Life is a Gift

When I was told that my disease had progressed to its final stage, it was like a wakeup call for me and a time to reevaluate my priorities. It wasn’t so much that I became depressed and sad; instead, I had a desire to make the best out of the time I had left. Who knows how long that will be? I have no control over it, but I have total control over how I want to live and feel. A proverb came to mind:

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often
we look so long at the closed door that we do not see
the one which has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

I didn’t want to miss the new door that was opening for me, although it would have been easy to stare at the closed door with regrets and longing. I could have stopped there and focused on what I have lost. Instead, I decided to fill my life with happiness and joy. I saw the open door, the infinite possibilities remaining for me, and I felt gratitude. Yes, there are things which will remain undone in my life, but they are in the past, and I have decided to live in the present.

Life is a gift we often take for granted and consider it as an entitlement. It feels like life is a given until it is snapped away. But nothing and no one can take away my joy for living and my desire to be happy. I will live the remainder of my life in joy, and every day will be filled with happiness and laughter.

I wanted to share this because I am repeatedly asked how I manage to remain so positive. How couldn’t I be? I have time left to enjoy my husband, Romeo our little Yorkie, my dear friends, and finishing my book. I have lived an exciting life, and now it is time to enjoy the smaller and simpler things. I still have much to live and to be grateful for, and there is no space in my mind for sadness.

When I saw the snow this week – yes, here in Tucson – I remembered when we lived in snow country with snow storms and such massive accumulations that we had to hire roof sweepers to save the roof. I recall snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park, skiing when I was younger, bringing food into the woods for deer, elk, and other animals, and I could go on. I am grateful for such adventures.

Life is a gift to be cherished and lived to the fullest. Remember the closing door and don’t hang on to it with memories and regrets. It will not open again, but a new one will, and you will have ample opportunities to live a joyful life. It is all up to you!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A few days ago, I watched a video of a little girl celebrating her 2nd birthday with a cupcake, candle, and balloons. She danced and enjoyed her birthday celebration so much that since then, her father says she wants to celebrate every day with a cupcake, candle, and hopefully balloons. Watching the brief video and the happiness of the little girl, I felt a deep joy and wondered what lesson was there to be learned.

We like to celebrate our birthdays, the day of our birth is special to us, but I felt there was more to it. Should we celebrate ourselves more often, perhaps every day? Could we experience pure joy like the innocent little girl? Could we spare a few minutes to celebrate our successes and achievements and be grateful for who we are and have become? And could we do this regularly?

I was so inspired that I decided to celebrate my accomplishments daily in a brief meditation. I tried out various times during the day and finally chose a quiet time just before going to sleep. Although I am very familiar with meditation, I wasn’t used to singling out my achievements and celebrating them. And as an overachiever, I am accustomed to noticing my shortcomings and what hasn’t been done and is still pending. This exercise did not feel comfortable at the beginning. I had to search my mind for something I could single out as special. It all seemed so routine and not worth making a fuss over it. But when I focused, I could see some actions which stood out. I quickly got over my hang-up and you will too. The joy and happiness you will feel are worth the effort. I try to do it every day now because it makes me feel balanced, and it only takes a few minutes.

We all believe that physical exercise is good for us. We go to gyms, have trainers, use instruction apps, and watch tutorials. Do you believe in exercising your mind to achieve and maintain mental wellbeing? Don’t we all want to live a stress-free and happy life? Meditation is a great way to accomplish this and celebrating yourself can be a form of meditation. Every time you breathe deeply and clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and worries by focusing on joy and happiness, you are meditating. I have used meditation for a very long time, but I needed to be reminded by a young and pure spirit, that a daily celebration of oneself brings joy and happiness. Being happy with yourself and loving yourself is vital to living a balanced life, and when you feel good about yourself, it reflects onto others.

This precious little girl gave me that insight. In her purity and simplicity, she offered me a gift which I will treasure for the rest of my life. We can learn so much by watching and listening to little children. Joy and gratitude will fill your heart when you accept that you and your life are worth celebrating all year long, not just your birthday.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Memories

We are like a book. The pages are our memories, and we can browse through them whenever we wish to do so. Some memories leave a smile on our face when we relive those happy moments, while others might make us melancholic, sad or even angry.

Like watching a kaleidoscope, we can float from one scene to the next, reliving different parts of our lives. When unhappy moments come along, and we feel anger or resentment, we might consider this an excellent time to change our focus. Feel the anger, feel the frustration, forgive yourself and others, and then let the negative memories float away forever. Troubled memories can be a stepping stone to future growth, as long as we don’t get blocked by them. Memories can provide an opportunity to grow and may bring us closer to the life we want to live.

Happy memories are like walking in a beautiful park or sitting on a picturesque beach. Enjoying those blessed moments brings joy and wellbeing.  They are a healing balm making us well again. You can visit those joyful memories any time. Take a few quiet moments and let your thoughts flow towards them.

On the other hand, you need to remember that unhappy memories can negatively influence and change your whole life. You might not be aware of the anger you still harbor, or the resentment you have towards the people who were part of these unhappy events. I have worked extensively on my painful memories, and for me, it usually comes down to accepting the people involved for who they were. I don’t have to like them, but I have to accept them. The closer the person is to you, the more difficult it becomes. I remember vividly the time when I asked one of my teachers, “Why doesn’t she love me”? He looked at me and then asked, “Do you love her”? I thought I did but painfully realized, that I was hiding behind loving her because it was what I was supposed to feel. In reality, I did not accept her who she was and when I finally reached that acceptance without judgment or criticism, I was able to let the anger and resentment go and drift into a comfortable, although distant, relationship. It was a painful and beneficial experience. Did I love her? Can one love without accepting? There are many unanswered questions, but I do not dwell on them anymore. I made peace within, and that’s what I was seeking.

Memories are powerful. They can bring joy and happiness, or they can cause pain and sadness. You are in control, and only you can decide how you feel about unhappy memories. I try to render them neutral; they are still unhappy, but there are no emotions attached.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Flying High

Fly high, and you’ll find blue skies. This is a meaningful sentence for me. I started feeling ill before Christmas and didn’t feel better for over two weeks. Between the dreary weather and my poor health, I needed something to hang on to. And it was this sentence which allowed me to climb my emotional ladder.

I saw myself in an airplane flying through dense clouds and experiencing severe turbulence. Looking out, I could only see grey. It was depressing, but I reminded myself that the plane could climb higher to find blue skies and smooth air. And it did. That’s how I saw my physical challenge – a cloud cover which could be pierced if I wished to do so. This knowledge is powerful, and since you are in charge, you can fly as high as necessary. Next time, when I need a crutch, I’ll be more adventurous and see myself as a Blue Angel piloting my aircraft, zooming through the cloud cover at high speed, and breaking into a blue sky in no time. It will be a thrill.

Sometimes we need a metaphor to pull us out of a hole. It makes our desire stronger, and we can more easily visualize a positive outcome. Just seeing myself climbing at high speed to clear blue skies helped me leave my self-pity behind. I felt stronger, in control, and confident that I would improve. I know that episodes like this one will happen more and more often, but I also know that I can equip myself with tools that will help me continue to enjoy my life.

Why write about this? I felt compelled to share it in case you are also stuck in a grey cloud cover. There can be many varied reasons for it, perhaps caused by physical discomfort, emotional distress, or both. As long as you know that you can climb higher above the clouds and find blue skies again, you do not have to get depressed and stay down. You might want to create your own metaphor, something which can help you leave the unwanted behind.

You are the pilot of your life, and you are in charge; that is powerful knowledge, and as long as you believe it and act accordingly, there is nothing which can bring you down for long.

I wish you a happy and joyous 2019 – flying high above the clouds into blue skies!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Merry Christmas

In just over a week we will celebrate Christmas, and I would like to send my warmest wishes to you and your loved ones.

Christmas is a special holiday for me. Although we had very little, my mother always made it special, and I have kept precious memories of those holidays in Germany a long time ago. I will dedicate an ornament to her during my church visit this Christmas Eve, as I have done for the last few years. My gratitude for all she gave me is deep and sincere, and I accept the feeling of loss not having known her as an adult. I imagine a moment over coffee, chatting about her childhood and life during World War I and World War II, one as a child, one as a wife and mother. So much has been lost with her passing much too early. Do not miss your opportunity to talk with loved ones and explore their treasure chest with them. During the Christmas holiday, a vortex is open to mend broken links and to strengthen existing ones.

Christmas is a spiritual time for me with candles, lights, music, reaching out and going within. We all have our family and personal traditions, carried over from previous generations or the ones we created ourselves, and I hope and wish you will thoroughly enjoy yours.

I have celebrated Christmas in many different ways, sometimes in foreign countries respecting and enjoying their cultures and traditions. But one thing always stayed the same: There was love. In the present turbulent and divisive times, we need to light the candle of understanding and respect for others, extend our hands to embrace differences, and assist where we can. Having doesn’t mean being indifferent to wanting!

Wishing you a most enjoyable Christmas and may the spirit of Christmas stay with you the whole year.

Merry Christmas!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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