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.

IMG_1244

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

20120610-213145.jpg

FollowCraig: “Spare Change”

You’re still reading ………
I have a special place on my desk for spare change, it’s a large and very oversize martini shaped glass and it is always filled with my left over daily pocket change. Every day, week and month change builds to overflowing and then I take it somewhere to cash it in. Sometimes I even grab some coins for little extra things I might need that day. It’s just a great feeling to have spare change for the little extras or to give someone a tip or the occasional helper some cash. Yes, spare change is really comforting to have.

Earlier today while out walking our puppy dog “Clyde” It occurred to me that life is much like that martini glass on my desk. Every day, week, month and year we leave a little of us somewhere everyday and bring home our experiences, failures, successes and all that each minute of the day leaves in us. So how is this really like spare change?

Years ago it was difficult for me to feel any level of comfort in my own skin. Really impossible! I had to continually be the loudest person in the room, the one wearing custom shirts and showing off all my bling. So self-centered that there was really no space for anyone else in my life but me and my ego. If anyone were to ask me what I believed in or stood for, I would just make up something that sounded good for the moment. My bank accounts were as empty as my soul and my actions had no spare room for others. Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? Basically I had no spare emotions, compassion or real love to give to anyone else. It was sort of like having no spare change. Nothing extra for me or for others.

How many of us are lucky enough to finally realize these flaws and troubles in our lives in time to change them? I don’t know the answer but I do know that it happened for me. Not long ago it occurred to me that I had become comfortable in my own skin and that self-centered behavior just was not in me any longer. It was as if God just stepped in one day and made me ..me.

Now you may wonder why I’m writing about this now and at this time? Simply this, I have two friends and one in particular who has fallen very ill with cancer. One friend has been so blessed to have discovered it early enough to treat this and my other friend may go home to his heaven very soon. These two men have and always will be my friends. They have each shown me what it is like to have a remarkable and generous character. Both are so blessed to have given so much to so many. They are both so comfortable in themselves that they are able to give so much extra to others. Just like that spare change in that glass on my desk that often overflows.

So perhaps having spare change really is not about money at all but rather just being in that place that you’re able to give away more than you ever need. More love, more, compassion, more time to listen and just more of yourself to others that just don’t have any spare change.

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

Craig

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: “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: “Shiny Shoes”

……and you’re still reading

Just how real are you? I was watching an interview on 60 minutes recently profiling Mr. Steve Jobs of Apple fame. The biographer of Steve Jobs life shared a story from “Jobs” youth. His stepfather taught him how to build many things and one was a fence. His stepfather told him, always build the fence so it is just as attractive on the back of the fence as the front. Perhaps no one will ever know or see it but you will always know what you’ve built.

It may seem to some that this is perfection in the making or some OCD thing. But doesn’t it really describe integrity and character? It’s what we do that no-one may ever see or how we behave when no-one is looking that truly defines ones character.

My Grandfather always had wonderful small statements of fact to simplify the experiences of life. One I will always remember..Craig he would say, “Always be wary of a man who only shines the front of his shoes” I have always remembered that statement and to this day I always shine the back of my shoes because you never know who’s looking?

I too have many statements of my own making and one I will share is this: “I would rather wear a real Timex watch rather than a fake Rolex”. Being real, being of good character and integrity sounds simple enough but it’s not always easy. It takes a bit more work to build that fence so it’s attractive on both sides, a little bit more polish to shine those shoes completely and refrain to resist the temptation to wear a glimmering fake Rolex.

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

Craig

20121205-234332.jpg

FollowCraig: 7 Day Wind

….and you’re still reading

We have a cuckoo clock here at home that is rather old and holds great sentiment to my wife. We also have a wonderful grandfather clock that holds so many family memories. I just love wind up clocks. They remind me of a wondrous creative time when artist, science and craftsmen come together and create often beautiful or even whimsical keepers of time. Time is very interesting and even more so the methods we use to keep track of it. I remember my son never really grasping the concept of a clock with hands that revolved in a circle but rather was more comfortable with a digital clock or how in awe I was when first learning of the atomic clock in Colorado. Have you ever looked at the beauty of a watch and wondered how all those little pieces just keep working so well together? It’s amazing how much effort, thought and imagination it must take to create these wondrous devices. Then time itself is so fascinating as we all have the same number of hours, minutes and seconds everyday. No matter who you are or where one lives, time is the same for all of us and no one knows when God will call us home. So why do we have such a fascination with time and what would we do if we never kept track of time with all these clocks? What if we never knew what time it is? What would you do if you really had no concept of time?

I love wind up clocks and watches and the attention one must pay to setting them. Our cuckoo clock needs to be wound every 24 hours and if you forget, it just stops. Our grandfather clock lasts 7 days before it just stops. These clocks are much like life, in-fact very much like life. Weather each clock is a 1 day, 7 day or even 30 day wind, these incredible machines must be maintained or they just stop and re-starting them always requires a reset. Sometimes our lives need to be reset when we haven’t maintained our standards, integrity or our faith. Like these wonderful timepieces, daily, weekly or monthly winding often prevents having to reset.

Perhaps comparing wind up clocks to life seems odd however much like clocks we really can reset our lives anytime we want. And we can maintain our lives with daily, weekly or monthly maintenance. Some of us call this faith and prayer.

It so happens that my favorite clock is our “7 day wind” grandfather clock, as I wind it every Sunday before heading off to church. I believe God is the real keeper of time and our beautiful clocks are there to remind us of his love and his precious gift of time.

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

Craig

20120904-234416.jpg

FollowCraig: “1882”

…..and you’re still reading

Can you imagine the year 1882? Our country was so young, barely 100 years old. Automobiles, trucks, buses and airplanes just didn’t exist. We had no radio or televisions and certainly no iPhones. Telegraph communication was the norm and the post office was invaluable. In fact most homes didn’t even have indoor bathrooms. People worked in factories, farms, markets and so many other places without coffee breaks or health insurance and the 40 hour work week was unknown. Many children had to quit school at young ages to work and support their families. The industrial revolution was upon America full swing in 1882 and what is now known as the middle class had its beginning. It’s through all this the America we know today was built and in most part by the American worker yes, American labor.

Although history is unclear who really proposed the Labor day holiday, we know the Central Labor Union of New York was responsible and celebrated the fist holiday on September 5th, 1882. Later this day was to become the national celebrated day we now enjoy. The original idea was to have parades and picnics to recognize the American worker. A day that all workers would be able to relax with family, friends and self.

It is so interesting and amazing that in a time when we did not have all the modern conveniences of today a movement of such importance and value was conceived, organized, executed and still survives. America is a wondrous country, our American workers have always been and still are the backbone of our Nation.

This Labor Day weekend of 2012 serves to remind us of what these men, women and children gave to our country then and now. May our families and friends celebrate in humble memory and warm embrace of us. God bless America and American Labor!

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

Craig

20120902-071719.jpg