It’s All a Matter of Perspective

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

I woke up later this morning than normal. Sometimes the old body just needs a little more rest before the day can start. Know the feeling? The only problem is, the clock never seems to get tired. It just keeps running and running and running. This far into the 21st century, you’d think we could figure out a way to fix that.

Time is the one constant in life that never really changes. Okay, aside from twice a year when we get the directive to change our clocks, but time itself doesn’t change as a result. All that changes is the way we measure it. “I got an extra hour of sleep this weekend!” No, you didn’t. You woke up at the same time you always do. Only this time, you were an hour early. There’s no snooze button for that.

As with most things in life, time is subjective. Sure, there are officially 24 hours in a day, and there are 60 minutes in each hour. And if your favorite show comes on in an hour, that’s a measurable span of time. But remember when you were little and your mom would say, “In a minute”? Hmmm. Now we’re getting into a gray area. Is that sixty seconds, or sometime in the next hour?

It’s the same with a lot of things. “I did a really good job on that!” Well, in your opinion. Hopefully everybody else will agree, but there’s always that one person who can spot a flaw in anything, no matter how well it was done. Sometimes you’d like to smack them so hard the only thing they can spot are the little stars swirling around inside their own judgmental head.

It’s like the scene in Christmas Vacation where, after several frustrating attempts and life-endangering mishaps, Clark finally gets his display of 250,000 outdoor lights to illuminate. As he dances around in excitement, tears of joy streaming down his face, his father-in-law casually comments, “The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.” “Yes, I know Art. And thank you for noticing.”

But in a world where very few things are cut and dried, we all have to find our own meaning in things that are a little more subjective. How long is a moment? How much is a little bit? How soon is right away? And how good is pretty good? It pretty much depends on who’s asking. Tell your kid you’ll take them to the amusement park “one of these days” and to them that means tomorrow.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from an RV dealer offering an unbelievably low price on a motorhome we’ve had our eyes on. It was a little over $50,000 off the list price. Who can turn down an offer like that? That’s a huge savings! But, then there’s the matter of what’s left after that deep discount. And, any way you slice it, it’s still a lot of money.

But what’s “a lot of money?” It’s different from one person to the next. What’s “a lot of work”, or “too much time?” Again, it depends who’s asking because it’s all a matter of perspective. One person may say, “That’ll take four hours!” while another says, “I can have it done in no time!” Neither one is any faster than the other. It’s all in how they view the time compared to the reward.

Tell somebody you’re doing something grand, like buying an RV or starting a business, and you’ll get all kinds of opinions. Everything ranging from how much money you’ll spend to how much time it’ll take and how hard you’ll have to work. To some people, getting off the sofa to get a drink of water is just too much effort. But to another, a year of working late every evening is well worth the effort.

You have to find your own level of “worth” in all things. Is $10 too much to pay for lunch? Is 5 miles too far to drive for ice cream? Is an hour a day too much time to spend working toward a dream you’d desperately love to achieve? To one person, the answer to any of those questions is yes. But only you can decide what something is worth to you. You only get one chance to live your own life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keep Feeding Your Brain – There’s Always Room For More

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

This will be a week of training for me. Two different topics, and it’ll take up nearly every moment of each workday until Friday. Then we get to catch up on everything else we missed during the week. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? It’s like taking vacation. You get a week off, but you spend a week getting caught up before you go and another week catching up when you get back. Fun.

Still, I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me when I joined the Navy. Well, the advice I can share here, anyway. Some of the rest is a blur. But one day he told me to never turn down any class that was offered – get as much education as they were willing to give. That’s the one piece of Dad’s advice I followed, and I still follow it to this day. You can never learn too much.

Well, again, I guess that depends on the setting. My oldest daughter used to give a little more information than I cared for. Ignorance may not be bliss, but sometimes it beats the alternative. But when it comes to something I can use on the job, or that can get me closer to my dreams, I’ll take all I can get.

Best of all, most of my co-workers will be in town this week to join us. Most of our team is home-based in states I normally only pass through, so the only contact we have is a morning conference call and texting about work. It’s rare that we actually get to see one another.

There’s a lot more going on this week besides the training, including a quarterly meeting for our entire team. And we’ve mixed in some after-work activities as well. Nothing like getting together with some old friends for an evening of camaraderie (and drinks). Last time we went bowling. Suffice to say we won’t be doing that again. Hopefully ever.

