J S Ellington



Apr 16, 2017
What Is Talent and Who Has It?

Who Has Talent

My Random House dictionary defines talent as, "A special natural ability or aptitude." I think that is right. If it is, then everyone has talent! It may not be the talent they think they want, but it is there. Nature knows balance, and it constantly seeks to restore it. That means there is a reason every person is here. Somehow, they add something to life that no one else could bring.

I have heard, "I have absolutely no talent," from a lot of people over my lifetime. Just because you want to be a world-class singer, and you can't even carry a tune, doesn't mean you aren't talented. Just because you can't dance, draw, paint, or solve complicated math problems does not mean you are not talented.

Talent doesn't have to convey fame. It is just the characteristic that makes each person so valuable to life in a special way.

I will illustrate my point by enumerating some of the talents in the people who have graced my life. I have several friends who seem to know how to unconditionally love and accept others. Some of my friends know how to give support in a special way. A couple of people in my life have made me laugh more easily than any famous comedian could. Besides his patience and sensitivity, my husband has a talent for channeling his focus 100% into whatever task he is working on. I am in awe of others for their extraordinary creative ability. My uncle, who is 95, completely lights up a room with his smile. I could go on.

But you still want to know how people become talented at art, singing, math, etc. Don't you? This is where it really gets interesting to me.  

Gallup.com says, "Although talents, skills, and knowledge are each important for building a strength, talent is always the most important. The reason is that your talents are innate and cannot be acquired, unlike skills and knowledge. For example, as a salesperson you can learn your products' features (knowledge), you can be trained to ask the right open-ended questions (a skill), and you can practice making a sale (investment). However, the innate tendency to push a customer to commit at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right way must be naturally occurring and cannot be learned."

Talent can be hidden, even from the one who possesses it, until it begins to be explored and exercised. You say you have no musical ability. Have you taken a class, practiced and failed, or tried to develop a musical talent in some other way? If not, then you cannot know that you are not talented in music. From the same Gallup source above,"The latest science suggests we are all capable of extraordinary performance in some domain of expertise."

Talent is described by Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton as a package of personal characteristics that accelerates the development of expertise or improves performance in an area where a certain amount of expertise exists. From this, we can conclude that the characteristic that facilitates getting better faster at something is talent.

Past researchers in the realm of talent believe that talent is usually developed only after 10 years of concentrated practice in a certain discipline. But there are exceptions to this rule. Some are able to hone their talent much, much faster. Determination, focus, and motivation can allow more rapid development in a person when compared to another person who is lacking those characteristics.

Recent studies in epigenetics have pointed to the fact that heredity is not the final determiner in who has talent. Environment plays a bigger role. Consider a young man, for example, who may have shown exceptional ability as a violinist, but he was born to parents who were uneducated, poor, and may have even discouraged his desire to take up music. Compare that to the same young man who was given a violin as a child. Say he was curious enough to pick it up and play with it. Then he noticed violinists performing and enjoyed their music. Then maybe in school he chose the violin as his band instrument since he already owned one. From there on, given the right amount of encouragement and desire to learn and excel, he may have become "quite talented."

So what can we do to find our talent or help our children find theirs? Keep looking. Explore areas that seem interesting or promising. Once a person finds the endeavor that puts them in "the zone" that matches their unique combination of personal characterististics, it can be nurtured so that it has every chance of developing into a talent.

We were raised to believe we should strive to be well-rounded individuals. That may be true until a strong interest, aptitude, or passion begins to show itself. After that, attempts at being well rounded get in the way.The way to develop talent is to be encouraged and supported to practice it diligently so that it has the best chance of reaching its highest point of excellence.


passion talent practice diligent focus perseverance determination strengths encouragement support painter music dancer singer math balance nature well rounded discover epigenetics Permalink


Apr 8, 2017
We Might Be Rednecks....

Jeff Foxworthy would probably feel that my husband and I qualify though we don't have a working TV sitting on top of a non-working TV. Speaking of TV, we rarely turn it on. We have too much we enjoy looking at on all sides of our property.

Our favorite thing to do is sit and have hot tea on the front porch or the back porch (both enclosed with resident rescued dogs) and watch the bunnies, quail, roadrunners, thrashers, cardinals, woodpeckers, an occasional skunk, an occasional rattlesnake, sparrows, finches, owls, hawks, and the list is almost endless. All of these animals make their home right here on our 5 acres. Wild boars can be a problem, and there is other wild life in the area, such as deer and coyotes, but they don't come onto our property much as far as we can see. We only mow about 2 acres of our property. The rest is wild and raw for the animals. 

Are we rednecks because we don't fertilize, edge, and plant flower gardens? Maybe, but we love our wild plants. Here are some flowers that mother nature favored us with, just resting in the shade.Nature's Flower Garden

We have planted a fig tree, a couple of plum trees, a nectarine, a Hunsa apricot, a couple of blueberry bushes, and a blackberry. They are all young trees, not making much of a crop yet, but what they do make the woodpeckers pick clean. We don't mind at all, and we don't do anything to prevent their free access to the fruit, because it affords us the pleasure of their company.

As for rattlesnakes, they are considered our friends! We only kill one if it is a necessity. If they come out of the wild area we have provided for them and into our yard proper, we can't afford to allow them to be there. As stated before, we have 2 dogs living between the air conditioned/heated front porch and the front yard and 3 dogs living between the air conditioned/heated pack porch and the back yard. We were broken hearted to lose the 6th of our rescues just last month.

Below are pictures of the huge mesquite tree in our front yard and one just to the east of our yard. This property completely burned before we bought it, but these 2 beautiful mesquites and another, even larger one, were damaged but survived.

Mesquite in the FrontMesquite to the East of Our HouseOne or two of the mesquites, probably quite old, were killed by the fire, but we were too "redneck" to cut them down as the birds use them constantly, especially the woodpeckers. For 2 seasons in a row, we had 2 black-bellied whistling ducks roosting there for a few weeks. They were most likely migrating. 

Anyway, One of the dead mesquites is a tortuous work of art in my opinion. Come to think of it, the live ones are too. That's one of my favorite things about Abilene, Texas. Even the elite property owners revere the mesquites and many allow them to remain in their yards when new houses are built.

Beautiful Dead Mesquite To the south of our property is all cattle pasture. You can't probably see the cattle in the distance in the photo below, but they are a curious lot and often crowded up to the fence in an effort to see what's going on. Occasionally, cowboys on horseback are out there working the cattle. It is a glorious sight from the comfort of my front porch.Cattle Pasture Just to the South

Below is a photo of our dirt road. It is a bit tricky after a rain not to get stuck, and our vehicles are always covered with the fine clay silt that settles after someone drives down the road. Another concern is that very often birds or animals will decide to dart across the road just as our car approaches. They are all precious to us, and so far we have had no casualties.

Third from the bottom is an image taken from inside my front porch, showing the cattle in the pasture.

Two images below are of my paintings inspired by views I found on our road. The bar ditch is built up from the road so that gourd plants and other natural foliage often cascade down from the field above to the dirt road below.

In case you haven't already gotten this impression, let me just come right out and tell you that I love my Texas. It is the reason for my series by that name. 

Stay tuned! I have more inspirations for paintings from the beautiful views here north of Abilene, Texas, than I have time to paint, but I am at the easel as much as I can manage it!Our Dirt Road



A Friendly Little Sunflower

Texas Rose

sunflower Texas Abilene mesquite wildflowers coyotes skunk woodpeckers cardinals cactus dirt road Janie Ellington paintings fence post winter rye cattle wild boards deer I Love My Texas series Permalink


Apr 5, 2017
Finding Your Passion

Receiving the Gift

I was a pharmacist for 37 years. It was hard, stressful work, and I couldn't wait to retire. I counted the months. "When I am retired," I told myself, "I won't have to wake up early anymore. I won't have to be on a schedule. I can do anything I want to." 

The truth is that retirement landed me in a reality where my long-time identity was erased. I know women go through that when they experience the empty-nest syndrome after the kids leave home.

I had always been a magnet for injured, orphaned, and abandoned animals. Now, without a job, the strength of that magnet increased. I still had to get up early. I still had to be on a schedule. I was too busy to do "anything I want to!"

At one point, we had 11 dogs, and we had sold our house and were living our romantic dream of living in an RV. I don't recommend that. Yes, we saved money on housing, but animals in need generate a lot of veterinarian expense. Especially, being dumped tends to create fear and mistrust that make animals hard to approach and help. By the time they can be wooed into trusting, they are often emaciated, injured, etc. There were also some aggression issues, and we tried to bring all the ones we could into the RV with us due to frequent extreme weather conditions. 

You might guess that animal rescue was a passion for me. I am sorry to tell you that it was a compulsion instead. Instead of bringing me joy, it made me sad for the ones I couldn't save, and it depleted us financially.

I think I began to get a little depressed, though I didn't really recognize it. I must have told my husband 100 times during that first year after retirement that I was desperate for a passion, a reason for getting up in the morning that didn't involve saving an animal or solving a problem.

As the months clicked by, I got even more lost. My health started to go south. I felt pretty isolated because we had moved me and the dogs to a property we had bought in the country near Abilene, Texas, but we had no luck getting my husband's business started here. He had to stay in Midland, where he was in demand, and work. He commuted to our place near Abilene on the weekends. I began to feel that I was just waiting to die.

The idea of a passion kept coming up in me. I kept telling my husband how much I needed that, hoping maybe he knew what I was supposed to be doing with my time. He didn't.

I finally decided that it was critical for me not to give in to the feeling of being lost. I started to review the possibilities by looking back at creative things I had done. I had painted all of my life, but I never gave it much attention or time. I couldn't imagine that would be my "calling." Nevertheless, I knew I had to take a step--to try something. I decided to take an art class. After the first painting, I was hooked! 

It turned out that the time the class was held was not convenient for me, so I just continued to paint on my own. I have never looked back. My art pursuit has given me my passion. It has given me a wonderful community of other artists to pal with and enjoy. Art gives me a new way to connect with other people.

Every painting I complete, especially abstract works, is "free" therapy for me. Each one brings some kind of mini satori.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because, I know this is a common problem. People often die soon after retirement, I think because they "let" their loss of identity convince them that life is over for them.

I won't pretend to try to tell you how to find your passion, but I am convinced there is a pursuit for you that will qualify. You are the only one who can find it, and you have to start somewhere. Don't spend as much time as I did bemoaning the fact that you haven't found it.

If you haven't found your passion, start looking for it. Take a step. That step may lead you directly there or it may lead to another step that leads you to it. Don't stop until you find it. I am convinced that your passion is looking for you!


passion abstract therapy community connection people rescue dogs empty nest syndrome identity loss Permalink


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