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Monthly Archives: January 2017

What Happens When You Put Off Living to Wait for a Better Future?

Live in the moment!

It’s a pretty common phrase, right? But, like much of the advice I give out, it’s easier said than done. After all, how much of our lives do we spend waiting? Waiting to grow up, waiting to get a job that you actually enjoy, waiting to be able to afford that vacation, waiting to live in a bigger home, waiting for your relationship to get better, waiting for your kids to grow out of whatever stage they’re going through. The list goes on and on.

Now, let me be the first to say that I am far from blameless in this situation. I am the epitome of waiting. For years I said that I was waiting for my life to begin, then I was waiting to get married, then I was waiting for my husband to get out of the military, then I was waiting to own a home. For a large majority of my life, I have been waiting.

And that brings me to today’s quote. Take a moment to read it and I’ll meet you on the other side.

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This quote is so true and I think it’s something that we need to be reminded of on a regular basis. While we are waiting for our lives to be perfect, we often miss out on all of the amazing things in our everyday life.

For example, my husband is getting out of the military in 6 months at this point. After he gets out, we are planning on moving across the country and buying our first home (military life doesn’t really give the opportunity to put down roots). So, I’m waiting. I’m waiting for my husband to switch careers, I’m waiting to move somewhere new, I’m waiting to put down roots. And I find myself trying to plan this future. I find myself “dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon,” just like Carnegie said.

Meanwhile, I should be thinking about how I only have 6 months left in this amazing place I already live. I currently am located in Colorado Springs and it truly is an amazing city. I have never lived anywhere with better restaurants; my husband and I have about 20 that 20160606_094217.jpgwe are absolutely in love with and when we move we will never be able to visit them again. The nature here is unbelievable, don’t believe me? Just look at this picture I took at The Garden of The Gods (only 10 minutes from our home)! Between the snow-capped mountains, the natural hot springs, the hiking, the local shops, and the amazing sights, I should be soaking it all in every moment.

And yet, I find myself being bored and waiting for something better.

So today my advice for you is as much for you as it is for me. Take a few moments to really see the “roses that are blooming outside our windows today”. After all, our experiences are fleeting and before you know it, that thing you’re waiting for will happen…and then you’ll have something new to wait for. So don’t waste your time waiting today, enjoy what is right in front of you instead!

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Expert Tip #10: Believe!

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As I sit down to write my final tip in this series, I am realizing that this tip is the easiest…and the hardest tip to follow.

What is so easy and yet so hard?

Believing.

None of the tips I have given you will be of any help at all if you don’t truly believe that your future will be even greater than your past.

Believe that you do have power over your future, believe that you can achieve your dreams, believe that it’s not too late, just believe.

Today I ask you to do your part. You can help turn around the cultural conversation around aging, simply by proving others and the media wrong.

As you leave this post series, I want you to truly believe that your best creativity, ingenuity, relationships, careers, health, fitness, and self-expression are all still ahead.

Midlife is just the beginning! Do you believe?

 

Thank you for reading my Winning Midlife Pro Tip Series and remember to always believe in yourself!

See other tips here!

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It’s Never Too Late for Adventure

not-mom-blog-pic-finalWritten By Karen Malone Wright

I was introduced to The Back Forty when I met Darrell Gurney at a conference in Los Angeles in late 2016. I immediately connected with his mission, and I don’t think he was surprised when I confessed that I’m living my own Back Forty career right now.

Like most people, I tend to focus on what’s currently happening, forgetting that I was 45 when I quit my job as a high-power, good salaried health care marketing executive in 2000. Except that the truth is, I didn’t quit my job; I escaped and ran from Shawshank prison.

I had prepared my escape quietly, carefully, for almost seven months. There were many discussions with my husband, my lawyer and my accountant. My lists had lists of their own. I read books detailing what it would take to become a solopreneur, and I had informational interviews and coffees with people who had already made the switch. I Googled everything in between.

Unlike the many advertising and public relations agencies named for the primary owner, I wanted my new venture to have a name with meaning, which my own decidedly did not. I decided on “odyssey”, because of its secondary definition: “an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest”.

Some might have thought that I simply started doing the same strategic communications projects that I used to do on a “job”, but from home. They were almost correct. What they overlooked was the jubilation infused with the free air I breathed. The work I performed was under terms set only by me. The ability to choose the clients, people and issues I would to support with my efforts, and to dismiss others, was exhilarating. I re-learned my own rhythms, and set my own schedules.

Unfortunately, bliss rarely lasts.  

Over the next 10 years, I grew increasingly unhappy with unreasonable clients, boring assignments, and even the very skills I used to take pride in. Over time, my new world had morphed into feeling like the old world, beyond my control and a waste of my ebbing time. Worse, it seemed impossible to imagine that anyone would pay me to do anything else (not that I knew what “anything else” might look like).

Here’s a sentence you don’t read every day: I was revitalized by social media.

As a communications major in college and a professional in the field, I was captivated by the new technology that hopped over TV networks and radio stations and PR folk like me to post its own reality. Simply put, everything old was new again.

It took hours for me to finish a simple online article, because any reference that I didn’t understand, such as virtual worlds (SecondLife), or channels like Twitter that took weekends to master, I clicked off to explore and teach myself. My first blog, using Google’s Blogger chronicled a Baby Boomer’s leap into modern communications.  Communications Goddess represented the self-confidence I had achieved while sharing my delight at the new tools the Internet steadily delivered.

In 2009, I started annual treks to attend BlogHer conferences in New York, Chicago and San Diego. Women – more than 2,000 of them – filled me with their energy and determination to have their voices heard. It was at BlogHer that I began to see blogging as a business. Soon after, I admitted that there were hundreds of bloggers with larger audiences, deeper pockets, and stronger resumes across the Net with social media blogs just like mine.

In March 2011, I flew to Austin, Texas to attend South by Southwest Interactive, a nine-day celebration of all things digital and online. It was there, in a session about how women connect with brands online, that I said aloud for the first time, “I can’t find myself online.”

By then, I was a 56-year-old woman who was not the mother of a teenager, nor an empty nester, nor a grandmother, nor fertile and still trying to conceive. I was not anti-child, anti-procreation or anti-anything. I was pro-me and, in all of cyberspace, I couldn’t find anyone like me. It hurt.

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Me, after I found my niche!

Someone suggested I start a website, and I responded that there was no way to avoid “mean girls” who don’t like children or their mothers. That’s definitely not me.

I thought the subject was closed, until another attendee urged me to follow up on the idea that Madison Avenue and everyone else were overlooking millions of women. I listened, and soon found US Census Bureau reports that the number of American NotMoms was the highest since tracking began in 1976. Today, one of every six American women will never give birth and nations worldwide are reporting historic levels.

I officially launched the new blog on Mother’s Day 2012 and named it The NotMom because of the many, many times I have been called to explain that, “No, I do not have children. I am not a Mom.”

If a woman isn’t a Mom in our Mom-centered world, she often feels adrift without a tribe, a community of her own. It’s easy for people to accept, without full comprehension, the universal power and influence of the title that is “Mom”.

Young Moms, single Moms, special needs Moms, Moms-to-be, adoptive Moms, military Moms, celebrity Moms, adoptive Moms, empty nest Moms, Moms of multiples, mocha Moms, first-time Moms and soccer Moms are all linked at a visceral level impossible to replicate. When a woman is not and will never be any type of Mom, even those women who chose to live childfree may feel overlooked and repeatedly out of place.

American in focus but global in scope, The NotMom is distinguished online by its embrace of women who once dreamed of motherhood as well as those who never did. Now approaching its fifth anniversary, the brand engages and influences a growing community of more than 25,000 childless and childfree women age 26 and up through the blog, events and social networks.

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Last year’s Not Mom Summit.

The NotMom Summit, the only conference of its kind in the world, brings these women together offline to acknowledge and enhance the shared aspects of their lives. The inaugural event drew women from three continents, five countries (Canada, China, England, Iceland and the US) and 18 states, proving that the interest in such a gathering has value.

The 2017 NotMom Summit will be on October 6-7, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio, and once again I am working hard to partner with major sponsors open to recognizing the potential of this important niche market. With my husband’s blessing and enthusiastic support, I am embroiled in the adventure of my life at age 61.

The NotMom has won a $5,000 prize from a northeast Ohio program for entrepreneurial women and scored international media coverage including Fortune, Black Enterprise, CNN.com, The Atlantic and The New York Times (twice!). No matter how this story ends, I will never regret chasing a dream to find my own community, and to help other women find theirs.

Karen is the founding voice & chief executive of The NotMom.com and featured by The New York Times as a leading expert on issues about women without children by chance or by choice. For more information on the 2017 NotMom Summit, go to: https://notMomsummit2017.sched.org.

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The Time to Start Mentoring is NOW!

