We All Work, But Are You Working Toward Something You Want?

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

I’m still trying to figure out this morning routine. You know, the one that starts with getting out of bed and ends with going to work. Those two parts aren’t all that hard to figure out. It’s everything in between that’s all jumbled up. When I was working before, I had a solid routine every day. I need to get back to that routine. I do better when I don’t have a chance to think.

That said, I’m thrilled to be working again. People say if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Okay, people lie. It’s still work, some days more than others. But it’s work I enjoy. I like being in the thick of things, making something work that wasn’t working when I got there. Sometimes I break stuff just so I can fix it. Oops! Did I say that out loud?

I remember when I took my ASVAB test to enter the Navy. That’s a vocational aptitude test that tells the recruiter what kind of job you’d be good at. Funny thing is, more than forty years later, I’m writing that test. I write questions for different sections of the test and, all told, I’ve written close to 1000. So, if you’ve ever wondered who writes this stuff? The answer would be me.

When I took the test, I wanted to be a photographer or a member of a flight crew. Imagine my surprise when the recruiter said electronics or nuclear power. Excuse me??? Electronics guys are nerds, and nuclear techs glow in the dark! No thank you. Is there anything in there about being a rock star? I can do that!

Well, I went with electronics technician, but only after the recruiter promised I wouldn’t have to wear a pocket protector. I made him put it in writing. Until that day, I’d never had even a remote interest in electronics. But you know, that test did exactly what it was designed to do. It let them take an unsuspecting soul and put him in a job with the greatest amount of openings.

Okay, I’m kidding. The test is designed to measure aptitude, not interest. And, as it turns out, I had an aptitude for electronics. Maybe not so much electronics, but a keen interest in how things are supposed to work, and a fascination with figuring out why they didn’t. And most of the stuff I worked on was broken. Pilots are good at that. I fix it, they break it. Again, and again, and again.

Somewhere along the line, I found my ability to write. I didn’t mean to. Our company had asked us to submit a list of three things they could do better, and I was more than happy to help. A week later, one of the VPs came to me with my submission in hand. Yes, my heart skipped a beat. “This is it,” I thought, as I did a mental inventory of all the personal stuff I’d have to pack.

But he wasn’t there to complain. Okay, he wasn’t there to agree, either. Turns out, none of my suggestions were taken to heart. But I’ll never forget what he said. “I didn’t know we had anybody in the company that could write like this.” A month later I traded in my meter probes for a keyboard and began my career as a technical writer. Funny how things work out.

A few years later, I was asked to write some functional requirements for a software change. Basically, what does it need to do in order to get the job done? People actually write these things. Still, if you’ve ever used any kind of software, you know developers have a mind of their own, and the finished product doesn’t always match the requirements. And on we go.

But in my case, it was the perfect blend of skills. A technical mind, an ability to write, and an inner drive to figure out problems and make things work better. If you want to see me on a bad day, ask me to write a report. I was born to fix stuff, and when I’m in the middle of that, there is no such thing as a long day.

Sometimes, we find our true calling in the last place we’d think to look. We get so focused on the how that we forget the why. And when we do, we find ourselves working really hard toward something we never wanted. “It’s a living,” we say. Yep. So is doing the things that you were born to do. The question is, which would you rather be doing?

Focus on the dream, and the “how” will present itself. It may not be what you’d thought, and it may be the last thing you’d imagined yourself doing. But if what you’re doing hasn’t opened up your dreams, it probably never will. Be open to change. There are a lot of paths to reach your goals. Find one you can enjoy, and the trip will be that much nicer.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The More We Adapt, The Faster We Grow

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

Well, it’s the last day of the month. If you live in my world, that means a whole new set of bills to pay. Those things just never seem to go away. I’ve paid for my house twice already, and still owe half of what I borrowed. I’m apparently in the wrong line of work, because when I earn a paycheck, I only get it once. I think it’s a scam. They just keep sending a bill until you catch on.

This is also the time when we measure our accomplishments for the past month against our goals. And if you need a hand with that, the boss is more than willing to help. Somehow, they don’t quite understand the concept of “almost.” Then comes that loaded question – “Do you remember when I asked you to (insert missed goal here)?” Don’t answer. It’s a trick.

But how about those things you were planning to do for yourself? Okay, you may get a pass on that if it involved getting out of the house and spending time with people. Today. But what was your excuse last month? How about the past several years? “Well, there may be a pandemic out there waiting to happen, and just to be on the safe side, I had to put my plans on hold.” Right.

Okay, enough about pandemics. I guess if somebody has actually been using that as an excuse, they can finally rise up and loudly proclaim, “I told you!” The rest of us have to come up with something better. And the truth is, there is nothing better. Or worse, for that matter. The bottom line is we’re still just making excuses. If that was your goal, congratulations. You win.

A friend often says that success has no regard for the validity of your excuses. Okay, so right now, we have a good one. And it still doesn’t matter. Because, while we’re complaining about the raw deal we’re getting, other people are adapting and moving forward anyway. You play the hand you’re dealt. A pair of twos can still win, especially if the other guy folds.

Right now, companies around the world are doing something they’ve never considered – paying employees to work from home. All those big, glamorous office buildings are sitting empty while we work in our PJs. And yet, the job is still getting done, sometimes better than before. Why? Because that’s our only choice and the job still needs to be done.

I read a story once about a frog that tried to hop over a deep rut in the road and came up short. He tried and tried to jump out, but the rut was too deep. Another frog came along and tried to help, but it was no use. Finally, the second frog went for help as the first frog sat at the bottom of the rut and cried. “I’ll never get out of here!” I think we’ve all been there.

Well, the second frog couldn’t find anyone to help and, as he was going back to deliver the bad news, along came the first frog, happily hopping along. “Wait, is that you? How on earth did you get out of that rut?” The first frog replied, “I had to – there was a truck coming.”

When the chips are down, we find ways to adapt. Hopefully this isn’t the new “normal.” But what we’ve come to know as normal has changed forever. And the tricks we learned now, when we had to jump just a little higher, will take away some of those excuses that have been holding us back. The question is, will we make the most of new opportunities, or make new excuses?

Whether you’re able to work from home or not, this is where the rubber meets the pavement. We can adapt and move forward or sit around and accept whatever fate throws our way. The company’s goals will be met, whether that’s now or later. But what about your own goals? Will they survive?

A new month is about to begin, and in 30 days, we’ll be right where we are now, with a fresh set of bills and that nagging question in the back of our mind – did I make the most of the time I had, or am I still making excuses? This is one bill we can pay early. And the sooner we get started, the easier it’ll be to pay.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Cabin Fever Doesn’t Cure Anything

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

I missed a couple of posts last week. It’s taken my brain a few days to get wrapped around this whole “back to work” thing, and the fact that I have to do certain things by a certain time each morning. But I’m thankful to have a job, one I can do from the comfort of home, and in an industry that’s not likely to shut down during this pandemic. Things could always be worse.

Friday afternoon, we heeded the governor’s advice to “enjoy some outdoor recreation with social distancing” and took the new motorhome for a shakedown cruise. In the Navy, that means a short boat ride after you come out of the yards so you can see what all is still broken. On an aircraft carrier, that means thousands of items. Thankfully, our list was a lot smaller.

Okay, first things first – this park was made for golf carts, not buses. The signs said “Go this way to register” so I did. Then came the sloping 90-degree turn to get out of that corner and my wife’s inevitable Lamaze breathing as I negotiated that turn. I was pretty smug about it. You know, once I started breathing again.

We had a pull-through site that, under normal circumstances, would mean drive right in. Turns out “normal” means a Volkswagen Beetle with a teardrop trailer. We were about 20 feet longer than normal. So, I backed in. More Lamaze breathing from the passenger seat. But I’m getting pretty good about backing up. It’s that whole staying in my own lane thing that’s a challenge.

I wanted to get there before dark because setup is all done outside. Wooden blocks under the leveling jacks, electric hookup, water hookup, cable hookup, and crawling underneath to set the water heater bypass valve. You know, the one the dealer’s mechanic crawled under to check and told us it was in the correct position. It wasn’t. And the ground was wet. Naturally.

Once I figured out where the TV cable connects (a critical part of “camping” for my wife) and got the water situation sorted out, we were up and running in just about a half-hour. I’m sure next time will go much smoother because, you know, every campground has the same hookups in the same places. Right. And unicorns blow fairy dust out their nostrils.

All in all, we had a nice weekend. It was a lot warmer for a change, so we spent a good part of the day with the windows open. Of course, warm weather also means thunderstorms, and Mother Nature treated us to a good one. Other than a little rocking around in the wind, it was just like being home. The dog was hiding, and my daughter was glued to the Weather Channel.

Why did we choose this particular weekend to go camping, when everybody is being asked to stay home? Well, for a few reasons. First of all, sitting in a closed-up house is about as healthy as sneezing on your pizza. Of course, with all the other toppings, who would notice? Which makes you wonder about pizza delivery. I’m just saying.

But a little fresh air is good for whatever ails you, and it’s even better when you’re having a good day. We’re being asked to stay at least six feet from other people. Check. We’re being asked to avoid crowds of ten people or more. Check. And we’re being asked to keep shopping trips to a minimum. Well, once camp is set up, you’d be surprised what you can live without.

The bottom line is that, even though life has changed, that doesn’t mean we have to stop living. Sitting around the house, breathing the same dust and germs all day, isn’t good for anyone. We need air. We need sunshine. We need a little exercise, even if it’s only taking the dog for a walk as he marks every tree, shrub, and tuft of tall grass he can find. There are no short walks.

If the weather is nice, get outside. If it’s too hot, wear shorts. If it’s too cold, wear a jacket. If it’s raining, take an umbrella. And don’t kiss your neighbors. This isn’t rocket science. But sitting around the house wears on more than just your patience. Already, divorce attorneys are cancelling their summer vacations. They know. People are not made to live this close.

Find something you can do outside. Whether it’s planting flowers, playing with the kids, taking a walk, or mowing the lawn, you need something to get you out of the house. And that something doesn’t always have to be in the confines of your own yard. Just be safe and remember to keep a distance. Life goes on. Sometimes, it just needs a little nudge.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Find Your Spare Tire Before You Need It

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

Yesterday morning was a jolt to the system. After 12 weeks of being able to start my day at my own pace, I found myself in unfamiliar territory – two rug rats who were a lot more awake than I was, and a tight schedule to get dressed, eat breakfast, and leave for work. Okay, “leaving” means climbing down a flight of stairs to the basement, but it counts.

Abrupt change is a shock to the system, even if it’s something you want. I have to be honest. I wasn’t heartbroken at the prospect of spending a few weeks at home in January. It was a taste of what retirement might be like. The verdict is in – I’ll survive that just fine when the time comes. I never resorted to leather sandals and black knee socks, but the rest felt pretty good.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew it was temporary. Any time that fact slipped my mind, I had my wife to remind me. Women worry about these things a lot more than men. I knew we’d be okay. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy most of the time. Any time it starts looking empty, I just pour it into a smaller glass. And a shot glass is still technically a glass. I’m just saying.

Thankfully we had some things going on the side before my job went away. Not enough to live on, but every little bit helps. It’s important to have something to fall back on while you still have the ability to stand. Because sooner or later, something will come along and kick your feet out from under you. And trust me, that ground gets a lot harder with age.

When that happens, our first reaction is usually some level of panic. Then we start to think a little more rationally. Finally, creativity slips in and we start looking at things we’d never considered. The only problem is most of those creative ideas require a little time to start generating an income. If only you’d started six months ago. Sound familiar?

And what happens? The crisis ends, and we go right back to what we were doing before. Only this time, it’ll be different. Because we said so, that’s why. And if the same thing happens again, we’ll be a lot better prepared. Only next time, it won’t be the same thing. It’ll be something you’d never anticipated. Like now. Who would’ve ever dreamed of something like this?

Well, you know what they say about doing the same thing and expecting different results. It’s delusional, at best. My street has two ends. They never change. I can drive from one end to the other, and I’ll always end up in the same place. It doesn’t matter how I drive, or what kind of car I use. The destination is always the same. Unless the brakes fail. Then things change real fast.

That doesn’t mean what you were doing before is all wrong. But if what you were doing left you high and dry with nothing but a savings account to fall back on, you may want to consider a different approach moving forward. And the time to get started is now – before the need arises.

Cars have a spare tire you hope you never need, but potholes happen. And when they do, they can literally knock the wind out of your tires. That’s pretty much true with most things in life. Things will never be the same as they were, and they won’t always go the way we’d planned. The question is, do you have a spare?

Dad always used to remind me to check the air in my spare tire. You see, it’s not enough to have something on the back burner, forgotten until the need arises. A spare tire needs an occasional shot of air, fire extinguishers need to be recharged, and fallback sources of income need to be running above idle. At the very least, keep some gas in the tank. Good stuff.

Change affects us all in different ways, and preparation helps to minimize the impact. Hopefully you were ready for this crisis. But could you do it again next year? It could happen. You can save yourself a lot of sleepless nights by finding that spare tire today. Hopefully you’ll never need it. In that case, it’s just money in the bank. And who couldn’t use a little of that?

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Little Help Goes A Long Way

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

Today I’m headed back to work after a nearly three-month hiatus. I feel like a little kid standing on the front porch, getting ready to go to school for the very first time. Except I’m going back to the same place I worked just a few months ago, so I guess it’s like the first day of school after a summer vacation. If it were summer. And a vacation. But you get the point.

Life is changing for everybody right now. I’m probably the only person in the state who’s actually starting a new job today. As of midnight tonight, we’re all under a shelter-in-place order. As in, stay home unless there’s a valid need to be out. They are, on the other hand, encouraging outdoor recreation, like walking and running. As if I run. Guess I’m stuck indoors.

If everybody takes this order to heart (and I hope we all do), life will be pretty dull for traffic cops. On the other hand, if you do go out, make sure you don’t speed because there won’t be many decoys to draw attention away from you. And right now, the police are going through donut withdrawals. This is not the time to test their patience.

I think this is a time when we all need to be thankful for the people who are putting themselves at risk to tend to our daily needs. I’m talking about nurses. Doctors are important, too, but it’s the nurse who has to walk in and check your symptoms. If you sneeze during the blood pressure check, the nurse takes the full brunt of it and warns the doctor so he can put on a mask.

There are others, like first-responders, day care teachers, grocery store cashiers, pharmacists, and the guy who drives the toilet paper truck. Okay, his job got a whole lot easier, because there’s no traffic. In fact, he can probably get a police escort, especially if he’s got donuts. The point is, there are a lot of unsung heroes out there working to help us get through this.

A nation doesn’t define itself by its prosperity and physical strength. It’s in times like these that we all find out just what we’re made of. Like Saturday when a neighbor sent a message saying we had a couple of people on our block in need of distilled water. I was in the store already, but by the time I was able to bring some home, the need had already been filled.

What if, every time we went to the store, we contacted one elderly neighbor to see if there’s anything they need? Do you have any neighbors with health issues that put them at a higher risk? Maybe they need a few cans of soup. And with spring finally here, grass will need to be mowed. It’s good exercise, and it may be just what somebody else needs.

And that’s the secret to getting through this, or any other crisis. What do the people around us need? If you’re sitting on a big stash of toilet paper, it means somebody else doesn’t have any. The same goes for food, disinfectants, and all the other things the stores can’t keep in stock. Keeping a supply on-hand is one thing. Hoarding is simply depriving others for your own gain.

