Category Archives: Artist

The Artists Life – Getting Paid to Exist

Liberation Artist Conversation – Jonathan Mead Revisited

LiberationArtist JonathanMead Liberation Artist Conversation   Jonathan Mead Revisited

I’m excited to bring you another conversation with Liberation Artist Jonathan Mead.  Jonathan is a liberation badass.  This year he quit his real job and moved into coaching and writing full time.

I had the opportunity to first speak with Jonathan back in the spring and you can find that interview here.

There’s been a lot of change and growth since then and in this conversation we talk about our own personal growth both personally and on a more business level.  We’re not just talking about this online world either – we explore how we each explain the juncture of the personal development online community and the social worlds we inhabit offline, how we help to enrich the world and communities around us, and inspire others to go out and create change in the world.

Reverse-engineering motivations, how life coaching changes both the coach and the client, and why he’s been holed up in a cave (i.e. desk) for a month.

Listen to it here (Donald Trump apprentices need not apply):

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Jonathan Mead is the author of the Zero Hour Workweek and Reclaim Your Dreams.  He’s a regular contributor to Zen Habits.  Runs the Black Sheep Project with Jared Kessler.  Is the Lead Ass-Kicker for Project Mojave.  And is ready to launch his own e-course on how to Get Paid to Exist – an indepth examination about how to turn your passion and skill into a saleable skill.

Excuse the breathing into the microphone – I sound like I’ve got a respiratory disorder.

An Interview with Cath Duncan – The Bottom-line Bookclub

 An Interview with Cath Duncan   The Bottom line Bookclub

Cath Duncan – Life Coach & Location Independent Professional

And all around awesome person.

I had the opportunity to meet Cath in Denver for lunch when she was traveling through the U.S. for a month with her husband.  We had a great time and snapped the above photo.  It really goes to show how you can develop strong connections with people across the globe that resonate with your lifestyle through social networking, blogging and more.

I interviewed Cath last week about her entry into the world of Location Independent living and her Bottom-line Bookclub series.

She shares some fantastic stories about her transition into location independent living and the online world as a complete newbie and the challenges it presented her with.  Her ability to understand problems and how to ask smart and open questions really provides insights into how we should approach the difficulties in our life.

She also delves into how our perspective influences the options we see in our lives and how, once we change our way of viewing the world, we open up to the opportunities that were there before us but we failed to acknowledge.  Removing the blinders enables us to focus in a whole different manner.

Please enjoy this interview with Cath Duncan.

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The Bottom-line Bookclub

BLBC banner7 An Interview with Cath Duncan   The Bottom line BookclubHer Bottom-line Bookclub series takes one personal development book each month and breaks it down into its core ideas.  It’s easy to skim over books and material and fail to put that knowledge into action, instead the Bottom-line series gives you a workbook with exercises meant to guide you through the growth process.

This month the book was The Flipside by Adam Jackson.  The Bookclub also includes interviews with the authors, a social network to collaborate with other members, and daily tips.

Get a free copy of last months Bottom-line book – Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim – by giving Cath your feedback just by filling out this survey.

Disclaimer: This post does include affiliate links for the Bottom-line Bookclub and by helping to spread the word I’ll earn a percentage on any sales made here.  I don’t endorse many products here at Slacker Reform but Cath’s Bookclub is an excellent program and if you enjoyed the interview and filled out the survey (do it, it’s free!) and still want in on the Bookclub please use one of my links and throw a few bucks my way.

How To Get Kicked Out of Canada

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And Why It Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

I don’t tell this story all that often but it’s probably the biggest story in my life (so far).

Back in the fall of 2007 I was a student in Montreal, living with the woman I thought I would marry. I was a teacher and artistic director for a great dance studio, a barista at a local cafe.  I was applying to a graduate program in Educational Technology.  I did yoga and pilates regularly, and trained in capoeira when I wasn’t teaching or social dancing at night.  All things seemed to be on their merry conventional way in my life.

Cups of tea were plentiful and there were no jarring questions to shake my existence.

Fast forward to a Sunday night on a return trip from Albany, NY with my girlfriend.  We arrived at the border station at 10pm.  The guard checked our passports and said we needed to go inside.  I’d been through the border so many times it didn’t bother me.  Inside we waited. They called my name.  Took my documentation.  Asked a few standard questions, told me to sit down.

They called me back up and asked prying questions about my studies.  Something was wrong.  After the long weekend, driving, being generally exhausted, and now confused I started to panic.  I was called into a back room.  Small, gray, windowless.  A desk and two chairs.  A Quebecois border guard came in with a stack of documents and a yellow legal pad.  She did not look friendly.

Apparently they believed I had purposefully lied about my visa and study situation.  My old visa for prior undergraduate work had expired but no one had removed it.  Assuming I was studying on an expired visa and with no alternate paperwork with me to back my story up, I was out of luck.  She accused me of lying.  Badgered me.  Said I was taking advantage of their system.  It was probably after midnight by now but there were no clocks.  I was horrified.

She read a passage from the immigration law book, quoting the law I had supposedly broken.  Then two more.  The punishment, exclusion from Canada for a year.  Oh it could be much worse, I could be deported for life she said.  As if just a year was a kindness.  She handed me the card for the Consulate Generale in NYC and said that I could appeal it there but that I had no chance.  Obviously she was steadfast in her belief that her decision was law.

I was crushed, crying and really in no right space to think.  Really at a border you have no power.  But it got better.  I couldn’t just turn around.  They had to drive me back to the U.S. border.  I was locked in the back of an SUV and driven to the U.S. where they brought me inside for more paperwork.  Even the U.S. borderguards gave me crap.  Like I was in any state to receive more insult.

It was 1am.

I called my parents when I was back in the car with my girlfriend.  They say in books that people choke out words and they are right.  I had my life torn out from under me.  In 3 hours.

Life changes that fast.

Eight months later, thousands of dollars in travel expenses, lawyer fees, and immigration fees and the expulsion order was overturned as a misunderstanding.

That’s right, a misunderstanding.

In the meantime I had racked up credit card debt, moved to NYC, gotten a real job where I worked 40 to 60 hour weeks, and watched let my relationship fall apart.  3 hours and a misunderstanding had destroyed my idyllic Montreal life.

Life as we know it hangs on the edge.

Now you ask, how can that experience be one of the best things to happen to me?

Tragedy, despair, displacement, loss.  All of these things have something to teach us about ourselves, how we walk in the world and treat the things we care about.

Those 8 months weren’t the end of how low I would sink.  I turned to drinking, women, traveling and dancing to fill the voids in my life.  I ended up hurting friends, driving myself further into debt, and the tale goes on.

In all the pain and tragedy I ended up causing and feeling, I found the part of me that was strong enough to stand up, smile and make my way in the world.  It took me almost a year to sort out the layers of guilt, the feeling of powerlessness, and get my head on straight financially.  But for the adversity I withstood in a year, I have gained a strength of character and an understanding of myself that I never would have had if my life had remained idyllic.

So, besides the most obvious thing it taught me (always have a good lawyer versed in immigration laws if you are traveling, studying or working abroad), it taught me more about myself, my potential and my weaknesses, than any other series of events in my life.

Adversity and tragedy holds the potential for our greatest strength to come forward.

When we are stripped bare by loss and pain there are rarely more than 2 roads for us to choose from.

The road of apathy, self-pity, denial, anger.

The road of perseverance, courage and acceptance.

Sometimes only after we follow the first road for a while do we realize that the other road is even there.  Often not far out of reach but we can only see the brambles of self-doubt.  To realize that we can make it to the other road by steps regardless of how small they are is the biggest challenge and hardest step of all.

Each step towards the other road is the beginning of our own road and soon they are one and the same.

Tragedy shatters the reality we took for granted and we can only bury our head in the sand for so long before we suffocate.

It’s time to come up for air.  To breathe in a new life every moment and live to our greatest potential with the courage that tragedy has shown us we possess.

Flickr photo courtesy of Mechanikat.

Are You A Tool or A Voice?

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Tools are indispensible to share your voice.

In the world of gadgets and social media and network it’s easy to mix up the tool with our voice.  Wrapping ourselves up in the tool we forget it is our message, our personal voice that gives value and not the tools we use to broadcast.

For a while I’ve been writing most of my posts in the wordpress editor and if that isn’t quiet enough I use WriteRoom or Typewriter.

Writing on the computer is much faster for me than writing by hand.  Yet that speed sacrifices the care I take with each word that a pen affords.

This is something I’ve noticed before in my interactions with people.  In online chat my hands fling out words and my dialogue appears hectic and scattered.  I come off like an ADD chatterbox.

Offline I speak slower and usually only after sitting back and considering things.  It’s quieter, a little more reserved and more certain.  My speaking voice is more my voice than the 90wpm clatter my hands deal out.

And so, I’ve transitioned to writing my posts, my copy, by hand.

Sometimes our true voice takes more effort.

My effort is in deciphering my hand writing since it is not easily legible (I gave a magnifying glass to my 6th grade teacher along with a paper once).  Yet I’ve found the tools which more clearly carry my voice. A pen and a yellow notepad.

Think about it the next time you carry on a conversation with someone.  Examine the rhythm of your speech, how you pause or ramble a bit.  Which words do you weigh, what do you focus on, what is just filler.

Then examine the tools you use to write, to convey your message.  Do your tools help or hinder your voice?

Your voice is your message.

What are you saying?

Flickr photo courtesy of ForeverDigital.

Are You Afraid of Being the Small Fish in the Pond?

40000271 b29376caf1 b d Are You Afraid of Being the Small Fish in the Pond?

Just because you’re not the biggest fish in the pond doesn’t mean you have to leave the pond.

Trust me; there are always bigger fish, smarter people, more established experts, better dancers, savvier marketers out there.  It doesn’t matter.  They’re not your market.  They’re not your enemies either.  You only have to worry about them if they come after you, and if you’re the small fish in the big pond they probably won’t even notice you.

If they do, remember this: you are younger, more agile, less tied down to history and expectations.  You can get into those tiny niches that they could never go.  Being the small fish in the big pond is better than the big fish in the small pond.  Your potential is vast whereas the big fish has already outgrown the pond.

So don’t feel pressured to hold off your ideas cause it may have been done better or by someone more established because they way you do it, because it is YOU doing it that makes it unique.

My point is this:

don’t let your fear of not being the best hold you back from giving it your best.

Flickr photo courtesy of EssG.

Do We Pretend to Be Lifestyle Rockstars?

43145184 9c437dc091 b d Do We Pretend to Be Lifestyle Rockstars?

We’re a bit of an overachieving community as lifestyle designers.  We want to live exciting, rich, over-the-top travel-the-world in a single suitcase lives.

We can slip into this idea that we’re Lifestyle Rockstars (guitars not included).

Yet we can’t be rockstars all the time.  The interesting rockstars in most fields are honest, down to earth, simple people who just happen to have worked their ass off to get where they are.  Sure they’ve got talent and a bit of flair which separates them from others but is that all?

Surely not.  They believed in their idea when it wasn’t popular, when their friends thought they were crazy and they still struggled to maintain momentum when they woke up everyday.

Believing in yourself when it is only your idea is a hard thing to do, yet when we make it (in some form or another) we should take care not to flaunt our idea as if it were always better than sliced bread.  Despite how awesome your lifestyle is and how many hours you’ve spent designing it and hacking it, there are millions of other people in the world living exceptionally happy lives that are entirely different from our own.

Being a lifestyle designer, liberation artist or vagabond is not necessarily the better life choice, it is merely the most fulfilling for our place in our life at this moment.  The world might come around in the long run to agree with you but you can’t change peoples minds you can only sway those who are already looking for change.

So while you may be a rockstar in your positive thinking, personal development, location independent mind it’s good to take a reality check sometimes and realize that on occasion you’re only playing the air guitar.

How To Find Your Purpose In Life: The Infinite Step Program

58409848 f7110ae9ae b d How To Find Your Purpose In Life: The Infinite Step Program

So often we go through life living the way other people tell us to.

Our parents.  Our teachers.  Our coaches.  Our significant others.  Our friends.  Our bosses.  Our colleagues.

Yet none of these people are us.  Our purpose in life isn’t what other people tell us.  Often times it’s not the things we tell ourselves.

Why?  Because we’ve been conditioned to believe that what other people have told us is really us.

We’ve learned to listen to the buzz and the hype and not our hearts.  We’ve lost touch with ourselves because we’ve blanketed ourselves in the myth of convention and expectation, in the wisdom of the masses.

So how do we find ourselves.  How do we turn off the buzz and the hype and the voices in our heads.

You have to seclude yourself.  Shut off the noise.  Close the blinds.  Throw the phone out the window.  Throw what other people have to say out the window.  Cut yourself loose and bury yourself in silence.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Only in silence can we hear ourselves breathe.  Only in silence can we hear ourselves sing.

So set yourself up without others.  It may take a day, it may take a week of silence.  Cause at first it’s never silent.  At first our heads are filled with the clamor of other peoples voices, they are full of the voices we’ve listened to for years.  Even our own.

Write down everything they say.  Type it out.  Make it into notes.  Collage it.  The goal is to purge them all.  To do so you need to put them into the world.  So they get out of your head.

Then answer this question: what is my purpose in life?

In cosmic terms, it doesn’t matter.  We are small and insignificant in the universe.

In biological terms, it’s to procreate then die.  It’s that simple.

Yet we don’t want it that simple.  We want it to matter more than a simple biological imperative.

Life matters because we live it.  What we do matters because it is all we have.

In perspective knowing that, knowing that you are going to die, that you are insignificant in the world helps to understand your purpose.

It gives you meaning because whether you make a million dollars in your lifetime, bereak a world record, or world work in a mail room it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

So you might as well do what you damn well love.

Now go back to that question.  What’s your purpose in life.

Not your goals.

Not your career.

Your purpose.

Here’s an exercise that I’ve taken from Steve Pavlina:

  1. Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
  2. Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
  3. Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
  4. Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.

You’ll most likely end up using lofty abstract language to describe this.

But that’s okay because:

Fulfilling your purpose is never possible.

It’s not about success in a yes or no check box.

It isn’t a wake-up one day and count to ten and poof you’ve got your purpose.  Finding your purpose isn’t a ten step program, it’s an infinite step program.

Each step is often small.  Minuscule even.  The leaps and bounds that get touted as sparks of genius or inspiration are an accumulation of hours of minuscule steps both forwards and back.  They’re the moment you can put what you’ve been feeling for years into words.

It’s about living as an experience, a process, which aligns with your very beliefs as a person.  With your core self.  With your soul.  Or ego.  Or heart or whatever word you choose to bandy about.  But all the same it is what you would create a revolution about.  It is your purpose.

What is your purpose?  How did you go about finding it?  How long did it take you?

Flickr Photo courtesy of M Kuhn.

Slacker Reform History Round Up

For many of you Slacker Reform is relatively new to you, however it began in earnest back in 2008 as a WordPress hosted blog as personal outlet for my development.  It has since shifted focus into helping create a revolution of Slackers bent on finding their passions and doing what calls to us and not what is assumed by society.

So here is a round up of some of the most popular articles from Slacker Reform’s history and some worth exploring.

Back in November I found this TED talk with IDEOs CEO Tim Brown on Creativity and Play.  While the talk is highly entertaining it is deeply insightful on how adults often stifle the urge to play.  Are we that afraid of being appropriate all the time?

December found me with the urge to play and Play Auditorium, an exceptional game from Cipher Prime, hooked me in with the beta.  It is now out in full release with 70 plus levels blending music, physics and problem solving all in one.

In January I was dancing a lot and an article by Garr Reynolds caught my attention on Wynton Marsalis’s book on how jazz music can be the catalyst for change in your life.  Finding an improvisational form of art which requires a high degree of skill really opens up your personality in ways you wouldn’t expect.

The 3-2-1 Method is more a trick of the mind than a system of productivity.  It’s a way to get over that little mental roadblock that stops you from starting.  I’m no productivity guru and I never want to be but this one definitely helps me keep some of the easy mundane tasks in check.

In February I found myself explaining my vagabond life to people more and more so I wrote the How To: Living Out of a Suitcase 101 guide to help explain it.  While I recently talked about this process in my most recent video blog, this How To is much more detailed on how I went from having a full apartment in Montreal to living out of a suitcase and vagabonding through the U.S.

Thanks to a Christmas gift I took up calligraphy in January and by March I was practicing regularly.  It helped me find peace of mind when I struggled with loneliness and lack of focus.  This is how calligraphy helps me clear my mind.

April was a busier month at Slacker Reform.  I reviewed Jonathan Mead’s e-book Reclaim Your Dreams.  I wrote about making sure It’s Our Time and Our Focus that matters in maintaining momentum.  And I called out three Nonconformists who really stand out: Clay Collins, Chris Guillebeau and Jonathan Mead.  Two of whom I’ve recently interviewed and Chris is on the list to be interviewed soon.

I skipped May entirely.  Actually I told you to Skip Work or School or Life and walk the world a while.  You could even tell your boss (or other authority figure dictating your time) to e-mail me since I gave you permission to say “I Don’t Care [today is for me]“.

And while it is still June, I’ve been videoblogging more consistently and while it’s a new trick for me, Tricks Are For Kids.

If you’ve enjoyed any of these articles please Stumble This.

Who Is Clay Collins And Why He's The Real Deal

If you want to know who Clay Collins really is you should meet him.

If you want a summary of it this is probably the best I’ve found and it’s written by him.

I work for no man. Work is sacred and I’m living out of my imagination. Building something to leave behind when I’m gone.

Clay Collins struck me as someone to pay attention to when I found his blog The Growing Life (now dead) back in the fall.  I was young and uninitiated to the ways of lifestyle design and personal development and Clay’s tone resonated with me in a way that the productivity and life-hacking community didn’t.

I’m still young but I’ve managed to get a few things under my lifestyle design belt and a few of them were inspired by Clay.

Clay isn’t your run-of-the-mill personal development blogger, he’s been there and done that.  He’s a man bent on liberating others from the trap of the monotone world by showing them how to do it – for real.

I got to interview Clay about his mission in life, Project Mojave, the upcoming Project Mojave Conference, his typical day, and he even gives me a little pep talk on my own work in Project Mojave.

Here he shares how he got started into blogging and online business and where that led him.

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For the rest of the interview sign up for the Slacker Revolution Newsletter and get the whole interview.


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 Who Is Clay Collins And Why He's The Real Deal

Also check out the first Liberation Artist interview with Jonathan Mead.

Liberation Artist: An Interview with Jonathan Mead

So, I lied.

I’m giving this interview away without any e-mail list requirement cause I want everyone to hear it.

Jonathan Mead has been taking the lifestyle and personal development community by storm lately and has been recently selected to be the Director of Ass Kicking for Project Mojave.  He recently published the Liberation Revolution manifesto and his own eBook Reclaim Your Dreams.

If you want the latest scoop on what Jonathan is up to, what his role in Project Mojave is and how it differs from other online business creation plans, how he is creating a revolution and the mindset he uses to keep himself plugged in to his mission, give it a listen.

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It was a blast to get to talk to Jonathan and I look forward to more Liberation Artist interviews, sign up for the Newsletter and get them as they come out.

If you liked this interview please Tweet it or StumbleIt.