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“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

-Steve Spielberg

Individual benefits of having a mentor – and being one – are wide-ranging and far-reaching, no matter where you are in your career.

For the organization, these benefits are multiplied:

  • improved cooperation and effectiveness
  • committed employees
  • increased retention
  • transfer of knowledge
  • creating a company culture of growth and development
  • becoming a more desirable place to work

Through developing ongoing relationships with their mentors, mentees more fully understand and embrace company values and culture.  

No one questions the immense value of mentoring.  

Why then, given how valuable mentoring is, are we not seeing more and more mentoring happening in the workplace?  

Here are three ideas you (or your organization) can implement to start mentoring now.

Find your own mentor whose expertise and attitude are right for you.  

The right match is key and will establish a “make it or break it” difference.  A mentor could be an executive or senior employee at your company.  A mentor should be several “levels” up, and someone who is both respected and interested in contributing.  

Or, you might find a mentor in your industry but outside your employer, as you meet experts through alumni groups or trade associations.  

To be successful, you – the mentee – will need to take full responsibility for the mentoring relationship, including being clear on what you want to accomplish, being willing to learn, and accepting guidance.

Get a “reverse mentor” – a colleague younger than you, most likely a millennial.  

I personally learn a great deal from a 20-something I work with very closely – including new technologies, expanding social media audiences and presence, new creative ideas and ways to approach projects, and added awareness of things I did not even know existed.  I am also continuously amazed at what my 20-something daughters can do or teach me.  

What could having a reverse mentor do for you?

Get your organization on board – and in tune with the times – by establishing a company-sponsored mentoring program.  

According to Dee Elliott, President of DECMentoring, mentoring programs create organizations of learning, discovery, and understanding.  DECMentoring uses proprietary technology to match mentors and mentees who engage in a 9-month mentoring relationship, including one-on-one meetings and group training sessions.

In the process, everyone (the mentee, the mentor, and the organization) become better versions of themselves, while improving awareness, confidence, leadership, listening, communications, and effectiveness.  

Everyone needs a mentor.  Who will be yours?

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3 Steps for Embracing Good Fog

 

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“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”

– Henri Matisse

To some degree, we regard fog in our work and developments as a bad thing.

Fog means non-clarity: of what is coming together (or not); of what is working (or not); of what the end result will be (or not).

We hate not knowing, and will often avoid times when it’s all happening “in the mix” without certainty.

Yet, if we look throughout history, did anyone in the crucible of bringing something about know that the messiness and confusion surrounding them would eventually result in world-impacting change?

In 1928, did research scientist Alexander Fleming, who sometimes left a messy lab at the end of the day — failing to sterilize his plates and leaving the window open — know that mold would form, enabling him to invent penicillin?

In the early 30’s, did 10 drunks all but living together and struggling to stay sober know that they were forming a fellowship which would grow to over 2 million members in 170 countries?

I’m inspired by these and other stories which demonstrate that “in the moment” is rarely the time when we know what we’re actually creating.

In the midst of investing time into the bookstore version of “The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half” (the first manuscript was far too dense for bookstores)…

all while building some very powerful and fruitful alliances with players and organizations that jibe with our message…

all while building out a content base of online and live programs in which people can experience the transformative effects of this message…

all while embracing and learning new forms delivering the message (social media) and streamlined systems of communication…

all while maintaining the bread-and-butter support of these initiatives through the coaching, consulting and corporate-employment playgrounds that fund our activities…

Alexandra and I can sometimes feel that we’re swimming in wide-open ocean with no site of land.

So, the inspiration of stories that show how a willingness to stay the course in the unknown can, years later, be the source of statements of amazement – “Who would have known!?” – make all the difference in our world…and, hopefully, the world.

Here are 3 steps for Embracing Good Fog:

  1.  Wake Up…and see the fog, vs. remaining in the numbness that it usually puts us in.

  1.  Forgive…yourself for all the make-wrong judgments you’ve levied against yourself: “I shouldn’t be here”, “I must be doing something wrong”, “I should have more things in place already”.  They just dampen your creativity and spirit.

  1.  ReMIND…yourself and others of the solid intentions that you moved forward into this project with in the first place.  An intention has ways of fulfilling itself outside of our pictures of how it should necessarily come about.  If you’ve designed Mission and Vision statements for what you’re up to, this could be a good time to review them.  This will put you in your right mind.

By embracing the Good Fog of creativity, you can empower yourself to, as Thoreau says, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”.

Question:

If you subscribe to The Back Forty conviction that “you have yet to do what you came here to do” and are committed that your second half of life be your best half, what fog of your own creativity can you embrace today for the sake of posterity?

“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.”

– Joseph Conrad

How to Stop Yourself from Preventing Your Success

Today I am bringing you another quote. Have you ever heard the little voice in your head saying, “you can’t do that”? Maybe you think, “it’s too late for me to change careers” or “that’s just the way things are”.

Well, my quote today is here to tell you that those mindsets are simply incorrect. Take a moment to read it through and I”ll meet you on the other side.

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Take a moment to think about that. By telling yourself that you can’t do something you are basically sealing your own fate.

If you decide you can’t then you won’t, but what would happen if you decided that you could?

If you decided that you could get that job, that you could change your lifestyle, that you could actually achieve your dreams and goals, then anything could be possible.

You have to potential to have a purposeful, fulfilling, and fun second half of life – you just have to decide that you can.

So this week I have a goal for you. Try to think of something that you haven’t done simply because the voice in your head said that you couldn’t, and go for it!

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Expert Tip #9: Play Again

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Have you ever said, “it’s just not the right time”? I bet you have. After all, with age comes knowledge and some things need to happen at a certain time in order to succeed.

Or at least that’s what we think.

If you take a moment to think about what you have held off on doing because it’s not the right time, you might just be surprised.

Maybe you didn’t go after a job because you didn’t think you had the right qualifications, or you didn’t ask someone on a date because it wasn’t the right time, or even you haven’t written a book because you don’t have the right connections or knowledge.

Here’s the thing about waiting for the right time, it might never come. That’s not to say that if the right time never comes then you can never achieve your goals, it’s quite the opposite. You can achieve your goals regardless of if it is the right time to do so or not.

Often when someone says that it isn’t the right time for something, they really mean that they don’t want to make a mistake. The fear of failure is what is really driving you, not the proper timing.

This is what brings us to today’s tip. Stop being afraid and start to play again.

Pick a goal and go for it! Forget about the right or wrong time and just start playing. Yes, you might get a little dirty along the way but that’s half the fun!

Come back next week for Pro Tip #10 and remember to get inspired, take action, and take risks this week!

See other tips here!

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Discovering Alexandra’s New Year with The Quiz of The Year

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A fellow blogger asked us to participate in this quiz (see Saddles to Shorelines for her answers)…so I’d better get my answers out before I get too much into this New Year!

I’ll share my thoughts from the Alexandra side of the Founders of The Back Forty Fliers…and you can see Darrell’s here.

What were your highlights of 2016?

One of the biggest highlights of 2016 for me was moving into and settling in our new condo (affectionately called Home Sweet Play Pad), after spending a year creating, manifesting, and finding our perfect home.  It has become the oasis of joy, coziness, and endless view of the Pacific Ocean.

Another great highlight was getting our Professional Certified Coach certification from the ICF after completing 2 years of preparation and study.

Name one thing you are likely to remember about 2016 if asked in five years time?

I will always remember 2016 as a year of manifesting and moving into our home.

Sum up 2016 in one word.

Un-settled-ness.

Name one pearl of wisdom from 2016 that you will carry into 2017.

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” – Iain Thomas

Do you have any new year resolutions?

We don’t make resolutions, instead Darrell and I have our Created 2017.  We spend (as we always do) some good quality time in December creating our intentions and results for 2017. Darrell and I have plans for the growth of The Back Forty, deepening of our relationship, and our individual personal and professional growth.  Also every year I create a theme for the year and 2017 is the Year of Joyful Expansion.  I am very excited to see what that will bring.

How did you ring in the new year?

With new friends and neighbors, and great music, drinks, food, and watching fireworks over the ocean.

What are your goals for 2017?

Expansion of The Back Forty, deepening of my relationship, and personal and professional growth.

Anyone is welcome to join in, and share your answers to or thoughts about the above questions.

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The Bar, the Mindset, and the Law of Attraction

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As we were settling in into our new condo, Darrell and I decided to buy a little corner bar.  One of those cool pieces that look built in, only they’re not.

Purchasing most of the other furniture came easy: we researched, found what we wanted, and bought it.

Not so easy for the bar.

After two months of relentless searching for the right one, it was nowhere to be found.  We spent hours searching online.  We looked at several dozen different models.  We went to stores and talked to salespeople.  Nothing worked.  Nothing came close to what we thought would be perfect.

I was resigned that we wouldn’t find the perfect piece.  Darrell was frustrated that nothing we saw was good enough.  Actually, truth be told, Darrell is a bit less particular than me, and could have been satisfied with a lot of these earlier options.  I’m more of a stickler for the exact fit.

Last week while taking an evening walk, we talked about our seeming inability to find just the right bar.

I said, with an intention to make us feel better, “It’s ok.  I always thought that the bar would be hard to find, and that it could take a lot of time and be pretty expensive.”  That was true – deep in my mind I was always convinced that finding the perfect bar would be a difficult and time-consuming project.

Darrell paused…and said, “Do you know, with that belief, it is no wonder we can’t find anything that will work for you…”

In that moment, I got it.  He was right.  In my mind, I created an idea that the perfect bar would be hard to find and expensive.  Therefore, the Universe was proving me right: it was.  With that mindset, no wonder we couldn’t find what we wanted.

“Would you be willing to give up the idea that it will be hard to find?”, Darrell continued.  Convinced as I was in the rarity of the item in question, I was willing.   I do enjoy a good game of mind control and miraculous manifestation.

Fast forward… to that VERY EVENING!

That night, after his regular few minutes per day of searching for a perfect bar, Darrell showed me a picture of something that looked ideal – a perfect fit, and at a fraction of the price I had expected to pay.  Although it was about an hour drive from our home, we decided to call them up and discuss it.

With what sounded like a description matching the picture of perfect fit, we gambled with renting a truck and drove up the next day.

It turned out to be true: the only bar in two months that came even close to what we wanted.

At the end of that eventful day, we had the most perfect bar – in color, shape, size, and design – sitting right in the corner of our condo.

Coincidence?  Fluke?  Nah!  I’m big girl enough to call one on myself.

As soon as I gave up my (very unhelpful) mental idea, we found a perfect piece…easily and somewhat effortlessly.

This gave me another perfect opportunity: to look where else is my mindset in the way of my getting what I want in my Back Forty, my second half/best half of life.

How about you?  What mindset, idea, or way of thinking could you give up to create room for something new, playful, or radical?  What miraculous manifestations do you have in mind?

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Gap Crossing

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“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”

-Earl Nightingale

There’s where we are now. There’s where we want to be. There’s a gap.

The first inclination is to be diminished by the gap. Just like when you first realize something about yourself that was in a blind spot, and then use that insight to beat yourself up.

However, learning to positively “mind” the gap — applying mind techniques of which we’re all capable — allows us to be empowered vs. disempowered by the gap.

For example, one of my gaps is social media.  I have ignored the gap.  I have lamented my seeming inability to traverse the gap.  I have tried to pawn off my gap to someone else.  For sure, I have not been “empowered” by the gap.

However, if I incorporate the principles of The Back Forty – and practice what we preach (!) – I can entertain the idea that nothing from my first half of life (including social media) poses any limitations on what’s possible in my second half.  “Remember Darrell: You’re continuing to GROW, not become settled in your ways and beliefs about yourself and life!”

That’s the bugaboo: if, as we say in The Back Forty, “you have yet to do what you came here to do”, then it’s going to require an attitude of continuous play, trying things out, and learning…the way 20yr olds do when they just don’t know any better.  If ignorance is bliss, perhaps ignorance of our perceived abilities is what the doctor is ordering.

Here’s 3 Back Forty techniques for “MIND”ing the Gap.  See where you might apply them to your own area of expansion.

First, Acknowledgement. Celebrating the mere fact that we’re ambitious enough to have recognized a gap gives the journey a forward-moving energy and vibration. “Woohoo! Look at where you want to be! Aren’t you the bomb for realizing that?”

Second, Visioning. Taking attention away from the pity-party of this side of the traverse and putting it on the other side, picturing and feeling the “what it will be like when”, initiates magnetic forces which pull out new ways and means for getting there.

Third, Pro-active Matching.  Constant comparisons of results achieved with results desired from a “Where’s Waldo” perspective, finding every near hit vs. near miss, creates tailwind vs. headwind.

As I continue moving forward to incorporate into my life some necessary skills for communicating powerfully in today’s world, I enjoy the idea that I’m doing my part to turn around the societal mindset that says “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

Perhaps the only real gap to traverse is the cultural one that says age has any limit on freedom, innovation, creativity, ideation, and capacity for growth.

What inspired gap of your own can you wrap your mind around this week?

“What I really want and what I’ve been thinking. That’s it folks! That’s all the work there is in closing the gap.”

-Abraham-Hicks