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Your Beliefs Are Actually Preventing Your Success

Yikes!

Our beliefs are things that we often hold dear. They are things that we have seen hold true throughout our life. Our various experiences have shown us that these beliefs are true. But, what if these beliefs were actually holding us back? Let’s take a moment to read this quote and then continue on the other side.

-Ernest Holmes

Maybe there is something to this quote.

After all, how many times have we heard stories of people being held back by their personal “backward” beliefs. It is easy to see the logic when we think of this quote in terms of other people, especially when our personal beliefs are the opposite of theirs. But what about our own backward beliefs? Logically, we know we have them. It’s impossible for everything that we believe to be true to ACTUALLY be true. Especially when many of our beliefs are shaped by one single experience.

Here is an example. You start a new job and on your very first day, someone who reports to you is three hours late and has completely missed not only your department meeting but a one-on-one meeting you set up with them. Chances are, you already have a negative opinion of this person and will have a negative opinion of them from here on out. But what if this employee is actually extremely punctual and it just happens that your first day was also the first time they were late in over five years? The sad fact, to your brain that doesn’t matter. Chances are that if someone asks you 6 months later about this employee’s punctuality you would still say that they are “usually” on time and immediately think of that one time that they were three hours late, even if they still have only missed that one day in almost six years.

When we think about it in this context, it is suddenly so easy to see just how many of our beliefs could be wrong. And, once we realize that, this quote holds an entirely new meaning. Let’s look at it again:

“We are bound by nothing except belief.”

– Ernest Holmes

…yup. Suddenly this seems to make so much sense. Think of all of the experiences that we have chosen not to pursue simply because of our beliefs. Each and every experience we have, no matter how big or small, is colored by as many as 30 separate beliefs that we have decided are true.

What would be possible if those beliefs weren’t factors? Our lives would be completely different. I’m not saying that some (or even most) of our beliefs are unfounded. Chances are that we have most of our beliefs for a very good reason. But what about those others? What beliefs to you hold true that may actually be false?

Today I challenge you to take a look at some of your beliefs that you are convinced are true from an outside point of view. Are there any beliefs you can let go? If you let these beliefs go you might just be surprised at how free you have become.

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4 Elements to Powerfully Starting Over

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

-Seneca

What’s the big deal about starting over?

There’s a cultural stigma that says, if you have to start over, you somehow failed on the first attempt.

Yet, every new day offers a new opportunity to take a new look at what’s in front of us…even if it’s patterns, projects and processes that may been going on for a while.

We recently completed a big push towards a conference that pretty much held our focus of attention and finances for the better part of a year. The conference itself turned out to be a bust. Yet, it was holding onto the regrets, couldas, wouldas, shouldas and other forms of making ourselves and others wrong in the aftermath that impeded moving on to “Next!”

This got me thinking that this whole phrase of “starting over” should not be limited to last-ditch attempts when gasping for air before finally going under. What if starting over were a way of life?

Perhaps it’s the ability to see newly what’s already in motion, to come from “beginner’s mind” even when things have been proven to work (or not), that is a practice we want to develop.

Of course, seeing this in hindsight around our year-long initiative doesn’t change anything in the past. But does anything ever change anything in the past…other than learning and moving on with greater awareness?

There’s only moving forward, and I’m thinking that a good forward-moving strategy is to start over continually…and to be proud of saying so.

An intention to grow invites change. Change invites constant transition. Constant transition invites starting over…again and again.

How empowering would it be if we could all get comfortable with a casual response to the common greeting “How are you today?” with “Great! I’m starting over!”

Where can you choose starting over today…even if nothing is broken?

Where can you choose starting over today…especially if you feel something IS broken?

For this reason, we created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program.

If you’re up to playing big games, you’ll always be in constant flux and transition. And if you’ve been dealt what seems like a blow from life, it’s only because you’re on the disempowered side of the Bigger YOU that this transition is bringing with it.

The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program shows you how to turn lemons literally into GOLD (forget the lemonade).

You’ll discover:

  • How an attitude of openness to the NEW is part of constant growth
  • A change-based mindset and strategy for playing Big Games
  • Why approaching transition a certain way leaves you more powerful
  • What curiosity and learning to play again offer to a New You

Enroll HERE to ReNEW the ALL of YOU and learn these 4 Elements to Powerfully Starting Over.

Transition

It’s a way of life, and you’ll either adopt a strategy for engaging in it powerfully or you’ll get constant bag-of-brick bruises upside the head that you’ll put all your attention on.

Just like I tell clients around job search and career transition, if you don’t have an ongoing career management strategy, you’ll always be caught off guard.

By learning a strategy to take any of life’s transitions – around relationships, finances, business, health, loved ones, career, etc. – and become more powerful out of them, you set yourself up for unimpeded growth and development.

Blessings

Behind, back-of, inside-of, and underneath all supposed “bad things” that happen to us there are blessings. We rarely want to look at those in the midst of the muck.

However, by turning our attention away from our victim-ness and onto the unseen blessings, all of a sudden they begin to grow in our awareness and activate our next level of growth.

Curiosity

On the other side of the chasm of transition, there are new territories to be explored and new skills and abilities to be developed.

So many of us resist change when we see it coming, and yet there’s nary a one of us that can’t claim some new understanding, skill, capacity, awareness, knowledge or personal improvement on the other side of any change.

Getting clear on the opportunity to grow one’s curiosity becomes a lucky life gift on the far side of yucky life rifts.

Play

Every change brings with it NEWness: of ourselves and the playing fields we then enter.

Learning to give ourselves the freedom to open up and play again – without the need to have it all figured out – brings a breath of fresh air into what might have become a very standard, staid, and typically normal life.

In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.

We all think normal is to be sought after, but if we’re really here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what we’ve accomplished thus far – it will take us breaking normal, taking risks again, and learning to have fun in the process.

Enroll HERE to ReNEW the ALL of YOU ) and incorporate these 4 Elements to Powerfully Starting Over into your own radical Back Forty of play, passion and purpose.

“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”

-Unknown

5 Inspirational People Who Prove Midlife Is Just the Beginning

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I don’t know about you, but most Saturday mornings I need a little inspiration to get me going. After all, if you’re not careful, it is easy for the weekends to get away from you. So, today I am going to help inspire you to make the most out of not only your weekends but your life!

Here are 5 inspirational people who decided that they had yet to do what they were here to do in midlife and beyond (plus a bonus)!

1. Winifred Pristellwinifred

Winifred currently holds the World, National, and State records for single lift bench press for her age group and weight class. At the age of 47 she was dangerously obese and decided to make a change. By the age of 68 she had set world records for bench press (lifting 176.2 lbs) and deadlift (lifting 270 lbs). She is now a proud great-grandmother of 3 and healthier than she’s ever been.

2. Pierre Jean “Buster” Martinbuster.png

Buster claimed to be the United Kingdom’s oldest employee. He worked for Pimlico Plumbers in London and even refused to take a day off on his 100th birthday! According to Buster, he was born in 1906 and continued working until he died at the age of 104 in 2011. If that isn’t a dedicated employee, I don’t know what is!

3. Fauja Singh

Fauja is the first 100-year-old to finish a marathon. He also Faujaaccomplished eight world running records for being the oldest man to accomplish each record in ONE DAY. He is currently 105 years old and living in the UK. He ran between the ages of 89 and 101. Why so late in his life? A tragedy led him back to it. He witnessed the death of his fifth son in 1994 and decided to return to his passion for running. He began training and started running international marathons at the age of 89. At the age of 93 he completed the London Marathon 58 minutes faster than the previous world record. Eight full marathons after the age of 89? Pretty impressive if you ask me.

4. Dorthy Custedorthyr

Dorthy was a stand-up comedian starting in 1916. She thought she would never become famous until she got the chance to perform on the Tonight Show at the age of 100 in 2011! After that, she decided that she was never too old to achieve what she wanted to do. She performed on the Tonight Show again in 2012, for her 101st birthday she ziplined the Snake River Canyon, and for her 102nd birthday she base jumped off the Perrine Bridge into the Snake River Canyon and became the oldest base jumper in the world.

5. Werner Bergerwerner

Werner is the oldest person to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. He climbed his first mountain on the list in 2002 at the age of 64 and completed the last mountain on the list in 2013 at the age of 76. How many people do you know who have climbed Mount Everest? Not to mention at the age of 69!

To learn more about Werner, see his Facebook Live interview with The Back Forty Co-Founder, Darrell Gurney, by clicking here!

BONUS: Tao Porchon-Lynchtao

Meet Tao. She is the world’s oldest yoga teacher at the age of 98! She is pretty amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I wrote an entire blog post about her a few months ago. Click here to find out what makes Tao so special!

Hopefully, that is enough inspiration for you today. After all, as we say in The Back Forty, “You have yet to do what you came here to do!” So, what is it that your second half of life has in store for you?

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Sources: GuinnessWorldRecords.com, Wikipedia – Dorthy Custer, Wikipedia – Fauja SinghWikipedia – Buster Martin, HeraldNet.com, and WinifredPristell.com

The Bar, the Mindset, and the Law of Attraction

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As we were settling in into our new condo, Darrell and I decided to buy a little corner bar.  One of those cool pieces that look built in, only they’re not.

Purchasing most of the other furniture came easy: we researched, found what we wanted, and bought it.

Not so easy for the bar.

After two months of relentless searching for the right one, it was nowhere to be found.  We spent hours searching online.  We looked at several dozen different models.  We went to stores and talked to salespeople.  Nothing worked.  Nothing came close to what we thought would be perfect.

I was resigned that we wouldn’t find the perfect piece.  Darrell was frustrated that nothing we saw was good enough.  Actually, truth be told, Darrell is a bit less particular than me, and could have been satisfied with a lot of these earlier options.  I’m more of a stickler for the exact fit.

Last week while taking an evening walk, we talked about our seeming inability to find just the right bar.

I said, with an intention to make us feel better, “It’s ok.  I always thought that the bar would be hard to find, and that it could take a lot of time and be pretty expensive.”  That was true – deep in my mind I was always convinced that finding the perfect bar would be a difficult and time-consuming project.

Darrell paused…and said, “Do you know, with that belief, it is no wonder we can’t find anything that will work for you…”

In that moment, I got it.  He was right.  In my mind, I created an idea that the perfect bar would be hard to find and expensive.  Therefore, the Universe was proving me right: it was.  With that mindset, no wonder we couldn’t find what we wanted.

“Would you be willing to give up the idea that it will be hard to find?”, Darrell continued.  Convinced as I was in the rarity of the item in question, I was willing.   I do enjoy a good game of mind control and miraculous manifestation.

Fast forward… to that VERY EVENING!

That night, after his regular few minutes per day of searching for a perfect bar, Darrell showed me a picture of something that looked ideal – a perfect fit, and at a fraction of the price I had expected to pay.  Although it was about an hour drive from our home, we decided to call them up and discuss it.

With what sounded like a description matching the picture of perfect fit, we gambled with renting a truck and drove up the next day.

It turned out to be true: the only bar in two months that came even close to what we wanted.

At the end of that eventful day, we had the most perfect bar – in color, shape, size, and design – sitting right in the corner of our condo.

Coincidence?  Fluke?  Nah!  I’m big girl enough to call one on myself.

As soon as I gave up my (very unhelpful) mental idea, we found a perfect piece…easily and somewhat effortlessly.

This gave me another perfect opportunity: to look where else is my mindset in the way of my getting what I want in my Back Forty, my second half/best half of life.

How about you?  What mindset, idea, or way of thinking could you give up to create room for something new, playful, or radical?  What miraculous manifestations do you have in mind?

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Expert Tip #8: Become Curious Again

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Curiosity is something that has a general air of positivity surrounding it. Curiosity causes invention, creativity, creation, excitement, and more. So, it is no wonder that a wonderful way to help you win your midlife experience would be through being curious.

However, as we grow older we adapt a mindset that we know enough, that we are enough. After all, have you ever heard yourself or a loved one say things like, “that’s just the way I am,” “been there, done that,” or even “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?

As we age we seem to adopt the viewpoint that we no longer need to be curious, that curiosity is for the young. Here is the problem with that way of thinking. Everyone has had certain life experiences that shape who they become. There are some things that you hate simply because you have had bad experiences surrounding it before. Similarly, there are things that you love for the same reason. The problem with this is that each experience, either good or bad, puts on a new filter through which you see life. As more and more experiences create more and more filters, your view gets smaller and hazier.

The world is full of infinite possibilities, but if you are determined to see the world through your many many filters, you will miss so many of the possibilities that come your way.

You might be thinking, but all of these filters are different pieces of wisdom that I have gained throughout life. Isn’t wisdom a good thing?

Well, here is the problem with wisdom. Based on the small pieces of wisdom that we gain, we decide what we are capable of. These one-time experiences turn into pieces of “wisdom” that we have gleaned from our lives.

For example, at a relatively young age I cut my hair “short” it was to my shoulders and the first time my hair had ever been that short. In that moment I decided that I don’t look good with short hair and that I now had the wisdom to never cut my hair that short again. Is that really wisdom or is it just one bad experience that has shaped my entire life?

Maybe I would love short hair if I tried it again, but my previous filter has closed me to that new experience.

What are some of your experiences that you have always assumed gave you wisdom but might actually be limiting you? Maybe it’s something that you have always assumed is how you are, how life is, how relationships are. What can you be curious about this week?

Come back next week for Pro Tip #9 and remember to be curious this week!

See other tips here!

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New Year Self-Change Leadership

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“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.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli

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:

Awareness

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.

Authenticity

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.

Acceptance

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.

Absence Analysis

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”.

Activation

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.”

-Werner Erhard

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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Four Lessons Learned From Our Thanksgiving Paint-cation

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Shortly after moving into our off-white-walled condo, Darrell and I decided to have a Paint-cation.  We wanted fun colors and faux finish on our walls without spending tons of money on hiring someone to do it.

As soon as we moved in, I kept talking about how we could – with no problem because I did it 15 years ago – paint and faux finish our small condo ourselves…so we decided to take the Thanksgiving holiday to do it!  (Luckily for us, my amazing mom hosted Thanksgiving dinner, so all we needed to do was to show up for a few hours).

Darrell and I spent four 16-hour days prepping and painting.  Here’s what I learned from our Thanksgiving Paint-cation.

Throwing my “hat over the wall” first…and THEN figuring out how to go get it actually does work!

John F. Kennedy made famous a story told by Irish writer Frank O’Connor, where he and his friends “would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they would take off their hats and toss them over the wall – and then they had no choice but to follow them.”img_5511

We got our supplies, painted color samples on the wall, and picked our colors. 

Then I tested my faux finish technique… and it sucked!!!  Doubt crept in… should I have kept my mouth shut?  Should we have hired professionals?  Did I get us in over our heads?  Were we now papered and taped and all dressed up with no place to faux? 

Doubt is a familiar guest in my mental household, and by now it was having a party with friends.

So, fueled by the amount of time and money we already spent on this project – as well being committed to vibrant color on our walls – I gave IMG955589.jpgmyself a pep talk and set out to watch every Faux-Finish How To Video I could find!  I then practiced diligently on large planks of cardboard harvested from a big screen TV box in the dumpster.

After multiple attempts and lots of forgiveness, I mastered a technique that ended up turning our bedroom alive!  Purple is my favorite color, and ragging purple glaze over deeper purple base on the bedroom walls was probably the most fun I ever had painting anything!

I committed blindly and without knowing all the particulars…and found a way to get to the result.

When I “play first” and take risks, I make mistakes and doubt shows up.  It’s par for the course.  The faster I forgive myself (and thank the doubts for sharing), the more fun I have. 

Taping is the most boring part of any painting project.  I thought it would take me half a day to tape out our place before starting to paint.

On the contrary, it took three times that amount…hours and hours of tedious, never-ending, detailed, and annoying work.  It delayed the start of our actual PAINT-cation by 2 days! IMG955581.jpg

The ever-present self-critic reared its ugly head again in this case as well. It said “You should have known better.  You messed up the schedule.  How in the world will we get it done on time now?”

I’ve learned to unlearn all that built this inner critic: the childhood pressures to be good, look good, be nice, do things right.  So, I set out to forgive, forgive, forgive…and kept my fingers working.

In The Back Forty we “play first”: GO FOR IT without having everything worked out or having all the answers ahead of time.  Figure it out as we go.  So that’s what I did.  And, though it didn’t fit my preconceived pictures or timeline, it all DID get done anyway!

Get out of my head and go play!

Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing in the middle of the living room, with glaze in one hand and a sea sponge in the other, about to start another faux experiment that would shape the whole experience for people walking into our home…when once again I was paralyzed by my frequent visitor – doubt!

“What if I mess it up? I did the bedroom ok, but everyone sees the living room. Should I use the rag here too since I know how to use it better, even though we wanted to sponge for a different effect? Oh my god, what did I get myself into!!!” 

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Then, just when I could use some outside-voice interruption, Darrell said: “Don’t worry about it, babe.  We’re doing this for us.  Have fun.  Go play with it.”

Something shifted on a dime.  The wall became a playground with the glaze and sponge simply toys.  I became an artist playing with color, moving along the wall with my sponge to the beat of the music playing.  I became an artiste’!

