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Category Archives for "The Back Forty Story"

The 4 Dwarf Faces of Playing Ugly

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“I’m not afraid to play ugly – look at ‘Adaptation.’ I looked like a turd that a cat had coughed up. ”

-Nicolas Cage

The desire to grow and the subconscious commitment to “look good” just don’t jibe.

You can’t get both.  You can grow almost imperceptibly, and maybe keep your suit fairly pressed and most of your makeup in place.  Or you can grow fast…and good luck keeping your hair and tie from blowing in the wind.

In the end, extreme growth, over whatever time period you’ve allotted for it, can only come through trying, expanding, being and looking different than you did before.

Steve Martin had a comedy album in the 70’s entitled “Comedy Is Not Pretty”.

Neither is real, committed, no-turning-back, burn-the-boats growth. It ain’t pretty.

If that growth is what you want, you must allow, accept and even invite mistakes, failed attempts, gaffs, and looking like an ass.  All come with the territory.

For myself, in growing to allow, empower and accept the great gifts of “team” that I’m blessed with – after lots of solo-preneur background – I find myself not necessarily doing things in as smooth or PC a way as I’d like.  In my perfect world, I’d always be accommodating and flexible and impervious to having my ego tweaked…and yet I can’t spend all of my time either in meditation or psychoanalysis with the big game I’m out to play or the inspiring message I’m out to deliver.

Not so say meditation and therapy aren’t valuable and to be used in appropriate ways and measures…and yet perhaps the biggest element to be released as we’re growing is the attachment to looking good as we grow.

In coaching and supporting executives, entrepreneurs and “big game” players, I’ve offered to them the idea that their growth will only be limited by their level of compassion for themselves.  If they can’t accept the mistakes and not-so-pretty appearances they make at times, they will retrench, rationalize a reason for not continuing, or in whatever other ways slow down their growth and whatever that growth was to bring the world.

The world needs you to grow, because you have yet to do what you came here to do!

Here’s a few different faces you can take on when you’re committed enough to something to play ugly.

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Actually take some time to look at yourself in the mirror as you’re complaining about how you didn’t do this or that right, or how silly you must have looked when this or that didn’t work.

Look at that scowl.  Acknowledge that frustration.

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Lighten things up a bit by remembering that you didn’t even know anything about what you’re doing now just a short time ago. Acknowledge that you didn’t know and maybe even still don’t know all that you want…and develop a little more playful, curious attitude.

Whatever you did or didn’t do isn’t going to shift the world. Lighten up!

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Give yourself a little examination. Are you leveling up your self-compassion with your desire to grow and learn and expand? What prescription of self-championing, affirmative self-talk, or extreme self-care can you offer?

Your best source of continued expansion will come from those internal prescriptions of support.

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Acknowledge and appreciate that you’re only playing ugly because you’re one of the small percentage of people willing to get started and play first (before they have it all figured out) so as to get to where you want to go.

Find ways to see and count the blessings of where you are now vs where you used to be, and appreciate (which means “grow in value”) those blessings as getting you closer to where you want to be.

What area of growth in your life means enough to you that you’re willing to play ugly?

You won’t get there by looking Snow White.

“Play in the dirt, because life is too short to always have clean fingernails. ”

-Unknown

What is the Surprising Meaning of the Odd Phrase “Back Forty”?

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When interacting with partners, sponsors, customers, members, and The Back Forty community in general, there is one question that gets asked over and over.

What does “back forty” mean?

Usually by that point, whoever I’m speaking with knows that our company, The Back Forty, is about making your second half of life your best half of life. So the logical jump is that we are talking about life between the years of 40 and 80. And this common misconception leads to questions like, why do you say midlife starts at 40? What if I’m over 80? What if I’m 37? Why are you putting these strict rules around what defines midlife?

To all of these questions, I say wait just a minute and let me explain.

First, let’s look at the actual definition of “back forty”. Merriam-Webster defines back forty as “a remote and uncultivated or undeveloped piece of land of indefinite size (as on a farm)”.

The Back Forty Ranch with No Victim Zone 2.jpgIf you didn’t know this, don’t worry. This phrase is less popular than over 80% of all words in the English dictionary. Like the definition mentions, it was originally used to describe the most remote 40 acres of a farm or ranch and was first used in the 1860s when the Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres of land to anyone willing to farm it for at least five years (thus two front forty acres of land and two back forty acres of land). So, when farmers were too far away to be reached it was usually because they were in the back forty of their farm.

Knowing all of this probably brings up more questions than you originally had. For example, “what the heck does farming in the 1800s have to do with midlife?” Hang in there just a bit longer because it is all about to be made clear.

We use back forty as a metaphor for midlife. Just like the back forty of a farm is usually an uncultivated piece of land, your second half of life is uncultivated. The way we see it, your “back forty” of life is a blank canvas. It is uncultivated, which makes it full of potential.

So, no. The Back Forty isn’t referring to the ages of 40-80. It is simply a complex metaphor demonstrating that midlife is full of even more possibilities than you could ever imagine. Many people believe that once you hit midlife your life gets more predictable. You have a family, responsibilities, a job, you have to save for retirement, or your children’s college…the list can go on and on. We at The Back Forty believe the opposite is true. Midlife is just the beginning and your first half of life was simply research for what is still to come.

Whether you are 35, 43, 67, 92 or anywhere in-between, we believe that the best things in your life are still ahead of you and that you can cultivate your own “back forty” to be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose.

If you would like to learn more about The Back Forty, click the link below to download our Co-Founder’s Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life!

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Quick Survey, Raffle & Free Gifts!

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Today I have a quick favor to ask. If you’ve been getting any value out of our blog, we would love your input!

The Back Forty is currently seeking to build the services and support most wanted and needed by The Back Forty community. In order to do that, we would love to hear from you!

Please answer this 1-min survey to give us your valuable feedback. Plus, if you choose to include your email address, you will be entered into a raffle to win our first online program, “The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL” (Value: $29). You can also download for free the eBook, “Birth of The Back Forty” and the “Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life”.

Thanks for your help!

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Tips for Embracing Edginess

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“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

Going to the edge is not how we’re wired. Our internal, anti-vertigo systems tells us to stay back.

Especially in The Back Forty, our tendency to play safe and keep things manageable is at a premium…because we have bruises and scars from when we didn’t.

Look at how we can sometimes be in an intimate relationship: either get used to the one we’re with and there’s no mystery left – because we wrangled either them or ourselves into a comfortable knowing (instead of growing?)…

OR…

we pursue and intend to attract that final, perfect partner while peering out at them and the world from deep inside our protective armor.

Look at how we can sometimes be in business or career growth: either we stay doing what we’ve always done because it meets our current thermostat (the amount of heat we can stand)…

OR…

we attempt to create a new venture or try a new path inside of our old mindsets of needing to do things “right” and have it all figured out.

None of these Play Safe ways of operating call for progress.

I see my own resistance to edginess when I’m called upon to create business plans and set up systems that are required to go to the next level of growth and contribution-ability. “I’ve just never been good at that!” or “I haven’t gotten that skill down yet”. All thoughts pulling for the center rather than the edge.

Kurt Vonnegut says “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

Want to grow? Envision a new possibility or future? Step into your own promised land?

You have to go to the edge to accomplish it.

Here are a few tips to help embrace edginess:

1. Hear the Center Speaking

Try to notice when you feel that your pressing into uncharted (and thus perceived as rough) waters…and listen to what the Voice is saying.

If it’s the same standard line you’ve heard a thousand times, simply step aside from it. Realize it’s an old friend, with an emphasis on old. If you’re wanting new, then pay your respects to the old friend by saying “Thanks for that.  I know you’re wanting the best for me.”

And then go do what you WANT to do, like you did as a teen when your parent told you what THEY wanted you to do.

2. Take a Risk

Look, whatever you do in this moment is not life altering, either way.

If you take the risk of sharing something very personal with your spouse or a date that your Play Safe Voice would be shocked by, you really never know what may come of it.  You may open a door to intimacy you never thought possible.

If you don’t know how to do a perfect business plan or how to make the career change, try anyhow or get a coach.  Taking a risk will get you further than sitting paralyzed by the Play Safe Voice.

At a minimum, you’ll learn something.  In the best of all worlds, you’ll expand.  For sure, you won’t die.

3. Repeat

Return to tip 1.

Perhaps all progress depends on consistent edginess.

What areas of your life are you willing to walk out on the brink of so as to see another future?

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”

-Guillaume Apollinaire

3 Opportunities to KISS Happy

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“If you want to be happy, be.”

-Leo Tolstoy

If we wanted, we could just keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) the quote above and that would be that.

But sometimes the simplest of truths call forth our complication-making machinery.

We entertain this reason or that, compelling “evidence” that it’s just not possible. The more legitimate the reason, the more we negate the simple truth.

For example, I woke up this morning with that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right.

First, I looked to see if there was some hold-over issue from yesterday that I may have carried into my today.

Then, I looked to see if I could remember my dreams: was there something that went through my mind during the night still in my head?

Or – and here’s an even deeper cut to take: since our dreams access our most subconscious thoughts and feelings, IF I DID HAVE A BAD DREAM which left its remnants, what does that mean? Should I be worried about what’s going on in my subconscious?

It’s truly amazing how far down the rabbit hole one can go!

Harvard Business Review described a study in which folks were monitored for how their morning mood impacted the rest of their day.

And there’s some evidence that one of many external factors can play a part in the setting up of one’s mood at the outset of the day.

Yet, outside of any external factors, the real value is in the development of internal happiness control.

Aside from a healthy self-awareness and any good life-skills techniques we employ to embrace living, maybe it’s as simple as the choice to be happy.

At least 3 Points to KISS Happy daily are (feel free to add more):

1. Morning – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

Despite the rabbit hole of quandary as to what could be the culprit behind the questionable mood, exercise the power of your will and choose to be in a good mood today anyway.

Some therapists suggest anchoring the thought with 5 deep breaths…and then finding times throughout the day to take those 5 deep breaths again and remember that choice.

2. Daily Reason Points – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

The day will no doubt present as many viable reasons as possible to choose to go to the dark side.  In the face of the reasons, it adds so much to our inner confidence and sense of power over our life every time we can choose to choose a happy thought anyway.

What technique can you employ to pivot? Step away from the machine for a moment and do your 5 breaths? Play a mind game of counting of your blessings?

Here’s a little mind trick I like: Envision the Negative!

Think back to one of the best things that ever happened to you – a fortunate break, an unexpected gift, a chance meeting, a wonderful opportunity, an amazing relationship – and then imagine for a moment that it HADN’T happened…and where you’d be now.  Sounds like it’s pointing toward the negative, but it’s a great way to jettison yourself into humongous gratitude and happiness in short order!

3. Evening – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

When it’s all said and done for the day, if you worked your KISS Happy muscle, a lot of “evidence” might already be in place to justify going to bed happy.  However, if any slip-ups occurred, you might engage in a late-night, rest-prep workout.

What were the BEST things that DID happen today? How did they make you feel?

How DID you grow and expand today, and what are your intentions for doing so tomorrow?

I like the thought that the way to be happy is to choose every morning that I’m in a good mood, and to keep choosing that choice throughout the day.

I also like the thought that sometimes happiness is a feeling, and sometimes it’s a choice.

All feelings aside, what’s the biggest choice you can make today?

Choose KISS Happy.

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”

-Ralph Marston

3 Ingredients to GrowFlex

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“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

-Bruce Lee

There’s a difference between growing in the wind and blowing in the wind.

We start out with a vision, we set goals, and we move towards their attainment.

By doing so, invite in every challenge and deficiency of being necessary to achieve those goals and fulfill that vision.

Sometimes we’re swayed by those challenges or demands for our upgraded beingness. We can think something is wrong and get upset…in forms like doubt, anxiety, confusion.

For example, we moved forward into 2017 as the first real growth year of The Back Forty and, like wild-eyed dreamers, set some audacious goals.  Keeping up with them – both in terms of time and beingness – has been like being strapped onto a medieval rack: it’s amazing how much stretch can come out of some bodies!

20/20-hindsight questioning of the methods, means or even validity of goals set is the first, default reaction to missed deadlines.  Blowing in the wind can then result.

Yet, realizing that every step of the way, whether a timeline was kept or not, the mere fact that goals and deadlines were in place brought up every what-we-need-to-know-to-grow element required.

In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”…which means, yes, you got it, more growth.  And it’s the very challenges, obstacles and beingness barricades of the environment which shape your budding tree.

Can anyone say a tree “should have” grown differently than it did? Based on environment, opportunity, and an inherent, unique pattern of design, it just grew.

People, plans and organizations often look different in the end from how they begin.

The point is: flexing, growing in the wind, to become.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon was quoted as saying “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Here are 3 Ingredients to GrowFlex, the best dreams and goals fertilizer on the planet.

1. Assess-Mess

Pull out from the chaos what has been attained, learned, defined, refined, clarified or requalified in the process of goal-minded pursuit.  There may be a lot of crap to sort through, but manure has always been the most valued growth agent.

2. Re-Vision

A dual-purpose ingredient, involving both the revision and adaptation of deadlines to meet new information while also Re-Visioning by reminding oneself of the initial and overall raison d’être.

3. Committed Unattachment

Living like your life depends on it…while snickering behind the scenes that’s it’s all just a Big Game you’re playing to grow.

Where can you grant yourself and your dreams some GrowFlex today?

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”

-Tony Robbins

Compare & Solitaire: What’s the Match?

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“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

-Coco Chanel

If we’re up for playing big games in life — career, impact, purpose — we’re going to be pressing our envelope all the time, becoming bigger than we knew ourselves to be.

A natural tendency is to compare: to others going our ways, and to our own ideals and standards of how we’d like to be playing.

As I grow to bring out a message of hope and inspiration – something that arose within me only in my second half of life – I observe myself comparing my delivery and message exposure to others, who may have been singing their song for longer or lesser than mine.

As I watch my tendency to juxtapose my progress to what I perceive to be the progress of others, I see the pull toward judgment: evaluating my status in relation to theirs, or even to my own ideals of where I’d like to be.

The old adage claims “compare and despair” perhaps only because that’s the direction most people go with it.

When we see someone playing better at a game we’ve chosen, we COULD choose to be inspired to know it’s possible for us to play better too…and learn from them.

When we see ourselves playing beneath our own perceived abilities, we COULD feel blessed to know we have more within us to tap.

These are the directions I’m playing with to address the natural comparison instinct, to empower myself to grow vs. become resigned…which can happen if we think we’re so far behind.

The main issue is how we’re going to relate to that Self we were handed, the particular Monopoly piece we were issued…and whether we realize that it’s always an inside job.

Maybe a new adage is called for: compare and solitaire.

Using any comparisons that naturally occur as insight to play my own game better, with the objective to use up the whole deck life has given me, keeps me focused on my own game and my own cards.

You only have your deck to play with…and only your own hand to play.

By the way, did you know that another name for solitaire is “patience”?  What might that insight alone afford you?

Remember: Your Game, Your Deck, and Patience.

“The only person you should try to be better than is the Who You Were yesterday.”

-Unknown

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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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

Discovering Darrell’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 Darrell side of the Founders of The Back Forty Fliers…and leave Alexandra to share hers.

What were your highlights of 2016?

Several main events stand out, though it was overall a year of massive transition and elevation.  First, there were big opportunities presented this year which broke me outside the limits of the games I’m capable of playing.  Some of those big brass rings of opportunity were grasped, others weren’t.  Either way, it was a great stretching process to simply begin to think on the terms of many of these possibilities.  One that was grasped was the incorporation of a full-time support team member who has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that growth results from being blessed to find great people and letting them be great.  Another great stretch was the buildout of our message and programs, all while Alexandra maintained a full-time corporate role and I maintained my standard coaching offerings.  A really big accomplishment was to add in, in a substantial way, new areas of PlayGame and Back Forty coaching which are expanding so much as to take over as the main pillars of our work.  OH, and we became PCC certified coaches through the ICF…though both of us have been coaching for decades.  We just decided to get that “seal of approval.”  Lastly, we bought our first home together.  A foundation has now been set for the bigger growth ahead!

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

We established our own Back Forty roots from which to grow like weeds by purchasing our first home together.

Sum up 2016 in one word.

Stretching.

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

Trust the process beyond what I know how to figure out or do…and just allow BEing happy.

Do you have any new year resolutions?

I don’t do resolutions.  Here are a few blogs, however, that give a good sense of how I treat the New Year design ritual:

I will say my “theme” for the New Year involves a lot of gratitude, joy, and BEing happy!

How did you ring in the new year?

We actually did a little guided-intuition New Years Eve!  We were so busy the week before and during the holidays, continuing to get settled into our place, that we never made plans for New Year’s Eve.  We even ran around doing errands to multiple stores on Saturday afternoon, ending up only showering and being ready to do “something” around 9 pm!  So, trusting our intuition to get us somewhere good, we thought we might brave going out into Downtown Long Beach and were only going to drop a bottle of wine off at some new neighbors who had purported to have a little open house early in the afternoon.  Turns out, they still had friends over, they still had food and drink, and they invited us to hang…so we did!  The most unplanned and yet fun, friendly and intimate New Year I’ve ever rung in.

What are your goals for 2017?

Expand awareness of the freedom, fun and frolic encouraged by The Back Forty, bring out a #1 NYT Bestseller of the same name, and enjoy the energy of making huge contributions and being contributed to in creating this second half/best half of life. Please join us on this wild ride by grabbing your “Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half” here.

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

I tagged a few bloggers that I enjoy following and look forward to their answers if they wish to take part. Check out their blogs below:

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