That’s It! I Want My Dessert!!!

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

Today is a new day. A fresh start. A chance to spread a little cheer and find a little for myself. No, I’m not drinking. I make it a point never to do that before breakfast. Aaannnd, I just finished my breakfast, so all options are on the table. Boss, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding! (wink-wink).

Okay, my past few posts have been pretty heavy. Life works that way sometimes, and every now and then we need a good shot of reality. We’ve been there. I read this morning that today marks 5 years since 2020 began. I think we can all relate. So, excuse me if I get a little silly for a change. I’ve been accused of that once or twice, usually by my pastor.

Of course, he’s the guy who says we can’t just jump straight into Christmas. We have to observe Advent first. I never really knew what that meant, but let me explain what I’ve picked up over the years. It’s winter. It’s cold. It’s snowing. And before we’re allowed to celebrate the coming of Christ, we have to immerse ourselves in the drudgery that came before him. Got it?

Well, as much as I love my church and my pastor, here’s a novel idea. We’ve been through Advent for the past 10 months. Can we give ourselves time off for good behavior and find something to be happy about? I think we’ve earned it.

Sure, there’s something to be said for acknowledging life’s challenges so you can better appreciate the good stuff. It’s like eating Brussels sprouts before you can taste dessert. I get it. But there’s a reason I didn’t gain a lot of weight as a child – I didn’t get a lot of dessert. Some things just aren’t worth it, and those pungent green cootie-heads are at the top of the list.

But there’s also something to be said for stepping around the mud on your way into a party. Just because it’s there, that doesn’t mean we have to wallow in it. Not alone, anyway. I’m told mud-wallowing with friends can be a little … shall we say … exhilarating? But you still come out smelly, and nobody wants to be around that.

So, we look beyond the obvious and find something a little more enjoyable to occupy our time. Like dessert. Yes, I know, vegetables are loaded with vitamins. And I haven’t found a single vitamin since childhood that I want to taste. But I’m told there’s a whole industry for those of us who don’t like the flavor of vomit, so they make these things we can just swallow instead. Voila!

But this isn’t about vitamins or leafy green, semi-edible vegetables. It’s about finding a little joy. It’s about happiness. It’s about getting past all that surrounds us every day, the chains we can never seem to fully escape, and immersing ourselves into a world where people smile and laugh and sing. But no dancing. That’s where I draw the line. If you’d ever seen me dance, you’d understand.

Sometimes, my friends, we have to turn off the news, shut down the computer, and escape into an alternate reality where things like hope and victory prevail. We have to dream, to envision a more fulfilling existence, and plot … I mean, plan … a strategy for achieving it.

We can’t change the world around us, but we can change its effect on us. We can’t control circumstances, but we can control our reaction to them. We can’t change what has been to this point in life, but we can influence what is to be. And it all begins in that magical part of our brain where anything is possible.

Sure, at some point you come back to reality. At least I hope so. As much as I love the vision of traveling the beaches of the world, there are things right here that require my attention. Important things, like my job, the house, a leaky faucet, this mess in the basement … damn.

But here’s the point I want you to take away from this message – without dreams, none of the rest even matters. Work is important, but only if there’s something you’re working for … something other than a bill next month that’s not doubled because you couldn’t pay it this month. There’s more to life, friends. A lot more.

We don’t need any reminders that 2020 isn’t over, and 2021 isn’t shaping up very well, either. We can’t escape the challenges that surround us, but we can work our way around them. And it all begins with a dream. Okay, and letting ourselves sing happy songs right after Thanksgiving. Put up the tree, turn on the lights, and skip right to the good stuff! You’ve earned it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keep It Simple – Then Make It Easy

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

Mom always used to say I have diarrhea of the mouth. Don’t read that again – you got it right the first time. Seems there would be kinder ways to tell somebody their breath isn’t minty fresh. And no amount of Listerine made it any better. Believe me, I tried. All that did was give me medicine breath. Turns out Mom was just saying I talk a lot. Well, duh!

If you’ve been following these posts any time at all, you’ve probably figured that out all on your own. I’ve never been at a loss for words. Even at work, when somebody else writes a 12-page functional requirements document, mine is 50 pages. If I’d been paid by the word all these years, I’d be rich.

There’s something to be said for getting the point across clearly. Nobody has ever accused me of producing work that lacks detail. The problem is getting people to actually read it. Even the developers who need the information toss it aside and say, “Just give me the Cliff Notes version.”

Years ago, I was a lead writer on a program writing Air Force maintenance manuals. Some of my writers would agonize over which word to use, or whether to use a comma. I always told them, think of how the technician will use this book when it’s finished. They’ll take it out of the box, stack it on the floor, and climb on top of the stack to reach the paper cups on the top shelf.

Not a really comforting thought, especially if you live directly under an Air Force base landing approach. But it does put things in perspective. Keep it simple. Nobody cares about punctuation when they’ve got a wrench in one hand and grease is dripping out of the landing gear motor all over their freshly starched uniform. They just want to get the job done.

You see, the job is simple – it’s just not easy. We talked about that last week, but what does it really mean? Simply stated (like how I threw that in there?), it means it’s not rocket science. I can explain it so anybody can understand. But beyond the explanation, it still takes a little skill to make it happen. And that skill comes from experience.

In fact, our procedural manuals were written on that very premise. We would bold key words in each instruction so the more experienced technician could just focus on those words. “Tighten the attaching bolts in an alternating pattern to 16 ft. lbs.”  A pretty neat concept, if you ask me. But do you think anybody even noticed the spelling in the middle?

Okay, you can stop reading the sentence – I didn’t misspell anything. I’m just making a point. Sometimes, we get so bogged down in the details that we overlook the simplicity of what we’re trying to do. And let me tell you, I’m the king of that domain. I can overthink anything. It keeps me from making any huge mistakes.

The problem is it keeps me from not making mistakes as well. You see, there’s a point where we need to stop thinking and start doing. Are there things I’ll need to consider along the way? You bet. And fate has a way of putting those things in front of you at just the right time. Does it matter what you’ll do if a traffic light twelve miles away turns red? No. Not until you get there.

But if you don’t start the engine and put your foot on the gas now, you’ll never get far enough to find out. Planning isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much planning stands in the way of action. At some point, we need to actually do the work. And that’s when we begin to find ways to make it easy.

My business is built on a very simple concept. Anybody can do it. The same is true of just about everything I do, from my day job to writing these posts and changing the oil in my car. But none of them are particularly easy. They take practice. And after a while, you get really good.

Learn the concepts, and then put them into practice. Handle obstacles as they arise, based on what you’ve learned along the way. Taking something that’s simple and making it easy is just a matter of doing it until it becomes second nature. You’ll encounter new challenges as you grow. But with each success, you’re that much better equipped to overcome whatever may come your way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Can’t Have Green Grass Without a Little Bit of Poop

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

You know how you buy something, hoping you’ll never need it, but you think it’s a good idea anyway? Like car insurance. Nobody wants to use car insurance. We hope we’ll never need it. But it’s one of those necessary evils. Too bad the deductible is more expensive than the window some idiot shot out with a BB gun. For that matter, it’s more than the value of the whole car.

Well, I got through the weekend without having to call a claims adjuster. But I do remember telling my wife about a month ago that we should buy a first aid kit for the RV. Because, accidents happen. Especially when a clod like me is walking along, looking down at the ground, completely oblivious to the bedroom slide that’s sticking out right in front of his head. WHAM!!!

I didn’t knock myself out, but I did have to re-level the coach after I picked myself up. It’s not like I hit the corner from not stepping far enough to the side. That would be too easy. No, I walked right into this thing full speed ahead. There’s a gear track along the side that’s used for opening and closing the slide. The top of my head has six perfectly spaced holes to match that gear.

On a positive note, it did get me out of making the bed that morning. Small victory, but that’s a tough job. You’d think somebody would invent some kind of tongs to grab the sheets and blanket and tuck them into a crevice three feet beyond the reach of any normal human being. I’m thinking a fireplace poker may get the job done. But only if she’s not watching.

Right about now, some of you are racing through your brain to come up with some kind of bed-making solution that every RV owner on the planet will pay big bucks to buy. All I ask is that you send me a free prototype since I’m the one who gave you the idea.

The whole purpose of this outing was to simply run the coach through its paces, make sure everything works, and figure out what we still need to buy. I did get it weighed yesterday, and we’ve got another 1200 pounds to go before we start overloading the suspension. I’m not sure how that translates into shopping dollars, but I have a feeling we’ll find out.

