Life Is A Gift – Slow Down And Enjoy It

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

For most of us in the US, our circadian rhythms are all out of whack again. It’s amazing the difference one hour can make. Looking outside at 7:30 and it’s still dark just doesn’t feel right. There ought to be a law. I say we go back to bed and sleep that extra hour until the sun catches up. Funny, morning traffic seems to catch up quite nicely. It doesn’t miss a beat.

I haven’t been out for the morning drive in a while, and I have to admit that was pretty nice. I’ll be back out there in a couple of weeks, though, with one foot on the gas, the other on the brake, right hand on the wheel and left hand hanging out the window. You know … signaling a left-hand turn. You believe me, right?

I always used to wonder about all those people darting in and out of traffic, putting everybody else’s life at risk just to beat them to the exit ramp so they can slam on their brakes and stop right next to us at the light. Hopefully they’re that energetic when they actually get to work. I doubt it. They’re the ones who leave an empty coffee pot and swipe the last donut.

I remember driving home from work one day, and everybody else was going a lot faster than I was. Oh, I was doing the speed limit, but I was staying in my lane and just driving. You know, like an old man. Finally, it occurred to me. It’s not because they’re younger and more agile. It’s because they’re not going home to teenage kids. And apparently, they can afford the ticket.

No matter where we’re going, we always seem to be in a hurry to get there. So much so that, yesterday morning, we set our clocks an hour ahead. If we did that every week, I’d be 102. And, while I hope I can live that long, I’m not in that much of a hurry to get there. Life is going by fast enough, thank you. I’m ready to slow down and start enjoying it a little more.

Granted, there are times when we need to get somewhere fast. Like when you get out of work last and dinner is waiting. I’m kidding. Dinner is never ready. Well, unless you’re running late and it’s something that tastes better hot. And yes, we have a microwave. But some things don’t play nicely in the microwave. Ever try biting into a chunk of silicone?

Still, there are times when we’re legitimately in a hurry. But more often than not, we put ourselves in that situation by choices we made. Like leaving for work at the last possible minute and then expecting everybody else to get out of your way. I know, I sound like my dad. He always used to tell me if the car backfired one time, I’d be late. He was right.

Traffic is a fact of life. Tires go flat, batteries go dead, and every now and then Mother Nature decides to throw a wrench in the spokes. Any one of them can mess up your day. But if we’d just anticipate those things and leave a little earlier, we could start our day with a lot less stress and get to work in one piece. Early. Oh, the horror!  Now I really DO sound like an old man.

Well, here’s the thing. The first person there gets the freshest cup of coffee. The pot’s never empty, you get your choice of the best stuff in the vending machine, and you can pretty much park wherever you want. So, what if you can’t clock in early? Take a newspaper, check your email, read my morning post – whatever. Breathe. Start your day on your own terms.

Somebody once said Heaven must be a great place because we’re all dying to get there. And you know what? You’ll get there soon enough. Even the idiot on the road who’s making your life miserable. But as the title of a 1978 movie suggests, Heaven can wait. It’ll still be there. So will work, and dinner, and the school play, and all the other things we’re rushing to enjoy.

An old Mac Davis song warned, “You’re gonna find your way to Heaven is a rough and rocky road if you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.” Breathe. Slow down. Take time to appreciate what’s in front of you right now, even if it’s a line of stopped cars. Every minute we rush through life puts us a minute closer to the end. Enjoy it before those minutes are gone.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Stop Beating Yourself Up – Just Keep Moving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Next Year – It’s The Day That Never Comes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Kids Learn The Darnest Things

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

Today I’ve got my four-year-old grandson with me. In other words, somebody I can relate to on an intellectual level. As I sit here on my computer, he’s working on his. We do this a lot, except I think sometimes his output is a little more advanced than mine. He’s doing his ABCs, which everybody can understand. Even me. Some of what I write is a little less coherent.

Kids love to imitate the things we do. I remember my oldest grandson trying to write jokes for me to use onstage. Thinking back to how some of my own material did, maybe I should have given his jokes a try. But then I’d have to admit he’s funnier than I am, and that’s something no self-respecting comedian can do. Besides, his cut of the $12 after gas would leave me broke.

I’ll never forget the time we were driving in my truck and somebody in front of me was going annoyingly slow. I finally vented some of my frustration to the windshield (I do that a lot) and said, “Drive or get off the road!” My grandson, without missing a beat, offered a suggestion. “Flip ‘em off!” He was three. And no, he didn’t learn that from me. He learned it from his mom, who learned it from … well, never mind.

A few years ago, I decided to build a shed. Not because I couldn’t buy one that would do the job just fine, but because I smacked my forehead with a sledgehammer forty years ago and sometimes it makes me do stupid things. Okay, I hit it really hard. As in, lights out. I remember waking up to a group of guys standing around me and one asking, “Is that boy day-ed???”

So, when it came time for a new shed, I did what any real man does. I went to the lumber store. A sane man would have drawn a set of plans first, but if you’re talking about me that ship already sailed. That’s okay. I used to write Air Force maintenance manuals. Think about that the next time a C-130 flies over your head.

Still, I knew what I wanted to build, and I had a vision in my head. My grandson was too naïve to ask questions. He just assumed I knew how to do it. And three years later, it’s still standing proud. We did an awesome job, and he learned a lot in the process. All because a teenage boy wanted to hang out and bond with Grandpa.

He did most of the work and picked up a few new skills along the way. Like rough carpentry, siding, and roofing. But I still say his favorite part was tearing down the old one. I hooked a nylon strap to the inside of the roof and wrapped the other end around the axle of my truck, then handed him the key and said, “Knock yourself out!” It was down in two seconds flat.

As we stood back and admired the finished product (the new shed, not the old one), I told him “You’ve learned some new skills here. You may never want to do any of this again, but you’ll always know you can.” I told my daughter the same thing when she learned to replace her car’s brakes. That’s how I roll. Get them to do the work and make ‘em think it was a lesson.

My daughter never has replaced her brakes again. She decided it was easier to get a decent job and pay somebody else to do that stuff. But my grandson has found that he enjoys construction and remodeling. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s an honest living, and there will always be a demand for somebody with those skills.

Kids learn more from us than we think. Some of those things will serve them well in adulthood, and others will be a reminder of why they want something better. But all shape the person they become. So, share those experiences with them – the good and the bad. Let them see how you handle challenges. They’ll learn more from your approach than any skill you can impart.

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