I don’t think most of us actually look forward to sitting in a classroom all day, trying to take notes and keep up with the instructor while battling the effects of carbohydrate overload that comes from sampling too many donuts and bagels. Some days, there isn’t enough coffee in the world. In the Navy, they always told us to stand up if we got sleepy. I never sat down.

Still, there’s something about learning a new skill, even if you don’t think you’ll ever use it. Just to know some of the background workings of the systems we use is interesting, and sometimes helpful. Because when you know how a system is put together, you know its strengths and limitations. And when things break, it gives you a little background on what it may take to fix it.

Granted, there are times when we fill our head with so much information that it’s hard to see past the written facts. The Navy took a lot of time to teach us the inner workings of a transistor, from a purely theoretical perspective. To this day, I can’t tell you a thing about it, other than to rattle off some terminology that means nothing to me. All I needed to know was how to tell when it’s broke.

But, as with most other things, you can’t really tell if something’s working unless you know what it’s supposed to do. Unless you can define success, failure becomes a lot more ambiguous. That’s why we sometimes find ourselves running full speed ahead down the wrong path – we don’t have a clear idea of the intended outcome, so we just keep going and hope the goal will step into our path.

We don’t know anything without learning it first. Even things that seem obvious, like “don’t put your hand on a hot stove” had to be learned. And some of those lessons came the hard way. So, any time you can put yourself in a setting to learn something the easy way, take advantage of it. Your brain can absolutely handle the excess knowledge. And you never know when it may come in handy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Work Hard, Play Hard

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

So, what are your plans for the weekend? That seems to be the common question we ask people, usually when we need something to start a conversation. Or maybe we just ask for the sake of saying anything, with no real interest in how they’ll respond. It’s like asking somebody how they’re doing. We say it out of habit. But oftentimes, the response is a lot more than we’d bargained for.

But have you ever noticed how, when you ask that question, people instinctively look away from what they’re doing and turn toward you? Whether you’re interested in what they’ve got planned for the weekend or not, they are. Especially if they’ve got something planned. But even if it’s just sitting around and getting some rest, people are naturally drawn to anybody who shows an interest in them.

So, what are your plans for the weekend? I hope you’ll have a little fun. You’ve earned it. I hope you’ll get all those weekend chores done quickly and without complications. I hope you’ll find time for a movie with the kids or maybe ice cream with that special person in your life. And in the middle of all that, I hope you’ll find time to rest. Just sitting back, with nothing to do and not a care in the world.

It’s a shame we spend five days every week trudging through life with one simple goal – getting to the weekend so we can have some fun. And the whole time, we dream of that day when we’ll be too old to work, and life will become one long vacation. Oh, the places we’ll go and the things we’ll do! Yeah. Ask any retired person how that’s working out.

Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of retired people who are on the go all the time. All those TV commercials that show septuagenarians dancing in Tahiti and racing around on jet skis aren’t the result of trick photography. Some actually do these things. But if you talk to them, you’ll probably find they’ve been actively relaxing most of their life.

Actively relaxing – is there such a thing? The words just don’t seem to belong together. But relaxing isn’t always lying back on the couch, snoozing through a movie you’ve seen a dozen times before. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, a day that completely wears you fall into a deep sleep.

Wear yourself out until you can’t go any further? Sounds a lot like work, doesn’t it? So, what’s the difference? It’s all in the face – that smile, the excitement in the eyes, that unmistakable look that tells you this person is having the time of their life. And it doesn’t matter how old they are. What matters is that they’re living.

Okay, back to the initial question. Why do we spend seventy percent of our lives trudging around like robots, and the remainder catching our breath? Is there anything you have to do on the weekend that you couldn’t do earlier in the week? Grocery stores are open just about every day. The washer & dryer are just sitting there. You could mop the floors one evening and dust the furniture another.

If we could take care of some of those smaller things that seem to consume an entire weekend, we’d have two full days to do whatever we want. No shopping, no cleaning, no errands – just get up and enjoy the day. Sound like a dream? Well, it can happen. And when it does, odds are you’ll find something else to fill that time. Maybe even something fun. Imagine!

It’s important that we work. It’s important that we do the things we need to do. And it’s just as important that we make time to enjoy the things we’re working for. Let me clue you in – nobody works for a paycheck. We work for the things money can buy. If you want an active retirement, start practicing now. Get out and have some fun! Then when the time comes, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Best Plans Are the Ones That Result in Action

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

How many times during the day do you do something completely off the cuff, with no plan at all other than to get it done? You visualize the end product, and just dive in, figuring things out as you go. I used to do that with woodworking all the time. I never worked from a set of plans. I’d just imagine what I wanted to build, then head to the shop and start sawing boards. Okay, I measured first.

We have an Amish-style clock hanging by the front door, made of cherry that I bought with no concept of what I planned to do with it. I just liked the wood. It was about this time of year, and I came up with the idea of making my wife a clock for Christmas. Of all the things I ever built, that one is my favorite. I love the way cherry ages with time.

I can look at that clock and see every mistake I made along the way. There weren’t many, because I put my best effort into it. But there was a little sapwood on the top piece that never aged like the rest, and I always planned to put another top piece on it. When I told my wife, she dared me to touch anything. She loves it just the way it is, and I’m not sure she could find a single mistake if she looked for it. She only sees the beauty, and the love with which it was made.

So, take it down a notch. Instead of thinking of the great creations you can make that will leave other people in awe, think of the simple things you do every day that require nothing more than a solid effort on your part. You could plan every step from start to finish, but planning just fills up an otherwise clean sheet of paper. Nothing happens until you get up and get to work.

And most things are really that simple. Just get started, and the rest will flow until the job is complete. It’s that first step that always seems to get in the way. Maybe it’s procrastination, or maybe it’s other legitimately important priorities. But until we carve out the time and actually get started, it’ll be just a passing thought.

If you have to write anything on paper, let it be a checklist of things you plan to do. And as you write that list, do it with the commitment that you won’t go to bed until everything on the list is done. A speaker at our last conference referred to that as “earning your pillow.” And let me tell you, nothing feels better than snuggling up in bed at night knowing everything you planned to do is done.

It’s easy to do the easy things. Grab a sandwich on the way to work instead of making one at home. Send a few emails. Pick up the extra shoes by the front door and put them away. Wipe down the stove. Go to the drive-thru to pick up a prescription. We can find all kinds of time to fill our day. But do you find the same time to do the things that really matter?

Earn your pillow. Make a list and commit to it. Check things off instead of crossing them off. You’ll probably find more than enough time if you just get busy instead of thinking about it. Prioritize your list and tackle the big ones first. That way, when you run out of steam later in the day, all that’s left is to pick up those shoes and wipe down the stove.

Do that, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing much more than ever before and moving closer to your goals with each passing day. Procrastination will become a thing of the past, and success will become a natural part of life. Then all you have to do is dream a little bigger and see what you can accomplish next.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus on Solutions and Give Hope Room to Grow

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

I looked at the weather this morning, and we’re in the single digits – 7 degrees. For those of you who live by the Celsius scale, that’s 14 below zero. For those who don’t need a thermometer to tell them whether they’re comfortable, it’s #&!@ing cold! One of the nice things about having the option to work from home is I don’t have to go outside and f-f-f-frrreeeze. I think I’ll stay here and stay warm.

Yesterday was a somber day here in Dayton. A 30-year veteran of the Police Department was laid to rest, having been killed in the line of duty during a drug raid last Monday. He survived on life support for three days as doctors made plans to harvest his organs to sustain life for others who would not have survived without them. In his final act, he gave the gift of life.

Just three months ago, our city awoke to the news that somebody had gone into a popular nightclub district and opened fire at random, killing nine people and injuring 27 more in less than thirty seconds. I won’t dive into the topic of rapid-fire assault rifles, but that’s something this nation certainly needs to address with common sense instead of soundbites and fears of a larger conspiracy.

When these things happen, we’re left to wonder what goes on in the mind of somebody who would do such things. It’s easy to blame violent movies, video games, upbringing, lack of religion, poverty, broken families, and the ills of society. But none of those things, by themselves, can explain the drastic change in somebody who was once an innocent child, singing nursery rhymes.

We all started out pretty much the same. Sure, there were differences in where we were born, our station in life, and how we were raised. And without a doubt, there are people raising kids today who shouldn’t be trusted with that responsibility. But even in those families, if you were to follow the kids through a day in kindergarten, you wouldn’t see any future killers. They’re all just children.

So, what makes one child grow up to become a doctor, another to serve their nation’s military, and another to open fire on innocent victims? What goes through a person’s mind in that instant when they do something they know will result in their own death or a lifetime of incarceration? Why is that one conscious decision worth the inevitable consequences? We may never know.

What we do know is that, short of a diagnosable mental illness, the one common denominator in these people is a lack of hope. Whether that’s due to drugs, environment, family life, or whatever, the lack of hope can make us act in ways that a person with even the most basic level of optimism would never consider. It’s the feeling that they have nothing to lose, and no reason to go on.

We all know people who live with the same feelings of despair. For some, it’s driven by financial concerns. For others, it may be related to health, relationships, education, family issues, their job, or even politics. We all deal with some of these issues at some level. If not, we’re just one stroke of bad luck away from it. We can’t escape heartache. It’s part of living. All we can do is try to manage it.

If you ever feel like the weight of the world is crashing down on you, take a step back and breathe. Assess the situation for what it truly is, not what it could be if everything that could possibly go wrong does. Write it down on a piece of paper. If you’re dealing with multiple issues, list them all. Then prioritize them in the order of what needs to be handled first.

Most times you’ll find that there are only one or two really urgent matters that need your immediate attention. The rest are what military experts refer to as collateral damage. An entire stack of bills can go away if you can correct the underlying problem of income. Don’t dwell on the symptoms – focus on the solution. In the moment that you identify a solution, you find the first glimmer of hope.

Fix what you can fix and let the rest take care of itself. Adversity is a part of life, and suffering adversity simply means you’re still living. And as long as you’re still living, there’s hope. Some things we can’t change, and in those cases,  we just have to adapt. But when we focus on the things we can change, the surrounding problems just don’t seem quite as big.

Hope begins with the realization that we’re not just here for the ride – we control the outcome. We’re only on this planet for a short time. Don’t get bogged down in despair. Today and every day, find hope. It’s right there inside you. All you have to do is give it room to grow.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Magic Never Goes Away – Just Keep Looking

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

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The white stuff started falling out of the sky yesterday evening and it’s still there. Looks like a couple of inches, and that’s about as close to accurate as I’ll get, because anything more would require that I step outside and actually see how deep it is. That’s not gonna happen. I only look stupid.

I remember a time in when snow was cause for celebration. It was magic. A white blanket over God’s not-so-green earth. A new playground. Sledding and ice skating and all those fun things we used to do. My dog is in heaven. He runs around the yard with his nose to the ground, bulldozing a trail through the snow with every step. It’s something new, and he’s making the most of it.

Yet, half a century later, it’s not that magical anymore. Sledding has been replaced by trying to stay on the road, and ice skating is what you do getting from the house to the car. And let me tell you, the ground gets a whole lot harder when it’s cold. Emergency rooms throughout the area will treat more broken bones today than they have all year.

It seems to work that way with a lot of things. Think back to the first time you rode a bicycle. That was a day of excitement. Nothing in your life could measure up to that one proud moment. Then you fell, but it was worth it. One day the training wheels came off and you were in heaven. Then one day you wanted to borrow the car and Dad said, “You have a bike.” It didn’t feel so special then.

I know people who still love to ride. In fact, I have a friend who spent more on his bike than I spent on my first five cars combined. I live in an area where old railroad trails have been converted into bike paths, and you can crisscross the entire state without riding on a single road. Not to say that stops people from riding on the hilliest, curviest country roads they can find. But that’s another story.

Think about your first day at work. Not this job – your very first job. For one in three adults, that first job had something to do with food (I use the term loosely). You stood in front of the mirror, brushed your hair, admired your uniform and name badge, then proudly walked down the street for everyone to see that you were now among the gainfully employed. Then you found out why they call it work.

It’s even that way with kids. You hold them in your arms, before they even go home, and can’t imagine how you ever got this far in life without them. They’re precious. They’re adorable. Every sound, every facial expression, every movement of the hands (and bowels) is special. First they crawl, then they walk. And then they turn two and leaving for work is once again a source of excitement.

I think most of life works that way. You work for a promotion, and a year later it’s just another job. You move into a new home, full of excitement, but before long it’s just another house. You start a business, full of excitement, and then one day you find yourself just going through the motions. You stand at the altar with your best friend in life, and ten years later you’re just paying bills together.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those things are awesome, and if you look hard enough, there will always be enough moments of excitement to remind you why you wanted it in the first place. But looking for excitement, by itself, usually leads to problems. What we should be looking for are goals. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. So, what’s next? Dream a little. Together.

Dreams are the ultimate use of our imagination, and imagination is the first step in every worthwhile thing you’ll ever accomplish in life. Don’t focus on what is – imagine what could be. What if? Those are the two most important words in any endeavor. What if this job leads to bigger things? What if you added a sunroom to the house? What if that snow were actually a sunny Gulf-coast beach?

And what if all the years leading up to this day were just some sort of rehearsal for what’s yet to come? What if your very best days to this point were just a teaser of what lies ahead? What if you stopped saying “what if” and did something about it?

For every one of us, the future begins today. We can either find the magic we once saw in simple things and turn it into even greater things. We can enjoy what we’ve built to this point or build something even bigger. And if we can simply get out of our own way, we can find the same excitement in each moment that we did the first time we experienced it. It’s up to you. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Getting Cold? Then Crank Up the Heat!

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

We’re officially entering that time of year where everything we’ve done over the previous year comes home to roost. People coughing and sneezing, wondering why they didn’t take better care of their health. Looking at the upcoming holidays, and wishing they’d set aside a little more savings. And the New Year, less than two months away, a constant reminder of those failed resolutions.

Already the stores have changed their seasonal displays to maximize their income from holiday sales. It’s a strategy retailers learned years ago. Some of us are old enough to remember when Sears had a nut and candy display strategically placed at the bottom of the escalator where the smell could waft up through the store captivating everyone who came close enough to get a whiff.

The sights, sounds, and smells are carefully designed with one goal in mind – getting their share of your holiday spending before anybody else has a chance. And it doesn’t matter if you’re only there to pick up some bread and milk. They know sooner or later you’ll bring your kids with you, and then it’s off to the races with a cash register waiting at the finish line.

And the stores don’t really care how much you saved, because they know we’ll max out our credit cards and spend money that should be going to something else in order to make this once-a-year celebration the best it can be. After all, it’s not the little ones’ fault we didn’t save more during the year. Why should they have to pay for our mistakes?

That was my thinking for years. The holidays became just another time of stress. We’d count the paychecks left in the year and celebrate when we realized the last payday would come on or just before Christmas Eve. Maybe Santa would come after all! Sure, all those bills we put off will still be due in January (with a late charge added on), but January can take care of itself. Right?

Trust me, I’ve been there. And a lot more recently than I’d care to admit. Most of us have a tendency to live in the moment and figure out tomorrow when it comes. And those who don’t, those who carefully plan every action to achieve the desired long-term outcome, usually miss out on some of the spontaneity of life. Sometimes it’s nice not knowing exactly what tomorrow will bring.

But life has a way of giving us hints, whether we pay attention to them or not. That new ticking sound coming from your car’s engine. The damp clothes after an hour in the dryer. That slowly growing brown stain on the ceiling next to the chimney. And that general feeling of fatigue after a full night of sleep. All subtle hints that, if you don’t do something to intervene, things could get worse.

But hey, we’re taught to be positive, right? Focus on the good in life, and don’t imagine the worst every time things aren’t just perfect. But optimism isn’t the delusional belief that nothing bad will ever happen. It’s simply the knowledge that, when bad things do happen, you’ll somehow find a way to get past the challenge and come out on top.

In church, we’re taught to focus on our faith and to know that, no matter how bad things get, the Lord will provide. We’re also taught that we get a little more of a helping hand when we try to help ourselves. But somehow, we seem to miss that little tidbit of advice. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Right now, I’m having fun!

All through the year, squirrels spend their days scampering around and generally enjoying the simple life. But as soon as the days start turning cooler, they begin stocking their nest with fallen nuts and anything else that can be used to get them through the winter. They don’t know why they’re doing it. They just do. And no matter how bad the winter is, they emerge happy and healthy on the other end.

We all have to face the consequences of our choices, both good and bad. The trick is to learn from any mistakes and try not to repeat them again next year. First and foremost, take care of your health. You don’t keep getting second chances on that. If you know you have expenses coming up, do something about it. Save more or earn more. And if the car is making a funny noise, check it out.

It all comes back to a simple concept I’ve mentioned before – dig the well before you get thirsty. Plan ahead. And if you missed that step, don’t just kick the can to the curb and hope somebody else will pick it up. Starting late is better than not starting at all. You can always make things better. And think of how much easier it’ll be next time around.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved