Having fun and making an impact

Every day is made up of experiences, moments. Each has the potential to impact you, your day, others, etc. I’ve been reading a bit about positivity (always good going into the darker seasons I find) and have been reminded that negative experiences can have more impact.  That said, positivity is key to happiness, progress, just about every measure of success there is. In order to make impacts where you want to, it’s important to reduce the impact negative experiences have on you.

Some research from John Gottman and Robert Levenson, who studied the effects of negativity with couples, suggests the ratio is 5:1. That would mean that for every negative encounter, there should be five positive ones to counterbalance the effects of that negative experience. So in order to counteract the inevitable impact of negative experiences, it’s important to have an arsenal of positive ones.

I’m starting to see more and more people intentionally building positive experiences into their daily lives, and I think it’s an excellent idea.  Keeping a list of awesome, happy-making things to do when you need a lift is a great idea anyway, and if it helps you reach other goals by making your life more positive, so much the better. You can incorporate these activities into work or home-time to improve your outlook. Here’s a list of 10 of mine!

  1. Take a fun photo of the kids to share.
  2. Take a walk outside when the weather is nice.
  3. Have coffee with a friend.
  4. Read by the window for half an hour.
  5. Send IMs to people you’d like to catch up with.
  6. Go window shopping.
  7. Clean something out that needs it.
  8. Watch an engrossing tv show (Stranger Things 2, anyone?)
  9. Do some writing, drawing, singing or playing of an instrument.
  10. Hitting the gym for a workout (and some time in the whirlpool).

On a side note, Happy Halloween! Here’s me, putting number 1 from my list above into action!

Reading List

It’s likely no surprise that I love reading.  I spend most of my time reading in some capacity or another (though I wish I spent more time reading books and less time reading emails!)  So it follows that I have a long reading list.  I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately and want to share my in-progress list here:

Recently Finished:

Badass: Making Users Awesome – Kathy Sierra

You are a Badass – Jen Sincero (I seem to have had a theme going on)

Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler

In Progress:

Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

Upcoming:

The Cluetrain Manifesto – Levine, Weinberger

The Girl with all the Gifts – M.R. Carey

Lots of interesting things on the go! This is honestly just a sampling- I have a bunch of books waiting in my library. What books are you reading right now?

 

2016: Lots of goals!

Darts- Let's hit the target!The first of the year has brought with it a lot of excitement for me. My mind is swirling with possibilities, and I have a ton of goals I want to achieve.  These can be summed up pretty well with a couple of themes:

Give Back:

I want to give back, and I want to keep track of where my giving is happening so that I can better target my efforts to the things that mean the most to me.  I’ve done a lot of volunteering with arts and education organizations, but I want to start doing more monetary contributions as well, and more personal contributions in the way of acts of kindness. I’m planning to do an act of kindness each day in 2016.  To start off, I’ve donated to an organization local to me that does great work: oneROOF.

Get Better:

As someone who is constantly striving to improve, this is a theme that applies to me across the board. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to develop. I also want to improve my health and strength.  I’m planning to get 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day, I’m planning to engage in a regular regimen of self-care and I’m planning to learn, advance and achieve in my professional life as well.

Go the Distance:

As an “ideas person” I have a million things I want to do and a ton of projects in my head or on the go at any given time.  This can get overwhelming, and I can get  to the point where I start a lot more things than I finish in the course of a year.  I love action! But I think I can focus better.  So this year, I’m looking to finish more (and reflect more on those things I have finished)!  I’ve set some reading goals for the year so that I can work on finishing all the books I’ve started (I have a long queue and lots of half-done books).

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?

Reading List

While I love reading fiction, I often get into stages where I read mostly non-fiction- lots of career focused and professional things. I wanted to take quick stock of my reading list to get an idea of what kinds of things I’ll be learning over the next little while (on bus commutes, etc).

Recently Finished:
Do Over: John Acuff
Team Building: William Wyatt
Never Eat Alone: Ferrazzi

In progress:
Show Your Work: Jane Bozarth
Yes, And: Kelly Leonard
Lean Enterprise: Humble, Moelsky, O’Reilly
Continuous Learning: Tussing

In the list for sometime soon:
The Confidence Code: Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Emotional Intelligence 2.0: Bradberry, Graves
Thanks for the Feedback: Stone, Heen
The Big Book of Team Motivating Games: Scannel, Scannel

Lots of interesting things on the go!  Aside from that, it has been a really busy summer, and I’m learning a ton as it is just in my day-to-day work and volunteer activities.  I’ve been back at work for 3 months, and have done a crazy amount of stuff since then- worked on a project that delivered 4 large online courses, designed and delivered 3 different day-long training workshops on various topics, done consulting,  instructional design, development, worked on planning events for the local CSTD chapter, I’m taking on some new responsibilities as well, and it’s fast-paced and a little stressful at times, but overall kind of exhilarating.

I’ve also been working with a designer on a project to redesign this site, so hopefully there’ll be some major design changes here soon as well.  I’m excited, I feel like I’m really kicking off a new chapter in a lot of ways.

Book Review: Do Over by Jon Acuff

So it all started with some tweets:

And the Twitter #bookclub was born. A group of us are reading Do Over, by Jon Acuff. I’m now a few chapters in and wanted to check in and share my thoughts so far!

When I first picked up Do Over I thought it might be related to iterative work- perhaps some kind of application of Agile, wherein you “do over” your work based on feedback.

As I dove into the first chapter, I saw that I wasn’t in the right area at all- “Do Over” seems to refer to the ability some have to “Do Over” things in their lives or careers. The first chapter focuses on the concept of a “Career Savings Account”- basically an idea where you build up a rainy-day fund for your career through investment of time in some key areas. These areas include:

  • Skills
  • Character
  • Relationships
  • Hustle

Nothing crazy and groundbreaking so far, but the tone is conversational and fun, and I’m sucked in. There’s a chart that illustrates how each of these areas can help with various career changes and issues- things that might cause you to call a career “Do Over”.

In the chapters following, there’s some exercises that help you work on the Relationships area. I’ve filled a few pages already with great people I know- I’m continually surprised by all the knowledge and skills and general awesomeness in my network. You guys are awesome. Pause for virtual hugs.

Anyway. we move into different types of people, friends, and foes, and advocates. There’s a big focus on the value of casual relationships, and the best things to do about foes. I got some great tips here- I don’t think I have much in the way of real foes, but what I might have probably falls more under “clueless” than “calculated”. Awesome. There’s a lot of focus on choosing a good approach and attitude- one line that stuck with me was:

“Misery loves company and also recruits it.”

Ouch. I can’t think of many people who would want to knowingly perpetuate misery! But it happens- and books like this help break the cycle.

Advocates are one place I think I’d really like to do some more work. I want to more intentionally shape my career, and an advocate is a good way to do that!

I’m about a third into the book now, and enjoying it. What do you think so far, bookclub?

10 years

This is a special year for me, because it marks 10 years of my being in Canada. I moved here from the US at the very end of 2004. In honor of that I wanted to take stock of how my life has changed over the past 10 years.

When I moved to Canada, I was a student finishing my degree, and living in apartment with my boyfriend. Now, we’re married, we have two sons, two careers, two cats, and I have two citizenships. The past 10 years have encompassed so much positive growth and change for us.

I’m so thankful for everything that has helped me get to this place in my life. I originally thought about detailing some of the big changes over each year, but insetad, I think I’ll just leave it there- with gratitude.

September – Glorious Autumn After a Lovely Summer!

I have been quiet writing-wise for a bit, but mostly because I was greatly enjoying my summer! We spent lots of time at the park and taking walks, spent time in the backyard and on the deck, hung out with friends, and it was pretty wonderful.

deck

motorcycle

Park

We got a natural gas line installed for our barbecue grill this summer, which meant lots of grilling, but had the side effect of one of our cats going missing (the contractors left a window open, which we didn’t realize until later). Amazingly, after over two months, he was returned to us via the Humane Society thanks to his microchip. If you ever needed convincing on microchipping your pets, that is it right there. He’s an indoor cat, but it still made the difference between him coming home and not!

Fuzzy

We also visited the Toronto Zoo in August, which has become a yearly trip for us. Wesley had a lot of fun this time and really enjoyed seeing the animals!

Wesley

It wasn’t all rest and relaxation though! In August, I and 14 others were part of a GISHWHES team. It’s this huge worldwide scavenger hunt that went on for a week, with nearly 200 crazy items that had to be completed via images or videos. We did a bunch of different ones, but my favourite was probably the business suit waterballoon fight- basically we had to get 10 people in business suits to have a waterballoon fight, and then take a video and set it to opera music. This is what came out of that-

That was just one of the 100 items that my awesome team completed. It was great. We get to find out soon who won the contest part of it!

In addition to all that, I also completed the work product portion of my CPLP certification this summer as well. It was difficult to do with a newborn at home, for sure, but overall I was proud of all the work I put into that project. I should find out in a few weeks whether I passed or not. Terrifying!

We also got some more family portraits done, which turned out pretty well. Wesley wasn’t 100% cooperative, but the pictures that came from that are so funny that I don’t even mind.

family

W

My birthday has also come and gone. Lots of lovely birthday wishes, and Trevor got me a gift card for an overnight stay at Langdon Hall! I am SO EXCITED about that!

Capping off the summer, some friends of ours got married in Iceland, and then had a really lovely reception back in Canada! It was our first dress-up outing since Everett was born, so we took the opportunity to go all out. It was a lovely evening.

Trevor and I

And now, it’s definitely autumn, though the weather this weekend is still amazing and sunny and warm. But the trees tell the real story.

tree

July Catchup

So, since my last posting here, I had a baby! Everett was born on May 29, nearly a week late, and all went well.

So since then, it’s been lots of newborn time, but I’ve been having lots of nice little outings as well. It’s definitely a bit nicer to have a newborn in summer than it is to have one in the dead of winter- easier to leave the house!

Speaking of summer, there’s a lot to love. Here’s a list of things I love about summer!

1. The smell of the air after a thunderstorm that drops the temperature like 15 degrees.
2. Walks at lunchtime. I’ve been meeting a friend of mine for lunch and walks on Fridays, which is a nice way to get some gentle exercise while being a fun outing for Everatt and I!
3. Trips to the playground. There’s lots of little playgrounds in our neighborhood, and we also like to go to the big city park every few weeks for a nice outing as well.
4. Barbecuing. My husband loves to grill and I love grilled food in the summer!
5. Sunshine. The long days make me feel like I can do so much more in a day!
6. Festivals. There’s lots of cool things to do in the summer, especially where I live.
7. Sandals. I love being able to just step into shoes on the way out the door.
8. Cherries. I love cherry season.
9. Summer in Canada. Because summer is comparatively brief (and constrasts so starkly with winter), summer in Canada is particularly special. There’s a holiday feel that seems to go on all season long.
10. Three day weekends! There’s a three day weekend in May, sometimes one in July (depending on when July 1 falls) one in August, and one in September!

Updates since my last post

I haven’t updated here since the post about Interlaken! After Interlaken, we went to Milan, which was busy and Italian and beautiful. We were a bit traveled out at that point, so we spent a good bit of time just hanging out at the hotel and only really saw a few important sights- the Duomo (which was breathtaking) and the Teatro alla Scala (which had a lovely museum, and really appealed to my theatre-side).

Duomo

Teatro alla scala

Anyway, came home after that, it was good to be home and to see Wesley.

Since then, I’ve also announced via some other methods that I’m pregnant. I’m around 20 weeks now. So that’s happening too.

Christmas has come and gone – we traveled to Texas for Christmas this year and that was nice as well. I got to meet my niece for the first time.

Playing on Christmas morning

Happy new year!

Good few weeks, but eyes on the vacation prize!

Things have been a little chaotic the past few weeks, but my vacation is coming and I’m excited! Before I talk about that though, a recap.

The Friday before last, I went to an outing of friends, wherein we all dressed up just for the fun of it and went to Imbibe. It was a good time, for sure- with one friend setting up an impromptu portrait studio so he could capture us all in our dress-up gear. It was ridiculous and awesome. Ran into a choir friend of mine there as well, so that was really fun. The image below links to the whole set of photos. Fun times!



CPLP exam is coming up soon. Worried about it, of course, but I don’t think I could have fit in more prep time. Like any standardised, proctored exam, there’s an element of the unknown going into your first take and you can’t fully prepare that away. If I need to retest, at least I’ll go into that with experience in how the test is written and run. I’ve done fine on the practice exam and other practice questions, but there are some things that stump me still.

But I’m not going to dwell too much!

I didn’t have much time to prep this weekend because I was volunteering and soaking up awesomeness at an amazing conference called Fluxible. I’ll write up some more details in another post hopefully when I’ve fully digested, but suffice it to say it was a really well-done conference, and an amazing experience.

This past Friday, I had to drive to Fort Erie, because I needed to do an interview to renew my NEXUS card. If you’re not familiar, the NEXUS card is basically an identification card for a trusted-traveler system between the US and Canada. You have to renew every five years, and the renewal requires an interview (though just by the US, it seems). It links to some other programs as well and is awesome, and means quick customs lines for cardholders. So Friday was pretty busy with driving down there for my interview and back, and then setup for the conference.

Meanwhile, I didn’t get to see Wesley much, but this week, it’s just he and I, as Trevor is traveling. So that will make things a bit less smooth, but I think it’ll be okay.

But then… on the 25th, sweet sweet vacation- and boy, do we need it! We’re traveling to Switzerland and Italy- Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, and Milan. It’s going to be amazing. Wesley is going to stay home, and his grandparents have kindly offered to watch him while we’re away. It’ll be so nice to recharge and to see the Alps! No doubt I will have lots of photos to share here.

Anyone else have travel coming up soon, or am I the only one who schedules all vacations for the fall? 🙂