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

Second Chances

How often do we tell ourselves: “That’s it, I’m done!” Are we acting out of pain without thinking of possible consequences? Do we want to live without the people involved and want to close the door on a relationship permanently?

It is not always easy to give second chances. There is a lingering pain, hurtful memories, and fear of starting the suffering all over again should old wounds reopen. Does this sound familiar? I have experienced those feelings, and it sometimes took considerable time to get ready to let them go and to replace them with forgiveness. But when I did, a stressful burden was lifted, and I felt better and more in peace.

One thing is sure; we can forgive in our hearts and minds and nurture the feeling that everyone deserves a second chance. Looking at painful experiences objectively, you might discover that it wasn’t just a one-way street and that we carry some of the responsibility. Consider how often you have received second, or even third chances. We all make mistakes and sometimes deserve another opportunity to do better and to try again. A second chance is an opportunity to show that we are wiser and more knowledgeable.

Second chances and forgiveness are close cousins. When we can forgive others as well as ourselves, we are ready to grant a second chance. That doesn’t mean we have to repeat the same mistakes all over again. Let’s keep in mind that we all change and the person in the past is not the person in the present. I believe we grow spiritually and can leave much of our heavy baggage behind.

If you feel you do not give or get second chances, consider this quote by Nicholas Sparks.

“Don’t think there are no second chances. Life always offers you a
SECOND CHANCE… It’s called TOMORROW.”

We should enjoy life, and this is only possible if we are at peace within. May you enjoy a happy journey filled with love for yourself and others.

Silvia Coggin, CPF
Author and founder of NotJustCooking.com

Winter Rain

It seemed that Tucson would have no rain this winter, and I was becoming concerned. Will we slide into another drought? Our temperatures had been high for the season and the plants in our yard were starting to bloom. I could feel their confusion. Is it spring or winter?

Finally, we got some of the much-anticipated winter rain, and I felt excited and happy. I stood at the window and took it all in. The gentle rain quieted my mind, and I was filled with gratitude. Closing my eyes and listening to the soothing sound of the rain brought me peace, and I saw in my mind the animals drinking this elixir from heaven and the plants absorbing the moisture and becoming rejuvenated.

My friends in Europe wouldn’t have believed that I could get so turned on by rain. But then, there was a lot of rain in Belgium, and I always felt excited when I saw sun and blue skies. Opinions and attitudes change depending on our environment and life experiences, and when there is an abundance of something, we may lose our appreciation for it. We can become complaisant when we are on cruise control and when everything unfolds well and comfortably. We can easily overlook our blessings until they are gone. Let’s look around, count our blessings, as the saying goes, and give a gratitude prayer. Nothing in life is a given, our blessings are gifts to be appreciated and cherished.

Pondering this as I watched the gentle rain, I felt gratitude for my mental journey and for the clarity it created in my mind. Everything and everyone can be a teacher, even the rain, but it requires clear vision and an open heart.

Now I look at rain with a thankful heart. And should I get wet, I just remember being the child who loved to dance in the rain.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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