Sunshine

With 284 sunny days, there is no shortage of sunshine in Tucson. It is a blessing, and I am grateful for it. Brief sunbath sessions in our backyard help me with one of the symptoms of my health challenge. It doesn’t take it away for long, but I enjoy the benefits as long as they last. And Romeo, our little Yorkie, adores the sun. Just mentioning the word “sunbath” brings him to the door waiting to join me. It has become a cherished ritual, and I look forward to it as much as he does.

Sunshine affects moods and mental attitude as well as physical health. Too much sun can be damaging, though, and moderation is a given, as we know now. This wasn’t always a known and accepted fact, and in my younger years, extended sessions in the sun and a fabulous tan were requisites for a great vacation. Living in Belgium with many overcast and dreary days, I felt compelled to spend my holidays in sunny countries, and Africa and the Middle East always attracted me. Beirut was a beautiful place to spend a vacation, and I understood why it was called “The Paris of the Middle East.” The yogi I worked with had one of his schools in Dakar, Senegal, and I liked to spend a week or two practicing yoga and exploring the surroundings.  We didn’t know much then about skin cancer, and fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any unwanted consequences.

Sunshine is vital to all life. We often take it for granted but making it a focal point makes us aware of the blessings the sun bestows on us. Being part of a sunrise is an exceptional experience. Try sitting quietly and let the serenity enter your mind and heart. A new day, a new beginning!  It is a perfect moment for a meditation and a gratitude prayer. And don’t miss the sunset, with its pallet of incredible colors while the sun slowly disappears. Listening to the animals, some getting ready for the night, others preparing for their hunt, is a unique experience. A sunset meditation brings peace and harmony.

The spiritual meaning of the sun is multifold, and one can find it in many religions and teachings. For me, the sun is an integral part of life, and the beauty of a sunset and the promise of a sunrise fill me with gratitude.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Staying Balanced

It is quite difficult to remain focused and balanced these days with all the tension and controversy sweeping the world. We can easily get side tracked by emotions which then increase our stress level and cause us to feel unhappy and out of balance. Avoiding news can help, but most of us like to stay informed and severing ourselves from current events is not the solution. So how can we remain balanced and aligned?

One way is to watch, listen and evaluate what we see and hear in accordance to our own value system. We accept or reject without getting emotionally involved. We remind ourselves that we most likely cannot change what is happening but that we can choose how we react. Sometimes it is very difficult to be just an observer, especially when it affects or offends our core values. But getting upset and pushing against what is happening, doesn’t change or solve anything. It only affects our wellbeing and brings us unhappiness.

This choice of how we react and what attitude we adopt presents itself in every aspect of our lives. Learning it in one area will make it easier to apply it in others. Having struggled with serious health issues for years, I had to make a decision if I wanted to remain balanced or to focus only on the inevitable. I decided to remain centered and although there are moments when it is more difficult than others, I have maintained a positive outlook. We all have certain burdens, like health challenges, difficult relationships, loss of a loved one, or being unemployed, just to name a few. It is up to us to decide how we look at them and what attitude we adopt to handle our issues. No matter what is happening to us, we can remain strong, positive and hopeful. Connect with your inner being and have faith that compassion, love and empathy will prevail.

I like to see the world in bright colors, and I believe in the good of everyone and everything. But that is not always easy, and sometimes I have to repeat my mantras frequently during a single day. I breath slowly and deeply, and the unwanted emotions gradually disappear. Once my balance returns it feels like a burden has been lifted. Do my disturbing thoughts come back and try to make me agitated again? The key word is “try”, for as soon as I am aware of it, I start my breathing and mantras. Remember the saying “that which you resist persists”. Fighting the unwanted thoughts just makes them stronger. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day, and quieting your mind will take time as well.

Staying balanced means keeping your emotions on an even keel. To achieve this, we decide that no matter what comes our way, we will stay strong and avoid any emotional turmoil. Not only will we make better decisions, but we will also be happier and healthier.

Life is what you make it!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Worrying

We have all experienced thoughts creeping into our minds which make us feel insecure and uncomfortable. How often do we ask ourselves, “what if” and then worry about things which will never happen?

Worrying is planning for what we don’t want by giving energy to a reality we don’t desire and will not enjoy.  It can even become a habit nourished by our insecurities. A much better way to a more enjoyable life is to let go of regrets and guilt from the past, enjoy the present, and have faith in the future. We can neither control the future nor the behavior of other people, and all the worrying in the world will not make things better or change people. However, maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude, can pave the road to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Replacing worrisome thoughts with feelings of gratitude for past and present experiences, and visualizing the future unfolding in beautiful colors will bring joy and happiness.

Having grown up in Post War Germany, in an environment filled with worry and fear, I know that a lot of life’s beauty and peace of mind were lost because worries overshadowed everything. My mother was consumed by her personal worry: Will there be enough food? Can my children live a happier life? How will I manage on my own without the support of a spouse? Am I doing the right things? and so on. If I could set back the clock, I would assure my mother that all would be well and that her worries couldn’t change anything in my life. Her constant worry stemmed from living through World War I as a child and World War II as an adult, spouse and mother. She never was able to completely disburse her worry clouds and to become a truly happy person. Ultimately she died prematurely and I am convinced that all her worries and the stress they caused shortened her life.

