When It Comes to Optimism, We're All Mutts

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

The movie Pretty Woman was on this past weekend (again) and I found myself watching (again). Either I need some better cable options, or Hollywood is falling down on the job, because it seems the same movies keep playing over and over and over. Last week I jokingly mentioned the Forrest Gump channel. If you missed that movie last time it was on, have no fear – it’s coming again.

One of the scenes I always enjoyed in Pretty Woman was when they went to the opera. As the lights were dimming for the opening act, Richard Gere told Julia Roberts that a person’s first reaction to the opera is very dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

It’s that way with my morning posts. Sometimes I’m really happy with what I wrote, and other times I feel I left something on the table. But the responses let me know that, even when I think I missed the mark, it was just what at least one person needed to hear that day. That’s why I love reading the responses. It puts us on a more personal level.

Yesterday, a very perceptive friend responded with a tough question – “Are you talking to yourself?” I know I give this impression of a rock-solid optimist who never frowns and always sees a brighter future, but the truth is I’m no more delusional than any one of you. Well, maybe a little. But the point is, there are days when I need to read my posts as much as anyone.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you’re never down. There will be days when you feel the weight of the world crashing down, and times when hope is about as distant as that exotic destination you know you’ll probably never get to visit. Some days you won’t feel like doing anything, and dreams go from a burning passion into a silent resignation that nothing will ever change. It happens.

On the other hand, feelings of despair don’t necessarily mean you’re a pessimist. In a world where everything has become so polarized that you’re either this or that and there’s no in-between, your personal outlook is likely a mixed bag of good, bad, and indifferent. It doesn’t mean you’re mixed up. It just means you have emotions like every other person, and some days one is more prevalent than the others.

It means you can see a better life, with enough clarity to be drawn to it, but with enough restraint to keep you from getting in over your head. It means you believe in yourself enough to dream, but you also live in a world where reality says some dreams will take a lifetime of work. And it means you have the ability to shed tears like anybody else, but you also know the sun is shining on the other side.

This is a time of year when a lot of people experience feelings of immense joy and excitement. It’s also a time when just as many people fall into a deep depression that even they can’t quite explain. Same day, same weather, same traffic, same everything. But it affects us all in very different ways.

The point is that none of us are a complete package of optimism or pessimism. Yesterday, I’m told, was National Mutt Day. Well, maybe we should haver been celebrating ourselves, because in a lot of ways, we’re mutts. There are no absolutes in our lives or our outlook on life. We all have a little of this and a little of that, in varying proportions. That’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us human.

Sometimes, the best way to talk ourselves out of a mood of despair is to talk somebody else through the same transition. It may not change everything on the spot, but it does help us look a little closer to find that ray of sunshine we so desperately need. And in helping others find hope and possibilities, we find hope and possibilities for ourselves.

Life is in a constant state of flux, and no mood ever lasts forever. Feeling down doesn’t mean you have to stay there, and when you’re on top of the world, there will still be days when things aren’t perfect. None of us will ever be happy and optimistic all the time. The best we can do is look for those things that bring us closer and focus on them until the clouds go away. And they will. They always do.

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

Where’s Your Sense of Adventure?

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

When was the last time you were asked to do something different, something you’ve never done before? It happens on the job all the time. “You’ve done such a great job on such-and-such, I know you won’t have any problem with this!” Sound familiar? It falls into that last line in your job description … “And any other such duties as may be assigned.”

It’s a little scary sometimes, but in the end, we usually do the job pretty well. Maybe that’s because of experience and conditioning. Everything we’ve done in the past has taught us everything we need to know for the job at hand. Sometimes, the boss isn’t just giving you a pat on the back. They know you’ve got what it takes, and they have confidence in your ability to do whatever is necessary.

It feels good knowing that not only does somebody have confidence in you, but that their confidence wasn’t misplaced. And I think we work a little harder to validate that. Nobody wants to be the last choice, the person who gets the assignment simply because everyone else was too busy. It’s like being the last person chosen for the team. You got the spot, but only because nobody else was there.

So, let me turn this line of thinking around. When was the last time you actively set out to do something you’ve never done before? Not because it was assigned and you had no choice, but because you decided to tackle something completely different? We do it all the time, just most times without any fanfare. There’s no cheering section and no pats on the back for a job well-done.

