New Year's Resolutions represent the ultimate folly as far as human beings and my personal experience go. I've learned not to bother; they don't work.
But I do bother about setting goals for the New Year.
Actually, I nearly always do two things during each December. First, I make a two-column list of how my year went, noting both "good" and "bad" things that happened to my mind, spirit, senses, and body. Then I assign each item a number from 1 to 10 indicating weight or importance to me, i.e., how "bad" or how "good" was it? Next, I add each column separately, then add the two sums together to see what my overall annual score is.
The strange thing is, nearly every year my total score evaluating the concluding year, turns out to be zero or close thereto; the bad equals the good. There is a lesson somewhere in that and, of course, the source of a future poem.
The second thing I do is to write down my personal goals for the New Year with respect to the four elements (mind, spirit, sense, and body). Goals aren't set in concrete like those pesky "resolutions" which are wont to create anxiety if I fail or fall short. I don't know about you, but I surely don't need more anxiety in my life.
Regarding both things that I do, the most pleasant task of all is when I summarize the "good" -- and that very thing I am doing right now. It reminds me to be grateful.
In this pleasant, present space of contemplating the "good," it's no surprise that music and poetry seem to predominate! I am most grateful of all to my life partner, Ron, who helped me for one year to accomplish my special birthday party that was full of music and love (pictures below).
Although I have not yet weighted each following listing, in no particular order of importance are these ten musical or poetry-related brand new events or experiences this past year, ones that I cherish:
1. I finally decided that, being retired, I needed a calling card (pictured above), and that it was time this fall to do two things regarding my passions: claim my rainbows and state my aspirations: pianist, poet, and dreamer!
2. Downtuning The Duchess from A440hz to A432hz came courtesy of my designated piano technician/tuner David Amendola, who this year became a willing resource to answer a number of my burning music-related questions. As well, from time to time he sends me the gift of a special YouTube song or cello performance (his preferred instrument) with which I'm not conversant, and so my musical knowledge grows.
3. I took Julliard psychologist/violinist Noa Kageyama's zoom class "Psych Essentials of Performance", and as a result completely reversed my way of thinking that I might not be able to learn piano as a late-life student. I reframed sometimes overwhelming anxiety I experienced in front of teachers and friends, to "enthusiasm" and applied practical strategies Noa taught about how to enhance performances and practice. I have now adopted a brand new "not yet" mental attitude ("I can't do that yet -- but I can learn!"),
4. For the first time in my life I received two thrilling gifts: significant pieces of art made especially for me. One is a piano score composed by Bruce Nalezny who helped me find my Duchess. He composed it to celebrate the Christmas season and spirit. It is challenging enough for me to make it a learning experience, and is directed to appeal to my principal love of romantic, lilting waltzes, with the appropriate temporary working title of, well...."Waltz" (lol; unless Bruce comes up with a more apt title, I think it will settle into this one: "Waltz Waltz"). The other was the perfect, relevant, original poem written especially for my birthday party by my photographer bff of some 35 years, Jeanette Vonier, and read at my party. Jeanette is pictured above left with her hubby, John, at the welcome table. The five great portraits on this page were captured by Jeanette!
5. In February I accomplished a goal held since music came back into my life three years ago, and that was, at our symphony to see one of my favorite pianists, Lang Lang (video above and that is the supersonic opening to Greig's only piano concerto)! Then a few months later I heard my favorite composition played by Beatrice Rana ("Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" by Rachmaninoff)!
6. I enjoyed a serendipitous connection to a new-to-me genre of Latin American folk music and to Alejo Cordero. Alejo is a true young Maestro/instructor of the joropo or musica llanera genre from Venezuela and eastern Colombia. He also teaches the pear-shaped guitar typically played with this music style, the "bandera llanera." You can see in the video above how I failed to resist jumping up to his lively music, to shake my booty and enjoy the occasion!
7. I began to get to know Grace Huenemann (pictured right), a sister zoom student in Noa's zoom class this past January. She's an awesome, gentle, and encouraging pianist and long-time piano teacher at the SF Community Music Center. Grace showed up to enjoy and support me in two significant events of my life this year, my 80th Trips Around the Sun party, and the first-ever Groupmuse home piano concert that my partner and I hosted (and we intend to host more in the New Year).
8. In early October I discovered and attended a Groupmuse concert (12 people at a piano concert at Brani's, a cozy, small piano/art atalier), and almost immediately wanted to host one in my home (and did so on Dec. 16; amiable and informative concert pianist Ian Scarfe is pictured left with guests).
On December 22 I learned that my neighbors Amanda and Roy (pictured at my birthday party) are seriously interested in music! Roy gave me a ride (our partners were working) and we attended another wonderful Groupmuse afternoon event in a SoMa warehouse-art gallery, featuring harpist Amy Ahn, pictured below. She also sings and composes - a triple threat!
Along my Groupmuse way I decided to volunteer to help this worker-musician owned cooperative expand in the Bay Area. Volunteering is the perfect way for me to contribute to a wider music ecology, making concert music accessible to more people at reasonable cost and in a more intimate way than in a huge concert hall. This would be yet another way to express my appreciation for local musicians who give their heart and soul to music. They work often with only modest remuneration, and deserve wider support to pursue their gift and passion.
9. I stumbled on Lighthouse Writers Group, bit the cost bullet, and enrolled in an 8-session zoom class in the crafting of poetry taught by Alyse Knorr. (I have by now also enrolled in three other poetry classes to come, since my interest in improving has caught fire!) Alyse is an awesome poet and Associate Professor of English at Regis University in Denver. The class revealed what it is that great poets do to achieve their renown and respect, introduced the basic poetry forms, encouraged us to experiment writing poems in new forms, and demonstrated how to edit an initial draft to improve a poetic idea. Amazingly, Alyse answered every single email I sent her, and read and commented on both homework poems and unrelated poems on which I desired feedback. The most important result of this class was that I began to venture beyond my typical, comfortable "style" (usually a lyrical, 4-line stanza ballad poem with a 4-3-4-3 beat meter). I began to add a new element or three and slightly more imaginative images to poems I am now writing, hopefully resulting in richer, more complex poems pointing to those "essential truths" I wish to share.
10. With the constant administrative support of my partner, Ron, we learned Word, then I managed to take control from an errant MIA publisher of my first volume of poetry and make relevant changes, then re-publish and distribute that, plus my second volume of poetry (back cover pictured left including two awesome and generous endorsements), both now for sale online at Barnes & Noble and some other major distributors (N.B. Amazon online has twice distributed my two volumes with substantial mistakes, so kindly do not shop there). Self-publishing is not a happy process or venture; indie authors are often alone to figure things out, and are often taken advantage of by scammers, but we prevailed!
To all of which I conclude: "All good!"
A happy and healthy New Year to All!
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