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01.19.23 | Sage Advice

aRT Without the Capital “A”

Believe it or not, the little stick figure you managed to draw as a kid on is considered a masterpiece. Okay, maybe not a “masterpiece” per se, but definitely a piece of work you should be proud of, because that same stick figure is doing more than you might think.


Flexing That Creative Muscle

Everyone is capable of creative expression. Regardless of skill level, age, or disability, the benefits of creating art are nigh infinite. Whether you draw, paint, do woodwork, or draw stick figures, making art is good for the mind, body, and soul.

The act of creation has been linked to a reduction in anxiety and stress. It even improves your sense of agency when it comes to imagining solutions to problems you may face on a regular basis. 

Making “aRT”

Painting

Start with what you enjoy — maybe something you’ve done before, maybe something you loved as a kid. But keep an open mind in this process.

Anything that engages the creative mind — reformatting the ability to make and establish connections between unrelated things through visual communication — is good for you.

Here’s a few to get you going: finger painting, cooking, baking, collaging, oil painting, weaving, knitting, crocheting, writing screenplays, scrapbooking — lose yourself in the process and let go of expectations.

Do what lets you express yourself fully in the world of art making. You do not need to complete a project or like what you’re making to feel the various health benefits.

“aRT” Like You Exercise, Like You Eat

Just as you make time to eat, exercise and hang out with family and friends, you should make time for your new found joy for artistic expression. Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy — remaining connected to yourself and remaining connected to the world.

Chicago Methodist Senior Services offer a few more resources for healthy art making, enjoy!

Art therapy
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01.05.23 | Sage Advice

Goal-Making: How to Set Yourself Up for the New Year


Say this affirmation out loud:

 

“I will live within my purpose and make smarter decisions that lead to my own vibrant living!

 


Setting goals doesn’t have to be rocket science, just well thought out. They should be designed to be SMART. Here are 5 ways toward smarter goal making that will set you up for the rest of the year:

 

Specific

 

Measurable

 

Attainable

 

Relevant

 

Timed

 


Specific Goal Making

First, any goal you have should be clear and defined. You need them to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can by defining precisely where you want to end up.

 

Measurable Goal Making

In addition to your specific goal, try using precise statements that measure your success. Instead of saying, “Maybe I’ll go to the gym sometime this month,” say to yourself, “I will go to the gym starting today!”  Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with having achieved something.

 

Attainable Goal Making

Above all, it is crucial that you set goals that are attainable with reasonable resistance. By setting realistic yet challenging ones, you hit the balance needed for your own personal development.

 

Relevant Goal Making

Now for a little perspective, where do you want to be 3 months, 5 months from now? Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. Keeping this in mind, you develop the focus needed to get ahead of the curve and stay motivated!

 

Timed Goal Making

One word, deadline. Despite whether you love them or hate them, deadlines work to increase sense of urgency and achievement will only come that much quicker when you set one in stone. 

 

In the end, by de-mystifying goal setting it no longer feels like rocket science. And you begin to make smarter and more informed decisions about your life and wellbeing.

 

Meditating on New Years Resolutions
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12.29.22 | Sage Advice

2022: A Year in Review

2022 was a year of growth for Sage Collective as we continued evolving and celebrating exciting milestones. Today, we’re reflecting on the past year and sharing our proudest achievements:

Vibrant Learning Program

Throughout 2022, we were able to continue strengthening our close relationship with Chicago Commons, another long-standing trailblazer for change in the community. Building upon our past work, we excitedly launched our Vibrant Learning Program with Chicago Commons Adult Day Services in late February, which continues to be a resounding success. 

For the past eight months, our team has had the privilege to get to know program participants and help grow their understanding of everything from new technology to different cultures. Learning themes touched on traditions, storytelling, family connection and freedom, and engaging activities included armchair travel and digital painting. 

Expanding Our Team

Along with the launch of our programming, we warmly welcomed new team members throughout the year. Leading the Vibrant Living Program, DeShunn Bray brought with her an impressive passion for forming rich connections with others and making a significant impact on the communities in which she interacts as our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement. Her amazing energy is something both our team and the participants in our Vibrant Living Program cherish. 

We also welcomed Camille Love as one of our newest Board Members. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board created such an opportunity for Camille and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. 

We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you and see what 2023 brings!

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11.10.22 | Sage Advice

Health Benefits of Yoga

For those who love to get their daily exercise outside in the fresh air, the cool weather that comes with the winter can make that difficult. Thankfully though, there are plenty of ways you can complete your fitness goals from the comfort and warmth of your home, including yoga! Yoga is a low-impact activity perfect for anyone who wants to get their heart rate up while practicing mindfulness, and of course, it comes with a wide array of health benefits. Here are just a couple: 

Increases Strength

Yoga has been found to improve strength, balance and flexibility. Going through the slow, gentle movements and deep breathing exercises increases blood flow and warms up your muscles. Holding poses helps you develop better core strength and, in turn, improves your posture! And as you stretch your muscles with each pose, you also increase your range of motion and flexibility. Overall, the impact of this exercise leads to increased body awareness as well.

Aids in Pain Relief

For those going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga is highly recommended. That’s because the practice has the potential to aid in pain relief — specifically, back pain. Stretching your lower back through various poses is believed to help relieve pain and improve flexibility overall during the healing process. And for those with arthritis: gentle yoga has been shown to ease some discomfort when it comes to those tender, swollen joints. 

Boosts Energy and Mood

As a practice grounded in body-mind-spirit connection, yoga naturally has an impact on your mental health as well as your physical health. Yoga has been demonstrated to aid in stress relief and even lead to a better night’s sleep. It also provides a boost to your overall energy and mood levels, producing better alertness and enthusiasm in its wake.

So, whether you’re looking for a low-impact fitness regimen or seeking a sense of groundedness, yoga is a great and healthy option for everyone. 

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08.18.22 | Sage Advice

The Enigma of Heirloom Foods

Like everything, foods evolve with time, changing in flavor, color and even shape. And yes, while we’re cautious to eat any of those weird looking foods, they’re often filled with a plethora of flavor and nutrients. Today, we’re exploring heirloom foods and why you shouldn’t let their appearance hold you back from trying them.

What are heirloom foods?

Have you ever noticed that weird-shaped carrot or the odd-colored tomato at your grocery store? Those are heirloom foods! Like all other aspects of life, as time passes, agricultural products and systems change, progressing the popularity of some foods and lessening the use of others. This leads to the emergence of heirloom foods – foods that may have been commonly eaten throughout previous generations but are less so today. 

Why you should add them to your diet

Heirlooms don’t only come with unique looks, but they also provide many nutritious benefits other foods don’t have. The genetics within the plants also typically provide them with pest, disease and weather resistance. 

Whether you’re snacking on an heirloom vegetable, fruit, or egg, each food is also sure to be filled with flavors you haven’t experienced before. The taste is what draws many to the established foods. Beyond their flavor, buying heirloom foods is also a great way to support local farms in your area that may grow them instead of buying usual produce from large-scale farms. 

Don’t hesitate to grab those colorful potatoes or weirdly shaped tomatoes next time you spot them out, you could be missing out on a flavor-filled heirloom treat!

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06.16.22 | Sage Advice

Simple Ways You Can Expel Stress This Summer

As one of the pillars for our model of 9 Ways of Vibrant Living at Sage Collective, we believe stress reduction is crucial to living a vibrant life. And while stress is a normal component of life, our focus isn’t to eliminate it but rather to learn how to manage, control and minimize it. Today, we’re spotlighting four tools everyone can utilize this summer and throughout the year to reduce stress:

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress throughout the summer. While sunshine is accessible year-round, summertime is when you can benefit the most from the vitamin D it supplies! Vitamin gain leads to stronger and healthier bones and boosts immune systems. Research has even found that exposing yourself to fresh air and natural light for as little as 15 minutes a day helps to decrease emotional distress. 

Spend Time With Friends and Family

Time outdoors isn’t the only thing you should be adding to your daily routine in the summer. Another way to assure less stress and anxiety is by spending more time with your friends and family. As the proverb goes, “it takes a village.” Community and safe spaces are extremely significant to our wellbeing, especially when going through a stressful time. So, setting aside time to spend with family and friends is a sure way to help you stay stress-free! 

Reflect on Your Day

Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or simply practicing gratitude, taking time to reflect on your day is another way you can expel stress. As little as ten minutes of any of those activities can leave a profound impact on how you view your days, even when you may be facing stress. Along with reflecting on your own, taking opportunities to practice acts of service is another powerful way to relieve stress while engaging with your community and building relationships!

Take a Nap

Naps aren’t reserved for just little kids and are much better for our health than many people realize. Along with being a great way to break up your day and provide a much-needed break, naps have been found to lower the risk of heart disease, increase the body’s energy and lower stress! Naps don’t have to be long either; studies show that the most beneficial nap length for our bodies is only 10 to 15 minutes.

Living with stress isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but once we utilize the correct techniques and tools, controlling and minimizing stress is much easier than it sounds.

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06.09.22 | Sage Advice

Sage Collective’s Guide to Summer Wellness

We believe supporting healthy eating, outdoor activity, and self-care is always important, but summer is arguably the best time to practice all of the above! The warm weather and all that comes with it makes the season the perfect time to focus on individual wellbeing. Today, we’re sharing what you should be focusing on this season to guarantee nothing but the best for your body and mind:

Hydration

The key to a healthy and enjoyable summer is staying hydrated. While hydration is consequential during any season, it’s especially important to pay attention to in the summer months. Daily fluid intakes vary by the body, health condition, medications and even daily activity, but the consensus is that drinking water should become part of everyone’s daily routine throughout the summer. 

While drinking water is an amazing way to keep hydrated, there are plenty of other ways you can do so. Eating foods with high water content, like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and peppers, and taking probiotics are great ways to prohibit dehydration. And, if you aren’t a water drinker, try adding a few different ingredients like fresh lemons, berries or other fruits to add delicious flavor without the artificial preservatives or sweets!

Skincare

Protection from the sun and its harmful UV rays are essential for everyone during the summer months. While it does come with its benefits, like Vitamin D, when exposed to the sunlight for too long without protection, your body becomes more prone to wrinkles, dryness, age spots and even forms of skin cancer. 

That’s why it’s critical to protect your skin with anything from sunscreen to the clothes you wear. The key to skincare in the summer begins with sunscreen. SPF levels of 30 or higher are usually recommended, as well as reapplying throughout the day, but what’s most important is that you like what you’re putting on your body. Other ways to help avoid the sun’s harmful rays is by wearing lip balms, hats, sunglasses and other skin-protecting cosmetics. 

Practice Self-care

Because of the warm weather, longer days and more energy we feel during the summer in general, it’s the perfect time to start adding more self-care into your routine. Find some time in the long day to begin developing your exercise routine or encourage yourself to eat healthier by planting fresh fruits and vegetables in your garden. 

This is the best time to begin any new healthy lifestyle habits that can keep running through the end of the year and spend more time focusing on yourself. 

The bright sunlight, fresh air, and longer days are just some of the reasons why summertime is one of the most fulfilling times of the year. But don’t forget to focus on your health and wellness throughout the season!

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06.03.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Board Member: Camille Love

With a passion for the empowerment and health of her community, Camille Love always knew that she would thrive in the healthcare field. And today, with more than 16 years of experience under her belt, she continues to search for opportunities where she can lend her expertise in community healthcare. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board recently created such an opportunity for Camille Love and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Camille Love as the newest addition to the Sage Collective Board of Directors. Get to know Camille in her introduction below: 

Can you talk a bit about your professional background and how it has added to your expertise in your field?

I originally started my nursing career when I was very young, around 16, when I decided to become a certified nursing assistant. I’ve never been in any other field besides nursing. From starting as a CNA, to becoming a registered nurse and now a nurse practitioner, I recognize that I have been completely focused for nearly two decades in work that is meaningful and fulfilling every day.

I transitioned into being a nurse practitioner when I felt that I wanted to broaden my scope of work. And now, I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to take on leadership roles where I can empower and mentor other nurses and healthcare providers.  

What should those outside of the healthcare ecosystem know about the community caregiving experience?

Overall, I feel that there are two factors that everyone should keep in mind. On one side, I see the need for more compassion, which I say because we often see people now who have compassion fatigue. In general, we all need to show more sympathy and compassion to one another because you never know what others are going through at that moment. They might be a very fatigued healthcare provider, or if they aren’t a healthcare provider, they may be completely isolated. 

The second point is to practice safe behaviors. It’s easy to brush little things off of your shoulder when they might not affect you, but try to keep in mind that your actions could, in turn, affect someone else. If you’re possibly exposed to something like COVID-19, be considerate and make the smart decision to stay home and wear a mask so you don’t accidentally expose anyone else. 

Sage Collective believes that a sense of ‘care for the collective’ is essential for not only individual health but the health of a community. How does this belief translate through your own work and past experiences?

My experience has taught me that the health literacy of those outside of healthcare is very low, and I feel  that if we did a better job of communicating within our communities, that simple act of just talking to one another lessens the burden of providers and relieves some anxiety for community members. For example, parents need to understand that if their child has a temperature and a runny nose, it’s not something out of the ordinary and often doesn’t require attention from us in the hospital. 

If someone in that parent’s family had told them that this level of illness is normal, that would help create literacy in the community. So, in turn, they wouldn’t be burdening the providers to address a set of symptoms, which, in their eyes, is a simple matter. 

I also deal with older adults who have chronic illnesses like diabetes. In the African American community, we traditionally go heavy on salt, which leads to high blood pressure and other conditions. In the Latinx community, we have patients whose diets rely on tortillas, beans and other high-carb foods. Communication within these communities is essential when talking about wellness, since it completely changes the game when it comes to the knowledge and decisions people make about their diet. So, if you have a simple conversation amongst family, friends or community members, you could change a whole community’s health based on word of mouth and education. So, the healthcare-focused component of my work completely aligns with the community component that Sage provides.

What other unique values held by Sage Collective have drawn you to join the Board?

I’m currently working for an organization that is a federally-qualified health center, so our objective is to provide excellent quality healthcare to underserved communities. This has always been my mission in healthcare since that population is, well, underserved in nearly every aspect of life. So, working with Sage Collective, I can help populations that are both underserved and overlooked. 

Within the Sage ecosystem, you have people of color, and you have the elderly, and then you have people who face financial hardships, so these circumstances are not affording them luxuries that other persons would normally get. My fuel is to always target and give the best to underserved communities, so I was immediately drawn to Sage Collective because of our parallels. 

What is the significance of having intergenerational relationships in the healthcare world? Specifically in community health?

Intergenerational relationships are integral to the success of communities. They offer the opportunity to bring together the tried-and-true conventions that exist within the healthcare field with the energy, innovations and new perspectives of younger generations. 

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of Sage Collective’s board? 

I’m very excited to be working with the other leaders on the Sage Collective Board, and to have the opportunity to learn from them, pick their brains, and of course, contribute to the organization itself. I’m also eager to serve and have the opportunity to continue the work that has inspired me for so long, but in a different capacity, through housing and programming.

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12.30.21 | Sage Advice

Resolutions for 2022

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in a new year is by making a list of resolutions before it starts. This tradition is a powerful way to articulate your values and can hold you accountable for your goals heading into the new year. In case you’re unsure of what to add to your to-do list, here are some resolutions you can take into 2022 to continue championing a vibrant lifestyle.

Start Something You’ve Always Dreamed About

Heading into the new year, make it a priority to make an ambitious dream come true. Not only is it essential to set goals for yourself throughout the new year, but achieving them leads to significantly rewarding experiences. Whether you want to head back to school, discover a new hobby or change career paths, don’t be afraid to take initiative of your life. Fulfilling dreams helps give your life purpose, control and meaning. And, if this isn’t the year to do it, when is?

Put Your Health First

Putting your health first encompasses a variety of choices that you can make throughout the year. It’s important to remember that your body’s health consists of both physical and mental elements. So, while making sure you try to incorporate moderate, regular physical activity into your life along with a variety of nutritious foods, taking care of your mental health is just as important. And, lucky enough, sometimes specific actions will go hand in hand with helping both areas of wellness. 

Live in the Moment

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We believe one of the most significant goals you should have in the new year is to live in the present. To do so, you must focus on the now. A few great ways to do this are by practicing mindfulness, performing meditation or simply performing random acts of kindness in your community.  

We’re thankful to keep learning from the lessons that 2021 has taught us and couldn’t be more excited to see how our resolutions will play out in the upcoming year!

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12.14.21 | Sage Advice

Deliciously Healthy Winter Dishes For Any Gatherings

When winter comes around, no matter where you end up, it’s not difficult to find the sweet treats and savory meals that are traditionally associated with the season. However, for those inspired to maintain or start conscious eating habits, the winter can be a difficult time filled with temptation. Today, inspired by our vibrant living principles, we’re sharing a few deliciously healthy winter dishes that anyone can enjoy this winter. 

Sweet Potatoes

A favorite during this time of year, sweet potatoes are hard not to enjoy. While most people enjoy sweet potatoes even sweeter, baked with brown sugar and marshmallows, there are various methods to cook the vegetables that are just as enjoyable but much healthier. Like a standard potato, sweet potatoes can be served in a variety of ways. Baking them whole, mashing them, and even dicing them in a salad proves how versatile the vegetables can be. No matter how you cook them, we promise they won’t lose the sweetness that makes them so delectable in the first place. 

Winter Crudités

Who doesn’t love a mix of fresh vegetables? Crudités make the perfect winter dish for that reason. Not only can the appetizer appeal to virtually anyone, but it comes with a plethora of highly vitamin-packed vegetables that you can personally pick and choose. If you want to put a twist on the classic appetizer, make your own tasty dip to pair with the refreshing produce. 

Festive Fruit Salad

While it might seem out of season, a festive and healthy fruit salad is sure to excite taste buds in the winter. Similar to the crudités, not only is this dish healthy, but you can bring it and eat it anywhere and anytime. The nourishing food makes a perfect option for a morning snack or a late-night dessert. Along with the fruit, don’t be afraid to add in extra ingredients that bring even more flavor to the salad like mint, basil, lavender or even cayenne pepper for a little heat. 

Seasonal Squash

Another versatile food, squash is the perfect vegetable to substitute in and out of almost every traditional meal. Typically harvested in the fall, the nutrient-packed acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are available for cooking your favorite dishes year-round. Some seasonal favorites include butternut squash mac and cheese, soup and casserole, stuffed acorn squash and roasted spaghetti squash with kale

Even with the sweet temptations that surround us throughout the holiday season, healthy options are never too far out of reach. Whether you’re serving food at home for yourself or preparing a dish to bring to a gathering, there are various methods we can each take to continue practicing conscious eating habits and living vibrantly.

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