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The Best Hot Chocolate in Cork

My kids and I have a bit of a competition going on.  For the past few months, we have been on a hunt to find the best hot chocolate places in Cork.

Bethany and I are tied in our opinion that O’Connails Chocolatier offers the best tasting hot chocolate.  There are so many flavours to choose from, and my kids and I always make sure to choose something different so we can work our way through the menu.  The white hot chocolate and the praline milk chocolate are our favourites so far.

David and Clara disagree with us – when David first tasted O’Connails hot chocolate he said, “This is the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted!”  Tonight, however, he and Clara agreed that Butlers offers the best tasting hot chocolate.  The kids had the cookie hot chocolate. “I feel like I just drank four Oreos!”  The free chocolate truffle *might* have influenced their decision! 😉

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(My littlest has been quite enthralled with her newly lost tooth)

But for novelty, we all agreed on the Web Workhouse.  For me, it lacks atmosphere – it feels like the internet cafe that it is.  But my kids had never been in an internet cafe and loved it!  The hot chocolate is very cool.  You choose white, milk or dark – they give you a cup of steamed milk and a chunk of chocolate on the end of a spoon that you stir into the hot milk.  It’s a very fun way to drink hot chocolate.  “It’s not just hot chocolate, it’s an experience”

 

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Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe it’s 2016!  I’ve always loved the idea of a fresh start, and in reality, every moment holds the opportunity for a new beginning.  But there is something about the blank slate of a New Year.

Who do you want to be?  Who are you?  And how does that person align with the person you want to be?  What interests do you have – have you pursued them?  What do you want to accomplish in life?  What’s holding you back?

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The irony about goals and dreams is that they evolve. Maybe this isn’t true for everybody, but it’s true for me.  Life is fluid and the most important thing is to move forward, in the direction of your passions and goals – those goals may change.  There’s a quote that says, ‘Go as far as you can see.  When you get there, you’ll see further’

It’s true.  The secret is in starting.  Discover, explore, live fully and keep going!

One of my own personal aspirations for 2016 is to write more.  Some of my writing goals are outside of this blog, but to start the year off I have decided to write – and post – every day for one month.  I have a lot of things going on in my life, and I can use that as an excuse for not writing often lately – but no excuses!

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You can be or do anything you set your mind to!  Here’s to 2016 being the year when we do.  May all your goals be reached, your heart full of happiness, your life full of love as you follow hard in the direction of your dreams!

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How to redefine your life in 3 (easy to understand – not so easy to apply) steps:

The real secret to change is wanting it badly enough.  Desire is an incredible motivator. So, you want it. How do you attain it?

Read

 Reading changes you.

 “In books, I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own”

Reading expands your thinking. It opens your eyes to new viewpoints, thoughts and ideas. It is nearly impossible to read a plethora of books and be close-minded. Reading expands who you are as a person; not only your intellectual understanding of a subject, but your mind and perspective. Reading ignites your passion and is a fabulous motivator.

 Want to be a master in your sector? Read 100 books related to your field or the subject you want to attain mastery in. Reading one hundred books on one subject will give you depth and breadth in your understanding. The repetition – as well as opposing stances – will forge within you clear and strong insights. Books are living and powerful. Reading this many books related to your field will not only increase your mental mastery and ability to articulate thoughts with authority, but will spur new thoughts and create new ideas.

Friends

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”

If you find yourself in a place where you are not surrounded by people who push you forward and encourage you in the pursuit of your dreams, it’s time to change your circle of influence. How do you find such high quality people? Intelligent, interesting, positive people like to spend time with other intelligent, interesting and positive people. Become that person.

Friends give you a new perspective and show you different trains of thought. They make you laugh, smile and are there when you cry… but don’t let you cry too long.   Friends come into our lives for different seasons and purposes, with a few lucky lifers in the mix. Understanding that life is fluid helps you to enjoy the people in your life without holding on too tightly to those who hold you down.

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“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet”

Mindset

Perhaps the single most powerful, and yet challenging, indicator to your success is your mindset. Your thoughts shape your actions and your actions define who you are.

How do you change your mindset? It takes determination and time but there are some practical steps you can take. Meditate, choose to be positive, write out your goals, write out what you are thankful for, and (looping back) spend time with people that motivate and inspire you. And read lots of books!

“To change your life, you have to change yourself.  To change yourself, you have to change your mindset.”

 

 

 

What is the best way to learn French?

What is the best way to learn a language? Apart from having the interest and passion to do so, the learning process has to be fun, enjoyable, slightly challenging but motivational enough to keep you going. It must have the core principles needed to attain mastery – repetition, grammar, continuously growing vocabulary and the ability to naturally combine words into usable sentences.

My friend, Eoin Kennedy, CEO of Zone Digital, teamed up with Natasha Lynch, Director & Owner of the Essential French College recently to bring  all these elements together in the newly launched app “Essential French”

I’ve been playing with the app, and am slightly horrified at how far my French has fallen! The app feels like a game with different levels.

It starts off with a quick run-through of vocabulary. The second stage has the French vocab written and spoken, enhancing both visual and auditory learning. You are presented with three possible translations and have a time limit to choose the correct one. You need to get at least 80% correct to see the next level. The app is targeted at leaving cert students, so this is equivalent of a B1 grade. The format of the third phase initially looks the same, but it’s all in the details. The translations are much more difficult. The differences are small, spelling or punctuation or the proper use of “de, du or de la” for example

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Personally I found this level MUCH more challenging and had to do the same level three times in order to see the next level. There is a cute little blonde cartoon caricature of Natasha, cheering you on throughout the lesson “Allez! Allez!” (Let’s go!)… I’m wondering if that is part of the drill or only comes up if you’re taking too long. I’ll have to improve my speed and let you know!

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The last stage of the first lesson allows you to construct phrases yourself, giving you a variety of words to choose from to piece together.

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As you progress, there is a timed element, so you can race against yourself to beat your own score.

The app is formatted in such a way that it offers both repetition and variety. Repetition is vital for mastery and variety is essential for motivation. The lessons are fun, and feel more like a game than a lesson.

The app officially launched on Wednesday. I’m posting a few photos from the launch event. But they did a soft launch a few days previous, only revealing access to the app via snapchat.   Since the app is targeted at Leaving Cert students, the medium to reach them is simply brilliant. I can’t quite get my head around snapchat. I’ve half-joked that I must be too old for it. But last night I watched Natasha’s snapchat story. She is absolutely brilliant. She shares the French and English translation for the videos she’s taking. I found myself laughing out loud at her antics, while repeating the French phrases.

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Clearly her fun, personal approach is working, as the app reached the top free educational app in the app store before it even officially launched, topping popular language apps such as DuoLingo.

I’m so excited to keep using this app and get my French up to par, and even more excited to see the limitless success this app will see!

It’s available in the App Store and the Google Play store. The first level is free and you can purchase a second and third level for €5.99.

We played a prank!

Hey guys!

This post is a bit different.  I want to share with you a prank video that we did.  Those of you who know me outside of my blog know that I do marketing for a company called WhatSalon.  WhatSalon is an app for booking hair & beauty appointments (it’s not in Canada or the States yet – but coming in the next few months for my North American readers).  We decided to have a little fun and play a prank on a couple of girls who went to get their hair done.  Take a look – I’d love to hear your thoughts ❤

Rules to live by

My birthday is in a couple of days and it got me thinking – I started thinking about my life, and how much it has changed, how fluid it has been and how much I have changed along with it. I feel like I have learned so much, particularly in the last few years when in essence, one life collapsed and another evolved.

So, here are my new rules for life:

  1. Don’t live by rules! There isn’t only one right way to do things. Be open-minded, willing to try new things, see the flaws in what you are accustomed to and open to contemplate ideas that are contradictory to your own. It’s a pretty amazing world out there, but you’ll miss it all together if you stay in your box.
  2. Laugh. A lot. Choose happiness. Yes, it’s a choice.
  3. Enjoy life. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the journey. So much time can be wasted thinking about the past, or trying to plan the future, or worse -worrying about the future – that the time passes and the moment you missed becomes the one you want to reflect on. Enjoy the little things.
  4. Enjoy your kids. Laugh with them. Love them. Squeeze them. Tickle them. Hug them. Listen to them. Chase them. Let them know you adore them and they can do anything.
  5. Don’t ever sacrifice your dreams and what is important to you for what somebody else says you should do.
  6. Try new things.
  7. Travel
  8. Learn – always. Be hungry to learn. There is so much in life to learn. Read. Listen. Take classes. It makes life incredibly exciting!
  9. Cherish people. Value the relationships in life, but never let another person define you. And remember, life is fluid. Some friendships don’t last – it doesn’t mean they weren’t good. Life changes.
  10. Don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes, getting lost helps you find yourself.   We learn so much from our failures, and gain a strength and fortitude that could never be gained through a book or class. Get out there and live your life. Your failures become moments you cherish when you look back. It sounds crazy, but it’s true – because those moments serve as a catalyst to things you could have never previously imagined – or accomplished had you not ‘failed’!
  11. Work hard.
  12. Don’t be afraid to be different.  Everybody wants to be unique, nobody wants to be different.  You can’t be unique without being different.
  13. Don’t be afraid to change course.  Dream, start and keep going.  The path will change.  Keep going.
  14. Don’t be afraid.
  15. Look for the good – in people and situations.  You will find what you are looking for.  If you look for ‘bad’, you will see it.  If you look for good, you will see it.  Sometimes you may get burned, but that would happen anyway.  Choose the good.
  16. Meet new people.  Befriend people who are different than you – older, younger, different interests, perspectives, goals – as well as those you resonate with.
  17. Never stop dreaming.
The power of books

The Power of Books – and My Reading List

You can learn – and do – absolutely anything you set your mind to. You don’t have to know everything – just be passionate and willing to learn.

 “You will be the same person five years from now as you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet”

There are no two factors that more strongly affect your life. There is another quote that says “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”. There may be seasons in your life, where you realize those five people may not be the type of people you would like to emulate, and the question arises “How do I meet such people?”

The oxymoron is to become the type of person you want to be. You can’t instantly change the circumstances of your life, but you can instantly change your actions, reactions and how you spend your time.  Books shape you.  They change you at your core.

Books are great for impacting your mind, as the more you read, the more thoughts you are exposed to, which changes and develops your perspective and train of thought. I once read an article that said in order to master anything, read one hundred books on the subject. And so, I started to read books – books about marketing as I am determined to be one of the best – I love it and am passionate about it.   I also started to read motivational, personal development books – books which solidified the fact that I can in fact accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Since this blog is about pursuing your dreams, and on a personal level, books are a huge part of that – I have decided that every month, I am going to post my Reading List. I meant to start in August, but somehow time warped forward and it is now the end of September! So, here is my reading list for August & September:

Disrupt Yourself by Jay Samit

This was one of the best books I have read in ages! I expected it to be more personal development, but it was actually fairly business oriented. A hybrid of business and personal growth, I found it to be incredibly insightful and motivational.   Here are a few quotes that stood out to me from the book:

Nobody writes books about those who don’t take risks.

Isn’t it better to walk alone than follow a crowd going the wrong direction?

Data may disappoint but it never lies

Problems are just businesses waiting for the right entrepreneur to solve the problem.

An average idea enthusiastically embraced will go farther than a genius idea no one gets.

I’ve never heard a good idea come from someone in a negative state

Failing is trying something that doesn’t work. Failure is giving up.

Businesses don’t sell products, they sell solutions

Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch

On a personal level, it wasn’t my favourite read, but I did get a few ideas based on the book. That said, the book isn’t written for marketers – it’s written for small business owners. For a small business owner, this would be an excellent resource – perhaps invaluable. It covers all the basics of marketing, gives practical ideas that are easy to implement and gives tools that are available in order to do it.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This was a very positive, motivational book and an extremely easy read. None of the concepts were new or revolutionary, but still, I loved the book. It’s one of those books that does push you forward in pursuit of your own dreams and encourages you that no matter what circumstances or situations come your way, you can use the experience to catapult you forward into a better person with a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

“Your level of success will never pass your level of personal development” – this was one quote , which surmises the essence of the book.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

I absolutely loved this book. Every marketer should read it, as well as every entrepreneur. The book explores why some things really make it – hitting the tipping point to success – while others don’t. He focuses on three ‘agents of success’ – Connectors, Mavens and Influencers. Connectors are social people with a wide network of friends, always introducing people and widening circles. Mavens are passionate about the subject at hand and wanting to know everything about it – regardless if it’s science or fashion. And Influencers are basically the trendsetters who influence society and what becomes popular mainstream… and how the relationship between the three is often what leads to success.   The book is filled with fascinating and insightful stories and examples. A must-read.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

I had heard about this book for a long time, and after The Tipping Point, I looked for it. I’m so glad I did – it was absolutely fascinating! The premise is how we make judgments quickly, within a flash of a second.   The book starts out with the story of a piece of art, which was to be purchased at a great price – and the art experts who knew instantly that it was a fake, without being able to explain why. All the data and information about the piece would lend towards the piece being original, and yet their instinct was correct. However, the book also explored how our flash judgements can be incorrect – based on subtle biases or racism that we may be influenced by culture and we are unaware of. The book explores how to use this instinct to our advantage, and also how to break it’s limitations. A truly excellent book.

Failing Upwards by Benjamin Chapin

Hmmm… I think I set the bar pretty high with all the amazing books that I read these past two months, that I was a bit disappointed with this one. It’s not that there was anything I disliked so much, but it didn’t have the same depth or insight, it was more like an airy pep talk than something truly motivational.