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Why You Need to Celebrate National Smile Power Day

Smile Power

Have you smiled yet today?

Today is National Smile Power Day – so it’s time to start smiling!

“But why?” you might ask. Well here are 5 startling statistics about smiling:

  1. Smiling can boost your immune system by making your body more relaxed.
  2. Forcing a smile can put you in a better mood (mind over matter)!
  3. Smiling is a universal sign of happiness.
  4. Babies have to learn almost everything, but they are born with the ability to smile.
  5. Smiles are proven to make you seem more attractive, confident, and social.

If you’re looking to kickstart your smile, here are a few of our previous posts that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face:

Wherever your day takes you (or has taken you) today, just remember to smile and that everything really will be alright.

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Source: PickTheBrain

Have You Found Your Happiness?

Have You Found Your Happiness

Today I was watching a TED Talk about happiness and it got me thinking. The speaker brought up a point that we often seem to just accept without much further thought.

We are always searching for our happiness.

We think, when I get that promotion I will be happy, when I retire I can be happy, when the kids get older I’ll be happy. It’s a common thought process, IF I do this then THAT will happen. But think back 10 years about the IF THEN statements you were telling yourself. Chances are you have achieved those goals and yet chances are that you are still searching for your happiness.

Dr. Srikumar Rao believes that we are hard wired to be happy and that society has just taught us how to be unhappy. You can watch his entire talk below on how to plug into your hardwired happiness, but I have 2 thoughts of my own to share with you as well.

1. Being happy IS something you can choose

Looking for somewhere to start? Check out my previous blog posts: 75 Simple Ways to Be More Happy with Life and Six of the Best Ways to Fill Your Relationship with Happiness.

2. Being happy is NOT as hard as we tell ourselves it is

Take a look at some of our other blog posts about how to remember to be happy: Three Opportunities to KISS Happy, Find Your Bliss, and Happy Resolve.

Just remember that, like Dr. Rao says, you are hard wired to be happy, you just have to take a little time to remember how.
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75 Simple Ways to Be More Happy with Life

Get Happy!

Today I want to inspire you to become happier. Everyone needs a little pick up every once and a while and today I am sharing with you 100 ways to make your day full of a little more happiness.

So, without further ado, let’s get happy!

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Take a nap
  3. Clean something
  4. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  5. Read something inspirational (try this or this!)
  6. Sip on some tea or coffee
  7. Get a massage
  8. Say “Bubbles” in the angriest voice you can muster
  9. Plan a special dinner to look forward to
  10. Ignore your phone for a few hours
  11. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for
  12. Watch your favorite TV show
  13. Go for a drive
  14. Complete a random act of kindness for a stranger
  15. Do yoga
  16. Listen to your favorite band or singer
  17. Look through local Groupon deals for something to do this weekend
  18. Dance
  19. Bake cookies
  20. Pick 3 things you want to get done today and do them
  21. Go shopping
  22. Pretend you’re a kid again and just PLAY
  23. Pick up some flowers to brighten your home
  24. Read a new novel
  25. Quit a bad habit (if only for a day)
  26. Sing
  27. Buy your favorite sweet as a snack
  28. Find the nearest park, beach, or forest and explore
  29. Stop slouching
  30. Complete a DIY project
  31. Go to any store and pick up 5 items that make you happy
  32. Work on your personal To Do list
  33. Look through some of your old photos
  34. Schedule time to volunteer at an animal shelter
  35. Call your parents
  36. Go see a movie (or maybe even go to a drive-in theater)
  37. Make plans with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while
  38. Cook your favorite dinner
  39. Go window shopping downtown
  40. Pay it forward next time you’re in line to get food or coffee
  41. Are you mad at someone? Let it go
  42. Go to the Zoo
  43. Search for inspirational quotes, write one down, and put it somewhere you will see it regularly
  44. Meditate
  45. Stop thinking about where you are now and think about what is possible instead
  46. Draw a picture
  47. Drink a glass of water
  48. Pick a new sitcom you haven’t seen before and watch the first episode
  49. Download the app Happify
  50. Whisper “Boopity Boop” under your breath in 4 distinct voices
  51. Go to a gym class
  52. Take a bath
  53. Spend time with your significant other – without electronics
  54. Shake up your routine
  55. Play a board game with friends or family
  56. Have a firepit? Build a fire
  57. Make a list of 10 people in your life who inspire you. Then share your reasons why with them
  58. Make your favorite drink
  59. Start a home improvement project
  60. Set a new life goal and take the first step towards achieving it
  61. Snack on some fruits or veggies
  62. Switch up your commute. Leave early, take a new route, and try to enjoy the ride
  63. Find a funny article and laugh a little (I find that BuzzFeed is a good place to start)
  64. Spend some time alone to focus on you
  65. Go to bed early
  66. Jump and try to touch the ceiling
  67. Eat something healthy
  68. Do you have a pet? Go get a hug!
  69. Search for a “No Laugh Challenge” on YouTube
  70. Face something you fear
  71. Skip from one end of the room to the other
  72. Instead of thinking about everything that needs to be done, try to focus on one thing today
  73. Tell someone you love them
  74. Be spontaneous and do something RIGHT NOW
  75. Smile!

If all of these happiness-inducing ideas aren’t enough, I have decided to start giving you something a little extra each time I write a new post.

Did you know that there are almost 1,500 National Days throughout the year? Some of them inspire conversation, others promote change, and still others just make you laugh. Here are the National Days that fall on April 25, 2017:

  • DNA Day
  • East Meets West Day
  • Hug a Plumber Day
  • Telephone Day
  • Zucchini Bread Day

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6 of the Best Ways to Fill Your Relationship with Happiness

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As we grow older it sometimes gets easier to focus on our significant other’s faults instead of their virtues. Pet peeves slowly become intolerable and your relationship becomes more routine and boring.

Where did all that happiness go?

It’s not that the happiness is gone, but rather that you have stopped nurturing the happiness. When was the last time you did something special for your significant other just to show them how much they are loved? Chances are, all of us could do special things for those we love more often.

But what am I supposed to do? I hear you asking. Look no further because I have compiled my list of the top six ways to fill your relationship with happiness by showing your love.

1. Plan a Special Night (without you!)

This might sound counterproductive but let me explain.

Does your husband love watching a certain sport? Does you wife have a favorite TV show? Chances are, there is something on TV that you hate as much as your significant other loves. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is a way to turn these experiences into loving gestures.

Order your significant other’s favorite delivery food (Pizza? Chinese? Mexican?) and schedule to have it delivered right before your husband or wife’s show starts. About 30 minutes before their show begins, say that you are going to bed, or another room, or whatever you normally do to avoid watching this show. Once you leave, send your significant other a text telling them that their favorite food is on the way, to enjoy their show, and that you love them.

Tah-dah! Suddenly, avoiding something you hate has been turned into a romantic gesture.

2. Clean

Do you get home from work before your significant other? Maybe you wake up earlier than them? Go to bed after them? Chances are, you are “alone” at home at one point or another throughout the week.

Turn this into a chance to show your love. What part of the house gets messy the fastest? The kitchen? The living room? Pick a room, and clean it before your significant other gets home. Not only will they notice, chances are they will also appreciate it and feel the need to reciprocate at some point.

3. Turn an Obligation into a Surprise

This one is my favorite idea by far. Think about something that you request from your significant other on a regular basis. Do you ask them to stop at the store on their way home? Grab you something from the other room? Cook dinner? Walk the dog? Now’s the fun part, you get to turn that mundane obligation into an exciting surprise.

Ask them to do the obligation and then surprise them with a fun activity. Ask them to grab some cheese from the grocery store and then surprise them in the cheese isle with plans to go on a hike and have a picnic. Or ask them to grab your glasses from the other room and then have tickets to the movies or a museum next to your glasses. Ask them to cook some pasta for dinner and then have a giftcard or reservations for their favorite restaurant waiting for them next to the pasta.

It is entirely up to you on how simple or extravagent these surprises are. The important part is that you are turning something they don’t enjoy doing into a fun experience for both of you.

4. Plan a Date

This might seem like a relatively simple concept, but when was the last time you actively planned a date on your own? I’m not talking about deciding that you need a night away from the kids and planning something together or deciding that neither of you want to cook and going out for dinner. I’m talking about taking at least 30 minutes on your own to choose something to do together and booking the neccessary tickets/activities. Plan to take a weekend getaway, go to the zoo, or even just make a dinner reservation.

It’s not the extravagance of the date that is important. It’s that you took the time to plan to do something together because you enjoy spending time with your significant other. It’s a great way to say I love you, which brings me to my next point…

5. Say “I Love You”

Have you ever heard of the “magic ratio” discovered by psycholigist John Gottman? He says that there is actually a ratio of positive to negative comments in a relationship that can pretty much guarantee a stable relationship. What is this ratio?

5:1.

For every negative comment you make to your significant other, you should make five positive comments. So think about it, what is your current ratio? How often are you saying “I love you”? How often do you tell your significant other that you appreciate them? Now, how often are you complaining? The longer we are in a relationship, the easier it is to take the positives for granted and become more frustrated with the negatives. This can cause our ratios to get completely out of whack.

So what am I suggesting you do? Figure out what your current ratio currently is, and then work towards that 5:1 ratio. Start with just a week and see the difference that it makes in your daily interactions when you try to stick to the ratio. Chances are, you will both become happier.

6. Reverse Your Bad Habits (if only for a day)

Pet peeves. We all have them. And we all have pet peeves about our significant other. Maybe they leave the toilet seat up, or they leave their clothes all over the bedroom floor. Chances are, by this point you are thinking about your biggest pet peeves about your significant other. Well, stop!

Think about your significant other’s pet peeves about you instead. You know what they are. Now, actively try to stop all of those habits. Start with just a day and see how long you can make it last. I’m not saying that you change forever, but make an effort and your significant other will notice.

With all of these new ideas, I know you can actively bring happiness into your relationship. Because, after all, who doesn’t want to be happier? Your relationship is important and worth the time it will take to strengthen it. Even if your relationship is already stable and relatively happy – these six tips can bring even more happiness into your relationship.

Do you have any other examples of special things you do for your significant other to bring more happiness into your relationship? Tell me your favorites in the comments below!

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3 Steps to Inviting Radicality

3 Tips for Inviting Radicality (3-29-17)homes

“The days blur into one, and the backs of my eyes hum with the things I’ve never done.”

-Radical Face

The term “radical” can raise our antennae and suspicions. It carries the energy of dramatic shift, and implies extremes.

Yet, the idea of extremities is only the word’s secondary definition. The primary definition is about going to the root of something, a fundamental shift.

Radical Forgiveness, Radical Happiness, Radical Restarts…all imply a going deeper than the surface norm by getting to the core of the thing itself.

To impact the drift of life often requires a radical wake-up, because it’s just too easy to stick to the norm. You hear of folks who took on whole new ways of living after sudden health scares, near-death experiences, etc.

The question is: do we need to wait for such an external wake-up?

I like the idea of fomenting a crisis proactively, meaning self-inflicting the urgency for shift before the shift hits the fan.

What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that your body was about to give out next week for lack of care? How would your diet, fitness and sleep program look this week?

Alexandra and I recently looked at the logic-of-the-moment vs the generally-accepted-wisdom around sleep.

In the moment, there simply seems to be no choice but to get less sleep so that “everything can get done.” Yet, there’s the joke itself: everything will NEVER get done! And, allowing that thought pattern to continue – with sleep taking the hit from overzealous engagement – means that bodily rest becomes the red-headed, disregarded stepchild.

The generally accepted wisdom today, touted by many inspirational leaders and health experts, is that 7 hours is the minimum of sleep we need…for a boatload of reasons. So, the facts are in, and it’s just the question of “in the moment” whether we can go against our skewed logic and trust the facts. Who knows how much more alert, acute and astute we may become with solid nights of sleep under our belts?

So, we’ve taken on a commitment to our second half/best half of life including what seems like illogical sleep habits because if, as we say in The Back Forty, “we have yet to do what we came here to do”, we need the healthy bodies required to house the spirits to do that!

