Should & Must

The Crossroads of Should and Must is an incredibly beautiful, thought provoking and brutally real read on Medium how to live who you are and why it’s so important (and often hard to do). I highly encourage you to read it no matter where you are in your career or your life and let it inspire you, even if you think you know this all already or don’t ever feel you could could.

There are two paths in life: Should and Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And each time, we get to choose….

Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small.

Must is different—there aren’t options and we don’t have a choice.

Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place….

Finding our calling doesn’t mean we need to quit our jobs. And it also doesn’t mean we need to book a one-way ticket to a faraway magical land where there’s no cell service. As someone who did both of those things, I know first hand that it’s easy to pack a small bag, wave goodbye, and push the eject button for a while. But the return, the re-entry phase, can be absolutely brutal.

The harder road, trickier, and more sustainable, is to make shifts every day within our existing reality.


Ira Glass on Storytelling (or fighting for your creativity).

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.

But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile.

You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Ira Glass

The Boss of You

The Boss of You

I’m asked a lot to be in books, to review books, to promote other’s books and 99% of the time I decline. Everyone and their mamma seems to have a book nowadays and from what I’ve seen, a lot seem to just be riding the creative bandwagon which I hopped off long ago.

The thing is, I’m highly creative but I’m also business and it seems that books either address one or the other. Also, a lot of self-employed/creative books geared towards women tend to lack “meat” – they go for making a person feel good with words like “juicy” “blessings” and offer ideas that aren’t appealing to me like pink markers, morning pages, breathing deeply and dancing wildly (ok – I like the last one). For someone like me who is a do-er, I want to be inspired with advice I can actually take from people who not just dish it, but have lived and are living it (I can’t take another self-help guru with a messed-up life promoting how to live and work creatively!).

Bitter much? Yes but I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s a lot of bad books out there. And when you’re starting out you might be tempted to buy them all (I almost did!).

That is why I am so, so, so thankful that Lauren Bacon and Emira Mear’s new book, The Boss of You, is finally available.

Over 5 years ago, Lauren and Emira ran an amazing site called Soap Box Girls which let women talk about what women talk about but also had tid bits on business (they really highlighted women-run business) politics and crafting. It was a great zine ahead of it’s time. I was so in-love with what these women were doing (running their own graphic business on top) that I asked them to be profiled on Another Girl at Play. Lucky for me they said yes and a great friendship started.

It was in this interview that I received the best bit of business advice I’ve ever received: Don’t undersell yourself!. Women undersell themselves on so many levels that to read this from them really, really stuck. And I’ve always asked for what I’m worth and have never settled financially or with projects. That’s thanks to them.

They now run the site “Boss Lady which has lots of great info. It was also the base for their Boss Lady Panel at SXSW last year that I, along with Jenny Hart and Vickie Howell, were able to be a part of. The five of us meshed so well and we offered great advice and stories – some of which are found in The Boss of You.

Whether you’re starting an internet based business, something crafting or a brick a mortar store, this book is something you need – and I don’t say that lightly. It doesn’t talk down to you and it’s not dry. It’s personable with real advice to get you rocking out. Isn’t that what a great book does?

Artist with a Day Job

Image by Summer Pierre

Image by Summer Pierre

I’ve known Summer Pierre for a few years. She was kind enough to be profiled on Another Girl at Play and dish with me on several occasions in both Palo Alto CA & New York. With each visit she’s inspired me and her blog is a never ending visual treat. She’s an amazing, highly creative artist… with a day job.

I once wrote about the highly acclaimed artist Dai Giang who had art showings around the world and sold paintings for thousands of dollars. Yet during the day he worked in the manufacturing plant at Mountain Safety Research – an outdoor gear company. Anything but creative!

Summer shares a lot of thoughts about having a day job (the reasons, the good, the bad, the ugly) that I think everyone can relate to. She’s even made a zine out of it (The Artist in the Office). Why I love these discussions is because I think sometimes some artists feel a sense of “shame” if they have a “day job” or any job that isn’t 100% based on their creativity. But they shouldn’t as long as they’re creating and living the way they want – who cares how it gets done. There is no generic “Right Way.” One way doesn’t make you a real artist. There’s just life and living it the best way for you.

Personally, I’m the most creative when I have a million things going on. If I had nothing to do all day but write and paint I’d do anything but. I believe firmly in the Thoreau quote, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” So because of this, I am on the go a lot, I do a lot of things – some creative, some not. But everything is piece that makes up the larger picture of who I am. Everything I do are things I want to do whether it’s for business or pleasure. This way, despite being tired I’m never drained – and always creating.

The world judges only the outcome but we forget this because we tend to judge the process. We judge the title, the outfit, the company, the paycheque, the right answer, the wrong answer. But really, all that matters is that you do something that satisfies you – whatever and however.

After all, that’s all that should matter, right?

Book Updates

At the conference I kept referring people to my book page for information, only to realise today that it hasn’t been updated in over a year! So, slowly but surely I’m making my way to making additions to the book pageand adding reviews.

But since I keep getting asked what are my top-rated books, I’d offer the following: