Hello January! Otherwise known as the Monday of the year.

After the Holidays a collective cloud of “Ugh, back to reality” seems to loom heavily over our heads. It’s time to set New Year’s resolutions and goals. We do this every year, in the hope that it will be a magical year, or that it will be a better year than the one that came before it.

For the last few years my New Year’s outlook has been pretty bleak, but for some reason I feel that this year might be different. It could be because it’s a leap year, or that the number 2020 glides effortlessly off the tongue. It could also be due to 2020 being the year of the Metal Rat.

The Metal Rat is quite auspicious, ushering in new beginnings, rebirth, and finally taking that leap towards your dreams. Rats are associated with material wealth and ingenuity. We can certainly do with a bit of that! If you’d like a little more info on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, check out this cute animated video:


To find your Zodiac animal, and read a bit more about what 2020 may bring, check out this article:



January is my birthday month, and I’ve always been somewhat melancholy during this time, which has a big impact on my productivity. This year I’m not letting the darkness take hold, by diving in and diligently working toward my goals. I’ve designed some handy templates that I use in my own work on a day-to-day basis, which I want to share with you. Hopefully it’ll help you kick-start your New Year as well.

As a little gift from me to you, I’ve put together a one-of-a-kind 2020 calendar that combines some of my favourite words and my own doodles into one; as seen in my Bored Panda posts: https://www.boredpanda.com/author/lisanightshade/

These calendar cards are A5 in size (210 x 148 mm or 8.27 x 5.83 inches) and can be pasted into a diary, journal, on a wall, clipboard, or onto a desk calendar tent.

If you’d like to make a desk tent, check out this easy instructional video from ‘It’s Always Autumn’:


The video makes the calendar tent for a smaller size, however, simply adjust your measurements to that of an A5. Also, using a thicker cardboard or cardstock helps keep things nice and sturdy. A paper clip or clothespin keeps the cards in place.

I’d love to see how you chose to display your calendar, so please let me know with a photo via email or social media.


Download your 2020 Calendar here


To get the most out of a year and avoid burning out halfway through, I found it helpful to keep tabs on my tasks and to plan ahead. I’m not great at journaling, which is why I’ve designed a printable planner to cut out and stick into a little notebook. This way I can stay motivated, and ahead of schedule. You can print out as many as you want to use, or you can cut it up and arrange it to suit your needs.

First on the page is a blank Calendar for you to fill in each month. I designed it to be reused monthly as well as yearly. 

Next up is a Monday to Sunday list of Daily Goals. They can really help to keep you on track. Also included are three reminder tags. Use them as a bookmark or stick them to a wall to remember anything important.

It’s difficult to stay positive all the time, and we need to remind ourselves to practice gratitude to keep the good vibes coming. Write down something you’re grateful for in the Monday to Sunday Gratitude block, and when your day is not going too great, read it again and imagine it filling the space around you. A few deep breaths will be helpful too.

The Top Priorities block can help you prioritize the top three things you want to accomplish for the day, week, month, or year. This helps you keep focused on short-term or even long-term goals.

Finally, I’ve added three blank blocks that you can use for doodling, notes, or jotting down inspirational. This has helped me stay positive and creative and I hope this can help fuel your creativity throughout the year as well. 

Once you download this template, it’s yours to keep, forever. Share it with friends and family or anyone who you think might benefit from something like this. Have fun with it and let me know how it turned out.


Download your planner here


Long before I decided to follow a full-time career in art making, I studied graphic design and acting. Being an introvert didn’t really help me get the best jobs and I ended up taking any job I could find, especially if it gave me flexible hours to pursue acting. I’ve been a receptionist, waitress, restaurant manager, sales person (side note: I totally sucked at this one), corporate theatre actor, script coordinator, cashier, freelancer, voice over artist, background extra, film crew member, and even a secretary. Each of these taught me skills that I’ve been able to apply in my life and my work on a day-to-day basis.

In my spare time I’m always working on easier ways to catalogue my art, working on creative posts in social media, or streamlining my administration. Cataloguing new art is something that has helped me tremendously (thank you secretarial job!) It’s a motivator that can help you see how your art inventory has grown. For me, it has spurred me on to keep it growing. To help me catalogue my body of work, I’ve created a spreadsheet that breaks down the essential information I need to keep tabs on my collection.


You can download a copy of my customizable template here


You can download a copy of the template I use and customize it to your heart’s content. I made it in an older version of Microsoft Excel, so it should be compatible with newer versions as well as similar apps. If you don’t have Excel, you can try these free alternatives:




If you still can’t open the template, simply get in touch with me and I’ll help get you going in no time. 


Commonplace – where inspiration lives


I LOVE browsing through YouTube and Pinterest. Here, I came across something that I’ve been doing subconsciously for years: commonplace writing.

Commonplace writing is a compilation of knowledge from various sources such as books, the internet, life experiences, song lyrics, and so forth into a commonplace book for personal use. A commonplace book is any journal or small booklet used for jotting down anything and everything that inspires you. Sometimes we come across something that we bookmark or scribble down on a scrap of paper, but we often end up forgetting about it entirely. Lewis Carroll, John Milton and many others have used the same technique to incubate their creativity.

I’ve been collecting inspiring quotes and passages from books, images and lyrics for years, but I didn’t know there was an actual term for it. Finding journals or booklets of any size fills me with joy, because each blank page is an opportunity to carry words, thoughts, and ideas on them that can resonate with my soul. My grandmother used to do this. She had many books and old diaries filled with religious quotes, recipes, article clippings, music titles and more. The odd shopping list or candy wrapper would find its way in between the pages, too.

Like my grandmother, I keep my collections of thoughts in random booklets, in trinket boxes, and within the electronic bowels of my hard drive. I have the odd Grimoire or two that’s filled with information on the magical properties of herbs and crystals, my favourite recipes, various spells, incantations, poems, and even a monologue or two.

Unlike an old mage or wizard whose writings are scattered everywhere, I keep everything organized in a rather rudimentary, but hierarchical way: papers and receipts are glued into booklets, booklets go into decorative boxes that are put away for safe keeping either in a closet or under my bed.

Do you have a commonplace book? How do you organize your thoughts and ideas? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.


January Creative Challenge


This month’s Art Challenge is simple: create your own commonplace journal. Gather things that inspire, excite, or move your soul, and put them in their own journal or keepsake box.

To help with this, I’ve made blank notecards that can help you organize everything in a way you want. The goal with this challenge is to fill the notecards with doodles, quotes, lyrics, magazine clippings, or any inspiring ideas that you may have.

Print out as many of the notecards as you need and then bind them, glue them or file them away for safe keeping. You can also reduce the size of these cards into smaller notecards. My approach is to write down inspiring quotes throughout the whole month of January, keeping them in my journal once I’m done.

I’d love to see what you do with yours, so post a photo or video clip of your progress on Instagram or Instagram Stories and use the hashtag #daretomarket. I cannot wait to see your beautiful thoughts!


Download your blank note card here


It’s been seriously hot on my side of the world, and the only way I’m getting through it is by immersing myself in rainy and stormy music online. We’ve had bouts of rain, where I ended up standing barefoot in the gathering puddles mesmerized by the distant rumbling of thunder. Probably not the safest thing to do, but my soul really needed it.

A dream of mine is to live in a place where winter is cold, snowy, and near a forest. Thankfully, I discovered Jonna Jinton on YouTube. If you haven’t seen any of her videos, seriously check it out. Especially this one where she recorded the sound of singing ice. It occurred to me that I have never seen or heard a frozen lake, so this experience is mind-blowing for me:



And, for those of you in the Northern hemisphere, who probably had enough of the long, cold winter, I thought of you too. I’m sending you some sunny and warm vibes:



There is something deeply mystical and healing about the sounds of nature. I find that when life becomes overwhelming, Mother Nature has my back. I can stare out a window for hours, just looking at the little critters bustling about. Of course, night time is my favourite. It’s quiet, cool, and dark. Darkness comforts me. There isn’t a sight I love more than the full moon peeking through the clouds, with crickets in the background, and the occasional night bird or bat.

For some soul-soothing sounds, my go-to app is Relax Melodies.

It relaxes me during migraine attacks, bouts of insomnia and stress. The best thing is that the app is free to download, with lots of free sounds to mix and listen to. The bonus is that you can listen to it offline and it doesn’t have ad interruptions. The paid version unlocks more amazing sounds and even guided meditations.

I’ve been using the free version for a few years now, and it works perfectly. My ​favourite sound combo is the Frogs, Heavy Rain, Night, Rain on Roof and Cat Purring. You can make your own mixes, adjust them and save them, which is really helpful. Check it out if you haven’t already: https://www.relaxmelodies.com/

What are some of your favourite sounds that help you relax and recharge?

And, that brings me to the end of this month’s newsletter.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share with your art-minded friends and family. They can also subscribe to this newsletter on my website:



In next month’s edition I’ll share a business card template with a difference, some budget-friendly DIY’s and a fun leap year art challenge.

Until next month, have a wonderfully productive January!