The Grass May Be Greener, But It Still Needs To Be Mowed

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

I woke up to the most snow we’ve seen on the ground this winter. It’s pretty, it’s white, it’s like God’s protective blanket over all the brown stuff underneath. Now it can go away. That brown stuff doesn’t need any protection. It needs sun. It’ll turn green. I’ve seen it happen.

That’s not to say we had a ton of snow on the ground. Just enough to cover it. Enough to shovel if I actually had any plans of doing that. I’ve decided I’m going to strap a snow shovel to the top of the car and drive south. The first time somebody points to it and asks, “What the hell is that?”, that’s where I’ll start looking for a new house.

For somebody who has complained about the cold every year and dreamed of the beach every day, I sure haven’t done much to move in that general direction. I blame it on my job, but I hear they have jobs in the south. I say it’s because this is where my grandkids live, but most southbound roads have northbound lanes as well. The truth is, I’ve just been making excuses.

Besides, a lot of other people my age have figured out that if you want the grandkids to visit more often, move south and buy a place with a pool. They’ll pile in faster than the mosquitoes and cockroaches that apparently are smarter than I am because they don’t live in the snow. That’s one part about living in the south that I don’t miss. But I’m sure they miss me.

When I joined the Navy, my dad told me that the best two duty stations in the world are the one you just left and the one you’re going to. There was more truth in those words than I could have imagined. For ye landlubbers, it simply means the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Or, as Erma Bombeck pointed out, it’s also a little greener over the septic tank.

Yet, as soon as we get on the other side of the fence, we find ourselves looking back and lamenting how things were so much better “back home.” It’s not that the new place is really any worse. But nothing measures up to the image we have in our mind, because we never imagine the really bad stuff. Like an online dating profile, the reality never matches the picture.

It reminds me of a quip I read once offering advice to women on the three little words that lead to a perfect marriage – lower you expectations. Men could say the same thing, but we’re not stupid enough to actually do it. Not out loud, anyway. But the point is pretty much the same. Don’t build things up in your mind so big that you set yourself up for disappointment later.

We all like to say nobody’s perfect, but we usually say that when we’re talking about ourselves. When it comes to other people and other places, perfection is pretty much expected. Anything that falls short of perfection is a deficiency to be overcome. And we’re not overly forgiving when things stay the same even though that’s the way they were long before we got there.

There’s a natural, and healthy, tendency to try to improve our circumstances. And if you move into new surroundings, a new job, or a new relationship, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make things a little better. But that doesn’t mean everybody else needs to change to meet our image of perfection. They were perfectly comfortable before we came along.

Paradise doesn’t exist in this world. Granted, there are places for each of us that come closer to meeting that definition, and this white stuff outside doesn’t do it for me. But even a sunny beach gets its share of rain. The key is to find something closer to what you truly desire and enjoy it for what it is – the good parts and the bad.

Whether it’s location, relationships, family, or job, there will always be something better or newer or shinier to capture your attention. They may offer a higher level of enjoyment, but true happiness comes from within. Find happiness where you are before you look someplace else. You may still want that other life, but without that inner happiness it’ll always fall short.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

How Much Is A Plumber Worth? Whatever He Charges

Good morning! It’s Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

My day started with prayer. Well, okay, I did brush my teeth and get breakfast first. Then I went outside to start the car. The old one. The one that got a new battery yesterday. That’s when the revival started. Oh, the battery worked fine. But apparently when I opened everything up yesterday to replace it, Mother Nature filled the fuel intake with something cars don’t like.

That’s why I don’t like working on my own car. Well, that and the rusted battery clamp that won’t tighten down. It’s good enough to make contact and spin the starter, but just loose enough to leave me stranded the first time it snows. And, as luck would have it, that’s supposed to happen tonight. Lovely.

I used to do all the work on my cars. Not because I particularly enjoyed it, but there was a time in life when I couldn’t afford a mechanic. You know, like yesterday. Okay, I could have let somebody else change the battery, but the car wouldn’t start, and my wife isn’t willing to push it to the shop. Hey, somebody has to drive.

I learned to work on cars out of necessity. And that’s when I earned my Master’s in profanity. Mark Twain once said you never really learn how to swear until you learn how to drive. Wrong. Drivers are amateurs. Try replacing the front hub on a Dodge truck after road salt has worked its magic on aluminum and steel parts. I didn’t own a sledgehammer until that day. I do now.

My grandson wanted to help. He was only ten at the time, and better at asking questions than turning a wrench. Still, I was happy to have the company. The instructions said to remove three bolts and slide the hub off. The instructions lied. My daughter asked me afterward if I taught him any new words. No, he already knows the words. But I did teach him about proper usage.

That was the day I decided I’m done working on cars. Okay, that’s the day I said I was done working on cars. A month later I had to replace the other hub. And four years after that, I had to do it again. Both sides. Over the years I owned that truck, I replaced parts I’ve never seen on any other vehicle. That truck was the epitome of Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong …

Okay, so I’m sure the good folks at Dodge Motor Company would prefer that I didn’t publish this piece, but that’s what they get for making that piece. Still, that’s not really the point I wanted to make. Let’s just say sometimes life has its little bonuses, okay?

There are things we do throughout life that we’d rather not do, but for one reason or another, we have to. Like eating broccoli and paying bills. But beyond that, there are those things that we do simply because somebody has to do it and the kids have moved out. Until two years ago, my grandson still thought it was fun to mow the lawn. Guess who does it now?

I have a good friend who, as she and her husband built an extremely successful business, has built a list over the years of things she’ll never do again. I would imagine scrubbing around the base of the toilet is near the top of that list. With four kids, including a couple of boys, I’m sure she did that a time or two. But now she doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of success.

Are there things you do that you’d rather not do? Could a little extra income give you some options in that regard? Nobody likes to waste money, but I’ve come to the realization that whatever a mechanic charges to climb under my car, he earns. And it’s worth it to me to sit comfortably in the customer lounge reading a book while he does the dirty work.

My list of things I’ll never do again is pretty short, but it is getting longer with age. How about yours? Do you have a list of things you’d rather hand off to somebody else? Would a little extra money let you do it? You know, money is a renewable resource, and you’re allowed to have as much as you want. You just have to be willing to earn it. And that’s where we seem to come up short.

We all have to do things we’d rather not do. But that list gets smaller when you tackle the things that are standing in your way today and make them work to your advantage. They may seem unpleasant at first, but in time they’ll be as routine as turning a wrench. You may never come to love doing them. But just think how many others you can check off along the way.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sing Loud, Sing Proud – But Don't Quit Your Day Job

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

Every now and then, I think about the day I went in for brain surgery. Minor surgery, the doctor assured me. I’m not sure if that was genuine reassurance or his assessment of my intellect. I still remember him coming into pre-op and telling me, “I just did the same surgery on another patient.” He didn’t say if that patient was still alive. Still, it beats, “I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

That said, I still looked around the operating room before they put me to sleep to make sure there wasn’t a YouTube video playing or a copy of Brain Surgery for Dummies on the table. There are certain times in life where experience beats a good notebook, and that was one of those times.

There’s an old saying among race car drivers – run what you brung. Basically, what it means is if you were able to get the car to the track in one piece and all four wheels are still attached, get out there and drive it just as fast as you possibly can. Fender falling off? Duct tape. Cracked windshield? Duct tape. Leaky fuel tank? Duct tape. I’m joking. You need Silly Putty for that.

But the message is pretty clear. We all come into the game each day with a certain set of assets. They may be inherent talents, things we’ve learned over the years, big muscles, or the ability to outrun people with big muscles. Regardless, those assets are what we have to work with. And when our abilities come up a little short – duct tape. Fake it till you make it. Get the job done.

I’ve always been pretty handy with tools, and there’s not much I’m afraid to tackle. That doesn’t mean I really know what I’m doing, but nine times out of ten I can get the job done right. My wife knows this, which is why she insists I test drive the car after I replace her brakes. Besides, she knows I’ll hide all those “spare parts” before she can see them.

What’s so hard about using tools? Well, give my brother a screwdriver and hammer and then just stand back. Way back. And be sure whatever he’s fixing will fit in the trash can when he’s done. My dad has patiently worked with him over the years, and he’s now reasonably safe with a screwdriver and a set of wrenches. But hammers are still a big no-no.

That doesn’t make him any less a man. It just means he’s not the person you want working on your own brakes. There are things he can do that I’d never be able to do as well. And that doesn’t make me any less a man. Okay, it makes me feel a little inferior, but then I look in my toolbox and realize I can identify 90% of what’s in there, and I feel pretty smug.

If you’ve ever watched any of the talent shows on TV, you’ve undoubtedly seen some people who are truly gifted and others who are truly clueless. Some are destined for stardom, and others are destined for Burger King. “Would you like fries with that?” And the only difference between them is the realization of their natural talent, and what they choose to do with it.

I wish I could sing. So does the choir director. But that’s not my strongest talent. I wish I could hit a golf ball in a straight line. So do the people living alongside the golf course. Again, it’s not my strong suit. That doesn’t stop me from singing or playing golf. It just means I have to keep my day job and be the best at that. Run what you brung. It’s more intelligent than it sounds.

In his book Put Your Dream to the Test, John Maxwell writes, “When you build on your strengths, the activities using those strengths come more easily to you.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to expand our strengths, but recognizing and optimizing our strengths is the more realistic path to achieving our dreams.

Find what you’re good at and do it better than anybody else. You have a unique combination of talents that nobody else has and, for that very reason, nobody else can put those talents to use quite as well as you can. Match your dreams to your talents, and success is pretty much yours to claim.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Life Begins Where Your Comfort Zone Ends

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

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I think, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.” Okay, there have been times in my life when I was relieved to find myself in familiar surroundings. Mostly back in the 70s, but we won’t go there. They say if you can remember the 70s, you didn’t really enjoy it. Well, I must have had one hell of a good time.

But I’m not talking about waking up in a strange place, wondering how you got there and what you may have done in the hours leading up to that. Not that I’d know the feeling. I’ve never done that and you can believe I’ll never do it again. I’m talking about that feeling where you take a look around and say, “This isn’t my life. This isn’t where I was supposed to be.”

When I was sixteen, I knew exactly how my life would turn out. I’d be a rock star, performing on stages around the world with thousands of adoring fans screaming my name. I’d have a two-story mansion with a yacht at the dock and no less than a dozen fine automobiles. I’d pilot my own private jet and spend my days surrounded by beautiful women. Life would be one big party.

So, how did all that turn out? I spent 15 years as a stand-up comedian, performing to tens of people in biker bars around the country. I do live in a two-story house (counting the basement), my yacht looks more like an aluminum skiff, and I’ve owned at least a dozen cars, though none could really be called an “automobile.” Some even started – most days.

I’ve never flown a jet, but I did almost crash-land a Cessna on my third (and final) flying lesson. I spend my days surrounded by women, but they’re all hanging from branches on my family tree. And the only time anybody screams my name is when the toilet paper roll is empty or a spot on the ceiling sprouts legs and starts moving.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Up until now, that is. Well, maybe that time I found myself sitting in the back seat of a Sheriff’s cruiser with three of my buddies, but you know … that was back in the 70s, too. I remember it because it wasn’t much fun. But, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Now, if I’m still enjoying this same existence a year from now, the gods and I are going to have a talk. More like I’m gonna talk and they’re gonna listen. Because, even at the ripe old age of 62, I still have dreams. And they don’t involve spending my days this far from the beach. Or the sun, for that matter. Global warming sucks, but they could at least send a little my way.

Or, I could just find a way to put myself closer to warm weather and beaches. You see, there’s a solution for every problem. Even steamed broccoli. It’s called a trash can. But no matter what you’d like to change in life, there’s a way to do it. The problem is we put ourselves in situations where making that change is a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Every day people get up, get dressed, and go to a job they despise. Why? Because it’s there. It’s secure. It’s what they know. They live in a town they can’t stand, yet they keep putting down deeper roots. They dream of being someplace else, but don’t take any steps to get there. Because, no matter how much we want something different, there a certain comfort in what we know.

So, what’s the answer? Get a little uncomfortable. Start by focusing on the reasons you want things to change instead of just turning on the TV and watching reruns of Bonanza. Get out and see how the other side lives. Pick up some travel magazines or take a weekend vacation. Imagine the life you want instead of existing in the life you’ve got.

Then get ready to step outside your comfort zone for real – not just in your mind. Because the results don’t change unless you change the approach. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. It means taking a risk, putting yourself out there, and leaving the safety net behind. It means embracing discomfort to find a higher level of comfort.

A dream is nothing more than an existence that’s at least slightly above where you are now. It doesn’t have to be grand – just enough to make a difference. And to get there, all you have to do is stretch your boundaries. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But once you do, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get started.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It's Only A Habit If You Want It

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

I’ve learned that I’m a morning person. Anybody who knew me forty years ago would say no way. I could sleep till noon and not even feel bad about it. Dad used to tell me I’d be late for my own funeral. I always wondered, what’s the downside to that? If the date for my funeral has already been set, I don’t see any advantage in getting there early. Just start without me.

I have to admit, though, I took sleeping late to an art. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The only problem is, people at work have this thing they call a schedule and they sit there with a cup of coffee, staring at the clock, getting madder by the minute because Dave’s late. Like you can’t do anything till I get there? Just jump right on in. I don’t mind.

I remember standing inspection in the Navy and, as the admiral passed by, he looked at the hash mark on my lower sleeve indicating that I’d been in at least four years. Then he looked at my chest and said, “Where’s your Good Conduct Medal, sailor?” I mumbled something full of consonants that sounded vaguely like, “I dmthvon, sir.” Excuse me? “I don’t have one, sir!”

And, here’s the thing. You don’t have to do anything special to get that medal. All you have to do is stay out of trouble. I couldn’t even handle that. And with one exception that we won’t discuss here because it’s still not legal in all fifty states, every time I got in trouble it was for sleeping late.  

Alarm clock, you say? Oh, I had a bunch of those. And I wasn’t stupid enough to get one with a snooze feature. Although, I have to admit, about the sixth time that went off, my roommates would have fixed the problem for me. No, I had one with a clanging bell that’ll wake the dead. In another county. Yeah, it woke me up. Just enough to slap the button and go back to sleep.

The boss finally came up with a solution. Put Dave on night shift. Oh, that worked like a charm! I could sleep past noon and still make it to work on time. You play the hand you’re dealt, right? Only problem is, my wife still thought I was supposed to do things around the house, and that messed up my sleep cycle completely. I finally had to learn to function like a normal adult.

That all changed the day I quit smoking. Well, two days later. I woke up at six in the morning, wide awake, and fully rested. Okay, I’d gone to bed 12 hours earlier, because I found that the best way to beat the nicotine fits was to sleep through them. But something happened that day. I was awake. I had energy. I could smell things. Oh, could I smell things! Time for a shower!

From that day on, I never overslept for anything. I haven’t used an alarm clock in almost 20 years. Of course, the older you get, the less you need one anyway because sleeping is about like riding a city bus. It stops at every intersection whether it needs to or not. All you have to do is pay attention and get off at the right stop, and you’ll never be late for anything.

All through life, we change. Things that used to be a challenge are instinctive, and things that used to be instinctive are a challenge. If you’ve ever seen me try to run, you’d know that. And then along comes the doctor telling us we have to stop doing the things that got us this far in life because, apparently, where we are isn’t exactly where we should be.

Some of it is simply the aging process, and the rest is just habits – things we do without even thinking about them. And the thing with habits is that, even though they seem to be instinctive, they’re really just a behavior that’s been repeated so many times it becomes instinctive. And all it takes to change a habit is to change the behavior and then repeat it. Over, and over, and over.

There are things we can’t control, and aging is one of them. But there’s very little in our daily routine that we can’t change if the reason is strong enough. Changing a habit because somebody tells you to inevitably leads to failure. But making a change because you want to leads to another habit – the habit of success. Focus on the reason, and you’ll always reach the goal.

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

Get Out Of Your Head – You're Making a Mess!

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

Have you ever come up with an idea, something that excites you beyond belief, and you just can’t wait to get started? It usually happens early in the morning or later in the evening. You know, as you’re getting ready to go to work or to bed and there’s nothing you can do about it for at least eight hours. By then, you’re already starting to have doubts. Naturally!

And it’s not because the idea changed. It’s the same as it was when you first thought of it. The timing hasn’t changed, aside from the eight hours you spent talking yourself out of it. Your bank balance is pretty much the same, unless you polished off a bottle of wine as you enjoyed some late-night shopping. So, what’s different now? Why is that great idea suddenly so bad?

It’s simple. You got inside your own head and killed the dream before it even got a chance to breathe. Way to go! You just saved yourself years of agony and millions of dollars, not to mention the ridicule of all those people whose opinions matter more than your own. Thank God you came to your senses in time! This could have been a catastrophe.

So, you go back to whatever it is you were doing. You know, something you had already decided wasn’t quite good enough, which is why you came up with the idea in the first place. You wanted something better. Something that would get you out of bed every morning with a smile on your face, just thinking of all those people who said you could never do it. You rock!

And maybe the idea wasn’t perfect. It happens. But you’ll never really know unless you give it a try. And then keep trying until you get it right. From the beginning of time, people dreamed of soaring with the birds. Oh, they tried. Some with less fanfare than others. I mean, jumping off a cliff while madly flapping your arms certainly makes a statement. Yet, here we are.

Motivational speakers always tell you to be careful who you let inside your head, because people can kill your dreams. They don’t mean to. It just happens. But sometimes, the worst person you can let inside your head is yourself. If killing our own dreams were an Olympic event, some of us would have enough gold medals to fill an entire room. You should see mine.

So, why? Why is it that we look so desperately for something to make life better, and then pass on everything that comes along? Or worse yet, we get started just long enough to convince ourselves it was a bad idea to begin with, and then we share that insight with everybody we know. “Don’t fall for that one. I tried!” No, you didn’t. All you did was trip over the first excuse.

But if you clear the clutter out of the way, you can usually see past the negativity. Sometimes, the one thing that stops us from moving forward on anything is other people. We like to think we’re free spirits, but we rely on other people’s opinions like a teenager relies on their cell phone battery. What will they say? They’ll laugh. I just know it! How will I ever hold my head up again?

Well, get a clue. Unless they’re paying your bills, they don’t have an opinion – all they have are excuses. And the whole time you’re licking your wounds and wondering why this just didn’t work, they’re sitting in front of the TV with a beer, never giving it a second thought. Not because you let them get inside your head – because you let yourself get inside.

Until we can take ownership of our failures, we can never get on the path to success. And those failures begin and end inside our own head. The path may stray outside for others to dump their litter, but once we accept that litter as our own, the dream begins to die.

Other people can only litter your path with the garbage you give them. If you throw it away yourself, they’ll never get the chance. It’s your dream. It’s your life. It’s your head. You set the rules. And as long as you play by those rules, you’ll always come out on top.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved