Friday, November 4, 2016

My Perfect Storm

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Home, hearts and Montana!

   The month of October sure did arrive quickly at my house! I can account for every moment of the last several months since I last wrote a blog of my random (very random) thoughts. Can you? Are you making the life moments count toward something meaningful? Are you appreciating the very life breath you have?  Have you counted your blessings and then told those blessings of your love for them? I've decided my tombstone should read someday...Lorraine Estelle Bridges- She tried to live a life of no regrets. It really is my life mantra!
   I have spent most of my adult and married life living away from all of my family in Montana. California has been my home longer than the years I logged in the Big Sky country. I usually feel the pain and separation most when I am with them while visiting my home state. However lets be clear, I don't feel ANY regret during those long winter months while I enjoy the beach temperatures of Northern California.
    I recently traveled back to visit my mother Shirley who is failing slowly, but still failing quicker than we all are ready for. She's preparing herself for entrance to her new home in heaven. She told me during our last visit that she is ready to go and is at peace. Comforting words that I'm thinking about a lot these days as her body is declining and we all say the long slow goodbye to our dear mother/grandmother/great grandmother.
    I had a task of sorting through bins and boxes of photographs in between brief visits with my mom in her assisted living home. What a life passed before my eyes as I sifted through the pictorial memories. There were so many pictures of Montana landscape, animals hunted, fish caught and proudly displayed on the grass, formerly owned cars, trucks and campers, pets, family road trips and decades of family events that cataloged lives well lived. Everyone... smiling for the camera. So much joy pressed in on me while I worked on my laborious job.  I took handfuls of pictures to my mom for her to identify for me. Some people she knew and some forever forgotten. I surprised myself at how excellent I was at my sleuthing abilities to name each family member from their birth! After a week I felt like I had been on a long family adventure with my entire family! I'd spent time with beloved relatives and friends that had passed on as well. I heard their voices as I fingered through the photos. I will admit to a few tearful sessions I experienced alone as I would find a moment captured on film that brought deep emotion. Mom holding her first grandchild Erik, My dad showing my son Grant how to clean his first fish. Pictures of close family friend Shirley Hasenkrug laughing as she blew out a birthday cake. Sister Cheryl kayaking in Alaska with a twinkle in her eye. You know, now as my  mom is slipping away, sorting through those pictures seems to be a treasured gift I received during my visit.  I believed that the longer I'm away the more disconnected I would feel, but it simply isn't true. As my older brother Ken drove me half way across the state to catch a plane home(thanks again my dear brother-extra bro points for you) I felt comfortable with the familiar mountains and valleys in my surroundings. It was like putting on a old comfy pair of shoes or my favorite sweater.  I sure love to visit that place I call "home"!  I like the old saying, " Home is where your heart is." I guess my heart is there and always will be. For my birthday my sister Terri gave me a lovely necklace with the shape of the state of Montana and a heart on it. Appropriate gift for me don't you think?  So many I love are there with my heart including my sweet momma for now.  Maybe I have lots of "homes" and it isn't just in California.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

We Aren't in Kansas Anymore

Remember that post I wrote several posts back about Bucket Lists? Well if you haven't read it yet go back and read it here on this site. I'm talking about checking off a bucket list item and you should be up to speed.
 My husband John has been dreaming of a trip to Ireland, Scotland and England for quite a while now. It alllllllll started when the movie  Braveheart came out in mid 1995. We had the privilege  of sitting in the front row of the movie theater and getting to know Mel Gibson up close and personal for several bloody hours all for "Freedom!!!!!" Epic film but that was when John started all this talk about Scotland. Fast forward to 2 years ago when we decided we were really going to go there and chose to travel with as many fun friends who wanted to travel with us. So with a total of 6 fun friends married couples who were willing to take the plunge with us we took a 3 week adventure to the British Isles.
It began with a land tour of Ireland for 5 days to the Cliffs of Moher, through the Irish countryside with lambs on every hillside, exploring the delightful Irish towns and Ring of Kerry, and we fell in love with this lovely place. In Ireland you experience a new meaning to the color GREEN. I suppose living in drought ravaged California made us desire this 40 Shades of Green as sung, by Johnny Cash ( We then boarded a ship in London that took us to memorable places for a 12 day cruise. Castles, gardens, lakes and memories we will hold in our hearts forever. Much laughter and adventure with our Fun Friends Forever gang.We ended our trip in London for 4 days and were even there for the famous" Brexit "vote! We will have to return again as we simply could not do everything the city held out for us.
Some favorite memories for me:
~chatting with some 13 yrs old Irish girls at the parliament building in Belfast. They loved Justin Beiber and took selfies with me.Their fair skin tone and freckles made me realize I had found my people! (love)
~pony trap or jaunting cart ride in the park in Killarney, Ireland. An old castle was a surprise ending to the delightful ride.
~seeing how peat moss is made from huge bogs in fields and having Irish coffee at 11 am. yummmm
~purchasing my special keepsake necklace that has my name engraved in an ancient Celtic alphabet called Ogham.
~dinner and whiskey in a real Irish pub.
~the green green green countryside with stone walls and fields of lambs and cattle.
~ witnessing the locals who came out to wave the ship farewell in Cork, Ireland, and Liverpool England, and Greenock Scotland! Pipe bands, waving crowds, period costumes and big fanfare for us.
~visiting Monet's garden and spending one day in France. Also visiting the city of Rouen where Monet lived for a time and  remembering Joan of Arc who was burned at the the church ruins here.
~visiting Hillsborough Castle just two days after the royals William and Kate were there. This is the family home to Queen Elizabeth.
~ Visiting St Andrews golf course and walking on the beach there where they filmed Chariots of Fire!
~playing croquette  at Dunrobin Castle gardens.
~visiting Glamis Castle which was home to the Queen mum.
~actually singing the famous Scottish song"you take the high road and I'll take the low road" on the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond with our tour guide!
~exploring Powerscourt garden and waterfalls not far from Dublin.
~touring a Titanic museum in the last port of call for that fateful voyage in Cork, Ireland.
~eating potatoes at EVERY meal...haha
~Learning the local slang lingo. Example-fairy fingers(foxglove flowers), the necessary (potty break)
~ Having dinner with our fun friends...every ...night!!!
~Seeing the play "Wicked" on the West End in wow.
~Tea at Harrods and Selfridges with John and the Camerons & Kennedys.
~That spaghetti we had at that restaurant our last night in London, and the waitress gave me the recipe! WIN!
~having the courage to ride the London Eye!
~not kissing the Blarney Stone but loved the Castle. Apparently if you kiss someone who did then the gift of eloquence in speech passes to you too. Thanks Roger and Cathy!

I could ramble on about this fabulous vacation, but then you would hate me more then you already do so I will stop and just say this: Go follow after and begin today to implement your dreams no matter what they are! My brother has a goal and dream of visiting every state park in the state of Montana! How cool is that!? He's already crossing them off his list this summer.  I have another friend who wanted to see the Grand Canyon and I had the privilege of standing there with her last October to see it! Go and choose life.

My deep love to my traveling companions Mark & Laurie Cameron, Roger and Cathy Williams, Ed and Michele McDonald, Duane Schwega and Delene Waltrip, and Pam and Jim Kennedy. I love you all so much for helping us check this dream vacation off the bucket list. Fun Friends Forever!!!!

love and blessings,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Coughing the life right outta me

As promised I don't write blogs very often but when I do I try to have something interesting to say that most readers will be able to relate to.You know how you see a friend in Target that you haven't seen in ages and they say, " I haven't seen you in so long! How is your family and what have you been doing?" Sometimes you have a difficult time accounting for yourself and what you have been doing with your precious time, now don't you?. Well, I can account for mine realllllllly well thank you very much.because our family has had a lot going on the past 6 months. So if I evaluate my friend correctly and surmise that they truly care to hear my short summary of the Bridges Chronicles then I give them the Readers Digest version quickly.Here's my speech: Well we took a driving trip to Montana to see our parents. One parent returns with us only to be hospitalized twice while visiting us in California.  One set of parents decided to move out of their home of 30+ years. I had major foot surgery. Parents need help moving into new retirement home. Father in law passes away suddenly. Emotional funeral and goodbyes to Dad our patriarch. Beach family vacation with children and grandchildren. Big family wedding in So Cal with 80th birthday party for mother in law. Fall holidays arrive.  Granddaughter gets potty trained. We are exhausted and take a much needed break to Hawaii. Long awaited news that our oldest daughter is pregnant with our 4th grandchild due in October! Birth of our 3rd grandchild Andrew John!  I get bronchitis and I'm not getting better with given antibiotic. Ok, I brought you up to speed. Are you still with me? This is where it gets interesting!
Cough Cough cough cough COUGH! I tell my husband that I am sore from c o u g h i n g. Then one day last week I tell him I can't move and I'm in severe pain crying. Just ice and take ibuprofen is his calm advice.  I decide that I'm not going to follow his advice and 24 hours later I'm at the Dr getting X-rays that reveal a broken rib and fluid on my lungs. If you have experienced a broken rib before than you totally understand the pain I am talking about right now...It is a 10 on the pain scale those health helpers ask you about. I'm happy to report that a new antibiotic has reduced the cough and with rest I should heal in 4-6 weeks. Tell me why is it, that to really slow down your life, God may have to insert a physical obstacle to make us busy bee types stop long enough to heal? Why can't I seem to understand that  pausing to "heal" daily would be so much easier? The "coming to a screeching halt" is so arduous.See my earlier post about my foot surgery to prove I am clearly not learning this lesson.
Here are a few things I've learned during my broken rib trauma thus far:

1.My brother Ron said to not self diagnose and get back into the Dr. Listen to your older brother.
2.If you are in pain and a friend insists on driving and helping allow her to assist you  and you thank her profusely. Do not act like you are fine with a broken rib. You are not fine. Her name is Laurie I can totally give you her number. Message me.
3. Carry around a soft fluffy pillow to cough into. Yelling after coughing is totally acceptable behavior and is encouraged at my house.
4. Laughing and sneezing hurt like crazy!!! Tell your comedic friends to postpone their visits.
5. This is your time to "rest and slow down". Embrace it.
6.If you let the dog in with wet feet and nobody is around to help you dry him off...then everyone in your home will understand your dilemma and forgive you for his cute little paw prints... everywhere...on the hardwood floor. Sorry honey.
7. I'm either a really poor inefficient cougher OR maybe i'm a reallllllly amazing big girl cougher. Jury is still out on that one since I got the broken rib result.
8. You CAN get stuck in a chair you can't get out of.
9. Be advised to accept any offers of meals, help, sweet pea flowers and sincere sympathy.
10. If you offer to bring me a meal, please don't bring barbecued ribs, braised short ribs or even a full rack of ribs...that is not funny.

Lessons learned can be good and valuable if you choose joy even in the midst of coughing. It took me a few rounds of tears but I eventually got there.

Blessings my friends
In Isaiah 43:2, God says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you" (NKJV).


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remembering my words...again

Dear beloved reader,

I am asking you to reread a blog post I wrote last March.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I remember the first time my close friend Claudia told me she had cancer. She told me to sit down. I was thankful later she asked me to do that. I don't recall the words that came out of my mouth after that announcement...You want them to be words to encouragement. Words of hope. Words that have clarity and most of all words of love. I remember crumbling to my knees when I was told by my father he had lung cancer...I can't recall what I said to him that day either... To be honest, I don't recall one word I said to any of my friends and family who have shared that painful declaration with me, and unfortunately there have been many. Sigh. 
So this week when my dear friend Kerri told me her cancer had returned after almost 10 years...
I AM going to remember what I said to her. I'm NOT going to forget and be paralyzed in my brain as a close friend bears their raw spirit and pain filled heart and soul. I will not forget what I said:

 Oh dear friend, I am praying and will encourage my family to pray as well. 
My heart is suffering right now with you.
HE is our peace!!!

Today this precious friend found out the extent of cancer and is making decisions about treatment. Not the news she wanted to hear she said. The sharp reality of those words fell hard on my heart. I stood with my phone reading her text while shopping in Costco...crying. What do you say to those suffering and hurting so deeply? I decided to make my words few and said , 

Jesus will carry you. 

My prayer is those words are the beginning of healing for Kerri and maybe  for someone you know that you love deeply. May our words be full of kindness, love, and... hope!

That was written about 9 months ago...My dear sweet friend was "carried by Jesus" into heaven surrounded by her family December 17th 2015. You know, I looked back at what I did say to my hurting friend and it was truth. My family and many friends prayed earnestly for Kerri, and our hearts did suffer with her as she fought like a crazy woman to beat cancer. Kerri always called it "c". She wouldn't give into any part of it! So she minimized it as much as she could. He(Jesus) was her peace. She valiantly called out to HIM alone for strength, endurance and peace to stand strong. Yes, ultimately Jesus carried her right into His loving arms after He carried her through a battle. He is her dance partner now. (Many of you may remember her dancing moves at my son Grant and Taylor's wedding!)  My heart hurts and as I write I swallow hard to relieve the tightness in my throat remembering and now missing my girlfriend from high school and a span of friendship that thrived even as our empty nests arrived. I wrote in my book Wet Mittens a chapter called You Gotta Love Deeply. I think it's the one life lesson I always come back to and write about so often. This past year that lesson was taught  largely by this precious friend. Oh heck, I realize now she has been teaching that to me for years! No worries my Kerri, we will all "Kerri-on" just like you showed us how to !!