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.
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 fullyin 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.
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 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.
Whether you like spending your evenings escaping into your favorite novel or you only get to read a book a few times a year, there’s no question that reading is good for you. Regardless if you’re a devotee of reading or not, one of the best ways to elevate your experience – and keep yourself accountable – is by joining a book club. That’s why today, we’re exploring the benefits that come with book clubs and how you can join your own.
There are plenty of reasons you should join a book club, but one of the most alluring is the opportunity to make new friends or engage with old ones. If you’re looking to meet others throughout your community, joining a book club is a great way to do so. Beyond engaging with a new crowd, book clubs provide safe spaces to observe and understand new perspectives from the books you read and those around you.
Not only are you able to engage with others, but book clubs promote brain health! If you’re the type who rushes through books, this will help challenge you to engage deeper with the content and digest what you’re reading better. And by doing so, you and your group will encourage each other to practice critical thinking skills in the discussion!
As we stated early, book clubs can be great for anyone who loves reading but isn’t the best at making time for it. By joining a book club, you’re automatically committing to reading a book within a specific time limit, and you’ll have a whole team of people to keep you accountable. And hopefully, throughout the process, you’ll be able to foster a continuing love of literature.
If you’re interested in joining a book club but not sure where to find one, ask friends, search local Facebook Groups, head to your local library or bookshop, or start one yourself!
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:
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.
Winter’s frigid months, when sunshine is scarce and snow piles accumulate, can be daunting, leaving many — particularly older adults — feeling as though stepping outside is a chore. At Sage Collective, we recognize the hardships that come with the long winter days and believe that with preparation, anyone can traverse the burdens of winter with relative ease. So, even as winter takes over in the upcoming months, you can meet the blues it might spawn, head-on.
The simplest way to get through the seemingly never-ending winter months is by centering your focus on your wellbeing, introducing various self-care principles into your life and staying mindful of what makes you happy.
Nutrients are critical to thriving during winter, and while bleak, the outdoors produces several essential benefits. Natural light provides significant benefits to our bodies that we lack during winter, including vitamin D, which reduces the risk of heart disease and prevents bone loss, and produces mood boosters like serotonin and endorphins. While natural light can be easily accessible from windows, it’s even more beneficial to immerse yourself in the outdoors, and embrace the fresh air.
While you’re outside, a walk around your block or to the grocery store is also a great way to combat the winter blues. Frequent physical activity helps create a routine, and as your body moves, the hormones released by your body and vitamins you receive from the sun help stabilize emotions and build spirits.
Because the outdoors can be such a brisk environment, having options to be active in indoor environments is a necessity. Programs like SilverSneakers make it easy for qualified older adults to go to gyms and participate in online or in person fitness classes at no cost. Around Bronzeville, gyms participating with SilverSneakers include La Fitness and Planet Fitness. Local YMCA’s are another great option for anyone searching to keep their fitness routine active in the winter.
Feed Your Soul
Nurturing your body certainly helps get through some aspects of winter, but your soul’s wellbeing is equally important. It’s essential to find bliss through activities and hobbies you’re passionate about during winter. Sit next to a warm fire and immerse yourself in a new book; tune into a podcast and explore new topics; put pen to paper and share your feelings in a journal, or document cherished memories in a scrapbook.
If you can, take a trip. Midwesterners know best that venturing to a different climate or part of the country can give you a real boost during the winter months. Whether you make it a road trip to Florida or take a plane to Cancún, vibrant sunlight and cloudless skies never disappoint. Weekend and day trips are another great way to feed the soul, especially considering Chicago’s perfect location for getaways that take you in virtually any direction.
Most importantly, don’t shy away from spending some extra time with your family and friends during winter. Loved ones are the perfect remedy for the winter blues and often can kick us out of mental slumps.
As the winter season approaches, start preparing for what lies ahead and armed with a good attitude and a toolkit for beating the winter blues, consider placing a spotlight on your wellbeing.
While reflecting on the past, fortunate people will immediately recall someone who made a lasting impact on their lives. It may have been a coach, a teacher, a parent or a neighbor, but one throughline is shared by all: the powerful and lasting influence of having a mentor. The process of mentoring and sharing guidance is a valuable and life-changing experience for mentees and can be just as significant for mentors.
Intergenerational mentoring is a mutually beneficial way to provide both youth and older adults with new perspectives and opportunities for happier and healthier lives. For older adults, sharing life experiences and critical advice with young people can help dismantle generational barriers while fulfilling a sense of purpose many desire.
We often think that loneliness and isolation are the exclusive domain of older adults, forgetting that young people experience these same emotions. With mentorship, the generations can come together to create a sense of belonging and stability. Youth who receive mentorship, specifically from older adults, have higher self-esteem, improved leadership and communication skills and often find themselves more willing to explore new ways to learn and grow.
Among its many benefits, mentoring is a great way to diminish ageism and educate younger people about the aging process, expanding their empathy and strengthening their understanding of what others are experiencing. While mentees benefit from improved self-awareness, respect for their elders and other insightful perspectives, mentors gain invaluable knowledge themselves, creating a dynamic, elastic system for communities to thrive together.
Anyone can be a mentor. The process is uniquely flexible and can be as easy as offering advice and creating a safe space for younger family or community members to visit if they ever need assistance or support. For those who prefer more structure, there are numerous mentorship programs in Bronzeville and around Chicago that anyone can join.
AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents Program, offered through the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, allows volunteers age 55 and up to care for and guide Chicago’s youth, enriching the lives of everyone involved. The program actively serves 3,500 Illinois children and provides everything from educational support to essential care some may need. To learn more about their program and how to become involved, visit their website here.
Mentorship is a critical asset to youth, older adults and communities that shapes positive outcomes in all directions. For older adults aspiring to empower others and share their essential voices, mentoring is the opportunity you’ve been seeking.
A Brief History of The South Side Community Arts Center
Widely recognized for its vibrant arts and music scenes, the Bronzeville neighborhood takes pride in its rich past. Throughout history, various venues around the neighborhood have been essential for Black artists across the community. One of Chicago’s Historic Landmarks, The South Side Community Arts Center, is one of those precious places that has had a lasting impact.
Determined to overcome the seemingly never-ending hardships brought by the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt introduced the New Deal and its Work Progress Administration (WPA) to the country. Sponsored by the WPA, The Federal Arts Project (FAP) acted as a subsidiary program to the larger workforce development effort by expanding community art centers across the country.
In 1938, FAP agents visited Chicago in hopes of creating an arts center focused on exhibiting the work of African American artists. Progress on the center’s development advanced once South Side businessman Golden B. Darby emerged as a champion for the project. With his insistence that the center reside on Chicago’s South Side, Darby organized the Community Arts Center Committee to advocate for the center’s location. Members of the committee included local leaders and artists from the Arts and Craft Guild, the lone group for African American artists in the community, including Margaret Burroughs, Eldzier Cortor, Bernard Goss, Charles White, William Carter, Joseph Kersey and Archibald Motley, Jr.
After extensive fundraising through various lavish events, including Margaret Burroughs’ famous “Mile of Dimes” and considerable philanthropy from the Bronzeville community, a property was finally secured at 3831 S Michigan Ave. Originally serving as a residence, the grand brownstone building was nearly 50 years old and in need of considerable renovations and rehabilitation.
After years of remodeling under the careful direction of Bauhaus designers Hin Bredendieck and Nathan Lerner, the restored structure became the South Side Community Arts Center (SSCAC) and featured classrooms, performance and lecture halls and a marvelous gallery. The grand opening showcased an exhibition of the work of numerous local African American artists’ including Charles White, Eldzier Cortor and Archibald Motley Jr, — finally allowing space for artists in the community to thrive.
Following its inauguration, the SSCAC was host to numerous celebrity guests, including First Lady Elenor Roosevelt, who visited the SSCAC in May 1941 to deliver its dedication speech. The address received widespread media attention and was broadcast nationwide via CBS Radio. Less than a year later, the United States entered World War II, and funding for the FAP was significantly reduced.
