I recently watched Meryl Streep’s new movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, and what a treat! I can not remember when last I had the time to enjoy such a heart warming, thinker of a movie. Some scenes from the film keeps lingering in my mind, reminding me to keep doing intro-introspection and work on how I see myself and my life.
The film and lessons we can take from it
(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, save this post for later!!)
We get so consumed with what the world thinks of us and if the people in our lives (even strangers) approve the way we do things and admire us for what we do, how much we have or who we are. We forget to enjoy the precious moments, be ourselves and to just live! This movie and the woman that inspired it showed me that you should always have a personal reason for doing something…even if it is merely because it brings you joy!
Mrs Jenkins was an American socialite and significant philanthropist to the arts in the early 20th century. In her 40s, she decided to start the hobby of singing, although being tone-deaf. She became known and mocked for her flamboyant performance costumes and poor singing ability. Nobody could bring themselves to tell her, not even her beloved partner, St. Clair Bayfield. Mrs Jenkins just really loved music and performing, despite not being good at it.
The thing is, Mrs Jenkins did not realise till much later in her life how bad of a singer she actually was. She was very sick for most of her life and only dying at the glorious age of 76 was quite astonishing. Many say she devoted her life to music and embraced everyday as if that day could be her last.
Maybe her overall positive attitude and passionate personality added to her years?
All her loved ones hiding the truth can probably be seen as a compassionate response to a dear woman on her death bed. Maybe that is why she lived so unapologetic about her eccentric personality and lifestyle? She believed it is OK to be herself. There is so much beauty in self-expression and discovering the real you through the process.
We should all aim to be more like ourselves. There is no one like you. Think about that for a moment.
And then this film shows us something about the courage we should have in the pursuit to do what makes us happy. And maybe Bayfield and Mrs Jenkins’ pianist teach us how encouraging someone else to live honestly and motivating them to pursue their dreams can change YOU.
We are so much stronger and capable through love and encouragement.
Although I am trying to explain how important it is to do what you enjoy I just what to emphasise how important it is to allow others be themselves. You do not have to be everybody’s biggest fan, but you can accept and always choose not to judge. Let them be.
So what does it mean to do things that bring you joy?
I’m not talking about your work. I am explicitly talking about who you are. Your work is not your identity.
Your hobbies and the fact that you love to paint, even though you can’t draw a fruit bowl, is who you are. The way you wear your hair or do not want to follow every fashion trend is who you are. The fact that you like your coffee sweet and that you love Aromat (which is so unhealthy!) and almost eat it on everything is who you are. The fact that you are obsessed with The Vampire Diaries or that you sometimes prefer to go to the movies alone is who you are. That you do not always like the monochrome, grey, “more clean and organised” trends in the magazines and silently wish you could have been a travelling gypsy is who you are. The love you have for Jesus and the way you strive to be more like Him in a cruel and crooked world…That is your identity. And in that lies joy. DO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY!! Even if nobody’s watching, or appreciating what you’re doing and even if everybody is judging you while doing it. Stay true to yourself.
So even if you can’t sing, do it with meaning and let your true voice be heard. And remember: You are amazing!
Just 3 more things to do everyday to help you experience joy daily:
- Let yourself dream
- Give yourself permission to do what you want and sometimes just because you can. Because it is good for you!
- Do something creative. Expressing yourself in a creative way makes you feel good. Whether you like to write, paint, sing, sculpt, crochet or any other activity that conjures something out of thin air, developing a skill that applies your imagination can access a well of pleasure in who you are and make you feel incredible delight. And if your creative outlet is Sudoko? Enjoy!!!!