FollowCraig: “Distant Brothers”

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Two grown men only one year apart in age who share the same childhood. Yes they could be brothers? He was born in the Bay Area of California and spent his youth in the southern part of that state raised by a mother and father so young and filled with such promise. Yes life was a wonder for this man as he experienced so much as we all do. As his parents moved on to separate lives he stayed with his mother and was cared for by her and his grandparents. I shared these life experiences with this man as he is my brother. We grew up with all the same joys, pains, fears and more. We attended the same schools and even had some of the same teachers. We attended the same church and even learned to drive cars together. I was the older brother, just a year but so different in many ways. I had to wear my clothes perfectly neat and pressed and he just loved jeans. I would work with art and he would get rough and dirty. We would fight, oh would we fight! It’s funny as we both moved from home only a year apart, me first the him. How is it we ended up so far apart? I moved on with my life just going with the flow, following every path that lay before me never knowing where it might lead? He went his road as well and traveled a path that was very different than I. As the years have passed we have not seen each other much, perhaps 8-10 times in over 40 years. We speak once every couple of years and we know of our lives from the conversations we share with our mother. It’s strange how life goes? As kids you know each other so well and soon your distant brothers, just acquaintances at best. Somehow and for some odd reason you still feel safe knowing he is still there. My brother is a good man, he is a very hard-working man with a family and grandchildren of his own. He is truly a man of integrity and of good character. His life path has been so different from mine but we still share the exact same roots.

Time has gone so fast and we never became those two kids again. I was set on being so proper and he was so set on being so free. My brother has built a life of substance and stability, he is a proud man and has earned the right to be proud. As life would have it, things change. He is very ill now and has been for some years. This very strong man who has worked and experienced so much is no longer the free man he always wanted to be. I am sad and ashamed that I have not spent more time with him over these years. As I look over my own life and the choices I’ve made, this truly is one I am not proud of. Family is what we have, we don’t get to choose them but they are ours. I stayed distant because we were so different and now I realize that we don’t differ at all.

My prayers are with my brother and his family during this very difficult time. I wish he was not in the pain he is in and I so wish I could help him. I wish I could fix him but I can’t. I can tell him I Love him and always have. So after all these years “Dennis, I Love You and I am so blessed that God gave me you as my brother”

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Craig

FollowCraig: “If I only had the time”

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About two weeks ago my son called and asked me for help buying a car. Now this should not come as any surprise to those who know me as I have been in the automobile sales business for many many years. So why not help my son, it’s only a car? I live about 600 miles from my son and it was fortuitous that I was heading his way with my wife for a Southern California vacation. When the day came to drive from my lovely vacation spot and head to see my son, I just thought this experience was going to be about buying a car and in the purist sense it was.

As many of you may know, the experience of buying a car often takes time, a lot of time. The time to settle on a car, then the process of buying it. It seems so much time is waisted in order to accomplish this simple task. As my son and I began this frustrating and time consuming journey, we found ourselves alone together just waiting for whatever step would happen next. Normally this time exhausting exercise would just wear a normal person completely down. Many of you who have experienced purchasing an automobile know the feeling. Why can’t they just get this done and let me get out of here are certainly the thoughts.

As this purchasing process began to unfold something very strange began to happen, something magical. No, it was not the excitement of my son getting his new car when all was done. Rather it was that time, that long and laborious time. This five or so hours of sitting, waiting, wondering and talking. Oh, did I just say talking? The magic of talking…

It has been over 31 years since my son was born and nearly 15 years since we really have spent some time together. Oh we have the normal phone call or visit and even text often, however not this thrown in a room together opportunity to be just us. The kind of time to learn about each other, the things in our lives and personalities that we both share. We spoke of the past, the today and what might be. Yes time, that long time we sat waiting became the most wonderful and productive time I can ever remember. Just me and my son talking.

So after all those hours my son smiled with joy as he got his new car and I received the greatest gift of all, time with my son. Later that night when I finally was home at our resort a note was posted on his “Facebook Page” ; just spent a great day with my dad

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Craig

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FollowCraig: “I’m still behind”

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A co-worker today said to me when I asked of her day; “Oh, Ok but just running a little behind”. How often have we said or heard those words? I stop and think of my own life and how busy it seems, running a small business, taking care of things at home, being an attentive husband, driving to the office, talking to clients, being active in community affairs and the list goes on. “Always a little behind”

Our lives can get so cluttered with so much to do that it’s easy to forget what a joy life is. When the opportunity comes for me to slow down and just think about all the blessings and gifts that I’ve received in my life, it doesn’t take long before I become grateful for everything. It’s true, my life is very blessed. If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you can easily know by now that my life has traveled many paths and I’ve experienced much. Gratitude for all I have today and what God has given to me is everything. Living a life filled with gratitude truly is a joyful way to live as it creates the path to “Living Forward”

So then, what do you say when ” You’re running a little behind”?

I told my friend at work today…

“That’s Great! It’s good to always have something to look forward to”. She just smiled, laughed and said; Craig you’re always such an “Optimist”

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Craig

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FollowCraig: “Dents”

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My career has been wrapped around automobiles and trucks for over 35 years. It’s what I do and I truly have a passion for the industry I’m part of. Mostly though I just love cars and people. Just the other day I was speaking to a client who had left their 20 year old car in my companies body shop for repair. Yes, her car had been dented:(

Dents and people are funny things. Many of us love our cars, they are often our identity and even define us. So when dents happen its much like our children or pets getting hurt. We first get upset and then just sad about the damage. Perhaps we are now just embarrassed about what caused the damage or just ashamed to be seen in our dented car. Even in this time of disappointment however there often lies a bright spot. Yes most dents can be repaired, often as if they never happened. So what does all this have to do with people and why am I writing about dents?

It’s like this, when a car gets dented and after the dissapointment and perhaps embarrassment is tempered we begin the process of repair. We take our car to an estimator then the body shop orders new parts, repairs and paints the damage as if it never happened. Suddenly the car is fixed and all is forgiven..

Wouldn’t be easy to just take the damage that happens to us in our daily life to someone who assesses the damage (God), orders new parts (attitude), puts the pieces back together (pray) and then paint (action). Suddenly the damage is forgiven. Oh yes that sounds easy doesn’t it? In fact it actually is if we are willing to surrender our pride and embarrassment to a higher power, yet so often we fight this simple task.

It always brings joy to me when watching someone come collect their car after a repair and see the little smile on their face as the seat-belts buckle, the mirrors are checked the damage forgotten and the shift is to drive…Forward.

I’m still writing, you’re still reading, so please keep following……….

Craig

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FollowCraig: “Paradox”

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“Don’t go near the water if you haven’t learned to swim” ; “No one ever goes there, it’s so crowded”

Just how often do we say or hear these statements? Our world is filled full of paradoxes. If you don’t believe it, just go to the dictionary and look up the meaning. Many of you know I’m a practicing Lutheran and I have quite an interest in theology. As an example, many Christians want to believe Jesus was a peace maker. However when reading the book of Luke it’s easy to see he really was a rebel and spent his life shaking thing up!

I find life so very interesting when looking at it from a paradox point of view. Someone told me once he wouldn’t drive in the city as he would get lost. Another friend told me he knew his way around the same city like the back of his hand. He told me he had gotten lost many times but that’s how he found his way. So must we get lost so we can find our way? Isn’t that a paradox?

When we look at our world today and our world of the past, it’s not so difficult to grasp our future. So next time you hear something like “Don’t scratch, it might itch” perhaps you will stop and think of the wonderful word PARADOX.

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Craig

FollowCraig: “KEYS”

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Now I must say that I have had a really good life so far. I was born in Northern California and raised in Southern, my mother only married twice and I have three brothers along with three sisters from my fathers second marriage. I’ve had more than my share of wives, two wonderful children and now six grandchildren. Yes the life I’ve led has been full, so full of twists and turns, ups and downs and pain and pleasure. I have lost count of all the automobiles I’ve owned and how many jobs I’ve held. During my first and second marriages I moved so many times that a PO Box was my only real stable address and I always had a “KEY” to my mail.

All my adult life it seems I was moving from place to place and from home to home. A few years ago a dear friend said someday Craig you will have a key to your own front door and when you do you will know peace. I really didn’t quite get what he meant as I have always had a key to my front door?

Recently when speaking to my son I told him “Son, it’s so good to finally have a key to my own front door” and like me he really didn’t get it.

Life is so often that way, we don’t always get it.

You see I was so busy living my life, working, playing, drinking, loving, hating, having and trying everything I could think of to make me happy and appear to be on top of the world that I never just stopped. I never just stopped to know what it was like to water a plant and watch it grow, to just get up in the morning and relax before rushing out the door. Never did I think about the little joys in life that make a life so joyful. A few years ago as my life began to cure from the crazy days of drinking and personal self inflicted destruction it slowly began to dawn on me that life was so beautiful. You know those days when we get up and the the weather is not your favorite or when you get to work and the boss or your surroundings just seem to suck? The days when things just seem to not be anything close to the way you had planned? Yes, even those days I would find beauty and peace. After nearly a decade without holding that ice chilled glass of scotch as I did for so many days, weeks and years, my life had changed and one day at a time peace would come. Today I understand what my friend was saying when he told me about having my own “KEY” to my own front door.

It’s that special key, the one that opens your heart to the joy of living, loving, caring, working, praying and experiencing every minute of everyday, everyday of your life with gratitude laced with optimism and joy.

I do have the “KEY” to my front door and will always hold it in my hands and heart always ready to give it away.

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Craig

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FollowCraig: “Insurance”

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When I think about insurance my first thoughts usually go to paying the premiums on my car, home or health insurance. So as I contemplate paying these premiums I’m caused to think about all the types of insurance and the premiums we have in our lives.

As an example what premium do we pay to have a safe and secure life? What premium do we pay to have a happy spouse or family? When sending our children to school and incur-raging their success or how about our careers? When we work hard everyday taking care of our minds our health and keeping a positive attitude isn’t that a form of insurance and intern isn’t this the premium we pay to have all God wants us to have? How about our spiritual and integrity standards? And what about our compassion and empathy for others? Would offering a hand up to someone in need be insurance?

A dear friend told me once that we may not always want to be present however that is when our presence is most often needed. As I look over my own life and all the self-centered behaviors and actions of my past, it occurs to me that those behaviors were literally my avoidance of paying the premium to insure the peaceful life I had always wanted.

Our lives are filled with premiums to pay and when we do, our life is certainly insured. So today I think; it’s a great joy to be here and able to continue to pay all these insurance premiums!

You’re still reading, I’m still writing so please keep following…….

Craig

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