same. It takes a firm will not to be a victim, but to enjoy every day. The pandemic is such a great opportunity. It has changed all our lives, and now it is up to us to decide how we want to react? Will it get the better of us and bring us to our knees, or will we choose to let happiness and light in? Our decision doesn’t change the pandemic, it will run its course, but the impact it has on each of us depends on the choices we make. What will it be? Happiness or depression? You know the answer, now let’s take the right road.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Social Distancing

These two words, which have brought such a new and profound meaning into our lives when combined, will not be easily forgotten. We will remember this time at the beginning of 2020 for many years to come; two simple words which can mean life or death, and which apply to everyone. The Coronavirus, which makes the world feel like a war zone, requires a six-foot distance from other people, the magic number for social distancing, and the possibility to stay safe and healthy.

Social distancing doesn’t mean social separation; it means keeping a physical distance. We need social contacts to thrive. Remember the twelve daily hugs to live a fulfilled life? We need love and friendships to be balanced and happy, and this becomes even more important in these difficult and painful times. Since physical contact is limited these days, let’s be creative and live a healthy life respecting social distancing while still enjoying our friendships and connections. Here is something we have planned: A happy hour in our driveway, everyone stays six feet apart and brings their chair and drink, we’ll wear face masks and will enjoy every minute of this get-together. I miss seeing my friends and am looking forward to this special time. It will be a real happy hour, different and unusual, but so enjoyable!

Social distancing has become a regular companion, and I try to embrace it and be grateful that I can still stay in touch. Technology is an essential tool in these restrictive times, and it can be beneficial when loneliness becomes too painful. It doesn’t replace the vibrational impact we have when hugging or touching each other, and that’s when talking and expressing our feelings become more important than ever. Technology is a special blessing during these restrictive times. It allows us to chat, look at friends, see their smiles, and feel close.

I am distraught about the loss of lives and the sorrow and pain that loss creates in our hearts. The healthcare workers are like angels, and I pray they are staying safe. It is a stressful and challenging time, and we have to be vigilant not to fall into depression or feeling sorry for ourselves. Solitude can be taxing, but remember that you are in control of your thoughts and decisions. You can only adapt to the pandemic, you cannot control it since it is outside of yourself, but you can control how you feel and how you respond.

When this pandemic will have run its course, and we’ll go back to our more regular lives, I know that sincere gratitude will fill my heart. Let’s strive together to come out of this pandemic stronger and more loving, still ourselves, but more!

Stay safe and be well.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NorJustCooking.com

A New Approach

Since my early adulthood I have studied metaphysics and philosophy, and it has provided me with the strength to get over hurdles and to enjoy my life, no matter what. As to one of my complications, I have been struggling with cancer for over 15 years, and knowing that there was no cure, but only the progression of the disease, I could have fallen into depression and hopelessness. But I always found light along the way, met the right people, and felt that this unexpected hurdle was helping me to grow and become spiritually stronger. In other words, my studies of metaphysics and philosophy helped me live a happy and fulfilling life. 

My medical treatment is one of my blessings, for which I am deeply grateful. My oncologist, who also is a student of metaphysics and with whom I sometimes exchange thoughts and insights, mentioned a few weeks ago, that he thought I was a stoic. He gave me a link, and I started looking into it. Of course, I knew the general meaning of being stoic, but I went deeper into researching stoicism and found a lot of similarities with my mindset. I realized that my approach to dying is one of my beliefs which lead my doctor to his opinion, as well as how I handle decisions in general.

I am very grateful that he opened this philosophical approach to me, showing me that I can dwell deeper and find more peace despite my illness. Although I seem to be a natural stoic, there is much to learn, and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be beneficial for me, and I see complete harmony with my other spiritual beliefs. It shows that we can always learn, as long as we are open and willing. I am only at the beginning of this new journey but wanted to share this discovery. Here are a few fundamentals on how to live like a stoic:

  • Live as if you died but were resuscitated, and every minute is a gift.
  • Every person you meet is an opportunity for kindness.
  • Be forgiving of others.
  • Try to hold as few opinions as possible.
  • Always consider the worst-case scenario.
  • Keep a list of what you’ve learned from other people (and remember to thank them often).If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.

Life is what we make it, and there is never a reason to give up or to be disillusioned. No matter where we stand in our life’s journey, there is beauty and love.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Hugging

 

Coming out of a culture where hugging wasn’t commonplace, I had to learn to be comfortable with people frequently hugging and kissing when I moved to Belgium. But it didn’t take long before I enjoyed and loved this gracious and meaningful gesture, and I rapidly integrated it into my life. The amusing part was that when I visited my friends in Germany, they had a startled look on their faces when I hugged them and gave them three kisses. I hoped it brought them as much joy as it did for me.

Hugging has many positive aspects and is considered good medicine. Scientific research has shown that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Hugs also allow us to communicate with others when we don’t know how to express our feelings in words. And the best part is that we usually cannot give a hug without receiving one in return.

What do I feel when someone hugs me? I feel accepted and loved, a warm feeling of gratitude flows through me, and I put my whole being into my response hug. When I have the privilege to hug someone, I am grateful and wish the person much joy and happiness. And sometimes, yes, I can communicate my feelings better with a hug than with words. Our little Romeo, our loving and sweet Yorkie, is smothered in hugs and thriving. Yes, hugs are therapeutic; so dispense them freely!

Why does being hugged and giving a hug feel so good, and why do hugs make us feel happier? Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, a hormone released by the pituitary gland, which heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” It causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine. In simple words: Hugging makes us feel better.

I know that the scarceness of hugging in my childhood was not because I wasn’t loved. I was. After meditating on this subject, I came to the conclusion that it was part of the culture and influenced by the consequences of two world wars. My mother was loving, but she had a difficult time expressing it. She lost her mother when she was 10, lived through WWI as a child, then WWII as a young wife, giving birth to a baby daughter and a son, but losing the son because of a lack of medication caused by the war. Then I came along, but shortly afterward, she lost her husband, my father. So, she struggled as a single working mother with two young children, and although she was loving and nurturing, hugging was not a priority – surviving was.

I am grateful that I was exposed in my early adult years to lots of hugging and kissing. I quickly learned to love it and have carried it through my whole adult life. One can never get too many hugs. If you haven’t hugged someone lately, try it and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Not only will it bring happiness to you, but it will also bring joy to the one you hugged.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

Another Lesson Learned

Another Lesson Learned

When I lost my mother at the age of 17, and consequently my life turned upside down, one of the pillars I hung on to was Christmas Eve, my mother’s birthday. I felt closest to her on that day, and I celebrated her as my mother, and later in my life as a special woman. It helped me navigate through the hurtful times of family harshness and indifference. My mother was religious, and I honored her with a church visit and the burning of a candle.

After our marriage, Steve adopted this personal tradition so that we could celebrate together.  It became a cherished Christmas Eve activity for us. It was the highlight of the evening, and we loved it.

We were looking forward to our traditional Christmas Eve, and I invited a dear friend to join us. In my heart I was ready to stand under the tree in the church courtyard to decorate an ornament for my mother, and to travel in my mind to times when she was still with me. However, it wasn’t meant to be this year.

The day before Christmas Eve, I learned I needed an emergency blood transfusion. Oh no, what about my tradition with my mother? We drove to the Mayo Clinic on the 23rd, stayed overnight, and I spent the next day in the Mayo Clinic getting a transfusion. My heart was heavy, and I felt sad and beaten down. The nurses were all loving and caring, but I was miserable and felt a deep and painful loss, a missed opportunity. And then it hit me. My sadness was only caused by my ego and long-lived habits and traditions. It had nothing to do with feeling close to my mother and celebrating her. I realized that I could have the same experience lying in my hospital bed. And I did. I sent my mother an ornament decorated in my mind, and I spent some time with her and my memories. It was an uplifting experience and a valuable lesson for me. Don’t attach yourself too tightly to traditions and habits. They are lovely to maintain and to keep in one’s life, as long as we allow ourselves to be flexible, to appreciate when they can happen, and to be in peace when we have to adapt to circumstances. This is the time to let our creativity soar.

I felt happy when we drove home, and when my Christmas Eve dinner was a slice of pizza at a Circle K on the road, I was able to smile and to enjoy it. I remembered the Christmas Eves of my childhood when we had so little, but never lacked for anything. Indeed, that pizza was delicious!

The rest of Christmas went as planned. We enjoyed a delightful dinner with friends on Christmas Day, and I felt blessed and grateful. Life is what we make it. We can fall into a dark hole following a disappointment, stay there, and feel sorry for ourselves.  Or we climb out of it and enjoy the moment. No one should feel they have to remain in a dark place, we live in a world of light, and it is our birthright to enjoy it. Sometimes one needs a reminder, a shakeup in my case, that circumstances can change, but that we remain who we are and have decided to be. Our capacity to love is unlimited.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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