Don’t Let the Door Hit You On the Way In

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

It was a year ago last week that I started a new job with a previous employer. I’d been with them for almost four years when my position was eliminated. “No hard feelings, Dave … it’s just business.” I wish I had a few dollars for every time I’ve heard that one.

And no, there weren’t any hard feelings. It was just business. Besides, the company was really gracious in the way they went about it. They gave me over two months of advance notice along with severance pay, and my managers tried hard to find somebody else in the company to take me. “Please, give this guy a job! He’s driving us nuts!!!”

Okay, that’s not exactly how it went down, but the point is they could have been a lot more unemotional about the way they handled it. Sure, at the end of the day, I was the one without a job, but that’s just the reality of business today. Long gone are the days when you went to work at the factory and left with a gold watch 40 years later.

Something I’ve learned over the years … it’s a small world, and bridges burned aren’t easily repaired. I love the memes about a person flipping off a frustrated driver as they swerved in front of him to swipe the only remaining parking spot, only to arrive at their job interview with the recipient of their middle-finger salute. Can you say karma?

It reminds me of my younger days when I routinely worked a second job to make ends meet. When I was stationed in Key West, a friend taught me how to work on bowling machines, a skill that earned me a fair amount of money over the years. And all those hours on the receiving end of 40 lanes provides a convenient excuse any time people question my ability to focus.

At one point, a new mechanic came onboard and immediately challenged my expertise. He’d been in the industry a while, and he wanted more hours. My hours. And what better way to pad his pocket than to convince the owner I wasn’t competent? Suffice to say we didn’t get along very well, and I didn’t mind. I was still there long after he left.

A year later and at a new duty station 1,100 miles away, I applied for a part-time job in the local bowling alley. As I waited to meet the manager, guess who I saw walking my way? My heart stopped. Then he spoke. “Dave! What are you doing here?” He introduced me to the manager with a glowing review, and five minutes later I was hired. You just never know.

I’ve thought about that several times over the years. I’ve seen people in their final days on the job doing everything they can to misbehave and create friction. “I don’t care! There’s no way I’ll ever work here again!”

Okay, maybe so. But how about that manager you’re going out of your way to irritate? Is it just possible she’s looking for a job also? Five years later in a completely different company, you’re minding your own business when the boss says, “Meet your new manager.” It happens.

Whether it’s jobs or personal relationships, emotions can run high as things come to an end. It’s tempting to speak our mind, put people in their place, and walk away feeling victorious. But all too often, our indignation is directed at the wrong people, or for the wrong reasons. And it has a way of coming back at the worst possible time.

Life isn’t always fair. Things happen that we don’t deserve, and there will always be some people who can only advance themselves at the expense of somebody else. It may feel good to give them a piece of our mind, but it rarely changes the outcome. And when it does, it usually makes bad matters worse.

“Before you speak, count to ten.” Sound familiar? Here’s another one. Before you send off that flaming email, shut down your computer and have lunch. Better yet, sleep on it. When you come back, if you still think it’s the right thing to do, then hit “Send.” But odds are you’ll realize your sanity is worth more than any cheap shot you could deliver in the heat of the moment.

I’d like to tell you the good guy always wins, but that’s not how it really works. At least not in the present tense. But over the long haul, the mindset that drives you to maintain a sense of dignity and decorum will serve you well. You’ll never regret leaving a job (or a relationship) on good terms. If for no other reason, do it for yourself. You’ll be living with that person a long time.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Are You NOT Eating?

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

Every morning I get up and take a handful of pills. Two are for blood pressure, one is for allergies, and one is for acid reflux. I blame my kids for that one. The rest are vitamins and supplements that keep me healthy. Yes, they’re a little pricey. But I still spend less on vitamins in six months than it would cost me to miss a single day of work.

My doctor isn’t a fan of supplements. On the other hand, she does rely on repeat business from people who aren’t completely healthy, so her opinion may be a bit clouded. “All you need is a good, healthy diet.” Okay, she’s seen my belly. I think we can agree that ship already sailed. I don’t eat healthy food, but I do eat healthy portions. In the sense that “healthy” means hefty.

Yes, I know. A little self-control goes a long way. And there are foods our body needs a whole lot more than the foods we take in. Okay, for most of us. I know a few people who actually try. They eat lots of green vegetables, avoid red meat, and snack on carrots. They even do it with a straight face, as if they actually like it. But deep down, I know they’re craving a Twinkie.

