Kneeling Youth at AFI


What are we to make of Belgian artist George Minne’s solitary kneeling youth and how might contemplating this work illuminate something of our own condition? 
You notice the little card doesn’t help us much. 

Let’s discover together at the next Art for Introverts (AFI). Get your tickets here!

See you at the museum!

Art Balances Us


Rise and shine art lovers! 

There’s still time to register for my class on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago, in which we might figure out how this piece of art, this lovely painting of a young woman with a book, sitting quietly might help us ourselves to find a way to be rebalanced from the stresses of everyday life. 

Perhaps she reminds us that it’s good to sit down and step away from the news, to turn off our digital media. 

The directness of her gaze might indicate that she’s speaking straight to us, inviting us to enjoy even a moment of solitary contemplation perhaps with a good book. 

Because certainly with the work schedules that we all keep, the challenges of trying to strike a work/life balance, we could use a little help seeking balance. Couldn’t we? 

I hope you’ll join us. 

Here’s the link for tickets.

 #artastherapy #artforintroverts #artinstituteofchicago #ArtInChicago #ArtAsTherapeuticExperience #learningtosee #alaindebotton #chicago #LadyBoss #entrepreneur #carpediem #ilovemuseums #chicagocreatives #artbalances

NEW CLASS! Art for Introverts OR How not to Feel Stupid at the Museum


 

This class is for anyone who ever went to an art museum and felt like they didn’t quite get it but were afraid to admit this. Sign up here!

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Next date: Saturday April 29th from 1-3pm!

  • Do you ever find yourself going to a museum because you think you’re supposed to go look at great art and you want to feel something but then nothing happens?
  • Do you sometimes find yourself standing there in a room full of art and wondering what all the fuss is about and at the same time being a little afraid to confess that to the person standing next to you, even though that’s your friend/partner/spouse, who came to the museum with you in the first place?
  • Do you think, holy crap, these things are here but I’m not sure what to make of them! (HELP!) Very often reading the little cards pinned to the wall next to the pieces of art don’t really help do they?

Perhaps it all makes you feel a bit stupid. I’ve been there. I know how you feel.

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And so you wander out of the museum, unsure of what to say or do, maybe head to a movie or grab a drink, relieved to be off the hook of CULTURE, hoping to silence that little voice in your head which says this would’ve been much more fun and interesting if only I wasn’t such a dope.

By the way, YOU’RE NOT A DOPE. We could all just use a little help on figuring out how to look at all the stuff in a museum or an art gallery. Seriously.

So- If this sounds like you, you’re going to love this class.

We’ll visit a museum and talk about how to see, how to engage with the work in a way that involves all our humanity, our hearts, our minds, even our bodies.

I promise that you’ll have a good time and you’ll realize you can form your own way of making sense of the art that fits rather intuitively with your own experience of life.

We’ll talk about what art does for us.

Like: how coming into contact with art can allow us to feel moved and connected with the divine.

We’ll start to see that art can help us remember what is precious to us, help us establish and cultivate hope, even in very challenging times; deal with our sorrows, and so forth.

You’ll leave this interactive class able to enjoy not only art in the museum but to see differently in your everyday life.

To appreciate the art and divinity in every moment, every breath. To see that each moment of seeing and perceiving, listening, touching and tasting is a moment to respond differently, from a place of an expanded sense of our own potential for the adventure that is our one and only life.

If this interests you please sign up now. I highly recommend this for loners, friends, first dates, non-dates, adventurers of all types. Introverts. Extroverts. Non-dualverts. IT specialists. Humans. I really hope to see you there, and please tell your friends and bring them with you.

We’re gonna have a blast. 

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You will need to pay your admission to the museum. Please check coats, backpacks etc. You may bring a pencil, not a pen, into the museum and a sketchbook. You may bring cameras but no flash. Depending on the size of the group, admission price may vary. Once you register and we get closer to the date, I’ll send complete details about admission fees and other essentials. You may not bring food or drinks into the museum.

  1. Looking at art can make us feel happier and more connected.
  2. Art helps us remember what we love and may have lost or fear to lose.
  3. Connecting with art helps us feel more hopeful.
  4. In challenging times art can help us deal with inevitable sorrows.
  5. Art can help us feel centered and more peaceful.
  6. Art helps us develop compassionate understanding of self and others.
Materials to bring A note book, blank, lined or squared and a pencil to write/sketch with. No pens allowed in the museum. Admission to the museum paid separately. Members enter free. Museum admission variable based on residency.
What will be provided Supporting handouts, before and/or after class.
Location
The Art Institute of Chicago

111 South Michigan Avenue,

Chicago, IL, 60603-6404

QUESTIONS? Ask away!

4 Ways Meditation Changed Her Life 


Something that makes me super happy in working with my coaching clients individually or in groups, is when people are able to identify for themselves the many positive influences and benefits that formal meditation and (less formal) mindfulness practices, bring into their lives. 
It’s so exciting when people can see for themselves the many profound changes that they’ve experienced. 


Today one of my wonderful clients was able to identify for keyways and what her life was better: 

1. Able to deal in healthy ways with school and relationship challenges 

2. Able to remain more focused and less distracted by worry or anxiety 

3. Increased overall social engagement and wellness 

4. Emotional intelligence has increased significantly, resulting in much more emotional control and resiliency. 


One of the things that I think is so important to keep in mind, and I feel like it’s a niche that my work really occupies, is that frequently people think mindfulness is another item to check off a to do list. 

It’s not! 

It’s something that can be a seamless part of everything we do enhancing our happiness and appreciation every day of our lives. 

There’s only one thing we can control in life and that is our reaction to what’s going on. Mindfulness can help us to drop the catastrophe brain and be happier no matter what.

Wishing smooth sailing to all.


#Mindfulness #Meditation #Happiness #EmotionalIntelligence #Resiliency #Chicago #HappyChicago #onelife #CalmChicago #metta #eyeoftheheart #everydaygratitude #ChicagoCoaching #ChicagoLifeCoach #ChicagoCreativityCoach #SpringTimeReboot #SelfCare #SelfLove

Chicago Creatives Portraits Project


Are you a Chicago writer or artist? Would you like to have a free portrait made in your own space, studio, creative place? I’m interested in documenting the amazing, rich artistic community that is Chicago. I’m old school. Shooting mostly film and working in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck etc. I believe the work is improvisational in nature. There is so much happening in our community of writers, artists, musicians, dancers and other makers and the people who support them (gallerists, venue directors etc.) that makes for a truly special time in our history and which needs to be documented. So, if you’re interested or know someone who should be included, please message me and let’s make a plan. Check out some of my images right here at: https://hijcreative.com Many thanks. 

Daily Practice is Never a Waste of Time


“Daily practice is never a waste of time.” (Sharon Salzberg)

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Even though we might not see the fruits of our practice right away (like, while we are actually DOING our formal practice, while our butts are on the cushion or bench or whatever), we CAN have confidence that the fruits WILL come.

Sometimes the effects might be very subtle or we might not feel it or notice it, but then something HAPPENS! (Cuz you KNOW life is ALWAYS going to give us opportunities) And then – BOOM! We suddenly notice that the way we are reacting is DIFFERENT than it was before.

This weekend at Kripalu, while I was on retreat with Sharon Salzberg and Stephen Cope, Sharon told a funny story about one of the first weeks she ever sat and did Metta practice all alone. She spent the week focusing on her self, using Metta phrases like, May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be strong, may I have ease of well-being. She said the whole week felt sort of dull and boring; nothing interesting happening at all and that she was sort of wondering if she hadn’t wasted a week because she didn’t feel anything special while she was sitting and practicing.

But then life intervened. A friend got sick and a bunch of the folks sitting had to leave the retreat center to go help them. In the rushing around of getting ready to leave the center, she dropped a big glass jar of some kind, sending shards of glass all over the place. A real mess. She noticed that her first thoughts were, God, you’re a clutz but I love you. She realized in that moment, that in the past she would have really been angry at herself and that clearly something had in fact been happening during her week of  Metta practice toward herself.

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Perhaps we are calm when we might’ve flown off the handle. We don’t holler like we would have done just last week or last year. (Like when the cats woke you up at four a.m., hollering for food even though you just got home from an intense weekend. AND, even though you did just feed them a few short hours ago… Don’t they KNOW you need some sleep for God’s sake!) In fact, this did happen to me this morning and I know I handled it totally differently than I have in the past.

In the past, I’ve experienced the rapid heartbeat of being startled awake and muttering under my breath or even actually hollering at the cats. A lot of  God damn it, why can’t they just shut up or be more like a dog and wait for the freaking food to arrive when I get up! A spray bottle of water has been involved many times. In the process, I’ve awakened my sleeping husband, who has the amazing capacity to sleep through absolutely anything! And how does he sleep like that? Why doesn’t he wake up and feed them? I got these cats FOR HIM after all. Shouldn’t he be taking care of them not me! Doesn’t anyone see the terrible injustice which I am now suffering!? ARGH!

I have stormed down the stairs fuming and slammed food into their dishes and wondered in my raging head, how  much longer will the darn beasts actually LIVE! (They are now 18 years old, heading toward 19 with no obvious sense of physical decline.) And in case you think I’m a cat hater, know this: I am not a cat hater. New to living with cats, yes. But I love them and for proof, feel free to check my Facebook or Instagram feeds for copious evidence. Pinky, who adopted me with a fierce and adoring intensity after my dog Tiger, died, has been renamed by me, AKA The Assistant. He actually has his own hashtag. He’s a happy part of my daily writing life. He tells me when it’s time for a break by jumping up and laying across my arm so I can do nothing other than pat him. Put down that pen Mom. And I listen to his furry feline wisdom.

This morning, when they woke me, I was really tired from a day of traveling back from retreat, but I could just empathize with the reality that they were hungry and needed food. They have the communication skills they do (meowing, box and paper shredding Very Loudly for a few examples) and use them well. I was able to have a feeling of tender appreciation of their plight rather than anger. The weekend of Metta practice definitely is already making a HUGE difference. Sharon, my cats thank you deeply for your teachings. 

I tiptoed down the stairs, picked Pinky up and cuddled him and quietly opened the can of food and plopped some into their dish and actually enjoyed the funny sounds they make while eating. It’s like a super yummy sound (think Young Frankenstein) with lots of lip smacking and purring. How wonderful to do something which created so much kitty happiness so easily. Then I crawled back into bed for a little extra R&R. Shortly after, I had two furry cuddle buddies. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Though our formal practice might have felt kind of boring, or uninteresting, under the surface we were changing and it just took having an opportunity (something life will ALWAYS give us) to see that change become manifest.

So have courage yogis! Have some faith.

Look closely at your thoughts, the things you say and things you do.

I bet if you look with a close attention, you will notice that you’re changing slowly, bit by bit.

Your daily practice is NEVER a waste of time.

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May all be happy. May all be peaceful.

Crying on the Yoga Mat


“Mr. Duffy lived a short distance form his body.” – James Joyce

Lying on my yoga mat last night in class, between poses,  just grateful to be there even though I’m sweating like crazy and thinking I must really stink when the teacher, Jessica Young of Tejas Yoga in Chicago (also a friend and killer human being, writer, defender of rights of all beings) comes to adjust my posture. 

Jess is calling out the cues for postures and I’m following along like a dog, a grateful yoga dog, breathing (ok sometimes it sounds like feels more like panting,) and stretching as much as I can.

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I’m beginning to stop being such a border collie and going full out into what could be way too much for me on a given day and accepting the body as it is, day by day.

Striking that blessed balance between effort and ease.

I just love that I can come here and someone else will tell me what to do to help me heal my body and my spirit, my heart and my mind. An hour or more of asanas, one after the next after the next. Lots of sweating.

Finally, the rest pose, corpse pose, savasana. And I love that Jess clicks on the AC , “to take the edge off.” I pull a blanket over my body with deep gratitude. Savasana is often an emotional time for me. Whatever has been under the surface comes bubbling up.

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I love that yoga class ends with this. Well it doesn’t “End” with it but it does marks the beginning of the end of each and every class.

Corpse pose, letting everything fall away and down, the brain resting in the back of the head, the eyeballs falling into the little craters in my face, the occipital orbits.

And the breath just happening on its own, letting go of all effort-fulness.

So last night, I’m lying there, suddenly my husband’s words about gentleness and living gently come to me and I’m crying; the tears leaking out of eyes and running into my ears. I don’t move but let them come. I let go even of worry and analysis.

I’m feeling grateful for his presence and what feels like a total softening of our whole thing together. I wonder if it’s all the Metta practice I’ve been up to lately or all the shit that’s come down in the last weeks or so, but I guess I don’t really have to know. I can tell you this: We have both lived our lives util we knew each other, under a great deal of duress and extremes which are next to the words in the dictionary: not gentle living. (if that was a real entry)

It feels good this gentleness. Like crazy good. Like we are finally relaxing into who we really are, deep inside. Healing the wounds. Developing the gifts. But that’s another idea for later.

After corpse pose, there’s the rolling over to the side into a fetal position and taking breaths there and when ready, allowing yourself to be born again, using the strength of the arms and the breath to press yourself up into a sitting posture. Then Om Shanti Shanti Shanti, and final gratitude and wishes for all beings to find peace. 

I love being reborn every time I unroll my mat. Where else can I get that?

I end class with this. So simple yet challenging to live out fully: Committing to being here each moment as it is, but really being here instead of a short distance away.

I wish you well.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Hillary