A Fresh Start in a New Year: New Beginnings

Had a lovely two weeks off enjoying time with my family and grandkids. This week it’s back to the real world and the pleasure of writing my first blog of the year.

As the new year begins, I’m drawn to quotes about new beginnings. A few of my favorites:

New Beginnings“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ― T.S. Eliot

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

As I shared in my last blog, last year was a traumatic one. Looking back on it, I realize that there will be some healing time ahead for me as I pave my way to new beginnings. This became fully apparent at the end of the year when I sat down to transfer important dates into my new datebook.

Although my husband urges me to use my phone to keep track of appointments and anniversaries and such, I still prefer an old fashioned datebook. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a datebook since I was a teen. I have this end-of-the-year tradition to browse through the year in review, enjoy good memories, and see how my life has changed.

I knew this year would be different. My datebook for 2015 included some painful reminders that included the dates of my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary, my Mom’s death, and her Memorial. Nonetheless, I picked up the old datebook before fully realizing just how hard this process would be.

The first half of last year was full of doctor, dentist, hair, and manicure appointments for my Mom who suffered with Lewy Body Dementia. Mom joked I was both her secretary and chauffeur. Then there were the dates of Mom’s hip surgery, the days that hospice nurses and caregivers visited, and then finally dates of family members who wanted to see my Mom before she died, and the date of her death and Memorial service. Memories flooded back to the day a doctor at the hospital strongly suggested that we put Mom back into hospice and bring her home to die. The day I had to tell my siblings and we all cried as we were forced to accept the reality of her situation. The memory of watching my Mom take her final breath still haunts me as well.

If my Mom was still alive, I’d be writing 60’th anniversary under the date of April 14 in 2016. Before my Mom’s health deteriorated, we talked about throwing a 40’s party since my Mom loved that decade. Once, when we were discussing plans, she joked, “If I make it that long.” Although it panged me to hear her say that, I was still in denial at that point and laughed it off. After all, July was less than a year away.

My step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, died a short 17 months after her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. My 2015 date book included my in-law’s 37th anniversary, which just happens to be on the same day of my mother’s birthday on July 8. Cheryl was determined and brave fighting her battle, and somehow managed to keep going in her typical brisk manner, until the week she announced she was coming home to die. The surgery and treatments were not working and, by that time, she was in a lot of pain. We had dinner at her home and she jumped up to help in the kitchen, as was her habit. A few days later, she died at the young age of 60. My 2015 datebook also includes the date of her Memorial service.

Although I forge ahead into the new year, both their memories will be with me forever and treasured.

Feeding a giraffe at the Living Desert last week with my family.

Feeding a giraffe at the Living Desert last week with my family.

Last year’s date book was also full of family court dates – unwelcome reminders of my oldest son’s ugly divorce and custody battle. Let’s just say, there was no need to write down my son and ex-daughter-in-law’s anniversary date either.

However, this last week, we all enjoyed a blissful week together with the grandchildren, visiting the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Living Desert. The kids enjoyed sleepovers with their friends along with scavenger hunts, homemade pizza, and a talent show. Just hanging around the house puttering around in my new garden or sitting by the fire pit was heavenly. Evidence that it is time to move out of divorce land and move forward into our new lives.

New Start

So, gone is last year’s date book. Distressing as last year was, it is now a time for healing and for new beginnings.

I picked up my new 2016 datebook because I thought it was cute and loved the color. But here’s the funny thing. It’s the most cheerful datebook I’ve ever owned.

I never looked inside, but on the first page it had the words: “Your days are as fun as you make them.” Right on! In fact, each month has a positive quote. For example, April says: “Don’t fall back on what’s behind you; spring forward to what’s ahead.” In November: “Learn from yesterday, dream about tomorrow. Live in the moment.”  And December: “Life goes on so keep on keepin’ on.”

Quotes we’ve all seen before, but it’s perfect for me this year. Simple reminders to live in the moment and make each and every day count. I love it! Who knows what fun dates this year’s datebook will contain?

As you can tell, this blog has served as a sort of therapy for me as I try to make sense of everything that has happened and look to the future. It is my hope that spilling my thoughts and feelings onto this page may somehow help some of you who are facing similar challenges and difficulties.

With that in mind, I look forward to sharing my journey this year with all those who choose to stop by and visit. What will your year be like? I would love to hear about your journey and plans for the new year in the comment section below.

So, here’s to new beginnings. As Rainer Maria Rilke, a famous poet and novelist, wrote, “And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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6 Responses

  1. Cat Michaels says:

    You had me tearing up a bit, Julie, with your calendar transfers. Love your new start quotes! We overcame lots of mini-challenges in our family but the super-big triumph of my sister’s victory after 16 weeks of chemo for b-cell lymphoma trumped everything. I don’t have any particular goals for 2016. Just taking it day by day, savoring the small moments instead of sweating the small stuff.

    • juliegorges says:

      Cat, I am beyond happy for your sister!!! So glad you liked the quotes – I found them so inspiring. Like you, I am not big on New Year Resolutions either – love your goals, live one day at a time and in the present, savor those small but special moments, and quit stressing out over stupid stuff. Those are some of my goals as well!

  2. I so admire and envy your optimism! 🙂

    I struggle so much with negativity. Times when I’m doing better and being more positive get switched off, sometimes in an instant, and whatever it is inside my brain that favors the downward view is back again – and the battle starts all over.

    Give thanks that optimism seems to be your default, or at least stronger, mindset. 🙂 Hugs!

    • juliegorges says:

      Pearl, you were so honest and I’m going to get real for you as well. You are not alone. I have to make an effort to stay optimistic and some days are a real struggle. I am very fortunate that for the most part, I tend to be optimistic, but these last few years have been hard. There have been mornings that I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. My negative emotions literally froze me. Many of my blogs are pep talks to myself. I try to walk the talk, but I don’t always succeed. It has made me more empathetic to those who struggle with depression for sure. It’s an ongoing battle as you say, but a worthwhile one. I always enjoy hearing from you and please hang in there. One day at a time is a cliche that has a lot of truth in it. Sending big hugs back to you!

  1. December 15, 2016

    […] deemed 2016 my year of healing. As you can see from the blogs I wrote at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, I was still trying to process the loss of my mother, who died from Lewy Body dementia (a […]

  2. July 18, 2017

    […] also poured my heart out while caregiving for my Mom who suffered from Lewy Body dementia and wrote about her eventual […]

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