Warm up by the fire

Warm up by the fire

Whether wood burning or gas lit - something special about the sparkle of a winter’s 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Of course many of the traditional fires have been replaced by gas inserts.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

How many lights does it take to create your desired glow?

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


Santa

When there is no line at the mall to meet Santa

Have you been to the mall to see Santa yet this season?

Ho Ho Ho. That is the wonderful cheerful sound of Santa when positioned next to the Christmas tree in the mall. The even sweeter awesome moment is certainly when there is no line at the mall to meet Santa.

Neil Pasricha, in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" captures this moment of awesome.

Whether you plan to visit Santa at the mall, or just happen to turn the corner and see Santa at the mall - it is one of the moments for kids of all ages to experience during the holiday season.

I still think that best plan is to do a little research into Santa's hours at the mall. By assessing his very busy agenda, you might be well advised to get to the mall when he has arrived with his sleigh. Early visitors may have a shorter line in front of them.

Wishing you much happiness this holiday season as you experience your own awesome moments at Christmas.

@fergdevins


Outdoor Christmas Lights

Driving to see the Christmas Lights

Old fashioned or new LED - it is still a wonderful spectacle this time of year

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. With just 20 days left to Christmas, it is a perfect time to be out driving to see the Christmas lights.

This is truly one of those awesome moments of the holiday season, as mentioned by Neil Pasricha in his "The Book of (Holiday Awesome)".

Do you remember growing up in your small town or community and having mom and dad shout out the special plan for the evening? "Tonight we are going to drive around town and look at all the lights". Oh my gosh, those were special moments. In many instances, we would pack a snack bag with a mandarin orange and a couple of shortbread cookies for the road. Often times we would jump into our pajamas, bring a quilt for our laps and strike out on a tour of the town to see the lights.

We would venture out to new parts of town, ending up at the tree located at Main and Second in the center of town in Kenora. The town/city tree is still erected each year in Kenora. I am sure that this is a mighty tradition in your local community as well.

Over the years the transition from traditional lights to LED's and the proliferation of Christmas and seasonal infltables has transformed the Christmas light tours across the nation.

Wishing you and enjoyable drive to the the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood, city, town, village or countryside this holiday season.

@fergdevins


wrapping paper lines up

When the wrapping paper lines up

One of those “aha” awesome moments of the Christmas season

Sometimes the awesome moments during the holidays are small achievements. Do you ever catch your self in a moment of joy, or upset and realize what is causing your emotion is actually quite trivial in nature? In the ramp up to Christmas, one of those trivial moments could be that moment when the wrapping paper lines up, or doesn't.

You've selected the most amazing pattern to wrap your gifts. Upon wrapping you realize that the pattern won't line up. Well, with a little bit of maneuvering it will likely line up, but it adds a little planning and strategy to the simple task of wrapping.

When the wrapping paper lines up, you have a moment of joy. There is a sense of accomplishment. You might even lay a high five or bump to one of your family members nearby.

As Neil Pasricha points out in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", wrapping is serious. However, let's not get caught up in these trivial moments of highs and lows of the season. Let us seek out our joy in not only when the wrapping paper lines up but some of those other moments of joy the holidays season brings:

  • When the lights all turn on when you plug them in the first time.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Flights all arrive on time with family members returning home for the holidays.
  • Son or daughter's "last exam" isn't Christmas eve morning.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snow blower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • Your wifi is capable of handling of your visitors of the season.
  • You remembered to PVR that new holiday tv special the night you were out for dinner.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order, for added guests.
  • You remembered to re-print the holiday carols.
  • Your remembered your family member who is a vegetarian with an option for Christmas dinner.

May your holidays be happy and bright and may all of your Christmas's be white.

@fergdevins


Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Rockettes at Christmas in New York

Each community has their spectacular Christmas showpiece - and the Rockettes Christmas is certainly one to behold in Manhattan, New York

The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a wonderful holiday treasure in New York City. Ah NYC and the magic of Christmas. Truly something special.

Walking New York streets there is the constant sound of Christmas carols from shops and vendors. When you think of all the "Christmas tunes" this time of year, one can only imagine those early days in the streets of New York with stars of the day like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Mathas, Aretha Franklin and the Carpenters (to name just a few).  Click forward to such present-day delights and performances by Gwen Stefani, Michael Buble, Sam Smith, Pentatonix and The Tenors as they carry on the tradition of wonderful Christmas music.

The famous Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show has reigned over New York City since December of 1933 . We were able to take in this awesome event on a recent getaway to New York City. We had attended the show before. It was so wonderful to see all of the enhancements that have made the show so current, in technology and visual effects. Naturally, Santa, The Rockettes, and the story of the Baby Jesus are core to the performance. The three-dimensional filmography is a wonderful start early in the show. It is just so much fun to see the kids in the audience reaching out to try and catch presents falling from Santa's sleigh, as he flies over Manhattan.

