Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.
Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

by Thich Nhat Hanh


I love this!  How often do we walk,  only to have our destination in mind? When was the last time we simply enjoyed a brisk walk, with no goal or journey’s end, only our senses fully engaged?

February 28, marks the last day of the meteorological winter.  Spring is on its way!   The warming temperatures mean getting outdoors more and enjoying the warming temperatures.  A nice walk is the perfect way to celebrate.

Walking is a delicious way to exercise, especially when all our senses are invited to participate.  Think of the beautiful simplicity in this poem by Thich Nhat Hanh the next time you go for a walk.

Pause.  Breathe in each step with appreciation as new found as a spring bloom.



The Art of Walking

photography by Terri Kern Pouliot

The Art of Walking

How do you enjoy walking? Are you merely going from point A to point B? Do you walk briskly for the cardiovascular benefits? Do your walks have a specific target or goal in mind? Have you ever simply ‘sauntered’ as Henry David Thoreau suggests?
Sauntering, while walking, is an experience. This type of walking is purely delicious and luxurious. It has no specific goal in mind. While sauntering, it allows the adventure to ebb and flow naturally. It’s open. Free. Expecting nothing, but receiving everything.
Thoreau viewed walking in a unique way. He considered walking to be more of a spiritual endeavor rather than mere exercise.

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!

Thoreau was convicted by the thought that walking should involve a ‘connection’ with our natural world and approached with the mindset of becoming ‘fully present’. He believed that ‘busy’ was a conscious decision. He spoke of returning to his ‘senses’ after a saunter in the wild.

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘saunter’ as this;
  1. walk in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort.”Adam sauntered into the room”synonyms:stroll, amble, wander, meander, drift, walk; More
  1. 1.a leisurely stroll.”a quiet saunter down the road”
The Smithsonian explains where the origin of the word mostly likely derived:
The first modern use of the word “saunter” was in the 17th century, writes Hannah Osborne for International Business Times, and 19th-century writer Charles Baudelaire was the first to popularize this description of an urban saunterer or flâneur:

The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.

Consider sauntering on your next walk.  We don’t always need to ‘burn calories’ while walking.  Enter your walk with no expectations and with an open mind and heart.
Become immersed in your walk.

Fitness, to Some, is the “F” Word

This article is such an important share.  It was written by my mentor, coach and esteemed friend, Dr. Jack Barnathan.  Dr. Jack, (as his friends call him),  is a board member of the Magic Happens Foundation and has served legends of pro & Olympic sport.  He continues to lead and consult with those interested in creating and sharing their unique gifts with the world.  His list of credentials is impressive.  What truly sets Dr. Jack apart is his cutting edge insights, innovations and information that create a high ground experience that focuses on individual strengths and proven strategies.


Fitness, to some, is the “F” word.
by Dr. Jack Barnathan

Fitness, to some, is the “F” word.

And sadly, for good reasons.

Too often it’s FRUSTRATING

It is such a broad term and it can mean an evening hike after work (one of my favorites) or heavy lifting of weights in a gym (my favorite a decade or so ago) or rock climbing, or … almost anything.

And that’s where the confusion comes in.

What is Fitness?

As a doctor, and someone who taught certifications for a college that offered live certification classes for many years, I’m also confused.

My philosophy has always been that “Fitness activities” are very personal, and should be. There are no cookie cutter formulas that are “one size fits all” when it comes to fitness.

And the benefits for all, especially for preventing many illnesses or as a tool (with your doctors exam, advice and consent) for individuals to speed healing when they are recovering from treatment such as for cancer.

And because of this “confusion” I now use the term “physical activity” or, encourage people to find their “physical style.”

Something you can express from within. Something that fits your physical goals, health needs, protects you with safety FIRST and foremost, and, feeds your soul.

I will discuss elsewhere the many studies that exist proving the intense benefits of body, mind and spirit all found within that walk. Or Tai Chi. Or yoga. Or… whatever fits your physical style.

Give it a thought. It’s something you probably wanted to “express” or at least explore.

There are many great individuals, and organizations you can do this with. magichappensfoundation.org is one that supports those going through cancer treatment with similar activities.

You have goals for body and spirit. Make sure you find the support you deserve in that journey. The results could be dramatic, and life long.

Now That the Holidays are Over

Now that the Holidays are over…

You’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, gave and received presents, recovered from food coma, and uploaded your festive photos on Instagram and Facebook. All that’s left is a fridge full of leftovers and that ‘drained feeling’. The Post-Holiday let-down.

This is typical of the ‘crash’ after the Holidays. In spite of all the good cheer and joy, the days and weeks of socializing, gift shopping, cooking, planning and traveling; the expectations and stress of the Holidays can be overwhelming and often flip a switch inside our brain sending us into overdrive.

The Holiday aftermath. Reality. Stress amplified. Something had to give; exercise routine, meditation, quiet time, healthy meal planning and other self-care may have suffered. Motivation, unanswered emails, over-indulgence in food or drink, too much sodium, neglected routines, all leave the body feeling sapped.

There is a reason for this. “The stress of regulating blood sugar during mega-consumptions of junk food can depress our immune systems,” says Justine Campbell, R.D., a holistic nutrition therapy practitioner.

How to face ‘The Reckoning’

1. Unplug. Taking a break from constantly being connected to our devices can drag us down. The feeling of needing to check our devices 24-7 raises cortisol levels and over-stimulates the neurons with too much information, may create anxiety, comparison of everyone’s ‘perfect holiday’ photos (which could lead to envy) and possible depression. Set some time to go ‘Tech-Free’ and be truly present. Set some time during the day to unplug whether it’s during dinner or while taking a walk.

2. Re-Set your palate. Over-indulgence in food and drink often leads to the attitude of, “Oh well, I’ve already ‘blown it’ so why not eat more junk. After all, it’s the Holidays. The problem is, insulin levels spike when we overeat and the higher they rise, the more drastic the blood sugar crash hours afterward. This tends to leave us feeling irritable, and wanting more sugar. If we have eaten foods that are loaded with sugar, fat or salt for a few days, we end up resetting our palate toward those types of foods, rather than healthier choices. On a more serious note, the immune system is compromised from the food frenzied consumption of junk food.

3. Skip the Guilt. Give yourself some slack. It will take a bit of time to get back on track with your healthier routines. Plate some patience with those extra veggies. Make this the week you write down your goals and expectations and re-align your routine. Rather than totally re-hauling your entire diet; add extra vegetables to your meal rather than trying to scale back on everything ‘bad’.

4. Take time to enjoy. While the weeks leading up to the Holiday may have left you with little time to enjoy due to excessive obligations; now is the time to s-l-o-w down and breathe. Take time to reflect on the beauty of what is around you. Many of us leave decorations up until after the New Year. Now is the time to focus on their beauty.

5. Gratitude. Does anyone write Thank-You notes anymore? Expressing gratitude for gifts and time spent can promote well-being and foster a positive attitude.

6. Looking forward. Research shows that having something to look forward to promotes happiness and elevates the mood. Plan a few fun and simple activities with friends or family. Now is a great time to try something new.

7. Prioritize. Do take time to make your health a priority by including exercise as a part of your day. There is simply nothing better that getting out for a brisk walk. It elevates the mood, oxygenates your body and provides cardiovascular benefits. Find new ways to move! Exercise should be a reflection of your personality. Dance, walk, run, stretch, lift weights or do it all! Mixing up your exercise routine keeps it fun and will provide enjoyment.


A Physical Activity Specialist / Professional can design a program that is safe, effective and perfect for every activity level.


Let Your Feet Kiss the Earth

Photography by Tracy Sheppard
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
What a privilege it is to be able to spend time breathing in the beauty of our natural surroundings. Taking our exercise outdoors provides extra health benefits in addition to physical well-being.
Exercising outdoors provides a mental boost. Research shows that spending time outdoors increases energy and decreases stress.
Research shows exercising outdoors increases self-esteem. There is no self-comparison among the trees! Often, a gym setting brings about feelings of inadequacy, especially when ‘new’. Exercise in general increases self-esteem. Taking it outdoors has even more positive effects.
Outdoor fitness is easier to stick with. When we enjoy an exercise program, we are more likely to stay with it. Take a friend along, and you double the benefits.
Soaking up the sun provides added benefits. When the sun kisses our skin, Vitamin D3 is created. This is essential for bone health, metabolic function, improved sleep, increased immune function, and endorphin production.
More cost effective than gym membership. While resistance training (weights) are important to keep age related muscle loss at bay; cardiovascular exercise is also essential for keeping our bodies healthy.
For those on a limited budget, investing in quality walking shoes and weather friendly workout gear, is all that is needed to get out and enjoy nature.
An exercise program, thoughtfully designed, provides enjoyment and depth to life. It provides a rich and multi-layered experience that provides many health benefits, in addition to quality to life.

Gardening as a Workout?

Photography by  Tracy Sheppard
Photography by Tracy Sheppard

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore spending time in nature.

That includes spending time in my garden sanctuary. It provides hours of pure and simple enjoyment. Work? Yes, but a good kind of work. A satisfaction ensues, much like the afterglow of a good Strength Training Session, that surfaces after you’ve achieved your personal best. A ‘rolled up my shirt sleeves, and got it done’ kind of feeling.

This describes my morning. Oh, what a glorious morning. Low temps, fluffy clouds in an azure sky! Birds singing, what I believe to be the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ (at least that is my interpretation of their morning chatter).

And so, as often happens when I’m enjoying a ‘nature moment’, I start reflecting in terms of nature and her parallels in life. Those allegories that, if you really look closely, can be gleaned from the great outdoors. Nature provides an abundance of life lessons if we pay attention.

One thought that I enjoyed was how gardening is a satisfying workout! Exercise doesn’t always have to take place inside the four walls of a Gym. It can (and should) take on forms of movement that are not only effective and produce positive end results, but also provide enjoyment.

My week includes Strength Training (Weights, Resistance Bands, Body Weight movements) a minimum of three times a week on alternating days. On opposing days, I include some form of Cardiovascular Exercise (Power walking, Hiking, Plyometrics, Tabata, High Intensity Interval Training). One day of Rest and Recovery or Active Recovery finishes the week.

On days like today, I will include Walking and Gardening. Gardening as a workout? Yes. Here is why:

Gardening provides not only endurance, but flexibility and strength. It can burn up to 300 calories and hour. It also can work most major muscle groups.

-Mowing, raking, lifting and digging are excellent all-round exercises. But some gardening tasks are great for tackling particular “problem” parts of the body:

-Gluteals/bottoms: Weeding while squatting.

-Abdominals/ stomach and torso: Weeding on hands and knees, hoeing, trimming, picking, turning compost and starting a mower.

-Thighs: Pushing a wheelbarrow, weeding while squatting.

-Back: Weeding on hands and knees, hoeing, carrying water cans, picking, and starting a lawnmower.

-Arms and shoulders: Weeding on hands and knees, hoeing, pushing a wheelbarrow, pruning and turning compost.-


As with any type of exercise: Warm up prior to movement is a must.
Here are a few ideas:

-Do some body balancing exercises to target deep muscles that support the spine before gardening.

-Regularly change jobs; try to limit the time spent on any one activity to 20 minutes.

-Lift correctly (back in neutral, bending knees) and use your legs and abdominal muscles.

-To prevent tennis elbow don’t grip your tools too hard, but use tools with the correct grip size and keep your wrist in a neutral position, which is with the hand straight out.

-Keep hydrated, as dehydration can lead to increased muscle stiffness after exercise – don’t wait until you are thirsty before having a drink and keep fluids with you.

-Try to use both sides of the body when working in the garden, for example when digging, change the digging foot routinely.

-Do some post-gardening stretches and keep stretching regularly.

-Don’t forget the sunscreen and a hat.

I am a proponent of feeding the mind, body,and spirit. If you can enjoy an activity that provides all three; it’s a winner in my book. Gardening provides the body with enjoyable movement. It helps ‘clear the mind’ just soaking in the beauty of nature. It soothes the spirit by removing yourself from cell phones, electronics, social media, every day stresses,and anything else that robs the spirit of peace and balance. It provides solitude so that you can learn the art of ‘listening’.

Oh, and if you’re lucky….it produces some tasty and organic produce or lovely flowers!


Photography by Tracy Sheppard
Photography by Tracy Sheppard

Happy Gardening!

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Master Gardener