Too late? Maybe not!

by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Do you have dreams that have never been realized? Do you feel like it’s too late to act on them? Well….maybe it’s not!

Since my childhood, I aspired to be a published author. I’ve always loved to write. Keeping a journal was a passion that began when I was nine years old. But many years passed without my dream coming true.

You might be thinking, why would anyone (besides my family and close friends) want to know anything about me and my dreams?

March being National Women’s History Month compels me to write not so much about me and my dreams but about a woman whose life example is encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Even now, as I approach the half century mark. An empty nester wondering what’s next for my life besides becoming a grandmother some day.

The pursuit of dreams, for women and men alike, has long been a powerful force in restoring hope in the face of impossible odds. Its power often comes when we consider that “impossible odds” might sometimes be self-imposed. Such as self-imposed “odds” that make us sigh with dismay: “too old” or “too late.” But to impossible odds, the dreamer and visionary will always say, “Not so!”

I first learned of Mary Baker Eddy as an American author of a book that explained groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health. Ideas that are more at home in the 21st-century than in her own 19th-century world, in fact. She openly challenged the conventional thinking in theology, medicine and science of her times. So she was often the target of criticism and slander. Consequently, I’ve found that some historic records still don’t tell all the facts of her life correctly.

David Hufford wrote in his book, Eddy: Current Running against the Mainstream, “In the late 1800s, there were very few women in medical schools, in seminaries, or in universities. Mrs. Eddy and a handful of other women upset centuries of tradition when they began to speak and write about religious and medical issues…and to talk openly about the equality of men and women.”

There is much to learn from the lives of others. So how important it is for his-stories and her-stories to be accurately told.

What inspires me now at this time in my life is Mary Baker Eddy was 54 years old when her renowned book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, was first published. And top that with she was 87 years old when she launched The Christian Science Monitor, as a balanced and ethical alternative to the sensational journalism of her day. A paper that remains a leading international newspaper today, I might add.

Such accomplishments, and there were many others, by a woman during her middle age and senior years, gives me inspiration to imagine the possibilities for my dreams today.

Eddy’s life story is testament to the fact that it’s never too late to pursue dreams. Her own words give some insight into how dreams can be accomplished. “The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.” Mary Baker Eddy’s life and accomplishments proved this for us all. (

History is filled with accounts of many great men and women who have fulfilled their dreams. Mary Baker Eddy describes their lives as “miracles of patience and perseverance.” And like them and like her, we’ve all got it in us.

Still feel like it’s too late to pursue your dreams?

Well…maybe it’s not!

You mean I can’t go to college with my daughter?

by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

My world was about to change. It was September 2001 and my only child was heading off to college. I had been anticipating this moment for the past year. Well, actually, I had been dreading it.

You have to understand. Jennifer is much more than my daughter. She is my shopping companion, my movie buddy, my confidant. She is my best friend.

I was teaching school before Jennifer was born. Then, I stopped teaching to be an at-home mom. When she started school, I went back to teaching at my daughter’s elementary school. In fact, I was her kindergarten teacher.

In Jennifer’s fifth-grade year we started home schooling and continued through high school. It was a good fit for our cattle-ranching lifestyle in Texas. And she and I loved learning together. Besides, it left us plenty of time to travel as a family, something I couldn’t even imagine doing without our daughter.

The time had finally arrived for me to let her go.

To be honest we had never been apart. Even when she went to summer camp, I went with her and volunteered.

But the day had come for her to begin her own life journey away at college. It was inevitable and I had to face it. The time had finally arrived for me to let her go—without going with her.

How can I describe those first days and weeks without her at home? Sleepless. Anxious. Worried. Fearful. Uneasy. Almost unbearable.

There wasn’t anything anyone said to me that helped, including my husband, who tried to comfort me but couldn’t. Yes, I knew what was right and normal for my child. I knew she couldn’t live at home forever. I didn’t want that for her. And yes, I knew it was normal to miss her. I admit I talked with her every day on the telephone. But nothing could stop how frantic I was. My imagination worked overtime, especially at night when trying to sleep. The anxieties I was feeling from being separated from her were creating a picture of a vulnerable young girl who was susceptible to chance, accident or even violence.

Jennifer was adjusting very well to college.

In the meantime, Jennifer was adjusting very well to college. She enjoyed her classes and made good grades. She was used to managing her time, studying on her own, had fast reading speed with good comprehension and she was a great writer. She had a nice boyfriend whom we liked. And she had become active in a student organization. In fact, it was her activity in this organization that brought my anxieties and fears to a head. She was soon to fly on a commercial airliner to Washington DC, and it was only 6 months after 9/11.

I had the habit of turning to spiritual ideas to help me solve problems. And honestly, I had begun praying and searching for peace of mind before her travel news. I had found my search for peace required moment-to-moment, thought-by-thought prayer in order to genuinely feel God’s presence.

For me, prayer begins with being still and listening. I like to continue by acknowledging the good about God and His children. In my study of Science and HealthI’ve discovered a God who is ever-present Love, constantly available and very comforting.

God is the perfect 24/7 Parent.

I began to see that God is the perfect 24/7 Parent, never off-duty—for me and for Jennifer. I also realized that everyone has a unique relationship with God, and their own purpose to fulfill.

And I wasn’t needed to provide this link for my daughter.

The idea that both Jennifer and I are on life journeys and that God has a purpose for us throughout our lives has been the ultimate freedom maker. When I finally accepted, believed and trusted this idea with all my heart, I became committed to not allowing any thought, fear or opinion interfere with God’s revelation for both of us.

The fruits of my prayer have been life changing.

Yes, Jennifer had a safe and fun trip to Washington DC. Her college years have been joyous and productive. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in three years, and will graduate this summer, 2004. The nice boyfriend recently became our son-in-law, whom we love very much. She and I still talk every day and I look forward to hearing what’s new and wonderful on her life journey.

“I never felt guilty going away to college.”

And what about me? I can honestly say that fear and anxiety no longer rule my days and nights. My husband and I have been having great fun with evenings and weekends that are “just us.” We’ve enjoyed trips alone and have had wonderful excursions with friends. And there have been opportunities for travels that have included our daughter and son-in-law. I’m involved in community organizations and have also started a new career focus. My husband and I have started remodeling our house. And we’ve added a new member to our family—a miniature dachshund.

I recently had a conversation with Jennifer reflecting on her college years. In telling her about my experience in those first few months, I was delighted to learn she never suspected my struggle. She told me, “I never felt guilty going away to college. I never felt you were scared for me. I knew you were always going to support me. I never felt susceptible to risk or dangers. I never had any situations that made me afraid. I always felt safe.”

Yes, my world did change. But I’ve learned I don’t have to be afraid of change. Change is progress. Change means growth. Change provides expansive views. It’s kind of like the change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Certainly, the life experience is different. But what a difference in the view!