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The Blink of an Eye

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“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight with no vision.” —Helen Keller

Nothing stays the same forever. Everything changes—sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly. Sometimes these changes, fast or slow, are welcome and sometimes they have little impact. But sometimes events happen in the blink of an eye that changes the course of our lives forever.

When we least expect it, tragedy can strike. And it often does, in an instant. With little to no warning, our lives are turned upside-down forever.

As unpleasant as it can be to think about, nobody is assured of their health for another day—it can be taken suddenly by accident or diagnosis. Nobody is guaranteed the presence of their family or friends for another day. There are no guarantees.

Some might scoff at this kind of talk, assuming tragedy will never strike. Denial might be the normal way to deal with ideas like this. While I might spend some time in the denial camp which really isn’t a place to linger, there are moments that make denial absolutely impossible.  Recognizing and accepting the truth that life is fragile might help you live it to the fullest, as scary as the idea can be.

Our lives are too valuable to waste chasing and maintaining unneeded possessions.  Don’t live in the past and make assumptions about the future: simple live each day in the present. Make the most of every opportunity.  Forgive who needs to be forgiven. Express love and gratitude to those who deserve to hear it. Each new day is an opportunity to make a difference. Don’t waste it (second chances aren’t as plentiful as we might wish).

Our lives are fragile. They can change in an instant. Live for today and don’t hold onto any regrets.

Happy Easter

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Regardless if Easter evokes memories and thoughts of Easter baskets filled with chocolates, blossoming daffodils, or your Sunday best clothes, Easter is a time of renewal, awakening, and change.  I hope it is a happy time for you and yours.

Have a wonderful Easter.

Easter

Spring Up!

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cherry blossomsI am not looking forward to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time this weekend.  That extra hour sleep – gone in the blink of an eye!  There’s one good thing that comes from Daylight Savings time and that is the knowledge that spring is right around the corner.  Just a short 8 days, it will officially be spring.  And that means…

  1. LONGER DAYS: One of the biggest reasons to look forward to spring is the longer days. Those long days of what seems like perpetual darkness really start to drag. I love the sunlight and when the spring approaches, the sunlight starts sticking around longer. There’s nothing better than days filled with brilliant, uplifting sunshine.
  1. WARMER WEATHER: Perhaps my second favorite thing about spring is the warmer weather.  That feeling of spring in the air without the bite of the winter wind is always a welcome feeling.
  1. SHEDDING LAYERS: There is only so much I can take getting all bundled up to go outside. Sweaters, boots, jackets, scarves, hats, gloves… enough! There’s nothing like being able to simply slide on a pair of shoes and run outside without worrying about frostbite.
  1. LET THERE BE LIFE! I appreciate watching the first buds pop on the trees (even if it does make me sneeze!) and seeing the sleeping bulbs of daffodils and tulips awaken after a long winter nap.  I love the fields of little calves and foals.
  1. BARBECUES: Even if you are super tough and BBQ all year round, it’s not the same when you are trying to flip burgers in a parka.  It’s just that much more enjoyable when the sun is up and the temperature is heating up.  Maybe you can even dine al fresco.
  1. OPEN WINDOWS: I really can’t explain how much I love to open up the windows in the spring and let that fresh air come on in.  Everything smells so crisp and just feels so much better.

Maybe after what feels like a winter without as much snow as I had expected, we will be faced with a rainy, wet spring – only Mother Nature knows.  I do have good rain boots, so I am absolutely set to jump in a few puddles.

puddles

 

Language Warning!

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I’m not talking about swearing or being rude.

The ability to communicate effectively and confidently has a huge impact on us and our confidence. Have you ever really thought about the words we use? Our language is incredibly important and often overlooked.

JUST

How many times have you expressed yourself saying you “just have a few important points to add” or something along those lines? Why include the word ‘just’? It serves to weaken your statement which is in direct contradiction to the important points you wanted to raise. Saying ‘just’ when you are asking a question is just as bad. Consider the difference between: “I’m checking with you regarding the status of my car repair” versus “I’m just checking in with you regarding the status of my car repair”. The second one diminishes the importance of the request, whether that was your intention or not.

EXCEPT

I find myself using ‘except’ to explain why I can’t (or don’t want) to do certain things. Almost as if saying ‘no’ isn’t a good enough reason on its own. As if I need another reason as to why I can’t or don’t want to do something. Okay – so at work, you likely won’t be walking around saying ‘no’ to left, right, and center (and nor am I suggesting that you should). But there are moments saying ‘no’ is absolutely appropriate and that doesn’t make you a negative person. If someone asks your opinion, it is okay to say no, something isn’t a good idea because of reasons a, b, and c rather than saying “that’s a great idea, except reasons a, b, and c”. You don’t need to be mean, and you shouldn’t be afraid to voice your own opinions.

WELL

How often do you use the word “well”?  Often, it is a sentence starter that used to gain an extra moment to think, perhaps followed by a pause. The question you need to ask yourself is what do you say after that? Is it a statement full of confidence or is it something fluffy?  We need to remember that confidence also comes from admitting when you don’t know something. It is okay not to know or to need more time to evaluate or do research, so why not just say so?

ACTUALLY

“Actually” is a tricky one, because at first glance, it makes it seem like we’re in command, but in reality, the opposite is true. Think about it: “I actually have something to say…” or “I actually think…”.  It suggests that someone should be surprised that we have something to say or have spoken up. It sounds like we’re challenging someone (and not in a good way that inspires debate) which likely that isn’t the case. Your sentence is complete without using the word ‘actually’.

Our word choice says a lot about us. I’m not saying wipe these words from your vocabulary, but what you have to say is so valuable — don’t let that value get lost or obscured with words that lack confidence. Check your emails before you hit send.  Listen to your own speech patterns. Then take a moment to consider if you have any words in there that aren’t doing you any favours and delete them. Try it. You may be surprised at how confident you sound and the results that you get.

Taking a Leap into March

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Leap-Year-2016Why do we have leap years?

A leap year, where an extra day is added to the end of February every four years, is down to the solar system’s disparity with the Gregorian calendar. A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. Leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons.

Why does the extra day fall in February?

All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Under his predecessor, Julius Caesar, February had 30 days and the month named after him – July – had 31. August had only 29 days. When Caesar Augustus became Emperor, he added two days to ‘his’ month to make August the same as July. So, February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days.

The Roman calendar did have 355 days with an extra 22-day month every two years, until Julius Caesar became emperor and ordered his astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria to devise a better system in the 1st Century. Sosigenes decided on a 365-day year with an extra day every four years to incorporate the extra hours, and so February 29th was created.

As an earth year is not exactly 365.25 days long Pope Gregory XIII’s astronomers decided to lose three days every 400 years when they introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582. The precise arithmetic has never quite worked ever since and the system will need to be rethought one of these decades.

Technically, a leap year isn’t every four years

The year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. There’s a leap year every year that is divisible by four, except for years that are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400. The added rule about centuries (versus just every four years) was an additional fix to make up for the fact that an extra day every four years is too much of a correction.

What is a leap second?

Leap years are not directly connected to leap seconds, but both are for the purpose of keeping the earth’s rotations in line with our clocks and calendars. Leap seconds are added to bring the earth’s rotation into line with atomic time. A leap second was added at the end of June last year, when immediately before midnight dials read 11:59:60.

Atomic time is constant, but the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down by around two thousandths of a second per day. Leap seconds are therefore crucial to ensuring the time we use does not drift away from time based on the Earth’s spin. If left unchecked, this would eventually result in clocks showing the middle of the day occurring at night.

The extra second can sometimes cause problems for some networks which rely on exact timings. When a leap second was added in 2012 Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, and LinkedIn, all reported crashes.

Random Facts about Leap Years

  1. The Summer Olympic Games are always held in a leap year. This year, they take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  2. US presidential elections are held every four years, in a leap year.
  3. In Greece couples often avoid getting married in a leap year, believing it to be bad luck
  4. Food for thought: If you work on a fixed annual wage, February 29th is just one more day’s work than you would usually have to do for your salary.
  5. February 29 also marks Rare Disease Day.
  6. Leap years are also known as intercalary or bissextile years.
  7. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

With the 29th falling on a Monday this year, I think it is likely that most of us will be spending Leap Day at work this year (which also coincides with the RRSP Contribution Deadline). At least we have the Olympic Games to look forward to – as of the 29th, there will be 158 days until the Opening Ceremonies.

 

Laugh a Little – It Really is the Best Medicine

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Disney QuoteA friend of mine fell off her bike this week. Not so much a laughing matter – until I clarify that she wasn’t hurt at all. Really she laughed because she said it reminded her of her childhood and took her back to simpler times filled with laughter.

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. Laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun. Spreading joy is always a good thing.

In fact there’s a strong link between laughter and emotional health:

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not. Laughter can help make sure you don’t take yourself quite so seriously. It also strengthens our relationships as it allows positive bonds to be created.

Besides, I don’t know about you but I’d rather have wrinkles from laughing than frowning. I hope you find lots to laugh about this weekend.

Laughter-Quote