FollowCraig: “Spare Change”

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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

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.

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FollowCraig: Street Cleaning

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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.

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FollowCraig: “Shiny Shoes”

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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.

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FollowCraig: “the paycheck”

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the paycheck” I’ve been a very lucky man all of my life. I grew up in a good family and lived pretty damn good. As a teenager I went to work along with attending school. I enjoyed having my own money and the freedom that came with it. I was able to buy cars, nice stereo equipment, take my girlfriend out and so much more. As I grew older my career provided a great income for myself, my family and as always it felt good to earn my way. I always took it for granted that my income would never really stop and I would always have success. Well as I and so many others have experienced, sometimes the paycheck stops. I never prepared for such a life changing event as losing your career and your income. I’m sharing this portion of my life journey in hope that if you or someone you know is going through this, that it can be fixed! I made many mistakes after the loss of my sales job in 1999. I found it difficult to just move forward. How could I “Craig” the man with the bold career possibly tell anyone I needed work and would be humble enough to start over. Let alone let anyone know that I was downsized and fired so to speak. Having no paycheck and no income begins to create no self-worth. Men especially need to earn a living, we need to have a little jingle in the jeans. The paycheck is often the only measure a man has to rate and value his life. Often I have spoken of finding my faith over these years, but not so much about finding my self-worth and confidence. Today, I gratefully state I have earned a paycheck. It’s not just about the money and it’s not just that jingle in the jeans either. Receiving a paycheck truly causes you to feel valuable again. After almost 13 years of on again off again jobs, being underpaid, starting MLM businesses, being promised or just believing I’m in the right deal I have finally come to realize that simply earning a paycheck is a wonderful feeling and I for one have missed it! It takes a lot out of a man when they cannot or don’t have that job that defines them anymore. My advise is not to follow my path of fear and shame, but rather stay working. If your job is gone, take anything to keep busy and earn that paycheck. Once you begin to lose your felling of self-worth and value it can take forever or like me over a decade to get it back. Believe me, it’s overwhelming and exhausting.

Today my life is very good, I am happily married and now a fresh beginning to an old career. I’m earning my way again and my feeling of self-worth is retuning with a humble vengeance. My faith is strong and I expect my life to be long. No matter what happens today in my life, I am prepared. “the paycheck” is a gift from God and it’s up to us to protect it, preserve it and use it wisely. Hold on to you’re self-worth no matter what obstacles fall in your path. After all the real measure of a man is not his paycheck but rather his character.

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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!

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