I Can't...

If you have an idea for an “I Can’t,” either to attend or to facilitate, head to the Suggestion Box at bottom of page

‘Member summer camp? Where you learned, participated, and stretched yourself amongst an invigorating blend of familiar and new faces? Where you were led by welcoming, low-key counselors in a welcoming, low-key environment where the only item on your Packing List was a bag of “I’ll try”? In Mac & Cheese Productions’ I Can’t series, adults state they’re unable to do something, they try it with a bunch of other adults who also “can’t,” and everyone proves themselves wrong and not only does the thing, but enjoys it and says, “That wasn’t so bad. In fact, kinda fun. Good for me! What’s next?!” 

Through I Can’t, adults do the thing they’ve been wanting to do but haven’t done because [insert excuse here] —

  • “I’m too old”
  • “I’m out of shape”
  • “I missed my opportunity”
  • “Money”
  • “Time”
  • “Kids”
  • “I don’t have anyone to do it with”
  • “There’s nowhere I feel comfortable doing it”

As at camp, topics and structure are varied but the “be yourself amongst others being themselves and witness the magic that happens when you try with others trying” vibe is pervasive. 

Current Offerings

  • Photograph
  • Camp — Fall Leaves Edition

Past Offerings

  • Yoga
  • Improv
  • Organize my home
  • Buy a home
  • Draw
  • Have a dog
  • Figure out what I want to do in life
  • Land my dream job
  • Clean
  • Find love
  • Put on makeup
  • Travel
  • Ask for money
  • Wine
  • Bake
  • Camp — Workshop Edition
  • Camp — Summer Getaway Edition
  • Adult my money — Personal Finance & Budgeting Edition
  • Adult my money — Financial Planner edition

“I attended the I Can’t Find My Dream Job workshop and it really helped to boost my motivation in looking for a new opportunity. Before the workshop, I felt stuck and generally directionless. I really didn’t know what I was looking for in my “dream job” but I knew what I was doing at my current job did not match. Through the exercises, resources, and ideas of the workshop, I was able to put one foot in front of the other and not feel so overwhelmed by the concept of switching gears. The workshop provided specific steps that I could do that night or the next day to get myself on the train towards reaching my goal. I wrote them down and actually did those tasks! I also found the personal stories from Saya and L’Oreal Thompson to be incredibly motivating. There is something uniquely profound about being in a room full of people who are going through what you are going through AND people who have moved beyond that state to where you want to be. It is the extra push you need to dig yourself out of any ‘stuck’ situation. And that is really why I love going to these workshops and events, even outside of the I Can’t offerings. It’s truly an authentic community of people who can affirm and understand what is happening with you in the moment, and at the same time support you when you say “I can” to something. The support goes above and beyond. This workshop as well as other offerings from Mac & Cheese Productions has profoundly shifted my perspective about life in general, knowing there is a like-minded group of inclusive, diverse and positive people willing to support each other in making the absolute most out of life – in every aspect.”

Testimonials

"Saya, I just wanted to say thank you. I was really scared about taking (I Can't: Improv), but you and Pete did such a great job of making a space where there was no room for fear and insecurity. It was really helpful for me to be there."
"The workshop was so comprehensive and has really gotten me excited about cleaning. I am also thinking about how I can incorporate ideas into other areas of my life, so thank you again!"
"I attended the I Can't: Clean workshop because I knew there must be more strategic, efficient, and effective ways to clean than what I've always done, and Saya definitely showed me better ways! From general strategies like working from the top of the room down to specific product recommendations I came away with knowledge I could use (and I did use it--I gave my kitchen a thorough scrub a few days after the class!). It helped that the class was in a casual setting because it made it easier to ask questions (and to confess our personal cleaning shames). I wouldn't think to take a cleaning course anywhere else because I'd assume it would be very judgmental, but I knew from other Mac & Cheese events that the class would be low-pressure and practical."
"I Can't: Camp was an adventure worth the bug bites. We hiked, swam, built fires, told stories, created in-jokes, saw a bald eagle, and got comfortable being uncomfortable! I appreciated the balance of downtime and doing things, being able to connect with the group but also enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Learning new skills that I didn't know were "me" was exciting - at one point the group was cheering me on as I scraped and scraped a firestarting flint SO determined to get a blaze going (it worked!). I couldn't have asked for better leaders in Saya and Aaron: funny, low-key, positive people who inspire confidence and put people at ease. I came back to Chicago dirty, smelly, itchy, and craving a shower beer like no other, but with tons of positive memories and zero regrets."
"This workshop was great! Kristyn and Saya were awesome. I learned a lot on approaching home organization and have a better understanding as to why my strategies previously didn't work. Kristyn was passionate and very knowledgeable. The workshop was held in a comfortable setting that fostered great interaction and dialogue."
"I thought this class was great! I learned about yoga and got to try it in a super comfortable environment, the instructor was fun and explained things. The class overall was a great way to bring people together with similar interests and also things they’re each going through."

Current Offerings

Bring something to write on/with and if you’d like, food/drink for yourself. Held at Mac & Cheese Productions℠, in Wicker Park, near Ashland & Division unless otherwise indicated; exact address sent upon registration.


I Can’t: Photograph

Partner — Hillary Johnson WebsiteInstagramFacebook

Are any of these you?

  • Want to take better photographs but aren’t sure how?
  • Look at other people’s photos and think, “Why don’t my images look like that?! What are they doing that I’m not?”
  • Have a fancy camera you never use because you’re not sure how?
  • Want to be a better phone photographer? And know what ONE app to use?
  • Think good photos happen because of expensive gear you don’t have?
  • Know what you like in a picture but can’t replicate that?
  • Think photography is super technical and thus not you?

If you answered yes, I Can’t: Photograph is for you.

Partner Details

When Hillary Johnson was little, she took her first photos with an early Polaroid camera. She had the child’s ease of simply seeing and doing without thinking. Later as a young adult photographer even making basic images felt nearly impossible. Now, decades later, she has travelled the world, worked as a photojournalist for newspapers and magazines, and loves making work in a way that returns her to those early roots of making pictures from a more relaxed and grounded place. She loves teaching others to make pictures from that same place.
 
Workshop Details
 
Hillary will share secrets that’ve had the biggest impact on her ability to make successful pictures and have fun doing it. She’ll help you understand how to cultivate a mindset to see and make pictures differently and how to shift from a click happy, quantity approach to a slower, quality-based, intentional approach. You’ll have a chance to practice what you learn and share your images, and you’ll leave with simple concepts, specific seeing and composition tools, and a newfound confidence.
 
Itinerary — 
  • Learn
  • Apply (you’ll go make photos on your own in the neighborhood)
  • Share, review, and reflect

To Bring/Do

  • Bring a camera or a phone (or both!)
  • If you bring a camera, bring an sd card and card reader so that you can share your images
  • Dress comfortably as you’ll be walking around outside and shooting from different angles, heights, etc.

Register

There are no refunds so please make sure you can join before registering. If you’d like to share, invite, keep track of this event on Facebook, click here.

 


I Can’t: Camp — Fall Colors Edition

Partner — Aaron Wolf, Adventures Accessed WebsiteInstagramFacebook

Are any of these you?

  • “I like the idea of camping but get overwhelmed by planning gear, food, logistics…”
  • “I’d like to go camping. But it kinda scares me.”
  • “I don’t have an REI-sized wallet.”
  • “I’m ready to get out of the city.”
  • “I’d like more nature in my life, to be more ‘outdoorsy’.”
  • “I want to explore more but would like others to explore with.”
  • “I’m IN! for a trip if someone brought the gear, food, ride, and knowledge.”

If you answered yes, I Can’t: Camp is for you.

Partner Details

“It is clear that Aaron is very passionate about the environment, nature and leaving the smallest footprint possible on the world. What was also evident on the camping trip was Aaron’s passion and heart for people. It was challenging in some ways, fun in all ways and an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I also wouldn’t trade Aaron for the world either as he was a wonderful guide who was dedicated enough to challenge us but flexible enough to change things up for the needs of the group.” I Can’t Camper
 
Aaron grew up in the Northwest ‘burbs of Chicago. After nearly failing out of high school, he graduated and shipped off to the Marines, serving around the world including an Iraq deployment. Upon his return, the transition back to the “civilian world” had challenges and Aaron dealt with an identity crisis that would last through college and into his corporate career. Five years later, things began to boil over. Panic attacks at work, a lack of outdoor exposure, and a VA hospital that really likes prescribing pills made life too much. He’d retreat to the forest to decompress, connect, and be himself. Aaron eventually figured out that being immersed outdoors brought him back to a feeling of Self — that he could be Aaron and not Corporal Wolf, and that he was indeed his happiest, most creative, best version of himself when outside. If only he could make a career out of helping others find the same joy and benefits; turns out, he could. Aaron quit his job, wrote a business plan, secured financing, and now leads backcountry experiences as a professional, licensed outfitter/guide via his company Adventures Accessed.

 

Getaway Details

For three days and two nights, we’ll backpack along the scenic river of Michigan’s Manistee National Forest. Take in the fall colors by hiking along the winding banks of the river during the day and share favorite ghost stories at night around the campfire. Expect to hike in 3-5 miles on Friday afternoon and then set up basecamp for the weekend. We’ll spend Saturday exploring the banks of the river, checking out the best views and all the hidden sites the forest has to share. Unlike Life of Yes℠ Sleepaway Camp, where we sleep indoors, have plumbing, and don’t cook our own food, this is really camping-camping. Ya know, dirt, sleeping on the ground, bugs.
 
Photos of a previous I Can’t: Camp here.
 
FAQs
What level of camping experience do I need to have?
Absolutely none.
 
What if I’m nervous to go camping?
You’re not alone! That’s why we’re doing this. Hopefully the fact that you’ll be led by a friendly, experienced guide and accompanied by other friendly, also kinda nervous folks including I Can’t curator Saya lessens some of your nerves.
 
How will we get there?
In a van.
 
How far is the drive?
About four hours.
 
Where do we leave from and return to?
A spot in Lakeview near the Belmont El stop.
 
Can you tell me more about where we’re going?
Check out the Manistee National Forest website.
 
Can I come alone?
Absolutely.
 
Can I come with others?
As long as there’s room, absolutely.
 
Where will I sleep?
In a provided tent or hammock, or under the stars; you choose.
 
Will I be sharing a tent and if so, with how many?
Typically you share with one other individual. If you’d like to be in a tent with 3-4 people, arrangements can probably be made. Solo sleeping arrangements are available in enclosed hammocks or under the stars.
 
Where will I go to the bathroom?
No plumbing or outhouses, kids. We’ll learn how to properly, uh, squat.
 
What’s included in my fee?
Food, equipment, transport from Chicago, facilitation, and forest access.
 
What do I need to bring?
You’ll get a detailed list on how to dress for outside functionality and comfort but here’s a simplified list:
  • Hygiene gear
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Extra batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Hat
  • Water resistant coat
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Small towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bag
  • Lighter
Can you accommodate my food restrictions?
Probably. Note them when you register and if we foresee any issues, we’ll be in touch. 
 
What level of fitness do I need to have? 
You should be comfortable walking two to five miles while carrying a pack, at times over uneven terrain. Some nimbleness may be required for muddy spots, downed trees, or the like.
 
Is this scary-hiking?
No. Both on trail and off trail, the terrain is gentle to gently rolling. (Saya is deathly afraid of heights and falling off of mountainsides but Aaron has assured her she has nothing to worry about)
 
What if I can’t swim?
Swimming is optional. A creek crossing or swamp encounter is possible but nothing beyond knee deep.
 
What if I get hurt?
Adventures Accessed Guides are field tested and trained in Wilderness First Aid and beyond.
 
What if there’s bad weather?
Rain or shine, we’re a go. Trips have yet to be cancelled due to weather but of course, safety first; if weather is severe, the trip will be cancelled and you’ll get a full refund.
 
What’s the Refund Policy?
Speaking of refunds, no refunds unless we need to cancel due to weather or other circumstances. If you need to transfer your spot, you can, minus a $50 transfer fee; contact Mac & Cheese Productions℠ for a transfer.
 
Register

There are no refunds so please make sure you can join before registering. If you’d like to share, invite, keep track of this event on Facebook, click here.

Suggestion Box

"I Can't" Idea

Suggest an "I Can't" topic, either as an attendee or as a facilitator. If you have a facilitator in mind whom isn't you, tell them to fill this out. Note that this is a very popular series both on the attendee side and on the facilitator side, so if you're suggesting yourself for the latter, no promises. Additionally, Mac & Cheese is much more likely to collaborate with people already in the M&C world, people whom we already know are fabulous; meaning if you don't already come to events and/or interact online, you should start doing that! The whole "friends helping friends" thing...
  • Please make sure you type this correctly. If you're just suggesting a topic, Mac & Cheese probably won't reach out; this is is more for folks who want to facilitate a session. But, just in case...
  • If you'd like to share further info on the topic.
  • The rest of the form is for people interested in facilitating

    You're all done if you're just submitting a topic idea — skip down to SUBMIT.
  • Mac & Cheese is usually where I Can'ts take place, but sometimes it makes more sense to hold a session elsewhere, e.g. a glass blowing studio, a gym, or an animal rescue.
  • If you're open/it doesn't matter, state that. Mac & Cheese can hold 30ish. Keep in mind: how many attendees will make it worth your while, venue size, venue capability (number of tables and chairs, etc), materials you provide, desired participation level (individual, small group, whole group), desired "feel" (is intimate preferred?), desired potential revenue (the more people, the more revenue potential).
  • If yes, when and why then? If you're open and timeframe doesn't matter, state that.
    Do you XYZ without having to be reminded? If you're given instructions, do you read and follow all of them? Are you punctual? Do you pull your weight? Are you proactive? Can you manage life without a lot of hand-holding? Do you offer something fabulous? Are you low-maintenance? Do you think you can work with a Type A only child who has a lot of opinions, systems, and preferred ways of existence yet whom is also collaborative and open to your you'ness? Are you someone who aligns with Mac & Cheese Productions℠ and is someone Mac & Cheese would be proud to be affiliated with? Are you a good person who believes in equality for all? Are you nice?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.