The Road Will Curve Again – But Will You Be The One Driving?

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

For those who missed my follow-up post yesterday, our daughter was diagnosed with a pretty strong case of pneumonia, but no coronavirus. Yes, we live in a time when that’s something to celebrate. “Woohoo! It’s only pneumonia!” They loaded her up with IV antibiotics and then sent her home. Right now, a hospital is not the place to be if you’re sick.

As I’ve mentioned a few times lately, I think we’re just beginning to see the new normal. I read an article yesterday that said oil prices will be down for a long time to come, and I guess we can all feel pretty good about that. Unless you own an oil well, in which case I really don’t feel sorry for you. Of course, they’ll still find a way to drive up gas prices. “Coronavirus blend.” It’s coming.

That said, I was pretty excited when I topped off the tank in the RV for $13. Okay, I used my Kroger fuel points and got a 70-cent discount, but still. I had to risk my life to build up those points. So far, I haven’t given in to online grocery shopping. I still go into the store with a bottle of hand sanitizer in my holster, dodging sneezes the whole way through. I earned that discount.

But now, we don’t have much choice. Our daughter is back home with us, and in no condition to fight off germs. So, we have to dig in a little deeper and find ways to keep the pantry stocked without putting the whole family at risk. I have to assume those rabbits and squirrels dancing in the yard haven’t been watching the news. That’s some pretty low-risk shopping if you ask me.

Okay, I’m kidding. I’ve only shot a squirrel once, and I filled it so full of buckshot it weighed in at six pounds. Needless to say, we had chicken for dinner. I’m just not much of a hunter. I’m too much of a softie. I’ve always said I could shoot a deer if the family were hungry, but only if it didn’t look at me. That one seems to be in the playbook, because they ALWAYS look at you.

Part of me wonders if anybody will eat a wild animal after this. Apparently, that’s where it all started. On the other hand, farm-raised animals aren’t all that safe, either. Every time you turn around, something else is being recalled. Guess we should all become vegetarians. You know, so we can learn the joys of listeria, salmonella, and e-Coli. Guess that’s one way to lose weight.

Hopefully, part of the new “normal” will be more stringent food safety standards. Working from home has been nice, and I could get used to these gas prices. That said, having kids cooped up in the house when there’s a playground within walking distance is for the birds. We need to fix that one. I’ll volunteer to keep the monkey bars clean if I can find some disinfectant.

Another change I hope we’ll see is more people taking control of their health, wealth, and happiness. We seem to go through life looking for the easy path to all three. Find a good job. Get a good doctor. Enjoy the good life. And that’s great, until it’s not. Something can always come along and change what we’ve come to know.

Right now, health and income are the two big ones. If we’ve neglected our health to this point, there’s not a lot we can do to change it overnight. But we can try to optimize our health going forward. Illness doesn’t ask if we’re ready – it just hits. And the healthier we are at the outset, the better our odds of survival. The time to do something about that is now.

The same is true of income. We all know the risks of putting our eggs in one basket, yet that’s what most of us do our entire life. And we know better. Companies fail. Industries die. Recession, pandemics, and even weather can impact our ability to put food on the table. Having a secondary income isn’t just prudent. It’s essential.

This crisis has affected us all in different ways. And right now, when there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s easy to wipe our brow and say, “That was a close one!” Well, guess what? It’ll happen again. Hopefully nothing of this magnitude, but we’ve all faced crisis before, and this won’t be the last one. The question is, will we be any better prepared next time?

Preparation isn’t about watching and waiting. It’s about taking proactive steps to be ready for whatever comes along. Are there things you wish you’d done before this crisis? Then get started now. This won’t be our last crisis. But hopefully, we’ll all be a little better prepared for the next one.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Grass May Be Greener, But It Still Needs To Be Mowed

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

I woke up to the most snow we’ve seen on the ground this winter. It’s pretty, it’s white, it’s like God’s protective blanket over all the brown stuff underneath. Now it can go away. That brown stuff doesn’t need any protection. It needs sun. It’ll turn green. I’ve seen it happen.

That’s not to say we had a ton of snow on the ground. Just enough to cover it. Enough to shovel if I actually had any plans of doing that. I’ve decided I’m going to strap a snow shovel to the top of the car and drive south. The first time somebody points to it and asks, “What the hell is that?”, that’s where I’ll start looking for a new house.

For somebody who has complained about the cold every year and dreamed of the beach every day, I sure haven’t done much to move in that general direction. I blame it on my job, but I hear they have jobs in the south. I say it’s because this is where my grandkids live, but most southbound roads have northbound lanes as well. The truth is, I’ve just been making excuses.

Besides, a lot of other people my age have figured out that if you want the grandkids to visit more often, move south and buy a place with a pool. They’ll pile in faster than the mosquitoes and cockroaches that apparently are smarter than I am because they don’t live in the snow. That’s one part about living in the south that I don’t miss. But I’m sure they miss me.

When I joined the Navy, my dad told me that the best two duty stations in the world are the one you just left and the one you’re going to. There was more truth in those words than I could have imagined. For ye landlubbers, it simply means the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Or, as Erma Bombeck pointed out, it’s also a little greener over the septic tank.

Yet, as soon as we get on the other side of the fence, we find ourselves looking back and lamenting how things were so much better “back home.” It’s not that the new place is really any worse. But nothing measures up to the image we have in our mind, because we never imagine the really bad stuff. Like an online dating profile, the reality never matches the picture.

It reminds me of a quip I read once offering advice to women on the three little words that lead to a perfect marriage – lower you expectations. Men could say the same thing, but we’re not stupid enough to actually do it. Not out loud, anyway. But the point is pretty much the same. Don’t build things up in your mind so big that you set yourself up for disappointment later.

We all like to say nobody’s perfect, but we usually say that when we’re talking about ourselves. When it comes to other people and other places, perfection is pretty much expected. Anything that falls short of perfection is a deficiency to be overcome. And we’re not overly forgiving when things stay the same even though that’s the way they were long before we got there.

There’s a natural, and healthy, tendency to try to improve our circumstances. And if you move into new surroundings, a new job, or a new relationship, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make things a little better. But that doesn’t mean everybody else needs to change to meet our image of perfection. They were perfectly comfortable before we came along.

Paradise doesn’t exist in this world. Granted, there are places for each of us that come closer to meeting that definition, and this white stuff outside doesn’t do it for me. But even a sunny beach gets its share of rain. The key is to find something closer to what you truly desire and enjoy it for what it is – the good parts and the bad.

Whether it’s location, relationships, family, or job, there will always be something better or newer or shinier to capture your attention. They may offer a higher level of enjoyment, but true happiness comes from within. Find happiness where you are before you look someplace else. You may still want that other life, but without that inner happiness it’ll always fall short.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Is Yours To Enjoy – But You Gotta Want It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

When was the last time you met a truly happy person? Okay, let me re-phrase that … when was the last time you met a truly happy person over the age of six, but young enough to still have all their marbles? It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. And when it does, we become immediately suspicious. “Oh no, she’s about to invite me to church! Or worse yet, an Amway meeting!”

Don’t believe me? The next time you see somebody walking through the office, smiling at everyone and softly humming a Disney song at their desk, write down the first thought that comes to mind. Promotion? Morning whoopee? Liquid lunch? The boss just got fired? We can come up with all kinds of explanations, but could it be remotely possible they’re just happy? Nah!

We all like to think we’re relatively pleasant people, that we exude a certain level of happiness that draws people in. Then along comes somebody who’s so over-the-top bubbly that you just want to stuff a rag in their mouth. “Take your happiness out the front door and share it with God’s little creatures! There are people trying to sleep in here!”

Whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us tend to embrace misery just a bit too much. Oh, we try. We may even wake up and try to convince ourselves that today will be the best day ever. But then we get to work and find out somebody swiped the last cup of coffee and couldn’t be bothered to start a new pot. Oh, it’s on now!

I can look past some idiot diving in front of me at the exit ramp or finding a strange car in “my” parking spot, but you don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. How hard is it to dump the old grounds, put in a fresh pack, and press the “Brew” button? Sure, there’s decaf. There’s always decaf. And I’m not drinking it. If God can take the time to put caffeine in my coffee, the least I can do is drink it that way.

Then you get to your desk and find that report you worked late to give the boss sitting on your desk with more red ink than a congressional budget. Your trash can isn’t where it belongs, your computer keeps locking up, the microwave is broken, and just who has been messing with the thermostat? It’s freezing! Somebody is obviously out to ruin your perfect day.

Let’s face it, if you want to feel miserable, life will hand you plenty of excuses. As the old expression goes, stuff happens. Well, something like that. Things will never be just perfect. So, how is one person smiling while you’re miserable? Maybe they got that last cup of coffee, and that’s why they don’t notice how cold it is. They probably tweaked the thermostat, too. The nerve of some people!

Happiness isn’t a state of nature, or even a state of reality. It’s a state of mind. You will never be more happy than you choose to be. Read that again, because it’s important. Notice, I didn’t say you’ll always be as happy as you choose to be. Things will happen, sometimes really bad things, and they can destroy your happiness in an instant. But how quickly we reclaim that happiness is up to us.

The key is to just keep things in perspective. So what if the coffee pot is empty? At least you’ll get a fresh cup. And no, it’s not okay to skim off a cup while the pot is brewing, because you’ll get all the good stuff and leave dishwater for everyone else. And that report on your desk? Just fix it. It’s not like anybody is docking your pay. And think how much better you’ll feel when it’s done.

We spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, but all too often we overlook the happiness that’s already there. You can smile in the sunshine or rain, and even when adversity tries to steal that smile, only you can decide when it’s time to bring it back out. Challenges will always be there. But to the degree that you can meet those challenges, happiness is yours to enjoy. So, make the most of it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Use a Little Magic to Beat the Stress This Season

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

I’ve been admiring all the pictures people have been posting of their holiday decorations and kids sitting in Santa’s lap. Some are smiling, some are in a trance, and some are crying their eyes out as they look for any path of escape. After all these lectures about stranger danger, their parents tell them, “Go sit in that fat man’s lap and maybe he’ll give you a piece of candy!” Brilliant.

We did it, too. The whole experience. We tell them this figment of our imagination is watching their every move all through the month of December, just watching for them to misbehave, so he can divert all their gifts to a more deserving child. As parents, we think maybe it’ll help them try just a little harder to be good. To the kid, it’s just one more set of eyes watching their every move.

I remember my mom telling me we would get so wound up in the final weeks before Christmas, we were almost sick with anxiety. The more we’d try to behave, the more we’d misbehave. It’s like tying a person’s hands and telling them it’s a good thing their nose doesn’t itch. Within seconds, they’ll be scratching it against anything in sight. Be sure you’re not standing too close when that starts.

My grandson is having a hard time with the whole “be good” thing this year. The little boy has a heart of gold, and can be the most lovable child on the planet when the mood strikes him. But he can also be the most determined, defiant little demon you’ve ever met. And, I’m finding that the closer we get to Christmas, the more unpredictable that behavior becomes.

It’s not the child. It’s the pressure. It’s the memory of every act of disobedience in the past several months, and the knowledge that, if Santa truly has been watching, nothing he can do at this point will ever make up for it. And as soon as that sweet mood yields to the slightest misbehavior, it’s just one more reminder that he’s probably not getting anything this year. Is it any wonder they misbehave?

We can see it in kids. And, thankfully, we usually do something to defuse the situation and reassure them that they really haven’t been that bad – that even Santa can forgive a few indiscretions. But who reassures us? After all, we tend to react a bit differently to the stress of the season as well. And any time you react, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t be completely positive.

This is a time when people are at their best. They smile a little more, they sing happy tunes, they let the old woman with two items get in front of them in the checkout line. It’s also a time when road rage is at its highest all year. People fight over parking spots, they blow their horn and flash indecent hand gestures, and swear like a sailor simply because the car in front of them is going too slow.

And that’s before they even get inside the store. I’ve actually seen people swipe a prized gift out of someone else’s shopping cart – not because the store was sold out, but because it’s there and they want it. Period. And if you want to see the Christmas spirit turn into seething disapproval, let the person at the checkout ask for a price check or struggle to find a credit card that’s not maxed out.

This should be the time of year when we’re a little more patient, a little more gracious, a little more excited. It’s a time when we find hope in things we normally wouldn’t notice. We see the magic in a young child’s eyes and can’t help feeling a little of the magic ourselves. It’s a time when we revisit the innocence of youth one more time, if only for a fleeting moment.

Yes, this is a season that can bring out the best or worst in people. It’s simply a matter of how we approach it. Slow down a little. Park a little further from the store. If somebody else insists on being miserable, don’t let it affect you. This is your holiday, and you’ve waited for it all year. So have the kids. So, make the most of it. In a couple more weeks, it’ll all be a memory. Make it a good one.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Sunrise Always Follows Darkness

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

Yesterday was an unseasonably mild day here in Ohio. Aside from the rain, which is typical this time of year. But with temperatures in the upper 50s, it was at least bearable. But according to the weatherman, we’ll pay for that breather today, kinda like going back to work after a three-day weekend. Oh well, we didn’t really expect it to last, right?

Sometimes, life works much the same way. About the time you think things are going really well and you’ve had a streak of good fortune, something comes along to knock the wind out of your sails and remind you that the path isn’t always easy. It may be financial, health related, job troubles, or challenges in a relationship. And when it happens, it can make you forget all about those good times.

It’s just life’s way of reminding us that we’re still alive. I often look at my dog and think how easy his life must be. All he has to do is eat, sleep, poop, and bark at the mailman. But his unbounded excitement when I walk in the door is a reminder that his life isn’t a bed of roses. He has to deal with his share of disappointment as well, every time we leave the house. To him, it must be heartbreaking.

Every now and then, I have visions of one of my daughters in tears because her balloon popped. I can’t remember which of my girls it was – probably both of them at some point – but at that moment, her little heart was shattered. Sure, we got a heartfelt chuckle our of it and there were hugs of reassurance. But it was a simpler time when problems were solved by simply kissing away the tears.

I can recall times when my balloon popped, and I’m sure you can as well. At that moment, you feel the weight of the entire world. It happens in an instant, and it’s something nobody can fix. You wonder what went wrong. Maybe you squeezed too hard. Maybe you bounced it too high or let it hit the wrong spot on the floor. Maybe you didn’t love it enough. Regardless, the end result is the same.

There was a time when doctors would start a newborn baby’s breathing with a swift slap on the behind. Imagine the shock, when you’ve spent your entire life in a warm, cozy place with nothing more than soft sounds and an occasional caress to tickle your senses. All of a sudden, you’re thrust into a cold room filled with bright lights, and somebody gives you a smack just for the fun of it.

Thankfully, doctors have figured out that they don’t have to smack a baby’s butt to make it cry. But to everybody in the room, the sound of crying is the most welcome sound they can hear. Because you can’t cry without breathing. You have to take air in to support the next wail, and in the process,  you give your body the oxygen it needs to survive.

Granted, there are much more pleasurable ways of exchanging oxygen. And hopefully we spend most of our lives doing it the easy way. But disappointment, even heartbreak, is simply a sign that we’re still alive. And as long as we’re still alive, there’s hope of a brighter tomorrow. It may not feel that way at the moment. But as the old saying goes, this too shall pass.

Life is full of disappointments. But it’s also full of joys and excitement. I’ve often said we sometimes need the bad days to help us appreciate the good. Even for my dog who pretty much has life made, his excitement at watching me walk through the door is directly proportional to the amount of time I’ve been gone. It’s the down times that make us treasure the good even more.

All through your life, there will be moments of joy and sorrow. You can’t have one without the other. And just as surely as joy will someday bring tears, those tears will eventually give way to happiness. Remember, you can’t cry without breathing. And as long as you’re still breathing, better days lie ahead. You may never forget the hurt, but you’ll be that much stronger in the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Rocks!

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

Have you ever met somebody who just always seems to be happy, no matter what? They work all day, sometimes in a job most of us wouldn’t care to do. They put up with petty people whose only goal seems to be making everybody else miserable. They go home to a family that doesn’t appreciate them, or maybe to no family at all. And yet, they never seem to let it get them down.

Sometimes you wonder if they’re living in a fantasy world. Or maybe they’re just “not all there”. It happens. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen have developmental handicaps. They may never be able to complete a crossword puzzle, solve a complex equation, or do any of the things most of us take for granted. Yet they find inexplicable joy in the simplest of things.

I’ve often looked at some of these people and wondered who has the real handicap – them, or me? We think we’re better equipped to “make it” in life, but we’re the ones grumbling all the time and they’re the ones smiling.

Sometimes the perceived handicap isn’t developmental, but simply situational. Maybe they’ve had a run of bad luck over the years that would have brought most “normal” people to their knees. Whether it’s job losses, family losses, poor health, or a dozen other things, they just can’t seem to catch a break. Yet some of these people are the happiest. Maybe they’re just delusional.

I guess that would be a simple enough answer, if it were true. But the more likely answer is, they’ve learned that the secret to true happiness is to stop looking for something or somebody else to make it happen. I’ve often said it’s not what happens to us that makes us miserable – it’s our reaction to those events. We choose, in the moment, whether to brush it off or give misery a permanent home.

And if we believe that, we must also believe that happiness works the same way. We can’t make people do things that will make us happy. We can’t make the sun shine, we can’t control the lottery numbers, and we can’t make heavy traffic magically clear a path just for us. Life happens. The only thing we can control is how we react to it.

We can always point to any number of reasons we shouldn’t be happy, about a particular situation or about life in general. And yet, nobody ever says, “I had a choice – and I chose misery.” It’s easier to blame somebody or something else. And when we’re happy, we never seem to accept credit. We always point to some other person or event as the source of our happiness.

But, as most of us have been told our entire life, happiness comes from within. Bad things will happen. Unpleasant people will try their best to ruin our day. We can’t control any of that. But the moment we decide to dwell on it, we embrace the misery that comes with it.

Mom used to always say, “Shake it off.” What’s happened has happened. You can’t change that. It’s forever written in the history book of your life. And it’s natural to be unhappy, maybe even devastated, about some of the things we’ll experience along the way. Some of that pain never goes away, and happiness doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten. It just means we’re not letting it define us.

We can find misery in the fact that we’re not living our dreams or find happiness in the simple the simple things in life. We can find misery in the things other people do or find happiness in our ability to do better. We can find misery in the behavior of a rebellious child or find happiness in the memory of all those hugs and kisses in the past.

And, no matter what, we can find happiness in the future, because the future has not yet been written. We can’t change what’s already happened, but we change or at least influence most of what’s yet to come. There will be bumps in the road, to be sure. And one day this journey will end. We can’t change that. But we can choose to make the most of every experience along the way.

Choose to be happy. It won’t work every minute of every day. But the more we practice, the easier it becomes. And when that day comes when we need to pull out all the stops and make use of every trick we’ve learned along the way, we’ll be that much better equipped to handle the situation. And that, my friends, is happiness at its very best.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Place Where Suggestions Become Reality

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

I’m getting a late start today, so this post may be a bit shorter than most of the others. And as I’m writing this, I’m hearing a loud chorus of “Woohoo!” in the background. I know I get a bit long-winded sometimes. It’s just part of my personality. I’ve never been known to be at a loss for words.

It means a lot to me that you folks take time to read these posts each day, and that some of you actually look forward to them. Not so much because you’re reading and commenting on something I wrote, but that you’re taking a few minutes each day to fill your mind with what I hope is a message of positivity and inspiration.

I’ve said this before, but our minds are like a sponge. When you put a sponge in any kind of liquid, it soaks it up. It may be the cleanest water, or the foulest-smelling spill, the sponge doesn’t care. Its job is simply to soak things up. And, regardless of what it is, the sponge will pretty much soak it up equally fast, and hold it a long, long time. Especially the nasty stuff.

There’s a part of your brain that creates conscious thought – it processes everything coming in to fully assess the situation, and then spits out its best-possible response. And that response is based on everything we’ve learned to that point in time, good, bad, or indifferent. Because everything we’ve learned over the years is there in your brain’s hard drive, just waiting to be used.

And much like a computer’s hard drive, there’s a part of the brain in which all input becomes a source of truth. If I were to misspell a word in this post (believe me, it’s happened), that word will be sent around the world exactly as I wrote it. If I’m lucky, the computer will put a red squiggly line under the word to let me know I made an error.

But the brain isn’t quite so gracious. The much larger part of your brain handles subconscious thought, and that’s the part where all those things we see and hear each day, the words we hear, the messages we read, and the things we experience, are stored away for instant recall. And every one of those bits of information, to that part of our brain, becomes a source of truth.

Have you ever watched a hypnotist onstage? It’s hilarious, the things they can make people say and do. And they’re not really “making” people do anything. All they’re doing is tapping into the subconscious mind, and then making suggestions. When you can bypass the conscious mind and go directly into the subconscious, every suggestion becomes real.

So, yes, it’s possible to filter out some of what goes into your subconscious if your conscious mind is actively on the job. The problem is, much like a magician’s sleight of hand, what you consciously see and hear is only part of the equation. They get you focused on one hand to keep your attention off the other. And that’s how negative thoughts slip unchecked into your subconscious.

So, be careful about the input you allow into your brain. You can’t control other people, or the things they say and do. But you can control the amount of time you spend around them, and the surroundings in which you choose to be. You control the things you read, the shows you watch, and dozens of other things that affect what feeds into your subconscious.

To the extent that you can control your surroundings, you can control what goes into your brain. Feed it with positive thoughts, and it’ll return positivity when you need it most. Control what goes into your brain. Garbage in, gospel out. You can’t filter out all forms of negativity, but you can certainly overpower it with the positive. And that, my friends, is the foundation of happiness.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved