Talk of The Town: November 2023


For many, the joy and anticipation of the holidays can be tempered by a bit of stress, from overloaded calendars to the commercialized excesses of the season. So this month’s Talk of the Town is focused on redefining holiday joy—to embrace sustainability, holistic health, and giving back. And if you’re considering a move this holiday season, I’m here for you!

New Ways To Get Fit…And Find More Joy!

A recent blog from Harvard Health Publishing draws a distinction between HAPPINESS (short-term feelings that result from a situation or object) and JOY: a state of mind related to certain neurotransmitters that offer a variety of healthful benefits from reducing stress to improving cognitive function.

Cited in the blog, both physical activity and developing new pursuits can increase the neurotransmitters associated with joy. So why not take a break from your traditional holiday activities to engage in a new physical pursuit that will benefit both body and mind.

Fencing is an ancient sport that develops balance, muscle control, and critical thinking—and there are two places in Chicago that offer beginner classes: Redstar Fencing at 3735 W. Belmont Ave and Lincoln Square Fencing at 2500 W. Wilson Ave.

You may not be ready to join the circus, but an Aerial Arts class can build confidence, strength and flexibility. Located in Old Irving Park, Chicago Aerial Arts offers classes in a variety of aerial disciplines including trapeze and silks.

Discover all the physical and mental benefits of Dance Training at the North Shore School of Dance in Highland Park. In addition to adult ballet, tap and jazz classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced students, they offer a specialized Time to Dance program for adults 50 & up.

Biking enthusiasts looking to ride in winter should check out Wheel & Sprocket in Franklin, WI. Just 90 minutes from Chicago, they offer overnight and weekend rentals of Trek Farley Fat Bikes: With extra wide tires and a lightweight frame, they’re ideal for exploring miles-and-miles of wooded, snow-covered trails that you can access from their parking lot!

With locations in Mt. Prospect and Chicago’s River West neighborhood, Lakeshore Academy offers adult Gymnastics classes that include a rigorous group warm-up and basic tumbling skills. Students with prior experience are able to use all apparatus and trampolines.

Giving Back. Gaining Joy.

Dedicating yourself to others through volunteering is also cited by Harvard Health Publishing as a way to experience more joy in your own life. This is a wonderful time to share your blessings with those who may be struggling, especially as the holiday season is upon us. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Since 1975, People’s Resource Center has been bringing neighbors together to respond to hunger and poverty in DuPage County. A variety of volunteer needs at their Wheaton and Westmont locations include an opportunity for families to volunteer together for a shift in their food pantry.

Serving Wilmette, Glenview, Northbrook and Kenilworth, Family Service Center is a local, not-for-profit mental health agency dedicated to providing accessible and affordable counseling and crisis response. While much of the work is done by licensed professionals, volunteers are needed to help with fundraising activities and other special events, as well as service on their Board or Advisory Council.

Little Brothers—Friends of the Elderly strives to alleviate loneliness among our most vulnerable elders, many of whom have no visitors and nowhere to go during the holidays. With special celebrations planned for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Holiday Helpers are needed for a variety of duties from driving and set-up to food preparation and hosting

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Holiday

Following practices that align with your values is another way to reinforce joy. With so much consumption and waste during the holidays, living= sustainably may seem challenging. So, here are a few things to keep in mind as we enter the holiday season.

If you haven’t already, switch to LED holiday lights. They last longer and consume 90% less energy than conventional string lights.

For holiday gatherings, try to prepare meals with meats and produce from local farms and businesses that use sustainable practices.

That festive wrapping paper we love for its shiny foil finish, glitter and metallic flakes is not recyclable and neither are most ribbons and bows. Get creative and wrap your gifts with materials you have around the house, from old maps and paper shopping bags to clean fabric like scarves and bandanas.

Avoid gifts with excessive packaging and that may have been transported thousands of miles. Instead, keep your holiday footprint small by purchasing from local eco-friendly businesses that showcase regional artisans and producers.

Give an experience. Concert tickets, museum memberships or a night on-the-town also support local businesses and institutions. For the lifelong learner, how about gifting membership in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern University; they offer an enriching program of study groups, lectures and workshops for adults 50 and over.


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