My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the category “Think By Design”



That’s what I need right now. Things are so busy and I just need some quiet. I’ll post something more interested next time. For now, I’m going to spend some time with myself.


Happy Thanksgiving


I got you a hand turkey. Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

A different perspective

In my last post I wrote about how I cut my leg on my screen door and had to get six stitches. I was pretty upset both because I was in pain and because the doctor OK’d me to walk and do light stretches, but nothing else. Plus for the first 48 hours I was to keep it elevated as much as possible. I was not looking forward to being bored on the couch at home.

When I called my vice principal to tell her I needed a day off to recover, she said something that stuck with me; “Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you to slow down.” So I did slow down.

I read these:

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And I watched these:

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I hung out with my husband and the cats. I chatted with my mom on the phone. I took naps. It was actually quite nice. I’m looking forward to getting the stitches out but I’m having a relaxing time until then.

Back to School

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In an effort to set good habits early in the school year, I’ll be taking the next week off from writing my blog. Right now I’m spending a lot of time writing for the new school year and I’m just finding I’m a bit tapped out for creativity. The blog will return Tuesday September 13th. Thanks for understanding.

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.

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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.

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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.

Having a good time with my brain


I’m in the middle of an online learning course to update my teaching certification. I won’t bore you with the details as it’s really only interesting to people in my field of study. However, I will say this: every day in my course I feel like I’m getting smarter. It’s like I can actually feel new connections being made and reinforced in my brain. This is a very condensed course, (only 20 days!) so I’m having to read, write, research, and think very quickly. The last time I really felt like this was during my Masters program, where I was hacking through courses with new concepts and ideas daily. It might be my imagination, but in these moments I think I can feel my brain changing for the better.

When was the last time you really enjoyed learning? When a book changed your mind on something? When you finished a major project? When you successful overcame an obstacle? It could be something as simple as when I helped my niece and nephew put together a perfect Lego tower.  It is important to notice these times when we are improving our brains. At North Americans, we are very focused on improving our physical health, (going to the gym, eating healthy, etc.) but we tend to neglect our mental development once we leave school. I’m going to try to keep doing things that are good for my brain. I hope you do too. Keep learning!

Don’t mind me…just scooping my brains out with a spoon

I’m on day four of a migraine. It’s not just my head that hurts; my jaw, neck, shoulders, and stomach all ache too. I will be crawling to the chiropractor and then to my RMT to try to fix this shortly. I’m taking a break writing so this is all you get today. Here is a picture of how my brain feels:


The really good belly laughs

When was the last time you had the really good belly laughs? I’m talking about the laughs that snowball, getting louder and wilder, the laughs that leave your abs and cheeks aching as you wipe tears from your eyes. It happened to me not long ago at a Leadership camp I attended with my students. We were at the final talent show on the last night of camp. Each act was funnier than the last, filled with jokes from our week together. Unfortunately, I can’t share the photos or videos due to student privacy concerns. However, I’m hoping I can offer you something else for a chuckle.

This video starts out pretty slow but keep watching until 1:27 in. That’s when the magic begins. Nick showed me this video and I could not stop laughing. To make matters worse, he kept bringing the video back to 1:27 and letting it play over and over until I was gasping for air. I just watched it again as I’m writing this and I’m still laughing. That is one of the best feelings in the world.

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