We weave a myth of identity with our stories. Here are some of Jan’s.

About Jan Elfline

How do you write a life story? I was born … and go from there?

What would anyone want to know about me? Something that would give me credibility? I’d rather have the words and ideas feel credible to you. The source is, to a great extent, irrelevant. But if you clicked here, you want to know something.

I could define my demographic for you, that would be a start.

Geography: Midwest USA, central Illinois, Bloomington-Normal is the closest town, about 10 minutes away. Chicago is the closest major city, a little over 2 hours away.
Age: born in August 1951 in Sterling, IL.
In Chinese, I’m a rabbit.
In the western horoscope, I’m a Leo.
(I don’t know much about what either of those facts mean, but in case you do, there’s the data.)
Height: 5’8” – used to be 5’9” and that’s what is still on my driver’s license.
Weight: Average, is that specific enough?
Married since 1989 to Drake Zimmerman.
Lived since 1996 in the countryside, on 36 acres of land, mostly timber, that came to us with the name Hopewell.

Other than that, I always wanted to teach, and that’s how I made my living before I semi-retired. I first taught art at local art centers, then at the university level, then I got interested in how we could make “art” (by which I mean something pleasing or beautiful or provocative) out of everyday life. That quest led me to coaching. It was a baby field in 1993, but I liked how it supported people through an incremental process of consciously crafting a life, or a career, or a project.

That “life, work, task as art” quest has kept my attention for the last three decades. It takes time and energy to choose consciously, to think deeply. We are often tempted to run with our first thoughts about a particular topic. But over my years teaching young artists I noticed that there were students who jumped to “making” early in their thinking process, and those who were able or willing to stay in the uncomfortable exploring phase until they had an idea that really inspired them. Then they would move to making it.

These latter students weren’t interested in settling for something just because it met the minimum requirements. The “jump to making” students might come to the critique with an immaculately crafted mediocre idea, but it was still a mediocre idea. That’s not good enough when you are making art.

I guess my life goal is to help people realize that thinking time is productive, and it can be a lot of fun.
Enough about me. The thoughts that you evolve from reading these words, or doing an exercise, or watching a video, will make up the exciting next chapters in the story. Enjoy what you find here!

 

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