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!
Often when we step off the non-thinking train that’s been running since…
…we started in a particular career that we never left
…we had kids and then spent 18yrs giving them wings
…we began a relationship or marriage that got caught up in the swirl of the items above
…we developed financial security that disappeared in some recession, depression, transgression or repossession…
…there’s a questioning period of what we coulda/shoulda/woulda done had we been more aware and alert. Along with that questioning can come a seeming lack of confidence to step out, take a risk and/or play big again.
The adage “youth is wasted on the young” doesn’t necessarily apply to daring because young folks have no real experience of “failure” yet…and therefore they swing boldly (and sometimes blindly) at balls coming over their plate, making each new swing a learning experience (whether they would call it that or not). They are “daring” if simply by the lack of knowledge of what can and can’t be done.
In The Back Forty, however, there can be so much protective gear weighing us down that our ability to swing is hampered…if we’re brave enough to even get up to the plate again at all. After a few fast balls clocking us in the head or heart, we can become skittish to stretch out and unprotect ourselves for a good, honest swing. Relationships, careers, building businesses – taking risks in all of these can get over-thought to the point of inaction.
For example, having built a home and family in my late 20’s, two-car garage with Mercedes, backyard with hot-tub, and extra room with crib, I experienced the non-thought of simply doing what people do as they get married and settle down.
Yet, within 10 years of such natural, life progressions, a divorced-and-co-parenting relationship had been in place for years, the house was owned by another, and a two-year custody suit was just starting.
I doubt I’m the only one who has seen the “little pink houses for you and me” picture burn to ashes.
In the wake-up call that gets termed “midlife crisis”, however, we have an opportunity to actually begin thinking vs. being scared to move or make a mistake (again).
One new way of thinking is to reframe all of it as having been for our highest and greatest good and to look for and see our evolution possibilities that arose from it. What have I been through that I can help others with? What gifts, talents, abilities, new superpowers did I develop as I went through the crucible and/or chrysalis of all that stuff? How can I consciously use daring to grow and no longer be weighed down by victim stories of what he/she/they did to me?
Perhaps it’s this second wind of evolution – our Re-Evolution – that is the real game to be played in this span of time called a life…and what if, at midlife, it’s only beginning?
The late Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of FutureShock, The Third Wave, and Powershift said:
“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
Throughout our day, we are making lots of little choices that we can mostly fall unconscious to. Yet those choices start to add up to a direction we’re headed that – once we get there – we wonder how we got here! The culmination of our unconscious choices only becomes visible above the surface once they’ve built upon themselves outside of our watching.
There are both big and small choices we make every day which it might pay for us to become conscious of…so as to wake ourselves up to why we end up where we do.
For example, I can see a homeless person and feel the sadness of wanting to help but being busy on my way and/or then the guilt of not stopping long enough or giving enough to help them. Or, I can see this feeling coming over me as a choice I’m making and choose a different direction: to give something if I’m so inclined as well as send a silent blessing their way and see them attracting what they need.
Was that just a rationalization? Did I say that blessing just to make myself feel better? Yes, maybe! Yet, at the end of my day, having made those similar types of choices throughout, I will likely have a state of mind that is of better service, liveliness and happy disposition than if I make more of the contrary choices.
We can relate this to Law of Attraction if we want, which says you get more of whatever you think about. Yet it’s really only an active mind-management exercise of conscious directionality during the day.
I faced a big financial decision recently to either wait “until the perfect time” (do those ever come?) to invest in a new home or – with tons of planning and consultation with caring supporters already under our belt, loan approvals assured, and clarity around numbers solidified – to go for it even though we don’t know what tomorrow will bring (who does??).
I realized that, though this was a “big” decision, I make smaller ones multiple times every day as to whether I trust that the Universe is going to keep giving and supporting me or whether I need to horde and cover my nuts (so to speak) because the flow might stop.
In The Back Forty, we have the opportunity to choose what direction we’re going to head – toward aliveness and what esteemed psychologist Erik Erikson calls “generativity” or whether we’re going to head toward safety and what he calls “stagnation”.
We are about generativity…because, IF, just IF have yet to do what you came here to do, how will you do it unless you keep playing bigger than you are now?
At what age does the idea of solid, supportive mentoring first catch us?
As a career/executive coach and spiritual counselor for over 30 years, I watch as so many young folks go out into life just shooting from the hip with whatever moods, whims or impulses hit them…unaware that there is a world of wisdom out there which they could tap into to gain information and make better decisions for themselves. Much less gain access to thought leaders and opportunities that could open doors.
But they say youth is wasted on the young.
I also see many people tied into careers, industries, relationships in life who either never learned the power of supportive mentoring and/or they have grown to an age where they think they “should know by now” and, if they don’t, surely don’t want to advertise it.
However, in The Back Forty, we say that, no matter what your age or what you have accomplished (or not) thus far in life, you have YET to do what you came here to do.
Therefore, life and growth and becoming and fulfilling our purposeful reason for being on the planet is an ongoing game that doesn’t have a time-limit or age-marker on it.
I personally didn’t understand the power of mentoring early in life. Frankly, due to some perceptions from my childhood, I was actually afraid of strong, powerful men. Not like men are the only ones who can mentor a young man, and yet I didn’t at all tap into this very valuable and available aspect of life until much later…when I did the work to release the fear of strong, powerful men.
Those of us playing the second half of life could find many and varied reasons for not tapping into the wealth of wisdom and knowledge out there in the areas that we are passionate about. “I’m too old to try something new” or “Well, this is the way I’ve always done or seen things, and I’m pretty ok with things as they are”…and yet those statements are all-but-too-close to complacency and mediocre living.
IF, just IF you have YET to do what you CAME here to do, what could be possible for you to take on and explore for yourself: in your work, in a relationship, in your interests, in your community impact?
In The Back Forty, we invite you, as well as ourselves, to take on that “the best is yet to come, and babe won’t it be fine”. Therefore, gaining the supportive mentoring and wise Yoda-ship of those who won’t buy your stories but, instead, will invest in your possibility – this is where to build.
Got your Yoda?
“There is no lack of knowledge out there…just a shortage of asking for help.”
We often want things to move fast. The business we’re building, the reach we’re extending, the relationship we’re developing, the role we’re growing into: it’s exciting when things “take off.”
Yet, airplanes have elevators and rudders and rockets have fins to ensure that the speed is contained and focused.
Having our own stabilizers in place and functioning decreases the potential for going off course and ensures that the speed is most capitalized upon.
Regular walks in nature, a fitness regime, dedicated hobby time, regular check-ins with committed listeners can all serve as stabilizers…and yet many get dropped when things get busy.
When asked how much he meditated each day, Gandhi answered two hours. When then asked how much he meditated when things were going crazy around him, he answered four hours.
If things are going astral, what fin can you put in to balance the atmospheric pressure…even if you think there’s no time?
If things aren’t going astral, how can you design fins now for when they do?
“A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady.”
Hopefully, in the unfoldment of a project or new initiative, there is a phase where things really start popping, happening fast, and there is lots to manage and stay on top of.
We aspire and dream of the new-venture train gaining momentum once it has slowly and laboriously picked up speed out of the station.
And it can be then that the stomach doesn’t feel the same way, there’s an ever-present edge of discomfort…perhaps occurring as a constant feeling of heartburn, upset stomach or indigestion.
That’s a good sign.
I walked around for a few months with what felt like a bowling ball in my gut when starting my first business.
Many will avoid the discomfort…and yet for those who are willing to choose it over the medicine cabinet, the pace of growth can be profound.
Into what area of conviction or dream creation can you choose to upset your stomach today?
“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.”
– Holly Near
Beyond the parochial lessons we learned in childhood about doing good deeds — still valid, and yet perhaps needing more umpfh as an adult — we can consider what we are seeding in our deeding.
How we go into a meeting, a negotiation, a sales call, a group project, or our very day can be shaped by the little and perhaps inconsequential tidbits of blessings we put out just before.
Letting someone climb into traffic in front of us, picking up trash as we walk down the sidewalk, leaving a voicemail for someone saying we’re thinking about them, paying for the customer behind us in the fast food lane, give away an eBook…all of these have the potential for feeling good, generous and overall better about ourselves and, perhaps, more worthy to receive our own good.
We’ve heard these acts carry even more power when done with nobody watching.
Where can you plant deed seeds in your experience of life being good for yourself and others today?
Got deed seeds?
“Thinking good thoughts is not enough, doing good deeds is not enough, seeing others follow your good examples is enough.”
– Douglas Horton
That’s the very reason we don’t take action.
We want to look pretty when, to learn and grow, it requires glaring ugliness.
Waiting until the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and we’ve diminished all chances of not “looking good” results in empty playing fields…and everyone sitting in the stands.
Playing — even and especially when we aren’t “prepared” — means we are IN the game.
A certain amount of apprenticeship to an idea or plan is respectable. Most, however, use that apprenticeship as an evidentiary stage to prove their incapability.
Too much consideration kills countless ideas and splendid plans.
Where can you drop the cleanliness and jump into the mud of a game today?
Got playing dirty?
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day.”
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.