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A Kind and Loving Soul

During my 50 years living with Yorkies, four little girls, and now our first boy, I have been blessed to learn a lot from my furry companions. Each one has shown unique personality traits, and I loved all of them deeply. Romeo, our present little boy, is an extraordinary creature, and he demonstrates it every day. I often ask myself who supposedly is the “evolved” being, and I humbly admit that Romeo teaches me lessons of love, tolerance, joy, and patience. He has been a guiding light in my life, and every day with him is a gift I truly appreciate and cherish.

Does he wear a mask? No, he doesn’t, but I am sure he wouldn’t mind if I would put one on his nose. Quarantine is not a big deal for him, as long as his mommy and daddy share it with him. If he could talk, he would most likely ask what is the big deal, since we are living with people we love, in a place we enjoy, savoring fabulous food and pursuing our hobbies?

Reading and writing are two of my favorite pastimes, and I enjoy learning about the different ways people accommodate the pandemic and its restrictions. One thing is evident: the more we complain, the worse we feel, but the more we focus on the positive, the better we fare. Somehow our little Romeo does this naturally and lives from moment to moment, enjoying his life to the fullest. He doesn’t allow moments of distress, like a scary noise from a smoke detector, or a loud clasp of thunder, to affect the rest of his day. He looks for comfort, cuddles in his mommy’s or daddy’s arms, and when the noise is gone, he is ready to enjoy the day again. That defines “living in the moment.”

Life is simple for Romeo, and I try to adapt his outlook into my life. When I am in pain, Romeo is distressed, wondering what he could do for me; and then he goes into his toy box and brings me his favorite toy. Could life be so uncomplicated and love more unconditional?

I believe that we can live lives focused on pleasant experiences when surrounded by kind and empathetic people. Of course, there will be moments of tension, but we do not have to stay there longer than required to resolve them. Romeo doesn’t think he has to like every person and to spend time with them. He is always pleasant and says hello, but if someone is not what he considers loveable, he takes his distance. Most people don’t realize it, but he maintains harmony in his immediate surroundings and successfully eliminates any negative impact. Life doesn’t have to include a series of unpleasant or stressful events. We can choose, like Romeo, and we can do it in a pleasant and stress-free way.

Having had more time to watch our little Romeo during this pandemic, I concluded that he is a guru, a gentle soul teaching love, kindness, and empathy, with an attentive and grateful student in me.

There are many ways to learn, and sometimes life’s lessons come from surprising sources.

Silvia Coggin,
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Life is Good

Yes, life is good as long as we allow positive and beneficial thoughts to vibrate within us. There are times we have to work on it, and consciously invite positivity into our lives, but hanging on to negative thoughts and feelings is not the way to live a happy life.

Every morning I tell myself that life is good, and I bless our little Yorkie Romeo, who is vital to my mental health. He cuddles and distributes kisses, looks lovingly at me when I am in pain, or do not feel well. He and I share our bed and feeling that warm little body pressed next to me brings pure bliss. I believe our furry friends play an essential role in our lives. Romeo is a big part of my being able to say life is good, despite advanced cancer and its complications. He continually brings joy, happiness, and laughter into my life.

My husband, Steve, is another factor in my endeavor to remain positive about life. He helps when he can. He wanted a slide digitizer for Father’s Day, and now we are traveling down memory lane, providing us with much joy. I look at the slides from many years ago (we started with our Honeymoon) and count my blessings. I tell myself that life is good as long as I focus on what I have and not what I have lost.

Having a progressive and incurable disease could be such a natural invitation to slide down the slope and start feeling sorry for myself. There are times when it takes energy and strength to keep a positive outlook. When that happens, I tell myself that life is good, no matter what, and it brings me back into alignment. I can also look around and appreciate my husband, little Romeo, loving friends, a beautiful and comfortable home, and medical care that allows me to function and control my pain. And now, with the slide converter, I have another avenue for joy and positivity open to me.

If you are stuck where you don’t like to be, change it. Visualize what would bring you happiness, and then dwell there until the dark clouds lift.

Life is good. Let us open our eyes and allow the blessings in.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

The Best and the Worst

During times like this pandemic, the best and the worst have come out in people. Just watching the news makes this extremely clear. For some people, it is no longer about remaining safe and healthy and keeping our thoughts and actions focused on logic and caring for others. The worst is brought out in them, and kindness and caring are transformed into a platform for political bias.

Then there is sincere kindness and caring for our fellow citizens when the best comes out in people, and it makes one’s heart sing. It affects not only people but also pets, animals, and the environment.

We can sit home during quarantine, watch television, and focus on what is going on in our country and the rest of the world, and we can decide where we can help most. For example, in our neighborhood, many women were busy sewing face masks, which made a huge difference when none were available. I have never regretted being ill as much as I did when I realized that I could not be as helpful and supportive as I would like to be. I had to accept that I could no longer provide physical relief and assistance. As with many other things, I had to go within me and open up my flood gates of well-wishing, positive affirmations, and prayers. In the end, it is all up to us; we can bring out our best or our worst. It is our choice.

And then I wonder if the people who mostly focus on what’s wrong are aware of what they are doing? Do they realize how they are hurting themselves by living in this negative and obtrusive fog they have created and how they are moving further away from joy and happiness? When I was diagnosed with progressive and incurable cancer and finally reached the end-stage a few years ago, I had to make a serious decision. Did I want to live a good and happy life or feel sorry for myself and eliminate any chance for quality of life? I knew it was my choice, and although progressive cancer caused the situation, it was my decision how I look at it. I decided to focus on what I had left, not what I had lost, so I am able to live a joyful life. We can all do this not only for health but also in other areas of life. Stressful relationships are an example. We can bring peace and balance through meditation or affirmations. One of my favorite affirmations, which I have used for many years is, “Let resistance go, and love and wellness flow”. And then there is the current pandemic, of course.

We can all live a happy life, but it takes effort and a clear will, it doesn’t just happen miraculously. We can look at this pandemic, for example, as a great learning opportunity. Are we focusing on what we have or what we have lost? Are my nails professionally maintained, or am I doing the best I can? Looking at them, I even feel some pride that I got the varnish on the nails and not my fingers! And I know I will get better at it with some practice. Living a happy life is the same. It takes a firm will not to be a victim, but to enjoy every day. The pandemic is such a great opportunity. It has changed all our lives, and now it is up to us to decide how we want to react? Will it get the better of us and bring us to our knees, or will we choose to let happiness and light in? Our decision doesn’t change the pandemic, it will run its course, but the impact it has on each of us depends on the choices we make. What will it be? Happiness or depression? You know the answer, now let’s take the right road.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

A New Approach

Since my early adulthood I have studied metaphysics and philosophy, and it has provided me with the strength to get over hurdles and to enjoy my life, no matter what. As to one of my complications, I have been struggling with cancer for over 15 years, and knowing that there was no cure, but only the progression of the disease, I could have fallen into depression and hopelessness. But I always found light along the way, met the right people, and felt that this unexpected hurdle was helping me to grow and become spiritually stronger. In other words, my studies of metaphysics and philosophy helped me live a happy and fulfilling life. 

My medical treatment is one of my blessings, for which I am deeply grateful. My oncologist, who also is a student of metaphysics and with whom I sometimes exchange thoughts and insights, mentioned a few weeks ago, that he thought I was a stoic. He gave me a link, and I started looking into it. Of course, I knew the general meaning of being stoic, but I went deeper into researching stoicism and found a lot of similarities with my mindset. I realized that my approach to dying is one of my beliefs which lead my doctor to his opinion, as well as how I handle decisions in general.

I am very grateful that he opened this philosophical approach to me, showing me that I can dwell deeper and find more peace despite my illness. Although I seem to be a natural stoic, there is much to learn, and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be beneficial for me, and I see complete harmony with my other spiritual beliefs. It shows that we can always learn, as long as we are open and willing. I am only at the beginning of this new journey but wanted to share this discovery. Here are a few fundamentals on how to live like a stoic:

  • Live as if you died but were resuscitated, and every minute is a gift.
  • Every person you meet is an opportunity for kindness.
  • Be forgiving of others.
  • Try to hold as few opinions as possible.
  • Always consider the worst-case scenario.
  • Keep a list of what you’ve learned from other people (and remember to thank them often).If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.

Life is what we make it, and there is never a reason to give up or to be disillusioned. No matter where we stand in our life’s journey, there is beauty and love.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Hugging

 

Coming out of a culture where hugging wasn’t commonplace, I had to learn to be comfortable with people frequently hugging and kissing when I moved to Belgium. But it didn’t take long before I enjoyed and loved this gracious and meaningful gesture, and I rapidly integrated it into my life. The amusing part was that when I visited my friends in Germany, they had a startled look on their faces when I hugged them and gave them three kisses. I hoped it brought them as much joy as it did for me.

Hugging has many positive aspects and is considered good medicine. Scientific research has shown that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Hugs also allow us to communicate with others when we don’t know how to express our feelings in words. And the best part is that we usually cannot give a hug without receiving one in return.

What do I feel when someone hugs me? I feel accepted and loved, a warm feeling of gratitude flows through me, and I put my whole being into my response hug. When I have the privilege to hug someone, I am grateful and wish the person much joy and happiness. And sometimes, yes, I can communicate my feelings better with a hug than with words. Our little Romeo, our loving and sweet Yorkie, is smothered in hugs and thriving. Yes, hugs are therapeutic; so dispense them freely!

Why does being hugged and giving a hug feel so good, and why do hugs make us feel happier? Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, a hormone released by the pituitary gland, which heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” It causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine. In simple words: Hugging makes us feel better.

I know that the scarceness of hugging in my childhood was not because I wasn’t loved. I was. After meditating on this subject, I came to the conclusion that it was part of the culture and influenced by the consequences of two world wars. My mother was loving, but she had a difficult time expressing it. She lost her mother when she was 10, lived through WWI as a child, then WWII as a young wife, giving birth to a baby daughter and a son, but losing the son because of a lack of medication caused by the war. Then I came along, but shortly afterward, she lost her husband, my father. So, she struggled as a single working mother with two young children, and although she was loving and nurturing, hugging was not a priority – surviving was.

I am grateful that I was exposed in my early adult years to lots of hugging and kissing. I quickly learned to love it and have carried it through my whole adult life. One can never get too many hugs. If you haven’t hugged someone lately, try it and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Not only will it bring happiness to you, but it will also bring joy to the one you hugged.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

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