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On The Lighter Side…Flowers for Friday

Wherever I go I take a camera. These are some of my favorite photos taken throughout the US plus shots from Africa, Peru, Cuba and Nepal. ENJOY and pass on to someone who you think might enjoy some FLOWERS FOR FRIDAY.


Video Introduction: THE VILLAGE OF SOMEDAY

Video Introduction:

Saturday Morning Reflections: The Village of Someday

Reflections: Are You Stuck in the Village of Someday?


“Don’t put off until tomorrow what can easily be put off till the day-after-tomorrow just as well.”

– Mark Twain

What is this fear that pushes our once child-like, playful, carefree, glee to the sidelines?

Memories? Early impressions?

Was it mom’s look when you brought home a “D” in Chemistry? Father Tobin when he caught you sipping sacramental wine? Coach Palmer’s frown when you walked-in the winning run? Or, maybe it was Gloria Wilson, from history class, who laughed when you asked her if she’d like to go see My Fair Lady with you at the Michigan Theater?

Okay, enough about me.

But, what causes this transformation from “Let me in, coach!” to “That’s okay, I’ll just sit over here and watch.” Yes, it’s fear of failure, performance anxiety, procrastination, and shyness but that just gives it a name, it’s not an explanation and it certainly isn’t a solution.

Perhaps there is an answer or two found in a story told by violinist, Joshua Bell, about his experience at the Stulberg International String Competition when he was twelve-years old. Much younger than the other competitors, Joshua confesses that he had low expectations of his performance and, true to his vision, he started out miserably, worse than ever before. Instead of continuing on and, in his words, “feeling lousy,” he stopped, turned to the audience and said, “I’d really like to start over.”

Believing that he had already lost the competition, he relaxed, slipped into a zone of confidence and comfort, and played the difficult piece better than ever before. He ended up finishing 3rd in the competition (1st the following year), but that was secondary to the lesson he learned about mindset and attitude. Joshua said, “…it taught me that when you take your mind off worrying about being perfect all the time, sometimes amazing things can happen…It was a turning point and a lesson I use to this day.”

The story—all by itself—is a good one. Quit trying to be perfect, none of us are. However, a closer look at what he is saying shows us something else, as well. The transformation from validating expectations of poor performance to near-perfect playing of the concerto can be found in the two words, performance and play. We don’t tell our children to go outside and perform, we tell them to go and play. In the english lexicon, the opposite of work is play. When an athletic team wins a major event like the World Series in baseball or the Super Bowl in football, the sheer glee you see in the winners jumping up and down and hugging each is a demonstration of play, not performance. They speak of the “Zone” in the same way that Joshua does. Winners focus on feelings of joy that come from within, not outside opinions or expectations…good or bad. I once had a boss who, before I headed out for a major speech or sales presentation, would always tell me to “Have fun!” All of a sudden, the anxiety would melt and I would look forward to the event. Have fun! Really? Have fun? Okay, then, I can DO THAT! I can have fun, enjoy myself, relax. I embraced those expectations without fear of failing to do so.

Perhaps the population of the Village of Someday continues to explode because we view our lives as a performance. A performance under constant scrutiny; critics standing by, pencil in hand, hoping for a mistake to chronicle. A viral YouTube embarrassment waiting to be captured and looped forever and ever.

The next time you feel hesitant about taking a risk while whispering “Someday…”  picture a moment in your life when you leapt into the air with shear joy, smiled until your face hurt, giggled uncontrollably, felt deep passionate happiness and contentment. Do that and tell me what word best describes the trigger. Work? Performance? How about, Play? Fun?

You can do as the virtuoso performer, Joshua Bell, almost did—continue on and feel  miserable—or, you can do as the twelve-year old boy, Joshua Bell, did. Stop, turn to anyone who wishes to listen and—beckoning the child within you—say, “I’d really like to start over.” And then, play. Simply play until your bones shake and your spirit lifts.

Don’t perform life…play and enjoy life, and sometimes—just like Joshua— you’ll find that amazing things can happen.


“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…”

– Viktor Frankl

Our dog, Chaucer, at play—I didn’t have to teach him how…

“When it comes to Wellness … Are You Committed or Just Involved: A Call for Leadership”

There isn’t a day that goes by without a dozen or so clicks to this posting. Something is resonating, so here it is again…just click, below.

Wellness: Are You Committed or Just Involved?

A One-Minute and Twenty-Second Tribute to Sunrises on The Narragansett Bay

When we lived in Rhode Island we enjoyed many, many beautiful sunrises on the Narragansett Bay. Here are but a few of our photos taken on early morning walks and bike rides. Remember to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you and to treasure each sunrise as a time for reflection, self-renewal and promise for the future.

ENJOY … and pass along to someone who may like a little more sunshine in their life!

SATURDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS: What is it About New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s Resolutions

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

– Mark Twain

YouTube Video Introduction

What is it about New Year’s Resolutions?

I guess, maybe, ironically, we create this entrapment to feel good about ourselves. You know,   “This time…and, I really mean it!” kind of self-righteous-good. The time when we look in the mirror, stand a little taller, stare the stare of determination and raise one arm followed by a series of quick little fist pumps.

“There, I did it, I made my resolutions! What a good boy am I!”

“…now, let’s get back to life and living.”

Why is it that I don’t have to make an annual commitment to take long walks in the woods, love my family, watch more movies at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, enjoy a glass of red wine, buy the latest new toy at the Apple store, or eat more peanut butter?


Hey, maybe, just maybe, it’s because I anticipate and look forward to the payoff. In the moment—at least to the person doing it—all behavior is considered good, it scratches a self-interest itch. And, as long as the actions don’t hurt innocent bystanders, that’s okay.

  • I love the woods; the smells, solitude, insights, critters, and the random questions and answers that suddenly appear tucked inside the sounds of  crunching snow and snapping twigs.
  • I love my family beyond words. My feelings are spiritual, sacred, unbounded and absolute.
  • I look forward to the thought-provoking films shown on campus and the lively discussions/debates served afterward as a side-dish at the Red Hawk.
  • I enjoy sharing a bottle or two of rich, velvety, red wine with friends who are never guests.
  • I love the little-boy-at-Christmas feeling that comes when I take a new Apple product out of the package.
  • I like peanut butter; I just do, always have…always will.

I guess what I’m saying is that It isn’t the woods…it’s the treasures I find in the woods. It isn’t an obligatory sense of family strangled by “shoulds” … it’s a humbling, revered, fulfillment of “wants” and “needs.” It isn’t the Michigan Theater…it’s the intellectual challenge and passionate conversation it spawns. It isn’t the wine…it’s the uncorked flow of friendship. It’s not the computer, touchpad, speakers, wireless keyboard, tablet, or phone…it’s the promise of discovery, creativity, and adventure that shakes my bones and lifts my spirit. And, it isn’t the peanut butter…it’s the taste in the jar!

Shakes my bones and lifts my spirit…shakes my bones and lifts my spirit.


Maybe, just maybe, that’s it! Perhaps our annual Brick-Laying-Party-to-Hades renews because we focus on the path to personal rewards and not the personal rewards, themselves. By the way, I’m talking about your rewards, not your mom’s, partner’s, or Oprah’s. Seek passionate change that takes you to a state where your bones shake and your spirit soars!

Reframe and repackage your resolutions. Losing weight is not the goal…the goal is freedom from emotional and physical discomfort coupled with new options and opportunities. Exercise is not the goal…the goals are energy, self-confidence and, in some cases, social interaction and athletic accomplishment. Quitting smoking is not the goal…the goal is a long, healthy life of engagement with friends and family. Cutting back on the booze is not the goal…the goals are clear thinking, dignity, and self-respect. Getting out of debt is not the goal…the goals are sleeping well at night, economic freedom, pride, and self-reliance.

Take a close look at the resolutions you’ve made for 2012. Ask yourself, “Who am I making this resolution for?” “Beyond, the science of life, how does the resolution advance my art of living?”

The mechanics of behavior change are relatively easy and well defined. I can show you the color templates. However, personal passion and personal motivation—not as easy to define and kick-in-gear—are the keys to sustained, meaningful change. Focus on “Why?” and “So What?” These questions tap into your passion. If the resolution doesn’t pass the bones-shaking and spirit-lifting test, odds are you’re focusing on the process, not the true goal, and, maybe—just maybe—you are channeling someone else’s desire for you to change.

Watch for more about discovering your passion and cultivating your motivation in a future edition of “Saturday Morning Reflections.”


“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

– Helen Keller


YouTube Video Introducing: “Saturday Morning Reflections”

Beginning January 21, I will introduce a new weekly feature to this blog: “Saturday Morning Reflections.”

Yes, I will continue to write and post—bird’s eye view—articles focused on worksite and community wellness (the recent article on senior wellness was the biggest download, to date). However, I needed a place to reflect on lessons learned from a perch much wider than that. As I have written many times, there is both science and art to consider when dealing with the human condition. The multi-part articles will touch mostly on methods, best practice, economics and the science of life. “Saturday Morning Reflections” will be all about the art of living.

The SMR essays will be short, no more than two pages, and I will also publish companion video commentaries on YouTube…again, short…usually no more than 2-5 minutes. Some of the written content will be updates of previous writings, but all of the video content will be fresh and unscripted. Scheduled topics include:

  • New Year’s Resolutions
  • The Unhealthiest Place to Live – The Village of Someday
  • Perhaps You are Merely Lost in Med-Sentence
  • In the Process of Becoming…Don’t Forget to Simply Be
  • Listen to the Wisdom of Others
  • Caution: Grandma and Grandpa are Killing Your Children
  • Victim or Master…Your Choice
  • Respect the Power of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • The Human Primary Operating System is Not Rational…And, That’s Not a Bad Thing
  • Never Cross a Glacier with a Weak Team
  • What to Do When Your Gifts are Rejected
  • Quantum Entanglement and the Power of Intention
  • Situational Wellness: Lessons from the Baltimore Catechism
  • Don’t Confuse Connectivity with Intimacy
  • Without an Irritant…There Can Be No Pearl
  • Warning: Assimilation Dead Ahead!
  • Marriage, Friendship, and Partnerships: Assessing Risk
  • The Cancer Journey: From Survival to Thrival

Please click on and tune in. Also, please don’t hesitate to offer topic suggestions.

Be Well,




The full five-part article on THE CHRONOLOGICALLY SUPERIOR is now available in PDF at no charge. If interested, just click…

Samuelson Article – The Chronologically Superior



Position Statement:

Wisdom is the sum of the reflective and reflexive understandings that settle deep in one’s soul after a long journey — a life adventure  peppered with laughter, tears, fear, foolishness, joy, doubt, amazement and wonder. Pay attention to those who have traveled before you. Ask questions and listen with your whole being. Like echoes in a canyon, the lessons will continue whispering their meaning.


What follows is the Summary of this essay on health and wellness for seniors.

The Chronologically Superior: Part V – VIDEO Summary (So What?)

We’ve all done it. Certainly, I have. You know what I mean: spoken a little louder, perhaps a little slower, maybe, with the same affect used when talking to small children. We somehow-for some reason—assume that as the hair lightens/thins/disappears, and the shoulders stoop, cognitive thinking is slowly washed out by the inevitable bright light that holds vigil at the end of the tunnel. Oh, it’s done with the best of intentions. We want to show respect, show deference, reduce the load and clear a path to green pastures. “Take it easy,” “Can I get you anything?” “Oh, Sweetie, I’ll get that,” “Have a seat, Honey…you’ve earned.”


Nice. Polite. Moms all over are proud. Right? I mean that’s how we were taught to treat our elders. Remove responsibilities, assume control, open the door and help them in and out of the backseat. Nice. Polite. Moms all over are proud. Right?

Not so fast. I like the intent, truly I do, but we need to rethink our assumptions regarding “old age.”

Old Age Isn’t What it Used to Be

In 1935, when President F.D. Roosevelt sent his “Economic Security Bill” to Capital Hill, a white male child born in that year could expect to celebrate his 63rd birthday, and a male person of color had a life-expectancy of around 52 years. A white woman was expected to live until 67, and a non-white female, about 55 years. Renamed, “The Social Security Act,” the title was amended so as to read:

“An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing  a system of Federal old-age benefits, and…”

Given that—in 1935—life expectancy was somewhere between 52 and 67, “old” seems like an appropriate descriptor for someone in this age range. However, a child born today, in general, can expect to live somewhere between 71 – 81 years. On the high side, this is a 14 year, or a >20%, gain in longevity.


One of the dangers of advancing outdated notions of what it means to be 65 and older is that these lowered expectations are quickly assimilated. Older people are the same as everyone else; if you set the bar lower than their ability, they will pick up on your cues and tend to underachieve. Conversely, set a stretch-goal and people—of all ages—tend to reach or exceed the mark. Psychologists refer to this as, “Priming Behavior.” We prime behavior in a variety of ways including signals we send with our physical posture, gestures, vocabulary, facial expressions, and the tenor, tone and volume of our speech. When it comes to the senior population, if we are not careful, we will transform our otherwise sharp, productive, energetic, and engaged senior population into shuffle-board-playing, slow-moving, disengaged, crabby, self-absorbed, sickly, afternoon-matinee-attending, 5’o’clock Denny’s Dinner Special-eating “old” folks. AND they will stay that way for a long, long, time!

The More Senior You Become…The More Senior We Become

There are a number of factors contributing to expanded life expectancy. Reduced infant mortality, improved disease prevention, and better medical treatment for all age groups are key, well-known, factors. The one factor we’ve neglected to consider and plan for is, aging. The older we get, the older we get.

When my great grandfather Jeremiah Madden was born in 1846, his life expectancy was just over 38 years. When he reached 10 years of age, his life expectancy jumped all the way to 58 (the impact of infant and childhood mortality). When he made it to 20, his predicted age at death was pushed out another two years to 60. At 30, he was looking at 64 and, when he reached 40 years of age, statistics projected my great grandfather out for another four years to 68. When he reached his Jubilee year, he was given three more years to the age of 71. At 60, he could look forward to seeing his 75th birthday and, when he reached 70, the stone mason made the statistical folks look real smart when, chisel in hand, he finished the bookend dates on either side of my great grandfather’s tombstone dash with the year “1926.” Jeremiah Madden died at the age of 80. The older he got…the older he got.

To put it another way, when my great grandfather turned 65 in 1910, his 65+ cohort represented 4.3% of the total population. When my grandfather turned 65 in 1947, he and his buddies were 8.1% of the total. When my dad turned 65 in 1974, his group made up 10% of the population. Should I make it to 65 in 2013, my baby boomer friends and I will consume more than 13% of the population pie. Our children begin turning 65 in 2041 and they and their group will represent 21% of the total population, and our grandchildren in the year 2075, will represent 23%. As you can see by the graph below, starting with my grandchildren’s generation—the Echo Boom progeny—it’s projected to start leveling out.

However, in the meantime…

Are you (we) ready for an older population? Who will benefit? Who will suffer? How so?

The 5 Ws

Years ago I realized that the only way I could attack an issue—an opportunity— was to break it down using what I call, “The 5 Ws Model.” ™

  1. What’s Happening? – Current Status
  2. So What? – Trends & Consequences
  3. What Now? – Triage & Emergency Action Plan
  4. What Next? – Strategic Plan & Intent
  5. What Difference Does it And Will it Make? – Personal/Organizational ROI

Let’s apply this model to the question at hand:


Our Aging Population

(a.k.a., “What Are We Going to Do About Grandma and Grandpa?”)

What’s Happening  (Current Status)

  • In 2010 the top three federal spending categories were:
  1. Social Security
  2. Defense
  3. Medicare
  • Since the turn of the 20th century, the percentage of the US resident population, 65 years of age and older, has grown three-fold, from 4% to 13%.
  • The current unfunded debt obligation for Medicare is $24.8 trillion. Let me write that out for you:


So What?  (Trends & Consequences)

  • In 1962, 13% of the federal budget was spent on Social Security and Medicare. According to the OMB, by 2020 these two programs will account for 36% of the total spend.
  • From 2000 – 2010, Medicare spending jumped 81% (OMB data).
  • The high cost of Medicare pulls dollars away from other needed programs. As seniors age, we must find a way—healthwise— to keep them younger as they grow older.
  • Overall, the top-heavy spend on unnecessary medical treatment, error, and redundancy has drained away much-needed primary prevention dollars. Dollars that could advance and ensure affordable, full access to the social determinants of health. These include health literacy, general education, basic nutrition, neonatal care, early childhood development, healthy infrastructure, screenings and early intervention.
  • According to the 2010 Trustees Report, the year that Social Security will begin to spend more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes is 2015—one year sooner than predicted in last year’s report. In the year 2037 “trust funds” will be exhausted.

What Now? (Triage and Emergency Action Plan)

  • Pull your head out of the sand. Begin facing the hopes and fears, obstacles and opportunities that come with aging. It is the quintessential approach/avoidance dilemma.
  • As a relief-reaction to the horrible and historical mismanagement of your tax dollars, go to a window, open it, stick your head out and echo the cry of Howard Beal: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
  • Look in the mirror and ask yourself,  “Down the road, who’s going to have to pay for my lifestyle-related health issues? My children? My grandchildren?”  Take steps, today, to reduce future economic and emotional debt for your (and our) loved ones.
  • Intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and economically embrace the concept and value of compressed morbidity.

What Next? (Strategic Plan and Intent)

  • Write your representatives in DC and demand administrative reform at CMS and SSA. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plan…it does matter that, they (House and Senate), know that you hold them accountable and that you VOTE. Do the same when it comes to state and local issues that impact senior populations.
  • As Steve Jobs would say, “Think Different” when it comes to seniors. Treat them with respect, not deference. Our seniors want/need to feel relevant and engaged. Encourage activities, include them in your discussions, ask for their advice and pay attention to the life lessons they have to share. Sense of purpose is a beautiful thing.
  • If you are an employer, consider phased retirement for key people. Thirty years that ends with a cardboard box and a pat on the back hurts everyone. Consider such things as mentoring positions, advisory boards, focus groups, open ended consulting relationships, and confidential no-oblique-speak lunch and learns with senior workers and senior staff.  Mine the treasure wrapped in gray. You don’t even have to dig…it’s sitting right in front of you begging to be noticed!
  • If you are a vendor of products and services, don’t miss the senior market opportunity. They are a large group with significant discretionary dollars to spend and they expect to be around for decades to come.
  • When you turn 60 and—assuming you’re in good health—the odds are very strong that you will be around for your 75th birthday. If good health finds you turning 75, 85 looks good to go. And, if you’re doing okay at 85, welcome to your 90s! Can Willard Scott be far behind?! Is this good news or bad? Will the years ahead bring gold or rust?
  • When it comes to aging, PLAN FOR THRIVAL NOT SURVIVAL!
  • Plan on spending less time at Denny’s.

What Difference Does It and Will It Make? (Personal/Organizational ROI)

  • It’s not enough to simply—or, not so simply—increase awareness, education and action. Without measuring effectiveness and personal meaning (passion), we are doomed to repeat history. We need to monitor both the objective as well as subjective impact of our interest and energy.
  • Stay informed by reading and studying both sides of an issue and listening to the interpretations and evaluations of both vested and disinterested parties.  Depending upon who is in the White House and who is controlling Congress, Republicans and Democrats will tell you that things are getting better or that Chicken Little was right. Libertarians will simply tell you and everyone else to just leave this, and virtually every other issue, alone. Get involved and stay involved.

In Conclusion

I’m just starting this CS journey, but as it progresses—and God willing it will be a long and healthy journey—you can call me “Honey,” “Dear,” and “Sweetie.” You can open every door, offer to carry every heavy package and even speak a little louder and slower if it makes you feel better to do so. These are nice things to do, well-intended, and I’m sure your mother would be proud. I appreciate it, I really do. But, please—and, I speak for all those with light/thinning/transparent hair and stooping shoulders—please respect my dignity and intelligence, support my independence, ask for my advice, benefit from my experience… including my mistakes, let me drive my car for as long as it’s safe to do so, share your time (the most precious gift you can give me) and don’t, I beg of you, feel a need tell me about the early-bird dinner specials at Denny’s. 😉

THE CHRONOLOGICALLY SUPERIOR: Part IV – Caution: Your Workforce and Consumer Base are Ageing

Position Statement:

Wisdom is the sum of the reflective and reflexive understandings that settle deep in one’s soul after a long journey — a life adventure  peppered with laughter, tears, fear, foolishness, joy, doubt, amazement and wonder. Pay attention to those who have traveled before you. Ask questions and listen with your whole being. Like echoes in a canyon, the lessons will continue whispering their meaning.


What follows is Part IV of a five-part essay on health and wellness for seniors.

As I begin writing this section, the US population is 312,805,052. Of these residents, 13% are 65 or older. By 2020, that percentage will jump to 16.1%, a gain of 1.2%, while those under 20 will drop by .05% and those in the 20 – 64 cohort will drop by 1.2%. And, according to the US Census Bureau, by the year 2030 (closer than you think), seniors will comprise close to 20% of the total US population.

In just 18 years, one in every five US residents will be over the age of 65.


“…As  The baby boomers moved into the older age groups, beginning in 2011, the  proportion aged 65–74 is projected to increase. The majority of the country’s older population is projected to be relatively young, aged 65–74, until around 2034, when all of the baby boomers will be over 70. As the baby boomers move into the oldest–old age category, the age composition of the older population shifts upward. In 2010, slightly more than 14% of the older population will be 85 and older. By 2050, that proportion is expected to increase to more than 21%. The aging of the older population is noteworthy, as those in the oldest ages often require additional care and support.”  (US Census Bureau)


Are you ready? Ready as an employer? Ready as vendor? Ready as a taxpayer?


If you are an employer keep in mind the fact that as the baby boomers grow older, so does the US workforce. Three decades ago the median age of the labor force was 35 years in 2008 the median age was estimated to be 41 years. By 2030, 23% of the US labor force is projected to be ages 55 and older, compared with13% ages 55 and older in 2000. Much of this is due to the elimination of mandatory retirement age, improved medical care (living longer), elimination or reduction in pension payouts, extended age eligibility for social security benefits, and—in the case of higher income workers—erosion of 401k plans. Take a look at your workforce and ask yourself:

Am I ready for an increasing older workforce?


Great news for you. Everyone—other than those writing the checks—will benefit from an ageing population. Retirement villages, long-term care facilities, healthcare providers, wellness professionals, and the recreation industry all stand to gain from an ageing population. Vendors, take a look at your product line and ask yourself:

Am I ready for an increasing older consumer base?


Of course, that means most of us. I needn’t waste digits by re-hashing the red ink associated with funding Social Security (employee-contribution savings) and Medicare (legislated entitlement). Pick up a newspaper or turn on the television. Legions are forming at the checkout line. Each day, over 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Medicare and Social Security. And consider this: In 1950, as Social Security ramped up, there were 16 workers per recipient. Today there are 2.9 workers per recipient, and by 2041, the Social Security Association says there will be just 2.1 workers per recipient. Taxpayer, take a look at our obligations and promises to these older Americans and ask yourself:

Are we ready … ?

I can answer the third readiness question. The answer is “No” with further comments to come in a later white paper. As for you employers and vendors, here’s my advice:

Be Aware of & Beware of …


Coming Up…

Part V:                     Summary – So What?