If You’re Not Driving, You’re Just Along For The Ride

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

If you’re among the majority of the nation, your day didn’t start out like last Tuesday. Kids are home from school, parents are working from home (if they’re able to work at all), and all around us the world is slowly grinding to a halt. Hopefully you’ve got enough of the essentials to carry you through for a few days, because your neighbors cleaned the shelves at the store.

There was a story in the news about a guy in Tennessee who rented a truck and bought up every bottle of hand sanitizer he could find. Once the stores were empty, he put the items on Amazon and eBay for as much as 80 times what he paid for them. Both outlets shut him down, and he’s stuck with 17,700 bottles he can’t sell. Now he can’t afford toilet paper. Instant karma.

I normally try to mix in a little humor in my posts, but there’s not a lot to laugh about in this crisis. I read yesterday that up to 80 million jobs will be impacted, and in the coming week as many as 10 million people could be out of work. Never mind the kids whose school year was interrupted, or the high school seniors who may be denied the spectacle of public graduation.

Life, as we know it, has changed. And while we will eventually weather the storm and come out safe on the other end, things we’ve taken for granted have changed forever. At the top of that list is our feeling of security. It’s a reminder that life can come along when we least expect it and change everything in a moment.

The last recession is still a vivid memory. Most of us were impacted by it, and it’s taken the better part of 12 years to recover. Yet, in a matter of days, most of those gains have been wiped out. Hopefully this crisis won’t last so long, but recovery will take time and the landscape will look very different when it’s all over. Where we fit in that landscape may yet be unknown.

When you rely completely on one source of income, your exposure to risk increases exponentially. That’s why I’ve always tried to have a few things I could fall back on. A little here and a little there adds up. When you’re working, it’s extra income. It’s a chance to enjoy some of life’s finer experiences. And if the job ends, it becomes your immediate means of survival.

You never know what may happen to change your situation. Two years ago, I had brain surgery. That could have put me out of commission for good. You could be on your way to work tomorrow and somebody decides to take your lane. It happened to my wife. All manner of things can happen to change life as you know it. The question is, what will you do then?

To the extent that you can rely on yourself for income, and not somebody else, you have a better chance of controlling the outcome of things over which you have little control. I’ve never once fired myself from a job. Have you? If your company closed its doors tomorrow, could you continue making an income on your own? Every little bit helps.

Dig the well before you get thirsty. You’ve read those words before. There are things we can all be doing now that may not make a major difference in the next week or so, and maybe not even for a few months. But they could make all the difference in the world as we move forward and find our new place in life. If you’re out of work already, why not put that time to use?

It’s funny how we scramble to find a quick solution when we need money, yet we’re quick to scoff at anything outside of the traditional 8-5 job. But at a time when so many companies are sending people home, doesn’t a business of your own make that much more sense? The problem isn’t a lack of opportunities. It’s an overabundance of misplaced pride.

If you’re over the age of 30, odds are somebody at some time has offered you the chance to build a home-based business. And, if you’re among more than 99% of the adult population, you turned it down. Granted, owning a business is no guarantee of success. You have to work at it, and you may still struggle. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to work at?

This crisis will end. And then something else will happen. That’s the reality of life. Handling those ups and downs will depend heavily on the choices you make now – before the need arises. To the extent that you control the variables, you control the results. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and you’ll never have to wonder where you’re headed.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams May Wait, But Time Isn’t Quite So Patient

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

Forty years ago, a friend told me about the magic refrigerator. Apparently, I thought he said the magic inside the refrigerator, because I found my way inside and never really came out. And I have the belly to show for it. Turns out, it’s not really magic. It’s first-grade arithmetic. Take in more than you put out, and the total just keeps getting higher.

But my friend wasn’t referring to the refrigerator’s contents. He was talking about something much more intriguing. He said, “Find a picture of the car you really want and put it on your refrigerator. Every day, you’ll look at that picture several times and it’ll remind you what you’re working for. Do that, and someday that car will magically appear in your driveway.”

