Ditching Evaluation

What if- just for a little while today we gave up all that constant evaluation of everything, most of all, our own sweet selves.

Evaluation, while it does have an eventual place under certain conditions, is generally just a form of death in which we give up our choice.

Because if we decide ahead of time whether something is either “good, bad, friendly or mean,” we eliminated all choice and are basically saying I’m not actually here and have no reason to be because I already “know” how it’s going to turn out. And we write off others in their truth and so much possibility!

But part of the juice and excitement in life IS making choices as we step moment by moment into the beautiful wild uncertainty of life.


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

The Page is Your Mirror

What happens inside you is reflected back. You come face-to-face with your own resistance, lack of balance, self loathing, and insatiable ego — and also with your singular vision, guts, and fortitude. No matter what you’ve achieved the day before, you begin each day at the bottom of the mountain. Isn’t this true for most of us?

  — Dani Shapiro, Still writing the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Today, all of us, let’s enjoy our journey up the mountain together. One sacred step at a time. 

The Stories in Our Hearts

DSCF2079Peaceful walled garden for meditation and writing


Join me for a meditative approach to developing your work, whether you’re writing memoir, fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry. This workshop teaches writers how to drop into the present moment with the kind of curiosity and concentration that allows you to make deep discoveries and find new connections between ideas formerly thought unrelated,* and to access material from your own life experience to share in profound and powerful ways on the page. This course is for writers of all stages of evolution; whether you’ve been dreaming of writing but haven’t quite put pen to page just yet, or you’ve been at this for some time.



  • Learn simple ways of deepening your powers of concentration to support creativity and flow
  • Learn to become more aware of the ever changing river of thoughts and emotions which connect with your life-narrative this understanding your thoughts, words, and actions with greater clarity ( unpacking cause and effect)
  • Identify life events which have turned you in some way, shaping your choices and motivations, and how they might be used for story
  •  Explore gentle movement and meditation as ways for developing greater awareness and compassion that soothe the heart and open your writing
Quiet spaces for walking meditation and writing

Each of us has unique gifts, experiences and stories longing to be made manifest. Please join us for a day of nurturing support in a safe, compassionate environment for you and your writing. Light vegetarian lunch will be provided. If you have specific dietary concerns, please let me know. We will do what we can.

WHERE: 1839 S Halsted Street

WHEN: Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00am to 4:00pm

CONTRIBUTION: $150 before event , $175 at the door
(Register with a friend and save $20 each!)

REGISTER: (Space is limited to make this an intimate experience)

*mushrooms grow in community, not as separate entities but part one giant, interconnected organism



Happy Wednesday everyone! Now that Primary Day is over and all the tears have been spilled or shouts of joy sent up into the trembling air around Chicago and elsewhere on Super Tuesday, it’s time to get back to work.

Briefly, you will begin to see this site transformed to focus solely on meditation related services and support as the name returns to Calm Chicago: Center for Mindfulness & Compassionate Transformation.


I will continue to blog here about meditation and it’s many benefits and offering information that will help support your practice. I’ll also be offering workshops and retreats and you can learn about those here too.

Anything related to writing (the other hat I wear) will be found on a new site, Hillary-Johnson.com. There you will be able to find everything about the work I do as a writer, editor, writing and creativity coach and events related to writing both for writers and non-writing dabblers, experimenters.


I also have a Facebook page dedicated to my writing and editing work and would LOVE it if you’d pay a visit there, give the page a “Like” and best of all, contact me to do some amazing work together. My email is: calmchicago [at] gmail [dot] com or you can call my mobile: 312-714-4563

Make sense? I know this has been a lot of change and I thank you all for coming along for the ride. As you know, if you’ve been here before, I do my best to take my own medicine. I’ve been blessed with a period of contemplation and personal transformation and I’m looking forward to sharing more of the fruits of that journey with you all.

Namaste and thank you for stopping by.

I wish you all smooth sailing,




Be Willing

To constantly rewrite your story. Not just a story that you tell to the page, but the story you were writing that is the narrative of your life.
Be willing to crossout, draw arrows here and there indicating possible mis- directions and options.

What you have written already is not set in stone. Not even close.

In fact, who you are is so much bigger than the sum of whatever the story is that you’ve written so far, the things which you have done or not done, choices you have made and not made. 

Actions and inactions carry equal force.

Everything is up for grabs, so just freaking go for it!

If you want something badly enough do whatever it takes to get there even though the process is messy, and sometimes painful. In the end you will know you have done the best you can, and that as Robert Frost would have it (basically) will have made all the difference.

No go on. What are you waiting for?

Feel like you need a permission slip?

Fine then. Here it is:

Please fill in your name in the blank below: 

____________________, has complete and full permission to seize the day, to become whoever she needs to become and do whatever it takes to get there. To follow her passions, color outside the lines. Live the most creative authentic and vulnerable life possible. 

I set me intention for my own truth.


Date: ____/_____/_______


How will you feel…?

 …if you don’t do it?

Whatever it is.

You know. 

That thing that makes you feel like you’re on fire with the same passion and energy that lights the stars. 


If you’re anything like me, not following that path to passion (and we’re talking positive stuff, nothing that’s going to harm you,) makes you feel somewhere on the shit spectrum. Depending on the day this might be merely a mild disgruntled feeling or on another, like death itself. 

So how about it folks. Can we just agree to NOT do that?  

 Because what would be the point? Mary Oliver asks us in her poem what we are going to do with our one wild precious life… It’s an important question.

Here is what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say about it. 

So dear ones…go for it. Seize the day. Leave no stone unturned. Write your story. Invent that thing. Collect stamps. Do yoga. Whatever!  

Be creative in the way which reflects your most honest, vulnerable and authentic you. 

Unleash that good shit on the world.

Now go get it happening. Love to hear from you how it goes.

May the road rise up to meet you.