From the Book of (Holiday) Awesome

I am going to "re-blog" this series that ties to the work of Neil Pasricha and the Book of Holiday Awesome. Thanks for the inspiration Neil, and for those who enjoyed these posts. Back due to demand...happy holiday season planning everyone. @fergdevins

The Holiday season and the celebration of Christmas

Firstly, for me as a Christian, it is truly the Christmas season. I have also had many Muslim, Jewish and Hindu friends suggest to me that they also look at this coming time of year as the "Christmas Season", with other celebrations of faith and community included. I sometimes find it humorous when companies or individuals try to neutralize the season to be non-faith based. "Holiday Greetings", "Season's Greetings", are often phrases we might here. As a close Muslim friend of mine stated,  "get over it, it is Christmas!". Whatever your faith, it is a time of year to be grateful for all that we have and to work towards greater peace, harmony, and joy amongst all human beings. During these COVID-19 times, we will be gathering less and distancing more. However, there are so many social channels for us to help replace the face to face with virtual gatherings. Here's wishing everyone a safe and secure Christmas and Holiday season.

A Time With Family and Friends

Regardless of faith or your own beliefs, it is a wonderful time of year where family and friends rejoice. I was truly taken by the work of Neil Pasricha and his "Book of (Holiday) Awesome".  As Neil works on his mission to help people live happy lives, his work in this book is certainly a written legacy of happiness. So...virtually create your own bits of #awesome this holiday season.

Neil Pasricha's Work

I reached out to Neil in November of 2017 and asked for his permission to post and share some of the content from his wonderful work throughout the holiday season. He graciously accepted my request. Thanks, Neil! For true joy and guaranteed smiles, check out Neil's works at Amazon.ca.

Time for Awesomeness

So, over the next number of weeks (commencing November 12th and ending December 31st) I am going to share excerpts from Neil Pasricha's work "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

I hope that it may warm your hearts and make you think a bit of how you might spread a little Holiday Awesomeness as we wrap up 2017.

Here we Go

The first thought of awesomeness from page three of Neil's book is related to "Getting a Christmas card from someone you thought you lost touch with". Realistically, we are all probably a little less involved with the physical handwritten Christmas cards as the year's progress. There are so many "online" options to choose from. Many just simply post an electronic message to their "contact list" and email blast away. I'm still a big fan of personalized outreach on special occasions. It is wonderful to share a Christmas message that is personalized so that your networks can relate to you and your family and loved ones at Christmas. However, there truly is nothing like receiving that direct connection from someone you have not heard from in a long time - whether that is a physical greeting card or email.

As Neil points out, "life is short and always wavering", thus friendships are worth sustaining, worth investing in, "worth enjoying and worth savouring".

So here we go - post one of the season is up and running. Follow more posts via The Devins Network on Facebook, Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn.

Through my networks, I hope to add a little spice of happiness, from the inspiration that Neil Pasricha has provided through his work.

Have an Awesome Holiday Season everyone - May the Christmas Spirit be large in your lives!

@fergdevins


Queen's Band Macy's Parade

Love a Parade

American Thanksgiving, no matter where you are in the world, will always be a morning to watch the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is a spectacular production that has withstood the test of time.

In 1983, I was fortunate enough to have marched in the parade as a member of the Queen's University at Kingston - Queen's Bands. Look at that dapper bass drummer in the middle of the shot. Yep, young Fergus Devins! The photo atop was our pipe band contingent. Oh my gosh, my feet were sore after marching around Manhattan with that bass drum strapped on.

Whether participating in or spectating at, a community parade is just simply one of the events of the holiday season and Christmas festivities that leaves us feeling awesome. Although not one of Neil Pasricha's references in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", I did want to refer to the joy that a parade brings to the community. It is certainly a cultural event - lining up along the street, hand warmers engaged, hot chocolate in hand, lawn chairs in place.

