Pushing the EASY button


There’s an ad motif for Staples stores, advising that we can “push the EASY button” by shopping at Staples. I love the general idea of an EASY button, and apply it to my own life and when working with clients, asking: “What would pushing the EASY button look like?” Sometimes “EASY” looks like asking for help or support; sometimes it means arranging for professional services; sometimes it means adjusting expectations or attitude — including adjusting one’s attitude that the situation can or should be easy.

Life’s challenges — those times that make one wish for an EASY button — can trigger anxiety, that voice that says “We’re doomed!” What if we met these anxiety-provoking instances with a sense of doing an experiment, having variables to adjust, making adjustments as needed. Would life seem more easy, more like an adventure, and less affected by worry? We can practice this when we process thoughts and feelings and when we try things that are new experiences.

Teaching felt making, I love seeing how students approach the unknown. Some students dive right in: it’s clear that they are not inhibited by a fear of doing something new.  Other students, no matter how gently I invite them to play with the materials, no matter how reassuringly I tell them it’s OK to use more fiber to figure something out — no matter how generously supplied they are with fiber, they fret.

Anxiety can make you fearful of discovery, can raise the volume of that inner voice that clutters our thoughts: Have I made a bad choice?  Am I ready to try this new endeavor?  What will others think of me?  What if I fail? The word “clutter” relates to the word “clot.” We can see how it gets us stuck.

A sense of adventure is motivated — and liberated — by the desire to get to the other side. I don’t use the word “desire” lightly.  Adventure taps into longing, nurtures the value of exploration, and moves us along toward a deeper quest. We aren’t stuck with cluttered and limited thoughts.

I know that my work as a teacher is going well when I can see a student lose any sense of anxiety and replace worry with adventure.  Other teachers can relate to this:  we can hear and see and sense this shift in a student’s focus.   One cannot learn a new instrument or a new piece of music if one is afraid of playing a wrong note; however, in an environment that values the effort of learning — welcoming the wrong notes as the pathway to the right notes masterfully sounded SOME DAY — creativity is nurtured.  This is called “beginner’s mind,” and is a good framework for happiness and personal growth.

In holistic life coaching, too, we seek to motivate an individual’s quest, by asking illuminating questions.  How liberating, to have dark recesses of thoughts and beliefs become well-lit, and to experience this with steadfast, nonjudgmental support.

One way I am “pushing the EASY button” in my own life is to navigate around the reality that I have ongoing home repairs happening, with no fixed date of completion (because they are weather-dependent) that are affecting my studio and coaching spaces. I started focusing more on offering coaching on-the-phone, and find it so mutually convenient and… EASY. What started as a reaction to a challenge turned into a welcome change. When I stopped lamenting the inconvenience, and saw the potential for developing more of an on-the-phone practice, I felt energized by possibility. I invite you to email me (aspangborn@gmail.com) for more info; or please visit my website at http://www.annpagborn.com or my blog at http://www.WoolyBlissFeltmaking.WordPress.com.  

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Published in: on March 31, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Permission to Create

As a holistic life coach and an artist and art teacher, I love that “AHA!” moment when students and clients claim their own creativity. It’s palpable: they glow. There’s a hum in the atmosphere akin to falling in love. It’s the beautiful process of their re-enchantment with the child-like experience of creativity and play.

Several years ago, an acquaintance asked me how I found the time to create.  This was an accomplished woman who did a lot of entertaining and traveling.  She had several homes and enjoyed decorating and gardening.  She loved to shop, and expressed herself in the way she dressed: colorfully, with lots of sparkly jewelry.

I thought about how creatively she lived her life, with so much expression and zest. Her question stayed with me: How do I find time to create? How did she NOT see her own life as filled with creativity? In my mind, the answer was clear: there is a trade-off, because there are just 24 hours in each day, and if we are giving our time and energy to things other than a focus on art making, we cannot or will not have time for art.  On one level it’s that simple: life is filled with urgent demands and yummy distractions. But it’s also true that there are infinite ways to be creative. The tricky part is finding creative expression that’s authentic and satisfying; being mindful about how one uses one’s time and energy; and paying attention to priorities.

The interaction with this woman happened before I became a holistic life coach. If she asked me that same question today, “How do you find the time to create?” I would be curious to know her perspective on how she spends her time, and could ask questions that would support her exploration. If in fact she feels unfulfilled creatively, despite how expressively lived her life seems to be, that would be such a good opening for discovery. Maybe our conversation would lead her to affirm that in fact she is finding time to create, in her own ways, but that for some reason she’s disparaging her own forms of expression; and therefore a shift in her attitude, rather than in her behavior, would bring her more satisfaction about how she’s using her time and energy. If I felt that a direct question to her question would be appropriate, I might ask: “How do you find time to do the many things you do?”

Each one of us is creating our own life, with every moment.  I’m energized and challenged by seeing every day life as a form of creativity; and via life coaching and art making and art teaching, I love sharing that “AHA!” of falling in love with creativity over and over again.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wooly Bliss!

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Published in: on March 21, 2017 at 12:21 am  Comments (2)  

Small Felted Pockets

IMG_3499These labors-of-love take a while to craft, but the combination of novelty fibers — usually including some yak and alpaca, maybe camel along with merino — plus the simple pleasure of adding embroidered embellishment and some beading; plus the practical uses of the pockets (for business/credit cards, cash, lipsticks, notepads, amulets, antidotes, feathers, magic stones, and other small treasures) add up to some blissful hours in the studio and some sweet items for the shops and my customers.   This photo is of a series I did a while back — they were pretty enough to wear as pendants, and I did attach ribbon to some of them so they could be worn.  As winter softens into spring I am looking forward to fabricating more pockets, adding spring colors and an element of whimsy.   I’ll post images when the current series is completed.

Published in: on March 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment