Memories Are Built In An Instant, But They Last Forever

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

For those of us in the United States, we’re entering the heaviest travel week of the year. Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is the one that brings the most people home. As the song says, over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. I remember those days, and I miss them.

Waking up at Grandma’s always came with smells I’ll never forget. Breakfast on the stove, a pot of coffee waiting to be poured, and logs crackling in the fireplace. Okay, and there was that one year when one of the bedrooms was being used as an incubator for about fifty baby chickens. That one came with a smell I’m happy to forget. But they were fun to play with.

Depending on the calendar, Thanksgiving always comes pretty close to my birthday (sometimes they’re on the same day), so that made the trip to Grandma’s even more special. Most of the day, we’d be outside running around the farm, walking through the woods, or shooting my BB gun. That was the only time of year I was allowed to touch it.

And you never knew how many aunts, uncles, and cousins would pile into that little three-bedroom house. There were times we had more than 20 people there. Sometimes, a few of us would sleep in the cars. That was back when station wagons were still a thing. And with one bathroom in that house, there was never any grass growing behind the barn. For the boys, that was a mandate.

When I think of the best times in my life, those days always come to mind. It was a simple life, with simple pleasures. As the adults would sit around the table playing dominoes, we’d find a quiet corner to tell spooky stories and try to get one good channel on TV. I guess it wasn’t all fun and games, but the other times have just slipped from my memory and the good parts are all that’s left.

I think about those days often, usually when I come into the house on a weekend and the smell of bacon is lingering in the air. Of all the sensory reminders of our youth, smells probably top the list of things that can instantly take us back to an earlier day. I also like driving through small towns where all the light poles are decorated with wreaths and huge candy canes. It just makes me feel good.

It’s natural to gravitate toward those things that remind us of a simpler time in life. And, to be fair, I know some folks don’t have a lot of those memories. So, they have to create new memories today that they can reflect on years from now. It’s never too late. But it does take effort.

Like most things in life, we can’t create a lot of memories just sitting around in front of the TV while the kids play video games on a tablet. No conversation, no interaction – just sitting around exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide, completely oblivious to the existence of others.

Yet, whenever we turn on the news to hear another story about the worst in human behavior, the first things we blame are upbringing and a lack of values. And the whole time, our kids are sitting across the room with their face buried in an electronic device of some kind that’s giving them the only real source of companionship they’ll have all day. Do we see a problem here?

And those values come through the very things that formed our most cherished childhood memories. We owe it to our kids and all those around us to help them build memories of their own – times they’ll look back on with a gentle smile and a warm heart. Those memories are will help shape their innermost values, good or bad. So, it’s worth whatever it takes to make those memories positive.

Memories can come at any time of year – we don’t have to wait for holidays. A few minutes singing silly songs or reading a book together; a family picnic, or just a walk in the park; games at the table after dinner – you know, a meal where everybody sat down together. All of these things build memories, and those memories will stay with us a long time. And those memories build values.

But, the thing about memories is that the best ones will always include other people. We can’t build fond memories in a vacuum. So, spend a little time building memories with those around you – your family, your neighbors, even perfect strangers. Your memories will become their memories, so it’s two for the price of one. Make those memories positive, and everybody wins.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Memories – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

The weather finally broke here in southern Ohio, and lots of people were out enjoying it. I have to say, it felt nice to go outside in short sleeves without feeling cold. We took my granddaughter to the zoo and, other than the punishment I got from my lower back for all the walking and standing around, it was an awesome day.

This is also the time of year when people start thinking about their summer vacations. Some already have their destination picked out. In fact, a young woman I work with has resolved to take a trip somewhere every month this year, and she can tell you for the next several months exactly where she’ll be. That has to feel pretty good.

We’ve got a couple of trips planned this year and we know where we’ll be going. We just don’t know exactly when. Between work and my surgery last year, we’ve spent the past few months catching up. And, I’ll be honest – I don’t know that we’re really making any headway, because the things we need to do are multiplying faster than we can get them done. Know the feeling?

But there’s a point where you have to just drive a stake in the ground and schedule some “me” time. If you wait for things to settle down, you’ll be waiting a long time. We all need a little down time, but life doesn’t seem to care much about that. If it sees an opening, a time when you don’t have much going on, it’ll fill that gap faster than you can say “Whew!”

I’ve read several articles about work and the toll it takes on us, both mentally and physically. And I’ve read others about our obsession with stuff … amassing as many possessions as possible, as early in life as possible, to the point that all we do is work for our possessions. A bigger house, a fancier car, the best entertainment system, all things we can certainly enjoy, but at what expense?

There comes a point where every day we get out of bed and go to work just so we can either make the monthly payment on what we’ve already bought or set aside money for the next purchase. But when you ask people where they’re going on vacation, the answer is often, “We’re staying home. We’ve got a lot of yard work to catch up on and I just need some time to relax and do nothing.”

The key point in every one of those articles I read was that all the hours we worked and all the stuff we amassed are only a means of keeping score in a game that nobody ever wins. And every one of those possessions will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. But memories last a lifetime and beyond. And memories usually aren’t built on the job or sitting in front of a big-screen TV.

The fact is, every day we move closer to a goal that we didn’t set and our date with destiny is something over which we have very little control. Every day between now and then is a chance to make the most of life, to experience things we’ve only dreamed of, and to build memories that will see us through those frail years after we’re no longer able to get out and see the world.

Make time to do the things you want to do. Make a list and start checking things off instead of crossing them off. There is nothing you can take with you when this life is over, and the possessions you’ve amassed will mostly be sold at auction because they just don’t hold a lot of sentimental value. But the memories can’t be sold, and the sentimental value they hold can’t be measured.

We all have things we need to do, and work is one of them. You can’t really escape that. But a healthy work/life balance needs to be part of it. And any time you start thinking you just can’t take time off because there’s too much to do, consider how quickly the company will replace you if you were to become incapacitated. And think of all the things you’d have missed along the way.

There’s an old saying – work hard and play hard. For too many of us, that second part gets lost in the first. Be good at your job. Be dedicated and reliable. But never forget the responsibility you have to yourself and your family. Life is about more than just a paycheck. Make time for yourself and build those memories. It’s the one possession that truly lasts forever.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Clock is Running … What’s Your Score?

Good morning, and happy Friday! We made it through another week. I hope yours has been awesome.

This morning I have a biometric screening at work – blood test, body measurements, all those things that normally don’t start the day off well for somebody with my physique. I’ll get the results in a few days and they’ll tell me the things I’ve done well and all the things I could’ve done better. That second list will be the longer of the two. No surprises there.

It’s important to get a measure of your standing from time to time, because that’s a measure of success. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you need to go. I know about things like blood pressure, weight, and body fat. I measure them regularly. But the stuff on the inside is a little more of a mystery. This is where I find out how all the outward stuff is affecting the rest.

And when I get my results, I’ll know exactly where I stand right now, and what needs to be fixed. I already know how to fix those things. But sometimes, we need to know the current score in order to prioritize what needs to be done next.

It’s the same with anything you’re trying to accomplish. Project managers draft detailed project plans to set milestones and track progress through the life of a project. Banks send those statements every month that shows our progress toward saving more than we spend. And the GPS shows our progress toward a desired destination. And mine seems to say “recalculating” a lot. Just me?

It’s important to stop occasionally and take stock of where you are, what you’ve accomplished to date, and then reassess your next step. Whether you’re cooking dinner or playing chess, progress is an important measure of what you need to do to keep moving toward your goal. And it lets you know when it’s time to take an unscheduled turn or pit stop to get things back on track.

As we talk about our dreams and goals, it’s easy to just throw them out there with a simple one-word timeline – “Someday.” It’s a goal, and we plan to do it at some point in life. But with such a vague definition of when this is all supposed to happen, it’s pretty hard to track our progress along the way.

Let’s say your goal is a European vacation for the whole family. Twelve countries in five days. I’ve never understood the fascination with breezing across borders without slowing down to enjoy the scenery, much less sample the local cuisine. But some people seem to enjoy that.

You probably have an idea of how much that will cost. In today’s dollars, that is. You save a little every month for several years, and watch it grow. Every year, you see yourself getting a little closer. Emergencies come along and set you back. The car needs repairs. Your kid needs braces. Then there’s college, a new roof on the house, and all the other things that come along.

And by the time you have everything in place and you’re ready to pack up and go, inflation has more than doubled the price. Now you’re back to square one. Maybe not all the way, but how many more years will it take to make this happen? And how many other things will come along to mess up your plans even more?

Cemeteries are the resting place of unfulfilled dreams. All those things a person never had a chance to do are buried right along with them. And after the funeral, the family decides to pool their resources and take that vacation mom always dreamed of … you know, in her honor. And the whole time they’re saying, “Mom would have loved this!” Yeah, probably so.

The time for living our dreams is now – while we’re still alive and have the chance to do something about it. But we have to put measures in place, so we know where we are and what still remains to be done. And we have to check along the way to see if the goal has moved. Destinations don’t move around much, but what it takes to get there may change dramatically along the way.

Life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good. By knowing where we’re going and how far we’ve come, those surprises turn into detours rather than roadblocks. Instead of getting to the end of life and lamenting the things we never got to do, we can bask in the memory of the things we’ve done. And memories live on, long after our dreams have been laid to rest.

Dream, set goals, and make plans. But most importantly of all, make sure you’re getting closer as you go. You only have the rest of your life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved