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

 

Christmas, a Time to Celebrate and Remember

The holiday season has always been unique and meaningful for me. When Thanksgiving was added to my list after making the United States my new home, I felt blessed being able to celebrate the holiday season for a longer time.

My celebration is based on gratitude, a deep appreciation for all my blessings. One could wonder how I can feel that way with my serious health struggles, but I do. Every morning is a new beginning for me, and I feel blessed that I am still alive and able to enjoy life and this holiday season.

The sense of Christmas was instilled in me by my mother. She always made this holiday very special, and although we had little in the way of material things, she taught my sister and me to appreciate what we had and to share with those who had less. Christmas was a time for gratitude and sharing, and it has remained with me to this day.

It is so gratifying to give and to see the sparkle forming in someone’s eyes. Years ago, when my health was better, and I had more energy, Steve and I loved to adopt a family and bring Christmas to them. I fondly recall one year in particular. We learned that the little six-year-old girl of the family we adopted had lost her belief in Santa because he hadn’t shown up the year before. She felt that she must have done something very wrong, and her little heart was heavy and sad.  Steve and I thought we had to do more than visit with gifts. Steve rented a Santa costume, and we showed up with a tree, presents, and “ho-ho-ho.” I will never forget the little girl’s eyes and the miracle happening for her when she threw her arms around Santa’s neck. We always made sure that we knew what gifts would be appreciated, and the little girl’s dream was a dollhouse. Santa brought it, and her joy was a treasured gift for us. Yes, giving is more rewarding than receiving.

My Christmas is filled with cherished memories and love. I am enjoying every moment and hope you do the same. It doesn’t matter what our religious beliefs are; it is a time of the year when we can open our hearts and minds, reach out, and spread love and caring.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Angel George

Life these days raises the questions: where is the good disappearing to, and where have the values gone? Is there any consciousness left? The language is vile, and the daily sport has become attacking with or without justification.

I believe in the good in people, no matter how deeply it has been buried. So, when a touching event happens, which will never make the news but is the highlight in my life, I focus on it and feel the light and warmth flowing through my body and mind. And this what happened a few days ago:

My husband needed urgent and severe tests at the Mayo Clinic, requiring sedation. One of the requirements was that an “adult” was with him who could stay with him and make sure he didn’t drive a car as long as the sedation influenced him. My health was at a point where it was questionable if I should undertake the round trip. And the Mayo came up with the solution. They gave him the phone number of an angel organization that would meet him and will take care of the requirement. It put our hearts and minds at ease, and off he went to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

Angel George waited for him at the hotel, accompanied him to the Mayo Clinic, and informed the registration that he was the adult. He told Steve that he would be waiting for him when he comes out of the procedure. He was a very pleasant retiree, a widower, and loves to volunteer and help people. George took Steve to the Marriott next door, and then they had dinner together in a pleasant Italian restaurant. After a lovely and uplifting conversation, Gorge took him back to the hotel, and when wishing him a good night, he asked Steve what time he would like to have breakfast the next morning. What a smart idea to keep him in the hotel and not allow the possibility to drive back home. They enjoyed a lovely breakfast in the hotel the next day, and Angel George left wishing Steve the very best.

I was touched deeply. Not only are there caring and thinking people at the Mayo Clinic, but volunteers to put it all into action.

Yes, there is still good in the world. We have to look around, surround ourselves with light and positive vibrations, and we’ll experience it every day. My heart and mind are always open to seeing the good, loving, and caring. My daily affirmations include “Love, Compassion, Empathy, Joy, and Laughter.” If you decide to try it, don’t expect great results right away. Sometimes it takes baby steps to achieve the desired results. But it is worth the effort.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking,com

 

Blaming

An amusing event happened a few days ago, bringing the word “blaming” into focus. Although “blame and blaming” can be severe topics, I’ll write this experience in the form of a brief parody: Here is the story:

Our dryer made some strange noises, and we called the repair people. A burly guy arrived, took the machine apart and then he called me. Perched on his finger was a purple panty, and he told me with a big smile that he found it in the lint fan. He also mentioned that in his long career, he had never run across this problem before. Of course, I recognized my underwear, wanted to disappear into a hole and didn’t know what to say. My first reaction was: it couldn’t have been me; I wouldn’t run the dryer without the lint filter. Would I? Well, there was no one to blame but myself – I do my laundry!

This was a vivid example for me how easy it is for us to look for someone to blame, to shed our responsibility. It is an unkind and insensitive action, and when we become aware of it, taking responsibility is the right thing to do. It is is also an example where we may blame ourselves. My first reaction went from one to the other, but I had to face reality, I was guilty as charged!

Let’s be kind and give ourselves and others some space and understanding. A simple event, no one, and nothing got hurt besides my pride, but it taught me a precious lesson. If something goes wrong, don’t look to place blame. Just fix it and go on with life.

My husband couldn’t resist bringing the panty to me that evening, holding it as the repairman had done a few hours earlier. He asked me if I wanted him to put it into my laundry. I swallowed my pride again, saw the humor in the whole thing, and told him that the garbage sounded more promising.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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