Shortly after moving into our off-white-walled condo, Darrell and I decided to have a Paint-cation. We wanted fun colors and faux finish on our walls without spending tons of money on hiring someone to do it.
As soon as we moved in, I kept talking about how we could – with no problem because I did it 15 years ago – paint and faux finish our small condo ourselves…so we decided to take the Thanksgiving holiday to do it! (Luckily for us, my amazing mom hosted Thanksgiving dinner, so all we needed to do was to show up for a few hours).
Darrell and I spent four 16-hour days prepping and painting. Here’s what I learned from our Thanksgiving Paint-cation.
John F. Kennedy made famous a story told by Irish writer Frank O’Connor, where he and his friends “would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they would take off their hats and toss them over the wall – and then they had no choice but to follow them.”
We got our supplies, painted color samples on the wall, and picked our colors.
Then I tested my faux finish technique… and it sucked!!! Doubt crept in… should I have kept my mouth shut? Should we have hired professionals? Did I get us in over our heads? Were we now papered and taped and all dressed up with no place to faux?
Doubt is a familiar guest in my mental household, and by now it was having a party with friends.
So, fueled by the amount of time and money we already spent on this project – as well being committed to vibrant color on our walls – I gave myself a pep talk and set out to watch every Faux-Finish How To Video I could find! I then practiced diligently on large planks of cardboard harvested from a big screen TV box in the dumpster.
After multiple attempts and lots of forgiveness, I mastered a technique that ended up turning our bedroom alive! Purple is my favorite color, and ragging purple glaze over deeper purple base on the bedroom walls was probably the most fun I ever had painting anything!
I committed blindly and without knowing all the particulars…and found a way to get to the result.
Taping is the most boring part of any painting project. I thought it would take me half a day to tape out our place before starting to paint.
On the contrary, it took three times that amount…hours and hours of tedious, never-ending, detailed, and annoying work. It delayed the start of our actual PAINT-cation by 2 days!
The ever-present self-critic reared its ugly head again in this case as well. It said “You should have known better. You messed up the schedule. How in the world will we get it done on time now?”
I’ve learned to unlearn all that built this inner critic: the childhood pressures to be good, look good, be nice, do things right. So, I set out to forgive, forgive, forgive…and kept my fingers working.
In The Back Forty we “play first”: GO FOR IT without having everything worked out or having all the answers ahead of time. Figure it out as we go. So that’s what I did. And, though it didn’t fit my preconceived pictures or timeline, it all DID get done anyway!
Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing in the middle of the living room, with glaze in one hand and a sea sponge in the other, about to start another faux experiment that would shape the whole experience for people walking into our home…when once again I was paralyzed by my frequent visitor – doubt!
“What if I mess it up? I did the bedroom ok, but everyone sees the living room. Should I use the rag here too since I know how to use it better, even though we wanted to sponge for a different effect? Oh my god, what did I get myself into!!!”
Then, just when I could use some outside-voice interruption, Darrell said: “Don’t worry about it, babe. We’re doing this for us. Have fun. Go play with it.”
Something shifted on a dime. The wall became a playground with the glaze and sponge simply toys. I became an artist playing with color, moving along the wall with my sponge to the beat of the music playing. I became an artiste’!
Our rooms are fairly small as we bought the place for the high-rise view of the ocean, not the size. By choice, the colors on our walls are rather deep, which can close down a smaller room even more.
At some point in the middle of our project, a dear friend suggested that we add painter’s sparkle to the walls for added effect and to make the rooms feel lighter.
Sparkles!!! I had never heard of painter’s sparkle, but you didn’t need to ask me twice. A little research – again thanks to YouTube How Tos – and a trip to the hardware store resulted in Darrell with his roller adding a coat of sparkle on top of the paint in both rooms.
Sparkle on our walls was the best unexpected outcome of our Paint-cation…and I get a twinkle every time I see what our Thanksgiving Paint-cation taught me.
The point of it all: In our second half of life, it is so easy to not take risks, not play first, and stay in our easy, well-worn comfort zones of doubt, second-guessing and need to “look good.” Yet, I find that I get the most juice in life when I DO step out, take risks, and play first ANYWAY.
Click on the video below to listen to my top 30 songs to get you into the holiday spirit!
Or, if you would like to find the music on your own, here is a list of the 30 songs included in the above playlist.
It’s that time of year again, the time of year when you are buying gifts for your loved ones. But then, there’s the wrapping.
When I was a child, my mother instilled in me the importance of wrapping presents beautifully. She said that by wrapping something well, you were showing that you cared about the receiver of your gift.
For years I frustratedly learned the art of wrapping the perfect package, all the while wishing that I could just wrap the gifts quickly and throw on a pre-made bow or (gasp!) put a present in a gift bag like my father and brother often did. But now that I am grown I find myself appreciating the knowledge that my mother passed down to me. These days I feel that well-wrapped presents under the tree are accents that are just as important as all of the other decorations around my home.
So today I will share my knowledge with you and teach you the art of wrapping the perfect present and, even more importantly, the elusive perfect bow!
You will need your gift in a box, wrapping paper, a pair of scissors, tape and ribbon.
Unroll your wrapping paper and set your gift on top of the unrolled paper. There is a trick for cutting the perfect amount of paper. Roll your box across the paper 4 times (one time for each side of the box). This will give you the perfect amount of paper for the front and back side of your package. For the sides, make sure you have about 3/4 of the height of the package worth of paper on each side of the square.
Cut your paper to the correct size. Once you have your paper ready, turn your package upside down so the back of the package is facing up.
Fold over the edge of your wrapping paper that will be on top when wrapping to make sure that you have a clean edge showing instead of your ragged cut edge. Fold the paper and hold together with a piece of tape.
Now for the sides. The trick is to crease all of your edges (I use the back of my fingernail against the ground and corners of the box). First, fold down the top and crease the sides. Then repeat the same on the sides and then the bottom. Fold the bottom up and secure with a piece of tape (or two).
The bow is a bit more complicated so I created the below infographic for your convenience. Grab your ribbon and let’s get started!
Somewhat similarly to last week’s tip (Take Stock of Your Gifts & Talents), I have a question to ask you. When was the last time you actually sat down to think of your values?
I seriously doubt that anyone in midlife can say that they hold the same values as they did in their 20s, or even their 30s. Taking time to clearly lay out your values that have shifted as you have gained more life experience will make it possible for you to succeed at whatever you choose to do next.
If you hold onto values simply because that’s what you’ve always believed, you are setting yourself up for failure by relying on obsolete belief systems.
In many ways, life helps us discover our current priorities by using our most recent values. Therefore, don’t let your current and future opportunities and priorities be sabotaged by sticking to outdated priorities.
Come back next week for Pro Tip #5 and remember that you control where your life goes next!
Today I bring you some amusement from the past.
Nearly 35 years ago, in 1982, this game graced the board game shelves. Its tagline was “can you survive your mid-life crisis without cracking up, breaking up, or going broke?”
The game was produced in California by The Game Works, Inc in 1982 and was re-released in 1993. According to an article in The New York Times from 1993, the original version of the game sold 700,000 copies. I’m not sure when it went out of production, but it definitely is not easy to find today. It takes about an hour to play, requires 4-6 players, and is only intended for people over the age of 18.
The objective of the game was simply to make it through your midlife with more money, less stress, and fewer divorce points than the other players, and (most importantly) to avoid having to declare a mid-life crisis where you go broke, get divorced, or crack up before the game is over.
To start the game, each player is given a score card and a pawn to place on start. Each player starts the game with a career, $25,000, 500 stress points, and a marriage. To play, each player rolls the die, moves forward the respective number of spaces, and follows the direction on whichever space they land on. Each space can either add or subtract stress points, award or take away money, add or subtract divorce points, or have you use a crisis card or zap card.
An example of a Zap Card:
“PANIC – Your period is late. Go to Doctor and SUBTRACT $1,000 or have the child and ADD 300 STRESS POINTS.”
Basically, crisis cards are things that happen to you and zap cards are things you can make happen to other players. There are also special spaces including career spaces, retreats, and passage spaces.
An example of a Crisis Card:
“Your spouse keeps telling the kids that you are going through the change. Deny everything, talk about personal growth and self exploration. ADD 200 STRESS POINTS.”
When you land on a career space, you must pay the designated amount of money to the player who has that career. Retreats are the 3 big spaces in the middle of the board and they are the spaces you are sent to if you lose your mind, get divorced, or go broke. If you have over 1,500 stress points, you are required to go to Crack-up Ranch for “therapy”. If you get 3 divorce points you have to go to Divorce Gulch to attempt to reconcile with your spouse. If you go bankrupt, you must go to Bankrupt City where you basically become a homeless person begging for change.
The passage spaces are spaces that you cannot skip over. If you roll a 5 and there is a passage space 3 spaces ahead, you must stop there. These spaces make it possible for other players to force a crisis onto you.
The winner is the person with the most money. Each zap card, 100 stress points, or divorce point is equal to $1,000 that you must deduct from your total amount of money at the end of the game.
Do you find yourself still searching for the perfect holiday gifts? Are you realizing that Christmas is less than a week away and getting worried?
Don’t fear, I’ve taken the time to do a little research for you. I found something for everyone on your list. Look through the list below and find your perfect gift!
Everyone has gifts and talents. But when was the last time you actually took the time to take stock of those gifts and talents?
As you have been growing older, you have also been building skills and discovering talents that you didn’t possess when you were younger. Some of your talents were created by conscious planning while others you developed through a necessity.
By taking stock of those new gifts and talents that you have built, you have the chance to find new areas of interest and exploration that you didn’t even realize were an option before.
By the time you find yourself in midlife, you probably have far more skills that you have learned through unplanned exposure. Either you were forced to build the skill for a job or for your family and maybe one of those skills have become a passion or interest of yours.
You’d be surprised at how many possibilities exist for a person to reinvent their life focus. By discovering all of your gifts and talents, you make it possible to purposefully choose the direction you want to head towards next. Take some time and discover what your second half of life has to offer!
Come back next week for Pro Tip #4 and try discovering your newfound gifts and talents that have the potential to reshape your future!
“A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone.”
– Richard Carlson
I’m sure I’m the only one who has sat on a customer service line for 30 minutes or more to correct a billing error or get a refund. NOT!
My most recent experience had me realize I was spending $300 worth of my time to save $30. Insanely bad time management.
Some of us are smarter about this than others. Until recently, I fell into the not-so-smart.
Perhaps there’s some ingrained “stand up for justice” orientation that was ingrained from my childhood experiences or, on the other hand, some self-appointed, Corporate Correction Czar-ness that I picked up in early adulthood, whereby customer service and experience became my torch (thank you Tom Peters). Or, maybe I just blindly want to save a buck.
Yet, the price of the discombobulation that the energy and friction endured to reach that justice-for-the-right, in-search-of-excellence reset, or extra buck is often not worth it.
New awareness, patterns and ways of being are always called for if we’re going to keep growing, and especially in The Back Forty. We can’t keep doing things the same old way if our charge is to free ourselves up to play the Big Game we came here to play.
If the first half of life was only R & D, research and development, for us to now do what we came here to do, we want to be getting lighter, not more entrenched in nitter natter. We should (me, myself, and I) consider letting go of things that aren’t so valuable for those that are. Like peace.
There are people and events in our lives and workplace, businesses we frequent, and family and friends we spend time with during holidays that seem to always stick something in our craw.
Do we grab every opportunity to be right and support the justice of humanity? Only if we want to be a wreck.
‘What price peace?’ is a good question to keep asking ourselves in living every day as our best day, and especially in the lightening up process of gearing up for our Big Game Back Forty future.
Am I encouraging rolling over all the time? Perhaps not. Perhaps there’s a battle that must be fought. And yet, not every single one.
It’s been said that sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war.
Perhaps sometimes we need to simply let go of the small battles to enjoy peace of mind, body and spirit.
What battle can you release and forego today for the pricelessness of your Back Forty peace?
“Don’t let something that doesn’t matter cause you to lose something that does. ”
My family has a rather strange Christmas tradition. Honestly, my parents can’t even agree on how it became a tradition in the first place.
My mother swears that her aunt gave her the idea for this while my father is adamant that they thought of this tradition on their own to prevent us children from being too greedy. However this tradition started, I still follow it today and hope to continue the tradition as long as I can, and maybe I can even convince some of you to take part in this tradition as well.
“So what is the tradition?!” You find yourselves asking, after all, you are more than two paragraphs into this post. Well, let me start at the beginning…
You’ve heard of the 12 Days of Christmas. After all, there is that song. Plus, the media has started picking up on it too. 12 Days of Sales, 12 Days of Christmas Movies, the list seems to grow and grow each year. But there is a GIANT piece of the puzzle that almost EVERYONE is missing!
That’s right – those sales and promotions that all seem to start on December 14th are simply incorrect. But I understand why businesses do it, after all, how many people do you know that start taking down the tree on the 26th? Or at the very least, before the new year?
But I’m here to tell you that the 12 Days of Christmas START on the 25th, and that my family found a way to celebrate each and every day.
“Why does it matter?” You may ask. Well, let me give you a mini history lesson. Christmas is actually a season. Yes, we have heard of the Christmas season, but historically the “season” consists of Christmas Day and the 11 Days after Christmas. Why? Because of the church. According to the Christian calendar, there are 12 days between when they celebrate Jesus’ birth (Christmas) and when they celebrate the 3 Wise Men arriving to give their gifts to the baby, which marks the beginning of the church season of Epiphany. Therefore, the 12 Days of Christmas are actually December 25th through January 5th, with Epiphany beginning on the 6th.
Now, regardless of if you find yourself very religious or not, this tradition is a great way to keep the original 12 Days of Christmas alive and to hold onto the Christmas spirit just a little bit longer.
“WHAT IS THE TRADITION?!?!” I hear you yelling to me through the screen. Okay, okay! I’ll finally get to it.
Let me explain it a little more. When my brother and I were very young, my parents saw how all of the children around them were receiving tons of gifts on Christmas Day. Between the gifts from Santa, and their parents, and their extended family – many kids easily had 12 gifts, if not more. The kids were tearing through all of their gifts in about 30 minutes and then they were so overwhelmed by the number of presents they received, they would pick their favorite one to go play with and all the other gifts would be left at the base of the tree to be collected later.
My parents did not like this. They thought it made children appreciate each present less and it that it caused a big letdown after the gifts were all opened and suddenly – after a month building up to the day – Christmas was over.
So, however they thought of the idea, they decided to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. On the first day of Christmas, us children would receive one big gift from Santa and a smaller gift from our parents. Then, depending on how many gifts we received from our extended family, we would be able to open a few more until there were 11 gifts left under the tree for each of us. This way, we still had the excitement of Christmas Day above all else, but we weren’t opening so many gifts that we didn’t know how to appreciate them. Then, each day for the remaining 11 days of Christmas, we would open one more gift.
As much as I think this is a wonderful way for children to appreciate each of their gifts, enjoy the entire season, and learn about the history of the 12 Days of Christmas, I feel that this tradition can be just as gratifying as an adult.
As I grew older and got married, I carried this tradition into my new life. Each Christmas, my husband and I would buy each other 12 gifts. This worked out well because we always knew that we would have the same number of gifts under the tree. Now, many of you are probably thinking – 12 gifts is a lot! But, they don’t have to be big gifts. I still buy my husband one big “Santa” gift for the first day of Christmas and then smaller gifts for the following 11 days. Maybe one day he receives a few new shirts, another day a book he wanted. The thing I like about this tradition is that you can make it as grandiose or simple as you like.
So that’s it. That is my favorite Christmas tradition. I know it is unique – I am yet to meet a single person who also takes part in this tradition – but it is something that I truly love. I love being reminded to be grateful each and every day. I love being able to celebrate Christmas for the full season – and understanding why I am celebrating.
Our past tends to have a profound effect on how we act today and sometimes it is far too easy to continue punishing ourselves for the struggles, failures, and pain of our past.
Instead of holding onto the pain of your past, try seeing your past (and present) as being perfectly designed for you and by you. All of those struggles were actually lessons that have prepared you to discover what you have come to this earth to do.
If you are having a hard time letting go of your past struggles, I challenge you to come up with a list of 20 reasons why your struggle is the best thing that could have ever happened to you. I know it sounds a little crazy, but you will be shocked at the reasons that you realize if you just spend a little time thinking about it.
If you can not only let go of your previous struggles but also realize that those struggles have actually made it possible to achieve more, then you can truly begin to “win” your midlife experience.
Come back next week for Pro Tip #3 and remember that each and every struggle is also an opportunity!