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

 

Food for Thought

Silhouettes of workers in the mine.

I was in a discussion meeting, and one of the topics was about miners, mines, and their future. In a comment, one member called the miners “stupid.” It troubled me deeply, and I felt I had to know more about miners and what might have caused such a harsh statement. I started my little research right there on the spot (was there life before Google?)

What I learned is that miners are thoroughly trained by the mines, because it is a hazardous job having a high rate of fatalities. Nevertheless, in many families, it is traditional to become a miner, and there is a great deal of pride. I felt compelled to tell the group that I do not believe we should call anyone, or any group “stupid,” which implies that there is little hope for betterment. I explained that I prefer uneducated, for example, although in the case of the miners, I do not believe that applies. It is a struggling industry, but not caused by the miners.

Why do I have such a strong opinion about this? Growing up in post-war Germany, there was poverty, and I learned young not to judge by appearances. Lacking education doesn’t make someone stupid; it just makes them less knowledgeable. We may not know why people are where they are, but I feel it is wrong to express a blanket opinion and attach a label to all of them.

I have never looked down on someone. I feel everyone deserves respect. Judging and labeling a whole group of people because of their work and their appearance seems superficial and inappropriate.

The gentleman who made this remark asked me after the meeting for a short personal talk, and it was very enlightening. He admitted that he never thought about the meaning of the word “stupid,” it had just been a mindless word thrown out without considering what impact it could have. We both smiled that it took someone like me, an immigrant, who never met or seen a miner, to point it out. We also dwelled on how often we use words that sting, hurt, or are not what we mean. I know this incident taught me to be more careful in my choice of words. There is always room for learning and growing!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Bad Cat

While reading some of my spiritual books, I came across a quote by Abraham-Hicks and wanted to share it with you:

“What is a bad thing, anyway? A bad thing is something different than what I want. Who gets to decide what a bad thing is? Jerry and Ester watched a mother bird lay her eggs in the nest, and then the neighbor’s cat ate one of the baby birds after they had hatched. Esther Hicks said, “bad cat!”, and the cat said, “good bird!”

How often do we encounter a similar story in our lives, thus creating resistance? Love and wellness cannot flow when we experience resistance, and the judgment and opinion “bad cat” becomes a hindrance to our balance and harmony. Things are often so much more complicated than we think, as is colorfully demonstrated in the quote. The cat looked for food, and there was no malice or ulterior motive in its hunting. It found the bird and its survival was guaranteed for another day. Yes, the poor baby bird gave its life and didn’t see another sunny day, but that’s how nature’s food chain works. Although I am the sentimental type and feel sad for the bird, I know I cannot judge the cat for doing what is natural and necessary for its survival. Realizing that I can analyze circumstances without having to judge, I’ll approach other situations with the same mindset, an objective and open mind, and leave any judgmental feelings behind.

Pondering some more about the quote and what it means to me, I decided that in the future I will stop myself when “bad cat” comes into my mind, and replace it with “bad for one, good for another” bringing me to a neutral feeling. A small thing, but it might bring valuable changes.

During my reflection, I also realized that often I don’t spend the time and energy necessary to see the whole picture. A rapid judgment, a formed opinion, and I run with it. Does this sound familiar? I’ll change this as well on the basis that if it is important enough for me to form an opinion, I owe it to myself to explore the big picture. If I am not willing to do so, I’ll do like above with the “bad cat – bad for one and good for another” and strive for neutrality. Neutrality is not what I usually look for. I search for positivity and good feelings. But if I cannot summon positive aspects, neutrality allows me at least to develop better feeling thoughts.

I wanted to share these reflections with you and hope you will be able to relate to them. We all have situations calling for opinions, and as long as we can avoid resistance or reach neutrality, our well-being is positively affected.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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