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

Breathe – This Too Shall Pass

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

Mine started off completely different. Before I even had my first cup of coffee, I went to the store to see if I could get lucky on some items that have been part of the panic hoarding. You know, a box of macaroni and a small bag of rice. Apparently, these things are part of the miracle cure for coronavirus. I never got that memo.

Since the stores are closed overnight for cleaning and re-stocking, I went at opening time. Well, a half-hour later, complete aisles were empty. It’s pretty obvious what happened last night. At least they were gracious enough to throw away the empty liquor bottles after the party ended.

This will eventually settle down, and then the stores won’t sell any of these items at all for another six months, except to those of us who only bought what we needed for the next week or two. Funny, there’s no shortage of hand soap. I guess if you use enough toilet paper, you don’t need it. Mom, are you listening?

Another thing that’s plentiful is dog food. I went to the store yesterday to hoard … I mean, buy … some of that. The shelves were completely full. I guess if this thing keeps going long enough, we can buy a little extra and mix it with some pinto beans and cheese to make a casserole. I mean, the dog has no problem eating our food. Fair is fair.

I remember when I was a kid walking into Grandma’s kitchen and she was snacking on something. Grandma had one glass eye and was nearly blind in the other. She saw me come in and asked, “Do you want some candy? It’s good!” I said, “Grandma, that’s dog food!” She couldn’t dig it out of her mouth fast enough. It went from tasty to poison in less than a second.

That story would be a whole lot funnier if it really was candy and I was just playing a trick on her. Needless to say, I never tried any. It may have been awesome. I’ll take her word for it.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m assuming the reason stores are out of Kleenex and paper towels is that, in a pinch, they can be used for cleaning something a little more personal. But when my granddaughter ran out of Kleenex and started wiping her nose with toilet paper, that’s where I drew the line. She can have one of my old tee shirts for that.

I hate to see forced hibernation, but that may be what it’ll take to let this all settle down. We need to get a grip. There is no shortage of toilet paper or any of these other items. They are just temporarily out of stock. That’s all. Granted, if you’re out and can’t buy any, that’s a problem. Just visit your neighbors. Odds are one of them has enough to supply the whole block.

Panic doesn’t solve problems – it creates them. When we approach a problem with a level head, solutions appear. Panic is a reaction that clouds our judgment and compounds problems. Whether the problem is health-related, financial, marital, or just about anything else, our ability to maintain an even keel and work through the problem is critical to our success.

Tackle what you can today, and worry about the rest tomorrow. In that time, some of the remaining issues will resolve on their own. And even if they don’t, you’ll be that much better suited to work through them. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Do you have enough food and toilet paper for today? Then who cares if the store is empty? Move on to the next problem.

This crisis will go away. It may take a while, and we will certainly have to adapt in the meantime. But the sooner we settle down and face the real problems instead of creating artificial ones, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with the business of living. And that doesn’t stop with the coronavirus. It’ll be that way throughout the rest of your life.

Whenever you’re faced with a mountain of problems, break it down. Some are real problems, and some are perceived. Some require your immediate attention, and some will work their way through with no help from you. Focus on the things you can fix. One step at a time, one day at a time. Breathe in and breathe out. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to know the difference.” Words to live by, now and always.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You’re Not Driving, You’re Just Along For The Ride

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

If you’re among the majority of the nation, your day didn’t start out like last Tuesday. Kids are home from school, parents are working from home (if they’re able to work at all), and all around us the world is slowly grinding to a halt. Hopefully you’ve got enough of the essentials to carry you through for a few days, because your neighbors cleaned the shelves at the store.

There was a story in the news about a guy in Tennessee who rented a truck and bought up every bottle of hand sanitizer he could find. Once the stores were empty, he put the items on Amazon and eBay for as much as 80 times what he paid for them. Both outlets shut him down, and he’s stuck with 17,700 bottles he can’t sell. Now he can’t afford toilet paper. Instant karma.

I normally try to mix in a little humor in my posts, but there’s not a lot to laugh about in this crisis. I read yesterday that up to 80 million jobs will be impacted, and in the coming week as many as 10 million people could be out of work. Never mind the kids whose school year was interrupted, or the high school seniors who may be denied the spectacle of public graduation.

Life, as we know it, has changed. And while we will eventually weather the storm and come out safe on the other end, things we’ve taken for granted have changed forever. At the top of that list is our feeling of security. It’s a reminder that life can come along when we least expect it and change everything in a moment.

The last recession is still a vivid memory. Most of us were impacted by it, and it’s taken the better part of 12 years to recover. Yet, in a matter of days, most of those gains have been wiped out. Hopefully this crisis won’t last so long, but recovery will take time and the landscape will look very different when it’s all over. Where we fit in that landscape may yet be unknown.

When you rely completely on one source of income, your exposure to risk increases exponentially. That’s why I’ve always tried to have a few things I could fall back on. A little here and a little there adds up. When you’re working, it’s extra income. It’s a chance to enjoy some of life’s finer experiences. And if the job ends, it becomes your immediate means of survival.

You never know what may happen to change your situation. Two years ago, I had brain surgery. That could have put me out of commission for good. You could be on your way to work tomorrow and somebody decides to take your lane. It happened to my wife. All manner of things can happen to change life as you know it. The question is, what will you do then?

To the extent that you can rely on yourself for income, and not somebody else, you have a better chance of controlling the outcome of things over which you have little control. I’ve never once fired myself from a job. Have you? If your company closed its doors tomorrow, could you continue making an income on your own? Every little bit helps.

Dig the well before you get thirsty. You’ve read those words before. There are things we can all be doing now that may not make a major difference in the next week or so, and maybe not even for a few months. But they could make all the difference in the world as we move forward and find our new place in life. If you’re out of work already, why not put that time to use?

It’s funny how we scramble to find a quick solution when we need money, yet we’re quick to scoff at anything outside of the traditional 8-5 job. But at a time when so many companies are sending people home, doesn’t a business of your own make that much more sense? The problem isn’t a lack of opportunities. It’s an overabundance of misplaced pride.

If you’re over the age of 30, odds are somebody at some time has offered you the chance to build a home-based business. And, if you’re among more than 99% of the adult population, you turned it down. Granted, owning a business is no guarantee of success. You have to work at it, and you may still struggle. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to work at?

This crisis will end. And then something else will happen. That’s the reality of life. Handling those ups and downs will depend heavily on the choices you make now – before the need arises. To the extent that you control the variables, you control the results. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and you’ll never have to wonder where you’re headed.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams May Wait, But Time Isn’t Quite So Patient

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

Forty years ago, a friend told me about the magic refrigerator. Apparently, I thought he said the magic inside the refrigerator, because I found my way inside and never really came out. And I have the belly to show for it. Turns out, it’s not really magic. It’s first-grade arithmetic. Take in more than you put out, and the total just keeps getting higher.

But my friend wasn’t referring to the refrigerator’s contents. He was talking about something much more intriguing. He said, “Find a picture of the car you really want and put it on your refrigerator. Every day, you’ll look at that picture several times and it’ll remind you what you’re working for. Do that, and someday that car will magically appear in your driveway.”

That’s great if you have a driveway. Back then, I had a parking space. Not even an assigned parking space – just the privilege of finding one before anybody else got there. All for one low monthly payment. Right. My rent at the time consumed almost half what I got paid each month. For that, I should have had a heated garage.

But the concept of the magic refrigerator is pretty simple. Find a picture of something you want and put it where you’ll see it several times a day. I’ve mentioned this before. It sparks the imagination. It builds excitement. It’s a constant reminder that there are things in life worth working for. Besides, it makes other people question your sanity. That’s always a plus.

Well, I’ve reached the big time and I now have a driveway. Single-wide, and just big enough for one car. But it’s mine. If anybody else parks there, I can have them towed away at their expense. Problem is my refrigerator has aluminum doors. Magnets don’t stick, and my wife has dared me to use tape on it. So the “magic refrigerator” looks a lot more like the back of my desk.

For ten years, I’ve had a picture of a motorhome on my desk with the words, “If not now, when?” It was my daily reminder that this is our dream. Every day, I’ve taken small steps to make that happen. Saving money, extra work on the side, and building my credit score. And granted, I haven’t done nearly as much as I could have. Hence the dust on that ten-year-old picture.

Well, I can take that picture down, because as of Friday, the dream became a reality. We are now the proud owners of a brand new 38-foot motor home (and a whole bunch of monthly payments). Only problem is, it won’t fit in my driveway. In fact, it won’t fit in front of the house. Guess what’s gonna be next on the magic refrigerator? If you think it’s a bigger house, try again.

I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. South Florida is a boater’s paradise, but as you drive along Las Olas Boulevard, what’s docked behind those mansions can’t really be called boats. These are some of the most magnificent luxury yachts ever built. And every day going to work, I saw the same yachts – sitting in the same place every day. Maybe they couldn’t afford the motors.

We didn’t buy an RV to park in front of the house and show it off. What’s going on my magic refrigerator next will be destinations – campgrounds, national parks, beaches, canyons, and a US map with 49 stickers (they haven’t built a bridge to Hawaii yet). We plan to use this thing. And all the extra effort I put in from this day forward will be in pursuit of that dream.

You see, the RV was a dream. But it’s not THE dream – it’s just a tool that will allow us to satisfy the bigger dream of seeing this country though an ever-moving picture window. And believe me, that window is huge. On the trip home it collected a dozen bugs that weren’t smart enough to move out of the way. Care to guess who owns that window?

Yes, dreams do come true. We didn’t do this exactly the way I’d planned, and I can think of a dozen reasons we might have waited. But life moves on whether you’re ready or not. Sooner or later, you have to decide if the dream is important enough to make it happen. And if so, there’s no better time to get started.

It may take ten years for your dream to come true, but as you sit there thinking about it, the finish line isn’t getting any closer. Figure out what needs to be done and get started today. The sooner you make it happen, the longer you’ll have to enjoy it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved