Identity and Letting Go of Fear of Judgement

A challenge for beginner knitters

I wrote this in 2015 but never posted it. This was written 6 months after having quit my full time job and I was still struggling with figuring out what I wanted to do with myself. I was afraid to move forward with something new (being a knitwear designer) because I thought I would fail while also no longer ‘being me’ as others expected.

I thought I’d share these thoughts here because they may help others who are feeling stuck. The gist here, you are not what you do and don’t let fear of judgement stop you from changing. You can change the things you do and still be you. If you want to try new things, try them!

“When the new-found freedom is freedom from an old pattern, an old way of being, it feels like having lost an identity.”

From Your Courageous Life

This quote really struck a chord with me. 

It took me a long time to quit my full time job as a web designer. I had been fiddling with HTML and CSS since I was 9 years old and then I got my AS degree in Interactive Design. I got an internship while in school and stayed with the awesome group of people I worked with for 8 years. That’s 20 years of being a web designer.

My Identity: dedicated web designer, computer nerd, responsible adult

I started talking to my family about how I was no longer sure about my career maybe 5 years ago. I hated being stuck at my computer and I just wanted to look at some trees. Which is funny, because I’d always identified as a computer nerd (I mean, I could spend 18+ hours at a computer and still not want to leave). But I thought I probably just needed some more vacation or maybe to work freelance (same work, just with more freedom).

I denied that I really wanted to change for a long time. 

I gradually became more and more stressed with my work. I couldn’t handle the deadlines anymore, the tight budgets, the overtime. I didn’t feel like I was really helping anyone, even though I was giving my all and then some. 

I felt like I needed a break and the 4 weeks of vacation a year still didn’t feel like enough. (Yeah, I know, boohoo to me.) So, even though I identified as a ‘responsible adult’ and ‘responsible adults’ don’t just quit their jobs, I did just that.

The plan: Save money. Quit my full time job and travel as much as I could. Illustrate the children’s book John wrote. Continue teaching remotely, part time. Once John (my husband) started school, I’d freelance or start working full time again.

I dove headlong into travel. I think it may have been the day after my last day of work that we got into our car and drove to Texas for our holiday road trip.

And then there was a month or two between our travels where we went nowhere. And I had time to think. And I had absolutely no plans, no schedule, nothing.

And I started to panic. I started to panic because this tiny thought kept entering my head, “I don’t want to be a full time web designer.”

And then…

What am I doing?

Who am I to just stop working full time?

What did I do to deserve this break?

Am I no longer a web designer if I stop actively looking for clients? Is that okay?

What will people think? 

This went on for months. I’m still dealing with it. If there’s one thing my parents taught me, it was self-reliance and to be reliable, and that means having a full-time job or at least the salary that a full-time job provides. It also means that I should be available for what people expect me to be available for – like designing websites.

But I’ve slowly allowed some acceptance in. Does it really matter to anyone else if I’m making 15, 20, 50 thousand dollars a year? Probably not.

Does it matter to anyone else if I’m designing websites all of the time? Probably not. Someone else can take over for me.

I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the thought of being this ridiculous free spirit, without a full time job and without an overpowering identity.

I am not a web designer, I just design websites. I don’t have to live up to this identity forever and that doesn’t make me any less me.

So, how do I feel about this 3 years later? When someone asks me what I do, I give a mishmash of answers that seems to take forever to get out. “I’m a knitwear designer, Twitch streamer,  adjunct instructor of web design and I volunteer at the Center for Birds of Prey”.

(On a side note, I actually hate being asked what I do because I feel like it’s a quick question to a quick over summarization of a person… I need to think of a better question to ask someone, like, “What do you like to do?” instead.)

And instead of thinking about who I might upset or offend with a choice I make, I think about who I can make happier or who I can help!

I think it’s helpful to put yourself in the shoes of others when you’re feeling a fear of judgement. Think about how you think about other people — for me, I tend to give other people a lot of slack, way more than I give myself. And I also don’t think about other people near as much as I think about myself! Which is probably true for all of us, no matter how selfless we think we are. It’s only human nature to be wrapped up in ourselves, we only have our one true point of view.

So, first, realize that others probably aren’t giving you much thought. There’s a little weight off your shoulders.

Then, if you still feel like you’re being judged, remember that people’s thoughts about you are only a reflection of themselves. Like I said, we only have our one true point of view from behind our own eyes and our own minds.

For example, say I’m judging you for going against the grain and quitting your full time job without another job lined up. Deep down, what I’m really thinking is that I would be scared shitless to quit my job and couldn’t imagine doing so. (While also thinking, “Wow, it would be sooo nice to get out of this job!”)

Don’t let someone else’s baggage become yours!

Are you struggling with a life change but are stalling because of the fear of change or judgement? Let me know about it in the comments.

Being Happier & My Happiness Commandments

This post has a bit of introduction so that you can understand why this post about being happy belongs on my mostly knitting-related website. If you want to get down to the meat of the post (about the Happiness Project), jump down here.

I have been interested in the topic of happiness since I was a teenager.  I remember being curious about a book my dad owned, with a little illustrated dude jumping with excitement and “BEING HAPPY” in all caps on the cover. I’m not sure I ever read through the book, but I was always intrigued by the idea that an adult needed help to be happy. I also remember my dad sharing the importance of making life decisions based on happiness rather than social expectations. These were definitely ideas that have had a huge impact on how I live my life.

I didn’t realize until my mid-twenties that happiness was something I could work on, almost like a skill. Until then, happiness had always been something you either had or you didn’t, based on things that happened to you. What changed my thinking? I started going to Buddhist meditation classes. One of the things they taught me was that our emotions and reactions are controllable with practice. So we would meditate on joy and holding the feeling of joy. The more I did it, the more I could just bring up the feeling during a regular day when I needed it. It was really cool!

Working On Being Happy

When my life situation had me feeling anxious on a daily basis, I started reading lots of ‘self-help’ books because meditation wasn’t feeling like quite enough. I’ve learned so many behavior- and mindset-changing tools that I love. So I just keep reading these books, even when I’m feeling great. I think you can always feel better and happier, so it doesn’t hurt to continually work on yourself! Basically, I’ve become geeky about improving myself. 🤓

And my latest read, The Happiness Project, is about the author’s quest to become happier when she was already pretty happy. She had a good life and was generally happy, but she knew she could be happier. She decided to work on it, then wrote a book about her individual process (which she notes will definitely be different for everyone).

Each month, she created resolutions to stick to for different aspects of her life, like organizing and decluttering for January, and working on her marriage in February. She doesn’t claim the book is a “how to” for becoming happier yourself but just a look into how she did it. She found that reading about other people’s happiness projects gave her ideas for her own, therefore, increasing her happiness!

One of my favorite things from the book was the idea of coming up with personal commandments for yourself. You can find hers (and a ton of readers’ in the comments) here. I love the idea of creating this list to remind you of how you want to be and what’s important to you! So I came up with my own, which will hopefully give you some ideas for yourself.

Mandy’s Happiness Commandments

  1. Be Mandy. (I stole this from the book but I am all about authenticity)
  2. Get cozy.
  3. Take time to knit.
  4. Geek out about stuff!
  5. Make eye contact & smile.
  6. Work towards a feeling, not a goal.
  7. Choose freedom.
  8. Money is not evil.
  9. Journey before destination (And I stole this from The Stormlight Archive)
  10. Be playful!
  11. Done is better than perfect.
  12. Everyone is just trying to be happy, cut them slack.
  13. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react.

So what are your personal commandments? What are things you tend to forget but when you don’t, lead to a happier or more calm life? I’d love to hear yours in the comments, even if you can only think of one right now.

Get out of a creative slump

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.' - Vincent van Gogh

You’re slogging through life when you realize you haven’t made anything for months. You’re in a creative slump. Haven’t picked up your needles, a pencil, a paintbrush… whatever tools you use for your usual choice of creation. Or maybe you’ve been picking up that pencil, but nothing happens. You knit for like 5 minutes a day but just feel bored or discouraged.

Something is holding you back but you have no idea what. You lost the spark for your craft.

I’ve been feeling that kind of creative slump lately. (Could you tell? Seeing as how I haven’t updated this blog since April.)

A few weeks ago, on a day where I was trying to pep-talk myself into working harder on my next knitting pattern, my sister called me to ask for a new website for her new business as a life coach. We decided to trade services instead of paying each other in money. Three weeks into working with her, I’ve gone from feeling like a creative failure to a rockstar.

Hello kitty
Playing with paint and shading techniques

So what happened?

In our sessions, we talk about goals, what I need to do to achieve them, why I want to achieve them, what might hold me back from achieving them and what I can do about that. Because creativity is such a big part of my identity and is tied directly to my being able to successfully create more than one knitting pattern in my entire life, that’s where we have been focusing.

I had been dragging my feet while trying to finish up my latest pattern. I used to write a lot but I hadn’t had an idea for a blog post in forever. And drawing and painting – lawl. What are those? I had actually given up that part of my identity in my head.

I realized my problem wasn’t only with being in a creative slump when it came to knitting, it was an issue in all aspects of my creativity. The solution I decided to test out was to just start creating for the sake of creation. I figured I could make a “creativity habit” to get my brain to start thinking creatively every day.

Wish fulfilling jewel
Painted to remind myself to be mindful and compassionate

But what was the block? Why wasn’t I just doing all of the things I loved to do, like knitting, painting and writing?

Stories we tell ourselves

Our actions are often based on the stories we tell ourselves. Stories about who we are and the world around us. They can stop us from doing the things we want to do and from becoming who we want to be. By identifying these stories, we can start to notice when they’re holding us back and work to change them.

What are some of the stories that hold me back?

  • I tell myself that I’m not a productive member of society if I’m just playing around and creating things for the sake of creating.
  • I tell myself that the only things worth doing create something useful. This is probably the reason I began crocheting and knitting in the first place.
  • I tell myself I can no longer draw or paint, so there’s no reason to waste the money on materials.
  • I tell myself that creating for the joy of it should only be done as a reward after doing ‘real work’.
Intuitive painting
More intuitive painting on days I just didn’t know what to paint

The plan to get out of my creative slump

I would get up an hour early (I’m a morning person), get to my easel and paint whatever came to mind for an hour.

I imagined what it would be like to stand in front of the canvas, how it would feel when I was done and got totally psyched about that feeling. Initially, I imagined I would just paint a bunch of strokes on the canvas with no end goal, mostly because I was still afraid I ‘couldn’t paint’. It was something I hadn’t done for a long time, so there was an excitement to it, but also an old comfort. I imagined I would feel like I was coming back to myself.

Before starting, I worked through a few issues I had with painting – like wasting materials on a crappy painting. “If I enjoy myself, it’s not a waste. I can always paint over it.”

I was also just afraid to create a bad painting in general – what if someone saw it? “So, what if someone did? What would happen? The world wouldn’t end and I still would feel good knowing I at least showed up.”

If only masters of a craft practiced the craft… well, there would be no masters to begin with.

Intuitive painting
Toxic waste? Or intuitive painting? 🙂

I have been showing up for the past three weeks. I have started 5 paintings (some good, some not so good), miniatures (nerdy and creative), and bought supplies to dye yarn because playing with colors on canvas made me realize I would really love playing with colors on yarn. I started following whatever got me excited, or to steal a line from Tara Swiger, I was ‘exploring my enthusiasm’. Oh, and also, my pattern is ready for tech editing.

Painting every day helped me feel like I was getting back to my old creative self – the teenager who would draw and paint because she wanted to, not worried about whether she was being productive or not. And that feeling gave me a spark of energy I hadn’t had in a while.

Half-finished painting of trees
Not quite done

So what can you do if you’re feeling not-so-creative?

First, identify your stories.

