Don’t Let Cabin Fever Get The Best Of You

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

As many of you adjust to staying home all day for the first time in years, I’ve become somewhat of an expert. It wasn’t by choice, but life has a way of throwing a knuckleball when you’re looking for an inside pitch. Regardless, I’ve survived and, equally important, so has my wife. We’re even still talking. To each other. Amazing!

Over the years, I’ve worked a lot of contract positions. That arrangement is both good and bad. The good is that the pay is generally a little higher, and you’re constantly exposed to new technologies and ways of doing things. The bad is that you’re constantly exposed to new ways of doing things – like looking for work. And time off means time without pay. Even holidays.

Another downside of contracting is that, the faster you get the job done, the sooner you’re out of work. That’s just the nature of the beast. Hopefully, if you’ve done your job well, the company will find more work for you – if there’s more work to be done. That isn’t always the case, so sooner or later, you find yourself “on the beach.” It sounds better than “unemployed.”

I’ve discovered that one of the secrets to survival is having something productive to occupy your time. You can only watch so much TV before your brain starts to soften, and right now when most outside activities are limited or shut down entirely, that becomes even more important. Divorce attorneys are already cancelling their summer vacations.

On the other hand, some experts are anticipating a baby boom this December. When I was in the Navy, nobody in the base hospital was allowed to go on leave nine months after a carrier group returned from an extended deployment. We’ll just leave that one right there.

I’ve kept myself busy with different things over the years. Between freelance writing, stand-up comedy, and a side business, I never had to sit around too long. Right now I’m working for a military contractor on the side. If you’ve ever taken the ASVAB (military’s vocational aptitude test) and wondered who wrote all those stupid questions, that would be me (takes a bow).

I’ve also been working on the book I planned to finish in 1998, and six more I started since then. Yes, I’m good at starting projects, but a little weak when it comes to completing them. Right now my business mentors are nodding in agreement. When I focus on something completely, I do it very well. But I’m the guy who once had a full display of half-assembled plastic models.

The point is, find something to do. Anything. It’s good to be productive, but it’s also important to blend in a little recreation. Take a walk. Play a game. Go out for a picnic. Take the kids to the park. The longer you sit inside a closed-up house, the more you ingest every single germ in the place. And some of those germs wear on your patience as much as your physical health.

If you’re working from home, you’ve already got something to take up your time. Now the challenge is to find something to take up everybody else’s time. Because, no matter how much you stress that you’re “at work,” it’s hard for others to overlook the fact that you’re right there in the kitchen next to a refrigerator full of uncooked food. And they’re hungry. Now.

The thing is, kids are no different than the rest of us. Their routine has been interrupted as well. It may be a few weeks before they miss going to school, but boredom doesn’t take nearly that long to find a home. Unless they have something constructive to occupy their time, their brain will soften as well. And they may need your help finding that something to fill their day.

Human beings were designed to produce, and when we’re not producing, we begin to fade. It wears on our sense of dignity and purpose and leaves us feeling inadequate. Recreation can fill that void for a time, but at some point, you need to have that feeling of making a contribution.

So, find something to do with your time. Work from home if you can. Clean up around the house. Make a special meal. Volunteer. Write a book. Check in on an elderly neighbor. Plant some flowers. Call an old friend. Start a business. Read to the kids. Read to yourself. Do some crosswords. There are literally dozens of things you can do besides gazing out the front window.

When you stop using your muscles, they wither away. The same thing happens to your brain. Filling your time isn’t enough – you have to fill it with something worthwhile. Dreams can fill that void as well. Find one that you’ve been putting off and start working toward it. You may have to go back to work before you reach that goal, but think how much closer you’ll be.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams May Wait, But Time Isn’t Quite So Patient

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

Forty years ago, a friend told me about the magic refrigerator. Apparently, I thought he said the magic inside the refrigerator, because I found my way inside and never really came out. And I have the belly to show for it. Turns out, it’s not really magic. It’s first-grade arithmetic. Take in more than you put out, and the total just keeps getting higher.

But my friend wasn’t referring to the refrigerator’s contents. He was talking about something much more intriguing. He said, “Find a picture of the car you really want and put it on your refrigerator. Every day, you’ll look at that picture several times and it’ll remind you what you’re working for. Do that, and someday that car will magically appear in your driveway.”

That’s great if you have a driveway. Back then, I had a parking space. Not even an assigned parking space – just the privilege of finding one before anybody else got there. All for one low monthly payment. Right. My rent at the time consumed almost half what I got paid each month. For that, I should have had a heated garage.

But the concept of the magic refrigerator is pretty simple. Find a picture of something you want and put it where you’ll see it several times a day. I’ve mentioned this before. It sparks the imagination. It builds excitement. It’s a constant reminder that there are things in life worth working for. Besides, it makes other people question your sanity. That’s always a plus.

Well, I’ve reached the big time and I now have a driveway. Single-wide, and just big enough for one car. But it’s mine. If anybody else parks there, I can have them towed away at their expense. Problem is my refrigerator has aluminum doors. Magnets don’t stick, and my wife has dared me to use tape on it. So the “magic refrigerator” looks a lot more like the back of my desk.

For ten years, I’ve had a picture of a motorhome on my desk with the words, “If not now, when?” It was my daily reminder that this is our dream. Every day, I’ve taken small steps to make that happen. Saving money, extra work on the side, and building my credit score. And granted, I haven’t done nearly as much as I could have. Hence the dust on that ten-year-old picture.

Well, I can take that picture down, because as of Friday, the dream became a reality. We are now the proud owners of a brand new 38-foot motor home (and a whole bunch of monthly payments). Only problem is, it won’t fit in my driveway. In fact, it won’t fit in front of the house. Guess what’s gonna be next on the magic refrigerator? If you think it’s a bigger house, try again.

I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. South Florida is a boater’s paradise, but as you drive along Las Olas Boulevard, what’s docked behind those mansions can’t really be called boats. These are some of the most magnificent luxury yachts ever built. And every day going to work, I saw the same yachts – sitting in the same place every day. Maybe they couldn’t afford the motors.

We didn’t buy an RV to park in front of the house and show it off. What’s going on my magic refrigerator next will be destinations – campgrounds, national parks, beaches, canyons, and a US map with 49 stickers (they haven’t built a bridge to Hawaii yet). We plan to use this thing. And all the extra effort I put in from this day forward will be in pursuit of that dream.

You see, the RV was a dream. But it’s not THE dream – it’s just a tool that will allow us to satisfy the bigger dream of seeing this country though an ever-moving picture window. And believe me, that window is huge. On the trip home it collected a dozen bugs that weren’t smart enough to move out of the way. Care to guess who owns that window?

Yes, dreams do come true. We didn’t do this exactly the way I’d planned, and I can think of a dozen reasons we might have waited. But life moves on whether you’re ready or not. Sooner or later, you have to decide if the dream is important enough to make it happen. And if so, there’s no better time to get started.

It may take ten years for your dream to come true, but as you sit there thinking about it, the finish line isn’t getting any closer. Figure out what needs to be done and get started today. The sooner you make it happen, the longer you’ll have to enjoy it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Inner Youth Is Only A Dream Away

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

If you’re ever feeling old, spend a little time around some little ones. I guarantee you’ll feel that much older by the time they leave. Don’t get me wrong. I love the sound of laughter and the little songs they sing. And only a child can look at a dirty sock and see a microphone. Everything becomes a microphone. And their lungs are magically transformed into an amplifier.

On the other hand, if you ever want to feel young again, spend some time around little ones. Laughter is contagious. So are runny noses, but they’re worth the joy that comes from just one of those little hugs. And if you play along with some of their games, you’ll find yourself singing silly songs a little off-key just to make them laugh a little louder. For me, that comes naturally.

In a meeting with some business associates last night, we were talking about how our dreams change with age. When we’re young, we can envision a life filled with things only rock stars and politicians can afford. And there’s little doubt in our mind we can enjoy that life. All it takes is hard work and saving $20 every week. That’s what Dad told us. Dads do that sometimes.

Well, as it turns out, Dad forgot to mention the lottery. Because, for most of us, that’s what it would take to live the life of our dreams. Thankfully, as we age, our expectations start to fall more in line with reality. My first home was supposed to be a mansion, but it turned out to be a double-wide. You know, two trailers connected at the hip, and all that that implies.

Also, the longer we live without those creature comforts we just had to have, the more we realize they’re just fluff. I have two cars. One is new and one … isn’t. If I totaled it tomorrow, the insurance check would almost buy a loaf of bread. But you know what? It runs, and it gets me where I need to go just as fast as the new one. And if it’s raining, I can even clean the windshield.

Then there’s the fact that, the older we get, the more we think about others ahead of ourselves. If you think kids are expensive, wait until you have grandkids. Fancy things just aren’t as important when the little ones need a new iPad. Okay, I’ve never bought any of my grandkids an iPad. We go with the Walmart brand. They don’t know the difference.

But the point is, things just aren’t as important as we age. Still, that doesn’t mean we stop dreaming, nor should we. Dreams are what get us out of bed in the morning and drive us to go that extra mile. Okay, work gets us out of bed, but you get the picture. Everything we do in life is designed to achieve some goal. The trick is to make sure the goal is worth working for.

I remember driving to my grandmother’s house, down dirt roads past tin-roof shacks with no indoor plumbing, and seeing people sitting on the porch next to the washing machine. They didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It’s a simple life. And even those people have dreams. They may not be the same as ours, but they’re still just as important.

We never really lose the ability to dream. But as we get older, it takes a little more effort. You can’t do it in the middle of the workday, or as you try to tend to family matters after work. You need a little quiet time, and maybe even some visual aids. Settle down, ladies – I’m talking about pictures of the life we want to enjoy. Beaches, mountains, even snow if that’s your thing.

There’s nothing selfish about wanting things for yourself, especially if those things can be shared with those you care most about. And it’s those dreams that will energize you to work a little harder, persist a little longer, and keep a sparkle in your eye long after others your age have given up. Want to know the secret to a happy life? You already know. Just do it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stop Beating Yourself Up – Just Keep Moving

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

If you missed yesterday’s post, you’re not alone. I did, too. It was just one of those days. I had the best of intentions, and even started to write. But you know what they say about good intentions. I believe they’re used to pave a certain road.

Okay, but I have an excuse. Ever heard that one before? We always have an excuse. Wednesday was a busy day and I had a hard time getting to sleep. That’s an excuse, right? I mean, you need to be reasonably awake to create literary masterpieces with just the right blend of humor and inspiration. If you ever read anything like that, give me a yell. I’d love to learn how.

But Wednesday, after two months of unemployment, I had a job interview. It was my fourth or fifth interview during that time, but this one just felt really good. Okay, some of the others did, too. They do that on purpose, just to get your hopes up. “Dave, that’s exactly the answer I was hoping to hear.” Yeah, I know. And that’s exactly the answer I was hoping to hear. Next!

But this one just felt right. It was with my previous employer – you know, the one that told me I did such a good job they didn’t need me anymore. It’s in a different department, newly formed just for me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And they even staffed the department with a bunch of my old friends to make it feel like home. It does. Sometimes, old shoes just fit better.

So, as I sat here yesterday morning trying to write, I kept looking at my email and phone to see if I had any new messages. I got an extra cup of coffee, checked the news, looked at some RV sites, and took my granddaughters to school. Sound familiar? Finally, just before noon, I got the call I’d been waiting for. Time to dust off the old lunchbox and start getting dressed again.

That said, I can honestly tell you I spent the day agonizing over the fact that I never wrote my morning post. Sure, with over 500 previous posts in my archive, I could have pulled out something from the past and posted it instead. Odds are, very few would have noticed.

But I would. When I started this thing, I made up my mind I’d put forth my best effort every day. I’ll admit, some days that’s more apparent than others. If I had a list of writing prompts to work from, it might be easier to think of a new topic each day. But most of this is simply stream of consciousness, with the hope of giving you a touch of amusement and inspiration.

That’s the way it is with a lot of things we do. We have a goal – an overriding objective we’d like to achieve. Sometimes that goal is imposed upon us by other people, and sometimes we dream it all up on our own. But Mom always said if you’re going to do anything, take the time to do it right. The bosses always appreciated Mom. I’m betting their mom said the same thing.

When it comes to the job, we always put forth the effort. It’s pretty simple. Do the job or find someplace else to spend your day. Motivation isn’t really an issue, because somebody else does that part for us. But when it comes to our personal goals, we can’t depend on somebody else to crack the whip. We need to do it ourselves. And that’s easier said than done.

Don’t get me wrong. We usually have little trouble beating ourselves up. But history has proven that beating people up isn’t the best way to motivate them. And we all know, criticism can be especially painful when it comes from somebody we like. Hopefully you like yourself at least a little. You know, enough to care when that person in the mirror starts beating you up.

You learned to walk by falling down. You learned to ride a bicycle by falling down. You learned to talk nicely to your mom by … well … stop, drop, and roll. It works for fires, too. But you get the message. Falling down is just a part of life. What’s important is that you get back up and try again.

Life will get in the way, and sometimes we have to put things off for a day. But that was yesterday, and this is today. It’s what you do with today that counts. Try not to repeat mistakes of the past, but put them behind you and move on. Your goal is still out there waiting. And the sooner you dust yourself off and take that next step, the sooner you’ll get there.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Beating Fear Is Easy – Just Find Something That Scares You More

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

Two nights ago, we had some pretty intense storms. Nothing like they had in Tennessee, but apparently enough to raise some fears locally. By “locally” I mean here … in this house. I wouldn’t know. Other than a clap of thunder that made me roll over and adjust my CPAP mask, I slept through it. Once I’m asleep, it takes a lot to get my attention.

It was just under a year ago that I was awakened from a deep sleep by loud voices and lights in the hallway. Obviously, something was seriously wrong. I remember thinking, “What has that cat done now?” Anybody who lives with a cat can fully understand that assumption. Then, I heard my daughter clearly say, “Multiple tornadoes on the ground!” Okay, that’s my cue.

To say we live in an area where tornadoes command attention is an understatement. My house was built in 1974. If you stand on the roof and look as far as the eye can see, it was all built in 1974. Or, rather, I should say re-built. There was a perfectly good neighborhood here before then. But in a matter of minutes, it was leveled. So yes, when the sirens go off, we respond.

Apparently, that’s what it takes to wake me up. Not the sirens. I sleep with my hearing aids on the dresser. You could put a siren on the front porch, and I wouldn’t hear it. It was pretty much the same when I was in the Navy. An onboard fire alert meant waking up just enough to see where the fire was. Unless it was under my bunk, I went right back to sleep.

General quarters, on the other hand, was something we couldn’t quite ignore. I’ll never forget the first time I woke up to those dreaded words, “This is NOT a drill!” I haven’t moved that fast since the time my sister walked in while my wife and I were … well, never mind. At least that time I put on the right pair of pants.

Things that alarm one person barely get another person’s attention. And things that get one person’s attention go completely unnoticed by others. Let my granddaughter see a moth, and it’s a full-blown panic. This is the same kid who got her picture taken at the circus with a six-foot snake around her neck. Let me see a snake and it’s a full-blown panic. Priorities. We all have ‘em.

Fear of anything, no matter what, is fear. It’s real. It may be overblown, and it may be unfounded. But to the person feeling it, fear is very real. And, make no mistake. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy fear of tornadoes. Fear of flying insects, on the other hand, can be a little amusing. And fear of snakes just means you have at least two functioning brain cells.

It’s said that the easiest way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. Okay, I’ve faced snakes and I screamed like a little girl. I have little doubt I’d do the same today. Facing down your fears takes desire and commitment, and when it comes to snakes, those two are not part of the equation. Still, I can at least admit my fear is a little silly. Apparently, so can my granddaughter.

Fear can be a healthy thing and, to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with the life you want to live, it doesn’t really hurt a thing. But all too often, all that stands between you and your dreams is fear … fear of risk, fear of the unknown, fear of people, fear of failure, maybe even fear of success. Yes, that last one is real. Much more real than we’d care to admit.

Because success, no matter how we’ve visualized it, means stepping into the unknown. It means living a life that’s different than what you’ve known until now. That change may be subtle or drastic, and you may never know until you get there. So, the real question is, are you ready to face the change, or would you rather just keep doing what you’ve always done?

Sometimes, it takes a five-alarm wakeup call to get us moving. I’m willing to bet thousands of people in Tennessee ran into their basement Monday night without even checking for spiders because something else brought out an even greater fear. It’s in those moments that we completely set aside previous fears for a more important objective.

What’s holding you back from your dreams? Fear of people? Fear of opinions? Fear of trying something new? Well, then find something you fear more – like never reaching your goals or living your dreams. Let that be the wakeup call that drives you past your other fears. More often than not, your fears can be overcome. You just have to decide which ones are most important.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Don’t Have To Be Great – Just Good Enough

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

Last night I gave a presentation to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. I like talking. If you knew me well, you’d already know that. And I like talking about dreams, motivation, and success. You know what they say. Those who can, have – those who haven’t, teach. Well, something like that. In other words, fake it till you make it. I’ve done that several times in my life.

I remember when I first took a job as a technical writer. I’d been a writer in my previous job, but I wasn’t hired in that role. I just convinced the right people I could do it, so they sat me in front of a computer. It was that or let me keep working on the shop floor, and by then I’d shared all my secrets with younger technicians who didn’t cost as much. I never said I was smart.

When I started my new job, I was excited. I remember telling my wife that my career title had forever changed. No longer was I the technician who could also write – I was a professional writer! Two weeks later, when I realized they’d hired me to write software documentation, my excitement at a new job title turned to panic that they’d soon figure out I was just faking it.

A couple of months later, my manager called me into her office. I remember thinking, “Here it comes.” I looked around at my desk to see if I had more than one box-full of personal effects and made a mental note of who all would be there to witness my inevitable walk of shame.

As I sat down, my manager asked me to close the door. Not a good sign. Then she said, “I don’t want any of the other folks to hear this, but every project manager has been asking for you to be assigned to their team. They said you’re the best technical writer they’ve ever seen!” I remember thinking, “Who the hell have they been working with???” I still wonder.

For each of us, there comes a point where we realize we’re better than we thought. Maybe at one thing, maybe at several things. Turns out I’m pretty good at putting away cheeseburgers & fries, too. You play the hand you’re dealt. A friend, who at the time was a novice newspaper columnist, once asked me, “Do you ever feel like we’re just faking it?” Yes. All the time.

It’s one thing if you can hang a diploma on the wall and add a few random letters after your name. That’s a qualification. It means you’ve earned the right to do whatever it is you do. You’re a trained expert. So what? Nobody taught Eric Clapton to play a guitar and he doesn’t have a single diploma hanging on his wall. Just a bunch of gold records. What a phony!

As a writer, it’s pretty simple. If you can write something people want to read, you’re qualified. The same is true of comedians, musicians, speakers, and just about everything except surgeons and airline pilots. I pretty much insist on seeing their credentials. But a diploma doesn’t make you good at something, and if you’re good enough, a diploma doesn’t matter. It’s just a formality.

Now, if you read that as “forget the education and just go fake it,” you missed my point. What I’m saying is that we all have some natural talents that, with a little development, can put us on top of our game. Whether that’s in creative pursuits, or business, or almost anything, your success is based more on desire and confidence than any amount of formal education.

There are things in this world that require the formalities and certifications, and for good reason. But there are many, many more that don’t. If you have a genuine desire to excel and a bare minimum of natural talent, there’s not much you can’t do.

I’ll never be a great singer. My choir director will back me up on that. But there are lots of other things I can do as well as anybody else, and so can you. Don’t let the lack of credentials or experience stop you from pursuing your goals. For every successful endeavor, somebody with no experience did it first. Everybody else is just imitating their success. Why not you?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Next Year – It’s The Day That Never Comes

Good morning! I hope your day (and your month) is starting off just right.

Yes, it’s a new month. Officially, this marks the end of mourning for all those New Years resolutions we buried earlier in the year. We can finally set aside our feelings of guilt and get on with life. You know, pretty much the way it was last year. Only now, we have a head-start on next year’s resolutions. “This time I really mean it!”

Do these things accumulate? Because my pile of unfulfilled resolutions is getting pretty big. You know, if “big” can really be used to describe a mountain. Except I think a mountain is easier to climb. Resolutions are about as firm as marshmallows. At some point, you’d just fall in. Then you’d have a new resolution. “Next year, I’m climbing out of this mess!” Meanwhile, you smother.

A resolution is a promise we make to ourselves. It’s a vision of self-improvement and a brighter future in which we live life to its fullest because we’re too awesome to do anything else. Okay, maybe it’s nothing more than smaller clothing and some admiring eyes on the beach. Right. The only way I’ll get admiration on the beach is by cruising past in a million-dollar speed boat.

Personally, I see two problems with resolutions. First, we seem to think that by simply flipping a page on the calendar, we can undo years of undesired habits and form completely new ones. Kinda like my algebra teacher pointing at Sheldon Cooper’s chalkboard and saying, “Look again! It’s so simple!!!” Okay, it’s like my dog mastering the concept of Daylight Savings Time. Better?

Change is never simple. It takes effort. It takes commitment. And it takes bribery. There has to be a reward. Whether that’s a new bathing suit, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a weekend vacation, or getting the bill collectors off your butt, the payoff has to be worth the effort. Change itself isn’t a goal – it’s just another job that you can’t pawn off on somebody else.

The other problem with resolutions is they create this mindset that we can only make positive changes at some predetermined date on the calendar. Let’s face it, halfway through a night of cramming for a final exam, you’re faced with the reality that you should have started studying weeks ago like all the other bookworms. What right do you have to pass this test now?

Ridiculous? Don’t be so sure. There is a lot more truth in those words than we’d like to believe. Because we’ve been taught from birth that hard work and sacrifice are the only ways to attain any level of success. And if we haven’t worked hard and sacrificed to this point, we feel unworthy of success. It has to be in the past, not in the future. Or, so we think.

And because we haven’t done it in the past, we wait for the next window of opportunity, a time when we can start making the changes necessary to achieve the things we desire. You know, like next year. Next year is always a good time. Especially since it never comes, because once it gets here, it’s not “next year” anymore. That’s still 12 months away.

Well, if a calendar is what it takes to get you started, it’s here. Today is a new day. It’s the start of a new week, and the start of a new month. Whatever changes you initiate today will be a month old by the first of April and ten months old by next year. It may be too late to do anything in January, but it’s never too late to do something today.

The results will never change until you change your approach. That begins the day you decide your dreams are more important than a page on the calendar. Call it a resolution, a promise, a goal, or whatever you want. Just make it happen. A year from now, you can be halfway there or still just talking about it. The year will pass either way. It’s what you make of it that counts.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved