How's Your "Year in Review"?

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve missed you folks these past few days. I’d like to say it was an intentional hiatus. I could tell you it was because of the holidays. You know, I was so busy wrapping gifts and recovering from a night of reveling. I could blame it on an old war injury if I’d actually been in a war. But the truth is, I’ve just been sick. Yes, I know. I never get sick. I even told my body that. It talked back.

Last night was the first time in eight nights that I’ve slept without waking up coughing. We’re talking the kind of coughing that wakes up the whole house and brings up stuff that would give a catfish the dry heaves. By the time morning came, I was just in a complete fog. My writing at that point wouldn’t have been any better than my driving. Just ask anybody who was on the road with me.

Thanks to a combination of antibiotics, cough medicine, Earl Grey tea, and a little bourbon (it’s Mom’s old recipe), I’m on the road to recovery. I can’t carry a bath towel up the stairs without wheezing, but I’m getting there. Maybe that’s because, in addition to the bath towel, I have to carry this belly up the stairs as well. But I’d rather blame it on the towel. Don’t argue with me. It’s my story.

The new year is nearly upon us. Turn on the news, and there’s a “year in review” story on nearly every channel. Disasters of 2019. Celebrity losses in 2019. Heroes of 2019. Tweets of 2019. Okay, I made that last one up. We all know it would take all of 2020 to recap that one. But you get the idea. It’s a time of year when we reflect on all that’s happened in the past year.

And, if you watch any of those segments, you find yourself thinking, “That was this year???” Time has a way of disguising itself, along with a lot of the emotion and details of the events it encompasses. You know, like those New Year’s resolutions we made. “That was this year???” There’s a reason we don’t write those things down. We don’t want to be reminded how incredibly naïve we really are.

We also don’t like to be reminded of things left undone. You know, like the baseboard trim in my living room … from the reflooring job I did with my own two hands. It looks incredible. It’s hard to believe it’s held up so well over the years. Fourteen years to be exact. And it’s not that I couldn’t afford the trim. It’s been sitting in my garage acclimating to the ambient humidity. For fourteen years.

By noon tomorrow, I’ll be at least temporarily unemployed. My bosses have decided I did such a good job they no longer need me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So, while I wait for something else to open up, I have to sit around the house and be reminded of all the things I never got around to. That’s my punishment for being so good on the job. Woe is me.

Funny, I haven’t even posted this yet and I can already hear some of you chuckling in agreement. The fact is, we all have things we’ve meant to get around to and just never did it. Maybe not big things, and maybe not something as simple as baseboard trim that’s been collecting dust for over a decade. But life just gets in the way, and it seems some things never get done.

That’s why we need to prioritize. What’s most important to you? Make a list of things you’d like to get done, and then decide which ones need to be done first. But don’t set aside the ones that are just for you. Those are important as well. How important? Only you can answer that. If it’s something you can do a little at a time, get started. You may not get it all done this year. But think how much closer you’ll be.

I’ve often said my weight loss journey is a victim of my own impatience. The doctor says lose one pound a week, and I say at that rate, it’ll take me two years. Well, guess what? If I’d started two years ago, I’d be there.

It’s that way with most of the things you’d like to accomplish. Do what you can – a little here and a little there. It may take a while, but maybe your 2020 “year in review” will have a few more wins. And then just think of the fun you can have in 2021.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Let Illness Ruin Your Holidays

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I’m trying to re-learn the art of breathing. The guy who almost never gets sick stumbled into a pile of germs somewhere, and they’ve taken up residence deep in my chest. I guess it’s time to see somebody better trained to deal with this. Too bad the liquor store won’t open for several more hours. They’ve got lots of experts in there.

I normally don’t get sick, so I can’t really complain when something like this catches me off-guard. I take the best vitamins you can buy, and normally when everyone else is in bed all day, I get by unscathed. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. I figure what I spend on vitamins in six months is less money than it would cost me to miss a single day of work. Food for thought.

But when something like this slips through, I’m a big baby. I didn’t know that until my wife informed me in no uncertain terms. And I guess she’s right. When you’re used to being sick, being a little sicker is no big deal. But when it only happens once every couple of years, it’s like slamming the car door on your middle finger. Trust me, the first aid for that one can get you in a bit of trouble. Hi boss!

This is a time of year when lots of people battle just about every imaginable kind of illness. And if you dare to see your doctor, the first thing they do is make you put on a surgical mask. Brilliant! I’m here because I can’t breathe, so let’s make it even harder. How about saving those masks for the people who are healthy and have the most to lose instead of trapping all the germs against my face?

And one more question while we’re at it. When did doctors decide it was a bright idea to stick a light in your ear and then immediately put the same light up your nose? Is this a prank they dreamed up at a frat party? “Hey Fred, watch this! Bet I can make him sneeze!” I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have snot in my ears than ear wax in my nose. I’m just saying.

I’m trying to maintain a sense of humor about this. That’s how I approach most of life. Not all – just ask my wife. She can provide a pretty comprehensive list. But I try to look at things from a lighter perspective. It served me well when I stood on a stage in front of complete strangers who paid me to make them laugh. And it serves me well when my lungs are disintegrating from the inside.

For those who work where I do, a word of warning – I don’t waste my paid time off to save all of you from breathing the air I just exhaled. I’ve never been one to stay home sick unless I just can’t get up. Halfway through the day, the TV changes to shows I’ve never seen. If you don’t feel bad already, watch a little “daytime TV.” As the Stomach Turns, Mates of Our Wives … don’t get me started.

Okay, in fairness, nobody really sits close enough to me to make a difference. Every time they’ve put somebody next to me, they’re gone within two weeks. I’m starting to think maybe it’s me. But I’ve found that I recover faster if I just plow through instead of lying around in pajamas with a dozen used tissues in my lap. And the vitamins I take play a pretty big role in that. I may get sick, but not for long.

I hope you’ve made it through the season so far without illness, and if you have, I hope your luck holds out. There’s never a good time of year to be sick, but nobody wants to be sick through the holidays. Treat your body right when you’re not sick, and it’ll treat you a little nicer when you are. Meanwhile, enjoy the season and keep those germs to yourself.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Imagination is the Seed of Reality

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, it’s the last weekend before Christmas. I hope most of your shopping is done. Really, because the fewer of you there are in the stores, the more room there is for me. This is the weekend when I get serious about it. Most of what I’m looking for is already sold out, but that’s okay. I can surprise her a lot easier when the selection is limited. “I thought you wanted a new sander.”

No, I would never buy my wife a sander or any other kind of appliance for Christmas, and you can bet I’ll never do it again. I’m getting a little better at reading her signals and, even though I miss the mark sometimes, my average is getting better. It’s all in the eyes. Is it my fault her glasses get a little smudged sometimes?

Last week we took a test drive in a 37-foot motorhome. I’m almost positive I saw her eyes light up a few times. Especially when I took an exit ramp a little faster than I should have. Not only do those things take a little more room to stop, they tend to be a little top-heavy in curves as well. I even made the salesman stutter, and how many rookies has he taken a ride with?

Okay, so perception isn’t necessarily my strong suit. I make mistakes just like anybody else. I interviewed for a new position with my company a few days ago and, two hours later, I still didn’t have the job. That’s okay. Maybe the computers are down, or they’re still trying to find me an office overlooking the river. It could happen.

Yes, I’m in a bit of a humorous mood this morning. But the fact remains, when there’s something we want, it’s easy to read a little more into things than what’s really there. Maybe the hiring manager was just being cordial. And I guess it’s just possible my wife’s excitement at a ride in an RV may have been relief that we got through it alive. I mean, she did kiss the ground when we got back. Twice.

It’s hard sometimes to know if what we perceive is real, or if it just feels that way because that’s what we want to believe. Anyone who has ever watched their teenage daughter go out on her first date knows exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve never prayed in your life, you’ll start then. And you’ll imagine how things really are based on how you want them to be. And all the while … never mind.

Dreams are a powerful force. And the more we feed those dreams, the stronger they become. We tend to see life, not as it is, but as we want it to be. Okay, there’s always a stack of bills to bring us back down to planet earth, but you know what I mean. What we imagine is what we feel. And the more we think about it, the more real it becomes.

It’s natural to imagine a reality that’s just a little different than what we wake up to each day. In fact, it’s healthy. And it’s normal to see the pieces falling into place to make those dreams come true. What we don’t know is how others factor into that. Your dream may be somebody else’s nightmare. But odds are, if they’re important to you, your dreams are important to them.

Communication is the key. It’s the only way to find out the extent to which you share a common goal. When one person has a dream, it’s likely to happen. When two people share the same dream, it’s inevitable. It may take time, and the final outcome may look a little different than you’d imagined. But therein lies the surprise of not knowing exactly what’s under the tree. And that makes it all the more magical.

So, dream. Whether it’s something you want for Christmas, a new job, a new home, or a new life. Define what it is you want, share that dream with those closest to you, and set about making it happen. You may misread a few cues along the way, and the destination may be a little different when you get there. But once you’ve set your sights on a goal, there’s not much that can stop you.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Use a Little Magic to Beat the Stress This Season

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve been admiring all the pictures people have been posting of their holiday decorations and kids sitting in Santa’s lap. Some are smiling, some are in a trance, and some are crying their eyes out as they look for any path of escape. After all these lectures about stranger danger, their parents tell them, “Go sit in that fat man’s lap and maybe he’ll give you a piece of candy!” Brilliant.

We did it, too. The whole experience. We tell them this figment of our imagination is watching their every move all through the month of December, just watching for them to misbehave, so he can divert all their gifts to a more deserving child. As parents, we think maybe it’ll help them try just a little harder to be good. To the kid, it’s just one more set of eyes watching their every move.

I remember my mom telling me we would get so wound up in the final weeks before Christmas, we were almost sick with anxiety. The more we’d try to behave, the more we’d misbehave. It’s like tying a person’s hands and telling them it’s a good thing their nose doesn’t itch. Within seconds, they’ll be scratching it against anything in sight. Be sure you’re not standing too close when that starts.

My grandson is having a hard time with the whole “be good” thing this year. The little boy has a heart of gold, and can be the most lovable child on the planet when the mood strikes him. But he can also be the most determined, defiant little demon you’ve ever met. And, I’m finding that the closer we get to Christmas, the more unpredictable that behavior becomes.

It’s not the child. It’s the pressure. It’s the memory of every act of disobedience in the past several months, and the knowledge that, if Santa truly has been watching, nothing he can do at this point will ever make up for it. And as soon as that sweet mood yields to the slightest misbehavior, it’s just one more reminder that he’s probably not getting anything this year. Is it any wonder they misbehave?

We can see it in kids. And, thankfully, we usually do something to defuse the situation and reassure them that they really haven’t been that bad – that even Santa can forgive a few indiscretions. But who reassures us? After all, we tend to react a bit differently to the stress of the season as well. And any time you react, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t be completely positive.

This is a time when people are at their best. They smile a little more, they sing happy tunes, they let the old woman with two items get in front of them in the checkout line. It’s also a time when road rage is at its highest all year. People fight over parking spots, they blow their horn and flash indecent hand gestures, and swear like a sailor simply because the car in front of them is going too slow.

And that’s before they even get inside the store. I’ve actually seen people swipe a prized gift out of someone else’s shopping cart – not because the store was sold out, but because it’s there and they want it. Period. And if you want to see the Christmas spirit turn into seething disapproval, let the person at the checkout ask for a price check or struggle to find a credit card that’s not maxed out.

This should be the time of year when we’re a little more patient, a little more gracious, a little more excited. It’s a time when we find hope in things we normally wouldn’t notice. We see the magic in a young child’s eyes and can’t help feeling a little of the magic ourselves. It’s a time when we revisit the innocence of youth one more time, if only for a fleeting moment.

Yes, this is a season that can bring out the best or worst in people. It’s simply a matter of how we approach it. Slow down a little. Park a little further from the store. If somebody else insists on being miserable, don’t let it affect you. This is your holiday, and you’ve waited for it all year. So have the kids. So, make the most of it. In a couple more weeks, it’ll all be a memory. Make it a good one.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Winter Blues Got You Down? Then Get Busy!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Well, winter is in full swing here in Ohio. I know, some of my friends in the great white north are saying, “You just now figured that out?” And to others in the southern states, all this means is a light jacket in the morning. Regardless of where you live, it’s gotten noticeably colder. And change isn’t something we all handle with a sense of complete grace.

I first heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a couple of years ago. I guess it’s been around since the first caveman had to hibernate for the winter, but we live in an age where every human emotion has to have a name. It’s like bipolar disorder. It’s nothing new. I knew people in high school who could flip in an instant. We just had other names for that.

But that feeling of cabin fever, of being stuck in the house forever, of breathing the same air all day and never getting any fresh oxygen to replace what we’ve used, and staring glumly out the front window, is all part of what we’ve come to know as SAD. I guess that’s an appropriate acronym. I wonder if the person who named it did that on purpose?

According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms are pretty clear – oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, and low energy. Check, check, check, and check. Causes can be anything from a disruption to your normal circadian rhythm to reduced serotonin and melatonin levels. But before you medicate yourself, talk to your doctor. Odds are, you just have the winter blues. But you never know.