There can be many areas in which to foment radical change:

What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that this job you’ve been hating will definitely end in a month? How would your career change efforts look then?

What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that something is brewing under the surface with your mate that will have him/her leave soon? How would your efforts to communicate alter immediately?

What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that your croaking was imminent, definitely within the year? What bucket list items or purpose fulfillment would you take on right now?

Consider this an invitation to look into your own life and foment your own crisis. It’s a real opportunity to put yourself in the driver’s seat of The Back Forty kind of life you want to live.

Here’s a few easy steps you can take to create some radical change in your own life. Start with one thing, and then apply it to others after you’ve had success.

Identify

Identify an area you’ve been nattering about, something you say you want to change but it keeps on keeping on just as it is.

Is it your work? Is it a relationship issue (either inside of one or wanting one)? Is it that “thing” you keep saying you’ll do – write the book, devote time to that charity, schedule a vacation, take that course?

Whatever it is, just find the top, most juicy thing you’re very logically convinced can’t happen yet.

Die

Now, of course, I don’t mean to really kill yourself, but in your mind.

Consider that it’s all over now.  Whatever you considered so important and critical that you simply couldn’t do that “thing”…all those reasons are now gone.

You exited the planet.  Maybe you exited without having done that “thing”.  How does that feel?

Maybe you exited the planet BECAUSE you didn’t do that “thing”?  How does that feel?

Revive

Whoa! You just had a near-death experience! How radical was that?

Did you see light? Did you start through a tunnel? Did you hover over your body a while inside a peaceful state of ease and grace?

Well, whatever your experience, you’re back…back in this body, back in this life, and back with all of the same stuff and challenges and opportunities you left with.

What will you do about that “thing” now?

Consider that it’s time to get radical! Yes, you have all the time in the world…and yet not a moment to waste!

Frank Sinatra sings “The best is yet to come and, babe, won’t it be fine.” Let’s make Frankie right, ok?

“If you want to make any radical change in your life, then either give it a clear date and time or do it today. There is no someday.”

-Unknown

3 Opportunities to KISS Happy

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“If you want to be happy, be.”

-Leo Tolstoy

If we wanted, we could just keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) the quote above and that would be that.

But sometimes the simplest of truths call forth our complication-making machinery.

We entertain this reason or that, compelling “evidence” that it’s just not possible. The more legitimate the reason, the more we negate the simple truth.

For example, I woke up this morning with that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right.

First, I looked to see if there was some hold-over issue from yesterday that I may have carried into my today.

Then, I looked to see if I could remember my dreams: was there something that went through my mind during the night still in my head?

Or – and here’s an even deeper cut to take: since our dreams access our most subconscious thoughts and feelings, IF I DID HAVE A BAD DREAM which left its remnants, what does that mean? Should I be worried about what’s going on in my subconscious?

It’s truly amazing how far down the rabbit hole one can go!

Harvard Business Review described a study in which folks were monitored for how their morning mood impacted the rest of their day.

And there’s some evidence that one of many external factors can play a part in the setting up of one’s mood at the outset of the day.

Yet, outside of any external factors, the real value is in the development of internal happiness control.

Aside from a healthy self-awareness and any good life-skills techniques we employ to embrace living, maybe it’s as simple as the choice to be happy.

At least 3 Points to KISS Happy daily are (feel free to add more):

1. Morning – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

Despite the rabbit hole of quandary as to what could be the culprit behind the questionable mood, exercise the power of your will and choose to be in a good mood today anyway.

Some therapists suggest anchoring the thought with 5 deep breaths…and then finding times throughout the day to take those 5 deep breaths again and remember that choice.

2. Daily Reason Points – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

The day will no doubt present as many viable reasons as possible to choose to go to the dark side.  In the face of the reasons, it adds so much to our inner confidence and sense of power over our life every time we can choose to choose a happy thought anyway.

What technique can you employ to pivot? Step away from the machine for a moment and do your 5 breaths? Play a mind game of counting of your blessings?

Here’s a little mind trick I like: Envision the Negative!

Think back to one of the best things that ever happened to you – a fortunate break, an unexpected gift, a chance meeting, a wonderful opportunity, an amazing relationship – and then imagine for a moment that it HADN’T happened…and where you’d be now.  Sounds like it’s pointing toward the negative, but it’s a great way to jettison yourself into humongous gratitude and happiness in short order!

3. Evening – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

When it’s all said and done for the day, if you worked your KISS Happy muscle, a lot of “evidence” might already be in place to justify going to bed happy.  However, if any slip-ups occurred, you might engage in a late-night, rest-prep workout.

What were the BEST things that DID happen today? How did they make you feel?

How DID you grow and expand today, and what are your intentions for doing so tomorrow?

I like the thought that the way to be happy is to choose every morning that I’m in a good mood, and to keep choosing that choice throughout the day.

I also like the thought that sometimes happiness is a feeling, and sometimes it’s a choice.

All feelings aside, what’s the biggest choice you can make today?

Choose KISS Happy.

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”

-Ralph Marston

Holidays Joy Research

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Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen

We all know how this time of year is “supposed to” be.

I’m not saying it isn’t.

Yet, what if we discovered what “joy” is for ourselves this year (and in the year to come) vs. whatever pictures or already-ingrained-perceptions of it that we have?

In life’s second half, we have an opportunity to move past the bustle of already-routined ways of experiencing life, and the holidays in particular.  The kids may be off to college now.  Our parents may no longer be with us.  We may be still single or still married, neither of which we would prefer.

In the Back Forty, rather than have our holiday practices focus on old, unthought patterns, we can invent new ones as well as new perceptions.

Very often, we miss what might be possible for us to experience because of what we think we should/could/ought-to-be experiencing.

For example, some may be experiencing this season without the loved one they had always by their side.  Others may be in the most challenging times of their lives, for one reason or another.

Those are very real experiences which – if we subscribe to the general pictures of how “happy” holidays are supposed to look – there could be a tendency to feel separate from this time of year…like an imposter or foreigner.

Time to invent!  Rather than buy into the feeling of separation from the season, where could an experience of “joy” be found even in the midst of that?

Regardless of your current state, as my holiday gift to you, here is a helpful pocket list of various thoughts on “joy” so that you might use this season as a research project as to what joy can be for wherever you are now.  What if you didn’t already know…and yet were about to discover?

Keep it close, share it with others…and explore your own Back Forty relationship to joy.

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”

Marianne Williamson

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”

Helen Keller

Joy is untouched by circumstance.”

Unknown

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”

Brene Brown

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”

Robert Schuller

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Consider it all joy.”

James 1:2

“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”

Eckhart Tolle

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Remember that your natural state is joy.”

Wayne Dyer

“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”

Unknown

“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”

English Proverb

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

Mark Twain

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Rabindranath Tagore

“If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”

Unknown

“When you choose joy you feel good. When you feel good, you do good and when you do good it reminds others of what joy feels like and it just might inspire them to do the same.”

Unknown

“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

Roger Ebert

“…Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Free Yourself from Your Past and Fulfill Your Future

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:

possible

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!

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Midlife + Instagram + Style = Chic?

Instagram. That crazy social media platform that is nothing but pictures. Not many people in midlife use it, after all – it’s for kids.

59 percent of all 18 to 24-year-olds use the app. Meanwhile only 11 percent of all 50 to 64-year-olds and only 4 percent of people over the age of 64 use the app.

Well, now there is someone trying to change that.

Meet Nikki Garnett.

She is a 48-year-old woman in England who is trying to change how women in midlife see themselves. As she aged, other aspects of life got in the way of her style. Between family, work (or the lack there of), and wanting to fit in with other people her age, she lost her “style mojo”.

Many women in midlife can relate to this. After all, who has the time to go shopping for the perfect outfit when there is so much going on in our lives?

This is why Nikki created the Instagram profile midlifechic. She wanted to prove that you can “get your groove back” in your 40s or your 50s or even your 60s!

If you still aren’t ready to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, don’t worry. Nikki also has a great website where you can learn more about her, get your own fashion inspiration, and follow her own mission to become happier.

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles (Part 2)

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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.

Click here to read part three.

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