Be a trailblazer!

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Are you ready to blaze a new road on your life journey?

I love the New Year! Each New Year feels like an opportunity for renewal, regeneration, restoration and renovation. And believe me, I always have plenty of resolutions to be implemented.

This year is no different! I have weight that I long to lose, career goals that I intend to pursue, relationships that I hope to improve, places I want to see, rooms in my house that I plan to reorganize and debts that simply must get paid off.

And since crossing one of those “age” hurdles in my life, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of doing and experiencing things I’ve never done before.

This makes me think of the introductory statement William Shatner used to make before each Star Trek episode. Remember it? He talked about exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life forms and new civilizations — “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

It’s words like “explore” and “new” that capture my imagination. I can certainly see that bold action is often required of a trailblazer, pioneer and groundbreaker.

After my husband and I walked a few trails in states like Colorado and Oregon, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the efforts and accomplishments made by explorers like Lewis and Clark. Over 200 years ago they set out on an amazing expedition where they faced unknown people, harsh conditions and territory they had never traveled before.

Walking through dense forests, even on a well-established trail, made me consider the courage and vision that must have been needed by the first trailblazers in order to imagine what was possible even when their view was blocked at first.

Who could imagine that on the other side of some steep mountains could be a vast ocean? Or who could imagine that in the midst of the forest would be a beautiful waterfall?

When we set out on a new trail in our life, we usually have no idea what we will find along our path —much less what we will discover at the end of our journey. Many times we probably have an idea about what we hope to find or experience along the way. But most likely, we can’t even begin to imagine the many surprises that we’ll undoubtedly encounter.

We can run into problems if we try to outline our expectations too much. When we don’t see what we think we’re going to see at the moment we thought we would, disappointment and discouragement can cause us to miss something unexpected and equally as wonderful as what we had hoped for.

So the lesson here, my friends, is to expect the unexpected and love the experience when you’re blessed with it.

Lee Ann Womack begins her song “I hope you dance” with “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” Hearts filled with wonder hunger to be surprised and eagerly anticipate the wonderment of all they will see and experience.

Remember the wonder of your first kiss, your first day of college or your first airplane ride?

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to find new wonder in the things I do each day. Wonder makes our lives more meaningful and enjoyable. I can see now how not having wonder leads to boredom and cynicism. It could be that part of my desire for something new and exciting is a wake-up call to rediscover my sense of wonder in what is already in my life.

So let’s rekindle our sense of wonder if we need to and make each day of our New Year more wonder-full. I suspect this will make blazing new trails as well as walking old ones much more fun!


Don’t miss a thing!

by Annette Bridges. © 2008.  All rights reserved.

I’ve read that some scientists believe that human beings have a curious capacity to take things for granted. It is suggested that repetition and time are the culprits that dull our sense of wonder. For example, they say even the most exquisite diamond loses its luster with familiarity or the sunrise fails to astonish because it is commonplace.

Certainly there are many things that have become routine and expected in my life.

Have you ever been in the shower washing your hair, as I have, when suddenly the water stops coming out because city crews have shut down the system for repairs? Or how about when storm damage causes the loss of electricity? Or your car is in the shop and you have no other mode of transportation? Can you remember what life was like before the internet and cell phones? Or what about the brother you can always count on, or your good health or the many freedoms we enjoy in America? Oh yes, there are many things, experiences and people I’ve taken for granted!

An email landed in my box this week that inspired more thought on this subject. It told about a group of students who were asked to name what they thought were the Seven Wonders of the World. The wonders which received the most votes included Egypt’s Great Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Panama Canal, Empire State Building, St. Peter’s Basilica and China’s Great Wall.

But apparently one student had trouble finishing her list, stating she could not make up her mind because there were so many to choose from. The teacher encouraged her to share her list aloud with the other students to see if they could help. She read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, to feel, to laugh and to love.”

This unexpected list was followed by a poignant reminder —“the most precious things in life cannot be built by hand or bought by man.”

This student listed “wonders” that I never thought much about until one day a couple of years ago when my husband and I gave a terminally ill friend a jeep ride around our farm.

Riding in the jeep was not a big deal to me, perhaps because it was “old hat” as some might say. But my friend noticed details I never had and she relished every moment of her ride. I found myself being captivated by her adoration and reverence of what she was seeing and by every breath of fresh country air she gratefully took in. That was my friend’s last jeep ride. She passed on a few months later.

But my one jeep ride with her taught me lessons I will never forget. I discovered colors in the sunset I didn’t know were there. I learned that each of our cows has its own distinct bellow and some have really long eye lashes. I noticed that the deeper the hole you drive over, the harder your laugh will be. I found that looking out over big Texas pastures reminds you of the broad expanse of God’s love. And gazing at the horizon when the sun is setting fills you with a peaceful sense of the infinity of life.

So how do we keep our sense of wonder? How do we maintain our appreciation of all the everyday miracles that compose our day? And how do we never overlook the blessings that make up each life moment?

I’m learning that to even ask such questions is a good beginning. Pausing to ask these questions also requires pausing to explore for the answers. And our sincere desire to cherish life is a prayer in and of itself — and one that will be answered.

As I learned in my jeep ride, the more acutely aware we are of what makes up and who shares our days, life will be more meaningful and satisfying. Savoring and mindfully using any of the wonders of sight, hearing, taste, touch, feeling, laughter and love, will guide you to even more wonder that God promises for His beloved children.

Start right now — this very moment — and keep yourself in a constant state of awe, admiration and respect of every ordinary and extraordinary wonder in your day! You don’t want to miss anything! I sure hope I don’t!