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Must or Lust: The Battle of Having to versus Wanting to

You know what’s funny? As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get home from school and dive into a carefree evening of watching TV. But reality had other plans. First homework. The thing I had to do — ugh!

Now it’s 2023. When I wake up in the morning, I’m like, “Here we go again. The daily grind!” I’ve got a whole checklist of things I have to do just to get to what I really want to do. First, I force myself to work out — which sometimes feels like an obligation rather than a fun activity.

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When it comes to teaching art? That’s a different story — I genuinely want to do that! And creating art? That’s the one thing I mostly, absolutely, totally want to do. It’s my jam, my passion, my soul’s delight.

Teaching to a group in Chicago, IL. 2019

In 1979, I had a dream of going to art school, but my parents shut that idea down. Instead, I ended up enrolling in pharmacy school. Why? My dad was a pharmacist, and that was considered a more esteemed career (good salary) than being an artist (starving). Guess how that turned out? It was a big fat flop! I just didn’t want it, plain and simple.

My dad’s pharmacy. Chicago, IL. 1956

Fast forward to 2015 and me in my 50s. I went back to school to finish my art degree (all while being a single mom and holding down a job). Exhausting? Hell yes! But I wanted it so badly that nothing else mattered. And I achieved it. That feeling of accomplishment was sweeter than a triple-layer chocolate cake!

Me at graduation. 2016

Now, let’s talk about those days when you have to do something, but you’d rather be anywhere else doing something fun. Cleaning the house or going on a diet, anyone? Yeah, those are the days when motivation totally disappears. People say, “The reward will be a clean house.” or “You’ll feel and look better with that diet.” But hey, here’s the deal, YOU HAVE TO WANT IT! Otherwise, it’s just a tedious chore (and you have zero motivation to tackle). And as far as dieting, I presently have to hire someone to knock food out of my hands (that’s the only way that’s gonna happen).

Ever had those moments when you’re like, “Ugh, I have to write this blog tonight.”, and then it morphs into “Darn it, I have to write.”, and before you know it you’re saying, “I’ll blog next week!”. Instead, you grab a glass of wine and plop down in front of the TV.

I’ve learned a little trick to stay focused —I’ve created a reward system in my mind. Finish all the must-dos, and then you get to do the want-tos! These days, my reward is escaping to my art studio to unleash my creativity.

Me painting. 2020

Life’s a constant dance between the must-dos and the want-tos. But you know what I say? Embrace the challenge and put on your armor. Go out and slay the day — eat those frogs! A glass of wine might sound perfect while I’m painting (the want). Let’s face it, some days I gotta clean the studio first, or it’s gonna look like a colorful tornado hit the place (the reality).

What’s that one thing you wanted to do so badly that you were ready to bulldoze anything in your path to get there?

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