Let me tell you a story about my friend Craig. His father in law is my next door neighbor, and his wife and children come to visit from Orlando a few times a year. His wife is full of life, always positive and smiling, beautiful to the eyes and the soul. She exudes spirit and is a joy to be around. Together they have five children under eleven. They are very busy! I met Melissa first, as Craig worked long hours for Disney as chef and restaurant manager, picking up as much overtime as possible to support his family. She talked about him with a glow and a smile, and mentioned he is a few years younger than she. Of course, once we met and my husband (who loves to joke) got a hold of him, this became a plot of humor between us. Craig calling my husband ‘Dad’ (he is in his early forties), and my husband constantly joking ‘where you born yet?’ referring to the 80′s era. We developed a really nice friendship with this beautiful family, and visited them in Orlando as well. From the moment I met Craig, I knew my friend Melissa had a good eye;), as despite the fact that he was in his twenties, this guy was way beyond his physical years in spirit. I was very drawn to him and loved our conversations. When the family would visit, my favorite thing to do was prepare a meal with Craig. OK, truth be told, I watched and was his personal taste- tester. Six kids (including my own) would run around the house, Melissa full of love being super mom, would tend to the children, while I learned a few techniques from her hubby to improve my own cooking skills. Thank you for the gift, Melissa! We would spend hours listening to really good music, like the Beatles, Miles Davis, Fats Waller, and 70′s funk. And we would talk about our passion, his being food, cooking, and feeding… as food is love, mine being embracing our inner beauty, nurturing our talents, and following our joy. Me, my husband and my daughter looked forward to each visit. My neighbor, a very kind and generous man, would light up with enthusiasm when his family arrived! That is a family that feeds the soul, and we love seeing them all together.
On the last visit, Craig was not as chipper as usual, and he was feeling frustrated with his position. He was honored frequently in his organization, creating award winning dishes, but his salary was not reflecting his accomplishments, and overtime was no longer an option. He has a family of seven, and was starting to feel the pressure. We had some very deep conversations about his goals, talents and what life was teaching him, and when I mentioned to Craig that each experience is a gift, even though it may not seem so at first, he was resistant to believing. I fully understand that, as it’s hard to see the gift when you are struggling financially. I shared with him the rock bottom my own family hit, and how at the time it seemed there was no way out. I also shared with him what we did instead of accepting logic. Logic said we were doomed. Spirit said ‘look up, trust, surround yourself with love and believe in miracles’. And we did just that. We let go of logic, counted our blessings, prayed and loved, and miracle after miracle showed up, proving to us that love and trust is all you need. We kept the momentum going. We found the beauty in every little thing we had. We learned what it really meant to be present. When you are down to your last buck, there is no other way to be but present, as you cannot plan the future, you must be in the now. I shared with Craig how we knew this was the greatest gift, that life was our greatest teacher, and through that experience my own passion became clear. I knew I was meant to share with others hope, optimism and love, and Spreadhappy was born. For what we held so close during those difficult times were gratitude, love, passion, friendships, and the art of being. And I had the chance to share it with an amazing person, and pray that he would trust. I gave him my DVD of “The Secret” and made him a copy of the CD. I suggested that he inundate himself with both, watching morning and night, listening in his car, getting ideas in his head, and reconditioning his thoughts. The next morning he left for Orlando. His wife asked me to pray, and I did.
That week we left for a family vacation. I tried to contact Melissa, but had a hard time reaching her. I saw her father (my next door neighbor) and asked him to let her know I was available if she needed a friend.
I didn’t hear from her for a few days, but when I did, the news was amazing. A true miracle, and confirmation of trust and love…this is the best part of the story…
A very big celebrity (let’s call him George)and his daughter were visiting Disney. George asked that his meals be sent to his suite, so he could spend quality time with his child. As usual, the kitchen looked to Craig to prepare the meals. This was nothing out of the ordinary, as celebs frequent Disney, and Craig had cooked for Disney VP’s with accolades many times. What was unusual was George’s gratitude and genuine interest in Craig’s dishes. You see, George had a hard time getting his daughter to eat veggies, but suddenly the little girl wanted nothing to do with her mac and cheese, and everything to do with Daddy’s veggies. George wanted to thank the Chef personally, and find out his secret!
George called down to the kitchen and asked to meet Craig, and thank him face to face. Craig complied and visited the suite. During their chat, George asked Craig how he was preparing the veggies, and told Craig how his daughter was eating them off his plate. Craig shared with him that he understood the challenge of getting kids to eat veggies, as he had five kids at home. George was inspired and amazed (I am too!) and asked to see pictures of his beautiful family. He also asked for Craig’s contact information, so he could be in touch for cooking tips. As the days went by, the celeb requested Craig prepare all of his meals, and graciously thanked him for the beautiful food. George asked Craig if he was happy in his job. Craig explained that he loves cooking, but has dreams of progressing his career, and would welcome a new challenge. As the days progressed, Craig continued to get requests to prepare the meals for this celeb and his daughter, and continued to have meaningful conversations with someone who truly appreciates his talent and passion for cooking. George took a genuine interest in Craig and his family. The recognition of his talent was just what the doctor ordered.
The day George was leaving, he said some magical words to Craig that I know were Divinely sent, a message from a higher power. George said thank you for the contact information, as he would like to contact Craig for recipes. He followed it up with, ‘ and you never know where your talents may lead…and when opportunity may arrive to follow your dreams’.
I don’t know if the celeb will ever know how his attention to Craig and true interest in his talent has affected him. I don’t know if George new his timing was perfect. I hope he does, and I hope his daughter knows this of her father, that kindness matters. When I heard this story, tears poured down my face, proving to me, once again that miracles happen everyday, when we least expect them. This experience has given my friend a tremendous boost, and shown him that faith, a very simple change in thought, invites miracles. I don’t know what will come of this, and it doesn’t really matter. Craig was given confirmation of trust and love, recognition of his talent, and loving genuine attention from someone who had no idea Craig’s spirit was in need of appreciation. It is amazing how a compliment, a smile and gratitude can literally change a person’s life. And the beauty is you don’t have to be a celebrity to give it. This gift is free, and we all have the ability to give it. And by the way, today is Craig’s birthday. Happy Birthday Craig! Enjoy the gift.