Don’t sell yourself short!

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

Did you not apply for the job you really wanted because you thought you wouldn’t get it anyway?

Do you feel it’s too late to start a new career, so you continue on your current path even though you’re miserable?

Have you settled for a relationship with someone because you believe this is as good as it can get for you?

When someone pays you a compliment, is your first response to deny and discount rather than simply saying thanks?

It could be that you’re suffering from what some consider to be the most dangerous disease — self-doubt!

Perhaps it’s time you grab your pompoms and become your own cheerleader.

Sometime in the past year I recall receiving an email or Facebook post about a YouTube link titled, “Jessica’s Daily Affirmation.” It was this adorable rather precocious little girl standing on her bathroom counter looking in the mirror basically proclaiming all that was wonderful about what she saw and declaring her grand expectations for her day and life.

It seems children are born with an innate sense of appreciation for themselves. This included you and me a few years back, by the way. What happened to our ability to cheer for ourselves and our lives in a positive and passionate way?

Somewhere along our life journey we learned to argue with and against ourselves. And in doing so, we lost the high regard we once had and became obsessed with self-criticism.

The good news is we can learn to root for ourselves again and stop underestimating our potential and settling for less than our best.

Self-appreciation is not arrogance! There is nothing wrong with valuing and honoring our God-given gifts, talents, abilities and skills. I have no doubt that God cherishes and blesses the uniqueness of each one of Her precious children. Why would we not do the same?

And of course we should celebrate our successes! Why should we only have pity-parties?

You are not inadequate, insufficient, deficient, limited in any way. You are not at a disadvantage. When you make an estimate of the quality or worth of yourself or your abilities that is lower than what God makes, you are cheating yourself out of seeing your potential, genius, passion and purpose. And you need to recognize your value, in order to reach it!

You have only become unmindful or forgetful of the child God created. And this child — like little Jessica — knows very well that anything is possible and whatever is possible will be great!

I can’t help but think that Jessica’s daily affirmations are a good way to begin each day. We, too, can make daily affirmations of our strengths and capabilities when we wake up each morning. It makes sense that if we are to reach our full potential, we need to begin by appreciating who we are and what we can do.

So be your ally, your friend, your cheerleader. Know you can count on yourself to be in your corner every step of your life journey. And know that God is right there along side of you cheering, applauding and rooting for Her child with you.

Today is big with prospects, possibilities and potential. And tomorrow is promising to be even brighter. Your enthusiasm and exuberance for each day will give you the sparkle, hope, faith, inspiration and encouragement you need to make each day be all that it can be.

You’ve got a lot in your favor, my friend — stop selling yourself short!

When opportunity knocks

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

When opportunity knocks at your door, what do you do? One friend said the answer to this question is obvious: “You open the damn door!”

As a woman who has spent much of her life talking herself out of practically everything, opening the door has not been so obvious or easy. I will say that I don’t actually believe that opportunities are chance happenings that fall out of the sky into our laps.

The choices we make and the actions we take move us towards our future. Indeed, what we choose today has an effect on what happens tomorrow. And our attitude, my friends, has everything to do with our decisions and consequently what opportunities are created.

I’ve been saying “yes” to many “opportunities” this year. And my typical answer when someone asks me why I said “yes,” is brief and simple — “Why not?” You have to understand that me saying “yes” has involved a big attitude adjustment. Remember, I’m the girl who has too often over analyzed and said, “I’m not sure I can, or I don’t think I should.”

Throughout my life, there have been many doors that I could have opened but didn’t.

For me, the decision to travel internationally for the first time ever earlier this year — without my husband — has impacted my life in numerous unforeseen ways. Largely, this has included me getting out of my comfort zone to being open to whatever is new and different in just about every way imaginable — even trying new foods and recipes.

It took me a couple of months to accept an invitation to travel to Italy with a friend and stay in a new friend’s villa on Lake Garda. In other words, no hotel bills! During my indecisiveness, whenever I mentioned my opportunity to anyone, the response was, “How can you even consider letting such an opportunity slip through your fingers?”

Since returning from that trip, I’ve pondered and written about the many insights and revelations that resulted from taking my Italian opportunity by its horns and going for it.

Keep in mind that opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. I’m not talking only about travel ones! Sometimes what makes a new opportunity difficult to grapple with is just that — its newness. Perhaps the opportunity is something you’ve never done before or never imagined doing. It can seem scary or too difficult to try something new and not feasible to venture into the unknown or unfamiliar.

Let’s say you’ve been saving sky miles for years for the trips you may someday take. Why not use some of those sky miles now?

Perhaps you’ve assumed hotel cost is more than you can afford. But have you ever done the research to confirm this assumption?

Or maybe you’ve saved money for years for your retirement. Why not spend some of it today instead of saving it all for a tomorrow that may not be there?

The point is it may just be that there are more opportunities that are attainable and within your reach than you believe. Don’t let unfounded assumptions and uninformed fears tell you differently.

I have discovered approaching my life with an “anything is possible” attitude often results in the proof that it indeed is. There are many reasons for expanding your horizons from your tried and true habits and routine.

My willingness to travel beyond the boundaries of my beloved country has broadened my outlook on life and the possibilities for the rest of my life. Being middle aged is no longer stopping me from attempting to learn and experience new things. I have a fresh appreciation of life and new meaning in life. I’ve discovered increased purpose with a hunger and desire to live life to its fullest that I never felt before.

My trip to Italy opened a door that has remained open. And now I’m preparing for another international adventure with the same friend as we plan to explore cities in Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic in route to visit her daughter in Germany. I even have a trip to the west coast of Mexico on the horizon two weeks after I return! And yes, I’m finally using some of my saved up sky miles!

So if you’re waiting around for opportunities to knock on your door, my advice is to stop waiting and start making them happen. Opportunities begin with a “yes” attitude, which opens doors and keeps them open, making us ready for anything. And when we’re ready for anything, the possibilities and the opportunities become surprisingly endless.



Give yourself permission!

by Annette Bridges. ©2010.  All rights reserved.

How many times in your life — or perhaps each day — have you said or thought, “I can’t…?”

I have an author friend — Susan Cobb — who has written a book titled, “Virgin Territory: How I Found My Inner Guadalupe.” The top line on the back of her book jacket reads, “Real virgins say, ‘Yes!’” Her book tells not only about her saying “yes” to a move to Mexico’s west coast but also about her saying “yes” to a new view of herself and her purpose. In the process, she discovered the need to do away with some old labels.

What resonated with me was the idea of giving yourself permission to think beyond the confines of what you’ve always done or what others have generally expected from you. This also includes permission to view yourself differently from what you’ve accepted for yourself.

I’ve said yes to many things this year that I’ve never said yes to before. This has included taking a trip to Italy without my husband, adding blond highlights to my hair, wearing purple nail tips, downsizing to a smaller purse and joining a ladies Bunco group — to name only a few.

After years of saying “I can’t,” “I don’t have time,” and even “I shouldn’t,” I have this deep desire to say yes to as many new things as possible — particularly things I’ve never done before. And at the risk of sounding selfish, I want to say yes to things that are only for me or of special interest to me.

There have been various times in my life when I struggled with feeling trapped, overwhelmed or stressed, as well as consumed with taking care of others. One such period was when I was a young mommy. Now don’t get me wrong — I sincerely loved motherhood. But I recall days when I longed to have a break — or in other words, to have a little time for myself. I was grateful to have a husband and a family nearby that allowed me to say yes to taking a nap, a walk or a soaking bath; to reading a book; to joining a health club or dance class; to getting my nails or hair done or to secluding myself in the bedroom to watch a movie.

There are times when a mom must simply say yes to herself and what she feels she needs or what she wants to do. And let me tell you, ladies, this is okay!

We don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of wanting to do something for ourselves or by ourselves!
It will soon be a decade since I became an empty nester. When my daughter first left for college, I remember feeling that I had reached an “end,” and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with myself next. I resigned from a job around this same time feeling like I needed to do something different, even though I wasn’t exactly sure what that something was going to be.

Honestly, I feel like I’m still transitioning to my next chapter. Furthermore, it could be that this whole idea of finding purpose, understanding our identity and clarifying our values and ideals never reaches some grand finale. Perhaps there is no end to the discovery of who we are because it’s a lifelong journey.

I can live with that!

In fact, I feel like this truth gives me permission to make changes regardless of my age.

So, any labels that I’ve grown accustomed to as descriptions of “me,” don’t have to remain sewn into my collar. Sometimes labels are imposed upon us that don’t genuinely represent our style, tastes, preferences, interests or values. Or maybe we simply want to consider new ideas and inspirations. Why do we ever believe we can’t make a change?

I think giving yourself permission is about being honest with yourself throughout your life. It’s about not boxing yourself into a set-in-stone self-image, a set of viewpoints and opinions or even settling for a job that you no longer want. It’s also about realizing that possibilities and opportunities don’t diminish with age.

The more I eradicate limiting labels, the more I see the world in color instead of black and white. And what a lovely world I am finding — a world that is flexible, adaptable, resilient, creative, inspired, imaginative, receptive, open, unobstructed, unrestricted, boundless.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, give yourselves permission to do or be whatever you’re dreaming of or longing for. You may find saying “Yes!” and “I can!” feels pretty darn good!

What would you change?

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

Change — some people dread it, and others can’t get enough. It may be much like the idiom, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” When it comes to what we would alter or why we would make a modification, the answers vary because we all have different things we value, want, need and consider important.

Unlike some empty nesters, I’m one of those who can’t get enough change. Even when I’m not actively seeking it, I feel a hunger for it. And this often results in my imagination working overtime, wondering what I could change — replace, remodel, reorganize or improve and do differently.

Certainly, there are things I would never trade about my life. I adore my husband — one fact that is firm and fixed. Unfortunately, my dear husband is one of those folks who dreads change, so there are times his feelings impact the possibilities of what I would and can change in my own life.

Furthermore, sometimes what I think I might like to change and what I feel I can or would are different. When this happens to any of us, I think it’s important to examine why we feel we can’t or wouldn’t make a change.

What’s stopping us?

When I mention to my husband something I’m thinking about changing, he often responds with, “Why now?” And my response to him is always, “Why not?”

I think it’s the “Why not?” question that must be answered when we’re hesitant to make a change. And when I find my hesitancy is based on a fear, that’s when I become determined to conquer the fear.

Many times in my life I’ve let fear stop me from reaching some goal or aspiration. Since I can’t go back and change all the things I wish I had done, and living in regret is completely pointless, today my resolve is fierce when I’m faced with a fear that is trying to hold me back.

In short, I simply can’t allow fear to be what stops me from making a change!

Now, I do believe in making informed and educated decisions. And there could be information that might stop me from making a change.

It could also be that certain changes really are better at one time than at another. So, if a desired change shouldn’t happen today, it doesn’t mean that at some point in the future, that desired change couldn’t or shouldn’t happen.

But one thing is for sure, my friends — do not let fear paralyze you with uncertainty, indecisiveness and inaction. We must stop fear before it stops us.

It’s helpful to look at your fear straight on and examine what it is telling you. Perhaps your fear is saying, “You can’t do it or it will be too difficult.” “You’re afraid of what others will think.” “You will fail.” “You will be wrong.” “You won’t like the outcome.”

Some people say that fears can be rational and logical and are a helpful instinct that protects us from danger. I don’t think it is fear that makes decisions and actions rational, logical and safe, but rather knowledge, understanding, common sense as well as divine inspiration and revelation that serve us well.

At least from my own experience, I’ve found that fear is irrational and baseless. It is some illusive belief that would stop me from making my life better — happier, more satisfying, more interesting, more productive, more fun.

Changes are a natural — and can be a progressive — aspect throughout our life. Making a well thought-out change need not be feared but welcomed, explored and enjoyed.

Asking ourselves “Why not?” when considering some change can be very telling. We just may find that there really isn’t a good enough reason not to!

Wrong again!

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

I’ve been proven wrong so many times, you would think I would stop making presumptions.

Presumption has been defined as “an attitude dictated by probability,” “acceptance or belief based on reasonable evidence, assumption or supposition,” or “grounds, reason, or evidence lending probability to belief.” An additional and important part of its definition is that presumptions often become “accepted as true” while yet “not certainly known.”

Undoubtedly, countless myths, bad advice and tall tales have been misleading and misinforming people for years, decades or centuries. When we presume that we know something to be true before we really do, envy, jealousy and false accusation can result. This has been my experience.

Recently, I was surprised — or perhaps shocked is a more accurate word — to learn that someone who I thought was happy, successful and satisfied with his life wasn’t. It turns out that many of the presumptions I held to be true about this person were completely wrong.

So, why the big surprise? The presumptions I believed were not based on personal knowledge or fact but rather assumption and supposition. I’m not so sure that assumption and supposition should ever be grouped in the same category as reasonable evidence, since there is often nothing reasonable about many of the assumptions we make. Or at least my own assumptions are usually lacking reason!

I think the problem is that reason needs the correct premise. Presumptions can be based on a wrong premise, and I think often are. So, no surprise when a wrong conclusion is reached.

Perhaps you’re like me and tired of being wrong so often. It may be time we implement some changes. First, a good dose of humility could be helpful. In order to not be stubbornly certain about something, we can be humble, which can help us remain open-minded, teachable, changeable, flexible and adaptable.

Some presumptions may be based on the old adage — “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” This could be when we look at others and think they are happier than we are, which leads us to conclude that surely life is better down the street, next door or across the country.

Such presumptions speak volumes about our own attitudes. Being envious or jealous of others — or simply paying constant attention to what others are doing — does nothing to improve our lives or make our circumstances better. An attitude adjustment may be what’s needed.

I’ve learned that the only way to change my attitude is to improve my understanding of identity and self-image. And that my friends, requires use of spiritual senses!

While our physical senses may see lack and limitation, our spiritual senses tell us God has given us everything we need and that there are infinite opportunities and resources within our grasp. Our spiritual senses affirm that God has endowed us with talents and abilities uniquely ours — that each of His children has an own important mission and purpose.

Our physical senses often focus more on what we don’t have or what can’t be seen. But our spiritual senses enable us to be grateful for what we do have and encourage our hope and expectancy for the possibility of what is yet to come and be experienced. And our spiritual senses promise good.

Finally, another good practice could be to base our judgments and understanding about something or someone more on actually proven or provable facts, rather than presumptions based on mere hearsay, implications or assumptions.

Perhaps we can become a bit like Dragnet’s Joe Friday when he said, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Basing opinions and viewpoints on the facts surely will keep us from being wrong so much of the time.

My ultimate plan is to stop assuming and presuming altogether! Making presumptions about others can become a preoccupation that stops us from improving upon our own life journey.

And we do each have our own unique life journey to be about. Yes, these days I feel an incredible freedom now that I’m more focused on my life journey rather than what I presume others are doing or not doing. Something tells me I’m on the right track!