Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughts on Beginning a New Year

Mostly, on this day as I begin the new year, I am thinking how fortunate I am to be alive, well, and have a future before me.  In just the past few weeks, two women I knew quite well passed away from cancer.  One, I met when she first took a class from me as she hoped to teach English and English as a Second Language.  She also worked in the International Students Office at Colorado State University - Pueblo when I taught there in 2010.  She reached her goal of getting her English degree.  She was a great friend and support to so many in the International Program.  Cancer took her quickly when she was way too young.  

And then, the mother of one of my daugher Julie's best high school friends lost her battle with ovarian cancer day before yesterday.  She and her family moved to Pueblo when I first married Jim and also moved to Pueblo.  Her daughter and mine became such good friends.  When Julie died, it was SAS, along with other close friends who came to our home and helped us grieve well by remembering Julie.  Their laughter gave me hope.  

Now, this dear girl has lost her beautiful mother.  And, her mother was beautiful.  She was one of the most gracious women I have ever known.  I knew her as SAS's mom and as an educator.  There was something about her that was special.  She was soft spoken, but firm.  She was intelligent, competent, and hardworking.  She loved her students and her teachers.  Her elementary school was a Blue Ribbon School.  Her accomplishments were many, but it was her job as a mother that should have won awards.  She raised two of the most beautiful, thoughtful, kind, and accomplished young women I know.  She died way too young.  My heart breaks for all who worked closely with her and for her family.

I am humbled to think that I have the opportunity to begin a new year.  I do not take this for granted.  I hope to honor these two women  by carrying them in my heart as I endeavor live more fully each day that I am blessed with life and breath. 

I ponder this word as I move forward into 2013:

exordium ig-ZAWR-dee-uhm  

1.  The beginning of anything.2.  The introductory part of an oration, treatise, etc.
The word for today from dictionary.com seemed to strike a cord with me today.  The English teacher in me was awakened.  I thought deeply about just what this word means to me and why I chose it as the topic for a blog post on this the first day of 2013.
Perhaps blog posts that begin the year focusing on a word is a new tradition for me.  Last year, I focused on the word hitherto.(Click here to read that particular post.)  As I have gone back and read the blog post I wrote on January 1, 2012, I was struck by just how appropriate that word was for all the events that would follow throughout the year.  In fact, the very next day after I wrote this post, I fell down the stairs, hit my head, and began one of the great trials of my life as I dealt with the aftereffects of a head injury.  
In this post, I also referred to a scripture in the Bible where Samuel erected a stone to mark a place where the people could remember that up until this time, or hitherto, the Lord had helped them.  He called the stone Ebenezer or Stone of Help.  How many times have I touched that stone of help in the past year?  How many times did I need those reminders that up until this time, or hitherto the Lord has helped us?  I would posit that being able to remember this simple truth that I wrote about on January 1, 2012 is precisely what helped to carry me through the trials, challenges, fears, tears, and anxiety that would grip me through much of the year.
And so, here we are today, January 1, 2013, looking at the beginning of a new year.  I can only look behind me to know the journey I have been on.  I cannot predict the future, but I can walk confidently into it with great anticipation and hope.  That is exactly what I intend to do.
I find this word exordium the perfect word for a new year.  It is a simple word that means the beginning of anything.  Anything is a pronoun that is not specific.  Anything means that there are all kinds of possibilities and opportunities that could present themselves throughout this coming year.  For me personally, it means that I have a true new beginning. 
I am living in a new home, a new neighborhood, a new town, and that means I have lots and lots of new things to explore this year.  Just think, my year will be the year filled with new adventures, meeting new people, eating a new restaurants, and establishing new routines.  Truly, I am blessed in ways I could never imagined one year ago.
The word exordium deserves a closer look.  After all, I am retired English teacher.  If I were teaching this word for today, I would have the students look at its Latin roots.  As a former student of Latin, I would be very interested in the Latin root of this word which is ord which means "to begin."  The prefix -ex  is the part of the word that really intrigues me though because in this case it means "utterly."  Utterly, completely and without qualification,  to begin anything seems to be the best way to walk into a new year.
Beyond the thoughts that come to my mind concerning the first definition of exordium, I also gravitate toward this word and latch on to it because  the word can be applied to the definition of a portion of the construction of a document or a larger piece of work.  The word has expository and literary ties.  The synonyms of exordium include: preamble, prelude, prologue, and preface.  
I've promised myself that this will be the year that I write.  I hope to work more on the discipline of writing daily.  I hope to join a writing group.  I hope to begin work on a memoir, or perhaps a book about my daughter Julie.  I hope to read more blogs and write more blog posts.  
There are new patterns for my life that must be established.  There are benchmarks to meet.  There are goals that I hope to reach.  Dare I list them here?  Yes, I think I shall.  This will serve as a record.
New beginnings for 2013

  • Eat a more healthy diet simply because my health demands it.  I am pre-diabetic.  My numbers are not good.  The diet must change.  I like whole fresh foods best.  Why don't I eat them?  This must change.
  • Walk more.  I love to walk.  Do what I love.  Get out there and walk!
  • Love more.  I love people.  I have isolated myself too much in the last few years.  This year get out there and mix with people again!
  • Give more.  Give of myself and my finances to help those in need.  I am blessed with life experiences that can help others.  Serve those who need help!
  • Renew my teaching certificate.  I don't want to see it expire.  
  • Reconnect with my profession.  I miss the classroom.  Perhaps, I will venture back into teaching a bit this year too.  
  • Write, write, write.  I have a story to tell.  Maybe others would like to read it.
Well, that is a beginning.  

Happy New Year to you all!


becca said...

Happy New year may the year bring you all that is wonderful

Barb said...

Exordium - you've taught me a new word, Sally. Your goals for 2013 are ones that will enhance your life in every dimension. Have you thought of volunteering at the Community College? I worked in the CMC Learning Lab for many years, and the relationships I built were wonderful. One of my students is still a close friend 13 years later. You would be a perfect tutor. (I also volunteered in Language Arts and Writing at the elementary school and loved that, too.) When the grandkids starting arriving 10 years ago, I shifted my volunteering efforts to them! One piece of advise: be careful on the stairs! Stay well and happy, Sally.

Chatty Crone said...

I am with you on the new diet - I HAVE to eat better - I HAVE to. Just stopping by to say hello and wish you a Happy New Year! sandie

Vagabonde said...

That is a new word for me – exordium – sounds Latin. I looked at your photos from your last post – it must be fun to visit with friends from high school. This is one tradition I wish we had in France – but we don’t. No high school reunions, no dances or sports for that matter. Sometimes I think “What happened to Michele? Or to Pierre?” but I don’t know.
I wish you and yours a great 2013 filled with magic moments, much happiness and good health.

Jackie said...

You do indeed have a story to tell; I can think of no one finer to be able to do that than you, Sally. Your writing skills are remarkable.
As you continue your journey...difficult as it has been for you, know that you are teaching me a life lesson through your writings. I encourage you to continue writing...we are blessed to be able to read it.
Like you, I miss the classroom; I won't be going back, however. I think my teaching days are behind me (formal teaching, that is.) I know that we are all teachers wherever we go, so I will be happy in the fact that the world is now my classroom.
I send you loving smiles...warm hugs and wishes for a beautiful 2013.
Love to you,

#1Nana said...

I hope you have a wonderful new year. I'm impressed with your goals. I also need to write more...and not those boring grants I've been churning out. They are really works of imaginative fiction! Best wishes to you and your family for a great 2013.

Linda Reeder said...

If writing and restructuring your daily life are your goals, you are off to a good start.

Arkansas Patti said...

With all the new in you life you pretty much have a clean slate to draw upon this year. The perfect way to start.
Hope you do join a writing group. It is a great way to meet people and if they are like my group,a very stimulating bunch.
When I moved here, I joined several clubs in my interest areas to meet people but the writers really made me stretch my mind and intellect. Enjoy discovering

Jeanie said...

Thinking about how fortunate we are to be here for the new year is a great start toward making the new year a good one. I wish you all the best in meeting the worthy goals you have set for yourself.

DJan said...

I am sorry to hear of the loss of those two women. But I also applaud your desire to follow your own new beginnings this year, Sally. It was so wonderful in 2012 to have actually met you in person! That was a wonderful exordium for me. :-)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Sally, you have a wonderful perspective on life and all the trials you have come through. Thanks for this great New Year's post and I wish you the best in 2013. Your resolutions seem well chosen and you definitely have a story to tell and the ability to tell it compellingly. Cheers!

Joanne said...

Great goals and great outlook. I am sorry about the loss of your friends.
"I hope to honor these two women by carrying them in my heart as I endeavor live more fully each day that I am blessed with life and breath. "
This was beautiful.
Blessings, Joanne

thisisme said...

Hi Sally. Exordium - that's certainly a new word to me! Like you,I feel so blessed to be here at the start of another year. I like your list of things you wish to do. I must get out and walk more, and I must eat more healthily! I am sorry about your friends that are no longer with us. I pray that this year will be a good one for you and your family. I wish you a happy, healthy, joyful and blessed new year. Take care.

troutbirder said...

And it sounds like your made a good start for a new beginning. Sometime these tragedies give us the perspective for a frest start so we waste not what each days living offers us. Take care, Sally...:)

Joyce said...

Last year was the first year I chose a word. It was a new idea for me, but for a number of reasons I chose the word joy. My daughter and I were talking yesterday about how elusive joy was in 2012, how hard I had to seearch for it amidst the sadness that hung over our family. It was the right word for a dark year.

I'm sorry about the loss of your friends. I hate cancer.

John Paul McKinney said...

Wow. Students must have loved you! You got me to pull my Fourth Latin book off the shelf for the first time in a long time. Why "exoriri" when "ordiri" would work fine? "Ex" as utterly, but also as "out of," namely a beginning growing out of something else - a plant beginning it's new life from a seed. Ok, teach', I'm back; I'm going to start reading blogs again, at least yours. Your attitude of gratitude (sorry for the alliteration - there's no other way to say it)is refreshing and an inspiration. Thank you for continuing to teach on a whole bunch of levels. Julie must be proud. I want to see the book about her! Please!

Jeanie said...

This is a wonderful word with which to begin a new year -- and marvelous goals to go with it! I'm glad you are considering a book about Julie. Your writing gift is a great one and your story needs to be shared. It may also be healing -- I know my friend Judy, whose special needs son died 10 years ago -- found it so when she wrote her book. It helps work through things and helps others as well. Happy New Year, my friend. onward to exordiate (ok -- NOT a word!)

Mage said...

What a wonderful word to start the new year. Yes, I sure get tired of veggies, but my weight and health love them. Yes, I'm going to put together those Nazi stories into a chap book. Than Paint, paint, paint.

Thank you for the list.

Lynilu said...

I absolutely love your new beginnings. Most fit me, and I'm admittedly stealing them. I wish you happiness this year. I wish us all happiness!

Grandmother said...

It's a worthy list leading to good health and long life, at least insofar as you are able to influence. Good word as well. Reminds me of why I love words. Thanks.
p.s. Good luck with the book.

Kay said...

I love all your resolutions, Sally. I'm afraid I've let my teaching certificate expire when I left Illinois. However, like you I sure do need to eat a healthy diet and exercise! Arrrghhh! That's the hardest thing for me to maintain.

I agree that we need to enjoy the life we have and make the most of it. I've lost too many dear ones this year too. Life is very precious and to be appreciated. May 2013 be healthy and happy for you and your beautiful family.

Janette said...

Yes, continue that teaching certificate! Mine is ready for renewal (probably for the last time).

I am sorry for your losses.
May you find new joy in new and old friends in this year---and always.

Jean said...

A major assignment I used to give my seniors was to write a biography of someone significant in their lives, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a neighbor. I urged them to make sure their subject had lived long enough to have an interesting story to tell. One year a boy in the class asked if he could write the biography of his sister, who had died suddenly at age 18, about five or six years ago. I made an exception to my "rule" and said he should definitely write her story. He interviewed family members, etc., and even studied her autopsy report. The day he handed his paper to me, he also handed me a letter from his mother. In it, she thanked me for the assignment and said her son's project had helped the entire family come to grips with the girl's death. Write the story of Julie this year!

By the way, the cause of the girl's death was never determined. I saw the autopsy report. A sudden, unexplained death at age 18.

Friko said...

All I can say is that it may not be easy to stick with your new beginnings but, if you take them one at a time, and in small portions, you should get there. After all, from what you say they are things you enjoy anyway.

So go ahead, follow your path to the new you. Or maybe not new, just rediscovered?

Very best wishes for a joyful 2013. My all your dreams come true.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

So happy I came by here tonight. I have to tell you I needed to read this especially today.
I do hope you write it would be our loss if you did not tell your story.
Very sorry about the loss of these dear ladies.
Happy New Year

Linda Myers said...

Your goals are forward looking. I can tell that you are healing!

Perpetua said...

I've come very late to this post, sally, but I loved it. Having had breast cancer twice, I have known too many women who have died too young, so I am always immensely grateful to be still here to start each new year and new day.

I'm not an English teacher but a linguist, so your reflection on the word exordium really struck a chord with me. Your list of new beginnings is eminently sensible and hopefully achievable and I wish you all the very best for the coming year.

Isabelle said...

Go for it! All the best of luck.

I Wonder Wye said...

I love this post. I love your resolutions. The possibility of a new beginning is an honor and a joy. Blessings to you in yours...and you are correct. It is never to be squandered or taken for granted...

Maggie May said...

That blasted disease has caused so much heartache. I am sorry for the losses and understand so well how that feels.

Go for the writing confidently into the New Year.

It is humbling when I start a new year and find I am still here!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

What a joy of life you are hoping to embrace and I hope your walks and healthy food give you the energy to enable you.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I wish we lived in the same town, Sally, as I also love to walk, and I used to walk three mile evey morning with friends in a park. I hope to find soem walking companions in my new community. There are 25 miles of natural trails here to explore!

I left s dear friend in New York who is battling ovarian cancer. I hope her treatments will be successful. It is a reminder to me not to take any of my for granted--they are all precious!

LC said...

Your journey, past and present, and your writing about your exterior and interior life during your journey, is such an inspiration and encouragement to me.

Thank you .