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.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”
If we’re up for playing big games in life — career, impact, purpose — we’re going to be pressing our envelope all the time, becoming bigger than we knew ourselves to be.
A natural tendency is to compare: to others going our ways, and to our own ideals and standards of how we’d like to be playing.
As I grow to bring out a message of hope and inspiration – something that arose within me only in my second half of life – I observe myself comparing my delivery and message exposure to others, who may have been singing their song for longer or lesser than mine.
As I watch my tendency to juxtapose my progress to what I perceive to be the progress of others, I see the pull toward judgment: evaluating my status in relation to theirs, or even to my own ideals of where I’d like to be.
The old adage claims “compare and despair” perhaps only because that’s the direction most people go with it.
When we see someone playing better at a game we’ve chosen, we COULD choose to be inspired to know it’s possible for us to play better too…and learn from them.
When we see ourselves playing beneath our own perceived abilities, we COULD feel blessed to know we have more within us to tap.
These are the directions I’m playing with to address the natural comparison instinct, to empower myself to grow vs. become resigned…which can happen if we think we’re so far behind.
The main issue is how we’re going to relate to that Self we were handed, the particular Monopoly piece we were issued…and whether we realize that it’s always an inside job.
Maybe a new adage is called for: compare and solitaire.
Using any comparisons that naturally occur as insight to play my own game better, with the objective to use up the whole deck life has given me, keeps me focused on my own game and my own cards.
You only have your deck to play with…and only your own hand to play.
By the way, did you know that another name for solitaire is “patience”? What might that insight alone afford you?
Remember: Your Game, Your Deck, and Patience.
“The only person you should try to be better than is the Who You Were yesterday.”
Today I bring you some amusement from the past.
Nearly 35 years ago, in 1982, this game graced the board game shelves. Its tagline was “can you survive your mid-life crisis without cracking up, breaking up, or going broke?”
The game was produced in California by The Game Works, Inc in 1982 and was re-released in 1993. According to an article in The New York Times from 1993, the original version of the game sold 700,000 copies. I’m not sure when it went out of production, but it definitely is not easy to find today. It takes about an hour to play, requires 4-6 players, and is only intended for people over the age of 18.
The objective of the game was simply to make it through your midlife with more money, less stress, and fewer divorce points than the other players, and (most importantly) to avoid having to declare a mid-life crisis where you go broke, get divorced, or crack up before the game is over.
To start the game, each player is given a score card and a pawn to place on start. Each player starts the game with a career, $25,000, 500 stress points, and a marriage. To play, each player rolls the die, moves forward the respective number of spaces, and follows the direction on whichever space they land on. Each space can either add or subtract stress points, award or take away money, add or subtract divorce points, or have you use a crisis card or zap card.
An example of a Zap Card:
“PANIC – Your period is late. Go to Doctor and SUBTRACT $1,000 or have the child and ADD 300 STRESS POINTS.”
Basically, crisis cards are things that happen to you and zap cards are things you can make happen to other players. There are also special spaces including career spaces, retreats, and passage spaces.
An example of a Crisis Card:
“Your spouse keeps telling the kids that you are going through the change. Deny everything, talk about personal growth and self exploration. ADD 200 STRESS POINTS.”
When you land on a career space, you must pay the designated amount of money to the player who has that career. Retreats are the 3 big spaces in the middle of the board and they are the spaces you are sent to if you lose your mind, get divorced, or go broke. If you have over 1,500 stress points, you are required to go to Crack-up Ranch for “therapy”. If you get 3 divorce points you have to go to Divorce Gulch to attempt to reconcile with your spouse. If you go bankrupt, you must go to Bankrupt City where you basically become a homeless person begging for change.
The passage spaces are spaces that you cannot skip over. If you roll a 5 and there is a passage space 3 spaces ahead, you must stop there. These spaces make it possible for other players to force a crisis onto you.
The winner is the person with the most money. Each zap card, 100 stress points, or divorce point is equal to $1,000 that you must deduct from your total amount of money at the end of the game.
“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
“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
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
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?
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.”
Ever accomplish a goal (or not) and have a big blank space in front of you?
Sometimes there’s even a post-featal downturn in mood, when the juice of the previous activity drive has ceased surging without replacement.
It’s then when our best ingenuity is called for: actually creating what comes next.
To generate and invent a future to live into — and then to be empowered (vs. diminished) by the gap that shows up — is the ultimate creativity.
It’s the games people play that create life and living.
Where can you intentionally generate an empowering gap to live into today?
Got generation gap?
“It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.”
There is much said in our American culture about the self-made man or woman, the iron self-will and resolve that has individuals pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and a lot of ego-oriented “respect” offered to those who, alone, can handle things.
Granted, being able to find the resources, the will and the way within can be of great, holistic and long-term value.
Yet, there’s also a lot said about the power of helping others in their success. Zig Ziglar’s famous quote “You can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want” is an inspiring redirect toward focus upon others.
But search for quotes on “getting help” and you find that 98% are about offering help to others and only the tiny remainder about getting help yourself.
It seems the receiving side of the coin is simply not as respected or valued. We prize offering help, but where’s the equal pride in seeking or obtaining it?
Consider this: if you don’t need help, right now and right where you are, you simply aren’t playing a big enough game.
Got big game help?
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”
–Ziad K. Abdelnour