Three Ways to Age with Awareness

29 February 2016

By Mollie Robertson

Aging can be a discouraging process in our youth-obsessed culture. In popular media, those in the later stages of life are often presented as diminished, having little to offer, and disengaged from meaningful activities.

Luckily, that dismal view is not remotely accurate. Elderhood offers many opportunities not available to those with fewer years in the rear-view mirror, and today’s seniors are actively exploring the connection, joy, and meaning that flows from a deeply lived life. A significant factor in celebrating the ongoing journey is the ability to age “consciously.”

Research shows that aging consciously is about building awareness, maintaining community, and exploring the depths of our inner world for a fulfilled and purposeful third stage of life. By utilizing resources and skillsets that are available to each individual — in a conscious and intentional manner — we can create ingrained habits that promote a thriving and connected life.   You can create this in your own life with three simple practices.

  • Cultivate Intentional Self-Compassion

Often when we face challenges or suffering, we fall back on self-defeating words and feelings. Such moments leave us feeling demotivated, depressed, and restricting. Tune out the inner critic, and tune into the supportive friend.

  • Let it Go

Forgiving past wrongs can liberate you from loathing, sadness, and hurt. Forgiveness is often an on-going practice; whenever you feel the sting of the past, mindfully let it go — you can even visualize it floating away. Notice how light you may feel in your heart when you do not carry that burden. Don’t forget to include yourself in the list of those you want to forgive (back to cultivating intentional self-compassion!). Remind yourself that you are a kind and well-intentioned person who now knows better and will do better.

  • Set Intentions

Intentions are our inner compass to where we want to be in life. Make your intention your daily mantra, or write it down on a small piece of paper and keep it on your mirror or door. Repeat it to yourself when you first get up and before you go to bed. Visualize your intention and say it to yourself, knowing that the opportunities will become evident.

Conscious Aging enables us to cultivate wisdom, connect deeply with ourselves and others, and celebrate life. Aging with awareness creates the space for continued spiritual, emotional, social, and psychological enrichment, and living with purpose.

Learning Stillness from Max

This morning I went for a walk with Max. I left my phone at home and decided to pace my walk to the pace that our dog Max went. Max noticed everything and took his sweet time getting to where he was going — mind, he has no idea where he’s going. He sniffed, he stared, he sauntered, he stopped, he stalled, and he savoured each step. I did the same. I breathed deeply. I looked around at everything I could see. I heard birds singing. I saw moss growing. I noticed things I had not seen before on the many times I have walked around the block.

I practised stillness.

I learned from Max how to wonder and not just “get my walk in.” I need to do this more often.

Food for Thought

Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections. It slows the ball down so that we might hit it. It generates a vision, helps us resist the passions of the mob, makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere. To succeed. It is the key that unlocks the insights of genius, and allows us regular folks to understand them. — from Ryan Holiday’s book, Stillness is the Key

It’s your turn

What can you do today to remove yourself from the stress and strain of life and put yourself in a place where you simply wander? Go for a walk. Sit quietly in a chair with no distractions. Paint a picture. Write a poem. Listen to a song with your eyes shut. Sit on the floor and play with a child.

Take some time to wonder and keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to what you see.

Learning to be still,

PS Take 15 minutes to put into practice a little stillness.

The gut microbiome: How does it affect our health?

NEWSLETTER: Medical News Today

We can carry up to 2 kg of microbes in our gut. Within the tens of trillions of micro-organisms that live there are at least 1,000 species of bacteria consisting of over 3 million genes. What is more, two-thirds of the gut microbiome – the population of microbes in the intestine – is unique to each individual. But do you know how your gut microbiota could be influencing your health? The bacteria in our gut are estimated to weigh up to 2 kg. Most of us are aware that the bacteria in our gut play an important role in digestion. When the stomach and small intestine are unable to digest certain foods we eat, gut microbes jump in to offer a helping hand, ensuring we get the nutrients we need. In addition, gut bacteria are known to aid the production of certain vitamins – such as vitamins B and K – and play a major role in immune function. But increasingly, researchers are working to find out more about how gut bacteria – particularly the bacteria that is unique to us individually – influence our health and risk of disease. Perhaps most studied is how gut microbiota affects an individual’s risk of obesity and other metabolic conditions. In November 2014, for example, Medical News Today reported on a study claiming our genetic makeup shapes what type of bacteria reside in our gut, which may affect our weight. In this Spotlight, we take a look at obesity and some of the other – perhaps surprising – health conditions that may be driven by our gut microbiota.

The development of gut microbiota

Belief has long held that the development of gut microbiota does not start until birth, with the gastrointestinal tract of a fetus considered to be a sterile environment. According to Gut Microbiota Worldwatch – an information service created by the Gut Microbiota and Health Section of the European Society for Neurogastroenterology & Motility, a member of the United European Gastroenterology (UEG) – the digestive tract of a newborn is rapidly colonized with micro-organisms from the mother and the surrounding environment. An infant’s gut microbiota, for example, can be influenced by breastfeeding. Gut Microbiota Worldwatch explains that the gut of breastfed babies primarily consists of Bifidobacteria – considered a “friendly” bacteria that benefits the gut – while formula-fed babies are likely to have less of these bacteria. However, some studies have challenged the belief that the fetus is a sterile environment, suggesting that the development of gut microbiota begins before birth. A 2008 study published in the journal Research in Microbiology identified bacteria, including Enterococcus and Staphylococcus, in the early faeces of baby mice – known as the meconium – indicating the bacteria were transferred to the fetus from the mother’s gut during pregnancy. In this study, a group of pregnant mice was also inoculated with the bacterium Enterococcus fecium, which was isolated from human breast milk. The baby mice were delivered by Cesarean section 1 day before the predicted labour date, and their meconium was tested. The researchers identified E. fecium in their faeces, but no trace was found in the meconium of a control group. “Based on the sum of evidence, it is time to overturn the sterile womb paradigm and recognize the unborn child is first colonized in the womb,” Seth Bordenstein, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, told The Scientist last year.

The more diverse our gut bacteria, the better

While the debate over whether infants are born with gut bacteria continues, it seems scientists are in agreement about one thing: from birth until old age, our gut bacteria are constantly evolving. As mentioned previously, two-thirds of the gut microbiome is unique to each person, and what makes this unique is the food we eat, the air we breathe and other environmental factors. Some studies have even suggested the makeup of the gut microbiome is influenced by genes. But how does this unique gut bacteria affect our health? This is a question that researchers have become increasingly interested in answering. Past research has suggested that a broader diversity of bacteria in gut is better for human health. A recent study reported by MNT, for example, found that infants with less diverse gut bacteria at the age of 3 months were more likely to be sensitized to specific foods – including egg, milk and peanut – by the age of 1 year, indicating that lack of gut bacteria diversity in early life may be a driver for food allergies. But the implications of a low-diversity gut microbiome do not stop there. You may be surprised to learn how lack of or overpopulation of specific bacteria may impact your health.


More and more studies are looking at the association between the gut microbiome and weight gain, with some scientists suggesting the makeup of bacteria in the gut may influence an individual’s susceptibility to weight gain.

A Healthy Lifestyle

” Every human being is the author of his [or her] own health or disease. ”
Buddhist Quote

” It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. ”
Mahatma Gandhi    

What exactly is a healthy lifestyle? It seems experts are constantly telling us what we should eat, how much to exercise, bad habits to cut back on, how much sunlight to get, what vitamins to take, and on and on until we feel it’s just impossible to live up to those lofty standards. We decide that it doesn’t really matter how we lead our lives and cite examples like our great-uncle who smoked like a chimney and ate nothing but bacon but was still hitting the ski slopes at the ripe old age of 98.

Despite the occasional blaring exception, however, we can’t deny the harsh truth: the lifestyle we choose to lead has a huge impact not only on our physical health but also on our mental well-being and overall sense of happiness. We CAN change nasty habits, and when we finally find the courage to make those difficult changes, we feel so much better. We quit smoking and breathe more easily and start jogging again; we cut the greasy foods out of our diets and we’re less sluggish; we get more shut-eye and feel on the ball at work. In the end, the changes that seemed so painful and nearly impossible become such a major part of our lives that we can’t imagine how we could have lived the old way. We never regret those healthy transformations.  

So how do you get off on the right foot and make the decisions that can lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle? First, educate yourself; find out what your body needs to operate smoothly. The next step is to evaluate how your body is doing. Finally, the most challenging but also most satisfying part: you must make real plans to incorporate any necessary changes. As Margaret Fuller once said, “A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”

Where am I?

I have been neglectful, constant reader, and I apologize! Time to get back to the readership and add some more information…I have an online business that deals with health and wellness, and on Facebook will be telling some stories about that particular adventure. Meantime, check out some new material in other areas of this site and enjoy what you read…

On a Personal Note…

The Health & Wellness Solution

I continuously seek newer and better ways of improving health for myself and others and love to share whatever I find. This past year, as an entrepreneur I have explored some exciting possibilities. I have been introduced to a marvellous app for my cell phone that enables me to contact you anywhere you are! I would like to send you a one-minute survey to introduce you to this latest news.

If you are curious, email me your contact info (preferably mobile number and email) and I will make contact back asap! Use

Iris September 2019

What’s Next

There are no scheduled workshops at present, but work continues on raising consciousness vis a vis ageism, seniors rights, and acessibility for all. On April 14, 2019 I will participate in a Health Fair at the Lifetime Learning Centre in Miaaion, BC. This is always a great event for local seniors especially. The day begins with a brisk walk, followed by touring various informational booths plus delicious drinks and other refreshments. I have found there is mych to discuss with other participants and the variety clients who attend. Usually there is a gardener with some wonderful tips and of course the draws near the end are very popular.

Try to attend….April 24th 10 am until around 1 pm. Say hello!

Discover 7 Ways to Prevent Alzeimers Disease

Good news for people who feel a hint of anxiety every time they forget where they put their keys. More than 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases may be preventable.
In fact, research suggests that there are seven key healthy lifestyle changes people could make to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The Super 7

More research is needed to confirm whether there is a causal link between these seven key risk factors and Alzheimer’s. But there are plenty of other good health reasons to make the following changes:

  1. Get moving. Inactivity is linked to greater Alzheimer’s risk, so take a daily walk. Walking every day can prevent your brain from shrinking, too.

  2. Don’t smoke. If you do, quit. Smoking may up the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

  3. Eat more bananas. The potassium in this cheap and plentiful year-round fruit can help lower your blood pressure by as much as two to three points! And low blood pressure at middle age may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

  4. Go to bed. Getting a good night’s sleep can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, so get your ZZZs because research suggests that developing type 2 diabetes may up your chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

  5. Walk outside. People who exercise outside — versus at the gym or inside the home — have less depression. That’s good news for the brain, because depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

  6. Take a class. Higher education is linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

  7. Drop a few. Becoming obese at middle age may be connected to higher Alzheimer’s risk.

Workshop Facilitation

It has been a difficult start for classes, mostly due to extreme weather! The location for classes was not suitable for seniors dues to lack of accessibility, but the offer of a seniors centre location with large theatre or dining/meeting room has solved the later problem. We will also be better able to serve tea/coffee/snacks etc and enjoy a private and comfortable setting. It makes a huge difference when the ambience is right.

I anticipate having some fun as well as serious thought, and am preparing for the first day with great pleasure! If you are local and can be there, join us and add to the general sharing.


I had no idea that responses would be so multiple when I began this site. Regrettably, much of what I receive is objectionable spam and I am frustrated with this aspect. I cannot realistically examine the thousands of emails I receive! For those who wish to sincerely contact me, I suggest using my personal email. Alternatively, you can place a “code” in the title bar “Iris, personal”.

My apologies to those who are truly sincere.