Hints of Spring in this new year, yellow crocuses showing around yards, birds singing and children swinging in the park till late in the afternoon, as the evensong prevails.  Another cycle around the sun, as the expression goes!!!

How do we beings, in our processes of aging, welcome rebirth and come alive again?  Is it enough to have felt the inward, dark, introspective, cold period of winter to feel a spring in one’s step and a stirring of joyful celebration as, once again, we are given gifts of renewal in tiny buds, new growth, communities shedding their layers and greeting each other in the increasing warmth of the sun’s rays………………  This year I’ve done it a bit differently.  I was deep into my hovel, covers pulled up and w little inspiration.  I carried around me a swarth of fat carried over from lovely indulgences while traveling in South America just before the end of the year.  And of course, with that extra weight came persistent chatter from my familiar inner critic….with the “if only’s” and “why don’t you” and the old favorite, “you should _______ ” fill in the blank.

    I knew for my peace of mind, I needed to find an end of that inner cord to grab hold of in order to initiate change.  For what stirs the system more and lights the inner spark than a new ‘purpose’, ’cause’ or ‘passion’?  For me, that’s what it takes  Well, one day, thanks to a usual perusal of FACEBOOK, a seed was planted by a post from the wife of a fellow firefighter, where they announced that they were several weeks into their annual ‘cleanse’, using a program entitled WHOLE30.COM.  Something about Rosie’s writing and the wealth of information available for ‘free’ on-line got me stirred up and on that drab Sunday, I spent a number of hours reading the 4 full pages of introduction on the WHOLE30.COM Site, going on to the shopping list, the pages discussing the challenges faced throughout the 30 day program, reading participants’ experiences and, in general, getting my internal cheerleaders geared up for this new game plan, as I felt in my gut, that this plan made sense, did not involved buying into ‘anyone’s’ multi-level marketing scheme and drinking shakes made w ingredients I could not pronounce.  Rather the core of WHOLE30.COM is to eat organic, healthy, carefully raised proteins along with similar grown fruits and vegetables, nuts and a variety of suggested snacks and for 30 DAYS, eliminate, all alcohols, diary products ( I felt some panic to ‘let go’ of my cheese consumption), all grains and gluten products, legumes, all sweeteners including stevia…… yes, there was a releasing of lots of familiar and comfort foods, especially my breads, muffins and glutens, even though I had already become familiar with the inflammation that affected my body when eating such food ( as evidenced in the rapid weight gain – see GRAIN BRAIN and THE PLAN).

Today is day 30 for me!!!!!……….I feel lighter, chiseled, my skin is even softer than usually and with a very healthy glow, my clothes feel complimentary on me again and I feel alive, pleased w my body and confident of my relationship w food, not a slave to it.  Through out the program, I ate well and found a constant source of amazing recipes that thrilled my tastebuds and was fully enjoyed by my sweet and loving partner, who a year ago, was challenged by pancreatic cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, hair loss and wacked out liver enzymes.  So we both benefitted from my month long commitment….. so much so that while I will enjoy several days of eating yogurt and kefir, some bread and cream and stevia in my coffee, next Monday I will be back on the program for another 30 day round, preparing for our departure to Europe, Turkey and Greece, where again, I will enjoy the local fare w flourish until I return home and resume this ‘LIFESTYLE OF HEALTH AND WELL-BEING’….okay, occasionally I will want to have a glass of wine!!!

Listed below is a page copied from the website,  I agree w much that she wrote……How bout you feeling like this as you age!??!?!  Gives a whole new definition, eh!!!

30 Reasons To Do a Whole30

These are the things that I’ve experienced myself and loved about the Whole30. Not everyone’s experiences are the same, and you might not enjoy all of these things during your month (and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t experience them every day of the month… some days are just hard). But I can pretty much promise you, if you tackle a Whole30 and really commit to the spirit of the whole endeavor, it will change you and your perceptions of yourself and the world for the better. That’s a tall order, I know! But it’s also drenched in truthiness.

In no particular order…

1. You’ll sleep longer and more soundly.
When sugar is out and protein/fat is in, you sleep the sleep of the righteous.

2. You’ll enjoy consistent energy.
Forget energy that peaks and drops like a roller coaster, you’ll become a bullet train.

3. You’ll wake up feeling optimistic and alert.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than waking up with a smile and open heart.

4. You’ll say goodbye to digestive distress.
Forget about farts and tummy rumbling and…let’s call them “uncomfortable bathroom experiences.” You might have a little discomfort at first if you’re not used to eating lots of veggies, but after that, smooth sailing.

5. You’ll be happier.
No joke. When blood sugar is stable, life is happier. Period.

6. You’ll be more peaceful.
The swirly thoughts and anxiety that can be brought on the sugar joyride just vaporize and leave calm in their wake.

7. You’ll be more clear-headed.
Goodbye brain fog and tip-of-the-tongue syndrome; hello Mensa!

8. You’ll drink more water.
Sugary drinks are out, so you’ll naturally find yourself drinking more water — which is a brilliant thing. Might I also recommend some lovely rooibos tea?

9. You’ll eat more vegetables.
Get ready to eat like a bunny! You want 2-3 cups of veg per meal. Per. Meal. Think of all the nutrients!

10. You’ll savor your food more.
For me, shining the spotlight on quality food makes me appreciate its nutritive power and flavor more than usual. I slow down, enjoy every bite, and think about how it’s making me strong while it tastes so damn good.

11. You’ll feel the difference between emotional appetite and real hunger.
You know that mindless eating that happens when you’re stressed or distracted? That’s emotional appetite, and it’s junky. During the Whole30, as your body gets off the sugar high and settles into better insulin management, your appetite starts to diminish, but real hunger — the need for quality food that signals when it’s time to eat — kicks in and it feels So Good.

12. You’ll find new favorite foods.
Who knows which vegetables, spices, and meat preparations will become your favorites?! It’s exciting to think about, no? There’s so much room in your kitchen and on your plate for new stuff when you banish the grains, beans, and dairy.

13. You’ll have fun experimenting in the kitchen.
The Whole30 is essentially what got me into the kitchen and playing with recipes. I was inspired to see what I could do with veg+meat+fat… and I encourage you to do the same. Play with your food!

14. You’ll get more organized.
Woot! Free bonus! The Whole30 kinda requires you to do a little bit of planning to ensure your success and that organization can trickle into other areas of your life, too.

15. You’ll get out from under the burden of emotional eating.
Most of us tend to blame ourselves for “lack of willpower,” but the truth is that much of our mindless eating is driven my our hormones. When we manage our hormonal response by eating the right foods, the correct messages about hunger are delivered through our bodies. No more hoovering through the kitchen cabinets!

16. You’ll learn about yourself.
By focusing on your habits for 30 days, you’ll learn all kinds of things, including what triggers your appetite, who’s part of your support system, what you need for self care, what time of day you go to the bathroom, and more!

17. You’ll slay the sugar demon.
Vanquish that bastard! And then, later, if you dance with the sugar demon again, you’ll know that it’s within your power to take a sword to his carotid again when the time comes.

18. You’ll make new friends.
There’s a huge community of Whole30 participants online and offline, and during your Whole30, you can tap into their support, knowledge, sense of humor, successes, and challenges. A great place to start is the Whole9 Forum.

19. You’ll positively influence others.
Yes, you’ll inevitably get the “You need to eat whole grains” argument from some well-meaning acquaintances, and that will be annoying. But if you quietly stick to your program, you’ll also have a positive impact on the people around you when they see your results. I can’t tell you how many people were envious of my Whole30 packed lunches in my office, and that is the perfect way to open the door to a great conversation.

20. You’ll learn more about how your body works.
This is a two-fold win: first, by understanding the principles of the science behind the Whole30, you’ll learn a bit about how human bodies function; and second, you’ll learn how you — a special, special snowflake — work, in particular.

21. Your skin will be brighter.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = clear, younger-looking skin.

22. Your hair will be shinier.
Sleep + water + vegetables + fat + no sugar = glossy hair. (And stronger nails, too.)

23. Your tummy will be flatter.
The end-of-day bloat from dairy and legumes is gone, baby, gone!

24. Your workouts will feel invigorating.
Workouts fueled by real food are the bomb. That is all.

25. You might PR.
You might. Really.

26. You’ll feel accomplished. (Or maybe even smug.)
I’ve stopped pursuing discipline for discipline’s sake, but I wholeheartedly believe that committing to a short-term program like the Whole30 helps develop mental toughness that is valuable in all aspects of our lives. And yes, I do enjoy feeling smug about that once in a while.

27. You might lose weight — or gain muscle. Or both.
If  losing body fat is your goal, a Whole30 can be a great way to start that process. Just don’t cheat yourself out of a lot of joy if you make that your only focus.

28. Your body image will improve.
There is an undeniable connection between treating ourselves well and how we feel about our bodies. If you look at the Whole30 as an act of self care, then affection, love, acceptance, and celebration of your body — how it feels, what it can do, the amazing things it carries you through every day — will surely follow.

29. Food will become both more important and less important.
I used to be really attached to food. I was sad at the end of the day when my eating was over until tomorrow, and when faced with my favorite foods, I wanted to eat them until I was stuffed, lest I never see them again. But when I got my blood sugar under control with the Whole30, that changed. Food is both more sacred — it nourishes and sustains us — and less sacred — we get to eat again in a few hours (!). The emotional triggers attached to the food on my plate are gone. Don’t get me wrong: I still feel deep affection for favorite foods, and I love to eat, but I feel now that there’s a world of abundance out there. Fear of food — and fear of not having favorite foods — is gone.

30. You’ll stop dieting and just eat.
This might be the best reason of all. When you take out the non-food food and replace it with real food, you can stop over-anaylyzing how much you eat, when you eat, where you eat. Yes, quantities still matter to some degree, but you can throw off the shackles of calorie counting and denial… and just eat. Peacefully. Healthfully. Robustly. With joy and pleasure and laughter. And cumin.



IMG_3190Feeling much gratitude for having completed a most challenging yet glorious year and being blessed to begin anew.  A year ago I thought I knew what aging well meant  – being fearless, confident and willing to step out in to the world, using all that one has learned in the years lived that has gotten one to consider aging!  In a sentence, choosing love over fear seemed to be what it took to age well.  I still believe in that.  Yet the year past has been quite a teacher and cancer has been the medium in which the lessons have been taught.  Sometimes aging well means having to sit with the fear and even serve it some tea.  It, too has a place at the table-

It was exactly this time last year that we first had the confirmation of cancer and our spirits were so very low.  But with some creative thinking, in the midst of all this, we planned a simple excursion to Baja, Mexico for some warmth and renewal while considering the options and with the help of ‘chocolate clams’ (no not milk or dark, just rich and delicious), swimming w Whale Sharks and rest in the hammocks, we determined how to proceed.Tom had a modified Whipple procedure ( a massive surgery- not for the faint of body) with a wonderful surgeon, was released in 5 days and was hiking in a week.  Tom’s self care throughout his life with Organic foods and Yoga, diligently doing ENERGY MEDICINE and infusing him with love all contributed to his healing.  And while 6 months of Chemotherapy took a toil, w hair and weight loss, choosing a naturopathic support to his immune system and nutrition allowed Tom and I, within weeks of completing the regime and w a clean PET scan, to travel to South America and travel 5,000 miles exploring Beautiful Southern Chile and Argentina, close to the Alps and affirm life, love and the beauty and richness of our glorious earth.IMG_2766

So in this new year, as I begin my 6th decade of living, loving and growing, I renew my commitments to living a quality life, aging well by embracing life and love fully, using The Four Agreements (see Tom’s new year entry) to navigate through challenges and uncharted territory and give thanks that within me is the desire to live life fully, constantly choosing love and being blessed to share that love with a unique and wonderfully conscious being, my Tom…..

So just ‘WHAT’ does “AGING WELL” mean??? part 1

     When I first envisioned this website, life was not easy, yet certainly manageable.  And what seemed an important new territory to explore and guide others, as I have been a guide for much of my career, seemed the unexplored hemisphere of  ‘AGING WELL’.  Hence, the seed for AGING WELL WITH IRIS was planted, and taken root.

From that early planting, my life education has taken me places I did not imagine.  I had been married and became a sudden widow with the traumatic death of my husband by suicide.  For 2 years, I lived in the land of grief and with important guides on that journey, committed myself to grief recovery without distraction and found pieces of myself, new and recovered that had been blown apart in the bomb of death.  

As I began to feel new life and strength in me, I challenged myself to reconnect in my faith and trust w source through stepping out into the world.  I prepared to embark on a three month journey to explore unknown parts of the world – most of it by myself.  I was so scared to step out and trust again, I had an extended period of insomnia and got extremely sick.  And if the universe didn’t think there was enough challenge on my plate, 3 weeks before I left on this journey, I was introduced to a fine gentleman by a mutual man friend, who’s intuition told him that we would enjoy knowing each other.  We enjoyed beginning to get acquainted with know each other in that brief time, found many common interests, and passions and Tom, on our first date, when told about my upcoming journey, asked what would I think “if someone would be interested to join me on some part of this journey, not get in the way or anything?” And then winked at me………and I standing up to go to the ladies room, asked “So why are you winking?” and walked off…………….!!!  I left on my journey, with no definite plans made w Tom, just possibilities.

     I began my journey in Fiji with a yoga group from Durango, Co., my home town and after a week, I was on my own and the journey began.  I listened in, did research on possible directions I could take and made choices. (see copies of earlier postings of a year ago for more detail from my journey)  Tom and I stayed in touch via Skype and e-mail and our friendship and interest in each other deepened.  By the time I flew to New Zealand, we were exploring Tom meeting me in Saigon, Vietnam for 8 days before I began a 2 week service project in Hanoi working w children and veterans affected by Agent Orange.

Yet I was tested to my core again, when, during my visit to Indonesia and a reunion with a man from the island of Sulewesi that I had met 13 years ago, we went diving together as we had dreamt of sharing for many years and during that dive, Wyn, holding my hand, died.  CPR was performed for over an hour as we raced to the city of Manado, a boat-ride away, to get him to the emergency room.  I watched life leave his body and felt shock and trauma as I faced death again so close to me.  I knew no one else in this foreign place and started to come undone.  

A Chapter in Our Lives

     Its just three weeks today since we left Durango….When things were good and the energy and desire to write was there, we were busy allowing ourselves to relax and ‘just be’, recharge from all the stress.  Much of the other time, we have found ourselves on a roller coaster of emotions, filled with hope and then having it dashed and feeling despondent and so low-ebbed that there was not much energy to communicate.  So it is just in the past 24 hours that we have clarity on our course of action and, it feels like a heavy burden has lifted  – hence I am writing.
     We were in Phoenix where Tom completed his 2nd year Energy medicine Training and passed his competency test.  While there, he received some healing work and a dynamic connection was made with a Dr. Of Osteopathy who works with ‘German New Medicine’ that has some very revolutionary approaches to healing cancer.  It was w great excitement we headed on to San Diego for more healing work.  it was around this time that we decided to cancel the surgery scheduled in Denver on Feb. 12th (yesterday, actually).  The procedure they wanted Tom to have, the whipple procedure seemed too grueling and a process that we were not willing to have w/o a second opinion.  And we were hearing more about alternative measures that could be used that might actually have the tumor necrotize…………We wanted to explore that more and also got a referral for a non-surgical oncologist at the University of Southern California Cancer Center.  
     Tom had more Energy Medicine from one of the renowned practitioners in S.D. and then we flew down to southern Baja where we had planned a time for retreat, relaxation, nourishing and renewal.  Tom had lost a lot of weight and if we were proceeding w surgery, we wanted to get his weight up….so we had an excuse to enjoy amazingly fresh seafood and endless ceviche, and a regional speciality, ‘Chocolate Clams’, that were some of the most delicious clams we’ve ever enjoyed!!!  And another tremendous highlight of our ‘retreat’ was swimming with whale sharks , something that I would encourage on many peoples’ ‘bucket lists.’ We went out in the Bay of La Paz w a young marine biologist and not that far from shore where they had been sighted.  The captain of the boat was highly skilled in placing the boat along the whale sharks trajectory and then with wet suits, snorkel and masks, in the water we went and paddling hard and swimming in the direction the biologist told us we attempted encounters with these gentle giants of the sea, vegetarians to boot!  It was a number of quick, in the waters and swims to see a tail in the distance, or some bit of brown polka dotted skin and then back out and wait for the next sighting.  The last several times, though were absolutely breathtaking with progressively closer encounters until the final one, when it appeared that unless Tom put on the brakes, he was heading for a head-on encounter.  it took both our breathes away and had us charged and in delight for the rest of the day.  And the bottlenose dolphins that accompanied us on the journey out were plentiful and playful, racing the boat and such beautiful examples of beautiful life!  
We enjoyed both the Pacific Coast and the Sea of Cortez side of Baja and found each side having a special and unique beauty.  As much of the world, though, it all had grown dramatically from the 18 years ago since I had travelled here ( in a small RV with my huskie wolf as my co-pilot!!) and the prices (except for the seafood) were rather parallel to the states.  Still, time in nature and the sea with my beloved, experiencing such natural beauty & resting deeply…….priceless!!!!
     We returned to San Diego a week ago and had a wonderful family gathering with Tom’s family at the amazing Torrey Pines Resort… was very touching to feel the love and support Cindy, Chris and Ken poured into us both as we shared hard decisions we were facing.  During that weekend together, we had received news from the Dr in Phoenix that led us to believe that perhaps Tom was already in a healing phase and surgery would not be necessary.  That news created much cause for celebration!
     On Monday afternoon (after having our first IKEA experience on Sunday !!!), we were brought back to earth during the meeting w the USC oncologist who emphatically suggested surgery and set up an emergency meeting the following day w his surgeon.  Another CAT scan was performed and preliminary evaluation by the surgeon suggested slight growth of the tumor.  Yet we felt a greater sense of trust w this surgeon than we had a month ago with the surgeon at the University of Colorado.  His patience and willingness to answer questions and the somewhat less invasiveness of his procedure and increased skill with working with blood vessels gave us greater confidence.  It seems that in the past 24 hours or so, we have come to terms with Tom having the surgery, realizing that his excellent health and deep commitment to the Energy Work that he has been studying and experiencing on his own body, supports this decision and the follow-up to surgery that can be alternative rather than involving chemo and radiation.  In this manner, all is in alignment with Tom’s & mine core beliefs and commitments.
     So………….after a stop in Phoenix to get homeopathic and nutritional supports specific to Tom’s body, we are returning to Durango this weekend (and wishes to all of us to celebrate love everyday and often and not have to do it just through Hallmark and chocolates!!), focusing on getting our home more beautiful (having floors sanded this weekend and painting completed) and back in order, connect w loving friends, eat supportive food, do some great hikes,dance and do yoga, touch clients and my dear elderly friends, give a bit more time to the caring family of DURANGO FIRE AND RESCUE,and in 9 or 10 days we will be driving back to L.A. where Tom will be having surgery 2 weeks from today.  We will be supported by his family who live nearby and a very skilled team of caring surgeons and oncology staff.  We feel your love, support and concern and relish it.  We are learning how to love and even flourish (when possible) with uncertainty and insecurity……after all, its an illusion that life is secure, n’est-ce pas? and all we have is our family of friends and family and love if we are offered it and are courageous to choose it.
Namaste, Blessings, Love and Hugs,
Mindy and TomInline image 4Inline image 3Inline image 2


A Perfect Storm?????

     So our ‘Perfect Storm’ involves a collision of Christmas, New Year’s, Tom’s Birthday and a possible cancer diagnosis…….just about enough to take the ho-ho out of the season.  We’ve been riding this turbulent wave since about Thanksgiving.  We had enjoyed a fall full of travel, connection with family and friends, Tom’s deepening study of Shamanism, Mindy’s deepening with friends ranging in age from early 20’s to later 90’s, enjoying places of their past; for Mindy – Atlanta, then journeying up to North Carolina and time with her high school buddy at the coast and then, for us both, a journey back in time visiting the one and only Manhattan and enjoying a week of delightful exploration, visiting places of both our pasts, walking everywhere for miles and miles, partaking of theatre and dance, museums and cathedrals and farmer’s markets and ethnic delights only possible in a place as rich as New York City.

We returned to Colorado for several weeks before waiting out a winter storm and waiting for a clearing  to head west to family and Thanksgiving in the land of sunshine and palm trees of southern California.  It was on this trip that Tom, from the first day out, was a little puny expressing a little ill at ease in his belly.  I even noticed how, several days later, at the lovely gathering of his niece and nephew, family and friends at a Thanksgiving spread that was sensational, that my Tom picked at his food and barely drank of some of the sensational wines available.

    It was on the Friday after the holiday, talking w Tom in the kitchen in bright sunlight that I noticed his eyes were discernibly yellow, he was listless, feverish at times and basically sick.  When his blood labs were taken, his readings on critical areas were off the charts.  They wanted to hospitalize him right away and we declined, feeling strongly that hospitals are not safe places to hang out in.  We agreed to monitor him and repeated blood tests in several days and then it became clear, confirmed by an ultrasound that we had a significant problem that needed further help and evaluation and that was needed it immediately.  After a very pessimistic diagnosis from a skilled but less than tactful doctor, a procedure was performed that was highly successful in restoring Tom to better health and allowing his body to heal.  Happily he is a healthy tone again, with a good appetite, energy level and even a hunger for amorous connection that we so love to enjoy and nuture ourselves with.

     The lingering issue that has had me on a roller coaster of emotion is the lack of firm knowing what has caused such illness, what has led to a blockage and whether it is abnormal cells of a benign nature or carcagenic.  When you first hear the word involved in a conversation about the one you love, it knocks the breathe right out of you, actually right out of me.  Feeling the panic and finding a way to stay present and control the rash of fears and emotions that surge is quite a tight-rope act as it is so very easy to teeter and fall and then spiral down into a dark cavern of unknowns and past and future fears and pains.  Now, two weeks after the hospitalization and procedure, and in between Christmas and New Year’s and right after Tom’s birthday, we drive 7 hours up to Denver to the University of Colorado Cancer Center to have more definitive tests and procedures conducted.  We were able to find out by researching (with the help of loving friends) a website on-line that this center had the greatest experience with this form of cancer and we would be in good hands.  So, the Perfect Storm knocks you around, moves you forward and back and all you can do is hold on, pray and wait it out –