A Community Hub
Throughout The SSCAC’s history, a rich, diverse range of art has graced its famous walls. In 1944, accomplished artist Rex Goreleigh became the SSCAC’s administrative director. Goreleigh furthered the center’s programming, introducing workshops on drawing, painting, sculpture, performing arts, photography and more to the community. Famous writers, including Gwendolyn Brooks, became associated with the SSCAC’s writing center, and legendary musicians like Nat King Cole and his Trio performed there often.
More than 80 years after the center’s founding, The SSCAC stands proud in the Bronzeville neighborhood. After countless renowned exhibitions from distinguished artists, the SSCAC continues to thrive, and has been named a National Treasure and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, The SSCAC remains the only arts center opened by the WPA centered on African American art that is still open in its original building. Permanent collections from the center’s founding artists reside alongside new artwork from emerging artists. A staple of the Bronzeville community, The SSCAC serves as an inspiration for artists and communities across the nation, and remains vital and relevant as a very special place where connections blossom and relationships prosper.
You can visit The South Side Community Arts Center Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. However, donations are strongly encouraged to support the center’s future. You can also visit their website here to discover their local events, exhibitions and collections.
One of the largest challenges in modern-day life is finding a treatment for the frequent burnout that most of us feel daily. At Sage Collective, one of our most cherished beliefs is that wellness, health and empowerment should be made priorities in every community. That’s why today, we’re exploring how museums might be the perfect answer to your post-pandemic stress and burnout.
Many individuals, especially older adults, have faced higher stress levels over the past year and a half than ever before. Feelings of uncertainty and unpredictability due to COVID-19 have also led to many feeling alone, anxious and burnt out, with little reprieve. However, there is growing research that offers tangible steps toward alleviating these negative feelings.
Often in the present day, many feel like time is limited, and burnout is constant. However, solace can be found in the relaxing and revitalizing spaces of a museum. For many, the knowledge that curated spaces of art and history can provide a wealth of benefits for mental and physical health is new.
Recently, doctors in Belgium received permission to prescribe museum visits to combat the mental health crisis in their country, and similar actions have been implemented in Canada. Patients who get the prescriptions can go anywhere from an intimate art gallery to a fashion exhibition at a history museum.
The goal behind the three-month-long trial is to promote an engaging learning experience and shift people away from the stress of their daily routines in hopes of having a positive impact on mental and physical health. The museums and exhibitions act as safe and welcoming places for patients to unwind from their day-to-day responsibilities and explore new ideas and areas of interest. Not only does the time off allow patients to catch their breath and spend time with loved ones, but it also acts as a moment of respite from the harsh realities of the pandemic.
Instead of relying on drug therapies, this mode of enrichment has the possibility to be expanded to other areas of mental health beyond pandemic-related stress and anxiety to alleviating symptoms of depression, psychiatric disorders, anxiety and more.
Pass Your Time With Podcasts: What You Should Be Listening to Right Now
While autumn is a favorite time for many to pick up new books and revisit forgotten ones, podcasts also serve as a great choice for those looking for a mix of entertainment, education and reflection. Podcasts are usually free to listeners and extend knowledge on everything from how to cook healthier meals to entertaining history facts to current government and public policy news. Here are the top five podcasts Sage Collective believes you should be listening to right now:
Hosted by Dan Harris, a famed journalist who suffered a panic attack live on national television, Ten Percent Happier explores how keeping your spirits up is imperative to aging well. After his traumatic on-air experience, Harris discovered meditation and now invites experts on the subject, scientists and celebrities to share their own epiphanies and experiences of success. Topics on the show vary from What to do About Eco-Anxiety to Joy Vs. Happiness. Anyone interested in hearing motivational stories about coming back from what seems like life’s lowest points will enjoy this outstanding selection.
Into America is a podcast that sheds light on what it’s like to be Black in America. Trymain Lee, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Winning journalist hosts the enlightening show. The MSNBC-produced podcast explores how public policy and government action, and the lack thereof, affects Black Americans’ lives. Previous topics include The Vaccine Gap, Justice for Black Farmers and The Black Firefighters of 9/11. Into America produces an in-depth look into the continued injustice that Black Americans endure and what it means to hold the country to its obligations.
