Happy Monday everyone, and more importantly, Happy National Book Month!
Books are some of my favorite things. Nothing quite compares with curling up on the couch with a good book, and I think October is the perfect month to observe this national “holiday”. October is when the temperatures start to drop, apple cider and pumpkin spiced coffee flows freely, and it starts to get darker sooner.
Is there anything better than curling up in your favorite blanket in front of a fire, feeling the crisp air around you, sipping on something warm, and reading one of your favorite books by the light of the fire? I think not.
And so I welcome the month of October with this blog post, and my list of some of my all time favorite books.
Here are my favorite (magical) books of all time:
Now, here is my bonus. Since you are reading this blog post, chances are you know about The Back Forty. And if you don’t, check it out! This is The Back Forty Blog after all. What is my bonus you ask? Co-Founder of The Back Forty, Darrell Gurney, recently published two new e-books!
If you’re still not sure, check out the eBook trailer below!
We all have wrinkles. We can choose to hide or get rid of them, or we can choose to embrace them. Here is why I am in love with some of my favorite wrinkles, and why I invite you to fall in love with yours.
I got my very first wrinkle at 19. I was an only child of doting Jewish parents, both a mama’s and daddy’s girl at the same time. I was protected and taken care of. Our family had attempted to leave communist Russia for 13 years (since I was 6) and the government consistently refused. Twice a year we applied for exit visas, and twice a year we were denied. Then, at 19, I was unexpectedly given permission to leave Russia… but on my own, without my parents.
Fast forward three months, and I find myself on a plane leaving Leningrad. I was 19, feeling desperately alone in the world, terrified, and not knowing if I would ever, EVER see my parents again.
That is how I obtained my first wrinkle. What I got with it was the gift that, at 19, I learned how strong I really was: that I was capable beyond my own imagination, that I could do anything. I received THAT learning and lifelong insight out of the most devastating experience of my teenage years.
I am definitely keeping that wrinkle.
More favorite wrinkles formed when my 20-year-old daughter was planning to travel to Israel right in the middle of a war. Everyone in my family questioned me as a mother for allowing her to go, and demanded that I stop her.
I did a lot of soul searching. How would I live with myself if I didn’t stop her from going and yet…? I could not even let myself think beyond the yet. Scary. What if everyone was right, and I was wrong, and it was my job as a mother to stop her? What if…?
Yes, of course, I wanted my daughter to be safe, and yet I also wanted her to know that she is free – given our family fought so hard for our freedom. What lesson would my daughter be learning if someone else (even her mother) had more power over her choice than she did? After all, I had been given the gift of a tough choice myself at about her age. Then I made a decision: I told my daughter that I trusted her to choose for herself and that I would support her in that choice. My daughter chose to go.
This sweet basket of wrinkles revealed themselves when I took that stand for my daughter and her right and ability to make choices in her own life.
Because of those wrinkles, my daughter went to Israel and had the most profound experience of her life. It formed within her a passion for travel that now has her just returning from her second summer-long backpacking trip to Europe, writing a travel blog, and making spectacular travel videos.
At age 20, my daughter learned that she can trust herself with life-impacting decisions… and, more importantly, that she has a voice and a choice.
That is a bunch of wrinkles I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Today’s post isn’t the “norm”. I’m not going to share with you different insights into midlife as I normally do. Instead, I wanted to share with you some exciting news!
Over the past week The Back Forty has been featured three times through various media outlets. Alexandra was featured on the podcast Wow! Wednesday and featured in an article by Business to Community. Darrell and Alexandra were also featured on a webisode of The Passion Point!
I admit that sometimes my blog topics don’t come to me right away, and this morning I was calling on help from the almighty internet. I searched and searched for different topics and then different bloggers, anything to give me a spark of inspiration. Suddenly I saw it.
I saw the difference between men in midlife and women in midlife, and I was shocked that I had never noticed it before.
What did I notice? As I was scrolling through all of these blogs, articles, and websites devoted to midlife I noticed one shocking truth. There were no men blogging about their midlife journey! I saw countless examples of women talking about their midlife struggles, sharing their beauty hacks, talking about how they are finding themselves, but there was absolutely nothing from the other half of the population. Occasionally I find a man in midlife who has a blog, sometimes even a blog about midlife. But what are his topics? Finances, business, retirement planning – not once have I found a male blogger who is talking about his midlife experience.
Although this may be relatively isolated, I feel it supports an overarching theory. Women in midlife are often searching to better themselves, and what better way to succeed at bettering yourself than to reach out to others who are also going through midlife? This is why there are so many women with blogs, websites, and articles devoted to their journey through midlife. Men on the other hand, although they often want to better themselves as well, are far less likely to share their personal journey. The idea of someone judging your failures can be crippling.
This is why I feel that The Back Forty is so revolutionary. First of all, the original idea of The Back Forty came from a man. Darrell Gurney was wading his way through midlife and had an epiphany. He realized that your second half of life is where you have the chance to truly achieve what you are on this earth to achieve. As his idea evolved from a book to a program, to a movement – his mission began to become clear.
Not to say that he did all of this alone, there was a woman in the background, Alexandra Levin (who is now the Co-Founder of The Back Forty INFUSE Program). In many ways, Alexandra helped Darrell push the idea of The Back Forty toward the program and movement that it is becoming today.
So, if you are currently working your way through midlife alone, don’t! Check out The Back Forty. It might just be the community you are searching for. After all, as Darrell always says:
See Part 1 of this story here.
Gone were the days when I could direct his actions. Gone were the days when I could logic/convince/velvetly force him into anything. Gone even were the days where my opinion mattered at all. Though individuation for a growing person begins much younger, I was present to the full brunt of it when he was now out of house and completely out of influence.
Thankfully, I have a dear friend and prayer partner who passed through this phase many years earlier with her two sons and yet was still “writing the book” on parenting of adult children. She called this phase unique in that the kid-come-adult is trying to be an adult – but doesn’t know how – and the parent is trying to not micro-manage their life – but doesn’t know how. It’s a very weird and challenging stage for both young adult and parent alike.
The first bit of wisdom she passed on was to cease all attempts to advise: regardless, whatsoever, notwithstanding anything! Then, the challenge was to simply acknowledge whatever could be acknowledged about the paths, choices, or directions he was taking…”challenge” because, as the parent, we think we know better. The idea was to become an acknowledging and validating machine, and close the mouth of “the wise one”.
What that also meant was being able to hear the need for financial support and stand strong in allowing the necessary path of growth from kid-wanting-to-be-adult to, possibly, actual adulthood. That is a tough one.
There’s a story I once heard about a man who saw a butterfly just beginning its exit from a cocoon. He thought he would aid in the process by using his fingernail to help nick away parts of the cocoon shell so that the butterfly could get out easier. What happened, however, once the shell was eventually removed, was that the “butterfly” became a would-be butterfly because, as the bloated insect lie there with wings full of fluid, there was no way it would ever be able to fly. The very act of having to force itself out of the cocoon was a critical process in squeezing out the fluid so that the wings would be light, airy, and flight-worthy.
Learning to let my son learn what he needs to learn – without meddling one way or the other – is, for me, a big Back Forty growth endeavor.
Yet another more recent bit of evolved advice from my sage veteran parent partner was this: when he tells me something he did that I feel like praising, instead of being the one approving and acknowledging of that action, I am to put it back to him: “How did that make you feel?” This act of turning him toward the source of all approval as being within him vs. my “guidance” slipping in through some side door of “approval” is another way of pulling back so my adult child can become adult.
I’m in no way through this process, and we all know that our kids are our kids for life. Yet going through this requisite phase of Back Forty parenting upgrade is a unique period in which I’m learning just a thing or two about a thing or two.
One of the many new dimensions of our midlife, The Back Forty, is the necessity to parent differently. I’ve practiced this a great deal over the last several years, as my son went from 17, with an appropriately growing voice in how his life goes, to now being 22.
I was an “involved” parent all through his growing up. Following a divorce when he was 2½, I focused my half-time custody on all the typical things a dad and son would do as he grew: YMCA Indian Guides, AYSO soccer, YMCA swimming (first Guppy, then Minnows, then Sharks), Tai Kwon Do (first Tiny Tigers, then…)…moving as he got older into Cub and Boy Scouts, geckos, rats, fencing, and persistent video game systems (Gameboy, Nintendo, X-Box). Not to mention church on Sundays where he took classes over the course of 12 years. My involvement and guiding direction of my son’s life was strong.
From age 2½ to 7 or so, my parenting was pretty default: play, learn, discipline with timeouts when necessary…but all fairly easy and without thought. Around that time, however, I went through a custody suit lasting a couple years. One of the many blessings that came out of that whole process (from a Back Forty INFUSE Program perspective) was a more conscious study of parenting.
Parenting was different now than in the days of my simple, country upbringing. Plus, I lived in California, in many ways a far-cry skewed mentality than that of my Texas roots. Having come to California specifically for consciousness reasons, I was always on the touchy-feely side of most things anyway. Still, when California new-age consciousness and attitudes about the raising of indigo/millennial/Gen Z individuals come together, parenting looked a lot like coddling to my tainted eyes.
Upon moving out of the parents’ house, however, parental views about how to relate to “adult” kids differ… especially among divorced parents. My own (right or wrong) basic stance was “If you’re going to school, I’m supporting you (financially). If you’re not, I’m assuming you want/need to learn about life…so I’ll support you in that too by letting you support yourself.”
I’ll relieve you of the litany of differences of opinions and challenging interactions a stance like that can take – both with adult child and ex – and yet something became very clear: I needed to find a new way to relate to my son…
To be continued…
Read Part 2 here.
“I felt liberated to look at my life and career thus far as the R & D phase for what I have yet to design…buckle up phase two!”
—Hilary C., Marketing Director
Imagine there is way more in you to be expressed and fulfilled. Imagine and believe that you can restart…or, better yet, really start for the first time!
Consider that the only start that matters is the one you do now, and that life was designed that way. Your midlife opportunity is awakening to discover all that you’ve learned from a first half of R & D (research and development) and capitalizing on it to design your own uniquely playful, passionate and purposeful second half.
You have yet to do what you came here to do. No matter what has come before — be it perceived major successes or miserable failures — as Frank Sinatra sings “The best is yet to come, and babe won’t it be fine”.
The Back Forty philosophy is radical. It says whatever has come before does not determine what comes next. It’s about a radical renewing of the mind into belief and action to play big. Come discover your Big Game Back Forty Future. It’s what you came for.
“I have done hundreds of courses in growth and development. This Back Forty Program has really impacted me. I’m 72 years old, and I can win my second half!”
—Gail E., Legal Professional