My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

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!


Superb Socks

There’s a trend at West London Crossfit and I am a big fan. Wacky socks have become standard apparel for our members and they’ve never looked better!










I dug out my own rainbow socks so I can fit it too! Thank you to all my sexy sock models. Come on out to CrossFit and rock your wacky socks or leg warmers!


Blue Monday, I am ready to defeat you!

Last year, I didn’t realize it was coming until I was having a really bad day. The year before, I called my mom to complain about my bad day and she told me what had happened. I was one of the 10% of people who suffer on Blue Monday.

So the people who make statistics, (statisticians?) have predicted Monday, January 26th as Blue Monday,(AKA the most depressing day of the year.) Usually I forget Blue Monday is coming until it hits me with one whopper of a bad day, but not this year. This year I’m going to do my best to get ahead of Blue Monday.

I am beginning my day with a 6 am class at West London CrossFit. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight depression so I want to start my day right! My breakfast is going to be high protein with some veggies and complex carbs for good measure. Pair that with a cup of relaxing herbal tea and I’ll be ready to face the rest of the day.

That particular Monday is an exam day for me, so I won’t be doing much actual teaching. I’ll proctor the exam in the morning and then spend the rest of my work day marking. This is problematic for two reasons; first, seeing my student nervous elevates my stress level and second, marking requires a lot of sitting. To overcome this pitfall, I will be making sure that for every 20 minutes of sitting I do, I will take a 5 minute walk. I’m also going out to lunch with my coworkers that day and we have decided on sushi. That midday punch of protein and veggies should boost my spirits. Throughout the day I will also be snacking on fruit and drinking lots of water. This should help me combat my sweet-tooth, which rears its ugly head most when I’m bored at work.

Once I get home I plan to relax. No marking or cleaning the house for me. I’m thinking a hot bath, some snuggles with the cats and my hubby and maybe a funny movie.

These little beauties will be my movie snack of choice.

These little beauties will be my movie snack of choice.

Ok, so it likely won’t turn out as perfectly as all that but with this plan, I hope to make my Blue Monday a little less blue.


LFP Best of London

It’s time to vote for the Best Of London again. Head over to

I know who’s getting my vote for best chiropractor and gym 🙂

Art Assignment 20: Emotional Furniture

So in a rare moment alone in the staffroom, I snapped these photos.

Over one of the few windows in our staffroom I found two dream-catchers and a disco ball. I think those dream-catchers are envious of that disco ball.


This random collection of office supplies looks so confident with their bright colours and clean lines.


Is there anything more melancholic than the photocopier with the jam light on? Not today, there isn’t.



Testing Weeks

West London CrossFit recently held two weeks of testing so everyone could find and record their one rep maxes. I attended the testing days and if you follow me on Twitter (@JenMcAwesome) you may have noticed me tweeting my new 1RMs. I found I had made more gains than I predicted and that made me feel proud. For example, on my overhead press I went from 22lbs to 42lbs!

Knowing your 1RM is an important part of weight lifting as it lets each individual know how much they can handle for each lift. This makes scaling lifts and reps much easier and exact. If you have a chance to attend testing weeks, make it a point to do so. If you need help working up to, setting or retesting a 1RM, see a CrossFit trainer. They are your best resource for getting stronger.


Art Assignment 19: Relative Strangers

I already know a fair bit about my own family thanks to a genealogy project one of my cousins did. So for this project I turned my attention to my married family instead. My brother and sister-in-law had their beautiful baby boy on Thanksgiving Monday (Canadian Thanksgiving, not American). I jokingly call him my little Thanksgiving turkey. Because their family lives a five-hour drive away from mine, the only time I had ‘met’ Kieran was on Skype. He mostly stared blurrily towards the webcam and furrowed his brow as strange voices came out of the computer speakers. So when I had a chance to meet him face-to-face over Christmas, I knew it was his photo I wanted to take.





Art Assignment 18: Expanded Moment

When I took a look at the posts for this assignment so far, I noticed that most people chose landscapes to record. I suppose that’s because landscapes are quieter and easier to capture. However, I decided to use people as my subjects, (my hairdresser and myself). I made this time-lapse video of me getting my hair coloured and cut:

Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m a hair dye addict. I’ve been dying my hair a variety of colours since I was in high school. I love getting my hair done and for me this is a really personal moment I’m sharing. My hair appointments are a time of vulnerability, (I’m changing my look and hoping it will suit me; I rarely get the same cut or colour twice). I also really dislike being on film. I feel self-conscious and the urge to judge myself can be overwhelming. The only way I could get through this was to set up the camera on my hairdresser’s station and then mostly ignore it.

The first time I watched this video I mainly watched myself, (hey, I’m human; we all look for ourselves first in videos and photos). Next I watched my hairdresser. She is so skilled! Seeing her move about made me respect how much work she does to get my hair the way I want it. Maybe I should start calling her a hair artist. I watched the video again, this time keeping my eyes on details in the background such as the movement of light and shadows. Watching streaks of light move across the walls is strangely hypnotic.

Parts of the video jump with rapid-fire activity as my hairdresser works and we chat and laugh. Other sections are quite placid. Sorry you get to watch me read for so long but it takes time for the hair dye to set.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this video. Even though it still makes me feel a bit squirmy to watch myself sit around for two and a half hours while I get my hair done, (yes, it takes that long,) the final video is neatly compressed into 24 seconds.

Homemade Gifts

So I couldn’t release this blog post before Christmas because I took photos of people’s gifts and I didn’t want them sneaking a peek. However, maybe you can use my work to inspire some gifts for next year.

There are a few things to keep in mind when making homemade gifts. First, only take on these projects when you want to. If making gifts becomes a chore or a source of stress, you shouldn’t do it. No one is going to die because you didn’t make their gift. Trust me, they’ll get over it. Second, don’t Martha Stewart yourself to death. I never make all of my gifts. It’s just too much work! Select the things you want to make and stick to that. Finally, pick things you know you’re good at. Christmas is enough stress without adding new projects or unfamiliar recipes to it! Keep it simple.

For my close friends, I made special holiday ice creams:

Christmas Crackle Ice Cream

Christmas Crackle Ice Cream

I also made my own labels.

I also made my own labels.

For the LBD gang I made Christmas decorations out of little jars filled with origami lucky stars:

Don't they look cute?

Don’t they look cute?

I made my own gift tags and wrapped the decorations in pretty boxes.

I made my own gift tags and wrapped the decorations in pretty boxes.

For my nieces and nephews I bought gifts but I also attached homemade candy cane reindeer:

These were the easiest of all to make.

These were the easiest of all to make.

None of the gifts I made was terribly expensive or time-consuming. I enjoyed working on them and I think my friends enjoyed receiving them. Now it’s your turn; what gifts do you make for friends and family?

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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