As we finish putting away everything we didn’t know we needed but bought for Christmas or Hanukkah, we realize that – ZOOM – New Year has come up FAST and, with that, our habit of making New Year resolutions.
Lots of people make New Year resolutions. Many are addicted to making New Year resolutions because they make us feel good…even if only for a few fleeting moments. Also, we engage in this antiquated practice because we really, really… like REALLY want to have them accomplished.
We get excited, even giddy… and start making plans. Then, when we outline our perfect goals, objectives and execution plans, we get more excited still.
Finally, eagerly and impatiently, we wait for Jan. 1 to come so we can start to make things happen. Now THIS will be a really great year!!!
Coming back to Earth from Cloud 9, here are some interesting statistics…
What is it that makes New Year resolutions fail so massively and miserably (No Go)?
And more importantly – what can YOU do to make sure YOUR resolutions become realities in 2017 (Go)?
Here are 6 choices you can make immediately – NOW Resolutions, “no optimistic waiting” until Jan. 1 – to make 2017 a radical, purposeful, and successful Back Forty year.
Go: Get crystal clear on what did and did not work last year, what “mistakes” you made in the past, and glean everything you can from them. Mistakes = Learning Opportunities…no more, no less. Do it The Back Forty way – use what you have learned to grow your success. Then put the past in the past, so that the road to a successful future is wide open and clear.
Go: Create your future in an empowering context, a future that enlivens, inspires and lights you on fire. Having a strong, fit, and fabulous body for that vacation on St. Thomas is much more inspiring than working out 3 times a week – don’t you think?
Go: What works is having specific structures breaking down your major objectives into goals, plans, and specific measurable results you intend to accomplish, all scheduled in your calendar with specific dates and times. Also important is taking into account and planning for the resources you’ll need to accomplish your goals. (Want to learn to play the piano? Make sure you plan for getting a teacher, instrument to play, time to take lessons and practice, necessary funds, etc.)
Go: Get FULLY in the game – not 100%, but 200%. Being committed and making promises – and keeping them – work. Remember Martina Navratilova’s clarity on this: “The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” Commitment is key to having your second half of life being the best half.
Go: Get an accountability buddy! Someone you talk to every week or every day. Make promises to each other and hold each other accountable for keeping those promises.
Go: If you are REALLY committed to fulfilling on your New Year resolutions – get a coach. Achieving your resolutions will require you to create brand new habits and practices, and to see yourself in a brand new way. Coaches are experts in supporting you in doing just that, keeping your promises and realizing your goals. In the words of Tom Landry, the legendary Dallas Cowboys football coach, “a coach is someone who makes you do what you don’t want to do so that you can be who you always wanted to be.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
We all know how this time of year is “supposed to” be.
I’m not saying it isn’t.
In life’s second half, we have an opportunity to move past the bustle of already-routined ways of experiencing life, and the holidays in particular. The kids may be off to college now. Our parents may no longer be with us. We may be still single or still married, neither of which we would prefer.
In the Back Forty, rather than have our holiday practices focus on old, unthought patterns, we can invent new ones as well as new perceptions.
Very often, we miss what might be possible for us to experience because of what we think we should/could/ought-to-be experiencing.
Those are very real experiences which – if we subscribe to the general pictures of how “happy” holidays are supposed to look – there could be a tendency to feel separate from this time of year…like an imposter or foreigner.
Time to invent! Rather than buy into the feeling of separation from the season, where could an experience of “joy” be found even in the midst of that?
Regardless of your current state, as my holiday gift to you, here is a helpful pocket list of various thoughts on “joy” so that you might use this season as a research project as to what joy can be for wherever you are now. What if you didn’t already know…and yet were about to discover?
Keep it close, share it with others…and explore your own Back Forty relationship to joy.
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
“Joy is untouched by circumstance.”
“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Consider it all joy.”
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Remember that your natural state is joy.”
“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”
“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”
“When you choose joy you feel good. When you feel good, you do good and when you do good it reminds others of what joy feels like and it just might inspire them to do the same.”
“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
“…Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
We invite you to enjoy our holiday playlist below as you go about your festivities!
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!
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!
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.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I hope that your day is full of family, friends, and good food. Enjoy this holiday and take a moment to be truly thankful for everything you have been given.
I’ll keep today’s post short and leave you with the following quote:
If you would like some more inspiration for this holiday, check out some of our previous posts!