The problem is even worse when you realize there’s nothing you can buy in your local grocery store that will give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Nothing. Unless you throw that whole “healthy portions” thing out the window and use a dinner plate the size of a garbage can lid. Do that and you’ll be healthy as a horse, only slightly larger.

The problem is that, over the years, soil depletion from poor farming practices have left us with a selection of fresh produce that’s seriously deficient in nutrients. In fact, studies by USDA and several agricultural colleges suggest that, over the past fifty years, levels of certain nutrients in our produce have decreased by as much as 70%. How much do you need to eat now?

Granted, if you buy true organic produce, grown on certified farms, you get a little more for your money. But saying food is organic is like saying I’m educated. There are varying levels of each. And, to a large extent, you’re taking somebody you’ve never met at their word. Somebody who has every reason to convince you their product is better. Just ask them.

According to the USDA website, “Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.” That’s it. No artificial fertilizers or pesticides for three years. It could be withered and bug-infested, but it’s still organic. Yum!

On the other end of the spectrum, you have farms that follow true organic practices. They rotate crops, replenish the soil with minerals and nutrients, and use natural means of pest prevention, like planting trees alongside the fields that attract pests more than the plants themselves. And they’ve done it for decades, not just three years.

Two extremes, and both carry the same exact label – “Organic.” Yet, by comparison, one is nearly devoid of some nutrients due to soil depletion from years of poor farming practices. Which is which? Your guess is as good as anybody’s.

It gets worse. Have you ever wondered how you’re able to enjoy “fresh” fruits and vegetables that are completely out of season? Picture a ship coming from another continent, with huge bins of weeks-old produce under a blanket of pressurized gas to keep it from rotting before it reaches your dinner table. Organic or not, that’s what you’re eating.

If it sounds like I’m trying to wreck your appetite, I’m not. And I’m not trying to tell you to avoid fresh produce. It’s still a good source of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. It’s just not enough. Depending on your individual needs, there may still be areas where you need to supplement. Just don’t expect your doctor to be of much help.

Doctors treat symptoms and prescribe medicine. That’s their specialty. If you have a condition that’s easily traceable to a vitamin deficiency, they’ll tell you. Otherwise, you’re on your own. Most doctors believe store-bought vitamins are just a good way to make expensive urine. Yet, in the same breath, they’ll tell you to eat your veggies for the vitamins. Go figure.

My father-in-law used to say, “I eat to live – I don’t live to eat.” We all know the foods we need and which ones to avoid. Beyond that, we need to know what we’re missing and figure out how to replace it. Good food is a start. But, just as the right seasoning makes a stew taste better, the right vitamins can make good food healthier. I figure I’m worth it. How about you?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Dreams Don’t Have to Wait if You Get Started Now

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

Okay, I realize that for most of you it’s afternoon. It’s only 9:30 here. It’s not my fault Arizona decided to start the day so late compared to everybody else. Well, unless you live west of here. My workday starts at 5 AM. I don’t care where you’re from, that’s early. On the other hand, I get to knock off at 2 and head to the pool. So, there’s that.

As I look around, I’m surrounded by what was once a dream. Living in an RV, surrounded by palm trees, mountains, and a clear blue sky, and everybody who walks past either waves or stops to talk. Stress exists, but on a distant planet. You know, somewhere outside the front gate. This is what we’ve dreamed of. Well, except the scorpions.

People ask sometimes if it’s hard living in such a small space and moving from one location to another. I guess that depends on how you look at it. The view out our front window right now is awesome, and we can change it any time we want. Having the ability to move means you’re never stuck with the local weather. Don’t like snow? Head south!

For us, it was all part of the dream. Getting out and seeing the country (even west Texas), chasing the sunshine, sampling the local cuisine, and meeting new people every day. So far, most of that has come to pass. Okay, as it turns out, there’s still a Burger King on every corner, so I’m not completely convinced there’s any such thing as local cuisine. But we try.

Should we have waited a few more years instead of doing this now? Maybe. My bank statement could make a financial analyst cringe, but this was our dream, not theirs. And there’s something to be said for doing things like this before you’re too old to enjoy them. Okay, that ship already sailed, but you get the point. We’re not getting any younger. It was now or never.

