Smatterings October 2015 Vol II

  • 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?!
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  • Want to see upcoming Mac & Cheese Productions events in one easy to read/find spot? Calendar here
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We’re having a Bespooky Open House at Bespeak Studios, and you’re invited! Stop by the unique new meeting space in north Lincoln Park and enjoy cider, snacks, coffee, and music – plus giveaways for complimentary meeting time in the space!

Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 (Halloween day!)
Time: Noon to 5 p.m.
Location: 737 W. Wrightwood Ave., just east of Halsted and not far from the Clark & Diversey intersection

Plus, take a look at what’s on the blackboard at Bespeak Studios at Right now, we have these fun workshops listed:

Learn to Play Bridge!
Fun with Feathers 101 (fashion accessories)
Tarot Discovery

We’ve featured a grant-writing class and have Photoshop, interior design, and meditation classes coming up in the future.

If you have a workshop you’d love to lead at Bespeak Studios, definitely let us know! Contact us at or 844-737-MEET.

Check us out!

12 Little Known Laws of Happiness (That Will Change your Life)

5 Things to Remember When Someone You Love is Depressed

12 Tough Truths About Great Relationships

10 Ways to Free Your Mind When You’re Feeling Stuck

You Can and Should Be Eating Banana Peels

Living Near Happy Friends Has the Greatest Effect on Your Own Happiness

Make Sure Your New Chip Credit Cards Don’t Interrupt Your Automatic Payments 

The Best Stores to Buy Any Type of Halloween Candy

DownPayment Resource Finds Programs That Will Help You Buy a Home

8 Unique Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Free Alternatives for Paid Services


We act out of love, not fear


29 Impressive Black Women Leading the Obama Administration

Group behind Longman, Parson’s to host warehouse dinner series

People always ask me how I get speaking gigs, this is a good  read if you’re interested in being a speaker.

Why You’re Not Getting Booked to Speak

Illustrated Advice From Bill Watterson (Creator of Calvin and Hobbes)

Incredible Photo Series Helps Kids With Disabilities See Their Inner Superhero

Ride Sharing Showdown: Uber vs. Lyft
If you want to try either and haven’t yet, discount codes:

Top 10 Ways to Finally Conquer Your Housecleaning

Why Mosquitoes Like Some People More Than Others

Chicago Marathon 2015 funniest spectator signs

I Told the World We’d Raise an Only Child. I Was Wrong.

Speaking At A Conference? Here Are 10 Things the Organizer Wants You To Keep In Mind.

Jewelry Made From Coloured Pencils By Czech Artist

What It’s Like To Take Photos Of A Dying Man

Your Chair Is Killing You. Here’s What You Need To Do To Stop It

#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings

Things you didn’t know you could buy at Trader Joe’s


We Need a New Etiquette for Thank-You Notes

BOOK TO READ (well, to color)

Splendid Cities: Color Your Way to Calm
A coloring book that will relax and inspire–all the while transporting you to the world’s most wonderful cities.

The most splendid cities in the world–some real, others imagined–come alive under your hand. Open this book and let yourself be drawn into a world tour dotted with floating kingdoms in the sky and spooky cities, and taking you from the domes of Moscow to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This journey knows no limits!


The Art of Memoir

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse.  (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told— and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.

Joining such classics as Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today’s most popular literary forms—a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.

One Word, America: Cubs!

If you think there’s a sweaty Cubs fever now, watch it climb exponentially in the next few days

Why You Should Go to the Movies (and Do Other Stuff) Alone

My pal Tina and her adorable family head West! Considering a train trip? Watch this!

Go, Chicago To Denver: Family Bonding and Heritage On The Rails

Author of below wrote about her journey searching for female friends in a new city, MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend  (you may recognize someone! Me!)

What has Improv done for you lately?
PS – if you want to try improv and you live in Chicago, great way to do it for newbies!

“Everyone has something that makes them tick. The thing is it’s often well hidden. Your psyche builds layers of protection around your most vulnerable traits, which may be very closely linked to your precious essence. Distractions are also external: money, fame, peer pressure, parental expectation. So it may be more difficult than you think to recognize the spark that is your personal sliver of the divine. But do so. Nothing in the end will give you greater satisfaction — not wealth, not passion, not faith, not even love — for if, as Rilke wrote, all companionship is but “the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes,” you have to solve the conundrum of your solitude.”

Mow the Lawn

The Best Sports Bras for Big Boobs

If I know you and would recommend you, feel free to ask me to do so.

“I’m looking for someone half-time with the potential to expand into a full-time role, someone who meets three criteria:
-Has confidence
-High EQ
-Has a couple of years of digital marketing experience (strong execution skills).
The role is a cross between project manager and execution.”

This Is the Official New Term for the Pre-Engaged State

A Dilapidated Bank Turned Stunning Cultural Center Opens in Chicago’s South Side

The best things to do in Chicago when flying solo

How the Five “Love Languages” Can Help You Win at Relationships

Disney Princesses Reimagined as Hot Dogs

What having a unique first name has taught me

Japanese Six-Year-Olds Can Ride Trains Alone Thanks to the Country’s Amazing Infrastructure


BringIt Parents - Share Image

Empower Yourself. Be the Parent You Want to Be.
Come to the inaugural BringIt! Conscious Parenting Summit on Oct. 17, 2015 at Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago from 9am-5pm. Two keynote speakers—Dr.Shefali and Jim Dethmer—and six powerful breakout session leaders offer a wealth of wisdom, experience, and sheer enthusiasm. Walk away inspired and equipped with down-to-earth strategies for navigating parenting in a way that suits your unique family. Learn more and sign up at

Use code cheeseit for 15% off!

You Are Enough

What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged?

Chicago is Turning Its Train System Into a Moving Library

What do people who were once paid to be creative for a living do when they’re laid off? They get creative with their own lives. Lemonade is an inspirational film about 16 advertising professionals who lost their jobs and found their calling, encouraging people to listen to that little voice inside their head that asks, “What if?”

All resources for Lemonade were donated. From cameras to lights to flights, this is a project by and for those who have been affected by unemployment.

This Woman’s Insanely Magical Instagram Will Make You Smile Every Damn Day

Check out this new school in Chicago!

Ryan Banks Academy was founded as a coeducational boarding school in 2014 and seeks to impact the lives of students through a rigorous college and career preparatory education, a supportive boarding program, and a focus on personal development in a positive environment.  We teach our students not only the value of education, but we also encourage our students to focus on cultivating their own unique strengths, interests, and passions so that they may lead a purpose-filled life.  We take a holistic view of the student as a whole person, and our curriculum focuses not just on their academic pursuits but also on developing their relationships, core values, mindset, and our students learn how to set goals and to plan for their future.  We encourage our students to take on leadership positions in their community and we also teach the importance of giving back to others.  Our students are not just encouraged to think critically, but also to expand their idea of what is possible by pushing the boundaries of their own comfort zone and to look at the world as being full of limitless possibilities.  We take a strengths-based approach to learning and building confidence, and we believe that each and every one of our students has a legacy within them to change the world.

Mac & Cheese’s jobseeking community is invited to explore internship and full-time opportunities during this Fall’s Chicago Startup Job Fair at 1871!

Free to attend for jobseekers.
Advance RSVP is the only admission prerequisite.

The majority of past attending employers are currently featured in “The Top 75 Startups in Chicago” and “50 Chicago Startups To Watch in 2015”.
Why not sign up today?

More info & RSVP; for all other questions, feel free to send an email to

 Mac & Cheese Productions Goodness | NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS

Win-Win Market


  • Just in time to gear up for the holiday season!
  • A gathering of hyper-local small business owners at Mac & Cheese
  • Vendors win by increased exposure and revenue, shoppers win via opportunities to support the community and stockpile fabulous goods
  • Jewelry, glassware, pottery, essential oils, ornaments, prints, clothing, home furnishings, skincare, paintings, drawings, greeting cards, sculpture, dinnerware, journals, calendars, interior design consults, cross stitch, life coach services, accessories…
  • Admission to the Win-Win Market is free, though in order to gain entry you will need an entry ticket.
  • Any proceeds raised from online or in person donations will be given to Lydia Cash, a local artist who had more than $3400 worth of her paintings stolen at the recent Edgewater Art Fair.
  • For your Shopping Pass and more information, head here

Fear Experiment℠

  • The next round has been announced! Dance or improv January – March 2016. To apply head here. Only two info sessions remain, one on Monday!
  • To get tickets to the show this Fall – storytelling, stepping, and a capella — head here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED you attend a show if you’re going to apply.

Life of Yes℠ Meetup 

  • Chatting with strangers on couches and armchairs about how to live a full life – professionally, socially, romantically, whatever-ally…
  • Sharing of resources, ideas, and overall positivity. 
  • More info and rsvp

Life of Yes℠: Live YOUR Dream, not THE Dream workshop

  • I share personal anecdotes and the philosophies that have shaped my path, encouraging students to have “Aha!” moments and think proactively about how you can get the most out of life. 
  • You’ll leave not only with big-picture philosophies but also small-actionable steps you can apply immediately.
  • One Fall date
  • See reviews, more info, and register here

Idea Potluck 

Productivity Class

  • Last one of 2015!
  • I share an overview of numerous resources (mostly tech-based) that I use on regular basis to maintain organization, frugality, and efficiency, along with tips and insight, to give you a starting point to deciding which tools to further investigate and incorporate into your own life.
  • This class is not about learning the ins and outs of specific tools, but about someone else narrowing the overwhelming field of options and presenting her best-practices and favorites for you to choose which you’d like to learn on a deeper level.
  • Many people get work to pay for this!
  • See reviews, more info, and register here

Recent Blog Posts

For the difference between a Life of Yes℠ meetup, workshop, and camp, head here.

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

  • My Service Provider referral list and my Chicago venue referral list, along with other resources can be found on my FAQ page
  • 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
  • Luxe: Sends valets to park for you, wherever you are – it’s fast, affordable and convenient. Use SAYA for $20 credit
  • Zen Payroll: 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 $10 off first ride
  • Uber car-service: like a taxi, but way easier to use; use code UBERCHEESEIT and get a $20 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 $20 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 handfull 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. The last time I used it, I liked the gal a lot, her name is LaQuita Hayes if you want to try to use her as well**

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

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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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