I read a beautiful book a few months ago, a book filled with colorful paintings and soaked to its spine with inspiration. You may have heard of this book – The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. I highly recommend it to any creative wonders who are hesitant about using their creative gifts. This book is a very quick read and can be completed in a day, so you don’t have to spend four months until you “get the lesson.”
The message of the book is that we are able to choose between “Should” and “Must” – Should being what we feel like we need to do and what is expected of us, and Must is our heart’s deepest desire. While I haven’t yet abandoned my Should (working a job that isn’t using my creativity to its fullest potential) to dive into my Must (focusing on my art full-time), I have allowed this message to sink into my mind and slowly grow until it reaches my heart.
With the thought of “Shoulds and Musts” slowly working its way around my mind, I started to realize that it could be applied to my art as well. I mentioned in my last post that I have been feeling a tad bit lost regarding my creativity. It was as if all my illustrations were created to be posted on Instagram and my blog, or they had to be good enough to be turned into an art print to sell one day. And to be honest, these illustrations were starting to feel like Shoulds to me. I should draw this for social media, I should create this for my blog, I should do this to gain more followers, get more likes, and sell some damn artwork already!
I didn’t think it was possible to feel confined within the one thing that made me feel so free, but there it was. Within my creative journey, I was standing at the crossroads of Should and Must.
So in May, I gave myself permission to venture towards Must, to set aside all the things I should do – the things that I thought would drive me towards starting a business – and instead, create from my heart. Even though I felt like I was taking a step back, I gave in to the whimsies of my heart and let myself breathe for once.
Instead of creative tasks piled up to be posted on social media, I took my time and conjured up Thoughtfuls for people in my life. These Thoughtfuls came in the form of little doodles, original illustrations, and carefully picked-out gift parcels to be sent to people dear to me. I took my time because I wanted to put as much care and thought as I possibly could into every ridge of the paper. There was no need to rush, because I didn’t have to post it to the public on this specific day or that particular day.
It was just me and my recipient.
From these moments evolved new illustration experiments that sparked crisp ideas in my mind. I didn’t stumble backwards after all. No, I was taking slow steps forward in an unexpected way. This is my growing process as an artist, and I was able to experience this because I didn’t tie myself down with all the Shoulds.
In April, I had stopped posting on Instagram, didn’t write any blog posts, and basically had to push a giant “pause” button on my Wondershins journey, all because of the overwhelm. Too many things to do, too little time, and of course, too many Shoulds hiding my Musts from view.
In May alone, I have created more than I had in April, but have also gone back to posting consistently on Instagram. And it was all because I stripped away the things I couldn’t face at the moment and limited my focus to what really mattered.
So I decided that my theme for June would be Simplify.
When your life is cluttered, whether physically or mentally, it can be difficult to find the right road to walk towards. Brambles of tasks and tangles of joyless clothes obstruct your path. Cobwebs of junk boxes and fallen trees of anxiety bar you from moving forward. To simplify your life is to remove these obstructions, to give yourself a clear road ahead, and lift the burdens from your shoulders.
It is now mid-June, but I have already begun to simplify my life in May. Even though this is my monthly theme, I know that simplifying my life is a continuous process that will take time. Organizing my closet will not take one day, nor will clearing out my email inbox or sorting through all my photos. But I think it’s important to keep simplicity in mind as I move along, as well as my past themes (priority, small steps, foundation, and connectivity).
I will share more of my findings here (and yes, I aim to blog more consistently, I promise!), including ways to simplify my creative processes, and hopefully you will discover little tids here and tiny bits there that can help you improve your life as well. So much has happened since I took on this new mindset, and for once, I finally feel like I can see my path towards Must.