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Our 100th Blog Post!

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The Back Forty has officially posted 100 blog posts!

To celebrate this occasion, here are our top ten performing posts of all time (as well as a few rising stars)! Check them out and pick your favorite.

  1. The Gift Inside My Fear
  2. I Am In Love with My Wrinkles
  3. Expert Tip #5: See Midlife Crises as opportunities
  4. The Real 12 Days of Christmas (Plus a Strange Family Tradition)
  5. Free Yourself from Your Past and Fulfill Your Future
  6. An Interview with Alexandra Levin
  7. 5 Myths about Sex During Midlife
  8. No More Little Miss “Good Girl”
  9. The Difference between Men and Women in Midlife
  10. This Midlife Crisis is Just a Game: Want to Play?

And here are our top 3 rising stars in the past two weeks:

  1. Going Gray? Here’s How To Do It With Style!
  2. Get Ready NOW to Fulfill on Your New Year Resolutions
  3. Expert Tip #6: Consider Your Purpose

We hope you enjoy these top posts of the past and we look forward to bringing you much more content in the future!

New Year Self-Change Leadership

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“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli

The New Year resolutions/goals/intentions/declarations/ideas/musings have now had over a week to transform our lives!

And by now, many have already been dropped.

The grand plans and visions can often be a drug-producing magical high and yet, when the rubber hits the road, many a beautiful intention ends up in the ditch.

For many, it’s easier when some institution or corporate change-management official determines that things will be done differently and we must comply.  We may moan and groan, and yet — with something critical on the line (like our job)– we do or die.

Yet, taking that change-management leadership into our own hands — being both the stalwart of possibility while, at the same time, the comfort-zone addicted rebel — can be a fascinating process to observe.

Here’s a simple 5A Method to help:

Awareness

Simply stay awake to the fact that there’s a new kid in town who said they wanted to play differently!

Because we were the way we were for so long before we chose to make a change, it’s easy to just fall back into the old patterns and routines.

Simple structures like posting your goals and intentions in front of your face, where you practically have to fall over them in order to conduct your day, can serve as a daily “Hello!” to the new kid.

Also, making sure you’ve told plenty of friends, family, associates and co-workers helps ensure that the changes get addressed more often than they will if left in your head.  Your inner voice is out for your comfort.  Others being aware and engaged can get you out of comfort for your change.

Authenticity

Calling a spade a spade.

Did you actually do what you said you’d do? No judgment here, just being an objective and astute observer of your actions and telling it the way it really is.

There WILL be some form of internal resistance to the change.  Otherwise, you’d already be BEing or DOing what it is that you want.

Being honest and dispassionate about what is or isn’t happening and telling it like it is gives you power to implement.

Acceptance

If change were easy, we’d all have exactly the lives we want right now.

If you designed goals and intentions for your new kid in this New Year, you must want something other than what you have.

Accept that change doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes a wide radius to turn a big ship around, and your old ways are a big ship that have been heading a particular direction for a long time.

Forgive your Self, and accept the love of your Self that had you bring this new kid into town in the first place.

Absence Analysis

What’s missing, the presence of which would make a difference?

The old ways of the old you had certain structures and patterns in place, keeping you in the old you.

For this new kid to take residence, there will be new structures to be put in place.

What new ways of operating, new systems, new communications, new mindsets are required?

The new kid will need a new look to this home if he/she is going to hang around.  Bring in the interior (and exterior) decorator to refurbish the look of the place you call “You”.

Activation

Simply put in what’s missing…over and over and over and over again.

We often realize that we need to keep getting up after we fall down…until we just decide to not get up anymore.

“It’s too hard.”  “It’s just not working.”  “I guess this just can’t happen after all.”

Not true!  An ongoing process of Activation of What’s Missing can only get us closer and closer to the change we seek.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.”

Engaging in this 5A process on an earnest and regular basis can provide access to keeping those high-minded intentions on the road to real self change vs. landing in the ditch of defeat.

Got self-change leadership?

“Consider that all accomplishment is constituted by a series of resolved breakdowns.”

-Werner Erhard

A BE-Annual New Year Commitment

 

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“You are not limited to the person you wound up being, the person you think you are. You can create a way of being for yourself that currently would be unrecognizeable for you as really being you, and have that way of being be authentically who you are.”

-Werner Erhard

The quote above goes against the grain for many folks in their second half of life.

It implies that the first half didn’t already carve you into the stone YOU that you know yourself to be.

That’s what The Back Forty is all about.  The YOU you know yourself to be is just as create-able, design-able and great-able as it ever was.  No stone.  Only ongoingly invent-able form.

At 40, I was sitting in a meditation chair one morning watching my son sleeping in my bed because my parents were sleeping in his bed.  They had come into town to loan me money in fighting a half-million dollar custody suit.  I was pretty clear that my first half of life had not been worth much: broke, in debt, and possibly about to lose the opportunity to raise my son.

A thought then came to me: What if the first half of life is simply R&D, research and development?  What if what we really came here to do and be came in the second half, after all that research?

That insight, and the possibility of re-BE-ing my SELF, has resulted in a second half which continues to become unrecognizeable to the first.

If we look at life as a growing up and “finding ourselves” process, we lose out on the real opportunity of living.  Finding our greater SELF is a continual process.

The first half of life, if mined for what it has told us about our passions, proclivities, and tendencies, will render us amazing insight and direction as to what we’re here to do and be.  This is the work we do in The Back Forty programs and community.

However, the whole point of that analysis of our past is to show us that we are experimenting in the laboratory of life ALL THE TIME so as to continue to discover who we’re here to be and what we’re here to do.

If we ever get “fixed” on some idea of who we are, then the ever-evolving growth process towards what we’re here to do gets thwarted.

Perhaps you have plans for the results you intend to accomplish in the New Year.  

What if the true source of the results you’ll achieve is not what you’ll do, but who you’ll BE in the fulfillment of them?  Sure, actions must be taken. Yet BEING shapes and colors those actions.

Personally, I’m intending some way-out-in-the-ethers results for 2017, and I’m getting more and more clear that the achievement of such unrecognizeable results must come from an unrecognizeable me.

“Come on! New York Times Bestselling author of ‘The Back Forty’?  Me?  You’ve got to be kidding!”

It’s only a joke if the me I am now continues to be recognizeable to myself.  The aim is for the BE of who I am to be recognizeable to my SELF.  Big difference

Therefore, who I will be BEING in 2017 is where I’m placing my primary focus.  From there, I’ll take action.

If BEING precedes results, then consider putting your annual ritual of creating New Year possibilities focus there.

If you are so far gone into recognizeability that you don’t even have a ritual of creating New Year possibilities…WAKE UP!  Get in the game of the life you came to live!

Who can we BE for the next 12 months that will have our next January SELF be unrecognizeable to who we are now?

It’s a be-annual opportunity.

“For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Starting Over: Back Forty Witness Protection

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“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.”

-Mary McCormack

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.the-back-forty-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:

  • Ever heard of people who shook off the perceived shackles of a bad marriage and found the more perfect fit for them?
  • Ever noticed how some folks respond to financial ruin with a new sense of Self that has them grow bigger than they ever were?
  • Ever watched as individuals move up and out of early, confined, career cubicles into roles of leadership, both within other organizations or their own business…often because they were fired?

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.

The Back Forty Witness Protection Program: offering new identities after every trial.

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”

-Guy Finley

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What Defines Middle Age & How to Empower Your Midlife Experience

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The words “middle age” have been searched on Google over 8,400 times in the past 24 hours in the US. People are asking so many questions, but the overreaching question seems to be “what is middle age?”.

As simple as this question seems, it has so many additional meanings. When people ask what middle age is, they are also asking what ages are considered middle age and what the definition of middle age is. Ultimately, they want to know if they are middle aged.

Gasp!

Middle age, an age no one seems to want to be. Once you are middle aged you are no longer young, you are boring, you are no longer fun, you are old, and you are no longer cool. The stigmas can go on and on. But is that really true? I hear so many of my friends who are technically middle aged saying, “but I don’t feel middle aged!”

Well let’s start with the definition. According to the Oxford English Dictionary middle age is “The period after early adulthood and before old age, about 45 to 65”. Not terribly specific – so why is middle age met with so much dread?

There seems to be this preconceived notion that once you hit middle age, the best is all behind you. I disagree with this wholeheartedly. I believe that middle age has the potential to be the best years of your life. There is a concept made popular by The Back Forty that states that the first half of your life is just research and development and that the best is yet to come.

So take the first step towards making the second half of your life the best half and download the Top Ten Tips for Life’s Radical Second Half by clicking on the link below!

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Tripresence

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

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In our Back Forty, the second half/best half of life, it’s easy to make statements like “this is just the way I am”, “been there, done that” or “I see where this is going”…because, face it, we’ve been around the block a few times, yes?

However, when we come from all the infinite “wisdom” that we’ve amassed, it can actually restrict us because we rest on fixed and immovable opinions about ourselves, our world and what we perceive (from our also amassed and very logical interpretations) as possible and what’s not.

I recently began to explore my “mood of being” in the world as I play my Big Game Back Forty Future and noticed that, even as the pieces of my game puzzle are falling into place in wonderful ways, I was carrying around a resident mood of hard work and struggle.

It showed up like this: no matter that more and more manifestations of good were showing up with ease and grace according to my game, I was using other outside venues to be “frustrated”: traffic on the freeway, customer service issues with vendors, and various other so-minor-they’re-laughable problems.

A friend in my Back Forty Community suggested that I take the time to actually be “present” to all the good happening, to actually drive in peace as I focus on how good life is becoming, and to watch my tendency to bring old patterns into my life just because I’m used to them (e.g., venting when various issues arise with phone, internet, services, etc.).

I saw that I was in a new place, where life is really good and getting better and better. Yet, I hadn’t let go of old, perhaps subconscious, patterns I adopted when working to “get there.”

It had me realize that I’m probably not the only one who – coming into what can be “the best is yet to come” part of life – might be carrying forward certain undistinguished ways of being adopted from past situations and circumstances of life.

If we’re to really fulfill on this second half/best half of “what we came here to do”, then being able to play in the PRESENT is critical.

Perhaps “presence” has three aspects we can consider.

One is our actually being “present”, which means not only staying out of the past and future so as to be in this moment with the people we’re with right now…but also being present to our internal state of thoughts, feelings and emotions vs. projecting them.

Another is the “presence” we bring of our Self into any situation. The small s “self” rarely brings the same value that our big S “Self” affords.

Yet one more is the “Presence” which we allow to move through and guide us, whatever we consider that bigger-than-us intelligence to be. It’s actually one of the “7 Critical Embraces for a Radical Second Half”, the tag line of our upcoming book, “The Back Forty”, and the content of our INFUSE Program.

Your Big Game Back Forty Future will require all of YOU just as it will require all of me.  If we consider that the first half of life was just R&D, research and development, to only DISCOVER who we really are and what we came here to do, a renewed relationship with presence is required.

“Presence is more than just being there.”

– Malcolm Forbes

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An Interview with Alexandra Levin

If you read our posts regularly, you know that last Saturday I created a post where I interviewed Darrell Gurney.

Now it is only fair that since I did an interview with one co-founder, that I should interview the other! If you are familiar with The Back Forty, you know that Alexandra is also a Co-Founder of the INFUSE Program. If you have attended a Back Forty event, you’ve probably even met her. But, now it’s time to really get to know her!

I sat down with Alexandra and asked her a few questions, including her most profound memories, her motto, and her favorite color (purple).

Read below to find out more about Alexandra!

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An Interview with Darrell Gurney

Happy Saturday everyone!

If you are familiar with The Back Forty, you know that Darrell is a Co-Founder of the INFUSE Program as well and the movement as a whole. If you have attended a Back Forty event, you’ve probably met him. But, do you really know him?

I sat down with Darrell and asked him a few questions, including his most profound memories, his motto, and his favorite color (forest green).

Read below to find out more about Darrell!

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles (Part 3)

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Click here to read part two.

I’ve been sharing with you that I am in love with my wrinkles.  Here’s how I got to fall in love with them…

It all hit me one sunny Sunday morning as Darrell and I were making our way through Los Angeles traffic.   I thought about how I have been transformed by the gift of my life’s challenges, wins and losses, and how much I love the older and wiser version of my Self that I have become.  I saw that my wrinkles are not only part of the package that came with those life experiences, but they were the very stripes and awards earned due to them.  I realized that who I am today is inseparable from the wrinkles that formed me.

Every wrinkle, every experience, every lesson I learned and challenge I faced, contributed to making me exactly who I am today.  All the gifts and talents I now possess and use to create my life according to my own design, to live it on my own terms, and to contribute to others are represented in those wrinkles.  Because of everything I claimed along with the territory of those wrinkles, I am now creating my own inspiring, playful, passionate, and radically purposeful second half of life.

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My grandmother loved her wrinkles!

According to the Ancient Art of Chinese Face Reading, when we erase our wrinkles, we erase our gifts.  Our wrinkles show how we have lived our life and even what we are designing in our future.  Horizontal lines on the face are signs of lessons learned in life when we experience challenging times.  This philosophy states that, if we remove those wrinkles, we lose the lesson… which means we may encounter the same challenge again to re-learn the lesson.  Now why would we want to do that!

My wrinkles remind me of my growth, the path I have traveled, and who I am becoming.  They serve as road signs alerting me to utilize my choice of who I want to be.  They wake me up daily to the power I have to transform who I am as a matter of my word and commitments.

In The Back Forty, we propose that we have all chosen the specific experiences and events of our lives to create a laboratory for research and development which, when assessed, allow us to discover what we are really here to do.

My wrinkles remind me of the lab experiments I chose to conduct in my life to gain the gifts, the learnings, and the growth I now possess.…which give me the keys to an exciting, joyful, and radical Back Forty – my second half – and to living it on my own terms.

I am in love with my wrinkles.

And I invite YOU to fall in love with YOURS.

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles (Part 2)

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Click here to read part one.

As I mentioned before, I am in love with my wrinkles.  I have shared a couple of my favorite wrinkles with you, and here are a couple more…

I earned another set of wrinkles when, at 25, I found myself in a lifeless marriage with my first husband and the father of our daughters.   Married for eight years, I had tried everything I knew to make the marriage work.

The wrinkles started to appear when I felt like I had to choose between my daughters having their parents together or me being happy.  More showed up when I finally chose to get a divorce.

What I learned with those wrinkles is that I deserve to be happy, and that I am the only one responsible for that happiness.

I’m keeping that batch of wrinkles for sure.

More stripes were earned a few years ago when I found myself at the end of a 14-year good (second) marriage gone bad.  I had been stuck for the last three years, married to a man who turned emotionally unstable and verbally abusive.  I doubted myself and my value.  I questioned the viability of my gifts and talents.  I forgot how capable I really was. He had me convinced that I would not survive without him…and told me so regularly.

Those wrinkles emerged as I went through the eye of a needle to find the keys to getting unstuck. Why was I staying stuck in a marriage that I really wanted to be free from? I found the answer in the process of reviewing a manuscript for a then friend of mine, Darrell Gurney.  He had asked me and several others to give him feedback on his unpublished manuscript, The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half.

Take a peek at what I saw:

I am 19, on that plane out of Russia… I am scared and alone… wondering if I will ever see my parents again… wondering if I am making a mistake…  and I am on my way to the freedom that our family so sorely dreamed of for 13 years… yet, I am afraid of going out into this new free world by myself… I am actually afraid of freedom.

To that 19-year old, freedom looked scary.  At that moment of realization, I saw clearly that what kept me stuck in the marriage was a 19-year-old, scared of the freedom she wanted so badly.  However, now I was no longer a scared 19-year-old.  That story was complete… so I put it back where it belonged, in the past.

Becoming freed up from this past-based fear of freedom, within a day I told my husband that we would be getting divorced and declared that it would be amicable.  Within a few months, I was out of that that marriage… as well as that mindset of fear around my own freedom.

What I gained along with those wonderful wrinkles was the confidence that I can not only survive, but thrive on my own.  I wasn’t sure how I would make it at first, and yet I knew that I would.  Within a few short months, I realized that I could stand financially and mentally on my own two very capable feet.

Click here to read part three.

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