Happy New Year!
Before I dive into this message, let me explain the photo above. Here I am at a meeting with Ken Cook, head of Environmental Working Group. His organization’s accomplishments are extraordinary, and it is always a pleasure and honor to compare notes with Ken on how to best serve our nation’s wellness needs. I learn a great deal from him...as well as the many other health and environment leaders I have met in the past few years.
And now...my start-of-a-great-year news.
Even at age 92—ESPECIALLY at age 92!—I still love to build the nest called life through at least two of many necessities: discovery and delight. My good friend Bill Moyers once said, “When I learn something new—and it happens every day—I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest.”
I also think of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Happiness is not a goal...it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
I’m pleased to say that I am “a little more at home in this universe,” and that 2014 was a “comfortable” and “well lived” year of amazement and delight. I hope your year was also been one to be grateful for, and that you are giving thanks for many adventures! Know this; I am ever-grateful for your membership in Wellness Warrior and your support, for every one of you is the kind of person I want to go into battle with.
I am amazed that my mind and body refuse to grow old. Of course I do expect to grow old eventually, but my mind says, “What’s the hurry? You still have work to do.” I hope you feel the same way about your own life—and the health of everyone in this great nation.
I am delighted with the very idea that I have the energy and stamina to do the work that I now feel is most important—my campaign to make our nation a country where the prevention of illness is considered THE top priority. We can only do this by reigning in the “big food” and “big pharma” industries, which have sickened so many Americans. As weighty as this subject is, I still find that work is play.
To work, one needs energy. Oxygen! It reaches every cell in our body most reliably from exercise. It’s what gets me to Pilates most weeks (unless I’m traveling). I exercise as much as five times a week now. I also feel legitimately guilty if I have not walked a minimum of a half hour in the afternoon. I know you’re supposed to do 10,000 steps a day, but at almost-93 I prefer “success over frustration,” so I set my goal at 5,000.
Because you are on my mailing list you know about Wellness Warrior, and I hope you have looked (not once but many times) at the website and signed up to receive our e-newsletter called The Well. It was created for my friends, family, and the wide wide world. I believe we are poisoned by chemicals, pharmaceuticals and processed food, as well as the threat of climate change...sigh...and its changes that are already in evidence everywhere, from pole to pole. Change is no longer a futuristic worry...it’s here, today.
When I think of a “Wellness Warrior” I picture myself strong and tall, ready to do battle on behalf of people everywhere. Wellness Warrior provides the tools and weapons for the battle...which I hope you, too, will join. The focus is on people like you: those who are already aware of the core values of wellness—especially in the fields of spa, personal fitness, nutrition, and the like. Wellness Warrior began with my thinking that people are often unaware of the latest wellness issues and news, or they are hyper-aware and yearning for a way to get a simple summary each week. And I wanted more Americans—beyond the guests who knew about the mission of health spas—to better understand the many facets of wellness and how activism is now needed to assure everyone’s wellness rights. You might call our quest the “democratization of spa.”
We are about six months into using our new site, and in addition to providing well-curated news and editorial content weekly on national key health issues, we can turn information into action. Wellness Warriors can launch petitions and organize campaigns directly from our website. Try it! Our first petition, asking the EPA to revoke Dow’s toxic herbicide, Enlist Duo, came in at over 1,200 signatures—I hope yours was one of them. It’s a good start!
Let’s spread the word together. We all must become Johnny Appleseeds when it comes to planting the trees that will grow into an orchard of health.
What was the high point of the year? Quite possibly it was an event last summer I called The Gathering in Washington, D.C. I love connecting people and their causes, and in the case of wellness—a field where everyone seems to be doing marvelous, strong work in their own “silo”—the need was clear: use the growing reputation of Wellness Warrior to gather leaders together so that they could get to know each other. Collaboration and new strategies could only result.
We had a salon-like day reminiscent of that famous quote by JFK when he hosted a dinner honoring Nobel laureates (“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”). Jefferson couldn’t attend our Gathering, so we made do with twelve of the nation’s best-known authors and experts (especially the heads of several non-profit research and health-advocacy groups) whose writings focus on all that ails our people—the result of a system gone rogue.
I think it might have been the start of something special. Time will tell, and I will keep you informed. If we do manage to shift America’s obsession with disease more toward policies that foster prevention and wellness, it will have grown from those seeds planted in fertile soil. I hope it will bear the greatest fruit, and have the biggest impact.
The poisoning of America is difficult to bring up in a letter filled with New Year wishes. Even food has betrayed us: we are besieged by food that is no longer alive. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs—bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli that can’t be treated with antibiotics when humans get foodborne illness—are proliferating. The Gathering was a beginning, I hope, of a continuing conversation. The problem is so vast few know where to begin, nor do I pretend to, but I dream we must each take a small step for humanity.
My warmest wishes to you for a safe, prosperous, and WELL 2015!