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Posts tagged ‘wellness’

Open Your Eyes … Or, Don’t: It’s Your Choice

First, You Must Decide to Wake Up!

Because we are human, we do not always do what our mothers taught us to do. We make mistakes. We slip. Sometimes we feel guilty, sad and remorseful. This is followed by a strong commitment to change; to get back on the right path, to do all those things that mom, our first-grade teacher, Captain Kangaroo, Bert & Ernie, Mr. Rogers and Oprah told us to do. Unfortunately, just like when on a bike path — once we slip off we tend to make deeper and deeper grooves in the soft grass and mud. If we stay too long the grooves just get deeper until we find ourselves in someone else’s tracks; someone who slipped off the path long before we came along. Without fast action, we quickly adapt to this new trail. It seems so much easier to continue along in the mud. The problem is that we know we are in the mud and that we would be much safer if we could break through the rut and get back on the stable road. However, when we try to leave the sloppy and increasingly dangerous trail we are intimidated by the bumps as we smack up against the groove’s edge. So, we settle back into the rut (we’ll try again, later). We lack the courage, strength or will to risk the initial jar so we stay where we are.

Such is life both on and off a bike path. The difference between life and a bike path is that, on the life path, there are plenty of people happy and eager to tell you what’s good for you — what you need to do to live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life — to get back on the right path. Parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, monks, mullahs, your Aunt Betty, Dr. Phil and the next-door-neighbor stand ready to give (push) advice your way. Mostly, this advice is well intentioned, but it is often general in scope with little or no personal relevance.

Any newsstand magazine, professional website or internet blog can give you a broad wellness formula made up of good sense tips (mom told you these things a long time ago) like eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, stay away from tobacco, drink alcohol moderately or not at all, exercise regularly, spend time with family and friends, read a terrific book, see your doctor and dentist annually, wear your seat belt, believe in a higher power and stay away from a steady diet of cable news.

The Science of Life and the Art of Living

The science of life is general and objective. Evidence indicates that, foregoing defective genes and catastrophic events, a life accented by a healthy blend of proper nutrition, physical activity, rest & recovery, intellectual stimulation, emotional support, spiritual engagement and social interaction tends to be long and relatively free from illness and disability.

Science can show you how to build a strong skeleton, but YOU have to lay down the muscle and tease out the connective tissue that makes your unique system work, for you.

What do YOU want?

There are countless “How To…” books outlining the objective science of life complete with full-color templates. But, only YOU can explore, discover, design and nurture the unique, subjective, deeply personal art of living your life.

So, again, the questions are: What do YOU want? Where do YOU want to go? What predictably triggers and sustains those moments when you feel truly happy and satisfied with the life you’re living? Is it yoga or deep breathing exercises? How about “The Secret,” The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, or “The Four Noble Truths?” Is it truly better in the Bahamas … and does it simply take a trip to Jamaica to feel alright?

Perhaps, for you, wellbeing — life satisfaction — improves when you read a good book, spend time with your kids, go the movies, buy gifts for your grandchildren, drink a cold beer on a hot summer day, watch television or work till dawn on a project that comes to life and tickles you each time you give it your undivided attention? For me, every few years, it’s a quiet far-far-away mountaintop, exhausted, sleeping alone in a tent surrounded by strangers who quickly become forever-memory friends. For my wife, it was once the thrill of climbing out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging from the wing strut, letting go, and floating through the sky (YIKES!).

How about you? Of course, you WANT to increase and sustain your life satisfaction, but first you must WAKE UP! You must become AWARE and take inventory of what brings meaning to your life, today. You must open all of your senses and pay attention.

Health and Wellness FAQ – Full Complementary PDF Now Available

No fee…no need to leave an email address…simply click the “Health and Wellness Industry FAQ: Samuelson link (Next Line) and it’s yours!

Health and Wellness Industry FAQ: Samuelson

Be Well,


The Health and Wellness FAQ: Advice to Practitioners

Wellness Exists at the intersection of Contentment and Aspiration.

To live  there, You Must First Choose to Move Out of the Village of Someday…


Over the years I’ve been asked a number of questions about the health and wellness industry. This is question #10 of the top 10 most frequently asked questions. The responses are, of course, neither right nor wrong. They are simply my impressions from over 35 years of field experience.

QUESTION #10: After spending so many years as an executive, educator and practitioner in the field of health promotion and disease prevention, what advice do you have for the next generation?

RESPONSE: Before giving advice, let me express my absolute joy in having spent my entire career as an educator in the area of health promotion and disease prevention. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful adventure; one that has allowed me—for the most part—the luxury of following my passion, defining and pursuing a purposeful life and avoiding anything close to what we think of when we use the term, “work.” I am humbled and grateful for the opportunities that continue to come my way.

As for advice, I urge teachers, students and practitioners to recognize that we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to having an impact on the overall health and wellness of this, or any other, country. Remember that the process of change goes from intellectual (information stage) to emotional (engagement stage) to visceral (action stage) and, finally, to cellular (sustained engagement stage). We have done a reasonably good job with education and awareness; however, for the most part, this has not translated to sustained actions resulting in improved health and wellbeing.

This is not for a lack of effort and, certainly, there are isolated pockets of impact; however, the overall investment of blood, sweat and tears has failed to produce an adequate return. Why is this the case? What should we be doing that we haven’t done? What should we do differently? What, perhaps, have we done that we should not have done?

For over three decades. I have lectured and written on the importance of primary prevention, early detection and early intervention as the three keys to improved health. While these three areas are, indeed, important elements in the health equation, I’ve missed a fourth and, arguably, the most important ingredient. My advice, my urging, is that much, much more attention be given to:

Primary prevention is the identification and mitigation of risk factors, i.e., smoking leads to lung cancer, so don’t smoke; obesity leads to heart disease, so reduce your fat and sugar intake, exercise more and lose weight; hypertension kills so lower your blood pressure with a proper diet, exercise and stress management.

Primordial prevention looks to not only identify and mitigate risk factors but slices deeper to identify and mitigate the root cause of these risk factors. The emphasis changes from, “What are the risk factors?” to “What are the environmental, cultural, economic, social and behavioral conditions that allow these risk factors to emerge?”  With primordial prevention comes comprehensive and collective impact efforts targeting poverty, inequality, environmental toxins, hunger, malnutrition, child abuse, housing, education and other determinants of population health.

According to The Institute for Functional Medicine, “Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.

By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.

Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.”

From my perch, this blend of collective-impact sociology and patient-centered medicine holds great promise for the advancement of community as well as worksite health and wellbeing. I strongly encourage you to investigate the area of primordial prevention including the critically important pursuits of The Institute for Functional Medicine.

The Institute for Functional Medicine


I am indebted to Dr. Howard Schwartz, an Integrative Cardiologist located in New York City,  for providing me with an introduction to primordial prevention and functional medicine.

Dr. Schwartz has more than 23 years of field experience in the areas of preventive cardiology, general wellness and prevention, stress reduction and lifestyle modification. Dr. Schwartz specializes in assessing the healthy heart status of organizations, and custom designs education and intervention strategies to advance both personal and professional performance. 

“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?

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

THE CHRONOLOGICALLY SUPERIOR: Part I – A Conversation with My Father…

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 I of a five-part essay on health and wellness for seniors. 

“You hold in your hand the precious gift of all—the gift of life.  You can nuture and grow it, or you can crumble it and throw it away.  Either way, it’s yours.”


– O.E. Samuelson, 1909-1977, Age, 68

April 1962

I’m sitting in the school nurse’s office at Tappan Junior High school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Why? Because I’m too worried to remain in class. I need to talk with someone. The nurse is kind; she makes me feel safe. “It will be okay, Michael,” she says.

My father, Orville Samuelson, is at the University of Michigan Hospital having a cancerous lung removed. A heavy smoker all of his life, my dad, at 53, is only beginning to suffer the consequences of poor lifestyle choices. I’m 15 and just beginning to follow his example.

As a result of zillions of puffs on Winston cigarettes and a lifetime of alcohol abuse, my dad’s next 15 years were filled with pain, frustration, a prescription drug induced haze, and a zillion more puffs on Winston cigarettes. Oh, he has bursts of creativity (he is the original Mr. fix it) and fleeting moments of pleasure, but after that spring day, the fire fades from his spirit as the energy drains from his body.

Over the years, additional surgeries pull us back to the University of Michigan Hospital, including a series of horrific amputations for peripheral artery disease. The years of smoking have broken down the vessels needed to bring blood to his toes and feet. It eventually results in gangrene, leading to the removal of a toe, a foot, one leg, and finally the other leg. He stops drinking but keep smoking. He has one more burst of energy and creativity: he rigs his old Buick Electra 225 to operate with hand controls. This illusion of freedom is a dream that briefly puts the sparkle back in his eyes. Unfortunately, he has time for only a couple of test runs before he dies at the University of Michigan Hospital at the age of 68. Invasive melanoma has been diagnosed in his stumps, and his heart can no longer take the assaults.

I remember him as a decent man who loved his family, worked hard, and did his best. He certainly drank and smoked to excess but over that same 15 years so did I.

My father was not a philosophical man, nor, true to his Swedish heritage, did he show much affection or emotion. But shortly before he died, he beckoned me close to his bedside and spoke words I’ll never forget. He took my hand, looked at me with hollow, steel gray eyes, and said, with both sadness and parental urgency:

”In your hand you hold most precious gift of all–the gift of life. You can nurture and grow it, or you can crumble it and throw it away. Either way, it’s yours.”

This was both advice and confession. I was 30 years old, and throughout my entire life, that was the only direct guidance I ever got from my dad. But, it was powerful, and—for the most part—it’s held over the past 33+ years.


So Many Questions Never Asked…Most Not Even Considered. Thirty-three years. That’s a lot of time. If I (we) had a “Do-Over” what would I ask him? What would I want to know? What did I need to know? What would he tell me? …

  • “I’m thinking about starting a business on my own. What do you think?”
  • “Another baby on the way. Whoa. What do I do now?”
  • “Any tips for not going crazy being away from home, living out of a suitcase?”
  • “How do I fix this broken window pane?”
  • “What was my grandfather like?” “Were you and him close?” “How about your mom?”
  • “In this picture, who is the funny-looking guy with the handle bar mustache?
  • “What was it like to live through the Great Depression?”
  • “Did you know about the concentration camps?”
  • “What did you do in Montana with the DPW CCC?”
  • “What went through your head when you were told you had lung cancer?”
  • “How did you get booze during Prohibition?”
  • “Yours was a time of segregation and open racism. How did you feel about that?”
  • “What can you tell me about our heritage?”
  • “What was your biggest regret?” “Your greatest joy?” What were your darkest fears?”
  • “Did you believe in God?” “Why?”
  • “What did you do when you were afraid that you couldn’t make the house payment?”
  • “Another baby. Two boys and a girl. Wow. How did you do it?”
  • “Dad, if you had a Life Do-Over what would you do over?”
  • “We think Hillary is starting menopause. Any advice!?!”
  • “How did you keep it together when my sister, your daughter, died?”

Of course, the above just scratches the surface. There are hundreds of things I wish we had talked about. Some profound, most very basic. The Walton’s kind of stuff. The point is that I never had (took) the opportunity to ask those questions. I never sat on a bench with my dad and started a sentence with, “What do you think about…,” “Can I ask you a personal question…,” “Please, help me figure out…,” “I’m quite upset and concerned about…,” “You’re going to think this is nuts, but, I have an idea…what do you think?”

Major Cliché Warning: Life is too short. And, too unpredictable. Sometime this week find mom or dad or Bill down the street or Mary in the next cubicle or that nice old (CI) neighbor and ask a couple questions. They don’t have to be “Meaning of Life” questions, just questions about the road they’ve traveled…and the one that stretches out in front of you.

“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man on the moon

When you comin’ home dad?

I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son

You know we’ll have a good time then…”

– Harry Chapin, “Cat’s in the Cradle”

Coming Up…

Part II:                     I’m Not Old…I’m Chronologically Superior!

Part III:                    CS Members Only – Qualifications

Part IV:                    Caution – Your Workforce and Consumer Base Are Ageing

Part V:                     Summary – So What?

On the Wellness Trail to Machu Picchu

While I did some hiking and camping as a kid and a little bit more when I was stationed with the US Air Force in Alaska in the 60’s, it wasn’t until after a cancer diagnosis at the age of 51 that I left my Walter Mitty over-stuffed couch, yanked on the boots, picked up the sticks and set out for the “Big” mountains.  After certification in technical climbing by the Alaska Mountain Guides and Climbing School in Haines, in 2000, I trekked to the Mt. Everest Basecamp and the Summit of Mt. Kalapathar in Nepal in 2001, and reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro via the Machame route in 2006. I’ve also done high altitude hikes in Colorado, Switzerland and a couple up-and-downs on the dangerously misleading Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.  The Peruvian Andes trek makes 5 mountain adventures on 5 continents.  All filled with memories of wonderful trail companions and precious freeze-frame reminders that life is lived in moments…not years.  

On the Trail

After several hours of trekking, the rocky road was narrowing, energy was draining, elevation was climbing and the temperature was dropping.

It was our first camp after leaving Cusco, the ancient capital of Peru.  Left behind were 16th century Spanish cathedrals, little boys selling postcards, weathered old men hoping to shine boots and pretty little girls selling pretty little stuffed dolls.  And, also, of course, clean sheets, bottled water and a warm bed.

Destination:  A centennial celebration visit to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu via the “less traveled” Salkantay Trail in the magnificent Peruvian Andes.


Jamie, 43, our compact Peruvian guide, points toward the heavens, toward the south celestial pole. “Miguel, look up.  There!  You see?   That’s the Southern Cross.  Do you see the four points of the cross?”

How could I see anything other than a dense, glorious blanket of shimmer and sparkle?   I’m looking at a night sky from my distant past.  The same night sky I remembered from summer nights at Lake Erie.  A time when the Yankees owned their cross-town rivals.  A time when thoughts about Suzie Whitmore caused joy, stirrings, confusion and other things that I couldn’t share with Sister Mary Louise.  A time of deeply personal, imaginative, emotional honesty.

Jamie’s encouragement to “look up” is offered to a slightly stooped, quietly aging, snow-capped mountaineer with failing eyes and knees, but is heard by a wide-eyed little boy transfixed and energized, once again, by the wonder of it all.

Of course it wasn’t at all like a July, Lake Erie night in the 1950s. The few times I’ve been south of 22º N latitude Jamie wasn’t there helping me read the southern skies.  Before that night on the dusty and rugged Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu, I had never seen the beauty of the Crux, or other southern deep-sky splendors such as the Coal Sack, the Jewel Box, the Eta Carinae Nebula, the Wishing Well Cluster, the Southern Pleiades, Alpha Centauri or Omega Centauri.

“Yes, yes, I do see it!  It’s magnificent!” I said to our affable and knowledgeable escort.  I forgot how truly beautiful and crisp the stars can be.  “And, look at the Milky Way! Now, what is that, and that, and those three stars pointing west on the horizon?  Are they part of a constellation, as well?”

Who needs the Yankees or even Suzie Whitmore when night treasures like these can be yours just by opening one’s eyes and looking up with a child’s endless wonder?

Over the next several days, Jamie Vasquez and our American guide from International Mountain Guides (IMG), Kelly Ryan, would go on to safely guide us through the Salkantay Pass, along dangerous narrow ledges, up and down rugged mountain trails, over rickety bridges and on into the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.  Ever the teacher, Jamie enlightened and entertained us with running narratives about Inca history, local customs, sacred mountains, coca leaves, chicken calls, the proper way to eat passion fruit, the Amazon Cloud Forest, myths, legends, flora, fauna, Pizarro, Emperor Pachacuti, Hiram Bingham, the secrets of ancient stone architecture and a new way to think about orchids.


Why Climb?

When asked, “Why do you climb?”  The Italian mountaineer Giusto Gervasutti responded:

“…Of course, since the need is completely different for each individual, we have many forms of mountaineering. It may take the form of a need to live heroically, or to rebel against restraint and limitation: an escape from the restricting circle of daily life, a protest against being submerged in universal drabness, an affirmation of the freedom of the spirit in dangerous and splendid adventure. Or it may well be the pleasure of physical fitness and moral energy, elegance of style and calculated daring; ordeals gaily faced with friends themselves as firm as rock, the hard life of the high huts, the happy relaxation on remote pastures as one smokes a pipe or sings mountain songs. It may be the search for an intense aesthetic experience, for exquisite sensations, or for mans never satisfied desire for unknown country to explore, new paths to make. Best of all, it should be all these things together.  

Yes, all that he said (perhaps not the pipe smoking part…) and more.  Often I am asked, “Why?”  Why do I do this?  THIS meaning moving out of a predictable and defined comfort zone and smack dab into the path of who-knows-what swinging guaranteed discomfort and potentially life-threatening danger.  Well, if you haven’t walked a mile in these moccasins or stumbled a kilometer in these boots, no answer I give will make sense.  However, if you get the boots part, you won’t feel a need to ask the question and my guess is that we have probably shared moccasin trails somewhere along the journey.  That said, beside the beauty and adventure, it’s the people, my brothers and sisters on the trail.


Teachers and Lessons

Jamie was not the only teacher on this pilgrimage.  In the course of my sixty-three years, I have learned the importance of paying attention to my fellow travelers, of learning from their words and — more important — their actions and intentions.

Not unlike the travelers of Chaucer’s Canterbury, let me now introduce you to my forever-memory-friends and the wellness life-lessons they demonstrated on the trail to Machu Picchu.  BTW, we all have forever-memory-friends that have taught us wonderful life lessons.  I encourage you to sketch your own short profiles similar to those presented below.


So, how exactly do you wrap a 130-word description around a man as big as Doyle? Physically big, sure; north of both 6′ and 200lbs.  Seattle Seahawks TE big, but with a heart and spirit much bigger than that.  “Loose gravel, ahead, Mike, be careful.”  “Narrow at the bend, keep to your left.”  “How’s your knee holding out?” Do you need more blister pads?  Always a smile and always conveying a sense — a real sense — that, should you need anything, he’d help in anyway he could.  Not in a conscious this-is-what-I-should-do way, but an automatic, natural way that comes from…what?  A good small town Texas upbringing?  A great life-partner? Wonderful friends? Innate sensibilities?  Lessons from the athletic field? Intentionally nurtured core values?  Experience as a dad and grandfather?  The luck of the draw?  The sum impact of years of living, discerning, teaching, learning, frustration, joy, disappointment, success, failure, discipline, sharing and loving?  Yeah.  All of that.


Wow.  Where do I begin?  Ill just put fingers on the keyboard and see where this goes. 

Woman:  Determination is thy name. 

Solidly anchored at the intersection where tenacity meets a stonewall, Judie presents the most powerful blend of drive, sense of purpose, indomitable spirit and intellectual curiosity that I have ever encountered on any mountain trail.  At one point, a badly jammed big toe forced her to take the short train ride from Vilconota (the hydroelectric station) to Aguas Calientes  (Machu Picchu pueblo) while her companions walked the two-hour path along side the tracks.  Well, not ALL of her companions walked.  One other trekker, me, along with Kelly, also rode the train.  I gleefully welcomed the opportunity to take the train and rest my aching knees.  Judie, however, while forever pleasant, was clearly disappointed.  Intellectually she understood the need to avoid further damage to her toe but emotionally she didnt want to miss a single footfall on the trail to Machu Picchu. 

A veteran marathon runner, cyclist, disciplined fitness aficionado and overall ferocious consumer of all that life has to offer, Judie was not in the habit of truncating challenge nor did she let a black toe hold her back for long.  Once we arrived at Machu Picchu, she was at the front of the pack hiking the steep steps, traveling the narrow trail to the ancient drawbridge and testing Jamies recall of all things Inca.  Of course I felt an obligation to drag along at the back lest anyone was tempted to move too fast. 

Oh, did I forget to mention that Judie is Doyles wife and she, too, is seventy?  Yep, seventy, looking forty and traveling the trails like a kid on college break. And, by the way, while other couples may choose to celebrate milestone events like a 50th wedding anniversary by sitting at a seashore sipping fruity cocktails, Doyle and Judie elected to mark their five decades of predominately sunny trails by trekking rugged mountain switchbacks, musing lifes mysteries in a tent under the Southern Cross, and retracing the steps of ancient Inca emperors.   

Wow, indeed! 


On every mountain expedition there are rabbits and there are turtlessome dressed better than others.

There were times on the trail when I couldnt tell if the dust plume was caused by the mules and horses heading back to their corrals or by John racing on ahead like a young colt feeling his oats.  High energy, enthusiastic, attentive, friendly and uncomplaining are just some of the ways to describe John.  He was also fully into the culture, sporting local garb with the flair of a high price Peruvian model — yes, sure, model thats the word — on holiday. Hat, sweater, ring, pants and colorful tote transformed John from just another foreign trekker into a walking advertisement for festive Peru!  And, fortunately, he also has a great sense of humor.

At sixty-seven, John has been added to my growing list of role models. His zest for life, sharp mind and eclectic interests advance his quality of life while enhancing the experience of all those traveling with him.  Of course, my guess is that without the company of his life-partner, Linda, his high degree of sparkle would certainly diminish  


Well, the cliché about the broken record is becoming increasingly apparent.  Dignified, gentle, strong and intelligent best describes Linda.  So do the words: funky, spunky and energetic.  Also very compassionate.  Naturally concerned about her two-legged companions but VERY concerned and attentive to the growing problem of stray dogs that take to the Peruvian streets, landfills and trails, as well. 

Dont feed stray dogs!  Don’t feed stray dogs?  Yeah, right.  You tell her, not me! 

As for her fitness, I was struck by how fluid and efficiently she moved.  Like her dear friend, Judie, she is an elite athlete with over 30 marathons entered and completed.  Again, while other folks past the age of sixty are checking the Gray Line tour schedule, Linda and John are planning their next mountain expedition.  Maybe watching the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa? Or, perhaps, visiting sacred Buddhist monasteries while trekking to the Mt. Everest Base camp in Nepal? Rest assured that no moss will grow under their boots and no dust will cling to their hiking sticks.


A gentle, burly mountaineer of Scottish heritage who wears kilts, but, no, not on the trail — chafing, you know.  Duh.  And, when it’s cold, he covers his shaved dome with “Where the Wild Things Are” headgear.

Yep, that’s Ian.  And, of course, it’s not ALL that Ian is but it does paint an interesting picture, no?

Boy, here’s a guy I’d like to know better.  A very talented photographer (his photo at the beginning of this entry) and a great team member with a sense of independence that neither looks for nor appears to need your permission.  That’s not to suggest defiance or “Lone Wolf” countenance in any way.  More like quiet self-assurance, the kind that neither judges nor asks to be judged.  No games, no facade, no hype, no posturing or guesswork.  I got the impression that an old soul was wearing those kilts; an old soul who had worn through more than one pair of boots and certainly many pair of brogues along his journey.

Good guy.  I’d gladly share another dusty road with Ian and another Pisco Sour, too.  As for sharing a heaping, steaming plate of haggis? Probably not…


“Roady” was a delightful travel companion in every way. 

While I didn’t have an opportunity to speak with Roady nearly as much as I wish I had (another rabbit to this turtle), she always had a smile and an encouraging word for others as she quietly immersed herself in the wonders of the trip. And, even though she and Ian, engaged to be married, are young enough to be the children of the rest of us, they never made us chronologically superior folks feel like we were slowing them down. 

I enjoyed the bookend feature of Doyle and Judie’s rearview mirror  reflections of five decades together and Ian and Rodica’s private, silent — but clearly evident — tender foreshadowing of a wonderful life of love and adventure, to come.        


Wellness Life-Lessons Along the Trail to Machu Picchu:        

  • Don’t Just Look at Your Boots…Look Up
  • Prepare for and Live a Life of Healthy Uncertainty
  • Care of Others is The Purest Form of Self-Love
  • Patience with One Impacts Success for All
  • Humor Clears the Head and Energizes the Body
  • Be Aware of & Beware of The Chronologically Superior
  • Age is Just A Number
  • Better to Be Slow and Safe than Fast and Reckless
  • Expect the Best and Prepare for the Worse
  • Kindness Knows No Boundaries
  • Personal Passion + Team Support = Success
  • Vet Leadership Carefully & Then Follow Their Instructions
  • Enjoy the Journey…In the End, That’s All There is
  • Embrace the Power of the Possible

Michael H. Samuelson