Someday is now!

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

I bought a Curly Girl Design® greeting card recently that sits on my desk. I can’t seem to part with it, although there are many friends and family members I can imagine giving it to. The phrase on its cover is one that I read every day. In fact, I usually read it several times a day: “One of the hardest things to realize,” the card’s character says, “is that someday is right now.”

Yesterday, my husband and I experienced one of our “someday” moments and went to a movie. I say “someday” because usually when we talk about wanting to go see a certain movie, we never end up going to see it. Interestingly enough, there was a statement in the movie about when people say “someday” as they speak of things they plan to do. One of the actors said “someday” is often another word for “never” –that people often speak of the things they will never do.

I don’t want this to be me!

I’ve been carrying around another quote from a Curly Girl Design® notepad page. It reads, “The world is full of people who will go their whole lives and not actually live one day. She [the character] did not intend on being one of them.”

This little piece of paper is tucked neatly away in my wallet so that I come across it frequently as a reminder.

I seem to be obsessed with these two quotes by Curly Girl Design® artist Leigh Standley. But it has occurred to me that perhaps I’m so focused on worrying about not reaching the full potential of my life, that I am not actually living each day of my life to its fullest.

I once said that I felt like I was living from one vacation to the next, and I seem to be guilty of this again.

That said, I’m not going to stop planning vacations – and as many as possible, too! But I do think I need to value each day in between and give more consideration to the possibilities that each day has to offer.

I remember being a starry-eyed teenager who spent many hours and days dreaming about someone, someday and somewhere. After I met my “someone,” another “someday” arrived a couple of years later when we had a baby. Before I knew it, many more “somedays” had come and gone – or maybe that’s what all empty-nesters say.

How can people go their whole lives and not actually “live” anyway? What does this mean? One dictionary defines “those who truly live” as those who “enjoy life to the full” – as those who “pursue a positive, satisfying existence.”

I think it’s possible to go through the motions of what’s expected or needed each day and not be fully engaged in each moment. And if we’re not fully engaged as active participants in the day, we are not being aware and appreciative of all there is to enjoy; thus, we’re not “living” the day.

It’s no wonder we can find ourselves dissatisfied with our lives. If we think that satisfaction or joy is dependent upon “someday” or “somewhere” in the future, we limit the satisfaction and joy we can experience right now. Indeed, it can become impossible for us to be satisfied and happy. This describes me lately.

I’ve been worrying that my life will reach its final chapter before all of my “somedays” come to fruition and all my “somewheres” have been visited.

I suspect I need to be more appreciative of what I have accomplished and experienced up to this point. I don’t think I have valued my life enough. Gratitude has a way of reminding us of all that’s good in our lives.

Because I’ve been concentrating on all the “somedays” and “somewheres” I’ve not seen yet, I’ve neglected to appreciate all the ones that I have seen.

Do you have a someday – or a someone or somewhere you’re looking forward to?

One thing is certain. If we look only to something in the future, we will miss something in our present. Don’t miss the joy of this day and every day. Life really is what we make it, so let’s make it the best one possible, one day at a time. We can make our someday right now!

To learn more about Curly Girl Design® and Leigh Standley, visit

Throw away your to-go cup!

by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

I’ve just returned from my trip to Italy, and I’m trying to find the words to describe the experience. I suspect it may take several columns to cover all the inspirations and insights gleaned from my travels.

My first conclusion is that you must feel Italy — not merely see it. Indeed, there are many sights to see. But if you rush around trying to see as many as possible during your brief visit, you will miss the most important experience of all — cappuccino.

I fell in love with cappuccino while in Italy. Perhaps this love affair was made possible because cafés do not serve your cappuccino in a to-go cup. No, the only way to truly enjoy a soothing cup of cappuccino — and the café owners know this — is in a small china cup. This requires you to stop and sit or stand still while you drink.

Relishing my many cappuccino encounters allowed me to think about how I was feeling. And I loved how I felt as I slowly sipped — not wanting my cup to empty too fast. I felt calm, attentive, refreshed and happy. I felt an appreciation and an awareness of the moment I’ve never felt before.

Italy and cappuccino were teaching me what it means to “live in the moment.” No longer were these just words that sounded like a good idea. Indeed, before I came to Italy, putting those words into practice was sometimes harder than it sounded.

Even the tour guide in Bologna emphasized the importance of feeling what we were seeing. She said what was important was to notice how we felt in each church — each an example of a distinct architectural style and time in history.

She said, too, that each church represented a different understanding of man’s relationship to God. In one church, she said, we can feel the man entering with his head down waiting for a better life after death. In another church, she said, we can feel man looking upward with hope of a better life that is possible right now.

One of my friends questioned our tour guide about the name of a church we had just toured. And the tour guide said its name didn’t matter — wanting us to think only about how it made us feel. And so I did.

Life doesn’t pass us by, my friends. But I think we can pass life by if we walk too fast. In Italy I learned to slow down. Actually, this isn’t something I learned so much as it just happened as I focused on and appreciated each moment. I took a deep breath with every step, and I couldn’t help but walk more slowly.

I remember a line from a favorite country song: “I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” But I do know why I’m no longer in a hurry! Living six days in Italy was enough to help me really understand why.

Life happens in the moments. And each moment is precious and longing to please us, love us, comfort us, engage us, if only we slow down and allow ourselves to feel and experience each moment. I will not forget this lesson now that I’m home. I don’t want to ever miss “feeling” a moment of life again!

To make sure I don’t, I’m ordering everything I need to make cappuccino — with an Italian brand moka, milk foamer and espresso. Somehow, I think making and having a delicious cup of cappuccino before I start each day will help me remember what is most important. And from now on, when I’m out and about and want a cappuccino, I plan to go into the coffee shops and sit down instead of going through the drive-throughs. No more to-go cups for me!

Make the time

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Our gathering almost didn’t happen. Full agendas and busy schedules were dictating the days ahead. The Christmas season can be that way. Countless parties, invitations and things to get accomplished leave little room for adding anything else to our calendar.

How many times have you said, “We’ve got to get together sometime?” But that time never happens. And we have good reasons, too. There are just not enough days in the month of December to do everything we wish we could.

It was at the glowing insistence of a little child that we moms compared calendars and schedules to see if we could find a day that would work for our little get together. We found one day that was more-or-less “open” for both our families, and it was in fact the very next evening. So we said, “Let’s do it!” And after some quick planning for an easy meal, our evening soon arrived.

We decided we would share a favorite story, poem or passage in addition to singing holiday favorites.

I selected a book I’d bought some years ago and had not read in a long time. It was titled, “A memory of Christmas tea” written by Tom Hegg. It’s a sweet story with a lesson I needed to hear.

We learn in the story that the heroine had received a great aunt’s Christmas china, and each year the niece displayed the china along with her other Christmas décor. But the china was given with a condition — that the niece share a cup of Christmas tea with someone else in the same way her great aunt had shared with her for many years.

This was a promise she had not kept with anyone. She had many reasons — excuses — that leapt to her mind. “Not enough time” pretty much sums up her list!

The niece recounts what sharing a cup of Christmas tea with her great aunt was like. Apparently, when this aunt sat down at tea, the niece had her undivided and complete attention. She listened to and lovingly encouraged her niece. And the niece felt the love and high expectations her great aunt had for her. Time seemed to magically stand still when the two of them shared a cup of Christmas tea.

Needless to say, the story has a happy conclusion. One evening while the niece is alone in her house with a stack of work brought home from the office, someone knocks at her door. And soon she fulfills her Christmas promise to her great aunt and shares a cup of Christmas tea with a guest. Forgetting about all she had to do, she soon gave her guest her full attention and said, “All I knew of time was that the time was ours to share.”

After reading the story, I was grateful for the reminder to slow down and focus on what is most important in our lives.

We didn’t share tea with our friends, but we did have eggnog. And time did magically stand still while we enjoyed every minute of our evening together — with no thought of anything else. And all we knew of time was that the time was ours to share with some very dear friends.

Time spent with family and friends is truly the best gift we can give and receive. The blessings and benefits last a lifetime. So make the time, my friends. Nothing is as important, precious and memorable as moments shared with those we hold dear. And there is no better time to be together than the present.

Cook up something new

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

After watching the movie, Julie and Julia, I was inspired to clean my very dusty cookbook shelves and fix something I’d never cooked before.

It was amazing to discover how many awesome cookbooks I own — many that I have never opened. Some I purchased through the many years of my marriage, and others were gifts. I found the first cookbook I bought almost thirty years ago when I started dating my husband.

This reminds me of the first time I prepared dinner for him. I had never cooked before other than grilling a hamburger. My biggest mistake was not purchasing my cookbook before I cooked.

We were having baked chicken. This seemed easy enough to accomplish without instructions. My mom had never told me, however, that I needed to remove the neck and whatever else was on the inside of the bird. And no one had ever told me which side was up. I baked my chicken — breast side down.

Our side dish was mashed potatoes. This, too, seemed easy enough for a novice like me. My boyfriend graciously ate his dinner and asked a few questions after complimenting his food. He was very interested in how I made the potatoes. I told him I simply peeled, cut and boiled the potatoes and then mashed them with my new electric mixer. He suggested that maybe next time, I should try draining the water from the potatoes and adding milk and butter before mixing. After taking a bite of my first mashed potatoes and setting them aside as inedible, I agreed that something more was needed.

I bought a cookbook before I cooked again.

Some of my fondest memories have been of cooking. As with the rest of my life, I’ve had firsts, successes, flops and mistakes. But regardless, all of the dishes became an important part of a cherished memory. Diligence, patience and perseverance were found to be key ingredients for success in cooking as in most other areas of life.

When I first started cooking, everything was new. Cooking was a fun adventure as I learned to do something I’d never done before. But it didn’t take long before I was repeating my tried and trusty recipes again and again, and cooking something new became less and less frequent.

Cooking is not the only area of my life that has become stagnant, boring or not working as efficiently and creatively as it once did. And I suspect I am not alone.

Many people are being faced with rewriting their lives. Some are in search of a new career at a time when they should be looking forward to their retirement benefits. Some are waiting for their stock values to go from stagnant to gain. We all have times in our lives when our daily routines or relationships need a good overhaul.

Maybe we already have everything we need at our disposal and we only need a new perspective or a fresh idea on how to use what we have.

Julia Child said, “I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate.”

I think that describes me. Up until now, I’ve just been eating — and eating the same things day after day. But I’ve also just been living — sometimes only going through the motions, no longer curious, no longer excited, no longer with high anticipation. So now over 50, I’m ready to cook up something new and not just in my kitchen.

I already have over 50 old cookbooks sitting on my shelves filled with new recipes to be tried. And I’ve already redecorated my house by taking everything off my walls and re-hanging in new locations. Now I plan to revamp my daily exercise program, redefine what I do for fun as well as explore untried avenues for making money.

Often the answers we seek are not “out there” somewhere but rather within our reach. Do you need to cook up something new for your life? I think you’ll be surprised to learn you have what you need, my friends.

Julia Child once said, “This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Sounds like good advice for outside of the kitchen, too.


Go fishing

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Fishing may be one of those universal sports and hobbies. In fact, fishing resonates with so many people that fishing metaphors abound in all aspects of our lives.

You may say that you are trying to land a job — and you’re casting your line into the big job market. Or your best friend assures you there are plenty of other fish in the sea when your marriage ends. You may tell a brother to drop you a line. Or you say you hit a snag in trying to get approved for a credit card. You exclaim you got a bite when a business responds to your resume and application. Or that you’re trying to lure and reel in possible buyers for the car you have for sale. And perhaps your mom says your new boyfriend is a good catch.

I guess we’re people who like to talk fish!

What is it about fishing that is so very appealing to so many?

My husband and I recently returned from a trout fishing trip in Colorado. And I must say that few things are more relaxing than sitting beneath an evergreen tree on the bank of a crystal clear mountain lake. The stress of everyday life dissipates to the inconsequential detail it really is. Indeed, there’s something about fishing from a quiet shore and breathing serene, fresh air that clears the mind and soothes the soul.

I’m intrigued by the intensity of focus that trout fishing required of me. It captured my entire attention as I baited my hook and cast my line into the lake. I was spellbound as I gazed into the sunny water waiting for my bopper to move and anticipating the bump of a fish taking my bait.

This was no idle time as my daughter thinks — she’s never been mountain lake fishing. There was purpose, vision, determination and expectation. At the day’s end after our catch limit was reached and fish were cleaned and cooked, I was ready to rest up for the next day to do it all again.

Before leaving home for our fishing excursion, I had some trepidation about being in a remote area with little to no phone service, nor Internet service. I worried that I would feel disconnected from all that I love. But once I began fishing, I thought of little else.

This mental state of mind is a far cry from my day-to-day experience when home. My normal day involves lots of multi-tasking and many times where I feel like my attention is scattered or over-extended. It’s not easy for anything to get my complete focus. And this is sometimes frustrating when I really want to give my total attention to a task at hand.

So now that I’m back home, I’m wondering what it was about fishing that was so all-consuming. And I’m wondering how I can give that kind of focus to other endeavors and interests at home.

While it is true that on my mountaintop, there were no interruptions — so there were no other choices than my single task of catching fish. At home there are many decisions and choices to be made. And they do sometimes seem to be in competition with each other for my attention.

But the truth is that regardless of the number of items on our to-do list each day, we can only give one thing — or person — our full attention in any given moment.

What a revelation this is for me!

I can only imagine how the quality of my projects or time shared with loved ones can improve by understanding that each requires and deserves my full attention in each moment. And it is possible to give my full attention as I take one moment at a time and give my all to that moment.

I also can’t help but think about Peter’s pronouncement, “I go a-fishing,” during those days following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. (John 21:3) I’m sure there was a lot to absorb mentally as Peter tried to understand spiritually the significance of what he had just witnessed. Maybe he needed to get away for a little while.

There is something about fishing that allows us to take a timeout from thinking about our troubles and big decisions — even when we don’t get a bite. Inevitably, a fresh perspective comes into view when I return home after such a break.

So, my friends, focus on one moment of your life at a time — give your whole attention to it. And when you feel the need for a break, go fishing and see what new point of view you have when you return.