You’re Never Too Old to Dream

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

It’s been a busy week for me. Sometimes it works that way. Usually when the boss is out of town, but hey … that’s the way it goes. The bottom line is I get to come home at the end of the day knowing I did something productive. At my age, that’s a lot more important than brownie points.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I hit that point where my goals shifted from advancement and recognition to just doing a good job and leaving the place better than I found it. I think we all reach that point sometime in our work and personal life. For some of us, it just happens a lot sooner than others.

I talk to a lot of people who, when you suggest building something that can provide a little better security in retirement, and maybe even let them reach that point a few years earlier than they would have, they shake their head and say, “At my age …” What follows is some variation of “I’m too old to start something new” or “I’m happy with things just the way they are.”

What that means, in so many words, is, “People my age don’t have dreams.” Well, yeah, they do. We all do. We just may not spend much time thinking about them. But the most active retiree still has things they want to do, or places they want to see. And I don’t care how much money they’ve got, they probably wish they had a little more.

We naturally gravitate toward things that bring pleasure. Advertisers know that all too well. That’s why in vacation commercials, you only see families snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef or enjoying a candle-lit dinner in a mountain lodge. You never see them waiting in line for tickets, enduring a body search at the airport, or crammed into a coach seat for six hours.

Part of the problem is that, when we’re younger, we want all the nice things and we want them right now. Sure, saving a portion of our paycheck would get us there eventually, but the credit card company says we don’t have to wait. We just have to take an even bigger portion of our check to pay the bill long after the fun is over or the new car smells like old cheeseburgers.

I did the same thing, so I won’t lecture anybody on financial responsibility. But, having done it both ways, I have to admit there’s a lot more excitement in saving for something you want than paying for it once you’ve got it. It’s like the difference between building something and then having to repaint it – every month until there’s nothing left to repaint.

As we get older, we realize that all those days of spending on whatever we wanted may have created some fun times along the way, but it may not have been overly responsible. And that’s when it hits – responsibility. The dreaded “R” word. It makes Mom and Dad proud, but to the rest of the world it simply means you’ve grown old.

That’s when we start saying things like, “Why do I need a new car? The old one still runs.” “A bigger house would be nice, but it’s just that much more to clean.” “I’d love to go to Tahiti, but who wants to sit on a plane that long?” Sure, the excuses make sense. But at the end of the day, they’re just validation of the fact that we stopped acting on our dreams.

I think a lot of that is the wisdom of age, realizing that money really doesn’t grow on trees and whatever we spend today won’t be there tomorrow. Part of it is the reality that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll retire and have to live on whatever we’ve been able to save. And part is just the fact that, as we age, a quiet evening on the porch holds a lot more value than it used to.

But part of it is that, as we get older, we give up our ability to dream. We’re no longer looking at a lifetime to enjoy whatever we begin building today. The appeal of a vacation every month yields to the lure of relaxing by the fireplace. And the excitement of new things turns to the cold, hard calculation of how much it costs and all the other things that money could be used for.

It’s one thing to become responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. So, what if you’ll only have a few years to enjoy what you’ve built? Doesn’t that beat not enjoying it at all? Dreams represent hope. And the longer you have hope, the longer you truly live. That alone should be worth the time you spend standing in line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Little Changes Can Make a World of Difference

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’m a little tired today. The past two nights, for whatever reason, I’ve awakened from a reasonably sound sleep for no good reason other than my brain decided to get active way before it’s supposed to. You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it won’t go away? Well, when that song comes along at 3 in the morning and it’s Janis Joplin, you might as well just get up.

Yet still, I snuggle up a little longer, hoping to recapture even a few more minutes of sleep before it’s time to get up and face the day. Not that there’s anything I don’t want to face – I just don’t want to do it until it’s time. And at that point in the morning, another five minutes of sleep is worth any amount of tossing and turning to achieve it. Believe me, I tried.

But you know how it goes. No matter how late it gets, it’s never too late to try one more time. And whatever extra we gain as a result seems to make a huge difference in the rest of our day. Okay, in the case of sleep maybe not so much, but you get the idea. Sometimes it’s more about perception. And sometimes, it’s just a basis for comparison. A little more is better than none at all.

Yesterday we made that point in terms of nutrition … the premise that, no matter what choices you’ve made in the past and how poor those choices may have been, it’s never too late to turn things around. Granted, the later we wait, the less impact those changes will have. But at some point in life, an extra 5% is worth whatever it takes to achieve it. Kinda like those last ten minutes of sleep.

One of the worst inventions in the history of man is the snooze button. Instead of setting the alarm clock to let us enjoy a deeper sleep until it’s time to get up, we set it a half-hour earlier so we can hit the snooze button three times and fool ourselves into believing we’re getting a little extra sleep every day. We know better, but it still feels like a small victory.

But there’s another kind of snooze button we need to hit a little earlier – the one that says “you’re getting older, and time is marching on.” I get a dose of that reality every time I look at the balance in my retirement account. It’s like looking at a stack of bills and realizing there’s not enough in the bank to cover them. If I had to retire today, I’d have to die within a year, or I’d be broke.

I came to the realization several years ago that my retirement won’t be a simple matter of sitting back and waiting for a monthly check to arrive. It’ll be working at whatever I’m still able to do while I wait for a few smaller checks to come in. A little here, a little there – after a while, it can add up. And the bank really doesn’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s enough.

I think most of us are in the same boat, at least to some extent. And if you think you’re not, you may want to take a closer look. Think back to the money you made thirty years ago. Then think if you had to live on half that amount today. That’s pretty much how retirement works. You cut your income in half, and then as time goes on and prices keep increasing, your pay stays the same. Fun, huh?

Now, how much difference would a little bit extra make? It’s a natural tendency to look at a few hundred dollars and think, “I could never live on that!” Nobody said you have to. But at some point, that little bit extra would make a world of difference. And the truth is, that point is here. It’s today. If you could save just $300 each month, in thirty years you’d have more than $300,000.

Income doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Like that extra ten minutes of sleep or those midlife nutritional changes, a little extra here and there adds to the total. And the total is what matters most. Would you rather have one big retirement check from a single source, or several smaller checks that add up to the same amount? Considering how many businesses go bankrupt each year, I think I’ll go for Door #2.

The choices we make today will have an impact later in life, and it’s never too late to do things a little differently. But thirty years from now, do you think you might wish you’d made some better choices today? I’m pretty sure we’d all have the same answer. The difference is, are we willing to do anything about it?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

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

I was chatting with some friends last night and, as often happens with this group, our conversation drifted to the topic of dreams. Not in the sense you might think, with a roomful of people sitting around a table, eyes aglow as each described their greatest goal in life. But in the sense of growing older and a common sentiment that, as we continue to age, we hope we never stop dreaming.

That conversation started as we shared stories of our own parents, and even ourselves, in which the fire just kind of died out over the years. Not completely, at least in our own instances, because we all still have dreams we’re working toward. But sometimes the dream can be as simple as not allowing age and all its associated challenges to get in the way of living.

I know, for my wife and I, we just don’t go out anymore. We don’t visit friends, we don’t invite friends to visit us, we don’t get together with others for a Saturday outing or go out for a night of dinner, drinks, and music – all things we used to enjoy, but somehow over the years they just faded into the background. Now, we pretty much sit around the house. Real party animals, huh?

And, looking back, I can’t really put my finger on a point in life when that changed. But if I had to take a guess, it would be 1988, when I got out of the Navy and we moved back home. That’s 31 years for anyone who’s already run out of fingers and toes to add it up. I can’t recall a time since then when we’ve done much of anything outside the home except shop and take the occasional vacation.

Now, to some people, that sounds like Heaven on earth. I get it. We’re not all wired the same way, and we all have different interests. But in our case, and I think I’m speaking for both of us, we miss it. We would desperately love to get out and do more, just for the fun of being around friends. But when you allow yourself to stop enjoying that side of life for so long, you begin to forget how.

My mother-in-law was one of those people who could make friends anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. I remember one time walking down a street past a historic home where the owners were sitting on the porch enjoying a beautiful day. She said hi, they said hi, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew they were offering to give us a tour of their home. Wow.

So, how does that fit into the topic of dreams? Well, Jane always imagined a more affluent life and all the things that go along with it – possessions, friends, entertaining, you name it. And, for her, touring the home of somebody who was enjoying that lifestyle would somehow satisfy her own dream. She could live vicariously through others and did so for most of her life.

We all have dreams. Yet, much as my wife and I somehow put a lid on our socialization skills, people tend to shut down those dreams as they get older. Or, maybe the dreams don’t really go away – they just change. At the age of 90, a bigger house probably isn’t as important as the ability to step outside and take a walk. At that age, I imagine most people’s dreams involve their dreams for others.

Make no mistake – there are things I want in life and experiences I want to enjoy. But, as I get closer to the age of retirement, my dreams are more focused on what I want for my daughters and grandchildren. When I look at new opportunities today, I don’t think so much of how they could benefit me as how they could benefit my family. As Dad would say, that’s just part of growing up.

It’s easy to look at things as we get older and think, “That really wouldn’t interest me.” But let me ask you a question – if somebody had presented you with that same vision thirty or forty years ago, would you have been grateful for the opportunity? Is it something you may have acted upon? Could it have changed the course of your life, and possibly led you closer to where you’d like to be today?

And you know, as we look at these things through the eyes of those we care about the most, we sometimes get our second (or third) wind and think, “I’m not that old – why can’t I do that?” Few things make me smile quicker than the image of old folks with white hair boogie-boarding or skydiving. These are people who never stopped dreaming. These are people who live. These are the people I want to be. How about you?

That’s all for now. Keep those dreams alive and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keeping a Healthy Perspective

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

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with one of the surgeons who messed around with my brain last year. I keep saying I came away with no lasting effects, but there are some who aren’t so sure. I make the most of it. Every time I forget something I just say, “That must’ve been in the part they cut off.”

Well, the verdict is in and my brain is just as intact as it was before the surgery. That, in itself, should be the greater source of concern. I’ve always been a little “out there.” The only negative effect, and it’s not from the surgery itself or even the condition that led to the surgery, is my right ear still has issues. Otherwise, I’m in pretty good shape.

I was reading an article yesterday about an interesting trend in health, or at least in our perception of health. In surveys, an increasing number of people my age rate their overall health as “good” or even “excellent.” And mind you, very few of those people are without health problems or physical limitations. Some are even battling cancer. Yet they still feel like their overall health is really good.

Younger people, on the other hand, are a little less optimistic about their health. In fact, an increasing percentage of them rate their health as “acceptable” or even “poor.” These are people who, for the most part, have never faced a life-threatening condition. Yet they don’t feel as healthy as people twice their age. Why do you think that is?

It’s all about perception. The older people aren’t any healthier – they just accept some of life’s aches and pains with a little more grace. When you reach my age, you go to bed earlier and wake up tired. Joints crack and pop. Daily discomfort is par for the course. You can’t run around the block and bending over makes you dizzy. That’s life.

But it’s something we accept, because we expect it. We know that, as we get older, our bodies won’t look or feel like the body of a twenty-year-old. So, when somebody asks about our health, we don’t make that comparison. Instead, we compare it to the perception we once had of people our age. You know – back when we were twenty and thought sixty was ancient.

But when you’re in your twenties or early thirties, and begin to feel the early effects of age, it’s all new and comes as somewhat of a surprise. You’re used to feeling perfect all the time, and sore joints, lower energy, and the occasional headache make you feel … well, old. Worse yet, you know this is just the start. And trust me, it is.

I think most people my age would pay good money to wake up each day feeling as “bad” as we did thirty years ago. But we know those days are long gone, so we adapt and make the most of what’s left. Instead of lamenting the fact that we can no longer run a 100-yard dash in 12 seconds, we’re happy to be able to walk from one end of a beach to the other.

It’s all about perspective. You’re as healthy as you feel. I’ve seen people much older than me fighting a terminal illness with full acceptance of their eventual fate, and when you ask how they’re feeling they smile and say, “I feel great!” It’s not a lie, and they’re not delusional. They’ve just come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to feel perfect – you make the most of what you’ve got.

This isn’t intended to be a slam on younger people. I remember that age, and thinking my aches and pains were a sign of rapidly declining health. Worse yet, I adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate my perceived infirmities. And, along with the physical changes, I allowed myself to grow old way before my time. I was grumpy, opinionated, and generally pessimistic about the world in which we live.

Now, my wife will argue that the grumpiness hasn’t completely gone away, but overall, I feel a lot more positive about life than I did thirty years ago. Since that time, I’ve had a heart attack, a few surgeries, and a lot of lower back pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids, and when my gout flares up, I have to use a cane. And yesterday my surgeon said I may eventually lose hearing in my right ear.

And you know what? I feel healthier today than I have in decades. I know my limitations, and I adjust my lifestyle to fit within those constraints. But aside from those little aches and pains, I feel great!

It’s been said that what we perceive to be real is real. If you feel old, you’re old. If you feel sick, you’re sick. And if you feel young and healthy, you’re … well, maybe a little less old, but still healthy.  It’s all about perspective. Make yours positive!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

In 2017, 79-year-old Lucy Capers crossed the stage at the University of Maryland’s graduation to accept her diploma and degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Studies. Let me say that again. She was just shy of 80 years old with 13 great-grandchildren and was graduating with people more than 50 years younger. When asked why, she simply said, “I always had a desire to know things.”

I love these stories. It’s worth turning on the news, just on the off-chance something like this will come up. Maybe that’s partly because I’m only 18 years from that age myself. It’s nice to know people can and do still get out there and chase their dreams, even when most others their age would be happy to kick back and coast through the final ride.

My grandson and I have always enjoyed a day at the local theme park. I still enjoy the thrill of a good rollercoaster, especially the ones that defy gravity with loops, corkscrews, and inversions. And as I stand in line for those rides with people who aren’t old enough to buy their own ice cream, it’s heartwarming to see people older than I am in the same line.

Now, I can’t say my doctor would be all that happy about seeing me in that line. That’s okay. He’s too wimpy to ride these things anyway. But there seems to be a misconception that, once we reach a certain age, we’re supposed to start acting like old people.

I’ve always tried to instill a spirit of youth and hope in my daughters and grandchildren, and I’m sure most of you do as well. I always told them they could accomplish anything they set their mind to and encouraged them to embrace their dreams. And let me tell you, kids can dream! It’s hard sometimes not to bring them back to “reality”, but it’s so important that we don’t.

So, at what point in life do we decide dreams are to be reeled in and it’s time to face the real world? For me, it began in high school. I had grand visions of life as a rock star, complete with a waterfront mansion and my own personal yacht. That’s when Dad started coaching my dreams a little and suggested maybe I should come up with a more realistic plan. Okay, his exact words were “get your head out of the clouds and find a real job,” but you get the idea.

And he didn’t mean to be negative. I didn’t mean to be negative as I gave my daughter some career advice when, at the age of 17, she informed me that she was looking for something “in management.” There are, after all, certain steps we have to take if we want to climb a particular ladder. You may skip one or two rungs along the way, but you can’t just jump right to the top.

And, even though I had to dash her dreams for the moment and tell her that being “third key” at the vitamin store just isn’t all that impressive on an executive resume, she eventually climbed that ladder and moved to the top of her career field. Because, like her dad, she never stopped dreaming. Her sister is the same. I guess the nut really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

What made a 79-year-old think she could go to college and get a degree? The same thing that makes a toddler think they can climb the shelves of the refrigerator to reach the marshmallows. It’s an inner desire, a fire that just won’t be extinguished, and a brain that never learned the meaning of “impossible.”

What are your dreams? More importantly, which of your dreams have you pushed to the side over the years? You know, they never really die. Like an abandoned puppy, they sit there just waiting for the right person to come along and enjoy them for what they are, and what they can become.

Several months ago, a Michigan man found out the rock he’d picked up and had been using as a doorstop for the past 30 years was actually a meteorite worth $100,000. Wonder how many people kicked that rock out of the way before he came along?

You’re never too old to dream. And you’re never too old to act on those dreams. Give up on that whole concept of acting your age and accepting whatever life throws your way. And stop leaving your dreams on the side of the road because you picked up too much extra baggage along the way and something had to go.

Life will deal you enough disappointments without adding any more of your own. And the best way to work through those disappointments is to keep those dreams alive. If you have kids, you’ve probably told them “you can do anything you set your mind to.” Well, maybe it’s time to say it again. Only this time, stand in front of the mirror when you do it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved