Now More Than Ever, Keep Those Dreams Alive!

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

I keep reading all these posts on Facebook, asking people what’s the first thing you’re going to do when this is all over. Go shopping? Been there. Take a long walk? Done that. Find the biggest cheeseburger on the planet and eat the whole thing in one bite? Got the tee shirt, and now it doesn’t fit. Guess I should’ve waited until after I ate that big meal.

Those posts are an insight into who we are and where we place our values. After six weeks of being cooped up in the house with the rest of the family, the first thing we can think of is getting out and doing something with the family. So, on the one hand, it’s good that family takes such a high priority. But what have we been doing all this time? Playing hide and seek?

Well, if you work from home, the answer is pretty simple. That’s exactly what you’ve been doing. Just about every day in meetings, we hear dogs barking in the background and see cats climbing on a co-worker’s computer. But rarely do we hear any kids. I’m not judging. I just want to know how that works. There’s a reason I hide in the basement all day.

First of all, the kids aren’t allowed down here. So, in a game of hide and seek, I win. Besides, it’s the only place in this house big enough to hide me. The only way I can hide behind a door is to close it, and there’s not a closet in this house that big. Well, I do have one walk-in closet. It’s in the basement. So here we are, right back to square one. Dave lives in the dungeon.

But still, I dream of a time when I can come out of the bat cave and live among the surface dwellers. I’ve had visions of a laptop sitting on the dining table with real sunlight instead of a desk lamp. Okay, and the view through the window is a lot more appealing than what’s out my back door. Think mountains, beaches, rolling meadows. And any time I get bored, we move.

Can you imagine what it’s like to finally fulfill a lifelong dream and then you can’t enjoy it? Okay, maybe not “lifelong” but it’s been a lot of years. March 13, we bought our first motorhome. March 16, the country shut down and everybody was told to stay home. We got one weekend outing before the campgrounds closed. But it sure looks pretty sitting there in storage.

So, for me, the answer is obvious. As soon as this is over, we’re going camping. As of last week, we’ve paid more money to store the RV than in campground fees. And never mind the monthly payment. My goal is simple. I want to reverse those numbers. I want to get one of those cheesy US maps and start putting stickers all over it. I have the mortgage. Now I want the adventure.

In a meeting with some business associates a few nights ago, we were talking about dreams in terms of the things we want. A bigger house, a nicer car, bills paid off, money in the bank. You know, the typical stuff. And it’s important to have those dreams because, why else are we working so hard? You have to have a reason – a “why.” Otherwise, it’s easier to just sleep.

But it’s important to make the distinction between what we want, and why we want it. In all honesty, an RV isn’t exactly luxurious living. It’s small, it’s expensive to run, it takes a lot of upkeep, and everybody knows if you break wind. So, why an RV? Because of the things it’ll allow us to do. You see, the RV isn’t the dream – it’s the means of achieving that dream.

Hopefully you’ve taken a little time over the past couple of months to focus on your own dreams. I know that’s hard to do when life has been turned completely upside-down, but it’s important. When we lose sight of our dreams, we lose our sense of purpose. And without a sense of purpose, it’s hard to focus on anything. After a while, nothing seems to matter.

Keep those dreams in focus. Take a moment to write them down. What will you do when this is all over? Not just that first night out with the family, but beyond that? Where do you want to be in a year? How do you want your life to change? And most importantly, why? The answers to those questions will bring you back to life just when you need it the most.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Easier to Stay Healthy Than to Get Healthy

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

So, yesterday my state announced a list of measures to re-open some businesses and give people the option to go back to work. That’s a welcome sign after all these weeks of sitting around the house. But it comes at a price. Social distancing will be enforced, and protective gear is required. No mask, no service. I’m still trying to figure out how that’ll work in banks.

I remember when getting into a bank meant walking past an armed guard and getting into school didn’t. Times sure have changed. Eight years ago, people were leery of teenagers in a hoodie, and now they have to cover their whole face. Wow! We may have to actually talk to people before we jump to conclusions. What is this world coming to?

Lots of things will change as we move ahead. Sadly, one thing that won’t change is our general approach to health. We’ve gotten so used to just filling the tank and running through life that we forget about preventive maintenance. Besides, that’s for old people and hypochondriacs. When something breaks, you go to the doctor, he gives you pills, and life goes on. Right?

There’s an entire industry devoted to nothing more than changing the oil in your car. And it’s there because people recognize the need. The book says change the oil every 5000 miles, so we change it. Okay, maybe after 7500 miles, but that’s better than nothing. Of course, while you’re there, they try to sell you everything from air filters to air fresheners. It’s all about money.

One time I told the guy I wanted an oil change – nothing more. I was clear about that. First he came back with the dipstick. “Sir, your oil is dirty.” Yep. That’s why I’m here. Then he told me my serpentine belt was worn. Not today. Then he came back with the air filter. I cut him off mid-sentence. “Is that mine?” He nodded. “Then put it back where you found it!”

Yet, when the mechanic points to the owner’s manual and says it’s time to change the transmission fluid or engine coolant, we start to pull back. I can honestly say I’ve never had a car break down because of old coolant or transmission fluid. And I can honestly say I’ve never heard of the brain wearing a hole through the skull. You know, until it happened to me.

Preventive maintenance is simply a practice of fixing things before they break. It’s based on the premise that a complete engine rebuild is costs a few dollars more than a few quarts of oil, or that being sick is more expensive than taking care of your body in the first place. One leaves you walking, and the other leaves you barely able to walk. Both pretty well suck.

For me, preventive maintenance was always a matter of necessity. The cars I could afford pretty much demanded it. A quart of oil leaks out the bottom, I add a quart in the top, and voila! Fresh oil! I wish I was making that up. Smart? No. Not even close. Yet, how many of us do that with our own body? We run and run, and only think about the essentials when the dipstick goes dry.

Right now, people are trying every kind or remedy imaginable, safe or not, to battle this virus. Yet those same people are going through the stores without a mask, reaching over complete strangers to get a can of soup. The hand sanitizer aisle is empty, but the vitamin aisle is fully stocked. You can’t find a box of macaroni, but the produce section is brimming with variety. Do we see a trend?

Which is why I say we won’t learn a lot from this, at least in terms of our overall health. We’re so focused on making the bad things go away that we don’t even consider keeping them away in the first place. We’re so busy trying to fix what’s broken that we don’t take care of what works. And we all know the inevitable result of that. More stuff breaks. Important stuff.

At some point, we all come face to face with the choices we’ve made. Preventive health isn’t something we think about too much until the “check engine” light comes on. And, while nothing we know of today will prevent any of us from getting this virus, we do know that it’s a whole lot easier to overcome if we’re in good health to begin with.

Hopefully we’ll come away from this with a more vibrant zest for living, a stronger love for family & friends, and a greater appreciation for life’s many blessings. Part of that appreciation is taking care of what we’ve already got. Don’t wait for the “check engine” light to come on. Take care of yourself before something goes wrong. You’re worth whatever it takes.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Day Is It Again???

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

So far, through all this hunkering down and sheltering in place, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping track of which day it is. Monday through Saturday, that is. But somehow, Sundays have become a bit of an aberration. Sunday feels like it should be Saturday. Probably because I went into the weekend with a list of things to do and didn’t get started until Sunday afternoon.

My sister was a bit shocked to find out I get dressed for work every day. Yes, I work in my basement. Yes, video meetings are pretty much a headshot. I could be sitting here in my underwear with a regular shirt and nobody would know the difference. But invariably, I’d forget and step outside to check the mail. The neighbors have asked me not to do that anymore.

I’ve read things where they say you perform better if you comb your hair and dress the part. I’m no expert, but they did always appreciate pants when I was going to the office. I even wore a tie for about six months because my manager said it made me look professional and I was bucking for a promotion and … you know.

When it comes to clothing, people always have an opinion. “Dress for success!” “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” And my personal favorite: “Everyone looks good in a suit – even losers.”

I don’t mind dressing up. I’ve always believed that style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. And that’s good, because when some people speak, their clothes just vanish. Not from sight, but from prominence. It doesn’t matter how well-dressed you are if you’re a jerk.

But I think how we’re dressed does affect how we feel, and how we feel has some bearing on how we act. Put on a tie in the morning and you automatically feel like today is an important day, and you’ll be an important part of it. And people treat you better because of it. Put on a crumpled tee shirt and all of a sudden people are asking you to take out the trash.

Whether you’re working from home or waiting for the chance to go back to work, there’s something to be said for going through your morning routine and coming out on the other end looking presentable. It’s not about appearance as much as a sense of normality. It’s about reminding yourself that you’re worthy. It’s about being able to answer the door without putting on a robe.

I saw a welcome mat the other day that I would love to buy. It said, “Be patient – we’re probably not wearing pants.” Bet that’d send a few people away in a hurry. Like coughing in the grocery store. Some people need a reminder about this whole six-foot separation thing, and that one pretty well does the trick.

But to the extent that we can maintain some sense of normalcy right now, we’re that much better suited to come out smiling on the other end. And part of that means passing up the Ramen noodles for something a little more healthy. It’s especially important right now that we take care of our health … both physical and emotional. This is no time to get sick.

Home is a place where we should all be able to feel comfortable. But when home our place of work, the rules change just a little. And even if you’re not working right now, don’t fall victim to the habits of the terminally unemployed. The first two weeks are a vacation. After that, we need to at least pretend things are getting back to normal.

Habits are easy to form and hard to break. Sleeping late is nice for a day or two, but after a while it starts to wear you down. I love shorts and flip-flops, but they’ve never really made me feel like I was about to do something important. And I love a good cheeseburger as much as anybody, but when this is all over, I have to be able to actually fit into those work clothes again.

Go through the motions, whether anybody will notice or not. Get up and get dressed. Eat healthy. Keep your mind active. Keep the kids active. Set a routine and stick to it. Take your vitamins. Get some fresh air. Build your immunity. Everything in life may have changed, but the most important part hasn’t – you.

The first step in getting back to normal is simply acting normal. It may not make this all go away, but it’ll sure have a positive impact in how we get through it. And it’ll have a huge impact in how we move forward once it’s all over.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stop Waiting For the Right Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Your Enjoyment Factor?

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

One of these days, just to see who’s paying attention, I’m going to start my post with something a little less upbeat. Not really. I like wishing you all a good day. Besides, that would be just one more thing I’d have to dream up before I finish my first cup of coffee. I’m not that good.

One day, about a year ago, my grandson called and said, “Hi ‘good morning’ man!” I was touched. Not that he read my posts, but that he actually reads. Oh, he went through a phase with the Wimpy Kid series, but aside from that, getting him to read was like getting him to clean his room. I tried reading Huckleberry Finn with him. He just never got into it.

He was always more into sports. And he was always better at that than I was. Especially basketball. I didn’t mind the shooting hoops part of it, but you had to do a lot of running first. And then again. And again, and again, and again. That was just never my thing. I guess that’s why I liked baseball. The only time you had to run is if you actually hit the ball. I didn’t.

To me, there was always a fascination with drifting down the river on a wooden raft. I had two uncles and a cousin who were tugboat captains. They spent their days gazing across a couple-dozen barges as they inched up the Mississippi River. And all they had to do was bump the rudder, blow the horn, and crank up the throttles. That’s my kind of job.

I was always more into adventure. I spent seven years in the Boy Scouts and loved every minute of it. Waking up in the morning to the smell of bacon, paddling a canoe down the creek to the sounds of nature, going to sleep with a pair of red eyes ten feet offshore … okay, some parts were a little more adventure-filled than others. But those were the best days of my life.

I guess that’s why I miss my time in the Navy. Not all of it. For the first four years, my job was Aviation Buffer’s Mate. I spent my days cleaning toilets and swabbing decks. But after I put on a couple of stripes, that part faded. And I have to be honest – I loved being at sea. I didn’t like the family separation and the food pretty well sucked. But I loved being underway.

My brother was a submariner. We had names for those guys, but I can’t really share them here. That’s okay, they had names for us as well. I remember a bubblehead telling me once that the Navy only had two kinds of ships – submarines, and targets. I guess he had a point. But I just couldn’t go underwater in a tin can with a bunch of other men and stay there for three months.

We all have our passions. And there are things we all do a little better than others. Hopefully, we spend our days doing something that fits into both of those categories. I love my job. There are times when I’d rather not face it, but overall, I love what I do.

A job should be more than just a paycheck. Granted, it would be hard to feel a burst of creative energy as you raise a dumpster over your head and empty it into the compactor behind you, but there should at least be some form of enjoyment in what we do. After all, you’ll be doing it a long time. And if you’re lucky, you get to quit when you’re too old to enjoy much of anything.

Work is a necessary part of life. Hopefully you enjoy what you do, but for far too many people that’s not the way it is. Still, unless your uniform has an inmate number, you probably have at least a few options. Those options may involve going back to school, learning new skills, or even moving to a new location. Only you can decide if the changes are worth the cost.

Beyond that, we can all try a little harder to balance our time with something we really do enjoy. Gardening doesn’t pay much for most people, but it sure does a lot to ease stress. I write. I don’t get paid to do it, but it’s something I enjoy. What’s your passion?

Work/life balance is all about averaging the enjoyable with the not-so-enjoyable. Find something you can enjoy, even if it’s just for an hour a day. That hour can make all the difference in the world for your sanity. Then carve out one more hour – an hour for you and your dreams. Work toward something you really want. You might just amaze yourself.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Past Is Gone, But The Future Begins Today

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

A couple of days ago, oil was trading at -$37.63 per barrel. Read that again. Did you see the minus sign? That means below zero. If you were somehow able to get your arms around a barrel of oil at the right moment this past Monday, somebody would have paid you nearly $40 to take it. I’m not even sure how that works, but I’d like to give it a try.

In eighth-grade we were learning about the stock market. The teacher gave us all $50 to invest (fake money, naturally) so we could do a six-week test of our investment savvy. Most of the class invested in several different things – you know, in case one failed. And most of them lost. Apparently, an affinity for candy necklaces doesn’t always translate into stock gains.

But that was back in 1971 and Walt Disney World had just opened. At the time, their stock was just under $1 per share, so my buddy and I put our money together and bought 100 shares. By the end of the six weeks, the stock was up 40% and we won the challenge. And the teacher still hasn’t paid up.

Earlier this year, Disney stock was trading at a little over $140. So, an investment in 1971 would be worth at least 140 times its initial value today. In 1986, Microsoft stock was selling for just over 10 cents per share, and last year it topped out at $190. Imagine waking up today and finding 1000 shares of Microsoft under your pillow. Where’s that tooth fairy?

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Had we known way back then what a $100 investment might been worth, I’m sure most of us would have taken the plunge. On the other hand, I’d have probably invested it all in 8-track players. That was a hot commodity back then. So were slide rules. You know, until Texas Instruments came along.

Right now, I’d bet a lot of us are wishing we’d made some different decisions a few years, or even a few months ago. Those decisions may have been health-related, financial, career-oriented, or even just how much time we spent with family. And like it or not, the piper always gets paid.

I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to believe life will somehow go back to the way it was. Those days are gone. All around us, the world is changing. Retail stores are no longer spending their money on cash registers. They’re spending it on robots. The drive-thru at our local pharmacy just put in a new carrier system that’s twice as fast as the old one. It’s about time.

Things we never thought we’d see have come to pass. I remember a time when people said, “If gas ever hits a dollar a gallon, I’ll walk!” Those same people said we’d never see personal computers in every home, nobody wants to carry around a phone all day, and we’ll never let somebody else pick out our meat and produce for us. Famous last words.

We like to think the secret to capitalizing on a trend is to get in on the action before everybody else does. I’d love to own a souvenir shop on the beach. But apparently a few other people had the same idea. You know, like eighty years ago. That’s not to say a new store couldn’t survive. We went to Gatlinburg a few years ago, and there’s a pancake house on every corner. Literally.

Which only means that what was a good idea 50 years ago may still be a good idea today. All too often, we look right past the obvious solutions because they’ve been around so long. Sooner or later, they’ll have to collapse. Right? Well, those pancake houses probably aren’t doing so well today. But home-based businesses are stronger than ever. We’re home anyway.

It’s easy to pass on opportunities that are outside the mainstream. It’s even easier when we know somebody who already tried and failed, or our neighbor’s cousin had a friend whose brother couldn’t make it work. Well, guess what? Businesses fail. It happens every day. And every day, new businesses in those same industries succeed.

So, here’s the real question. Are you where you want to be today? Can you survive another six months in your current situation? What if it happens again this winter? If the decisions you’ve made haven’t put you where you want to be, maybe it’s time for a change.

The opportunities are there. And right now, most of us have time to do something about it. I’d be happy to share some ideas if you’re up to it. There are dozens of things you could be doing. Some may work, and others may not. But just sitting there isn’t really an option. A year from now, you’ll be looking back on the decisions you made today. Make them count!

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Persistence – The Art of Winning By Wearing Down the Gods

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

Have you ever tried a dozen different ways to accomplish something and then finally realized the gods are just working against you? Take weight loss, for instance. That seems to be the topic of the day. Everybody is complaining about eating too much and not being able to get out and work it off. Not that I was working anything off before, but at least now I have an excuse. Right?

I think I’ve tried just about everything short of surgery and diet pills. And believe me, in 24 years of fighting this beast, that covers a lot of ground. It seems every year, there’s some new miracle diet or food item that just magically melts away the pounds. I guess it goes without saying that most of the studies behind those claims are paid for by the people trying to sell those foods.

With few exceptions, I’ve tried it all. First there was the one that said eat cereal three times a day. Okay, I never really tried that one. Once the little marshmallows are gone, the rest is just soggy oats. I did try the Atkins diet, and lost a few pounds. But I knew I was in over my head the day I looked at a piece of communion bread and thought, “How many carbs are in that?”

Then there was the one that said don’t just eat three meals – eat all day. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what it said, but that was the message I got from it. I gained ten pounds and my A1C went up six points. Then there was the three-day cleanse. I lost a few pounds but three days later the weight was back and we were out of toilet paper. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take right now.

I even tried some supplements. I mean, come on … all it takes is concentrated grapefruit to melt away the pounds? I can do that! After all, it’s just like eating M&Ms. I’m pretty sure that’s what got me this way to begin with. Then I read the fine print on those bottles. You know, the part that comes after the asterisk. “When combined with proper diet and exercise.”

Are you kidding me? Even I’m not stupid enough to fall for that. ANYTHING can make you lose weight with proper diet and exercise, including diesel fuel. In fact, that one may help you take it off even faster. I’m not sure the doctor would approve, but so far his advice hasn’t done much for the cause.

“It’s simple Dave … just lose one pound a week.” Right. It’s simple Doc. Just grow one new brain cell a week. Then go stand on a scale, because that plan sure as hell isn’t working for you. And why is it that the doctor’s scale is always calibrated eight pounds heavier than mine? Care to guess why my blood pressure was so high? Try checking it first, and THEN put me on the scale.

Okay, I’m having a little bit of fun with this, but the truth is, there’s nothing really fun about being overweight. I had to get down on the ground to open a water valve on the RV and I almost didn’t get back up. I’m pretty sure the neighbors thought I was drunk, because I fell three times. And the only thing that can make me run is an ice cream truck. Then I’m faster than the kids.

We all have something about ourselves that we’d like to change. It’s not enough to know we should change, or even that we have to. We have to want to, more than we want whatever it is that’s holding us back. I have a full assortment of meal replacements that would help me lose weight. They taste good and don’t leave me hungry. The problem is, I like cheeseburgers. A lot.

It all comes down to one simple fact. Nothing changes until we change. Whether it’s weight, physical fitness, learning a new skill, improving our financial status, or just about anything else, we have to take the first step. That’s the easy part. What’s hard is doing it again and again and again until we finally reach our goal, no matter how long it takes.

Nobody likes to swing and miss. It’s even harder when you do it over and over and over. But unlike baseball, you can keep swinging until you get on base. Sure, a home run would be nice, but a single still puts you in position to score. And once you cross home plate, it doesn’t matter how long it took to get there. The scoreboard still reads the same.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved