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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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01.31.24 | Sage Advice

Celebrating African American Artistry: ASALH’s 2024 Black History Month Theme “African Americans and the Arts”

At Sage Collective, we share a deep appreciation for the cultural traditions that have shaped African American life. So, as we step into Black History Month this year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has aptly chosen the theme “African Americans and the Arts.” This theme offers us a profound opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of African American artistic contributions, encompassing an virtually-endless array of cultural expressions.

African American art, as highlighted by ASALH, is a vibrant fusion of African, Caribbean, and Black American experiences. This artistry is evident across various domains including visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, and culinary arts. Significantly, African American artists have consistently utilized their craft to preserve history, community memory, and empower themselves and others.

The journey of African American art has been shaped by various artistic and cultural movements like the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism. These movements, predominantly led by people of African descent, have not only shaped popular trends globally but have also set a standard in the artistic world.

Historically, Western intellectuals often overlooked or minimized African contributions to the arts. However, the resilience and continuity of Black art production remain evident, stretching from ancient Egypt across Africa and Europe to the New World. The sweetgrass baskets made by enslaved Africans in the Lowcountry, for example, demonstrate a 300-year tradition of visual artistry through craft.

 

Photo-of-Marian-Anderson
Photo of Marian Anderson, 1945. Gelatin silver print. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh. © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.
 

Music has been a significant avenue of expression, with the spirituals born from the suffering of bondage marking America’s first contribution to this art form. Blues musicians like Robert Johnson, McKinley ‘Muddy Waters’ Morganfield, and Riley “BB” King laid the foundation for many evolving music genres. Literature also boasts significant contributions from African Americans, with works from poets like Phillis Wheatley and novelists such as David Walker and Maria Stewart.

The 1920s and 30s saw the rise of the Black Renaissance and New Negro Movement, bringing Black Arts to an international audience. Figures such as James Reese Europe, Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, and Lois Mailou Jones played pivotal roles in introducing Black culture and aesthetics to the world. This period recognized the contributions of Black artists in cities like Harlem, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New Orleans.

The 1960s’ Black Arts Movement continued this legacy, addressing issues like heritage pride and establishing platforms for Black artists through galleries, museum exhibitions, and publications. This era saw artists like Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez come to the forefront.

In 1973, hip-hop emerged in the Bronx as a new genre of music, defined by its five foundational elements. Artists like DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock used technology to create a style that has since been a critical voice in political, social, and cultural discourses.

 

 

Mind-of-My-Mind-by-Olivia-Butler-Cover-Art
Photo of book cover, Mind of My Mind, by Octavia Butler. Originally published 1977. Credit: Wikipedia

Afrofuturism, a term coined about 30 years ago, represents cultural and artistic productions that envision a future for Black people free from oppression, blending Black history with science and technology. This movement includes artists like Sun Ra, Rashan Roland Kirk, Janelle Monáe, and Jimi Hendrix, writers like Octavia Butler, and films like Marvel’s Black Panther.

ASALH’s dedication of the 2024 theme to “African Americans and the Arts” invites us to celebrate the entirety of African American history in the arts. This commemoration not only honors the past and present contributions but also anticipates the continued impact and evolution of African American artistry in the 21st century and beyond.

Carmen-de-Lavallade-Bruce-Langhorne-Alvin-Ailey-_-Brother-John-Sellers-in-Alvin-Ailey-s-Roots-of-the-Blues
Credit: Carmen de Lavallade, Bruce Langhome, Alvin Ailey, and Brother John Sellers in Alvin Ailey’s Roots of the Blues. Photo by Jack Mitchell. ©Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation Inc. and Smithsonian Institution.
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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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01.04.24 | 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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12.21.23 | Sage Advice

The Art of Storytelling: Ava DuVernay

In our celebration of the art of storytelling, it’s impossible to overlook the profound impact of Ava DuVernay, a filmmaker who has redefined the landscape of American cinema. At Sage Collective, we not only appreciate storytelling in its traditional forms but also how it transcends into different mediums, like film, to evoke emotion, inspire change, and challenge perspectives.

Ava DuVernay, an American filmmaker, and director, has become a household name, known for her powerful storytelling that often centers on social issues, particularly those affecting the Black community. Her work is a testament to the power of film as a medium for storytelling, shedding light on pivotal but often overlooked aspects of history and contemporary society.

DuVernay’s journey in the film industry is one of resilience and perseverance. Initially working as a publicist, DuVernay transitioned into writing, producing, and directing. Her early works set the stage for what would become a career marked by impactful storytelling. It was her second feature film, “Middle of Nowhere,” that won her the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, making her the first Black woman to win this award.

One of DuVernay’s most notable works is “Selma” (2014), a historical drama about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures. The film was not just a retelling of history; it was a resonant, powerful piece that connected past struggles to contemporary social issues.

Another significant work is the documentary “13th” (2016), which explored the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. Through this documentary, DuVernay brought to light how inequality and racial injustice have been systematically embedded into the fabric of American society.

DuVernay’s work extends beyond the screen. She has been instrumental in advocating for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. Her commitment to these causes is evident in her work with ARRAY, a film collective dedicated to amplifying the voices of people of color and women filmmakers.

Ava DuVernay’s approach to storytelling aligns with the core values we hold dear at Sage Collective. Her work reminds us that stories have the power to effect change, connect us, and deepen our understanding of the human experience. DuVernay’s artistry in film inspires us to look at stories not just as a form of entertainment, but as a vehicle for enlightenment, empathy, and empowerment.

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay
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10.19.23 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Screen-free Time

There’s an undeniable charm in reminiscing about the times when activities like flipping the pages of a book, taking in the sounds and sights of nature, or engaging in heart-to-heart conversations didn’t involve any digital devices. Today, as we sit in the digital age, screens have seamlessly positioned themselves into the fabric of our daily lives. They connect us to distant loved ones, open doors to vast troves of information, and offer unprecedented convenience.

Yet, as much as we might appreciate the joys of instant connectivity, it’s essential to remember that there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. The pull of the screen, while captivating, often comes at the cost of neglecting the world around us.

Consistent exposure to screens has its downsides. Physically, there’s the all-too-familiar sensation of eye strain after a long day of scrolling. Our posture might hunch, and the blue light from screens can disrupt our precious sleep cycles. Mentally and emotionally, the constant barrage of information, notifications, and digital engagements can leave us feeling overwhelmed. There’s also the small shift in our social interactions, with virtual chats often replacing genuine face-to-face connections.

But stepping back from screens allows us to rediscover various joys that lie just beyond their glow. It’s similar to joyspotting, where the world reveals delightful treasures waiting to be noticed. There’s the tactile joy of sketching on paper, the rustle of leaves during a morning walk, the enriching depth of a live conversation, and the simple act of being present in the moment.

To strike a balance between the digital and the real, consider implementing some conscious changes. Set designated tech-free hours during the day, allowing yourself to disconnect and recharge. Dive into hobbies that don’t require a screen—be it gardening, painting, reading, or even just daydreaming. Encourage face-to-face interactions, whether it’s through a friendly game night, a shared meal, or a leisurely stroll.

In our fast-paced world, where screens continually beckon us, it’s a radical act of self-care to pause, put down the device, and immerse ourselves in the tangible experiences surrounding us. It’s not about dismissing the advantages of technology but about cherishing the moments that make life vibrant and genuine. So, while we continue to navigate and appreciate the digital realm, let’s also remember to frequently take a step back, breathe, and savor the world beyond the glow of screens.

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10.05.23 | Uncategorized

Understanding the Tradition of Walking Moai

We’ve all felt it: the comforting presence of a friend beside us, turning a regular walk into something special. That burst of laughter, that shared secret, or that debate over the best coffee shop in town. Now, imagine multiplying that by a few more friends, all walking together, with a shared sense of purpose. That’s the magic of a Walking Moai.

Originating from Okinawa, Japan, the term “moai” translates to a heartwarming “meeting for a common purpose”. It’s more than just hanging out – it’s about belonging to a tribe, each step echoing with shared dreams and aspirations. And when it comes to walking, this sense of unity turns every journey into a festival of memories.

And it’s not just about the fun moments. When we walk with our pals, we’re not just burning calories, we’re sparking joy. A study from 2020 whispered a sweet secret: walking with friends makes you healthier, happier, and more motivated. It’s as if our bodies and minds instinctively know: life’s better when we’re together.

In today’s world, where loneliness sometimes sneaks up on us, Walking Moais are like a warm hug. They’re more than just a group – they’re a family. A circle where shared stories replace solitude and laughter keeps away the blues.

What’s even more magical is the transformation that happens when we walk, talk, and dream together. Those in the known “blue zones” have shown us the way. Walking isn’t just about movement; it’s about connecting, feeling, and living. A quick stroll can chase away stress, and brainstorming on the go? That’s where the best ideas are born!

So next time you’re lacing up your shoes, consider inviting a friend or two. Walk, chat, dream, and discover the world through the wonderful rhythm of shared footsteps. Whether you’re chasing health goals, seeking heartfelt conversations, or simply wanting a break from the daily grind – your tribe, your Walking Moai, awaits.

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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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