My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

Bonus Art Assignment: Art Trip Tijuana Part 2


3. Try to see if you can name those people before you meet them:

Women in their 40s walking their dogs – the Carols.

Kids under 15 riding their bikes – The Zachs.

Retired men walking for exercise – the Carls.

New parents pushing strollers – the Jones.

4. Meet them and find out the connection between your image and who they really are.

I decided to start with one of the Carls.


This particular Carl walks down our street with his walker once a day as long as it’s not too hot or too cold out. When he gets to my front yard, he takes a break and sits on the seat attached to his walker. Sometimes he reads his mail after he retrieves it from the mailbox across the street. I think the walking is physical therapy. When he first began this routine, I saw him walking with a number of different women in scrubs who looked to be home care workers. Since the photo above doesn’t show his face, I thought it might be alright to share it.

So one day when I say this Carl sitting in front of my house, I went out to get my mail. As I passed by him I said ‘hello,’ but Carl didn’t answer. I tried it twice more on other days but still nothing. Maybe he doesn’t like strangers? Maybe he didn’t hear me? Well, for now this is as close as I can get to completing this art assignment. #theartassignment


Bonus Art Assignment: Art Trip Tijuana Part 1


This is a big art assignment so I’m going to have to divide it into parts. Luckily I live in a neighborhood full of walkers so it’s easy to people-watch as I walk.

  1. Put away your devices and walk around the block. Done and done. IMG_2709  IMG_2725
  2. Make a list of 4 kinds of people who live around your neighborhood.

Women in their 40s walking their dogs.

Kids under 15 riding their bikes.

Retired men walking for exercise.

New parents pushing strollers.

Next week I’ll try tackling the other steps. #theartassignment

Why I love the Olympics

I’m addicted to watching the Olympics. I used the CBC app to stream from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. I cheered, laughed and cried. As the Summer Olympics wraps up for another four years, I’ve been thinking about why I love watching the Olympics so much.

Reason 1 – Unapologetic nationalism.

Other than Canada Day, there are not always a lot of opportunities for me to don my Canada gear and sing my national anthem at the top of my lungs. I adore seeing how much our athletes love our country; how they rock Canada clothing, hats, nail art, and even tattoos; how they tear up at the sight of our flag being raised in the Olympic stadium. I also enjoy watching the host country celebrate the best aspects of their home. It is a fine thing to have an excuse to be ridiculously proud of your nation.

IMG_2719     IMG_2714

Reason 2 – The stories.

Say what you will about the media, they expertly craft stories of endurance, triumph and even failure that have consistently made me cheer and cry. I know these stories are heavily constructed and edited, but what story isn’t? The media necessarily needs to select and edit stories because there is just too much to cover otherwise. Besides, media is a business and ratings are their benchmark for success. Highlighting captivating stories draws in viewers. Knowing I’m seeing a story built by the media doesn’t make me enjoy it less and the Canadian media takes great care in covering as many Canadian athletes as they can.

Reason 3 – Armchair coaching.

“That’s not how you do a reverse 1 1/2 somersault from the pike position!” It doesn’t matter that I can’t even fall into the water without doing a belly flop, I’m going to shout out my instructions to the athletes as if they can hear me. Maybe not every family participates in this but it’s a lot of fun to coach from the couch. When I was a kid, my dad would get so engaged in televised sports that my mom bought him a foam brick he could throw at the TV. My whole family gets involved in yelling things at the Olympics, even my much more soft-spoken husband has been know to call out his encouragement.

Reason 4 – Humans at peak performance.

“Look at how strong her shoulders are!”

“Check out his leg muscles, they’re huge!”

“How does she jump like that?”

“His last dive was so clean!”

Somehow watching athletes achieve their goals makes my own less public and perhaps smaller scale goals seem much more achievable. If these athletes can give everything to their sport, I can lose five pounds, eat healthier and manage my stress better. The Olympics remind me that humans are capable of amazing things and that I am capable of achieving success if I keep working at it.

The Olympics are so much fun to watch and as Olympic fever dissipates, I am already looking forward to the next Olympics in Tokyo.


