At The Back Forty, we have been blogging for roughly eight months and during that time have posted over 130 different articles across more than nine different topics. We do our best to come up with lots of unique content to share with you!
Today, I would love to get some feedback about your favorite things to read about! Do you enjoy reading about funny midlife stories? Do you like to be inspired? Are you looking to learn more about different aspects of midlife?
Just pick a topic below and see how your favorite topic compares to the favorite topics of some of our other readers![polldaddy poll=9690895]
When interacting with partners, sponsors, customers, members, and The Back Forty community in general, there is one question that gets asked over and over.
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.
If 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.
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!
Today I am bringing you another quote. Have you ever heard the little voice in your head saying, “you can’t do that”? Maybe you think, “it’s too late for me to change careers” or “that’s just the way things are”.
Well, my quote today is here to tell you that those mindsets are simply incorrect. Take a moment to read it through and I”ll meet you on the other side.
Take a moment to think about that. By telling yourself that you can’t do something you are basically sealing your own fate.
If you decide you can’t then you won’t, but what would happen if you decided that you could?
If you decided that you could get that job, that you could change your lifestyle, that you could actually achieve your dreams and goals, then anything could be possible.
So this week I have a goal for you. Try to think of something that you haven’t done simply because the voice in your head said that you couldn’t, and go for it!
“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.”
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
We invite you to enjoy our holiday playlist below as you go about your festivities!
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.
“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.”
So many people think that they don’t have control over their future once they find themselves in the midst of midlife. We want to change all of that.
The Back Forty teaches that:
“The only way you will ever be able to create your own radical future of play, passion, and purpose is by enabling yourself to have a say over how life will go from here on out.”
– Darrell Gurney, Co-Founder of The Back Forty
Take a moment to think about that. How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you are who you are or that you can’t change the path of your life?
The Back Forty teaches that you have a say over how your life will go. You can control your future, if you just take the time to invest in it. The second half of your life can be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose. You just have to decide that you want it to.
“Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word ‘understanding.’”
– Werner Heisenberg
We often hear the terms “game face” and “poker face” as to the countenance we are to assume when moving into particular arenas and what we want to accomplish while on the field.
But what about when we are placed on playing fields we don’t understand and, therefore, don’t know what we want to accomplish…or even IF there is something to accomplish there?
I’m speaking of that great and mostly avoided turf called “the unknown”.
We avoid any opportunity to play those games like the plague! Especially as we move into the latter, second-half years of life by when we have made LOTS of decisions as to who we are, how the world is, what’s really possible for us and our life, etc.
We tend to make permanent residence in the comfortable and known, because we’ve played (our safety-seeking voice says) “too much or too haphazardly in the past and got hurt, burned or, sure as hell, didn’t look good.” Failure and its cousins – such as not looking good, making a mistake, appearing to not already “know” how to do something – become not only unwelcomed guests but wanted-poster criminals to be shot on site.
The Back Forty is founded on a philosophy that we (the Founders) and you have yet to do what we came here to do. No matter what we may have achieved in the first half of life, we say our biggest hand and most purposeful game is yet to be played.
On that playing field, we suggest that Faith-Face is the countenance to assume while playing, and that looking for and diving into “the unknown”s of ourselves, our world and what’s possible for us is where the score really matters.
If you’re really playing a Back Forty Big Game as your future, you will want to explore who you are beyond the decisions you’ve made from life’s first half of research and development. You’ll want to question the fixedness (can you say atrophy?) that comes from attitudes about people and the world that you arrived at from the game’s bumps and bruises. And you’ll want to give your Self the opportunity to discover – from all of that first half R & D – your Formula of Unique Self Expression (FUSE) that only you could concoct given the particular life and times you’ve led.
We say that everything that has occurred, is occurring, or will occur in your life are the PERFECT and EXACT elements necessary to position you to be or do what you came here to be or do.
So, approaching the absolutely requisite unknown with Faith-Face forward is the quickest way to capitalize on your research.
Where can you embrace and faith-face the unknown in your life and times today? For what reason is life EXACTLY the way it is right now to enable you to be and do what you came here to be and do?
Join us in this exciting exploration into the unknown of what lies in your own Back Forty. It’s time to be surprised at what you’ve discovered about your Self.
“It would be wonderful to think that the future is unknown and sort of surprising.”
– Alan Rickman