Category Archives: Holidays

Happy New Year!

May 2011 brings you serenity, happiness, and good health.  I look forward to bringing you another year of posts on subjects of particular interest to personal historians.

Thank you for your support.


Photo by Clark Miller

Season’s Greetings from Victoria.

Lighting one candle
from another -
winter night.
~ Buson

My warmest wishes to all of you who have visited these pages over the past year. And a special thank you to my regular subscribers and viewers. May the coming year bless you all with good health, happiness, and serenity.

As a little holiday treat, here’s one of my favorite seasonal song lyrics  from Hearth and Fire by Gordon Bok. It’s a lovely piece and worth taking a few minutes to savor.

Hearth and Fire

Hearth and fire be ours tonight
And all the dark outside,
Fair the night, and kind on you
Wherever you may bide.

… continue here.

From the Archives: Now for Something Completely Different: Calmness.

Now for Something Completely Different: Calmness. It’s time to stop  the rushing and working and worrying. You can always pick that up later. For now, as we come to the end of another year,  let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.  As my holiday present,  I’ve put together a little virtual retreat for you. You’ll find some wonderful calming images, music, books, and quotations below. Start anywhere you like.  There’s the three minute Whispering Sea guitar video.  You can  feast your eye … Read More

From The Archives: Holiday Gifts With a Personal (Historian) Touch.

Holiday Gifts With a Personal (Historian) Touch. Last December I wrote about some low cost or no cost gift ideas. And with the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought it was time to suggest some gifts that have a personal touch. DIY bookmarks. Here’s something for the bibliophile in your family. It could also be a nice little gift to include in a card to your clients. There are several sources that can help you with this project. Fabio Sirna has created four charming downloadable template … Read More

 

My “Staycation”. Would I Do It Again?

Victoria Inner Harbor

My regular readers  know that I recently took a two-week break at home. I previously wrote about “staycations”  in The Secret to a Successful “Staycation”.

Here’s  some added advice based on my recent experience.

  • Be prepared for surprises and move on. These can be both good and bad. Mine were of the bad variety. Two days before my planned break my computer broke down. By the time I’d looked into repairing it, decided not to do so, bought a new computer, and caught up on the work I needed to do before taking off, my two weeks was reduced to ten days. But I still  made the most of the time left.
  • Be flexible. I know that in my previous article on “staycations” I wrote about getting away from your computer. I decided that I needed to check my e-mails twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. I didn’t want to have  hundreds of e-mail messages piled up when I got back. This worked for me. But it did take a conscious effort to stay away from my computer. There was the temptation to hang around and do more.
  • Adjust your expectations. Before my break I’d built up in my mind an impressive list of things I was going to do. Truth is I would have needed a month to accomplish everything. So I pared away at my list. I focused on a few things I really wanted to do, like taking a day trip by ferry to Vancouver and seeing an old friend.
  • Shake up routines. Because my life tends to be heavily scheduled, I wanted to avoid programming every minute of my holiday.  Some of my favorite times were spent sitting on my back patio doing nothing but watching the birds at the feeder and the clouds drifting by.
  • Accept that a “staycation” is a break, not a holiday. If you expect that your “staycation” will give you the same feeling of escape and adventure as a trip away, you’ll be disappointed. I had hoped for more. But on reflection, I realize that I was able to take enough of a break that I feel ready to plunge into a very busy fall.

Would I do it again? The answer is definitely yes. But given what I’ve learned, I’d adjust some of my plans and expectations.

Photo by Evan Leeson

Are You Part of “The Great Vacationless Class”?

Anne Morrow Lindbergh observed that,  for the most part,  mothers and housewives were the “great vacationless class”  because they had little time off. I would add the self-employed to her list.

If you’re self-employed as I am, it’s often difficult to see your way to a holiday. You’re either too busy or too broke or both. I haven’t had a vacation for a long time. So I decided that it was time to hang up my Gone Fishin’ sign and take a vacation in August. Nothing fancy. Two weeks in and around my hometown of Victoria.

Here are a few tips that you might find useful if you’re still struggling with the notion of taking a vacation.

  • Silence the “Gremlins”. As soon as I think or say “vacation”,  my inner critics start whispering. That’s irresponsible.  People depend on you. Your business will fail. You’ll lose clients ! Gremlins want to keep the status quo. You need to recognize these voices for what they are  and politely tell them to “Get lost”. If  you don’t, you’ll end up chained to your desk.
  • Plan ahead and set  firm dates. Setting dates forces you to make a commitment. I’m closing up the office on August 20th and returning two weeks later on September 4th. It’s critical to allow yourself several weeks lead time. The more the better. This allows you to wrap up projects or stages of a project. Don’t cram everything into the final week before your vacation. You’ll end up exhausted and won’t  enjoy your time off. Make sure that you don’t plan any project work the week you return. This will allow you to settle in and catch up on e-mails and other administrative matters.
  • Inform your current clients. This post is a way of letting all of my loyal readers know that I’m not going to be writing any new material for the two weeks I’m on vacation. I’ll still be posting three times a week but these will be articles from my archives. Don’t try to pretend that you’re still at your desk. Letting clients know of your vacation avoids the embarrassment of their trying to reach you and not getting a reply for a couple of weeks. Trust that your clients understand that you’re human and like everyone else need some free time.
  • Set up an e-mail auto-responder. Even though I’m having a “staycation”, I’ll resist the temptation to peak at my e-mails. I’m going to leave an auto-responder message that goes something like, “Thank you for contacting me. I’m currently away from my desk and unavailable from August 21st until September 5th. I’ll answer your e-mail on my return. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.”
  • Leave a vacation voice-message on your answering service. Even if you’re staying close to home on your vacation, you don’t want the interruption of business calls. That’s why I’ll be adding a telephone message that says something like, “Thanks for calling. I’m away from my desk until September 5th. Please leave a message and I’ll be happy to return your call when I’m back. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.” A word of caution. It’s advisable in both your e-mail and telephone messages not to give the impression that you’ve left your home or office vacant. This information could fall into the wrong hands and lead to a robbery.
  • Relax. It sounds obvious. But if you’re like me, you probably have what I’d call the “Manager of the Universe” syndrome. It goes, “The world will stop spinning on its axis if I’m not at my desk 24/7.” Well I know and you know that’s ridiculous. It’s quite amazing how the world keeps turning even when we’re not involved. So, I’m giving myself permission not to worry and  just to relax.

Photo by The Hamster Factor

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Season’s Greetings from Victoria.

Winter sky - The Salish Sea near Victoria, B.C.

My warmest wishes to all of you who have visited these pages over the past year. And a special thank you to my regular subscribers and viewers. May the coming year bless you all with good health, happiness, and serenity.

As a little holiday treat, here’s one of my favorite seasonal song lyrics  from Hearth and Fire by Gordon Bok. It’s a lovely piece and worth taking a few minutes to savor.

Hearth and Fire

Hearth and fire be ours tonight
And all the dark outside,
Fair the night, and kind on you
Wherever you may bide.

… continue here.

Photo by Dan Curtis

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Now for Something Completely Different: Calmness.

It’s time to stop  the rushing and working and worrying. You can always pick that up later. For now, as we come to the end of another year,  let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.  As my holiday present,  I’ve put together a little virtual retreat for you. You’ll find some wonderful calming images, music, books, and quotations below. Start anywhere you like.  There’s the three minute Whispering Sea guitar video.  You can  feast your eyes on all the sumptuous calming images from Google. There are three books you might want to check out. There are also some insightful quotations on calmness, my favorite being:

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
~James Allen

Calming images

Wander through Google’s calming photos and feel the tension draining away. Click here for some gorgeous images.

Calming books

Quotations on calmness

For some  quotes click here . And there are more here.

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Seascape photo by Brent Pearson
Geese and moon photo by Vicki DeLoach


Holiday Gifts With a Personal (Historian) Touch.

Last December I wrote about some low cost or no cost gift ideas. And with the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought it was time to suggest some gifts that have a personal touch.

DIY bookmarks. Here’s something for the bibliophile in your family. It could also be a nice little gift to include in a card to your clients. There are several sources that can help you with this project. Fabio Sirna has created four charming downloadable templates that you can run off on your printer. Check them out here. In addition you can go to e.m. papers and for US$5.00 download ten printable bookmarks. Each has a reminder of one of the “10 factors recent science has identified that lead to feeling more happy and satisfied with life”  such as  Have an attitude of gratitude and Make friends and treasure family. Be sure to check out Bookmark Craft Projects. There’s a list of sixteen different bookmarks you can make.

One of a kind blank cards. “I use semi-colons.” Here’s a great set of cards for any aspiring writer. They’re available from Etsy for US$2.50.The  product description says  “Show off your semicolon skills; your friends will be so impressed. The card measures 4 by 6 inches, comes with a lovely blue envelope, and is blank inside so you can write a whole lot of complicated sentences.”

Online writing courses. Give a gift certificate to a friend or family member who’s been talking about writing a memoir. An online course could be just the ticket to get them going. Check out a previous post I wrote, Get Started on Your Memoir by Taking an Online Course. In the article I’ve listed four sites offering writing courses.

Instructional DVDs for the videomaker. Videomaker magazine has put together a comprehensive series of instructional DVDs. You can find out more here.

Family heirloom recipe. For those  of you who have a special family recipe,  print it up on some good quality paper stock and include with it the actual cooked item. For example, my mother makes the most wonderful oatmeal raisin cookies. Anyone who’s eaten one claims they’re the best in the world. And I think they’re right. So, I’m thinking of getting the recipe from Mom and baking up several batches of cookies. My friends at Christmas will get a family heirloom recipe and some cookies to match.

Photo by iStockphoto

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Saving Memories This Thanksgiving.

The American Thanksgiving is a week today, November 26th. This is a wonderful time to reflect on all that we are grateful for in our lives.  Last year I wrote an article, Are You Ready To Make Thanksgiving Memorable? You can read it by clicking here. I wrote about the holiday being an opportunity to record family thanksgiving memories.

In a similar vein, StoryCorps has launched the National Day of Listening on November 27th.  Here’s what they have to say.

On the day after Thanksgiving, set aside one hour to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood.

You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as cell phones, tape recorders, computers, or even pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which recording method you choose.

You can get the  Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide  here.  As well, StoryCorps has a Question Generator that provides a handy list of interview questions. If you want, you can even share your experience with StoryCorps when you’re finished. So what are you waiting for? Plan now to save some memories this Thanksgiving.

Photo by iStockphoto

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