“What now?” It’s a phrase we might utter when we’re dealing with too much in our lives and maybe waiting for a let-up after a cascade of troubles, tragedies and grief strike us. It’s also a question we might ask when we are seeking some direction in our lives. We all get stuck.

For those feeling stuck or unraveled by events in their lives, life coaching can provide an avenue for change, growth and self-discovery. It’s different depending on whom you work with, just like therapy.

Through her life coaching practice, 3 Speed Life Coach, Joanna Weston brings a unique hybrid approach to the craft. She literally relies on craft, teaching clients to spin yarn using a device we all may have heard of, but rarely see these days, a drop spindle.

Weston sees spinning as a useful practice on many levels. Clients become adept and develop the skill for its own merit. Spinning can also serve as a contemplative practice, much like mindfulness meditation. It is what you would call active meditation. In addition to getting into that state of flow, you’ve made something: yarn. Yes, there is a third reason. Spinning is a teaching tool that helps her get to the secret, hidden you.

“Mistakes come up,” says the New York native who currently lives outside of Cambridge, Mass. “We use craft as a physical metaphor. What went wrong with their yarn? They may be showing where similar things come up in their lives.” Weston may follow up to find out what you have done with your yarn, but that’s another matter.

Once you have read a few of her blog posts, you will probably come to the conclusion that Weston must have been an English major. You’d be right. As a teen, she aspired to be an author. It is therefore fitting that she employs story, myth and metaphor in her life coaching playbook.

Greek myth, short fiction, and modern fables appear on her site. She weaves these literary allusions and little yarns in with pragmatic advice, offering her spin on navigating life. This sampling gives you a sense of Weston’s imaginative gifts and reveals that she is a fan of that longtime tradition: teaching through instructive narrative. You can almost imagine a hearth.

Seemingly big on lost arts, she evokes the image of a wise woman from earlier times. “Wise woman may be my goal,” she says, “but I’m not there just yet,” she says.

Why spinning? You meet yourself, as the saying goes. “Spinning presents clients with a new challenge. With new tasks, one often experiences how one meets challenges of all kinds,” she says. “You also form new brain pathways. If you’re struggling in your life, it’s likely you need to do something different,” Weston points out. If you’re into knitting or crocheting, then it’s all the better. You can make your own yarn supply.

Weston markets herself as a life coach. Though she may not love the title ‘craft teacher,’ in truth, she seems to be both. Her spinning kit comes in the mail, and she interacts with clients via the Internet or email once they’ve received the materials. Local clients can meet with her face-to-face as well. The number of follow-up sessions and time allotments vary based on what package you sign up for.

There are a lot of crafters out there for whom making things is a way of life. Weston’s practice helps those with all levels of skill. That’s why she has picked something relatively obscure. “A lot of people knit or crochet. This is usually a first for many,” she says.

A graduate of Martha Beck life coach training, Weston relies on Beck’s teachings in her practice, but she also incorporates techniques she has adapted from nature-based training at the Sagefire Institute. You’ll also find a nod to the American frontier spirit, some good old Yankee ingenuity we’re always hearing about, as well as borrowings from the re-wilding movement.

Her client base is mostly GenXers and Millennials, but Weston is certainly open to any age group, and anybody who is interested in her brand of life coaching.  It helps if you are committed to adding spinning to your repertoire. Weston also works with clients who may be in therapy concurrently. It’s notable that she mentions her own struggles with depression on her website. By making herself vulnerable to potential clients, she sets the stage for authentic sharing.

Coming to life coaching in pursuit of a career makeover, she relates how one hard winter when she was struggling with both depression and unemployment, she came upon the site www.crafster.org. She discovered the site arranged craft swaps among registered members. “Partnering up and making things for others helped in so many ways,” she says.

It was a fortuitous experience, which she now credits with helping her develop the foundations for her life coaching practice. After getting a lift from doing these craft swaps, she was later able to get at why it was therapeutic. “You’re interacting with people. You’re feeling useful. You’re taking action and doing things,” she says. That same winter she learned about life coaching. Here was another way she could integrate helping others with the process she had discovered quite by chance on the Internet social media site. It seemed meant to be.

“The Internet connects like-minded people,” Weston remarks. By contrast, the same technology that brings people together, can also strip them of the feeling of usefulness, and connectedness. Our current work culture, she points out, can increase levels of anxiety.

“Many people work in large buildings sitting at a keyboard all day long. That’s doing something, but it’s not quite the same as physically doing something and seeing the results in something you have made. Crafting is something you can do that is more human scaled,” she says. “We have a primal need for accomplishment.”

In her home base outside Cambridge Mass., Weston is setting up a few face-to-face crafting workshops. She’s just begun a bi-monthly crocheting and knitting circle, offered free at the Cambridge Women’s Center. Now she is scouting locations for a few more places where she can coordinate a similar group. She looks forward to simply working alongside others and, of course, using up the copious amounts of yarn she has spun herself.

Those who come to her site will find her do-it-yourself freebie download, Threads of Gratitude. The instructions begin: “Don’t believe me that a string can guide you out of the gray wasteland? Try this exercise and see for yourself.”





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Katherine Relf-Canas

Katherine Relf-Canas splits her time between freelance writing, teaching and other projects. She also volunteers for PSE, an NGO that runs a unique school in Cambodia that serves and supports children and families in poverty. She is now involved with the recently established American Friends of PSE. She has written for blogs and contributed to literary sites and parenting magazines since 1996. Katherine began writing about the healing power of art for this site in 2012, and dedicated the project to her mother, Connie Relf, who worked as an artist and died in 2010.

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