That’s great if you have a driveway. Back then, I had a parking space. Not even an assigned parking space – just the privilege of finding one before anybody else got there. All for one low monthly payment. Right. My rent at the time consumed almost half what I got paid each month. For that, I should have had a heated garage.

But the concept of the magic refrigerator is pretty simple. Find a picture of something you want and put it where you’ll see it several times a day. I’ve mentioned this before. It sparks the imagination. It builds excitement. It’s a constant reminder that there are things in life worth working for. Besides, it makes other people question your sanity. That’s always a plus.

Well, I’ve reached the big time and I now have a driveway. Single-wide, and just big enough for one car. But it’s mine. If anybody else parks there, I can have them towed away at their expense. Problem is my refrigerator has aluminum doors. Magnets don’t stick, and my wife has dared me to use tape on it. So the “magic refrigerator” looks a lot more like the back of my desk.

For ten years, I’ve had a picture of a motorhome on my desk with the words, “If not now, when?” It was my daily reminder that this is our dream. Every day, I’ve taken small steps to make that happen. Saving money, extra work on the side, and building my credit score. And granted, I haven’t done nearly as much as I could have. Hence the dust on that ten-year-old picture.

Well, I can take that picture down, because as of Friday, the dream became a reality. We are now the proud owners of a brand new 38-foot motor home (and a whole bunch of monthly payments). Only problem is, it won’t fit in my driveway. In fact, it won’t fit in front of the house. Guess what’s gonna be next on the magic refrigerator? If you think it’s a bigger house, try again.

I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. South Florida is a boater’s paradise, but as you drive along Las Olas Boulevard, what’s docked behind those mansions can’t really be called boats. These are some of the most magnificent luxury yachts ever built. And every day going to work, I saw the same yachts – sitting in the same place every day. Maybe they couldn’t afford the motors.

We didn’t buy an RV to park in front of the house and show it off. What’s going on my magic refrigerator next will be destinations – campgrounds, national parks, beaches, canyons, and a US map with 49 stickers (they haven’t built a bridge to Hawaii yet). We plan to use this thing. And all the extra effort I put in from this day forward will be in pursuit of that dream.

You see, the RV was a dream. But it’s not THE dream – it’s just a tool that will allow us to satisfy the bigger dream of seeing this country though an ever-moving picture window. And believe me, that window is huge. On the trip home it collected a dozen bugs that weren’t smart enough to move out of the way. Care to guess who owns that window?

Yes, dreams do come true. We didn’t do this exactly the way I’d planned, and I can think of a dozen reasons we might have waited. But life moves on whether you’re ready or not. Sooner or later, you have to decide if the dream is important enough to make it happen. And if so, there’s no better time to get started.

It may take ten years for your dream to come true, but as you sit there thinking about it, the finish line isn’t getting any closer. Figure out what needs to be done and get started today. The sooner you make it happen, the longer you’ll have to enjoy it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Are You Laughing About?

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

It’s early for me to be up and writing. Okay, it’s the same time I always get up, and I used to write this early every day. That was before I spent two months getting a taste of what retirement might be like. The verdict is in. I like it, but the bank isn’t so sure. And my wife, who always sides with the bank, can’t wait to see me leave for work again. Oh well. It’s been nice.

When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? I mean the kind that leaves you holding your side and gasping for air? As a comedian, I can tell you that was the ultimate compliment. One night, I heard a woman near the front catching her breath and saying, “Please make him stop!” Okay, I heard that a few other times as well, but she was actually laughing.

I always used to tell my audiences that comedy is nothing but reality with a twist. All it takes is a little imagination. Like that sign I once saw on the side of the highway that read, “Used cows for sale.” Um, excuse me? Used how? I mean, it was in southwestern Kentucky. Do I need to draw a picture? At least it didn’t say “gently used.” I’m pretty sure I’d have run off the road.

