FollowCraig: Happy!

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A few nights ago my lovely wife asked if I would write about something happening now and not reflect so much on my past experiences. After thinking about her request it occurred to me that happiness sums up what’s happening now, so here I go!

It seems to me that happiness is such an under studied emotion. We so often read about sadness, loss, frustration, difficulties and more. Great novels and movies are often written from the depths of despair & fear. But happiness is something very different. It’s a special state of mind and spirit. I believe true happiness comes from being secure in oneself.

I for one have experienced great happiness as well as small and almost unnoticeable moments of joy. Everyday when my feet land on the ground as I awake, I am at peace with the day ahead and that little moment makes me very happy.

In my own life so much good fortune and happiness has landed at my feet that I too often have stepped right over it without even taking a moment to recognize it, let alone be grateful in the moment. However I am truly blessed with great memories and would just like to take a few minutes and share some of my life joy’s with you. Hopefully your own joyful and happy memories will be sparked for you as I share with you.

Today my two grown children each with their own families have made me grandfather seven times! I am married to a wonderful partner who brings great joy and peace in my life. She is smart, warm, loving and gives all of her heart to her family and her life. In addition we have a small dog who seems to love me unconditionally (awesome). Today my life is filled with very dear friends who can count on me and I can count on them. My spiritual life is sound and I am secure in my faith. Today I have standards to live by and strive to be present always.

Some would say having a key to your own front door is no big deal but for me that’s one of the things I am most grateful for and brings me great joy & peace. Plus I live where I want rather than where I have to. Recently a dream of mine came true as I now have a beautiful boat to enjoy and share.

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I am happy that my health is good and now that I am nearly 64 years old all my hair remains on my head.

It brings me joy that all those in my family are still here. My mother is alive and well and my father has left me so many lessons and memories.

I am happy that God stepped into my life all those years ago and caused me to make the choices and changes so I can be here today.

Happiness presents itself in so many ways from the smallest experience, emotion or thing to the ones large, noticeable or even remarkable. There is truly nothing more joyful than getting up each day knowing that the day ahead includes me and I will get to play with and live in it! Knowing that I am at peace with my spirit and heart. These are the things that make me happy.

Perhaps the real happiness and joy in my life is grounded in gratitude?

Who knows if anything I’ve written today sparks some memories or if for a moment you too feel the happiness and joy of life as I do? I do know this, if everyday we each would take a few moments to remember 5 things we are grateful for in our lives it would be impossible not to be happy everyday!

 

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

 

Craig

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FollowCraig: “The Hit List”

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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: “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: “Your Life”

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A friend asked me the other night how it is I always seem to lift myself out of the dumps and find the positive in life when often things appear to be crap? So I was thinking about this and thought I would answer that question for them and perhaps some of you.

It’s simple really…

First it should be known I do have my share of difficulties in life just like everyone. I have bad days, sometimes no money, my family upsets me, politics or religious issues get to me, the car breaks and a whole host of other life events. It’s just when these issues come up I like to take the “Glass is half full” attitude. Here is how and why it works. Recently many of you may recall the NFL replaced referees with college referees during a labor strike. When a controversial call was made, some odds makers in Las Vegas and Atlantic City claimed they lost 300 million dollars on that call. So think of it this way, if some lost 300 million dollars then that means others gained the same. (Glass empty or full)?

Our lives are filled with possibilities and every event has an eventual outcome and it’s up to us how we perceive and live with that outcome. Another example goes something like this; Everyday someone at work or in your life is asked how they are today and the first words are “oh fine”. Just what does that really mean? Another person is asked the same and they answer “GREAT!” with enthusiasm. Who would you rather be near that day? It’s the words that come out of our mouths that really begin to dictate the outcome of our day, our weeks an our lives. An old adage ” What we think about comes about” is so true but even more so when it come to the words we say. I have learned that when I approach each morning with an enthusiastic hello coupled with a sincere smile the world around me seems bright and open to great opportunities. I truly believe and have proven time and time again that what I speak is what I experience. If you really want to be lifted up when things seem gloom, then just stop and look at both sides of the issue. A positive side always exists, always and we are the ones who choose on which side we want to be. Choose to be enthusiastic when you speak, invite others to want to be near you. Be the one people want to be around!

As the words of Michael Jacksons song “Man in the Mirror” explain, we and only we can decide our destiny, one moment at a time, one word, one sentence, and yes the words we say to others and to ourselves truly drive your attitude.

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

Craig

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FollowCraig: “Full Circle”

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As you have surely discovered I write about my life experiences often and today is no exception. For those of you who don’t know me, I should share a little about my past. I spent a considerable amount of my adult life as a career car salesman. My career and experience is vast and actually very successful. Although I poorly managed my personal life including not managing money, drinking heavy and all in all playing way to much. About 13 years ago all that craziness came to abrupt end. Shortly after a long road of depression and loss of self worth became my story. Always the man who once was? I grew heavy in weight and began to carry personal baggage that weighed even more. My depression led me down a path that seemed impossible to escape. My wife of twenty five years gave up on me, then a second wife came and went. Finally after about three years of being so lost, I finally stopped drinking. The damage I had began creating just a few years earlier still continued to grow. I became more and more distant from my family and friends. But then somehow my life began to change ever so slowly. Life somehow became important again as my depression slowly ended. Then overtime all the damage to my friends and family became more distant. I found work again and then by chance or perhaps divine intervention I found love. Someone who began to lift me up and not give up on me.

If you wonder why I’m writing about these things, it’s to offer hope to anyone that may me be going through depression. As a man who has experienced this sense of emptiness and the loss of self-worth that becomes more powerful than anyone can imagine, I am here to say it gets better.

My story is not so unique as it happens to so many. In my case it was the abrupt loss of a career and not having any foundation to support me that triggered my darkness.

Today my life is so much better and in many ways I have come “Full Circle”. After many failures and so many disappointments and such a deep depression, I have finally become whole again. I had often said, if I could just go back to that career I will be happy and all would be good again. It’s funny, I am now back doing what I know best and actually love doing and yes it makes me happy but what’s really is so different? It’s my faith. I had not built my life on a foundation of standards and I had damaged any I had so when the unthinkable happened to me I was unprepared.

One thing I have also found out about depression and surviving it is this. We cause a lot of damage to ourselves and often even more to those who care about us. They try so hard in so many different ways to help but they just can’t. And most importantly it’s not anyone’s fault, not yours or theirs. Depression happens, it’s real and it’s devastating. However you can come back, you can even come “Full Circle”.

For me it was finding my faith, something I could hold onto in the darkest hours. You can climb out of depression, it takes a lot of work and often a lot of pain. However if you can find a way to get back into the game of life just a little at a time no matter how much time it takes, you will make it. It took me nearly 13 years so I understand how difficult it is, but you can get there!

Life is truly a roller coaster ride and I am so blessed to be on the ride!

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

Craig

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FollowCraig: Ordinary People

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Yes, there was a book and a movie titled “ordinary people” and it was a wonderful story. However this is a different story, a story of life, love, hope and faith. Each of us have life experiences, those little or at times large events that shape us. Some of us live in fear of being found out or just fear of not being liked. Some of us fear love and especially giving love, perhaps because we have been hurt. Some of us lose hope or perhaps continue to hope. But really, how many of us have faith?

I have had quite a life, I was born to an ordinary mother and father out of love. My mother was a secretary and my father was a young marine. My grandparents were ordinary blue collar workers who lived an ordinary life. I believe there was a lot of love in my family, however I’m not sure we ever shared it enough. Just ordinary love I guess? I know we always had hope, I sure did. For me hope was confusing because I never could figure out the difference between hope and dreams. As a young man I would dream of the day when I would have a beautiful home, beautiful expensive cars and would live like a king! Was that hope? Later in my adult life I began an ordinary career, married and had children. Just like any other ordinary family and like my childhood, we shared just ordinary love.

Then for me the ordinary became the extraordinary. Now one could think that would mean I became a famous person or a man of great wealth and influence. None of that has happened. In fact by all accounts, I am just an ordinary man. Except for one thing, my extraordinary faith. Faith is a wonderful gift and it didn’t come easy for me. After several years of living a life of hopes and dreams, thinking that if I ever would reach those dreams how happy I would be. Little did I know that faith was the real prize.

By all accounts I have experienced a lot of pain and disappointment over the course of my life. I have also experienced so much joy! Whenever I begin feeling that all is failing, I just stop and remember this lifetime of joy that has surely superseded any pain. After all these years and all the searching to find my way, God held his hand out to me and gave me this wonderful gift.

Today I am an ordinary man living in a world of ordinary people blessed with this extraordinary faith. I thank God everyday for this gift and all the wonderful gifts I have received in my life.

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

Craig

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FollowCraig: Always look at the bright side of life!

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At the close of the Olympics this year a wonderful uplifting song was being sung by all the crowds and perhaps around the world. Just for fun I have posted the lyrics to that song below. The words cause me to wonder and also give thanks that my faith guides me to believe there is so much more than just taking a bow when it’s all over.

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
And…

Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)
Always look on the light side of life (whistle)
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing

When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing
And…

Always look on the bright side of life… (whistle)
Come on!
Always look on the bright side of life… (whistle)

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow

So always look on the bright side of death (whistle)
Just before you draw your terminal breath (whistle)
Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it

Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life (whistle)
Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)
Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)

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

Craig

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