When It Comes to Optimism, We're All Mutts

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

The movie Pretty Woman was on this past weekend (again) and I found myself watching (again). Either I need some better cable options, or Hollywood is falling down on the job, because it seems the same movies keep playing over and over and over. Last week I jokingly mentioned the Forrest Gump channel. If you missed that movie last time it was on, have no fear – it’s coming again.

One of the scenes I always enjoyed in Pretty Woman was when they went to the opera. As the lights were dimming for the opening act, Richard Gere told Julia Roberts that a person’s first reaction to the opera is very dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

It’s that way with my morning posts. Sometimes I’m really happy with what I wrote, and other times I feel I left something on the table. But the responses let me know that, even when I think I missed the mark, it was just what at least one person needed to hear that day. That’s why I love reading the responses. It puts us on a more personal level.

Yesterday, a very perceptive friend responded with a tough question – “Are you talking to yourself?” I know I give this impression of a rock-solid optimist who never frowns and always sees a brighter future, but the truth is I’m no more delusional than any one of you. Well, maybe a little. But the point is, there are days when I need to read my posts as much as anyone.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you’re never down. There will be days when you feel the weight of the world crashing down, and times when hope is about as distant as that exotic destination you know you’ll probably never get to visit. Some days you won’t feel like doing anything, and dreams go from a burning passion into a silent resignation that nothing will ever change. It happens.

On the other hand, feelings of despair don’t necessarily mean you’re a pessimist. In a world where everything has become so polarized that you’re either this or that and there’s no in-between, your personal outlook is likely a mixed bag of good, bad, and indifferent. It doesn’t mean you’re mixed up. It just means you have emotions like every other person, and some days one is more prevalent than the others.

It means you can see a better life, with enough clarity to be drawn to it, but with enough restraint to keep you from getting in over your head. It means you believe in yourself enough to dream, but you also live in a world where reality says some dreams will take a lifetime of work. And it means you have the ability to shed tears like anybody else, but you also know the sun is shining on the other side.

This is a time of year when a lot of people experience feelings of immense joy and excitement. It’s also a time when just as many people fall into a deep depression that even they can’t quite explain. Same day, same weather, same traffic, same everything. But it affects us all in very different ways.

The point is that none of us are a complete package of optimism or pessimism. Yesterday, I’m told, was National Mutt Day. Well, maybe we should haver been celebrating ourselves, because in a lot of ways, we’re mutts. There are no absolutes in our lives or our outlook on life. We all have a little of this and a little of that, in varying proportions. That’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us human.

Sometimes, the best way to talk ourselves out of a mood of despair is to talk somebody else through the same transition. It may not change everything on the spot, but it does help us look a little closer to find that ray of sunshine we so desperately need. And in helping others find hope and possibilities, we find hope and possibilities for ourselves.

Life is in a constant state of flux, and no mood ever lasts forever. Feeling down doesn’t mean you have to stay there, and when you’re on top of the world, there will still be days when things aren’t perfect. None of us will ever be happy and optimistic all the time. The best we can do is look for those things that bring us closer and focus on them until the clouds go away. And they will. They always do.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Enjoy Today – You Can Grow Old Later

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

It’s officially Hump Day, but for most of us in the United States it’s an early Friday. Since tomorrow is one of the biggest holidays of the year, most companies give their people a day to recuperate. Not like recuperating on New Year’s Day – that one usually involves a hangover. Recuperating the day after Thanksgiving usually involves Pepto Bismol and a lot of sitting around.

Today I add another candle to the cake. As if we’d actually put that many candles on a single cake. Even if it didn’t collapse from the weight, we’d set off every smoke detector in town. I’ve officially reached what the Social Security Administration has deemed the age of “early retirement.” That doesn’t mean I can retire. It just means I have an excuse for dreaming about it.

There was a time in my life when I thought this was old. Like, REALLY old. And, to my grandkids, I guess it is. My grandson asked me yesterday if I’ll be 91. I told him someday. Not for another 31 years. But at that age, they can’t really tell the difference. There are kids and old people. And I guess I fall into the second category.

I don’t feel old. Well, let me correct that … my body feels really old. It just feels like it has to be somebody else’s body, because the rest of me hasn’t quite caught up. Granted, there are days when my wife would argue that point. I guess I can be a bit of a grump sometimes, but the kids can too, so that’s not really a valid measure of age. Right?

That said, people tend to judge our age by how old we act. I know a lot of people much older than me who have a zest for life that I hope to someday master. I imagine they’ve had a lifetime of practice, and I’m sure there are days when their body doesn’t feel up to the task. But they don’t let that get in the way. They just keep on plugging, making the most of every single day.

And it’s hard to think of somebody like that as “old.” It’s not that we deny their age. We have eyes, and it’s obvious they’ve made a few more trips around the sun than the rest of us. But they have eyes, too, and it’s the sparkle in those eyes that defies their chronological age. It’s heartwarming, adventuresome, and even a little ornery. You wonder sometimes what they may do next.

George Burns once said you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. We must think a lot alike, because I’ve always said aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. He was always somebody I admired … 100 years old, with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes that never faded for a moment. If I live to be that old, that’s exactly the kind of person I hope to be.

Our whole lives, we’ve worked to build something. Whether that was intentional or consequential, we’ve put in a lot of time getting where we are. Hopefully it’s at least close to where we wanted to be, because I don’t think anything makes us old faster than resigning ourselves to a life that’s less than we’d hoped for. That’s why so many people get old at such a young age.

The day we stop having something to look forward to, we begin giving in to the reality of time. We not only look old, but we feel old … mentally and physically. As kids, we were constantly reminded to act our age. Well, this is the time when that happens. And the only cure is to have a dream, along with some genuine sense that it’ll actually come true. Without dreams, we’re old already.

If you want to stay young, or at least young at heart, the prescription is simple – hang onto your dreams. And don’t just dream, do something about it. Every day you let slip past is a day wasted. Because the time will come when our bodies can no longer accommodate the dreams we kept putting on hold. Make the most of life now, while you still can. There’s plenty of time to be old later.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Mood Won’t Strike Until You Poke It

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

Imagine, if you will, a surgeon with a patient on the table, doing what surgeons do. The patient is asleep, the incisions have been made, and the heart is fully exposed. Halfway through one of the most delicate procedures known to man, the surgeon puts down his scalpel, pulls off his mask, and says, “Sorry folks – I’m just not in the groove today. I’m gonna let this one slide. Go tell the family.”

I don’t believe that’s ever actually happened, but it would certainly change the day for several people, least of all the person clinging to life on the operating table. But you have to wonder how many times the surgeon was a little more tired than normal or had an argument with his wife before leaving for work. The patient has no idea, but it’s likely the surgeon isn’t at his very best that day.

No matter how good we are at what we do, there will always be days when we’re just not fully up to par. And it would be easy to just go back to bed until we feel more energized. But we know from experience that, when we put things on hold because we’re not fully in the mood, that mood never gets any stronger. We just waste the day beating ourselves up for not doing anything.

If you do that on the job, you’ll probably be invited to sit down with the boss for a one-on-one chat. The first time may be friendly and constructive, but if it happens too many times you’ll find yourself looking for someplace else to spend your days. Employers are pesky about these things. They pretty much expect our best every day.

But when it comes to your own priorities, those dreams that make you smile and inspire visions of a happier life, you’re in business for yourself. You’re the CEO, the CFO, the Vice President of Marketing, the Production Manager, and the company’s sole employee. Nothing gets done unless you do it yourself.

So, here’s the question … if you were paying yourself to work toward your dreams, would you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth? Or would you call yourself into the office, lay down the law, and issue an ultimatum? I think, if we’re being completely honest, most of us would say we’re a pretty good employee on the job, but not so good when it comes to our own priorities.

There are lots of reasons. After a full day on the job, it’s not easy to carve out time to go to work for yourself. It’s dinnertime, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and the kids need a little quality time as well. Monday night you go bowling, Tuesday is movie night, Wednesday you go out for ice cream, and on and on it goes. Who has time for anything else?

So, pick up the calendar and look for a day when you won’t be doing anything. I dare you. Even if you find one, something else will see that empty day and sneak in to fill the time. Another week goes by, another month, and eventually another year … and still you’re no closer to your dreams than you were to begin with. Yet somehow, we just keep giving ourselves a pass.

At some point, we need to become that grumpy boss nobody wants to see. We need to set goals and demand results. Not from other people – this isn’t their dream, it’s yours. If you want anything to happen, you have to make it happen yourself. Nobody but you will complain if you take a night off. Unless you hold yourself to the fire, nobody else will. It’s all on you.

You don’t have to be completely up to par every day, but you do have to be committed. A little effort is better than none at all, and when you take those first steps, it’s easy to get in the groove and keep going. Success happens when your dreams are bigger than your excuses. Make the time, and make the time count. The reward is yours to enjoy.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Stopping You Now?

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

I finally got some things accomplished this weekend that I’ve been wanting to do. Okay, I should say my grandson got something accomplished for me. I paid him, so it’s fair. I like having outdoor lights for Christmas, but I don’t like climbing a ladder fifty-two times to hang them. He’s still young enough to get on the roof. And, he’s still more likely to bounce if he falls. Voila! Problem solved.

I normally try to get the lights up a little earlier, when it’s still reasonably warm. I just don’t turn them on until the week of Thanksgiving. And I’ll turn them off at the start of the New Year. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be coming down. I’m the guy who leaves the lights up until Easter. Sorry, there’s something about ladders and ice on the ground that gives me the willies.

There are some jobs we can do before they actually need to be done. Hanging outdoor lights is one of them. Though I did read a news article about a family that received a citation from their homeowner’s association for putting out decorations a couple of weeks early. I think that one falls under the heading of “get a life.” If somebody else’s celebration bothers you that much, look the other way.

But most things happen in real time and we have to respond and adapt. Sure, we can plan our work week, at least in terms of when we have to be at work and when we hope to come home. Starting time is always pretty well set in stone, but the workday doesn’t always end at a set time. That’s just part of the job. Somehow, it never seems to work that way with lunch breaks. Go figure.

When you really think about it, there are very few things in life we actually plan. For most of us, if we even have a calendar, there’s not much in it other than birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. My wife keeps everything in her phone calendar, which means I don’t have to. At least not for anything that involves both of us. But thank God the doctor’s office calls to remind me of my appointments.

I guess the point is, we pretty much live day to day. We take things as they come, and handle the immediate needs as they arise. The rest goes into a bucket that we dip into any time we have a few minutes on our hands and there’s nothing good on TV. Seems that happens a lot more these days. The Forrest Gump channel plays the same movie all week. All that changes are the commercials.

The problem with that approach is we never seem to dig deep enough in that bucket to find the things that will bring us closer to our dreams. Unless working until you’re 80 is part of your dream, and in that case, knock yourself out. But if there are other things you want, maybe a little earlier in life, at some point you’ll need to do something about it.

We handle the important things because we don’t have any other choice. Some things just won’t be ignored. It’s the things that can be ignored that keep us from enjoying the life we desire. “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” “Next week.” “After the holidays.” If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the club. We all do it to some extent. And to the extent that we drag our feet, our dreams slip further away.

Only you can decide which of your dreams are important and how much you’re willing to do to achieve them. But they’ll always be just a passing thought or a picture on the refrigerator until you dig down into that bucket and get busy. And the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be living those dreams. Focus on the goal and don’t let anything stand in your way. Least of all, yourself.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let Perfect Stand in Your Way

Good morning! It’s Friday Eve! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

There’s always been an inside joke in show business, where a man asked a New York taxi driver how to get to Carnegie Hall, and the driver responded, “Practice, practice, practice.” I guess if you’re just looking for a seat in the audience, all you have to do is get dressed and buy a ticket. But if you’d like to enjoy the view from the stage, it takes a little more work.

A lot of things we do every day have become second nature. From brushing our teeth in the morning to tying our shoes, driving to work, and even doing our job all day, we’ve done it all so many times it takes little or no conscious thought. Depending on your job, that may not be a problem. But when somebody is cooking a meal they expect me to eat, I expect them to open their eyes now and then.

It’s what we’ve come to refer to as “phoning it in” … going through the motions without really being in the moment. I’ve done comedy shows where I just didn’t feel like I was really on my game. I didn’t bomb, but I didn’t rock the house, either. And when the show was over, I really couldn’t remember any particular moment onstage. I was just on autopilot, and it showed in the audience’s response.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? You’re in a meeting at work, talking to a customer, giving a new employee some training, or even helping your kid with their homework, and you realize halfway through you’re just phoning it in? You know the subject matter so well, you don’t even have to think about it. But in not thinking, you never really do your best. It’s just good enough.

Practice can get you to that stage, but too much practice can result in a lackluster performance. You don’t miss any of the notes – you could do this in your sleep. But it can become so automated, you forget the most important part of the job – yourself. If all a person wanted was to hear perfect music, they could buy a CD. They pay for a live performance because they want the best of you.

In my business, we encourage newer folks to scrimmage. Everybody who knows football knows what it means to scrimmage. It’s a game the team plays against itself, where nobody wins or loses, and nobody keeps score. You simply practice. You run your plays, work out the kinks, find those opportunities for improvement, and just get really good at whatever at the game.

Through scrimmaging, you reach that point where you can read any situation and adapt on the spot, finding the opening you need to rush through to the goal line. And once you reach that point, you’re ready to do it for real. You’ve fine-tuned your game to the point that you’re unstoppable. Success is simply a matter of stepping onto the field.

The problem is, some of us get so good at scrimmaging, we never move beyond it. We just keep practicing. “As soon as I get really good at this one part, I’ll be ready!” There’s nothing wrong with that, if your goal was simply to practice forever. But if you ever intended to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice, you have to take that leap of faith and step into the game. The real game.

Practice teaches you new skills and gives you confidence. But sometimes, we need a little less confidence and a little more faith. Confidence says, “I’ve got this!” Faith says, “I can handle this.” There’s a difference. And the more confident we become, the more we’re apt to just phone it in. We don’t do it on purpose. It just happens.

When you’re trying to learn a new skill, practice until you’re no longer dangerous. There’s a reason teenagers have to practice driving so long before they’re allowed to do it alone. But once you reach that point, stop holding yourself back. For every situation you can practice, there are ten more you never considered. And the only way you’ll ever get good at them is just to get out there and do it.

Know enough to know what has to be done. Know how to do the job safely and with an acceptable level of expertise. Then stop practicing and get in the game. There’s a whole new world waiting for you if you just take that next step. Be a little scared. Step outside your comfort zone. Somewhere out there lies the answer to your dreams. Find it. And once you do, don’t let anything stand in your way.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

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

I woke up later this morning than normal. Sometimes the old body just needs a little more rest before the day can start. Know the feeling? The only problem is, the clock never seems to get tired. It just keeps running and running and running. This far into the 21st century, you’d think we could figure out a way to fix that.

Time is the one constant in life that never really changes. Okay, aside from twice a year when we get the directive to change our clocks, but time itself doesn’t change as a result. All that changes is the way we measure it. “I got an extra hour of sleep this weekend!” No, you didn’t. You woke up at the same time you always do. Only this time, you were an hour early. There’s no snooze button for that.

As with most things in life, time is subjective. Sure, there are officially 24 hours in a day, and there are 60 minutes in each hour. And if your favorite show comes on in an hour, that’s a measurable span of time. But remember when you were little and your mom would say, “In a minute”? Hmmm. Now we’re getting into a gray area. Is that sixty seconds, or sometime in the next hour?

It’s the same with a lot of things. “I did a really good job on that!” Well, in your opinion. Hopefully everybody else will agree, but there’s always that one person who can spot a flaw in anything, no matter how well it was done. Sometimes you’d like to smack them so hard the only thing they can spot are the little stars swirling around inside their own judgmental head.

It’s like the scene in Christmas Vacation where, after several frustrating attempts and life-endangering mishaps, Clark finally gets his display of 250,000 outdoor lights to illuminate. As he dances around in excitement, tears of joy streaming down his face, his father-in-law casually comments, “The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.” “Yes, I know Art. And thank you for noticing.”

But in a world where very few things are cut and dried, we all have to find our own meaning in things that are a little more subjective. How long is a moment? How much is a little bit? How soon is right away? And how good is pretty good? It pretty much depends on who’s asking. Tell your kid you’ll take them to the amusement park “one of these days” and to them that means tomorrow.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from an RV dealer offering an unbelievably low price on a motorhome we’ve had our eyes on. It was a little over $50,000 off the list price. Who can turn down an offer like that? That’s a huge savings! But, then there’s the matter of what’s left after that deep discount. And, any way you slice it, it’s still a lot of money.

But what’s “a lot of money?” It’s different from one person to the next. What’s “a lot of work”, or “too much time?” Again, it depends who’s asking because it’s all a matter of perspective. One person may say, “That’ll take four hours!” while another says, “I can have it done in no time!” Neither one is any faster than the other. It’s all in how they view the time compared to the reward.

Tell somebody you’re doing something grand, like buying an RV or starting a business, and you’ll get all kinds of opinions. Everything ranging from how much money you’ll spend to how much time it’ll take and how hard you’ll have to work. To some people, getting off the sofa to get a drink of water is just too much effort. But to another, a year of working late every evening is well worth the effort.

You have to find your own level of “worth” in all things. Is $10 too much to pay for lunch? Is 5 miles too far to drive for ice cream? Is an hour a day too much time to spend working toward a dream you’d desperately love to achieve? To one person, the answer to any of those questions is yes. But only you can decide what something is worth to you. You only get one chance to live your own life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Magic Never Goes Away – Just Keep Looking

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

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The white stuff started falling out of the sky yesterday evening and it’s still there. Looks like a couple of inches, and that’s about as close to accurate as I’ll get, because anything more would require that I step outside and actually see how deep it is. That’s not gonna happen. I only look stupid.

I remember a time in when snow was cause for celebration. It was magic. A white blanket over God’s not-so-green earth. A new playground. Sledding and ice skating and all those fun things we used to do. My dog is in heaven. He runs around the yard with his nose to the ground, bulldozing a trail through the snow with every step. It’s something new, and he’s making the most of it.

Yet, half a century later, it’s not that magical anymore. Sledding has been replaced by trying to stay on the road, and ice skating is what you do getting from the house to the car. And let me tell you, the ground gets a whole lot harder when it’s cold. Emergency rooms throughout the area will treat more broken bones today than they have all year.

It seems to work that way with a lot of things. Think back to the first time you rode a bicycle. That was a day of excitement. Nothing in your life could measure up to that one proud moment. Then you fell, but it was worth it. One day the training wheels came off and you were in heaven. Then one day you wanted to borrow the car and Dad said, “You have a bike.” It didn’t feel so special then.

I know people who still love to ride. In fact, I have a friend who spent more on his bike than I spent on my first five cars combined. I live in an area where old railroad trails have been converted into bike paths, and you can crisscross the entire state without riding on a single road. Not to say that stops people from riding on the hilliest, curviest country roads they can find. But that’s another story.

Think about your first day at work. Not this job – your very first job. For one in three adults, that first job had something to do with food (I use the term loosely). You stood in front of the mirror, brushed your hair, admired your uniform and name badge, then proudly walked down the street for everyone to see that you were now among the gainfully employed. Then you found out why they call it work.

It’s even that way with kids. You hold them in your arms, before they even go home, and can’t imagine how you ever got this far in life without them. They’re precious. They’re adorable. Every sound, every facial expression, every movement of the hands (and bowels) is special. First they crawl, then they walk. And then they turn two and leaving for work is once again a source of excitement.

I think most of life works that way. You work for a promotion, and a year later it’s just another job. You move into a new home, full of excitement, but before long it’s just another house. You start a business, full of excitement, and then one day you find yourself just going through the motions. You stand at the altar with your best friend in life, and ten years later you’re just paying bills together.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those things are awesome, and if you look hard enough, there will always be enough moments of excitement to remind you why you wanted it in the first place. But looking for excitement, by itself, usually leads to problems. What we should be looking for are goals. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. So, what’s next? Dream a little. Together.

Dreams are the ultimate use of our imagination, and imagination is the first step in every worthwhile thing you’ll ever accomplish in life. Don’t focus on what is – imagine what could be. What if? Those are the two most important words in any endeavor. What if this job leads to bigger things? What if you added a sunroom to the house? What if that snow were actually a sunny Gulf-coast beach?

And what if all the years leading up to this day were just some sort of rehearsal for what’s yet to come? What if your very best days to this point were just a teaser of what lies ahead? What if you stopped saying “what if” and did something about it?

For every one of us, the future begins today. We can either find the magic we once saw in simple things and turn it into even greater things. We can enjoy what we’ve built to this point or build something even bigger. And if we can simply get out of our own way, we can find the same excitement in each moment that we did the first time we experienced it. It’s up to you. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved