Opa! From Greece With Love!

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From September 12-21, 2018, I, along with 13 other daring and bold women journeyed to Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, Greece!  Ironically, Greece was never on my list of places to visit, but it has now taken the coveted position of being one of the countries I’ve enjoyed the most!

From its amazing food, fresh fruits and vegetables to cultural events like the Breaking of the Plates Cultural Dance to major historic sites (I still can’t believe that I climbed the steps to The Parthenon), Greece is one beautiful place!  The sky is a blue that I’ve never seen before.  The water is a blue that I’ve never seen before, and the serenity that I experienced there was unparalleled.

The people are warm and eager to share their culture, and if you just want to relax and just people watch, the cities/islands of Athens, Mykonos and Santorini are perfect places.

Add this jewel of a city to your “Must Do” list.  You will return a new person and wanting to return for more.

Enjoy the photos!

 

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GREECE HERE WE COME!!

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8A9775F6-C155-442C-88B5-782C77156A75After planning for 18 months, I and 13 other women are on our way to three stops in Greece — Athens, Mykonos and Santorini!

From the famed Acropolis to The Plaka to Island Dinner Cruises, we will see the best that Greece has to offer. Not only are we excited about our optional excursions that will take us to Delphi and Hydra, but we are equally excited about just being able to take in the sights and and sounds of the streets of this country filled with life loving Grecians who are going about their daily lives.

Are you interested in traveling abroad or taking in a variety of cultural event right here in the heart of Chicago?  Contact me about any of This…I…Do…For…Me’s  upcoming excursions and outings.

Blessings, Robin

Chicago Sister Cities Shanghai Social Services Committee

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August 21-24, 2018 was a most enlightening week as six delegates from Shanghai, China visited the City of Chicago through The Chicago Sister Cities Program.  Members of the Chicago Shanghai Social Services Committee welcomed the delegation and a translator to the world of senior/elder services as administered by the state of Illinois and the City of Chicago.

Planning for this esteemed delegation took place over the course of one year.  We aimed to provide the delegates with the most comprehensive view of service delivery models from the federal, state and local levels.  Additionally, the planning committee ensured that our guests were exposed to a variety of the milieus that seniors interface with in their day to day lives.

The delegates visited Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Little Brothers -Friends of the Elderly Chicago, The Chinese American Service League, Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, World Business Chicago, Three Crowns, The Clare Senior Independent Living Community.

The week culminated with an International Symposium that focused on how to integrate community-based inter-professional care and services to optimize the health and well-being of older adults.

Conversely, we learned a lot from listening to how things are done on behalf of seniors in Shanghai.  Next year a group of Chicago Senior Services professionals will travel to Shanghai, and their lives will change forever.

A professional and cultural exchange of this magnitude certainly creates bonds of unity and promotes a world of sharing.  We are all grateful.

 

Making Pasta Is Super Easy and Simple!

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As we get older and consciously work to reduce our stress levels, I am always looking for ways to get the most out of life without expending a lot of energy to do so.

Take cooking as an example — I love good food with fresh ingredients. I love savoring a delectable meal, and there are times when I truly desire to make a really complex meal — you know the kind of meals that require a double boiler or Cream of Tartar (LOL).  However, for those times that I want a quick and dirty meal, yet delicious and healthy, I am open to other ways without compromising on quality

Kweli Kitwana, a regular contributor to this blog shows us how to make good and simple pasta.

She says, “this is way too easy to make from scratch. With only three ingredients — a pinch of salt, flour and eggs — you can’t get easier than that.

Mix, roll out with a rolling pen and cut very, very thinly with a pizza cutter.  Bring water to a boil (with a pinch of salt) and submerge pasta until al dente (cooked but slightly firm).  You will  find that this is the best tasting pasta ever!”

Kweli also makes her own tomato sauce.  This truly is an example of This…I…Do…For…Me!

 

 

 

 

FINDING JOY AT THE FLEA MARKET! By Kweli Kitwana, Guest Blogger

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I happen to live in an amazingly diverse community where economic and cultural/ethnic social status meet.

At my local public transit station there is a weekend flea market. It’s a market that is truly filled with random oddities and enticing fare. Seriously, you can get a full body Thai massage, West African cuisine and authentic Ghanaian Bolga baskets. You can even get a pair of real mohair socks.  All of this is accompanied by a serious drumming circle.  It’s an amazing experience.

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Exploring one’s community is one way of understanding who you are.  We are rooted by where we ultimately settle geographically.  I’ve always felt that one way of truly connecting with self and others is taking in the essence and nuances of where one finds him/herself.

Today, I’m bringing home my meal from the market.  I’m spreading it on top of my South African fabric from my travels, and inviting a friend over to share this meal, along with a glass of Hibiscus 🌺  Gin Tonic — just because.

 

 

Would You Do This For Yourself?

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Guest Blogger Kweli Kitwana prepares a table before us replete with the love and care that we need to apply to our lives daily.image1 Sometimes it’s the simple indulgences and  the simple activities that bring us the most joy.

Would you take the time to prepare a beautiful tray of food for yourself? You know — those special trays of foods, laid out perfectly and thoughtfully to impress others but now we are aiming to do it for  for ourselves?

We spend an enormous amount of time “pleasing” others. Whether it’s our partners, family or friends, it’s not common to take extra steps to ensure their enjoyment and pleasures of indulgence.

But what about yourself?  Would you make these same efforts to bring this same joy to yourself? I often hear myself saying these words,  “I get much pleasure from doing things for others.”

Believe me, I truly like to do things for me — without  fanfare or exhibition, but as I prepare a tray of snacks for my reading ritual, I am very conscious that I am doing this for me. Each choice of food that I make, every piece that I slice and even right down to the arrangement of my snacks, the personal choices I make to please and stimulate my loving heart for myself are consciously done.

We don’t need to eat out of bags or over sinks just because we are not in the presence of others. We can take time to mindfully care for ourselves because WE DESERVE IT!

Kweli is an artist living in the Bay Area and committed to getting the most out of life.

#thisidoforme

PLACEDIA REMINDS ME THAT GHANA 🇬🇭 IS WHERE THE HEART LIVES!

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Post Written By Guest Blogger Kweli Kitwana
East Bay, California 
In this article Kweli shares how her volunteer experience and a developing special relationship with a high school student in Ghana continues to impact her life. 
Of all the years of me volunteering in Ghana over the past few years and of all the wonderful experiences that I’ve had while in Ghana, one young woman truly stands out, and she stole my heart. She was a recipient of scholarships from SistaWorks. This honor allowed her to complete high school, however due to the lack of funds, her dreams for pursing additional education seemed to be unattainable.
Placedia is is her name, and I encountered her after she graduated from high school.  As a way of giving back for having received her education from The SistaWorks Program, Placedia returned to her high school to show her gratitude by returning to speak to other students. This visit would be the equivalent to serving as a Career Day speaker.
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As I was preparing her to speak to the current and newly selected scholars, Placedia informed me that she had placed her advanced education on hold because she needed to raise 3000 Ghana Cedis/$670 USD — about $55 monthly in fees and tuition. So for now, she is selling water at the local markets with the hopes of furthering her education in the future.
I asked her how much was she able to make monthly selling water. The shocking response was — 35 Ghana Cedis/$8 USD. WOW!! That really hit me….when would this young woman ever be able to attain her higher education?  Girls like Placedia, when not able to continue their schooling, will end up married and/or caring for their families and elders.  With this often comes the realization that getting that additional education may never happen causing their dream to slip further and further away.

Immediately, I gave her what I had in my possession as she was leaving that day to go back to her village. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that 157 Ghana Cedis/$35 USD  was all that Placedia would earn after 19 days of selling water!

After I departed Ghana, Placedia stayed on my mind! I finally found her again, and I have since been sending her $56 a month to cover her education at Midwife College.
We write each other often (via email), and I’m learning so much about her.

I also learned that after completing her stint as a government midwife, Placedia wants to continue her education by studying to become a Physician’s Assistant at a local university.  She hails from the Village of Wiaga — part of the Builsa District in Ghana’s Upper East Region.  Placedia tells me that she is a proud tribal Builsa, and her native language is Buli.
I love writing to Placedia and discussing the enslavement of Africans. She and I recently made a connection around her history — The Bulsa people have a proud heritage of fighting against the enslavement of Africans. Historically, they have fought fiercely against enslavers, and when Babatu attacked her people in the 19th century, they were able to stand against him and turn him back!
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That event is celebrated to this day with an elaborate festival called Feok just before Christmas, and it is a passionate celebration which highlights their love of Freedom!
Lately, I’ve been talking to her about African Americans and our connection to Africa. I have taken great care in explaining to her that Blacks in America are not “White People” (a common misunderstanding on the continent) nor are all American Christians looking to do missions based work.
NOTE:  In Ghana and throughout Africa, it is very common for Africans to refer to Black Americans as White. For example, to distinguish me as an American, they would say “the white woman was looking for you.” It is often their way of  assigning class designation, and I also believe it is their way of making it clear that we are Non-African in Ghana.
These small but mighty interactions bring me much joy, and they have helped me to solidify my purpose.

