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

 

Memories

We are like a book. The pages are our memories, and we can browse through them whenever we wish to do so. Some memories leave a smile on our face when we relive those happy moments, while others might make us melancholic, sad or even angry.

Like watching a kaleidoscope, we can float from one scene to the next, reliving different parts of our lives. When unhappy moments come along, and we feel anger or resentment, we might consider this an excellent time to change our focus. Feel the anger, feel the frustration, forgive yourself and others, and then let the negative memories float away forever. Troubled memories can be a stepping stone to future growth, as long as we don’t get blocked by them. Memories can provide an opportunity to grow and may bring us closer to the life we want to live.

Happy memories are like walking in a beautiful park or sitting on a picturesque beach. Enjoying those blessed moments brings joy and wellbeing.  They are a healing balm making us well again. You can visit those joyful memories any time. Take a few quiet moments and let your thoughts flow towards them.

On the other hand, you need to remember that unhappy memories can negatively influence and change your whole life. You might not be aware of the anger you still harbor, or the resentment you have towards the people who were part of these unhappy events. I have worked extensively on my painful memories, and for me, it usually comes down to accepting the people involved for who they were. I don’t have to like them, but I have to accept them. The closer the person is to you, the more difficult it becomes. I remember vividly the time when I asked one of my teachers, “Why doesn’t she love me”? He looked at me and then asked, “Do you love her”? I thought I did but painfully realized, that I was hiding behind loving her because it was what I was supposed to feel. In reality, I did not accept her who she was and when I finally reached that acceptance without judgment or criticism, I was able to let the anger and resentment go and drift into a comfortable, although distant, relationship. It was a painful and beneficial experience. Did I love her? Can one love without accepting? There are many unanswered questions, but I do not dwell on them anymore. I made peace within, and that’s what I was seeking.

Memories are powerful. They can bring joy and happiness, or they can cause pain and sadness. You are in control, and only you can decide how you feel about unhappy memories. I try to render them neutral; they are still unhappy, but there are no emotions attached.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Creating and Cherishing Happy Memories

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day offering a wonderful opportunity for creating unforgettable memories. My step-daughter flew in for a long weekend and we spent some enchanted days together. The visit culminated on Mother’s Day with her cooking an exquisite meal and other thoughtful gestures.  She touched me deeply, and there are not enough words to express my gratitude. Our days together were filled with love and joy and gave birth to many happy memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Memories are so important. Good ones, like the ones above, bring happiness and are relived often. Hopefully you have gathered many during your life journey so you can enjoy them over and over again.

Of course, there will also be the less happy memories, filled with pain and disappointment. I don’t perceive them as “bad” memories, but as learning opportunities. They always bring personal growth. How do you remove the pain from them? I forgive myself for the role I played, then I forgive the others for theirs and replace the sadness with positive thoughts so that peace can enter my heart. You might need to practice this a little while but be patient and persevere. Our painful memories will not go away completely, you will always remember them, but they will lose their sting and will no longer hurt.

There are many memories in our lives, some are vivid, and others hide in the background. I am writing my memoires and I am astonished what pops up in my mind. There are many beautiful moments I haven’t thought about for a long time. I smile and feel happy all over again. My trip down memory lane is very rewarding and, in some cases, even cathartic. And we create new memories every day. Isn’t that an incredible gift we receive at birth and which we use our entire life?

Memories are like a treasure box. We can open the box whenever we feel that we need a positive stimulus or just a pleasant journey in our mind and heart. They are always there and ready to take us away to those happy times again. As we age, the box becomes bigger and bigger and we most likely open it more and more frequently. Being more confined at an older age doesn’t mean one’s life’s journey has to become dull and boring. Open your treasure box and relive some of the colorful moments of your life. You can feel the excitement and joy you experienced at that time all over again. Life is what you make it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

 

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