I’ve had an interesting life.  From humbling pratfalls to the sweet taste of success, I certainly cannot lay claim to leading an existence built on sameness. As I’ve come to realize over the years, it’s very much a family trait.

You see, the environment in which myself, and my entire family all came out of was far from normal. For the most part, we all had to struggle out of our environments to get to where we are today.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, each and every one of us, from cousins to grandparents are proof positive of that expression.

To sum us all up in one word…survivors.

I’m very proud that I am among them. On a few occasions, I very nearly wasn’t. However, God built me “Ford Tough”, and here I sit today, writing this blurb as a testament to that fact. I am truly grateful that I can celebrate my heritage here and now with my readers.

There was a time, not all that long ago, that I could not see things so clearly. My life was in ruins. Within my tunnel-vision, all I could see was the exit sign before me. It seemed no matter how hard I struggled, I always tumbled right back into that dark, dank pit of self-destruction. Fortunately, a spirit higher than myself had other plans, and it became clear that no self-inflicted solution would ever be successful. I also started to see some truth that honestly hadn’t been clearly evident.

I had love and respect from my friends and family. I was also wanted by them. And, I was worthy of both. Once these truths took hold, everything changed.

My mother promised me during my blackest hours that if I could just hang on, the clouds would eventually clear, and the second half of my life would be a better deal. I’m forever grateful that I have her loving words to guide me through my continuing journey. She helped me navigate some hellish curves in the road. I don’t know if there are enough thanks in this life I could offer her for just being there for me.

As it’s turned out, she hit the nail on the head. Today, I am seeing blessing after beautiful blessing enter my life, and for the very first time, remaining with me. I’m so glad I can still tell her I love her. A great many of my friends would kill for that same privilege with their own parents.

I also have a world-class father. He’s a constant source of inspiration to me. This is a man who rose out of poverty and strife, to become not only successful, but also one of the most resilient man I’ve ever met. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING has ever taken him down. He’s tackled demons no one I know could ever survive. Yet, he’s still here, with a big old smile spread across his face.

I remember fondly when I was growing up, his interest in helping me to see my potential. He once told me I have the makings of a leader in life. That statement was alien to me, and remained so for many years. But as I become older and uglier, I am starting to finally understand what he saw. I march to my own rhythms, seem to have the natural ability to lead by example as well as the gift of being able to guide through my words. I am also fearless when I finally set my mind to something bold and life-changing. All of these traits I developed from some tough but always loving parents.

I knew some friends that had parents, once they passed, that had left them a great deal in terms of property, bank notes, insurance, what have you. While that’s all well and good, I know I have already inherited much greater wealth.

Life skills.

I know that when the chips are down, I can tough it out. I know that despite my occasional lack of self-confidence, underneath the foolishness, I am a winner. I also know that when my back is against the wall, I have the strength to come out on top, with both eyes still wide open. No Met Life insurance policy can ever top that.

I’ve also inherited a wonderful sense of humour, phenomenal empathy skills, incredible work ethic and a razor-sharp mind. Because of both my parents, I’m probably one of the best problem solvers you will ever come across. It all comes from that can-do spirit that courses through my veins.

So, on this St. Patty’s day, whilst everyone is out and about tonight, drinking green beer, and likely causing general mayhem, I will be here, smiling, tinkering with an old stereo I am  hell-bent and determined to restore. I will be using every single work-appropriate skill my parents have given me to meet that goal.

I work with no blueprint.

I work with no schematic.

I only work with my mind, my hands, and my determination.

Thank you Ma. Thank you Dad. Both of you gave me more throughout this life than maybe you realize. I many never inherit a dime, as was the case when your parents moved onto the afterlife. But what I do have is so much more valuable than folding money.

Happy St. Patty’s folks.

Da Taz!