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12.01.22 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Normalizing Grief

Pain and grief are a natural part of our lives and aren’t just things we see or feel at the end of life. In reality, these feelings surround us daily whether we know it or not, and while they’re typically associated with sadness, they don’t always have to be. And while grief is often seen as taboo, it’s important to alter the conversation around the subject to create a safe and supportive community for all.

It’s critical to know that there is no perfect answer to everything with grief; everyone has to find what works best for them, and this may look different depending on the person. So, try to be patient with yourself, and take every day one step at a time. 

One of the best ways to normalize the process of grieving is simply by acknowledging what you’re going through. Let yourself feel everything, and allow yourself space to feel comfortable sharing those feelings, even if that means you need a break here or there. Ensure that you also have a way to do something with your feelings, which can be anything from talking to friends or family to writing or painting. 

While looking for support from others can sometimes feel selfish, it’s not. Lean on as many people as possible and remember to look for the good in the situation. By being vulnerable, you allow the opportunity to build trust, relationships and support.  

Grief is something we all experience. It’s not something we can hide from, so why not face it head-on and create a safe and supportive experience not only for yourself, but for the world? 

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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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11.03.22 | Sage Advice

Pause, Reflect, and Celebrate Your Wins

Life can often feel as if it’s moving at uncomfortable speeds. From working and errands to relationships you have to take care of, rushing through life can be a lot on your wellbeing. And, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get misplaced and lose track of your goals, which is why it’s important to remember to pause and reflect every so often before journeying ahead. 

Because lives are more of a marathon than a sprint, pacing yourself to what you feel comfortable with rather than rushing ahead is crucial. Pausing is a great way to take a constructive break on your journey, and it gives you the time to thoughtfully evaluate your accomplishments. Take a look at your goals and purposes and ask yourself if you’re still on track, if you need to speed things up or slow things down and if you have the resources to continue. 

Too often in life, because of busyness and day-to-day, it’s paramount to celebrate your victories, and thankfully, pausing leaves the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s crucial to remember that no matter how big or small they may be, you should be proud of every accomplishment and victory you achieve. Take a moment to celebrate each one and reward yourself for your efforts!

While it’s essential to evaluate achievements and celebrate victories, it’s also important to acknowledge your mistakes so you can learn from them in the future. While some mistakes are obvious, others are hidden by bias, but in all cases, you should look at every mistake as an opportunity for learning, not a failure. Besides, learning about your previous mistakes ensures a lesser chance of repeating them in the future!

Taking a moment to pause and reflect gives you a chance to ensure that you’re still on the track for success, no matter your goals. So, as much as you may want to rush to your dreams, it doesn’t hurt to take a break – it helps!

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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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12.23.21 | Sage Advice

Best Winter Day Trips Close to Chicago

While Chicago brings a variety of enjoyable activities to partake in during the winter, sometimes a break from all the bustle and noise of the city is welcome. For our fellow Bronzeville residents who might need a getaway this winter, here are the best day trips you can take to brighten your perspective with a change in scenery:  

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Only a 1-½ hour drive away sits the quaint city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The beloved destination has been a top destination for Chicago residents for generations and offers a variety of fun-filled activities and stops for all ages. While the summer months are Geneva’s most popular tourist times, winter brings a much tamer atmosphere. 

For lovers of the outdoors, Geneva’s Lake Shore trail is the perfect opportunity to enjoy spectacular views in the brisk air. Once February arrives, the famous lake becomes filled with extraordinary ice sculptures, bonfires on the beach and more. While it is the coldest season, don’t miss your chance to experience the incredibly warm community.  

Lake Geneva’s impressive ice sculptures

Michigan City, Indiana

An adorable city located just off of Lake Michigan’s shores, Michigan City should be high on everyone’s list to visit this winter. The town is only one hour away from Chicago and is surrounded by one of America’s most stunning national wonders, the Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. While winter isn’t typically the time of year many choose to visit the lakeside landscape, witnessing the sand-swept mounds covered in layers of soft snow is sure to delight all visitors.  

While many enjoy a stroll on one of the many trails found in the park, the town offers guests a variety of other ventures, including shopping at the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, dazzling architecture at Barker Mansion and an array of wineries and breweries. 

Take a Joyride up Lake Shore Drive 

Sometimes the best day trip is just hopping in the car and taking a drive to enjoy your surroundings, which is exactly what Lake Shore Drive delivers. Arguably the prettiest extended urban parkway in the nation, the 18-mile expressway runs from Ardmore Street on its north end to 71st Street on its south end, and lucky for Bronzeville residents, the best place to start the journey is from the south.  

The ride is filled with recognizable Chicago landmarks that include the Museum of Science and Industry, Soldier Field, Navy Pier and Lincoln Park alongside spectacular views of Lake Michigan. However, once you reach the end of the trip, don’t be afraid to stop there. Exiting on N Sheffield Road will take you through several alluring suburbs filled with even more attractions and impressive architecture. 

