Stressed? Then Have a Little Fun!

Good morning, and happy Hump Day!

The week is half over, and by Sunday evening we can say the same about the whole month. Time flies when you’re having fun. You are having fun, right? I sure hope so. This is a time of year when we spend a little more time with family, share a few extra laughs with friends, and (plug your ears, boss) take just a little longer for lunch. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed.

Most employers don’t expect a lot during the second half of December. They know people are thinking about a dozen other things, and they plan for it. That’s why we work so hard in the months leading up to it. But some of us work in an industry where December is a little busier than normal. People in retail, healthcare, customer service, and others, work just a little harder this time of year.

Normally, that would mean coming home at the end of a long day and crashing on the sofa. The TV is on, but you’re not really watching. The kids are singing, but you’re not really listening. The dog is whining by the back door, but … well, you’d better pay attention to that one. Some things won’t be ignored.

Then there’s the shopping. First you have to find the perfect gift. Then you have to find the perfect wrapping paper. And don’t forget the card. There’s nothing more impersonal than a card that says, “Seasons Greetings – Love, Mom.” Well, don’t get your knickers in a wad. Kids don’t read the card anyway. They just flip it upside down to see if any cash falls out.

According to the old Andy Williams song, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, according to the lesser-known duo of Elmo & Patsy, it’s the time when Grandma got run over by a reindeer. Apparently, she drank too much eggnog and … well, you know the rest. I can certainly see how that could happen. Because, with all the extra stress, a little extra eggnog can be a blessing.

My girls learned as toddlers that Santa Claus likes cookies and pumpkin bread. But instead of milk, he prefers bourbon. Straight up, no mixers, and stainless-steel ice cubes that don’t melt and water it down. Hey, don’t judge me. I got the bicycles together and looked almost like the picture on the box. And I saved all those extra parts in case something fell off. That’s what helmets and knee pads are for.

These are the stories we all laugh about with friends. You know, several years later when the kids have safely grown up with no broken bones that can be traceable to Dad’s mechanical skills. I’m not suggesting you get hammered before you put your kid’s bike together. Just that it’s okay to set aside a little time for yourself to enjoy some of the craziness. After all, who’s paying the medical bills anyway?

It’s important that we make time for ourselves – time to relax, time to unwind, time to enjoy the season just a little. That may come in the form of a sleigh ride, a drink with friends, pizza night, taking the kids for ice cream, or just relaxing by the fire. If you have a fireplace, that is. That’s important. Almost as important as saving that second drink until after the bicycles are assembled.

Enjoy the season. Eat a few extra cookies. Put a few extra marshmallows in your hot cocoa. Have a piece of pie with whipped cream. Then turn the can upside down and fill your mouth the fun way. Act young. Snuggle under a blanket, and watch Rudolph with the kids. Twice. Sing a little louder, dance a little harder, and feel the magic in the air. It’s there. And once you find it, never let go.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don't Mess With Stress!

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

For those who asked, my daughter went home from the hospital yesterday. There are issues that will require follow-up, but she dodged the bullet this time. Then, yesterday afternoon while chasing my grandson through the back yard, my wife tripped and her face and right shoulder took the full brunt of the fall. Two hospitals in two days. I seriously hope we’re done for the year.

This time of year, I don’t ask anybody what they’ve got planned for the weekend because I know. Most of us will be shopping. And it’ll be that way for the rest of the month. It’s a happy time, as we pick up gifts and imagine the look on the recipient’s face when they open it. Giving does bring joy.

But along with the joy of shopping comes the stress. Finding a parking spot, finding an empty shelf where you were hoping to pick up that special gift, and realizing the whole time that your budget has been ripped to shreds. Those little gifts for the neighbors, the stocking stuffers, extra eggnog for the party … all of those things add up and before it’s all over, you’ve spent a small fortune. It happens.

Stress takes away from our enjoyment of the holidays and, left unchecked, it can lead you into a deep depression. It wreaks havoc on your physical and emotional health. And, the thing we don’t really think about is that stress doesn’t care about your emotional state – it can happen when you’re excited or … well, stressed. Any big change from the ordinary, good or bad, is a source of stress.

Don’t believe me? Hang around a couple as their wedding day approaches. It’s probably the happiest day of their lives, and all the planning is geared toward making sure it’s absolutely perfect. The dress, the venue, the food, the flowers, the color choices, the guest list, the limousine, where to seat Uncle Fred so he isn’t too close to the bar. Is it any wonder newlyweds need to get away for a few days?

And, whether you’ll admit it or not, none of us handles stress very well. Nobody. I love it when somebody says, “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You just take it out on everybody around you. You bury yourself in your work and forget that life exists outside of work. You imagine yourself the hero, but you’re really just wearing yourself down. And sooner or later, we all have to pay the piper.

Stress is like a rattlesnake, just waiting for the opportunity to strike. And when it does, the effects can be just about as devastating. But unlike a rattlesnake, stress doesn’t give you any warning that you’re about to have a really bad day. It just sneaks up until the opportunity is right, and leaves you wondering what happened.

As you go through the holidays, pay attention to the signs of stress. It’s easy to spot the bad kind. Impatience, a short fuse, exhaustion, and despair, are all signs of stress. Do you find yourself going through the entire day without eating? Stress. Are you driving just a little faster than normal? Stress. Are you working harder to get those projects done so you can take a little time off? Stress.

It’s impossible to avoid stress at any point through the year, but especially during the holidays. The key is recognizing it and doing something about it. Allow yourself a little extra time. Get up a little earlier and start the day a little slower. Drive in the slow lane and let the hotheads race around. Eat lunch with a friend. Turn off the news and turn on your favorite holiday show. Relax. Breathe.

Stress will always be there, to some extent. We can’t eliminate it completely, but we don’t have to add to it unnecessarily. No matter what you’re doing, find something to enjoy. Make time to do the things you like to do. Have a drink. Light a candle. Read a book. Share stories. Look through old photos. It won’t eliminate stress completely, but you’ll have a lot more strength for the next round.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If Retirement is So Much Fun, Why Do We Wait So Long to Get Started?

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

Well, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed a couple of days of rest. And if it wasn’t restful, I hope it was exhilarating. We spend five days each week doing the things we have to do, so it’s only fair that we should be able to spend the other two doing the things we want to do. At least part of the time.

Imagine what it would be like to sleep until you feel like getting up, and then take your time getting started each day. As you sit down for your first cup of coffee, instead of dreading the morning commute, you would run through a mental list of things you could do today. You know, fun things. Sure, there would be some errands in the mix. But imagine if your time was truly your own.

For most of us, that time comes much later in life. After we’ve done all the other things we need to do, we’ve worked our mind and body until there’s not much left, and that mental list of things we could be doing each day is interrupted by medical appointments. Once we reach that age, getting in a car to go somewhere is usually not very exciting. It’s just one more chore we have to do.

Yet, for most of us, that’s what we have to look forward to. Work for 40-50 years until you’re too tired to do anything, then cut your pay in half and sit around the house watching 24-hour news. That and sifting through the newspaper to find out if there are any familiar names in the obituaries.

It’s no wonder most young people don’t plan for retirement. Who wants to put all that on paper, and then work for several decades to achieve it? It’s a lot more fun to take those vacations while you’re still young. And why hold off on buying that fancy sports car until you’re too old to drive it? A bigger house? Get it now, before you have to pay somebody to keep it clean.

It’s that mentality that puts a lot of younger people in poor financial shape and leads them into retirement with a fraction of the savings they’ll need to survive. But, like most other things in life, we always count on things somehow getting better by the time we reach that age. The house will be paid off, we won’t have car payments, and old people eat a lot less food. Besides, there’s always the lottery.

On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of young people who decided we’re doing this all wrong, and they’ve managed to squeeze in retirement about the time most of us were just getting started in life. Instead of waiting for somebody else to tell them how much they’re worth, they decided for themselves. And, wouldn’t you know, it’s a good bit more than the rest of us get paid. Go figure.

But it’s not about how much money they make. After all, there’s only a certain quality of steak you can buy, no matter how much you want to spend. And fancy cars spend about as much time in the shop as any other car – they just cost a lot more to fix.

And here’s the thing – it doesn’t take a major windfall or rich parents to put early retirement within reach. It just takes a little extra. When you don’t have enough to pay your bills, $100 might as well be a million. But after the bills are paid, that same $100 gives you peace of mind you didn’t have before. Another $100 raises the comfort level. Double that, and you can take a nice vacation.

Most of the people I know who retired early didn’t start out making a fortune. They found a way to make a little extra, and then applied the same principles to turn that little bit into a little more. They kept doing that until the day came when their side income surpassed what they made on the job, and early retirement became a choice they could make.

Some friends were talking the other night about their doctor, who’s still working at the age of 85. He doesn’t need the money – he works because he wants to. If we’re lucky, we’ll have that option. Maybe our mind and body will still be strong enough to keep going long after others our age have been forced to stop. I sure hope so.

The important part of all this is choice – doing what you choose to do, when you choose to do it. And while that may sound like a bit of a pipe dream, that existence is closer than you may think. All it takes is a little extra. Find a way to do that, and then just keep doing it. The opportunities are there. The life you want is waiting. All you have to do is decide what’s most important.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Okay to Dream – It’s Even Better to Achieve

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

Have you ever sat with a group of friends and just talked? Not about the job, and not about anybody else. Those are the default conversations that don’t really count for much of anything other than filling time. You talk about those things when you can’t come up with anything better. And you know what? Nobody is really listening anyway. They’re too busy waiting for their turn to speak.

But have you ever just sat there and really gotten to know one another? As the walls come down and trust begins to build, you can learn a lot about somebody that you would otherwise have never known. Very often you find that you have a lot more in common than you thought. Not just where you live or work, but who you are … the things that excite you and make you get out of bed each day.

Sooner or later, the topic will turn to dreams. Depending on the setting, that could come out right away or it could take a lot of foreplay to build up to sharing that part of ourselves. If you see a complete stranger wearing a tee shirt from your favorite vacation destination, you’d have no problem letting them know that’s on your bucket list. But with friends, we tend to hold back a little. Why?

I think it all comes down to our inner concern for the opinions of others. With strangers on the street, it’s no problem. You may never see them again, so who cares if they think you’re overly optimistic? But when it’s somebody we see every day, we’re not so quick to share our inner desires.

Part of the problem is that, when you’re talking with a complete stranger, they have no idea of your current station in life. You can tell them you’re getting ready to take a trip around the world, and they have no basis for acceptance or doubt. It’s just talk. But the better somebody knows you, the more difficult it is for them to just accept your aspirations on blind faith. They know your limitations.

And then there’s the issue of greed. Let’s just get it out there now. We’re all raised to believe that it’s okay to work for the things you want, but it’s greedy to want something you don’t have. Well, if that’s the case, why bother going to work? Just stay home and enjoy what you’ve got. Or work just enough to pay the bills and stop thinking of anything else. Is that the lesson we were supposed to learn?

Greed isn’t the mindset that wants something more. Greed is when there’s not enough to go around and you knock somebody else out of the way to make sure you get yours first. It’s the very concept of a game most of us played in kindergarten – musical chairs. There are just enough chairs for everybody – except one. And the moment the music stops, everybody races to claim a chair for themselves.

But I can’t think of many things in life where there isn’t room for everybody who really wants to sit at the table. If you buy the fanciest car on the lot, the dealer will just order another one. Buying a bigger house doesn’t mean somebody else can’t have one just like it. And is there a resort destination on your bucket list where you’d have to kick somebody else off the plane to get there?

It’s okay to dream. It’s okay to want something more, and to share those dreams with the people who mean the most to us. You may be surprised to find they have dreams just as big as yours. In fact, they may share a dream that slips into the inner recesses of your mind and works on your subconscious until it becomes your new dream. Who would ever dream of a Rolls Royce if they’d never seen one?

No, I don’t dream of a Rolls Royce. I don’t dream of many extravagant things, but I do dream of having the ability to see a little more of this world and time to enjoy the things I’ve worked so hard to build. I dream of a motorhome simply because it’s the most practical way of traveling across the country and staying in each place long enough to enjoy it. Extravagant? Maybe. But it’s not what I’d call greedy.

When you share your dreams with those closest to you, it validates not only the dream but your right to have it. When you work for a dream, you earn the right to achieve it. And few things feel better than enjoying something you’ve earned. So, dream. Share your dreams. Work for them. It’s okay to want something more. It’s even better when those dreams turn to reality.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved