It’s a pretty powerful word. This word has inspired countless men and women to lay down their lives for what they believe in. This world is what our country has been built on. And it is because this word is so powerful that we are devoting this post to what freedom means to us.
Many people would argue that we have to give up some of our freedom as we grow older. We have more responsibilities now. We have a job where people count on us, we have a family to support, we have retirement to save for. There are so many things that we have to do, so it just makes sense that we have to give up some of our freedom.
Well, those of us at The Back Forty have a problem with that belief system. Why do we have to give up our freedom as we grow older? If anything, we should be gaining more freedom as we age, not the other way around.
Regardless of if you currently feel like you’re Failing Your Midlife Experience or if you just haven’t taken the time to Consider Your Purpose recently, we believe that your personal freedom has a lot to do with that purpose.
Wherever you are on your midlife journey you have to believe in your future. Whether you still feel that you need to Free Yourself From Your Past or if you need a reminder that You Are In Control, believing in your future is the first step toward freedom.
Join Alexandra Levin, Co-Founder of The Back Forty and Caren Taubman Glasser Founder of The Little White Lie for a live co-creation webinar of “IMBUE Your Beautiful You”. This beauty “town hall” will take place today (Tuesday, March 21) at 2:30 pm PST on Facebook Live (you can RSVP here).
On this webinar you will learn:
On this webinar you will offer:
We invite you to join not only to hear our ideas of how to “IMBUE Your Beautiful You” but to get yours!
Come join us to co-create this work, and let’s enjoy the freedom it offers together.
Either before, during or after the webinar we would love to get your feedback on our program by filling out the survey here (we also have some freebies to give away if you complete the survey).
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!
Happy Tuesday everyone! Or maybe not so happy?
Have you ever had one of those days when you just feel stuck? I’m sure you know the feeling, you feel stuck in your routine. You want to change things up, but you can’t. You’re so busy and you have work and a family to worry about. The last thing you have time for is adding something else to your list of responsibilities.
It’s because of thoughts like these that I give you today’s quote. Take a moment to read it:
It’s a pretty radical thought. To be completely free from your past decisions? To not be locked in by the choices you have made? It seems like a bit of a daydream. But what if I told you that it’s not a daydream and that you just need to be open to the possibilities?
Most people feel like they are stuck with the choices they made when they were younger. I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Try thinking of the first half of your life as research and development for your second half of life. What have you learned about what you enjoy? What do you hate? What are you curious about? Take all of this knowledge and build yourself the future you desire.
It’s not too late, actually, you’re right on time! It’s time to create your future based on the knowledge you have gained in your first half of life. All that’s left is to take your first step!
My friend Bert’s book was titled, “The Free Bird Flies: Choosing Life After Loss”, and it was a chronicle of how she regained her balance after the accidental death of her 21-year-old son, Philip. I held it in my hand, thinking of the journey that she and I had shared as close friends for the past several years. The many small moments of laughter over something her children had said; the sounding-board conversations we had over a shared interest in business; and the deeper conversations of spirituality and the concepts that give meaning to life. She filled such a comfortable and valued place in my life, in the way that only friends who love you just as you are can do. We vibed on a profund level and I always looked forward to our daily phone calls.
“The most helpful thing that someone said to me after Phil’s death”, she said, “was that you don’t ever ‘get over’ your grief. You just learn to manage it.” I had some managing to learn, as Bert had just been diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease that had already stolen much of her ability to speak, and was very soon going to accompany her out of this lifetime.
I felt numb, overloaded with sadness. Bert was well-known in our community, and I got multiple calls on a daily basis from people who were just hearing the news and needed to talk. I did my best to listen as they poured out their shock and grief. We all wanted to connect with someone else who loved her like we did. I found my sadness growing, as if in some way, if I could just get sad enough, then all would be restored and Bert would once again be her regular funny self.
If I’m not paying attention in the morning, I sometimes overpour my cup of tea. It tops the rim and runs down the side of the cup, puddling at the base. On this particular day after the third such phone call, I felt like that cup of tea, my grief at the impending loss of my friend overflowing my heart and puddling at my feet. I knew that I felt that way because losing my friend was all I had been focusing on. It was the topic that took up all my available mental bandwidth. Understandable, but puddling nonetheless. I needed to shift my story, but wasn’t sure what to do.
“How else can I look at this?”, I asked myself as I settled in for a meditation. As I relaxed, I thought of all the friends of mine who had gone out of their way to do small acts of caring for me. A sweet text here and there. Delivery of food so I wouldn’t have to cook. A listening ear so I could unload what I was feeling. Long, comforting hugs from my sweetheart.
My eyes shot open. “Love! I am surrounded by love!” My heart grew, and made room for gratitude as I sent a mental blessing to each person who formed my network of support. I could feel my mood lift a bit – there was now a different emotion alongside my grief.
I didn’t know it at the time, but choosing to look for love and gratitude in the time of sadness forever changed my stance toward loss. In the two years that followed Bert’s death (or “transition”, as she liked to call it), I also lost two other close friends as well as my dad. While my grief was certainly there at those times, it was also accompanied by its new friend, gratitude. Making the choice to be grateful for all of the treasured experiences I had with each of these people who were so special to me acted as a salve for my aching heart. It gave a dimension and a richness to the grieving process that surprised me, and I learned that difficult things also come packaged with wonderful things. It’s our choice to look for them.
As we get older, losses big and small become woven into the fabric of our life experience and it doesn’t take a big loss like a death to make gratitude our daily companion. We have opportunities to focus on what we love every day, to learn to manage our losses instead of allowing them to define us. Choosing gratitude is a choice worth making.
“Oh… so you are an empty nester…” (sad face).
Well, no. Actually, I am a free bird!
That’s a choice I made when my daughters were both about to move away to college at the same time.
I’ve listened to friends lament on how empty their house feels with their kids in college: their childhood rooms vacant, the void in their life, unfulfilled expectations on children coming back to visit, returning phone calls, etc.
I realized this very clearly: I was NOT interested in living my prime years as if the best of life was behind me, nor burdening my kids with any expectations that somehow they were responsible for my joy, happiness, or fulfillment.
Eeeeeew! Not my cup of The Back Forty tea!
We’ve all heard “Let them fly” said as a consoling and empowering way to hold our children growing up and moving on. So, I say this to us: “Let US fly!!!”
Therefore, as my daughters spent a year designing their college career, I spent a year creating what my life will look like after they move out! Where do I want to live? What environment do I want to live in? What will I do that will be an expression of my passion and purpose in this next/best half of my life?
Two months after they moved out of our 14-year family home, I moved out too. Together, we had ALL set out on creating the next era of our life.
This Thanksgiving season, I am profoundly present to my deep gratitude for my daughters, our relationship, and the deep love and appreciation we hold for each other. I am immensely grateful for their opportunity to go to college and their freedom to build a life of their own design, unconstrained by external expectations and unencumbered by feelings that MY happiness or satisfaction depends on them.
Do I miss them? Of course!!! Do I delight in seeing them every chance I get? Absolutely!!! I cherish every moment I get to spend with them. Yet as part of giving my daughters the space to spread their wings and fly free, I created the same kind of freedom for myself and my own second half/best half of life. Just as they are creating their life and future, I am overjoyed that I get to create my Back Forty Future of my own design…with the zest an excitement of a twenty-year-old!
When my daughters return a phone call or text, and when they work out coming home from college to join our family for Thanksgiving dinner, it is a gift, a joy and a blessing – not an obligation or dutiful fulfillment of an expectation.
I am blessed. I am deeply grateful. And I have a kick-ass playful, passionate and purposeful Back Forty ahead of me! Rock on radically free birds!!
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.