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

 

Affirmations


Positive and meaningful affirmations are potent, and they can be life-changing. When you use them regularly, you will feel the shift bringing you closer to the desired results. Tailor them to your life and dreams, and they are personal and unlimited. They can address all areas of your life, for example, health, relationships, professional career, and wherever you would like to effect change. Put the affirmations into your own words, feel them, and repeat them as often as you wish.

I have used affirmations for many years and have adapted them to changes in my life. At this time, I mostly aspire to simplicity in my spiritual approach and my daily life. How do I do this? I use the following affirmation as frequently as I can. Stressful situations calm down quickly when one repeats an affirmation and breathes deeply.

One of the affirmations I like to use is the following:

“I am living a life filled with love, compassion, empathy, joy, and laughter.”

A life without love would be sad and unfulfilling. Being loved and loving others is uplifting and brings us harmony. It fulfills deep needs within us and is the basis for other beneficial feelings.

Compassion, feeling concern for the suffering of others, should not be confused with pity. Compassion is born out of the feeling of love, and you can imagine it as offering a helping hand or a supporting shoulder, bringing strength and comfort.

Empathy is the ability to understand and listen to others and to feel their need. Without love, one cannot feel empathy. Empathy doesn’t mean we tell others what to do, because we think we know what they need, but instead, we listen with the heart and find the right word to bring comfort. Imagine it as gently stroking the back of a friend, caring but not overbearing.

Joy speaks for itself. It is different for everyone, but it is uplifting and cheerful. We can only feel joy when we are loving and caring. Joy comes from a happy heart.

Laughter makes us happy; it lifts us, and we feel joyful. It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and there is some truth to it. It is also contagious and used therapeutically in “laughter yoga.”

Try to compose your affirmations, in your words, in the present tense and clearly outlining what you would like to achieve. Repeat them regularly. The mind is a powerful tool; take advantage of it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Angel Gowns

Angel Gowns are a gift of love and compassion from both a bride and a seamstress to honor a baby who has been born too early or still, and to give comfort to the distraught family. Knowing that these little sweeties take their last journey in a beautifully and lovingly sewn gown brings peace and comfort. When I saw the little masterpieces, it was clear to me that only a special person can offer such a gift. It requires talent as a seamstress and designer as well as a heart filled with love, compassion, empathy, and a deep desire to help others. These beautiful custom gowns are used for burial services and final photos, and the comfort this gift offers to the bereaved families cannot be measured.

It all starts with a wedding gown, symbolizing love and the passage from singlehood to partnership. Little girls dream about the day, see themselves walking down the aisle on the arm of their father knowing that they are beautiful and loved. When the day comes at last, the dress represents the fulfillment of those aspirations and the bride sees herself as a queen in the mirror, remembering the dreams of her younger years and the life she will have with her Prince Charming. After the wedding celebration, the dress is packed away for future brides or just for the memories, and although the wedding day will always be cherished, the gown may soon be forgotten. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By donating the wedding gown to a seamstress sewing Angel Gowns, the wedding gown takes on a new life, a new purpose and represents love and caring and each gown brings beauty to the babies’ last journey.

It takes a special person to donate their talent and time to sew such endearing gowns. I was fortunate to recently meet just such a lady. She touched me so deeply that I decided to write about her and this wonderful program. Connie is a true angel, who likes to give but prefers to stay in the background. I watched her stitching together some tiny gowns, and every seam is perfect and done with love. She told me that the seams must be smooth so they cannot chafe the delicate skin of the baby, and the garment must be perfect and beautiful. She uses the whole wedding gown, fabric, embellishments, and even the veil. The results are spectacular. In case a little baby is not buried but cremated, she also sews small pouches to hold the ashes. And, as a final touch she affixes a special angel wing to each gown and pouch.

It not only requires considerable talent to transform a wedding gown into magnificent angel gowns, but also the desire to give and to make a difference in someone’s life. And what better way to honor a little baby whose life ended so prematurely and to give comfort to the parents. It is a true gift of love and compassion. When some angel gowns and pouches are finished, Connie drops them off to a hospital
where the grieving parents or caring nurses will choose the best gown or pouch for the little angel.