It’s been said that we don’t stop laughing when we grow old – we grow old when we stop laughing. And still, I’ve met several people who wouldn’t crack a smile at a puppy chasing its own tail. Sometimes, they even go to the comedy club. Together. They charter a bus to make sure they all get there at the same time. And then they sit right up front. Fun times!

And they always have an excuse. “I’ll laugh when I find something funny.” Then go look in a mirror. It’s making the rest of us laugh. Make faces like a three-year-old. Better still, make faces AT a three-year-old. Laughter is contagious.

Another one is, “I have a weak bladder – I wet my pants when I laugh.” Then laugh it up! You’ll have to go sooner or later anyway. And everyone around you will find it hilarious. Or put on a diaper and giggle as you dribble. They’ll wonder what you’re laughing about, and that’ll make you laugh even harder. Voila! Two birds with one stone.

And then there’s the one we hear all too often … “I don’t have time to laugh.” Then you don’t have time to live, my friend. Of all God’s creatures, we are among the few who were blessed with the ability to laugh. And any time we deny ourselves the full gift of life, something inside dies.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. You’ve heard that your whole life, but it’s not just an old wives’ tale. Medical science backs it up. Laughter releases chemicals in your body that fight disease, kill pain, and trigger happiness. It’s impossible to feel bad when you laugh. Okay, the first week after my hernia surgery may have challenged that notion, but you get the idea.

And best of all, laughter is the natural antidote for stress. We all recognize stress as the ultimate buzz-kill, but it kills a lot more than just a good mood. And don’t let anybody tell you they thrive on stress. No, they don’t. As we discussed yesterday, stress releases its own cocktail of chemicals in our body that fight immunity and cause a whole host of other medical problems.

So, if stress is bad and laughter is good, why do we insist on watching 24-hour news instead of an old sitcom? Why do we complain about politics instead of spending time with the kids? Why do we gossip about the boss around the coffee pot instead of telling jokes? The answers to those questions could make the difference between a lifetime of happiness or misery.

I used to close every show by telling my audience that, by the time a child goes to kindergarten, they laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults, on the other hand, laugh about 17 times a day. Now, if we both live in the same world and both see and hear the same things, the answer should be obvious – they’re laughing at us! Maybe we need to do that a little more ourselves.

Mom once told me to never take anything in life too seriously, least of all myself. The day I took those words to heart is the day I stopped growing old quite so fast. You see, aging is inevitable, but growing old is a frame of mind. Laugh. Enjoy life. Don’t grow old before your time. You’ll be happier in the long run, and so will all those around you.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Can You Spare A Roll Of Toilet Paper?

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

Last night my wife and I were out shopping and I couldn’t help but notice the empty shelves in three sections of the store – disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. There were a few packages of TP left, and we picked one up. Not because we’re afraid of being house-bound in the near future. Our pre-teen granddaughter will be with us next week. Need I say more?

We picked up a pack of 18 rolls that the packaging assures us will last as long as 72 rolls. Okay, I may be missing something here, but once upon a time it took a really big box to hold that many rolls of toilet paper. I don’t care how many plies you laminate together, a roll pretty much lasts a little over an hour in our house. Maybe a little longer when everyone is asleep.

I try not to make light of people reacting to something that can’t really be quantified right now, and is already disrupting lives in more ways than we may be able to comprehend. And it’ll get worse. But there’s just something a little amusing about people with a few items in one shopping cart and another full of toilet tissue. One lady even asked for an escort to the parking lot. I kid you not.

The last time I saw a run on toilet paper like this was in 1976. The nation was in the midst of a mild paper shortage, and late-night host Johnny Carson joked that the shortage had impacted the TP market. I worked in a grocery store and, for the entire weekend, we couldn’t keep it on the shelves. People were in a panic. Not because of a real shortage. Because of a joke.

Granted, this time it’s not a joke. I do find it amusing that a couple of brands of toilet paper seem to be immune to the panic. And if you go to the camping supplies, there’s no shortage of “rapidly-dissolving” toilet paper. As comedian Bill Engvall asked, just how rapidly are we talking about? From what I’ve read online, rapidly enough. Get some latex gloves while you’re at it.

I don’t think anybody knows for sure how badly this virus will impact us, and how long it may last. And I understand people being a little on the cautious side. Still, it makes you wonder, are they stockpiling food as well? Those shelves appear to be pretty well intact. Sales are brisk, however, in liquor stores, which may explain the increase in toilet paper sales. I’m just saying.

Okay, this is a serious issue. That doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate some of the built-in humor. In fact, few things can trigger the release of immune-boosting endorphins like laughter. That doesn’t mean we don’t take the problem seriously, and that we don’t apply some common-sense preparations just in case. But don’t stop living in the process.

Will you catch Coronavirus? According to most experts, the odds are small. That may change over time, and then again, warmer weather could wipe this out in a matter of weeks. Nobody really knows. And even if you do catch it, there’s a chance you may not even know it. That’s both good and bad. Good for you, and bad for anybody you kiss. So, don’t kiss old folks. Except me.

It’s good to have a healthy fear of things that can do us harm, but don’t let that fear dominate your life. Make the necessary adjustments and go on living. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough. Don’t sneeze on other people. And, for the time being, avoid crowds. It’s pretty basic – the same things we were all taught as children.

But don’t stop living on the off chance something else will come along and do it for you. Adapt and go on. This virus may be around a while, and it may impact all of us in some way. But fear won’t make it go away. In fact, fear triggers cortisol which can, over time, reduce your body’s ability to fight infection. The more we cower down, the more likely we are to be affected.

It’s natural to be afraid of something we can’t fully understand. Follow your own instincts, but listen to the experts as well. Not politicians – experts. Throughout history, populations have survived countless plagues and pandemics. We’ll get through this one, too. And hopefully with enough toilet paper to go around.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Step Over It, Somebody Will Step In It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

It’s Hump Day, and that means the week is half-over. I have to admit, I’m a little proud of the fact that in 10 straight weeks of not having a day job, I’ve never once forgotten what day it was. Funny, when I was working that happened a lot. Most weeks, Thursday came at least twice, along with the disappointment that it was only Tuesday.

Mom always used to say, “Stop wishing your life away.” That was usually in response to my anticipation of attaining a certain age where life would magically be wonderful and all the problems of being six would somehow disappear. “I can’t wait till I’m old enough to drive!” Remember that? Yeah. Turns out Mom was pretty excited about that as well.

With all those new freedoms come new responsibilities. In layman’s terms, additional chores. I still had to clean the carport every time it got messy. Only now, I had to go to the store to buy trash bags. “And since you’re going there anyway …” For a month or two, that was fun. After a while, I began to realize I’d been played. We all were. It’s just part of growing up.

That’s why I wasn’t very patient when one of my daughters would complain about having to help around the house. “I only used one plate! Why do I have to clean them all? And I didn’t leave that dust on the kitchen cabinets!” I’m pretty sure we all handled those objections the same way, with an air of compassion and respect. “Because I said so, that’s why!”

With each trip around the sun, we become more and more aware of the fact that we all share this planet together. And since there aren’t enough houses to go around, some of us have to share those as well. As a family, we all contribute somewhat to the mess. So, it only seems fair that the youngest has to clean it up. That gives them the motivation to graduate and move on.

Okay, I’m having a little fun here. As members of a household, we should all contribute to making our house a home. That means cleaning up after other people, cooking meals we don’t plan to eat, and washing dishes we didn’t use. It also means allowing others to voice an opinion and showing them the same respect we so fervently demand. Just like the Golden Rule says.

The same is true once we step outside the front door. On the job, we’re often asked to clean up messes we didn’t create. We do things knowing the boss will get most of the credit, unless it blows up in their face, in which case we’ll catch the blame. That’s just part of life. But it’s not about glory or blame. It’s about getting the job done and making life better for everyone.

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And, having started life in a small town, I can attest to that. If you dared to wander on the wrong side of the tracks (literally), you can bet somebody would see you and pick up the phone. “Aren’t you Mary Glardon’s boy? I wonder if she knows what you’re doing!” If I had a dime for every time I heard that.

When I was about six, Dad was out of town for a couple of weeks and my uncle brought a pistol to the house for our protection. Mom wanted no part of it. Not realizing it was a real gun, I picked it up and shot a hole in the wall. Dad found out about it before he even got home. As he stopped into the bank to make a deposit, the teller commented, “I hear that boy of yours is a crack shot!”

Okay, that was nothing but small-town gossip with no beneficial intent. But there were other times when people sensed trouble and stepped in to help. Like when Ricky Brace decided to pound me after we got off the school bus. A man I’d never met stepped through the crowd and pulled us apart. My face was black and blue for a month. I never got to thank that man.

Every day, we’re surrounded by messes we didn’t create. Some are more serious than others, but none of them will get any better until somebody steps in to help. It could be as simple as straightening the door mat at a store entrance to keep an elderly shopper from tripping over it. And it could be as life-changing as pulling somebody from a burning home. You just never know.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a family to make a home, it takes employees to run a business, and it takes all of society to build a nation. We all contribute in one way or another. The question is, will we pitch in, or wait for somebody else to do it for us?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Inner Youth Is Only A Dream Away

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

If you’re ever feeling old, spend a little time around some little ones. I guarantee you’ll feel that much older by the time they leave. Don’t get me wrong. I love the sound of laughter and the little songs they sing. And only a child can look at a dirty sock and see a microphone. Everything becomes a microphone. And their lungs are magically transformed into an amplifier.

On the other hand, if you ever want to feel young again, spend some time around little ones. Laughter is contagious. So are runny noses, but they’re worth the joy that comes from just one of those little hugs. And if you play along with some of their games, you’ll find yourself singing silly songs a little off-key just to make them laugh a little louder. For me, that comes naturally.

In a meeting with some business associates last night, we were talking about how our dreams change with age. When we’re young, we can envision a life filled with things only rock stars and politicians can afford. And there’s little doubt in our mind we can enjoy that life. All it takes is hard work and saving $20 every week. That’s what Dad told us. Dads do that sometimes.

Well, as it turns out, Dad forgot to mention the lottery. Because, for most of us, that’s what it would take to live the life of our dreams. Thankfully, as we age, our expectations start to fall more in line with reality. My first home was supposed to be a mansion, but it turned out to be a double-wide. You know, two trailers connected at the hip, and all that that implies.

Also, the longer we live without those creature comforts we just had to have, the more we realize they’re just fluff. I have two cars. One is new and one … isn’t. If I totaled it tomorrow, the insurance check would almost buy a loaf of bread. But you know what? It runs, and it gets me where I need to go just as fast as the new one. And if it’s raining, I can even clean the windshield.

Then there’s the fact that, the older we get, the more we think about others ahead of ourselves. If you think kids are expensive, wait until you have grandkids. Fancy things just aren’t as important when the little ones need a new iPad. Okay, I’ve never bought any of my grandkids an iPad. We go with the Walmart brand. They don’t know the difference.

But the point is, things just aren’t as important as we age. Still, that doesn’t mean we stop dreaming, nor should we. Dreams are what get us out of bed in the morning and drive us to go that extra mile. Okay, work gets us out of bed, but you get the picture. Everything we do in life is designed to achieve some goal. The trick is to make sure the goal is worth working for.

I remember driving to my grandmother’s house, down dirt roads past tin-roof shacks with no indoor plumbing, and seeing people sitting on the porch next to the washing machine. They didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It’s a simple life. And even those people have dreams. They may not be the same as ours, but they’re still just as important.

We never really lose the ability to dream. But as we get older, it takes a little more effort. You can’t do it in the middle of the workday, or as you try to tend to family matters after work. You need a little quiet time, and maybe even some visual aids. Settle down, ladies – I’m talking about pictures of the life we want to enjoy. Beaches, mountains, even snow if that’s your thing.

There’s nothing selfish about wanting things for yourself, especially if those things can be shared with those you care most about. And it’s those dreams that will energize you to work a little harder, persist a little longer, and keep a sparkle in your eye long after others your age have given up. Want to know the secret to a happy life? You already know. Just do it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Life Is A Gift – Slow Down And Enjoy It

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

For most of us in the US, our circadian rhythms are all out of whack again. It’s amazing the difference one hour can make. Looking outside at 7:30 and it’s still dark just doesn’t feel right. There ought to be a law. I say we go back to bed and sleep that extra hour until the sun catches up. Funny, morning traffic seems to catch up quite nicely. It doesn’t miss a beat.

I haven’t been out for the morning drive in a while, and I have to admit that was pretty nice. I’ll be back out there in a couple of weeks, though, with one foot on the gas, the other on the brake, right hand on the wheel and left hand hanging out the window. You know … signaling a left-hand turn. You believe me, right?

I always used to wonder about all those people darting in and out of traffic, putting everybody else’s life at risk just to beat them to the exit ramp so they can slam on their brakes and stop right next to us at the light. Hopefully they’re that energetic when they actually get to work. I doubt it. They’re the ones who leave an empty coffee pot and swipe the last donut.

I remember driving home from work one day, and everybody else was going a lot faster than I was. Oh, I was doing the speed limit, but I was staying in my lane and just driving. You know, like an old man. Finally, it occurred to me. It’s not because they’re younger and more agile. It’s because they’re not going home to teenage kids. And apparently, they can afford the ticket.

No matter where we’re going, we always seem to be in a hurry to get there. So much so that, yesterday morning, we set our clocks an hour ahead. If we did that every week, I’d be 102. And, while I hope I can live that long, I’m not in that much of a hurry to get there. Life is going by fast enough, thank you. I’m ready to slow down and start enjoying it a little more.

Granted, there are times when we need to get somewhere fast. Like when you get out of work last and dinner is waiting. I’m kidding. Dinner is never ready. Well, unless you’re running late and it’s something that tastes better hot. And yes, we have a microwave. But some things don’t play nicely in the microwave. Ever try biting into a chunk of silicone?

Still, there are times when we’re legitimately in a hurry. But more often than not, we put ourselves in that situation by choices we made. Like leaving for work at the last possible minute and then expecting everybody else to get out of your way. I know, I sound like my dad. He always used to tell me if the car backfired one time, I’d be late. He was right.

Traffic is a fact of life. Tires go flat, batteries go dead, and every now and then Mother Nature decides to throw a wrench in the spokes. Any one of them can mess up your day. But if we’d just anticipate those things and leave a little earlier, we could start our day with a lot less stress and get to work in one piece. Early. Oh, the horror!  Now I really DO sound like an old man.

Well, here’s the thing. The first person there gets the freshest cup of coffee. The pot’s never empty, you get your choice of the best stuff in the vending machine, and you can pretty much park wherever you want. So, what if you can’t clock in early? Take a newspaper, check your email, read my morning post – whatever. Breathe. Start your day on your own terms.

Somebody once said Heaven must be a great place because we’re all dying to get there. And you know what? You’ll get there soon enough. Even the idiot on the road who’s making your life miserable. But as the title of a 1978 movie suggests, Heaven can wait. It’ll still be there. So will work, and dinner, and the school play, and all the other things we’re rushing to enjoy.

An old Mac Davis song warned, “You’re gonna find your way to Heaven is a rough and rocky road if you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.” Breathe. Slow down. Take time to appreciate what’s in front of you right now, even if it’s a line of stopped cars. Every minute we rush through life puts us a minute closer to the end. Enjoy it before those minutes are gone.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved