Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm Not Really That Bad, Am I?

It's taken me a lot of years to figure this one out, but I've about decided I'm okay just the way I am. Don't get me wrong, we can all use a little tweaking here and there, but I'm talking about the underlying principles and personality traits that make us what we are.

We spend way too much time trying to please others and fit within the social guidelines that others love to set for us.It started for me way back in grammar school I suppose. Remember the peer pressure? If you weren't from the right school district, forget it, you won't be hanging with us, kid. From designer clothes to the first car we drive, it all matters, or so they say. A little nudging can be good, and motivate us to reach closer to our potential, but the pressures I remember can be damaging.

We've all heard the phrase "the grass is greener on the other side." Likewise, it's easy to long to be like someone else, to have the qualities and traits he/she has that we don't, while ignoring what we hold that is often times unique and wonderful.

For me, I tend to be on the quiet side, letting others take the limelight, while relishing in my achievements. I don't like the fanfare of being the center of attention. But it's easy for me to watch someone get up and speak, taking charge of the crowd, and wish I was just a little more like that. Would people think more of me? Is that more attractive? Wish I could sing like that, but I can't carry a tune in a bucket.

After a while of not realizing the personal dreams we long for, it's easy to start thinking about making changes. Okay, must be me, I'm just not getting any where, and look at ole Joe, everything just seems to fall in place for him.

What works for Joe may not work for me. Plus, after a time, as I reach a more "mature" point in my life, I see that Joe may not be as happy as it had seemed. We've all seen examples. Maybe Joe can't keep a marriage together, and his health is not good from all the habits. But all I can see is the flashy car and successful business, and above all, the personality. Charm and charisma. Or whatever things I don't have.

The things that seem so easy and obvious to me are impossible for Joe to handle without help.

Our unique gifts will make room for themselves, if we nourish them and allow growth. For every "A" personality that comes by and doesn't understand me, or at least in my narrow visibility it appears that way, someone is out there that understands and gets me. We all need both types in our lives, at least I do. I am finally reaching the point that I know I will never be the outspoken one, the leader who drives the masses, the life of the party. But my unique, special gifts have a place, and here's a news flash for those of you that are maybe a little younger, struggling with acceptance: you're admired by someone just the way you are, and as you meet people during your journey through life, even more will come by and touch your life, then be touched.

Don't try to change and be someone you aren't; you can only fake it for so long, and in the meantime, your special friend-to-be may walk by while you're in your own personal turmoil, and not even notice you. The one that will appreciate you just the way you were made, and no other way will do. And this goes for everyone, not just people like me (if there are any like me....)

Being yourself is more fun anyway. And more satisfying as well. And who can do it better than you?

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Season to Reflect

Spring time. My favorite time of the year, just edging out summer. I've always lived in the south, and while I love the history and beauty of the northeast, I'm not one who would adapt well to grabbing a snow shovel in the AM so I could get out of the driveway. Warm weather rules.

With that said, a lot has happened in the springtime for me personally. My three kids celebrate birthdays in April, May, and June. This year I will have three teenagers at the same time (13,14,19 years old respectively,) and I'm not even stressed, they're all good kids. 21 years ago this Wednesday on April 7th I was married to Susie, and through all the trials of life that hit everyone, we're still clicking along in 2010. I know anniversary cards are meant to be a very personal, heartfelt note between a couple, but I thought I would share what we each wrote this year. I believe a couple that sets a good example inspires others. Remember, the kids are watching and listening in. With that said, here is my card first:


I guess in addition to my suspense novel and the children's books I have planned, I could write a love story based on personal experience. This one would include not only a couple that loves each other for years, but a couple that sticks together through many good times , along with a season or two that's as trying as it gets. You never thought of bailing out for greener pastures, and neither did I. That isn't even a thought for us; we were placed together and nothing can break that bond.

Our kids know mom and dad will always be there, unchanged, through thick and thin. That's part of the reason they're as they are. We're giving them an example of what to expect when they go to get married, so we're actually inspiring generations to come.

I still enjoy the spontaneity when we can break away and be by ourselves. You are quite a blessing, and a great reward for coming to church with you in '88. You are a fine, Godly example to our kids and to others. I can't imagine where I would be today without you, the church, and our wonderful kids. It would make an inspiring book. And to think it isn't even finished yet. How exciting!

I love you very much, and I thank you for putting up with my quirky ideas, especially when they go bad.


I like the last paragraph pre-written on the card I gave Susie:

I love being with you
where we are today,
together writing the pages
we'll remember tomorrow

And now Susie's card to me:

Dear Craig,

I love you very much. You have been a wonderful husband. You are everything I could ever want. You are very handsome, smart, and extremely motivated. You're perfect in every way. God has truly blessed me. You make my life complete. Sometimes I take you for granted, but I am truly thankful for you. I love you with all my heart. I know you will always be there for me. You give me balance. I want to be a good wife to you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You are so sweet and caring, Happy 21st Anniversary!

Love Always,


I like this line, pre-printed in the card:

As time goes by,
the really important things in life
grow stronger,
more meaningful, and even more precious.....

I know a bad relationship can be beyond anything imaginable, but so can a good one. Once you reach your 21st anniversary and you can say "I would do it all over again,"
you've both done something right. Listen, sacrifice, share, care.

So, back to Spring. For me it's a season of beginnings in many ways. The flowers blooming (I'll even take the pollen,)everything coming alive, and a fresh start, once per year. Forget New Year's, all the trees are still dead and life is dormant. Like it is in the sports world, opening day of Spring offers hope, at least for a season, if you don't let it pass you by. Predictable and always on time, it comes once per year, both symbolically (for me) and in the natural as well.

My three kids are all young enough to think they have all the time necessary to build a life, and nothing is impossible. That's how the springtime affects me as well. "Why not try this....." "If they can do it, I can too." I'm a little more in sync than they are with the fact that time doesn't last forever on earth for any of us, but I still have my dreams and crazy ideas, some of which will happen.

At the same time, I am learning how to enjoy the simple day in, day out time with family and friends; we all have a certain number of springs, and the stories created last a lifetime. I want to look back with good memories, not regret. While the kids are still young; I only have a few more springs left before they're writing their own books of life. I guess our job is to help them with the first chapter then get out of the way. It's kind of sad, but exciting to think of what they'll accomplish. At least I'll always have the memory of carrying Robbie, him sound asleep on my shoulder, across the front of the church during a prayer meeting. Or the girls coming over and tucking me and Susie in bed, giving us both a hug and a kiss, telling us "I love you."