Telluride Women Gives: Update + Talk on Mindfulness

Telluride Women Gives: Update + Talk on Mindfulness

The Telluride Medical Center Foundation’s Telluride Women Gives is about building a culture of engagement and generosity through a giving circle determined to give back to its donors in the form of networking and lectures. Donations large and small are welcome. Go here to join.

Dr. Sharon Grundy, medical Drector, Primary Care, Telluride Med Center. Dr, Grundy on the record at Telluride Women Gives event.



Yes – the group known as “Telluride Women Gives” (TWG) enjoys getting together at one another’s homes to banter over drinks and small bites.

And – the philanthropic circle, the brainchild of Kate Wadley, director of the Telluride Medical Center Foundation, really makes a difference in the greater Telluride region.

Kate Wadley, director, Telluride Medical Center Foundation.

To whit (and to date), through the generosity of this leadership network of community-minded women the Telluride Medical Center/Hospital District has been able to offer enhanced service and purchase much-needed equipment, upping the ante on the care local docs are able offer on site.

For example, since its inception TWG has funded the handicap ramp at the entrance of the Med Center; an infant warming cabinet; an osteopathic table; and a colposcopy machine. Further, in 2015, TWG helped the Med Center grow its behavioral health program, which now employs two full-time therapists. Everyday, those women deal with pressing regional issues such as trauma, addiction, anxiety, and obesity.

What goes around, comes around: TWG is the gift that keeps on giving. Some of that bounty circles back to its members.

The aforementioned gatherings of this tribe are not just all fun and games. The point of the evenings is also to help members of Telluride Women Gives stay abreast of topical health care issues and find solutions to improve their well-being and the lives of those they love.

At one such event, the subject was osteoporosis and nutrition. Researchers are still trying to work out the exact role vitamin D plays in bone loss, which hits 50 percent of post-menopausal women. (Lots of men too.) Since we need vitamin D to help absorb calcium, doctors and scientists generally agree enough calcium and vitamin D throughout our lives is essential.

The guest speaker was Dr. Gayle Frazzetta, MD, FAAFP, CCD, a family medicine doctor who practices in Montrose and specializes in women’s health, sports medicine, and osteoporosis. She is a friend and professional colleague of Dr. Sharon Grundy, Director of Primary Care at the Telluride Medical Center, the principal host and primary speaker at TWG get-togethers.

Dr. Grundy is board-certified in internal medicine, but she also underwent a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where the focus is on cutting-edge work in a field known as “functional medicine” or holistic health, where East meets West. That is the domaine of the world-renowned Dr. Andrew Weil, who heads the school. Conferences held by Dr. Weil often fuel Dr. Grundy’s talks.

In 2015, after attending one such gathering, Dr. Grundy spoke about what was then an emerging science: the human gut microbiota and microbiome and the health of these symbiotic bacterial partners on our overall health.

A talk on mental health in late-May was came out of  yet another Weil gathering. Titled “Mindfulness & Habits,” the focus was largely based on the work of Dr. Judson Brewer, a thought-leader in the “science of self-mastery” and an associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, where he is director of research at the Center for Mindfulness.

The bottom line: we can use mindfulness to harness the brain’s habit-forming process to build more nourishing habits that are not governed by cravings. It turns out that by turning inside and getting curious about our behaviors, we are able to step out of fear-based habit patterns established in the older, reptilian or limbic brain and the negative “reward-based learning” patterns established there.

In his work, Dr. Brewer cites as an example an experiment he did with smokers.

“… the majority of them had tried (to quit) this before and failed. On average, six times. Now with mindfulness training we dropped the bit about forcing and instead focused on being curious. In fact, we even told them to smoke. We even said go ahead and smoke just be really curious about what it’s like when you do.

“And what did they notice? Here’s an example from one of our smokers: She said mindful smoking ‘Smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals. Yuck.’

“Now she knew cognitively that smoking was bad for her. That’s why she joined our program. What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.

“Now she move from knowledge to wisdom. She moved from knowing in her head that smoking is bad for her too knowing it in her bones and the spell of smoking was broken. She started to become disenchanted with her behavior.”

Turns out our modern brain, the prefrontal cortex, switches off when we are stressed out or tired and then old, unhelpful behaviors (like smoking, drinking, binge eating etc.) reemerge.

The question Dr. Grundy posed at her latest Telluride Women Gives talk was this: Can we teach individuals to turn inwards and develop a calm awareness between the little storms of cravings?

If we are not aware we are doing something habitually, if we don’t wake up at the end of a habit loop, we will continue in that negative mode. But if we begin to ask questions such as “Why am I doing this?” “What reward am I getting?” “What just triggered this response?“ “Do I want to keep doing this?,” we have a fighting chance of quieting our limbic brain and breaking the cycle.

In short, breaking a bad habit is all about being mindful about what’s happening in our bodies and minds at any given moment.

Notice the urge.

Get curious.

Feel the joy of letting go in your bones.



Curious now about Telluride Women Gives?

More about Telluride Women Gives:

Kate Wadley, executive director, philanthropy, Telluride Med Center. She is founder of the Telluride Women Gives initiative.

Kate Wadley, executive director of the Telluride Medical Center Foundation, has long understood that when women collaborate and commit, they create change. But it wasn’t until one sleepless night in February of 2015 that the idea to connect women to make a difference in the health and wellness of the Telluride community dawned on her.

Wadley left the warmth of her bed and burnt the midnight oil. When the sun come up, she was ready to name her new program: Telluride Women Give. Within hours, Wadley had a mission statement, a website, founding members and a growing list of advisors.

And the momentum has not stopped.

Wadley’s vision is, again, a philanthropic giving circle of the Telluride Medical Center Foundation and a leadership network of community-minded women who want to do more than just donate.

“This group is for women who want to invest and collaborate to create specific programs that make a difference in the lives of women, children, and their families,” explained Wadley. “These women will assert that the greatest benefit is to the giver, as they themselves are provided opportunities to learn, share, and grow as philanthropists and community leaders.”

Telluride Women Give events are held annually, usually at a private home, and include a solutions-based presentation, generally given by Dr. Grundy or one of her colleagues from the Telluride Medical Center, always on issues relating to woman’s and family health.

Using the power of collective philanthropy, members’ annual contributions are pooled and the entire membership joins in deciding which program, project, or new piece of equipment needed by the Telluride Medical Center will be funded.

“Our efforts will drive innovative and often life-saving services and technology to make a difference now for those we know and love,” added Wadley.

Ultimately, Wadley said, “The goal of Telluride Women Give is to build a culture of engagement and generosity and be the philanthropic choice for Telluride Women.”

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