Say What You Mean

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

It’s Hump Day. I remember having to explain that to a young friend from the Republic of Georgia. She had never heard the expression before, and it reminded me that a lot of what we consider to be common vernacular is not so common outside our own little community. Okay, full disclosure – that’s the first time I’ve ever used “vernacular” in a sentence. I’m feeling just a little giddy right now!

What is vernacular? Just a more expensive version of the word “language.” It’s like saying “cove” instead of “dead-end street.” They both mean the same thing. Which one you use depends entirely on the price of the houses. In a trailer park the sign simply says, “No Outlet.” To me, that one always sounded like a vague reference to a lack of restrooms. Yes, that’s really the way my mind works.

We often use fancy words to describe simple things. Sometimes, it’s just good marketing. Why would you consider buying a used car when you can buy a pre-owned automobile? And let’s be honest, a house trailer just isn’t as prestigious as pre-manufactured housing. Besides, once the wheels come off, it’s just a house, right? And doesn’t “son-in-law” sound nicer than “jerk who married my daughter?”

Okay, I’m gonna get in trouble here. Not with my daughter. She’s got a few colorful words of her own to clarify that sentiment. But that’s another story. The point is, when something isn’t as pretty as we’d like it to be, all we have to do is find more appealing ways to describe it. Politicians learn this premise early in life. Instead of an allowance, they hit their parents up for tax-deferred contributions.

I was reading the news last year and came across a new term I’d never seen before – “food insecure.” I had to read that a couple of times, because when I first read it, I thought it had something to do with gas station sushi. That’s about as insecure as you can get. Or the time Mom thawed the Thanksgiving turkey outside for three days in 80-degree weather. I issued advance warning to the whole family on that one.

But, as it turns out, it’s just a less painful way of saying somebody’s refrigerator is empty and the kids won’t be getting any dinner tonight. And I have to wonder, why do we feel the need to color that with anything other than its true shade of mottled gray tinted with desperation? Is it to make us feel less guilty about not dropping a can of soup in the church food pantry?

We do the same thing to describe our own circumstances. Nobody ever says, “We’re poor.” They’re having financial difficulty. Unemployment is more palatable if you’re just between jobs. And plus-sized sounds a whole lot nicer than overweight. My granddaughter gets really upset when I say I’m old. “You’re not old!” Well, in all honesty, this isn’t as old as I once thought it was. But let’s be real.

The challenge is when you think somebody may need a little help, but you don’t want to approach it in the wrong way. It’s especially delicate when the other person hasn’t opened up to you first. You know, like when you go into the business of selling weight loss products and want to approach a prospective customer. “Wow, you really need to visit my store!” That’s not the best way to make friends.

On the other hand, if you truly believe you have something to offer, something that another person needs and that can benefit their life in some way, you really owe it to that person to say something. It may be nothing more than friendly advice, from the perspective of somebody who’s been in a similar situation themselves, or as complex as a plan for doubling their income over the next year.

When we avoid these conversations, we make a decision for people that they may not want us to make. “I know you could use some extra cash and I can show you how to make some. But you wouldn’t be interested in what I’m doing, so I’ll save us both the trouble.” You might as well look at them and say, “I know something that could make your life better, but I’m keeping it to myself.”

We all face challenges in life. It may feel better to describe those challenges in “politically-correct” terms, but if the person we’re talking to doesn’t understand the vernacular (twice in one post!), we could be completely missing the chance to give or receive help. Sugar-coating may make the words easier to say and hear. Just don’t let the meaning get lost in the message.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stop Waiting For the Right Moment

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

I was thinking the other day of a tee shirt slogan from back in the 70s … “When this crisis is over, I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown!” Social media is loaded with memes about what we’ll all do when this ends. One was particularly funny. It said, “We’ll all come out of this one of three ways – hunk, chunk, or drunk.” That pretty well sums it up.

I don’t drink much these days, but I do have a workout bench literally two feet behind me all day. So, I guess it goes without saying that I won’t come out hunk or drunk. That weight bench is loaded with papers, old mail, and printer supplies. You know, like the treadmill that used to be there. Around here, a treadmill is just a really expensive clothes hanger.

Oh, I had good intentions. I always do. But if you take your intentions into Starbucks with $3.95, they’ll give you a free cup of coffee. I took mine to the dinner table instead. And now I’m paying for it. But I don’t want to talk about weight again. Seems we just did that a couple of days ago.

I always had a set of criteria that would magically drive me into action. “That’s it! If my weight goes up another five pounds, I’m going on a diet!” “If it ever warms up, I’m cleaning the garage!” “If it ever cools off, I’m cleaning the garage!” “If that grass gets a foot taller …” Well, you get the idea. We always seem to let fate decide whether we do the things we need to do.

My post from last year popped up on my feed yesterday, and it was on this very topic. When there’s something we need to do that’ll bring us closer to our goals, we always seem to wait for the perfect moment to get started. It doesn’t really matter if those goals are grand or mundane, getting started is left to some twist of fate over which we have little or no control.

And that twist of fate doesn’t always have to be something good. It’s like sitting on the porch as the river is overflowing into your yard. You’ve got sandbags and a shovel, but you’re waiting for things to get bad enough before you put them to use. “If that water gets a foot higher, we’re shoring up!” No, if that water gets a foot higher, you’re swimming.

A friend confided to me once that he needed more money. The roof was leaking, the car needed repairs, and the bills were falling behind. I suggested he start a side business to supplement his income and he said, “Yeah, I guess if things get bad enough, I may have to consider that.” Excuse me? How bad do they have to get? Would foreclosure do the trick?

It’s easy to make plans when we really don’t intend to do anything about them. And it’s even easier when you put those plans at the mercy of something you can’t control. And then the water rises another foot. “Well, it’s kinda late for sandbags now.”

And the problem is, we do this whether it’s something we really need to do, or just something we’d like to do. “Oh, that’s just a dream. I’ve lived without it this long.” Well, how important was the dream? Was it something you just thought about once or twice? Because that’s not really a dream. It’s a brain fart.

Not taking action on our dreams is no different than not taking action on our needs. The consequences are a little different, but in the end we’re left to wonder what might have been. And friends, that’s one of the worst feelings in the world – knowing you could have at least tried to change the situation, but never did. And for what? Because things never got bad enough?

I’ve heard people say if they lose their job, they’ll change careers. I’ve heard them say if the car breaks down one more time, they’ll fix it. I’ve even heard sick people say if they get any sicker, they’ll do something about their health. Seriously? How bad do things need to get in order for us to do what we should have done in the first place? “Well, it’s kinda late for vitamins now.”

We all know the things we need to be doing. But if we wait for the perfect set of circumstances, we’ll never do it. Instead of waiting for things to get better or worse, forget the circumstances and just do it. Life on the other end may be completely different than anything you’d imagined. You may never get back to where you were. And isn’t that pretty much the idea?

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