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 yourself 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. Even in these COVID times, something as simple as the tape not getting stuck or the wrapping paper lining up can bring a pulse of #joy into our day.

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 manoeuvring 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.
  • You and neighbours have decided to decorate a tree on your favourite path or park.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • That rotating ornament still revolves on the tree.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Although a smaller dinner plan this year, you have all selected your favourite dishes for Christmas dinner.
  • The online learning has come to an end for your kids - whatever age and stage they are at.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snowblower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • You will be less concerned about wifi surviving the visitors because you'll be a smaller group this year.
  • Your PVR has enough space to accommodate taping a lot more holiday specials this year.
  • Your favourite restaurant has that seasonal special featured on their menu for take-out.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ propane tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order for those extra long soaks in the tub.
  • You've replaced your back step broom for sweeping off the morning dusting of snow.
  • You've sent a few extra little surprises in the mail to family members that will be able to join you this year.

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. It was truly amazing that @NBC had a special review of the Rockettes performance this year for us to enjoy.

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, Brett Eldredge, 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 as well. 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


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? Or in recent times, entering the back door after shovelling snow, only to be caught by the warm scent of freshly baked ginger bread cookies.

Childhood memories remain vivid. 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. My grandmother used to send Christmas pudding to us in Edwards coffee tins.

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 be amazed at what was being prepared.

Regardless, this time of year brings that moment of intrigue when preparation for holiday feasts and dining are prepared. I know that our Tourtiere awaits us in the freezer, to be prepared and served for our annual Christmas eve tradition. The pies have been distributed this year, given that we will not be gathering around the table, other than with our "in-home" loved ones.

Cheers to the oven and the joy that our home cooks prepare for us each Christmas and Holiday 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 into the W Channel - Featuring the Hallmark Series - get the Kleenex ready - Smiles

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. This year is another spectacular "Countdown to Christmas"

I will also have to admit that we've seen some pretty spectacular specials on NBC including the lighting of the Rockefeller Square Tree, The Radio City Rockettes Christmas feature and on ABC Dolly Parton's Christmas special was a real hit. There will be plenty more content to absorb, including the Holidy Drop on Netflix - a really great "true story" that has endured all these years.

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


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


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


Tips to Help Solopreneurs Get the Most From Their Time

This article was written by Rae Steinbach.  Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

The Solopreneur

Being a solopreneur comes with a ton of responsibility. You don’t have any support staff to help with things like sales, marketing, or product development – it’s all on you. That means that you have to be able to fit the jobs of many people into the time of one person. If you are going to do this successfully, you need to know how to make the most of your time.

Here are a few of the best time management tips for solopreneurs who are looking to be as efficient as possible each day.

Find a Workspace

Many solopreneurs work in a variety of locations. You might do some work at home, some at an office and you might even do a little work in a coffee shop. While there is no problem with having a variety of working environments, you should have at least one place that is just dedicated to getting work done.

Designing a home office might be enough for some, while for others, joining a coworking space (like this opportunity in Cincinnati, Ohio) might be the right answer. The right workspace might be different for different people, but the key is to find a space that you primarily recognize as a place for productivity. In Toronto, Justin Raymond has created "FlexDay" as a unique model for finding a flexible workspace.

Make a Daily Schedule

Once you’ve found an ideal workspace, the first step in any time management strategy should be to set a schedule for each day. If you are not organized in your tasks and have no plan for getting them done, you don’t have much of a chance of getting the most from every day. Whether you are creating a daily to-do list on paper or using a time management app on your phone, you need to sit down and plan out every day. This will not only help you to organize your days betterr but, it will also help to relieve some of the stress that comes with running a business on your own.

Set Priorities

Chances are that you do not need to get everything done in one day and that there are some tasks that are more urgent than others. If you are going to successfully manage your schedule, you need to be able to identify the most urgent or important tasks and prioritize accordingly.

When new tasks come up, assign them a priority level. Consider whether it needs to be fit into that day’s to-do list or if it can be scheduled for another day. You should also set yourself reminders for tasks that you know you have coming up later in the week or month.

Take Breaks

A break might seem like lost productivity, but they help you to avoid burnout. A few minutes away from your work can help you to refresh your mind and restore your energy. When you get back to work, you will feel better and be more productive. You might not be getting any work done for a few minutes, but the benefits of taking a break far outweigh the short amount of time out of your schedule.

Follow Your Motivation

As a solopreneur, there will be plenty of times that you are going to have to work when you don’t feel motivated. However, one of the best parts of being your own boss is that you don’t have to limit yourself to regular office hours. If inspiration strikes or you feel a sudden surge of motivation, you can act on it at any time.

When you are feeling high motivation, you should take advantage of it. These are the times when you are going to be at your most productive. Furthermore, taking advantage of these moments will help you to relieve your schedule moving forward, and that will make it easier to manage your time.

You didn’t start out as an entrepreneur thinking it was going to be easy, but that does not mean that it has to be hard. With a little effort put into time management, you will be able to get more from your days, and you won’t have to push yourself to your absolute limit.

Thanks for the useful tips Rae...cheers to the frontier of solopreneurship. @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