And we’re better than that. We’ve proven it time after time. Sure, there will always be the gas stations that raise prices before a hurricane, or those who sell bottled water for ten times its normal price. We have names for people like that. But for every one of those stories, you can find dozens more where people are giving of themselves to help others in need. That’s who we are.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. Setting an elderly neighbor’s trash cans to the street. Leaving a box of canned goods on an unemployed neighbor’s porch. Sharing a few rolls of toilet paper, or a gallon of distilled water. There are dozens of things we can do to help those around us. And right now, we’ve got the time to do it. I can’t imagine a much greater sense of satisfaction.

Are there things you need? Don’t be too proud to ask. You may be surprised at the number of people willing to help. And if you’re in a position to help, there will never be a better time. We’re all in this together, and before it’s all over, we may all find ourselves in a time of need. Just one small gesture of kindness gets it started. From there, anything is possible.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Grow Old Before Your Time – And It’s Never Time

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

Some days we wake up full of energy, ready to take on the day and crush anything that stands in our way. Priorities have been set, a plan is in place, and we won’t stop until everything has been finished to perfection. When sleep finally comes, it’ll be out of sheer exhaustion from all the magnificent things we’ve accomplished. Today is not that day.

After being awakened by a pretty intense thunderstorm sometime when all good people are supposed to be asleep, I was a little slow rolling out of bed this morning. It’s not a lack of enthusiasm. It’s a lack of uninterrupted sleep. We all have days like this. Thankfully for me, they only come on days ending in “y.”

I’m told waking up during the night comes with age. I hope that’s not the case, because aging is something that never stops, and I’m nowhere even close to being old. Never mind the fact that, as of tomorrow, my oldest grandson will turn 20. That doesn’t mean I’m getting old. He is.

I still remember the day he was born. Watching him grow has been more than just a privilege. It’s a gift. And, like a lot of gifts, there were days when I wanted to take it back to the store. But overall, he’s been my buddy from the start. And he’s still not too proud to give his grandpa a hug, even if other people are watching.

Still, I’ll never forget the day I took him to little league football practice. We pulled up right in front of the team and, as he went to get out of my truck I said, “Hey, what about my kiss?” He gave me that wide-eyed stare that instantly conveyed what his 9-year-old brain was thinking. “Are you freaking insane???” I guess he didn’t care to be the tackling dummy for the day.

I’ve always said aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I’ve met people much older who are more vibrant and energetic than I was on my best day. And I’ve met others half my age who stopped living long ago. Benjamin Franklin once said that most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75. Can I get an amen?

And you know, I was part of that crowd until about 20 years ago. I don’t know if it was becoming a grandfather that breathed new life into the hollow shell I’d become. It may have been getting out of a job that sucked the life out of me, writing my humor column, getting into stand-up comedy, or any combination of things. I’m sure my wife had something to do with it.

But I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the past 20 years a lot more than the years leading up to it. As a consequence, I’ve enjoyed better health and emotional vitality than I did before. Sure, I’m starting to show some signs of wear and there are things that need a doctor’s care. But all things considered, I’ve never been healthier than I am today.

That’s not the result of modern medicine or a healthy & active lifestyle. Please, weightlifting for me involves standing up, and the closest I come to a workout is bending over to tie my shoes. The reason for my good health is simple – I made a choice to go on living instead of letting life slip away. Besides, my wife said till death do us part, and I’m letting her off that easy.

Am I tired? Sure. Do I ache? All over. I can’t run, I can’t jump, and getting up from the floor is a major event that requires advance planning, supporting staff, and the will of God. But put me in the front seat of a rollercoaster (one I can fit in) and I’m like a little kid – arms in the air, eyes wide open, and screaming “Rock and roll!” all the way down.

There are days when we feel a little older than normal. The trick is to make “normal” a boundary we set, not one that’s imposed upon us. There are things we can’t control as we age, but there are many more things we can control. And the greatest factor in our power is the degree to which we let age define us.

If you’ve lost some of that inner youth, it’s never too late to find it. Find something you enjoy, something that makes you feel young again, and make it a part of your life. We can’t beat the effects of time, but we can beat the effects of age. Age is just a number, but growing old is a state of mind. Make sure yours is what you want it to be.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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