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02.14.24 | Sage Advice

Embracing the Art Haiku: A Window into Mindfulness and Creativity

At Sage Collective, we appreciate the power of expression in its many forms, and one of the most enchanting and accessible forms of poetic expression is haiku. Originating in Japan in the 17th century, haiku is a brief, structured form of poetry that offers a window into the world of mindfulness, simplicity, and the beauty of the present moment.

The Essence of Haiku

Traditional haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable structure, often focusing on images from nature and emphasizing clarity, intensity, and directness of expression. This poetic form is more than just a set of rules; it’s an invitation to pause and observe the world around us, to capture a fleeting moment in a few simple words.

Richard Wright
Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

Contemporary haiku, while still rooted in the traditional form and essence of Japanese haiku, often explores a broader range of themes beyond the natural world, including urban life, human emotions, and social commentary. In fact, one of the greatest practitioners of contemporary haiku was the legendary novelist and short story writer, Richard Wright. In the last two years of his life, Wright, best known for seminal works like Native Son (1940) and his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), turned his artistic expression to the haiku form, writing nearly 4,000 poems. A magnificent collection of 817 of Wright’s haiku was published in 1998 entitled, Haiku: The Other World.

These contemporary haikus reflect the evolution of the form, embracing a wide array of subjects and emotions while maintaining the essence of haiku — capturing a moment, feeling, or thought with depth and clarity. Wright’s works honor the tradition by conveying powerful images and insights in just a few words, demonstrating the enduring appeal and adaptability of haiku poetry.

Haiku as a Mindful, Creative Exercise

For us, especially as we embrace the golden years, writing haiku can be a meditative and insightful practice. It encourages us to slow down and notice the small details of our environment — the dew on a leaf, the play of light and shadow, or the quiet stillness of the early morning. In focusing on these details, we engage in mindfulness, which can enhance our mental clarity and emotional balance.

Despite its apparent simplicity, crafting a haiku can be a delightful creative challenge. It pushes us to distill our thoughts and feelings into their purest form, to find the essence of an experience or emotion in just a few words. This creative process can be incredibly rewarding, offering a sense of accomplishment and joy in our ability to capture the beauty of the ordinary.

Sharing and Connecting Through Haiku

Haiku writing can also be a means of connecting with others. Sharing our haiku with friends, family, or within a community group can spark conversations, forge bonds, and offer insights into each other’s perspectives. It’s a way to communicate deeply felt experiences in a concise and poignant manner.

Embarking on the journey of writing haiku is simple:

  • Start by observing your surroundings or reflecting on a recent experience.
  • Focus on sensory details and the emotions they evoke.
  • Experiment with the 5-7-5 syllable structure, but don’t feel bound by it. The essence of haiku lies in capturing a moment or feeling.

Embracing the Art of Haiku

In the art of writing haiku, we find a blend of mindfulness, creativity, and connection. As a form of expression accessible to everyone, it holds a special place in the world of poetry. We encourage you to try your hand at this beautiful, contemplative practice and discover the joy and tranquility it can bring into your life.

Embracing the Art of Hailu
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02.08.24 | Sage Advice

The Art of Storytelling: Langston Hughes

In our continuing series on “The Art of Storytelling,” we’ve journeyed through the narratives of luminaries who’ve masterfully woven the fabric of their experiences, cultures, and imaginations into storytelling. It’s an honor to now delve into the legacy of Langston Hughes, a pivotal figure whose poetic voice became a cornerstone of the Harlem Renaissance and a beacon for the African American experience.

Langston Hughes: A Storyteller’s Storyteller
Langston Hughes was a towering figure in American literature, known for his prolific output and for the depth and breadth of his influence. He rose in prominence during the period known as the Harlem Renaissance — the emergence of black intellectual, literary, and artistic life that took place in the 1920s across urban America, particularly in Harlem. He focused on lived experience as the basis for his unique storytelling, resulting in a vibrant tapestry of jazz rhythms, social commentary, and a profound exploration of the human condition. Hughes had the unique ability to distill complex emotions and societal truths into accessible poetry, stories, and plays, making him a true artisan of the narrative form.

Embracing the Human Experience
Hughes’s storytelling was deeply rooted in the African American experience, capturing its joys, sorrows, and resilient spirit. He celebrated black culture in his work, took a defiant stance against racial injustice, and shared a heartfelt portrayal of the everyday lives of black Americans. Through his famous jazz poetry, Hughes incorporated the rhythms and improvisations of jazz music, creating a dynamic and immersive narrative style that resonated with a wide audience.

The Power of Simplicity
Hughes used simple, yet profound language when he wrote, which became one of the hallmarks of his storytelling style. He believed that the power of clarity and accessibility would enable his stories and poems to speak directly to the heart. This simplicity was one of his greatest strengths, allowing him to convey deep emotions and complex societal critiques in a way that was both relatable and moving.

His approach to message, language, and cadence are powerfully rendered in the poem entitled, “I, Too,” which was published in Hughes’ first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues in 1926. To read this poem, and other examples of Hughes’ work, visit the Poetry Foundation.

Legacy and Inspiration
Langston Hughes’s legacy is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling to effect change, build community, and celebrate culture. His work continues to inspire new generations of storytellers, poets, and artists who see in Hughes a model for using narrative as a tool for social commentary, cultural affirmation, and personal expression.

For us at Sage Collective, Hughes’s storytelling is a reminder of the profound impact that stories can have on our understanding of ourselves and each other. His life and work encourage us to explore our own narratives, to find beauty in our experiences, and to share our stories with the world.

Inr Langston Hughes’ work, we are reminded of the transformative power of storytelling. His ability to capture the essence of the human spirit, to challenge societal norms, and to celebrate the richness of the African American experience is a beacon for all who believe in the power of words to shape our world.

Let us take inspiration from Hughes’s example, weaving our own stories with honesty, empathy, and a deep appreciation for the diverse tapestry of human life.

Langston Hughes by Jack Delano, 1942
Portrait of Langston Hughes by Jack Delano, 1942. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collections.
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01.25.24 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Team Member, Erica Woodley

We’re excited to welcome Erica Woodley to the Sage Collective team as the new Director of Program Development and Innovation. Bringing over twenty years of experience in enhancing the lives of older adults, Erica’s deep passion and proven leadership make her an invaluable addition. Her commitment to expanding and enriching our Vibrant Learning Program reflects our shared vision of empowering and connecting our community. Join us in embracing Erica’s journey with us, where her dedication and innovative approach are poised to create lasting impacts. Get to know Erica in our blog below:

Can you talk a little bit about your professional background and how it has made you an expert in your field?

For more than twenty years I have served in various support and leadership roles at companies that provide assistance to older adults, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health challenges. My professional experience has included several leadership and operational roles, ranging from Case Manager, Director, Area Director, and Vice President at various organizations. 

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am an expert, per se, but I would say that I’m extremely passionate about the field. My passions started when I was a child. Being the eldest granddaughter in my family, I was often responsible for being a companion/caregiver to my great-grandmother which evolved into a special bond between my great-grandmother and myself. That relationship enabled me to develop a passion to continue working with and supporting older adults. And because of that passion and my experience, I can proudly say I have the knowledge needed to be an asset and bring value to organizations I’ve worked for, including Sage Collective. 

What is your role with Sage Collective and our Vibrant Learning Program?

My role as Director of Program Development and Innovation is to provide oversight and assist in the development of the Vibrant Learning Program currently in place and to explore how we can continue to expand the program. We’re constantly looking to expand the program to faith-based organizations, senior housing organizations and other organizations that support seniors in the community.

Sage Collective believes that collective learning and enrichment are essential not only to individual wellbeing, but for the empowerment of a community. How does this belief translate through the work of Sage’s Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons?

The topics that are covered at Chicago Commons are either near and dear to the participants’ hearts, or it’s information they didn’t know much about. Throughout each class, the participants bond with each other about their own experiences and connection to the materials, and it helps create a community environment and prevent the social isolation that many seniors experience. 

What other unique values held by Sage Collective drew you to work for them?

Sage Collective provides programming that promotes choice which is paramount to me. In my experience of working in the aging space for over 20 years, I have seen many organizations develop programs for older adults that were robust in nature, however the program participants were not offered choices regarding activitiesIn essence, everyone had to participant even when they if they didn’t want to

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of Sage Collective’s team? What do you hope to accomplish in your time ahead?

I’m really looking forward to learning more about how I can leverage the Vibrant Learning Program to continue adding value to older adults’ lives. One of my main goals is to expand the program and to make Sage Vibrant Learning a household name among older adult and those caring or providing supports to them.

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01.17.24 | Sage Advice

Celebrating National Hobby Month: Rediscovering Passion and Purpose

As we settle into National Hobby Month, it’s a wonderful time for us at Sage Collective to reflect on the joys and benefits that hobbies bring into our lives, particularly in our later years. Hobbies, whether old passions revisited or new interests explored, are not just leisure activities; they are vital components of vibrant living.

Many of us have hobbies that we once cherished but set aside due to the demands of career or family. National Hobby Month offers the perfect opportunity to reignite those past passions. It could be picking up a paintbrush after years, strumming a guitar, or dusting off a collection. These activities are more than just nostalgic; they reconnect us with parts of ourselves that we may have forgotten and provide a deep sense of fulfillment.

Exploring new hobbies is equally exciting. It’s about stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing the thrill of learning. Consider diving into activities like birdwatching or joyspotting, which connects us with nature, or photography, capturing moments and scenes that speak to us. These hobbies aren’t just pastimes; they’re gateways to new experiences and knowledge.

The link between hobbies and wellness is undeniable. Activities like gardening offer both physical exercise and the satisfaction of nurturing life. Creative pursuits like knitting or quilting can be meditative and relaxing. Engaging in such hobbies helps maintain mental agility and emotional balance, key aspects of our overall health.

Hobbies have the power to bring people together. Joining a book club, a walking group, or a cooking class opens avenues for socialization and community building.These shared interests foster connections, combat loneliness, and enrich our social lives. They remind us that at any stage of life, we can find kindred spirits and form meaningful relationships.

One of the beautiful aspects of hobbies is their role in lifelong learning. Whether it’s mastering a new recipe, learning to play a musical instrument, or speaking a new language, each hobby challenges our minds and keeps us intellectually engaged. This continual learning process is a cornerstone of vibrant living, keeping our minds sharp and spirits high.

As we celebrate National Hobby Month, let’s embrace the various ways in which hobbies enrich our lives. They are not just activities to pass time; they are pathways to joy, wellness, and deeper connections. This month, we encourage you to revisit an old hobby or embark on a new journey of discovery. Remember, each hobby you engage in is a testament to your ever-evolving story and a celebration of your zest for life.

Credit to Pexels
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01.11.24 | Sage Advice

Embracing Rest: The Health Benefits of Taking Naps

In our continuous journey toward vibrant living at Sage Collective, we often discuss various facets of health and wellness. Today, let’s explore an often overlooked but essential aspect of well-being: the power of napping. While it might seem like a small part of our daily routine, taking naps can have a surprisingly significant impact on our overall health.

Napping: More Than Just a Pause
Napping isn’t just about catching a few moments of sleep; it’s a form of rest that can rejuvenate the mind and body. In our fast-paced world, taking the time to nap can be a deliberate act of self-care.

Endless Benefits
One of the most immediate benefits of napping is the boost it gives to our cognitive functions. A short nap can enhance alertness, improve memory, and increase creativity. For us in the older adult community, this can be particularly beneficial, as it helps keep our minds sharp and agile. In fact, in a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined data from nearly 3,000 people in China aged 65 and older. Within that sampling, nearly 60% reported napping after lunch for about an hour. The research team found that those who napped for 30 to 90 minutes had better word recall and were also better at figure drawing than those who didn’t nap or who napped for longer than 90 minutes.

Napping has also been linked to improved heart health. Studies have shown that a regular, short nap can reduce stress and decrease the risk of heart disease. By allowing our body to rest, we reduce the strain on our heart and lower stress hormones.

A quick nap can do wonders for our mood. It’s a natural way to lift our spirits and combat feelings of tiredness or fatigue. Napping provides a mental and emotional reset, offering a break from daily stresses and recharging our energy.

Besides mental and emotional benefits, napping can contribute to our physical health. It can help in regulating blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and even aiding in weight management. Sleep, even in the form of a nap, plays a crucial role in maintaining our physical health.

Tips for Effective Napping
To reap the full benefits of napping, it’s important to nap effectively:

  • Keep naps short (around 20-30 minutes) to avoid feeling groggy afterward.
  • Nap earlier in the afternoon to not disrupt nighttime sleep.
  • Create a restful environment, quiet and comfortable, conducive to sleep.

As we continue to embrace the principles of vibrant living, incorporating short naps into our daily routine can be a transformative step towards enhanced mental, emotional, and physical well-being. So, let’s give ourselves permission to pause, rest, and rejuvenate, one nap at a time.

woman-napping-in-hammock
Credit: kali9
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01.04.24 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Setting Resolutions in the New Year

Now that 2024 is upon us, it brings an opportunity for reflection and renewal. At Sage Collective, we understand the importance of this time as an opportunity to set resolutions – not just as a tradition, but as a meaningful practice in our journey towards vibrant living.

The Power of Resolutions
Resolutions are more than just yearly promises we make to ourselves; they are declarations of intent and pathways to personal growth. They provide us with a chance to pause, assess our lives, and decide what changes we wish to make. For us in the older adult community, this is particularly powerful, as it aligns with our ongoing pursuit of vibrant living at every stage of life.

Setting Achievable Goals
The key to successful resolutions lies in their realism and attainability. It’s about setting goals that are challenging yet achievable, and that contribute to our overall well-being. Whether it’s adopting a new fitness regimen, learning a new skill, or dedicating more time to a beloved hobby, each resolution should be a stepping stone towards a fuller, richer life experience.

The Importance of Health and Wellness
Many resolutions revolve around health and wellness, and for good reason. As we age, taking care of our physical and mental health becomes increasingly important. Resolutions can serve as commitments to ourselves to nurture our bodies and minds, whether through healthier eating, regular exercise, or mindfulness practices.

Staying Connected and Engaged
Resolutions can also foster social engagement and community involvement – key components of vibrant living. This might mean resolving to spend more time with family and friends, participating in community events, or engaging in volunteer work.

Lifelong Learning and Growth
The new year is also a perfect time to commit to lifelong learning. This could be through reading more, enrolling in a class, or even traveling to new places. Each of these resolutions enriches our lives, keeps our minds active, and supports our overall sense of joy and fulfillment.

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, let’s embrace the tradition of setting resolutions with optimism and enthusiasm. Let these resolutions be reflections of our aspirations and values, guiding us towards a year filled with health, happiness, and vibrant living.

Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Let’s approach our resolutions with flexibility and kindness towards ourselves, understanding that each step forward, no matter how small, is a victory in its own right.

View of the sky looking up through a stand of trees
Credit: Ken Lane (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License)
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12.28.23 | Sage Advice

2023: A Year in Review

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, we at Sage Collective are thrilled to share the highlights of 2023, a year marked by innovation, growth, and deeper connections within our community.

Continued Success of the Vibrant Learning Program

Our journey with the Vibrant Learning Program, in collaboration with Chicago Commons, has flourished throughout 2023. This year, we’ve deepened our relationship with the community, witnessing firsthand the transformative power of learning and engagement. From exploring the intricacies of new technologies to delving into diverse cultures, our program participants have embarked on an enriching journey.

Themes of tradition, storytelling, family connection, and freedom have remained at the heart of our curriculum. Our activities, including armchair travel and digital painting, have not only been educational but also immensely enjoyable, fostering a sense of joy and wonder among all participants.

Expanding Our Horizons

2023 was a milestone year for Sage Collective as we embraced innovative ways to connect with our audience. One of our most exciting initiatives was the integration of Facebook Live into our communication strategy. This platform allowed us to reach new digital audiences and strengthen ties with our existing community.

Our Facebook Live sessions, focusing on updates about Sage Collective’s activities, healthy eating discussions, and more, garnered significant engagement. The enthusiastic response from our audience has been truly inspiring, and we eagerly anticipate continuing these interactive sessions in the coming year.

Looking Ahead: The Vibrant Living Podcast

In our constant effort to innovate and inspire, we are excited to announce the upcoming launch of our ‘Vibrant Living Podcast’ in the new year. Building on the themes explored in our Sage Advice blog, this podcast will dive deeper into the power of storytelling. We believe that stories have the ability to connect, heal, and empower, and our podcast will be a testament to this belief. Stay tuned for this exciting new venture!

As we reflect on the year gone by, we feel immense gratitude for the continued support and enthusiasm of our community. The journey of Sage Collective is one of continuous learning and growth, and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings. Here’s to a vibrant and fulfilling 2024!

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12.07.23 | Sage Advice

Embracing Our Rights, Living Vibrantly: Honoring Human Rights Day

At Sage Collective, we recognize that vibrant living is deeply intertwined with the respect and recognition of human rights. As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of Human Rights Day on December 10th, it’s a poignant moment to reflect on how these fundamental rights underpin our collective journey toward a more just, equitable, and vibrant society.

Reflecting on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Seventy-five years ago, the world came together to adopt the UDHR, a groundbreaking document that set out the inalienable rights and freedoms belonging to every person. This historic declaration forms the bedrock of what we at Sage Collective consider essential for vibrant living: the right to live with dignity, in equality, and in a community that respects and values each individual.

While not legally binding, the UDHR’s influence is unmistakable. It has been a guiding light in shaping a world where the rights to health, education, and freedom from discrimination are increasingly recognized as essential to living life in its fullest, most vibrant form.

The Continued Relevance of Human Rights Day

Today, Human Rights Day is more than a historical commemoration. It’s a call to action. It’s a reminder that our pursuit of vibrant living for all ages, especially for us in the older adult community, is ongoing. In advocating for senior rights, from combating ageism to ensuring access to healthcare, we are upholding the very essence of the UDHR.

This day also reminds us that vibrant living is nurtured in a society where the rights of all are protected and respected. It encourages us to stay informed, to engage in meaningful dialogue, and to support initiatives that promote equity and justice.

Living Vibrantly by Upholding Human Rights

At Sage Collective, we believe in the power of community and connection in fostering vibrant living. Observing Human Rights Day aligns with our commitment to nurturing an environment where everyone, regardless of age, can thrive. It’s about building a community that not only respects human rights but also celebrates the rich diversity and potential of each individual.

As we mark Human Rights Day, let’s renew our commitment to these principles. Let’s continue to educate ourselves, engage in our communities, and advocate for a world where every person can live vibrantly and with dignity. This is how we honor the legacy of the UDHR – by living it every day in our actions and interactions.

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11.02.23 | Uncategorized

November is National Family Caregivers Month

November is often associated with Thanksgiving, a time to express gratitude and come together as families. But the month also holds a special significance for family caregivers. Welcome to National Family Caregivers Month – a period dedicated to acknowledging the silent heroes among us who dedicate their lives to caring for loved ones.

What started as National Family Caregivers Week in the mid-1990s has since evolved, thanks to President Barack Obama’s proclamation in 2012, into a month-long tribute. This expansion wasn’t just a mere extension of time but rather a recognition of the year-round efforts these caregivers undertake. 

While showing appreciation is a crucial aspect of this month, its scope goes beyond acknowledgment. The aim is to rally support for caregivers, raise awareness about the challenges they face, and provide them with vital resources. The Caregivers Action Network (CAN), for instance, introduces a theme each year. This year’s theme is #CaregiversConnect, which spotlights the importance of connections as a way to educate and support others. 

By shining a light on the hardships and trials caregivers endure, we pave the way for better policies, resources, and societal understanding. Whether it’s lobbying for better workplace support, highlighting the emotional strain, or emphasizing the financial toll of caregiving, the advocacy element of this month is pivotal.

As individuals, there’s much we can do. From offering to babysit, assisting with chores, or merely lending an empathetic ear, every bit helps. Community groups and local initiatives can also play a role, perhaps by setting up support forums or offering respite care services. The strength of a community lies in its unity, and together, we can ensure our caregivers feel seen, supported, and valued.

As you move through November, take a moment to think about the caregivers in your life. They might be neighbors, friends, or even family members. While their sacrifices often go unnoticed, this month serves as a reminder of the immeasurable value they bring to our communities and lives. 

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09.28.23 | Sage Advice

Who Said Playtime Is Only For Kids?

From building sandcastles to playing hopscotch, every day was an adventure as kids. But as we grew up, responsibilities piled up, and the word ‘play’ somehow took a backseat. However, diving into recent research, we’re led to a revelation: Maybe it’s high time we adults introduce play back into our daily lives for better mental health and happiness.

The Transformative Power of Play

The act of playing, it turns out, isn’t just child’s play. It’s a profound tool that can transform our well-being. Engaging in playful activities has the potential to boost creativity, alleviate stress, and elevate our mood. It’s a reminder that joyspotting doesn’t have an age limit.

Engaging in play can also aid in cognitive functions. Just as children use play to understand the world, adults can use it to sharpen their minds, enhance problem-solving skills, and even foster better relationships with others. When we laugh, play, and engage in light-hearted competition, we break barriers, build trust, and foster camaraderie.

Reclaiming Your Playful Spirit with Vibrant Living

Our Vibrant Living program at Sage Collective recognizes the essence of holistic well-being. It’s not just about maintaining our physical health; it’s about nurturing our emotional and mental well-being. Embracing play and playful activities is aligned with this ethos, promoting not just life, but a life lived to its fullest.

So, how do you reintroduce play into your life? You don’t need a playground or toys. Playing for adults could mean trying out a new hobby, dancing whenever and wherever, joining a recreational sports league, or simply engaging in light-hearted banter with friends.

In the whirlwind of responsibilities and deadlines, it’s easy to dismiss play as frivolous. But as research suggests, it might be one of the simplest yet profound ways to infuse joy into our lives. Rediscover the magic of play. In doing so, you won’t just be rejoicing in the moment, but rejuvenating your soul. After all, why should kids have all the fun?

Who Said Playtime Is Only For Kids?
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