Whether you’re taking a thrilling trip to a neighboring state or simply enjoying a joyride down a historic street, we hope this inspires you to find your new favorite winter getaway from the city! 

The stunning view of Lake Michigan from the Indiana Dunes near Michigan City, Indiana
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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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12.09.21 | Sage Advice

The Power of Music

There are many ways older adults can keep their minds sharp as they age, including scrapbooking, mentoring or even owning a pet. However, one of the most significant ways to actively exercise the brain is simply by listening to music. Many of us will play our favorite song or put background music on without any thought, but the melodic sounds have the power to stimulate our brains unlike anything else. 

Music and The Brain

If you’re seeking to retain your brain’s powerhouse abilities with age, John Hopkins Medicine affirms that listening to or playing music is an extremely powerful tool in doing so. What many don’t understand is that when we listen to music, mathematical puzzles are simultaneously being performed in our heads. With each note that passes through our ears, our brain toils to compute how it connects to each previous sound.

The unique tool can help assist in gathering memories that have felt lost in time. Sometimes a specific song will have the power to transport you to a specific moment in history; that’s because studies have discovered that music has the power to attract itself to memories, and with that, improve cognitive skills, and recognition and working memory. 

Engaging with music frequently has the ability to retrieve forgotten memories for older adults living with diseases contributing to memory loss and reduce anxiety, depression and pain in those who are battling other disabilities, like PTSD. 

The Intersection of Music and Medicine

Experts are continuously trying to understand where music fits in with medical treatment. Robert Gupta, violinist and social justice activist, has been a chameleon in both the music and medical industry nearly his whole life. Now, after realizing he can be involved in both of his passions, Gupta is finally understanding the sheer power music has in succeeding in areas where traditional western medicine isn’t able to reach, especially for vulnerable communities. Explore more in Gupta’s TED Talk here: 

 

Instilling Music in Your Life

Although the easiest way to integrate music into your life is by simply pressing play on your favorite album, there are numerous other ways you can reap its benefits at home and within your community. Attending concerts and musicals, in person or through a virtual environment like your television, are perfect ways to stimulate your brain while entertaining everyone in the room. 

While listening to music is just one of the ways you can engage with the effective tool, playing an instrument and singing produces even more marvel responses. Music groups are excellent ways to enjoy the sounds of music while also engaging with those around you in meaningful ways. They can be found anywhere from community-organized troops to the choir at your local church.

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11.18.21 | Sage Advice

How to Tackle the Winter Blues

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. 

Secure Nutrients

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.

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11.04.21 | Sage Advice

Practicing Empathy: How it Can Create a More Vibrant World

Empathy is a universal tool for understanding. By definition, it’s a way of emotionally recognizing and validating what someone else is feeling. At Sage Collective, we approach all of our work with empathy, and believe that with practice, exhibiting empathy improves communication, heightens creativity and enhances appreciation.

What the Science Says

Empathy has always been an essential skill for communication and understanding. However, it’s more important now than ever, in light of the enormous levels of stress many confront today. Displaying empathy serves as an antidote for burnout and anxiety — producing beneficial effects on wellbeing and supporting positive social interactions for individuals and groups alike.

According to a recent study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, empathy in older adults may play a sizable role in shaping the regularity and types of support they exchange within social networks and the ramifications associated with the exchanges. The study concludes that empathetic older adults grant emotional and instrumental support more often than older adults who display less empathy. Furthermore, those who are more empathetic enjoy greater levels of emotional comfort from their networks and uphold more positive moods throughout the day, producing significant exchanges of care and more powerful controls over temperament. 

Practicing Empathy

Because empathy is a crucial element for collective support, everyone can benefit from improving their skills, whether practicing empathy comes naturally or must be learned. However, with time, an empathetic approach to all situations becomes instinctive. Here are three kinds of empathy that a person may encounter and should strive to understand:

Cognitive empathy consists of putting yourself in someone else’s situation to try and
comprehend what they might be going through at that moment. Even if it involves
something unfamiliar, the effort of understanding can transform anyone’s perspective. 

Somatic empathy requires the ability to experience someone else’s feelings. It usually
includes physical reactions to situations like feeling sick, sweating or blushing.

Active listening is a large part of being empathetic, but taking action and giving appropriate feedback takes the skill a step further. Affective empathy entails understanding the emotion someone else is feeling and answering accordingly. The awareness establishes personal connections and leads to a more profound concern for others’ feelings. 

As more and more people recognize the power of using empathetic techniques, a mutual understanding and compassion will blossom, empowering our communities to become more vibrant and rich in emotional support.

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10.26.21 | Sage Advice

Revolutionizing Bronzeville and the Construction World: A Conversation with Shevaz Freeman

As renovations continue at our 4108 and 4112 S King Drive properties located in the heart of Bronzeville, we sat down with the owner of Urban Intention Design and Build and general contractor for our project, Shevaz Freeman, to discuss her experiences in the world of construction and the progress of the projects. 

Urban Intention Design and Build is a Black woman-owned-and-operated company, which is rare in the general contractor domain. Tell us about your experience in the industry, and what has led you to where you are today. 

Running my own contracting company, Urban Intention Design and Build, as an African American woman absolutely comes with its struggles, but every experience I’ve had — good and bad — has led me to where I am today. Simple things like respect and recognition can be difficult to attain at times, and because of my gender, I have to maneuver within the environment with a whole different perspective. However, because of my significant experience in the field, I’ve discovered how best to navigate challenges I may encounter to my advantage. 

I’ve picked up numerous techniques and approaches that give me a leg up because I feel like I’ve had to work harder than a lot of other people in my field to get where I am. I’ve trained myself to have heightened attention to detail. Sometimes, contractors don’t have the “big picture” in mind and don’t fully pay attention to the endless little things happening on a project. Because I’ve been doing this for over ten years, I find it extremely easy to fully envision the outcome of every project from day one, which is a significant skill in contracting.

What does your role as General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive project involve? 

As the General Contractor for the King Drive projects, it’s my job to oversee and run almost everything. I am responsible for managing budgets, directing on-site subcontractors and conducting meetings with the Sage Collective Properties’ team. However, at the end of the day, my most important job is to make sure that the client gets what they envisioned at the beginning of the process. 

Who are the others who are involved in the renovation of these King Drive buildings, and how does your role fit in? How do you view the nature and value of the relationships you have been able to build with other professionals on this job?

Throughout the renovation, numerous people will walk in and out of the properties. Two people I’ve worked very closely with over the past few months are the Owner’s Rep and experienced General Contractor, Ernest Brown, and the Architect, Gregory Williams. Mr. Brown has provided me with incredible guidance and oversight throughout the project, and his rich expertise in the field has been remarkably beneficial and essential to our process. 

Overall, I’ve unquestionably developed relationships on this job that I believe will continue to provide immense value in the future. It’s so important in jobs like this that each party involved feels like they are valued as part of a larger team, and that is a feeling that is certainly present here. No matter who I am talking to daily, everyone understands that their role is essential for the project’s success.

Explain to us how you see Sage Collective’s vision of having “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living for older adults” come to life in the residences you are currently helping them rehab?

I originally went to school for interior design, so because of that training and the fact that I’m such a visual person, I’ve been able to envision Sage Collective’s concept since the project’s very early stages. As soon as I was introduced to the vision for “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living” and walked through the properties, there was no question that it was achievable, and day by day, I’m witness to its progress. 

Since we strive to make sure that every element is constructed with thought and care, the process behind bringing the vision to life is very meticulous. We discuss everything from the sizing of doors to the proportion of the showers to the type of lighting assembled in each room to make sure we specifically address the needs of older adults. All details throughout the process are constantly brought into question to ensure perfection. 

Do you think that there is enough emphasis by the government or social service organizations on meeting the need for affordable housing in this community? If so, please give other examples. If not, why not?

The need for affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods like Bronzeville, has been ignored by the government for the longest time. However, I think more and more organizations are finally stepping up, and we are moving in the right direction. One of the initiatives putting money into communities like Bronzeville that have essentially been ignored by the city for years is Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West.

The wonderful thing is that the initiative has encouraged even more developers to invest in affordable housing construction like the upcoming 43 Green projects. Having been born and raised on the south side, seeing the amount of interest currently being poured into the communities holds a special place in my heart. But with that said, the progress is long overdue, and there is still a long way to go until affordable housing needs are met. 

How does your perspective as a contractor inform your view of the future of the availability of affordable housing in Chicago?

In 2021 material costs for almost all aspects of home building and renovation skyrocketed, and they continue to go up. The shift over the past year also means that low-income families aren’t making the extra money they need to afford market-rate housing, making affordable housing even more in demand than ever before. Generally, historic properties like Sage Collective Properties’ buildings in the Bronzeville community are selling for very high prices. Some have been renovated, but others have either been abandoned for years or have not been preserved due to the high expenses that come with the process. 

With time, everything deteriorates. So, without any help, it’s hard to keep these properties affordable for residents. The sad reality is that without continued help from the city, state or federal government — and investments from organizations like Sage Collective Properties  —  it’s going to be hard to keep developing affordable housing in these neighborhoods. 

Have there been unexpected or unique issues that you’ve been challenged with on this project?

The King Drive properties are mature buildings in a very historic area that have been neglected for a long time, so of course, there have been surprises that we’ve come across throughout the renovation. We’re discovering issues now that I’m sure didn’t even cross the mind of the previous owners because development is so different now than it was back when these buildings were built. One specific uncovering was the deterioration in some of the exterior bricks. We found small trees, weeds and other plants vibrantly growing in the actual spaces between the bricks, so we’ve had to uproot all of those. 

The one thing I will say is that it is a solid building and has very healthy bones. So, we can still put it back together with ease. Overall, I’m just so happy to see the phenomenal progress we’ve made so far and can’t wait to see the finished product. I’m also very appreciative that Sage has allowed me the opportunity to work on this project and be able to help them create something so wonderful, especially since I’m in my own community doing it!

Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
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