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!