Bucket List

Before the movie “The Bucket List,” which came out 2007/08, I never thought of organizing a list of things I would like to do. It was a new word for me, and the concept was fascinating. My bucket list, or Wishlist as I called it, was elaborate, and I can happily say that most of the items are signed off. There is one last trip I wanted to do, but unfortunately, it is no longer possible.

I wanted to travel one last time to Brussels and Paris to see dear friends. It appears that this is no longer possible, but I don’t readily accept “not possible.” In one of my meditations, the thought popped up that I could make this trip in my mind. I did, and it was amazing and rewarding. In case you have something on your bucket list which you don’t think you will be able to experience, I will share a summary of this mental adventure with you and invite you to go on a trip with me. When you do your mental exercise, it doesn’t have to be a trip. It can be anything. You decide.

Sit comfortably in an undisturbed place, feel your surroundings, quiet your mind, and breath slowly and deeply. See yourself in your home as you finish packing and get ready to leave for your trip. Close your suitcase, look around and go to the waiting car service, which will take you to the airport. Enjoy the ride, allow your feelings of anticipation to fill your heart. Arriving at the airport, check-in, then go through the security check, find your gate, and take a seat. Look around at your fellow travelers and feel the joy, that soon you will see your dear friends. Boarding is called, and you settle into your assigned seat. All is set for a smooth ride. Enjoy a book or a movie, and see your friends waiting for you at the destination. The plane is descending, you tighten your seat belt and get a glimpse of the airport below. With your carry-on luggage in tow, you reach the exit, and your friends are waiting, hugging and crying.

Can you feel it? Can you see it in your mind? The rest is up to your imagination. Make it as colorful as you can and take your mental trip as often as you wish. Play it in as many details as you can imagine. It is your adventure!

I took the metaphor of a trip because that’s my experience and an open item on my bucket list. Look at yours, and you’ll likely find a wish that might no longer be possible in the real world, and that’s the one you can live and enjoy in your mind.

Have fun with it, be as creative as you want to be, and adding some humor does wonders! If it makes you laugh, even better.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Mindfulness

What does mindfulness mean? It means living in the moment and being aware of what is happening, both inside and outside. How do we reach this peaceful state? When we meditate, we slide into this vibration and we are in the Now. Just clearing the mind brings us in contact with this blissful feeling, and we have unlimited access to it. Mindfulness allows us to be kind and non-judgmental towards others and also ourselves.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His technique of Mindful Yoga combines meditation and the traditional Hatha Yoga. It has spread worldwide and helps people to cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn. Major medical institutions have accepted the mindfulness/yoga connection, and it is widely recommended for cancer patients.

Living myself with a rare, progressive and incurable cancer, being mindful helps me tremendously. It allows me to continue a meaningful life, despite the limitations this disease imposed on me. It also makes me fully aware and grateful for what my husband and friends do for me, and I feel deep gratitude for life and the blessings it offers. I am able to live a balanced life, in which I can compensate for the lows and enjoy the highs to the fullest.

In a mindful state we can more intently experience our surroundings, while feeling peace, comfort and wellbeing. Life has its ups and downs, and stress is everywhere. Let’s remember, though, that we have the choice between being battered by life’s waves, or remaining anchored and remaining focused and mindful. We can only live a fulfilled life and help others when we are balanced, loving, and live in the present. A leaf floating in the wind offers no support, it just goes wherever the wind takes it.

We can achieve awareness through meditation. Not only will we be able to live a more mindful and happier life, but we will also improve our health and be better equipped to handle stress. If you haven’t started yet, don’t wait any longer. You cannot afford it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Boundaries

Establishing personal boundaries is healthy and necessary. It shows who we are, our values and promotes fulfilling and loving relationships. I like to call it personal space, which reflects the individuality of each of us.

We like to have our boundaries respected, but at the same time, we must honor those of others. It doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree; they are not ours to change. But since mind readers do not surround us, we need to communicate how we want to be treated, so that they can conduct themselves accordingly. And when our boundaries are breached, we have to stop the person and make it clear that their behavior is unacceptable and that they have entered our private area. How often do we say something like “I don’t want to talk about it,” a subtle hint that the conversation is becoming uncomfortable, and the other person still pursues the subject? Subtle hints are not always recognized, and sometimes a clear and forceful response is needed.

When we are aware of someone’s personal space, respecting it and avoiding any infringement is a sign that we can be trusted. One example of respecting my personal space comes to my mind. I expect my computer to be private. It is password protected, but my husband has the password. He never opens my laptop, unless invited, and when he assists me with a technical issue, he stays only in that specific area. I trust him completely. I don’t think for a minute he would violate my boundaries. And I do the same for him.

