My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Book Review: Mindful Power

For my February audiobook I listened to Mindful Power by Jevon Dangeli. Dangeli promises seven psychological techniques to empower the mind. The book contains six sections:

Part 1 – includes Mindful Power facts and philosophy, which covers how to use your whole mind for more fulfillment in your personal and professional life.

Part 2 – includes the Mindful Power Self Talk Elimination Technique.

Part 3 – includes the Mindful Power Successful Goals Technique.

Part 4 – includes two Mindful Power Enlightened Brain Techniques.

Part 5 – includes the Mindful Power Resourceful Interaction Technique.

Part 6 – includes the Mindful Power Meditation.

Each chapter begins with an outline of Dangeli’s program, then a description of the meditation steps and then a guided meditation. This makes the chapters a bit repetitive, likely to aid in the memorization of the steps of each meditation.

Learn from my mistakes; don’t listen to this in the car. I managed but each time Dangeli launched into one of the meditations, I had to take the audio files into the house and complete the chapters there. Please, don’t meditate and drive!

If you’ve never meditated, this might be a good listen. I have taken meditation classes before so I had a sort of ‘been there, done that’ feeling throughout. However, the practice felt lovely and reminded me how important meditation is. I also thought Dangeli’s focus on the elimination of negative self-talk was excellent. I’ll be using that part of the practice often.

Happy reading!

Links!

I don’t think I’ve ever properly done a set of links for Life by Design. Please enjoy.
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Small Gallery, Big Impact

A little while ago, I reviewed an art show called Submerged at the Gallery Stratford. There was another art show at the same time that also appealed to me. So, doing my duty as a responsible blogger, I contacted artist Monica Tap and she kindly agreed to let me write about her show and use some of the photos on her website to illustrate this blog post.

While Submerged was a whimsical display that urged the viewer to circle the room, Teufelsmoor and other haunts was a more traditional display of hung canvases. However, the paintings lulled me immediately into quite contemplation. The complexity of the black streaks and slashes reminded me of staring into the forest after a long snowshoe trek, where fatigue and overhanging branches bleach out the colour of the world but not the beauty.

Even though the brushstrokes seemed at times frantic, the overall impression was calming. I attribute that to the monochromatic colour choices. I was mesmerized staring into these scenes, thinking at any moment I would spot an animal or a splash of colour.

I would love having one of these pieces in my home. The art I enjoy almost always reveals itself slowly, showing me new facets in different lighting or when I spend time contemplating it on quiet afternoons. I have a feeling I could spend a lot of time enjoying the art of Monica Tap.

What a treat to visit a small gallery and see two very different, very engaging art exhibits. Take the time to visit the art galleries near you. It will do wonders for your state of mind.

 

Winter Classic

This Valentines Day we held the Winter Classic at West London CrossFit. It’s basically a team challenge WOD followed by a potluck. It’s family friendly and the workout can be scaled for all ability levels.

Everyone loves the Winter Classic!

Everyone loves the Winter Classic!

It’s a great excuse to hang out with my gym family and show some love for my body at the same time.

Joel was our MC for the day.

Joel was our MC for the day.

Here was our WOD menu.

Here was our WOD menu.

And our potluck menu.

And our potluck menu.

 

Mini cupcakes!

Mini cupcakes!

Yum!

Yum!

Have you ever wondered what your lifting face looks like? Scroll through the gallery below and you may just find out. I tried to get pictures of most people lifting. If I missed you I apologize. I was probably lifting at the same time as you.

There were prizes for all teams. I think my team came in tied for fourth or fifth. We don’t really take the results all that seriously as this event is more about a healthy activity than a perfect score. Plus we don’t want our new members to feel intimidated. This event is for everyone!

Here are our top three teams.

Here are our top three teams.

This was a very successful event. I hope you’ll come to our next event. Stay tuned and I’ll make sure to post when events are coming to West London CrossFit.

Am I a Hipster?

When Nick teases me, he sometimes calls me a hipster. Actually, his favourite is to tell me I’m a hipster and then ask me where my cat ears and roller skates are. Am I a hipster? I like my cat ear hat but I actually don’t own roller skates. I headed to the Internet to find out for sure.

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This post by Idea Channel got me started with some definitions and examples, but I’m not really sure if I fit in this category. My next stop was a series of quiz websites.

My first stop was Quiz Rocket. It contained questions like:

  • You have (or had) a site hosted by which of the following?

    • Geocities
    • Tumblr
    • Word Press
    • Blogger
    • I don’t have a site.

    Here is my result:

    You are not a hipster and that is a-okay with you. Sure you may appreciate a good pair of skinny jeans, or a knit cap on a chilly day, but overall, you like being part of mainstream society and don’t appreciate these stupid hipsters judging you for it!
    OK, so next I went to Quibblo and they featured such questions as:

    Your motto is…

    • Go against what people say and be different, no one should copy.
    • Stay true to yourself
    • Don’t hate on me.. I am just that cool.

    My results:

    NOT a hipster

    You are anything but a hipster which is okay too! Stay true to yourself.

    Finally I landed at BuzzFeed for my last quiz. Their questions looked like this:

      

    And the results:

    You got: Not a hipster

    You like normal stuff and you’re not a jerk. Congrats!

So it appears I am not really a Hipster but I like some Hipster-ish things. However, these quizzes aren’t scientific in any way so I don’t think it will discourage my hubby from teasing me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submerged

Recently when Nick and I visited the Gallery Stratford, we were entranced by the work of local artist Wendy O’Brien. She labels herself a Fibreartisit and looking at her series called Submerged, I could see why. Inside the galley O’Brien had created an undersea world. Soft, gurgling water sounds played. O’Brien used wool, string, a variety of fabrics and found objects such as salad bowls to create her ocean scenes. I was so enchanted by it that I emailed O’Brien and she graciously gave me permission to share her art with you.

Art is a great source of joy for me. When I am in the grips of depression, going to a gallery or even looking at art online can help lift my spirits. It makes me feel lighter to see the beauty and in this case, whimsy that an artist can create. I hope that as you flip through this gallery, you feel some of the joy I felt at each bright colour and unexpected creature tucked into the display.

As soon as we entered this gallery Nick and I split up and I moved excitedly from object to object, observing starfish made of wool, hand-knit seahorses and felt rocks. The large red octopus had plastic suction cups for suckers. The jellyfish were created from large bowls overturned and covered in bright plastic wrap and drapes of fabric. There were so many things to see, I just kept circling the room, enjoying new discoveries each time.

I’m a trained scuba diver and O’Brien’s art gave me the same kind of feeling I get underwater; I want to both move quickly so I can see as much as possible and slow down so I fully enjoy each aspect of the scenery. I was torn between examining the smallest details and trying to see everything in the room at once.

Yes we took pictures, but before you berate us, we asked the gallery if we could. Make sure you do the same. Plus, I’m sharing them with you because they lifted my spirits and I hope they do the same for you.

Relearn Your Creativity

I was inspired by this blog today: Relearn your creativity.

As I’ve been discussing in my blog and with the LBD gang, creativity is an essential part of being human, especially if we want to be happy, healthy humans.

I love the link Cushman makes between creativity and reading. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, the Marvel franchise movies, TV shows and books; all of these remind us that creativity is healthy and fun. It is OK to believe in magic. It’s good for us to ready fairy tales, science fiction and fantasy. In fact, it may improve our quality of life.

Oh, and just so Cushman  doesn’t feel like he’s the only one reading and rereading books, here are my favourite rereads:

Get creative. I dare you.

 

This post contains no photos…

…for a very good reason; I didn’t take any photos to go with it. I often use photographs I’ve taken to illustrate my blog posts but I want to write about a time when I didn’t have my camera.

Over the holidays, Nick and I visited my parents’ home outside of Peterborough. My parents own 13 acres of property, including one small pond that merges with a marsh. One of my favourite things to do in winter is to walk on the ice into the marsh, through all the trees and brush. On a beautiful morning, I took Nick out for a walk on the ice.

We were both fascinated by everything frozen in the ice. Unlike a skating rink, our ice is uneven, pitted, with branches, trees and marsh grass poking out of it. Our ice is frosted over in most areas but spotted with small round sections where by some trick of temperature the ice is perfectly clear. We marveled at air bubbles trapped below the surface. I imagined that stale Fall air floating to the surface during the melt and mixing with the fresh Spring air.

That was when I was gripped by the urge to take a photo. I remember thinking this would be a great blog post. I reached into my pocket and groped at nothing. After the briefest flash of panic, I remembered I had left my phone in the house to charge. No trouble. I would just enjoy my walk without recording it. This was easier thought than achieved.

As Nick and I picked our way through the marsh, we pointed out more and more things I wanted to photograph. Here was a section of ice so clear, we could see the fall leaves trapped below it. There was an abandoned bird’s nest my father could no doubt identify if I only had my camera! I was surprised how many times I reached for my camera even though I kept telling myself that this was the perfect time to be in the moment and ignore distractions. Little by little, I observed and released my need to photograph my walk. It was true that I had this urge for a positive reason, namely wanting to share the beauty of my experiences with you. However, it was more important in that moment that I be kind to myself and focus on being mindful.

By the end of the walk, I had managed to quiet my monkey mind and I was just observing the world around me and enjoying myself. The sun looked so magical glittering on the ice and the air was fresh and full of chickadee calls. Nick and I walked back to my parents’ house hand in hand, quietly reflecting on all the things we had observed.

So that was my latest experience of living in the moment. I would like to have more of these moments in my day-to-day. Would this post have been more impactful if I had managed to snap some pictures? Probably, but that destroys the point of living in the moment.

 

 

The Winter Classic is Coming!

Mark Sat. Feb 14th on your calendars! The date is set for our annual SC Winter Classic Team Challenge and Pot Luck. There will be fun, prizes, food and even vendors! Sign-up sheets are in the gym so sign up today. I’m on the list, are you?

Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

As part of my New Year’s resolution I recently listened to an audio book version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is a highly recommended book and it did change the way I think about some of my interactions.

This book is broken into five sections.

Part 1 – Fundamental Techniques In Handling People
Part 2 – Six Ways To Make People Like You
Part 3 – Twelve Ways To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking
Part 4 – Be a Leader: How To Change People Without Giving Offence Or Arousing Resentment
Part 5 – Letters That Produced Miraculous Results

Each part contains recommendations and and lessons. Carnegie punctuates these with numerous stories from people in all walks of life. The basic lessons are as follows:

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re Wrong.”
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise every improvement.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

This book was written with a business setting in mind but I found many of the principles applicable to education and interactions with students, parents and administrators. The main thing that struck me from this book is the idea that praise should be direct and frequent, while criticism should be indirect and occasional. Typing it out makes it seem obvious but in the daily rush, this can be difficult to achieve with all students in a meaningful way. Carnegie’s straightforward style made this goal seem achievable and important.

I only had one qualm with the text and it was a minor one. This book was released in 1936 so get ready to hear some outdated terms and ideas. I chuckled over Carnegie’s use of words like ‘Orient’ and ‘telegram’ and his ideas about housewives and female workers. This book was written in a different time so don’t take these things as insensitive. I didn’t and it made this read more enjoyable.

I would recommend this book for anyone looking to hone their interpersonal skills. Although some of the recommendations may seem a bit pandering, when delivered with sincerity, they would work much of the time. I’m implementing them in my classes and the students are blossoming under the extra feedback. Happy reading!

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