Archive for the ‘inspired by the arts’ Category

Arts, anyone?

December 28, 2014

I just observed one of my personal delights of the holiday season:  I watched my dvd of the 1951 television production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Went through half a box of kleenex.  And found so much remarkable, as I always do.  Is there anyone out there who remembers?

  • Those exultant, exotic chords of Menotti,
  • the resonance of the three kings,
  • the high, high treble notes of Amahl,
  • the wide vocal range of the mother…

And strangest of all, the concept of an original opera commissioned for NBC on Christmas Eve. Can you imagine a network show of this magnitude with no commercials?  Great music, great singing, a live orchestra?

The DVD is available – if you are interested, if you remember, if you actually romanticize the 50s, check this out.  The credits rolling at the end confirm that there was such a thing as the NBC Opera of the Air, an NBC symphony orchestra, and an affiliation with the conductor, Thomas Schippers.

In those days, kids took music lessons and practiced (almost) daily.  Shows such as Amahl and the Night Visitors conveyed the possibilities for artistically-inclined people.  Drama, sets, performance, singing … presented for our entertainment.  Think about it.

As Amahl sang, “Look, Mother, I can walk, I can run, I can dance”.  And so can the rest of us.

I wish all readers an inspired and successful new year.


The job of jobhunting (4)

September 9, 2014

The fourth element of the jobhunter’s day is one which can draw on the activities of the three previously-discussed realms.  I refer to your social activities.

Social needs no definition.  It is that people stuff.  Networking.  You are supposed to do it, many of you love it, most of you fight it.

This is the realm of truth-in-cliche: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

You can become better connected, starting today.  Improving your people quotient really must be part of every job seeker’s day.

Go where the interesting people are.  That might be in a class, at a coffee shop, at a clean-up-the-park day, at the gym.  Or at the pool or your back alley.  Meet someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in some time.  Just once a day.  

Actually, social activities can permeate the entire day of the successful job seeker.  As you are reading up on happenings in your field, you could be reminded of someone you know who would like to read this article.  Contact that person now!

As you are filling out a job application, you might think of that casual acquaintance who works at that firm.  You could contact him or her and ask a question.

There is little room for depression or inactivity in the life of a job seeker.  You’re so busy preparing for the new opportunity (yet to be determined, I know), that after all that conventional activity, the academic research, the creative projects and the socializing, that you will realize that you have taken steps on the structured path toward tomorrow.  Your knowledge, your availability, your involvement and your network will support you and make you a keen candidate for that next opportunity.

Here’s a final thought from Harper Lee:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

So how are you spending today?





Perspective on Pain

August 12, 2014

Who knew that a beloved actor and comedian was living with so much pain that he couldn’t take it any more?

Those in the inner circle of Robin Williams knew, cared, worried, and tried to help.

But the outer circle – that’s us, his fans and admirers – did not know beyond tabloid gossip.  We just wanted more of his gifts.


Is there a lesson for the rest of us?  I think of two things that can begin to make a tiny dent in the tragedy of Robin Williams:

  1. Draw closer to the suffering of people in mental pain.  They can be your colleagues, relatives, classmates, or neighbors. It’s the right thing to do, and you can do it to honor Williams.
  2. Never EVER take tomorrow for granted. A brilliant life ended at only 63 years.


Do you ever hear stats about recovery from depression?  Would these numbers offer hope for sufferers?  If not, where are the rainbow ribbons to wear to support mental health research?

Do you love Mr. Selfridge? Do you relate?

April 30, 2014

So who are you?

The folks who publicize the shows in the Masterpiece series have done it again.  Not content with a quiz to identify your counterpart in Downton Abbey, they’ve done a quiz for Mr. Selfridge.  You can answer a few questions and find out who you resemble by going to Which Character are You?

Now I’ll confess a chilling secret.  I turned out to resemble Lady Mae Loxley.  I protest, I think.

But it does cause me to think about what women did with their power in the early part of the twentieth century.  I guess she did what she had to do, and you just know more is coming.  I’ll be watching.

I can’t wait to hear from you about your test results.

Shameless plug for art

January 27, 2014

Readers of this blog know that I don’t often plug a commercial product.  In fact, I can’t remember doing so, unless it is my own book or other career products.

Here’s an exception.  My very talented brother, Pete Simcox, has opened a shop on Etsy for his paintings, and I’m inviting you to visit the online gallery and take a look.

You can go to and search for SimcoxFineArt.  If large-scale landscapes or bold abstracts interest you, you will love his works.  Yes, I’m prejudiced, and yes, I’m hoping you will help spread the word of this talented guy and his paintings.

Pete, thanks for sharing with the world.  Here’s a salute to the family member who got ALL the artistic ability. You’re a role model for other retirees, who now have the opportunity to go back to previously-undeveloped passions and skills.

Where would you be in Downton Abbey?

January 12, 2014

Or rather, who are you in that world?  Do you suppose that’s an interview question waiting to happen?

There’s a quiz you can take to find the character you are most like.  Wow!  I’m (the late) Lady Sybil – caring about social change, the first to wear pants to a party instead of a fancy dress.  True.  I’m married to a Robert, Earl of Grantham type – loyal to tradition and family. That explains a lot!

Would you like to know whom you most resemble?  Try the Downtown Abbey quiz for yourself.  It’s fun, somewhat provocative, and a great preparation for your next interview.

Hindsight + Memoir = Career Insight

March 7, 2013

A friend recently published a collection of stories of her youth, and I spent a wonderful afternoon getting to know the author in new ways.  Amid these funny and not-so-funny anecdotes, I gleaned some insight into how one’s youth continues to haunt and/or inspire as we get older.

That’s why career counselors devote much of a client’s first meeting to that person’s background, often over their objections.  (But I came for help with my resume!)

I’d rather hear you tell me about yourself.  When I’ve heard several stories about your past, I will understand that resume so much better, and will be much more able to help with it and with your job search.

Don’t believe me?  Check out Down to ‘Derry; Coming of Age in Vermont by Jeanne Heffron Slawson.  Here you will meet a bright, adventurous, artistic child who observed and remembered – a lot.  She writes of teachers and their attitudes in the village schools.  She reveals the parent who minimized her own daughter’s equestrian accomplishments in order to boost those of an older brother.  And most of all, she reminds us of the philosophy of dying and death that left the kids totally alone to cope.

After you read this collection, you won’t be terribly surprised that this woman went on to become a caring and professional career specialist, an artist, and a mom extraordinaire.

Is this why they say that there’s a book inside each of us?

School Messages that Endure

February 18, 2013

What are kids learning in school?  I’m not referring to the obvious subject matter in their classes, but rather the philosophy of education practiced in that setting.  If you ask them, they may mutter not much, but I have new proof that the deeper messages simmer and then emerge.

Here’s a story by Baltimore realtor Rachel Rosen Rabinowitz on her blog.  I’ve known Rachel since she was a really sweet, bright little girl living across the street.  She and my children attended the same elementary and middle schools.

Hyattsville Middle School had a dedicated and high-minded principal, Dr. Joseph Lupo, who played classical music stations in the halls between classes and had a motto about “The Pursuit of Excellence”.  Would you think this message would resonate with early teens?  Hmmm.

Rachel has just written about that message, all these years later.  I urge you to read it ( and then give the kids in your life some credit for – just maybe – taking it all in.

Rachel, thanks for the memories and the inspiration.  Dr. Lupo, well done!

Lessons from another birthday lady

April 27, 2012

Miss Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926.  And yes, you know her as the author of To Kill a Mockingbird.  On high school reading lists or a beloved movie with Gregory Peck, her characters of Atticus Finch, Scout, Boo Radley and others of the small southern town live on.  So does her portrayal of Jim Crow justice.

Thank you, Miss Lee, for telling it like you saw it.  You still raise sensibilities today.  I believe you have changed the world.

Dorothea Lange: we’re still seeing her story

April 25, 2012

Do you ever look at a prized photograph from your vacation and say this really tells the story?  If so, you’ll admire the works of Dorothea Lange, born April 26, 1895.

She was a photographer, who supported herself during the Great Depression with money from the WPA, documenting the life of migrant farmers.  Her iconic photo of a mother and her two children became the face of poverty and softened the hearts of landowners.

Yes, your photos tell a story.  But check out Lange’s.  Her story is told in the recent book, Dorothea Lange: a Life Beyond Limits. Author Linda Gordon provides a detailed chronicle of Lange’s career.  You will recognize those classic photographs of ordinary people standing in bread lines.

You can also learn more at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

Happy 117th, Ms. Lange.  Your works still speak to us.