Food for Thought

Silhouettes of workers in the mine.

I was in a discussion meeting, and one of the topics was about miners, mines, and their future. In a comment, one member called the miners “stupid.” It troubled me deeply, and I felt I had to know more about miners and what might have caused such a harsh statement. I started my little research right there on the spot (was there life before Google?)

What I learned is that miners are thoroughly trained by the mines, because it is a hazardous job having a high rate of fatalities. Nevertheless, in many families, it is traditional to become a miner, and there is a great deal of pride. I felt compelled to tell the group that I do not believe we should call anyone, or any group “stupid,” which implies that there is little hope for betterment. I explained that I prefer uneducated, for example, although in the case of the miners, I do not believe that applies. It is a struggling industry, but not caused by the miners.

Why do I have such a strong opinion about this? Growing up in post-war Germany, there was poverty, and I learned young not to judge by appearances. Lacking education doesn’t make someone stupid; it just makes them less knowledgeable. We may not know why people are where they are, but I feel it is wrong to express a blanket opinion and attach a label to all of them.

I have never looked down on someone. I feel everyone deserves respect. Judging and labeling a whole group of people because of their work and their appearance seems superficial and inappropriate.

The gentleman who made this remark asked me after the meeting for a short personal talk, and it was very enlightening. He admitted that he never thought about the meaning of the word “stupid,” it had just been a mindless word thrown out without considering what impact it could have. We both smiled that it took someone like me, an immigrant, who never met or seen a miner, to point it out. We also dwelled on how often we use words that sting, hurt, or are not what we mean. I know this incident taught me to be more careful in my choice of words. There is always room for learning and growing!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Bad Cat

While reading some of my spiritual books, I came across a quote by Abraham-Hicks and wanted to share it with you:

“What is a bad thing, anyway? A bad thing is something different than what I want. Who gets to decide what a bad thing is? Jerry and Ester watched a mother bird lay her eggs in the nest, and then the neighbor’s cat ate one of the baby birds after they had hatched. Esther Hicks said, “bad cat!”, and the cat said, “good bird!”

How often do we encounter a similar story in our lives, thus creating resistance? Love and wellness cannot flow when we experience resistance, and the judgment and opinion “bad cat” becomes a hindrance to our balance and harmony. Things are often so much more complicated than we think, as is colorfully demonstrated in the quote. The cat looked for food, and there was no malice or ulterior motive in its hunting. It found the bird and its survival was guaranteed for another day. Yes, the poor baby bird gave its life and didn’t see another sunny day, but that’s how nature’s food chain works. Although I am the sentimental type and feel sad for the bird, I know I cannot judge the cat for doing what is natural and necessary for its survival. Realizing that I can analyze circumstances without having to judge, I’ll approach other situations with the same mindset, an objective and open mind, and leave any judgmental feelings behind.

Pondering some more about the quote and what it means to me, I decided that in the future I will stop myself when “bad cat” comes into my mind, and replace it with “bad for one, good for another” bringing me to a neutral feeling. A small thing, but it might bring valuable changes.

During my reflection, I also realized that often I don’t spend the time and energy necessary to see the whole picture. A rapid judgment, a formed opinion, and I run with it. Does this sound familiar? I’ll change this as well on the basis that if it is important enough for me to form an opinion, I owe it to myself to explore the big picture. If I am not willing to do so, I’ll do like above with the “bad cat – bad for one and good for another” and strive for neutrality. Neutrality is not what I usually look for. I search for positivity and good feelings. But if I cannot summon positive aspects, neutrality allows me at least to develop better feeling thoughts.

I wanted to share these reflections with you and hope you will be able to relate to them. We all have situations calling for opinions, and as long as we can avoid resistance or reach neutrality, our well-being is positively affected.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

It is Your Choice

I can still hear my mother saying: “You need an attitude adjustment, dear,” and I realized already then, in my younger years, that my attitude was my choice, and that I was in control.

Our attitude is up to us, no matter what is happening. We can decide to be optimistic and handle things as they come along to the best of our capabilities, or we can choose to be a victim and feel sorry for ourselves.

We are often confronted with having to make difficult decisions concerning relationships, challenges in our professional lives, heartbreaking illness or addictions in our inner circle, to point out a few, and last but not least our own personal struggles.

I recently posted on a medical social media site and received comments that my attitude was remarkable and unusual, considering my late stage Myelofibrosis. This reaction inspired me to write this blog and share how I maintain my positive outlook.

It took some inner work after I received my medical diagnosis years ago. I was stunned and shocked. I had to dig deep within me to find the strength to cope. My metaphysical studies helped me tremendously, and I was grateful for this tool in my toolbox.

Attitude is our choice, and ours alone. No one can make that decision for you. When we realize this truth, we have successfully taken the first step. And then we have to accept that our thoughts define our attitude and that we are in control. We can let the monkey brain create havoc, or we can focus on positive feelings, which will then become the basis for our positive attitude. Now you have completed the second step. The third step is to breathe deeply and to find peace and quietness within. Fill your heart with gratitude and let it flow throughout your body. Yes, there is always something to be grateful for. When I received the estimate of my life expectancy earlier this year, which was shorter than I had anticipated, I was able to focus my gratitude on the exciting life I have lived, the many places in the world I was privileged to visit, my loving husband supporting me with kindness and love, my caring friends, our sweet little Yorkie Romeo, and the list goes on. Anything else was not an option for me. I didn’t focus on what I will be missing or how I was cheated out of a long life. When I am asked how I can maintain my positive attitude, my spontaneous internal reaction is “how could I afford not to”? Being positive allows me to enjoy my remaining life. The other choice would mean lots of sadness and depression.

There are many circumstances in our lives, calling for a decision on how to best handle them. Worrying excessively and/or falling into a black hole doesn’t cause things to improve, on the contrary. But going through the three-step approach outlined above will allow you to keep a smile on your face, gratitude in your heart, and the possibility of maintaining a positive attitude.

I hope this will help. It has been my lifeline and still is.

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

 

 

Holiday Season

So much has been written about the Holiday Season, and this year I decided to deeply ponder and think about what the Christmas spirit means to me. There are the decorations, and I love to decorate our home, the parties, get-togethers, and giving and receiving. But what is the deeper meaning of the Holiday Spirit?

I was raised as a Catholic, my mother’s birthday was on Christmas Eve, and our customs were deeply influenced by religion. During my childhood, most of our Christmas activities were related to the church and charities. When my mother died, I was a teenager, Christmas became a harrowing time for me, filled with sorrow and a deep feeling of loss. As a young adult, I started studying metaphysics and philosophy, and with time I was able to enjoy Christmas again. I no longer had to travel to places in the world where Christmas wasn’t celebrated, although I once met a Santa Clause on a camel in North Africa, and a blond, curly-headed Santa in India.

During my various introspections and meditations this year, which focused on the meaning of Christmas, I realized the deep meaning of this holiday, and I want to share it with you.

Christmas is about unconditional love, and looking at the nativity scene, it became evident to me. There is a woman, a man, and a baby, surrounded by shepherds, representing the general population, the three wise men, portraying the elite of different ethnic backgrounds, animals, which we should respect and treat kindly, and a star in the sky showing that this birth of love is unconditional, universal and available to all. Mary and Joseph make us aware of rejection and judgment when the innkeeper didn’t let them stay in the inn and sent them to a stable. But love was not eliminated by this cruel and insensitive treatment, and the birth of Jesus symbolizes that all is good as long as there is love. No judgment or criticism can change this. We can bury this message, but we cannot eliminate it. The bright star will go on shining.

This message of love doesn’t have to be limited to Christianity. It is open to everyone – look at the wise men! It is universal, and we can include it in our lives if we wish. It also is not limited in time, and we can make it a permanent part of our life. I have decided to include unconditional love into my daily life, and when a struggle comes my way, I’ll recall this bright star and the love it symbolizes. As it guided the wise men, it will guide me as well.

Wishing you an uplifting and fulfilling Holiday Season.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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