Oddly enough, the Mayo Clinic also lists symptoms for summer SAD. Seriously? What would that be? Suntan? Sand in your toes? An urge to plant flowers or eat ice cream on the front porch? I guess I’ve never considered any of that to be an ailment. Funny – one of the symptoms they mention for summer SAD is weight loss. Guess that’s why I don’t understand. I’ve never had it.

Call it what you want, I think it’s mostly just the natural human tendency to resist change. Whether we like the way things are or not, change throws our system out of whack. That’s why so many lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is too sudden, and they can’t handle it. So they subconsciously do everything imaginable to get back where they were – their comfort zone.

Okay, so being broke is a comfort zone? That’s hard to digest, especially for people who are broke and desperately want things to be different. But there’s a certain level of confidence in what we know, good or bad. We know what to expect each day. We know how to handle it. And we know how it will affect us. Sometimes, change is a little more intimidating than just going with what we know.

Two things can help us adjust to change. First is making the change slowly, so we can adjust as it occurs. Anybody who has ever quit smoking cold-turkey knows exactly what I mean. Trying to taper off slowly may not be as effective, but it’s certainly less stressful. It’s the sudden change of quitting on the spot that brings on those powerful cravings and mood swings. So, whenever possible, slow it down.

Secondly, you need that feeling that you deserve the change – it’s something you’ve worked for, a goal you’ve been trying to achieve, and you’ve made the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. It’s not change that was thrust upon you, like the onset of winter. It’s something you wanted badly enough to earn it.

If winter isn’t having the desired effect on your emotional health, the best thing you can do about it is find something else to occupy your time. Instead of staring out the front window, play some games or put a puzzle together. Pick up a hobby. Read a good book. Better still, write one. Start a business. Anything constructive will take your mind off the weather and give you something to feel good about.

Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. Most of us feel it to some degree, even if we love playing in the snow. The key is to find something better to occupy your mind. Make it something constructive, and when the snow melts, you’ll somehow feel you’ve earned it. Now, if we could just find a way of making us feel we’ve earned winter. I’m not sure I can spend that much time on the beach.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

In Communication, Nothing Beats the Personal Touch

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

My day is starting off with snow – the first real snow of the season. It’s pretty. It’s like a white blanket lovingly placed over the entire area. It’s a visual reminder of the blanket on my bed. And much like the indoor blanket, it beckons me to immerse myself in it. It’s peaceful. It’s pretty. Now it can go away.

It’s on days like this that I enjoy having the option to work from home. I could do it any day of the week, and some of the folks on my team do it every day. But I enjoy being around people, so I usually go into the office anyway. Text messaging is almost as fast as live communication, but it leaves a certain element of intimacy on the table.

Odd that I would use a word like intimacy to describe my interaction with co-workers. Say that to the wrong person and you’ll get an invitation to visit Human Resources. More like a directive. But you folks know what I mean, and so do the people I work with. I just like that personal touch. It’s hard to communicate when you can’t see the person to whom you’re speaking. And vice versa.

How often have you read an email or text message and thought, “What did he mean by that?” It could be as simple as, “Did you finish that assignment yet?” That could mean a few things. On one extreme, it’s a simple question – just a check on your progress. At the other extreme, it’s a loaded question with predetermined consequences just waiting for the wrong answer. You just never know.

One of the things I loved the most about performing stand-up comedy is that I could write funny stuff and then deliver it to my audience in the way it was intended. There was no question in their mind what I was trying to say, because I had the advantage of all the other elements of communication – tone, inflection, facial expressions, body language, and most importantly, immediate feedback.

It’s not that I don’t like text messaging or email. I think both have an increasingly important role in the workplace. It allows companies to seek out talent across the entire nation and beyond, instead of relying on what’s available locally. And it gives those individuals with all the right skills the ability to accept a job without uprooting the family and moving someplace they never wanted to live.

But it’s easy to become so reliant on electronic communication that face-to-face communication becomes “old school.” I see a lot of posts online where parents bemoan the fact that a lot of schools are no longer teaching cursive writing. Okay, it’s mostly the grandparents complaining about that, but you get the point. It’s like handing kids a calculator and telling them to forget about math.

We want kids to learn the old-school manual ways of doing things, for good reason. There will be times in life when it’s good to know, and other times when they can’t solve a problem without it. You know, like when the calculator breaks or they get a letter from Grandma in cursive.

But when it comes to communication, we’ve become increasingly reliant on technology to do the job for us. We send emojis. We send GIFs. We write text messages with word abbreviations nobody has ever heard of, and punctuation that would make our English teacher cry. We send those messages to our managers and directors, and then wonder why our career isn’t going anywhere. Duh!

A few days ago, I met with my Senior VP. It was a meeting I requested, simply to put a face with the name. It’s hard to gauge sincerity and intent when all you’ve got are black letters on a white background. But when you’re sitting on the other side of the desk, you can both get a better feel for what the other person is thinking. That’s more than just important – it’s critical.

I know, a lot of people my age are reluctant to jump into the whole “virtual presence” thing. Maybe age has a lot to do with it. But I still believe nothing beats that personal touch. Whether it’s stopping by somebody’s desk, or picking up the phone, personal communication will always beat electronic communication. Besides, it gives you a chance to smile. And it gives them a chance to smile back.

I’m not saying we should shun electronic communication. It has its place, and that place seems to be ever increasing. But, whenever you have the chance, go for the personal approach. Pick up the phone. Pop your head over the cubicle wall. Walk to the other person’s desk, or go knock on their door. Besides, it’s the only way you can get a hug. Hmmm. And now HR is calling. Gotta run!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Let the Craziness Define the Season

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

So, a couple of days ago, a female co-worker texted me and asked if I’m done with all my Christmas shopping. I responded, “So cute – she thinks I’ve already started.” I’ve been accused of being a little less manly on most things in life, but when it comes to shopping, my Y chromosomes shine through. I do as little as possible, and usually in the last hours of Christmas Eve – with all the other men.

I don’t know that it’s a “man” thing as much as just putting it off. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like traffic. I don’t like rude people, and I don’t like long lines at the store checkout. So, I put it off until the last possible minute. Then I complain because the stores have sold out of all the good stuff. Maybe if I started in July, I could avoid this mess. But then I’d hide stuff and forget where it is until April.

As a comedian, I often lamented the fact that, when you ask a woman what she wants for Christmas, the reply is always, “I don’t really want anything.” Yeah. I only fell for that once. What that really means is, “I’m not about to let you off the hook that easy.” We’re supposed to pay attention and pick up on all the little hints she drops all through the year. Well, we’re also supposed to obey the speed limit.

Next month we’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and I don’t know my wife any better today than I did way back then. I guess the difference is that she’s not afraid to shop. When she needs something, she gets it. And after one year where I tried buying her clothes, we came to a mutual agreement not to ever do that again. Some mistakes you only make once.

So, I’m left with trying to surprise her with something she doesn’t even know she wants. And that’s not easy to do, especially in an age of online shopping where the complete inventory of every store in the world is available at the click of a button. More than once, I’ve found that perfect unique gift, only to hear her say, “I saw this online!” Of course you did.

And then there’s the issue of using a debit card from our joint account for shopping. “What did you buy at Godiva Chocolates?” A circular saw and some wool socks. So much for that surprise. I finally got smart and started using a credit card of my own. Because, even if I take cash, that’s right there on the bank statement three seconds after I complete the transaction.

Yes, women and men are different, and that’s never more evident than this crazy season of holiday shopping. My wife always insisted that we had to have special wrapping paper for the gifts from Santa so the girls wouldn’t notice it was the same wrapping paper we used for one another. A boy wouldn’t notice. It’s paper. It’s red and green. Oh, and there are snowmen on it. Beautiful. Now dig in!

The difference is my wife always wanted to create the perfect Christmas for our daughters and now our grandchildren. I always figured my job was to fund it. Otherwise, stay out of the way. We used to shop together, but she found that shopping while the kids are in school was a lot easier. Now it’s mostly done online. We get deliveries from UPS, FedEx, and Amazon almost daily.

A couple of days ago, my wife was having some issues with high blood pressure and what felt like a racing heart. I told her she’s not allowed to die until after Christmas, because there are too many gifts to wrap and I don’t know who gets what. I’ve often said I’m as surprised as the kids are on Christmas morning. With a couple of exceptions, I have no real idea what any of them are getting.

Yet, somehow, we bring it all together and the day is pretty special every year. Because, it’s really not about the gifts and the lights and the retail frenzy. It’s about family. It’s about warm feet and warm hearts. It’s about spending the day with one another celebrating something bigger than we can truly comprehend. It’s about kindness, generosity, and those smiling little faces. It’s about hope.

So, as you go through the motions of putting the finishing touches on your holiday celebration, take a moment to remember what it’s really about. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or simply Wednesday, find the special meaning that day holds for you and enjoy it for what you want it to be. Because, long after the gifts are forgotten, the memories of what really matters will linger on.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved