Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Defining Moments and Other Deep Thoughts

Today is the release day for When a Man Loves a Weapon, by Toni McGee Causey. I personally can't wait to get my hands on it.

A while back, I ran a contest about defining moments—those moments that lead you down a certain path. The entries I received were very inspiring and touching. One thing that was evident in most of the entries was that defining moments usually include some kind of a hurdle. Things you either have to overcome, let go of, deal with, or accept.

I’m sure this isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone out there, but life isn’t perfect. I think what defines us isn’t so much about our status in the “perfect” category, but it’s about how we deal with the imperfections, the mistakes, the uphill climbs, the downhill slopes, and the crap that life drops on us when we least expect it.

Some of the most successful people I know aren’t those who have had lives void of crappy issues. It’s not always the smartest, or the strongest who succeed. It’s the people who knew how to pull up their big girl panties. People who knew how to forgive themselves, and others, and keep moving toward a goal. If they slipped up, they picked themselves up and kept going. It was the people who accepted their weaknesses, while working on them, and people who used their strengths to make a difference.

Some of the most beautiful people I know, aren’t those who are thin, wrinkle free, or meet the traditional standards of beauty. They are the people who smile and laugh more, care more, and make time for the things that bring them and others happiness. Oddly enough, to me, the happy and well-rounded people tend to be the most beautiful people.

The happiest people aren’t those who necessarily have a stress-free or a perfect life. It’s the people who have learned to face change, even when change was hard, even when it scared the holy poop out of them. It’s the people who hold tighter to hope, and remain positive in the face of adversity and negativity. It’s the people who took a risk, a chance, and was willing to make their own happiness--even if that trek was slow going--and not depend on others to do it for them. Funny things is, the happiest people aren’t those living a perfect life, but those who are always working toward perfection.

The people I have learned to admire aren’t always the ones toting trophies, or wearing gold medals. It’s not always the people who achieved their goals; it’s the people working toward them. It’s the people who stand as a symbol of perseverance. People who didn’t give up, give in, or simply stay in that sweet little comfort zone where life was easier. It’s the people who have remained hopeful, who gave hope, and learned how to give themselves a break.

Today I hope all of you will find a way to become more successful, more beautiful, and happier. I hope you’ll find something to laugh at, to laugh hard at--a funny book, a joke, or a movie. I hope when you discover your defining moment that you will allow it to lead you on the right path.

Oh, and I hope you’ll share an inspiration saying, or some bit of wisdom you’ve learned on the wonderful, sometimes treacherous, path called life. Below is my winner and honorable mention winners for my contest. Their prizes have already been sent and I want to thank everyone who entered.


My defining moment was when I realized I was starting to shake a couple of hours before getting ready to go to the bar. You see I was what I now consider a weekend alcoholic. However, it started on Thursday night. Since it was lady's night, I could get in the club for free. My drinking would start and not end til Sunday. I knew in my heart I should not be drinking considering I have alcoholics on both sides of my family. I mean I wasn't getting drunk to escape reality, I just liked the taste, right. In the middle of all of this, I found my partner for life. The thing is he was a bartender. We were both in need of a change for various reasons. So, we decided to move to his hometown. The reason I said yes, it is a dry county. Believe it or not, they do still exist in the US. It was perfect. We could each focus on our individual problems and get to know each other better. We have been in the state of Kentucky for the last 6 1/2 years and counting. I no longer drink except maybe on a special occasion, once every six months. I'm so glad I no longer depend on those drinks to get me through the weekend.
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When I was in university, a friend persuaded me to join the military reserves as an officer, as it would provide me with income throughout the year as well as a guaranteed job in the summer (crucial to a university student). This made sense to me, and, as I was in pre-law, I joined the military police reserve unit.In my first summer of training I was sent to CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Petawawa, an army based that trained non-combat arms officers, located just outside of Ottawa. There we underwent training just like any other soldier: up at 5:00 am to run, breakfast at 6:00, in the classroom until 9:00, out in the field for weapons training until noon, back to base for lunch. Back in the classroom until 2:00, then outside until 4:00 drilling (learning how to march), supper at 5:30, usually followed by a training film. That film was the worst, because we were tired and full from supper. No matter what they showed, be it demolitions or strategic maneuvers, we were all asleep within 5 minutes.One morning, after about 2 weeks of this, we were running (we never walked anywhere) to the firing range for weapons practice with sub- machine guns. All of a sudden I had a real defining moment. First of all, I wondered what the heck a nice, middle-class white girl was doing, running around the Ontario wilderness with a sub-machine gun, singing slightly risqué marching tunes. Secondly, I realized that practicing law was not what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoyed the action that the military supplied me, and I knew I'd never feel that again if I became a lawyer.When I returned to university in the fall I changed my courses from pre-law to law enforcement and continued with my position in the reserves. It was a good decision. Law enforcement suited me much better than the more scholarly pursuits of a career as a lawyer ever would have.

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Most of who I am and what I do came from joining an online book club. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it's true. I joined the band Panic! At the Disco's online club when I was high school and my life completely changed. I found a lot of great friends all around the world, read new books and fell in love, started an online magazine with some members and have been doing it for two years now, started writing for online websites found through various means, started realizing what I wanted to do as a career (magazine writing or book publishing), was interviewed for a magazine for being the mod of the book club, and so much more. It changed my life...definitely for the better.
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I think my lifestyle was form right from the start and I never realized it before. I was abandoned at birth and raised by a great aunt who was much older than my parent. The beginning of my life gave me very little hope and for years I lived thinking about how I was not wanted as a baby. I grew up feeling for the underdog in people and would befriend those who seemed to be a bother to others. I really wanted to help the ones who needed that extra push in life and I feel I helped many in my years past. I also helped myself overcome that unwanted feeling and became a much better person because of it all. My life also consist of many people as I have one big hobby besides reading. I write to over 50 pen pals and have been doing this over 45 years..this is my style of writing I guess. I feel I have crossed paths with many and we remain friends after many years. I hope this shows some lifestyle I am proud to share.
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Freshman year of college, I endured one of those somewhat common, angst-filled time periods of depression which I suppose can be termed 'a crisis of faith.' One of those times when you are all philosophical about everything, the weight of the world is upon you, and the nothing in life makes much sense. What does it all mean? I actually read chunks of the encyclopedia of philosophy. I wanted to know why I was here. What was the meaning of life? Was there a god? Yes, I know, a bit saccharine but there you go. This gradually went downhill through the course of my freshman year. I spend a lot of time in bed not doing much of anything. What was the point? Nothing mattered. There was no god, no reason for anything. I failed out. I went to bed many nights thinking it would be ok if I never woke up. I floundered around for months afterward, aimless. Eventually though, I came out of it. I came to the realization that even if there was no god (still am an atheist), there was indeed one thing worth living for, that made everything ok in the world.Love. Love made everything worthwhile. I still hold to that belief. Love for my family, my wife, my kids. It's the one thing to hold on to no matter how crappy the world is around you or how meaningless a lot of things in life can seem. It makes the world go round, and is one of the defining traits of mankind. So as a 'moment' I don't guess it really is, but that timeframe in my life has probably defined me more than anything else in 40 odd years.
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I've had a few defining moments, but one I remember is the moment I realized my decision to get a divorce was the right one. For a year after I asked for the divorce, I struggled with the decision. As you know, you go through lots of things at that point. Lots of scary unknowns and everything image you had of your future changes.But one December night, when my ex came crying to my door because the young blond bimbo he'd cheated with and married had left him high and dry after only 5 weeks of marriage, something switched. I'll never forget the feeling of something lifting off my shoulders and I was positive I'd done the right thing.I sent him out to dinner with our daughter so I could wrap some presents, and I've never regretted or doubted my decision since. Nor do I feel a thing (except sever irritation, as is to be expected) since that moment. Total, instant liberation.
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Don't forget to share you own bit of wisdom today.


Francyne said...

Whether it was a defining moment or just necessity, I came to realize that the relationship I had with a family member was toxic for me. The pulling back included angst and sorrow, but not regret. Truly, life does go on and it can be better.

Christie Craig said...


I think an important thing about being happy and attaining success is making sure your circle of influence isn’t toxic. If you are in a negative relationships, relationships that bring you down and or make you feel less than, then your whole life can be feel the poison. Hanging around positive people makes you feel inspired, hanging around negative people can make you feel negative.

Thanks so much for popping in.


terrio said...

I completely agree. I recently severed a very long friendship because this person was extremely toxic to my life. I don't regret it one bit.

Christie Craig said...


I think we all have been in bad relationships. I have the "ex" that I'm not sorry to miss. Wait, I don't even miss him!

Someone once said to me, "But what if that person needs you?" I think there's a big difference between a person in a temporary "need" and a person who emotionally beats you up.

Cirling yourself with positive, goal achieving people is like buying insurance for being happy. Positive people inspire me and when inspired, I then inspire them.

Go inspire someone.


Michelle said...

I guess everyone has had at least one toxic relationship in their life, though in my case it ended up being two.

The first was with my last serious relationship, we were together for just over 3 years when he broke up with me. For at least a month I thought it was something I did, but then found out that he was cheating on me, before ending it. Still I held out hope that he would come back to me, and wouldn't you know it he did. A year after he left, he came crawling back telling me how sorry he was, that he had changed, that he did want a life with me. I believed him, and things were fine for a few months. I took him back, and then 9 months later I realized what a mistake I had made. He hadn't changed at all, was still the same jerk who'd dumped a year and a half prior. Only this time, I did the dumping before he could and it was the best night of my life. I let him have it, probably shouldn't have screamed at him on the street in front of my house, but it felt like it had to be done. That was four years ago and I don't regret it. I'm now in a new relationship, we've been together for almost 6 months and I realize that this man is the type of person that I deserve and should have had all along. Someone who treats me like a person, an equal and not someone to be walked upon. Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect but than neither am I. But I think together we can work things out and become better people for it.

My other was a friendship, and I realized from hanging around this person so much I was taking on traits of her personality. Unfortunately they weren't very good traits, and we've ceased being friends, and I know we won't be friends again.

Christie Craig said...


I'm glad you got out of the bad relationship.

And you are so right, negative traits rub off on us. We preach to our kids how important it is to hang out with a good peer group. But we forget that it doesn't change when we are adults.

Several years back, I roomed with two people at a conference that I didn't know very well. They were totally negative people. They complained about everything. The food, the hotel staff, the dishes the food was served on, the workshops, the air conditioner, the mattresses. Before long I found myself on the same boat. Complaining, finding things to complain about. It was the worse conference I've ever attended, but the truth is, the things wrong weren't any worse than the years before, I was just honed in to see all the negative, to look for it, and seek it out.

It was a valuble lesson for me to learn.

Thanks so much for sharing.


Elissa Wilds said...

Hi Christie,
What a beautiful post! I can't really chose one defining moment for myself. I've had many over the years. Usually, they come as reminders when I'm feeling disouraged or experiencing some sort of set back - reminders not to give up on myself. Reminders that it's up to me to create for myself the life I wish to live - and that I truly have the power to achieve whatever it is I set my mind to. Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed reading it!

housemouse88 said...

Hello Christie,

Thank you for giving everyone the opportunity to define their moment and especially me. I not only won some beautiful stuff and fantastic books. I was able to verbalize and express a moment in my life I will never regret. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Have a great day.

Steve said...


Thank you. And I totally agree, we make our lives by all the little choices we make.

Thanks again for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Thanks so much for posting and for entering the contest. Your story is amazing.