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!
by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.
In my early married days, I often struggled with bouts of extreme sadness and anger as well as paranoia and fear. Unbeknownst to my dear husband — and myself, actually — I was suffering from a bite by the green-eyed monster. Jealousy is a nasty beast. And its wounds, if left undetected and untreated, can devastate a relationship. I was yet to learn that jealousy is not the same as love. Sometimes people equate feeling jealous about someone with loving them. I’m here to tell you that jealousy is not love but rather the fear of losing love.
Sadly, jealousy is all too familiar in human relationships. In fact, it has been reported wherever researchers have looked, in every culture, taking a variety of forms. Indeed, jealousy is an enduring topic of interest for scientists, songwriters, romance novelists and theologians.
Of the human emotions, sociologists say jealousy is one of the most powerful and painful. And it is deadly. Statistical studies rank jealousy as the third most common motive for murder. Jealousy certainly seemed to be Cain’s motivation for killing his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). It seemed to be what impelled Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Genesis, Chapter 37). And it probably was part of the reason the Pharisees hated Jesus.
But — is jealousy normal, natural and unavoidable?
Without a doubt, it is impossible to think clearly when you are jealous. Truth gets distorted, reason becomes clouded and emotion turns irrational.
For me, jealousy could have been defined as the emotional reaction to a scenario in my mind that was not true. I often perceived situations and people as threats. I also had a deep fear of loss or betrayal, although this belief was completely unfounded. While I sensed my insecurities were without basis, I didn’t know how to make a change.
Overcoming jealousy is like changing any emotional reaction or behavior. It begins with awareness.
In my search for help, I read Mary Baker Eddy’s writings on marriage and wedlock. The first statement that grabbed my attention was “Jealousy is the grave of the affections.” She wrote of the “narrowness and jealousy” that seeks to confine a wife or a husband. And she emphasized that home “should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections.”
I was beginning to understand that living by the “Golden Rule” was imperative in marriage, as in all walks of life. As Jesus put it, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). I certainly would not have liked my husband restricting my time spent with my friends or family. And I would not have liked being made to feel guilty about the time I did spend. But my husband was never the one who did these things — only me.
I knew my husband loved me and wanted me to be happy. He endeavored to do whatever he could to make me happy. He was a good friend to his many friends and a faithful and loving son to his parents. Should such admirable qualities and actions be punished by his wife?
So where did my unwarranted fear of losing his love come from?
It seems I needed to learn more about God’s infinite and unconditional love for me. And I needed to become more aware of my spiritual identity as the woman God created — a whole-souled woman who, too, loves unconditionally.
Such a woman knows well the spiritual strength and fortitude her Father endowed her with. And she knows well how to live love, as Paul defined in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. This love “cares more for others than for herself; doesn’t want what it doesn’t have; doesn’t have a swelled head; isn’t always ‘me’ first; doesn’t keep score of the mistakes of others; doesn’t revel when others grovel; always looks for the best; never looks back.”
She has great patience and sees and appreciates goodness in everyone. With a congenial temperament, she is not easily agitated. Her love is expansive enough to neutralize any friction. And she is determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant.
It turns out God had given me the antidote for bites from the green-eyed monster. It was my whole-souled womanhood. Putting these qualities into practice in my marriage healed my jealousy wounds and built a permanent and powerful defense, enabling me to ward off any future approaches of this nasty beast. And my romance and marriage with my husband is 28 years strong in love.
by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
Imagine a quaint French tearoom … in Texas. Live jazz piano background music. Servings of hot tea, bite-size desserts and chocolate-covered strawberries. A lovely and charming lady surrounded by family and friends telling what they love about her. This describes the recent scene of my mom’s 80th birthday party.
Mother’s Day just around the corner seems a fitting time for me to recognize and honor the woman who has inspired and taught me most about life, courage, persistence and my own spirituality.
Most folks reading this do not know my mother and never will. But her story may sound familiar to some. By society’s standards, even today, she was a child bride. Unhappy at home with her mom and stepfather, she was easily wooed by a handsome young man in uniform. Her teen years were spent as a wife and mother of two. By 1967, she was the mother of four children — three of them grown. She had been married two-thirds of her life.
She struggled with a troubled marriage and health problems. What was next for her? When her marriage ended in divorce, she hit the road, taking me and little else. We often joke how she did manage to pack her ice cream freezer. There are certain priorities that a multi-generational Southerner from Georgia never forgets. This most definitely would include the ability to make homemade ice cream for her guests.
Our road not only took us westward. It would be a life-finding journey for my mother that would bless my life more than I have space to say.
Shortly after her divorce, my mom began studying Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy’s explanation of Christ Jesus’ healings and teachings. These ideas gave her comfort, hope and practical ideas about prayer and healing. It’s not that she didn’t know about God and prayer before. She had been a Bible student all her life, attending a couple of different churches. But now she was starting to gain a new view of her identity that proved to be health-giving and life-regenerating.
How can I summarize her next 40 years? My mother found a new life for herself, step by step. She never gave up, no matter how rough and bumpy the road got. Her belief in herself grew as her trust in God grew. Over the course of these years there were many firsts and accomplishments. From owning her very own car and house, her first bank account to college and a career. And there were also the intangibles of happiness, peace of mind, satisfaction and better health.
Her life has taught me that it’s never too late. Beginnings and first times can happen throughout life at any age. Happiness is not bought with money. Home is in your heart. Joy is God-given and can’t be taken from you. Never give up. I could go on and on!
I don’t think any words are truer than these of Mary Baker Eddy: “The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance.” In my eyes and to many who know her, my mom is among the greatest of women, whose life is most certainly a miracle of patience and perseverance. God-given qualities she learned were hers as her identity grew from a struggling single mom to a whole-souled woman reflecting the motherhood and fatherhood of God.
Her achievements against great odds have instilled in me a conviction that anything is possible. Perhaps the greatest gift a mother could ever give to her child. So it’s time for me to say “thank you” to my mom for life lessons that have left indelible marks on me and many others, too. Happy Mother’s Day!
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 have aspired to be a published author. I’ve always loved to write. Keeping a journal was a passion that began when I was 9 years old. But many years passed without my youthful dreams coming true.
The pursuit of ideals, 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 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!”
March being National Women’s History Month compels me to write about a woman whose life example tells me it’s never too late to pursue aspirations, achieve goals and fulfill one’s life purpose. 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.
David Hufford of the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine 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.”
Mary Baker Eddy openly challenged the conventional thinking in the theology, medicine and science of her times, and for this, she was often the target of criticism and slander. Consequently, I’ve found that some historical records still don’t tell all the facts of her life correctly. The lives of others have much to teach us, so how important it is for his-stories and her-stories to be accurately told!
What inspires me now as I approach the half-century mark is that she was 54 years old when her renowned book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” was first published. And top that with the fact that 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, I might add.
Such accomplishments (and there were many others) by a woman during her middle age and senior years give me inspiration to imagine the possibilities for my dreams today.
Eddy’s own words provide some insight into how ambitions can be accomplished. “The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.” Her life and accomplishments proved this for us all.
History is filled with accounts of many great men and women who have reached their aims and attained their high hopes. 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!
For more information about Mary Baker Eddy and her many accomplishments, visit the website of the Mary Baker Eddy Library.
by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
It’s a story that needs to be told. Many women have left their imprint on history, but her-stories historically have not been published. Women have touched and changed lives, and their beneficiaries do well to recognize those who have impacted their lives.
The theme for this year’s National Women’s History Month is “Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility.” I’ve decided it’s about time I recognize and honor the two women who have inspired me and taught me most about life, courage and persistence.
Most folks reading this do not know my mother and never will. But her story may sound familiar to some. By society’s standards, even today, she was a child bride. Unhappy at home with her mom and stepfather, she was easily wooed by a handsome young man in uniform. Her teen years were spent as a wife and mother of two. By 1967, she was the mother of four children – three of them grown. She had been married two-thirds of her life.
She struggled with a troubled marriage and health problems. What was next for her? When her marriage ended in divorce, she hit the road taking me and little else. She did manage to pack her ice cream freezer, Bible and another book a friend had given to her that I’ll mention later. Our journey not only took us westward. It would be a life-finding journey for my mother that would bless my life more than I have space to say.
How can I summarize her next forty years? My mother found a new life for herself step by step. She never gave up no matter how rough and bumpy the road got. Her belief in herself grew as her trust in God grew. Over the course of these years there were many firsts and accomplishments: her own car, bank account, credit card, a house, swimming pool, GED, college, and a career. There were also the intangibles: happiness, peace of mind, satisfaction, freedom, identity, self-completeness, fulfillment, and health.
I think of the example my mother has been for me. Her life has taught me: “It’s never too late.” “Never give up”. “No hill is too steep to climb.” “Beginnings and first times can happen throughout life at any age.” “Happiness is not bought with money.” “Home is in your heart.” “Joy is God-given and can’t be taken from you.” I could go on and on!
Another woman gave my mother much inspiration as she began her life anew. She had an enormous influence on my life as well.
Mary Baker Eddy
The first forty years of her life was full of struggles and chronic poor health. Widowed three months before the birth of her only child, she returned to her parent’s home for support. Her second husband proved unfaithful and abandoned her. She eventually divorced him. Then, following a serious accident, she found healing answers in the Bible. And like my mother, she established a new life.
Mary Baker Eddy became an influential American author, teacher and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science. She articulated those ideas in, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This was the book the friend gave to my mom. Her revolutionary ideas were based on the healing works of Christ Jesus, which she saw as divinely natural and repeatable.
For my mom, Science and Health was life regenerating, giving her comfort, hope and practical ideas about prayer and healing. She gained a new view of her identity that proved to be health giving and self-transforming. Perhaps it was the opening line of this book that affirmed the promise of my mom’s forward course: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
In her book, Mary Baker Eddy, author, Gillian Gill, describes the life journey of this remarkable woman. “Conventional in her twenties, weak in her thirties, struggling in her forties, a social outcast in her fifties, indefatigably working in her sixties, famous in her seventies, formidable in her eighties, Mrs. Eddy rewrites the female plot and offers new ways to strive and achieve.” The life journeys of both my mother and Mary Baker Eddy illustrate how anyone can overcome difficulties and hardships, achieve a goal, fulfill a dream, and make a vision reality. No words are truer than these of Mary Baker Eddy. “The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance.”
My mom’s transformation and Mary Baker Eddy’s ideas have guided my own life. The lives of these two women are examples to me of achievement against great odds, and instill in me a conviction that anything is possible.
So it’s time for me to say “thank you” to my mother and to Mary Baker Eddy for life lessons that have left indelible marks on me and many others.