What are you telling yourself either consciously or subconsciously that is stopping you from practicing your craft or being fully invested in it? Pay attention to your thoughts for a few days and see what comes up.

Create counter-stories

Once you’ve identified them, come up with some counter-stories for each one.

For example, for my first story, “I’m not a productive member of society if I’m just playing around and creating things for the sake of creating“, I have created a counter-story:

“I value art for art’s sake. I value artists and designers and all they create whether it is practical or just beautiful, so I value my own time to create practical or impractical things.”

I also know that story has something to do with what I think others might think of the way I spend my time. So I add a little “eff everyone else” to the end of that story. My values, my time. Please don’t waste your time on what you think others think. They probably don’t even care.

Then become aware of when you’re telling yourself these stories so you can actively counter them with your new story. Believe your new story. Repeat it often and let it become your story.

Start acting, pick your craft, pick a time, go for it!

While you’re working on identifying your stories and coming up with counter-stories, start imagining new or old ways you’d like to work on your creativity.

Kate from A Playful Day goes on a walk with her camera to spark her creativity.

Maybe you like to bake, so commit to baking every few days while altering the recipe in some new way. Pick up one of those fancy new coloring books for adults. Watercolor. Try sculpting. If you’re a knitter, maybe challenge yourself to some small, quick knits – hats, chunky scarves, etc…

If nothing comes to mind, what kind of crafts did you do as a kid or teenager because you thought it was fun?

Are there crafts you know nothing about but really want to try? Give yourself permission to buy the materials and get started. Follow your enthusiasm!

Imagine yourself doing this craft, where are you going to do it? How does it feel? What time of day is it?

Is there something that can get in the way of practicing this craft every day and if so, what is it and how can you remove the obstacle. Work out those obstacles and get to it!

But what if I’m still stuck?

Hopefully you just go for it, start creating and feel super awesome about it. But if there’s something still holding you back, start to think about why you want to be creative. Is there an end-goal? Or is it more about being your true self? Really think about it and imagine yourself where you want to be. Get excited about being there and your actions will follow.



Free-Spirited Knitting & Crochet Patterns

Free-spirited knitting and crochet patterns

I sometimes dream of putting on an outfit that brings out my inner hippy. I love the white lace that always seems to be front and center in so many bohemian outfits. It’s also the only style I know of that has so much crochet!

I went on a hunt for knitting and crochet patterns that feel bohemian and free-spirited to me.

Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin (Free!)

How adorable is this?! I want to make 10 of them… but first I need to learn how to braid my hair like that.

Yoga Shawl by Andrea MowryYoga Shawl by Andrea Mowry ($6)

I love Andrea Mowry’s design style. The things she designs are simple in a way that I could imagine wearing all of them with my own, current wardrobe. Like this yoga shawl. Can I just wrap up in it?

Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio ($6, picture of Mamatronic’s project)

This top looks so comfy. I love the way that it’s open and oversized.

Cancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate ArcherCancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate Archer (Free!)

I think I may have gasped when I saw this and then to see that the pattern is free…! I love that this is knitted, as it has a different look than a lot of the boho tops you see (crocheted in white). Super cute, though I couldn’t get away with wearing a crop top.

Bohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya KuzmanBohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya Kuzman ($5)

I can imagine so many different color combinations with this bracelet, or maybe making it a bit smaller using thinner yarn and a smaller crochet hook. Also, sitting at a computer all day, I find hard bracelets to be a bit cumbersome, so a soft bracelet like this seems like it would be rather comfortable.

Den-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora YangDen-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora Yang ($6, picture of Malviina’s project)

Is it a skirt or a poncho? A soncho? A spirt? No… I’m glad Flora didn’t try any of that for this pattern name. This crocheted skirt looks perfect for the beach!

View all of these patterns and more on Ravelry: Free-Spirited Bundle

I’ve put together some extra inspiration on this Pinterest board, not all pointing to patterns, but eye-candy nonetheless! Enjoy!

Follow Mandy’s board Inspiration: Funky, Free-spirited Knitting and Crochet on Pinterest.

**All pattern photos are copyrighted to their original owners. I’m claiming nothing here! 🙂

Making time for making

Felicia’s latest post, Craft as “a little space to collect oneself”, on The Craft Sessions hit me today. I wrote a comment in response, but I realized as I posted it that it probably would have made for a better blog post than a comment.

In a nutshell, her post is about having lost a private, physical space to craft in and how it’s affected her. There are more interruptions to her craft time because she’s out in the open and available. And sometimes she feels guilty about taking craft breaks since everyone can see her taking a break. She’s basically lost all craft time because she lost the privacy.

One of my current WIPs - Granite and Clouds Wrap - with my cute incense holder >^_^<
One of my current WIPs – Granite and Clouds Wrap – with my cute incense holder >^_^<

My circumstances are a bit different than Felicia’s. While I’ve never had a private space for crafting, I do have private time. It’s me that’s holding myself back from taking time out to craft, not someone else. This is what resonated with me from Felicia’s post:

“I may be voicing a universal longing for enough space to breathe and put things in perspective…… More and more we’re challenged and unsettled by it in part because I think we’re more and more addicted to our busyness. ”

— Pico Iyer – Dumbo Feather Issue 46

And Felicia’s feelings of guilt for not filling her time with busy things…

“But thinking about it I’m not even sure the judgement I’m trying to avoid is external. I have the feeling some of it, might be coming from me. My feelings around what I should be doing.”

— Felicia from The Craft Sessions

I have been struggling with this lately. I don’t have a full time job anymore, which clears up so much space. I had hoped to make room for crafting and design as a freelance career, but it seems that I have filled every nook and cranny with my old job (web design), just on a freelance basis. I think I’ve done this because I swear that everyone around me thinks I’m sitting at home just drinking a cup of tea. (They really don’t. If anything, they imagine me doing magic with two wands as I knit up a project, since most people I know don’t know how to knit and think they never could.)


The process of crafting from scratch is slow. Web design is much faster, so I think I’ve filled my time with it as a way to show those around me that I’m being productive. I’ve been saying “Yes” to so many things I don’t even really want to do! I’ve been valuing my worth by how many ‘things’ I’ve accomplished.

As Paco said, I seem to be addicted to how busy I am. Ticking off small, quick items on my to-do list. Forgetting about the bigger goals, like becoming a knitwear designer. (Well, not forgetting… More like anguishing about it while I do other things that aren’t moving me toward my goal.)

I feel like I have to earn my time to craft.

It’s good to consider how well we’re treating ourselves. We’re not robots. To me, life isn’t about how hard we work, it’s about family, friends, compassion, growing, enjoyment…

Knitting needles and crochet hooks in a holder made by Carly
All my knitting needles and crochet hooks, waiting for me in the holder Carly made

How do you give yourself permission to do what you really want to do, even when it doesn’t pay? Even when you already have enough money?

Emma Mitchell touched on this during her interview on A Playful Day. She quit a well-paying, high-power job to craft because it felt better. It’s a great interview, give it a listen!

I’m going to get a little Buddhist here, but I think it has to do with remembering that our human lives are precious. Yes, we need money for food and shelter, but if you’ve got that covered, it may help to remember that you’re lucky to be here, alive, as a human.

In Buddhist views, you could have been born a cat, doomed to nap all day! No thumbs to knit with!

Black kitten
Yes, like Binx here.

The fact that you’re able to craft should be celebrated! Take the time for yourself to do what makes you feel alive. Everyone and everything else can wait 5 minutes. (Or 30!)

Learn, make, repeat… What making means to me

I’m a long-time listener of the A Playful Day podcast. This year, Kate rebranded her podcast and is hoping to create a community that supports makers.

The first episode of this season came with a creative challenge:

What does making mean to YOU? 

Making means a lot of things to me, so I may elaborate with future posts. But for now…

There is making with my hands…

Handspun yarn
Spindle-spun yarn from sheep fleece

And making in a less physical manner (digital design, music, writing, photography).

Succulent flowers
Succulent flowers by the pond I made with a little help from my friends… ♬

I might make something designed by someone else…

Knitting a hat
Lovely Westminster Hat pattern with Blue Sky Alpaca yarn

Or design something myself. (Or try.)

Knitted Cloud
First of a couple of failed attempts at designing a mug cozy

I may make something practical, to be worn or used…

Completed Kelso sweater
I made a flipping SHIRT! With sticks and string!

Or maybe I’ll just make something for the sake of looking pretty.

TARDIS sunset painting
Gotta love those wine & paint nights where you just go off on your own wibbly-wobbly-whim.

There’s also something about doing things the slow way that is extremely satisfying to me. Like the time I collected acorns and simmered them for a day, then roasted them for an hour.

They were alright…

Or picking and shelling pigeon peas for days…

pigeon peas
Pretty pigeon peas!

It seems that people don’t know much about how things are made anymore. Because we don’t need to make from scratch, a lot of us don’t.

Knitting seems like voodoo to some that watch me. Planting a garden and keeping it alive (not even thriving) seems like a major feat (when in reality, I probably visit my garden every other week sometimes and it seems to do quite fine without me). Seeing my friends turn flat fabric into a garment blows my mind. When I realized that I could create yarn with my own two hands from fleece, I was amazed. There is always something to learn and most crafts, even if they seem impossible, are within reach with a bit (or a lot) of practice.

Yes, making is a slow process but it is so satisfying to make something from scratch — mindfully — yourself. To know every step from raw material to end product has made me appreciate the conveniences available to me. Most of all, it teaches me patience.

Read about The Maker’s Challenge

Listen to A Playful Day: Season 1, Episode 1

Inspiring #themakersyear photos on Instagram

Some of my favorite blog posts answering what making means:

Inspiration from Tattoos

Mandy's tattoo

I got my first tattoo last year, but I have been obsessed with them since I was a teenager. I’m currently working on designing a Doctor Who themed sleeve (a tattoo that covers my arm)… I don’t know if you knew I was such a big Whovian.

I thought tattoos would be a good source of inspiration for knitting because tattoos can be so artistic and they’re worn on the skin! You can do a lot more with color and lines using a tattoo needle than you can with knitting needles, but with a little imagination these tattoos can be the start of a great new knitting project! Click through to the board to read some of my ideas for translating these tattoos into great knitting projects.

Follow Mandy’s board Inspiration – Tattoos on Pinterest.

And if you’re interested in tattoos for their own sake (not just as inspiration for your next knitting project), check out my Tattoos Pinterest board with over 300 pins.

Knit Inspiration from Tea Cups

Primary colored knitting swatch

Because I need a bit of inspiration now and again and I know many of you that follow me (knitters, crocheters, designers, and general makers) also like a bit of inspiration, I thought I’d start to post regularly about what’s inspiring me at the moment.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the start of a new swatch for a new design I’m conjuring up (above).

This design was inspired by a cup that my friend Carly painted at one of those paint-your-own-pottery.

Carly Williams Tea Cup
Carly’s Anthro-Inspired Teacup

She was inspired by this Anthropologie teacup:

Anthropologie Tea Cup
Such a cute teacup!


For some reason, the design of the teacup stuck in my head and last week I started charting out what I remembered it to look like in my head. After finding a picture of the teacup, I realized what I remembered was nothing like the teacup except for the primary colors.

It got me wondering what other teacup designs might make for cute colorwork patterns… and I put together this Pinterest board! I hope you find something that inspires your next project!

Follow Mandy’s board Inspiration – Teacup Patterns / Design on Pinterest.

Finding my passion, what a struggle!

What the world needs is people who have come alive.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next move. I mean, not literally, but figuratively – what is the next path I’m going to take?

My thoughts on where to go next have been all over the place in the last six months, from starting my own freelance web design business, to illustrating a children’s book, to becoming a knitwear designer, to starting a farm, to just getting a retail job to be a functioning member of society…

I’ve been searching for advice on finding and living your passion.

I’ve been reading blogs like Tara Swiger’s, where she gives advice on making your personal business as YOU as it can be by following your North Star (basically your most important value). I haven’t taken her courses, but from what I gather, you decide on a value (or a few), write it down, and make all of your decisions based on how they align with that value. I don’t have a business, but I think that concept works perfectly applied to life.

Then I found The Desire Map, a book about making goals based on how you want to feel rather than picking the goals and hoping they get you to the state of mind you want to be in. Similar to Tara Swiger’s North Star, you decide what feelings you value most, write them down so you think about them often, and make all of your decisions based on whether or not they get you closer to those feelings.

And yesterday, I found this book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion*, bought it and read the entire thing by the end of the day.

(*These are affiliate links, so I get a tiny portion of the sale if you buy the book from Amazon. Which you should, ’cause it’s awesome, but I’m just letting you know.)

This book is written by Elle Luna, an artist who decided to follow her calling to paint rather than what she (and/or others) thought she ‘Should’ do.

The gist: every day we can choose to do what we Should do (pressures from society and other people) and what we Must do (the thing that we really love to do, that we were born to do).

Out of all of the books and blogs I’ve found on the topic of finding your passion, this one has spoken to me the loudest and I think because it has no “how to make money from your passion” angle. Elle’s stance on it seems to be you either follow your passion or you don’t – it can be on the weekends, 10 minutes a day, or you can quit your day job and spend all day doing it. If it’s truly your passion, you not only won’t mind carving out 10 minutes a day for it, you won’t be able NOT to.

She covers how to get around road blocks you might think you have: money, time, space.

As well as how to become aware of what your Shoulds are, where they came from and why you think you need to do them (so you can stop being a slave to them). This is something I’ve slowly started to do on my own in the past 6 months as I’ve become aware of these things — like realizing that a functioning member of society isn’t necessarily someone who makes money, having a job in itself does not add to your own value, or that things you do outside of making money can add to the world immensely.

She also gives some tips to inspire you to figure out what your Must is, if you don’t know what it is yet.

I started setting up a little corner in my office for figuring this out. I did a few little watercolor paintings, then wrote four feelings I want to strive for (based on the Desire Map).

Watercolors on a desk
My messy desk
Wall with watercolors
Where I’ve set up my space dedicated to figuring out my Must – the tiny wall space between my closet doors
Watercolor painting
Kind & Adventurous
Watercolor paintings on a wall
Earthy & Mindful

And set up little spaces for the following things:

  • Things you loved as a kid
  • Activities that give you the chills
  • Crazy, wild fantasies & dreams
  • One day exploration activities (If you had one day to pursue an idea, project or activity, what are the first three that come to mind?)
  • Things you do when you’re procrastinating
  • Things you do just for fun
  • Sights, smells, sounds or sensations that give you butterflies in your stomach
  • New skills to acquire (she recommends one/month)

And I’ve actually heard about this one before, but she also suggests you write your own obituaries – one written based on where you’re headed now and one written based on how you want your life to go.

Then you post all of this up somewhere and start looking for the patterns. You’ll find that you gravitate toward certain activities and things, towards group activities or solitary… Maybe you tend to stay inside when you’re doing things you love or you just have to be outside to feel ‘right’. Keep opening yourself up to new things and see where they connect with what you already love. Eventually, you’ll find your Must.

If I actually figure this out, I’m sure you’ll hear about it! I have a feeling it’ll have something to do with animals and making things. You know, like a farm and yarn. 🙂 But I’m keeping an open mind because maybe it’s painting, like I spent the morning doing:

Abstract watercolor painting

Watercolor painting of sheep
Bah-ram-ewe, sheep be cute!

If you’re still trying to figure yourself out, I suggest you give the book a read — buy it*, check it out from the library or watch the video below. I’m always hopeful that everyone will find their calling and follow it. A world full of self-realized people who do what they love seems like a world lacking in judgement and full of positivity. Strive high!

Webstock ’15: Elle Luna – The Crossroads of Should and Must from Webstock on Vimeo.