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10.26.23 | Sage Advice

5 More Books You Have to Read This Fall

With autumn back again, there’s no better time to dive back into the art of reading. Last year, we recommended 5 books to enhance your fall reading, and this time around, we’re back with five more. Our selection this season includes captivating memoirs, enthralling collections of stories, and thought-provoking manifestos. These literary treasures are your passport to new worlds, fresh perspectives, and endless inspiration. So, let’s dive into this season’s must-reads:

How to Say Babylon, Safiya Sinclair

How to Say Babylon, Safiya Sinclair

Found on nearly everyone’s fall book list, How to Say Babylon is a story that resonates deeply with our values at Sage Collective. Sinclair’s memoir illustrates a powerful story of a young Jamaican girl, who, even through a life of strict abuse, discovers her voice and the power of sharing her story. For anyone who loves a tale of liberation and one rich in moving storytelling, this is the book for you.

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant, Curtis Chin

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant, Curtis Chin

In another recently acclaimed memoir, Curtis Chin shares his experience growing up as a gay Chinese American in 1980’s Detroit. The memoir is filled with laughs, heartfelt moments and vivid memories of Chin’s past. For anyone who holds an appreciation to the community around them and belief in its power to shape us throughout life, this should be at the top of your list. 

Our Strangers: Stories, Lydia Davis

Our Strangers: Stories, Lydia Davis

Author Lydia Davis’ latest collection of short fiction stories poetically explores a variety of topics from marriage to what we put in our coffee. Anyone who loves the ability to revisit the same story a handful of times and with each time, coming out with a new perspective will appreciate Our Strangers: Stories. And in a move to support small businesses, the book is only available to purchase form online independent retailers and bookstores. 

To Free The Captives, Tracy K. Smith

To Free The Captives, Tracy K. Smith

Smith bluntly shares her views on where the state of the Nation is in her latest novel. Exploring every topic from the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 to her own experience as a Black woman, mother and educator in the 21st century, she presents a manifesto on how our country could come to a new, shared perspective of recent history. 

Wednesday’s Child, Yiyun Li

Wednesday’s Child, Yiyun Li

Award winning Author, Yiyun Li explores the unexplainable feelings of aging, alienation and grief in her latest collection of stories. Each piece, previously published as singular works by The New Yorker, Zoetrope and other publications over a span of a decade, shares a different perspective on the cost of living. 

Whether you prefer reading alone, with a companion or in a book club, don’t hesitate to pick one or two of these books up for yourself this fall. You can find them at your neighborhood libraries, local bookstore or online. And as with all good reads, spread the word to friends and family when you finish a book you really love!

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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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10.12.23 | Sage Advice

The Art of Storytelling: Nat King Cole

At Sage Collective, we’re all about the stories that shape our lives, and when an artist like Nat King Cole pours his heart into his music, it’s impossible not to be drawn in. Cole, with his smooth voice and heartfelt storytelling, teaches us invaluable lessons in the art of expression.

Cole’s storytelling prowess comes from a place of genuine authenticity. Take his iconic song “Unforgettable,” for instance. It’s not just a love song; it’s a moving tale of love’s enduring power. It’s a reminder that the most potent storytelling springs from the heart, conveying the raw, unfiltered truth of our experiences.

One thing that sets Cole apart is his ability to turn personal stories into something universal. Whether he’s singing about love, heartbreak, or everyday life, his songs resonate with people from all walks of life. Cole shows us the magic of finding the threads that connect our individual experiences to the larger tapestry of humanity.

While Amanda Gorman uses poetry, Cole does it through music. His songs like “Mona Lisa” and “The Christmas Song” enchant with their rhythms and reflective lyrics. When sharing your own story, consider adding a touch of the poetic. It’s not about composing verses but using language in an artful way to add depth and emotion to your narrative, just as Cole did with his timeless melodies.

Nat King Cole’s work isn’t just about beautiful music; it’s about stories that make a difference. Songs like “Nature Boy” and “Smile” carry messages of love, empathy, and hope. These narratives aren’t relics of the past; they’re catalysts for inspiring change. Cole teaches us that our stories can foster empathy, understanding, and action. Through storytelling, you too can inspire others and ignite transformation, just as he did with his timeless classics.

Exploring storytelling through Nat King Cole’s music reveals narratives that capture the essence of the human experience. Taking a page from his book, let’s believe that our stories, told with authenticity and purpose, have the potential to touch and change lives, just as his music has done for generations.

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07.13.23 | Sage Advice

What Amanda Gorman Teaches Us About Storytelling

At Sage Collective, we’re all about those personal journeys and the stories they create. And when someone like Amanda Gorman uses her talent to share those journeys, it’s impossible not to sit up and take notice. Gorman, with her poignant words and masterful storytelling, has offered us some great lessons on expression.

Telling Your Truth with Boldness

Gorman’s work brings forth an essential aspect of storytelling: raw, unfiltered honesty. A great example of this is her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” where she candidly paints the picture of a nation divided, and uses this as a canvas to craft a vision of unity and resilience. It’s more than a reflection on America’s political scene—it’s an intensely personal story of hope and unwavering determination. This courageous sharing of her perspective is a reminder for us all: the bumpy roads on our journey deserve as much recognition as our triumphs.

One thing that sets Gorman’s storytelling apart is her knack for weaving her personal stories into universal narratives. Despite being rooted in specific experiences, her stories strike a chord worldwide— a testament to the shared human experience we all are a part of.

So, when you’re sharing your story, remember, your unique journey is part of the much larger, grand tapestry of human life. Seek those threads that tie your personal experiences to the bigger narratives.

Harnessing the Power of Poetry

Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” also highlights the compelling allure of poetry in storytelling. The rhythmic cadence, vivid imagery, and intricate metaphors all come together to create a concise, yet deeply moving expression of her experiences and emotions.

When sharing your story, don’t hesitate to employ a touch of the poetic. It’s not about composing verses, but more about using language in an artful way to add layers and richness to your narrative.

Inspiring Change Through Storytelling

What truly makes Gorman’s work stand out is how it transcends the beauty of language; each poem, each story, is a call to action. “The Hill We Climb” is more than just a reflection of the present—it’s a clarion call for a better tomorrow. In this, Gorman teaches us that our stories aren’t just relics of the past, but catalysts for inspiring change. By sharing your experiences, you too can foster empathy, understanding, and even trigger action. Your story holds the power to inspire others and spark transformation.

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05.18.23 | Sage Advice

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning: Ways You Can Stay Curious and Keep Learning at Any Age

In today’s world, learning is not just confined to the classroom. Nor is it a phase that fades after our school years. Learning is an exhilarating journey of discovery that can and should continue throughout our entire lives. At Sage Collective, we believe in the power of lifelong learning to nourish the mind, invigorate the spirit, and ultimately, facilitate a vibrant and high-quality living experience. 

Embrace the Ever-Curious Mind 

Being curious is about wanting to know more. It’s about asking questions and finding answers, about anything that interests you. This could be about the latest gadget or an old piece of history. Following your curiosity can lead to exciting discoveries and new knowledge. Remember, no matter how old you are, there’s always something new to learn.

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning

Throughout our programming, we’ve observed firsthand the transformative power of lifelong learning. It fosters a sense of purpose, promotes mental agility, and bolsters self-confidence. Lifelong learning can also help combat loneliness by providing opportunities to meet like-minded peers, thus forming enriching relationships. Moreover, being actively engaged in learning contributes to your overall wellbeing. Research suggests that stimulating your mind can help slow cognitive decline and improve memory function. It keeps the brain agile and the spirit youthful. 

