My Sister’s Journey Through Life Inspires Me to Embrace the World


Last year, my younger sister visited Peru with friends to make the trek to Machu Picchu. Located in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

I learned about my sister’s adventure only a few days before she left, which is typical of the way she likes to roll. When she called to let me know her travel plans, she told me it was a last-minute opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

As I listened to her talk about the trip, her excitement was contagious. There was a detailed excursion itinerary, a list of the clothes she’d be taking, and her expectations of the ultimate view when she reached the awe-inspiring archeological site.

Of course, I had the obvious concerns about traveling to another part of the world: Security issues, time changes, and since my sister lives in the flatlands of the Midwest, variations in altitude and weather at Macchu Picchu’s nearly 8000 ft. elevation. But most important was whether she’d taken the necessary steps to prepare herself both physically and mentally for the climb.

Because, true to her nature, my sister had decided to take the more demanding and strenuous walking route rather than the more frequently used train.

While I’ve never visited Machu Picchu myself, a friend of mine had. I’d watched him train in the gym and, as part of his preparation for the trip, he used a treadmill while wearing an oxygen deprivation mask and a weighted backpack. To acclimate his lungs and strengthen his body, he continually decreased the oxygen levels while increasing the treadmill incline to mimic the physical stress of the climb. He was on that treadmill for an hour a day for two weeks before leaving for Peru.

Fortunately, I didn’t need to worry about my sister. Health and fitness have always been at the top of her priority list. Still, it didn’t keep me from considering how she’d handle the reduced oxygen levels at higher elevations, and whether she’d have enough time to prepare for the ascent. She would only be in Peru for two days before her journey began.

Let me tell you a little bit about my sister.

She’s traveled to places most of us only dream about—for research, professional advancement, and her love and respect for nature and the environment. She’s walked the shores of the Canary Islands, traversed the rain forests of Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, explored the culture and history of Spain. In the past, my sister had worked in health food stores, way before they were popular or even recognized. Now she’s a tenured educator and an advocate of the environment.

Am I proud of her? Every single day. Am I envious? Not even a little bit.

Here’s what I’ve learned from this amazing person: Keeping health and fitness as top priorities allows us to be prepared for every opportunity life has to offer.

It’s really that simple.

Getting and staying healthy and fit opens the doors to life’s adventures, because we don’t always have time to “get ready” for all the experiences the world has to offer. And a natural sense of curiosity also helps in allowing ourselves to embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.

Start today, right now, and let your journey begin.

By the way . . . my sisters name? It says it all—Joy.

Keep it healthy,


Jill Reid
Pathway to Personal Growth