I think that’s a lot of the reason we don’t do more of these things. That, along with the fact that when you try something new, the results aren’t always guaranteed. I’m sure any stylist can tell you there are a lot of women who leave the beauty salon disappointed, or maybe even in tears. And all they can do is wait for their hair to grow out so they can get back to the way it was.

It happens with me sometimes when I decide to cook a new dish. I’m excited about it the whole time, just thinking about how much my family will enjoy my new creation. But those taste tests in the middle aren’t very promising, and before it’s even halfway there my wife yells from the living room to see what’s on fire. Sometimes it all comes together, but sometimes you crash and burn.

When that happens, do you try again? Or do you lick your wounds and vow never to do that again? Well, if it’s something as simple as a new meal item, you can always go online and get a more reliable recipe. You can even check the stars to see how well others like it. But when it comes to something as personal and semi-permanent as your hair, it’ll take a lot to find that sense of adventure again.

Now, for the final question – how many times have you thought about something that could raise you to a higher level and put you closer to your dreams, but never even gave it a try? And in making that decision, you probably came up with a laundry list of reasons for not trying. “It’ll never work.” “That’s just not me.” “I don’t have time.” You know, excuses. Or as Mom always said, any old port in a storm.

So, we keep doing what we’ve been doing and hoping for a better result. Well, back to the kitchen, if you follow the same recipe over and over and over, odds are it’ll come out pretty much the same every time. If you want different results, you have to change it up. Or, as I’ve said several times before, to have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

It’s simple logic, but most of us spend our entire lives trying to prove it wrong. I think that’s partly human nature, the desire to go against conventional wisdom and come out on top. But there’s also fear of failure. And, rather than admit our fears openly, we just convince ourselves that we never really wanted that dream anyway. After all, we’ve lived just fine without it. Right?

It’s okay to stick with the tried and true. If it suits your personality, and you’re okay with things going pretty much the way they always have, then don’t rock the boat. But if that sense of adventure is yearning for a little more excitement, or just better long-term security, then maybe it’s time to consider something different.

We all have different goals in life, and those goals are as personal to us as the hairstyles we choose. Changing things up can be a little scary, but you never know what’s on the other side of a mountain until you climb up and take a peek.

I’ll be offline for the next few days, so if you don’t hear from me just enjoy the break. I’ll be back with you before you know it!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Be Sure You’re Chasing the Right Dreams

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

Today marks the beginning of a new month. One in which many of us, especially in the northern climates, will see some change. Leaves will begin to turn brilliant colors and fall to the ground, temperatures will go from warm to brisk (and some days downright cold), and stores will begin to change their inventory from summer and back-to-school to holiday gifts, decorations, and treats.

Those treats get me every time. I’ve been trying to add one feature to our outdoor display each year, but there are three problems with that …. putting it up, taking it down, and storing it until next year. Ladders and I don’t get along so well these days. But treats? Yeah. I pick them up, I put them down, and storage is never a problem. Walking it off next year is another matter entirely.

Along with a new month comes a new chance to set and achieve new goals. If you’ve been following my daily ramblings, you know I’m in the midst of some changing priorities. The goals I had at the beginning of last month have changed, in some ways pretty dramatically. Life has a way of doing that. So, you adapt. You redirect, refocus, and get back in the game. Life goes on.

And that doesn’t mean we have to give up our dreams. They may change a little, and we may find simpler and more effective ways to accomplish the same objective. But the ultimate goal is still there. The journey isn’t over because one road closes. You break out the old map (remember those?) and find an alternate route. And then you listen to the GPS for the next twenty minutes – “Recalculating!”

I’ve often wondered why a GPS doesn’t have an option to initiate a detour. Or even to let you get off the highway to fill the tank and grab a bite to eat without those incessant reminders that you’re not following directions. There’s no “give me a break” button, or even a mute. It’s either on or off, and the whole time it’s focused on one thing – getting you to your destination the fastest way possible.

All too often, we go through life the same way. We’re so focused on that optimal path that we fail to appreciate the scenery along the way. And about the time we hit a roadblock, we just sit there waiting for it to go away. Because this is our path – this is the way we’ve always seen it transpiring, and anything else means taking a step back and admitting some level of defeat.