Ways to Keep Learning 

So, how do you maintain a lifelong commitment to learning? The key is to integrate learning into your daily routine. Here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Reading: Books, newspapers, magazines or even online articles can take you on a journey of discovery. Reading not only expands your knowledge, but also stimulates your imagination and enhances your understanding of the world. 
  2. Online Courses: With advancements in technology, you can learn almost anything from the comfort of your home. Websites like Coursera or Khan Academy offer courses on a variety of subjects. There’s also TED Talks, which offers thought-provoking presentations on countless topics. 
  3. Local Community Events: Many communities host educational workshops, lectures, and events. These gatherings provide a great opportunity to learn something new, meet people with similar interests, and actively engage in your community. 
  4. Hobbies: Hobbies like painting, gardening or playing a musical instrument are not just enjoyable, but also educational. They can help develop new skills, stimulate creativity, and provide a sense of accomplishment. 
  5. Travel: If circumstances allow, traveling can be a great way to learn. Experiencing new cultures, tasting different foods, and learning new languages can provide a firsthand education that’s impossible to get in any other way. 

Remember, lifelong learning doesn’t mean becoming an expert in every subject. It’s about maintaining an open mind, staying curious, and enjoying the process of discovery. The joy lies in the journey, not just the destination. 

At Sage Collective, we encourage and celebrate a culture of continuous learning, believing it to be an essential component of vibrant living. We strive to create opportunities for our residents to explore, grow, and flourish. By choosing to stay curious and keep learning, you are not just passing time; you are creating a meaningful, engaged future. Here’s to celebrating the sage in all of us!

Sage Collective's Vibrant Living Program at Chicago Commons
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02.23.23 | Sage Advice

Habit Making: Finding Fun

Not all things are ‘fun and games’…Or are they? Well, it depends on who you ask. One person might enjoy mountain biking down steep slopes, while another might find falling to their impending doom — i.e. bungee cord jumping — fun because of the risk involved. That isn’t to say that all fun warrants some kind of risk, because that would be further from the truth. So when we strip away the performative act involved with the idiom of ‘having fun,’ how do we instead — find it?

True fun begins with having your basic needs met. It then becomes a choice when we give ourselves permission to stop judging ourselves — giving us the ability to walk away with energy that will buoy us up long after the music has stopped, the book is finished, and the movie credits have started to roll. Finding fun doesn’t have to mean searching for it on a vacation, or within things and other people. It can be summed up as the embodiment of three things: playfulness, connection, and flow.

Playfulness

Playfulness isn’t about the act of playing as much as it is about the act of embracing freedom and lightheartedness. It means letting go of the idea that the moment has to be right or that you have to achieve something for you to play and find fun. 

Connection

Finding fun involves having a connection with the activity you’re doing. Perhaps it’s a physical activity that involves other people such as swimming, basketball, or tennis. It could even be a mental activity such as reading, or writing that you do by yourself. If the connection is clear, so is your journey to establishing what fun means to you.

Flow

Flow is the last piece to finding fun, it’s the feeling you have when you’re totally immersed in your activity. Sometimes you may even lose track of time doing it. All things are fun and games depending on the framing of an individual’s own fun. In order to establish a life purpose, and to engage more with yourself and live a fulfilling life you must be willing to embrace freedom, make your connections clear, and allow yourself to flow effortlessly from one fun activity to another!

Old Couple
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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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12.22.22 | Sage Advice

The Benefits Of Reading A Book

There’s no better time to snuggle up next to a fireplace and pick up a favorite book or one that’s been on your radar for a while than winter. For many, reading a book is one of life’s greatest comforts, but it can also be an escape from the turbulence of everyday life. From loneliness and stress to relationship issues, today we’re exploring how reading impacts our mental health and well-being. 

A 2013 study conducted by the Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy journal found that patients with mild depression saw improvements in mood, behavior and other depressive symptoms after reading. Another study published by The New School for Social Research discovered that those who read a fiction book experienced an improved Theory of Mind, which is our ability to empathize and understand others’ views and beliefs. 

Because of the wealth of benefits that comes with reading, bibliotherapy – a therapeutic approach using books and other forms of literature – is becoming progressively utilized. Dr. Paula Byrne, an author and founder of ReLit, is one of many running workshops in schools, prisons and halfway houses. 

Byrne states that bibliotherapy isn’t meant to replace medicine; instead, it’s used to complement it. Literature has the power to transport the reader to different places. It can relax, calm, excite or humor them. And while self-help books, relatable non-fiction and mood-boosting fiction books all make for amazing options, Byrnes finds that poetry does wonders for entering a different headspace. 

The bottom line is that reading contributes to a vibrant life. And the best part about it is that there’s a book for everyone. Explore our book recommendations and essential Chicago book list, or visit your local library or bookstore to discover something new today!

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11.23.22 | Sage Advice

The Marvelous Benefits of Joining a Book Club

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! 

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10.06.22 | Sage Advice

Storytelling: Chicago’s Essential Book List

Similar to armchair travel, one of the best ways to understand unfamiliar cultures and experiences is simply by opening a book. Numerous authors and poets have been inspired by Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents and a rich array of literature has been created detailing the Chicago experience. And, since Sage Collective’s roots lay in the Windy City, we’re no stranger to the endless amount of rich stories we believe should be shared. From soul-nourishing poetry to unforgettable thrillers, here are a few of the classics that have endured for generations and continue to illuminate the city in new ways to all readers.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Erik Larson’s best-selling work of non-fiction set at the cusp of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair follows the lives of famed architect and city planner Daniel Burnham and one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Dr. H. H. Holmes. Throughout his notorious time in Chicago, Holmes lived in multiple residences, one of which was at 1220 W. Wrightwood Ave in Lincoln Park, which has been demolished and reconstructed as a single-family home. Larson creates a portrait of two men making names for themselves in a city that, at the time, was set to be the largest metropolis in America. Devil in the White City is gripping, gives a vivid glimpse into Chicago’s boom age, and shares a historic perspective of its inhabitants and how the city came to be known as the “white city.”

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street follows 12-year-old Esperanza Cordero growing up in Chicago’s Hispanic quarter. The novel is considered one of the modern classics of Chicano literature. Written by Sandra Cisneros, this coming-of-age masterpiece depicts the trials of being young and poor in Chicago and what it means to belong in the city as a young Chicana girl.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Considered the “greatest of all American urban novels,” Sister Carrie is the story of fame and aspiration in Chicago. Follow 18-year-old, dissatisfied Caroline Meeber from small-town Wisconsin as she rises to fame during the turn of the century in the big city of Chicago but continues to grapple with the loneliness and unhappiness she felt at home. Dreiser is considered one of the masters of realism, focusing on the instincts of his characters to drive the plot and presenting his characters to the reader without judgment.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

One of the greatest American novels of all time, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is perhaps one of the first books that come to mind when considering Chicago literature. Not for the faint of heart, The Jungle reveals harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants working in the industrial centers of cities. The Jungle does not shy away from gruesome details depicting the realities of Chicago’s stockyards in the early 1900s and caused a public uproar. 

A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks writes about Chicago’s south side like nobody else. A Street in Bronzeville, Brooks’ first book of poetry, is a display of her poetic genius and an ode to the beauty and hardships of the city’s south side. The sensational work of poetry touches on her own living conditions in Chicago as a Black tenant. And, many of the poems were created at Bronzeville’s South Side Art Center.

The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek is a local legend, and The Coast of Chicago, one of Dybek’s earlier short story collections, is a testament to his genius. Dybek depicts the city in an honest, but poetic light true to his experiences growing up in Pilsen. The Coast of Chicago is an intimate portrait of the city through Dybek’s eyes, and each story in the collection is a little gem of Chicago-centric storytelling.

The main branch of the Chicago Public Library system, the Loop's Harold Washington Library
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