Build That Thing!

by Patrick McNerthney

As a jet-setting celebrity making millions in endorsements, constantly going to champagne brunches and appearing nightly on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, I tend to look for things to simplify my life.

Okay, I have no endorsements, don’t like champagne and have been banned from contacting Jimmy Kimmel, but I still need to simplify things. Because simplifying things makes life easier.


For example, I use something called a “calendar” to identify and list all of the responsibilities I’m trying to avoid during a given month. Otherwise I’d have post it notes all over the house, all crazy disorganized, which wouldn’t work at all, and I’d forget to come up with an excuse for something I said I’d do but in no way actually want to do, so the next thing you know I’m helping my brother in-law hang his new, super heavy TV.

(Mine is actually on my computer.)

Overall, my calendar system works. It’s broken down by the day, with space below the calendar to loosely pencil-in things coming up for the following month/year/eternity. I have a big event penciled in for 2048, but it’s not confirmed so I can’t tell you about it yet.

However, this quest for calendar-based simplification is fraught with peril, not unlike inviting me to your dinner party. For it seems in modern times I can’t just simply use a Microsoft Word calendar and that’s that. No, since I use Google products I “get” a Google calendar that others insist on using to schedule events, which delightfully pop up on the screen when I’m trying to concentrate on something else (like a vibrant, engaging blog post.) Also, since I use a Mac, the same thing happens with Apple’s iCal app. Now, take these calendars and double the notifications since everything syncs to phone. Of course, I’m not including my wife’s work calendar (Google, Apple and some other one, believe it or not)…and our family calendar…and the white board calendar on our fridge…

(They’re multiplying like bunnies or Tribbles.)

So my attempt at simplifying my schedule by using one calendar generated my involvement with nine, count ‘em nine, calendars. This hardly seems easier.

But as you, the storied reader, already know from last week’s post, a little chaos is a sign that you’re making progress. It may seem counterintuitive, but simplifying our lives is rarely as simple as it sounds, despite what companies who advertise closet organizers tell you. And it turns out simplification has no direct corollary to ease.

That’s why it’s important to think about structure, because how you build something brick by brick is a good indicator of the kind of change you’re seeking to make.

For example, when I think about it, my calendar isn’t really intended to simplify or even organize my life. I built it essentially analog, using Microsoft Word, where no one else has access to it because I use it to filter out the noise and have a quiet space where I understand my goals and responsibilities while separating what I want to do from what I’ve promised to do (ideally they are the same, but you never know.)

The ultimate effect this calendar is intended to have is to transform me from an irresponsible person to a responsible person who sticks to his commitments. It’s an accountability tool and a map. It has very little to do with simplifying my life, and it definitely has nothing to do with ease.

Whew. That took a minute.

So what are the intentions behind the structures you’ve built at work? What changes are they designed to make?

Undoubtedly some of your structures are fashioned to provide a record that you did your job, engaged with bureaucracy to move things along, and got stuff off your desk. Which is normal.

But other structures are intended to create a much bigger impact.

If you work with the elderly or you have elderly loved ones, you’ve likely built programs designed to positively impact their lives. You might have a goal to empower them to learn something new, to improve their health or maybe you want to provide under-served populations the resources they need to do the things they want to do. You might be working on encouraging your elderly to use different parts of their brains to fight off depression and other ailments they’re experiencing due to increased social isolation.

After all, you didn’t get into this business to shuffle papers! You got into it to make an impact and change how those under your care feel. This could be joy, happiness, confidence, hope, pride, self-worth or a host of other positive emotions.

Fine Art Miracles is not built to simplify your life or make things easier. Its architecture is designed to provide you with the resources to make a positive change in the emotional state of your residents through creative expression. It does this by placing programs, from the simplest Art2Go package that includes art supplies for up to 20 people to virtual Music Therapy facilitated by board certified therapists, on a platform that is easy to navigate and encourages personal contact with them. That’s right, Fine Art Miracles actually wants to talk to you about how they can help!

Watercolor paint, brushes, watercolor paper, and a palette. Acrylic painting of a small structure surrounded by multi-colored hills.

We’re on a journey to understand what’s possible in the face of this pandemic.

Please consider art therapy, dance and movement therapy or FAM’s other available services as beautiful ways to construct programs that empower and support those you care for. Fine Art Miracles is here to help you create the change you seek to make, to create that big impact for those you seek to serve, to give you a chance to change how people feel. After all, that’s why you do what you do, right?

I’d better go – I just looked at my calendar and it says it’s time to take a break. Good thing I’m being responsible!


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