What’s a Bed of Roses Without a Few Thorns?

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

There have been several segments on the news this week about a sudden boom in the RV business, in both sales and rentals. It seems people have figured out that open air just may be good for you, not to mention a little bit of recreational exercise. Besides, most campsites are a little more than six feet apart.

I think this may be the first time in my life when I was actually ahead of a trend. Not by much, mind you, but enough to convince a salesman that the winter months may not be the best time to hold out for a higher price. We got a pretty sweet deal and were still able to find enough toilet paper for a weekend outing. You’d think they could have thrown that in.

As we near the completion of our first full week on the road, I have to say I couldn’t be happier with our new lifestyle. I’ve figured out this whole setup thing and can now have us leveled and hooked up in fifteen minutes. And, after a little over 2000 miles, my wife thinks I’m a fairly decent driver. That last one is nothing short of a miracle.

Sure, it’s not the same as living in a house. It’s more confined, the air conditioners are a little louder, you can’t take a Hollywood shower, and the spin cycle on the washing machine shakes the whole house. But the scenery is a lot more enjoyable and if you don’t like your neighbors, it’s only temporary. I can live with a few minor inconveniences.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to make us appreciate the simple things. Okay, an RV may not be one of life’s simple pleasures, but it is one way to become a little more grounded and shake off some of the daily stress. It’s about families enjoying one another instead of the TV. It’s about bonding with nature and breathing fresh air. And it’s about emptying tanks full of stuff we’d rather not think about.

With anything, you take the bad with the good. For myself, pulling a valve every couple of days to empty a tank beats mowing the lawn, so I’m not complaining. But there is no change we can make in our lives that won’t come with some inconvenience. The question is whether the sacrifice is worth the gain.

And it’s that way with anything you do. A bigger house means more cleaning and maintenance. A new car means bigger monthly payments. A business means giving up some of your free time. And a boat, I’m told, is a hole in the water you throw money into. I get that completely. Our new lifestyle certainly isn’t cheap. But it’s simplistic, if that makes any sense.

Life is short, my friends. If there are things you want to do, waiting around won’t make them any easier to achieve. Besides, there’s something to be said for doing things while you’re young enough and healthy enough to enjoy them. The longer you wait, the greater the chance it’ll never happen.

That doesn’t mean you chuck it all and go for broke. But figure out what needs to be done and get moving. It may take ten years. So what? Wouldn’t you rather get those ten years out of the way now? I’ve mentioned before how hard it is for me to envision getting to my goal weight by losing a pound a week. “At that rate, it’ll take two years!” Ah, but if I’d started two years ago …

Set a goal. Work toward it. Understand and accept the sacrifices and be sure you’re willing to make them. Test the water if you can. It may be as easy as putting half your wardrobe in storage or turning off the TV a couple of hours every night to read a motivational book. Some sacrifices are simpler than others. But they can also be the hardest ones to make.

I’m fairly certain a lot of these new RV owners will be like the New Year’s crowd in the local gym, or the hundreds of thousands who start a new business every year. It’ll be fun for a while, but at some point, reality will check in. And that’s okay. They’re learning. And they’re gaining a better perspective on which dreams they want to chase, and which ones they’ll leave for somebody else.

You never know unless you try. I’ve been married for 40 years because I took a chance. And those 40 years have been a learning experience of their own. There were times we wanted to drain the tanks and move on. But the sacrifices have been worth the result. Define your dreams, make the sacrifices, and reach for the stars. We’re only here for a short time. You might as well enjoy it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Snake Isn’t Always Hiding Under Somebody Else’s Porch

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

I’ve been trying to mix in some humor with these messages because we absorb and learn faster when we’re being entertained. If a few laughs are sprinkled in, the message sticks that much longer. Think about it. How many jokes can you remember from your childhood? Odds are, you can remember most of them verbatim. Now, how many 8th-grade Civics lessons can you recite?

We learn and retain better when we’re able to laugh. Besides, it’s just plain fun. Sometimes I even make myself laugh. Of course, that’s not hard to do. You know, simple pleasures for simple minds. I can say it. If being smart means cashing in your sense of humor, color me stupid. I’ll wear it like a badge of honor.

But some days, there’s just not a lot to laugh about. Oh, it’s out there. But it’s hiding and there are days when we’re not in a mood to do a lot of digging. On days like this, humor has to come looking for us. It will, and when it does, I’ll give it the good hearty laugh it deserves. Then I’ll go back to focusing on the matter at hand.

Last week I said that, before this current crisis is over, it’ll touch each and every one of us in some way. Well, yesterday afternoon, my youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital with what the doctor calls “significant pneumonia.” I didn’t know there was an insignificant kind, but it got my attention. Now she’s in isolation and can’t have any visitors. Not even mom and dad.

They tested her for coronavirus, but the results won’t be back until sometime today. I don’t think that’s what she’s got, and her respiratory doctor seems to share that gut instinct. But, as he said, there are no certainties in medicine. We’ll just have to wait and pray. Yes, we live in a time where people really utter the words, “Thank God – it’s only pneumonia.”

We’ll deal with whatever diagnosis comes back, and I’m just thankful she’s where she needs to be right now. Given the fact that she’s been living with us for the past two years, and our other daughter and grandkids are here all the time, it’s pretty obvious what a diagnosis of COVID-19 would mean. Full lockdown for everybody for at least the next two weeks.

It’s not like we were going out that much anyway. Like most other people, we go to the store only when we need something, and those daily “I forgot something” trips to Walmart are a thing of the past. We stay six feet from other people (as long as they stay six feet from us), and face masks & pocket-sized hand sanitizer are now a normal part of life.

Our daughter goes out even less than we do, but like pregnancy and a lot of other conditions, it only takes once. The admitting doctor told my daughter it’s possible she’s got “a touch” of coronavirus. Is there such a thing? I guess for some people the symptoms are a lot worse than others, but still, a germ is a germ is a germ. Either it’s there or it isn’t.

And therein lies the problem. Any of us could be carrying that germ with no symptoms at all, but in the time it takes for the virus to die within us, we could infect a lot of people. From that perspective, she could have gotten it from me. You just never know.

I always get a little peeved when I’m driving on a misty morning, and cars suddenly appear out of the tree-laden background with no headlights. Depending on the color of the car, you may not see it until it’s too late. Oh, but they can see perfectly fine, right? Well, that’s the thing about headlights. They work in both directions. Sometimes, it’s as much about other people as you.

This social distancing is a pain. It’s frustrating, going to the hardware store to find it closed. And who wouldn’t enjoy a decent meal out with the family right now? Yes, it’s a pain. And I think we’ve all taken some risks we maybe shouldn’t have taken. I know I have. There’s that point where you try to balance caution with life. We can’t just hide in a bubble all day.

But, to the point that we can, that’s exactly what we need to do. We live in an area where, for whatever reason, grocery shopping online means a 3-5 day wait for your food. Most of us don’t think that far out. But that’s what it’ll take to beat this. There will be things we absolutely have to have, right now. But aside from that, we need to put safety ahead of our personal desires.

I’m sure our daughter will get through whatever she’s facing right now. And, if it’s something that has spread to the rest of us, we’ll deal with that as well. As a world community, we’ve come this far. Now is not the time to back off and get careless. It’s like piling up sandbags against a flood. If you let up too soon, it’s all for nothing. Be healthy and stay strong. We can do this. We don’t have any other choice.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happiness Is Yours To Enjoy – But You Gotta Want It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

When was the last time you met a truly happy person? Okay, let me re-phrase that … when was the last time you met a truly happy person over the age of six, but young enough to still have all their marbles? It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. And when it does, we become immediately suspicious. “Oh no, she’s about to invite me to church! Or worse yet, an Amway meeting!”

Don’t believe me? The next time you see somebody walking through the office, smiling at everyone and softly humming a Disney song at their desk, write down the first thought that comes to mind. Promotion? Morning whoopee? Liquid lunch? The boss just got fired? We can come up with all kinds of explanations, but could it be remotely possible they’re just happy? Nah!

We all like to think we’re relatively pleasant people, that we exude a certain level of happiness that draws people in. Then along comes somebody who’s so over-the-top bubbly that you just want to stuff a rag in their mouth. “Take your happiness out the front door and share it with God’s little creatures! There are people trying to sleep in here!”

Whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us tend to embrace misery just a bit too much. Oh, we try. We may even wake up and try to convince ourselves that today will be the best day ever. But then we get to work and find out somebody swiped the last cup of coffee and couldn’t be bothered to start a new pot. Oh, it’s on now!

I can look past some idiot diving in front of me at the exit ramp or finding a strange car in “my” parking spot, but you don’t mess around when it comes to coffee. How hard is it to dump the old grounds, put in a fresh pack, and press the “Brew” button? Sure, there’s decaf. There’s always decaf. And I’m not drinking it. If God can take the time to put caffeine in my coffee, the least I can do is drink it that way.

Then you get to your desk and find that report you worked late to give the boss sitting on your desk with more red ink than a congressional budget. Your trash can isn’t where it belongs, your computer keeps locking up, the microwave is broken, and just who has been messing with the thermostat? It’s freezing! Somebody is obviously out to ruin your perfect day.

Let’s face it, if you want to feel miserable, life will hand you plenty of excuses. As the old expression goes, stuff happens. Well, something like that. Things will never be just perfect. So, how is one person smiling while you’re miserable? Maybe they got that last cup of coffee, and that’s why they don’t notice how cold it is. They probably tweaked the thermostat, too. The nerve of some people!

Happiness isn’t a state of nature, or even a state of reality. It’s a state of mind. You will never be more happy than you choose to be. Read that again, because it’s important. Notice, I didn’t say you’ll always be as happy as you choose to be. Things will happen, sometimes really bad things, and they can destroy your happiness in an instant. But how quickly we reclaim that happiness is up to us.

The key is to just keep things in perspective. So what if the coffee pot is empty? At least you’ll get a fresh cup. And no, it’s not okay to skim off a cup while the pot is brewing, because you’ll get all the good stuff and leave dishwater for everyone else. And that report on your desk? Just fix it. It’s not like anybody is docking your pay. And think how much better you’ll feel when it’s done.

We spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, but all too often we overlook the happiness that’s already there. You can smile in the sunshine or rain, and even when adversity tries to steal that smile, only you can decide when it’s time to bring it back out. Challenges will always be there. But to the degree that you can meet those challenges, happiness is yours to enjoy. So, make the most of it.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

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

I woke up later this morning than normal. Sometimes the old body just needs a little more rest before the day can start. Know the feeling? The only problem is, the clock never seems to get tired. It just keeps running and running and running. This far into the 21st century, you’d think we could figure out a way to fix that.

Time is the one constant in life that never really changes. Okay, aside from twice a year when we get the directive to change our clocks, but time itself doesn’t change as a result. All that changes is the way we measure it. “I got an extra hour of sleep this weekend!” No, you didn’t. You woke up at the same time you always do. Only this time, you were an hour early. There’s no snooze button for that.

As with most things in life, time is subjective. Sure, there are officially 24 hours in a day, and there are 60 minutes in each hour. And if your favorite show comes on in an hour, that’s a measurable span of time. But remember when you were little and your mom would say, “In a minute”? Hmmm. Now we’re getting into a gray area. Is that sixty seconds, or sometime in the next hour?

It’s the same with a lot of things. “I did a really good job on that!” Well, in your opinion. Hopefully everybody else will agree, but there’s always that one person who can spot a flaw in anything, no matter how well it was done. Sometimes you’d like to smack them so hard the only thing they can spot are the little stars swirling around inside their own judgmental head.

It’s like the scene in Christmas Vacation where, after several frustrating attempts and life-endangering mishaps, Clark finally gets his display of 250,000 outdoor lights to illuminate. As he dances around in excitement, tears of joy streaming down his face, his father-in-law casually comments, “The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.” “Yes, I know Art. And thank you for noticing.”

But in a world where very few things are cut and dried, we all have to find our own meaning in things that are a little more subjective. How long is a moment? How much is a little bit? How soon is right away? And how good is pretty good? It pretty much depends on who’s asking. Tell your kid you’ll take them to the amusement park “one of these days” and to them that means tomorrow.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from an RV dealer offering an unbelievably low price on a motorhome we’ve had our eyes on. It was a little over $50,000 off the list price. Who can turn down an offer like that? That’s a huge savings! But, then there’s the matter of what’s left after that deep discount. And, any way you slice it, it’s still a lot of money.

But what’s “a lot of money?” It’s different from one person to the next. What’s “a lot of work”, or “too much time?” Again, it depends who’s asking because it’s all a matter of perspective. One person may say, “That’ll take four hours!” while another says, “I can have it done in no time!” Neither one is any faster than the other. It’s all in how they view the time compared to the reward.

Tell somebody you’re doing something grand, like buying an RV or starting a business, and you’ll get all kinds of opinions. Everything ranging from how much money you’ll spend to how much time it’ll take and how hard you’ll have to work. To some people, getting off the sofa to get a drink of water is just too much effort. But to another, a year of working late every evening is well worth the effort.

You have to find your own level of “worth” in all things. Is $10 too much to pay for lunch? Is 5 miles too far to drive for ice cream? Is an hour a day too much time to spend working toward a dream you’d desperately love to achieve? To one person, the answer to any of those questions is yes. But only you can decide what something is worth to you. You only get one chance to live your own life. Make it count.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

One Person’s Struggle is Another Person’s Dream

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

I always say “good morning” but that’s just from my perspective. For some of you, the workday is half over and some of you are getting ready to climb into bed. That could be due to your work schedule or your location on this planet. It’s nice to know my words reach people literally around the world each day. It’s also very humbling.

As I write each morning, I try to think about the words and phrases I use and remind myself that not everybody in the world understands exactly what I mean. A co-worker from another country once asked me to explain what “Hump Day” means. It’s easy to assume everyone knows it means the half-way point in the week. But I’m sure somebody had to explain it to me once. Then it made sense.

We all approach life from different perspectives. Some were born to privilege and thought everybody had a swimming pool and tennis courts in the back yard. Others were born on the other side of the tracks, and to them, a swimming pool was any body of water bigger than a bathtub. It’s just a matter of what we’ve come to accept as everyday life.

The same is true on the job. To me, a hard day is working through challenging issues and people who don’t respond to email. To another person, it’s coming home with sore muscles from too much physical labor. And, as a comedian once reminded me after I’d suffered a particularly brutal show, to a cop, a bad night at work means he’s got people shooting at him. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I remember once when I was being sent to Chicago to do some work for my company. I had requested a cash advance to cover my travel expenses, because I didn’t have any extra money in the bank. I asked several times during the day, and my request fell on deaf ears. Finally, I told them to make sure I was booked in a hotel with a restaurant so I could charge my meals to my room. I was broke.

The manager who was sending me on the trip said, “Just charge it to your credit card and we’ll reimburse you when you get back.” That’s great for some people, but I didn’t have a credit card. At that point in my life, no bank was stupid enough to give me one. When I told him I didn’t have one, he gave me an incredulous look and said, “You don’t even have a Master Card?”

I found out last Friday that my job may be ending in a couple of months. I’ve known for a while this day may be coming, and I have to admit it’s been a little difficult adjusting to that reality. Then I went to church Sunday and we were asked to pray for two women in a rehabilitation center, and one whose brother suddenly passed away last week. All of a sudden, my problems began to shrink.

It goes along with the old saying about a man who was sad because he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet. No matter how bad we think we’ve got it, somebody else has it worse. I try to remind myself of that in the morning when traffic suddenly comes to a halt because of an accident. Sure, it’s an inconvenience. But somebody’s day is starting off a whole lot worse than mine.

It works the other way as well. When we’ve worked to achieve a certain level of success, whether it’s on the job, as a parent, as an athlete, or even as a writer, it’s easy to get a little smug and think we’re special. We find ourselves in the presence of others who aren’t quite as accomplished as we are, and we puff our chest out just a little further. Life is good, and we have a right to be proud.

It’s good to be proud of our accomplishments. But if we allow that to go too far, it’s easy to overlook the reality that some who have accomplished much less have worked every bit as hard as we have, if not harder. If effort alone could make a person successful, every plumber and mechanic would be rich, and corporate executives would be sweating out this month’s bills.

Most of us go through life only truly understanding our own perspective. We think we know what it’s like for others, but we really don’t. Even if you’ve been at rock bottom, it’s easy to forget how that feels when you’re back on top. And it’s easier still to assume everybody else can climb up as quickly as you did. And it’s just as easy for them to assume you got all the lucky breaks.

Perspective is an amazing thing. The same rays of sun can tan the skin and damage crops. It’s just a matter of how we look at it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It Takes a Single Drop to Begin Filling a Bucket

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend and your day is off to a great start.

Today is my youngest grandson’s birthday. He’s four. To the rest of us, he’s a little boy with his whole life ahead of him. He’s got lots of growing to do, and lots of things to learn. But from his perspective, this is the oldest he’s ever been. He feels all grown up, because he really has no other basis for comparison. Especially if he looks at how grown up his grandpa is. We’re not so different.

And I like it that way. I’ve always said that aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. I can’t turn back the clock no matter how badly some of my body parts wish I could. But I don’t have to let the years control my personality. People always like to say “act your age.” Well, I don’t wanna! So there!

Age is relevant only from the perspective of how many years we’ve been on this planet, and how many more years we may have left. It’s a measure of experience. My car insurance company likes my age. I’ve been driving long enough to slow down a little and not make so many stupid mistakes. My health insurance company, on the other hand, isn’t quite so thrilled. They wish I was a little younger.

It’s all a matter of perspective. I remember at the age of twenty, calling my supervisor an old man. He had to be pushing 27 at the time. I laugh today when I think about that because, with 62 only a few months away, I realize that even this isn’t really old. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself. That’s okay. I choose not to be old. I just wish my body would just step up and play along.

Perspective is important, because it’s what allows us to form a basis for comparison. I make a decent living, and we don’t really worry about day-to-day expenses. In fact, according to some, we’re doing pretty well. But we went into an upscale grocery store not long ago and, looking at the prices of “dry-aged” steak, I began to feel just a little impoverished. Do people really pay that much for food?

But to a person making a little more than I do, it’s no big deal. They buy what they want because they can. And here’s the thing – that meat is at least three times as expensive as anything in my grocery store, but I doubt many of those people make three times as much as I do. They don’t have to. They just have to make a little extra.

If your employer offered you an extra $200 a month, you’d feel pretty good. Because, if the bills are paid and things are going well, an extra $200 would let you buy that fancy steak once in a while. It would let you order what you want off the menu instead of what your wallet says you should eat. It might even let you take an extra vacation each year.

Now, what if there was a string attached – you get the extra money, but you have to work an extra hour every day. Hmmm.  An extra hour every day, and there are 22 workdays in a month – that’s not even $10 an hour! Now that extra $200 isn’t sounding so great. It’s all about perspective. You look at the hourly rate and suddenly forget all the extra freedom it could bring.

But what if that extra money was just the start? What if you gained the skills necessary to double that extra income in a month or so? Now your perspective may be changing a little. Because if you can take a little extra and double it, what’s to stop you from doubling that as well? All of a sudden, the issue isn’t how much you get paid – it’s how much you can earn.  

To most of us, a year is a pretty short amount of time. To my grandson, it’s a fourth of his life. To most of us, $30,000 a year isn’t much to brag about. But to somebody already making that much, an extra $15,000 would change everything. And to a person making ten times that much, it may not even be worth the extra effort. Perspective.

When you look at where you are, where you want to be may seem a long way off. But even a small step in the right direction puts you closer. Keep taking those steps and the time will come when the distance you’ve covered is more than the distance that’s left. And one day, it’ll only take one more little step to reach your goal. Same effort, same distance each time. But what a difference it’ll make.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Keeping a Healthy Perspective

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

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with one of the surgeons who messed around with my brain last year. I keep saying I came away with no lasting effects, but there are some who aren’t so sure. I make the most of it. Every time I forget something I just say, “That must’ve been in the part they cut off.”

Well, the verdict is in and my brain is just as intact as it was before the surgery. That, in itself, should be the greater source of concern. I’ve always been a little “out there.” The only negative effect, and it’s not from the surgery itself or even the condition that led to the surgery, is my right ear still has issues. Otherwise, I’m in pretty good shape.

I was reading an article yesterday about an interesting trend in health, or at least in our perception of health. In surveys, an increasing number of people my age rate their overall health as “good” or even “excellent.” And mind you, very few of those people are without health problems or physical limitations. Some are even battling cancer. Yet they still feel like their overall health is really good.

Younger people, on the other hand, are a little less optimistic about their health. In fact, an increasing percentage of them rate their health as “acceptable” or even “poor.” These are people who, for the most part, have never faced a life-threatening condition. Yet they don’t feel as healthy as people twice their age. Why do you think that is?

It’s all about perception. The older people aren’t any healthier – they just accept some of life’s aches and pains with a little more grace. When you reach my age, you go to bed earlier and wake up tired. Joints crack and pop. Daily discomfort is par for the course. You can’t run around the block and bending over makes you dizzy. That’s life.

But it’s something we accept, because we expect it. We know that, as we get older, our bodies won’t look or feel like the body of a twenty-year-old. So, when somebody asks about our health, we don’t make that comparison. Instead, we compare it to the perception we once had of people our age. You know – back when we were twenty and thought sixty was ancient.

But when you’re in your twenties or early thirties, and begin to feel the early effects of age, it’s all new and comes as somewhat of a surprise. You’re used to feeling perfect all the time, and sore joints, lower energy, and the occasional headache make you feel … well, old. Worse yet, you know this is just the start. And trust me, it is.

I think most people my age would pay good money to wake up each day feeling as “bad” as we did thirty years ago. But we know those days are long gone, so we adapt and make the most of what’s left. Instead of lamenting the fact that we can no longer run a 100-yard dash in 12 seconds, we’re happy to be able to walk from one end of a beach to the other.

It’s all about perspective. You’re as healthy as you feel. I’ve seen people much older than me fighting a terminal illness with full acceptance of their eventual fate, and when you ask how they’re feeling they smile and say, “I feel great!” It’s not a lie, and they’re not delusional. They’ve just come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to feel perfect – you make the most of what you’ve got.

This isn’t intended to be a slam on younger people. I remember that age, and thinking my aches and pains were a sign of rapidly declining health. Worse yet, I adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate my perceived infirmities. And, along with the physical changes, I allowed myself to grow old way before my time. I was grumpy, opinionated, and generally pessimistic about the world in which we live.

Now, my wife will argue that the grumpiness hasn’t completely gone away, but overall, I feel a lot more positive about life than I did thirty years ago. Since that time, I’ve had a heart attack, a few surgeries, and a lot of lower back pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids, and when my gout flares up, I have to use a cane. And yesterday my surgeon said I may eventually lose hearing in my right ear.

And you know what? I feel healthier today than I have in decades. I know my limitations, and I adjust my lifestyle to fit within those constraints. But aside from those little aches and pains, I feel great!

It’s been said that what we perceive to be real is real. If you feel old, you’re old. If you feel sick, you’re sick. And if you feel young and healthy, you’re … well, maybe a little less old, but still healthy.  It’s all about perspective. Make yours positive!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved