Ladies' Night Out 2019 focuses on physical and emotional health

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[May 17, 2019]     On Friday, May 10, approximately 280 women attended the sixth annual Ladies’ Night Out held at the Knights of Columbus and sponsored by the ALMH Community Health Collaborative.

The theme of Love Yourself Enough is intended to help women focus on and invest in the health of themselves and their family. Gift bags contained re-useable water bottles with the theme listed on them and fliers about community health resources. There were also door prizes given away during the evening’s events.

After a social hour with healthy and delicious fare, ALMH Foundation Executive Director Sarah Helm welcomed everyone. She thanked the Lincoln Knights of Columbus for providing the location, Heather Cosby of Flossie and Delzena’s for providing the chicken salad, ALMH dietary department for the other delicacies, ALMH’s Beth Simonson for her hard work, and the ladies of the ALMH Auxiliary for being the hostesses.

Helm said it is between 900-1000 donors who help generate $300,000 worth of revenue to provide programs like the Ladies’ Night Out and make the ALMH Community Health Collaborative possible.

Jill Savage

ALMH Community Health Collaborative Director Angela Stoltzenburg then introduced keynote speaker Jill Savage, an author of several books and public speaker who founded the former organization Hearts at Home. Savage lives “close to Normal or life on the edge of Normal” and wants people to stop trying to be perfect.

As Savage began, she said she was glad to be back in Lincoln where she and her husband and children lived from 1987-1989 while her husband Mark attended what was then known as Lincoln Christian College. They moved from Indianapolis, Indiana with a two-year-old and six-week-old and found it to be culture shock. For example, one night they got a babysitter and went to Midnight Madness on the square at 9:30 only to find all the shops closed. Savage said, “We were not in Kansas anymore.”

Four Questions to ponder

Savage gave the attendees four emotional and physical health related questions to think through and ponder.

Her first question, “What if I gave myself and other people the FREEDOM to make mistakes.” Savage told a story of a time they were supposed to meet friends at a wedding, but the friends never showed up. It turned out their friends had gone to the wrong wedding and did not realize it until they saw the bride.

Savage said if all mistakes were as innocent as her friends’ mistake was, the question would not be a problem, but sometimes more is at stake. Getting a call while making dinner from one of her children she had forgotten to pick up at school one day is something Savage beat herself up over. The child was sobbing when she got there, and Savage realized she had messed up.

Many seem to have a guilt gene, and all have moments of guilt creep in, but everyone makes mistakes. Savage said many may say, “I don’t expect myself to be perfect,” but struggle over not being perfect. This so-called “perfection infection” affects people emotionally and physically as they compare themselves to others like the airbrushed models that do not exist.

Savage said the perfection infection may come from the family we grew up in. It may be coming home with five A’s and one B only to have parents ask why the B is not an A. When made to feel anything less than perfect is unacceptable we may “wear masks.’

When we expect perfection, Savage said we set ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment, but expecting mistakes can keep us from disappointment.

The second question, “What if I had realistic expectations of myself and others?”

Savage said one activity free Saturday, her one goal was to go on an “archeological expedition” to find her kitchen counter. As she worked, she was interrupted by various people such as one of her sons, her husband and a good friend, all of whom were discouraged and needed her to listen.

Savage said she had not uncovered the counter by that afternoon but reminded everyone that real life is all about being available, plus expecting to be interrupted and not getting frustrated by interruptions. We should not lower expectations, rather we should make them a little more realistic.

Marriages in crisis often suffer from unrealistic expectations. The space in between unrealistic expectations and reality is often discontentment, which affects us emotionally and physically, increasing our anxiety. Savage said we need to expect our spouses and kids to make mistakes and expect kids to fail at responsibility and obedience. Research for a book she collaborated on showed Savage the brain optimally grows through failure. When children learn to walk and keep falling, we do not consider it failure, but when they are older and “fall,” we consider it failure. Savage said we need to remember their brain is growing.

We need to adjust expectations and look at our spouses and interruptions differently. Even Kate Middleton did not look perfect after having her third child, but many have unrealistic expectations due to our culture. Savage said if we expect life to be imperfect, messy and challenging, we will not feel like a failure.

The third question, “What if I took off my mask and was honest with others?”

Savage said many of us hide behind masks of public relations control, criticism and comparison. We compare our insides to people’s outsides and come up with wrong conclusions.

Savage showed a photo of her family, which includes her and her spouse, their five children and spouses, and a few grandchildren. She shared their realities include one daughter being in marriage counseling, one daughter who was a colicky baby, one son with serious ADHD who could not focus and did not turn in most of his homework, one son who got divorced and then announced he was gay, and one son adopted from Russia, who has mental illness and has had many problems as a result.

The Savages have been married 35 years, but 25 happily due to various challenges. Savage said her husband had a rough upbringing and has struggled with depression, both of which contributed to their marital dysfunction. Her husband had an affair and left for a while but returned Easter Sunday. Now they help others with marriages in crisis.

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Savage was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which is aggressive breast cancer negative for three usual fuels of cancer. She went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She had local photographer Michael Gowin take photos of her when she had lost all her hair to remind her of what she made it through. Savage is now considered cured, but reminded everyone to be proactive about health and get mammograms to help with early detection.

We all struggle, but Savage said taking off our masks means we don’t have to control our public relations or compare when we realize others struggle with the same things. When we are at a store, we should remember people have backstories we don’t know. Honesty begets honesty and when we remove masks, it deepens relationships and friendships and creates a place for sharing.

The fourth and final question, “What if I replaced ‘being perfect’ with ‘being perfected’?”

Savage’s oncologist told her to keep her weight healthy, exercise daily and eat healthy, and she has become serious about pursuing health.

Savage said there are five keys to perfecting our health and our body:

1. Hydrate it. Water is like oil is to a car and dehydration can cause headaches. Savage freezes oranges and puts them in her water so she is more likely to drink it.

2. Feed it. Eat healthy foods, not ones out of a box. Eat fewer processed foods and foods with less sugar. Savage said to read labels and if you cannot pronounce ingredients, you probably should not eat it. She showed the dirty dozen vegetable and fruits exposed to too much pesticide that are better bought organic and the clean fifteen with fewer pesticides that are safer to eat. These lists can be found at

3. Move it. You do not need a gym membership. You can just walk to get in cardio and do strength training build up our bodies.

4. Rest it. Rest helps regenerate our bodies during sleep. Savage said it is like rebooting a computer.

5. Protect it. Savage said airplanes have more radiation that mammograms and reminded everyone to have routine screenings to protect the bodies and catch problems early.

Savage then reviewed the questions and said that following the above advice can bring contentment, freedom and hope. Savage ended by saying we need to stop comparing what we don’t have and caring for what we do.

Stoltzenburg discusses Community Health Collaborative goals and programs

After delectable deserts, Stoltzenburg brought the evening’s events to a close by speaking about the ALMH Community Health Collaborative.

Stoltzenburg showed a graph focused on health factors around the county. Forty percent of your health is determined by socioeconomic factors, 10 percent determined by physical environment, 30 percent healthy behaviors and 20 percent clinical care.

Logan County is ranked number 15 out of 102 counties in Illinois health care and since January, the hospital has received three awards. One was Practice Green for promoting sustainability, another for being in the top 100 for critical access and one for being a Pathway designated hospital, which means it has excellent nurses.

Stoltzenburg said potential life loss numbers, which notes those passing away before age 75, are trending up. Since the county has clinical care under control, she said there is a need to focus on the eighty percent that includes socioeconomic factors, healthy behaviors and the physical environment, which is where the Community Health Collaborative comes into play.

There is an advisory board funded by the ALMH Foundation that works on what we can do as a community through leveraging resources and make an impact on local health.

A recent Community Health Needs Assessment done in 2018 shows that for the next three years, the county needs to focus on obesity issues, substance abuse issues, and mental health issues.

Additionally, the collaborative is focusing on poverty and the hospital on cancer. Stoltzenburg said a community health improvement plan has been created to address the four priorities noted on the assessment.

Stoltzenburg said the county has many programs to help address some of these issues. There is bowling party every year to provide substance abuse awareness and prevention, a fitness court on the old hospital site to encourage people to exercise, and mental health first aid trainings to show people how to better identify mental health crises and how to help.

There are also resources for recovery from addiction, a medication drop off at the police department, and a new smart curve paddle to make mammograms more comfortable. A 5K run/walk will be held soon to raise funds for programming and a Moving with the Mayor event will be held May 22.

Programs for kids include Gaining Resilience in Teens (GRIT), a day long workshop for all seventh graders in Logan County to empower youth by talking about substance abuse prevention and other issues affecting their health; the Mosaic project for behavioral health at schools to provide screenings and mental health support, and the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (C.A.T.C.H.) program. Stoltzenburg reminded everyone to eat more go foods than slow foods and more slow foods than whoa foods.

The ALMH Market that began May 11th and will run through the end of September will have vendors, provide health screenings and a few programs for kids.

Stoltzenburg said everything, including the Ladies’ Night Out, is made possible due to partnership with the city of Lincoln, Logan County Department of Public Health, schools and other agencies. She closed by thanking everyone for coming and the ALMH Ladies’ Auxiliary for hosting.

[Angela Reiners]


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