Jeff Reich and Farraday Newsome have sculpted a life at 50+ that many would envy and are bringing the art of healthy aging into focus.
They are renowned contemporary ceramic artists and lecturers. Their work is widely exhibited in galleries, museums and public art collections throughout the United States.
They live and work side-by-side in their sprawling Southwest art studio, surrounded by the desert flora that has inspired their exquisite artistry, organic gardens, and nature trails humming with wildlife.
Despite their professional successes, this husband-and-wife team emits a peaceful vibe that comes from a lifetime of creative work, as well as a contagious energy fueled by their passion for healthy aging.
“I want to be surrounded by people who are energetic and passionate about life,” says Reich. “You choose how your respond to your circumstances in life. And in aging, I believe mindset is key.”
It wasn’t always this way. At 55, Reich’s healthy awakening dawned five years ago when he turned 50.
He was 40 pounds overweight, a regular consumer of fast foods, and a once-avid runner with aching knees and high blood pressure. He was frustrated by the physical deterioration of his body. “I have always been athletic, and my knees were hurting so badly that I thought I would never run again.”
Moment of Awakening
It was a moment in an art class that Reich was teaching when a student – who was a physician – turned him on to The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a comprehensive study of diet and long-term health.
“It just made sense to me. It answered all of my food questions and presented scientific evidence that heart disease can be reversed and too much meat protein can cause all kinds of crazy things with cancer.”
That was the moment Reich made the leap cold turkey, if you will, to veganism. “It was perfect timing. I turned 50 and have this person in my life telling me I need to get healthy,” he says. “So I told Farraday, we’re going vegan.”
Newsome had been a vegetarian for nearly her entire life. She was a practicing ovo-lacto vegetarian (only eggs and milk from animal sources) when the couple met. In the early days, she prepared meals to satisfy both her vegetarian lifestyle as well as Reich’s preference at the time for meat. All the while, she encouraged him to make changes to improve his overall health.
Reich and Newsome locked arms that day in their commitment to a vegan lifestyle and have never looked back.
They enjoy exceptional health and vitality that they credit to their nutrition and activities. They also place high value on maintaining a positive mindset toward aging and to surrounding themselves with a community of people who also share a commitment to health.
“Mindset has always been very important to me,” says Newsome. “I need to be doing something interesting, engaging and challenging. In the studio, I’m always trying to think of new things to do with my art.”
For the last three years, she also has been writing a historical novel set in the mid-13th century about a family of Persian potters. “It’s the biggest and best project that I’ve ever done in my life,” she beams. “I actually feel more limitations in clay than I do in writing. With writing, if I can think it, I can write about it.”
For Reich, his choice to go vegan has reignited his passion for running. He has completed three marathons since regaining his health, including the Chicago Marathon earlier this year.
“I feel younger than I have in years,” he says. “We have a great community of people who are around us and support us. Our food choices work for our bodies, and we exercise regularly.”
Art of Healthy Aging
This couple has experienced first-hand how nutrition impacts health. “People get frustrated by the pre-destiny of their health, as if it’s genetic instead of cultural, and they just give up,” says Newsome.
“But when we look at our physical health from the perspective of what we eat, we have an opportunity to turn that around.”
Learning to cook vegan has been a fun, interesting and delicious journey. “The more we learn about the science of eating, the more interesting our cooking gets,” says Newsome.
As they settle back on the sofa in their art-strewn den, the couple reflects on their careers and the journey of aging. “I feel so fortunate that I have time to do what I want and don’t want to waste it. I can’t imagine not doing that in life,” says Reich.
Newsome adds, “In 30 to 40 years, we’ll look back on this time and know that we lived life to its fullest.”