Work Hard, Play Hard

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

So, what are your plans for the weekend? That seems to be the common question we ask people, usually when we need something to start a conversation. Or maybe we just ask for the sake of saying anything, with no real interest in how they’ll respond. It’s like asking somebody how they’re doing. We say it out of habit. But oftentimes, the response is a lot more than we’d bargained for.

But have you ever noticed how, when you ask that question, people instinctively look away from what they’re doing and turn toward you? Whether you’re interested in what they’ve got planned for the weekend or not, they are. Especially if they’ve got something planned. But even if it’s just sitting around and getting some rest, people are naturally drawn to anybody who shows an interest in them.

So, what are your plans for the weekend? I hope you’ll have a little fun. You’ve earned it. I hope you’ll get all those weekend chores done quickly and without complications. I hope you’ll find time for a movie with the kids or maybe ice cream with that special person in your life. And in the middle of all that, I hope you’ll find time to rest. Just sitting back, with nothing to do and not a care in the world.

It’s a shame we spend five days every week trudging through life with one simple goal – getting to the weekend so we can have some fun. And the whole time, we dream of that day when we’ll be too old to work, and life will become one long vacation. Oh, the places we’ll go and the things we’ll do! Yeah. Ask any retired person how that’s working out.

Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of retired people who are on the go all the time. All those TV commercials that show septuagenarians dancing in Tahiti and racing around on jet skis aren’t the result of trick photography. Some actually do these things. But if you talk to them, you’ll probably find they’ve been actively relaxing most of their life.

Actively relaxing – is there such a thing? The words just don’t seem to belong together. But relaxing isn’t always lying back on the couch, snoozing through a movie you’ve seen a dozen times before. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, a day that completely wears you fall into a deep sleep.

Wear yourself out until you can’t go any further? Sounds a lot like work, doesn’t it? So, what’s the difference? It’s all in the face – that smile, the excitement in the eyes, that unmistakable look that tells you this person is having the time of their life. And it doesn’t matter how old they are. What matters is that they’re living.

Okay, back to the initial question. Why do we spend seventy percent of our lives trudging around like robots, and the remainder catching our breath? Is there anything you have to do on the weekend that you couldn’t do earlier in the week? Grocery stores are open just about every day. The washer & dryer are just sitting there. You could mop the floors one evening and dust the furniture another.

If we could take care of some of those smaller things that seem to consume an entire weekend, we’d have two full days to do whatever we want. No shopping, no cleaning, no errands – just get up and enjoy the day. Sound like a dream? Well, it can happen. And when it does, odds are you’ll find something else to fill that time. Maybe even something fun. Imagine!

It’s important that we work. It’s important that we do the things we need to do. And it’s just as important that we make time to enjoy the things we’re working for. Let me clue you in – nobody works for a paycheck. We work for the things money can buy. If you want an active retirement, start practicing now. Get out and have some fun! Then when the time comes, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take Life at Your Own Pace – You’ll Enjoy the Ride a Lot More

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

In yesterday’s post, we talked about making the most of our time. Normally, that presents an image of somebody who’s up and running, working from morning till night, cramming something into every minute of their day. And for some people, that works. It suits their personality and gives them energy to do even more. But there are times when we need to slow down and just appreciate the world around us.

The movie Dirty Dancing has been on several times lately. I think the program directors in some of these broadcast stations pick three or four movies for the month and just put them on a loop. During the holidays, there are a few that’ll completely dominate the airwaves. “Hey kid – you’re gonna put “your eye out!” (That was strictly for those of you who love “A Christmas Story.”)

At the end of Dirty Dancing, the owner of an exclusive summer retreat comments that kids don’t want to go to camp with their parents and take foxtrot lessons. “Trips to Europe – 14 countries in three days!” I actually remember a time when travel agencies offered such trips. It sounds like fun until you think about what that means. “Get back on the bus!  We’ve got a schedule to keep!”

When I was in the Navy, we made a port visit to Naples, Italy. I really wanted to see Rome, so I bought a tour ticket. It was only $20 and included everything from the train ride to a full day of sightseeing in one of the world’s oldest cities. I was really looking forward to it.

But at the time, I had a real problem with oversleeping. I couldn’t wake up on time if my life depended on it. And, as luck would have it, I overslept that day. By the time I woke up, the tour had already departed. I was heartsick. I had breakfast and reluctantly decided to go ashore for another day of walking, cheap wine, spaghetti, and negotiating with street vendors for cheesy souvenirs.

But I still had that burn – I wanted to see Rome. So, I went to the USO and asked about getting there. They told me which train to take and suggested taking bus 61 to the USO in Rome, where I could get a map of the city and see the sights on my own. And I had a day I’ll never forget. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but I saw most of it.