We always think there will be plenty of time to chase our dreams, and that our financial situation will somehow be a lot better later in life. Well, ask somebody who’s made it past 50 how well that worked out. Sure, we may make a little more money, but expenses pretty well keep up. And your health doesn’t care what you had planned. It has plans of its own.

That doesn’t mean you just chuck it all and start living the dream. Depending on your situation, that can be a quick way to make the dream come to a premature end with little to no hope of ever reviving it. On the other hand, we see a lot of young couples living on the road, enjoying the experience before life forces them to put down a set of roots.

And let’s be honest – what makes it all possible is money. Not necessarily a huge bank account, but the ability to replenish it as you go – a source of income that doesn’t stop the minute you leave home. A friend once told me that when you can make money from home, then home can be any place you want. “There’s no industry there!” Awesome! Sign me up!

Maintaining that income is simple if you just open your mind to possibilities you never considered. When you’re the boss, you decide when and where you work. When you need more money, you work harder and give yourself a raise. If you want a vacation, you take one. And nobody tells you that you’re too young or too old, or that your job has been outsourced.

Find an income like that, and you open a whole world of opportunity. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard. You just have to be open to new ideas, and willing to take a chance on the one person you can count on the most. Sure, you have to ease into some of these things. But with that in mind, how long do you plan to wait? Rather, how old do you plan to be when you finally get there?

Nobody visualizes themselves at beach in a wheelchair or dragging an oxygen bottle through the streets of Rome. When we see the dream, we’re vibrant and healthy, living life to its fullest. Maybe you can’t start the dream now. That’s okay. But the sooner you take the steps to make it possible, the sooner it’ll happen. So, what are you waiting for?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Are New Habits Covering Up the Good Ones?

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

I’m sitting here reading yesterday’s post, wondering how I went from headwinds and dust storms to income taxes and physical fitness. It was early, okay? Real early. I’m three time zones behind the rest of the folks at work, so I have to start my day while the roosters are still snoring. And that first day was a bear.

There was a time in my life when getting up this early was a roll of the dice where you need double 7s to win. If I had to be at the airport early, I stayed up all night to keep from missing my flight. Oh, I had an alarm clock. But when you’ve lived on an aircraft carrier, you’d be surprised what you can sleep through. General quarters? Call me back in an hour.

It’s been 20 years since I’ve used an alarm clock. That changed when I quit smoking. I guess there’s something to be said for the ability to exchange oxygen. Okay, I know … old people wake up a lot during the night. And when I reach that age, I’ll tell you how it works. For now, let’s just say I can wake up any time I want.

Throughout our lives, habits change. Some change because we made a conscious decision to change, and some just change on their own. Over the years, I’ve become a lot more mellow in traffic. My wife may not completely agree with that assessment, but I rarely flip anybody off these days. I save that for the absolute best of the jackasses. Is it my fault they still drive?

I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to change that. It just happened. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and driving slower. Or maybe it’s because I finally realized I wouldn’t stand a chance in a real fistfight, and some people take this stuff way too seriously. I like to think I’m just learning to enjoy life a little more instead of focusing on the idiots.

Habits change when we stop doing something quite as often. That may start as a conscious decision, but sometimes we just let other things take up that space in our brain. I don’t have to focus on keeping my middle finger down if I simply wave at people instead. The new habit replaces the old with no real input on my part.

That’s good when it comes to habits we need to break. But what about the ones we should continue? You know, like kissing your significant other when you walk in the door. That’s an easy one to overlook, especially when you have a dog that greets you at the door wagging its whole body, just waiting for the chance to lick you in the face. Time to step up your game, dear!

Okay, I just took one for the team, because I’ll pay for that last statement. But you get the point. Sometimes, other things slip in and unintentionally obscure the habits we’ve formed. A good TV series comes on and takes the place of your evening walk. A new hobby gets in the way of your business aspirations. An early bedtime keeps you from reading a book (or writing one).

None of these were intentional decisions to eliminate a particular activity. Something else just came along and took its place. That’s when we need to re-examine our priorities and see how these new habits fit our current needs. And bear in mind, needs change. When you’re hungry, work comes easy. But when that stimulus check hits the bank, it’s just as easy to slack off.

It’s not hard to keep focus when we’re on the job. The boss frowns on watching daytime soaps in the middle of a team meeting. But when it comes to those things we do outside of work, the ones that are fueled by our own goals and dreams, there’s always something else competing for our attention. And that’s how good habits die.

So, take time every now and then to examine your habits. How have they changed over the years, or even since last month? Are the new habits getting you any closer to where you want to be? If so, then keep at it. You’re on the right track. But if other things have slipped in and obscured those habits you need to continue, then make the necessary corrections.

Habits can lead you closer to your dreams or keep you from them. Success is about forming and keeping the right habits, and filtering out anything that doesn’t fit. It’s okay to have a little fun along the way. Just don’t let the wrong habits sneak in and steal your dream. Prioritize. Make it count. You’re spending the time anyway, so why not spend it on something good?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Is Getting There Really Half the Fun?

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

It’s been said that the destination may be awesome, but half the fun is getting there. I don’t know exactly who said that first, and that’s probably a good thing because I’m afraid I’d have to give them a punch in the throat. Yes, the journey is part of the experience. But when it involves 13 hours of dust storms, 50 mph gusts, and suicidal tumbleweeds, it pretty well sucks.

That describes our drive across the southwest, from San Antonio to Tucson. Oh, the scenery was beautiful. When I could actually see it, or I wasn’t preoccupied with my white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. By the time we stopped the first night, my Fitbit registered over 8000 steps. I only got out of the RV twice. You do the math.

I remember times when I used to try to trick my Fitbit. Like standing in the grocery store swinging my arm lightly to mimic walking. Or the time I watched a movie from a float in the YMCA pool and put it on my ankle so it could measure all the relaxing movements there. It used to love my motorcycle. I could get 12,000 steps and 82 flights of stairs in a six-mile ride.

Okay, so now I guess I need to actually get out and walk. It’s one thing to rack up a score on an electronic device, but that won’t do a thing to take the weight off. Kinda like Wii sports. “I played tennis for three solid hours!” No you didn’t. You swung a three-ounce controller in the comfort of your living room with a beer in the other hand. You’re not fooling anybody.

On the other hand, I did build my biceps a little. At least I hope so. Otherwise, this pain in my left arm may be something a little less benign, and I refuse to even consider that. Besides, I’ve had a heart attack and it didn’t feel anything like this. Try slumping against a concrete pole in the Atlanta airport, drenched in sweat as 300 people brushed past without even noticing.

Regardless, if driving an RV with power steering for 850 miles can make my arms sore, I may be just a little out of shape. I’ve got some cousins who are reading this right now nodding their head. These are people my age and older who think a fun time is riding a bicycle UP a mountain, and then climbing rocks for the rest of the day. Yes, there really are people like that.

But the difference is they could probably have made the drive without breaking a sweat, and STILL would have spent the rest of the day climbing rocks. I’m beginning to think maybe they’re onto something. Not that I have any desire to climb rocks, but I’d at least like to have the option to say no instead of letting my body do it for me.

I’ve been looking at bicycles, with the idea that I could strap one to the back of the RV and get a little exercise while we’re out. Okay, I started out looking at electric bikes. But if the battery runs out, you have to actually pedal those things and I can imagine they’re a few pounds heavier than a real bike. I’d be lucky to pedal my own weight, thank you. I don’t need any extra.

Fitness is like your annual tax return. It’s never at the front of your mind unless you’re actually doing something about it, and it never takes on any real sense of urgency until the night before Tax Day. You know, at midnight. That’s when you realize you can’t find receipts for all those charitable contributions and your printer is out of ink.

Of course, you can always request an extension and file later, but you’ll have to pay a penalty. Your body is no more forgiving. Nothing says you have to take that walk or lift those weights today. But if you keep putting it off, there will be a penalty. And the longer you wait, the greater that penalty will be. Next thing you know you’re too wimpy to drive in a stiff breeze.

Getting there really is half the fun. Sure, that first workout after ten years of neglecting your body will be tough, but it gets easier as you go. After a while, you even look forward to it. Exercise, that is. Dust storms and income tax will never be on my list of favorites. But it’s all part of the journey, and hopefully the destination makes it that much more worthwhile.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let Skepticism Steal Your Dreams

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

So, yesterday afternoon when I finished work, I decided it was time for a swim. That’s one of the advantages of RV living, if you’re in a park with a pool. Especially if the pool is heated. That’s what it says on the park’s website – heated pool. What that means is they allow the sun to shine on it when it’s not hidden by clouds. I came back out so fast I didn’t even get wet.

I should have expected no less from the park that put me in a site where my living room slide is in the bushes and I can only open my water service bay door halfway because there’s a power pole right next to it. But right next to me are five empty spaces with tons of extra room. So, I did what any normal person would do. I left a crappy review online. So there!

Something I learned long ago is that RV parks and hotels aren’t always honest in their advertising. Go figure. They use wide-angle lenses for pictures of the pool, brag about amenities that are more like tripping hazards, and think the word “resort” means anything a step above the local truck stop. Last night my wife heard gunshots. I wish I was making that up.

It’s tough when all you have to go by is somebody else’s assessment of how great their place is. Nobody ever says, “It’s a bed with a bathroom. If you’re tired enough, it’ll do.” At least then I could make an educated decision. But I can’t stand dishonesty in advertising. All the exaggeration and half-truths. Which reminds me, I need to update my resume.

It’s funny how the rules change when we’re promoting ourselves. If you don’t believe that, read a few dating website profiles. There must be a book of adjectives some of these people are using, not to mention Photoshopping their head on a Chippendale model’s body. I’ve got a six-pack! Well, a four-pack … I drank two last night after I came back from the pool.

So, it’s no wonder people get skeptical when you try to sell them a product they’ve never used, or show them a business they’ve never seen. They know how it works. Most of them have a resume, too. You brag about the good parts and gloss over the rest. It’s like that asterisk on weight loss products that says, “When combined with proper diet and exercise.” Well, duh!

But as a consequence of our mistrust, however well-founded, we end up missing a lot of things that may have been much better than we’d imagined. Like that crawfish etouffee I ate last week. Sure, the waitress recommended it. She said it was her favorite. I think her boss was watching. But she told the people at another table that fried shrimp is her favorite.

So, yeah, I wondered if it was all she made it out to be. Much like those nagging questions about a business that promises unlimited income potential. If it’s that good, I wondered, why isn’t everybody else eating it? Maybe they know something I don’t. And why is the waitress over there nibbling a cheeseburger when nobody’s looking?

It’s hard knowing who to trust. I once interviewed at a place that offered a paltry $5.50 an hour to start. When I asked about advancement, the Human Resources rep assured me it would get better. “I’ve only been here a year and a half, and I’m already up to $6.25 an hour!” Wow!  All that in less than two years? Better sign me up twice, because that’s how much I’ll need to live.

Yes, that was a long time ago. But the premise is pretty much the same. The people who want you to say yes can give you a dozen reasons to say that, but it doesn’t mean things are working out that great for them. Take that business opportunity your friend offered to share. You already know he’s broke every payday, so why would you take his word for it?

Well, consider this. Maybe he’s just getting started. Maybe he hasn’t found his groove yet. Maybe he never will. That doesn’t mean the opportunity itself is bad. It just means he’s not making the most of it. Like that waitress nibbling on a cheeseburger. The crawfish etouffee is fine. In fact, it was awesome. It just wasn’t something she put to good use that day.

A little skepticism is normal, especially when the advertising is so great. But when we judge something new by somebody else’s experiences, we miss the opportunity to create our own. So, the waitress likes cheeseburgers and your buddy is broke. And the pool may be a lot colder than it looks. But shouldn’t you at least stick your foot in to find out?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If A Mountain Pops Up, Go Around It

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

One of the pleasures of starting a new job is working through all the computer access issues. “Yeah, we must have missed that one.” After the fifth time, you start to wonder if they wouldn’t be better to just start over. I’m on a first-name basis with half the Help Desk staff, and my access is still hosed up. On a bright note, at least I’m being paid for it.

This isn’t really a “new” job … I’m working for the same company, but as a direct-hire instead of as a contractor. To complicate things further, I previously worked for this company until a little over a year ago, when they eliminated my position. So, now I have at least two, and possibly three, profiles in the system. That’s when it threw a fit. “Good God! One Dave is enough!”

Yesterday I was stressed. Today, it’s comical. And the funny thing is, this company thought they were saving money by eliminating my “unnecessary” position. They sent me home for 2-1/2 months, and then brought me back as a contractor. Now they’re hiring me again. By the time all is said and done, they’d have been money ahead to just pay me for a 10-week vacation.

That’s how it seems to go with “brilliant” ideas. Things look great on paper, but lose their luster when the rubber hits the pavement. Like that time I tossed a firecracker out the back door at Burger King and it landed in a puddle. I picked it up and thought, “We use the microwaves to dry wet money.” I seriously wish I was making this up.

On most jobs, creativity is a valued trait. You know, during the interview. But once you get started, they don’t want a lot of innovative thought. “Just do what we taught you to do, the way we taught you to do it. Don’t get creative!” In the Navy, that wasn’t just a mindset – it was in the regulations. Any deviations had to be approved by COMNAVAIRGOD himself.

I guess I should say I never violated those regulations, but when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and facing the potential grounding of two entire aircraft squadrons, you do what needs to be done. In other words, post a watch on the shop door to let you know if the Lieutenant is coming, then drill a few holes, solder some wires, and make the problem go away.

The trick to something like that is you’d better know exactly what you’re doing, because when you’re talking about launching fully armed fighter planes off the pointy end of the ship, the stakes are pretty high. There is no “close enough.” Especially when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and there’s no place to hide when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Other times, there’s a little more room for error. That doesn’t mean you can just throw caution to the wind, but when you’re not dealing with unexploded ordinance, you have a little more freedom to try something new. In my job, I’ve often told junior employees, “It’s okay – we’re not building bombs.”

Yes, that last sentence just put me on a federal watch list. Oh well, they’re gonna be bored.

But the point is that you weigh the risks of failure with the potential gain. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody calls you out for using too many Oxford commas? Been there. Yet, here I am, still gainfully employed. Go figure.

On the job, the risks may be a little higher than when you’re planting flowers at home. “Who puts petunias with hydrangeas???” But the worst that happens there is you suddenly become the topic of discussion at the next neighborhood meeting. So what?

When we’re working on something for ourselves, we tend to follow the same philosophy from the military which says there are two ways to do anything – the Navy way and the wrong way. If anything stands in the way of doing what we thought we needed to do, we just stand there and keep running into the wall like a Roomba with no reverse button.

But if we take a single ounce of that creative energy that allowed us to come up with a dream in the first place, it’s not hard to figure out a way around obstacles. And every time we do, we become that much more convinced nothing will ever completely stand in our way. Even wet firecrackers.

Half of success is believing you can succeed. The other half is facing obstacles as speed bumps instead of roadblocks. If anything you’ve done has brought you to this point, there’s something else you can do to move beyond. Find what that is, and you open a whole new world of opportunity, putting your dreams that much more within reach.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Chill Pill a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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

When was the last time you went … literally ANYWHERE … and thought, “Oh, man! I don’t have my Social Security card!” Unless you’re going to, like, the Social Security office, it’s not one of those things you’ll ever need to conduct any kind of business. It’s like that worn-out voter registration card that nobody ever asks for. You carry it because it looks important.

Okay, so put yourself five states away from home, and you get offered a new job. Awesome! And then they send you a bunch of paperwork to fill out, just because Best Buy has a sale on printers and the HR rep owns stock. You print the forms (after you spend six hours setting up the new printer), and then panic sets in … “Oh, man! I don’t have my Social Security card!”

Thankfully I had a copy buried in a file in my computer. Not where I would think to look for it, like in my “Employment” folder. No, I was much too sharp to fall for that! I stored it with my Key Lime pound cake recipes. Yes, I have more than one. Don’t judge.

Then I had to get it all witnessed by somebody who could look at my ID cards and verify that they’d seen them. Easy enough, right? Oh, and it couldn’t be my wife. I asked her to sign an ex-girlfriend’s name, but she refused. Sorry, it’s not like we have a lot of friends nearby. And the RV park manager refused. “I’m not getting into any of that!” Dude, it’s an employment form – not weed!

I realized later that I’d made an unfair assumption about him. You know … that he could read. Or maybe he’s just a jerk. You never know. But the bottom line is I had to figure out a way to get that form signed in time to start my new job. I sent it to my daughter. She signed it, I sent it in, and we all lived happily ever after. You know, until at least today. It’s still early.

Through that fiasco, I got a little more frustrated than I should have. Okay, I pitched a fit. It didn’t help that the printer wasn’t cooperating, I was having issues with my work computer, we’re out of ice cream, and the grill wouldn’t light. Can we say “Monday?”

I used to tell my daughters that stress is like a glass of water. When it’s empty, you can fill it halfway with room to spare. Even at the halfway point, you’re not in danger of spilling anything unless you walk like I do. But fill that glass all the way to the top, and all it takes is an obstinate park manager to run it over the top. Thankfully I brought my frustration home – to my wife.

Stress is a silent killer. Medical research suggests that as much as 90% of medical problems requiring treatment by a primary care doctor are stress related. Read that again, because it’s important. Ninety percent. And you know what that means, right? When your kid tells you to take a chill pill, it’s out of love and genuine concern for your long-term health. Right.

Stress is like a swarm of mosquitoes. It’s always there, and given half a chance, it’ll mess up the best of days. You can avoid it, but sooner or later it’ll catch up. And that’s not always a bad thing. A little stress keeps us on our toes and helps keep the adrenaline flowing. But, like that glass of water, it builds up fast. And when it does, something has to give.

To make matters worse, doctors treat a lot of medical conditions brought on by misguided efforts to alleviate stress. Alcoholism, drug use, even some sports injuries, are often the result of stress avoidance. Sports injuries? Absolutely! Some people run to escape stress. I’ve found stress runs a lot faster than I do, so I don’t even try. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

But instead of that evening cocktail, maybe we could go outside and take a walk. Not a brisk cardio walk, but a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. Do you have a hobby? How long has it been since you’ve devoted any time to that? How about spending a little time focusing on your dreams? There is no stress in dreams, and if there is, we really need to talk.

The point is, if you give stress half a chance, it’ll wear on your soul and make mountains out of molehills. You can never escape stress, but you can manage it. Even if it’s just a temporary reprieve, that’s usually enough to get you back on track. Like taking a nap. The world and its problems are still there, but a little breather makes them that much easier to face.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Hit That First Bump Fast Enough, and You’ll Sail Right Over the Rest!

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

You know how there’s something on your bucket list that you’ve always wanted to do, and when you finally get to do it, it’s almost like waking up on Christmas morning to find out there’s no Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? Worse yet, your dream toy is there and it breaks the first time you play it. Oh well, at least you got new socks and underwear.

That pretty much describes my first visit to New Orleans. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for most of my life, and I have to be honest … a little Bourbon Street goes a long way. Thankfully, there’s more to the Big Easy than dive bars and live rodents. We went back a few days ago for a second look. The French Market and Riverwalk was thoroughly enjoyable. And no rats!

One of the things about traveling is that it’s full of surprises, some good and some not so good. Like that first stretch of interstate right after the “Welcome to Texas!” sign. They could have put up a smaller welcome sign and spent a few dollars on one that said, “Speed Limit 65 – Go Ahead – I Dare You!” We left the ground twice. In an RV, no less. Evel Knievel would have been proud.

It would have been really easy to take the next exit and turn around. But then I’d have to go over that same stretch of road again, so that alone made it worth driving the remaining 877 miles to get to the other side. Once we got past the torn-up pavement, the drive was mostly pleasant. In fact, some parts were beautiful. I guess there’s a reason people actually live here.

There are two sides to most things, and if we bail out at the first sign of trouble, we may never see the good parts. Ever met that person who changes jobs every six weeks because they had a bad day at work? “This place sucks! It’s hard work, and these rules are for the birds! I’m not enjoying this one bit!” Um, okay … you think maybe that’s why they call it a “job?”

Every job has its days. Every city has its slums. And every state has highway features that would bring a dirt-bike to its knees. Okay, not every state … so far, just Texas. Still, that’s not all there is to Texas, or New Orleans, or even the world’s worst job. There’s always another side worth exploring. And once you find it, you never really want to leave.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days, or some Texas-sized bumps in the road. That’s all part of it. But when those bumps pop up, you have two choices. Slow down or turn around. Or you can just floor it. If you’re going fast enough, that first bump will launch you over the next two or three. I’m just saying.

It’s the same when we’re chasing a dream. That vision of success is what keeps us moving, but success has to be earned. Entertainers learn this early on – it’s called paying your dues. Granted, success comes a lot easier for some people, and ability is only part of the equation. There’s also hard work, determination, heartache, and a certain amount of luck.

A Roman philosopher once said that luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity. Opportunity is always there. Preparedness is the part we have to master. Part of that is building the necessary skills. Part is carving out the time to do the work. But the biggest part is the mindset that we won’t let a few bumps in the road turn us around.

When we first got off the highway in New Orleans, it was in a neighborhood the police try to avoid. It would have been really easy to turn around and never go back. We only walked three blocks down Bourbon Street. See one drunk sleeping on the sidewalk, you’ve seen ‘em all. But, after driving all that way to get there, we had to give it one more chance. And I’m glad we did.

As you chase your dreams, life will throw all kinds of obstacles in your way. You may have the perfect plan to get there, but then reality raises its ugly head and reminds you that not everything is fun. There will be parts you absolutely despise. But if the dream is worth having, it’s worth working through those parts. And who knows, you may even come to enjoy them.

Giving up is easy. People do it every day, and very few of them are living their dreams. That’s no mere coincidence. But for those who won’t be denied, who ride over the bumps and keep on going, there’s a reward far greater than any challenge we faced to get there. Keep going. Every obstacle you face brings you one step closer to your dream.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Success Awaits, but Sometimes You’ve Gotta Try the Etouffee

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

The other night, we were watching The Princess Diaries. Yes, it’s an old movie and yes, I’m a guy. But I think we established in yesterday’s post that I’m not overly macho. Any chest hair on this body was purely accidental, and it doesn’t have many neighbors.

There was a line in that movie that I wrote down, because I knew it would come in handy someday. I had no idea it would be so soon, or that it would be over something as simple as looking at a dinner menu. But, especially in the deep south, that can be an adventure in itself. “The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” That was the line.

I thought about that as I looked over a menu in southern Louisiana that included everything from plain old cheeseburgers to a seafood platter full of stuff I can’t even pronounce. And I know from the few times my mom tried making Creole dishes, there’s a certain art to it. Let’s just say Mom was no artist. At least not in that regard. But dammit, she tried!

So, in Mom’s honor, I decided to sample some of the local cuisine. I asked the waitress for a recommendation and ended up with fried catfish and crawfish etouffee over rice.

For those who don’t know, etouffee is a French word for stew. And stew is an American word for “whatever we had sitting around.” In Creole country, etouffee simply means, “don’t ask.” But I didn’t come this far to eat cheeseburgers. You only live once. And you’re not really living if you never try anything new.

If you want my review of crawfish etouffee, you can skip to the end or just keep reading, because I really am hoping to make a point with this. You see, I’ve always been the guy who goes into the same restaurants and never looks at the menu, because I already know what I’m going to eat. If the chef wanted to poison me, they could plan it weeks in advance.

But when it comes to other things, I’ve always been a little more adventuresome. Especially on the job, I’ve never been afraid to try something new, to stretch my boundaries a bit, and raise my hand when everybody else is sitting on theirs. It’s served me well over the years, and I’ve seen some impressive career success that can’t be explained any other way.

Another quote that fits this topic is one you’ve heard from me before … to have something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. It means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. And that’s scary. But if what you’ve been doing all these years was ever going to work, it would have already happened.

When we open our mind to new ideas, opportunities for success grow exponentially. We experience things we never knew and learn new skills we never imagined. Some of those skills and experiences are a bust. There are parts of every success that are as enjoyable as steamed Brussels sprouts. Yes, I’ve tried them. Many times.

But other things we thought we would never like become second-nature. After a while, we may even come to enjoy them. And some will become our favorite part of the journey. If you had told me forty years ago I would spend my life writing system requirements, I would never have given up drinking. But nobody else wanted to do it, so I did. And I positively love it.

Ask somebody to describe their dreams, and their eyes light up. We love sharing the things that excite us. And the more excited a person is about their dreams, the more likely they are to achieve them. Until you show them a way to do it, a way that isn’t exactly what they’d planned. “Yeah, I won’t be doing that!”

So, what’s more important … reaching your goal, or how you get there? You can always follow the same path everyone else is on, and it may lead you to your dreams. But odds are, if you try something the rest of them aren’t willing try, you’ll get there faster. And you may even get someplace better, someplace so amazing you’d never even dreamed of it.

My first bite of crawfish etouffee was a bit of a shock to the tastebuds. But the second bite was a lot more pleasant, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying a dish I would never have tried a few years ago. Most of all, I gained the courage to try something else new.

The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. Open your mind. Throw caution to the wind. Dreams await those who are willing to try something new. Are you?

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved