Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel old? You wake up and your back is aching, or your leg, or a random arm. And then you try to get out of bed and your joints are popping and you’re groaning and you’re tired. It’s days like these where I get up and say to myself,
Now don’t get me wrong, some days I feel young and full of energy, but other days…not so much. Other days I feel old and it causes me to make excuses. I can’t go to the gym because I hurt too much. I’m just too tired to go out tonight. The excuses go on and on.
Well, the other night I found a video posted on Facebook by NowThis and was inspired by it (and a bit ashamed of myself). I searched the internet for more information on this topic and I found the original video that NowThis had cut up for their 30-second news clip. If you are ready to realize just how young we all are and how our excuses should never get in the way of achieving greatness, watch this video created by Athleta below:
Tao is absolutely inspiring. At the beginning of this video she says,
“When you wake up every morning say, ‘This is going to be the best day of my life,’ and it will be.”
– Tao Porchon-Lynch
Meanwhile, I was here feeling old.
Are you interested in learning a little more about Tao? Well, get ready to be inspired even more!
All in all, she is an amazing woman that we should all aspire to be more like!
So I’ll leave you in awe of Tao with this last quote:
“Don’t let age dictate to you what you can and cannot do.”
– Tao Porchon-Lynch
I stumbled across this video this morning and it actually made me laugh out loud. Take a moment to enjoy it!
How many people do you know who seem to be going through a “midlife crisis”? Once we hit midlife the word “crisis” often seems to hang over our heads. Like the song says, we start to see people around us having a crisis, or maybe we find ourselves in the midst of one ourselves.
Regardless of where you fall in the above scenario, you fall into one of two categories:
1 – You are going (or have already gone) through your own midlife crisis
2 – You see others going through their crisis and find yourself wondering, “am I next?”
No matter if you are well aware of the ups and downs of a midlife crisis or if you are dreading what might be coming your way, I have the perfect article for you!
If you find yourself wondering why you haven’t had your crisis yet, click here to see why you’re not alone!
Regardless of where you find yourself in midlife, remember that your crisis can be “twice as good as any big gut suckin’, sports car buyin’, self-deludin’, comb-over tryin’, skinny jean-wearin’, wrinkle denyin’, bucket listin’, grey hair dyin’, existential mid-life crisis!”
Regardless of if you feel you are in the middle of a midlife crisis or not, let’s face it, midlife is full of obstacles.
Between children, parents, work, and finances there are endless pitfalls that seem to spring up out of nowhere. These “crises” are going to happen and anyone who tells you that you can avoid them is delusional.
Many people find themselves victimizing themselves over past challenges they have endured. How many times have you even blamed something in your present over what has “happened to you” in your past? By victimizing yourself, you are actually holding back your true potential.
This concept is also true for hardships that you currently find yourself in the midst of. Instead of feeling like a victim of these (guaranteed) changes, try to see them as opportunities to change for the better.
Come back next week for Pro Tip #6 and remember that the only person who can decide if you are a victim is YOU!
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.
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.
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!
“Witness protection just makes for exciting stories and it’s a really rich sort of place to grab stories from… people starting over completely, saying goodbye to their lives before… it never ends in terms of story opportunities.”
When we look at our first half of life – what I call “the Front Forty” – there are certain ways of being and thinking we adopt as far as who we are, our “lot” in life, and what is or isn’t possible for us.
One considers themselves lucky if one can simply get a good education, get married for life, buy a home, raise happy healthy kids, keep a good job, save money, and then retire happily with some vacations, taking care of the grandkids, and maybe tooling around with a hobby or two.
Granted, that’s a good life, as we’re raised to believe. And yet, as many have found while maturing in the world of today, the early “pictures” we had aren’t necessarily realistic.
The American Psychological Association states the divorce rate as between 40 to 50% and the rate for subsequent marriages even higher. Savings can’t survive certain economic impacts such as Great Recessions or crooked investments. The old-world ideal of keeping a job for life is not only totally unrealistic in a “freelance” economy but perhaps not even a good idea if one is looking to expand and move up. And we’ve all had the mythical, solid and steady “home” get shattered in one way or another.
My parents are a good example of that, when Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008 and my entire hometown – including their home filled with years of memories – went under 8-10 feet of water. Or my aunt and cousin in Baton Rouge, recently having their own home of 50 years going under in a record flood.
So, what is one to do when the pictures of the way life was supposed to be turn out to be fraudulent? Perhaps enter into The Back Forty Witness Protection Program.
Yes, bringing a little lightness to the whole end-of-the-world experience of divorce, financial or physical destruction, and all forms of devastation can help.
Witness Protection programs were created so that folks who would spill the beans on perpetrators of organized crime during trials could be protected with a new identity with which to live out their lives.
Just what if our “pictures” were part of an “organized crime” to keep us all safely inside of a smaller, limited view of ourselves and what’s possible for us?
Think about it:
The Back Forty philosophy, movement, and community is all about taking the supposed “worst things that could happen to us” and using them as opportunities for opening up to what’s bigger within us and what’s greater coming next.
If we can look back at our past – even these supposed serious and significant events – and analyze them from the point of view of “laboratory experiments” we ran to discover what we’re here to do and express, we get to then focus on inspiring and forward-moving directives rather than harping on our victim-based losses.
What’s the new identity that this supposed “bad thing happening to me” gives me the opportunity to assume? What’s the greater and more expansive life that this event is opening the door into?
Those may seem like impossible questions to ask in the face of our personal stories of devastation…and yet we believe they are the questions we must build our muscles to ask, even when in the midst of horror. In doing so, we begin to turn our small, pictures-based victim into a future-causing being. We thus rise toward becoming more and more of who we here came to be and what we came here to do.
“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”
Happy Tuesday everyone! Or maybe not so happy?
Have you ever had one of those days when you just feel stuck? I’m sure you know the feeling, you feel stuck in your routine. You want to change things up, but you can’t. You’re so busy and you have work and a family to worry about. The last thing you have time for is adding something else to your list of responsibilities.
It’s because of thoughts like these that I give you today’s quote. Take a moment to read it:
It’s a pretty radical thought. To be completely free from your past decisions? To not be locked in by the choices you have made? It seems like a bit of a daydream. But what if I told you that it’s not a daydream and that you just need to be open to the possibilities?
Most people feel like they are stuck with the choices they made when they were younger. I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Try thinking of the first half of your life as research and development for your second half of life. What have you learned about what you enjoy? What do you hate? What are you curious about? Take all of this knowledge and build yourself the future you desire.
It’s not too late, actually, you’re right on time! It’s time to create your future based on the knowledge you have gained in your first half of life. All that’s left is to take your first step!
My friend Bert’s book was titled, “The Free Bird Flies: Choosing Life After Loss”, and it was a chronicle of how she regained her balance after the accidental death of her 21-year-old son, Philip. I held it in my hand, thinking of the journey that she and I had shared as close friends for the past several years. The many small moments of laughter over something her children had said; the sounding-board conversations we had over a shared interest in business; and the deeper conversations of spirituality and the concepts that give meaning to life. She filled such a comfortable and valued place in my life, in the way that only friends who love you just as you are can do. We vibed on a profund level and I always looked forward to our daily phone calls.
“The most helpful thing that someone said to me after Phil’s death”, she said, “was that you don’t ever ‘get over’ your grief. You just learn to manage it.” I had some managing to learn, as Bert had just been diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease that had already stolen much of her ability to speak, and was very soon going to accompany her out of this lifetime.
I felt numb, overloaded with sadness. Bert was well-known in our community, and I got multiple calls on a daily basis from people who were just hearing the news and needed to talk. I did my best to listen as they poured out their shock and grief. We all wanted to connect with someone else who loved her like we did. I found my sadness growing, as if in some way, if I could just get sad enough, then all would be restored and Bert would once again be her regular funny self.
If I’m not paying attention in the morning, I sometimes overpour my cup of tea. It tops the rim and runs down the side of the cup, puddling at the base. On this particular day after the third such phone call, I felt like that cup of tea, my grief at the impending loss of my friend overflowing my heart and puddling at my feet. I knew that I felt that way because losing my friend was all I had been focusing on. It was the topic that took up all my available mental bandwidth. Understandable, but puddling nonetheless. I needed to shift my story, but wasn’t sure what to do.
“How else can I look at this?”, I asked myself as I settled in for a meditation. As I relaxed, I thought of all the friends of mine who had gone out of their way to do small acts of caring for me. A sweet text here and there. Delivery of food so I wouldn’t have to cook. A listening ear so I could unload what I was feeling. Long, comforting hugs from my sweetheart.
My eyes shot open. “Love! I am surrounded by love!” My heart grew, and made room for gratitude as I sent a mental blessing to each person who formed my network of support. I could feel my mood lift a bit – there was now a different emotion alongside my grief.
I didn’t know it at the time, but choosing to look for love and gratitude in the time of sadness forever changed my stance toward loss. In the two years that followed Bert’s death (or “transition”, as she liked to call it), I also lost two other close friends as well as my dad. While my grief was certainly there at those times, it was also accompanied by its new friend, gratitude. Making the choice to be grateful for all of the treasured experiences I had with each of these people who were so special to me acted as a salve for my aching heart. It gave a dimension and a richness to the grieving process that surprised me, and I learned that difficult things also come packaged with wonderful things. It’s our choice to look for them.
As we get older, losses big and small become woven into the fabric of our life experience and it doesn’t take a big loss like a death to make gratitude our daily companion. We have opportunities to focus on what we love every day, to learn to manage our losses instead of allowing them to define us. Choosing gratitude is a choice worth making.