Like most of us, I enjoy lively and healthy discussions. Many years ago, I formed a discussion circle in Europe, and we enjoyed debating various subjects. We were able to explore delicate topics like religion. We respected our different beliefs and values, and I can say that I came out of each session having learned something and having expanded my point of view. There is great value in sharing, as long as we respect others as unique human beings. Only by honoring other people’s boundaries are we able to appreciate diversity.

And then there are the perpetual infringers and unaware stumblers breaching our personal space deliberately or accidentally. When our personal space is violated, we feel hurt. An excellent way to stop this transgression is to communicate why we feel uncomfortable, and hopefully, our explanation is received with an open mind and a willingness to understand. Sometimes the violator doesn’t perceive that there is a problem or doesn’t want to listen.  In that case, we have to realize that if we let the issue go, we have to be prepared that it will happen again. It is our choice. We can always look at infringements with a sense of humor and just tell ourselves “here we go again”!

Boundaries or personal spaces are tightly connected to our values. We can always change them if we feel that it is the right thing to do, but it should be our choice and ours alone. Having a Personal Space is healthy and helps define who we are so we can express ourselves in our uniqueness and allow others to do the same.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Choices

Sitting in front of my doctor a few days ago, I realized that I had to make a choice and that I cannot have it all. I was either to live with incredible pain and drive the car, or take sufficient pain medication and not drive. It was amazing how emotional this was for me and how much I seemed to depend on my four wheels and the sense of freedom they give me. But then reason set in, Steve and I coordinated our calendars, and to my tremendous surprise not being able to drive didn’t pose serious problems. I could go wherever I wanted and needed! This said, it all centered around Steve’s flexibility, and he was as caring as anyone could be. I found a willing and loving chauffeur!

As you have realized by now, I chose the benefit of the pain medication, and after so many days of severe pain, I felt like a human being again and was able to appreciate my life.

It was amusing in a way because the fact jumped out at me how German I have remained after all these years. Germans didn’t much believe in pain killers in my time. Was it considered a sign of weakness? I don’t know, but I hope things are different these days. As a good German, I took my pain meds but strictly followed the amount indicated on the bottle, and with no consideration of the amount of pain I experienced. The doctor told me during our visit, to take the least pain medication I needed to be pain-free and have an acceptable quality of life. Lesson learned! I feel so much better, and the price of not driving a car is nothing compared to being miserable. I also decided to check if I have other old beliefs stuck somewhere in my memory bank, which could directly or indirectly still influence my life.

When choosing to drive vs. not to drive, I realized that being independent was the kicker. I remembered how my mother-in-law fought to keep driving her car. There was no logic left in her mind about whether she could or should drive; she only wanted to keep her car and her independence. I wondered then how I would react, and I have my answer. I will only drive when I can safely do so. It is not just about me but also all the other people on the road. Isn’t that true for all us seniors? We have reached a time in our lives when we have to make compromises. They are not always easy and can often cause anxiety and fear. But as long as our decisions are based on full knowledge of the circumstances and possible consequences, we can feel comfortable and in peace. And there are always solutions, as long we keep an open mind.

I know that my driving restriction is only temporary and that I will be able to drive again safely, but it allowed me to look within and see that I will be able to make necessary life-changing decisions without regrets or hang-ups when they become necessary. Isn’t it amazing how much we can learn about ourselves? I am grateful for having had this opportunity.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Laughter

Laughter should be part of our daily lives. Not only because it makes us feel better, but also because it is good for us.

Here is a quote from Dr. Gulshan Sethi, a well-known cardiothoracic surgeon in Tucson who saved my husband’s life in 2006. I will always be grateful to him. “Laughter activates the body’s natural relaxation response. It’s like internal jogging, providing a good massage to all internal organs while also toning abdominal muscles”.

There are many ways to include more laughter into our lives, like reading amusing books, watching funny movies, or merely looking at ourselves with a sense of humor, to name a few. Not taking ourselves too seriously will help as well.

I fondly remember a time at the Optimum Health Institute, when we followed our morning exercises with a laughing session on the floor. It was contagious, and it made everyone feel great. The yogi I worked with in Europe also taught spontaneous laughter after certain yoga classes, and I enjoyed those moments of laughter and relaxation. You might feel a little self-conscious at the beginning of a laughing session, but this feeling will disappear rapidly, and when finished you will feel light and happy.

Laughing is beneficial, and it is free! You can do it whenever you feel like it, and who cares if people see you chuckling and wonder what makes you so happy. They might even smile with you. Laughter is contagious, and spreading it is worthwhile.

And, if you are still not convinced, here are six reasons provided by the Chopra Center on why you should embrace the habit of laughing:

  • It is contagious
  • Reduces the stress response
  • Boosts immunity
  • Increases resilience
  • Combats depression
  • Relieves pain

Have fun and laugh often!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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