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Slouching towards 60

Alas, another trip around the sun!

It’ll be 58 trips thus far, 58 springs, summers, winters and yes, happily, autumns J. I’m slouching towards 60 now. Sixty! Wow, although I’ll never be this young again, I certainly have never been this old.

What great gleanings have I picked up along the way? What significant insights have I sequestered? What daily declarations have I determined to live by?

When I turned 50, I was delighted because all of a sudden, I didn’t care anymore what people thought of me. I didn’t care if they thought I was a bad mom or not. I did my best, not my very best, but the best I could do at the time. As a lifelong people pleaser, this wasn’t easy, but I was finally free from those haunting voices of “What would they think?” and “Who do you think you are?” The relief was palatable, and the energy saved was redistributed into the continued task of raising the rest of my kids and crafting new ideas for my future. My blog was born shortly after this discovery.

Subsequently, as I slouch toward sixty, the fears that have anchored themselves into my being are finally being dislodged and although the consequence may be a little disorientating, definitely a little scary, Solomon’s grand declaration in Proverbs — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths — has provided the necessary structural support for me to continue to release those anchors and begin to sail into broader seas.

One of the GREATEST things about getting older, for me, is the reconciliation of my self to my self. I don’t know if that makes sense. In some respects, I spent many decades being someone I thought I should have been. The kind of Christian I should have been or the kind of wife and mother I should have been. I think this is a real issue with people pleasers, but it might be one for a lot of other people, too. Now, I trust that I am walking with the Lord; I have seen Him do innumerable things in my life and in the lives of my family. I trust Him to continue to do so.

Finally, it’s funny how things simmer within us. Ideas that have been floating around finally come to the surface. I’ve wanted to write for decades. At first when I was fresh out of high school, the thought of writing was impossible, it really was, not only was the identity of being a writer repugnant to my insignificant self, “I was not worthy, not smart enough, didn’t have anything worthwhile to say….etc.,” but also the thought of staying on task was impossible to this hare-brained, emotionally undernourished, young adult. I had other things to figure out first.

Throughout my marriage, I dabbled in writing, penning some kids’ stories and keeping up with my journal. Two books came my way. The first, Maybe You Should Write a Book, was given to me by my ex-husband. That book sure whets one’s appetite with great stories of book successes from Peter Benchley to Mario Puzo. Ralph Daigh even tells his own Hemingway story. A real jewel. The other book, Bird by Bird, my writer godfather gave me around 2006. Inscribed with his bold handwritten script — NEVER BE INTIMIDATED — was almost a familial mandate to pursue this desire. The first thing I ever published was blessed by this man. Every time I crack open Bird by Bird and see his handwritten message, I can almost hear him in his booming voice say, “NEVER BE INTIMIDATED.”  More anchors cast away.

November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I was going to participate, but was overwhelmed with other things in my life. But I did try to pray every morning instead of writing. Earlier in the year, I was chatting with a friend of my dad’s, Niel Davidson. He reads my blogs. What a nice guy! Anyway, I mentioned to him about writing a book, and he suggested I compile my blogs and columns. I had thought of that before, but his suggestion seemed to give the idea traction. So during November, I began to pray in that direction, but I really wanted an illustrator. So I prayed for one.

In December, I was on Facebook and noticed one of my friends’ kids had changed her profile pic to one of her illustrations. “Wow, she’s good,” I thought. I messaged her, we got together, and I now have my illustrator, and we are collaborating on this project, my first soon-to-be self-published book, The Plight of the Hare and Other Stories From the Shoe. We are very excited.

So now, as I slouch toward 60, I am slouching in front of my computer learning InDesign, typesetting my book, reviewing her wonderful sketches, and hoping, working, creating and still parenting toward a fruitful winter.

— Donna Fentanes

Blogger Donna Fentanes is a mother of 10 kids living in Pacifica. She mixes humor and philosophical musings with everyday life.

Reflections of Erma