Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Win a Little Less

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

First, I’d like to thank everybody for the warm birthday wishes on Friday. I won’t say how old I am, but I’ve been assured it’s at least a year older than last year. Okay, I’ve made 63 full trips around the sun. And the whole way, I kept hearing this voice from the front seat saying, “You should have gone before we left!” Thankfully, there have been a few rest stops along the way.

We bought a new car yesterday. There was nothing wrong with the old car, except it can’t be towed behind an RV. We knew that when we bought it, but that was three years ago when we didn’t know if we’d ever own an RV. Well, dreams do come true. And one thing we’ve learned about camping is there’s never a grocery store in walking distance. Not if you walk like we do.

I used to sell cars in a previous life. I was pretty good at it. And, having been through the gauntlet one more time, all I can say to those of you who have ever bought a car is, I’m sorry. I feel your pain. It’s a game of holding one hand over your mouth and the other over your wallet as your new “best friend” tries to take you for every penny you’ve got.

And the thing is, I tell every one of these guys I used to sell cars. The more intelligent ones read that for what it is – “Dave knows the games, and he’s not going to play.” That accounts for about a fourth of all new car salesmen. To the rest, it’s a challenge. “He used to sell cars, huh? Well, game on!” That was the first dealer I visited.

I often said it’s about seeing who can hold back that one card long enough to keep from showing their hand too soon. My daughter once told a salesman she had to buy a bigger car because she had another baby on the way and all three kids wouldn’t fit in the back seat of the car she was driving. The salesman went to Hawaii that year.

First you negotiate a great price on the new car. Or so they tell you. Then they take a look at your trade-in. The “used car manager” looks disapprovingly at your car, shaking his head and mumbling inaudibly to the salesman. “Well, we really don’t know if we can even sell your car, but you remind me of my favorite uncle, so we’ll do you a favor and take this beater off your hands.”

Then come the add-ons. When I sold cars, it was rustproofing & undercoating. Never mind that the car came that way from the factory. We’d have our body shop guy spray a light mist of something you could get for an additional three dollars in any automatic car wash, for the bargain price of only $359. Give or take $100. It’s all profit anyway.

Now it’s all about paint & fabric protection. “We put this protectant on all of our cars when they come in, free of charge. But just in case we did a crappy job of it, I’ve taken the liberty of adding this $1300 warranty to cover any incidental damage except damage we don’t cover, which means most damage, but we don’t tell you that until you file a claim.” I’m not making this up.

Long story short, the local dealer I visited first wanted that trip to Hawaii with one sale. He assured me their final offer was their best and asked if I needed to go home and discuss it with my wife. I said, “No – I can make this decision myself. Watch.” And I left. Forty miles away, another dealership saw the bigger picture.

Buying a car is like a lot of things in life. You have to go into it with the realization it’s a game that can only be played by two. It’s all about negotiation. We do it in our jobs, in relationships, and in our everyday life. And the best negotiations are the ones where neither side really wins, but both come away with enough to make any concessions worthwhile.

According to an old Kenny Rogers song, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser. It’s not about the cards in your hand – it’s how you play them that counts. Play with integrity, respect, and fairness. You may not win it all today, but you can always come back for another round.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Remember the Good Times, and Always Give Thanks

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

For those of us in the United States, today really isn’t the middle of the week, because tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving. Most of us are off work tomorrow, and a large percentage of us don’t have to work Friday. You know what that means? A day of stuffing ourselves with more food than we’d normally eat in a week, followed by a day of gas. Woohoo!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Family, food, and football, and I don’t have to go anywhere near the kitchen. Which is fine with me, because I’ve seen what my wife does in there, and let’s just say I stand with my back to the wall as she’s making stuffing. Even then, after the bird is cooked, she scoops that stuff back out of its behind and expects us to eat it?

We won’t actually be celebrating with a huge meal tomorrow, because my daughter (the nurse) has to work. So, we’re putting off the meal until Saturday. And I know, we shouldn’t be getting together at all this year. But we babysit the little ones after school, so it’s not like we haven’t been sharing germs all week. I don’t think one more day will make that much of a difference.

Besides, Thanksgiving isn’t really about seeing how quickly we can retire another pair of pants. It’s a day of giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy every day. It’s a day to appreciate family, friends, good food, good health, and a job that we hopefully don’t have to go back to until Monday. And believe me, with the year we’ve been through, we’ve earned it.

We all have our own traditions for Thanksgiving. In years gone by, it meant a 10-hour ride to Grandma’s, where dozens of other family members would pile in and share a three-bedroom country house with a tin roof and one bathroom. As kids, we slept in cars most of the time. That’s not all we did outside. Let’s just say there were never any weeds in Grandma’s shrubs.

You never knew which of our extended family would show up, and it was always a treat to see a cloud of dust coming down the dirt road as somebody else drove up. And you know, with all those people crammed into a small house, and all the hubbub of making dinner and homemade pies, I don’t recall any animosity or cross words at all. Everybody just got along.

The thing I remember the most was the smell of Grandma’s kitchen as the turkey slowly baked, desserts were whipped up, and we were recruited to churn butter, peel potatoes, and snap green beans. Dinner was an all-hands effort, and it was some of the best food ever. Or maybe it wasn’t. I can’t really remember. All I know is it was some of the happiest times of my life.

And for that, I’m thankful. I wish everybody had a Grandma like mine, with ten kids and God knows how many grandchildren. I have cousins I’ve never met, or if I have it was only once. We all came from different places and lived different lives. But somehow, we got along. We laughed. We played. We shared. And the memories of those times were the greatest gift ever.

Okay, I’m probably forgetting some of the inevitable conflict, but those are the things that tend to fade over time. Our brain can only hold so much, so it’s natural that we hang onto the good memories and set aside the bad. That’s what being thankful is all about. It’s about not just forgiving, but forgetting, and filling that vacuum with memories worth remembering.

So, wherever you are, whatever your plans for tomorrow (or any day), take a moment to think of the things for which you’re thankful. Think of somebody who has blessed your life in ways you may not have ever expressed. Then reach out and let them know. It may not be a big deal to you, but it may mean the world to them. And think of how good it’ll make you feel.

Thankfulness is a state of mind. It doesn’t mean we don’t want a little more or wish things could be a little better. It’s simply an acknowledgment that things really aren’t so bad and that, no matter what our station in life, we’ve all been blessed with a little more than we may deserve.

Inner peace comes from a simple acknowledgment of those blessings. You can’t do it if you’re carrying around baggage full of regret. If something needs to be fixed, fix it. If somebody needs forgiveness, give it. Today, tomorrow, and every day. That’s my wish for you, my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Willing to Try Anything, You Can Accomplish Everything

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

There’s an ice cream commercial on TV asking a simple question – what would you do for a Klondike bar? Okay, first I’d have to drive to the store, because we don’t have any and the Klondike delivery guy hasn’t been around lately. My guess is he ate all the inventory. That’s what I did. Of course, his freezer is a lot bigger than mine.

I remember when I was in my twenties, I would do pretty much anything to make a little extra money. Well, you know. Anything moral and at least mostly legal. Over the years, I’ve always had a second job. I delivered pizzas and newspapers, worked for a moving company, drove a semi, and did custom woodworking. All this was in addition to my day job.

Back then, if you asked me what I would do for extra money, I had a simple answer. “I would skin-dive for Roto Rooter!” A little disgusting, maybe, but after three years of spending my nights on the receiving end of a few dozen bowling lanes, clearing pin jams and dealing with drunk bowlers, there wasn’t much I wouldn’t try.

My grandson is a lot the same. He just wants to make money. He’s done construction, landscaping, remodeling, and demolition. He’s done oil changes, driven a forklift, worked in a lumber store, managed a coffee shop, and made pizzas. And he’s only 20. Let’s just say he moves around a lot.

But the point is, he’s not afraid to work. He’ll do pretty much anything if he thinks he can do the job, and somebody is willing to pay him. I’ve seen him work three jobs at a time. Chip off the old block? Yeah, I’d say so. His mom is a hard worker as well, so I guess she gets at least some of the credit.

But I’ve never heard this kid say, “I’m not doing THAT for a living!” It all comes down to a simple question of opportunity … I need a job, and you need somebody to work. Let’s do it. And as a result, he’s gained a lot of skills that most kids his age will never have. If I were to list all the different jobs I’ve had, you’d think I was making it up. The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Because I’ve done all those jobs, because I put need ahead of ego, there aren’t too many things I wouldn’t at least attempt today. I can do some pretty complex car repairs if needed. I can fix plumbing, though I’d rather not. I can do household wiring, carpentry, basic construction, and even gutted & remodeled our bathroom. I started twelve years ago and finished last week.