Are you bilingual? Multilingual? I can speak enough French to ask directions and order food but that’s about it. I used to be quite fluent in high school so I’d like to hone my French skills again. A colleague recommended I try an app called Duolingo. It’s a free app that allows users to learn or practice a language. I’ve been using it over the summer to brush up on my French. The app lets users set a daily goal, (I set mine for 5 minutes per day,) and then users open the app once a day and do the required amount of practice. I’ve included some screenshots below of my own practice:


I recently completed 50 days in a row of French practice. I think Duolingo is helping me regain my confidence speaking French. On a recent trip to Ottawa I was able to speak French to service staff and hotel staff. They did understand me, even if it took me a bit longer to say it and they were very patient. Ottawa is a bilingual city and most people working in customer service are considerate of folks like me who want to practice their French.

I’d be interested to see how well the app works when the user is trying to learn a brand new language. For example, would I do well trying to learn German with no prior knowledge of it? If anyone decided to use this app for a new second language, send me a comment on what you think of the app. I’ve included screenshots of the available language training programs in the app for inspiration.

IMG_2652 IMG_2651 IMG_2653 IMG_2654

Ramping Up

So I’ve now completed half of the On-Ramp program at West London Crossfit. I’m really glad I arranged to retake this class as a way to return to Crossfit training. I’m trying to get back to my best habits and I know it’s better if I do it in small steps like the ones provided by On-Ramp. I’m getting a refresher in all the basics, (warm up, lifting, mobility, etc.) and now my form will be much better when I join the regular classes again. I’m sore from class but I feel good. I’m slowly starting to feel stronger and more confident.

I’ve gotten a pretty universal reaction from the coaches and Crossfit regulars. They look at me quizzically for a minute and then say something like, “You still train here?” I smile and tell them that I took a break but that I’m back now. Everyone is welcoming. Two more weeks of On-Ramp to go and then I’ll be back to CrossFit training. I’m looking forward to it.


Art Assignment 50: Vehicular Palette

I chose to focus on the number of seat belts in each car my family has owned because seat belts are the one part of the car that every driver and passenger should use in the same way to be safe. Here is my data visualization:


It still looks more like math than art to me but it was fun to complete this project because it was so different from what I usually think of as ‘making art’. #theartassignment

On Ramp


I’ve been a member of West London Cross Fit since it opened several years ago. However, I stopped going last December. I had a bad bout of anxiety and I needed the time off to work on that before I could worry about building muscle.

Now that I’m feeling more stable, I’ve decided to go back. Today I attended my first On Ramp class. On Ramp is a program that West London Cross Fit runs to get people ready to start Cross Fit. During three classes a week for four weeks, On Rampers learn all the movements used in Cross Fit from stretches, to burpees, to proper bar bell lifts. Even though the classes are targeted for beginners, I asked the coaches if I could re-take the class to properly ease me back into my full workout routine.

My first class was really good. I like taking the time to review the basics and improve my overall form. I worked hard and I sweated. Beginner class or not, Cross Fit is a great burn. I’m looking forward to my second class already. This just goes to show that I am strong enough to go back to my best habits, even when I’ve taken a break.

Things I’ve learned meditating at home


There is no right or wrong way to meditate. I’ve meditated sitting, lying down, standing and even walking. I don’t have a set time or place for meditating either. It’s easier for me to meditate when and where I want. I find or make a spot when I need it, rather than needing to move to a specific location before I can meditate.

You can move and open your eyes. I know I’ve been in meditations where I’ve locked my body down so I can CONCENTRATE. Then I get an itch, a twitch. I need to scratch my nose or adjust my hips. I’m uncomfortable but I can’t move or I have to start over, right? Actually, it’s fine to move a bit as you meditate. The goal is to move less and less as you get more relaxed.

Sometimes it’s not going to work. No matter how often I meditate, there are days where I just can’t get my brain to slow down. I keep at the meditation but I may come away feeling frustrated. At these times, it’s important to go through the process even if my results are not as satisfactory as usual. Over time, I hope I will experience fewer of these times.

It gets better as you practice. Meditation definitely gets more satisfying as I work at it. In fact, I’m starting to move from meditation feeling like work to meditating because I enjoy it. I think I could meditate for many years and still never consider myself an expert, but it is fun to try.

Post Navigation