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This is What “Freedom” Means to The Back Forty

Freedom

Freedom.

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.

We believe that midlife freedom means moving out of our comfort zone.

Whether you are on a quest to Find Your Bliss or just trying to Become Comfortable in Your Own Skin, you must be willing to move out of your comfort zone.

We believe that midlife freedom means letting go of our past.

It is easy to let our past define who we are today but we believe that you can Stop Investing In Your Viewpoints and Ditch Your Past Struggles to create a better (and freer) future for yourself!

We believe that midlife freedom means being willing to play.

Whether you need a reminder that your Midlife Crisis is Just a Game or if you have decided that you need a Fresh Start, we believe that you have to remember how to play along the way.

We believe that midlife freedom means finding our purpose.

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.

We believe that midlife freedom means believing in our future.

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.

There are so many things that we believe freedom means but, however you define freedom, we hope that you CELEBRATE YOUR FREEDOM today!

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7 Cheap & Exciting Things to Do This 4th of July

4th of July

The 4th of July is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to break out those summer activities! Whether you plan to celebrate on the 4th this year or the weekend before, there are tons of cheap and fun options for making the most out of our independence day.

So, without further ado, here are seven cheap and exciting things you can do to celebrate our country this summer!

1. Host a BBQ or Potluck

Just because you’re hosting a party doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Make your 4th of July BBQ a potluck. You provide the backyard and make the burgers and have your friends and family handle the rest! What better way to celebrate than to spend time with those closest to you?

2. Watch Local Firework Displays

You could go out and buy your own fireworks, or you could just attend one of the many free firework displays taking place nearby. Not only is it much cheaper to go to a local display but chances are that their fireworks will also be much more impressive. Get there early with your blankets and chairs and spend time soaking up the summer before the show starts. You can turn this into a double activity by getting there early and…

3. Have Your Very Own Picnic!

Whether you are bringing a dinner picnic to your local fireworks display or packing a lunch picnic for a nearby festival (see #5!), picnics are always a great option for celebrating the summer. Pack some sandwiches and maybe even mix up some sangria and hit the road!

5. Explore a Festival

What summer would be complete without taking part in a festival or two? Luckily, the 4th of July is a prime chance to attend free festivals all over the country. Hop on Google and search for 4th of July celebrations near you, chances are you will find at least a few fun excursions the weekend before this great holiday.

6. Attend a Concert

The 4th of July is a prime time to get to watch local brass bands, symphonies, and philharmonics for free. See what instrument groups are performing nearby and take a trip to your local bandshell to take in the show (picnics are often a great option for these concerts as well)!

7. Watch a Patriotic Movie Marathon

Are you reading through all of these choices and just thinking, “eww. I don’t want to deal with all those crowds”? If so, what about hosting your very own Patriotic Movie Marathon in your own wonderfully air-conditioned home? Pick out some of your favorite patriotic movies, pop some red, white, and blue popcorn and settle in for a quiet celebration at home. Stumped on where to begin? Here are some movies to get you started: National Treasure, Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Glory, or Capitan America.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your 4th of July this year, I hope that you celebrate by enjoying the things that you hold most dear and remember all of those who have fought to keep us free.

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DIY Valentine’s Day Ideas That Will Make You Feel the Love

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I don’t know about you, but when it comes to thinking of the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for my husband (or even the perfect things to do on Valentine’s Day), it often feels impossible.

First, there is the question of if I even want to attempt to brave the crazy world of reservations and official activities. Then it’s the question of if I want to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or if I want to celebrate the previous or following weekend. By that point, thinking of an actual gift is absolutely exhausting. It seems as if we’ve done everything already. Romantic dinner? Check. Flowers? Check. Chocolates? Check. By the time you are in the midst of midlife it often feels like the day is hardly worth it and (usually) pretty unsurprising. But, with the right commitment and a little time, you can create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day present to show your significant other exactly how much you appreciate them – regardless of the day of the year (which brings me to today’s post).

How to create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day gift to make you (and your significant other) feel the love!

Today I am going to bring you four DIY Valentine’s gifts for him (although, these gifts would also be perfect for her). My inspiration? The DIY Valentine’s Day gifts I created for my husband five years ago (to this day, this is my favorite DIY Valentine’s Day gift I have ever made).

Take a look at my assembled gift below, and then I’ll go through all of the DIY ideas you can choose to re-create!

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The gift included (1) a pop-up Valentine card, (2) paper fortune cookies, (3), a paper rose, and (4) a pop-out memory box.

