Breathe – This Too Shall Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Focus on Solutions and Give Hope Room to Grow

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

I looked at the weather this morning, and we’re in the single digits – 7 degrees. For those of you who live by the Celsius scale, that’s 14 below zero. For those who don’t need a thermometer to tell them whether they’re comfortable, it’s #&!@ing cold! One of the nice things about having the option to work from home is I don’t have to go outside and f-f-f-frrreeeze. I think I’ll stay here and stay warm.

Yesterday was a somber day here in Dayton. A 30-year veteran of the Police Department was laid to rest, having been killed in the line of duty during a drug raid last Monday. He survived on life support for three days as doctors made plans to harvest his organs to sustain life for others who would not have survived without them. In his final act, he gave the gift of life.

Just three months ago, our city awoke to the news that somebody had gone into a popular nightclub district and opened fire at random, killing nine people and injuring 27 more in less than thirty seconds. I won’t dive into the topic of rapid-fire assault rifles, but that’s something this nation certainly needs to address with common sense instead of soundbites and fears of a larger conspiracy.

When these things happen, we’re left to wonder what goes on in the mind of somebody who would do such things. It’s easy to blame violent movies, video games, upbringing, lack of religion, poverty, broken families, and the ills of society. But none of those things, by themselves, can explain the drastic change in somebody who was once an innocent child, singing nursery rhymes.

We all started out pretty much the same. Sure, there were differences in where we were born, our station in life, and how we were raised. And without a doubt, there are people raising kids today who shouldn’t be trusted with that responsibility. But even in those families, if you were to follow the kids through a day in kindergarten, you wouldn’t see any future killers. They’re all just children.

So, what makes one child grow up to become a doctor, another to serve their nation’s military, and another to open fire on innocent victims? What goes through a person’s mind in that instant when they do something they know will result in their own death or a lifetime of incarceration? Why is that one conscious decision worth the inevitable consequences? We may never know.

What we do know is that, short of a diagnosable mental illness, the one common denominator in these people is a lack of hope. Whether that’s due to drugs, environment, family life, or whatever, the lack of hope can make us act in ways that a person with even the most basic level of optimism would never consider. It’s the feeling that they have nothing to lose, and no reason to go on.

We all know people who live with the same feelings of despair. For some, it’s driven by financial concerns. For others, it may be related to health, relationships, education, family issues, their job, or even politics. We all deal with some of these issues at some level. If not, we’re just one stroke of bad luck away from it. We can’t escape heartache. It’s part of living. All we can do is try to manage it.

If you ever feel like the weight of the world is crashing down on you, take a step back and breathe. Assess the situation for what it truly is, not what it could be if everything that could possibly go wrong does. Write it down on a piece of paper. If you’re dealing with multiple issues, list them all. Then prioritize them in the order of what needs to be handled first.

Most times you’ll find that there are only one or two really urgent matters that need your immediate attention. The rest are what military experts refer to as collateral damage. An entire stack of bills can go away if you can correct the underlying problem of income. Don’t dwell on the symptoms – focus on the solution. In the moment that you identify a solution, you find the first glimmer of hope.

Fix what you can fix and let the rest take care of itself. Adversity is a part of life, and suffering adversity simply means you’re still living. And as long as you’re still living, there’s hope. Some things we can’t change, and in those cases,  we just have to adapt. But when we focus on the things we can change, the surrounding problems just don’t seem quite as big.

Hope begins with the realization that we’re not just here for the ride – we control the outcome. We’re only on this planet for a short time. Don’t get bogged down in despair. Today and every day, find hope. It’s right there inside you. All you have to do is give it room to grow.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Never a Problem if You’re Ready For It

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

Today I slept a little later than normal. That happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. I still woke up with plenty of time to get the day started. I just had to change things up a little. It’s like stepping in the shower and finding out you’re out of shampoo. You improvise. Body wash isn’t the ideal way to clean your hair, but it works in a pinch.

No, I didn’t run out of shampoo. I always keep a spare bottle on hand because I know how that works. You can feel that the bottle is getting a little lighter, but every time you pick it up, there’s still more. In fact, a lot more than you’d thought. Then one day you give the bottle a squeeze and it makes that disgusting bodily sound that never fails to get me in trouble at dinnertime. Or any other time. I’m just saying.

So, you reach for the spare and toss the old bottle aside. If you’re lucky, you remember to throw that one in the trash. Otherwise, you’ll find another reason I tend to get in trouble. Hey, it’s not my fault we don’t have a trash can next to the shower. And by the time I’ve opened the new bottle, the old one is a distant memory. There’s no eulogy or proper burial. Life just goes on.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. Something unexpected happens, something that could disrupt your day (or longer), but you still have other things to do. You can’t just bring everything to a grinding halt because one thing didn’t go as planned. You pick up the pieces, adapt, and get back into action. If it’s an empty shampoo bottle, it’s no big deal. Other things may require a little more effort.

There will always be something that doesn’t go according to plan. That’s why most cars have a spare tire in the trunk. Not all – apparently some of the newer ones don’t have a spare. Not even one of those little donut tires that’s good for 50 miles on baby-smooth road if you keep your speed to a turtle’s pace. But at that moment, you’d take anything reasonably round that’ll bolt onto the axle.

Do you keep spare light bulbs around the house, or do you run to the hardware store every time you flip the switch and nothing happens? Do you keep food in the pantry that you probably won’t eat this week? Do you buy an extra bottle of vitamins before you run out? Have you ever bought ten pieces of poster-board to get ahead of kids who never mention that school project till the night before it’s due?

Okay, I may be alone in that last one. But my grandson was notorious for coming up at 8:00 in the evening and telling us he had an assignment due the next day and if we didn’t run to the store and buy him a piece of poster-board, he wouldn’t be able to complete his assignment and it would be all our fault. I always loved that little shift of blame. Seriously?

And sure, I could have told him tough luck – take a zero, because you knew this assignment was due a week ago and didn’t say anything until now. But you know, it’s more fun to just hand him a clean piece of poster-board and say, “Here – now it’s all on you. Get to work.” I won’t say he learned a thing from that, but it still made me feel pretty resourceful.

Sometimes, we have to anticipate the unexpected and do something about it before the need arises. Take vitamins before you get sick. Eat sensibly while your favorite pants still fit. Save money when you have a little more than you need (does that EVER happen?) Check the air in that spare tire every now and then. And the next time you go to the store for a bottle of shampoo, pick up two.

In the movie “Road House” Patrick Swayze responded to a question about drunken bar patrons by saying, “People who go out looking for trouble usually aren’t a problem for somebody who’s ready.” Some of life’s greatest challenges are little more than an inconvenience if they don’t catch you completely unprepared. You may not expect them at that very moment, but at least you’re ready.

This isn’t to say you should go through life waiting for the sky to fall in. Enjoy each moment and make the most of it. A spare tire won’t keep you from any particular destination. But if something happens along the way, it’s nice to know the trip isn’t over. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” Think ahead and you may never have to look behind. A challenge is only a problem if you’re not ready for it.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Only a Crisis If You Didn’t See it Coming

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

I’ve often wondered what I would do if I got up in the morning and the coffee maker was broken. I know, if you’re a coffee drinker, that deserves an apology because it’s not a vision any of us wants to imagine. That rates right up there with flat tires and sitting down to the sound of the seat ripping out of your pants. At work. In a conference room. Full of the company’s top executives. Get the picture?

Thankfully, coffee makers don’t usually just quit all at once. You get a little advance warning. It starts brewing really slowly, it makes funny noises, and you start seeing chunks of something that doesn’t look like coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup. If that happens, run – don’t walk – to the nearest coffee maker store. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself without coffee when you need it the most.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. You fall into a comfort zone where things are going well, and the thought of an abrupt change is the last thing on your mind. But it happens, and usually when you expect it the least. And it can require immediate action to avoid an even bigger mess. A lot of times, the outcome is largely dependent on our ability to act quickly at the first sign of trouble.

Rarely does anything go seriously wrong without at least some advance signs of trouble. Usually, we think about those signs after the wheel falls off the car and realize there was a noise we couldn’t quite identify, or a little extra sway in turns. It’s easy to write it off and just keep driving. But sooner or later, the problem will demand our attention. And the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets.

I have to take my car in for repairs this morning. I can’t quite describe the noise coming from the front end other than to say it sounds like I’m pushing a bulldozer blade down the road. And my car doesn’t have a bulldozer blade, so that’s probably not normal. And, thinking back, it’s been making little noises for a few weeks. I ignored those warnings, so now it’s shouting them at full volume.

But this isn’t really about coffee pots or cars. It’s about life. Because all through our life, things change. Relationships falter, the bank sends a foreclosure notice, the doctor walks in with bad news, or you find out you need a new job – like now. Any one of these things, or dozens of others, can throw you right out of your comfort zone and into full-blown survival mode.

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, but more often than not, there were signs of trouble long before the sky fell in. Those signs may have been subtle, or they may have like a red flashing light, something you couldn’t have missed with your eyes half-closed. But it’s easy to ignore those initial warning signs until they start screaming at us. By then, comfort has turned to crisis and we have no choice but to do something about it.

We talked earlier this week about creativity, and if you want to see creative thought in overdrive, put yourself in a crisis. You’ll dream up things you would never have thought of, simply because you don’t have any other choice. What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so now you have to do something different – maybe something you’ve never done before.

And most times, we look back later and wonder why we didn’t just do that in the first place. Maybe it was something so completely out of character, or out of our comfort zone, that it never really crossed our mind. And I’m not talking about anything immoral or illegal. Just a different approach that we never would have considered. But now, it’s the perfect fix. It’s the right thing at the right time.

Again, the change may be subtle, something you do without really batting an eye. It can also be something monumental that takes a complete leap of faith into the unknown. Or it could be something in between, where we have the option to make the easier move or to put it all on the line and make it work. Notice I didn’t say “hope for the best” – it’s all or nothing.

If we take notice at the first sign of impending trouble, we can usually avoid a crisis. And if we assess our options before they have to become choices, we can move in the direction we choose rather than the direction in which we’re pushed. A minor course correction may be all that’s needed, if we do it early enough. The goal never really changes – just the path you’ll follow to get there.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day and a fantastic weekend!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved