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Where it all began

It's funny how sometimes we expect a big story when we talk about the start of something, but usually, big things happen gradually. The Furniture Art Recovery Program had no name or form when it started. Like a lot of things, it was a thought, a comment and a nudge. Little by little it grew into what it is today, and continues to grow and change as we go along.

I was trying hard to remember exactly the first time Mike said something to me about starting a program, but I know it was in the very beginnings of our flipping journey. Somewhere in 2019, we were busy on a project, still green as could be, learning literally everything the hard way. One of those days, we were sitting together, and he was reflecting on how for him, the sanding and fixing was really helpful. He said it had the potential to keep people off the bar stools, get out of their heads. I will leave that part of the story for him to tell, but that simple conversation was the start. Having the background I do in event planning, program directing etc., I immediately said that it seemed really cool conceptually, but our biggest obstacle was a space.

Life moved on. We kept learning (the hard way) screwing up piece after piece until we finally began getting a little better at it. Somewhere in there, he mentioned it a few more times. I am someone who practices intentional listening. I have learned that to do otherwise isn't truly loving someone, and so after about the third time he said something, I tuned in. I began really thinking through logistics with intentionality, and I began talking through what it could look like with him. We often daydream together, we talk about new things, new places, moving here or there, we look at real estate, we read all about cities and their cost of living ratios. We look at images online, we look at weather patterns, honestly we have moved all over the world together in our minds through these conversations. Seems silly, but it helps keep vision sparking, the daily grind can be tiring and it's an easy way to escape that, but I digress.

Somewhere in there, we talked about it in a new way, with intentionality, we spoke of it as a "when" instead of an "if". We began talking to others about this new idea and looked for ways to make it happen. In our timeline, it was going to be a long while before we were in a position to lease a building or buy something. Meanwhile, we would work on our own projects, learn more (it was getting easier), and dream together.

When Covid changed the world around us, Mike grabbed the opportunity to leave his career, finish his degree and get into the human services field. He took courses over the Summer of 2020 and was working as a Recovery Coach in October that same year. About a year later, I left my job for my own mental health, I was headed for a breakdown, but I will tell that story another time. It was then that we were given our first real potential opportunity. Through the human services agency Mike was working with, we had a chance to pitch our program idea and put it into motion.

It was just under 3 years after we first sat together and talked about the idea that we launched the pilot session of the Furniture A.R.T Recovery program. October of 2022, we had a shop with eager participants looking for an opportunity to work on their recovery and form new connections. Now, we are finishing our 3rd session and are the recipients of the Creative Intersections 2023 Grant getting ready to plan out the next 18 months of collaborations with another non-profit.

We have almost been too busy to realize just how crazy the ride has been...almost. When we talk about the program now, it isn't a dream, it is a mission. We are on mission together to use this art form to help others the way it has already helped us.

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