FollowCraig: Happy!

……and your still following

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: Character

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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: “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”

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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: “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

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.

You’re still reading, I’m still writing, 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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