FollowCraig: “Distant Brothers”

………and you’re still reading

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”

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

Craig

FollowCraig: “If I only had the time”

……and you’re still reading

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

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

Craig

20130601-060714.jpg

FollowCraig: “I’m still behind”

……..and you’re still reading

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”

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

Craig

20130508-223120.jpg

FollowCraig: “Dents”

……and you’re still reading

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

20130307-060712.jpg

FollowCraig: “Paradox”

……..and you’re still reading

“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.

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

Craig

FollowCraig: “KEYS”

……..and you’re still reading

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.

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

Craig

20130223-214521.jpg

FollowCraig: “Insurance”

……….and you’re still reading

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

20130209-162459.jpg

FollowCraig: Street Cleaning

…..and you’re still reading,

When I was a kid it fascinated me so much when each week huge trucks would come to wash and sweep the streets in front of our home. First one would come and clean the other side then later perhaps an hour or so the same powerful truck would come back and clean our side of the street. Oh they were fun to watch and I so wanted to climb up and drive one. Now I was sort of a clean kid and most things in my life needed to be in order for me. My bedroom was always clean, my cloths put away and my bed made. So sometimes if the second truck didn’t come to clean our side of the street it would really bother me. Things outside just did not look even and balanced and I would think either both sides should be a mess or both clean but not half and half. Although others never seemed troubled by this. They would walk the sidewalks or drive on the streets even if only one side was clean. I would on the other hand stay on the clean side or at least try to and life would just go on weather the street was clean or not.

After many years and so many events in my life it occurred to me sometime ago that life is much like those streets and those sweeping machines. How is that you may ask? It’s simple really. When I have had disagreements or troubles in relationships both personal and business, the world around me would continue to go on just like those messy or half cleaned streets. However my own personal world would be in some degree of pain and discomfort. I would be feeling bad and try so hard to fix whatever was wrong and get back to that clean peaceful side of things. After years of trying to fix things and never really having success my frustrations and disappointments would bring my life to a total halt and I would be stalled at every turn of everyday. Then I remembered that when my half that street was clean in front of our house, everything was good. I had a clean space to walk and travel.

Like those streets so is my life today. I cannot change or fix the world or the people in it or those who surround me. The world around me still goes on no matter the troubles and mess. However I can strive to keep my part of life and my part of relationships clean. Stopping often and looking at what my place is in arguments, troubles or disappointments; then taking out my own personal street cleaning machines (compassion, love, understanding, courage, faith, prayer, integrity, humility and more) and applying these tools to either clean or keep my side of the issues clean. I have learned and know I cannot always clean that other side of the street but if my side is clean and I have a peaceful place to be then perhaps this peaceful path will be visible and available to the other side.

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

Craig

20130126-074130.jpg

FollowCraig: “10”

……..and you’re still reading

’10’, yes 10 years…

Many of you have read about the day the Demons came, you know the Demons that appeared in my head so many years ago. Many people have had their own night of Demons, you may know that event or life experience that changes everything and points you to a path you never expected to travel. My own was that of ending a lifetime of drinking and becoming sober. Oh, I remember that time so vividly as if it was yesterday.

So many people have just stopped and like me turned their life a full 180 decrees. Some of us call that time our sobriety date or a date of rebirth. But what is sobriety? Does it just mean we have stopped an addiction to some personal destructive behavior? When I stopped drinking, little could I imagine the life ahead. It has taken several years and so many experiences to finally just begin to understand what sobriety really is.

I used to believe that sobriety was just about not drinking or for others not using drugs or booze and such to feel better and escape life. Perhaps part of that is true but I have found so much more.

By definition sobriety means:

1. Gravity in bearing, manner, or treatment.
2. Moderation in or abstinence from consumption of alcoholic liquor or use of drugs.

Here is what really happens when living a truly sober life. “It’s Peaceful

Overtime everything changes and integrity takes over. No longer are you living a sober life but rather a life of integrity. As I have learned over the last 10 years is that when we no longer use alcohol or some other chemical to escape but rather live through each daily experience sober, we become at ease. We learn to face obstacles, problems and our emotions with a clear outlook. Overtime that outlook becomes reality. In my own life it’s honesty not only to others but myself as well. It’s knowing that the bills I’ve stacked up in life both those of finance and conscious are paid, promises are kept, stories are untold. Life changes so much when living in sobriety. My perspective of life overall is different now. Today I care more about others, the concerns of the society around me matter, my spiritual life and my beliefs matter. The opinions and feelings of others matter and I listen. I’ve learned to be more patient and forgiving. Crazy as it sounds, work is even more fun than ever. Yes, 10 years of sobriety has and is changing me.

I’ve been lucky and even blessed. I have been given a chance to live a full and very promising life. My children and their families are healthy, strong and of good character. I am married to whom I can only describe as “the Greatest partner God could give a man” and I love and cherish her so much.

Being sober and living this sober life for 10 years now has at times been challenging and scary. However as I look back and look forward, it’s today that matters most. It’s the person I’ve become or actually becoming the person I am supposed to be that brings me peace. Today I know, I just know what serenity, sobriety and integrity are and what it feels like to live it. I encourage anyone who wants to live a peaceful life to go ahead and reach out for it, it’s there for you.

Thank you for letting me share a little of my life journey with you.

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

Craig

20130116-030138.jpg

FollowCraig: Something to Ponder

And your still reading…….

Although some believe George Carlin wrote this, it was actually written by Bob Moorehead a relatively unknown author.

A Message by Bob Moorehead, “Something to Ponder”

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. Happy New Year to you!

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

Craig

20130102-202159.jpg