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3 Easy Ways to Make the World a Better Place on Earth Day

World

Did you know today is Earth Day?

To be honest, I was completely oblivious to this until yesterday. Here at The Back Forty, we have been feverishly preparing for the California Women’s Conference to the point that May 10th and 11th are the only dates floating around my head (if you’re interested in learning more about the California Women’s Conference or want to attend, click here).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Earth Day.

Even though I forgot about Earth Day, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing I can do to make our world a better place and what day would be better than this beautiful Saturday to do just that. So without further ado, here are 3 easy ways to make the world a better place today!

1. Plant a Tree

field-858650_1920.pngThis is one of the easiest things you can do for the environment and it will probably take less than an hour. Decide to get in your car and drive to your local garden or hardware store and pick out a tree you like. It can be a baby tree (my local Lowes has trees in stock for as little as $8) or it can be a bigger tree, just go pick one out and bring it home. The next step is to plant it. Find a spot in your yard and give your tree a new home. This one tree can produce 260 pounds of oxygen each year! Beyond creating oxygen, your little tree cleans the air, cools your yard, and conserves energy in your home (if it offers shade to any windows), along with so many other things.

Can’t plant a tree? Do you live in a condo or apartment? No worries, contribute to The Canopy Project hosted by the Earth Day Network. Each dollar you donate plants one tree. It takes 500 trees a year to get rid of the carbon dioxide your car creates each year, so why not help combat that and give back? Donate here!

2. Reduce Your Footprintworld foot circle.png

We are consuming natural resources faster than the Earth can replenish them (1.5 planets’ worth of resources each year to be exact). Figure out exactly how much you are contributing to this problem by taking this Ecological Footprint Quiz.

After completing the quiz, you can explore different ways to reduce your footprint. Want a few simple actions you can take today? Buy a water bottle and stop buying bottled water, bring your own grocery bags to the store, or go through your mail and see which items you can choose to receive electronically.

3. Save Endangered Species from Your Own Backyard

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has an interactive map that shows you which species are endangered in your home state. Click here to explore the map!

After picking an endangered species to save, click here! This takes you to the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered species directory. Click “Ctrl+F” to pull up a search option and then simply type in the name of your chosen endangered animal (note that the WWF doesn’t include birds in their directory). I live in Colorado and chose the Black-Footed Ferret.Black-footed-Ferret-plush-z1.png Once you click on your animal you can learn more about it like why it matters, why it is threatened, and what the WWF is doing to help save it. Then, when you scroll to the bottom, you can choose to adopt your very own endangered animal. The adoption kits are $55 each and you get a 10′ plush of the animal you’re helping, a photo of the animal, an adoption certificate, a species card, and a gift bag.

adopt-a-lynx-plush.pngI admit that you can’t find all of your local endangered animals on the WWF website, but there are plenty of animals you can help! If you have your heart set on an animal the WWF isn’t currently raising money for, simply search for the name of your animal with the word donate and you can find an organization that is working to protect that specific animal. For example, the WWF isn’t currently accepting donations for the Canada Lynx which is currently threatened in Colorado. I searched “Canada Lynx donate” and found Defenders.org where I have the option to adopt a Lynx. Defenders.org has multiple adoption levels anywhere between $20 and $200 depending on the animal. If you want to scan through the different adoption options they offer, click here!

However you choose to help the Earth, you can feel good knowing that you’re making an impact. And think of the difference we could all make if everyone who read this picked even one of the above options to help save our global home!

Are you reading this late in the day on Earth Day, or even after the fact? Don’t worry, as the Earth Day Network says, “every day is Earth Day”. You can still help! And if you don’t want to participate in any of the above options, you can help the Earth Day Network reach their Global Environmental and Climate Literacy Campaign. Earth Day turns 50 in 2020 and the Earth Day Network is already planning to celebrate in a big way by dedicating to ensure that every student around the world graduates high school knowing the importance of environmental and climate change. Watch their video below, or learn more by clicking here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5efkV0dt4mc]

Want to hear what other “National Days” Earth Day shares April 22nd with this year? Girl Scout Leader’s DayRecord Store Day, and Jelly Bean Day!

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What Would You Do If Your Future Held INFINITE Growth Potential?

Today I bring you another quote from The Back Forty archives. Take a moment to read it and then meet me on the other side as I unfold the meaning it holds.

The Back Forty

First and foremost, if you’re asking what the heck the “back forty” of the ranch is – check out my previous post on that topic by clicking here.

Great! Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the quote. It isn’t often that we think of our second half of life as being “uncultivated”, “full of possibility”, or holding “infinite growth potential”. After all, when we think of our second half of life we usually think of things like slowing down, predictability, and stability.

But, if you actually take the time to think about it, it is all of those things that we think it is not.

It is a new adventure waiting to unfold.

It is a chance to use all of your knowledge from your first half of life to create whatever you want for your future.

It is entirely in front of you.

In this way, your life IS uncultivated, full of possibility, and holding infinite growth potential. So take a moment to think about what adventure you want to work towards. After all, it’s all ahead of you!

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Tips for Inconvenient Leveling UP

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“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how you break the plateau and reach that next level.”

-Chalene Johnson

We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s idea that you can’t solve a problem at the same level at which it was created. His challenge was to rise up, to the next level, so as to see and deal with the problem from a higher perspective.

And yet many of us with dreams and goals ahead (a problem) can be deceived into believing that we can get to that next level easily and effortlessly, or by playing the way we have already been playing at this particular plateau.

Let’s face it: it’s damn inconvenient to take on growth and fulfillment as a lifetime pursuit!

I spent a 4 day weekend with a wise, high-performance leader 14 years my junior. I admired how he had taken on breaking through to the next level for himself as a pattern of life from the age of 19, and was apparently continuing to do so forever.

I noticed a bit of reticence at first to being open to someone who’s been on the planet less time than me telling me about how life really works.  However, I quickly realized that voice was my own Back Forty Blinder, the old mindset that says “I should know all this by now.”

So, I shook it off in true Back Forty Fliers style and again affirmed that we all have our path and we all have the time and place in which we fulfill on what we came here to do…which is, according to our philosophy, always ahead of us, not behind.

I began thinking that, in my growing up and the messages I received from my own shaping cultural influences, there was this idea that you worked really hard until you “made it” to some level and then you enjoyed that “made-it-ness”, got comfortable, and at some point “retired”.

There are lots of folks who are proud to say “I retired at 30” or whatever young age because the idea of having “made it” earlier is seen as a badge of winning.

This is not knocking “made it”, as to get to those points, those individuals had to apply themselves and their wheelhouse of tools and intelligence in wonderful and admirable ways.

Yet, what about the next level after “making it”?

In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”. This is not to knock what has already been accomplished, and yet what’s next?

And, if there hasn’t necessarily been the sense of full accomplishment in our life as lived thus far, this mantra gives us all hope.

What will be required by both parties – those who’ve already “made it” and those who believe they haven’t – is to take on the inconvenience of continual leveling up.

Those inspired to be Back Forty Fliers must adopt a willingness, outside of their amassed “wisdom” of who they are, what they’re capable of, what they can learn, the way the world works, etc., so as to be open, fresh and available to receive new input.

When it comes to midlifers fulfilling on goals and dreams – which may be on the chopping block at this point in life – it’s important to realize that the same sweat, learning processes and jittery uncertain of growth they experienced in younger years can still take them to their next level of fulfillment.

It’s simply a question of willingness to be inconvenienced by growth and fulfillment.

Here are a few tips from my own experience of leveling up.

Expose Yourself

Get outside the box of groupthink mindset you may have surrounded yourself with – same friends, same community, same church, same avenues of exposure – and make yourself available to new people, ideas, and input.

Kids leaving home for college or going out into the world have no choice but to do this, and the process of exposure begins to point them in directions of discovery about themselves, their passions, their interests, and their abilities.

At 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond, we can learn more about ourselves and our passions, interests, and abilities if we gain more exposure – and let go of all the “wisdom” of the comfort zone we’ve become accustomed to.

Listen

When exposing yourself, be willing to really listen…like a 20-year-old, who is taking in all new information all the time.

The tendency of the “wise” midlifer is to evaluate and assess everything as to whether they agree with it or not, whether they’re capable of it or not, whether it fits their belief system (BS) or not.  Therefore, the groupthink mindset stays in place.

Often, there’s a resistance to engage and consider incorporating new ideas because the inner voice says “Well, if this is right, then I’ve been off my whole life!”…and the ego doesn’t want to consider that possibility.  So, rather than try and engage in something new, it’s far easier to write off the new input as crazy or ludicrous.  Admitting that one doesn’t know it all (yet) can be a big hurdle.

To listen – as opposed to hear – means to truly consider without the slice-and-dice mechanism of cynicism/resignation disguised as discernment shredding every piece of evidence that something beyond who you are now is possible.

Turn off the garbage disposal and listen.

Experiment

Try some of those new ideas, belief systems and practices on.

You have survived very well to this point.  Whatever experiments you choose to engage in won’t kill you for sure.  You’re tried and true “knowing” of how things are might still prevail, even if you experiment.  Just watch that you don’t experiment with the objective being to prove yourself right.  You’ll definitely end up “right”.

Life is too short for knowing too early exactly who we are and what we’re capable of.  And, if there’s something beyond what has come before for you to be and do, then inconveniencing yourself to play around with new toys might be just the shift required to take you to your next level to fulfilling on that.

You have yet to do what you came here to do.

“At the moment when you feel you have reached the point of absolute exhaustion, inspire yourself to take one last step, and that is when you have successfully arrived to the next level.”

-Master Jin Kwon

The 4 Dwarf Faces of Playing Ugly

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“I’m not afraid to play ugly – look at ‘Adaptation.’ I looked like a turd that a cat had coughed up. ”

-Nicolas Cage

The desire to grow and the subconscious commitment to “look good” just don’t jibe.

You can’t get both.  You can grow almost imperceptibly, and maybe keep your suit fairly pressed and most of your makeup in place.  Or you can grow fast…and good luck keeping your hair and tie from blowing in the wind.

In the end, extreme growth, over whatever time period you’ve allotted for it, can only come through trying, expanding, being and looking different than you did before.

Steve Martin had a comedy album in the 70’s entitled “Comedy Is Not Pretty”.

Neither is real, committed, no-turning-back, burn-the-boats growth. It ain’t pretty.

If that growth is what you want, you must allow, accept and even invite mistakes, failed attempts, gaffs, and looking like an ass.  All come with the territory.

For myself, in growing to allow, empower and accept the great gifts of “team” that I’m blessed with – after lots of solo-preneur background – I find myself not necessarily doing things in as smooth or PC a way as I’d like.  In my perfect world, I’d always be accommodating and flexible and impervious to having my ego tweaked…and yet I can’t spend all of my time either in meditation or psychoanalysis with the big game I’m out to play or the inspiring message I’m out to deliver.

Not so say meditation and therapy aren’t valuable and to be used in appropriate ways and measures…and yet perhaps the biggest element to be released as we’re growing is the attachment to looking good as we grow.

In coaching and supporting executives, entrepreneurs and “big game” players, I’ve offered to them the idea that their growth will only be limited by their level of compassion for themselves.  If they can’t accept the mistakes and not-so-pretty appearances they make at times, they will retrench, rationalize a reason for not continuing, or in whatever other ways slow down their growth and whatever that growth was to bring the world.

The world needs you to grow, because you have yet to do what you came here to do!

Here’s a few different faces you can take on when you’re committed enough to something to play ugly.

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Actually take some time to look at yourself in the mirror as you’re complaining about how you didn’t do this or that right, or how silly you must have looked when this or that didn’t work.

Look at that scowl.  Acknowledge that frustration.

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Lighten things up a bit by remembering that you didn’t even know anything about what you’re doing now just a short time ago. Acknowledge that you didn’t know and maybe even still don’t know all that you want…and develop a little more playful, curious attitude.

Whatever you did or didn’t do isn’t going to shift the world. Lighten up!

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Give yourself a little examination. Are you leveling up your self-compassion with your desire to grow and learn and expand? What prescription of self-championing, affirmative self-talk, or extreme self-care can you offer?

Your best source of continued expansion will come from those internal prescriptions of support.

happy1Happy

Acknowledge and appreciate that you’re only playing ugly because you’re one of the small percentage of people willing to get started and play first (before they have it all figured out) so as to get to where you want to go.

Find ways to see and count the blessings of where you are now vs where you used to be, and appreciate (which means “grow in value”) those blessings as getting you closer to where you want to be.

What area of growth in your life means enough to you that you’re willing to play ugly?

You won’t get there by looking Snow White.

“Play in the dirt, because life is too short to always have clean fingernails. ”

-Unknown

25 Life Hacks To Make Midlife a Breeze

Today I have found and compiled the 25 best life hacks for mid-life!

Enjoy!

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Why You Should be Thankful for Your Crises

Crisis.

It’s bad, right? After all, the definition of crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. How could something dangerous or intensely difficult possibly be good?

What if I told you that a crisis can actually be a great thing and that you should be thankful for all of the crises in your life that you have endured?

Take a moment to read this quote:

mad-scientist

Now, take some time to really think about it. All of the crises you have ever gone through have brought you where you stand today. Think about all of those crises as experiments used to learn new things about yourself and your life. What have you learned?

Maybe you learned about what you value in a life partner through a particularly nasty breakup. Or maybe you learned that a particular field of work just isn’t for you after losing a job that you were too scared to leave. Whatever crises you have gone through, I believe that they have all been for the best.

When you think about it, really think about it, would you take back any of those crises if you could? Would you take back the knowledge that you gained or the opportunities that your crises have brought you? I know that I wouldn’t.

So that is my challenge to you this week:

I challenge you to be thankful for your crises.

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Reclaim Your Playful, Passionate, & Purposeful Future

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So many people think that they don’t have control over their future once they find themselves in the midst of midlife. We want to change all of that.

The Back Forty teaches that:

“The only way you will ever be able to create your own radical future of play, passion, and purpose is by enabling yourself to have a say over how life will go from here on out.”

– Darrell Gurney, Co-Founder of The Back Forty

Take a moment to think about that. How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you are who you are or that you can’t change the path of your life?

The Back Forty teaches that you have a say over how your life will go. You can control your future, if you just take the time to invest in it. The second half of your life can be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose. You just have to decide that you want it to.

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Have the Courage to Make Your Life an Adventure

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Are you a victim or an adventurer?

Paulo Coelho couldn’t have said it better. If you view your life as something beyond your control then you will always be a victim of it. The first step of becoming an adventurer is to take control of your life. You are not stuck in your job, your relationship, your routine. You are an adventurer who can change your future.

You can create whichever future you desire. You just have to take the first step and decide that you can.

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles (Part 3)

Portrait Of Senior Friends In Park Together

Click here to read part two.

I’ve been sharing with you that I am in love with my wrinkles.  Here’s how I got to fall in love with them…

It all hit me one sunny Sunday morning as Darrell and I were making our way through Los Angeles traffic.   I thought about how I have been transformed by the gift of my life’s challenges, wins and losses, and how much I love the older and wiser version of my Self that I have become.  I saw that my wrinkles are not only part of the package that came with those life experiences, but they were the very stripes and awards earned due to them.  I realized that who I am today is inseparable from the wrinkles that formed me.

Every wrinkle, every experience, every lesson I learned and challenge I faced, contributed to making me exactly who I am today.  All the gifts and talents I now possess and use to create my life according to my own design, to live it on my own terms, and to contribute to others are represented in those wrinkles.  Because of everything I claimed along with the territory of those wrinkles, I am now creating my own inspiring, playful, passionate, and radically purposeful second half of life.

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My grandmother loved her wrinkles!

According to the Ancient Art of Chinese Face Reading, when we erase our wrinkles, we erase our gifts.  Our wrinkles show how we have lived our life and even what we are designing in our future.  Horizontal lines on the face are signs of lessons learned in life when we experience challenging times.  This philosophy states that, if we remove those wrinkles, we lose the lesson… which means we may encounter the same challenge again to re-learn the lesson.  Now why would we want to do that!

My wrinkles remind me of my growth, the path I have traveled, and who I am becoming.  They serve as road signs alerting me to utilize my choice of who I want to be.  They wake me up daily to the power I have to transform who I am as a matter of my word and commitments.

In The Back Forty, we propose that we have all chosen the specific experiences and events of our lives to create a laboratory for research and development which, when assessed, allow us to discover what we are really here to do.

My wrinkles remind me of the lab experiments I chose to conduct in my life to gain the gifts, the learnings, and the growth I now possess.…which give me the keys to an exciting, joyful, and radical Back Forty – my second half – and to living it on my own terms.

I am in love with my wrinkles.

And I invite YOU to fall in love with YOURS.

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles

I am in love with my wrinkles.

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Me at nineteen!

We all have wrinkles. We can choose to hide or get rid of them, or we can choose to embrace them.  Here is why I am in love with some of my favorite wrinkles, and why I invite you to fall in love with yours.
I got my very first wrinkle at 19.  I was an only child of doting Jewish parents, both a mama’s and daddy’s girl at the same time.   I was protected and taken care of.   Our family had attempted to leave communist Russia for 13 years (since I was 6) and the government consistently refused.  Twice a year we applied for exit visas, and twice a year we were denied.  Then, at 19, I was unexpectedly given permission to leave Russia… but on my own, without my parents.

Fast forward three months, and I find myself on a plane leaving Leningrad.  I was 19, feeling desperately alone in the world, terrified, and not knowing if I would ever, EVER see my parents again.

That is how I obtained my first wrinkle. What I got with it was the gift that, at 19, I learned how strong I really was: that I was capable beyond my own imagination, that I could do anything.  I received THAT learning and lifelong insight out of the most devastating experience of my teenage years.

I am definitely keeping that wrinkle.

More favorite wrinkles formed when my 20-year-old daughter was planning to travel to Israel right in the middle of a war.  Everyone in my family questioned me as a mother for allowing her to go, and demanded that I stop her.

I did a lot of soul searching.   How would I live with myself if I didn’t stop her from going and yet…?  I could not even let myself think beyond the yet.  Scary.   What if everyone was right, and I was wrong, and it was my job as a mother to stop her?  What if…?

Yes, of course, I wanted my daughter to be safe, and yet I also wanted her to know that she is free – given our family fought so hard for our freedom.   What lesson would my daughter be learning if someone else (even her mother) had more power over her choice than she did?  After all, I had been given the gift of a tough choice myself at about her age.  Then I made a decision: I told my daughter that I trusted her to choose for herself and that I would support her in that choice.  My daughter chose to go.

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My daughter on her trip to Israel.

This sweet basket of wrinkles revealed themselves when I took that stand for my daughter and her right and ability to make choices in her own life.

Because of those wrinkles, my daughter went to Israel and had the most profound experience of her life.  It formed within her a passion for travel that now has her just returning from her second summer-long backpacking trip to Europe, writing a travel blog, and making spectacular travel videos.

At age 20, my daughter learned that she can trust herself with life-impacting decisions… and, more importantly, that she has a voice and a choice.

That is a bunch of wrinkles I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Click here to read part two.

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