Thank you Robin Joyce Tillotson for constantly reminding women to take care of ourselves and to never give up on your dreams. #thisidoforme#movintowardpositivity#wakandaforreal

THE BEAUTY OF BEING AN OLDER WOMAN

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The beauty that I am speaking of is the beauty that is inherent in almost everything we do — even if we are not consciously aware of it.

With many of our burdens lifted at this stage of life, we are thinking with greater clarity, we feel with an intensity not experienced before, and we view problems differently and handle them knowing that the end of the world is not forthcoming.

Rather than being counseled, we now counsel and mentor others. Rather than trying to solve problems on our own, we engage the strengths of others thereby sending out the signal that they, too, have the wherewithal to survive and thrive. Rather than mull a potential decision in our heads over and over, we make the best possible decision based on the best information we have available at the time.

We are not looking to get anything from others, nor do we have hard core expectations.  We are more about the business of giving than expecting anything in return, especially for that which we gladly share freely.

We now know through our increased confidence that as women age 50+, we take life as it comes, and we search (not in desperation or anxiety anymore) for meaning in the smallest of gestures and acts.

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We are certainly more grateful for the life we have and we no longer yearn for the life we once thought we should have.  A light and ephemeral silhouette of all of our experiences now engulfs us, and we are now able to radiate it out to all that come into contact with us.

And for this we are grateful.

#thisidoforme

 

THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME 2018 DINE-AROUNDS!

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Travel is not the only thing that This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) offers.

When I first conceptualized TIDFM back in 2015, I did so with the idea that I wanted the business to be a conduit for providing uniquely curated experiences for women age 50+.

One of the ways in which TIDFM carries out its mission of connecting women age 50+ is through its Dine-Arounds at   outstanding Chicago restaurants.

The first gem on our itinerary is a Vietnamese eatery well known in Chicago as Pasteur.  Several of us will be traveling to Southeast Asia in 2019, and I thought what better way to learn about Vietnamese culture except through its cuisine. We will dine there on Saturday, May 5, 2018!  Pictured below is a Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad and Banh Mi Lettuce Wraps.

 

The second restaurant on our Dine-Around schedule is Eddie Vs Prime Seafood scheduled for Saturday, July 21, 2018. This outing is particularly special because TIDFM will also host its second Annual Book Swap. My gift to my assignee is the book “Stockdale” written by author Priscilla Lalisse-Jespersen.  I’m excited about passing this book on and the pleasure I derived from reading it.

Each attendee will bring a used book to share/give to another attendee who has been assigned to them. Also, when presenting the book to their assigned partner, each will explain a little about the book and why they enjoyed it prior to presenting the book to its new owner.

On Saturday, September 29, 2018, our Dine-Around will take us to Mexique, a fusion experience of Mexican and French cuisine.  I love this place!  You will be amazed at what Chef Carlos Gayton does with the Roasted Monk Fish.  It will explain why he is slated to receive his first Michelin Star ⭐️.

And, lastly, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate will be the venue for our last dining experience for 2018.  Even though the food is out of sight, the desserts are epic — Chocolate, Chocolate and more Chocolate!  Check out Mindy’s Milk Chocolate Coffee Mousse highlighted below, right.

 

What’s the best part of all of these outings?  Not the food, although the food is magnificent and not the lovely decor, although beauty is evident.   It’s the conversation. It’s the laughter.  It’s the sharing. And ultimately the best part are the new relationships that are forged and the opportunity to be with like-minded women!

Bon appetite!

Get Yourself a This…I…Do…For…Me T-Shirt — You Owe it to Yourself!

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This client is smiling from ear to ear as she is about to embark on a fabulous trip to Hawaii with her husband Fred!

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To show how important it is for her to consciously recognize the importance of self-care, Paula wanted a t-shirt to outwardly reflect how enthusiastic she feels about doing something for herself.

Like so many women, Paula has always expended a load of energy, time and love on parents, siblings, children and her spouse.

And equally important is  the effort she puts out daily at work and helping others in fulfilling their aspirations.  “Working in the field of social services is rewarding, but compassion fatigue can creep in — I need to periodically gas up so that I am present for my clients” states Paula.

She now, without hesitation, embraces self-care and no longer sees it as a selfish indulgence. “I’m so excited about my trip, and I can say with solid confidence THIS I DO FOR ME!”