Jarvis and Jenkins ~ An Artist’s Perfect Pair

In a world filled with questions about the creative process, professional photographer and Creative Live founder Chase Jarvis has a few answers. In an intriguing blog entry titled “There are No Excuses,” Jarvis reveals his sensitivity to creative angst:

I’ve heard you say that there’s nothing to take a picture of. I’ve heard you say you don’t know what to make, when to make it, how to make it, what to do.
I’ve heard you say that you don’t know how to get your work “out there.” I’ve heard you say that you don’t know what to put on your blog. I’ve heard. I’ve heard. I’ve heard. And I promise you, I, too, have said all these things.

Then, he reminds his readers that such questions are rooted in an earlier time: a time when artists required permission from others for their work to be seen. Permission came in the form of being hired to shoot a news story, to write a magazine feature, or produce a graphic layout for a business.

“They” sat up in fancy corner offices and if you were good  — no, scratch that, good and lucky — they would say “yes,” and then you’d be permitted to share your work with the world. 
Not any more. It’s the first time in the history of the world that you can share your work without anyone’s permission. What are you waiting for? Spend your own time and your own money. Then hit post;  publish; share; send; or whatever makes the software push it out into the world.
Chase Jarvis, on the road to Creativity

According to Jarvis, the emerging paradigm for artists of every sort can be summed up with elegant simplicity.

First, create  something: a photo, a video, a poem, or a painting. For that matter, you might create an app, a business model, or a bit of computer software. In a separate post titled “Thirteen Things Crucial for Success (In Any Field),” he adds:

Over-thinking, pontificating, and wondering are tools for the slacker. People don’t care what almost happened, or what your problems are, or why something wasn’t. They care about what is, and what will be.
That requires actually making stuff happen. Pros do. They  create and deliver.  Amateurs sit around and wonder — or worse, scratch their arse.

Next, share  what’s been created.  Send it to an editor or submit it to a jury if you like, but don’t limit yourself to such traditional means. Post it on a website or blog. Tweet the link. Link on Facebook. Find editors and publishers who accept online submissions, and email it.

Finally, sustain yourself. Keep a day job until you can quit your day job and devote yourself full time to your art, or keep your day job and continue creating and sharing for the pure pleasure of it all — especially the pleasure of not requiring permission from anyone.

Some decades before Jarvis offered his “create, share, and sustain” paradigm to the world, Florence Foster Jenkins, whose life and remarkable talents became the basis for the eponymous film starring Meryl Streep, was living out that paradigm.

Born into a wealthy Pennsylvania family in 1868, she showed an early interest in music. A successful concert pianist in her youth, she performed at the White House during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes.

A young Florence Foster Jenkins 

Despite her success, hopes for a musical career were discouraged by her parents. After a failed marriage to Frank Thornton Jenkins and her father’s death, a large inheritance enabled her to move to New York and take up residence in a luxurious hotel.  Her mother, more sympathetic to her aspirations, joined her there, and encouraged her to become a patroness of the arts.

Florence Foster Jenkins, 1909

Jenkins added singing lessons to her piano practice, and soon began performing for the clubs and societies she’d joined. Her considerable financial contributions to the groups may have encouraged them to schedule her recitals, but, over time, her performances came to include invitation-only events at venues such as Manhattan’s Ritz-Carlton. Sometimes she traveled to locations as far afield as Newport, Rhode island, and Washington, D.C. in order to sing, and despite their ambiguity, the reviews could only have encouraged her:

Mme. Florence Foster Jenkins was the bright particular star of last evening’s concert at the Ritz-Carlton. She sang an exacting programme, and possesses a marked individuality in style and piquancy in her interpretations… (Grene Bennett, New York Journal American)
“Orchids, minks”…the swankiest audience of the season attended at the Jenkins Recital. Mme. Jenkins sang a varied program in her inimitable coloratura soprano. She is a personage of authority and indescribable charm, she is incomparable, her annual recitals bring unbounded joy. (Robert Coleman, New York Daily Mirror)

Enthusiastic and irrepressible as a person, as a performer Jenkins became known for elaborate costumes, detailed sets, and dramatic presentations. Encouraged by her audiences’ applause and gifts, her ambitions grew ever larger. First, she recorded a few of her favorite pieces: apparently believing that a single take was sufficient for a vocalist of her talent.

Then, in 1944, she personally rented Carnegie hall for an October 25 public recital: an audacious example of “sharing” that might leave even Chase Jarvis breathless.

Writing for NPR Music, Tom Huizenga said:

By this time, her fame in New York was widespread and the hall was filled to capacity, including luminaries like Cole Porter, Gian Carlo Menotti, Lily Pons, Andre Kostelanetz, Tallulah Bankhead and Kitty Carlisle.

However, the reviews following the Carnegie Hall concert were less open to interpretation than those written previously:

The following day in the New York Post, gossip and entertainment columnist Earl Wilson wrote that the concert was “one of the weirdest mass jokes New York has ever seen.”

The problem, of course, was that Florence couldn’t sing. As Alexander McCall Smith puts it, “She was gloriously, spectacularly, irredeemably out of tune.”

Her inability to hear what she was producing may have been due to central nervous system damage caused by the syphillis passed on to her by her husband. It may have been due to the mercury and arsenic prescribed at the time as treatments for the disease. It may have been a result of the tinnitus from which she suffered, or it may well be, as some have suggested, that she just didn’t care.

Whatever the truth, she kept singing, and people kept flocking to her recitals. No one, having heard Florence Foster Jenkins sing, would soon forget it.

Whether Jenkins knew how truly awful she was as a singer has been much discussed. Opinions differ: some say she believed in her virtuosity, while others claim she was having a jolly good time at the public’s expense.

What no one seems to question is that she was a person of generous spirit, and a woman who truly loved her art. In that sense, she lived as the consummate amateur: devoted to her discipline with little regard for outside criticism.

As she once observed, although some people said she couldn’t sing, they never could say she didn’t sing. 

Chase Jarvis would be proud.

Comments always are welcome. The reviews and photos included above are taken from a scrapbook held by the New York Public Library Music Division. The photograph of pelicans above Galveston Bay is mine.


103 thoughts on “Jarvis and Jenkins ~ An Artist’s Perfect Pair

    1. It is a good story. I enjoyed the film, and enjoyed even more finally realizing that she lived out Jarvis’s paradigm. Thanks for stopping by; I appreciate the comment.

  1. I can’t believe I’m the first to comment and of course I’ll be extremely enthusiastic because you touch so beautifully on a subject near and dear to my heart. Mr. Jarvis has it right. Creating anything can be a leap of faith, a step into the unknown. And of course, we always love praise and often we find ourselves giving praise to those taking the leap that may be a bit kinder and more gentle than the work deserves, yet as a creative one knows it comes from a special place and the act of sharing can be bravery and courage in itself.

    Of course everything he says is spot on. It comes down to “just do it.” And then don’t hide your work under a bushel. Oh, you can, of course, and we all do sometimes. But there is no excuse these days not to share it, whether it is to a single friend or to the world. And I have found that the more I share — the good, the bad and the downright ugly — the more confidence I have.

    My angst goes back to my childhood days in a story I may or may not have shared with you or on the Marmelade Gypsy. My cousin Patty, three years younger, was a gifted artist from the time she was quite small. She could draw rings around me — marvelous pictures that had style, strong line, technique. And she did it cold. No lessons, no drawing books. And I was so envious. We would draw together and I would try and try to come up with something, anything that matched even one of her drawings. It made me horribly frustrated. Finally, in an effort to be kind, my mother reminded me very gently that Patty was an artist with a natural gift. I had one too. I could write — and did often. My little elementary school self wrote stories and poems with great ease and reasonably good vocabulary for my age.

    But I would have none of it. I wanted to draw like Patty. So Mom bought me all sorts of drawing books. I would copy ads in the newspaper and comic book strips. I never became great, but I became passable. And I still wrote.

    That never died in me. And as you know, I still do both. I hit publish on things that maybe don’t deserve it, both words and pictures. And with many that do. I sell art and photography. I made a career as a writer. I practice. I practice painting often. I always have my camera.

    I suspect more than once someone has given me the Florence treatment. In fact, I know it. Don’t kid a kidder. But like they say, don’t believe your own reviews or press. Just keep doing what you do best. I will hold this post close to my heart when I feel my slacker mode come into focus! Thanks for a good thought as I return to that watercolor on my table!

    1. Comparing ourselves to others can lead to problems, can’t it? It’s a fine line to walk: exposing ourselves to the best, and learning from it, without falling into the Slough of Despond. When I find myself thinking, “I never could do that,” it might take some effort, but it’s always useful to reshape my thoughts. Asking simple questions like, “What makes this so effective?” or “Why does this appeal?” can sweep away frustration rather nicely.

      Praise can be just as tricky. There’s a thin line between flattery and praise, and being flattered never is helpful. Every now and then I take a look at my spam comments before deleting them, and believe me — the spam file is a veritable treasure trove of flattery. Informed criticism and honest praise can nourish, but flattery, while sweet, has little to offer.

      As for hitting that “publish” button, I suppose I take my cue from a company your Cork Poppers would know. Paul Masson wines once had a marketing campaign built around the slogan, “We will sell no wine before its time.” In the same way, I’m always cautious about the bad and the ugly: if it isn’t good, I don’t want it in the public eye. Sometimes there are photos that aren’t as good as I’d like, but they have something to commend them, so I publish anyway: like the little calf in the flowers. As for writing — well, there’s a reason I have five-year-old drafts in my files. One day they’ll be “right,” and then they’ll show up.

      Have you read the marvelous story in Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” about the time she sat at the table with an aunt and uncle in Wyoming and tried to draw a horse? It’s a wonderful tale, that’s online here. The first two pages plus a paragraph or two on the third are most relevant, but the whole chapter is great for a visual artist — or someone trying to turn a vision into words.

  2. Oh, what appealing tidbits you throw our way. Florence Foster Jenkins. “…some people said I couldn’t sing but they never could say I didn’t sing…” Delightful. But I doubt she would have had that success lacking money. With her nerve, however, she would probably have accomplished something of note! Therefore, I guess I agree with Jarvis.
    Once in my naive and unsophisticated life, my husband and I attended a dinner given by his boss, There was a “singer” who was introduced as the nephew of the boss. He sang and brought down the house; to this day we do not know whether or not, it was a ruse. I do believe, however, that dumb as I was I would have recognized Pavarotti as a great singer – even if he couldn’t sing like the Chuck Wagon gang. :D

    1. It’s true that the inheritance Jenkins had made it possible for her to live out her dream — and thank goodness for it. If she’d had to work her way up through the musical ranks, it would have been quite a different result. Still, providing amusement for people isn’t the worst thing in the world, particularly if you can please yourself in the process. I was surprised to find that her recordings never have gone out of print, and now they’re being re-released. It’s as quirky a tale as the naked Pentecostals in the Pontiac, and we all love quirky tales.

      As for the Chuck Wagon gang (who started in Lubbock, by the way), they made it to Carnegie Hall — just like Pavarotti — and their recordings are in the Smithsonian. There’s no reason not to enjoy both: although I’d enjoy them for different reasons than I would Mme. Jenkins.

  3. The quote “Dance as though no one is watching,” springs to mind. There’s a marvelous joy that comes from spontaneous creativity that tends to get quashed out of children by adults, and then, to add insult to injury, it becomes internalized into a nobbling self criticism. There’s a life-affirming interaction between mind and media that transcends results. It’s not the destination, but the journey. It doesn’t matter if you reach your destination, or any destination. It’s where the journey takes you. The first step in the journey is the leap of faith that puts you on the road.

    What also springs to mind is this: https://youtu.be/2ylvWg6AV7g All that,”got to have just the right gear, and clothes, and everything has to be just right . . .” The human equivalent of the cat’s “get ready cha-cha” except the spring that is supposed to come at the end never materializes. That whole “fixin’ to” thing that Jordan answers with those three magic words, “Just do it.”

    What I took from the film about Florence Foster Jenkins (which was beautifully done, by the way) is not that her singing was wonderfully, spectacularly bad. She wasn’t sharing her talent, but her love of music. The choice of adjectives in the psalm is quite specific. “Joyful.”

    1. I got caught up in the Honeymooners video, and then pondered your larger point. It’s true: the Mont Blanc pen, the moleskin journal, the quiet corner in the café (or the front and center table): none of that makes any real difference if a person wants to write. If someone is more interested in being known as a writer than writing: well, that’s a different thing.

      Your mention of the journey reminded me of Woody Allen’s almost-koan: “The longest journey begins with a single step. The best journeys begin with a moment of temporary insanity.”

      And yes, absolutely, about what Jenkins was sharing. And thank goodness for generations of choir directors who’ve been wise enough to share that particular verse from the Psalms.

  4. Dear, oh dear. I was asked by Helvi to turn the singing Jenkins off. How amazing she continued regardless. She had the money to indulge her whim and no doubt adored the earlier adulation that she managed to buy. I wonder if she ever acknowledged her singing was so awful?
    Of course, if it gave her pleasure it need not have concerned her at all. She did sing.
    Creating something is always a step in the dark. In fact, I believe it has to be a step into the dark or unknown. How else can it be?
    We have a large exhibition in our National Gallery of Vincent Van Gogh’s work in our capital Canberra. Amsterdam has a special Van Gogh museum which we visited several times many years ago.
    Poor Vincent, during his lifetime never sold a single painting. It makes one think, if not weep.

    1. Whether she understood that her singing was less than accomplished, I can’t say. But as far as I know, she never acknowledged it. On the other hand, she died only days after the Carnegie Hall performance, and the negative reviews. Could she have met her life’s goal, and been ready to move on? Or was she so distressed by the realization that she’d been ridiculed that she couldn’t go on? I suppose all of that will remain a mystery.

      I’ve always thought it interesting that Jarvis leaves room for the pure pleasure of creation. Not all value can be reduced to dollar sales. Of course there’s not a thing wrong with making money with art of any sort — thousands of people are working on marketing campaigns right now, hoping to be able to monetize their craft. Others (that would be me, I suppose) just haven’t caught the bug. It’s an odd thing to think about, particularly in cases like Van Gogh’s. The intersection of genius, creativity, and worldly reward can be hard to find. It’s probably a good thing that creativity, like virtue, can be its own reward.

    1. I’ve always found his work and his attitudes congenial. I first began reading him in 2008 or 2009 — before Creative Live came into being. Way back when, things were more casual, and he often invited people to “get in touch.” One day I sent an email, and received a personal reply. I’m sure that doesn’t happen now, but even at the time it seemed remarkable.

  5. I don’t know who dragged me to that movie, probably my sister, but it was excellent. And good casting – I’d always thought of Hugh Grant as a lightweight, a pretty stage prop with an accent, but he also did an excellent job in this.

    I like the “no excuses” mantra, even if I’m not 100 percent with this guy’s advice – – seems like it’s ok to wonder about a lot of stuff, sometimes kick it around and around, than then decide to ditch it. Likewise with pontificating – – on the internet, you get to pontificate once in a while! Put on a jeweled miter, go up in the balcony, and sound off! I mean, somebody out there was getting mocked for preaching the Cubs were going to win, and every century or so, they turn out to be right.

    I admire Mrs. Foster for going out on the stage. You might think, why couldn’t her husband tell her, dear, you really gotta stick with piano-playing, every time you sing, we all get headaches and the wallpaper peels off. But if she was totally set on singing, no matter what, then he did his best to back her up and sustain her fantasy as long as he could. I couldn’t find a news article to back this up, but I remember reading once that during rehearsals for an opera in Pittsburgh, a couple of giraffes in the zoo next-door died. It must have been Wagner or something, and to the giraffes, I guess it sounded like a hyena attack.

    1. I didn’t find a story about Pittsburgh, but I did find this, from Copenhagen.

      “An okapis, a rare African mammal related to the giraffe, died from stress apparently triggered by opera singers rehearsing 300 yards away in a park. The 6-year-old okapi, called Katanda, collapsed after Royal Theater performers began singing selections from Tannhauser Friday, zoo spokesman Peter Haase said. ”She started hyperventilating, went into shock and collapsed,” he said. ”We did all we could.”

      Apparently the okapis is sensitive to strange sounds. And, yes: they did move the concert away from the zoo.

      Of course it’s fine to ditch things after kicking them around for a while. I just think it’s best to kick them around in private. I suppose that’s my personality, as much as anything. I do make a run through my draft files about every six months, and invariably get rid of some — particularly if I have no idea what I was thinking about. But when it comes to pontificating, I’m no fan. I’ll just excuse myself politely, and go elsewhere.

      I don’t know, but I suspect her disease played a significant role in her determination and Bayfield’s support. Every time I hear the story again, I can’t help but think of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

      1. Well, I was kidding about actual pontificating, it’s really more about enjoying people, who really enjoy something so much, they have to “preach,” even if their thing strikes the rest of us as unlikely or weird — we find their enthusiasm contagious, even if never catch the “bug” that they’ve got. They’re loyal to their team, or hobby, or artist, and promote it without being a zealot or bore about it, or pursue some craft or art, because it makes them happy. I’ve got a lot of time for people who want to share their interests and enthusiasms, because they think everyone might get a kick out of it. And the internet, can be just a fantastic place to share interests, and connect with others who share your interests.

        And also to find totally new interests. I forget who sent me a link to Omara “Bombino” Moctar, but thanks! If you’d asked me if I was likely to be rocking to Tuareg or Berber bands, it would have seemed pretty unlikely. But because somebody was so enthusiastic about musicians from the Sahara, I gave it a listen and got hooked.

        I also think that a lot of people with wonderful gifts, would never think of renting Carnegie Hall, even if money was no object – – they’re content to share their singing, or stories, or whatever, within their circle of friends, and have no desire or need for a larger stage. They’re not shy, or insecure, they simply don’t feel a calling to proselytize or promote themselves, and that’s fine, too. This WP site seems pretty great to me, you don’t have to be rich to rent this Internet Carnegie Hall, don’t have to worry about stage fright, and just do your thing, lots of people are just walking past, hear the music, and duck in to give it a listen. I’m enjoying reading the thoughts, and exchanging comments with a really interesting writer and photographer in Texas, so glad I came to the show ! :)

  6. Linda, it seems that you find the most interesting stories and turn them into a mini work of art. I know that you are not “into self promoting” your writing abilities but gee I am a huge admirer of your talent.

    I had not previously heard of Jenkins but I have one deduction and that is, I think the lady had a fine time living even if she was tone deaf about her voice. She might have been a showman/woman at heart and the singing afforded her the opportunity to be recognized. It’s quite sad that she had syphilis, a gift from her husband.

    The best part of this post was seeing the white pelicans in flight. The photo is quite good. Keep your camera busy.

    I think I have missed some of your posts Some of WP notices have been side railed over to spam. I will try to get busy and just look for them on your blog.

    1. Loving the birds, bees, butterflies, and flowers as you do, you should subscribe to my other blog, too. There will be more of the things you love there, as I sort them out. I brought home a nice butterfly photo just today, and a couple of good bird photos, too. In fact, I found a beautiful black-bellied whistling duck, and didn’t realize she was on top of her nest — with a baby poking its head up! — until I got home.

      I agree that Mme. Jenkins made the most of what talent she had — including a talent for self-promotion — and that she did as well as she could with a difficult life situation. She had some real support, too. Her accompanist, a fellow with the unlikely name of Cosmé McMoon, was extremely supportive, and apparently did what he could to cover for some of her shortcomings. I didn’t know until recently that he was born in Mexico, and is buried in San Antonio. And his name wasn’t made up for the movie; he was born Cosmé McMunn. (There was some Irish thrown in there.)

      The world is just filled with interesting stories and people. I’m not an avid movie watcher, and rarely go to the theater, but I’m glad I saw this one, and glad I saw it with others in a theater. I imagine the experience was akin to that of the Carnegie Hall audience in some ways.

      1. Linda, somehow I have missed knowing about your other blog. I will post haste to look for it a few minutes.

        Cosme McMunn/McMoon sounds made up but I believe what you write. It is a most interesting name and of all things he is buried in San Antonio. He probably has some kin in Texas.

  7. I believe that the effectiveness of just about all forms of communication (including art) is measured at a point on a sort of gray scale. I wonder if we ever really know where our efforts register on that scale and if it would be all that good if we did. Interesting, perhaps.

    1. Those are good questions. I suppose we all ponder them from time to time. I’ve always appreciated W.S.Merwin’s ending to his poem titled “Berryman,” which reflects on the two poets’ relationship:

      I had hardly begun to read
      I asked how can you ever be sure
      that what you write is really
      any good at all and he said you can’t

      you can’t you can never be sure
      you die without knowing
      whether anything you wrote was any good
      if you have to be sure don’t write

      I think that’s some of the best advice in the world.

      1. Great advice really. You can only be in the moment anyway never really knowing what will last and what won’t. Even fame in your own time won’t guarantee historical longevity. But, I will admit to having often thought it would be wonderful to take just one image or write just one poem which would endure somehow. Nice if something of yourself enriches other generations. I suppose many poets of the past might be surprised to find they are still read and loved and that their work has appeal down the years.

        1. You’ve put your finger on it, Judy. We can’t know. We don’t know what of our life will endure, or for how long. Memories fade, memorabilia goes to Goodwill, and just like the Cheshire Cat, we slowly fade away.

          I’ve always thought those boxes of photos nearly every family has are so — poignant. Everyone knows the photos were kept for a reason, but over time, everyone forgets who the people are. My mother and aunt used to say to one another, “We need to go through those photos, and write down some names.” Now, my mother is gone and my aunt’s memory is fading, and we’re left with a box of photos no more meaningful than ones we’d pick up in an antique store.

          So it goes. Best to do what we do, and enjoy it. I’ve always thought Eliot got it just right: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

          1. Ah shame about those photos though! I am embroiled in scanning old ones, grateful for the family members who did identify persons on the back or somewhere and wishing I could remember more. And now my Mom is gone but her memory before that and even Dad is a bit soft of some things these days. I’d say we live and learn yet my photos of current family ought to be better recorded too!! And on the other hand it is amazing that I have very good photos of my great grandparents etc and that these bits of paper out-lasted the person.

    1. But it’s complicated, too. We care what others think — I do, and I’m sure you do, too. On the other hand, if we live only to gain the approval of others, we can tie ourselves in knots. I think every now and then of that poem: “When I am old, I will wear purple…” I always smile at the ending: “But maybe I ought to practice a little now?”

  8. Hear hear words of wisdom. Creation is often about process rather than end result and of course beauty in the eye of the beholder. So we create because we must and that is the catalyst for moving forward. We stand naked with our creations vulnerable to judgement and criticism.

    Very thoughtful and interesting well written post.


    1. I was especially taken with your comment that “we create because we must.” That’s true for many, but it seems to me that we’re becoming an increasingly passive society, and active engagement — with the world, with others, with our own instincts — is necessary for creativity to flourish. Learning how to create may be a necessary first step and as important as raw talent; it’s an intriguing thought.

    1. How many can say that? Not as many as we think, perhaps. And both sides of the equation are so important. We have a lot of people doing what makes them happy — but hurting others in the process.

  9. That movie is on our watch list in Netflix. There are many ways to create and share. People have more opportunities now than ever before. One of the cool things about the internet is that it provides those opportunities as well as the means to find others of like mind who do the same. It can be a community builder. Perhaps that is what drives us in addition to the need to create. We want to be part of something bigger, be recognized, affirmed in some way. How many of us would continue our creative efforts if it was done in a vacuum where no one else noticed?

    1. That’s an interesting question you pose, about creation-in-a-vacuum. When it comes to my photography, the pleasure involved isn’t dependent on external validation, or response from others. I share photos, of course, and am glad when someone likes one. But the personal pleasure I take in improving my skills, and using the craft to learn more about the world around me, is completely independent of others’ notice.

      Writing is something else. Some people only keep journals, but I never have and probably never will: unless I begin keeping a journal of my wanderings through the natural world. I do have a friend who’s kept a private journal for decades: for her, that’s enough.

      I’m glad I saw the movie in a theater. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an audience that responded as that one did. I said afterwards that we might have experienced something of what transpired at that Carnegie Hall concert. Even though we knew what was coming, it was a bit of a shock — and then, interestingly, a delight.

  10. This is a great post. Exactly what I needed to hear! I was out earlier this morning checking on the bees, watching the sunrise, thinking, I wish I could bottle some of these early morning moments into words, but bombarded by negative self, then I began reading this and the mental fog began to dissipate. DM

    1. It’s tough enough to deal with outside criticism. When we internalize those negative voices, it’s doubly hard. One of the most amusing, and most realistic, bits of writing advice comes from my beloved Annie Dillard. She says, “It is no less difficult to write a sentence in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick.”

      Why not?

  11. We do indeed live in the most lucky of times to be a creative. The internet has put the world’s stage at our feet. No longer are we bound to a patron. It is very exciting to watch new forms of art develop, new voices come to the fore that never would have dared before.
    I loved the movie. Florence gave all she had, even her voice which not everyone wanted to receive.

    1. On the other hand, there is so much being posted that quality work can be buried — at least, for a time. Eventually, I think it surfaces, but patience is required.

      It’s always intrigued me that it took the same amount of time for my business and my blog to take off: about three years. And while the statistics vary somewhat, about seventy percent of small businesses and restaurants that survive the first year fail at the three-to-five year mark. Whatever dynamic is at work, it seems to be fairly consistent.

      I just went back and saw that I tucked this post into my draft files eight months ago. I did it not long after seeing the film, so even at the time I recognized the movie’s message worthy to be passed on. Of course it was Florence’s line that stayed in my mind: “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

  12. The walls of Pompeii are filled with art and poetry…and not a few Latin Limericks, which says there has always been a way of getting your art out there… but not until the internet did we have the long form read.

    As for Ms. Jarvis… bully for her but it says something for audience who, it could be argued, invented performance art.

    1. I don’t know. It seems to me that longform’s been around for a while: Moby Dick, Ulysses, War and Peace, and The Divine Comedy come to mind. Canterbury Tales, for that matter. I suppose every generation likes to flatter itself that it’s finally transcended the past and created the truly new, but as the saying has it, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

      I don’t think there’s any question Jenkins’s audiences showed up precisely to see “the show.” Whatever she thought about her talents, or their motivation, it seems to have satisfied performer and audience alike. You can’t ask for much more than that.

      1. Of course the longform has been around for a very long time, but to publish it initially required scribes to copy it.

        With printing, longform required typesetters, a publisher and a distribution network.

        On the other hand, shortform, if it was really short, could be self-published by scrawling it on a wall – and it was, with gusto.

        Today, one merely has to push their work out to Amazon or self-distribute on a blog.

        Gatekeeping has become a thing of the past….. well, most of it has.

        As for Jenkins, my sister worked as a stage manager at the Walker Art Center back in the heyday of performance art and I spent enough time there to realize that while the space may have been filled with patron, few of them fully understood why they were there. Lets just say there was more theater in the audience than there was on the stage, if there was a stage. What was going on there was not all that different than people parading around in robes at the Moose Lodge. It is mostly about ritual and status signalling – not that there is anything wrong with that.

        1. You’re right that there’s nothing wrong with status signaling, but it’s just as annoying as virtue signaling. When status and virtue signaling combine, they can make Florence Foster Jenkins seem the better choice.

  13. I’ve always created and have had to sustain, but what I have only recently embraced is sharing. It still gives me pause, and I remain reluctant to go beyond something like blogging into a largely anonymous space. For me there is a fine line between sharing and self-promotion, and I will never be good at the latter.

    1. I understand your ambivalence when it comes to self-promotion, as well as moving beyond a blog platform. Every now and then someone suggests I ought to publish a book, and I still haven’t made a move. There are reasons, of course: some obvious, some less so. For one thing, I’m not sure I want to put in the work required. I listen to people talk about their months (or years) of effort, and think, “Well, if I were forty — maybe.” But now? Time is limited, and marketing campaigns seem a waste of the time I have left.

      I suppose each of us gains reward in different ways. I’m just glad you’re sharing on your blog. You do it wonderfully well.

      1. You’re very kind! I have written so much over the years and have always felt there was a book or two in me, but what I have realized is that even though they are indeed in there (and even written), I don’t have the time or energy to promote and sell and campaign (and suffer rejection)! The blog is my feeble attempt to send my writing – a lesser form of it in most cases – out into the world for a little walk!

        You are a beautiful writer and formidable researcher as well, and I can see why you have received these suggestions. I can also see why you don’t necessarily want to take the next step either!

  14. I love the last line of your essay—the rest of it too—but that line about no one could say she “didn’t sing” as opposed to “couldn’t sing” speaks volumes about dedicating yourself to something you love doing and not caring what anyone else says to discourage you. This was a fun read but that I couldn’t listen to her sing more than a half a minute. LOL

    1. Half a minute? You did well. Imagine what it was like for Meryl Streep, who had to train herself to sing like Jenkins. It’s one thing to listen. It must have been — challenging — to listen well enough to duplicate those arias.

      On the other hand, it seems clear Jenkins enjoyed her singing as much as any Maria Callas. That kind of unalloyed pleasure is obvious in children, but it becomes less common as we age. There are plenty of reasons: fear of judgment, a feeling that we ought not waste our time on frivolous pursuits, lack of confidence. As awful as she was as a vocalist, she apparently did the best she could with the gifts she had. What more could be asked?

  15. Oh, gee, I’m on the fence this time around, Linda. While I understand and applaud Mr. Jarvis for his encouragement to put our work “out there,” it seems to me there’s entirely too much willy-nilly publication! I suppose all of us have hit the Publish button before feeling like something was “done” and to the best of our efforts, but I would hope that’s the exception rather than the rule!

    As for Miss Florence, kudos to her! It seems she fooled an entire generation, enjoyed sharing her “talent,” and probably felt pretty good over her generosity. “Art,” you know, is in the eye of the beholder, and whether she actually had a talent or simply parlayed her way to popularity on sheer nerve alone is anybody’s guess.

    Interesting post, my friend (and I love your birds!)

    1. I agree that there’s a good bit of nonsense and trash published online, but the good news is we don’t have to read it. The “marketplace of ideas” is a pretty good metaphor. I’d rather look for value, and try to create value myself, than settle for poor quality.

      In the same way, I can’t remember ever hitting the publish button before feeling something was ready to post. That doesn’t mean I might not look at it later and think, “I could have improved the piece by doing this or that,” but at the time of publication, I always feel as though a piece is “done.” Of course, our standards should evolve, too. Photos that I would have found acceptable for publication three years ago get deleted in a flash today. Using filters to enhance an image is one thing. Using them to cover up flaws is something else.

      When I was a very new blogger — sometime in the first months — I came across a woman whose tagline was, “If I don’t have something to say, I won’t say it.” If only we could persuade the world of the wisdom of that one!

  16. As always, a thought provoking post. Creation is a leap of faith(?), confidence(?), and the ‘just do it’ model must be followed. We observe, we learn, we practice and hone the skill, and we produce–for whomever is open to receive it–or not.

    1. Observe, learn, practice, and hone the skill — it sounds like a recipe for bee-keeping to me. Gardening and varnishing, too, when you get right down to it. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to stir in a little chutzpah, just to keep things interesting. Heaven knows Florence had that in abundance!

  17. My goodness, I am, once again, late to the trough. I especially liked this line: As she once observed, although some people said she couldn’t sing, they never could say she didn’t sing.

    And may it be so for all of us…not the singing part, necessarily, but the living our creativity part.

    1. You’re not late at all, Janet. “Late” might be September, or 2018 — but then again, it might not. We’re easy-going and flexible around here, and besides — pilgrimages rarely have a schedule.

      That line you liked was the one that stuck with me from the movie, and I think part of the reason it’s so memorable is that it’s honest. By that time, she must have known that opinions about her talent differed, but it doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference to her. Of course, people who are dealing with significant health issues, as she was, often have a different perspective.

  18. I haven’t heard of Chase Jarvis-I must do some investigating!

    Before the movie came out, I did a little bit of reading on Florence Foster Jenkins and I thought how awful it was that so many people lied to her about her talent…but she was happy and they were entertained and, really, what more does one need? I think she timed her exit perfectly, as well.

    (my daughter and I both chuckled through the recording-some bits reminded me of my neighbor’s barking dogs)

    1. I think you’d enjoy Jarvis. His site is slicker than it used to be, and he certainly has expanded his interests, but in some basic ways he hasn’t changed over the years. I always enjoy checking out what he has to say.

      It’s hard for me to imagine so many people being so protective of her, but on the other hand — think what would have happened to her today. The phrase “chewed up and spit out” comes to mind: especially by the time social media got done with her. I’m rather taken with the fact that she was allowed to live out her fantasy — or at least to carry on with it without having to acknowledge it as the fantasy it was.

      Maybe it was a kinder, gentler time. And as you say: if she was happy and they were entertained, it worked out rather well.

  19. if art is your job then you have to do it every day. I read another essay, the point of which was get in your studio every day. devote at least two hours every day. it doesn’t matter if what you are doing is good or if you have direction or inspiration, most art is just simply work and you have to practice your craft. I try off and on but am easily distracted by the outdoors especially when the weather has been as nice as it has been. but it’s not really work to me as it is the creating part that I enjoy. the getting it out there though, you can publish all over social media but that doesn’t mean the people who would buy are going to see it. I have a lot of contacts on FB for instance but I doubt a single one is a collector.

    1. What you say about the two hours every day reminded me of a quotation from Chuck Close that I’ve kept in my files for years, and don’t read often enough:

      “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.
      If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the… work itself. Things occur to you.”

      “If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive.”

      He sounds rather like Jarvis, actually. You might enjoy this extended interview with him. Save it for a rainy day when you can’t tend the garden, anyway. I laughed at your comment about being easily distracted by the outdoors. That, I understand.

  20. I enjoyed meeting Chase Jarvis this way very much and look forward to reading more. I like his style. I definitely agree on the sharing and putting it out there and feel our digital age has given us this global reach so easily and no permission or other agency needed. And this is entirely to the benefit of readers and viewers to find gems which otherwise would have been overlooked or unseen simply because of a tender spirit or no agency feeling they could make money off it.

    I do have to say that it is such a contradiction when the truly talented have no confidence or faith and many times those without as much talent do very well because of sheer personal charisma. I can only say of Jenkins that I hope she got a real kick out of everything regardless of criticism because it is the joy that really counts. Money was helpful in her ability to step out, but it is not the only reason as money is not enough to overcome fear or lack of confidence in a person.

    1. You’re exactly right. Money can buy a lot, but I’m not sure it can buy confidence. And we tend to forget that, even in this day of digital sharing, money is involved in getting things into the public eye. Vanity presses have been around for a long, long time, and today’s self-publishing is only the latest variation. Not only are there hundreds of millions sharing on Instagram and Facebook, there are plenty who have learned how to use Create Space and other such sites to make their own books a reality.

      On the other hand, personal contacts still count. In some ways, approaching someone in person is harder, because the rejection can be more obvious — and more immediate. Still, there can be surprising results.

      Just this past Sunday, I suddenly recognized that a dynamic crucial in building my varnishing business was popping up again: this time, related to photography. I’ve got to think about it more, but if it proves valid, it’s also going to be a confirmation of Jarvis’s point about how creativity and entrepreneurship don’t have to be opposed.

  21. What a great tale! I had heard of the movie, but haven’t seen it. She sure was something else. I could learn a thing or two about the sheer joy of doing what I want without worrying about what other people think. Thanks!

    1. The movie’s one that both of you would enjoy; I’m sure of that. Even knowing the plot line ahead of time — she sings, she’s awful, she gets a hint of the truth, she dies — doesn’t detract one bit from the pleasure of the film. I enjoyed it as much as anything I’ve seen since “August: Osage County.” (Of course, my taste in films can be quirky — but when “Osage County” opened with references to both T.S. Eliot and Eric Clapton, I was hooked.)

      As for that business of doing what we want without worrying about what others think? There’s another post coming about that, tentatively titled, “Those Silly Human Rules.” I’ve done my share of living by them, too.

  22. An interesting tie-in, Chase Jarvis’s advice and Florence Jenkins’ story. That kernel of doubt about whether she felt she was putting people on, whether she knew what she sounded like – it’s what makes the story special to me. I hope the movie walks that fine line.

    1. Regarding the movie, see my comment to Dana, just above. Also: it seems to me the best life-of-(fill in the blank) not only contains facts about the person, it also conveys some of the truth of the person. This film does that, beautifully.

  23. Promoting oneself when one has no talent is, shall we say, an act of effrontery most do not have. And who really cares?

    Looking at some of the “art” that is valuable but cruddy, I am taken (always) back to the Italian Renaissance art which is magnificent.

    How shall we view Florence Jenkins’ story? One to be admired? One to be embarrassed by? I suppose if you are a person with true operatic talent, you look at her and say, “Well, let’s give her credit for ‘following her bliss.'” (heh, heh)

    Her efforts remind me of a junior high “talent show,” where we all clap and cheer for the person who had the guts to get up and perform, mainly because we did not.

    Chuck Barris made a fortune on the Gong Show. Bang the gong.

    1. Actually, there’s another story line that I barely touched on here. Once an accident had rendered a career as a concert pianist impossible, she began teaching. Through the years, she encouraged and mentored many a musician, some of whom still speak of her with affection and respect.

      One of those singers was Louise Frances Bickford, who later became Bill Schuman’s teacher. I didn’t know of Schuman, an acclaimed voice coach, until I started researching Jenkins, but I thought this was interesting:

      “Unlikely as it may seem for someone routinely hailed as the world’s worst singer, Jenkins has a legacy that lives on in some of today’s finest opera artists. One could argue that had Jenkins not sponsored Bickford all those years ago, Schuman might have taken quite a different path. And if that’s so, who knows where some his award-winning students would be.”

      “Beginning in 2009 Schuman’s protégés won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award four years in a row — tenors Stephen Costello and James Valenti, and sopranos Angela Meade and Ailyn Pérez.”

      So there’s that: another reminder that it’s impossible to tell the whole of a story so complex in one post, or a dozen, or more. Clearly, she had no talent for singing, but she apparently had a talent for encouraging and nurturing others. Ironically, that may be the best evidence we have that she knew exactly how bad her singing was. I can’t imagine living in the world of vocalists and voice coaches without being able to distinguish the good from the truly gawdawful.

  24. Mr. Jarvis’ words are inspiring, and just the advice I needed right now. I’m inclined to take it, even as I worry that I may reveal myself to be another Florence Jenkins.

  25. I sometimes think that a lot of modern art is the art equivalent of a singer unable to sing in tune. It’s good to hear Chase Jarvis quoted. I’ve read those lines before and they are already part of my now quite extensive archive of photographic quotes.

    1. Now, that’s the perfect analogy. There certainly is art that’s as hard on the eyes as Jenkins’s singing was on the ear. The interesting thing about Jarvis is that I discovered him long before I had a real camera and began intentionally setting out to take photos. When I was writing this, it occurred to me that I’ve learned as much about the creative process from photographers as from writers. Some of the most popular writing-advice books and blogs tend toward platitudes.

    1. I couldn’t ask for anything more, Dina. That’s one reason I’ve continued reading Jarvis over the years. I gain inspiration and new energy from what he says, too — even when I’m a little lax about putting the lessons to work. And, of course, there’s Florence: a real piece of work, as we say, but still a lady with some important lessons to teach.

      1. I have a house full of starling chicks, after my last run I was a little nervous….reading this has me optimistic again! A really uplifting post! We can all do whatever we set our minds too, there may be a little hiccup along the way but moving forward in a positive way is what it’s all about. Who knows what anyone can achieve?xxx

  26. You always arrange the nicest parties: with the post and the commenters.
    Being able to promote/display your work in such a broad fashion with the internet is quite a miracle. A greater chance of being “discovered” – even if there’s so many others raising their hands, too. Of course as writers have discovered, there’s a lot of marginal/questionable quality bobbing around, so I guess the opportunity is good news and bad news. Persistence counts – and besides practice makes perfect.
    I love Florence: her story and her style. She has to make you smile. Unsinkable Molly Brown and Auntie Mame worthy! ( Despite society’s conventions of that time, maybe I would have fit in back then HAHA)

    1. I’ve believed from the beginning that a special value of blogs is the interaction between the original poster and commenters. Back in the days when people still were theorizing about the nature of blogs as literature, that was a primary point: the shared history that develops over time.

      I’m coming to realize that posting on the internet isn’t the only way to make use of digital media. The iPad as portfolio, or Twitter as poetry platform, isn’t entirely crazy.

      As for all the marginal or questionable quality out there, I suppose the best way of coping or competing is to offer better quality. That’s easier said than done, of course. Way back when, my friend EllaElla offered the same counsel my mother and grandmother did, saying the cream rises to the top. that may be true, but in this day of the Unicorn Frappucino, cream’s not quite the value it once was.

      I think you would have fit just fine, back in Florence’s day. A side note that didn’t fit here is that the woman’s group movement offered her a way to contribute in ways that had nothing to do with her music: at least directly. It wasn’t all tea and cucumber sandwiches in those groups. After all, one of the first groups, in Kansas City, helped to save Pawnee Rock.

      1. Cream does ride to the top – and you have to keep sipping and dipping sometimes. Eventually you find eddy of depth and delight. I really enjoy all the “new” approaches – interesting to watch them toddle and develop – and how society adapts/changes with them.

        (Yep. A group of women also kept the Alamo from becoming a parking lot and protected it all those years. Hope the Bush relative land commish is able to do it justice now the state took it over. TX legislature is in process of doing another land grab (“for its own good”) with the French Legation building/French embassy ownership originally. Also saved from total ruin and destruction by a pack of old women. Bill has passed the House and in the Senate, but sounds like deadlock politics up there and maybe it will get stalled along with the real legislation.

        Apparently they found out how much people are willing to pay to hold events on historic grounds and can also control/get paid for image use….partying and dancing on the graves in the Alamo. Forget the honoring and reverence – bring on the bucks!)

  27. This post reminds me that I want to see the Florence Foster Jenkins film. Create, share, and sustain is wonderful advice for any creative endeavor.

    1. You’ll enjoy the film, Sheryl. It really is a little odd — Julia Child and Florence Foster Jenkins are forever linked in my mind now because of Meryl Streep. I think they probably shared some personality traits, too: all three of them!

      Create, share, sustain is a triad that’s easy to remember. I think it’s a little more nuanced and helpful than slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It.”

  28. Interesting post and wonderful comparison. First off, I’m sure Jarvis’ idea of Create and Share is what Sustains the huge and fanatic success of our social media. As for Jenkins, I’m sure you must have seen the film. Thanks for the very informative post, I now get the background of the movie which I did not see. I can’t help but think, what if FFJ didn’t have money, with limited resources, would she have been so bold to ‘share’? Would she even be noticed at all? Or would she have remained just one of those who enjoyed singing in the shower only? Umm… just gets me thinking, as always, your post. Anyway, back to Jarvis. I’ve followed his advice…. just created and shared. :)

    1. I did see the flm, and enjoyed it enough that I’d watch it again.The surprise was Simon Helberg as Florence’s accompanist. He’s a concert-level pianist as well as a good actor, so he was perfect in the role.

      As for the money angle, there’s no question that she never would have made Carnegie Hall without the funds to rent it. On the other hand, the size of the audience may not make any difference when it comes to creative satisfaction. I honestly believe that the satisfaction you and I experience with our postings and photos is the same satisfaction Florence experienced. Maybe the biggest difference between us is that you and I know when the quality of our work isn’t what we’d like it to be. I still can’t come to a conclusion about whether Florence knew how bad she was, didn’t know, or didn’t care. In the end, I don’t think it made a bit of difference.

  29. I just find it so interesting that the same tools that make possible side-stepping publishing hoops etc can also be used to endlessly distract potential artists. It points, I think, to the fact that the arts are not only about being brave enough to put your stuff “out there” but are also about discipline and tenacity. I have not been in this Word Press world for a horribly long time, but am astounded at how many folk write like crazy for a few years, or months, or weeks and then disappear. Of course, there will be thousands of reasons, but I suspect that many have learned that art is not only about inspiration, but also plain, old hard work. Not much good comes apart from the sweat of the brow, in one guise or another, it seems!

    1. Your comment about the distractions offered by online tools reminded me of a humorous and oft-repeated line associated with writers: “I’m not surfing the web. I’m doing research.”

      Beyond that, the advice to make frequent and fervent use of every social media tool available has brought more than a few people to a point where they’re no longer writing; they’re just tending their social media accounts. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told I must devote myself to social media, I might not be able to rent Carnegie Hall, but I certainly could make a run at the Grand Theater in Galveston.

      As for your point about the need for discipline and persistence: of course. I’ve watched innumerable people begin careers as varnishers, only to be gone in two or three years. Sometimes, it only takes one Texas summer to convince them to find a civilized job. I’d been varnishing for 18 years before I started my blog, and I’m convinced that what I’d learned about setting and keeping to a schedule, evaluating my own work, and working through difficulties served me well as a beginning writer.

      Beyond that, there’s a certain correspondence between sanding a hundred board feet of teak and this, from Neil Gaiman: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

  30. This is a most enjoyable thought-provoking read with links. I think expressing our creativity at whatever our level of skill matters — not necessarily with the intent of being for others, but for ourselves. If the creation resonates with others, that merely magnifies the pleasure we feel, adding to the already present impetus to create more.

    1. You’re exactly right. When I began this blog, my primary goal was to learn how to write. I wanted my posts to be enjoyable, but I was fully prepared to live without readers for a while. Today, I take delight in the fact that I still visit back and forth with some of my earliest readers — nine years is a long time — and that we still encourage one another in our creative efforts.

      Now, I’m hoping to do the same with my second blog, “Lagniappe.” I don’t flatter myself that I’m any more than a passable photographer at this point, but nine years down the road? Who knows? In the meantime, I intend to keep taking photos, and having a lot of fun.

    1. Honestly, Lisa? It would be difficult for me to do anything with that music in the background. It may not be pleasurable, but it’s compelling. Still, the people came to hear her sing, and I suspect everyone profited from the experience — in one mysterious way or another!

  31. I used to want to make my living as a photojournalist. Now I just have fun being a photojournalist–writing a blog and publishing pretty photos. I am glad for the technology that allows me to do so.

    Jenkins was a mysterious one. I heard a recording before and could only listen 44 seconds to the recording you posted. I don’t think she knew how bad she was….if she had known how could she have possibly stood up there and performed.

    1. The word that keeps coming back to me when I think of Jenkins is insouciance. Mix that up with a remarkable level of self-confidence and you’ve really got something. I keep thinking back to the response of the audience when I saw the film. It began with something akin to amused horror, but transformed into something else: not precisely acceptance, as much as a sense of being a partner in musical crime. It was interesting, that’s for sure.

      The fun is the thing, isn’t it? One of the unexpected side benefits in my halting photographic efforts is the pleasure that comes even with reviewing photos. Being able to publish them is lagniappe. (The pun wasn’t intended, but there it is — an indication that the blog title’s a pretty good one.)

  32. I thoroughly enjoyed how you connected Jarvis with Jenkins. I must admit I haven’t heard about Florence Foster Jenkins before, but she must have been quite a character. And, yes, anyone of us should take Jarvis’ words to us: Create, share, and sustain.

    1. To be honest, I think hearing about Florence is better than hearing Florence. That said, she’s an almost perfect example of the value of Jarvis’s advice. What she created (at least musically) wasn’t so great, and she had far more resources to sustain herself while she did it, but by golly, she wasn’t at all ashamed to share her passion. Her audiences loved her then, and we’re still talking about her today, so I’d say she succeeded wonderfully well.

  33. It’s a good thing there wasn’t American Idol then. I don’t know that people are so patient these days. They are more likely to jump to the next “real” thing. Although there are some performers I question. And maybe that’s the answer… Florence was not an artist, she was a performer. People came to see a performance not artistry.

    1. That’s a good point, about the change in audiences. I like your distinction between artist and performer, too. Of course, today we have what’s called “performance art,” which I still haven’t completely figured out. It’s clearly performance, but whether it’s art, I’m not so sure.

      What I do know is that, whatever she was, Florence clearly pleased herself. I suspect she was, in the end, “one tough cookie.” Opposed by her parents, suffering from illness, betrayed by her husband, and ridiculed by many, she just kept right on singing. It’s amazing, really.

  34. What a wonderful story (and post). Florence’s story really resonates with me. While she did have the money to do whatever she wanted, she followed her heart.

    My own belief is that it matters not what path you go down in life, creative or not. The important thing is to set of off on the journey. If you fall by the wayside, get up, dust yourself off and set off again. It doesn’t matter which path you choose, as long as you’re happy and ‘travelling’.

    There’s too many people in this world waiting for the better job, newer car or bigger house to be happy. They spend so much time on the sidelines waiting, the next minute they find life has passed them by.

    My Mother was horrified when I quit my tertiary studies half way through a degree. You see she had to leave school at 14 and work on the family farm. One of her biggest regrets in life was not getting the education she wanted. She was dux of the school at the time and could easily have gone to University in the 1940s, but that was not to be.

    My life has always been about getting ideas and following my heart (despite a couple of bad choices).

    The important thing is that I set off on many journeys, and chose my own path, not what my parents wanted me to do. I literally and figuratively did ‘my thing, my way’ (including travelling overseas for several years).

    1. I agree with you on so many points, Vicki. One reason I’m still working at seventy is that I turned my back on the sort of employment that would have guaranteed me a good pension (as much as any of that is guaranteed these days), and started my own business. Beyond that, I took a good bit of time earlier in life to do certain things — particularly sailing — that I wasn’t certain I’d be able to do once retired. I’ve known many, many people who have put off everything in life, and then had their plans ruined: by ill health, by money woes, by obligations to family — whatever.

      We all make bad choices. I’ve made a few myself. The good news is that, with age and experience, I seem to be making fewer of them. May it be so for all of us!

      It’s kind of you to stop by. I thought I had subscribed to your blog some time ago, but when I saw you commenting elsewhere recently, I realized I hadn’t seen a post. Who knows what happened, but now I think I have you on my list. I’ll keep an eye out for new posts through the Reader, just to be sure the system is working.

      1. I have 3 blogs and follow many, but have had to cut out all writing blogs as my health and eyesight is getting worse and I have trouble reading long paragraphs, but I’d be very flattered if you started following any of my blogs. (hint: the Nature Blog is the one I use the most and is more a diary of my walks in nature). I rarely comment or write much these days as I’m having weeks/months of migraine type headaches and permanent neck pain from slipped discs).
        I don’t understand WordPress ‘following’ much these days either. New posts are supposed to be notified to me in my email inbox and I still only get about 8 (out of dozens of blogs I follow. I can’t scroll through the WordPress Reader – it makes me dizzy :) ).

        1. I’ve heard others speak of those problems with email notifications, too. So far, I seem to have escaped that particular irritation, and I’m glad, because I don’t like using the Reader, either. If you enjoy photo blogs, you might like my new one, called Lagniappe. It’s linked up above and in the sidebar, too. I may write a little there, but it’s mostly for images. Like you, I enjoy photography, and even though I’m a novice, I enjoy sharing some of my favorite images. I suppose it’s my way of taking “create and share” seriously, while I go about my business and sustain myself in other ways.

            1. Thanks, Vicki. One trick, of course is to post only the good stuff. For every one that shows up on my blog, there are a hundred — or more — that head to the trash. I used to be reluctant to do that, but after all, every day is another opportunity for a better photo!

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