Smatterings: December 2015 Vol I


  • Did you know that if you search the hashtag #smatterings on Twitter or Facebook, you can get much of this random goodness all neatly laid out for you, going back months and months?!
  • You can also see past issues by doing a search on the blog for Smatterings 
  • Italics is my voice/means I’m the one to follow up with, which you can do here 
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  • Want to post in Smatterings? Find out how here 
  • Want to see upcoming Mac & Cheese Productions events? Calendar here



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If you’re looking for gift ideas, my 2015 Gift Guide is out! Something for everyone.

Finally! The Ventra app!

Join the Mac & Cheese Productions℠ Do Good Army!

The kiddies when I first met them and them now
Want to do good this season but unsure how?

Join Cheese-Its and become an education benefactor of Patience and Benigne, two Rwandan children I befriended on a trip over there many moons ago. Read the back story of how the genocide affected them and how we’re helping here. We started off sponsoring Patience and were able to sponsor his sister as well last year!

Per usual, I’ll collect pledges and if we raise the money necessary, I’ll come to collect; only donate if we make our goal.

2015 Goal #1: Patience’s 10th grade year, starting in January — $750, supplies and tuition
2015 Goal #2: Benigne’s 8th grade year, starting in January — $600, supplies and tuition

Financial Track Record

  • 2014, 29 people, $825 ($600 was the goal; first year we’re sponsoring Patience AND Benigne, plus sending $225 for Christmas gifts for the family)
  • 2013, 31 people, $1200 ($600 was the goal; $600 will go towards this year’s education, $100 will go to gifts to Patience, his sister and his mother, and $500 will go to next year’s education)
  • 2012, 29 people, $600
  • 2011, 31 people, $750
  • 2010, 21 people, $400
  • 2009, 19 people, $400
  • 2008, 30 people, $400

Pledge form here; join us!

The Made in Chicago Market is back! Come shop local and support fellow Chicagoans as they showcase some of the best apparel, housewares, food and drink that Chicago has to offer!

Temporary housing in Lincoln Park via a friend

From David:
AirBNB is being strange about pricing, but it should come out to a little under $1500 per month. I’m looking for someone who wants to stay hopefully for January through April.


Friends, you have to come to the Lesbians Who Tech (and allies) Summit this year in San Francisco Feb 25th – 28th. Think SXSW, but more intimate with badass women, hula hoop contests and networking that does not suck.You can learn more here //

Use my link below and get a two for one!

  All you have to do is:

  • Click here // (the code is already filled in for you) 
  • Click order now

p.s. If you need convincing, you can watch their short video from last year and read their recent BuzzFeed article, “If Every Tech Conference Were Like Lesbians Who Tech, Tech Would Be A Much Better

Pains me to say, I agree.”

Learning to Deal With the Impostor Syndrome

An App to Help Avoid Package Theft Just Landed in Chicago

Ha. I would love for life to ‘suck’ like this again.

The Suckiest Things About College

If You Miss a Flight, See if Your Airline Uses the “Flat Tire Rule”

For Better Relationships, Know Your Deal Breakers

Become a Better Conversationalist by Seeking Solitude

Surround Yourself With People You Can Rely On to Build Resilience

How to Cope With Spending the Holidays Alone

Spice Up Presentations by Adding a Villain, Victim, and Hero

The Most Important Financial Terms Everyone Should Know


Top 10 Ways You’re Probably Using Email Wrong

Give the Gift of Organization with These Tools

If You Want Inspiration, You Have to Stop Working Once In a While

What Marriage Is Really Like

The 8 Things That Are Always Cheaper at Target

Does It Matter How Many Reps You Do When You Work Out?

This $6 Car Charger is So Small, It’ll Look Like It Came With the Car

Yay Chicago! Finally.

The Uber Airport Rules for 11 Major Cities in the U.S.

Ask Your Utility Company for Free Light Bulbs, Shower Heads, and More

Pack a Perfect Carry-On Bag Every Time With This Formula

Why I Had My Babies With a Midwife Instead of a Doctor

Having a Strong-Willed, Even Disobedient Child Can Be a Good Thing

Top 10 Tips to Work a Room Like a Champ

Online Dating Showdown: vs. Tinder vs. OkCupid

Real Confidence Begins With Believing In Your Ability to Improve

Give the Gift of Better Eats with These Kitchen Tools

Lifestyle Inflation Isn’t Always a Bad Thing


If You Want to Be More Likable, Start Having Fun

Fitness Isn’t Just for the Wealthy: How to Stay Healthy on a Budget

Procrastination Is Mostly About Fear

Drinking Coffee May Help You Avoid a Premature Death

Yes! I love this and do this! I go to the gym for the toiletries, steam room, fluffy towels, HGTV, peace and quiet. And while I do all that, ok, I’ll work out.

Terry Crews’ Fitness Secret: Treat the Gym Like a Spa

Why Mondays and January 1st Are Best for Setting New Goals

Keep a “Comfort Doodad” Nearby When You Need to Relax and Think

Top 10 Smart Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

1 Question That Can Save Any Conversation

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

How to Send a Fax from Your Smartphone

Avoid These Holiday Plants If You Have Pets

Stop Trying So Hard to Be Happy

“You Don’t Get What You Deserve. You Get What You Negotiate.”

Banish Brutal Bathroom Smells With Your Own Homemade “Poo-Pourri”

How to Break Your Netflix Binge-Watching Habit

How to Run in the Winter (Without Freezing Your Butt Off)

One letter can change your life–or someone else’s.

Alex Blumberg: Your Best Selling Points Are the Mistakes You’ve Made

The Second Leap: How to Go from Lone Freelancer to Full-Fledged Entrepreneur

YES! No clubs for me either.

I Don't Do Clubs

50 Black-Owned Restaurants and Bars in Chicago

Idea Sex: How New Yorker Cartoonists Generate 500 Ideas a Week

4 things every new entrepreneur should splurge on

Happened to me once, I’m still unsure why…

IT HAPPENED TO ME: My Best Friend Ghosted Me

There were no big fights, no angry arguments to mark the break-up — she simply vanished from my life.

Man Trying To Enter Conversation Spends Few Minutes Smiling And Nodding At Edge Of Circle



We’re Breaking Up: Rebecca Solnit on How Modern Noncommunication Is Changing Our Experience of Time, Solitude, and Communion

When Some Turn to Church, Others Go to CrossFit

Thanksgiving Dinner, Year Round

How Chicago tried to cover up a police execution

If I know you and would recommend you, feel free to ask me to do so.
At the non-profit where I used to work.

Taking a Break for Friendship

23 Amazing U.S. Homes You Could Totally Buy Right This Second

8 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate

How to Wrap All Your Presents for Only $25

The Airlines With the Most Legroom: A Tall Traveler’s Guide

The 10 Best Places to Visit in January

Stuff I’m personally excited about

9 Things That Might Happen If You Stop Washing Your Hair


What’s That Song in the TV Ad?

Some of the decade’s biggest names have “sold out”


Catch and stop neighbors stealing your Internet

This is Why Your Airplane Wi-Fi is Not Worth the Money

9 Things To Remove From Your Website Immediately


Why we all need to practice emotional first aid

Besides her obvious Yes’ness, I am in love with Shonda cause she’s all things amazing! Loved learning more about her in this interview. Buy her book!

NPR feature: For A Year, Shonda Rhimes Said ‘Yes’ To All The Things That Scared Her


A note from a peer, which I wholeheartedly agree with!

I’ve noticed a recent trend that has accelerated due to our increasingly interconnected world. A lot of people (myself included) like helping people, but sometimes we half-ass the effort of helping people through a clever little trick: the intro.

Jane Doe comes to you and says, “I need help with X.” A lot of times, you could probably help Jane with X if you put your mind to it, but you don’t have time or you think you don’t have time. Instead, you make an intro to John Y who knows a ton about X and might be able to help Jane. Sometimes John will be willing to help someone like Jane, and other times he’ll be annoyed that you passed the buck to him. Either way, you get to pat yourself on the back because you did something to help Jane even though it took you all of 5 minutes to write an email.

Does this story sound familiar? It does to me, because I do it all the time. And even though I’ve occasionally connected people who genuinely benefited from knowing each other, I’ve used “the intro” as a way to absolve myself of the guilt I feel for wanting to help people but not really wanting to commit to doing a ton of work to make that happen.

So what’s my action plan to correct this sometimes lazy behavior?

1) I’m going to spend less time trying to “help” a lot of people in a shallow (often via making intros) way and spend more time trying to help a few people in a deeper way.

2) Before I introduce any two people, I’m going to make sure that both parties want the intro and have the capacity and time to mutually benefit each other.

3) If I can’t do either of the above, I’ll be honest and just tell people the truth. I’m too busy at the moment.


Mac & Cheese Productions Goodness | NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS

Fear Experiment℠ is now easier to apply for! Check out the new process below.
Idea Potluck returns in January — check out why we’re 1/2 way to sold out and tickets have only been on sale for a day.
Change in my travel plans has allowed me to add a few last 2015 offerings, yay! Mingler, Meetup and Life of Yes℠ Workshop.


Fear Experiment℠

  • Next round is dance or improv, January – March 2016. 
  • More info and application, including a video that answers all your burning FE questions

Mingler — December date added!

  • The event that started it all eleven years ago
  • 20 to 30ish strangers come solo for a relaxed evening of low-key, no pressure connection-making
  • More info and reserve your spot

Life of Yes℠ Workshop — December date added!

Productivity Class

Life of Yes℠ Meetup — December date added!

  • Un-networking at it’s best
  • Meet new people who are always friendly and supportive and fabulous
  • More info and grab a spot (limited to 20)
Idea Potluck 
  • After two months off, we’re baaack!
  • January is a special edition — the “Nice, Single Guy” edition
  • All the presenters are nice single guys available to date and who’ll say yes to anyone who asks them out as a result of Potluck
  • Want to nominate yourself to be a presenter? Think one of your friends should present? Form with details and to fill out and/or share.
  • Tickets are going fast, grab one now!

Mac & Cheese Productions Goodness | CHEESE-IT DISCOUNTS & REFERRALS

  • You can find my Service Provider Referral List, Venue Referral List, Coffeehouse List, and other lists o’ mine here
  • DivvyBikes: though I have two bikes, I’m a member of our city’s bike share program. See why here. Get a free month of membership when you sign uphere
  • Park Whiz: compare price, location, and amenities for parking all across the US to find the right parking spot for you. $10 credit when you sign up here
  • Gusto: payroll services, tax filings, what I use for all my money’ness; use this link, get $100 when you become a paid user
  • Champion Energy: who I use for my electricity (you don’t have to use ComEd!); use this link and code Shillman9894, get a $25 credit on your bill
  • LastPass: manage your passwords and other top-secret info (forget about memorizing tons of different passwords!); use this link, get a free month of Premium
  • Mailchimp: easily manage email campaigns; use this link, get $30 in Monkey Rewards
  • Kitchfix: delicious healthy food delivered to your door; use this link, get $15 off your first order of $30 or more (see my blog post on why I love them)
  • LYFT car-service: like a taxi, but way easier to use; use code SAYA20 for discount off first ride
  • Uber car-service: like a taxi, but way easier to use; use code UBERCHEESEIT and get a credit for first time users
  • Airbnb: my favorite way to lodge when in other cities (you can also make a boatload of cash by being a host); use this link for a $25 credit ($75 if you host!)
  • Handy: cleaning service; use code SAYA3359 for $25 off your first use. **NOTE: They’re pretty inexpensive and in the handful of times I’ve used them, definitely feel ‘getting what you’re paying for’. Not the best, not the worst. If you use the same person that might help in things like being late because they couldn’t find you, knowing the quirks of your house, etc. I finally found someone I really like, LaQuita H.**

NOTE: Many of these links give me some type of perk when you use them (so, THANK YOU!)


That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed this issue.

Use someone’s services in Smatterings and LOVED them? Went to an activity suggested in here and LOVED it? Have some other positive come out of Smatterings?

Let me know! That fuels me continuing to do the free, time-consuming Smatterings twice a month.

Wanna give me a “hug”? A “thumbs up”? Smatterings Tip Jar

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