I Survived and now Walking To Fight #BladderCancer

Walk to fight Bladder Cancer

September 23rd I will be walking to fight #bladdercancer in the annual Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk.

I have walked in Kenora for the past three years, my summer residence community and "hometown". As Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada, I thought it was important for me to walk in the largest event in the country and return home to Toronto for the September event.

Toronto Walk

Deanne Puder is doing a masterful job of organizing the Toronto event, along with former supporters of the walk and our Bladder Cancer Canada Co-Founder David Guttman keeping her informed on best practices to date.

Corus Global

I am also delighted that Corus/Global is continuing as our national media partner. Troy Reeb has been our master of ceremonies in Toronto the past few years. Alan Carter of Global News will be taking on emcee responsibilities this year. It is great to have Alan on board and we extend thanks to Corus/Global for their much-valued continued support.

Why Walk?

Why Walk?  As a survivor of #bladdercancer, I was fortunate enough to have found out about Bladder Cancer Canada, very early after my diagnosis. The website offered some great resources, and Tammy Northam, the executive director, was very helpful in getting me started on setting up a fundraising walk in my summer residence of Kenora Ontario.

More than that - Bladder Cancer Canada truly makes a difference in the fight against #bladdercancer. They remain focused on patient support, raising awareness about the disease and funding research.

Earlier this year I became Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada's board of directors. I humbly take on this responsibility after the leadership of Ken Bagshaw and his predecessor Co-Founder of the organization - David Guttman.

I also remain inspired by Jack Moon, David's fellow co-founder, to whom I was referred to when I was "googling" and stumbled across the organization after reaching out to the American organization BCAN and the Inspire network.

By walking, and gaining the support of donors, I know that we will continue to build the impact that we have to provide for patients in the fight against bladder cancer in Canada. We will have more resources to raise awareness. We will have more resources to support our medical advisory and research boards and our Canadian researchers in the pursuit of finding a cure for bladder cancer.

I hope that YOU might consider SUPPORTING ME by joining me to walk in Toronto and/or supporting me by making a donation to my walk effort on my personal page at bccwalk.ca.

Thanks

Thank you for helping me and our volunteer board and patient support team make a real difference in the fight against bladder cancer.


Virgin Islands Heart and Soul - Open For Business

Three couples were fortunate enough to spend some time in the Virgin Islands this past spring. The Virgin Islands Heart and Soul is alive and well. They are truly open for business. Considering that there are 60 US Virgin Islands and 40 British Virgin Islands, the opportunities are simply endless, when pursuing your Atlantic or Caribbean dream sailing vacation.

After the hurricanes of 2017, we were truly re-considering whether we would take our trip at the end of February 2018. We were concerned about the devastation, safety, access and unsure of what might be open for business. Given that all of the major chains seemed to have been shuttered, and remained so - we were fortunate enough to find accommodation in St. Thomas at Olga's Fancy.

Olga's Fancy, a comfortable hotel in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands

To cut a long story of anticipation short, we were delighted upon arriving in St. Thomas to see that the heart and soul of the Virgin Islands were still warm and welcoming. Yes, there were obvious remnants of the damage and devastation. I will not play that down, given the obvious impact that it had on the people of the area. However, not one of them seemed reluctant to give details of their experience. In some ways, I'm sure that it helps to heal some of the sickening memories of damage and loss that they experienced. But their pride and passion for the islands and its hospitality and warmth live on.

After leaving Olga's Fancy, and a long morning coffee with Candy and Eddie, we headed for a wonderful local tour with Romeo to start our day with banana daiquiri's on the mountaintop overlooking Magen's beach. For some in our party as "newcomers" to Saint Thomas most things seemed just wonderful. For those who were returning visitors, it was evident to them the amount of change in the landscape where trees and growth had been hacked away like it had been trimmed with a giant whipper snipper. However, new green growth and colourful blossoms were popping everywhere.

overlooking Magen's Beach

Our Captain and crew (Matt and Casey) aboard the Island R&R based out of Compass Point Marina were quick to welcome us with open arms and hospitality.

We were on our catamaran for eight days. We met so many wonderful people along our journey. We found that so many of the local businesses had laboured for weeks and months on end to be open for business. It was obvious to us that it had been months of hard work and determination to get their businesses back up and running to meet visiting tourists from around the world. Although many of the large chain establishments remained closed as of early March, the locals with Virgin Islands Heart and Soul were bound and determined to return the area to its revered state of beauty, hospitality and seaside pleasures.

With excellent "cell service" in the area, our group had many friends checking in on us. Is that open? Is that still there? Did you see this? Did you go there? Wasnt that spot spectacular? Did you try this? We visited most of the delights that friends had suggested that we see in British and US Virgin Islands. The natural wonders of beaches, hiking paths, seaside coves and snorkelling were just spectacular. Where reconstruction was complete, the facilities were brand new and in perfect working order.

To help with your Virgin Islands trip planning, I thought I'd highlight some of the sites and places we visited, so that you can rest assured that they will be ready willing and able to welcome you on your upcoming visit to the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands heart and soul is alive and well and open for business.

Anegada - Cow Wreck Beach - Anne's place

Highlights of our trip to the Virgin Islands March 2018

Meeting our crew for the week we stopped in at the Dive Bar at Compass point Marina. Great drinks and hospitality abound.

We dined at XO Bistro in Red Hook and had nightcaps at Duffy's Love Shack - great live music.

First stop after leaving Compass Point Marina was Great St. James Island for afternoon snorkelling and the unique Pizza Pi "floating pizzeria".

At Jost Van Dyke the "bubbly pool" was a wonderful natural phenom. Don't go too close to the edge !

Customs "check in" for the UK on Jost Van Dyke - we never made it to Foxy's but heard it is spectacular.

In White Bay we were delighted with the famous Soggy Dollar Bar and Coco Loco's Beach Bar.

White Bay at Guana Island was just a most spectacular "walk on the beach".

At Trellis Bay we were truly fortunate to be there for the Full Moon Party - plan your visit around the moon.

We had a quick stop at Leverick Bay at Virgin Gorda. A beautiful marina and resort.

We met a wonderful and inspiring guide whose name is Gumption. Be sure to check out Gumption's very inspiring story and don't miss booking him for his tours and depth of knowledge. You will not be disappointed. Check out his Facebook page for more details.

Necker Island tour was a once in a lifetime experience, thanks to Matt and Casey arranging this with Gumption. Tortoises, Lemurs, an array of floral beauty, Pink Flamingos, white sandy beaches and examples of the good that Richard Branson has done for this world.

Prickly Pear Island stop was a wonderful shallow water beach for just lollygagging in the sea. There did not appear to be much re-built in early March, but the beach remains beautiful. The BVI Traveller has a great ongoing update on what's open or about to re-open.

Oh my gosh - Anegada - what an island paradise. We were treated to a wonderful beachside Lobsterfest and late night dancing at the Wonky Dog. The following day we toured up the shoreline to explore the Conch Mountains. In the afternoon we settled in at Cow Wreck Beach for a lazy afternoon of beach time, snorkelling and the delights of Anne's restaurant. We had a quick peek at the Anegada Beach Club - looks like a lot of fun too.

Unfortunately, we missed "The Baths" because of large swells that day, but everyone still raving about this natural attraction.

We moored at Cooper Island for lunch "onboard". News is that Cooper Island Beach Club has re-opened just recently.

Norman Island and Bight Bay made for a wonderful overnight and partial day visit. We hiked on Norman Island to experience some wonderful vistas. The Pirate's Bight restaurant and bar were open with usual food and drink delights.

After leaving Bight Bay we had an amazing snorkelling experience at Indian Rocks. A must do, if you are visiting Norman Island.

We moored as a "lone catamaran" near Ram Head. We then ventured in via dinghy to take in part of the Ram Head Trail experience near Salt Pond.

The other delight in this area of St. John Island is the "Drunk Bay" where you will find creations from those who have visited prior to you, and an opportunity to create your own signature of your visit on this stretch of rocky beach and coral remnants.

On our final full day of sailing, we stopped at "Booby Rock" for some spectacular snorkelling once again.

There were rare occasions when we left the catamaran for food and drink, due to the wonderful hospitality of Matt and Casey, however, they highly recommended a visit to Cruz Bay on St. John. We had a local beer at the  St. John Brewers' tap room. The true delight was up the Longboard Coastal Cantina in Cruz Bay where we enjoyed some refreshing cocktails and awesome appetizers.

Our final overnight mooring was along Honeymoon Beach in Caneel Bay at St. John Island.

With one final mooring and snorkel, we were treated to a spot just off Secret Harbour Beach resort in St. Thomas. A calm bay with wonderful snorkelling delights below. A fitting "last snorkel" for the group.

In Closing...

So there is just a quick snapshot of the wonderful heart and soul of the British and US Virgin Islands that we were able to enjoy in early 2018. I hope that I have demonstrated and assured readers that the Virgin Islands are truly open for business. Enjoy planning your vacation. Don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance in answering any of your questions. Enjoy the sun and sea!  @FergDevins @TravelFerg

Matt and Casey - crew aboard the Island R&R 46 foot motor sailing catamaran

 


Spring

Spring into Opportunities of Spring

As February evaporates, literally as snow banks shrink and streams and rivers flow, I am reminded of what spring brings by way of opportunity. It is time to spring into the opportunities of spring.

Re-Align

It is a time to re-align and set the stage for the hunkering down in the new year. Doesn't it feel like New Year's eve just passed? How are those New Year's resolutions holding up? Time to get them planned and executed.

Get Away

For many, this might be a time of escape, rejuvenation, refresh, contemplation, study, renewal. Snowbirds from Canada are renowned for the mid-winter escapes to southern climates as a bit of a kick start and dream of the summer ahead. The mid-winter vacation is a great bridge to the March thaw that we long for after months of snow and sleet and ice. Universities and Colleges across the land take "break weeks" for study and reflection. Soon into March, primary and secondary schools will have their March break vacation time to bridge from winter to spring.

That Special Project

Spring also brings an opportunity to look ahead at our projects for the spring, summer, and fall. What projects around the house will need tending too? If you have a recreational property or recreational vehicle there will be maintenance and tune-up required to get things up to snuff for enjoyment in the months ahead. What vacation plans are you putting in place that you've always dreamed of and will land this year?

Re-Connect

It is also a time of year to re-connect with family and friends and put your social calendar together. Perhaps it is dinner in or out with those you have not seen for a while. Perhaps a longer-term plan for an extended visit to the city or town, or at the cottage/camp/or cabin this summer. By taking the time in the spring to plan your social calendar, you'll be sure to harvest great memories in the weeks and months ahead.

That Desired Contract

Spring is also a time to make plans on the work front. What projects are due for the peak season of summer? What job prospects might you be considering? For university and colleges students, the summer job market is never hotter than right now, at break time to sneak in the interviews and applications with prospective employers for the summer.

De-Clutter

Finally, (although I'm sure you could add a lot more to this short list), spring is a time for de-cluttering. The old term of "spring cleaning" allows us to chuck those items that have just been hanging around too long. As the snow melts, neighbourhood garage and backyard sales emerge. Remember, "one person's garbage is another person's treasure", will likely fetch you a few dollars for that item that has outlived its welcome in your household.

Here's wishing you and yours well as you consider how you might spring in the opportunities of spring. Wishing you wellness and good plans for happiness and fulfillment this spring. Cheers !

@fergdevins


Family Day in Most Parts of Canada

Family Day in Canada. Presidents Day south of our international border with the United States. Regardless of its name — a day when family can spend time together sharing the joy that is meant to be the energy and bond of family.

In parts of Canada, Family Day (French: Jour de la famille) is a statutory holiday occurring on a Monday in February. In the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Saskatchewan, it is observed on the third Monday of February; in the provinces of Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the holiday is instead termed Louis Riel Day, Nova Scotia Heritage Day and Islander Day respectively. British Columbia (BC) observes Family Day on the second Monday of February. Two-thirds of Canadians live in a province that observes a February statutory holiday. Except in British Columbia, Family Day coincides with Presidents’ Day in the United States.

So what about this day? Other than the “wikipedia details” stated above it can be a day for any number of activities.

Some suggestions might include, a day for reflection, time with family and friends, a break from the winter blues, a holiday of sorts from your daily business undertakings, a travel opportunity, an extended vacation, a chance to re-charge, one morning to sleep in, a stroll in the park, a movie matinee, order food in, take food out, slide into a diner for brunch, clean out old photos, call a relative you haven’t heard from in a while, visit a senior in residence, a family curling get together, one more ski on the slopes, ice fishing, a walk along the harbour, yard maintenance as the snow banks shrink, catching up on social networks.

Whatever the activity you might undertake, I hope that it will include family. Our family unit is so important to our lifelong joy. I won’t deny that some families will experience hardships and despair. Hopefully, this family day is one where love, joy, hope and opportunity may flourish for you and yours.

Wishing one and all a happy family day. And for you British Columbians that celebrated last week, thanks for keeping the economy going today. Smiles.

@fergdevins


Choosing Your Words for #BellLetsTalk Day

#BellLetsTalkDay

This #BellLetsTalkDay is a great day for you to just listen a little more intently to the phrases and comments we make that have just become part of our language and lexicon.

Phrases and Words

I'm referring to those phrases and words that perhaps perpetuate the stigma or context of mental challenges.

I'm raising this in a light-hearted context, but concerning a serious matter. The matter is our concern and promotion of all things mental wellness, mental health, mental illness, mental stability, stable mindedness and the list goes on.

Some of those phrases that you might give a second thought to, as you reference them today and from this day forward. Let's be more sensitive and atuned to those words and those situations that may be more than what seems to be simply a character trait or on the surface matter.

Someone may actually need your help, assistance or empathy if they are facing or dealing with a mental health matter.

Here's a short list that comes to mind. You might have others to add.

"That's just crazy"

"Are you out of your mind"

"Are you nuts"

"Are your meds working"

"Are you off your meds..."

"Who do you think you are..."

"Wow a little schitzo"

"That's a downer"

"There's a dark cloud hanging over them"

"You look panicked"

"She / He is a maniac"

"Just the ups and downs of life"

"That is just psycho"

"They are disturbed"

"A few screws loose over there..."

"That's just insane"

"They are a little skiddish"

"They are a little odd"

"That seems a little loony to me"

Thanks for helping make a difference today and every day in promoting mental wellness.

#MentalWellness

I often refer to a statement I saw at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver - "If we take the I from Illness and make it a WE for wellness we move from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness". Let's not leave anyone alone.

@fergdevins

 


How's that New Year Resolution going?

How's that new year resolution going?

At this stage, entering the fourth week of January and the start of a new year, we can sometimes get a little antsy about the promises we made to ourselves for the new year. There might be even more pressure if that new year resolution actually impacted more than just you and your plan for the year. You spoke those words, now you need the plan for action.

Have some fun and create some word art with some of the thoughts that are on your mind for your world in 2018:

When you look at your list you will find different magnitudes of thought and interest. Some of the thoughts might have significant consequence, some of them minor, some of them are things that  should just get done.  On a lighter scale, some are perhaps wishful thoughts.

Commitment

None of it will get done, without a commitment to do and action to follow.

Furthermore, whatever it is that you/we/ I want to get done - it doesn't just magically happen because someone decided to make it happen for us. We have the power to take the action and get on with the doing. As I often say "Your day is as good as you make it. My day is as good as I make it" - @FergDevins (click to tweet)

Two Resources

I've always been a big fan of Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch at owner.org. They have a couple of new year models that are worth reviewing. The first is "Brave New year", the second is Chris' "three words" approach to the year. What's really important here is that they set a context for action. They are not necessarily initiatives unto themselves. They set a context to shift mindset to help you get focussed on who and what you need to be to get things moving in a direction. That direction might be a continued direction or a new direction or perhaps a level above last year's direction. The important factor, in my opinion, is that they are foundational. They lay a foundation for the rest of the year. Chris and Rob have ongoing webinars and a slew of resources for personal and business development needs.

The other person that I have been watching, following and now engaged with, in a year-long program, is Benjamin Hardy. Benjamin is working on his PHD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has created the "52 Week Momentum" program for 2018. It is a weekly coaching session that drops into your email with resource recommendations, readings and occasional homework. Benjamin offers an on-screen webinar each week over 52 weeks. There are also lots of groups created so that you share in insights, learning and conversation about how your year is progressing. Benjamin also writes some very inspiring and helpful posts at Medium. He's one of the leading writers in that space and his clear thinking and suggestions for success are wonderfully inspiring.

Structured Support

So don't despair. Find your support network and system that you need to fulfill on success this year and for years to come. It might be a friend that you meet for coffee each week, your spouse, your children, your extended family or a mentor and coach. Perhaps your team at work needs to have a morning or afternoon workshop to determine "what's important and how are we going to get it done".For you personally, it can also be various personal support systems. Fitness - A Trainer, Diet - "Lose It App", Social Media Knowledge - Social Media Examiner, Finances -  Freshbooks, and the list goes on.

Like the famous weight loss coach for men Harvey Brooker (R.I.P.) used to say, "If you could have done it alone you would have done it already" (click to tweet)

Importantly, don't let another month slide by and still be sitting at the current place with respect to fulfilling your plan for the new year. Take action today. Map it out, write it down, plan milestones, make commitments, journal it, envision it, calendarize it. As Benjamin Hardy would suggest - decide who you need "to be" to make that happen.

Finally, when you question yourself about how that new year resolution is going, what response would you like to have for yourself? By setting your goals, with a plan for action, your year will be as good as you want to make it. Let's do this!

Wishing you much happiness, peace, joy and harmony in 2018. Cheers!

@fergdevins


see you next year

See You Next Year

See you next year!

That fun and often chosen phrase one hears, during the last two weeks of December. It is kind of fun to mention "see you next year" to a friend or family member and see them triggered to second guess your farewell. Naturally "next year" is but weeks or days ahead. On this chilly December 31st next year it is but hours away.

Neil Pasricha points to this saying as one of those awesome moments of New Year's Eve when people shout out this greeting, hours or moments before the clock strikes midnight.

Perhaps tomorrow seems like just another day. Perhaps tomorrow seems like it is just a continuation of what has already taken place this week. Perhaps tomorrow is no different that what was yesterday. Perhaps the new year means little beyond a change in the calendar.

I would like to think that tomorrow is actually day one of a new year.  A new year with greater possibility. A new year that could be one of greater joy. A new year that could be one of greater peace. A new year that could be one of greater healthfulness. A new year that could bring more happiness and harmony. A new year that could bring a breakthrough in health research. A new year that could bring the family together on more occasions. A new year that could bring greater charitable efforts and goodwill to our communities. A new year that can just be better than the past year, in whatever way we decide to make that change for the better.

As I look forward to seeing you next year, I look forward to what the new year might bring to the realm of possibility. As I often say, "our day is as good as we choose to make it". May the new year be one of great possibility and opportunity for you and yours by making those choices that will make it so.

See you next year!

@fergdevins


Christmas music

When they finally stop playing Christmas songs on the radio

This season is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year. Christmas tunes start to appear as a constant track of music on many stations on or around the date of American Thanksgiving.

Some stations are even reported to start playing Christmas music non-stop on November 01, right after Halloween. By the time boxing day rolls around, it is almost a relief when they finally stop playing Christmas songs on the radio.

Sirius/XM Canada have a few different options for holiday music listening. Some come to an end with boxing day, while others will remain on track until December 30th.

In Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", he refers to this as an "awesome" moment, "Because at some point we all stop caring what Bing Crosby is dreaming about".

Regardless, there is truly something special about the wonderful tried and true tunes of Christmas, as well as the new versions and recordings of present-day artists. One of note this year is the wonderful work by the The Tenors and their Christmas Together Album. It reminds us of the holiday joy that we experience through the singing of Christmas tunes during the holiday season at Christmas.

Here's to your listening pleasure this holiday season and all year round.


Warm up by the fire

Warm up by the fire

The Christmas holiday season makes for the perfect time to be in the great outdoors. And once you are back in from the cold and play, the perfect opportunity awaits for you to warm up by the fire.

In Neil Pasricha’s “The Book of (Holiday) Awesome” he talks about the awesomeness of staring into the fire.

Truly there is something special when you light up the fire after returning from a winter wonderland walk, toboggan run, snow board, skate on the pond, snow mobile ride or walk around the park with the dog.

Having a chance to warm up by the fire is not only a great way to shed yourself of winter cold, but a great way to connect with family and friends to reminisce about the year that has passed.

Of course many of the traditional fires have been replaced by gas inserts. Nonetheless, the warmth and joy of a fire mid winter is still a pretty awesome moment during the holidays. Throw another log on the fire.

Wishing you much warmth and happiness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


Christmas tree lights

When the Christmas Tree is the Only Light

Presents are wrapped, baking is complete, plans are made for the holidays, kids are either in bed or on their own playing, the tv is off, the iPad is closed, the iPhone is silenced and it is time. It is time to turn off all the lights and experience that special moment when the Christmas Tree is the only light on in your home.

The tree simply glistens. With it comes memories of years gone by with family and friends. Dreams of cold winter nights with a fire burning, a hot tottie in hand and a fresh piece of shortbread.

When the Christmas tree is the only light on in the home, you can almost hear the angels singing your favorite carols in your mind. The pine scent is filling the room and ornaments twinkle in the lights.

In  Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", this is one of this moments that he captures as awesome. It is truly awesome. Peace, harmony, light and just simply a moment of silence reflecting with your own little Christmas creation - your Christmas tree.

Wishing you this moment for you and loved ones this Christmas. Just take that moment to dim or turn off the lights and let your tree shine brightly.

@fergdevins