When in doubt, add glitter!

Our rooms are fairly small as we bought the place for the high-rise view of the ocean, not the size.  By choice, the colors on our walls are rather deep, which can close down a smaller room even more.

At some point in the middle of our project, a dear friend suggested that we add painter’s sparkle to the walls for added effect and to make the rooms feel lighter. IMG_5517.jpg

Sparkles!!!  I had never heard of painter’s sparkle, but you didn’t need to ask me twice.  A little research – again thanks to YouTube How Tos – and a trip to the hardware store resulted in Darrell with his roller adding a coat of sparkle on top of the paint in both rooms.

Sparkle on our walls was the best unexpected outcome of our Paint-cation…and I get a twinkle every time I see what our Thanksgiving Paint-cation taught me.

The point of it all: In our second half of life, it is so easy to not take risks, not play first, and stay in our easy, well-worn comfort zones of doubt, second-guessing and need to “look good.”  Yet, I find that I get the most juice in life when I DO step out, take risks, and play first ANYWAY.

That’s what makes my second half of life radical and passionate…and results in a radically, beautifully painted condo – with faux and sparkle to show!

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Starting Over: Back Forty Witness Protection

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“Witness protection just makes for exciting stories and it’s a really rich sort of place to grab stories from… people starting over completely, saying goodbye to their lives before… it never ends in terms of story opportunities.”

-Mary McCormack

When we look at our first half of life – what I call “the Front Forty” – there are certain ways of being and thinking we adopt as far as who we are, our “lot” in life, and what is or isn’t possible for us.

One considers themselves lucky if one can simply get a good education, get married for life, buy a home, raise happy healthy kids, keep a good job, save money, and then retire happily with some vacations, taking care of the grandkids, and maybe tooling around with a hobby or two.

Granted, that’s a good life, as we’re raised to believe.  And yet, as many have found while maturing in the world of today, the early “pictures” we had aren’t necessarily realistic.

The American Psychological Association states the divorce rate as between 40 to 50% and the rate for subsequent marriages even higher. Savings can’t survive certain economic impacts such as Great Recessions or crooked investments. The old-world ideal of keeping a job for life is not only totally unrealistic in a “freelance” economy but perhaps not even a good idea if one is looking to expand and move up. And we’ve all had the mythical, solid and steady “home” get shattered in one way or another.

My parents are a good example of that, when Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008 and my entire hometown – including their home filled with years of memories – went under 8-10 feet of water. Or my aunt and cousin in Baton Rouge, recently having their own home of 50 years going under in a record flood.

So, what is one to do when the pictures of the way life was supposed to be turn out to be fraudulent? Perhaps enter into The Back Forty Witness Protection Program.the-back-forty-protection-program

Yes, bringing a little lightness to the whole end-of-the-world experience of divorce, financial or physical destruction, and all forms of devastation can help.

Witness Protection programs were created so that folks who would spill the beans on perpetrators of organized crime during trials could be protected with a new identity with which to live out their lives.

Just what if our “pictures” were part of an “organized crime” to keep us all safely inside of a smaller, limited view of ourselves and what’s possible for us?

Think about it:

  • Ever heard of people who shook off the perceived shackles of a bad marriage and found the more perfect fit for them?
  • Ever noticed how some folks respond to financial ruin with a new sense of Self that has them grow bigger than they ever were?
  • Ever watched as individuals move up and out of early, confined, career cubicles into roles of leadership, both within other organizations or their own business…often because they were fired?

The Back Forty philosophy, movement, and community is all about taking the supposed “worst things that could happen to us” and using them as opportunities for opening up to what’s bigger within us and what’s greater coming next.

If we can look back at our past – even these supposed serious and significant events – and analyze them from the point of view of “laboratory experiments” we ran to discover what we’re here to do and express, we get to then focus on inspiring and forward-moving directives rather than harping on our victim-based losses.

What’s the new identity that this supposed “bad thing happening to me” gives me the opportunity to assume?  What’s the greater and more expansive life that this event is opening the door into?

Those may seem like impossible questions to ask in the face of our personal stories of devastation…and yet we believe they are the questions we must build our muscles to ask, even when in the midst of horror.  In doing so, we begin to turn our small, pictures-based victim into a future-causing being. We thus rise toward becoming more and more of who we here came to be and what we came here to do.

The Back Forty Witness Protection Program: offering new identities after every trial.

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”

-Guy Finley

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