Aging and Sage-ing Well: A Conversation with Sandy Queen

Wellness is about being able to get "a bit farther" down the road.

In late July after The National Wellness Conference, I posed the question in this blog “What is the promise of wellness?”. ( I put the question out personally to some of the longtime leaders in the wellness field and it began a conversation with “The Queen of Wellness” herself, Sandy Queen. (

Sandy was already there at the first wellness conference I attended in 1979 already leading the way. Her thoughts about my question prompted both of us to reflect on both The Promise of Wellness and the Aging and “Sage-ing” process. Let me share some of our dialogue with you.

(Sandy) Michael….
Great to see you in Wisconsin.
Have been giving a lot of thought to your question. The issue of aging well and what wellness has to say for those of us entering our “Sage-ing” years has been on my mind a lot this year. I did a conference session on this topic this year, and it wasn’t one of my best, probably because it is tossing around in my mind so much as I look for how to address my own “eldering” process.

Perhaps it is just me and my own dealings with my growing older (how DID THIS HAPPEN???) but at any rate, I think we need to visit the area of the real “promises” of wellness…or as Maxine says “Eat well, stay fit and die anyway”.

I realize that we can talk about quantity and quality of life, and this IS important…there is no reason to live long and be miserable. Since I am in the middle of training for a 5K that is definitely NOT going to yield a personal best for me this week (!), the realities of the results of living a “wellness lifestyle” and how that relates to the reality of the aging process is something that is really rumbling around in my head. I think of it particularly when I am out there running a minute slower than my slowest pace ten years ago (I know, I know…it is to be expected, and intellectually I KNEW that but now that it’s hitting…..).

The issue of BALANCE has never been more clear to me than now. As much as I would love to say it doesn’t matter, the gradual (and sometimes not so gradual) deterioration of the physical wellbeing points ever so much to the necessity that we strive to better deliver the message of balance and understanding of being able to shift gears and learning ACCEPTANCE of what IS. I have worked with the senior population for years and the topic of balance has been important, but it’s kind of like teaching parenting workshops before you have a child!

Don’t think that I am being overly morose on the topic…I’m not, but the realization of needing to re-learn a lot that I have taken for granted is making me stop and think about what I have inadvertently presented about wellness over the years….
In the meantime…I’m going out for a run!

(Michael) Hey Sandy!

Yes, always great to see you every year as well. There is honestly something so real and so vibrant about your smile, your presence. I’m not just apple-polishing here. As you know, I’m not one for B.S., I mean it.

I certainly know of which you speak here about wellness and our own journeys. I got out on a simple over-nighter backpack trip (solo) for the first time since my mitral-valve repair heart surgery about five and half years ago. I’m doing really well, no more mitral valve issues, yet I’m on a beta-blocker that acts as a governor on my heart rate. As a result I can still climb the hills and mountains, but I’ve got to do it in s..l..o..w m..o..t..i..o..n. I picked a short little 2-3 mile trek in that was only a very slight uphill and just had to be so patient with myself, not compare here and now with back there and then! As you said, ACCEPTANCE of what is. Our perspective is certainly different now. I look around our longtime wellness friends and I see a lot of us who are right in that “transition zone”…not a full-fledged “geezer” yet, and not “middle-aged” anymore.

Last summer I got to do a canoeing/fishing trip with my 35 year-old son in Wisconsin after the Wellness Conference. I teased him about being “Middle-aged” and said that this was the first canoe trip we’d done where instead of a middle-aged guy and a young man, it was a middle-aged man and a geezer out there paddling! The beautiful thing was that we were out there paddling together, having fun, meeting the challenges the weather and the Northcountry always brings and sharing the great loving father-son relationship we have. I even got to see him transform before my eyes, once again, into a wide-eyed boy as I netted a huge Muskie that he caught.

So! I guess the Promise of Wellness for me is not an end result, it’s certainly no guarantee for anything! Like the cartoon character you quoted said: “Eat well, stay fit and die anyway”. For me personally the promise wellness holds is the greater quality of life that living well brings. It means modifying the scope of the adventures I go on somewhat, but it means still having adventure in my life!

When my first Grandchild was born I wrote something that I hope he will read someday, my wishes for him. I found myself wishing him, among other things, a life of adventure. When I know I am loved, when I have that solid base to venture out from, I love to go just a bit further down that trail or river. It is being able to do that “just a bit further” that is, for me, the Promise of Wellness.

Be exactly the age (and the Sage) you are, and love it Sandy!


(Sandy) Thanks…great to hear from you and your Adventures Through Geezerhood!!! I won in my age category last Saturday in a 5K, so I guess I’m hanging together okay!!! I’m just hearing from so many of my “well” friends who are my age discussing the confrontation and adaptation and acceptance of this time of life that nothing has prepared them for (kind of like parenthood!!!) and since we Baby Boomers are really also pioneers in the first era of extended life and health, these issues have been bouncing around my consciousness this year.

I look at photos of my grandmother who looked OLD at 40, and realize that my grandkids will have a totally different notion of who I am/was when someone asks them years from now.

I think wellness offers everyone the chance to make the decisions throughout the younger times of their lives so that they can potentially face these years with more energy and vitality. A friend of mine who passed last year from a long bout of cancer had a saying at the end of her very King James scriptural service…I am paraphrasing here, but basically the quote (which I am going to have at MY service some day) was that “I didn’t come into this life to leave with a perfect body or a perfect face…but at the end, I want to slide in sideways yelling “Holy Shit, what a ride!”


We’ll continue this topic of Aging and Saging in a wellness way and invite some other “Elders” of the Wellness World to join in.  And your comments are very much encouraged!  What vision do you hold for aging well?  Are you making that transition from the adult to the sage?

A good listing of Aging and Saging articles on the web can be found at

There's more to it than just gaining six months on a Health Risk Assessment


About Michael Arloski

CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc. ( Real Balance has trained thousands of wellness coaches worldwide. Dr. Arloski is a board member of The National Wellness Institute, and a founding member of the executive team of The National Consortium For Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches. He is author of the leading book in the field of wellness coaching: Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Ed.
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