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09.29.22 | Sage Advice

Travel the World From The Comfort of Your Home

Traveling is one of the best ways to experience new cultures and hear from other walks of life. However, because of the global pandemic, many of us haven’t had the opportunity to continue checking off bucket list locations in a few years. And although there’s nothing like stepping into a new place, new travel-like opportunities are beginning to emerge, including armchair travel.

What is Armchair Travel?

Have you ever wanted to visit a different country from the comfort of your home? Well, now you can! Armchair travel provides a sensory experience to those looking to learn about a location without going through the hassle of actually traveling. The virtual activity invokes everything from local sights and smells to mindsets and cultural conventions. 

We’ve had the pleasure of embracing the value behind armchair traveling in our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. With the help of DeShunn Bray, our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement, participants in our Vibrant Learning Program have had the opportunity to experience everything from an African safari to a trip to Germany and Columbia. 

Participants of our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons participating in armchair travel

How to Participate 

Becoming an armchair traveler is easier than it sounds, thanks to the do-it-yourself element of the activity. Start by considering if you’d rather travel alone or gather a group of family or friends to accompany you on your journey; traveling with a group tends to spark more engaging conversations and perspectives after the activity. 

Once you’ve decided who you’re traveling with, make a list of general themes and ideas for your travels. These can include everything, from national parks and landmarks to the location of famous events or your favorite movie. Once you’ve created your list, search for resources to assist you in your travels. If you’re tech-savvy, head to YouTube or take a stroll to your local library to find even more free films and videos. Once you’ve found a video accompaniment, pair your trip with a craft activity and serve a local delicacy to complete the experience! 

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your armchair trip now!

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09.15.22 | Sage Advice

The Season for Slowing Down

With fall ending and autumn right around the corner, it’s time to wave warm weather and long days goodbye and welcome the vibrant colors and brisk breezes that come with the new season. You might also be experiencing shifts in your own life too, which is why it’s critical to continue filling your days with activities that enrich both your body and your soul. Today, we’re sharing how you can ensure vibrant living this fall: 

Get Outside

There’s no better place to be than outside in the fall. Encourage yourself to embrace the outdoors this season by utilizing community paths and trails or taking a trip to an apple orchard or park. Another great way to get outdoors is by planning a hiking trip or a road trip to witness the colors that come with the autumn season. While you’re outdoors, indulge in an awe-walk or a podcast.

Choose In-Season Cuisine 

With fall comes some of the tastiest seasonal produce with fruits like apples, pears and pumpkins and vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash. Visit your local farmers market or store to pick up the fresh produce and cook away! Some of our favorite fall recipes include pumpkin oatmeal, chicken and white bean soup and adobe chicken and kale enchiladas

Slow Down

If summer left you scattered or feeling like you had no time to yourself, fall is the perfect time to slow down and do more for your wellbeing. Incorporate more mindful moments throughout your day and make it a point to spend more time on yourself. Yoga and meditation are both great activities for grounding and reflection, and in the fall, you can do both outsides!

Fall is the season for slowing down. Embrace the cool weather, make the most of the season by cooking up season recipes and ground your mind, body and soul. 

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08.25.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Team Member, DeShunn Bray

With an impressive passion for forming rich connections with others and making significant impact on the communities in which she interacts, DeShunn Bray has always been a catalyst in her field. From working as the former site manager at Willa Rawls Manor to various security and programming roles, her extensive experience and radiating energy made her the perfect candidate to lead our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce DeShunn as the newest addition to the Sage Collective team. Get to know DeShunn in her introduction below: 

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

I have over 20 years of experience working with seniors and managing senior properties. I’m also a certified manager of senior housing, so with that has come other responsibilities of managing and securing properties. Not only was I managing one-on-one meetings with clients, but I also had a chance to discover their needs. One of my key responsibilities was making sure that everyone has a healthy, clean environment that helps them live more independently. So as a result, I was also responsible for helping provide services that would enhance their living space and every aspect of their quality of life.

What is your role with Sage Collective and our pilot program at Chicago Commons?

My title is Manager of Programming and Community Engagement. So when I walk into an assisted living program, or any program that deals with housing or providing a service with senior citizens, I make sure I come in with my “arsenal” — some excellent references and connections to vibrant living. I ensure that Sage Collective has the resources to carry out the different programs that we provide, including putting together an outline to touch on themes such as health, wellness, culture and arts. 

By tapping into that good vibe that we possess at Sage Collective, I also help our participants believe that life hasn’t ended and that every day is a great day. So when our participants’ family and friends see them thriving, it’s a way for them to say, “This is what I still like to do. I’m just a little older, but I am still the same person.’’ Through the programing, participants gain the ability to say with assurance what they need and I’m elated to provide them with that type of confidence and language they need to be able to communicate better with everyone. 

You’re also doing grassroots outreach throughout the community. How meaningful is this type of outreach for organizations like Sage Collective?

Well, you can talk about it, but our thing is to be about it. We have to go out in the field and connect with people on their level, sit down, have a conversation with them, have a conversation with the community, and say, “This is what we need in our community.” So connecting with the public, the Aldermen, builders, and even larger corporations allows Sage Collective to advance our service to others that may be in real need of tackling isolation and depression. If we come in and show them the type of programming we’re doing, we could get funding. And so connecting with different organizations and bringing those resources to the community, where there are underserved seniors or disabled communities is key to what we should and will be doing.

It’s very fulfilling work to walk out of the door and have a purpose. And that’s one of the things that we at Sage Collective make sure people understand — that they do have a purpose in life —  and it should extend beyond what the nation is saying or thinking.

Speaking of purpose and along the lines of Sage Collectives beliefs and values, what unique values held by Sage Collective drew you to work for them?

The fact that Sage Collective has implemented a new way of thinking. Humans have to constantly think differently to allow themselves to change. I can go to YouTube now, and I can download two-minute workouts, 15-minute workouts, and 20-minute workouts and Sage Collective helps put those resources out there so that seniors can know that they don’t always have to tap into their budget and do something expensive to improve their health. Why wouldn’t someone want to be a part of an organization that’s not trying to buy them, not trying to make them spend a whole lot of money to improve their lifestyle, to improve their health, to help connect them with others?

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

Making change leaves a legacy. So it’s a great feeling coming on board with a team that shares the same beliefs that I have and takes them to the next level. Even though I am living with the purpose of securing myself and others, I’m also changing the way people look at their futures. And there’s not a lot of people preaching that or teaching that. And I love the concept of being that person that can walk through the door and make you smile and laugh. 

One woman in the Vibrant Living Program made me smile last week when she told me that I had brought out a feeling she had been missing because she was listening to blues music and remembering their younger years. So I think knowing that somebody cares, and then incorporating their feelings into the next lesson, into the next program, into the next adventure, who doesn’t want to be a part of that? So I see myself being that person, taking the time to understand my clients, and then being right there on the level with them. And as far as Sage Collective, as long as they’re in business, I want to be there.

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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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08.11.22 | Sage Advice

National Black Business Month

At Sage Collective, we embrace the powerful idea of collective impact and empowering those around us to achieve a more just and equitable future for everyone in our community. One aspect of this includes supporting the local businesses throughout the year, especially now, during National Black Business Month in August!

Created in 2004 by historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr., National Black Business Month was organized to celebrate the more than two million Black-owned businesses throughout the country. Throughout the United States, countless Black-owned businesses are essential pillars of their community and Black Business Month provides the perfect opportunity for local consumers to exhibit support. 

There are countless ways you can support your local Black-owned business; from simple tasks like leaving a positive review to discovering how you can advocate for them beyond their product. What matters most, however, is mindset and intent. 

Small businesses have always been economic drivers behind local economies, and supporting your local Black-owned business can leave an impact beyond the business’ walls. Be intentional about your support throughout the entire year; refer friends, share on social media, forge relationships with the owner or discover how you can uplift them further. 

We encourage you to support the Black businesses throughout your community no matter where you are throughout the month! To discover more Chicago Black-owned businesses head here.

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07.28.22 | Sage Advice

How to Combat Senioritis As An Adult

It’s not just teenagers who can feel senioritis adults can too. We’ve all experienced it at some point; laziness, disinterest, having no motivation, not caring about the outcomes of our life. But just because these symptoms of checking out are universally experienced doesn’t make them okay to ignore. Today, we’re investigating adult senioritis, how checking out can affect your wellbeing and tools you can use to combat it:

What Senioritis Looks Like As An Adult

You might know senioritis as the affliction many seniors in high school experience as they enter their final year when their motivation declines and their drive to succeed diminishes. Though this phenomenon isn’t just found in young adults, anyone can experience senioritis. 

Typically, senioritis begins when there is a sign of a major transformation occurring in life, like graduating high school or even starting a new job. It begins with a fear of the future and feeling like you may not have control over a situation. As we age, many of the small tasks we enjoy earlier in life become tiresome and lose value to us, which can lead to checking out. 

However, it’s important to remember that checking out looks different to every person. The key is to recognize the signs and signals once you see them and begin taking action to snap out of the senioritis. 

How You Can Combat It

After acknowledging that you may be checking out, don’t start by setting unattainable goals for yourself – start small. Give yourself a to-do list of a handful of goals to reach every day, whether that’s going to the grocery store to run errands or making sure you respond to all of your emails. 

Once you’ve given yourself a list of small goals to aim for, the next step is to pair an incentive to it! Use motivations that connect back to why you might be checking out in the first place; if you’re starting a job, go shopping for new work clothes. Whatever your incentive is, use that to help drive you to complete your goals. 

As you tackle senioritis and become an active participant in your life again, remember to take it one step at a time. It might not always feel like you’ll be able to step out of it, but you will. 

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07.21.22 | Sage Advice

Personal Statements and Manifestos

As we continue our Vibrant Living Programming, we also want to resume sharing rich content that compliments our spirited training, and this month’s theme is freedom. Along with independence and opportunity, freedom can mean many things to many people. Today, we’re exploring how independence inspires purpose, how personal manifestos can propel that purpose even further and how you can create one of your own. 

A personal manifesto performs as a declaration of what you truly want from life, which makes it the perfect tool for engaging personal independence. Traditionally, you might know manifestos as published statements declaring the intentions or beliefs of organizations, similar to our Vibrant Living Manifesto. However, manifestos are fluid and can be similarly used by individuals to act as both a statement of ethics and a call to action and are powerful in giving life meaning and direction.

Whether you’re in search of a guiding compass, a frame, a reminder of your priorities or simply inspiration, creating a personal manifesto is sure to provide your life with a foundation of additional meaning and direction. Learn how to write your own below: 

Begin your manifesto by writing down your values, beliefs, behaviors you apply to life and other areas you want to address. If you’re having trouble thinking of what to write, it might be easier to ask yourself questions about those themes. Remember, personal manifestos are exactly how they sound, personal, so yours is likely to be unique to itself. 

After creating your list, start to transform each point of interest into active, declarative statements; use powerful language, don’t worry about the length and remember to keep it uplifting and positive. When finished, make a copy and put it somewhere you will see every day; your manifesto could be the perfect tool for vibrant living, write and live it now!

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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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06.03.22 | 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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05.26.22 | Sage Advice

Elevate Your Meal By Boosting Flavor And Benefits

At Sage Collective, our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living at Sage Collective serves as the backbone of our philosophy and a realistic tool for everyone to utilize for living well. And while we believe each pillar is necessary to create a vibrant lifestyle, many are traced back to what we put in our bodies. Today, we’re exploring how you can implement a plant-based diet and moderate calorie intake into your life and still elevate your meal with flavor and countless health benefits. 

One of the easiest ways anyone can elevate their cooking is to stop thinking of food as “healthy”. Although it may seem difficult, changing how you think of food can also affect how you eat it. Instead of telling yourself that you have to eat healthy foods or diet, use the words fresh, healing, nourishing or even gourmet. 

Buy Fresh

Purchasing your produce fresh and locally is a sure way that you will find more flavor and benefits in your meals. Fresh produce is packed with countless vitamins and minerals that you can find little elsewhere. The nutrients stored within them have been found to reduce the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease and even help the body produce more energy. And not only will eating fresh make you feel better, but it also heightens the flavor of your meals! So, next time you find yourself at your local farmer’s market, make sure to stock up on some of your favorite goods.

When In Doubt, Add Lemon Juice

If you aren’t the world’s best cook but still want to put a little more effort into whipping up your fresh meal from home, you’re going to appreciate this tip – add lemon juice! Not only is lemon juice usually easily accessible, but it’s also very easy for cooking beginners to use. Alongside the acidity it can add to a meal, lemons and lemon juice also come with a high concentration of vitamin C, a significant aid to the body’s healing process and can aid in digestive and heart health. 

Cook With Wine

Like eating plant-based and moderate calorie intake, another pillar to vibrant living includes, moderate alcohol intake, especially wine. Cooking with wine helps give your food an extra layer of complex, delicious flavors, and it also retains the same benefits you would get from drinking it! The trick with cooking with wine is to use the same wines that you would drink. Some nourishing recipes include steamed mussels and pan-roasted halibut

To live a vibrant lifestyle, you must know what you’re putting in your body. And while eating ‘healthy’ might scare some, fresh food can always be elevated, packing both extra flavor and benefits.

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