Connie is a special lady, and there are other Angel seamstresses throughout the country. Words cannot express the awe I felt when I saw these tiny angel gowns. My heart and soul were touched, and I feel blessed knowing Connie. My life is better because of her.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Quality of Life

Quality of life is hard to define or to describe, and I have never spent much time thinking about it.  My life has been interesting. I loved my work, traveled extensively, socialized, entertained and in a few words, did what I wanted to do, and what I thought would make me happy and bring me joy. Looking back, I can honestly say that I enjoyed a great quality of life when I was master of my ship.

But then, everything changed. It suddenly felt like I was living in a tumbling house of cards. My doctors talked to me about choosing between quality of life and length of life. I was in shock. I had the quality of life I wanted, but it was evaporating. What am I to do with my limited physical capabilities to create a new quality of life and what would that include? I was certain of one thing. It would have to be new and different, something I never thought would be the center of my daily life. Would it be possible or would I fall into a depression? I decided to find a new quality of life, and to never allow self-pity to hold me back.

So, after a lot of soul searching it all came together. I can still see my friends, just in different ways. Late-night and long dinners have been replaced by early bird dining and “happy hour” is becoming a favorite of mine. I have replaced my cherished dinner parties with invitations to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. I realized that I can still socialize, just in different ways.  Then we got an adorable Yorkie puppy, Romeo, a true lover and a sunbeam of love in my heart. I always loved to read and now I have the time to do it. Workouts at the gym are no longer possible, but I take delight in vigorous walks. And of course, I love to write, and I stay busy with my memoires, blog and other projects.

I realized that one’s quality of life is fluid and needs to be adaptable under any circumstances. But it requires an open heart and mind to do so. I know I will have to adapt again, but as long as I can fit some of the activities I enjoy into my daily life, I know I can tell my doctor, “Yes, I still have a good and acceptable quality of life”.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Talking Openly

Saguaro-NPGrowing up in Germany I learned when very young to keep certain things buried within me to avoid punishment or arguments. What things were considered inappropriate to talk about? Opinions on friends and family, politics, religion, anything that didn’t fit into the Catholic indoctrination (my mother was a devout Catholic and one could only speak with respect and devotion about the priest and the church). And then there was the taboo for saying anything that could point to dissatisfaction, which my mother would have taken as a personal insult. So I started writing and developing a creative and imaginative mind to express my thoughts and also my frustration, and it worked well for quite a while.

As a teenager, I was still comfortable with it until my mother died. The grief, loss and shock of losing my mother and home, combined with a cruel and unloving family created such uproar in me that I was unable to make believe everything was acceptable. I spoke out and the consequences were painful. I wondered why people couldn’t talk openly, agree to disagree, have different opinions but still love each other?

When I finally became independent, I started studying metaphysics, and I found ways to express my thoughts and feelings without stepping on other people’s toes. What a relief. And who would have known that later in my life this practice of talking openly and honestly would help me with my failing health and allow me to embrace my future with peace and joy. Steve is learning to talk more openly with me and I am grateful that he able to jump over his shadow. There are still areas I would like to talk about but he does not feel comfortable doing so. With time I hope completely open conversations will be possible, and I know this would help me tremendously.

Talking openly doesn’t mean being hurtful or harsh. It means listening and then sharing one’s own thoughts and feelings. There is no reason for criticism or blame. There are subjects in everyone’s life, which are touchy and vulnerable, but it is those protective feelings that block us from growing spiritually. Finding a way to bring those feelings to the light and let them go is not easy but very beneficial. I do not talk about secrets, things we do not want to share with other people, I talk about traditions and habits that stifle us and don’t allow us to be who we really are.  For example “boys don’t cry”. It is cruel to force a little boy to keep tears unshed and to bury emotions within. No wonder many men have such a hard time to express their feelings and emotions.

I am glad that my husband has decided that he can travel my journey with me. As a Texan, he has many taboos and talking about feelings is one of them. He is slowly taking his fences down and I know he does it out of love for me.

I wanted to share this with you because we all need open and honest conversations that come from the heart.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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