Although The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a crown jewel in Christmas performances, many such holiday spectacles take place in communities across North America and around the world. There are countless celebrations and performances bringing joy to family and friends with local traditions of Christmas pageants and events. This is in addition to the Sunday programming at churches and parishes as we approach Christmas eve checking off each day on the advent calendar. In Toronto, there are lots to choose from (note, the post says 2011 but it has been updated). No doubt your community has a similar list - just google "Christmas even services in your community".

Be sure to share a link to your favourite Christmas celebration. I'd love to hear your special little awesome celebration that you and your family enjoy this special time of year.

Just ten more posts of "awesome" inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" this season. Wishing everyone much joy this season.

@fergdevins


Nutcrackers

The Christmas Specials on television

Christmas Specials adorn the networks this time of year - but if you really want to binge on unstoppable Christmas Romance specials - tune in to the W Channel

Have you been watching your favourite Christmas specials on television this holiday season? Do you have one that is an absolute "must see" each year? Is there one that you wait until the family is together to ensure that you can all watch it together?

For years and years I would always watch the famous original "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas eve. It became quite a ritual. I've not done that for many years now. The other true favourite was always watching "The Sound of Music" during the holidays. There are so many timeless favourites to behold. "The Polar Express" has to go done as one of the modern-day classics. I remember seeing it for the first time in an Imax Theatre. The sound of the train whistling and the steam engine rolling on the rails was thunderous.

The past three years Kathy and I have come to like tuning in to the wonderful series of Christmas "movies" on the W Channel. There is a nightly feature of a wonderful group of holiday movies that just bring you to a feel-good state of mind before heading off to bed.

Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" points to "flipping channels and stumbling on that one Christmas special you loved as a kid, as one of those awesome moments of the holidays.

I agree wholeheartedly. Cheers to the season.

@fergdevins


Oven window

Looking through the little window in the oven

To accompany the fresh smell of your newly positioned Christmas tree - baking in the oven is one of those familiar treats of the season

Ah, the lure of Christmas and holiday baking. Do you recall those days of walking into the house after school and having the wonderful aroma of mother's, or grandmother's baking filling the home?

There were so many holiday treats to be made. Shortbread, Christmas fruit cake, banana cake, cherry centered shortbreads, chocolate shortbreads, jam cookies, Christmas pudding, homemade nuts and bolts. Each and every day would be a new set of delightful treats. We were always allowed to try a few, with the remainder being hustled off to the freezer. Naturally, a few samples would be consumed from the freezer in the days leading up to Christmas Day.

Neil Pasricha's reference in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", pushes us back to reflect even further in history to think of when ovens did not exist and when families would have gathered around the fire to amaze at what was being prepared.

Regardless, this time of year brings that moment of intrigue when preparation for holiday feasts and dining are prepared.

Cheers to the oven and the joy that our home cooks prepare for us each Christmas and Holiday season.


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.


Your Remote Office At the Lake

Hello out there Canada !

I'm re-issuing my "virtual office" blog post on working remotely at the lake - the remote office. I am also including a "video" produced last summer to help you think about how you might plan on working remotely this summer. Cheers to a great start to the month of July. Happy Canada Day long weekend.

VIDEO LINK HERE  

Ah summer...time to set up the virtual office.

A time when families plan to spend more time together with each other, extended families and friends. For many Canadians, it is a time to enjoy that special place known as the "cottage", "camp" or "cabin", depending on of course which part of this vast and magnificent land you might be headed to...the coast - lake - river - countryside - hills or mountains.

For me, that "camp" becomes my summer location and headquarters in Central Canada for the Devins Network. I get a smile on my face just writing that! It's the virtual office.

Even when I was still working full time at Molson Coors, I would make the weekly treck northwards to Kenora from Toronto late on a Thursday night and return on Monday.

Thankfully, I had the benefit of understanding and supportive colleagues and a CEO who knew that I was plugged in and accessible at all times, regardless of my physical location. Ground rules in that regard are critically important to make the model work. Establish that agreement early on so that the context is understood by your team and clients.

The remote or virtual office concept is being adapted and embraced by more and more individuals and businesses. I truly believe in this web-connected network society in which we live, if you've got access to the web, you are on the job; available and in touch.

Obviously, the truth is that virtual office or job locations are not for everyone. If you are an administration type, that requires physical files at your disposal, it's likely the case that you need to be next to those physical files. 

If you are on a production line or supervising production lines or operations, it is likely important that you are physically on the site in case troubleshooting is required.

However, if you can execute your responsibilities and fulfil on your accountabilities online, without requiring a physical presence - you can likely make the virtual office thing happen.

So what does a virtual office look like, feel like ?

DETERMINE THE WORKSPACE

Establishing your physical "workspace" is a critical consideration, in setting up your virtual office. A desk, chair, printer, filing space, office items, mouse, keyboard, clock are all important for your physical set up. Most important is an agreement with your family members of where you locate in their environment. You may have to take a call or examine something online at any point in the day. Having space that will allow for this and not cause friction with the rest of the family is key to happiness for those sharing your newly created office space.

A PHONE

Cell phones allow you to be in touch anywhere anytime as long as you have cell service. I find that more and more folks are leaving the landline behind and moving to cell phone only. Given that most families have plans for each member of the family - it has become the predominant device for contact...voice or text. As a solopreneur my cell phone is my phone for business and travels with me everywhere. Depending on how "remote" you are, you might need to do some research on network availability and service in your area. Most communities and service providers have figured out how to keep their permanent and summer residents connected.

COMPUTER

Hardwired to the net or Wifi will provide you with the connectedness you need to access your work team, clients, suppliers, colleagues, and prospects. If you don't have wifi you may actually have the benefit of a data plan and you can "hotspot" from your phone. Research most accessible and affordable options. Another critical consideration is your "back up". By this, I am referring to a  backup device. I stumbled upon a situation where my computer needed servicing. Having an Apple Mac Book it required being shipped away for several days. Thus, I needed to have a backup laptop, tablet or device.

WIFI

I have struggled year after year with just simply unacceptable wifi service from the local provider. I am now into my second summer with xplornet.com and find them to be outstanding. Currently, I have 20.7 MBPS down and  1.6 MBPS up. I have had better than than through the week.

DOCUMENTS 

Platforms such as dropbox, google drive, box, icloud and or various other clouds allow you to arrange your critical documents for access. You can also share and edit with teams via these platforms. It might take some getting used to but is really slick once you are operating in this space. This will also provide a safe back-up for you with access on any device if your primary computer or lap to go on the fritz.

FACE TO FACE

Facetime for Apple folks, SKYPE for just about anyone and many other video conference platforms like "Go To Meeting" allow you to conduct virtual meetings where you actually do have face to face ability through your computer, tablet or phone device. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and snap chat all have face to face capability as well.

VOICE TO VOICE OR SCREEN SHARING

Plenty of conference call platforms on phones and available today to ensure that you can remain connected and be engaged in meetings whenever that call might be on your calendar. I recommend securing a conference line so that you have it on the ready, rather than having to scramble if in need of convening a call with your team or clients. Join Me is a terrific service to share your screen with others via conference call. Webex or Zoom are also great services.

CONFERENCE ROOMS

Most hotels, and many local businesses offer up their conference space for use by individuals or small businesses. You don't have to look too far before finding something that will suit your needs. This is particularly important if you are need in several hours on a "call". It could be a major inconvenience to your family if you are set up in common space in your abode. Often times there is idle space in summer months in cottage country, the establishment might appreciate a few tweets, Trip Advisor referral or Facebook like or recommendation from you in return.

CALENDAR AND ALARM

Don't fall into a trap of getting distracted with what is going on at your virtual location environment. Have a calendar plan with "notifications" when meetings, calls or assignments are due. Since you are remote, you might sometimes be slightly adrift. Make sure you have a good system in place to stick with your business schedule, when required.

PLAN YOUR WORK WINDOWS

Put a plan in place to lay out your work each day. Rob Hatch at Owner Media has a good process that he talks about in his "work like you're on vacation" course. His suggestion is to lay out your work the night before, plan it, plan the outcomes and schedule that time free of distractions.

MAIL

Canada Post will allow for personal mail being forwarded, or how about having home office send you your mail weekly in a ground courier envelope. Many cottage communities also have local post office box availability. Depending on whether you know your community, or are just renting for the summer - don't just assume that your standard courier will be able to get to you. Talk to locals first. Remember that most cottage country areas do have a day or two delay in reaching you.

BANKING

There are now so many options to bank and complete transactions online. All of the banks and credit unions seem to have set up online banking ease. You can also utilize PayPal as a transaction service to pay online.

FEELING REMOTE AND AWAY FROM INFORMATION

Google it ! YouTube it ! There is no reason for you to feel out of touch if you are connected to the web in your virtual office.

NETWORKING GAPS

Pick your pathway and engage with folks through platforms existing on LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Google + (to just name a few...). If you are remote, you may feel that you are disconnected from people. You can stay in touch through your networks. As part of your plan, you might decide to reach out to a number of people through the week. Drop those into your calendar with a purpose in mind. Check out profiles with your cottage community in their profile. A great twitter search tool for this is Audiense.

DISCIPLINE

Getting your mindset established from the get-go is most critical. Know when you are at "work" and when you are at "leisure". Plan your day, work your plan. Schedule appropriate amount of time for calls, email, social networking. Routine calls or meetings will make for better planning over the longer term. Discipline and planning will make this work with ease. Those early morning sunrises might make for the perfect time to wipe off the morning dew, grab a nice hot coffee, cup of tea, iced drink or smoothie on your deck or dock to check incoming mail and plan your day.

JUST A CALL OR EMAIL AWAY!

The biggest hurdle with establishing a virtual office is you getting your head around the fact that nothing is impossible to get done when you are remote. The other hurdle is getting those that you work with and support comfortable with the fact that you are achieving your goals and accomplishing the work that needs to get done; even though you are not physically at a location. No need to rub it in, but acknowledging accomplishments from your place away is a good reinforcement that the work is getting done.

Get your virtual office established and...enjoy the summer !

VIDEO LINK ALSO HERE - smiles.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork