FollowCraig: Character

……..and your still reading

Yes it’s been awhile since I have placed words & thoughts on paper. Writing is a great escape for me, it helps me relax my mind and provides a great vehicle to express my thoughts, dreams, hopes, goals, fears and emotions. Each of us experience all these feelings and more and often hold them inside ourselves. So for me I have chosen this vehicle of escape and expression to be most rewarding and freeing.

Just to bring you up to speed since my last posting, I’ve had another birthday as well as another grandchild. My personal business career is still stable and yet always changing, now shifting from selling to sharing. At home my life is growing in joy more each day while some in my own family are not so blessed. I worry more about family and others in my life today more than worry for myself. Each day, week, month and year it seems I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. My spiritual alignment and belief in a power greater than myself and others has only strengthened over this last year. It’s true I have made many new friends since we last spoke as well have lost some.

So you may be wondering why I’m sharing all this? How is this helping you may be asking?

Perhaps I am establishing a new baseline for the life journey I am still on. As I have grown older I am finding my life standards and priorities have shifted. Most of my life it seems I have lived in survival mode. Always worried about work, money, rent, fear of loss and so much more. Now more and more these worries have disappeared and often are replaced by my concern for others dear to me and even those in this world I do not know at all. Writing helps me sort out what’s important, writing makes it possible to be open about my feelings and even opinions. Writing helps me establish goals and set plans to reach them.

I am hopeful that writing about my struggles with integrity to weight loss, from alcoholism to sobriety may help someone else know they are not alone. I am hopeful that the plans and goals I set in my life will inspire some to keep trying, to never give up in fact always keep getting up. Being knocked down, hurt, insulted, humiliated, sometimes just embarrassed or ashamed is not the end of our journey. Our failures or faults are not who we are but rather what builds us. Life experiences, trials and jubilations are character marks of our soul.

Today I am not writing to share my goals and dreams for the coming months and years but rather ask that you think of yours? What character marks of your soul drive you? Perhaps some of what I share in the months to come will cause you to wonder about your own life journey?

I ask myself everyday how I can improve, just a little. Everyday I try to find a way to help someone just a little. Everyday I fail at something just a little. Everyday I even look back and smile about something. Sometimes I even cry a little. Little steps, little things change you just like they have been changing me.

I will share this about personal change. It’s slow! All these little things, these little habits, those small victories and failures. The reading, watching and listening to positive people and experiences are ever life changing. All of a sudden these little things we do begin to become you. One day you just stop and realize you are becoming who you’re supposed to be.

It’s funny or actually not so funny? Every so often I am reminded of my old life, the person I once was. The person who held so much in, who was never real. The guy that never paid a bill on time and had to act like a big shot all the time. That man who cared more about himself and how he wouldi be perceived by others rather than care about others. Once in a while these reality checks happen and when they do my inside character fights back. I am not that person today and I know it! Yet I have learned these character flaws are still in me and once in while my actions or decisions at that moment have let them guide me. I can tell you that these struggles are still within me but today it’s easier to put them away. Yes, we get better and our lives change a little at a time.

So here we are together this middle of February 2015. Are we just playing out another ordinary year? Or has change within you changed you enough to be composing a new year? Perhaps it’s difficult to answer that question.

I know my answer,

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

Craig

FollowCraig: “The Hit List”

And you’re still reading…….

Do you remember those great old songs like; “It’s a hard days night” (Beatles) or “White Christmas” (Bing Crosby)? Yes the lyrics of so many wonderful songs. Every once in a while have you ever had one of those songs or words just linger in your mind and begin to play over and over again? Perhaps a thought that just won’t go away or a memory that plays over and over?

Memories can often be wonderful, however some are just not. Not long ago I was listening to an American Medal of Honor recipient speaking of just this subject. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is just exactly like that song, lyric or memory that plays over and over but seems to never go away. It’s like having your own “Hit List” only the memory never stops. Something happens to the mind, that magnificent human computer we all have that just seems to blow a circuit. We often hear of PTSD in the news when military personnel come home from battlefields and other traumatic situations. Did you know that many people who have never gone to war experience PTSD everyday? Just normal ordinary people like you and me. Often this disorder or activation of our “Hit List” happens from experiencing a serious tragedy or loss. It can happen when someone is under great personal pressure or mental abuse. For some of us, it can be triggered right at home or even our workplace. PTSD is an absolutely spirit stopping syndrome. Some of us have memories that haunt from our childhood and now these memories play over and over again. Every once in awhile you may have a period of peace only to have an incident or series of short term events trigger that never ending memory again only to play over and over again in your mind.

Perhaps by now you’re guessing that I suffer from this very frustrating and focus stopping syndrome. I’m sharing this because I know it does not have to stop you. I was diagnosed this year with PTSD after having days one after another that I could not stop remembering almost everyday of my past. Although it’s not really possible to blame others for what happens in your own mind, it is true that someone or some other outside force does trigger this. In my own life we think it has been my workplace environment that triggered all these memories to never stop. For those of you reading this, you may know someone that is suffering with PTSD this very moment. As many of you who follow my blog now know I am a recovered alcoholic and have written many articles on that subject. This however is very different and also so related that I am compelled to speak of it. As I became sober this last decade many things seem to happen. My own personal career slipped away, my ability to remain focused on goals and become fully at peace. Yes I had become at peace within myself and feel safe that no harm would befall me. The trouble is I really lost my drive to succeed and perform at a highly successful level in my career and much of my life. It has been as if the Craig channel had been turned off. If and when I am confronted with fast paced questions or making decisions quickly I have just been at a loss. I would crumble if someone raised their voice to me our seemed critical in anyway. Since I no longer would run to the bars or the Scotch to have courage or hide, I have had nowhere to go other than face these fears. In these last two years or so I have begun to rebuild my career however these memories have become part of my everyday life. My “Hit List” just won’t stop playing and most of the memories are filled with pain, sadness and failure. I couldn’t take it anymore so I have surrendered and have sought professional help. I’m working on this now and realize it may take months or years to completely overcome and live with this PTSD. Just as I found the 12 Steps of Recovery to be a roadmap to frame my life, I am hopeful to find the tools needed to live with this.

As I continue to write this blog and share my story, I hope perhaps someone you know might also read and follow along. Maybe they can find some solace knowing as I have found after all these years we are not alone. I truly believe in the power of prayer and that if you ask, the path to follow in life will appear before us. It’s up to us to take the first and next step, even if the road seems long there is always and end or intersection. Then perhaps that last lyric will be be “Oh Happy Day!”

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

Craig

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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”

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

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

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

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”

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

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.

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

Craig