My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Spring is…


The back door to the gym being left open during CrossFit classes!

The back door to the gym being left open during CrossFit classes!

Persistent squirrels planting random tulip bulbs in my front garden.

Persistent squirrels planting random tulip bulbs in my front garden.


My lilac tree beginning to bloom.

My lilac tree beginning to bloom.

Enjoy the warmer weather everyone! Spring may finally be here!


Not all arguments have to be arguments.

The other day, Nick was one hundred percent convinced I ate the last of his cereal. I pointed out that I rarely, (if ever,) eat cereal and he probably ate it himself. We had a terse exchange and then I had to go run some errands. While I was out, I started to feel badly for snapping at Nick. He was probably having a hard day. So I decided to turn our disagreement into something we could laugh about. On my way home, I stopped at a grocery store and bought him a whole selection of cereals. Then I set them up on the dining room table and left him a note. As I expected, when he walked into the dining room next, he exploded into laughter and then came to give me a hug. Sometimes, you just have to laugh at the small stuff!


On Ramp Yourself Back In

Everyone has to take a break from training now and again. Recently, I took a break while recovering from a respiratory infection, (nobody wants to train next to the girl barking like a dog.) That was a short break. A few years ago I had to take a month out as I recovered from whiplash. To make a long story short, a deer hit my car; I did not hit it. Needless to say, my physiotherapist made me promise not to train until she gave me the go ahead.

If you’ve had to be away from the gym, don’t be shy about coming back. Here are my tips for turning a regular CrossFit class into a personal on ramp session:

1. Make time for mobility. Don’t skip your warmup and cool down. Your body will thank you.

2. Be realistic. This is not the day for new skills or personal records. Back off your weight and focus on your form. For example, here was my first workout back:


So usually for my back squats, I would lift between 90 and 95 lbs. On my first day back I lifted 62 lbs. Next time, I’ll lift more until I’m back up to my target lifts again. There is no reason to assume you have to come away from your first day back to the gym so sore you can’t move. Ease back into it.

3. Talk to your trainer. Helping you get back to design after an absence is part of their jobs. They can always suggest modifications to get you back to form.

4. Rest! Giving yourself a break during your workout and afterwards promotes quicker recovery.

Of course, my biggest tip is to get back to training as soon as you (and possible your doctor) feel you are ready. See you there!

Art Buddies

So I’ve been watching an amazing YouTube series called The Art Assignment.

It focusses on art as an experience, rather than as an object like a painting or a sculpture. Each video ends with an assignment for the viewers. So I decided I would email a few of my close friends and see if we could complete some of the assignments. Because my friends rock, they are joining me for my art assignments. Here is my team:








Stay tuned for our crazy adventures! #theartassigment

Happy Easter!

Everyone needs a good laugh! Enjoy your long weekend.

Tweeting for Positive Energy

I started a twitter account this week. I read twitter occasionally but I’ve never tweeted myself. There are a lot of negative posts on Twitter. To combat that, I decided to try to post one positive thought per day. These posts┬ámay be my observations, gratitude lists, jokes or whatever else I can find to put more positive energy into the world.

This was my first post:

I am grateful for comfy shoes, smiles on teenagers and the inspiration I can find in YouTube videos. #DailyJoy #theartassignment

Follow me at MyYearByDesign@JenMcAwesome or add your own awesome tweets into the Twitterverse #DailyJoy

As promised

My photographer posted some of our wedding photos on Facebook so I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!

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Time Constraints

How many times have you said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”? Maybe the problem isn’t the length of the day but the amount of stuff we cram into it. As a society, we schedule, (and I would argue, overschedule,) ourselves and our families far too often. It is important to get a lot done in the day, but what about the joy of doing nothing?

Remember being a kid? Remember being bored and having to look for stuff to do? I might be getting a bit nostalgic here, but I think boredom is good for us. I think it inspires creativity and problem solving. That’s when a couple of sticks become swords, or drum sticks, or relics of an alien ship that crash landed on Earth.

I am in no way suggesting that you shirk your duties or ignore the people in your life who depend on you. We all have stuff we have to do. However, what if we provide ourselves a bit more unscheduled time? We might be more relaxed and even more happy. I’m going to try to increase my unscheduled time over the next little while and watch for the effect it has on my life and my mindset.

Travel Fatigue

vintage suitcase table via texas inetgiant Clever Uses for Vintage Luggage

I’ve been travelling a lot lately; first to a technology conference where I was a speaker and then to a model United Nations conference where Nick and I were chaperones to nine teenagers in Toronto.

Whenever I travel, I do try to be smart about it. I drink lots of water and pack snacks like cut up veggies and fruit and almonds. I also stretch and try to walk around as much as I can. Despite my plans I think I have travel fatigue. I’m sore from sitting too much and tired from sleeping in hotel rooms. I’ve got a low-level headache and I feel generally a bit burnt out. I’ve even noticed that my skin and hair are also really dry. My body is trying to tell me it’s had enough. Instead of a well oiled machine, I feel like a rusted out car that has trouble starting…and it’s fans make noise…and there’s static on the radio…and the gas light is on.

Travelling puts a lot of stress on the body. I suppose I should say it puts different stress on my body than I’m used to. Travelling means a lot of sitting and waiting and as a teacher I do very little of both. It also means worrying about packing, scheduling, arriving on time, connecting trains and busses and as an anxious person, this puts more strain on me.

I also seem to burn more calories as I travel. No matter how many healthy snacks I pack, I still get hungry and find myself at the mercy of whatever restaurants and food booths are nearby. I almost always end up with something processed because I’m starving and there’s nothing else available.

So now I’m in recovery mode. I have a massage therapy session and a chiropractic appointment next week. I’ll also be trying to eat healthy, sleep properly and get back to my regular training schedule. It’s amazing how much our bodies love healthy routines. I can really feel the difference in myself when I’m off track. At least I know that I can get back to my By Design life this week and start feeling like myself again.

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