I imagine the early pioneers knew that feeling all too well. I’ve mentioned before flying across the country and thinking of all those people who crossed those mountains in covered wagons. On a good day with flat terrain, you might put ten miles behind you. But once you hit those mountains, it could take several months to find a way across. I’d hate to guess how many times they had to turn back.

But the goal was there, ever present in their minds. They dreamed of a new life in a new location, and that dream made all the hardships worth it. And I’m sure some of those cities between Oklahoma and California were settled because somebody said, “I’m sick of this wagon! Welcome to your new home!” It happens.

But for those who kept going, the ground went from dusty and rocky to lush and green, full of promise. And, here’s the important part. What separates the barren land of the desert from the greenery of the west coast is one final mountain range. Cross those mountains and everything changes. Stop one day short, and you’ll never even know it’s there.

With each new month comes a new opportunity to re-assess and re-establish our goals. It’s a time to look back at our progress so far and make sure the path we’re on is leading us where we want to go. It’s also a time to ask ourselves why that destination was so important in the first place, and if it’s really the destination we’re after, or simply the journey. Sometimes, getting there is the most fun.

We often find that what we really want isn’t necessarily waiting at the end of the road, but somewhere along the way. Buying an airplane would give me the freedom to go pretty much anyplace I want. But if travel is the ultimate goal, that same money will pay for a lot of plane tickets. Sometimes, what we think we want is simply a means to accomplish an even greater goal.

We all need time to re-assess our goals and make sure we’re chasing the right dream. The beginning of a new month is the perfect time. Make sure what you’re after is what you really want, and that the path you’re on is leading in the right direction. The only thing worse than being 100 miles from your exit is realizing you’ve driven 100 miles past it.

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 Only a Crisis If You Didn’t See it Coming

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

I’ve often wondered what I would do if I got up in the morning and the coffee maker was broken. I know, if you’re a coffee drinker, that deserves an apology because it’s not a vision any of us wants to imagine. That rates right up there with flat tires and sitting down to the sound of the seat ripping out of your pants. At work. In a conference room. Full of the company’s top executives. Get the picture?

Thankfully, coffee makers don’t usually just quit all at once. You get a little advance warning. It starts brewing really slowly, it makes funny noises, and you start seeing chunks of something that doesn’t look like coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup. If that happens, run – don’t walk – to the nearest coffee maker store. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself without coffee when you need it the most.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. You fall into a comfort zone where things are going well, and the thought of an abrupt change is the last thing on your mind. But it happens, and usually when you expect it the least. And it can require immediate action to avoid an even bigger mess. A lot of times, the outcome is largely dependent on our ability to act quickly at the first sign of trouble.

Rarely does anything go seriously wrong without at least some advance signs of trouble. Usually, we think about those signs after the wheel falls off the car and realize there was a noise we couldn’t quite identify, or a little extra sway in turns. It’s easy to write it off and just keep driving. But sooner or later, the problem will demand our attention. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets.

I have to take my car in for repairs this morning. I can’t quite describe the noise coming from the front end other than to say it sounds like I’m pushing a bulldozer blade down the road. And my car doesn’t have a bulldozer blade, so that’s probably not normal. And, thinking back, it’s been making little noises for a few weeks. I ignored those warnings, so now it’s shouting them at full volume.

But this isn’t really about coffee pots or cars. It’s about life. Because all through our life, things change. Relationships falter, the bank sends a foreclosure notice, the doctor walks in with bad news, or you find out you need a new job – like now. Any one of these things, or dozens of others, can throw you right out of your comfort zone and into full-blown survival mode.

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, but more often than not, there were signs of trouble long before the sky fell in. Those signs may have been subtle, or they may have like a red flashing light, something you couldn’t have missed with your eyes half-closed. But it’s easy to ignore those initial warning signs until they start screaming at us. By then, comfort has turned to crisis and we have no choice but to do something about it.

We talked earlier this week about creativity, and if you want to see creative thought in overdrive, put yourself in a crisis. You’ll dream up things you would never have thought of, simply because you don’t have any other choice. What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so now you have to do something different – maybe something you’ve never done before.

And most times, we look back later and wonder why we didn’t just do that in the first place. Maybe it was something so completely out of character, or out of our comfort zone, that it never really crossed our mind. And I’m not talking about anything immoral or illegal. Just a different approach that we never would have considered. But now, it’s the perfect fix. It’s the right thing at the right time.

Again, the change may be subtle, something you do without really batting an eye. It can also be something monumental that takes a complete leap of faith into the unknown. Or it could be something in between, where we have the option to make the easier move or to put it all on the line and make it work. Notice I didn’t say “hope for the best” – it’s all or nothing.

If we take notice at the first sign of impending trouble, we can usually avoid a crisis. And if we assess our options before they have to become choices, we can move in the direction we choose rather than the direction in which we’re pushed. A minor course correction may be all that’s needed, if we do it early enough. The goal never really changes – just the path you’ll follow to get there.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a fantastic weekend!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Want to Change the Outcome, Change the Routine

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

As you go through your morning routine each day, does it ever occur to you just how much of a routine that is? With very minor exceptions, most of us do pretty much the same thing every day from the moment we get up until we get to work or begin whatever activities normally consume our day. I suspect even retired people have a routine. I’m not there yet, but I’ll find out soon enough.

My dog makes sure at least part of that routine goes uninterrupted. He’s patient while I get a shower and get dressed. But about the time he thinks I should be done, he’s patiently tapping his paws on the floor, waiting for me to sit in the recliner, give him his morning hug, and then let him out while I fill his food bowl. Then he comes in and starts the vitamin dance. He gets two. And he can count.

Dogs are such creatures of habit. And we are, too. When you get up tomorrow morning, try changing up your routine. If you normally brush your teeth first, do something else. Go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Then brush your hair. Yes, before you get in the shower. Who cares if you’ll have to do it again? The fun part of this exercise is to see just how much it throws off your routine.

You may want to make a checklist the night before, because odds are you’ll forget something. You’ll get halfway to work and realize your computer is still sitting by the front door. Believe me, I’ve done that one without even trying. When we skip any step in our routine, intentionally or not, we’re like that confused dog, trying to find our place so we can get back to normal.

It’s all a matter of habit – habits so deeply ingrained in our very being that we do them without even thinking. Like wiping your mouth after a sip of water or closing a pen before you put it in your pocket. Oh, we miss from time to time. Something distracts us and we forget to do something. And then you get home and see a big blob of ink on your shirt pocket and realize what you forgot. Oops!

I guess I’m showing my age, because most shirts don’t have pockets anymore. Somehow, pockets have gone out of style. At least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. And that’s for women, because you carry a purse that’s big enough to hold the contents of six dozen pockets. If I need someplace to put a ballpoint pen, I’ve only got a couple of choices.

 And just like our morning routines, we have tastes in clothing, food, décor, and a bunch of other things that we’re reluctant to change. Are blue shirts a habit with me? Not really. But I do like blue shirts – with pockets. But, just like my favorite Halloween candy (peanut butter kisses), they’re getting harder and harder to find. So, I have to adapt. Reluctantly, I’ll admit. But I don’t have much choice.

We all like to think we’re spontaneous, but we’re creatures of habit more than we think. And if we want to change the direction of our lives, we have to change some of those habits. Because, just like a model train, the track always leads to the same destination unless we do something to change it. The train can’t make any turns on its own – it simply follows the track. Real trains do that, too.

It’s fun to watch a train run around in circles, but after a while it gets a little boring. The same thing happens when we put ourselves on a circular track where the scenery never changes. We get up every day at the same time, do the same things, follow the same routines, and then wonder why life never changes. It’s pretty simple. If you want to move ahead, you have to get on another track.

And that means shaking things up a bit. You have to break the routine and change some of those long-held habits. You might even have to try a different kind of candy or find someplace else to put your pen. But it’s the only way to move from where you are now to where you want to be.

Change is difficult, but you’ve done it before. All you have to do is decide on a new direction and break the routine enough to follow that path. The change may be so subtle, you barely even notice. But like a ship at sea, the smallest change can lead you to an entirely new destination. Set yourself on a new course and follow it to the end. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved