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.


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!


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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: 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,

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FollowCraig: Playing Small

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For over ten years or better now I have been playing small. That was not my old life, I did play big or so I thought? My life is and has been a wonderful experience. I’ve had many great blessings occur over my lifetime. It’s odd though that only now in recent years have I grown to realize this truth. Later this year I will be releasing my new book and am so looking forward to sharing so many experiences and truths with others. One of the many things I have learned is to stop playing small. At least for me it has served no real positive purpose. I truly believe that we are placed on this earth to do Gods work, to reach out and teach or help others find their way, their dreams and to embrace life. I’ve been very blessed to have had so many roads to travel in my life and I have taken many. Sometimes with careless abandon and others with extreme focus. I have had hopeless failures and disappointments and exhilarating success. Money has come and money has gone. But the wonder of the memories all remain. There is no reason for anyone not to have the life God intends for us to have. It is a responsibility I have to myself, my family and all those I love to share these stories. I can tell you from experience the things that work and those that don’t. The road to a decision and the right and the wrong. I know what damage lies do as well as truths, like diet and exercise. When we take steps each day of our life to build a foundation or what happens when we never lift a single block. God does not want us to play small, life dictates we jump in with both feet win and loose. Exercise our minds our bodies and souls. Reach out beyond ourselves and give all we can to others and let our failures be our successes. I am no longer playing small!

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FollowCraig: U+ME+?=1?

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U+Me+?=1? Is this some secret formula, something like H2O? Well kind of! It was sure a secret to me? When I married in the late seventies, I was so happy! My life was going to be just perfect. A wonderful woman, a daughter already in the family, my career was soaring and as they say: “my future was so bright; I had to wear shades”. It’s funny though, when your own life is not built on solid ground, when you don’t know your own standards it’s easy to begin drifting. I sure did, I was living in fear and didn’t even know it. That fear drove me to a very self-centered existence, Craig first, career 2nd, family and wife somewhere in the rear. I did whatever I wanted! When I traveled out-of-town on business, I would visit “Strip Clubs and Bars of every sort” I would be the big shot at every party, pick up bar tabs, wore plenty of gold and very expensive custom hand-made shirts! So very much about Craig! No one would really ever believe I had a wife and little girl at home? This was my behavior before my son came along. After he was born, I got even worse. So it’s known, I love my son with all my heart! It’s just at that time in my life having children and a family interfered with my busy playtime. As for my wife, she went to work, stayed quiet, didn’t speak out about her feelings. She just read paperback love stories all the time. It’s not until now at this time in my life that I get it! In a recent post I am “Housewife”; I am Man! | followcraig., I spoke of the three most important persons in every relationship. Do you know who they are? Some would say it’s both partners plus God or both plus the children. In fact when I married for the last time a little over a year ago, my pastor spoke of this. He said the three people in every relationship are the two plus God. I disagree! The most important persons are; the two plus the relationship itself. That relationship, like children are born of the two. It is so to speak their first child together, it must learn to crawl, walk, be fed, housed and loved. Both partners must pay attention to this gift. We will always have our personal lives, our desires, our own passions and that is what brings us together to create this relationship. It’s up to each partner to covet their relationship, to feed it with love, faith and attention. God is always watching over the relationship and it’s partners. These things I know!

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FollowCraig: Humble Evangelism

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It’s true, evangelism makes many of us uneasy. Perhaps we have winced as street corner preachers harangued passersby. Maybe some earnest proselytizer made us uncomfortable at home or some other public place? I used to call these people bible thumper’s. Or even someone close to us found our expression of faith wanting? So what do we do when we hear we must carry the good news of the gospel to others, we just don’t know how to begin. How do we do this without embarrassing or offending others as we have felt? Perhaps it starts by staying grounded in our own faith community.

History tells us that Jesus called the Twelve “and began to send them out two by two” he sent them out in a relationship to form relationships. The disciples were to “take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts”. Like those early evangelists, we must approach others in humble empty-handedness. We come interested in those we meet, ready to hear their stories and be willing to understand what matters to them. Isn’t this the way to really meet people anyway? Eventually, in a natural give-and-take we can talk about our spiritual journey. Jesus’ detractors wondered with scorn: “Where did this man get all this?” Whatever wisdom and power Jesus had; came from God.

So why does all this matter in today’s world? A world of busy people, families, jobs, bills, cars, traffic, cell phones, computers and more. It’s hard to remember with so much going on in everyone’s lives what things in life really matter. In everything we do, every person we meet and all those in our lives deserve to know all that God has given them. We can really only share this by living or striving to live a life of gratitude, of love and true caring of others. If you believe as I do that Jesus is real and that he is the son of God as well as God, that he walks beside each of us whatever our faith or background then we will never walk alone. Our faith will always be our companion, no matter how busy we are.

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FollowCraig: Hell in the Hallway

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Jobs and careers go and new ones appear, friends go and new friends appear, things we love go and new ones appear. “When one door closes another will open”, God works in wondrous ways we are told and many of us believe with all our soul that is true. I’ve got to say though while those doors are swinging it can feel like “hell in the hallway”. We worry and regret, we wonder what we did wrong or we blame someone else for what’s happened. Perhaps we cry, get depressed, go on addictive binges, over spend and the list goes on. Facing change in life especially real personal change is frightening. I think it’s a real test of our faith, our faith in ourselves, in our family and God. I know some that say faith is enough and just hang in, everything will be ok.. My life experience has taught me that’s not entirely true. It is important to make peace with the changes that is for certain as without peace the fear of the unknown will overtake you. I find it helps to repeat the Serenity Prayer when I’m in this state, perhaps you have another way to rest your mind. It’s then the most difficult thing to do of all appears? It’s called ACTION. Oh my that’s a though one, but without taking action, without reaching out for the next doorknob, no amount of prayer, faith, support or family will get you out of that “hell in the hallway”.

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FollowCraig: Oh God!

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Before I get to far ahead let’s talk some about faith. I never had it! Really! I was brought up in the Mormon church and never gave any of this much thought. It was assumed that after high school I would participate in a church mission then marry a good Mormon girl and have lots of children. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Well that didn’t happen for me as I was a bit of a rebel when I was young. Going my own path would be for me and that I did. I left home when I was about 18 years old and moved to Arizona to live with my father. My dad was not a religious man so it was refreshing not to be attending church all the time. I’m pretty sure it was then that my agnostic point of view took shape. It was easy to just not really participate in any church, religion or faith for the next thirty or so years. Even as a married man with children, I never went to church or introduced my kids to any level of faith teachings. Why bother I would say. Funny thing though? Faith was always surrounding me wherever I would be. As a salesman faith and faith principles would be taught in most sales training classes. People at work would talk about their faith, always on television I would hear it. Faith and God were always around me but I would not jump in. I just didn’t want to talk about it, it was uncomfortable! Once while attending a sales seminar we attendees were told to draw a wheel with eight spokes.

20120626-154011.jpgSo I drew one like this, then we were told to mark the spokes from 1-10 rating our own life experiences, then connect the dots. Needless to say when it came to the spiritual spoke my wheel was very flat on one side.

I really knew for a long time this part of my life was not in balance, what was not known by me was the effect this imbalance would have on my life to come.

All this talk of faith became very important as my activity in the 12 Steps of Alcoholic’s anonymous became part of my life. Earlier I wrote of reading the Bible when I first stopped drinking. Believe me, I found it an interesting book of incredible stories. So many people say it’s hard to read and perhaps that’s true. However I struggled through it every night for a couple of months then read it a second time and it was much easier to understand. Reading this book really did not lead me to my faith however. I just knew it was time for me to decide what I believed. Was I to believe that no God existed, or that no higher power surrounds us? That was just not possible for me, I really could not accept an atheist position. So if I believed in a higher power, should I have faith? Well yes faith made sense to me. After all someone or something had been watching over me all these years. After all the screw ups in my life, my wrongs, my lies, my craziness. I was still here and pretty healthy at that, so I knew about faith. Now it was only a matter of deciding whether or not to accept and celebrate my faith. To take one last leap of faith on my own to believe that God was real or not. Oh the proof of this can easily disputed if one wants, but I always had this one question that still haunts me. A question that no scientist can really answer? The one thing that makes me believe that a God exits. That question is; “how do we know to breathe?”

Only a higher power can decide that. Knowing that, I chose to practice my believe as a Christian and celebrate as a Lutheran. I did indeed take a leap of faith and was baptized into the Christian faith at a Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church in all places the heart of Mormon land “Salt Lake City, Utah“. It felt Great!

For me and I can only really speak to that, I found freedom. My eight spoke wheel of life wasn’t so flat anymore. My life got easier, it really did and has.

My first and second year of sobriety was only a beginning of the tests to come. My relationships with my friends, my family, my children and all those I knew would be affected by choices I would make. As I have learned over these years is that many people care about each of us just as we care about many people ourselves. They all want the best for us and make every effort. But until we decide for ourselves to surrender our self-centered behavior and begin to have faith our lives will never be peaceful. We will never be able to lend a helping hand up to those we care about without doing this for ourselves.

As I talk more about my times and trials to come it should become clear I am still learning these lessons everyday of my life.

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FollowCraig: Miracles II

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A couple of months ago when writing Miracles I spoke of my God car and how in the face of adversity, desperation and fear I was given this gift. So, I thought I would follow-up with a little on this story. Almost five years later I was attending an A.A. meeting in Las Vegas while on my way to California. At the end of the meeting a fellow came to me with the greatest smile and the warmest hug. He said, Craig you might not remember but you drove me to WestCare one day when I was in a drunken and drugged blackout. I know you didn’t want to take me in your beautiful car but you did. I wanted to tell you that I haven’t had a drink or drug since that day, I have a job as a taxi driver, my own apartment and a car of my own. And Craig he said: it’s because of you and what you did for me that day, you stayed with me until I was safe and told be it would get better. No one else had ever said that and been so nice to me. Tears come to me when I remember him and his story. You see it was not me or my car or the care facility, it was God that made that day happen for him, the rest of us were only God’s servants that day.

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FollowCraig: Be Yourself

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I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out how to just be myself. As a young man I was always told what I was to be when I grew up. You should be an architect, an accountant a lawyer and so many other things. I was taught to believe a certain faith and be of one political party. When my children were growing I didn’t ever tell them what to be, what religion or faith and nothing about politics. Let’s see who turned out best? I think the kids did. You see they found there careers, perhaps have found their own faith. So when I read the following written by; Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal” I felt like me!

“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself.”

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