WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? How to live a more creative and fulfilling life

Do you want to live your life more creatively? Do you have an artistic hobby but feel that you are just mediocre at it, and therefore have denied the possibility of it ever becoming a career? Are you unhappy with your job, your field of study, or your life in general? Are you not even sure you know what you like to do?

If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes,” my heart goes out to you. This is a tough place to be, and “hopeless, wasted potential” is a horrible feeling to sit with.

I have good news! You have the power to change your life! But how, might you ask? Well, I’m no expert, but I’m trying to answer those questions for myself at the moment and I thought I would share what I’ve learned and tell you what I’ve tried. I’m only at the beginning of my journey, but have already seen improvements to my happiness and sense of fulfilment. Hopefully this post will help you take the first step to realizing the same in your life.

SUGGESTION NUMBER ONE: READ!

I love self help books. I think they’re great. At the start of my journey I spent an hour or two in a bookstore browsing their self-help section and writing down the titles I found interesting. I went home and put them on hold at my local library, because I am broke university student and can’t afford to buy every book that catches my eye. The library is a great place to check out books, risk free! Since placing all of those holds, a new book seems to come in for me to pick up at the library every week! It’s like a free subscription service for books! Amazing!

Blogs are also a great free source of inspiration. I love blogs because they contain stories and advice that come from real people. They often come with updates, so you can see how that person progressed over time. Don’t worry, Google won’t judge you about the questions you ask it. And there is no harm in asking. Just keep a critical eye out in case you come across a website or two making promises that sound too good to be true, or cost money, or suggest radical life changes. Stay safe.

Books I recommend

1. “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron

This is an extensive 12 week course contained in a book. This book will help you discover what it is that really matters to you, and what you want to spend your time doing. I am only half way through, and it has been very helpful. The Artists Way is critically acclaimed, with good reason. While I am not a huge fan of the religious overtones of this book, it is easy to set those elements aside and still receive the help that is contained in these pages.

2. “The Four Agreements” by Don Migeul Ruiz

I read this book in the park on a beautiful pre-summer day. It was poetry to my soul. In just 80 some odd pages, Don Miguel Ruiz teaches you how to take your life back into your own hands by trying to do four things: Be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. I am just starting to apply the Four Agreements to my life, and know that they take a lot of work to live by, but I believe that they will bring positive change and growth. This book has been a best seller for ages. Supposedly it was the book that gave Ellen Degeneres the courage to come out and live her life truthfully! Oprah loves it too.

3. “Steal like an Artist” and 4. Show Your Work”  by Austin Kleon

I loved both of these books because they were quick reads that gave tangible, real life examples of things you can do to bring creativity into your life and turn your passions into a career. This blog was totally inspired by “Show Your Work” because Austin taught me that you need to put yourself out there, share what you’re making, because you never know what opportunities may come from it.

5. “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo

This book started it all for me. I’m one of those people who needs to clean her room before she can start studying for a test, so environment is a big influence on me. Marie Kondo will help you declutter your life and create your own castle. Your house should be your favourite place on earth! Your room should be a paradise! You probably know already that you own more things than you need. Giving things away is scary, I understand. But I dare you to try it!

SUGGESTION NUMBER TWO: DO!

Now that you’ve read some things to get inspired and you’re motivated to actually get to work, that’s exactly what you need to do… GET TO WORK.

The number one thing I recommend is to set aside10-30 minutes every day to DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. I believe that the thing that helped me the most was challenging myself to do a drawing every day. I only started this practice back in October 2016, and already I have seen my art skills get exponentially better. Austin Kleon agrees with me: There is power in doing something every day. 

To recap: The way to a creative and more fulfilling life has two steps: READ and DO. 

 

I hope this post inspires you! If you do happen to read any of these books, or have read them in the past, let me know what you thought about them! Have a favourite book about creativity that I missed? Leave it in a comment down below! I’m always looking for book recommendations. And, of course, if this post inspires you to create something, please share it with me. I’d love to see what you made!

Good luck!

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that I have used myself, enjoyed and benefited from. If you make a purchase through these sites, you’ll be supporting my dream of being an artist and living my life to the fullest, so thank you!

TUNESDAY: “Magnets” by Disclosure ft. Lorde

 

Uh-oh, dancin’ past the point of no return
Let go, we can free ourselves of all we’ve learned
I love this secret language that we’re speaking
Say it to me, let’s embrace the point of no return

I will admit I didn’t much like this song when I first heard it. I can’t explain why. I also cannot explain why, after stumbling upon it in the list of recommended/related videos on youtube, it became my new obsession. Is it because the guy she dances with/has an affair with/murders reminded me of David Tennant… and therefore is quite a looker? Is it because the video is beautifully moody with its deep rich purples contrasted with pale blue and vibrant grass green? Is it because the hook is really catchy (probably this one is the culprit, though the other things don’t hurt). This song had me frantically downloading Disclosure’s album Caracal so that I could listen to the rest of it during my commute… and almost made me late in the process. In my opinion, this song is the strongest on the album, but I have a feeling that with enough repetition, the other song will grow on me too.  

I have a weak spot for Disclosure. I dislike most of their music (I fall madly in love, go to check out the rest of their music and it leaves me flat. Ah well), but they have made a few songs that have got me right in my musical achilles. The My first Disclosure love was “Latch” ft. Sam Smith. This song would come on at work (two years before it became a radio hit, oddly enough) bewitching myself and my fellow servers. We were hooked.

Was today’s song a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments below! Song recommendations are always welcome!

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“MAKE IT WORK!” MONDAYS: Introducing a look behind the scenes


Every Monday I want to share with you an element of my artistic process. This weekly segment, “Make it work!” Mondays,  is one half a personal endeavour, a journal of what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been progressing (or a document of regression), and one half an exploration into the artists process. I love learning behind the scenes information about things! I love learning how things were made, how ideas came about, what problems came up and how those problems were overcome. I know I’m not alone with this fascination, so I’d like to share my behind the scenes with you!

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I have been developing a character, Leslie Taylor, since January. It’s been a slow, slow, frustratingly slow process. I’ve been stuck seeing visions of the end goal and how great it would be if my ideas came to life without knowing how to get started. 

Eventually, like pulling teeth, bits and pieces of my vision has come to life. The fog has cleared a  bit and now I have a better sense of what I need to do.

Thanks to playing around with pastels, I have a better sense of what she is going to look like. I love hallowe’en and make up and masks and drag so I wanted to create a character that would combine all of those elements. I have always been drawn to Max Headroom, the witty, electronically distorted AI music interviewer and wanted to play around with an idea like that… but for the internet age. I wanted a strange character. Something otherworldly and bizarre, yet still friendly. She would be the drag version of myself: excited, passionate, nerdy, goody-goody, and probably not as funny as she thinks she is. 

Voila, my pink, red, and blue monster!

Daily Drawing Weekly Review & Weekly Update: June 2nd to June 9th

This week I challenged myself to complete my daily drawings in 30 minutes. Within that 30 minutes I had to come up with the idea, sketch it and colour it. Once the time ran out, down went my tablet pen and my mouse clicked “publish.” As a result, the images aren’t as polished as others may be, and there was little time to refer to reference pictures, but I’m okay with that. This is an exercise in creativity, pure and simple! An exercise that I think is pretty cool. I highly recommend it – you’ll be surprised what your brain can come up with.

If you’d like to follow my drawings and get updates daily, in real time, please follow me on instagram: @leslietaylordesign.

June 2nd: Treasured chalice. Inspired by my love of water and small fear of a dystopian, waterless future..?
June 3rd: If you want to know how I spent the day, this is exactly how, down to the resulting sunburn and everything. It was a lovely day!
June 4th: Yesterdays sunburn’s got me feeling like a scaley lizard, so here’s a scaley lizard.
June 5th: Sleepy clouds. A nice busy day, but was looking forward to a quiet evening.
June 6th: Misery loves company, but I don’t like being in misery’s company. This little phrase came to mind this morning. Doubtful I am the first to coin it, but it would be nice if I was. Hello royalties?
June 7th: Acrylic paint, it has been too long!
June 8th: Seaworthy Sailor
June 9th: The cool kidz. Loosely inspired by the amazing style and abundant positivity of Kandee Johnson.

 

How was your week? What did you get up to?

This week was week 5 in the Artists Way for my creative partner LB and I. While not as difficult as week 4’s week of media deprivation (I’ll write a post on that soon! It was quite the thing to experience), this week brought about a new sense of clarity. Having gone a week without TV, reading, music, social media, etc, I was hesitant to return to my previous ways of spending (read: wasting) time. I definitely watched less youtube and spent less time on tumblr this week, which was great.

I joined the Toronto Urban Sketcher’s group and went to two sessions. The first was at Ryerson University and I spent two and a half hours sketching Young St. It was definitely an exercise in patience, let me tell you! But I am very proud of the sketch I produced and am trying to turn it into something more professional – so stay tuned! It was really energizing to meet some great people, some fellow artists in this big city. It was especially nice to meet people who are trying to pursue the life they want, to put making art front and centre. It’s scary to do so, but scarier I think to live a life of regret for not having done so.

Young St. From Ryerson University
Sketch in progress
Condemned apartment building in Forest Hill. Apparently Hemmingway lived here when he was working for the Toronto Star!

LB and I went to Rouge Park and spent the day hiking and enjoying nature: the dark pine needle covered forest floor; the green stained glassed leaf canopy; the cool bubbling brook. Even though it brought sunburns and bug bites, it was lovely… especially when the day finished off with some summery coolers on the balcony! Summer may finally have arrived in Toronto!

What am I watching?

  1. I’m currently working my way through Veep season 3 with LB. Very happy to see strong, smart female characters in a comedy.
  2. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 is unfortunately coming to a close. I will miss it so much when it’s done. I’ve been #teamSasha since day one! She’s so intelligent, well researched, and talented.
  3. Twin Peaks Season 3: OMG. This is what I live for week to week. I can’t get enough! So weird. So good. So scary. So unlike anything else out there. Bathe me in it!
    What am I reading? (in five words or less) 
  4. The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:
    “Life changing! Ends all suffering” 
  5. QU33R. a collection of LGBTQ comics edited by Rob Kirby
    “Sad. Beautiful. Inspiring. Funny. Life.”
  6. Big Kids by Michael DeForge
    “Amazing! Everyone read this please.”
  7. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
    “Weird little kid. Bad things.”
  8. The Miracle of Mindfulness: an Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
    “Calming. Inspiring. Simple.” 

 

Shout out to MJ, one of the organizers of Toronto Urban Sketchers. Check out her lovely, cloudy artwork at  https://www.instagram.com/mjsketchbook/

Also, if you’d like to read some charming comics and interesting stories, check out LB’s work. He posts new words every weekday, so there is always something to read. He’s quite the wordsmith in my view.  https://loganbrightworks.com/

 

Now, off to watch the latest episode of Drag Race and finally make that pesto pasta I’ve been putting off all week!

Have a great week, dear reader!

TUNESDAY: “Shaky Hands” by Foxtrott

 

Is this St. Vincent and David Byrne writing songs together again? Oh I wish. At least it sounds so much like it that I am hooked. A steady beat accompanied by alto horns… is that a Tuba I’m hearing? This is the first Foxtrott song I’ve heard, but if the rest of their music is like this I’m definitely going to have to check them out.

The music video for this song looks hella cool too. Modern dance, masks and perpetual quarry rock faces. I couldn’t help but think of cyriak’s masterpiece “cows & cows & cows.”

 

I think this the Shaky Hands music video is definitely a fascinating video worth checking out… for the skillful editing alone. Feel free to impose any metaphor about the grueling grind of life onto this video as you see fit.

— p.s. I have since listened to a few other of Foxtrott’s songs. I like them, but can’t help but notice they share a similar tone. Many songs have an almost mechanical and marching drum beat to them. Definitely will give them another listen though.

Was today’s song a hit or a miss? Let me know in the comments below! Song recommendations are always welcome!