A show that celebrates obscure historical facts and events, History Unplugged uncovers and revisits lost stories that changed the world. History buffs and amateurs alike will enjoy the unique narratives, expert interviews and call-ins that make up the podcast. Previous episodes of the show include The Japanese-Americans Who Fought Nazis in Europe, Electric City: Ford and Edison’s Vision of Creating a Steampunk Utopia and An Alternate History of the Lincoln Assassination Plot. Chocked full of amusement, myth-busting and a range of wisdom, almost everyone is guaranteed to relish over History Unplugged.
Award-winning journalist Paul Vogelzang hosts the fascinating, high-energy podcast, Not Old – Better. The inspiring show reminds its audience weekly that it is never too late to pursue your passion and purpose in life. Vogelzang invites a mix of well-known entertainers, intriguing role models and ordinary people to discuss aging and how to overcome the stereotypes and stigma that come with it. Previous guests have included actress Octavia Spencer, Dr. Anthony Fauci and activist Khary Lazarre-White. Listeners and critics alike have praised the podcast as a perfect choice for middle-aged and older adults.
Homemade is the paramount podcast for anyone looking to explore the food world. Foodies and amateur cooks alike will enjoy the entertainment show hosted by industry insider Sabrina Medora and author Martie Duncan. Each week the hosts invite celebrated cooks from all walks of life to discuss and share their memories behind their favorite recipes. Past topics on the show include growing ingredients at home, delicious vegan options, repurposing leftovers and rethinking prep time. Get your cooking gear ready, put on your apron and prepare to join the fun with Homemade.
Whether you need something to listen to on your way to work or while doing chores around the house, don’t hesitate to press PLAY on any of these wonderful podcasts. You can listen to each of the podcasts on their websites, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Google Podcasts.
The art of meditation and how you can benefit from it
In today’s fast-paced society, rife with uncertainty and change, devoting time to self-care and introspection is more important than ever. At Sage Collective, we support and encourage participating in spiritual or religious experiences as part of our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living. Meditating can be one such practice, revealing a sense of discovery and heightened mindfulness.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient technique used by many for more than 3,500 years; historians have traced its utilization back to the formation of many world religions. The purpose of meditation is to help train oneself in practicing mindfulness while learning to better understand feelings and emotions to create a healthy perspective.
Meditating can feel uncomfortable and challenging at first, since it uses techniques that may be unfamiliar. However, this ancient tradition can lead to immense personal growth and understanding for those who find their groove in the routine.
Research suggests that meditating can have enormous positive effects on managing symptoms of anxiety and depression and reducing stress. Other conditions that can benefit from meditation include chronic pain, insomnia, high blood pressure and IBS. And while experts have yet to completely understand how meditation works, research clearly demonstrates the holistic impact it has on one’s health and well-being.
Tips for how to meditate
Get comfortable. Find a place to sit upright with legs crossed instead of laying down, as it can be easy to find yourself falling asleep. However, comfort is key for meditation, so avoid positions that may prove uncomfortable after several minutes.
Keep a timer. It can be easy to worry about time as you start meditating; setting a timer for small increments of 5 to 10 minutes of meditation can be an easy way to avoid that. Scheduling a specific time of the day to meditate can also help with consistency — leading to more beneficial results.
Focus on breathing. It can be an easy way to get into the flow of meditation. As you breathe, observe what it feels like as air enters your body and then leaves it.
Be open-minded. As a new experience, it may be hard to empty your mind during meditation. Emotions and feelings that might be uncomfortable may arise, but don’t ignore them; acknowledge their presence and slowly bring your focus back to breathing.
Don’t give up. It’s also important to remember that meditating takes time and practice to build as a habit, and expecting too much too fast can lead to disappointment. Hang in there, and discover just how much of a life-changer meditation can be!
There is no “right way” to meditate — it is a practice meant to be personalized for each individual and will feel different for everyone. For those looking to become more mindful, self-aware and gain better control over feelings such as anxiety and stress, meditation may be the technique for you.
If the art of meditation interests you, check out the video below. The 10-minute tutorial guides beginners through their first meditation and is narrated by a mindfulness coach and teacher, John Davisi.