BABY STEPS TO A MORE CREATIVE LIFE

Last week I wrote about how to live a more creative and fulfilling life. If you’d like to read my recommendations, suggested book list, please check out my post.

The Artists Way by Julia Cameron is always at the top of my list of recommendations. There is no denying that reading this book and completing the 12 week course is a life changing and fruitful endeavour. From my experience, however, it’s a deceptively hard course to complete. I don’t want to dissuade you from trying. Struggle brings growth! I tried to complete the course last year but the timing wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t ready. Don’t beat yourself up if you start and fall off the wagon. You will have learned something just by trying, I guarantee.

If, like me a year ago, you don’t think you are ready to do the full 12 week course, I have developed a “baby-steps” path to a more creative life.

BABY STEPS TO A MORE CREATIVE LIFE

  1. Read the introduction to “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron to learn about Morning Pages
  2. Write your morning pages every day. If you’re not a morning person, they don’t need to be written first thing in the morning as Julia Cameron recommends. In my opinion, when you do them is not as important as the fact that you do them. Morning pages allow you to have deep conversations with yourself. I feel like I’ve only met myself through those three daily pages of writing. Morning pages are a place where you start out by complaining about your day, planning your to-do lists, ranting about what happened yesterday, and worrying about the future… but that sort of stuff can only take up so many words. Around 1.5 pages in, I find that I run out of mundane things to talk about. This is where the real magic starts. This is where you get to talk to the real you and discover what you really want to do, how you want to spend your time, what you’ve been missing, what you’ve always wanted to try, etc. This clarity doesn’t come right away. Oh no! There are definitely days when I’ve written “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write” over and over for a while until I found something else to write. Getting to know yourself is a slow process, but one that will happen through the morning pages.
  3. Commit to doing something you love every day. The morning pages help you discover what you really want to do. My pages revealed that I wanted to get serious about developing my multimedia art skills. I challenged myself to do a drawing every day. I didn’t say it had to be a finished, polished drawing – I just had to put pen to paper and doodle every day. If you have a musical instrument that you’ve been neglecting, challenge yourself to pick it up every day. Want to write a novel? Challenge yourself to write 500 words every day. So many artists say that the key to being a successful artist is showing up and doing the work every day. Ten to thirty minutes of practice will make a big difference, I guarantee. The habit isn’t that hard to pick up, I promise. It might suck for the first week or two as you stress about fitting it into your day, but soon a day without doing it will feel like a day wasted. Stick with it!

Other things I recommend:

Read up on Minimalism. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of your possessions and living in a sterile black and white room; it’s about simplifying your life so that you can live your life with intention. It’s about surrounding yourself with only what you need and love so that you can live the life you want. Minimalism has many different forms and philosophies, so I recommend reading as many POVs as you can. Some of my favourite minimalists blogs are: Jenny Mustard, Zen Habits, No Sidebar, The Minimalists, and Break the Twitch

Unplug!  This one is hard, but it pays off in spades. Spend some time with no TV, no internet, no books, no music, no news, nothing! If there is one surefire way to force yourself to create something, it’s being bored and being alone with your own thoughts. Challenge yourself to do media deprivation for a day, or a weekend, or a week! Sit, observe the world around you, look out the window, sing the songs that are stuck in your head (and you may only know a few of the words), play with your cat or your dog, take a walk… all of this is good! All of it will get you out of your digital world of distractions, will help you stop comparing yourself to other people and their fabulous facebook lives, and it will plunk you, unapologetically, in the centre of your own life. That is a hard place to be, it turns out, but it is a fertile place. With no distractions, you have no choice but to ask yourself “how do I want to live my life?” If you have sympathetic roommates, or family members, ask them to join you in this challenge. I did it with LB  for a whole week and it really helped to have someone else “suffering” along side me for a week. We encouraged each other to keep going and shared our frustrations and discoveries. It was a powerful week!   

Talk to your friends and family. Ask your parents or siblings about what you loved doing as a child. There may be a favourite toy, hobby or something you always wanted to do as a kid, but may have forgotten about. Is there something you always talk about wanting to do but have never done? Something you talk passionately about? Something you would never dream of doing, though you secretly want to? A club you were a part of in high school or university that you talk about non-stop even though it was years ago? Finding out the impression you leave on the people closest to you through what you say and what you share with them can help you figure out what you should try out, or discover what you’ve been denying yourself. 

If you have your own tips and tricks, things that helped you find a life of creativity, please share them below! If you try out any of the things I recommend, please let me know how they go! You can become the artist you want to be and live a life you love. Good luck! 🙂


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!

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TUNESDAY: “Money” by That Poppy

My friend sent me a facebook message: “Have you heard about Poppy? I have a feeling you would like her. She’s weird.” With accolades like that I had to take a look. A quick google search led me to, not her own videos, but instead page after page of “Youtube Conspiracy Theory” videos analyzing the pastel creepiness that is Poppy. I do love things creepy and weird, but this does seem a little too forced. Not enough story? I’m not sure. I do admire her dedication to the narrative, speaking in third person in all her interviews and what not. And her comments on human’s relationships with technology. It might be attention grabbing, but is it enough to maintain our attention? In the end, I admire the attempt at doing something different, putting something odd out there. Good for you, Poppy and her producer overlord Titanic Sinclair. Oh, and Titanic? 100 points to you for having an amazing name.

I want to see behind the scenes of Poppy so bad! I mean, she “reacted” to “Kids react to Poppy” by quoting herself with the same intonation and did not react at all. Her performance deserves applause at the least!

Odd internet presence aside, her music is wonderfully pop-y… geddit?

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

 

“MAKE IT WORK” Mondays: Bringing Leslie Taylor to Life!

Every Monday I want to share with you an element of my artistic process. This weekly segment 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!


In 2015, I went as Princess Carolyne from Bo Jack Horseman for Hallowe’en. It was during this the creation of this costume that I was introduced to Mehron Liquid Makeup.


The coverage and colour was amazing, and once it dried it felt like I had nothing on my skin at all! I was hooked! My only goal for Hallowe’en 2016 became “pick a costume that required me to do awesome face paint”. Challenge accepted. I saw these gorgeous bellydancing wings online, bought them on a whim and decided I was going to be a, for lack of better word, “bird of paradise.” I went out and bought all of the primary colours of face paint, and this was the result: 

One part terrifying monster, one part beautiful work of art!

I knew I wanted to bring more face paint into my life. Enter Leslie Taylor. Remember my pink and red design from last week? I waited until I had the apartment all to myself and I stole away into the bathroom and got to work. I may or may not have spilled a lot of the red face paint on a pair of leggings and the floor, but that is neither here nor there.

As Gene Wilder would say, “It’s ALIVE!!!”

I am so happy with how it came out!

My next steps are:

1) Get royal blue contacts. This might be a problem since I need contacts to see, but when I’m rich and famous I can afford cosmetic prescription contact lenses, n’est pa?

2) Get a wig. In my design she has a YELLOW wig, shoulder length, with bangs. Is that the best fit with the neon jacket?

3) Face paint brings with it a new logistical issue. It is time consuming, uses expensive materials, and tends to stain my skin. If I still want to use it, I’m going to have to get strategic with my filming. The best plan would be to write as many scripts as I can and film them all in one go. Is that a sound plan?


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!

WEEKLY UPDATE: Daily Drawing Review and Homemade Ginger Beer! June 10th to June 16th

The 30 minute drawing challenge continues this week, with varying levels of success. Some, like this first one of an old country home, I really am proud of. I can’t believe I squeezed that much detail into 30 minutes. The strangest thing has been happening: I’ve been finishing my drawings before the 30 minutes are up! Then I find myself staring at the screen going “What should I add?”

June 10: I’ve been listening to Neil Young, Roy Orbison and Willie Nelson today. Does it show?
June 11: Rock Robbin. I had the opportunity to see “Drift Seeds,” a very cool piece of community theatre. The costume and prop design was amazing! Simple and innovative. Bravo @reddressproductions!
June 12: Summer just arrived and already it’s too damn hot!
June 13: Sorry mom, things got a little weird during the last 30 minutes. I blame the drag queens. I may or may not have been watching a lot of “UNHhhh” with @katya_zamo and @trixiemattel, Debrah.
June 14: Today I decided to paint… my face!
Do you like the face paint better in full colour, or in black and white? I can’t decide!
June 15: Get a load of this guy! He’s a star!
June 16: Porch sitting in St Catharines.

 

How have you been this week, dear reader?

This past week, I’ve been brewing my own ginger beer… actual alcoholic ginger beer! I followed this recipe, hunted down some organic ginger so that the pesticides wouldn’t kill the fermentation, and created my own little ginger bug. It was really easy and didn’t take too long. The five day fermenting time passed quickly. Yesterday I brewed the actual beer with the ginger bug and filled up a few bottles to sit. Tastes pretty good, a little too much like molasses for my taste, but I’ve only had a small glass and my cheeks are starting to feel a little numb. Looks like there is some alcohol in there after all! I’d like to make my own Ale soon.

My online course is taking up more time than I would like, and it’s more of an annoying obligation than an engaging education experience. Fortunately, the course ends next week. Unfortunately, my summer vacation ends next week too. I’ve got quite the to-do list for the next seven days: I graduate from my Masters program next week; LB graduates next week as well; I need to work on my lesson plans for camp and submit a final assignment. It’s going to be a busy week and then work starts the week after. I’m going to have to work extra hard to find time for my art, but considering it is what I enjoy spending my time on the most, I’m not too concerned.

The play took place inside the courtyard of a school. The weather was warm, the breeze was cool, and the lush green trees created a beautiful setting!

LB and I saw the coolest piece of community theatre I’ve ever seen. It was called “Drift Seeds: a poetic parody for people living in absurd times” and it was put on by Red Dress Productions. The puppetry and costume design was amazing. It’s simplicity highlighted how ingenious it was!

Rock Robin surveying his domain. I love the simple tailcoat and the slicked back grey hair. I should have guessed from the pursed lips that Rock Robin would turn out to be a Trump parody, but I was too dazzled by his costume.

Puppets were everywhere in Drift Seeds!

The Birdwatcher, a puppet that took four or five people to control, was truly a scary sight. It was a windy day when we saw the play, so it’s wings were very intimidating, flapping with much dramatic effect
Whoever designed the masks for this production deserves an award. The birds were beautiful!

People performed private little puppet shows adding context to what was going on. These little birds bicker about carrying the coffin of Rock Robin around and debate taking a look inside.

This puppet theatre was so cool, and the little birds were just made out of styrofoam balls! They even had a little string that was used to lift the lid of the coffin.

There were also puppet shows which included masks! I just love how the puppet theatre was designed to sit on top of the actor’s shoulders, with a little opening for other stick puppets to enter from the side. 

WEEKLY MEDIA ROUND UP

What am I watching? (in five words of less)

  1. UNHhhh w/ Trixie Mattel & Katya Zamolodchikova
    “Yaas Queen give me more!”
  2. Silicon Valley
    “Come for Jared. Stay for Jared.”
  3. Real Time with Bill Maher
    “Please be informative, not selfish!”
  4. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
    “Please be informative, not ‘funny'”
  5. Oh, Hello on Broadway
    “Funny jokes for theatre kids”
  6. The Eric Andre Show  
    “11 minutes of insanity”


What am I reading? (in five words or less)

  1. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
    “Sad life for little birds”
  2. The Four Agreement Companion by Don Miguel Ruiz
    “Way harder than it looks”
  3. I Hope I screw This Up: How falling in Love with your Fears can change the world  by Kyle Cease
    “Nice, but not for me,” or “Fluffy book, but good concept.”  
  4. Wendy by Walter Scott
    “Edgy Montreal art scene comic,” or “glad I’m not a partier!” 
  5. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud
    “So informative. Comic making bible!”
  6. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do by Sarah Knight
    “Fucks given = minimalism, intentional living”

That’s all for my week! I’m off to the local strawberry festival to enjoy some fresh local berries and ukulele orchestras with my folks. Have a great week everyone!


*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!

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!