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Happy New Year from The Back Forty!

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However you are celebrating this night, all of us here at The Back Forty want to wish you a happy new year!

Take a moment to enjoy these inspirational thoughts to start out your new year right:

Get ready NOW to fulfill on Your New Year Resolutions

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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…new-year-resolution-chart

  • By the third week in January 65% of the people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions.
  • By February, people will have broken more than 90% of the resolutions they made.
  • Only 20% of people maintain the resolutions past Valentine’s Day.
  • Overall, somewhere in the vicinity of 97% of New Year’s resolutions won’t be kept.
  • Over 70% of people make and break the same resolution year after year.
  • Only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

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.

  1. No Go: Letting the past bite you in the butt. All of a sudden, the mistakes you’ve made in the past, the disappointments of all the goals you didn’t achieve and the resolutions you didn’t keep descend on you like bees on honey.  The fear of failing – worse yet, failing again – rears its ugly head.

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.

  1. No Go: Most resolutions are set up as things to do, like a laundry list of action items to be ticked off.  That makes them dry and uninteresting, pretty much guaranteeing you a prime spot in the statistics mentioned above.

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?

  1. No Go: For many, New Year resolutions exist as a mental list or collection of post-it notes and scribbles on scraps of paper.  In best – case scenarios, they are neatly typed with bulleted and numbered items on a page placed prominently to be seen every day.  The bad news is, neither of these work due to either disorganization or disappearance into the woodwork.

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.)

  1. No Go: Most treat their resolutions as wishful thinking or involvement, not as a promise or a commitment.  Their goals are something they want, but not something they are committed to doing what it takes to achieve.  Herein lies the gigantic difference between your resolutions becoming real or one of the sad statistics.

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.

  1. No Go: It is very easy to break promises, when you only make them to yourself, in the privacy of your own mind and your own calendar.  Many people fail with resolutions because they don’t have anyone to account for their keeping their promises and sticking to their plan.

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. 

  1. Go: Do all of the above and give it your best shot.  You’ll do better than 90% of the human race.

Or

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.”

Who do you want to be in your radical, purposeful second half?

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Holidays Joy Research

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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.

Yet, what if we discovered what “joy” is for ourselves this year (and in the year to come) vs. whatever pictures or already-ingrained-perceptions of it that we have?

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.

For example, some may be experiencing this season without the loved one they had always by their side.  Others may be in the most challenging times of their lives, for one reason or another.

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.”

Marianne Williamson

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”

Helen Keller

Joy is untouched by circumstance.”

Unknown

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”

Brene Brown

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”

Robert Schuller

“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.”

James 1:2

“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”

Eckhart Tolle

“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.”

Wayne Dyer

“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”

Unknown

“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”

English Proverb

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

Mark Twain

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Rabindranath Tagore

“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?”

Unknown

“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.”

Unknown

“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

Roger Ebert

“…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

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DatH8ac-Tk8&w=854&h=480]

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30 Songs to Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

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With Christmas right around the corner, I would like to share with you some of my favorite holiday songs.

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.

  1. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
  3. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  4. Let it Snow! – Dean Martin
  5. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  6. 4 Carats – Kelly Clarkson
  7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
  8. Welcome Christmas – How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  9. Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat
  10. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
  11. Somewhere In My Memory – John Williams
  12. We Need A Little Christmas – “Mame” the Musical
  13. Frosty The Snowman – Jimmy Durante
  14. Oh Santa! – Mariah Carey
  15. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
  16. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
  17. I Can’t Wait for Christmas – Mindi Abair
  18. Hey Santa – Ashanti
  19. Grown Up Christmas List – Michael Bublé
  20. Good King Wenceslas – Bing Crosby
  21. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
  22. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  23. Christmas in America – Melissa Etheridge
  24. The 12 Days Of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
  25. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey
  26. Santa Baby! – Eartha Kitt
  27. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  28. Last Christmas – Wham!
  29. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Doris Day
  30. Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix

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How to Perfectly Wrap Presents this Year

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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.

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My home at Christmastime.

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!

Let’s start with wrapping the gift.20161214_093350

You will need your gift in a box, wrapping paper, a pair of scissors, tape and ribbon.

roll.jpgUnroll 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. 20161214_093803

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.

20161214_093845Now 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).

Now you are ready for your bow!

The bow is a bit more complicated so I created the below infographic for your convenience. Grab your ribbon and let’s get started!

the-perfect-bow

present.pngAt this point, you should have a beautifully wrapped package to give to a loved one. It might have taken a few tries but it will all be worth it when your loved one says “Wow! Did you wrap this?”

Congratulations!

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The Best Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List

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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!

For the:

  • Fitness Enthusiast

    • Something Thoughtful: Sport Bottle Blender – This gift is a great idea for anyone on your list who is constantly blending up fitness shakes and smoothies. You just put the ingredients into your sport bottle, put your sport bottle on the blender base, and you’re done!3-bulu-box-animation
    • Something Unique: Monthly Health Product Subscription Box – The Bulu box brings new workout products to your present recipient’s door each month. This is perfect for someone who is always looking for the  next big thing!
    • Something Useful: HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle – This water bottle will put all other water bottles to shame! It will actually calculate your personal hydration needs, track your fluid consumption through the day, pace you to ensure hydration goals are met, motivate you to stay properly hydrated, and enhance your strength and endurance.
  • Globe Trotter

    • Something Thoughtful: Collapsible Water Bottle – Regardless of if they are roughing it or traveling in style, this is the perfect gift for any traveler you know. By making it collapsible, it takes up less space and is easy to take through airport security.map.JPG
    • Something Unique: Scratch Map – This map is a must for any true globe trotter. As they travel to new locations, they can scratch off that part of their map so they will always remember where their travels have taken them.
    • Something Useful: TSA Pre-Check Membership – For anyone who flys regularly, this is a godsent gift. Waiting in the security line is the worst, but for just $85 your traveler can skip the line for 5 whole years. They will thank you, I promise.
  • Perfect Host(ess) & Cook

    • Something Thoughtful: Wooden Cheese Picks – These picks are the perfect addition to any host’s collection. Place the picks in their corresponding cheeses to let guests know what is being offered.smoker
    • Something Unique: Handheld Food Smoker – Does your cook love the flavor of smoked meats, cheeses, and more? This handheld food smoker makes it possible to give anything you prepare a smokey taste without the long smoking process.
    • Something Useful: Oven-To-Table Entertaining Platter – This soapstone platter can be heated or chilled to keep your host’s dishes at the perfect temperature for serving.
  • Sports Fan

    • Something Thoughtful:  “Sportproof” Earbuds – These are perfect for sports fans who like to play as well as watch sports. These “sportproof” earbuds are sweatproof and bluetooth so that nothing will slow down your sports fan.sweaters
    • Something Unique: Try Uncommon Goods – I’m not going to try to pick a single item for this category. However, this page on uncommongoods.com is perfect for any sports fan. Regardless of if your fan is into football, hockey, baseball, or skiing, there is guaranteed to be something unique here!
    • Something Useful: Favorite NFL Team Ugly Christmas Sweater – If your sports fan is into football, this is a perfect gift. All you need to do is pick out their favorite team. This is especially useful for people who will be attending Ugly Christmas Sweater parties this season.
  • Businessman

    • Something Thoughtful: Rosewood Cufflinks – These handmade cufflinks can help your businessman stay in touch with nature while staying in the office, plus they are just plain stylish.smart-watch
    • Something Unique: Samsung Smartwatch – This watch is truly unique. Not only is it stylish, but you can also take phone calls, pay for items, track your fitness, find directions, and more with just this watch.
    • Something Useful: Handheld Luggage Scale – This is a perfect gift for anyone who has to travel regularly for work. It is the worst feeling to get to the airport and be told that you will need to pay an extra $50 because your luggage is 51 pounds instead of the maximum 50 pounds. This handheld luggage scale is easy to take with when traveling and will prevent your businessman from ever having to pay extra luggage fees again.
  • Artist

    • Something Thoughtful: Felt Succulent Kit – This is a fun (and beautiful) craft kit to spruce up anyone’s home. It includes everything your artist needs to make 18 felt succulent plants.3D Pen.JPG
    • Something Unique: 3D Printing Pen – This pen quite literally makes it possible for your artist to draw sculptures out of thin air. This is a wonderful gift that will be a guaranteed hit for anyone who loves art.
    • Something Useful: Heated Hand Massager – Anyone who spends a large amount of time creating art has hands that will get tired. This massager will help ease their pain after a long, hard day of work.
  • Spiritual Soul

    • Something Thoughtful: Merry Christmas Bonsai – This bonsai isn’t only spiritual, it is also festive! A mini strand of red (battery operated) Christmas lights are strung on this bonsai to give it a festive feel.choose-your-coach
    • Something Unique: Notes of The Buddha Post-Its – These post-its are shaped like Buddha himself, along with a pad that lets you choose if you are “out of mind”, “out of body”, or “just out”.
    • Something Useful: Midlife Coaching Session – Are you looking for a gift for a soul searcher? This session helps people in midlife create a playful, passionate, and purposeful second half of life for themselves. Plus, you can get a special $50 discount when you purchase the session with this code: NEWYEAR2017
  • Book Lover

    • Something Thoughtful: Personal Library Kit – Do you know someone who wishes they lived in a library? Or maybe they are always lending their friends and family books? With this gift, they can have their own library!book-perfume
    • Something Unique: Hermione Inspired “Books & Cleverness” Scented Perfume or (if they don’t actually want to smell like books) “Old Books” Scented Candle – These options are for the book lover who touts the smell of a good book above all else.
    • Something Useful: Clear Book Weight – This is perfect for someone who loves to read outside but doesn’t want to worry about book pages slipping away in the wind.
  • Gardener

    • Something Thoughtful: Personalized Family Member Signpost – This is the perfect gift for someone with family far away (or close)! You can choose between 3 and six personalized signs that include the names of your loved ones and how many miles away they are.grow
    • Something Unique: A Grow Kit – Choose from Grow Cocktails, Grow Salsa, or, Grow Pizza – These small grow kits are a unique way to grow all of the ingredients for your favorite drinks and snacks.
    • Something Useful: Gardner’s Tool Seat – This lightweight garden stool folds up into a tool bag for the gardener who spends hours in their garden.

Looking for a little something for yourself? Get your free gift from us below!

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The Real 12 Days of Christmas (Plus a Strange Family Tradition)

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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!

The 12 Days of Christmas actually start on December 25th.

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.

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“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.

My family’s tradition is to give each other one gift every day for the entire 12 Days of Christmas.

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.

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Me at the age of 12 on one of the 12 Days of Christmas.

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.

So maybe I’ve inspired you to try something new this year, or maybe not. But, either way, I hope that I’ve at least given you a new perspective for this holiday season.

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