Fiber and Fitness

Jennifer Appleby is beautiful, graceful and generous of spirit.  Her fingers are nimble and her joyful take on life comes through in her handwork…whether she’s making puppets or Christmas ornaments.

Fiber arts brought her into our world and now she’s offering the world of dance to all of us.  A couple of years ago Jenn brought the hooping craze to Fiber College and we’ve asked her to teach again…all of us could use a bit more stretching and laughing…it makes the colors brighter!

We answered our interview questions:

When I was 16 I thought…I would never meet the man of my dreams; I would be a natural blonde forever; I would move to the city and become a ballerina; and the nickname my theater teacher gave me was insulting (“homespun”). I’ve been happily attached to my husband for almost 20 years; I am no longer a natural blonde; I can’t stand the city; I eventually realized that ballet wasn’t how my body wanted to move; and I am now honored to remember that someone once saw me as “homespun”.

My favorite time of the day is…the golden hour. I love that time when the sun is low in the sky and shadows are deep. Things are edged in gold and the colors are subtle and saturated.

Proudest career moment…My day job as a clinical social worker allows me the opportunity to bring my love of hoop dance to traumatized children living in residential treatment. I am the most proud when I see the process that the kids go through using the medium of movement. We are born loving to move in expressive ways. As we age, the world dictates what our movement should and should not look like. When people are given the chance to move freely, shifts in their emotional, mental and spiritual lives occur. And I am particularly honored when someone who has had physical damage done to them, and is profoundly shut off from their body, trusts me enough as a teacher to explore a fuller range of movement and freedom.  I recently ended a successful six week session and am looking forward to resuming in the fall.

The song/book/movie that changed my life…As a twenty something (twenty something years ago), I was moved by the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was the first time I felt that someone knew what the hell was going on and could explain it to me in a way that was easy enough to digest, and difficult enough to give it some credibility.

Guiltiest pleasure…the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?”. I love the auditions, the cuts, rooting for my favorites……

My favorite item of clothing…My handspun mohaired hoop of course.  I also am quite fond of unique scarves.

I still get nervous when…It might be easier to answer the question: I am not nervous when…..

Daily practice…is essential, particularly for movement or physically oriented goals. Without it, real slippage occurs that can set you back. The difficulty with daily practice is that whatever it is that you are practicing can easily become rote. You lose your ‘beginner’s mind’ and forget to be explorative. You become habituated and that can be deadly to the creative process. It is important to dance the line between discipline and play.

The art tool I couldn’t live without…I think while I’m fond of so many of my art and crafting tools, I could live without any of them as the creative process seems to always find a way to express itself, if not with one tool then with another. I am not an expert in any one medium; but I am usually confident in my vision and in my expression regardless of the vehicle.

Words I live by…“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”

What makes me happy…the people I love; my pets; plants; projects; my hammock; poetry; relaxation; helping others; healthy, tasty food.

The lesson I keep learning…many kinds of strength come from many kinds of surrender.

You can never have too many…pillows. Pillows are an excellent use for relatively small swatches of knitting, fabric, felt, etc. They are friendly and comforting; they provide splashes of color and extravagance.

Favorite spot on the planet…Moosehead Lake. There is a campground at the end of a seven mile logging road that my family has gone to for generations. It is right on the lake and there is a specific pebbled cove that is always bright and windy. The water is pristine and the mountains are in the background. Typically you will see no other humans or signs of civilization. It is really blissful.

Whole living means…not compartmentalizing yourself. It is important that who you are is always who you are, and elements of that person shine through whether you are working or making art, or making friends or washing the dishes. It means giving yourself wholly to every endeavor. It means making authentic connections between your self, your actions, and your beliefs. It is being, regardless of what you are doing.

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