I’m going to start with the easiest and quickest parts of my gift and work my way up to the more complicated/time-consuming ideas. Pick and choose the ideas that you like the most and then make them your own!

1. Paper Fortune Cookies

As I mentioned above, these are the easiest part of the gift. All you need is paper, scissors, and glue! Quickly fold the fortune cookies, write whatever fortunes you would like about the love of your life and your future together, and slide your fortunes into the cookies. Voila! You have cute little fortunes to share with your significant other!

See how I made them by clicking on this link!

2. Pop-Up Valentine Card

dsc00250This card is a little more complicated than the fortune cookies, but not much. You will need paper, scissors, and glue like the last craft, as well as a ruler, pencil, and stencil knife (and of course a pen to write your own love letter inside). My tip? Use a light pencil and have a good eraser on hand so that you can erase all of your lines you made to know where to cut your great pop-up design. Also, pay attention to the colors you use (for example, I had to create paper cut-outs of the letters for the front of my card because pen didn’t show up very well on the red background. So, start thinking about what you want to write because you will be done with this craft before you know it!

Make your own by following the directions at this link!

3. Paper Rosedsc00247

This is my favorite part of my gift to this day! This rose is still wrapped around the edge of our standing mirror in our bedroom today. That being said, this is also the gift that caused me the most stress. I carefully picked out pages from an old dictionary where words like “love” and “kiss” were defined and then carefully cut out the petals to make sure the right words were visible…and then I completely failed my first attempt making the flower. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to make a rose out of nothing but paper, hot glue, ribbon, wire, and scissors. That being said, after a few failed attempts, I finally got it right and I still find it absolutely gorgeous. If you’re ready to put in some time and effort, I can guarantee that this gift is something that you significant other will cherish for years to come. Plus, it lasts much longer than regular roses!

Get the tutorial here!

4. Pop-Out Memory Box

This gift idea is the most time-consuming, and the most personal. This is a box that you make from scratch and is actually almost like 3 boxes in one. As your significant other opens the box, they will be unfolding the story of your life together. On each side of the box, I put a story or a picture of me and my husband and as he unfolded the box more and more, he went further and further back into our past together. It is a thoughtful gift that takes so much time to make simply because you are putting so much time into picking the right moments of your life together to remember.

For step-by-step directions (and pictures) click here!

So, there you go! Four DIY ideas for making your Valentine’s Day gifts extra special this year!

However, if you’re reading through these ideas and you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for this,” don’t fear, below are a couple easy Valentine’s Day gift ideas for him (and gift ideas for her) that you can complete in an instant (no shipping required)!

For Him

For Her

For Both of You!

  • Go out! Now, I’m not saying to brave the crowds on Valentine’s day, but use the previous or following weekend to go out on a date (dinner and a movie? I know it’s cliche, but it’s always fun) or book a room (get the romance package) at a nice hotel in town for a night. You don’t have to go far to make the holiday special.
  • Stay in! Sometimes staying in the house is just as nice as going out. Cook a special dinner, pull out a favorite movie, change into your comfiest PJs and cuddle on the couch. If your kids are still at home, don’t forget to find an overnight activity for them (my local Zoo even has an overnight scheduled for children on Valentine’s Day)!

 

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Happy New Year from The Back Forty!

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However you are celebrating this night, all of us here at The Back Forty want to wish you a happy new year!

Take a moment to enjoy these inspirational thoughts to start out your new year right:

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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30 Songs to Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

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With Christmas right around the corner, I would like to share with you some of my favorite holiday songs.

Click on the video below to listen to my top 30 songs to get you into the holiday spirit!

Or, if you would like to find the music on your own, here is a list of the 30 songs included in the above playlist.

  1. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
  3. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  4. Let it Snow! – Dean Martin
  5. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  6. 4 Carats – Kelly Clarkson
  7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
  8. Welcome Christmas – How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  9. Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat
  10. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
  11. Somewhere In My Memory – John Williams
  12. We Need A Little Christmas – “Mame” the Musical
  13. Frosty The Snowman – Jimmy Durante
  14. Oh Santa! – Mariah Carey
  15. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
  16. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
  17. I Can’t Wait for Christmas – Mindi Abair
  18. Hey Santa – Ashanti
  19. Grown Up Christmas List – Michael Bublé
  20. Good King Wenceslas – Bing Crosby
  21. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
  22. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  23. Christmas in America – Melissa Etheridge
  24. The 12 Days Of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
  25. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey
  26. Santa Baby! – Eartha Kitt
  27. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  28. Last Christmas – Wham!
  29. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Doris Day
  30. Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix

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