“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
In our busy world, apps make everything easier. After all, the phrase “there’s an app for that” wasn’t coined for nothing. Especially when you are in midlife, things can get hectic. Between family and work, sometimes it’s hard to keep everything straight. That’s why I came up with this list. These apps are guaranteed to make your life simpler. Don’t believe me? Check them out for yourself!
Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Other Waze users share real-time traffic and road information to make everyone’s drive better. Getting alerts on traffic is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this app. Waze can also tell you if there is debris in the road, how bad that accident ahead really is, if there is a cop hiding out around the corner, and so much more. Ultimately, Waze makes it possible to outsmart traffic, together.
The free version of this app offers plenty for anyone looking to start a fitness routine. At the free level you have access to 16 different multi-week fitness plans, 200 videos and pictures explaining how to do different exercises, and over 400 individual workouts. You also have the ability to pick your specific workout goal, your current fitness level, and specify which equipment you have available to make sure that your workouts are perfect for you. If you choose to pay for the Plus membership ($6.99/month or $59.99/year), you have access to over 1,000 different workouts, over 7,000 videos and pictures, and 22 different fitness plans. You also gain the ability to ask a trainer questions about your workout and create your own exercises. Regardless of the option that works for you, you have the ability to track and log all of your workouts, record your body measurements, and chart your progress.
C25K literally stands for “Couch to 5K” and I feel that title says it all. If you want to train for a 5K or even just learn how to become a runner, this app is for you. This app is an 8-week program where you schedule 3 times a week to go running. Each session includes a warm-up and a cool-down and lasts less than 45 minutes. C25K has you start slow by alternating walking for 90 seconds and then jogging for 60 seconds. As the weeks progress, you begin running more and more. It also gives you the ability to have music play through the app so that you can listen to your music and the cues to start walking or jogging at the same time. The best part, it’s all free!
This app syncs your personal tasks, work projects, and shared lists so you have a clear path moving forward. With any.do you can create the most comprehensive to do lists you have ever made. You can separate your tasks into sections like work, school, or home. Then within those sections you can break down tasks by day and even have sub-tasks for each of your tasks. You can also create team tasks. For example, if you are working on a group project at work you can create a team of your co-workers where everyone can see, edit, and add to the list. And the teams aren’t limited to your work life. Make a team of two with you and your spouse. Need your spouse to pick up groceries on their way home? Just send them a group list with what you need. These are just some of the features that set any.do apart from it’s competiton. Check it out for yourself to see what else you can accomplish.
RetailMeNot has just about every online and in-store coupon at your fingertips. When you are out shopping, just pull up this app while you are in the checkout line and by the time you reach the cashier you can have a 25% off coupon in your hand. This app also can notify you of nearby sales and deals as you drive around town and give you access to discounted gift cards. If you’re always looking for a deal, this app is for you.
Between the loyalty cards on your key ring and the loyalty cards in your wallet how many do you have? Chances are, you have enough that you feel like you are always searching for the right on. Well this app was created to solve that problem, as well as help clean out your wallet and key ring. You can scan any of your loyalty cards into this app and then those cards will be available through the app! No more carrying around endless loyalty cards or searching for the right one. But that isn’t all Key Ring can do. You can also scan the weekly ads from the stores where you have loyalty cards and make shopping lists based on what you find.
If you are anything like me, you have a pile of coupons sitting at home and that pile stays there until you’re at the store and find yourself thinking, “I had a coupon for that!”. SnipSnap was created to fix that problem. When you get a coupon, just scan it into the app and then it will be waiting on your phone when you’re ready for it. The other awesome feature of this app is that you can snap a picture of an item you want to purchase and SnipSnap will search for deals on that item! If you’re bad at couponing, this app can change your life.
If you are a reading enthusiast, this app is for you. Goodreads is the world’s largest social network for readers. You can find thousands of book reviews by Goodreads members, keep a virtual bookshelf of what you’ve read, and build your to-read list as you discover great books on the app. This app makes it possible for you to search, rate, and review virtually any book. It also has a handy barcode scanner where you can scan your books onto your virtual bookshelf and scan books into your “to read” list.
This is the app for someone who enjoys reading but can’t seem to find the time to actually read. Audible is the worlds largest provider of premium audiobooks, with over 150 thousand titles to choose from. The best part is that, because it’s an app, you can listen to your books anywhere and anytime. Plus, right now you can get your first audiobook free when you sign up.
Mint is a money manager, personal finance tracker, and budgeter all rolled into one. First it puts all of your financial information into one location so you can see the big picture. It also has budgeting tools, free credit score tools, alerts and advice based on your spending habits, automatic categorization (so you know exactly how much you spend where), and investment tracking (so you can compare your portfolio compared to the market and more). Mint knows that putting all of your financial information can be scary so it takes your security very seriously. Beyond it’s own security measures, it also is analyzed and certified by multiple third party security providers.
Everyone knows that getting a good nights sleep is important, but how many of us actually get the sleep we need? That’s where Sleep Cycle comes in. Set your phone next to you while you sleep and this app will measure just how much sleep you’re really getting. It tracks your sleep cycle so that you know how much of your night is spent in a deep sleep versus a light sleep. While tracking your sleep is interesting, the coolest feature of this app is it’s alarm clock. You can set an alarm and sleep cycle will wake you up when you are naturally sleeping the lightest. This makes it easier for you to get up and get going while feeling refreshed.
This is an app that I use religiously – and not just to wake up in the morning. If you are someone that absolutely hates getting out of bed in the morning, this app is perfect. You can set a series of alarms to get you up and moving. The alarm slowly gets louder to gently nudge you awake (plus you can pick whichever alarm you wish), but that’s just the beginning. To turn off your alarm you can choose to either push a button, scan a barcode, scan a specific barcode, or any combination of those options. For example, I start with pushing a button. Ten minutes later I have to scan a barcode in the bathroom. This way I can force myself to actually start my day. The best part (or the worst part depending on your opinion) is that you cannot turn off the alarm until you scan the correct barcode. You also can make the alarm a series of tasks so you don’t just wake up, you actually go through your entire morning routine.
Walk Up is the closest option to Morning Routine that I could find for iPhones. Unlike Morning Routine, it doesn’t have you scan specific items. Instead, you have to walk a certain distance to turn off the alarm (you can pick anywhere between 10 and 100 steps). The alarms tend to be more urgent and dramatic than Morning Routine, simply to help force you up quickly. There are also themes, “doomsday” countdowns, and the “evil mode” where you can’t snooze the alarm. If you need to get up and get up fast – this is your answer.
iHeartRadio is another app that I use regularly. Not only can you listen to your favorite radio stations anywhere, but you can also pick out playlists based on specific artists, listen to podcasts, and pick playlists based on your current activities (work, cleaning the house, exercising, etc.). iHearRadio also keeps track of your favorite stations and recent stations so you never forget what you’ve been listening to. As an added bonus, it also has alarm clocks and sleep timers that you can have open to a specific station.
In a world where physical dollar bills are becoming more and more obsolete, Venmo has created a way to exchange money as easily as handing someone cash. With a Venmo account you can transfer money from your bank account to your friend’s account with a click of a button. Do you owe someone money for coffee? No problem, just send it to them with Venmo. Never worry about running to an ATM again.
This app is the high-tech answer to your low-tech problems. You know the junk mail that plagues your actual mailbox? PaperKarma is the answer to your woes. When you receive junk mail, simply snap a picture of it and submit it on PaperKarma. The app will then contact the organization sending the junk mail and get you removed from their list. Ultimately, PaperKarma is the end of your junk mail as you know it!
With landlines disappearing and cellphones taking over, telemarketers are calling cellphones more and more. That is where Truecaller comes in. By installing this app, you can know exactly who is calling you, regardless of if they are in your contacts. You will not only see the name of who is calling you, but also a picture of them. With Truecaller you can also block spam callers and telemarketers, search for someone who isn’t in your contacts, see when your friends are free to talk, and back trace phone numbers from anywhere.