“What are you doing?”

By Patrick McNerthney 

Oh man what a terrible question. It makes my blood pressure rise and my body perspire even more than usual. This physiological response harkens back to days of elementary school when the penguin…ah, sorry, nun…who barked this question loomed over my desk, glowering as she examined ample evidence of my inattentiveness sprawled out before me: Bloom County and The Far Side cartoons (when I should have been reading about the history of Washington State.)

Nowadays the same thing happens when I work on hobbies like, oh– writing books or humor essays. Except now the question is barked by my wife or the other guy in my office. Both of whom seemingly want to loom over me to magnify their accusatory tone, but they can’t hope to match the towering disdain of an angry nun -from 1985.

(Ha, ha–try to match this!)

But if you think about it, it is a good question. “What are you doing?” Here are some popular (unfortunate) answers:

  • Feeling regret about unfinished projects and other paused pursuits…
  • Worrying… 
  • Feeling guilty (I know this one well!) for working on hobbies…those unpaid things we do…instead of “earning…” 
  • Oh this one’s my favorite! Living in the world of measurement: That place where we look at others’ jobs/incomes/spouses/houses/cars/whatevers and conclude they’re “doing better” than we are…

Total. Downer. 

And then there are some folks who simply don’t beat themselves up with answers like these. If this is you, consider it a special gift, because many (like me) need a little help flipping this script. The best advice I’ve received to accomplish this Herculean task is to intentionally respond with helpful, rather than hurtful, answers. Say what???? 

Let’s try it out! Here we go: What are you doing?

  • Taking time to reflect on paths chosen over the past few months that led to accomplishments, (no matter the size…)
  • Acknowledging the challenges and distractions overcome, in order to do important work… 
  • Realizing a hobby is a contribution in the form of sharing ideas, leading, connecting, especially when not at work…
  • Seeing how important we are to others…which is the only thing in the world of measurement that matters…

Hmmm…these answers demonstrate real worth

I guess this whole “give more helpful answers” was solid advice after all. I’m glad I shared it with you! Which of course means I’m going to try and inspire some action.

(Get it? It’s a Tiny, But Mighty action figure. No? Ah well…)

What do you need, in order to see your real worth? What do your residents and loved ones need to do the same? What do you need to do now?

Fine Art Miracles (FAM) believes everyone can see their true worth when they’re with folks who have their back. Ahem. That would be FAM! 

FAM knows creative expression – that act of making, beginning, and yes, risking, leads to empowerment, confidence, and connection. Their Art Therapy, Dance and Movement Therapy, Drama therapy, brand-new Drumming & Exercise, and ART2GO packages (Can anyone say Chickadee? January’s featured lesson is Winter Birds!) are beautiful ways for you, the elderly, children with challenges, and anyone needing assistance with daily life to battle loneliness, anxiety, and depression. How? Action Makes Attitude: by doing, we feel important, relevant, valued, and powerful

Now’s your chance to see your own worth and allow those you care for do the same. What are you waiting for? Give us a call or drop us a note, we’re here, and ready to help.  

Oh, and all these years later, if the penguin, ah, nun, asked, “What are you doing?” I’d say, “learning quite a bit about humor, writing, and life from Bloom County and The Far Side.” I doubt that would stop her ruler from rapping my knuckles though….


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