My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the tag “Family”

Contentment, not joy

I think I can now safely say my recovery is going well. Like any good teacher, I’m going to give myself a bit of a report card on my mental health.

My process:

  • Taking my antidepressants every day.
  • Going to therapy bi-weekly or weekly as needed.
  • Working out more.
  • Eating less sugar and fewer grains, (both of which make my anxiety worse.)
  • Spending more time with friends and family.
  • Giving myself more downtime.
  • Meditating a few times a week.


  • I feel stronger each day. I feel anxious less often.
  • I feel more confident.
  • I’m sleeping better.
  • I’m laughing more.
  • I’m not fully joyful yet but I feel contented. I think I’m on my way to joy.



So I think I’m through the worst of my depression. It took a lot of counseling and support and self-care to start feeling like myself again but I’m getting there.

Now that I’m coping better, it’s time to start cleaning up the fallout from my depression. First on my list is reconnecting with my family and friends. When I’m depressed I’m not myself and I know they feel that. I’m going to block off some one on one time for the people I love and let them know how much I appreciate them. This is especially important in my relationship with my husband because he provides so much support for me.

Next I need to take care of myself. I need to make sure I get enough sleep and down time to stay healthy. I’d like a haircut and a pedicure. I’ve also gained some weight so it’s back to healthy eating and more trips to the gym.

Finally, I need to get to the chores that have piled up. My house looks like a small hurricane passed through it. My car needs a wash. My garden is ready for some spring cleaning too. Although these aren’t my favourite chores, have a clean house does make me happier.

The real sign of my wellness is that I feel ready and even excited to tackle these tasks. I’m going to end this post here and get started!

Art Assignment 37 Paper Weaving

I have always wanted to learn how to make those woven paper hearts people make for Valentines Day or to hang on their Christmas trees. I did a little research and learned they are called Danish paper hearts. Apparently, they were “first described by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in his 1845 story ‘The Fir Tree’,” ( Now people around the world make them and fill them with treats for their loved ones. This sounds right up my alley. I decided to make two paper hearts for my niece and nephew’s upcoming birthdays, (their birthdays are close together so we’re having one big party for both.)

If you want to make your own paper hearts, the template I used can be found here. This is the beginner version so it’s a good one to try with kids.

Attempt one: Meh, it’s not bad but I bet I can do better.


Much better! Using smaller weaving strips really improved the look. This one is for my nephew.


This one is for my niece.


The weaving looks pretty neat inside as well.


Now to fill these hearts with some birthday treats. Not the healthiest choices, I’ll admit, but everyone deserves a special treat on their birthday.


Besides, part of the job of being an auntie is getting to spoil them a little bit.






Wedded Bliss


Today is my one year wedding anniversary. One year ago Nick and I stood in front of our family and promised to love and take care of each other. We were so happy on that day and we have had countless happy times since.

When people find out you are newly weds, they often ask how married life is or how it’s different from dating each other. I talked to Nick and we agreed that our married life is not that different from our dating life. Before we were married, Nick and I lived together and we had already had many of the ‘big conversations’ (e.g. kids, money, lifestyle, etc.) We also bought and renovated a house together before we got engaged. All those things drew us together and getting married just solidified our commitment to each other.

Another thing people like to tell newly weds is that the first year of marriage the most difficult. We didn’t find this was true for us either. We had so much fun together in our first year of marriage. We laughed a lot and worked through the tough times together. It wasn’t a challenging year for us but maybe that’s because we had done a lot of the relationship work before we got to the altar. But we still work on our marriage every day. I would never claim Nick and I are doing everything right, but we feel supported by our relationship and that’s important.

Happy anniversary. I love you, Mister.

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!



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.

Bonus Art Assignment: Please Do Not Touch

To illustrate how different her children are my Mom will often give people this one example. She’ll explain that when she was cooking in the kitchen, she told me not to touch the stove because the burner was hot. I nodded and never touched it. She told my brother the same thing but the minute she turned her back, he stuck one of his fingers on the burner.

“Ouch!” he wailed.

“I told you it was hot,” my Mom scolded, “Why did you touch it?”

“I wanted to see how hot it was.”

My Mom was illustrating how differently my brother and I learned, but I think it also speaks to how adventurous each of us is and how we listen differently.

I still sort of want to touch it.

I still sort of want to touch it.

Sometimes you have to let someone take care of you

So I mentioned in my last blog that I’ve been suffering from heightened levels of depression lately. However, I also mentioned my amazing support system. I wasn’t kidding. I am very blessed to have people who care so much about me. My main support is usually Nick but he’s had to travel a lot more lately because of his job. Something that was particularly difficult for me recently was when he had to travel on a Sunday. The weekend is traditionally a time Nick and I reserve for each other and perhaps our family and friends. It is our time to reconnect. So when Nick had to leave early Sunday morning, I found myself increasingly sad leading up to Saturday night.

While talking to my Mom she clued into the fact that I was feeling down and she offered to come visit me for the day. At first I was worried that would be too stressful for her. After all, we’re a four-hour drive away. “Oh honey,” my Mom replied, “I’m retired. What else do I have to do?” So my Mom came to visit. We didn’t do anything too interesting. We wandered around downtown most of the day. Then we headed back to my house, got into our pajamas and ordered Chinese food. It was an easy day full of conversation. It made me feel much better.


My fortune cookie really summed up the day.


And from my Mom’s cookie we learned that even fortune writers have a sense of humour!


Christmas Creep

Are you seeing it too? The bows? The tinsel? Red and green as far as the eye can see? Every year Christmas Creep invades a little earlier. We’re barely through Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en and there it is: Christmas 2014.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. In fact, it is one of my favourite holidays. I just feel like I have to get ready earlier each year. Do you feel the same way? Is Christmas Creep coming earlier or does it just feel that way? Here’s some of my Christmas observations this year:

October 27th – First fully stocked Christmas isle, (Dollarama).

October 27th – First Christmas events email at work.

November 1st – First Christmas decorations I spotted in my neighborhood.

November 2nd – First Christmas commercial I heard on the radio, (CBC Radio 1, Vinyl Cafe Christmas show tickets).

November 3rd – First Christmas commercial I saw on TV, (Family Network Christmas movies for kids).

November 3rd – First online ad for Christmas, (Chapters).

November 3rd – Christmas cookie and toy sale ads arrived at the school.

November 4th – First fully decorated Christmas tree, (The Bay).

November 7th – First text from the family regarding our Christmas plans.

November 7th – First Christmas carol I heard not being played ironically, (“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”)

November 8th – London held its Santa Claus Parade.

November 9th – First time I made and froze Christmas cookies, (dark chocolate chip and sea salt).

November 9th – First time someone wished me “Merry Christmas.”

November 11th – First fully decorated Santa House in Westmount Mall. Apparently, we can’t make Santa wait for the Veterans. 

November 14th – First actual snowflakes I saw. They melted before they hit the ground. 

I haven’t decorated my house yet. Do you think the neighbors would complain if my house looked like this?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Art Assignment 15: Photo of a Friend

In their 36 years of marriage my parents have taught me that the happiest marriages are between best friends. So, when I saw this art assignment, I immediately thought of my best friend and husband Nick. He’s studying for his MBA so I thought his weekend study session was the perfect opportunity to snap these photos.

Nick on Sundays

Nick on Sundays

And of course, I wanted to demonstrate how Nick sometimes deals with ‘Jen’s crazy art projects’.

Nick putting up with Jen

Nick putting up with Jen

To finish up, I also snapped this photo from Nick’s point of view.

Study session

Study session

My Post It.

My Post It.

I sent off my Post It in the mail so I hope it arrives soon! #theartassignment

The Mystery Box

In the silent auction at the Good Health Walk, I bought the mystery box. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to know what was in it. I know a lot of other people were also curious so here are the contents of the mystery box:





So it’s Kinder Smile Box. It contained all sorts of crafts and games. This will be perfect for when my nieces and nephews come over. Score one for cool Auntie Jen!


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