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


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


Happy Thanksgiving

Where did this year go? If the saying is true that life’s speed increases with age, and thinking of this year, I must be “really” old!

I am so grateful and excited that we will be able to again celebrate Thanksgiving with dear friends, an event which has become a tradition over the last few years. I felt the urge this year to decorate our home for this holiday, and it is impressive how the autumn leaves, pilgrims and Indian squaw, all lit by candles, bring peace into my heart. The simplest things can bring so much joy!

Since my immigration to the US, I have enjoyed making Thanksgiving a special event. For me, it is a celebration of family and friendship, cherished memories of loved ones now gone, and gratitude for my life in general. It is also an excellent opportunity to pause and think of our many blessings. There were and are so many people in our lives who have influenced who we are and who we have become. We couldn’t have done it alone, and although we might have forgotten their names, we might want to include them in our gratitude prayer.

I fondly remember cooking and preparing Thanksgiving feasts for family and friends over the years, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Seeing their contented smiles while savoring the various dishes, each prepared with love, I always knew that my work was received in the same spirit. By the end of the meal, I was already looking forward to our next gathering. Times have changed, and I am not the healthy and energetic person I once was. I can no longer enjoy the preparation of the Thanksgiving feast, but I feel love and gratitude for our friends who allow us to celebrate with them. Thanksgiving is a time for me to give my gratitude prayer, and I’ll include our veterans and all the women and men serving at this time, who sacrifice so much so that we can continue to enjoy our freedom.

I hope you can find a quiet moment during the hustle and bustle of your holiday, so you can think of all the Thanksgivings you have celebrated. Send a loving thought to the people who come into your awareness, and who might no longer be with you. Feel the love and warmth and know that you were always loved. Feel your blessings, love yourself and know that you are special.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com



Father’s Day

Today is the celebration of a special man in your life, the one who held you in his arms at birth, showered you with love and guidance while you were growing up, and supported you as an adult. He doesn’t ask for much, but he gives you all he’s got. 

Father’s Day is a great tradition celebrating fathers and male parenting. In Catholic Europe this celebration of fatherhood can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It is much more recent in the US where it was introduced in June 1910.

Our present celebration has come a long way since America’s first Father’s Day which took place at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington. Today everything is geared toward making fathers feel special. They play an important role in raising children, biological or children of the heart. Many men are father figures to young people providing inspiration and guidance. And, I don’t want to be amiss and not mention the dads of our furry friends who are family members and loved as such.

I grew up in post-war Germany without a father, like so many other children, and have no memories of Father’s Day. My father died when I was 10 weeks old, and my mother never remarried. Father’s Day only came into my life when I married Steve. He has a daughter from his first marriage and although he had to be a father from afar, he was always there for Katharine. He also became the dad of my little Yorkie Sunny, whom I brought from Europe. It took him quite a while to convince her of his paternal role since she was an only child raised by a single mom. She was followed by Gigi, Bijou, Mignonne and now Romeo. All of them adored him, and Romeo will help make his Father’s Day truly special today.

Fathers, like mothers, deserve to have their special day, their personal celebration of who they are and the love they give. I can truly say that I missed having a dad during my childhood, and even as an adult I often wondered how I would feel had I been able to talk to a man who had known me my whole life. I know that I missed out on a very special relationship, and I am happy for everyone who could or still can enjoy it. When you are celebrating this special person in your life, still with you or in your heart, please feel grateful for this wonderful gift. A dad is someone special to be cherished.

Wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
author and founder of NotJustCooking.com





In the writer’s club I belong to, a topic was brought up which made me think about what role risk has played in my life. I was never afraid of taking a risk as long as I could evaluate the downside and conclude that I would be able to live with the worst-case scenario. So where did that side of me go?

A visit to France and Belgium and time with cherished friends is something I desire with all my heart. So why don’t I jump into a plane and go? Am I hiding behind my health? Have I become so dependent on the Mayo Clinic that everything has to be within driving distance? Am I afraid of taking a risk?

I recalled a time, when I still owned my real estate company on the East coast. I urgently needed surgery, but I had a very big transaction being closed on St. Kitts in the Caribbean. The local broker was trying to cut me out and I needed the money for my company. My surgeon told me that I could bleed to death if I did not have surgery as soon as possible. When I asked him how long it would take me to bleed out and he gave me his estimate, I did some research and learned that I could make it in an emergency with an airlift evacuation from St. Kitts to Florida to get the surgery and necessary blood transfusions. It would be tight, but possible. It was a risk I was willing to take. I flew to St. Kitts, walked into the closing to the surprise of the local realtor, and made sure a check was drawn for my company. All went well, I flew home on a regular commercial flight and had the surgery in New York.

This memory also brought back how I felt when I took risks. I recalled feeling empowered and like a winner. The question I asked myself was why have I changed? I came to the conclusion that it was indeed my fear of being too far from the Mayo. I also realized that this was completely unjustified. There is a very well-known hematologist-oncologist in Paris who I met a few years ago, and who specializes in myeloproliferative neoplasms. Much research is being conducted in Europe in that field of medicine, which includes Myelofibrosis, the rare blood cancer I suffer from, but I am certain I could find a qualified doctor should I need one.

After this soul-searching experience, I am now seriously considering the idea of a trip to see my friends, and I am evaluating if I am strong enough to handle security, check-in, luggage, layovers, jet lag, etc. I will also look at the downside, like becoming seriously ill and requiring urgent medical attention, such as blood transfusions for example. Another consideration will be how it would affect Steve and our little Romeo. One thing I am sure of is that the excitement of returning to Europe and seeing my dear friends could play a big role in my wellbeing.

Some of you might be afraid of taking a risk like I was. You might not be aware of it, and the fear might be disguised as a justified hesitation or concern. It might even have become a habit. Keep in mind thoug, that fear may limit you and slow your personal growth.

Spring is a time for renewal of nature and also for ourselves. Let’s evaluate our feelings and get rid of fear. Even if I don’t go to Europe, I am grateful the writer’s club brought up the topic and prompted me to think seriously about risk. It opened a door for me, and I found the old Silvia again, who is no longer afraid of taking risks as long as I can accept the downside.

I wish you a happy Easter and a beautiful Spring.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com


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