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. 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 https://www.todocanada.ca/Christmas-Lights-Santa-Claus-Parades-Toronto-GTA/ - in 2018. Thanks to @RetroFestive and Damien Nelson, I had included a list of LINKS to Santa Claus parades in provinces across Canada last holiday season. Some seem active but you might be forced to “google Santa Claus Parade” nearest your community. Here's hoping that you and your family have an opportunity to take in the festivities and appreciate the fine work undertaken by parade volunteers and supporters coast to coast to coast.  Enjoy !

For those parades come and gone, thanks to the organizers, for those yet to take place - put on your woollies !

@fergdevins

Santa Claus Parades Across Canada in 2019 - Ho Ho Ho !

Check out this link for Parades in 2019 

 


Fairmont YVR Christmas Tree

Hotel Lobbies and the Joy of Christmas

Soon after Remembrance Day in Canada each year, hoteliers spark up their lobbies for the Christmas Season. It adds one of those joys of the season for travellers who are away from loved ones as the holidays approach. Thanks to hoteliers around the world for sharing this joy with us.

Keeping consistent with the Neil Pasricha, "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", my post today is reflecting on the joy of Christmas while travelling.

When travelling on business, it was always interesting to see various states of decoration as the month of November progressed. It was particularly gratifying when met with a winter storm in November, to see a Christmas tree or decorations in the hotel lobby upon arrival. The warmth of Christmas decorations helped dismiss the inconvenience of snow, slush, slow roads, heavy traffic and grumpy winter travellers.

Travelling to British Columbia in 2017, I arrived late on Sunday night and bunked in at the Fairmont Hotel at the Airport in Vancouver.

To my absolute delight, there was an "upside-down" Christmas tree hanging in the lobby. There were also several other trees and decorations in the main lobby area. It is just such a wonderfully welcoming feeling to see these lobbies decorated for the season.

I truly think that hoteliers worldwide should take a bow for the work that you and your staff put into decorating your properties for the holiday season. Just know that hard work does bring joy to travellers at this time of year.

Simply - awesome work.

@fergdevins

 


Snowfall

The First Big Snowfall

With the white fluffly stuff all around us in southern Ontario and given the look of weather forecasts and winter storm conditions coast to coast to coast, this blog post seems so appropriate this morning. 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 22). 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 reveals a series of moments during the holiday season that is just simply awesome.

The moment of awesome that I refer to tonight 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.

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.

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 plows figure out what streets to plow (if they plow) and that is 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.

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

Bring on the first snowfall. We're ready.

PHOTO credit Helena Devins - she is one of those stalwart fans of winter.

Enjoy.

@fergdevins

 

 


From the Book of (Holiday) Awesome

After responses from readers, family and friends the past two years, 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.

 

A Time With Family and Friends

However, regardless of faith, 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.

 

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 @FergDevins, via The Devins Network on Facebook, Instagram 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 !

 

@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


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


Advent Calendar Traditions

Continuing on my seasonal posts of Holiday Awesome - inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

Traditions continue in the Devins household with our advent calendar

The Advent Calendar is one of those holiday season traditions that help us with the countdown to Christmas Day. The advent calendars have become a tradition that offers a token of joy during the 24 days leading up to the last "opening day" being December 25th. The origin is traced back to some point in the 19th century. It was originally a Protestant tradition when religious families would mark a line for every day in December until Christmas eve. Advent calendars were a countdown to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

On a more commercial front, it is always amazing each year, to see the new creativity that arrives on the shelves of gift shops and grocers as the advent approaches.

For a few years, I enjoyed sharing a tea with my daughter through mutually benefitting from gifting the David's Tea holiday collection. Naturally, if you search Google you'll find a wide and fascinating array of the best advent calendars of 2018. Chatelaine also offered up their choices for 2018 at "Best Advent Calendars".

This year my advent calendar is in tribute to our Toronto Maple Leafs. I arrived home from a business trip December 1st to find my advent calendar waiting for me on the kitchen table. It is a "limited edition" run full of assorted Lindt chocolate samples for the season. For every Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar sold, the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Foundation will gain a $1.00 to invest in their community initiatives.

So, I'm counting down to Christmas with my Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar and counting down to see if they will keep pushing for top of the league, to close out this calendar year. Go Leafs Go !

I hope you and your family are enjoying your own special choice of advent calendar as the countdown to Christmas this December has begun.

 

Ferg Devins

 

 


Christmas tree decorations

That Old Box of Christmas Ornaments

Ah the memories that can be evoked by a simple token ornament for the tree - enjoy !

In today's post I refer to Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" and his reference to "pulling out that old box of Christmas ornaments from when you were a kid".

Whether it is the angel atop your tree, the "baby's first Christmas" ornament, the family pet, Mickey Mouse lights, your miniature Christmas Village, your favourite Nutcracker, a favourite ornament from a family member, the neighbour's ornament from year's gone by - memories adorn our Christmas trees each year.

That box of ornaments you pull out each year is a wonderful reflection of memories over the years that bring joy to the ritual of tree decorating.

As the scouts, markets and churches fill their parking lots and locations with the annual harvest of Christmas trees, may your own preparations to pull your box of decorations bring you much joy and awesomeness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


role of tape

Don't Sweat the Small Things like Tape

Ok, deep breath, another deep breath...ok breath out slowly...don’t let those small things get you

I had a good chuckle this morning, reading page 22 of Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome". It reminded me of how we sometimes let those little tiny nuisances cause us aggravation. In the grander scheme of things, shame on us for getting caught by "hang nails" of life.

In Neil's book, he refers to "finally finding the start of this stupid role of tape". Doesn't that statement just conjure up some recollections of when you were cursing that moment in the middle of wrapping? Or, perhaps you were sealing that envelope to send off to the family for the holidays. The tape issue is not just germane to the holidays. Gosh, any roll of Scotch Tape sitting in a drawer for a few months will likely have had its end disappear, causing you to remove your reading glasses and focus in on finding the missing end of the tape.

But really folks, given all that the world is facing, I am sure that you will agree with me that we can overcome this frustration and focus on things of more significance in our day.

However, finding that missing end of the tape can absolutely be one of those moments of awesome this holiday season and year round.

@fergdevins