My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

On Reducing Stress

I once saw a fellow teacher write on a Post-It “Reduce stress by giving less of a fuck.” It’s actually not bad advice. You can word it any way you like, but we should all work to reduce our stress in some way. A big part of it for me is not caring about the petty, little parts of life. When I start to feel stressed, I have begun to ask myself, “Will this matter to me in one year; in five years? Will it even matter tomorrow?” If not, it’s time to let it go.

While reading the blog Her 30s, I came across this post On Reducing Stress. I was struck by how much this blogger’s stress reduction list echoed my own.

Conscious ways to reduce stress

  1. Stop multitasking and focus on one activity at a time. I am getting better at this.I’ve never been very good at multitasking to begin with so this was fairly easy to release.
  2. Stop carrying the phone around with me in my hand. I check the time, my email, my calendar and lists too much. I have dedicated no phone time. When I’m teaching, exercising and in bed, my phone is somewhere else. I also regularly turn off my phone when I need some me time to read, take a bath or just space out.
  3. Limit the amount of driving I do. I drive stick and even though it is fun, hills and LA traffic still stresses me out. I drive only as much as I need to and when I do I listen to happy music, comedy programs or audio books. The news is out except for the traffic report. I just find it too depressing.
  4. Meditate, stretch or do yoga in the morning so that I start my day off slowly and in a focused manner. I do 15 minutes of yoga each morning before I do anything else, (except for drinking water.) It keeps me centered and reminds me to breath deeply for the rest of the day.
  5. Do what I do to the best of my ability and stop trying to control the outcome. I work on this one every day. When I get there, I’ll let you know how I did it.

I’m going to add to this list to make fewer lists. Sometimes it’s nicer to just be without having to check things off on some list, be it written or floating around in my brain. So, what’s on your list? Or what are you taking off your list?

https://i0.wp.com/www.timedebtevent.com/images/no_more_lists.jpg

Art Assignment 29 Make a Thing

I love Nyan Cat!

I love Nyan Cat!

For those of you who haven’t experienced this adorable meme, click below and enjoy.

In fact, I have some experience being a Nyan Cat.

Here I am as Nyan Nyan Kitty for Halloween.

Here I am as Nyan Kitty for Halloween.

And here are my cats exploring my costume.

And here are my cats exploring my costume.

My students loved this costume but that was a previous art project so I wanted to do something new for this art assignment. I’m making a Nyan Cat fridge magnet.

I used Sculpey, a printed template, rainbow ribbon and magnets to make my nyan cat.

I used Sculpey, a printed template, rainbow ribbon and magnets to make my Nyan Cat.

Sculpey is easy to use. Here are the instructions that come with the clay.

Sculpey is easy to use. Here are the instructions that come with the clay.

First I chose my colours.

First I chose my colours.

Next I rolled each ball of Sculpey to warm it up.

Next I rolled each ball of Sculpey to warm it up.

I rolled out the clay using my kitchen rolling pin and chopsticks to ensure the clay was the same thickness and would bake evenly.

I rolled out the clay using my kitchen rolling pin and chopsticks to ensure the clay was the same thickness and would bake evenly.

I used my template to cut and smooth the edges of each piece.

I used my template to cut and smooth the edges of each piece.

I made all my pieces and trimmed them with a sharp knife.

I made all my pieces and trimmed them with a sharp knife.

Then I began to assemble my kitty.

Then I began to assemble my kitty.

Once my kitty was ready I baked him at 275F for 25 minutes. As the clay colled, it hardened further, making a perfect magnet.

Once kitty was ready I baked him at 275F for 25 minutes. As the clay cooled, it hardened further, making a perfect magnet.

Once he was cooled, I glued on the ribbon and magnets. I also added his face details with a permanent black marker.

Once he was cooled, I glued on the ribbon and magnets. I also added his face details with a permanent black marker.

I added a bit of magnet to the end of the ribbon so nyan cat can even fly around corners.

I added a bit of magnet to the end of the ribbon so Nyan Cat can even fly around corners.

Now he hangs out on my fridge with Hello Kitty.

Now he hangs out on my fridge with Hello Kitty.

I think he looks pretty great.

I think he looks pretty great.

#theartassignment

 

I hate not going to the gym.

Going to the gym is not always my favourite thing to do. However, I hate not going to the gym a lot more than I hate going. People say it takes approximately three months to form a habit. I’ve been going to CrossFit for over two years so I would say that’s a pretty set habit for me.

https://i0.wp.com/amerrylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/fitness-motivation-quote-i-regret-that-workout.jpg

Recently, I’ve been having trouble with my migraines so I’ve had to take some time off CrossFit. During these rounds of cluster-style migraines my concentration has been so poor that I’d be a danger at the gym, besides the fact that the rush of Adrenalin would make my head pound even more. After several months I was able to find a treatment that did not include drugs, (those of you with migraines will know how difficult this can be.)

When I did head back to the gym, I got the usual warm reception sprinkled with questions about where I had been. I know this was because people had missed me but it got my guilty brain stirring. Everyone else had been working hard and improving their bodies while I had been going home to bed most nights after work. I felt chubby.

I also felt out of practice. I struggled a lot more than usual and had to life less weight than usual. I was slow and I made silly mistakes. At one point, a trainer had to stop me because I had 15 lbs on one end of my barbel and 10 lbs on the other. But I’m still glad I went back and am still going back. I’m increasing the number of classes I’m going to a week and I hope not to miss any more classes.

I mean, there’s only so many reasons I’ll allow myself to skip a workout. Taking care of my health is one of them. Therefore, I’m going to say goodbye to guilt and hello to sweating hard and toning up. #dowhatworks

https://i1.wp.com/www.crossfit105.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/guilt-free-zone.jpg

 

 

 

Cat Grass!

I have been in a hurry to see Summer arrive. In an effort to make it seem a bit more Summer-ish, I decided to try growing some cat grass from seeds for my kitties. For those of you who don’t know, cat grass is mostly just wheat that cats love to eat. Some people say it improves digestion and reduces hairballs. I know my cats love it.

I got the seeds from an heirloom seed provider called The Cottage Gardener.

Here's the packet of seeds.

Here’s the packet of seeds.

The instructions are on the back of the packet.

The instructions are on the back of the packet.

I filled a small container with dirt and planted the seeds.

I filled a small container with potting soil and planted the seeds.

I kept the soil moist but not wet.

I kept the soil moist but not wet.

I had to put the pot of cat grass up on my bookshelf, both so it would get enough light and so the cats would let it grow before eating it.

I had to put the pot of cat grass up on my bookshelf next to my bonsai, both so it would get enough light and so the cats would let it grow before eating it.

Here is the cat grass after one week.

Here is the cat grass after one week.

And here it is after two weeks. These were variegated cat grass seeds so it's normal for the grass to be white and green.

And here it is after two weeks. These were variegated cat grass seeds so it’s normal for the grass to be white and green.

Now it was time to let Tracker and Larry enjoy their summer treat.

They attacked it.

They attacked it.

That is one happy kitty!

That is one happy kitty!

I barely had enough time to take pictures before they devoured it.

I barely had enough time to take pictures before they devoured it.

I would have taken an after shot of the plant, but there was no point. It just looked like a pot full of dirt. They ate everything even remotely green. However, I’m glad they had fun. Besides, there is something satisfying in growing something that brings my furry buddies so much joy.

Everything Chili

Ready to clean out your fridge? I have the chili recipe you need. I have included lots of suggestions below for what you can add to spice up your chili but the great part about this recipe is just about anything can go in it.

BASIC INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs ground beef/pork/chicken/turkey

2 cups chopped onions (any type except green onions)

2 cans chopped tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce (I used homemade but that’s not mandatory)

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp chili pepper

1 squirt hot sauce

2 tsp salt

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

Veggies you can add: mushrooms, celery, sweet peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, corn, leftover salsa.

Proteins you can add: bacon, sausage, leftover steak or shredded chicken breast, beans.

Random items you can add: tomato paste, ketchup, BBQ sauce, chipolte peppers, pickled peppers, sun-dried tomatoes.

Toppings: sour cream, crushed corn or tortilla chips, chives, red pepper flakes.

The ingredients I used.

The ingredients I used.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Brown your meat and veggies, (except corn,) in a large pan or pot.

Brown your ground meat and veggies, (except corn,) in a large pan or pot.

Add your canned tomatoes and any other sauces you are using.

Add your canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, chili pepper, salt and any other sauces you are using.

Add any final ingredients such as corn or hot sauce.

Add any final ingredients such as corn and don’t forget the hot sauce. Use your favourite hot sauce here or omit it if you prefer savory chili.

Added any pre-cooked proteins and simmer for 30 - 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Added any pre-cooked proteins and simmer for 30 – 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If your chili is too watery, add a can of tomato paste in the last 10 minutes.

If your chili is too watery, add a can of tomato paste in the last 10 minutes.

Add any toppings and serve.

Add any toppings and serve.

This recipe is perfect for freezing. Add cooled chili to a Ziploc bag and seal, removing air. Label and store in the freezer for 3 – 6 months. Enjoy!

 

5 Ways to Give Off Positive Energy

I consider myself a happy person. However, I am always looking for ways to up my positive energy. That’s why I was interested to see this blog post by the Happsters: 5 Ways to Give Off Positive Energy. I wanted to see how I was doing by their measure of happiness.

5 Ways to Give off Positive Energy

  1. Smile & engage. I already smile a lot but I try to do this more often at work. I notice than when I smile at someone who looks stressed, they relax visibly.
  2. Make happiness a priority. Well, I’m reading blogs about happiness and thinking deeply and actively about what makes me happy, so I think I’m good there. 
  3. Be loving & grateful. I hope I do a good job of this. I appreciated all of you! Thank you for reading!
  4. Say positive words. I do make an effort to speak positively to others. Even when I need to correct a student or change a procedure at work, I try to communicate in a positive way. Of course, I can always try to improve in this area. For example, I do need to complain less, especially when I’m not feeling well.  
  5. Do something that energizes you. I do this in some active ways, (CrossFit, hiking, yoga, and swimming,) and in some calming ways, (meditating, reading, art, and writing.)

Hey, I’m doing pretty well! Reading this blog and looking at my own happiness really made me happy. Thanks Happsters!

Art Assignment 28 The Muster

What am I fighting for?

Balance and joy. I want to be more accepting of who I am. I don’t want all the parts of me, (teacher, weight lifter, woman, pin-up girl,) to have to be totally exclusive of one another. I want my weight and measurements not to matter to me or anyone else because I’m healthy. I want to spend more time being my true self, whoever that is.

This photo was taken by Dana Brushette. #theartassignment

Art Assignment 27 Collaborate with Son Lux

Crayon 8

#theartassignment

Homemade Birthday Card

I wanted a Minion birthday card for my friend Julie but I couldn’t find one anywhere. After spending waaaaay too much time on Pinterest, (that website is a time vampire!) I decided to make my own card. This is a fairly easy project so feel free to replicate it or make your own.

You will need one piece each yellow, white and blue paper, scissors, glue stick, a pencil and a black marker.

You will need one piece each yellow, white and blue paper, scissors, glue stick, a pencil and a black marker.

I started with the yellow paper and folded it into my card shape.

I started with the yellow paper and folded it into my card shape.

I cut the overalls out of the blue paper.

I cut the overalls out of the blue paper.

I printed out the Minion symbol for his overalls and traced his eyeballs. I used a ruler here and a cap to trace circles as my freehand drawing is not great.

I printed out the Minion symbol for his overalls and traced his eyeballs. I used a ruler here and a cap to trace circles as my freehand drawing is not great.

Once I had all the pieces cut, I began gluing them to the card. I pressed the card under a heavy book afterwards to stop the glue from rippling the paper.

Once I had all the pieces cut, I began gluing them to the card. I pressed the card under a heavy book afterwards to stop the glue from rippling the paper.

Here is the finished front of the card.

Here is the finished front of the card.

Now for a snazzy message and I am done!

Now for a snazzy message and I am done!

And don’t worry, I am posting this after Julie’s birthday so she got to see if first!

On Turning 35

Birthday dance! Birthday dance!

I love my birthday. I love the fuss everyone makes. I love the thoughtful gifts my friends and family choose for me. I love getting older.

Getting older means I can care less what people think. It means I can be myself and do what I want. Most of all, it means I get to keep living and loving and enjoying the best parts of life. I can’t wait to be one of those little old ladies who is super loud and friendly and says whatever she wants because who’s going to tell an 80-year-old what she can and can’t say?

People keep telling me that as I age and start to lose function in parts of my body or mind that I won’t like getting older. They tell me I won’t want anyone to celebrate or even acknowledge it. It hasn’t happened to me in 35 years but I worry that it will. I want to keep enjoying getting older.

I guess I’ll just have to keep enjoying it while I can. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me! Happy birthday deeeeaaar meeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeee, happy birthday to me!

https://i2.wp.com/girlmeetslife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/7fb6457beca53d44fc0190ebfb388125.jpg

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