My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Time for a Break!

Well, it’s finally here: THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BEFORE WINTER BREAK! Excuse my yelling but I’m really looking forward to the break. And I will end the day by saying to my students, “Have a wonderful break. I will miss you all. Now go home and bug your parents for two weeks!” I plan to spend a lot of time with my family and friends and not much else. Too many plans can ruin a perfectly good holiday.

As a result, I will be taking time off my blog until the new year. I really want my winter break checklist to look like this:

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. See you in 2015!

CrossFit Is Everywhere!

I have been watching the daily vlogs of a family called the Shaytards for a year or so, (Shaytards = the dad’s name Shay + unitards… experience it here). They are a Mormon family and the dad Shay blogs often about his weight loss journey. I’ve watched him try a whole variety of diets and workout routines with varying degrees of success.

In the video above, he records his time at a CrossFit class. It’s exciting to see others getting involved in something I love. CrossFit seems to be spreading everywhere! Many of my followers on WordPress and Twitter find me through #CrossFit. I think it is growing in popularity because it is effective. CrossFit has made me leaner and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Shay also points out that he’s training with a friend and he has offered his buddy $50 per pound he loses. Talk about motivation! I wish someone would offer me cash to work out and get healthy! Kidding aside, it is a great idea to train with friends. It helps me keep going even when I’m not looking forward to a workout. My CrossFit location is really welcoming and there’s always someone in class I can chat with. It seems like the one Shay attends is just as friendly. I hope it works as well for him as it does for me!

Sometimes Your Choice of Language Offends Me

Published on Oct 30, 2014

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone use any or all of these four words to describe someone. But there’s a really excellent chance that person had no idea what these terms mean. But SciShow is here to help clear up some of these definitions, and explain why the weather isn’t schizophrenic, and how your ex probably isn’t actually a psychopath,” (SciShow).

I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve been known to blame my extreme organization on OCD or my occasional swearing on Tourette’s. However, my flippant use of this type of language can be really offensive. Think about it; if you’re feeling sick, do you say you have a touch of cancer?

In this video, Hank Green discusses four psychological terms we’re likely misusing, but the tendency to do this stretches into many (if not most) psychological terms. For some reason, we as a society feel it is acceptable to use mental illness and its clinical terms to illustrate a whole variety of points that often have nothing to do with the people suffering from these mental illnesses. This behaviour spreads misinformation about mental illness and alienates people suffering from these illnesses.

In my work as a teacher, I have made a conscious effort to not refer to people as their disease. I practice saying ‘a student with ADHD’, not a ‘hyperactive student’. As Green states, “It’s hard enough not to become your disease when your disease is inside your brain. It’s even worse when it’s inside everyone else’s.” I understand his point on a personal level and I make sure I don’t do this to other people. However, I am not quite as adept when I refer to myself. I have called myself ‘an anxious person’ rather than ‘a person suffering from anxiety’ and as I’ve stated above, I have called myself clinical terms that don’t apply to me to illustrate a point or make a joke.

I’m going to try to be much more conscious of my use of these terms. If we all use these terms correctly, it will go a long way to taking the stigma out of mental health. To help us all, I have included the and definitions of the terms Hank Green mentioned in his video.





And just in case you need it too, check out

Morning Training

I’ve got to admit; I was skeptical. Morning training? At six am? Really? But because of a scheduling change at work I now have the opportunity to go to the early CrossFit classes.

Truly, the biggest challenge is just getting my butt out of bed. To make it to West London CrossFit in time to warm up, I need to wake up at five am. Once I’m washed and dressed, I scarf a quick breakfast, (usually a hard-boiled egg and some tea,) and head out. Usually I arrive just as the gym is opening so it’s really quiet and can be quite cold. Rolling out and doing mobility doesn’t seem so appealing but I do it because if I skip it, I’ll pay for it later.

Once class begins, time moves quickly and before I know it, I’m rolling out and ready to go home. I can often watch the sunrise on my drive back. It’s peaceful.

I’ve done the morning classes a few times now and although I enter bleary-eyed, I leave energized. I feel like I’ve accomplished something first thing in the morning. I also find my energy doesn’t wane as much during the day. Dangit, I guess morning training is good for me after all. It looks like I’ll be sleeping in less often from now on.

Give the Gift of Health

Looking for gift ideas this Holiday season? Have a spouse, significant other, family member, neighbour or friend that would benefit from CrossFit?Wouldn’t it be great to buy your loved ones the gift of FITNESS, HEALTH, & COMMUNITY? If you feel fortunate to have found Life By Design, pay it forward this year. You have until December 15th to order your Gift of Health for someone you love.

Christmas Online Fun

I took some time to select a few of my favourite websites just to get you in the spirit! Don’t worry folks, all of these websites are family friendly and work-safe. However, they may soak up a significant amount of your time!

Awkward Family Photos – These holiday family pics will make your family look normal…almost.

Cool Mom Picks – This blog lays out 15 of the funniest Christmas Cards I’ve ever seen.

Is it Christmas? – Tired of the kids asking you this every morning? Use this website instead. It literally tells you if it’s Christmas or not and that’s it.

JibJab – Speaking of photos, turn photos of your friends and family into hilarious eCards with this little gem.

Jingle Bell Junction – This website has lots of free downloads and fun stuff for kids of all ages.

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day – This one sort of speaks for itself. So many ugly, ugly sweaters.

NORAD Santa Tracker – Did you know you can watch Santa make his amazing one-night journey? Check out NORAD’s official Santa website for lots of fun Christmas facts.

Snow Cams – Not enough snow in your backyard? Watch it snow all around the world.

The Internet Fireplace – If you want to curl up by the fireplace but you don’t have one, try this website and get ready to get cozy.

Tree Decorating 101 – Want to watch a cat decorate a Christmas tree? Yes you do.

Xmas Clock – Need to know how many seconds until Christmas? Check this website out.

I hope this gets you feeling Merry. Grab yourself an egg nog or a hot chocolate and start clicking!



Bonus Art Assignment: Please Do Not Touch

To illustrate how different her children are my Mom will often give people this one example. She’ll explain that when she was cooking in the kitchen, she told me not to touch the stove because the burner was hot. I nodded and never touched it. She told my brother the same thing but the minute she turned her back, he stuck one of his fingers on the burner.

“Ouch!” he wailed.

“I told you it was hot,” my Mom scolded, “Why did you touch it?”

“I wanted to see how hot it was.”

My Mom was illustrating how differently my brother and I learned, but I think it also speaks to how adventurous each of us is and how we listen differently.

I still sort of want to touch it.

I still sort of want to touch it.

Sort of Famous on YouTube

So for those of you who follow my blog regularly, you know that I have completed every Art Assignment so far. I’ve been doing it as part of my Creativity by Design experiment and I’m finding that exercising that part of my brain feels great!

So how excited was I when I watched the most recent Art Assignment video and found that they had featured one of my pieces of art? Super excited!

I felt so proud that both Peggy and Garry Noland chose my art as one of the pieces they reviewed. Someone (two someones) connected with my art. They enjoyed my piece and felt nostalgic for the pieces of pop art I referenced. I feel just a little bit famous. Here is my original post.

The artists also reviewed a number of other artists who produced beautiful pieces. Check out the other artists below:

Spencer Welch:…


Cortlandt Matthews:…

Tania Drewitt:…




My Year By Design:…

roses on my windowsill:…


Empty Disco / Odetomyday:…

Sometimes you have to let someone take care of you

So I mentioned in my last blog that I’ve been suffering from heightened levels of depression lately. However, I also mentioned my amazing support system. I wasn’t kidding. I am very blessed to have people who care so much about me. My main support is usually Nick but he’s had to travel a lot more lately because of his job. Something that was particularly difficult for me recently was when he had to travel on a Sunday. The weekend is traditionally a time Nick and I reserve for each other and perhaps our family and friends. It is our time to reconnect. So when Nick had to leave early Sunday morning, I found myself increasingly sad leading up to Saturday night.

While talking to my Mom she clued into the fact that I was feeling down and she offered to come visit me for the day. At first I was worried that would be too stressful for her. After all, we’re a four-hour drive away. “Oh honey,” my Mom replied, “I’m retired. What else do I have to do?” So my Mom came to visit. We didn’t do anything too interesting. We wandered around downtown most of the day. Then we headed back to my house, got into our pajamas and ordered Chinese food. It was an easy day full of conversation. It made me feel much better.


My fortune cookie really summed up the day.


And from my Mom’s cookie we learned that even fortune writers have a sense of humour!


Anxiety Down, Depression Up

Most people suffer from both anxiety and depression, rather than one or the other. I am one of those people. As most of you know, I’ve been working really hard to control my anxiety and I’m seeing some positive results. However, the tricky thing about mental health is that it can run in cycles that are difficult to break. So right now I’m leaving a time of anxiety but I’ve landed in a time of more depression.

There is no single cause for my depression. The triggers affecting me right now are work stress, Nick being away on a business trip, a lack of time with my friends (we are all just so busy!) and the waning of sunlight as winter approaches.

When I’m depressed I have trouble concentrating, I’m not motivated and I sleep a lot more. In fact, sleeping is one of the few things I feel like doing. I feel helpless and hopeless. Even my usual pursuits and activities hold no appeal. Everything seems like too much work.

This blog took me longer than usual to write because I have difficulty describing what it is like to be depressed. Because the causes of my depression are complex, no one thing is going to snap me out of it. It is going to take time and hard work. However, unlike past bouts of depression, I am confident I will come though this alright. I have lots of support and healthy habits to help me though. Wish me luck and patience because I’m going to need lots of both.

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