Hello, and welcome back to the wonderful world of the Dogpound. My neighbors put up a big tent last weekend to celebrate the graduation...

Hello, and welcome back to the wonderful world of the Dogpound. My neighbors put up a big tent last weekend to celebrate the graduation of their oldest daughter from high school. I do not know if she plans on attending college or not, but it did kick start my brain cells on the thought…”What would I tell a graduating class of 2017?” What advice would I give them as they move from the safe haven of school into the real world…reality on steroids so to speak? Would I ever be asked to speak to a graduating class??..Probably not, but let’s pretend a bit. There are obviously a lot of things I have learned over the years, but I want to condense this to a short list since the attention span of most these days is limited to the length of a silly cat YouTube video. So, speaking of YouTube, let’s start the list off with this nugget of wisdom and go on from there. Get your nose out of the smart phone and unplug the ear phones. The world is straight ahead, not on the ground, and you need to hear and see the world around you and not be driven by the latest drive-by sound bite on Facebook.

Education is important, but there needs to be a cost/benefit analysis before you go off to that big college campus. Student loans have exceeded one trillion dollars…yes trillion! This debt amount is second only to home mortgages. More than half of college graduates will leave college owing $25,000-$30,000..and for most this will represent about a monthly payment of $300-$400 for the next 10 years [$3,600-$4,800 annually]. There are many ways to get an education, and not all of them are that expensive, so be careful with your credit. Also…never quit learning..you are never too old to learn new things.

Speaking of credit…credit cards are not free money. Learn to live within your means as much as possible…waiting and saving up for what you want is not a bad thing.

Life is unfair…so get over it. Bad things do happen to nice people…and unplanned-for-things [Surprise…your water heater just exploded!] happen all the time. So put on your big girl/boy pants and deal with it head on.

Speaking of unfair….remember life is too short to be always angry or upset with the world. Remember that you control how you are going to feel when you get out of bed each morning.

Life is serious enough as it is, so try not to take yourself too seriously. Try to find humor in things each and every day. Amazing what a good laugh can do to help you feel more positive about the world around you.

Be a good person. Keep your feet on the ground, accept yourself for who you are…and always find a way to help others…big or small…pass it foreword each day. If we all extend a helping hand or a kind word to one other person..we are going to make a lot of people feel better about their day.

Last but not least…always give thanks at the end of the day for the blessings you have received that day. Blessings come in all shapes and sizes; we just need to recognize them because we have so little time to enjoy them.

There is more but I told you, I wanted to keep it short and sweet. Congratulations to all 2017 students, and may you go forward to do many great and wonderful things. I will be available for autographs and pictures at the end of today’s ceremonies.

That is about as close as I will get to completing my bucket list, so I am going to scratch it off as complete. As always, be good, do good, play safe, and remember it is your life, make the best of it. JR