At the end of the day, as the tour group was on the train headed back to Naples, I was sitting in St. Peter’s Square watching the sun go down. It was the most peaceful moment of my entire life. Sitting at the base of the Vatican Obelisk, a tall spire that likely inspired the Lincoln Memorial, I was captivated by a feeling of complete ease. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

I was on the move most of the day, simply because there were so many things to see. But I got to see them at my own pace, taking time when I wanted and moving on when I was good and ready. Luckily, bus 61 ran past most of them. And as I think of that day, it stands in complete contrast to the stressed bustle of attempting to see 14 countries in three days.

When we talk about making the most of our time, it doesn’t mean we have to be on the move all day. Sure, you make hay while the sun shines, or so it’s been said. But there’s something to be said for quietly enjoying what’s around us as we plan what we want to do next. It’s hard to focus on your dreams when you’re up to your elbows in work. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is slow down.

It’s in those moments of quiet reflection that we’re able to think more clearly and visualize not only what’s right in front of us, but what we want it to be. It’s a lot easier to imagine a life on the ski slopes while you’re relaxing on a beach than in the middle of your best day at work. Find those quiet moments and let your mind take you where you want to be. When you know the destination, you’re already halfway there.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Work Hard, Play Hard – You’ve Earned It

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

I’m taking a rare day off in the middle of the week. I’d like to say I just felt like it, but that’s not quite true. I just don’t like to use my paid time off without a pretty good reason. I’d rather save it up for something fun. If I take off sick, halfway through the day I’m bemoaning the fact that I burned up a day of vacation time to sit around the house and feel bad. It’s just never been my thing.

I guess I got that trait from my dad. I remember asking him once if we could put the boat in the water and spend a day fishing. But Dad’s job required that he worked weekends, with two weekdays off. I remember saying, “Just call in sick. You’ve got all that sick leave anyway.” He said no and told me, “You never know when I may need that sick time for something real.”

Well, not too many years later, that premonition came home to roost. After a massive heart attack that almost ended his life, he had to spend the next three months going through corrective procedures and recovery before he was able to return to work. And he had enough sick leave on the books to cover every single day of that time. Message received, Dad.

Last year as I faced surgery, it was comforting to know I had enough paid time off on the books to cover the time before short-term disability would kick in. And, even at that, I still ended up having to sell back some vacation time because the company wouldn’t let me carry over more than 140 hours to the next year. I’ll have a balance at the end of this year as well.

Now, all that sounds good and responsible, right? But you know what else it is? It’s exhausting. There’s a reason companies don’t let us carry over an unlimited amount of vacation time from one year to the next. They want us to use some, because they know all too well the effects of burnout. It robs us of productivity and, left unchecked, can lead to some pretty serious health issues.

In my posts, I talk a lot about work and effort and getting things done. And those things are important. They keep our mind and body active, and that helps keep us alive. But there’s also a time to step away from work and enjoy a little of what you’ve been working for. Whether that’s a family vacation, a weekend outing, or just some quiet time at home, we need it.

Make no mistake, some of the healthiest and most vibrant people I know are the ones who always seem to be coming back from vacation in places most of us only dream about. And it shows in their productivity on the job. It’s not hard to put in a little extra effort when you’re well-rested. It’s also not hard to put in that extra effort when you know there’s something enjoyable coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I keep a picture of a motorhome on my desk. It’s not there to keep me from forgetting what it looks like. I can see them every day on the road as somebody else motors down the road, living my dream. I keep that picture because it reminds me every day of what I’m working for. It’s why I do the extra things I do. It’s what makes that extra effort worthwhile.

A song in the 1980s suggested that everybody’s working for the weekend. I think that was more a reference to short-term romance, but it raises an important question. Are we all just working to get through the week and take two days off, or do we have something bigger in mind? Is there something other than Friday that motivates us to get out of bed every day? I sure hope so.

We all have to earn a living and, for most of us, that means going to work every day. If you have dreams that your job won’t quite support, you may have to put in a little extra work on the side. But if you don’t take time to rejuvenate, and don’t have a reward waiting at the end, it’s just work. Do that for 45 years and you’ll see firsthand why some people grow old way before their time.

If you’re going to work, make sure you know what you’re working for. And take a little time along the way to sample the lifestyle you hope to achieve. The break will do you good. And the people around you may thank you for it as well.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It!

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

Those of you who have been with me for a while know I try to be an upbeat person who can find the good in just about any situation. I’ve always believed life is what we make of it, and if we choose to focus on the positive, we’ll get a little extra bounce in our step and find more reasons to smile. And let me tell you, it sure beats wallowing in the negativity that is just looking for a chance to sneak in.

But lately, it seems I’ve allowed that negativity to take a more prominent place in my mind. I find myself letting little things get under my skin more than normal, to the point that I don’t really even notice it. And I guess it’s starting to show. Several times lately, my wife has suggested I should go back and read a little more of what I’ve written each day. Ouch!

It can happen to any of us. Positivity isn’t something that comes naturally. It has to be practiced, sometimes with a conscious effort, in order to become a habit. That’s the way habits work. Negativity, on the other hand, doesn’t take much effort. If you pull the plug out of a sink, the water will drain out and air will take its place, because nature seeks to fill a void. Let the positive thoughts slip away, and negativity will rise to the surface.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned signs of stress. We all like to think we can handle stress. Some folks even brag about it. “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You may think you do, but the reality is stress erodes away your spirit until there’s no room left for anything but more stress. And along with stress comes the inability to enjoy life’s little treasures. Positivity out, negativity in. Just like clockwork.

Well, in a conference call yesterday afternoon, I was asked a simple question, and I gave a simple answer. No big deal. Twenty seconds later, another person on the call sent me a text message … “You sound happy!” Wow. I had to think back to what I’d said, and still didn’t realize it came off a bit abrupt. The next message was a little more direct. “You need a vacation.”

It’s easy to get so caught up in everyday life that we forget to slow down and enjoy everyday life. There are jobs to be done, bills to pay, people to see, things to fix, walls to paint, grass to mow, stores to shop, oil to change, trash to take out, and all those hundreds of little things that consume our day. At some point, we need to take a step back and say, “TIME OUT!”

And you know the answer most people give when you suggest that? “I can’t take time off … I’m too busy!” In the immortal words of astronaut Jim Lovell, Houston, we have a problem! It’s like saying you can’t go to sleep because you’re too tired. Trust me, you WILL go to sleep. It just may not happen exactly when or where you choose.

We all like to think nobody is quite as busy as we are. We wear it like a badge of honor. Because, if we’re busy, it means we’re productive. We’re getting things done. The world depends on us every day for its very existence, and we’re not about to let the world down. Sound familiar?

But sooner or later, your body and mind go off in a corner to chat behind your back, and when they come out, they have one word for you … enough! It’s time for a break. And if you don’t take one voluntarily, your body will find a way to make you do it. Now, let me ask you, which sounds more appealing? A week on the beach, or a week in bed wishing you were on the beach?

We’re raised to believe life is about working hard and getting ahead. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember that life is also about taking time to smell the roses. It’s about dropping everything to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard to build. It’s about family, and dancing, and laughter. And if you dance like me, those last two come as a package deal.

When it’s time to work, give it your best effort. If you have to be there anyway, make it count. But know when it’s time to step away and give yourself a break. If you’re waiting for a “good” time to take off, forget it. Put something on the calendar and let it be known that you’ll be doing something else during that time. You’ll be happier, and so will everyone around you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Relax and Dream a Little!

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

Do you have any plans for the weekend? I hope you’re looking forward to two days of fun and relaxation. As I said yesterday, we should work to live, not just to exist. Ants work to exist. But our creator decided we’re worth more. A lot more. We should be working for some of life’s more enjoyable experiences.

At work, we affectionately refer to Thursday as “Friday Eve.” But as I was telling somebody yesterday, lately it seems Friday is just the weekend’s Monday. That’s when all the work we didn’t get finished during the week (or that somebody else forgot to assign) hits like a ton of bricks. It seems everybody is scraping their plate right onto yours.

By the end of the day, we NEED a weekend. We go home too tired to do much of anything except slump down in a recliner and watch TV until bedtime, promising ourselves we’ll get up tomorrow morning and do something enjoyable. You know, like grocery shopping, laundry, mowing the lawn, or painting the porch railing … fun stuff.

But if you don’t do the work that needs to be done at home, who’s gonna do it? The answer to that question, for most of us, is nobody. It just won’t get done. So we spend our weekend doing all the things we didn’t have time to do during the week, and when Sunday night rolls around and we’re thinking of those fun things we wanted to do, none of them even made the list.

It’s important that we take care of the things that need to be done. It’s also important that we carve out some time for ourselves, to relax and enjoy some of what we’ve worked for. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Dinner and a movie can be nice, or a backyard cookout with family and friends. It could be as simple as taking the kids for ice cream that doesn’t come out of your own freezer.

But as you’re doing that, try something different. Instead of talking about school or work or any of the other things that need to be done at home, take some time to talk about dreams. Share some of yours, and let others share some of theirs. Okay, don’t do this during a movie – they frown on that. But the time is there anyway. Make it fun!

I’ve mentioned this before, but my dad always used to tell me, “Boy, you’re a dreamer!” He didn’t say it in a condescending way, but it was somewhat of a reminder that my goals were a bit lofty. Still, the message it conveys can often be misinterpreted. Instead of, “I hope you can accomplish all of that”, it can sound a lot like, “Get your head out of the clouds!” Is that the message we really want to send?

We should encourage one another to dream. Not just our kids, but our family, friends, co-workers, and maybe even our bosses. One of our upper-level managers at work loves fast cars. And he’s taken a couple of trips to one of those “driving experience” venues where you put on a suit & helmet and take a high-powered race car out on the track for a few laps. I bet it’s exhilarating.

Now, let me tell you, if I wanted to get him to dream a little, all I’d have to do is drop a brochure for a race car driving school on his desk. Or I could just sit down and ask him about his last experience. I can guarantee you his eyes would light up. I’ve seen it happen several times. And I’m pretty sure that, for the rest of the day, some of that excitement stays with him. It has to.

My wife and I often find ourselves talking about our dreams. It sure beats complaining about work, or what we’re going to do about that slow-running bathtub drain. It brings us closer together, because it highlights our similarities instead of our differences. We’re happier. And, because we turned our dream into a goal, everything we do is focused on making it happen.

A close friend often asks, “What would your goals be if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It’s a powerful sentiment, because the truth it implies is that there’s absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.

Don’t just work to exist. Work to enjoy more of what life has to offer. And when you get a couple of days off, let yourself experience a little bit of that lifestyle. Work will be there when you come back. It’s not going anywhere. But think of how much more energized you’ll be when you know why you’re doing it and what’s waiting for you at the end.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Recharge Those Batteries!

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

It occurred to me as I was getting dressed this morning, thinking of the things I need to do today, that I’ve spent a lot of time writing about work and doing the things we need to do and making up for lost ground when we start to fall behind. I guess it’s natural that we would think that way, because it’s pretty much the way we’re programmed from childhood.

But you know what? There has to be some kind of reward for all that hard work. And, no offense to the employers in the group, but I’m not talking about a work reward where you get a pat on the back, a new title, and even more responsibility. Sure, those things are important. But in a 168-hour week, we should only be spending about a fourth of that time at work. The rest of the time we live.

If you were to die today, your employer would be looking for your replacement before your funeral. Now, that sounds grim and maybe even a little cold-hearted, but that’s just the way it is. None of us are indispensable, at work or at home. We all like to think nobody could live without us but drive past any cemetery and you’ll have all the proof you need. Life goes on.

So, if you’re not putting in all this effort to save the world, why are you doing it? I ask people all the time what they want in life, and very few can give any kind of specific response. “Oh, I want to be healthy and have my family close by, to do well in my career, and retire someplace warm.” Yawn. Seriously? You can’t be a little more specific than that?

And the truth is, we spend so many of our waking hours working – either on the job or off – that we forget there’s a whole big world out there just waiting to be enjoyed. So, when we think of the things we’d like to do with that time, it takes conscious effort to bring them to the surface. We have to dig down deep, and even then, it’s not always easy.

Work can be a lot more enjoyable when you know why you’re doing it. A friend once told me that he visited a couple to discuss a business proposal and he’d asked them to tape a picture of their dream to the refrigerator before he got there. When he arrived, the refrigerator was plastered with the monthly bills. That was the extent of their dreams – simply to get through this month and on to the next.

Granted, the bills need to be paid. But beyond that, we all need something that excites us, something we truly enjoy. And I don’t know of anybody who enjoys paying bills. That’s a necessity of life, much like using the restroom.

So, let’s look at this in reverse. Instead of telling me what makes you get up and go to work each day, tell me what makes you want to go home. Not what makes you want to leave work – that could be as simple as escaping a really bad day on the job. But what makes you want to go HOME? What are you going to do there that’s so much more enjoyable than work? Hopefully, a lot.

That may be as simple as going to watch your child’s ball game or sitting on the porch reading a good book. It may be a weekend camping trip or a picnic in the park. It could be dinner with that special somebody, or lunch with friends after church. Or it could be just sitting around the table playing cards and feasting on really unhealthy snacks.

But give yourself time to think a little more, and you’ll come up with a whole list of reasons you’d like to come home. A Caribbean cruise, a European vacation, a new house with room for the kids to run and play, a motorcycle trip across the country, a motorhome trip to the next county, or a trip to watch the next Super Bowl live.

Work without a goal is just work. But when you know your “why” – the thing that excites you enough to make you get up and want to work – the days go by a lot faster. Take time each day to focus on your dreams. And at the end of a long day, relax or do something fun. It’ll rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. And it’ll give you something to look forward to as you begin the next day.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Memories – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved