When Faced With Dessert, Eat the Brussels Sprouts First

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

It’s the start of a brand-new week, and that means a whole list of things we need to do over the next several days. More likely, it means a whole list of things we didn’t get done last week that we have to do now before we can begin this week’s work. Can I get an amen?

More and more, that seems to be the way things go. There’s never enough time to get things done in the allotted time, and our reward for all that hard work seems to be adding even more to the schedule for the following week. Whether it’s your job, things around the house, or anything else that keeps you occupied, there’s always more than enough to do.

And it’s easy to skim off the top and take on the more pleasant tasks first. After all, it is Monday. Do they really expect you to just jump right back in? Do they not understand that it takes a few hours to shift from weekend mode into work mode, and you probably need a little time to unwind from two days at home? The nerve of some people!

Well, the reality is, whatever we didn’t get done last week probably needs to be done first. And there’s probably a reason it didn’t get done to begin with … it wasn’t one of those cherry-picking skim-off-the-top tasks that you can knock out in a few minutes. If so, it would have already been done. Along with all those other less-than-challenging tasks you knocked out Friday afternoon.

It’s hard to begin a major task late in the day, especially right before the weekend, because you know there’s no way you can get it done. But, by morning, something else usually comes along that has to be done right now because the assumption is that you show up for work every morning with a clean slate. And nobody wants to set the boss straight on that one.

So, the big task that you planned to tackle first thing Monday morning sits until Monday afternoon, and then there’s no time to get it done by the end of the day, so you resolve to just get it done Tuesday. Then Tuesday comes along with its own new challenges, and guess what happens? I could probably build a big list of those Monday morning jobs that never got done. Thankfully, most are at home where I can’t get fired.

And, believe me, I was a shining example of this concept over the weekend. I’ve got enough projects at home to keep me busy for the next couple of months, and they won’t wait forever. But one thing led to another this weekend, and there wasn’t really time to get any of them completed, so I sat in front of the TV instead. Smart, huh?

We’ve talked before about tackling the most unpleasant task first. When my wife puts broccoli on my plate, I tend to eat it first so I can get it out of the way and enjoy what’s left of my meal. And there’s a reason mom never let us eat dessert first. She knew there was no way on God’s green earth we’d have eaten those Brussels sprouts later. So, we learned this concept early in life.

Most of us will face work today that we’d rather not do, and some of that will be pretty significant in terms of effort. But work has a habit of staying right where you left it. You can spin your wheels all day, or take on a dozen other tasks, but whatever you’ve been avoiding will still be there waiting. Sooner or later, you’ll have to do something about it.

As you begin your day, take a few moments to assess what’s on your plate. Make a list if you have to. And take a guess at how long each job will take. Then double that estimate, because nothing is as easy as it seems. Then take the biggest or most pressing task first and dive in. You may not get it all done today but think of how much less you’ll have to face tomorrow morning.

It’s natural to avoid the unpleasant and anything that seems insurmountable. But if we knock those things out first, the rest of the day is just that much easier. And meanwhile, it builds your own confidence. You’re not only getting things done, you’re doing the impossible. And with that kind of ability, no task (or dream) will ever be too large. You can accomplish anything!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Clock is Running … What’s Your Score?

Good morning, and happy Friday! We made it through another week. I hope yours has been awesome.

This morning I have a biometric screening at work – blood test, body measurements, all those things that normally don’t start the day off well for somebody with my physique. I’ll get the results in a few days and they’ll tell me the things I’ve done well and all the things I could’ve done better. That second list will be the longer of the two. No surprises there.

It’s important to get a measure of your standing from time to time, because that’s a measure of success. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you need to go. I know about things like blood pressure, weight, and body fat. I measure them regularly. But the stuff on the inside is a little more of a mystery. This is where I find out how all the outward stuff is affecting the rest.

And when I get my results, I’ll know exactly where I stand right now, and what needs to be fixed. I already know how to fix those things. But sometimes, we need to know the current score in order to prioritize what needs to be done next.

It’s the same with anything you’re trying to accomplish. Project managers draft detailed project plans to set milestones and track progress through the life of a project. Banks send those statements every month that shows our progress toward saving more than we spend. And the GPS shows our progress toward a desired destination. And mine seems to say “recalculating” a lot. Just me?

It’s important to stop occasionally and take stock of where you are, what you’ve accomplished to date, and then reassess your next step. Whether you’re cooking dinner or playing chess, progress is an important measure of what you need to do to keep moving toward your goal. And it lets you know when it’s time to take an unscheduled turn or pit stop to get things back on track.

As we talk about our dreams and goals, it’s easy to just throw them out there with a simple one-word timeline – “Someday.” It’s a goal, and we plan to do it at some point in life. But with such a vague definition of when this is all supposed to happen, it’s pretty hard to track our progress along the way.

Let’s say your goal is a European vacation for the whole family. Twelve countries in five days. I’ve never understood the fascination with breezing across borders without slowing down to enjoy the scenery, much less sample the local cuisine. But some people seem to enjoy that.

You probably have an idea of how much that will cost. In today’s dollars, that is. You save a little every month for several years, and watch it grow. Every year, you see yourself getting a little closer. Emergencies come along and set you back. The car needs repairs. Your kid needs braces. Then there’s college, a new roof on the house, and all the other things that come along.

And by the time you have everything in place and you’re ready to pack up and go, inflation has more than doubled the price. Now you’re back to square one. Maybe not all the way, but how many more years will it take to make this happen? And how many other things will come along to mess up your plans even more?

Cemeteries are the resting place of unfulfilled dreams. All those things a person never had a chance to do are buried right along with them. And after the funeral, the family decides to pool their resources and take that vacation mom always dreamed of … you know, in her honor. And the whole time they’re saying, “Mom would have loved this!” Yeah, probably so.

The time for living our dreams is now – while we’re still alive and have the chance to do something about it. But we have to put measures in place, so we know where we are and what still remains to be done. And we have to check along the way to see if the goal has moved. Destinations don’t move around much, but what it takes to get there may change dramatically along the way.

Life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good. By knowing where we’re going and how far we’ve come, those surprises turn into detours rather than roadblocks. Instead of getting to the end of life and lamenting the things we never got to do, we can bask in the memory of the things we’ve done. And memories live on, long after our dreams have been laid to rest.

Dream, set goals, and make plans. But most importantly of all, make sure you’re getting closer as you go. You only have the rest of your life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Exercise is a Good Thing – Taken in Moderation

Good morning! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day so far.

For the past several days, I’ve awakened to some pretty welcome news, courtesy of the bathroom scale. It seems I’m finally in the groove and what I’m doing is beginning to pay off. And yes, the batteries in the scale are fresh, thank you. All told, I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds since I started this downhill journey, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m using a Body Key app on my phone that tracks my weight and chimes in with virtual pats on the back and helpful tips along the way. It’s designed to take you through three phases of the weight loss journey, with the ultimate goal of weaning you off the meal replacement products and sending you on your way lighter, healthier, and better equipped to continue toward your ultimate goal.

Yesterday morning, along with a message of praise for being a good boy, the app suggested now may be the time to start mixing in some exercise. Damn. It just had to go there! All this time we’ve been getting along so well, and now it wants me to intentionally put my body through stretching and pulling exercises that have the sole effect of making me smell bad. Just lovely.

I joke about that a lot, but I actually enjoy exercise. Well, I enjoy it while I’m doing it. Getting me to the gym is another matter entirely. There are just too many other things to do. Like watching TV, surfing the internet, or standing in the front door staring at absolutely nothing. I’d like to say I have a better excuse, but that’s about as good as it gets.

Part of my issue with exercise has been my lower back. The last several times I’ve started into a workout routine, it lasted about a week before I started walking around hunched over like an old man. Okay, an older man. Much older. Ten years at least. And as soon as that kicks in, my days of exercising are over for the time being. And it seems “time being” lasts a lot longer than it used to.

It’s the classic Catch-22. My back hurts because of all this extra weight I’ve been carrying around. If I want to lose an appreciable amount of weight, exercise is part of the formula. So, I nurse my back into reasonable shape and start exercising. And then I’m lucky to walk. Can I get an amen?

Well, with the loss so far, my back is beginning to feel better. Not great, but I can honestly say it’s more discomfort than pain, and as long as I can keep it at that level, exercise should be no problem. My problem is learning how to ease into something. As soon as I get back to the gym, I want to do it all. I get frustrated that my strength isn’t what it used to be, and I want that back. NOW.

It’s important to eat exercise. And it’s equally important to listen to your body along the way. A trick I’ve learned over the years is to go in one day, do a quick routine that includes one set of everything, but a little lighter on the weights, and then rest for a couple of days before I go back. That usually helps me avoid the typical first-workout muscle pain. You know, the kind that hits you two days later when you can’t do a thing about it.

From there, I can usually get back into a routine. And I guess I need to pay more attention to exercises I can do while seated, with full back support, instead of standing there swinging weights like Tarzan. Again, we have to listen to our body. What works for one person could destroy another. At this point, I’m even scared of the treadmill. So, I’ll do what I can do and hope for the best.

Weight loss is a problem, and if you’re suffering with it yourself, you’re not alone. Obesity is a national epidemic that’s spread to much of the world. Yet we are among the most mal-nourished people on the planet, thanks to processed food and junk. I’m learning that you can’t achieve sustained weight loss simply through diet or exercise – you have to give it the 1-2 punch.

And moderation is the key to success. Each day try to do just a little better than yesterday. Or maybe each week. Remember those Monday morning resolutions? Don’t try to do it all at once, because your body will revolt and then you’ll be worse off than you were. It’s not a race – it’s a marathon, long and slow. And the goal is simply to cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes. You can do this!

That’s all for now. Be healthy and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Exponential Power of Kindness

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

I’ve been reading a lot on social media about showing others some kindness. It’s heartwarming to read those messages, though it’s sad that our world is in such a shape that we have to remind people to do these things. And the evening news only reinforces that perspective. There sure seems to be a lot of hate floating around.

Back in the day, I used to write humor columns every week. It was an enjoyable task, and it helped me look at life in a little more lighthearted way. There’s always something funny out there. You just have to look at things with a slightly different set of eyes. I once saw a freshly painted sign on the side of the highway that read, “Used cows for sale.” If that didn’t make you grin, we need to talk.

I got into writing humor for one simple reason – to make people smile, maybe even laugh out loud. And I ran into some resistance along the way. “Write something I can use – I don’t have time for silliness!” Well, okay. There are people who feel that way. But there are a lot more who desperately want to laugh and could use a little help.

We all have different needs. Some people need a good laugh. Others need a handshake and a smile. The person on an electric scooter in the grocery store, staring at boxes on the top shelf, could probably use a little help. That downtrodden person on the street needs a smile. A co-worker may need a pat on the back, just to let them know they’re doing a good job.

There’s a scene from my teenage years that continues to haunt me, a time when I was faced with the choice of compassion or hostility and I made the wrong choice. As a result, a younger boy was sent home in tears with the broken remains of a tabletop pinball game he’d bought from the thrift store because I was more concerned about him leaving an empty box in our front yard than helping him out.

Hopefully over the years I’ve made up for that with others, and I pray somebody else showed that boy the kindness that I should have. Think about how it makes you feel when somebody shows you some genuine compassion and humanity. Then think about how it feels when they don’t. It makes a huge difference in your day.

One simple act of kindness can go a long way toward healing what’s wrong in our world. And, to be sure, there are people who simply don’t care. Anything you do for them is received in a spirit of entitlement instead of gratitude. We can’t change people like that. But, thankfully, they’re in a class of their own, far removed from the rest of humankind. The majority of people accept kindness graciously.

When we do something kind for somebody else, even just a heartfelt gesture, it instantly changes their outlook. That change may only last a moment, but what if the person behind you does the same thing? And then the person behind them? After a while, it begins to build. And sometimes, it’s that one act of kindness from you that reminds the person behind you to do the same.

Watch people walking into the store at Christmas, brushing past the Salvation Army kettle with their eyes straight forward like they didn’t even realize somebody was there to collect donations. Then watch the people behind them do the same thing. But if just one person drops a couple of dollars in the kettle, the person behind them is that much more likely to do the same.

It’s because we all need a sense of validation. We need to know we count. And just because you’re on top of the world, thriving in your career with a warm and loving family, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to feel needed. And in letting one other person know they’re important, that they count, it validates that person’s need for the kindness you showed. It validates you.

Make time for kindness. Look for those opportunities and share them freely. It doesn’t cost a thing to share a smile or lend a hand, and a couple of dollars is everything to somebody whose pockets are empty. We’re all on this planet together, and any one of us could find ourselves in need of a little help. It all starts from within. We have the power to make it happen. Let’s do this!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Life Hands You Lemons, Squash ‘Em!

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

Yesterday was one of those days that could have gone either way, and it turned out to be another exercise in frustration. It happens, and especially when people with an ulterior motive decide to make sure it happens. But you know what? Today is a brand-new day.

We all have those times when things happen that shouldn’t. People get sick, people die, jobs are lost, homes are lost, friends are lost, or any of a hundred other things that leave you feeling completely hopeless. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, so all you can do is wake up the next day and move forward.

My mom always used to say that, once you hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up. There’s some truth to that. And even at the worst point yesterday I was far from rock bottom. But after a few hours of sulking and just trying to make sense of the day’s events, we had dinner, exchanged some laughs, and found a renewed sense of purpose to set things right. It’s a good feeling.

And I guess a big part of the reason we were able to turn things around so quickly is because of the type of things I write about in these posts – dreams, visions of success, positivity, and the reality that our destiny is much more in our control than it sometimes appears. It may feel like we’re only along for the ride, but the steering wheel is very much up for grabs. You can take it any time you want.

Happiness and positivity are a frame of mind. We can choose to be happy (generally) or choose to be downtrodden. It’s all in how we view the little things around us each day. Walking outside to cold air and gray clouds isn’t what most of us would call a good start to the day. But we can either moan about it all the way to work or turn up the radio and sing along. It’s a choice we can make.

Much of life is about perspective. You can drive past a dilapidated home on a dirt road with rusted out cars in the yard, people sitting on the porch commiserating about their lot in life, and in the yard you’ll see young children running and playing without a care in the world. They all live in the same reality – they just see it differently.

And part of that is just age. When we’re young, our parents try to shield us from the negative factors in life, especially those we can’t control like money and bills. But there’s nothing sweeter than the smile on a child’s face as they invent new games to play, laughing and singing without a care in the world.

I have little doubt I’ll step outside to less than ideal weather. Somebody in traffic will try to put me in a bad mood, and something at work will go wrong. These things happen. And, to be fair, when enough of them happen all in the same day, it can pretty much wreak havoc on your general mood. But it’s our ability to handle those little things that makes us better able to handle the big ones.

If we allow the little things to get to us, there’s no way we can handle life’s real challenges. Our family suffered a blow yesterday, one that came as the result of somebody else’s misdeeds. It happens. But we were able to quickly shake it off and get back on mission. And I know it’s because we’re generally positive and hopeful.

Positivity, like many other things, is simply a habit. It’s a choice you make at some point that becomes a part of who you are. It kicks in automatically all through the day, and when you need it the most, it’s there to help you face challenges with a clear mind and the knowledge that you can rise above. It’s what makes the difference between happiness and despair.

So, as you go through the day, pay attention to the little things that bother you. Don’t dwell on them, just be aware of their existence. Then find something positive about the situation and focus on that. It only takes a few seconds to change your perspective. Then you can face the challenge with a renewed sense of spirit. Do that often enough, and it becomes a habit.

Buildings are raised a brick at a time, beginning with a strong foundation you can’t even see once it’s been covered. But it’s there, supporting the whole structure when the storm clouds blow in. Build that foundation within yourself – a foundation of positivity – and you’ll find there isn’t much in life you can’t handle. Each day is only as good as you choose to let it be. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Greatest Wisdom Comes From Being Wrong

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

So, did you do anything fun over the weekend? That’s the common question we ask people as we greet them on a Monday. Half the time we just want to get the formalities out of the way so we can brag on our own adventures, and other times we just really want to hear that somebody else’s weekend was better than our own. I’ll take a seat in the second row today. It happens.

It wasn’t a bad weekend. But for all the talk about relaxing and decompressing, I did pretty much the exact opposite. Sometimes we go into these things with the best of intentions, but life has a way of changing our plans. So, you work your way through and move on.

Today will be a big day for our family – one that could turn out very well or send us back to a home that just feels empty. And there’s really not much we can do but speak the truth and hope that, for once, it matters. I’m finding that, in even the best system of justice, egos and personal whims are still very much a factor, and they do influence decisions. And it’s always the children who pay the price.

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to at least enjoy the illusion of being in control. And I guess I should explain that statement. There is, after all, a difference between controlling and being in control. To me, being in control means keeping my thoughts and emotions in check, analyzing each situation, and responding in a way that leads to a positive outcome. It comes from within.

And it’s hard to face a situation where it’s likely I’ll come home with nothing more than the knowledge that I stood for what is right. I’m learning that justice isn’t always about finding the truth, but extracting only those elements of evidence that support preconceived opinions. It’s human nature to seek validation of our own beliefs.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in a similar situation, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It happens to all of us. People form an opinion, usually with only a small piece of the puzzle, and once that opinion is formed, it’s hard to change their mind. And you think, “If only they’d take a minute to look at the whole picture, they’d understand.” Truer words have never been spoken.

So, how do we react when we’re on the other side of that equation, when we’re the one who formed a quick opinion and just can’t seem to let it go? Your kid brings home a friend dressed in gothic attire, looking like a zombie. Your initial assessment may not be entirely positive. But how hard does that kid have to work to convince you they’re not a criminal in the making?

If we’re honest, the answer isn’t always what we’d like to hear. It’s one thing to convince another person they’re wrong, but doing it to yourself requires a personal attack on your own beliefs. That’s not an easy pill to swallow. And, too often, other people are hurt by our own inner reluctance to accepting another possibility.

I read a quote years ago that I’ve repeated many times in my life. “A mind is like a parachute – it only works when it’s open.” I believe those are among the most insightful words ever spoken, and they came from the mind of none other than Frank Zappa. Think of how much better we’d all get through life if we kept that thought in mind more often.

Nobody likes being wrong. And nobody likes being on the receiving end of wrong. As I begin my day, I have three simple prayers. First, that the decision-makers we will face can approach the day with an open mind, mindful of the reality that first impressions don’t always paint a complete picture. Second, that I can do the same, today and every day for the remainder of my life.

And finally, I pray that each of you are able to set aside any pre-conceived opinions that are holding you back, standing in the way of relationships, or blocking out the most important part of a picture you’d be thrilled to behold. If you never let your mind be completely closed, it’s that much easier to keep it open. Take care of your parachute. You never know when your life may depend on it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It

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

It occurred to me as I was getting up this morning that we seem to talk a lot about work and goals and chasing our dreams. But somewhere in the middle of all that, we need to find a little time to just relax. I find it really refreshing on a Monday morning when I ask a co-worker what they did over the weekend and they say, “Not a thing.”

I had to leave work early yesterday to work from home. I very rarely get sick, but something found a side entrance a couple of days ago and made a beeline for my lungs. I guess it’s possible my immune system was weakened from a recent bout with an intestinal virus, but some at work suggested it may be nothing more than stress. That’s entirely possible.

When you burn the candle at both ends long enough, the flames meet in the middle and there’s nothing left to burn. But if you blow out the flame for a while, the wax hardens and turns back into a solid candle, ready to burn some more.

This isn’t my way of complaining about stress. We all face it, and we all deal with it in different ways. I like to think it’s what keeps us on our toes and makes us come up with creative ways to solve a problem. But stress, like snow melting down a hillside into a small stream, has a way of sneaking up on you. Next thing you know, the stream has overflowed and you’re battling a major flood.

That’s why it’s so important to step away sometimes. And it’s not enough to leave work so you can go home and work on something else. It may be a change of pace, and it may even feel relaxing. But you’re still working. And that includes things that we would normally consider recreation. Setting up camp is still work, whether it feels like it or not.

Granted, I know people who can get lost in things like gardening, or quilting, or woodworking. And getting outside with the kids is always fun. But none of those things involves simply sitting back and watching the day go by. They still require concentration, especially when there’s a baseball barreling toward your face. And they also require a certain amount of physical activity.

Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it’s completely relaxing. I love spending the day at a theme park with my grandkids, but there is nothing relaxing about that. I usually do it on a Saturday so I can spend Sunday recuperating. Except there’s grocery shopping to do, and all those chores I didn’t do Saturday. By Monday, I’m ready to go back to work so I can rest. Know the feeling?

I’m not a proponent of being lazy, but I think there are times when we have to just let ourselves shut down for a while. Resting is lying in a hammock under a shade tree. Getting up to flip burgers on the grill is work. Resting is curling up with a good book. Tending to laundry is work. Resting is kicking back on a beach or by the pool. Are you noticing a trend here?

You may not think you have the option to just shut down, but I’m willing to bet you can. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours after the kids go to bed. Better still, send them off to visit friends for a day and spend the day soaking in a warm bath. Next weekend you can take all the kids and let their parents have a weekend off. Sometimes we have to team up.

The important thing is that you find some time to just unwind. Our bodies were designed to work, but they also need rest. And sleep alone isn’t necessarily enough. Sometimes we need a little more. Listen to your body and when it says enough, then back off and give it a break. Whatever you’re not doing today will almost certainly be there tomorrow.

Nobody likes to let things pile up. But if you face every day worn out and beaten down, those chores will seem all the more cumbersome. Give yourself time to rejuvenate, and you may be surprised how easily you can get everything done. And you might find yourself with even more time to relax. I like the way that works!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved