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Features for Senior Citizens

Normie at 83 helping older adults find new beat in their lives with traveling poetry show

Soothing inspirational poetry - 1200 poems - about the importance of developing, maintaining self-esteem into the mature years has turned many lives around

By Gary Wosk

Aug. 9, 2013 - He’s not that much older than Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones who still struts his stuff on stage, but even though 83-year-old Norman “Normie” Molesko doesn’t dance like a chicken, he has his own moves, albeit, not quite as electrifying. However, he can sing too, so his audiences always receive a lot of satisfaction that way too.   

Norman, who lives in Northridge, Calif., with his wife Sylvia, has been swaying the minds of his steadily growing followers for nearly 15 years with lyrics that don’t shatter eardrums. His soothing inspirational poetry about the importance of people developing and maintaining self-esteem as they enter their mature years has turned many lives around. He likes to refer to himself as “LA’s Young Oldie Senior Poet.”

Although he won’t divulge where he discovered the Fountain of Youth, this much is certain, his enthusiasm and energy are never in short supply. And neither are awards, acclaim and invitations for encore performances.

Norman has written more than 1,200 short, sweet and to the point poems that have the dynamic power to heal. His mission is to inspire older audiences to approach life with a sense of renewal. (See Norman perform on the You Tube channels http://youtu.be/nn5wYA2m3ew and http://www.youtube.com/TheNormieShow/). He’s quite the conversationalist too, a sage quote machine.

Video: The Family of Man and The Value of Man, Normie Molesko and Paul McCarty, 11th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days

Norman, a man of the ages if ever there is one, never appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show like that 70-year-old Rolling Stone who keeps on going and going, however, the retired psychologist delights crowds throughout Los Angeles County and beyond with a “really big show” of his own. Talk about setting the pace, Norman is way ahead of the pack.  

His venues may not include the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Walt Disney Concert Hall or Carnegie Hall for that matter, but he wouldn’t trade all the applause he’s received in more intimate settings.

No one screams, twists and shouts at the octogenarian’s shows, after all, it’s not a rock concert, but there’s plenty of “hmms” and smiles. Norman takes a far more subtle approach by simply asking his audience to re-examine attitudes about their own lives. It’s a message that’s well received by people of all generations searching for a purpose in life.

His poem, A Realization, personifies the essence of Norman’s mission: "With every breath there is opportunity. With every heartbeat there is challenge. With every positive sign of life there is potential for ongoing life." Thinking this way has enabled him to accomplish what he never dreamt he could possibly do.

 

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It doesn’t matter whether it’s a library, senior center, college classroom, a parks and recreation meeting room, KPFK radio, posting videos on You Tube or blogs, Norman goes all out in fulfilling his purpose in life: to get the word out about not looking back and moving forward. 

And Norman has been getting the word out since 1999, when he began his collection of poems that include the recent Ongoing and Positive, Time Traveler, Time Races Along, An Exchange between Young and Old, Cherished Moments, Treasures and many, many more.

“My mission is to activate the listener’s mind, for him or her to experience one’s identity and feel a sense of enrichment,” said Norman.

“Poetry groups throughout Los Angeles can provide individuals with a means of releasing and expressing the sunshine within. Poetry is a tool to honor the past, to motivate and vitalize oneself right now in the present, and to imagine and invent a bright future with hope and appreciation.”

He didn’t become an advocate of older adults until he was in his 70s, but Norman has sure went about it since then as if there’s no tomorrow. He has also become something of an expert on the subject, too.

“Neuroscience experiments on the brains of older people have revealed that the left and right brains interrelate more as one, unlike in younger brains,” said Molesko. “This offers an increasing potential for creative, positive and healthy aging, with longer life expectancy.”

Norman’s admirers include the California San Fernando Valley Retired Teachers Association, which designated him Poet Laureate and the San Fernando Valley Voice Newspaper, which named him Resident Poet. He has also served on the Los Angeles Department of Aging Council and the list of recognition and affiliations go on and on.

One of the reasons Norman’s poems have become so popular and have been published on Web sites and in publications, and displayed in exhibits, can be attributed to his carefully chosen words.

"He has developed a group of unique poems over the past decade which have distilled the essence of man's inner spirit to sparsely worded pieces that relate directly to the human nature in all of us,” said Lillian Rodich, author, writing instructor and member of the San Fernando Valley branch of the California Writers Club.

Norman has much more to say on the subject of aging in the books he has written. At age 80, he published Retiring and Senior Living, Experiencing the Second Half of Life, and at age 81, Heart Attack! Then What!

Taking center stage is not the only way Norman has advanced his cause. He also encourages others to enjoy the limelight by writing poetry of their own. He sponsored Senior Poetry in the Valley in the San Fernando Valley.

And there is more, much more. He was appointed poet coordinator/advisor for ENCORE’s Older Adult Program at Pierce College in 2007 and 2009 and subsequently poetry coordinator from 2009 to 2011 for the LA Annual Senior Art Exhibit catalogs, which portrayed the exhibits at the Bridge Gallery in LA City Hall.

Take a look at his schedule and it becomes apparent a dual heart attack has not slowed him down. He’s still as active as ever at his second home, the California Writers Club of the San Fernando Valley in Woodland Hills. A member of CWC since 2007, he frequently can be seen at the organization’s monthly meetings trying out new material during Open Microphone. 

Norman may not be a household name, but has impressed enough people to be invited back time in time again for performances.

“We applaud your work and congratulate your invitation to the 100 Thousand Poets for Change 2013 event,” said Gay Hanna, executive director of the National Center of Creative Aging in Washington, D.C.

Norman wouldn’t be Norman unless he had new ideas and he has plenty of them. He has visions for the emergence of social Senior Poetry clubs throughout LA County. There are now over a million Older Adults residing in the county.

“The trend over the next several decades is quite noticeable for an accelerating population of seniors with increased longevity,” he said. Norman is optimistic and believes that these social Senior Poetry clubs can come about.

Notes:

California Writers Club branches meet throughout the state to further their ongoing mission to foster professionalism in writing, promote networking of writers, mentor new writers and provide literary support for writers and the writing community. To attend workshops, programs and other events, or to learn more about events and activities in the San Fernando Valley, visit www.cwc-sfv.org.

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