Thanks to the magic of google you can find a lot of Ontario based parades and Christmas events at PARADES LINK 2020. Given the fact that many parades in communities across Canada have altered plans and gone "virtual", you are likely best to google your own community and find out what your local volunteer and organizing committee has planned to welcome Santa Claus to your streets this holiday season.

For those parades come and gone, thanks to the organizers, for those yet to take place outdoors - put on your woollies - virtual or not!

@fergdevins

 


American Thanksgiving

During these pandemic times, it makes for a very special and different way to think of American Thanksgiving.

A day when you might grab a coffee and watch the Macy's Parade from New York City. (modified for your viewing pleasure). I have a special place for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, given that I marched as the bass drummer for the pipe band, Queen's University Marching bands in November of 1983.

Or perhaps American Thanksgiving is a day when you might gather locally in Canada with family and friends from the states. We won't be doing that this year, in our current lockdown here in Toronto.

It would traditionally be one of the busiest travel times of the year in the United States. In fact, some would suggest that the Thanksgiving period in the US has more interstate and "in and out" travel to the United States than any other period during the calendar year.

That might be true in a normal year, but not in a pandemic year.

Hopefully, folks are staying safe, staying close to home, celebrating with limited numbers of family and close friends and taking all the precautions that public health area suggesting. These include but are not limited to social distancing - washing hands frequently - hand sanitizing - wearing masks and limiting travel and mixing and mingling.

We will be thinking of our friends in the United States and hope that they are safe and secure.

Happy American Thanksgiving.

@FergDevins

 


Snowfall

The First Big Snowfall 2020

With the white fluffy stuff all around us in Toronto today and given the look of weather forecasts and winter storm conditions coast to coast to coast, this blog post seems so appropriate this afternoon. With a blanket of snow in several parts of the country, it is hard to believe that the official first day of winter is still weeks away (December 21). Cheers to the first snowfall.

No matter where you are in Canada you might be thinking of that first big snowfall. If you recieved this post as a tweet feed you might be thinking "Where are you Ferg?". The post is actually inspired by the work of Neil Pasricha and his 2011 copyrighted edition of "The Book Of (Holiday) Awesome". Neil's work is very inspiring and in fact, he has created an ongoing #pandemicedition of all things awesome since the start of these challenging times.

In his original work, Neil reveals a series of moments during the holiday season that is just simply awesome.

The moment of awesome that I refer to today is that first big snowfall of the season. Growing up in Kenora, Ontario on the northernmost shore of Lake of the Woods, that first big snowfall was often Halloween. We'd put on our snowsuits and our Halloween garb and head out to the streets for trick and treating. Not as frequest but often too was snowfall on Thanksgiving weekend. We have always been cautious on heading back up to the lake for Thanksgiving to close up camp, given the possibility of these winter conditions that could be upon us.

Often times the first snowfall would catch everyone by surprise. In that regard, you might have had a 50/50 chance of a "snow day". In the north, we didn't see many "snow days". In fact, it was kind of a "buck it up buttercup" approach. We are in the north and it will snow. Southern Ontario, I found, was a little less capable of quickly adapting to the first dump of snow. Ha ha...we all remember the time that Mayor Mel Lastman called in the army to deal with our snow in Toronto.

I remember when I was a young District Manager at Molson in the 90's. If I had my team meeting on Monday and a snowfall was forecasted, I would just plan to get there early. My team would arrive late and complain of the snowfall. I'd quickly ask them if they had heard the forecast for snow and question why they had not planned for the probability of slower traffic. I guess that was just the "northerner" in me...smiles.

When at College and University, it was always a joyous time of year to have the first snow arrive. Sometimes it meant that expectations were lowered on arrival to class. On the way to class, there would be numerous snowball clashes. It was always a bit humorous to see who was prepared with boots or still wearing running shoes or less that appropriate footwear for the conditions.

As a parent with young children, the first snowfall was always magical. The joy of that first snowfall and just getting the chance to get out and romp around in the snow was such a heartwarming sight to see. Even our two Portuguese water dogs over the years loved to see that first snowfall and desired a walk in the white stuff.

In many parts of Canada, the first snowfall is the true mark of a change in season. In many areas that means that the winter has truly started and here to stay. In Toronto, it means that it will be a little inconvenient as the ploughs figure out what streets to plough (if they plough) and that it is going to be sloppy for a few days. However, in Toronto, it likely means that it is truly a passing fancy. Gone are the days where snow arrives and stays for months, let alone weeks. This snowfall today is plentiful, weighing down boughs on trees, adding up on the lawns, staying on rooftops and starting to accumulate as slush in the local streets. But...it will likely be gone within 48 hours.

So as Neil would suggest, that first snowfall puts us in a context for nostalgia and stories of years gone by. The first snowfall is truly #awesome.

Enjoy your first snowfall of 2020, today, perhaps already or soon to come.

PHOTO credit Helena Devins - she is one of those stalwart fans of winter and the great outdoors.

Enjoy.

@fergdevins

 

 


bladder cancer awareness

Fundraising during a Pandemic

Success for #BladderCancer Canada annual walk

It was early in 2020’s awareness of the pending Corona Virus.

At Bladder Cancer Canada, staff and volunteers quickly moved to assess whether physical walks held in September (which had been ongoing for close to ten years) were a reality, or whether we should pivot to a virtual model.

Some of us actually felt that we should wait just two more weeks and re-assess. Others pushed hard to make the call and get on with the appropriate planning. The call was made. Go virtual was the call. Thankfully.

Rather than a specific weekend or alternate weekend, the decision was made to make September a month to “walk where you are”. The 20+ communities that would have held walks, continued with their walk site planning — www.bccwalk.ca . Plans were also made to have a celebration video made to be aired on YouTube October 7th.

I chose to “walk where I am” and did so on Coney Island in Kenora on the September long weekend. I got in a great 5k stroll, joined at a safe distance with members of my family and neighbours on our island.

On a personal goal of $50,000, I raised close to 76% of my goal. In my mind, and with challenges facing friends and family I am delighted with the result.

Nationally we had a target goal of $600,000 — of which we achieved 71%.

Given that we did not have congregate walks, registrations of walkers declined significantly.

However, the passion and commitment of our bladder cancer patient community in Canada walked on and we achieved this important revenue for Bladder Cancer Canada — www.bladdercancercanada.org

With these results there are some key learnings:

  • Be nimble, make a decision, layout the plan — work the plan
  • Ask your former donors to please support you — this was key — and they were so pleased that I was not giving up due to COVID-19
  • My message was clear — I would appreciate the support, but also respect that in these challenging times support for charities may be another more urgent need or these times might prevent giving — Respect for your donors.
  • Reminder emails work — each time sent — each time received support
  • Strive to keep the message strong, in the face of the pandemic noise
  • Work social and traditional channels. We were so fortunate to have our national media partners — Global/Corus supporting us through then network and stations across the country — again — the need to breakthrough

Thanks to those who supported me and others, as we walked to raise awareness and funds in the fight against #bladdercancer. I/we appreciate YOU.

Ferg Devins


New Normal or Current Reality

New Normal or Current Reality

There is the persistent use of the phrase "new normal" that seems to be showing up everywhere. People seem to be grasping for a foundational moment where things settle into what will be a new normal.

Perhaps a better way to view the moment is by referring to it as a "current reality".

In the weeks since early March when we have gone from a context of the virus being out there, to the virus being right here - we have seen our realities shift from what was to what is. This is our current reality.

This weekend our current reality is that golf courses are open, but driving ranges are closed. Perhaps driving ranges will open in the coming weeks. That won't be the new normal, just actually what is a current reality at that time.

Some say that wearing masks at retail might become the new normal. Again, masks at retail or not will be a reality that we face, given the circumstances of the day.

I honestly feel that each day we wake up facing the new realities of the day. We are currently on a track of lessening up the restrictive living conditions of the past couple of months. The indicators and trends all point to lightening up of the constraints as we hopefully continue on the downside slope of the Covid-19 curve.

This reality could become a new reality if we are to suddenly see a spike in cases or re-occurrence around us.

The other fascinating reality is the differing circumstances between provinces, states and countries. Although there are similarities, there are certainly some very different approaches to the current reality. I suppose Sweden stands out as the most different from the rest of the countries around the world, yet their spread is now aligning with most other countries.

Current Realities We Face

So our current reality is an interesting mix of practices to protect us from each other and keep planking the curve. Things such as masks at retail, directional lanes at retail, gloves, plastic walls at retail check out, Lysol wipes handy, hand sanitizer surrounds us, take out meals only at restaurants, six-foot/two-metre distancing, limited groups gathering other than immediate household, avoid those not in your household.

The current reality requires practices in our day to day lives to keep us, our loved ones, friends and community safe. The future reality will bring with it, evolving practices. At some point, it might seem like normal, but for now, we will just have to deal with it as the current reality.

Be well - Stay Safe - Wash Hands - Keep the Distance

@FergDevins


This New Normal we are about to experience

This new normal we are about to experience will come with new approaches to our day to day lives.

Do you find yourself washing your hands more often? Has hand sanitizer crept into several convenient locations in your home? Do you find yourself religiously keeping the distance when you leave your home? Will we ever feel comfortable tossing a ball or throwing a frisbee? When was the last time you hugged someone outside of your household? Groceries unloaded and wiped down with Lysol wipes before entering the home? How do you open doors in public places? Stocked up on rubber gloves? Is our homemade facial mask near your car keys? What essential items have you loaded into your pantry? Do you find yourself snacking more? What culinary delights have you explored? Are some of you cooking more than you used to,  mixing it up in the household? Have next fall or winter travel plans and dreams been put on hold? How about those few bucket list items you were planning to explore? Did it take a little longer to get those summer tires back on this spring? Have you chosen your take out night for dinner, or embraced #takeout Wednesdays? Have you noticed the "one-way" lanes emerging in essential retail outlets? Noticing six foot markers emerging everywhere? Are you now subscribed to more social networks than previously? Have you learned to use more than one video conferencing platform like ZOOM, GoToMeeting, JoinMe, BlueJeans  or Google Meet? (my personal preference is ZOOM)

Those are just a few of the queries that pop to mind when I think of "new normal".

However, our practices here in Canada seem to have helped to flatten the curve.

The challenge will be the gradual return to "new normal", while maintaining a lot of these critical practices that we have come to learn in the past two months.

Here's wishing everyone good health. Let's continue to keep the distance and be diligent in our day to day activities. I attach this ad from Israel that reminds us of how easy the spread can travel in public.  https://youtu.be/xgJcbkdHAHA

Let's stay the course and listen to our health care and elected officials.

@FergDevins


Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder - Celebrating Ten Years

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, there is a gem of care and research that has existed for ten years. The Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder operates at Sunnybrook under the leadership of Dr Benjamin Goldstein. If a youth in your family is challenged with issues related to their mental wellness, you should know that the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder is available to you upon referral from a family doctor, paediatrician or psychiatrist.

Check out their site at Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder to see more information related to the excellent services and research undertaken by the centre.

The centre provides psychiatric consultations and assessments for adolescents 13-18 years of age.

If required, the centre also provides a number of other services. The following list is a CUT AND PASTE from the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder website.

SOURCE:  

Psychiatric monitoring and medication management

  • Patients can see our psychiatrists on an ongoing basis for medication management and monitoring.

Psychotherapy

  • Psychoeducation

    • Learning information about bipolar disorder, including symptoms, course of illness, causes, risk/protective factors, and more. This is a core form of psychotherapy for patients and families affected by bipolar disorder.
  • Individual therapy
    • Our Centre offers one-on-one therapy with a registered social worker that focuses on learning strategies to manage mood symptoms, stressors, and interpersonal relationships.
    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)-informed, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)-informed, and Motivational Interviewing modalities are offered.
  • Family-focused therapy
    • Our Centre offers Family-Focused Therapy. This involves the patient’s family and includes 3 main components: psychoeducation, communication enhancement training, and problem-solving skills training.

Parent support group

  • Facilitated by our Centre's social workers, this group is offered one evening a month at Sunnybrook for parents of adolescents who are patients at our clinic. The main purpose of this group is to offer a supportive and validating environment in which parents feel comfortable sharing their experiences and providing support for one another.

We have had direct experience with the centre for the past five years. I know that you will find the team welcoming, professional and wonderful guides on this "new normal" journey that you might be experiencing. Just know that there are resources to help you on this journey. We have found that Dr. Benjamin Goldstein and his team are simply wonderful world-class assets right here in our community in  Toronto. We also know that they accept referrals from outside Toronto. I strongly encourage you to research the centre as an option for your young person's care. Wishing you wellness!  @fergdevins


How's that New Year Resolution going?

How's that new year resolution going?

So it is still very early in the new year. In fact just a few days in. Are you still on track with that new year's resolution list?

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.

Mine are pretty straight forward. And, my plan for action is underway. Eating more healthfully (RedLeaf fitness "turn a new leaf" food program for six weeks starting soon) - Fitness Plan (3 times a week at RedLeaf fitness with trainer Kristen Turner...if not training then attending a class) - Monitoring food (just simply getting back to eating healthy, smaller portions, less fat, cut back on the wings, on the wagon...at least until vacation time...smiles) - Walking 10,000 steps a day (that's the goal, have Health tracker on the Iphone and pacer app as well) - Social Network / email subscription purge (time to reduce social profiles, more focused, more planful). You will see I've not just spoken the words - I've planned some action.

With all of the positive words, phrases, thoughts for 2020 - you might have some fun with this word art tool below. If nothing else it might give you some inspiration in your workspace.

Have some fun and create some word art with some of the thoughts that are on your mind for your world in 2020:

When you look at your list you will find different magnitudes of thought and interest. Some of the thoughts might have a 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 only as good as YOU make it".

Three Resources To Consider

I've always been a big fan of Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch at owner.org. Chris always kicks off the year with the practice of defining his three words. It is a powerful way to focus on three contextual words that can set up goals and your purpose for the year ahead. 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 the 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 has his PHD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has created the AMP x10 program for 2020/21. It is truly awesome. For 2019 Ben took his program to a new level in creating AMP 2019 - Accelerate Momentum Program. This new AMP 10x really looks like it will be an exciting program to follow this year. I've signed up again - I find his work very inspiring. It is a weekly coaching session that drops into your email with resource recommendations, readings and occasional homework. Benjamin offers lots of coaching, support, and tools to keep you on track over the 52 weeks of 2019. There are also lots of groups created so that you share in insights, learning, and conversation about how your year is progressing. The Facebook group brings people from around the world together in conversations of possibility. 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.

The third resource that I am putting in play again this year is a return to the Social Media Marketing World Summit in San Diego - March 1-3, 2020. This gathering of social media and digital marketers from around the globe is a wonderful networking and learning opportunity for any communicator. The tools, tips, resources, conversations, discovery are just purely over the top. If you are looking for some personal development in the area of social media marketing - I highly recommend that you attend. I will see you there. You can find out more about #SMMW2020 at this link - check it out!

Structured Support

So don't despair. Find your support network and system that you need to fulfil 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", "NOOM", Social Media Knowledge - Social Media Examiner, Finances -  Freshbooks, and the list goes on.

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

Take Action NOW

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.

Wishing you a Great 2020

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 2020. Cheers!

@fergdevins


see you next year

Hello New Year

Hello New 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 January 01, it has arrived!

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

I would like to think that today 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. A new year where we all just work a little harder at harmonizing our thinking and resolving our differences.

As I look forward to seeing you in this new 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.

Happy New Year!

@fergdevins