On A Big Birthday & Goal Setting

Faye @85th birthday dinner

Every birthday is a marker in time, an opportunity to look backward and forward. Perhaps, because I was born at the apex of spring in the midst of the vibrant arrival of cherry blossoms, daffodils, and azalea, my senses are heightened. This past 85th birthday, I learned that aging is like breathing, rhythmical and effortless, until you pay too much attention.

There was no warning that this mid-decade birthday would feel like a big event; but the night before, after a fun tour of Fenway with a group of elders where we walked (slowly) up five flights to the top of the monster ball park and Shabbos dinner where close to my age friends dug into topics of aging at home, maintaining health, and presidencies over eight decades, I was off balance, feeling the weight of accrued years.

As I write this, the shock of recognition has faded and I am focused on the best way to maintain balance by paying less attention to what has passed and more attention to what is possible in my creative life.

Two weeks before my birthday, I began to revise a short essay for my annual submission to the Solstice MFA Anthology. While reading the piece aloud, I was taken by the rhythmic structure of several sentences and as I labored to shape it, the piece morphed into a poem. It took two full weeks and daily devotion to detail to reshape the piece into stanzas. An individual poem, because it is more compressed and every word is significant, can demand what seems like an inordinate amount of time. Yet the process, in and of itself, was compelling and joyful.

For many years, during my psychotherapy practice, I maintained balance by writing and revising poems daily; but once I retired, I left poetry behind in the wake of essays and memoir. The return of my poetry muse, especially in this post Trump world, convinced me to re-examine my writing schedule. Thus, for the near future, I have decided to shift my blog writing to every other week so as to attend to poem making as well as the longer works of nonfiction.

On the subject of setting goals in this post Trump world, I came upon an April 13th New York Times Opinion piece by Nicholas Kristoff in which he cites how he quizzed a scholar, Gene Sharp, 89years old, THE expert on challenging authoritarians. Sharp and a colleague, Jamila Raqib offered the main message that effectiveness does not come from pouring out into the street in symbolic protests. It requires meticulous research, networking and preparation.

“Think!” Sharp said. “Think before you do anything. You need a lot of knowledge first.”

Kristoff points to how Sharp gives emphasis to grass-roots organizing, searching out weak spots in an administration and patience before turning to 198 nonviolent methods he has put into a list, from strikes to consumer boycotts, to mock awards.

I’m grateful for Kristoff’s column; it is well worth the read to those of you seeking to weigh in and make a difference.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/opinion/how-to-stand-up-to-trump-and-win.html



4 thoughts on “On A Big Birthday & Goal Setting

  1. Hy Kempler

    I like the approach you’ve taken on your birthday. Look forward and adjust to what the heart and the mind are telling you. I’ll be curious how you’ll find the new schedule. I too am considering a change in mine hoping to do some writing.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Hy, Yes, I am hopeful that this new schedule will afford me the space and focus to complete some pieces and hopefully, to add a new one on occasion. Time will tell, my friend, as we well know at this phase. I hope you can clear some writing time in the near future.

  2. Beverly Bader

    I’m struck by your resilience to change your direction when your heart calls to you. Revisiting your poetry alongside essay writing brings you joy. I’m delighted that you’re giving yourself the time to make it happen! I’m appreciative to know you, dear Faye, my ageless friend!
    I am so grateful to have passions for making art and writing poetry, long term intimate companions that have kept me company forever! Like a continual itch, I pay attention to them often. It’s a deep need that brings me remarkable pleasure and joy during the process!

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Bev, I so appreciate your affirmation of my decision and was especially moved by your description of your art and writing as “long term intimate companions that have kept you company forever.”I have deep admiration for how you have sustained your commitment and connection to your art in both good and challenging times. I wish you continued joy and pleasure as you continue to explore your artistry.

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