One thing I haven’t been able to figure out yet is our dog. He loves to go for a walk, and he marks every tree, shrub, stop sign, fire hydrant, and tall weed along the way. No inhibitions whatsoever. Until it’s time to poop. He still hasn’t figured out that it’s okay to do that on a leash. Well, not ON the leash, but you get the idea. I’m thinking a fireplace poker … never mind.

Yes, with men it all comes down to fires and the implements that allow us to create and exercise dominion over them. With my wife, it’s about placemats and bedspreads and napkins and rugs and vacuum cleaners and how do I manage to track in so much dirt every time I walk inside? Um, because it’s there. Duh!

Every new adventure comes with new challenges, new joys, new heartaches, and apparently, the occasional injury. The alternative, of course, is to never try anything different. But that means never knowing what might have been. Every married couple tried something new. Every parent took a risk. Everybody who has ever been employed gave it a shot.

Life is about opening doors to see what’s on the other side. It’s about setting goals and chasing dreams. And it’s about accepting the risk that things won’t always be just perfect. But it’s in those moments of imperfection that we find a spark of creativity to solve life’s most difficult challenges. Like making a bed that was never intended to be made.

Unless we’re willing to accept those moments of imperfection and the risks they present, we’re destined to stay right where we are for the remainder of our lives. To most of us, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. We do want more. We want to accomplish more. And the only way to do that is to stretch your boundaries and try something completely new.

You were born to thrive, not just survive. Make the most of every moment, and never let an opportunity slip past. It may not be the opportunity you were hoping for, but it may be just the one you need. And isn’t that what really matters?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Imagination – The Solution To Every Challenge

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

This week seems like it’s been something other than a week. I can’t say if it felt longer, shorter, muddier, or colder, but it was definitely different. Okay, it was colder. I’m sure of that. Here we are in mid-April, with freezing temperatures overnight most of the week. And the RV is sitting there with water in the pipes. Because, you know, April. Who would’ve known?

And believe me, yesterday was one of those days when I really wanted to send the kids outside to burn off some of that excess energy. With the little ones, it usually happens around 5:00, right before their dad comes to pick them up. It’s payback for all the hours they were good, not to mention an afternoon nap. I’d ban naps, but I’ve seen how that story ends. No thanks.

It’s hard, because they don’t have much to play with here. Their bicycles are at home, and we don’t have a swing set. Okay, with these kids, it’s more like a jungle gym. Deep jungle. We can’t just turn them loose out front because they’d end up in the street, and the back yard is more of an obstacle course, courtesy of the dog. But at least they’d have something to play with.

Kids can amuse themselves with the simplest things. And just in case anybody thinks that trait vanishes in the teenage years, I beg to differ. I was in the Boy Scouts, and when you put a group of adolescent boys on an open prairie that doubles as a cattle ranch, dodgeball takes on a whole new meaning. Let’s just say there’s plenty of ammo to keep everybody amused.

But you know, there’s nothing wrong with kids finding new and improved ways to have fun with things we’d normally step over. It’s a sign of imagination, though sometimes a bit twisted. Still, it’s hard to shut them down when they’re so overly amused. Okay, you make them scrub their hands and toss their clothes directly in the washer. But otherwise, what’s the real harm?

Well, I guess that depends on who’s throwing and who’s catching. I was always on the receiving end. Whether it was a bucket of water, a mud bomb, or the dreaded cow pie, I spent a good part of my youth on the run. I guess that’s why I don’t run today. Unless somebody is chasing me with a snake, that is. No, that’s not a hypothetical statement. Been there.

But you know, it’s the same imagination that can look at cattle dung and see a Frisbee that found penicillin in moldy bread or looked at an egg and saw food. Think about it. At some point in time, a farmer left a bucket of milk in the barn overnight and came back to a glob of churning bacteria. “Hmmm. Strain that through a sock and I bet it’d taste GREAT on a hamburger!”

I’m no biblical expert, but I’m pretty sure the Garden of Eden didn’t come with a full kitchen, indoor plumbing, and an entire set of Craftsman tools. All of the modern conveniences we enjoy came as the result of human ingenuity. And ingenuity is the spawn of imagination. It began the first time a caveman dropped a heavy rock and watched it roll. I never said it was all intentional.

In fact, a lot of things happen by accident. Styrofoam was the result of an industrial accident. According to an old TV commercial, two people were walking down the street eating peanut butter and chocolate and bumped into one another. And way back in 1847, somebody mixed the right combination of glycerol and nitric acid and said, “Here, shake this up.”

Any one of those things could have resulted in nothing more than filling up the trash can with something we have dozens of uses for today. Okay, that last one would have blown up the trash can, but you get the idea. Imagination is to see something not as it is, but as it could be. It’s the ability to find new uses for useless items and turn disaster into opportunity.

Watch a young child, barely able to sit on their own, and you’ll see the wheels turning. Watch a young child, barely able to sit on their own, and you’ll see the wheels turning. Anything they can find becomes an implement to achieve a goal. That goal may simply be to reach a ball that’s just beyond their reach. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. But those little minds can find a solution to just about any challenge. Which is why nothing is ever completely out of their reach..

We don’t lose that imagination with age. We shut it down. We allow what we’ve learned to become our reality instead of forgetting enough of what we’ve learned to alter that reality. Every obstacle presents new solutions. Every tool has a new use. And every challenge presents opportunity. If what’s in front of you isn’t working, sometimes all you have to do is look beyond.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Kids Learn The Darnest Things

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

Today I’ve got my four-year-old grandson with me. In other words, somebody I can relate to on an intellectual level. As I sit here on my computer, he’s working on his. We do this a lot, except I think sometimes his output is a little more advanced than mine. He’s doing his ABCs, which everybody can understand. Even me. Some of what I write is a little less coherent.

Kids love to imitate the things we do. I remember my oldest grandson trying to write jokes for me to use onstage. Thinking back to how some of my own material did, maybe I should have given his jokes a try. But then I’d have to admit he’s funnier than I am, and that’s something no self-respecting comedian can do. Besides, his cut of the $12 after gas would leave me broke.

I’ll never forget the time we were driving in my truck and somebody in front of me was going annoyingly slow. I finally vented some of my frustration to the windshield (I do that a lot) and said, “Drive or get off the road!” My grandson, without missing a beat, offered a suggestion. “Flip ‘em off!” He was three. And no, he didn’t learn that from me. He learned it from his mom, who learned it from … well, never mind.

A few years ago, I decided to build a shed. Not because I couldn’t buy one that would do the job just fine, but because I smacked my forehead with a sledgehammer forty years ago and sometimes it makes me do stupid things. Okay, I hit it really hard. As in, lights out. I remember waking up to a group of guys standing around me and one asking, “Is that boy day-ed???”

So, when it came time for a new shed, I did what any real man does. I went to the lumber store. A sane man would have drawn a set of plans first, but if you’re talking about me that ship already sailed. That’s okay. I used to write Air Force maintenance manuals. Think about that the next time a C-130 flies over your head.

Still, I knew what I wanted to build, and I had a vision in my head. My grandson was too naïve to ask questions. He just assumed I knew how to do it. And three years later, it’s still standing proud. We did an awesome job, and he learned a lot in the process. All because a teenage boy wanted to hang out and bond with Grandpa.

He did most of the work and picked up a few new skills along the way. Like rough carpentry, siding, and roofing. But I still say his favorite part was tearing down the old one. I hooked a nylon strap to the inside of the roof and wrapped the other end around the axle of my truck, then handed him the key and said, “Knock yourself out!” It was down in two seconds flat.

As we stood back and admired the finished product (the new shed, not the old one), I told him “You’ve learned some new skills here. You may never want to do any of this again, but you’ll always know you can.” I told my daughter the same thing when she learned to replace her car’s brakes. That’s how I roll. Get them to do the work and make ‘em think it was a lesson.

My daughter never has replaced her brakes again. She decided it was easier to get a decent job and pay somebody else to do that stuff. But my grandson has found that he enjoys construction and remodeling. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s an honest living, and there will always be a demand for somebody with those skills.

Kids learn more from us than we think. Some of those things will serve them well in adulthood, and others will be a reminder of why they want something better. But all shape the person they become. So, share those experiences with them – the good and the bad. Let them see how you handle challenges. They’ll learn more from your approach than any skill you can impart.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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