“Madness is somewhere inbetween chaos and having a dream.”
The urge inside is to take on new things, play in bigger ways, and set free what’s destined for us to express. It invites chaos.
The urge inside is also to find security and predictability and order. It invites balance.
It’s all about evening out the urges. The tendency is to mitigate the first, and feed the second. Yet, without an invitation to chaos, we stay where we are.
In my own growth toward both opening up to allow The Back Forty message to express through me as well as the friction of frustration in the learning new ways and means to deliver it, I can pretty much claim a resident element of chaos inhabiting my office and life!
First, there’s the giving of freedom to myself to just let the creativity flow. Then, there’s the jumping into the deep end of new methods and technologies and gadgets for sharing that creative flow. And it’s ALL NEW, mostly untested, and definitely not a reflection of who I’ve been in the past but, rather, a glimpse of who I’m becoming.
Yet, even while in the midst of that chaos, I find myself seeking ways to tame the new energies and desires by structuring my life in ways to best incorporate them. Better scheduling, more effective and efficient communication, and even – yes, and I’m realizing as crucial – more downtime, fun and play.
All that – along with the rather oxymoronic phrase “chaotic balance” – is hard to see coming together sometimes.
How does the idea of chaotic balance land for you?
In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do.” In order to do that, we need to face chaos…and even invite it. Contrary to what the first half of life – and the bumps and bruises that came with it – may have conditioned us to believe about keeping life safe and predictable, we need to make room for and incorporate the chaos…in as orderly a way as we can.
Here are a few ideas for incorporating Chaotic Balance:
If you’re up to something big, creating something beyond what you’ve been or done before, you are releasing an artist from within you. That includes starting a new business, writing a book, embarking on a new career, jumping into dating or a new relationship, or even re-inventing the relationship you’re in! It’s anything new and creative that you’re taking on.
A couple great books to support Back Forty Fliers in distinguishing and freeing that inner artist are The Artist’s Way and The War of Art, both which press you beyond the resistance to staying in the comfort zone of the known.
Take steps to express in whatever your area of artistic and creative growth is. Go take a class, hire a coach, join an action or support group, or in any other way set aside specific time to engage in that wild dream or crazy idea.
Know that the new ideas, the beta-test technologies, the expanded perspectives and the stretch of your capacities to incorporate these new endeavors – mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually – WILL discombobulate you and you’re life, if you’re really playing big.
Expect it. The discombobulation is your friend.
Establish structures, time commitments, and new ways of running and managing your life to incorporate the wild new frontiers.
Balance your need for routine and order with carefully and strategically organized elements that allow those ideas to take root. Keep or even build new ways to include it ALL. Meditation, time-blocking and action buddies are just a few methods to bring the chaos you want into the balance you need.
Every now and then, I simply compile too many quotes that demonstrate what I could only attempt to say in my own words. This is one of those days.
I leave you with these quotes to support and empower your own finding of Chaotic Balance.
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
“The worst thing you could do is tame the chaos in you. It’s like being told not to feel when you’re thrown in the fire.”
“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”
“Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order and everything becomes…chaos”
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
“Chaos is a friend of mine.”
“Fall in love or fall in hate. Get inspired or be depressed. Ace a test or flunk a class. Make babies or make art. Speak the truth or lie and cheat. Dance on tables or sit in the corner. Life is Divine Chaos. Embrace it. Forgive yourself. Breath. And enjoy the ride.”
“Balance is the ability to be happy in the midst of the most chaotic…circumstance.”
“If you want to be happy, be.”
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.
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.
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!
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?
“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.”
“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.”
“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
– Henri Matisse
To some degree, we regard fog in our work and developments as a bad thing.
Fog means non-clarity: of what is coming together (or not); of what is working (or not); of what the end result will be (or not).
We hate not knowing, and will often avoid times when it’s all happening “in the mix” without certainty.
Yet, if we look throughout history, did anyone in the crucible of bringing something about know that the messiness and confusion surrounding them would eventually result in world-impacting change?
In 1928, did research scientist Alexander Fleming, who sometimes left a messy lab at the end of the day — failing to sterilize his plates and leaving the window open — know that mold would form, enabling him to invent penicillin?
In the early 30’s, did 10 drunks all but living together and struggling to stay sober know that they were forming a fellowship which would grow to over 2 million members in 170 countries?
I’m inspired by these and other stories which demonstrate that “in the moment” is rarely the time when we know what we’re actually creating.
In the midst of investing time into the bookstore version of “The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half” (the first manuscript was far too dense for bookstores)…
all while building some very powerful and fruitful alliances with players and organizations that jibe with our message…
all while building out a content base of online and live programs in which people can experience the transformative effects of this message…
all while embracing and learning new forms delivering the message (social media) and streamlined systems of communication…
all while maintaining the bread-and-butter support of these initiatives through the coaching, consulting and corporate-employment playgrounds that fund our activities…
Alexandra and I can sometimes feel that we’re swimming in wide-open ocean with no site of land.
So, the inspiration of stories that show how a willingness to stay the course in the unknown can, years later, be the source of statements of amazement – “Who would have known!?” – make all the difference in our world…and, hopefully, the world.
By embracing the Good Fog of creativity, you can empower yourself to, as Thoreau says, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”.
If you subscribe to The Back Forty conviction that “you have yet to do what you came here to do” and are committed that your second half of life be your best half, what fog of your own creativity can you embrace today for the sake of posterity?
“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.”
– Joseph Conrad
“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”
There’s where we are now. There’s where we want to be. There’s a gap.
The first inclination is to be diminished by the gap. Just like when you first realize something about yourself that was in a blind spot, and then use that insight to beat yourself up.
However, learning to positively “mind” the gap — applying mind techniques of which we’re all capable — allows us to be empowered vs. disempowered by the gap.
For example, one of my gaps is social media. I have ignored the gap. I have lamented my seeming inability to traverse the gap. I have tried to pawn off my gap to someone else. For sure, I have not been “empowered” by the gap.
However, if I incorporate the principles of The Back Forty – and practice what we preach (!) – I can entertain the idea that nothing from my first half of life (including social media) poses any limitations on what’s possible in my second half. “Remember Darrell: You’re continuing to GROW, not become settled in your ways and beliefs about yourself and life!”
That’s the bugaboo: if, as we say in The Back Forty, “you have yet to do what you came here to do”, then it’s going to require an attitude of continuous play, trying things out, and learning…the way 20yr olds do when they just don’t know any better. If ignorance is bliss, perhaps ignorance of our perceived abilities is what the doctor is ordering.
Here’s 3 Back Forty techniques for “MIND”ing the Gap. See where you might apply them to your own area of expansion.
First, Acknowledgement. Celebrating the mere fact that we’re ambitious enough to have recognized a gap gives the journey a forward-moving energy and vibration. “Woohoo! Look at where you want to be! Aren’t you the bomb for realizing that?”
Second, Visioning. Taking attention away from the pity-party of this side of the traverse and putting it on the other side, picturing and feeling the “what it will be like when”, initiates magnetic forces which pull out new ways and means for getting there.
Third, Pro-active Matching. Constant comparisons of results achieved with results desired from a “Where’s Waldo” perspective, finding every near hit vs. near miss, creates tailwind vs. headwind.
As I continue moving forward to incorporate into my life some necessary skills for communicating powerfully in today’s world, I enjoy the idea that I’m doing my part to turn around the societal mindset that says “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
Perhaps the only real gap to traverse is the cultural one that says age has any limit on freedom, innovation, creativity, ideation, and capacity for growth.
What inspired gap of your own can you wrap your mind around this week?
“What I really want and what I’ve been thinking. That’s it folks! That’s all the work there is in closing the gap.”
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
The New Year resolutions/goals/intentions/declarations/ideas/musings have now had over a week to transform our lives!
And by now, many have already been dropped.
The grand plans and visions can often be a drug-producing magical high and yet, when the rubber hits the road, many a beautiful intention ends up in the ditch.
For many, it’s easier when some institution or corporate change-management official determines that things will be done differently and we must comply. We may moan and groan, and yet — with something critical on the line (like our job)– we do or die.
Yet, taking that change-management leadership into our own hands — being both the stalwart of possibility while, at the same time, the comfort-zone addicted rebel — can be a fascinating process to observe.
Here’s a simple 5A Method to help:
Simply stay awake to the fact that there’s a new kid in town who said they wanted to play differently!
Because we were the way we were for so long before we chose to make a change, it’s easy to just fall back into the old patterns and routines.
Simple structures like posting your goals and intentions in front of your face, where you practically have to fall over them in order to conduct your day, can serve as a daily “Hello!” to the new kid.
Also, making sure you’ve told plenty of friends, family, associates and co-workers helps ensure that the changes get addressed more often than they will if left in your head. Your inner voice is out for your comfort. Others being aware and engaged can get you out of comfort for your change.
Calling a spade a spade.
Did you actually do what you said you’d do? No judgment here, just being an objective and astute observer of your actions and telling it the way it really is.
There WILL be some form of internal resistance to the change. Otherwise, you’d already be BEing or DOing what it is that you want.
Being honest and dispassionate about what is or isn’t happening and telling it like it is gives you power to implement.
If change were easy, we’d all have exactly the lives we want right now.
If you designed goals and intentions for your new kid in this New Year, you must want something other than what you have.
Accept that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a wide radius to turn a big ship around, and your old ways are a big ship that have been heading a particular direction for a long time.
Forgive your Self, and accept the love of your Self that had you bring this new kid into town in the first place.
What’s missing, the presence of which would make a difference?
The old ways of the old you had certain structures and patterns in place, keeping you in the old you.
For this new kid to take residence, there will be new structures to be put in place.
What new ways of operating, new systems, new communications, new mindsets are required?
The new kid will need a new look to this home if he/she is going to hang around. Bring in the interior (and exterior) decorator to refurbish the look of the place you call “You”.
Simply put in what’s missing…over and over and over and over again.
We often realize that we need to keep getting up after we fall down…until we just decide to not get up anymore.
“It’s too hard.” “It’s just not working.” “I guess this just can’t happen after all.”
Not true! An ongoing process of Activation of What’s Missing can only get us closer and closer to the change we seek.
As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”
Engaging in this 5A process on an earnest and regular basis can provide access to keeping those high-minded intentions on the road to real self change vs. landing in the ditch of defeat.
Got self-change leadership?
“Consider that all accomplishment is constituted by a series of resolved breakdowns.”
“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.”
-Booker T. Washington
There are lots of ways to treat and greet an oncoming New Year with possibility.
We can commit to resolutions.
We can assess the stats of our goal attainment for the last year and make new stretch commitments.
We can capture our intentions of who we want to be in the next 12 months in a theme, and make plans to live by that theme…posting reminders everywhere.
Yet, in any and all ways we propose to take our life into new realms of who or where we can be and what we can do or have in the next 365 days or less, know that it will invite obstacles.
We can’t expand until stretched to new proportions, and many a resolution, goal or theme are abandoned when the invited roadblocks naturally come.
When JFK was rousing American sentiment to take on a huge commitment to the space program, he quoted a story told by Irish writer Frank O’Conner. O’Conner and his childhood friends would walk the countryside trying to find the biggest wall, and then throw their hats over it.
In those days, your hat was a prized possession, and your mother would be quite upset were you to show up at the end of the day without it. So, this left the boys with no option but to find some way over that wall to retrieve their hats.
Though one could make an argument – from a Law of Attraction perspective – that inviting struggle is a no no…I believe it’s all in the flavor and intent of the invitation.
Most folks invite struggle all the time, albeit unconsciously, through the obsolete or unexamined attitudes they bring with them as baggage into any new job, business, relationship, hobby, venture, activity, or group. That is what LOA is speaking to.
However, to set one’s sites on some rather extraordinary ways one wants to be, do and have life, to get into the actions, mindset and visioning process of achieving those be/do/haves, and then to invite with willing abandon all that the Universe needs to bring to support you to have it – good, bad and ugly) — that’s another thing entirely.
We might call that an act of realistic and practical intention. A good phrase I once heard, for it is “Throwing yourself on the sword.” Not waiting to be cut open, but offering yourself to such a process for the sake of the greater Self, breaking free within.
This takes Back Forty Boldness, and definitely Back Forty Badassity…and yet, what else do you have to do in the next 40 years anyway?
Though contrary to the giddiness of listing high aims and objectives, perhaps a sober and conscious Open Letter of Invitation to Obstacles over the next few days will serve our 2017 of growth even better.
“You can either allow the obstacles in your life to be the excuse for your failure or make them the reason behind your success. ”
“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.
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.
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.”
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
“Joy is untouched by circumstance.”
“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
“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.”
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
“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.”
“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”
“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“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?”
“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.”
“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
“…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
“A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone.”
– Richard Carlson
I’m sure I’m the only one who has sat on a customer service line for 30 minutes or more to correct a billing error or get a refund. NOT!
My most recent experience had me realize I was spending $300 worth of my time to save $30. Insanely bad time management.
Some of us are smarter about this than others. Until recently, I fell into the not-so-smart.
Perhaps there’s some ingrained “stand up for justice” orientation that was ingrained from my childhood experiences or, on the other hand, some self-appointed, Corporate Correction Czar-ness that I picked up in early adulthood, whereby customer service and experience became my torch (thank you Tom Peters). Or, maybe I just blindly want to save a buck.
Yet, the price of the discombobulation that the energy and friction endured to reach that justice-for-the-right, in-search-of-excellence reset, or extra buck is often not worth it.
New awareness, patterns and ways of being are always called for if we’re going to keep growing, and especially in The Back Forty. We can’t keep doing things the same old way if our charge is to free ourselves up to play the Big Game we came here to play.
If the first half of life was only R & D, research and development, for us to now do what we came here to do, we want to be getting lighter, not more entrenched in nitter natter. We should (me, myself, and I) consider letting go of things that aren’t so valuable for those that are. Like peace.
There are people and events in our lives and workplace, businesses we frequent, and family and friends we spend time with during holidays that seem to always stick something in our craw.
Do we grab every opportunity to be right and support the justice of humanity? Only if we want to be a wreck.
‘What price peace?’ is a good question to keep asking ourselves in living every day as our best day, and especially in the lightening up process of gearing up for our Big Game Back Forty future.
Am I encouraging rolling over all the time? Perhaps not. Perhaps there’s a battle that must be fought. And yet, not every single one.
It’s been said that sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war.
Perhaps sometimes we need to simply let go of the small battles to enjoy peace of mind, body and spirit.
What battle can you release and forego today for the pricelessness of your Back Forty peace?
“Don’t let something that doesn’t matter cause you to lose something that does. ”
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
– Thomas Edison
True, inspiring and motivational thoughts from one of the Gods of creativity and industry…and yet these words may leave us feeling a sense of weight and sweatshop enslavement.
We want to be busy in pursuit of productive endeavor, yes, but how do we transform the flavor of being busy to one of excitement and exploration vs. serious and heavy?
I’ve noticed in my own growth toward expanding coaching services, delivering transformational programs, and growing brand awareness that there’s rarely the old gaps in between activities or big plays.
Though not running a country or even a huge corporation, it causes one to wonder how to best keep playing big when being busy can start to wear on you.
For myself, I see that what’s needed is a transformation in my relationship to “busy”. So, when clients are double booked, there could be excitement at having seen a hole for an upleveled system to implement vs. the self-judgement of having “messed up.” When there’s an ad campaign that spent good money with no results, there can be a jubilant “Hooray!” because we’re finding out what doesn’t work first (like Edison) vs. the woe-is-me marketing-loser feeling.
Bringing the element of “play first” into the mix – where you only consider “learning experiences” vs. mistakes – is a good antidote to oppressed busy-ness. It provides the willingness to keep getting busier and playing fuller until things don’t work anymore…and learn and grow from the insights gained vs. pull back.
When production starts to stretch the current systems — we miss scheduled appointments, the ordering systems fail, longer hours are required to fill demand — these are all good news and opportunities to level-up, system-up, and play-up.
An attitude of gratitude for things starting to fall down on the job — vs. making ourselves or others wrong because things didn’t work “perfectly” — can support the “Bring it on!” thrill of growth.
Where can you joyously thank your breakdowns today for leading to your breakthroughs tomorrow?
Got a busy body?
“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
– Bob Dylan