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

 


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

 

 


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


lest we forget

Lest We Forget

Each year in November as we inch towards the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year; it is wonderful to see the outpouring of gratitude and respect that is given in memory of those who have fought and fallen for our country.

Our veterans from world wars and conflicts where our armed forces have been active have given greatly for Canada. Those who have not returned have made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who have returned have also given greatly, and in many situations face difficulties through injury and resultant ability challenges. Some may also be faced with mental health issues resulting from their service.

November 11th is but one day that marks a time for us to pause, pay respect and be thankful for who we are and what we have in Canada - because of them.

Thanks for wearing your poppy. Thanks for making a donation to assist the families of our fallen.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is home to a major Veterans' hospital. If you help by "raising a flag" you can make a donation in support of our Veterans and the wonderful work that Sunnybrook does.

We have so much to be thankful for. Much of what we have to be thankful for is a result of those who stood for our freedom and democracy and all that we value in Canada as a nation.

Lest We Forget.

IMG_8723


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