Deed Seeds

“To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.”

– Sophocles 


Beyond the parochial lessons we learned in childhood about doing good deeds — still valid, and yet perhaps needing more umpfh as an adult — we can consider what we are seeding in our deeding.

How we go into a meeting, a negotiation, a sales call, a group project, or our very day can be shaped by the little and perhaps inconsequential tidbits of blessings we put out just before.

Letting someone climb into traffic in front of us, picking up trash as we walk down the sidewalk, leaving a voicemail for someone saying we’re thinking about them, paying for the customer behind us in the fast food lane, give away an eBook…all of these have the potential for feeling good, generous and overall better about ourselves and, perhaps, more worthy to receive our own good.

We’ve heard these acts carry even more power when done with nobody watching.

Where can you plant deed seeds in your experience of life being good for yourself and others today?

Got deed seeds?

“Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your good examples is enough.”

– Douglas Horton

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10 Unbelievable Facts about Baby Boomers

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We are the baby boomers. So when someone told me that I didn’t know about the Baby Boomer generation I was skeptical to say the least. But, after a little more research, here are the top 10 facts that will make you proud to be a baby boomer.

  1. Baby Boomers will inherit $15 trillion over the next 20 years

  2. The peak age of vehicle buyers has shifted to the 55-64 age range

  3. Baby Boomers own 80% of all money in savings and loan associations

  4. Baby Boomers are twice as likely as millennials to plan to start a business in the next year and started 24% of all new businesses in 2013

  5. 33% of all tablets are owned by people over 50 and over 40% of Apple products are purchased by them

  6. Baby Boomers watch 63% more hours of TV than millennials

  7. Baby Boomers are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending

  8. Baby Boomers spend about $7 billion per year online

  9. Boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis, and they spend more than other generations by an estimated $400 billion a year.

  10. 82% of baby boomers belong to at least once social networking site.

How many of these facts did you already know (or could guess)? Which one was the most shocking?

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Source: Jami Oetting, “The Ignored Generation:25 Stats Brands Should Know About Marketing to Baby Boomers,” http://blog.hubspot.com/agency/baby-boomer-marketing-stats#sm.001sbqxz0zxvcxe11vv1ke3a29kpj, (December 16, 2015).
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What I Learned About Being Brave From a Dirty Helmet

Ropes Courses Story Blog 08-18-16 pic.jpgThe ropes course looked awesome…but the helmet necessary to participate was dusty, filthy and gross.  What’s worse, I didn’t have a scarf to put between my hair and the helmet.

I was raised by a neat-freak.  Admittedly (ask Darrell), I have those tendencies myself, although in a much lighter form.

I’d never done a ropes course before, and had been excitedly waiting for this day.

The dilemma presented itself: the only way to engage was to put on the helmet.

I’ve heard it said that “if you think your hair is more important than your head, you’re probably right.”  However, this was not about vanity.  This was about extreme dirt.  Remember: neat-freak tendencies.

Yet, I was clear that I would not miss this ropes course.

At that moment, being brave didn’t at all mean walking the tightrope or jumping from a high pole onto a trapeze (all of which I was facing).  At that moment, being brave meant putting on that damn helmet!

Outside of my comfort zone?  Yes!  Already!  Before putting one foot onto a pole step or rigging!

Once I made that first “leap” of faith, everything was downhill from there.  Crossing rope bridges, diving from poles, ascending vertical obstacle courses to reach new heights…piece of cake.

My takeaway lesson for the day: being brave looks different for everyone.  For someone afraid of heights, it’s jumping off a climbing wall.  For someone afraid of dirt, it’s donning a dirty helmet.  It doesn’t matter what fear we conquer.  It just matters that we conquer it.

The helmet course was amazing.  Who wants to go?

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Playing Dirty

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

—Michael Jordan 


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That’s the very reason we don’t take action.

We want to look pretty when, to learn and grow, it requires glaring ugliness.

Waiting until the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and we’ve diminished all chances of not “looking good” results in empty playing fields…and everyone sitting in the stands.

Playing — even and especially when we aren’t “prepared” — means we are IN the game.

A certain amount of apprenticeship to an idea or plan is respectable. Most, however, use that apprenticeship as an evidentiary stage to prove their incapability.

Too much consideration kills countless ideas and splendid plans.

Where can you drop the cleanliness and jump into the mud of a game today?

Got playing dirty?

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day.”

—Bob Feller

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Parenting Adult Children (Part 2)

See Part 1 of this story here.