A little exaggeration, maybe, but you get the point. People who are willing to try anything can do anything. Success is a simple matter of making the decision to do it. That’s not to say there won’t be setbacks along the way, and the end result may cost almost as much as hiring a professional. But there’s something to be said for doing it yourself.

In my business, I seek out people with needs. Those needs may be self-imposed or thrust upon them by circumstances beyond their control. They may be financial, health-related, or simply to make the most of the things they already have. But the bottom line is, something needs to change. They dream of a better life and will do anything to achieve it. “Except that.” Really?

Well, then maybe the dream isn’t as strong as you think it is. I doubt many people, when asked in second grade what they wanted to be when they grew up, enthusiastically replied, “I wanna be a Wal-Mart greeter!” But you know, when the need is there, you do whatever it takes and worry about your ego later. And who knows, you may work your way up to cashier someday.

It’s easy to make a list of the things we want, and it’s just as easy to make a list of the things we’ll never do to get them. And that’s okay – life is about choices. You can choose not to do anything to achieve your goals, and life can choose to reward you by leaving you right where you are while somebody else gets the golden egg. Somebody who wasn’t so picky.

It’s hard sometimes to see beyond our immediate objections when opportunity knocks. It may appear too complex, or too difficult. You may think it’s a little beneath your dignity, or that others may laugh. The question is, how strong is the need? How powerful is the dream? If it’s something you want badly enough, there really isn’t much you won’t do to achieve it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Every Success Begins with Courage

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

Over the weekend, there was news of a retiree in Florida who was walking his puppy along a body of water when a small alligator shot up on the bank, grabbed the puppy, and ran back into the water. The elderly man jumped in the water, dragged the alligator to shore, and wrestled the puppy from its jaws, all without losing his cigar. I’d say he gets the badass of the year award.

The story had a happy ending. The puppy escaped with a minor injury, the man had a few lacerations from the alligator’s teeth, and the alligator is back in the water, a little more leery of anything that’s tough enough to strut around on two legs. I’d say that’s a win all the way around.

I was listening to a motivational CD last night where the speaker quoted a line from a movie that summed up this story perfectly … “All it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage.” Okay, in this case, I’d say it was more like a half-second, which makes it all the more insane. But you don’t always have time to think. Where alligators are concerned, that’s probably a good thing.

Some of you probably remember that quote as coming from the movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” The line was spoken by Matt Damon as he encouraged his son to throw caution to the wind and express his affection to the girl of his dreams. As one who’s been there in years gone by, I can certainly relate. Trust me when I say I crashed & burned on that one several times.

But the premise holds true through a lot of things in life. Fear is the greatest obstacle holding us back from accomplishing a lot of our dreams. Even if that dream is simply to get the landlord to accept a late payment, it takes a mountain of courage sometimes to pick up the phone and make that call. But it takes twenty seconds (or less) to dial the number.

I’ve never been good when it comes to the phone. I’ll do anything to accomplish my goal without having to talk to anybody. And those who know me probably find that really hard to believe, because once I start talking, I never shut up. But real people don’t respond with, “Press 1 to listen to obnoxious music for an hour while we decide whether to answer your call.”

Of course, they do this with repeated assurances that your call really is important and will be answered in the order in which it was received. And don’t dare bump a button on the phone or mutter soft curses out of sheer frustration, because it’ll respond with, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand your request.  Please check your attitude and try again later.” And then it hangs up.

Okay, I’m drifting way off topic. We were talking about courage. Specifically, how twenty seconds of courage is all it takes to begin moving toward your goal. Courage to do what? That depends on what you hope to accomplish. But regardless, until you take that first step, nothing happens, good or bad. A year from now, you’ll still be thinking about it.

And the problem with that is we don’t always have a year to debate and build courage. When an alligator grabs your puppy, you have microseconds. Other problems may leave a little more breathing room, but sooner or later you have to take the plunge. There is no other option if you want anything to change.

Thomas Jefferson once said if you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. There’s no other way. That may mean asking a friend for help, inviting a customer to your store, sharing a business presentation, taking a new job, moving to a new city, or a hundred other things. And they all begin with twenty seconds of courage.

If you’ve been putting off that conversation with the boss, schedule the meeting. If you’ve been thinking of asking somebody on a date, dial their number. If you want to share a business idea with a potential partner, make the invitation. It takes twenty seconds to initiate action on any of these goals, but once you take that first step, it’s that much easier to continue.

We all like to think we’re fearless, or at least not too easily intimidated. But the thing we fear most is whatever our mind conjures up in the moments before we need to take action. It may be as real as a hungry alligator, or as imaginary as a trusted friend waiting for the opportunity to humiliate you. But until you muster up that twenty seconds of courage, you’ll never know.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

And Here We Go Again …

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

I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your kind words regarding the loss of our family dog. We all go through moments of pain, and what makes those moments so much more bearable is knowing you have family and friends who care. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Well, 2020 is winding down, and the world is still spinning at a rate of about one revolution per day. Funny, if it suddenly slowed down, it would still spin at one revolution per day … the days would just be a lot longer. Has anybody checked the speedometer lately?

And, with news of two potential vaccines on the horizon, we are once again in the midst of a deadly resurgence in Coronavirus cases. Worse still, there are many in our nation who still don’t believe it’s real. A nurse recently spoke of patients dying in her care, adamant that they had to have some other affliction because “Coronavirus is a hoax.”

Well, folks, it’s real. It’s very real, and not only are new cases skyrocketing around the world, but hospitals are full, intensive care beds are nowhere to be found, and local morgues can’t keep up with the influx of deceased patients. Not to be a downer, but it doesn’t get any more real than this.

If you’ve been reading my posts over the past couple of months, we’ve talked about the possibility this could happen. Nobody expected it the first time, and we were caught off-guard. But you know the saying – fool me once, shame on you … fool me twice, shame on me. I think more than a few of us are sitting in that second category right now.

And the thing is, we go through these things all through our lives. Not anything of this magnitude, thankfully, but life is full of twists and turns. One day you’re living the good life, healthy as a horse, with a great job, an awesome family, and money in the bank. Who could ask for more?

But it can all change in an instant. A new CEO comes in and says, “We’re making changes.” You get an unwelcome call from the doctor. You wake up to the smell of smoke. A dump truck swerves into your lane. Or maybe it’s just Human Resources saying you’ve done a great job until now, but the company’s needs have changed.

Okay, first things first – life goes on. First we cry, then we dust ourselves off and pick up the pieces, and then we grow. The only other option is to just give up, and most of us are better than that. We know nothing bad lasts forever, and as long as we’re able to draw another breath, we can turn things around. We do it all the time.

So, here’s the question I want to pose. What have you done differently since the last crisis? What steps have you taken to make sure you can weather the next storm? Are you working on your health? Have you done anything to increase your income? Have you saved a little for a rainy day? Or are you right back where you were, pretending it’ll never happen again?

Nobody likes the thought of a second job. Oh, maybe if we have a really strong goal, like buying a new car or taking a nice vacation. But beyond all that, it’s just more work. One more thing to cut into your quiet time after a day on the “real” job. But when the boss calls you and says the doors won’t be open for a month or two, that extra money would sure be nice.

Some things we can’t change. Our health is largely dependent on factors beyond our control. Accidents will happen, and jobs will come and go. We can’t change a raging virus, or how it will affect our jobs and families. But we absolutely can do something to ward off debt collectors if our primary source of income were to suddenly disappear. The thing is, we have to start NOW.

If you want to be in control of your income, you have to take control. Nobody will hand it to you. You have to stay ahead of the trends. And never before have home-based businesses been in such a position to thrive. People aren’t shopping in stores like they were. They want product delivered to their home. And that won’t change when the virus goes away.

A business doesn’t have to be massive to generate enough money to make a difference. Sometimes a little extra is more than enough. And if it’s not, you know what to do. Best of all, that’s a decision you get to make – nobody else makes it for you.

Take control. Grab the bull by the horns. Shape your own destiny. But do it now. The longer you wait to get started, the longer you’ll be wishing you had.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Moment of Pain for a Lifetime of Love

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

For me, it’s the beginning of a different life. One where sitting up in bed isn’t met with the sound of paws coming down the hallway, there’s no need to open the back door, and my morning “hug” from my little buddy will now be a memory. Yesterday at noon, our fur-baby went to a place where there is no pain and cancer is just a word.

It was a hard thing to do, as anybody who’s been there can attest. There’s always that voice that says, “It’s only a dog.” That voice only comes from people who have never bonded with a dog, or any animal for that matter. It certainly doesn’t come from within. To me, he was a member of the family, and his passing left a hole in my heart that will never completely heal.

But I don’t want this post to be sad. I want to remember my little buddy with a smile, and know that if he could have spoken, he would have told me he hurt a lot worse than he let on, and he loved us as much as we loved him, maybe even more. And I’m sure that, once he got past the fear of another visit to the vet, he would have said, “It’s okay. Don’t be sad.”

When we open our home to an animal, this is a reality we have to accept. We don’t think about it at the time, and it never really crosses our mind over the years. We give them nourishment and love, and they reward us with silly antics and that trademark greeting every time we walk through the door. Get on Google and look up “Wheaten Greetin’.” It’ll make you smile.

I heard a speaker one time saying his wife complained that when he got home from work, he petted the dog before he kissed her.  He said, “When you meet me at the door jumping around and shaking your whole body like that, rest assured I’ll notice you first.” That pretty much sums it up.

I’ll miss him brushing against us like a cat every time he walked past. In the end, he learned he could snag the Velcro on his diaper and go commando for a few minutes. I’ll miss his 8:00 routine every evening, when he knew it was time for a treat. And don’t bother telling him the clocks changed. He knew that was just a ruse. “Don’t mess with me, Daddy! It’s 8:00, dammit!”

I’ll miss seeing him sitting up high in the passenger seat of the RV with an unmistakable smile on his face. I’ll miss him searching his toy box every time somebody came to the door, looking for the perfect gift to present. I’ll miss him snuggling next to me in bed, but only for a minute before he moved next to my feet and, eventually, to his own bed.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Every day with this little guy was worth the heartache of holding him as his life slipped away. As a close friend said last week, a moment of pain is the price of a lifetime of love. Well, it’s more than a moment of pain, but it’ll soon give way to memories that will last a lifetime.

Most of all, I think of the unconditional love that comes from an animal that truly sees us as members of their own family. To them, they’re no different than us. A little shorter maybe, and without inside bathroom privileges. But it’s the life they know, and I don’t think they even notice the difference. They accept us just as we are – two legs, no fur, and smelling like soap.

So, now we begin a life of walking into a quiet home, not tripping over toys strategically placed for our enjoyment, and having to pick up every scrap of food we drop on the floor. I’ll never again open a bag of popcorn or make scrambled eggs in the morning without those eager eyes watching my every move. He’ll always be there, waiting for his share.

I’m not sure if there’s life beyond this earth for pets, but if there is I know for certain my little buddy is running unleashed without a care in the world. His pain is gone, he can potty without difficulty, and his 8:00 treat is always on time. And most of all, I know he would be nuzzling us and gazing up with those adoring eyes as if to say, “Don’t cry – I’m right here.”

So, Buster, wherever you are, just know you will always live on in our hearts. We will always question the decision to let you go, and we will always wish we’d had a little more time. But we will never regret one moment of the time we had with you. Farewell for now. And do that dance, little buddy … it’s 8:00 somewhere.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Salute to All Who Served – In Uniform and Without

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

For those in the United States, happy Veteran’s Day. Today is a day when we honor those who served our nation, often at great personal risk, for the privilege of defending the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. And it is a privilege. Those of us who have worn this nation’s uniforms were proud to stand behind our nation and salute its flag. Some things may change over time, but this isn’t one of them.

For some of us, that service was a little less dangerous than others. I never saw combat, having graduated from high school three years after the end of the Viet Nam war. And yes, I know it wasn’t an officially declared war, but to the more than 50,000 wives and mothers who stood beside a flag-draped coffin, there is no other more descriptive term.

Every year on Veteran’s Day, I remind people that it’s not only about those who served. For every person wearing the uniform today, there are family members making personal sacrifices few can truly understand. And I think it’s only fitting that we would remember and honor them as well.

Some are living far away from the only home they’ve known, due to “needs of the military.” Some find themselves in a new home every three or four years. There are spouses, forced by circumstance to live and survive as single parents, often for years at a time. There are children who barely remember their deployed parent, if they’ve even met them at all.

They make ends meet with pay that, for many, is barely above poverty level. They see the doctor they’re assigned, rather than one they chose. They live where they’re told to live and move when they’re told to move. And they do this all under the constant threat of an unwelcome visit from the chaplain. It’s a life that most of us can never fully comprehend.

For myself, deployments were hard. Seven months at sea, on a ship with 5500 other men, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and sleeping in a bunk so tight that you could barely roll over, the one thing that kept me going was knowing I had a wife who was keeping things going on the home front. Her strength was my strength. She served every day I served.

I saw shipmates get the news of a new son or daughter, and I tried to comfort another as he got the news that his infant son had passed away. I saw people open letters from a wife or girlfriend who could no longer handle the separation, and I watched others send a similar letter home. Military life isn’t easy, friends. It takes a special person, on both sides of the equation.

Every time we went to sea, we did so with the knowledge that at least one of us wouldn’t make it home. It was just a reality. Most were due to accidents. An aircraft carrier (or any ship) isn’t the safest place to work. Others were due to illness, overindulgence, and in one case, suicide. We lost 5 in one cruise. Five families left to put together what was left of their shattered lives.

Whether you believe this nation is what it once was, or that our freedoms are as bountiful as they once were, this nation is still worth whatever it takes to ensure its safety. Because, the nation isn’t a flag, fifty states, or a handful of politicians. It’s more than 330 million people, from all walks of life, every one deserving of the best life has to offer.

I grew up in a time when many, weary of the Viet Nam war’s toll, would gladly have eliminated our military. As I arrived home from my first cruise, we were greeted by protesters waving signs and chanting against our very presence. And I remember looking at them silently thinking, I just spent the past several months on the other side of the world defending your right to do this.

My wife didn’t have to leave home for that. She was there, every day, making sure I’d have a home to come back to. My daughter was an infant when I left the first time, and was almost five when I finished my last cruise. I can’t imagine the confusion in her little mind every time Daddy left. But she made the sacrifice as well. Yes, it even counts if you didn’t get a choice.

So, as we thank all of our active-duty and reserve military, retirees, and all who served, let’s take time to hug those family members whose service to our nation often goes unnoticed. To them, it was a labor of love. To those of us who wore the uniform, it was everything.

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

If You Want to See More Clearly, Try Covering Your Eyes

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

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Some of you have commented, and I think a few have enjoyed the reprieve. I get a little wordy sometimes, which is to say I never shut up. If you knew me personally, that would come as no surprise.

I can’t say this break was intentional, but I’m learning not to force myself when the muse just isn’t there. We all need time to reflect, and sometimes to just step away. The past few weeks have brought a mix of emotion, so I let it flow the best way I can. I know a lot of you feel the same.

A month ago, a very close family member was diagnosed with Covid-19. Thankfully, the symptoms were mild, and it resolved without any treatment. We can be thankful that, for some people, it isn’t as severe. The rest of us were tested as a precaution, and we were all negative. Funny how, in the medical community, “negative” is good. I’ve never quite understood that.

Last week, we got news that our dog may be very sick. We’re taking him to a canine oncologist today to confirm what appears to be bladder cancer. He’s shown some symptoms for a few months, but veterinary appointments were not plentiful during Covid. It took more than two months to get him in, and the outlook wasn’t good. We’re praying for better news today.

And through the middle of all this came the election – a quadrennial event that used to bring out the best in us, regardless of our differences. It was a time of hope, a time for us to make our voices heard, and to pat others on the back in the knowledge that, whether our side won or lost, we could all at least hope for a positive outcome.

I was reminded the other day of my last Indian Ocean cruise in the Navy, way back in 1984. It was in the final days of the Cold War, and just in case we weren’t aware of the adversarial nature of our relationship with Russia, we received a daily reminder every morning as a Russian spy plane would fly past with an F-14 on each side. They saw us, we saw them. Cat and mouse.

One afternoon, the captain told us we were allowing a Russian cruiser to come along our port side. I grabbed my camera and joined a dozen other guys on a weather deck to view the enemy first-hand. There they were, casually bobbing along as if taunting us to make a move. As cameras clicked, we shielded the sun from our eyes to get a better look. The mood was somber.

At one point, a guy next to me handed me his camera with a high-powered zoom lens. As I focused in on the other ship, I saw my enemy’s face for the first time. There they were, dressed in dungarees, not unlike our own. Some were snapping pictures as the others shielded the sun from their eyes to get a better look. Their mood was somber. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

You see, in that moment I realized my “enemy” was a sailor, just like me. They missed their family, they missed good food, and wanted nothing more than a peaceful existence with prosperity and hope for a brighter future. The only difference between us was geography, and the leaders we would follow into battle if the time ever came. Thankfully, it didn’t.

It’s easy to see somebody else as the enemy when all we know about them is that they don’t look like us or think exactly like we do. It’s easy to take one aspect of somebody’s life, a simple difference of opinion, and assume the worst about their motives and character. After all, your intent is pure, so anybody who disagrees must be impure. It’s that easy, friends.

And it’s just as easy to look across a few hundred yards of separation and see somebody who, deep down, wants mostly the same things we do. They want peace. They want security. They want justice and a brighter future. We may define those things in different terms, and we may see a different path to achieving them. But that doesn’t make us enemies. It just means we need to look closer to find that common ground.

Our nation has been through a time of turmoil like most of us have never seen. In some respects, the worst is behind us, and in others, it’s just beginning. But make no mistake – we will never begin to heal until we put down the swords and work toward a common purpose. It’s there if we only reach out and embrace it. There is no other way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Time to Get Started is Now

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

It’s Monday, not to mention the last week of October. Just in case you needed a reminder that … you know, after this, things start getting real. For those of us in the US (okay, most of the US), daylight savings time ends this week. After that, we’re officially in the build-up to the holidays. Not that the stores have noticed. I think they still have last year’s Christmas displays up.

Which reminds me, I need to get my grandson over here to put up our outdoor lights. I like to get that done before the first snow falls. Something about climbing 16 feet up a ladder that’s resting on a bed of ice just sounds dangerous. So, I pay him to do it for me. Besides, he’s young and his bones will heal faster.

This is also the time of year when we start to complain. Okay, we got an early start on it this year. Like back in March. I’d say we were entitled. But every year around now we take notice of how much earlier the stores put out their holiday inventory and how the whole thing has just turned into one big, commercialized mess. In other words, “This is gonna be expensive!” Yep.

And I’ll be honest – I think we do miss the whole holiday spirit in the rush of the season. The cleaning, the baking, the meal preparation, throwing the dishes away because there are too many to wash … and we cap it all off by standing in the drizzling cold at 4:00 in the morning to get a 92-inch TV for $6.95. But hey, they’re giving away free Furbies to the first 100 customers!

Okay, it’s obvious I haven’t been Black Friday shopping in a long time. It just never was my thing. Besides, I’m usually still too full of whatever was on the table the day before, most of which my body can convert to gas in a matter of minutes. Let’s just say I’m doing the world a favor by staying home.

Black Friday sales are there for one thing, and one thing only – to get whatever is left of your paycheck before anybody else gets their greedy paws on it. And when the money runs out, we go home. Right? Are you serious??? That’s why God made plastic! And if you’ve already reached your credit limit, have no fear! Customer service reps are standing by to give you an increase.

Well, let’s get down to it. If you don’t have the money to buy something today, odds are you won’t have the money to pay it off next year. We all know that. And this year has been especially hard on people. A lot of credit cards have been maxed out at the grocery store buying superfluous items like … you know, food. That doesn’t leave much for anything else.

Several months ago, I posed a rather important question. Could you do 2020 again? Hopefully most of us made it through with our health and finances relatively intact, but could you survive another round? Was there any point this year where you wished you hadn’t spent quite so much last year? “If only I’d known what was coming.”

Well, here’s the thing – we don’t know what’s coming. We never know. Hopefully this virus will fade away, but the numbers right now aren’t working in our favor. Almost every expert says it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Can you survive another round? Can your employer? How will that affect the decisions you make over the next couple of months?

As soon as things get dicey, we all start singing the same tune. “I have to do something to make more money!” So, why do we always wait until things are really bad before we look for ways to make them better?  Sure, better late than never. But you can’t just snap your fingers and double your income. It takes time. Time that most of us are wasting today.

Are there things you could do if you suddenly found yourself short of money? Are you short today? Let’s be honest. We could all stand to have a little extra coming in. Believe me, two years ago when I found myself facing brain surgery, I thought about that a lot. “This business could have made all the difference in the world. Why didn’t I get started sooner?”  

Dig the well before you get thirsty. What’s the worst thing that can happen? The drought never comes, and you have a little extra water on hand? Never once have I heard anybody say they wish they hadn’t saved money or built an extra income on the side. Because the reality is, we’ll all get thirsty at some point in our lives. And the decisions we make today will make a world of difference when that time comes.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved