Light Them Up

Hard to believe in Toronto of putting up the lights when we still have so many leaves on the trees. Gosh, "the old oak tree" in the neighbors' back yard will likely have it's leaves until the new year. Our tradition involves hanging the lights after leaves have fallen and lighting them up once American Thanksgiving is upon us. So...this is the weekend !

One of my most favourite tasks of the holiday season is to put the lights up on the trees outside. In recent years the task has become quite enjoyable.  Our extended autumn delivers fairly mild weather for stringing the lights. One custom that I have adopted is to place the lights on the outdoor trees the weekend of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. I maintained that tradition this year, the day of the parade. Just made it!

Neil Pasricha's reference to this task is on page 7 of his "Book of (Holiday) Awesome" . He refers to the awesomeness being the fact that you are "plugging in your Christmas lights from last year and having them all work". I must admit that up until two years ago, this was always an issue for me. I was a late convert to the new LED light systems. The original old style lights were far more fragile and breakable than the new LED versions. The LED versions are also much easier to string and remove for storage as well.

I am sure that I will still be faced with the surprise of half strings undone when I go to light up the indoor lights. I still have lights from many years of adding strings to the indoor tree. Hey!  Maybe this year is the year that we should finally make the transition to LED lights for the indoor tree as well. Has anyone made this transition and have feedback on that front? Does the tree glisten with the new as well as the old light systems?

I hope friends were able to string lights prior to today. This ice pellet, freezing rain storm is a challenge for sure. The rule in our household, as dictated by my dearly beloved sweetheart wife, is that the lights are allowed to be turned on the day that our neighbours to the south celebrate American Thanksgiving. Thus, Thursday, November 28th was the tree lighting at the Devins.

Wishing you all well in your plans for tree lighting this Christmas season. Ho Ho Ho.

Instagram @fergdevins

Twitter @fergdevins

 


Santa

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

At the jolly big soul with the red suit, white beer and "ho ho ho" arrived in many communities this past weekend. Certainly Santa Claus brings joy, smiles and great memories of Christmas's past to family and friends. Safe travels Mr. Claus.

Continuing along my daily blog posts inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", I am actually going to post a personal memory today. It relates to Santa Claus Coming to Town.

 

I have heard of numerous Santa Claus parades and tree lightings taking place over this past weekend. I know that my hometown of Kenora had their annual tree lighting at Main and Second Street  last week. My parents advised that in their new community of Bowmanville, the Santa Claus Parade was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Right here at home in Toronto, the "world famous" Santa Claus Parade meandered its way through downtown City streets to the delight of more than a half million people strung along the route and with a new route this year too !

 

The Santa Claus parade is a remarkable tradition. I'm not quite sure how the jolly old man in the red suit can make it back and forth to all of these communities, and keep an eye on his workshop at the North Pole. However, that is all part of the magic of the Christmas season.

 

I've met Santa in Toronto on several occasions. One of the most memorable was when Santa was attending a Variety Village event. He asked me if we would be attending the parade. I advised that we would be attending and that we would be above the old Shopsey's store at the turn from Yonge Street to Front Street. Santa asked me the names of my children. He advised that if Kathy and I and our children were at the end of the terrace closest to Yonge and Front that he would shout out a greeting to our family. Well...you can just imagine. As the parade was winding down, there was great anticipation for the arrival of the final float. Kath and I quickly gathered up Helena and Clark and took our position nearest Yonge and Front Street. As Santa's float made the turn he was greeting all the mom's and dad's and then said "and a big hello to Helena and Clark...Merry Christmas!". The look on the faces of Helena and Clark with just one of those truly magical moments of Christmas.  They were simply awestruck in the moment.

 

We have had many awesome moments through all those years of attending the Toronto Santa Claus parade. That year took the prize for all time great in the book of awesome. Thanks to the Toronto committee that has kept this fine tradition alive all these years.

 

Santa. Wherever you are this fine Friday eve. Wishing you safe travels and well wishes for a great holiday season. Ho Ho Ho !

 

@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. 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


finding an answer

Determining Your Social Network

Determining Your Social Network

Have you discovered and designed your social network? What...you ask? Given the ease of apps and platforms today, so user-friendly, it is not an arduous task to undertaking in determining your social network.

Search so Easy

Day in day out folks are in search of finding an answer online. Google is obviously the most top of mind search engine people are utilizing from their desktop, laptop or mobile device. I'm also amazed at the number of people that talk about what they have learned from searching and watching on YouTube. Whether it is designing a kayak, quilting, engine repairs, carpentry or a new piece of music on a musical instrument...whatever you want to learn is likely video available on YouTube.

On "tools" in social networks, I have found that there are also unlimited resources for finding an answer. I would also suggest that "the answer" is likely not as singular as it may have been in previous decades. The world wide web has provided us with such a vast and magnificent resource for choices in finding an answer.

Some Networks to check out

Take for instance "networking". For me, and likely you, top of mind are platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram,  about.me. However, if you are looking at finding an answer on social networking you will find a much longer list. Depending on language, location, interest or demographic - finding an answer on "what" social networks can be answered by a very long list. Jann has updated a list recently that captures a lot of the options available - up to 70 to be exact -  Check this out. A much broader list can be found through the Wikipedia list of social networking sites... wow!

So in finding an answer related to "what social network should YOU belong to?", it might be worth scanning the Wikipedia list and assessing where your interests lay. What communities do you want to connect with, what language are you speaking, what purpose do you have for seeking this network, is this a specific hobby?  I would suggest that whatever interest or opinion you seek, you will be certain to search and realize that finding an answer is pretty easy to accomplish.

Not just one answer - Find what's right for you

So...perhaps you've got a few new avenues to pursue in "finding an answer". My closing thought is that there is not just one answer. You will see that there are multiple, if not hundreds, answers. In finding an answer it is really important for you to determine "what and why" for you or your business. For instance, if you are looking at searching former classmates, the classmates' platform was built for just that purpose. However, by name you could also tackle searching through Facebook. The answer for you is what is most comfortable, the platform with the most ease for you to use, and the platform that delivers most against the purpose you intend in finding an answer.

Network while seeking your answer

I hope you have as much fun with finding an answer as I do. The next step is to assess reviews of those solutions. People offer opinions through comments and blogs. One answer in broadening your social networking is to engage with people on those blogs, thank them for their insights and leave a comment. They will appreciate it.  What is your favourite networking platform or place to find an answer?

Cheers.

@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


Use Your Words for #BellLetsTalk Day

#BellLetsTalkDay

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

Phrases and Words

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

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

I am referring to some of those phrases that you might give a second thought to, as you reference them today and from this day forward.

Let's be more sensitive and more present to those words and situations that may actually be more "sensitive" than what meets the eye. What appears on the surface, is not always representative of what is below the surface or on a person's mind.

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

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

"That's just crazy"

"Are you out of your mind"

"Are you nuts"

"Are your meds working"

"Are you off your meds..."

"Who do you think you are..."

"Wow a little schitzo"

"That's a downer"

"There's a dark cloud hanging over them"

"You look panicked"

"She / He is a maniac"

"Just the ups and downs of life"

"That is just psycho"

"They are disturbed"

"Why so negative"

"wow, they're in a bad mood"

"A few screws loose over there..."

"That's just insane"

"They are a little skiddish"

"They are a little odd"

"That seems a little loony to me"

Did you catch yourself from the past making a comment, or thinking one of these phrases, or another?

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

#MentalWellness the #BellLetsTalk day.

Conclusion

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

@fergdevins