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Gone were the days when I could direct his actions.  Gone were the days when I could logic/convince/velvetly force him into anything.  Gone even were the days where my opinion mattered at all.  Though individuation for a growing person begins much younger, I was present to the full brunt of it when he was now out of house and completely out of influence.

Thankfully, I have a dear friend and prayer partner who passed through this phase many years earlier with her two sons and yet was still “writing the book” on parenting of adult children.  She called this phase unique in that the kid-come-adult is trying to be an adult – but doesn’t know how – and the parent is trying to not micro-manage their life – but doesn’t know how.  It’s a very weird and challenging stage for both young adult and parent alike.

The first bit of wisdom she passed on was to cease all attempts to advise: regardless, whatsoever, notwithstanding anything!  Then, the challenge was to simply acknowledge whatever could be acknowledged about the paths, choices, or directions he was taking…”challenge” because, as the parent, we think we know better.  The idea was to become an acknowledging and validating machine, and close the mouth of “the wise one”.

What that also meant was being able to hear the need for financial support and stand strong in allowing the necessary path of growth from kid-wanting-to-be-adult to, possibly, actual adulthood.  That is a tough one.

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There’s a story I once heard about a man who saw a butterfly just beginning its exit from a cocoon.  He thought he would aid in the process by using his fingernail to help nick away parts of the cocoon shell so that the butterfly could get out easier.  What happened, however, once the shell was eventually removed, was that the “butterfly” became a would-be butterfly because, as the bloated insect lie there with wings full of fluid, there was no way it would ever be able to fly.  The very act of having to force itself out of the cocoon was a critical process in squeezing out the fluid so that the wings would be light, airy, and flight-worthy.

Learning to let my son learn what he needs to learn – without meddling one way or the other – is, for me, a big Back Forty growth endeavor.

Yet another more recent bit of evolved advice from my sage veteran parent partner was this: when he tells me something he did that I feel like praising, instead of being the one approving and acknowledging of that action, I am to put it back to him: “How did that make you feel?”  This act of turning him toward the source of all approval as being within him vs. my “guidance” slipping in through some side door of “approval” is another way of pulling back so my adult child can become adult.

I’m in no way through this process, and we all know that our kids are our kids for life. Yet going through this requisite phase of Back Forty parenting upgrade is a unique period in which I’m learning just a thing or two about a thing or two.

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Parenting Adult Children (Part 1)

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One of the many new dimensions of our midlife, The Back Forty, is the necessity to parent differently.  I’ve practiced this a great deal over the last several years, as my son went from 17, with an appropriately growing voice in how his life goes, to now being 22.

I was an “involved” parent all through his growing up.  Following a divorce when he was 2½, I focused my half-time custody on all the typical things a dad and son would do as he grew: YMCA Indian Guides, AYSO soccer, YMCA swimming (first Guppy, then Minnows, then Sharks), Tai Kwon Do (first Tiny Tigers, then…)…moving as he got older into Cub and Boy Scouts, geckos, rats, fencing, and persistent video game systems (Gameboy, Nintendo, X-Box).  Not to mention church on Sundays where he took classes over the course of 12 years.  My involvement and guiding direction of my son’s life was strong.

From age 2½ to 7 or so, my parenting was pretty default: play, learn, discipline with timeouts when necessary…but all fairly easy and without thought.  Around that time, however, I went through a custody suit lasting a couple years.  One of the many blessings that came out of that whole process (from a Back Forty INFUSE Program perspective) was a more conscious study of parenting.

Parenting was different now than in the days of my simple, country upbringing.  Plus, I lived in California, in many ways a far-cry skewed mentality than that of my Texas roots.  Having come to California specifically for consciousness reasons, I was always on the touchy-feely side of most things anyway.  Still, when California new-age consciousness and attitudes about the raising of indigo/millennial/Gen Z individuals come together, parenting looked a lot like coddling to my tainted eyes.

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Upon moving out of the parents’ house, however, parental views about how to relate to “adult” kids differ… especially among divorced parents.  My own (right or wrong) basic stance was “If you’re going to school, I’m supporting you (financially).  If you’re not, I’m assuming you want/need to learn about life…so I’ll support you in that too by letting you support yourself.”

I’ll relieve you of the litany of differences of opinions and challenging interactions a stance like that can take – both with adult child and ex – and yet something became very clear: I needed to find a new way to relate to my son…

To be continued…

Read Part 2 here.

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Generation Gap

“Who you are and how you act in the present is given by the future into which you are living.”

–Werner Erhard 


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Ever accomplish a goal (or not) and have a big blank space in front of you?

Sometimes there’s even a post-featal downturn in mood, when the juice of the previous activity drive has ceased surging without replacement.

It’s then when our best ingenuity is called for: actually creating what comes next.

To generate and invent a future to live into — and then to be empowered (vs. diminished) by the gap that shows up — is the ultimate creativity.

It’s the games people play that create life and living.

Where can you intentionally generate an empowering gap to live into today?

Got generation gap?

“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.”

—Kristin Armstrong

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Why being “Old” is the BEST

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Earlier this week, I stumbled across an amazing video and message.

Our society shuns the idea of aging. No one wants to get old, and the negative connotations surrounding that word are seemingly endless.

Old.

Elderly, senior, infirm, broken, bygone, outdated, inactive, past your prime, senile, decrepit, not long for this world, aged, gray, impaired, grizzled – and those are just some of the synonyms that pop up when searching the word “old”!

No wonder there is such a negative connotation surrounding aging. No one wants to be any of those things!

Recently though, there have been movements to change that mindset. Most recently is the video and article created by Allure Magazine. Titled “How to Age Gracefully”, this article is exactly what our society needs to hear. The women in the video re-define “old”. Here are just some words they use to describe themselves.

Beautiful, competitive, recognized, fascinating, blessed, truthful, healthy, wise, peaceful, empowered.

Now, these words are quite different from the “synonyms” for the word “old”. Maybe it’s time to change the definition. Maybe it’s time to prove that being “old” is an AMAZING thing!

See the video here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsBs63E4Txw]

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What Rocky Road Ice-Cream Taught Me About Un-Settling

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If I am going to use my calories on ice-cream, it’s got to be worth it.  Vanilla, Strawberry, Eggplant Madness or Garlic Jalapeño is not worth it.  Thrifty’s Rocky Road is worth it.

We recently moved to the sweetest little gem of a micro-town-within-a-metropolis by the sea: the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, CA.  One recent evening, while walking on the happening 2nd street with Darrell, we visited our local Rite Aid for some Thrifty ice cream.  I asked for not just my favorite, but my one and only, and the friendly ice-cream clerk, Bill, said they were totally, completely, and utterly out of Rocky Road.  The refrigerator was being serviced, and their ice-cream selection was cut in half.  Rocky Road was one of the casualties.

While I was recovering from the shock, my dream of a Rocky Road cone fading into abyss, Darrell chose his flavor of the moment.  He’s far more flexible on some things than me.  And he isn’t thinking calories either.

The ever-helpful Bill tried to tempt me with tastes of other options, but I wouldn’t budge;  I was absolutely clear that I was not going to settle for “second best,” and if I couldn’t get the ice cream I wanted, I would have none.

Petulant child?  Stubborn adult?  Or a woman unwilling to settle for less than what she wants?

As we started to leave, with Darrell busy at work on his cone du jour, Bill asked us to wait for a few minutes, excused himself to “check something” and walked towards the back of the store. He was gone for a while.

This was getting interesting.  I hadn’t put up a fuss, or (despite my words here) even copped an attitude.  What was he up to?

“Wouldn’t it be wild if he came back with a fresh bin of Rocky Road?” I thought out loud.  Darrell raised an eyebrow… “If he does,” I added, “it will be my sign from the Universe to never, ever, settle for anything less than what I really want.”

W. Somerset Maugham said:

“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

And yes, you guessed it.  Bill came back with a fresh, brand new bin of Rocky Road.

I am taking W. Somerset Maugham’s words into my Back Forty.  I am excited for an “un-settling” second half of life.

Who is with me?

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Big Game Help

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

–Lena Horne 

There is much said in our American culture about the self-made man or woman, the iron self-will and resolve that has individuals pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and a lot of ego-oriented “respect” offered to those who, alone, can handle things.

Granted, being able to find the resources, the will and the way within can be of great, holistic and long-term value.

Yet, there’s also a lot said about the power of helping others in their success. Zig Ziglar’s famous quote “You can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want” is an inspiring redirect toward focus upon others.

But search for quotes on “getting help” and you find that 98% are about offering help to others and only the tiny remainder about getting help yourself.

It seems the receiving side of the coin is simply not as respected or valued. We prize offering help, but where’s the equal pride in seeking or obtaining it?

Consider this: if you don’t need help, right now and right where you are, you simply aren’t playing a big enough game.

Got big game help?

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”

–Ziad K. Abdelnour

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