S3-EP22: Debbie & Sam on Getting Calm and Centered in Baja

May 21, 2021


Why Debbie forced her husband to go to Mexico’s Baja peninsula for a retreat and renewal on the idyllic Modern Elder Academy campus.




Debbie Weil brings her husband, Sam Harrington, back onto the show. A retired physician, Sam is NOT a  believer in midlife-crisis camps nor in navel gazing, which is what he told family and friends Debbie was dragging him across the country to do. It took a lot of arm-twisting to persuade Sam to get on a plane and fly to Mexico’s Baja Sur, even after they had both been twice vaccinated and even after the long, dispiriting winter of the pandemic. Their destination: Modern Elder Academy.

If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you’ve heard about MEA. You could call MEA a wellness retreat. It’s idyllic: simple accommodations overlook the crashing waves of a broad mile-long beach. Birdsong fills the air, water trickles from fountains, and bright pink, yellow, and orange Bougainvillea blooms everywhere. An organic garden produces wonderful meals and a dusty dirt road leads to the nearest village.

But MEA is more than a wellness retreat. It’s also a school – and a community – of like-minded people. MEA tends to attract open-minded individuals from their 30s to 70s, who are on a quest to define “what’s next” in their lives and who are willing to think differently about aging. 

Guests can attend structured discussions, there’s time for journal writing and reflection, and there are meditation and yoga classes. 

Debbie and Sam talk about a few of the topics that were on offer during their two-week stay, including the difference between growth vs. fixed mindsets (you can guess which one is preferable) and something called appreciative inquiry which is an expansive way of both listening and asking questions. 

Sam ultimately admits that he IS feeling calm and centered. 


Mentioned in this episode or useful:


Previous episodes featuring host Debbie Weil and her husband Sam Harrington:


A GIFT FOR LISTENERS: a Baja meditation soundtrack

Debbie created a 20-minute meditation soundtrack (with help from producer Julie-Roxane) from the distinctive Baja birdsong and trickling water she heard every morning before meditation practice. Download the soundtrack.


The backstory on this episode

Read it here.


Note from Debbie

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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."