Keep Going … I Triple-Dog Dare You!

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

There was a good show on TV last night. It started at midnight and went until … I don’t know, sometime after I finally went back to sleep. Yes, back. I was in bed at 9:00 because, apparently, I’m that old. I remember a time in life when getting to stay up late was a treat. Now, it’s a challenge. Almost like my body is throwing down a gauntlet and saying, “I triple-dog dare you!”

Well, I’ve never been one to fall for the triple-dog dare. Those words are usually followed by, “Hold my beer!” And we all know what happens after that. I’ve seen the videos. We all have. They usually end up with some guy riding a bicycle off the roof into the side of an above-ground swimming pool, or something equally intelligent. It’s just not my thing. Okay, not anymore.

I never actually rode a bicycle off the roof. I’m a chicken when it comes to ladders. Going up isn’t so bad, but getting back on the ladder to climb down is another matter. Just send up my lunch – I’m gonna be there a while. In fact, toss up a sleeping bag and pillow while you’re at it. There’s a point where the old bicycle-into-the-pool thing starts to take on a certain attraction.

I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life. Trying to dry a wet firecracker in a microwave oven holds a place of honor on the list. And then there was the time I stuck two suitcase keys into an electric outlet and woke up on the other side of the room. But the absolute best was the time I knocked myself out cold with a 20-pound sledgehammer. Yes, that really can be done.

And, not a one of those “America’s Funniest” moments was preceded by a triple-dog dare. Thankfully, none of them were caught on video either, or I’d have been a three-time winner of that show. I did every one of them completely unassisted and unprovoked. I’m that good.

So, last night I went to bed at the normal time. I was in the middle of a pretty good dream when I rolled over in my sleep and my heart gave me a sucker-punch that opened my eyes faster than a cold glass of water. And I could swear I heard it say, “Go back to sleep. I triple-dog dare you!”

It’s a condition my cardiologist calls “atypical angina.” In other words, your chest hurts, and we really don’t know why. He told me once that it’s not life-threatening, but someday that’ll change. I asked him how I’d know the difference and he said, “Oh, you’ll know.” That’s comforting.

Like a lot of things in life, you just learn to deal with it. I carry a bottle of nitroglycerine in my pocket, and every now and then I get to give myself an instant headache. Now, there’s a choice for you. Throbbing head or pounding chest? Sometimes I just flip a coin. That’s how they’ll find me someday, flat on my face with a tails-up quarter in my hand.

The important thing is that we learn to adapt and make the most of the situation. Sometimes we need to slow down a little, but that doesn’t mean we quit. Granted, the time I went to the locker room for a hit of nitro, and then resumed my workout probably wasn’t too intelligent. But there comes a point where you have to decide whether you own life or life owns you.

Challenges come in all forms, and we all face our fair share. They may be related to health, income, education, geography, or any combination of other factors. Some may be related to poor decisions we’ve made in the past, and others are just a matter of circumstances. But to the degree that we face those challenges head-on, we’re able to rise above and move on.

There will be days when you’re not fully up to par. You may find yourself outclassed in a competition, short of skills for a certain task, or physically unable to keep up with the crowd. Adapt. Make the most of what’s working in your favor, and don’t let circumstances take control of your life. Rest if you need to. Or sit up and watch a late movie. Then get back in the game.

The best things in life await those who find a way around obstacles instead of sitting on the ground in front of them. As you’re climbing mountains, you never know what lies over the next ridge. It could be another mountain, or this could be the last one standing between you and your dreams. There’s only one way to find out.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Is Yours To Enjoy – But You Gotta Want It

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

When was the last time you met a truly happy person? Okay, let me re-phrase that … when was the last time you met a truly happy person over the age of six, but young enough to still have all their marbles? It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. And when it does, we become immediately suspicious. “Oh no, she’s about to invite me to church! Or worse yet, an Amway meeting!”

Don’t believe me? The next time you see somebody walking through the office, smiling at everyone and softly humming a Disney song at their desk, write down the first thought that comes to mind. Promotion? Morning whoopee? Liquid lunch? The boss just got fired? We can come up with all kinds of explanations, but could it be remotely possible they’re just happy? Nah!

We all like to think we’re relatively pleasant people, that we exude a certain level of happiness that draws people in. Then along comes somebody who’s so over-the-top bubbly that you just want to stuff a rag in their mouth. “Take your happiness out the front door and share it with God’s little creatures! There are people trying to sleep in here!”

Whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us tend to embrace misery just a bit too much. Oh, we try. We may even wake up and try to convince ourselves that today will be the best day ever. But then we get to work and find out somebody swiped the last cup of coffee and couldn’t be bothered to start a new pot. Oh, it’s on now!

I can look past some idiot diving in front of me at the exit ramp or finding a strange car in “my” parking spot, but you don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. How hard is it to dump the old grounds, put in a fresh pack, and press the “Brew” button? Sure, there’s decaf. There’s always decaf. And I’m not drinking it. If God can take the time to put caffeine in my coffee, the least I can do is drink it that way.

Then you get to your desk and find that report you worked late to give the boss sitting on your desk with more red ink than a congressional budget. Your trash can isn’t where it belongs, your computer keeps locking up, the microwave is broken, and just who has been messing with the thermostat? It’s freezing! Somebody is obviously out to ruin your perfect day.

Let’s face it, if you want to feel miserable, life will hand you plenty of excuses. As the old expression goes, stuff happens. Well, something like that. Things will never be just perfect. So, how is one person smiling while you’re miserable? Maybe they got that last cup of coffee, and that’s why they don’t notice how cold it is. They probably tweaked the thermostat, too. The nerve of some people!

Happiness isn’t a state of nature, or even a state of reality. It’s a state of mind. You will never be more happy than you choose to be. Read that again, because it’s important. Notice, I didn’t say you’ll always be as happy as you choose to be. Things will happen, sometimes really bad things, and they can destroy your happiness in an instant. But how quickly we reclaim that happiness is up to us.

The key is to just keep things in perspective. So what if the coffee pot is empty? At least you’ll get a fresh cup. And no, it’s not okay to skim off a cup while the pot is brewing, because you’ll get all the good stuff and leave dishwater for everyone else. And that report on your desk? Just fix it. It’s not like anybody is docking your pay. And think how much better you’ll feel when it’s done.

We spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, but all too often we overlook the happiness that’s already there. You can smile in the sunshine or rain, and even when adversity tries to steal that smile, only you can decide when it’s time to bring it back out. Challenges will always be there. But to the degree that you can meet those challenges, happiness is yours to enjoy. So, make the most of it.

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

© 2020 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

Behind the Darkest Clouds, Sunshine Awaits

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

For those of us in the northern states (affectionately referred to as the “Midwest” because we just don’t like admitting we’re in the north), things are definitely changing. In the past two weeks the leaves have started to turn, and morning temperatures are something a little less than comfortable. Summer is officially over, and we know what that means – winter begins next week.

That’s the way it seems to go lately. It’s all or nothing. And I know there are people who are giddy at the thought of snow and all the “fun” stuff that comes with it. You know – slush, ice, scraping the windshield in sub-freezing temperatures, shoveling the sidewalks, and busting your butt on icy hard pavement at least once every other week. Do I sound a little biased?

But, short of moving someplace within a hundred miles of the equator, seasonal changes are just something I have to accept. We all do. Granted, winter doesn’t officially start for another two months, but my body doesn’t have a calendar. It only knows cold, hot, and something in between. Winter is when I start wearing long-sleeve shirts. I broke them out last week.

But the colder it gets, the more I remind myself it’s only temporary. It doesn’t seem that way somewhere around February, but I know that sooner or later, the warm weather will return and I can terrorize the neighbors with short pants and sleeveless shirts. I used to mow the lawn with no shirt, but they asked me to stop doing that. They even took up a petition.

Life has its fair share of changes as well. You’re riding along at a nice pace, things are going well, and all of a sudden something comes along to throw a wrench in the spokes. Depending which wheel it is, you either come to a grinding halt or get thrown over the handlebars. And life doesn’t seem to care whether you’re up for the challenge or not. It pretty much enjoys catching you off-guard.

When I was younger, it seems most of those challenges were related to money. My system of budgeting was that, as long as there was money in the bank, I could still write checks. In fact, I wrote a few I shouldn’t have. The bank would call, I’d make up some lame excuse, we’d laugh, and then they’d slap me with a service charge to take even more of what they already knew I didn’t have.

Back then, any unexpected expense was a crisis. If I got up in the morning and the shampoo bottle was empty, that was a big deal. A flat tire on the way to work meant no lunch for a week. If the refrigerator died, we’d be eating canned beans for a month. On the upside, it kept people from hovering over my desk all day. They generally kept their distance.

But somehow things always worked out. That’s not to say we didn’t take our share of kicks. Not much can compare to getting a certified letter from the mortgage company that says it’s time to move. And when you pull up in a moving van, all the neighbors who never spoke to you in the years you lived there suddenly drop by. “Yes, we found someplace much nicer to live. Are you here to help or stare?”

I’ve been on top of the game for a good portion of my life, and I’ve hit rock bottom a few times as well. And the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that life is a lot like the weather. It can be sunny and warm one day, then cold and rainy the next. And about the time you get tired of the cold drizzle, along comes the snow. And then it gets sunny and warm again and you get to start all over.

Mom always used to say that when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go – up. When things are as bad as they can possibly be, they can only get better. That’s usually not much comfort when you’re dragging the weight of the world in the deepest canyon you’ve ever seen, but even canyons end at some point.

It would be nice if we could anticipate all the bad things in life and just avoid them. And to an extent, we can. Financial issues aren’t much of a problem to people who have lots of money. So, the answer to that one seems pretty simple – make a little more money. But even that doesn’t stop health issues and the heartache of family struggles.

We all face adversity. Sometimes it comes on slowly and leaves fast, and other times it comes on fast and hangs around a long time. But, just as winter turns to spring, adversity will ease. So, clear your mind and look for a solution. You may not find a way out, but you can always make things better.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let Reality Stand in the Way of Your Dreams

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

Over the years, my wife and I have talked a lot about moving south. We both grew up in south Florida, and we miss both the climate and proximity to the ocean. In an old Jimmy Buffett song, the lyrics say, “Salt air, it ain’t thin – it’ll stick right to your skin, and makes you feel fine.” Anybody who has ever lived close to the ocean knows exactly how true that is.

It’s also true that we spend most of our lives trying to get back to a place of comfort from our youth. I’m not sure if that’s because we’ve all worked ourselves into a life that looked better than it tastes, or because we’re simply trying to re-capture our youth. But those old days sooner or later come beckoning and it’s easy to focus on the good parts while forgetting why we left in the first place.

But it’s good to dream, even if the dream isn’t quite what we think it’ll be. You see a new restaurant being built and, as soon as you see the name, your imagination kicks in. “That sounds good!” Why? It’s just a name. You’ve never even seen the menu, much driven past and caught a whiff of whatever it is they’re cooking. But you find yourself anticipating opening day like a child waiting for Christmas.

Sometimes it lives up to your expectations, and sometimes it doesn’t. Or you may check out the menu online and realize it’s far too expensive for your budget, so you never do get to find out if it’s any good. Because, as we all know, price has very little to do with food quality. Some of the best tasting food on the planet comes from restaurants you’d drive right past if you didn’t know better.

Or maybe you’re like me, and when the new restaurant opens, you go back to your tried and true choices anyway. We don’t eat out that often, so when we do, I want something familiar that I can enjoy. I’m one of those who rarely even looks at the menu because I already know what I’ll be eating. Sure, I could try something else. But there’s some risk in that, and I don’t want to leave disappointed.

It works that way with a lot of things in life. We want something so bad we can taste it, to the point that it begins to consume our every waking thought. But as we get closer to it, something holds us back. That may be uncertainty, it may be fear, and it may be the realization that we like things just the way they are. As much as we want something better, we don’t want to lose what we’ve got.

Years ago, I interviewed for a job in Alabama. It wasn’t really close to the ocean, but it was a lot closer than I am here in Ohio. The job was right up my alley – it fit perfectly with my experience, and it would have been a nice promotion into a leadership role. As one interview led to another, our excitement began to build. Then one day reality came home to roost.

My grandson had gotten in some trouble at home and my daughter asked me to talk to him. As he sat on the edge of his bed, sobbing but not really talking, he finally blurted out, “I’m doing bad in school, I’m in trouble with Mom, and you’re moving away, and I’ll never get to see you again!” That hit me like a ton of bricks. One thing we learned in car sales is that the last objection is the real objection.

I assured him everything would be okay, then went home and told my wife I can’t do it. The reality of moving away suddenly overpowered the dream and sapped the fun right out of it. I told her if they offered the position, I’d have to turn it down. As it turns out, I never had to make that decision. I was one of the final three candidates, but somebody else got the job.

It’s good to dream. But it’s also good to re-assess those dreams from time to time so we don’t find ourselves chasing something we may not really want. Dreams exist in the imagination – and the imagination can make anything as fun and exciting as we want it to be. But as we get closer and begin to see some of the downside, it may not be as appealing as we thought.

Dreams change. And that’s okay, as long as it’s because you decided to make the change. But never let your dreams go because of external challenges you didn’t ask for in the first place. It’s been said that the only regrets we’ll have in life are the chances we never took. There is no certainty in anything, but there are possibilities in everything. Be sure the choices you make are right for you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Never a Problem if You’re Ready For It

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

Today I slept a little later than normal. That happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. I still woke up with plenty of time to get the day started. I just had to change things up a little. It’s like stepping in the shower and finding out you’re out of shampoo. You improvise. Body wash isn’t the ideal way to clean your hair, but it works in a pinch.

No, I didn’t run out of shampoo. I always keep a spare bottle on hand because I know how that works. You can feel that the bottle is getting a little lighter, but every time you pick it up, there’s still more. In fact, a lot more than you’d thought. Then one day you give the bottle a squeeze and it makes that disgusting bodily sound that never fails to get me in trouble at dinnertime. Or any other time. I’m just saying.

So, you reach for the spare and toss the old bottle aside. If you’re lucky, you remember to throw that one in the trash. Otherwise, you’ll find another reason I tend to get in trouble. Hey, it’s not my fault we don’t have a trash can next to the shower. And by the time I’ve opened the new bottle, the old one is a distant memory. There’s no eulogy or proper burial. Life just goes on.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. Something unexpected happens, something that could disrupt your day (or longer), but you still have other things to do. You can’t just bring everything to a grinding halt because one thing didn’t go as planned. You pick up the pieces, adapt, and get back into action. If it’s an empty shampoo bottle, it’s no big deal. Other things may require a little more effort.

There will always be something that doesn’t go according to plan. That’s why most cars have a spare tire in the trunk. Not all – apparently some of the newer ones don’t have a spare. Not even one of those little donut tires that’s good for 50 miles on baby-smooth road if you keep your speed to a turtle’s pace. But at that moment, you’d take anything reasonably round that’ll bolt onto the axle.

Do you keep spare light bulbs around the house, or do you run to the hardware store every time you flip the switch and nothing happens? Do you keep food in the pantry that you probably won’t eat this week? Do you buy an extra bottle of vitamins before you run out? Have you ever bought ten pieces of poster-board to get ahead of kids who never mention that school project till the night before it’s due?

Okay, I may be alone in that last one. But my grandson was notorious for coming up at 8:00 in the evening and telling us he had an assignment due the next day and if we didn’t run to the store and buy him a piece of poster-board, he wouldn’t be able to complete his assignment and it would be all our fault. I always loved that little shift of blame. Seriously?

And sure, I could have told him tough luck – take a zero, because you knew this assignment was due a week ago and didn’t say anything until now. But you know, it’s more fun to just hand him a clean piece of poster-board and say, “Here – now it’s all on you. Get to work.” I won’t say he learned a thing from that, but it still made me feel pretty resourceful.

Sometimes, we have to anticipate the unexpected and do something about it before the need arises. Take vitamins before you get sick. Eat sensibly while your favorite pants still fit. Save money when you have a little more than you need (does that EVER happen?) Check the air in that spare tire every now and then. And the next time you go to the store for a bottle of shampoo, pick up two.

In the movie “Road House” Patrick Swayze responded to a question about drunken bar patrons by saying, “People who go out looking for trouble usually aren’t a problem for somebody who’s ready.” Some of life’s greatest challenges are little more than an inconvenience if they don’t catch you completely unprepared. You may not expect them at that very moment, but at least you’re ready.

This isn’t to say you should go through life waiting for the sky to fall in. Enjoy each moment and make the most of it. A spare tire won’t keep you from any particular destination. But if something happens along the way, it’s nice to know the trip isn’t over. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” Think ahead and you may never have to look behind. A challenge is only a problem if you’re not ready for it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

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

The weekend is over, and it’s back to the grind. I hope you did at least a few things for yourself this weekend, in the midst of all those other things you have to do. It’s funny how the boss thinks we all go home on Friday evening and just sit around and rest all weekend. That doesn’t happen very often, and usually when it does, it’s because we’re too sick to do anything else.

I spent my weekend trying to regroup from a setback that threatens to undermine a lot of what I’ve worked to accomplish, and to refocus my mind on the next steps moving forward. It happens to us all, and it can make you feel the weight of the world come crashing down. We can let these moments define us, or we can use them to redefine ourselves. This is where we find out what we’re made of.

Things rarely go just right. Life is a series of ups and downs and, like the world’s most thrilling rollercoaster, some of those ups and downs are a lot bigger than others. But without those scary drops, we’d never have the momentum to make it up the next climb. And, as any coaster enthusiast knows, when the track flattens out, it means the ride is just about over.

I’m not sure I every want my track to flatten out. Sure, I could do without some of the death-defying twists and turns along the way, but without them life would be pretty boring. The thrill comes from facing those terrifying situations and standing tall on the other end. Without any of those steep drops and twisting inversions, the line for a rollercoaster would be pretty short.

The reason we enjoy things like that so much is because, no matter how scary the ride appears, we know deep down it’s not nearly as dangerous as it looks. We may get bumped around a little, and we may get dizzy at times. We may even wish we’d skipped the churro dog and dumpster fries we ate right before we got in line. But there’s little doubt we’ll make it safely to the end.

It’s that way with almost everything we face in life. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing we’ll ever face that doesn’t present at least the possibility of a positive outcome. And, more often than not, the odds of a successful outcome are much greater than we think. It’s all in how we approach those situations. We can take control, or simply go along for the ride.

And if you already know where the ride is headed, the option of just sitting quietly in the passenger seat becomes a simple question of whether the destination is someplace you want to go. On a rollercoaster, you’re at the mercy of the ride’s designers. You go where the track leads, every single time. Once you’re strapped in, there’s no turning back.

But in most of the things we face in life, we don’t have to just sit there and go along for the ride. At any moment, we can slide into the driver’s seat, take the wheel, and either correct an errant path or choose an entirely different destination. The choice is ours to make. And sometimes, it’s only when our primary choice goes away that we can clearly see all the other options we’ve been missing.

It can feel scary. It can feel dangerous. But some of life’s greatest achievements come from moments of desperation, when we have to either stand up and fight or lay down and quit. And in those moments, the kiddie cars may seem a lot safer than hopping back on a rollercoaster. But in the end, it’s just a much slower and less exciting way to end up right back where you started.

Just this weekend, I read a quote in “The Magic of Thinking Big” that fits this situation perfectly … “I’d rather burn out than rust out.”  I read those words several times, and their meaning set in deeper every time. I’ve seen where the “safe” road lead. There’s very little risk, but there’s also very little excitement. We can stare at a mountain all day, or we can climb up and see what’s on the other side.

Life is an amusement park. It’s got everything from park benches in the shade to the most death-defying rides known to man. Some people ride, and others watch from the sidelines. And others just sit on that park bench and as they eat the world’s most expensive ice cream and watch life completely pass them by. At the end of the day, they’ll all end up right back where they started.

You’ll face challenges. There’s no doubt about that. And some of those challenges will scare the daylights out of you. The question is, do you close your eyes and hold on for dear life, or do you throw your hands in the air and yell “rock and roll” the whole way down?

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved