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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Friday, July 26, 2019

It's Not about Intelligence

The theme of this essay relates to the repetition of self-defeating behavior. There can’t be many in our country that do not know about the long-term ill effects of poor nutrition; lack of physical activity; smoking; excessive drinking; and prolonged prescription and nonprescription drug use. One would think that it’s common knowledge that our body or more specifically our organs like heart, lungs, kidneys; infections; arthritis; and a whole host of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia etc. become compromised as a result of inappropriate behavioral choices.  For example, according to the CDC, about 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017 and that 3/4 of our country are either overweight or obese.  Not to the surprise of some, recent studies have reported that lifestyle choices can limit genetic predispositions. More about that later.
 Typically, discussions around one’s weight results in defensiveness, and the expression of anger. Typical responses include: I have bad knees; I don’t care; I can’t change; it’s not going to happen to me-I’m going to gamble; I don’t know how to change; look at my relative who drank and smoked and lived to 100; I like food; I like the effects of getting a buzz; I like ice cream too much to give it up etc. There is no denying that the short-term effects of food, cigarettes, alcohol and drug use medicate and provide temporary relief. However, there is no denying that, more often than not, the long-term effects of these short-term fixes result in misery, shorter lifespan that includes a deleterious death. There is also no denying that we are not talking about some disease or genetic predisposition but we are talking about decision-making.
Psychologically, we can explain this self-defeating or abasement behavior as follows. The infant begins to experience praise or love for parental approving behaviors and punishment or perceived loss of love for parental disapproving behaviors. With the loss of love, we are exposed to danger which means that we are not protected. Not only that, we can expect to receive a punishment from a superior figure. Don’t forget that the many approvals and disapprovals by parents are not consistent nor clearly defined. What might seem to be okay or good with one parent is not necessarily the same as with the other parent. In other words, good behavior is not always understood but bad behavior is verbally or physically subject to punishment. The youngster initially learns, that if the discipliner is not present, one can get away with the bad behavior. Later, with the development of conscience, one knows what is punishable and therefore might not exhibit the terrible behavior, even if the authority is not present, because he knows it’s bad. He also begins to understand, with conscience, that even thinking about bad behavior is wrong and subject to punishment. Once again, punishment means the loss of love.  It doesn’t matter if the punisher says something to the effect that “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” The receiving of punishment or discipline is not associated with being loved.
With bad thoughts, and/or bad behavior, guilt is experienced. Guilt is the loss of love because of that internalized figure which might be a parent but not limited to a parent. When that youngster is being punished and/or receiving some form of disapproval, that results in feeling anger. How does this tiny individual respond to this large, omnipotent and powerful person?  To physically or verbally fight back against this dominant person doesn’t make sense because of the fear connected. So, that youngster suppresses that anger while experiencing thoughts and feelings of hate. The suppression of anger, guilt and loss of love dynamic occurs too often throughout one’s lifetime. Remember, one’s thinking evil thoughts results in guilt as well as the fear of loss of love and approval. Yes, we juggle approval behaviors and defend against fear of loss of love when faced against a superior or emotionally important figure in our life space.
It’s been well established, in our culture, that aggression is considered either a drive, a need, an acquired need; a reaction to frustration, or learned behavior because of the reinforcements and/or by the imitation of models within the environment. We also know that aggression can be directed outward toward others as in sadism or directed inward toward self as in masochism. We also know that aggression directed outwards as in boxing, football, soccer and rugby is acceptable because it’s called sport. However, anger directed inward as in the need of abasement-to accept injury, punishment, to seek illness and misfortune are characteristics of man.
It’s clear to me that long term abuse of one’s body, suggests self-punishment coupled with irrational thinking. If it’s self-punishment, that means there’s aggression turned inward along with the memory of being bad at some time or times during one’s lifetime. This memory results in an unconscious need for punishment. The individual through irrational and destructive repetitiveness behavior, systematically harms, hurts and seeks illness and misfortune by lifestyle choices because of an unconscious need for self-punishment. That doesn’t mean that external aggressive behavior as in verbal or physical sadism is not expressed toward others. I can’t think of one obese person that does not hurl verbal abuse outward. Yes, there is more to each unique and individual story as well as the power, the strength and influencing dynamic of their conscience.
Returning to an article published in July 14 of the journal JAMA, was presented to the “Annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.” Almost 200,000 people were enrolled in this United Kingdom long-term-eight year study. Diseases like cancer, heart disease, depression and dementia along with genetic variance were studied based on for behavior such as smoking cigarettes, exercise, and diet and alcohol consumption. The researchers found that those individuals, regardless of genetics, that exhibited healthy behaviors were nearly half as likely to develop dementia compared to the others. Unfortunately, the article didn’t comment on other diseases.
In conclusion, it seems that our design is not conducive in engaging in healthy behaviors, but quick medicated fixes. Perhaps, a strategy of exhibiting healthy and making appropriate behavioral choices along with routine healthcare visits, can be accomplished?  Everyone gets punished, experiences guilt and expresses aggression. The strength and influence of a strict and punitive unconscious conscience can be paramount; however there are no guarantees; no one said that it’s going to be easy; and we all are mortal.  In essence, self-defeating repetitious behaviors are symptoms of internal conflict or conflicts that can be confronted. Yes, we are all going to perish. However, while alive, if able, it’s better, in the long run, to react more rationally. The key question is “if able.” So far, man’s irrational and unconscious need driven behavior dominates and is more powerful than his intelligence.

Friday, July 19, 2019


Running past two horses in their separated pipe corral stalls, got me thinking. These horses are separated for a reason. As a rule, one horse, even though it’s a buddy, is sometimes called the alpha horse because of its domination. The domination might be in some form of play, feeding on available alfalfa or even drinking water. We humans generally are not separated by pipe corrals. The theme of this essay relates to abandonment within interpersonal relationships and/ or significant unions.
It is common knowledge that we start out life, on earth, totally dependent, fragile, anxious, and insecure or a helpless suckling. We rely on our caretaker or caretakers for our survival in meeting our physiological needs and requirements.  If all goes well, reasonably speaking, the infant develops some form of a cognitive and emotional sense of trust based on aspects of the care taker’s regularity, continuity and timing with the feeding, diapering, warmth and emotional holding contact process. Roughly, within the first six months or so, if that sense of trust has been developed, the infant cries and/or becomes disturbed when that caretaker leaves its view. That disturbance has been labeled separation anxiety. I could add and reframe it abandonment. Again, when the caretaker leaves the house to go to work or on an errand; or go into another room at bedtime, that infant might react with separation anxiety or abandonment fears. Parents, at times, attempt to resolve the infant’s fussing by bringing its crib into their room or even by bringing the infant to their bed. Of course, these feeble attempts by parents or anyone else, does not in any way resolve the initial dependency, anxiety or abandonment crisis state of being. This devastating emotional truth remains consciously or unconsciously with us during our lifetime. That original dependency separation-abandonment anxiety crisis never gets completely resolved but can only become “medicated.”
Further, lifelong separation- abandonment reenactments occur. A mother’s leaving as a result of occupation or career happens at least five days a week along with weekly errands. The birth of a sibling is another anxiety reenactment that has been called sibling rivalry-competition for love. I could reframe it abandonment as the initially favored firstborn has now been displaced with so much attention going to the newborn. Going from first to second place is not positive in any way. Don’t forget when the infant, ages 2 to 5 attends daycare, preschool or kindergarten there’s another separation from that important caretaker as dependency, anxiety, abandonment needs again become activated. What can make things even worse for the infant, child or adolescent is a divorce. Even though the parent that leaves says “I love you but I don’t love your mother anymore” or “your daddy’s still your father” can easily be translated that love is fragile or tenuous and can’t be counted on to last forever. That is the real message conveyed. Love is not guaranteed to last a lifetime.  That leaving by the parent also gets unconsciously translated by the child “he’s leaving because of me.” Do not forget the accompanying guilt as well. Over and over throughout one’s lifetime the individual experiences, like being imprinted,  this abandonment by initially experiencing an emotional dependency on any number of important individuals or more importantly a “loss of love” by nannies, housekeepers, school and work friends.  Relationships come and go. People die; develop Alzheimer’s; pursue employment; have disagreements, move away etc. The number of losses –separations in a lifetime is incalculable. It’ an awful degree of hurt, mistrust of “love,” and grief.
Now let’s proceed to the union between two individuals. That initial attraction between individuals can be unbelievably strong like two attracting magnets. All reason seems to go by the wayside as if unimportant. Some other individual may present a negative and that negative gets easily dismissed. The motivation is to be with the other. One’s thinking is about the other. One’s behavior becomes irrational as well. Lust or genital love dominates. The outside world diminishes in importance. It’s as if this involvement becomes a form of a “medication” that will solve all the ills of the self as well as the world. One explanation for this “falling in love” is because of a neurotransmitter called phenyl ethylamine or PEA. PEA has been called the real cause that facilitates individuals to fall madly in love with another. Unfortunately, the chemical effects of PEA diminish over 3-5 year time period. Other physical attractions like men with broad shoulders, thin waist, large muscles, being  financially secure and women with large breasts, trim waist, good figure with Helen of Troy beauty are other important variables for magnetic like  attractions.
Don’t forget that each individual brings unresolved dependency, separation anxiety, abandonment, and loss of love anxiety to each relationship. There may be other issues that surface such as trouble with femininity, premenstrual tension, distrust of males, the overvaluation of love, the neurotic need for love etc. For the male individual there may be issues like Oedipal, sadomasochism, power, control, fearful of strong women etc. that surface. Other potential conflicts can surface regarding rearing and disciplining of children, money, religious, political, help at home, time away from family, and other perceived loyalties .These conflicts often happen later and get in the way and interfere with the primary union.  Many, of these later conflicts can be traced back to the original formation of the insecurities of dependency, separation anxiety, abandonment and loss of love. Remember, it’s all about perception of the beholder. It’s not a surprise why long term unions are difficult. Further and unfortunately, the three little words “I love you” are often used to “medicate”. And the initial illusion “ It’s going to be different with me”  changes to … ?Furthermore, whether its marital vows or music “Till death do us part,” and “Don’t Let Your Love Fade Away” sums it up regarding our mortality and the losses through fear of abandonment. Fear of abandonment anxiety, often get expressed in the question “Do you still love me?” This is our reality- we are limited and have a history based on our own psychical constitution.
Tony’s building a second home on Whidbey Island.

Friday, July 12, 2019

It's Tony's Fault

This essay addresses a question that I’m frequently asked “What are you running from?” In order to answer that question, I applied Kurt Goldstein’s Organismic Personality Theory. My reply incorporated a few of neuropsychiatrist Dr. Goldstein’s personality constructs such as Figure-Ground; Equalization; Self-Actualization; and “Coming to Terms with the Environment”
In 1997, while living in the Bay Area and nearing retirement, I was personally introduced to the sport of Ride and Tie. In this sport, two individuals and one horse competed as a team, in the mountains, on a trail of 22-100 miles in length. The object or the “figure” [a process that emerges and stands out against the background-perception and activity] would be competing, the running and riding or action in the particular event and the” ground” would be all the backdrop activities of the particular ride and tie event. In order to participate in the event-the figure, would be perfecting running ability; conditioning the equine; and finding a suitable partner with flawless exchanges. Of course, one could break down perfecting running ability-figure, with various running gear, training and hydration routines, running diversified trails etc.
I wanted to become better, and become more proficient and compete in this sport. I was surrounded and became associated with world-class athletes that had won and dominated the 100 Mile Western States Endurance Run; the 100 Mile Tevis and Hagan Cup; and the 100 Mile Swanton Pacific Ride and Tie. Self-actualization drive was the impetus to master and excel in this rugged event of Ride and Tie. Dr. Goldstein called this self-actualization a master motive. He didn’t address or enumerate on other needs. A need, according to Goldstein, was a deficit state which motivated the person to replenish the deficit. Self-actualization was the replenishment or fulfillment of a need or needs.
Employing Dr. Henry Murray’s listing of needs, I fulfilled ,by participating in the sport , a number of needs  such as: Abasement [to accept injury, punishment, pain]; Achievement [accomplishing something difficult]; Affiliation [cooperating, reciprocating and remaining loyal to a friend]; Play [to participate in sports]; and Exhibition [to make an impression]. At this time, I was also close to retirement and then moved to the Endurance Capital of the World. This environment was ideal for “Coming to Terms with the Environment.” This new environment facilitated my goal toward self-actualization. My environment was perfect for training and conditioning; I was surrounded by world-class athletes; and I was stimulated by all the rugged outdoor events. According to his theory, Goldstein postulated that we have an average state of tension; it gets interrupted and then, by our behavior, we attempt to return to that balance or equal state. This process was called Equalization. I experienced constant disturbances and energy change as a result of my participation in this sport. And, I had no trouble equalizing it by being able to center myself as in proper running practices, deep breathing, resting when tired, and nourishing my body through better hydration and nutrition.
More on coming to terms with the environment. I blamed Tony and frequently tell him “it’s your fault.” I met Tony in 1997 at the Mustang Classic Endurance and Ride and Tie event. Since that time, we have been to equine and running events throughout the state. Tony was there at the vet checks on the Tevis in Forest Hill and at the fairgrounds in Auburn assisting me with my horse Raider. Tony was there at Robie Point roughly 2 ½ miles from the finish for the Western States 100 mile run. Tony and I run three days a week and he has paced me numerous times on running events ranging from 50 K to 50 miles. Tony has accompanied me on book signings and presentations. Tony created a video for “It Has Nothing to Do with Age.” Tony was a co-producer for our TV program. Tony created my email account and my two blogs. Tony even made a rack for me to hold my numerous medals. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that” it’s his fault.”
Optimum mental and physical health was my drive and definition for self-actualization. Ride and Tie facilitated the physical health part as I competed  in many ride and  tie and endurance events; completed Tevis; was an age division winner in the 100 Mile Western States Endurance Run; and with my partner Jonathan and my horse Gypsy,  won the 100 Mile Swanton Pacific Ride and Tie. By the way, I am one of four individuals to have completed these three 100 mile events. Also, during this period, my cognitive  mental health was enhanced by researching and writing  two books  “It Has Nothing to Do with Age,” and Bo’s Warriors -Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football.” Both books had to do with learning about outstanding athletic individuals who were dominant and won awards in extreme sports. We’re still friends today.
Simply put, my main drive these past 22 years became my purpose in life. This drive for self-actualization was for optimum health and well-being. Being reared by a juvenile diabetic father, had a lot to do with my push for a healthy longevity. In essence, I am running from illness and running to health. Ride and Tie, writing two books, and moving to the Sierra Nevada foothills were the perfect choices and environmental circumstances for that goal accomplishment. Knowing what’s important as in “figure” and putting lesser things in the background like “ground” allowed me to continue to compete and experience happiness as a derivative -where it belongs. Sorry Mick, I have much satisfaction. It’s not about trying, it’s about doing.

Friday, July 5, 2019


 This essay addresses conflicts in “seeking happiness” and the choices of “avoiding of pain.” First a few realities. We have a mind-body that changes in negative and problematic ways during aging. Simply put, we are mortal. Second, we live in nature with its wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods etc. Third, we interact with people in a sociological, capitalistic economic and political society with its rules, regulations, laws and injustices among and between individuals. Navigation within these three realities is certainly most stressful which challenges the   pursuit of happiness and  the continued desperate attempts to avoid misery and pain.
Some of our pleasure and pain avoiding behaviors in dealing with these three realities include the following: 1. We consume alcohol, take drugs or food in order to intoxicate and numb our senses. Some distort and say they are pursuing happiness or pleasurable sensations. Some might say they are avoiding pain and uncomfortable sensations. More specifically, drinking alcohol and drug use has short-term and long-term effects. It allows us to withdraw from others; remove painful experiences caused by others and/or injuries and disease. Do not forget about addiction. How many live with excruciating pain and choose surgery for a solution? 
Surgery is accompanied by drugs before and after. It’s not surprising that the pharmaceutical industry created the blocking of pain. In so doing, this industry also created drug dependence and addiction with its opium/opioid concoctions. Initially, pain was removed in the short-term but the long-term effects are disastrous leading to addiction and death in many cases. We now are beginning to legalize marijuana in order to assist individuals in coping with the realities of living. Drugs, in the long term, do not solve the many issues facing individuals but they do assist people with some managing of their discomfort and problems with their reality.
Take a look at the profits of the food and pharmaceutical industry. They certainly are doing exceptionally well and have profited from the 2018 tax cuts. Recently it was reported that billion dollars’ worth of cocaine was seized in Philadelphia. That sounds like quite a demand for pleasure and/or drug treatment. It’s clear that Homo sapiens want to withdraw from the external world with all its harmful stress and toxic issues.

2. We numb our cognition and escape into TV, movies, sports, novels, electronic games etc. We create imagination, Illusions and fantasy through displacement mechanisms and the vehicle of entertainment. A clear way to escape reality and bring short-term pleasure is our involvement in the entertainment industry. Make no mistake about it, going to the movies is a short-term cost effective way for forgetting about one’s troubles and ills. One can identify with the strong, handsome and protective protagonist combating the villain. The male and female lead actors resolve their difficulties and live and love each other in bliss and happiness. That’s an example of a feel-good couple of hours. Or, there can be a death or reunion on film that allows the individual to feel emotions commonly not experienced. Yes, film-TV are diversions as one can incorporate their own illusion and own fantasy during and after viewing. Once again, there can be moments of so called happiness coupled with more time of avoiding pain and discomfort.
 3. We have painful and toxic interpersonal relationships. We aggressively attack others and even wage large scale wars against humanity on grounds of defense. We are going to attack them there before they attack us. This third way of avoiding inner discomfort or internal suffering is to direct aggression outward toward others. Sadism can have a sexual component as well as a motive of power to control and humiliate another. Beating up on someone physically or employing verbal sadistic exchange once again can have short-term effects of perhaps pleasure and avoiding internal pain. Just think of the amount and degree of sexual and physical abuse of children that takes place. Just think of the brutality performed and exhibited by the military and the police in various situations. Sometimes they say it’s for their own protection or survival. That would be avoiding pain. Hopefully, it would not be for some form of pleasure, power, control or satisfaction.
. A more productive way to withdraw and possibly, to bring happiness and quietness into your being is through yoga. No obvious side effects there. Just keep up a regular routine. Another way to possibly experience happiness and avoid pain would be through creative and intellectual pursuits as in drawing, painting, writing or performing and listening to music. No obvious lethal side effects there. Instead of expressing harmful aggression outwards towards another, become involved in competitive sports or play. In essence, one might be able to experience ways of dealing with pleasure and avoiding pain. Just find them, if you can. However, can we control our nature or mental life to seek something other than pleasure and avoiding pain since we don’t do either very well? It might be easier to avoid pain than finding happiness.