When I realized that worrying equates to planning for what I don’t want, I started replacing my worries with thoughts of love, compassion, empathy and having faith in the future. It doesn’t always turn out as I imagined and troublesome thoughts still play around in my mind from time to time. But my faith helps me to be in peace and with time I always realize that unwanted happenings were a lesson to be learned and an experience to be lived.

Not worrying doesn’t mean being passive. On the contrary, faith and self-confidence allow us to visualize a bright future. With less worry, there is a much greater probability of reaching the desired outcome. Let’s all keep the worry at bay, and fill our minds with thoughts of love and joy.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Excitement

Life without excitement is like champagne without bubbles, it has lost its appeal and attraction. Would we drink flat champagne? Of course not! So why do we think that sometimes we have to live a life without excitement?

In the various stages of our life we are attracted and enthralled by different things, and our excitement changes as well. The simple things, which are so exciting for a young child, become bolder and usually more costly with increasing age. But one fact remains the same: we feel that we can conquer the world, and that there are no limitations. Everything seems possible; we are riding the waves of life feeling the wind in our hair and the energy flowing through us. It is like a drug and we want more. Do you remember your first date? The excitement of getting ready, your beating heart and you couldn’t think of anything else? Yes, at that moment you drank bubbly champagne and enjoyed every moment of it.

There is never a reason to drink flat champagne, we are always worth a good bubbly. And if you find yourself asking the question why the world became so bland or why you became so blasé, then it is time to lighten up and bring some spice into your life.  Do something you have never done but always wanted to do. A cruise? Riding a horse? Buying a sports car? Taking dance lessons to become the dancer you always wanted to be? Let your imagination fly, feel the excitement, and soar like an eagle. Excitement is what keeps us young and going strong.

Excitement can be laced with fear and doubts, but the thrill of being excited is worth the trepidations. Excitement is contagious, we like to be around people ready to embrace life’s many opportunities and challenges, and just listening to them gives birth to our own excitement. I fondly remember a recent get together with friends during which they enthusiastically talked about the safari they had planned. My love and passion for Africa started stirring, and I found myself googling safari possibilities, imagining myself in Africa and it was like taking a short mini trip. Yes, reality had to set in a little later, but the excitement of those moments cannot be replaced and I still cherish them.

So, what are you waiting for? Pop the cork and enjoy your bubbly! Live and enjoy the moment and some excitement regularly.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

 

Angel Gowns

Angel Gowns are a gift of love and compassion from both a bride and a seamstress to honor a baby who has been born too early or still, and to give comfort to the distraught family. Knowing that these little sweeties take their last journey in a beautifully and lovingly sewn gown brings peace and comfort. When I saw the little masterpieces, it was clear to me that only a special person can offer such a gift. It requires talent as a seamstress and designer as well as a heart filled with love, compassion, empathy, and a deep desire to help others. These beautiful custom gowns are used for burial services and final photos, and the comfort this gift offers to the bereaved families cannot be measured.

It all starts with a wedding gown, symbolizing love and the passage from singlehood to partnership. Little girls dream about the day, see themselves walking down the aisle on the arm of their father knowing that they are beautiful and loved. When the day comes at last, the dress represents the fulfillment of those aspirations and the bride sees herself as a queen in the mirror, remembering the dreams of her younger years and the life she will have with her Prince Charming. After the wedding celebration, the dress is packed away for future brides or just for the memories, and although the wedding day will always be cherished, the gown may soon be forgotten. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By donating the wedding gown to a seamstress sewing Angel Gowns, the wedding gown takes on a new life, a new purpose and represents love and caring and each gown brings beauty to the babies’ last journey.

It takes a special person to donate their talent and time to sew such endearing gowns. I was fortunate to recently meet just such a lady. She touched me so deeply that I decided to write about her and this wonderful program. Connie is a true angel, who likes to give but prefers to stay in the background. I watched her stitching together some tiny gowns, and every seam is perfect and done with love. She told me that the seams must be smooth so they cannot chafe the delicate skin of the baby, and the garment must be perfect and beautiful. She uses the whole wedding gown, fabric, embellishments, and even the veil. The results are spectacular. In case a little baby is not buried but cremated, she also sews small pouches to hold the ashes. And, as a final touch she affixes a special angel wing to each gown and pouch.

It not only requires considerable talent to transform a wedding gown into magnificent angel gowns, but also the desire to give and to make a difference in someone’s life. And what better way to honor a little baby whose life ended so prematurely and to give comfort to the parents. It is a true gift of love and compassion. When some angel gowns and pouches are finished, Connie drops them off to a hospital
where the grieving parents or caring nurses will choose the best gown or pouch for the little angel.

Connie is a special lady, and there are other Angel seamstresses throughout the country. Words cannot express the awe I felt when I saw these tiny angel gowns. My heart and soul were touched, and I feel blessed knowing Connie. My life is better because of her.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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