Another Lesson Learned

Another Lesson Learned

When I lost my mother at the age of 17, and consequently my life turned upside down, one of the pillars I hung on to was Christmas Eve, my mother’s birthday. I felt closest to her on that day, and I celebrated her as my mother, and later in my life as a special woman. It helped me navigate through the hurtful times of family harshness and indifference. My mother was religious, and I honored her with a church visit and the burning of a candle.

After our marriage, Steve adopted this personal tradition so that we could celebrate together.  It became a cherished Christmas Eve activity for us. It was the highlight of the evening, and we loved it.

We were looking forward to our traditional Christmas Eve, and I invited a dear friend to join us. In my heart I was ready to stand under the tree in the church courtyard to decorate an ornament for my mother, and to travel in my mind to times when she was still with me. However, it wasn’t meant to be this year.

The day before Christmas Eve, I learned I needed an emergency blood transfusion. Oh no, what about my tradition with my mother? We drove to the Mayo Clinic on the 23rd, stayed overnight, and I spent the next day in the Mayo Clinic getting a transfusion. My heart was heavy, and I felt sad and beaten down. The nurses were all loving and caring, but I was miserable and felt a deep and painful loss, a missed opportunity. And then it hit me. My sadness was only caused by my ego and long-lived habits and traditions. It had nothing to do with feeling close to my mother and celebrating her. I realized that I could have the same experience lying in my hospital bed. And I did. I sent my mother an ornament decorated in my mind, and I spent some time with her and my memories. It was an uplifting experience and a valuable lesson for me. Don’t attach yourself too tightly to traditions and habits. They are lovely to maintain and to keep in one’s life, as long as we allow ourselves to be flexible, to appreciate when they can happen, and to be in peace when we have to adapt to circumstances. This is the time to let our creativity soar.

I felt happy when we drove home, and when my Christmas Eve dinner was a slice of pizza at a Circle K on the road, I was able to smile and to enjoy it. I remembered the Christmas Eves of my childhood when we had so little, but never lacked for anything. Indeed, that pizza was delicious!

The rest of Christmas went as planned. We enjoyed a delightful dinner with friends on Christmas Day, and I felt blessed and grateful. Life is what we make it. We can fall into a dark hole following a disappointment, stay there, and feel sorry for ourselves.  Or we climb out of it and enjoy the moment. No one should feel they have to remain in a dark place, we live in a world of light, and it is our birthright to enjoy it. Sometimes one needs a reminder, a shakeup in my case, that circumstances can change, but that we remain who we are and have decided to be. Our capacity to love is unlimited.

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

Success and Happiness

Many people measure success according to how much money they have or how high they have climbed on their professional and social ladder. But in reality, real success is how happy we are. We like to be successful, but when it is not accompanied by happiness, success can leave an empty and fleeting feeling, and we cannot enjoy our achievements. We all have read stories of actors, singers, or lotto winners, for example, who couldn’t cope with their newfound wealth. Although they were able to satisfy virtually any material wish, they were unable to enjoy their abundance.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life;
It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking”.

Marcus Aurelius Antonius

As outlined in the quote above, true happiness comes from within, no one can give it to you, and you cannot buy it. But happiness is available to everyone without discrimination, as long as we believe in ourselves and are willing to take the necessary steps lined out below. By improving our thinking, we open the gates to a happier life.

Yes, it is that simple, but is it easy? Everyone can find happiness within; it all depends on motivation and desire. To change one’s way of thinking requires practice and determination, it doesn’t happen overnight, and we have to be patient with ourselves. Wanting to replace unwanted thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, criticism, and judgments, etc., is the first step, and then comes the second step: “How can we replace those troublesome thoughts?” A positive affirmation or mantra tailored to our specific needs and desires is an effective way to calm the mind and allow pleasant thoughts. Meditation may give us the peace of mind required to replace our disturbing thoughts with positive ones gently. We can also use memories of pleasant and enjoyable experiences. I use affirmations often, and they work well and rapidly for me. I like to feel happy and at peace, but my health challenges sometimes generate dark clouds that roll in and obscure my mind. Repeating my affirmations make the clouds disburse, and the sky becomes bright again. At this time of my life, success and happiness translate being in peace. I no longer have material aspirations having left those behind when my life became finite.

You might want to explore what success means to you. Success is a personal goal, and it is an exciting road to travel. There is no right or wrong, and only your aspirations will guide your journey. Allowing the happiness within to be part of this journey will bring harmony and full enjoyment.

Finding happiness is the most significant success one can find, and it allows us to enjoy one’s life to the fullest. Traveling in the fast lane can be lots of fun, as long as we don’t lose happiness along the way. With happiness planted solidly within, we can fly as high as we want and appreciate life and what it has to offer at the same time.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Inspiration

Many sources of inspiration surround us, and they can touch us as long as we are open and receptive. Many things can be inspirational: people, books, pictures, quotes, movies, dreams, or you might have a brilliant idea stimulating you to reach new heights. I have been inspired many times, bringing me to who I am. Some shaped my professional life, others motivated me to pursue certain spiritual studies, and others gave me the desire to emigrate twice in my life. Here is a straightforward inspiration, which has lasted for over 45 years and which I still enjoy every day.

One of my friends in Brussels had a little Yorkie, and I was madly in love with this sweetie. She called her Shahbanu, meaning “Empress Consort of Iran.” This little girl was the inspiration for my first Yorkie, followed by three other girls and the little boy now living with us. My love for Yorkies was born many years ago in Brussels, and it has never dimmed. I had the inspiration, but I had to make practical arrangements to allow it to blossom. The apartment I lived in didn’t allow pets. I canceled my lease and moved into a pet-friendly one. I never had a dog, and of course, we didn’t have Google or other search engines at that time. I tried to educate myself by talking with people, but looking back, I don’t think I was very knowledgeable. Still, I knew enough to make Sunny safe and to raise a happy puppy. I cannot imagine not following that inspiration. My life wouldn’t have been the same, and I would have missed out on so much.  

Keep an open mind and heart, so you can become inspired, and never get discouraged if some inspirations do not thrive. Just being inspired is a blessing in itself, and it keeps you young and connected to life. When the impulse is strong enough and touches you deeply, you don’t mind making the necessary adjustments and putting in the work that allows it to grow. Be grateful for the opportunity. I do not spend much energy on inspirations which die on the vine. I enjoy them as long as they last, and then when they get weak and lifeless, I let them go without regrets, knowing that others will pique my interest. I remind myself that some will live, and some won’t. 

Have the courage to explore an inspiration when it presents itself. It might hold a unique opportunity you are looking for. Should you decide not to pursue the inspiration any further, remember that you are wiser because of it and that you are ready for the next one. There is an endless ocean of inspirations. It is up to you to find the one you would like to explore.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

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

 

 

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