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

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

Life Begins Where Your Comfort Zone Ends

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

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I think, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.” Okay, there have been times in my life when I was relieved to find myself in familiar surroundings. Mostly back in the 70s, but we won’t go there. They say if you can remember the 70s, you didn’t really enjoy it. Well, I must have had one hell of a good time.

But I’m not talking about waking up in a strange place, wondering how you got there and what you may have done in the hours leading up to that. Not that I’d know the feeling. I’ve never done that and you can believe I’ll never do it again. I’m talking about that feeling where you take a look around and say, “This isn’t my life. This isn’t where I was supposed to be.”

When I was sixteen, I knew exactly how my life would turn out. I’d be a rock star, performing on stages around the world with thousands of adoring fans screaming my name. I’d have a two-story mansion with a yacht at the dock and no less than a dozen fine automobiles. I’d pilot my own private jet and spend my days surrounded by beautiful women. Life would be one big party.

So, how did all that turn out? I spent 15 years as a stand-up comedian, performing to tens of people in biker bars around the country. I do live in a two-story house (counting the basement), my yacht looks more like an aluminum skiff, and I’ve owned at least a dozen cars, though none could really be called an “automobile.” Some even started – most days.

I’ve never flown a jet, but I did almost crash-land a Cessna on my third (and final) flying lesson. I spend my days surrounded by women, but they’re all hanging from branches on my family tree. And the only time anybody screams my name is when the toilet paper roll is empty or a spot on the ceiling sprouts legs and starts moving.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Up until now, that is. Well, maybe that time I found myself sitting in the back seat of a Sheriff’s cruiser with three of my buddies, but you know … that was back in the 70s, too. I remember it because it wasn’t much fun. But, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Now, if I’m still enjoying this same existence a year from now, the gods and I are going to have a talk. More like I’m gonna talk and they’re gonna listen. Because, even at the ripe old age of 62, I still have dreams. And they don’t involve spending my days this far from the beach. Or the sun, for that matter. Global warming sucks, but they could at least send a little my way.

Or, I could just find a way to put myself closer to warm weather and beaches. You see, there’s a solution for every problem. Even steamed broccoli. It’s called a trash can. But no matter what you’d like to change in life, there’s a way to do it. The problem is we put ourselves in situations where making that change is a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Every day people get up, get dressed, and go to a job they despise. Why? Because it’s there. It’s secure. It’s what they know. They live in a town they can’t stand, yet they keep putting down deeper roots. They dream of being someplace else, but don’t take any steps to get there. Because, no matter how much we want something different, there a certain comfort in what we know.

So, what’s the answer? Get a little uncomfortable. Start by focusing on the reasons you want things to change instead of just turning on the TV and watching reruns of Bonanza. Get out and see how the other side lives. Pick up some travel magazines or take a weekend vacation. Imagine the life you want instead of existing in the life you’ve got.

Then get ready to step outside your comfort zone for real – not just in your mind. Because the results don’t change unless you change the approach. To have something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. It means taking a risk, putting yourself out there, and leaving the safety net behind. It means embracing discomfort to find a higher level of comfort.

A dream is nothing more than an existence that’s at least slightly above where you are now. It doesn’t have to be grand – just enough to make a difference. And to get there, all you have to do is stretch your boundaries. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But once you do, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get started.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Enjoy Today – You Can Grow Old Later

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

It’s officially Hump Day, but for most of us in the United States it’s an early Friday. Since tomorrow is one of the biggest holidays of the year, most companies give their people a day to recuperate. Not like recuperating on New Year’s Day – that one usually involves a hangover. Recuperating the day after Thanksgiving usually involves Pepto Bismol and a lot of sitting around.

Today I add another candle to the cake. As if we’d actually put that many candles on a single cake. Even if it didn’t collapse from the weight, we’d set off every smoke detector in town. I’ve officially reached what the Social Security Administration has deemed the age of “early retirement.” That doesn’t mean I can retire. It just means I have an excuse for dreaming about it.

There was a time in my life when I thought this was old. Like, REALLY old. And, to my grandkids, I guess it is. My grandson asked me yesterday if I’ll be 91. I told him someday. Not for another 31 years. But at that age, they can’t really tell the difference. There are kids and old people. And I guess I fall into the second category.

I don’t feel old. Well, let me correct that … my body feels really old. It just feels like it has to be somebody else’s body, because the rest of me hasn’t quite caught up. Granted, there are days when my wife would argue that point. I guess I can be a bit of a grump sometimes, but the kids can too, so that’s not really a valid measure of age. Right?

That said, people tend to judge our age by how old we act. I know a lot of people much older than me who have a zest for life that I hope to someday master. I imagine they’ve had a lifetime of practice, and I’m sure there are days when their body doesn’t feel up to the task. But they don’t let that get in the way. They just keep on plugging, making the most of every single day.

And it’s hard to think of somebody like that as “old.” It’s not that we deny their age. We have eyes, and it’s obvious they’ve made a few more trips around the sun than the rest of us. But they have eyes, too, and it’s the sparkle in those eyes that defies their chronological age. It’s heartwarming, adventuresome, and even a little ornery. You wonder sometimes what they may do next.

George Burns once said you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. We must think a lot alike, because I’ve always said aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. He was always somebody I admired … 100 years old, with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes that never faded for a moment. If I live to be that old, that’s exactly the kind of person I hope to be.

Our whole lives, we’ve worked to build something. Whether that was intentional or consequential, we’ve put in a lot of time getting where we are. Hopefully it’s at least close to where we wanted to be, because I don’t think anything makes us old faster than resigning ourselves to a life that’s less than we’d hoped for. That’s why so many people get old at such a young age.

The day we stop having something to look forward to, we begin giving in to the reality of time. We not only look old, but we feel old … mentally and physically. As kids, we were constantly reminded to act our age. Well, this is the time when that happens. And the only cure is to have a dream, along with some genuine sense that it’ll actually come true. Without dreams, we’re old already.

If you want to stay young, or at least young at heart, the prescription is simple – hang onto your dreams. And don’t just dream, do something about it. Every day you let slip past is a day wasted. Because the time will come when our bodies can no longer accommodate the dreams we kept putting on hold. Make the most of life now, while you still can. There’s plenty of time to be old later.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You’re Never Too Old to Dream

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

It’s been a busy week for me. Sometimes it works that way. Usually when the boss is out of town, but hey … that’s the way it goes. The bottom line is I get to come home at the end of the day knowing I did something productive. At my age, that’s a lot more important than brownie points.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I hit that point where my goals shifted from advancement and recognition to just doing a good job and leaving the place better than I found it. I think we all reach that point sometime in our work and personal life. For some of us, it just happens a lot sooner than others.

I talk to a lot of people who, when you suggest building something that can provide a little better security in retirement, and maybe even let them reach that point a few years earlier than they would have, they shake their head and say, “At my age …” What follows is some variation of “I’m too old to start something new” or “I’m happy with things just the way they are.”

What that means, in so many words, is, “People my age don’t have dreams.” Well, yeah, they do. We all do. We just may not spend much time thinking about them. But the most active retiree still has things they want to do, or places they want to see. And I don’t care how much money they’ve got, they probably wish they had a little more.

We naturally gravitate toward things that bring pleasure. Advertisers know that all too well. That’s why in vacation commercials, you only see families snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef or enjoying a candle-lit dinner in a mountain lodge. You never see them waiting in line for tickets, enduring a body search at the airport, or crammed into a coach seat for six hours.

Part of the problem is that, when we’re younger, we want all the nice things and we want them right now. Sure, saving a portion of our paycheck would get us there eventually, but the credit card company says we don’t have to wait. We just have to take an even bigger portion of our check to pay the bill long after the fun is over or the new car smells like old cheeseburgers.

I did the same thing, so I won’t lecture anybody on financial responsibility. But, having done it both ways, I have to admit there’s a lot more excitement in saving for something you want than paying for it once you’ve got it. It’s like the difference between building something and then having to repaint it – every month until there’s nothing left to repaint.

As we get older, we realize that all those days of spending on whatever we wanted may have created some fun times along the way, but it may not have been overly responsible. And that’s when it hits – responsibility. The dreaded “R” word. It makes Mom and Dad proud, but to the rest of the world it simply means you’ve grown old.

That’s when we start saying things like, “Why do I need a new car? The old one still runs.” “A bigger house would be nice, but it’s just that much more to clean.” “I’d love to go to Tahiti, but who wants to sit on a plane that long?” Sure, the excuses make sense. But at the end of the day, they’re just validation of the fact that we stopped acting on our dreams.

I think a lot of that is the wisdom of age, realizing that money really doesn’t grow on trees and whatever we spend today won’t be there tomorrow. Part of it is the reality that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll retire and have to live on whatever we’ve been able to save. And part is just the fact that, as we age, a quiet evening on the porch holds a lot more value than it used to.

But part of it is that, as we get older, we give up our ability to dream. We’re no longer looking at a lifetime to enjoy whatever we begin building today. The appeal of a vacation every month yields to the lure of relaxing by the fireplace. And the excitement of new things turns to the cold, hard calculation of how much it costs and all the other things that money could be used for.

It’s one thing to become responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. So, what if you’ll only have a few years to enjoy what you’ve built? Doesn’t that beat not enjoying it at all? Dreams represent hope. And the longer you have hope, the longer you truly live. That alone should be worth the time you spend standing in line.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

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

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved