You’re Invited! “RAW: Chicago Artist Showcase” at the Metro


One amazing artist you have to see!

Worth A Thousand Beers

About 2 months ago, I got a random phone call from Los Angeles, California. I don’t pick up the phone when I don’t recognize the caller, so it went to voicemail. When I finally listened to the message about 3 hours later, I learned that I had been head-hunted to be a part of a vendor showcase event featuring all independent Chicago artists!!! I thought about it for about 4 seconds and decided to say, “YASS!!!”

Worth 1000 Beers-RAW_Chicago presents TRENDMy very own event flyer from RAW

Wait, so what is this?
This is your official invitation to attend the art show I am participating in, officially called RAW: Chicago presents TREND Artist Showcase. I would love to see you there, and it promises to be an exciting and fun night!

RAW Chicago presents TREND Artist Showcase
When: Wednesday May 18, 7pm
Where:Metro Chicago,
Tickets:

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An Interesting Fact About The Palm Tree That Will Change Your Life


I’m going to share an interesting fact about the palm tree that will help you get through those trying times in your life and motivate you to stay positive and hopeful that things will get better.

KJC

How do you get through tough times, breakups, struggles and disappointment? Sometimes the pain is so great that it’s difficult to understand how you’ll make it through another day. When you’re sad and hurting it’s almost impossible to see what good will come from a situation that brought you so much unhappiness. Well now you can. I’m going to share an interesting fact about the palm tree that will help you get through those trying times in your life and motivate you to stay positive and hopeful that things will get better.

I’ve always liked palm trees, mostly because they’re unique looking and remind me of vacation and warm weather, but what makes them even cooler is the fascinating fact I learned about these trees. Have you even noticed how palm trees bend but don’t break? In fierce winds, including hurricane force winds, the palm tree remains standing. Its roots spread wide and…

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A London Born Country Bumpkin: Fireside Chat With Mindfulness Expert Alexis Bicât


Alexis Bicât

1) Katie: Tell me a bit about yourself and how and why you got into practicing mindfulness.

Alexis: Firstly, thank you for inviting me to be interviewed on your blog. I love web sites that rest on the practical application of mindfulness and well-being in general. As for me, I’m a London born country bumpkin. I spent the early part of my life interested in meditation, yoga and esoteric philosophy. This lead me to Nepal and Tibet at the tender age of eighteen. Shortly thereafter something happened and I spent over a decade away from my intuition, believing that ‘man was the master of his own fate’ and all things could be logically progressed without listening to one’s ‘gut feeling’. Just under a decade ago I sustained a serious injury. This forced me to look for alternative medical practices because Western medical science was not able to help me as much as I would have liked. This process of healing led me back to my original interest in ‘mindfulness’.

2) Katie: Describe mindfulness for those who aren’t familiar with the topic.

Alexis: First of all I believe everyone’s interpretation will become different; but to get someone started I would say it is a particular method of meditation.

3) Katie: What do you like most about mindfulness?

Alexis: It’s practical application in the real world. The enormous weight of scientific research behind it for those who feel they need convincing. And the expressions (verbal and non-verbal) that people make when trying it for the first time.

4) Katie: What are the most important skills in mindfulness?

Alexis: Well the seven skills are there for all to see: non-judgment, non-striving, trust, attention/awareness, beginner’s mind, letting go and patience. Non-judgement could well be the highest on the list. It comes up again and again. People are always judging themselves. Everyone benefits from letting that go.

5) Katie: How can one practice and get better at mindfulness? Why should they?

Alexis: I think the word ‘better’ is perhaps bested by the word ‘trust’. The more you practice (and there is no such thing as a failed practice) the more you build up ‘trust’ in your ability to embrace the still point or calmness that exists inside you. In yoga we say, “You wake up with a different body every morning,” well in mindfulness, “You wake up with a different head every morning.” So once you have built up ‘trust’ in your ability, you are better placed to calibrate your headspace at any given moment. One day you might say, “Wow, my head’s really busy today!” or, “Wow, I seem really peaceful and focused today.” Either result gives useful information and both practices (the busy day and the calm day) are equally valid because of your ‘trust’ in your ability to embrace a certain still point or calmness on an ‘average day’.

6) Katie: How has mindfulness helped you through a struggle or difficult time in your life?

Alexis: It’s a constant thing for me. I can’t imagine life without mindfulness. Someone once said to me, “Life is a meditation,” well I think there is some mileage in that.

7) Katie: How can we apply mindfulness to everyday life in the modern world?

Alexis: I get asked this all the time. I think Lady Gaga’s mindfulness instructor has her drink water mindfully. We are surrounded by wonder every single moment of every single day, so why not absorb every atom of it in every single moment. This is your life. Live it!

buddha-in-the-moment8) Katie: What advice do you have for those just starting out?

Alexis: Start small. You only need to try two 60 second pauses a day to get started. One of my students called mindfulness, “making time,” so go ahead and make some time. If you have kids, lock yourself in the toilet. Set the timer on your iPhone for sixty seconds. Switch it to aeroplane mode and see if you can observe your breathing coming in and going out nice and slowly for sixty seconds. If you get distracted don’t fight it, allow yourself to be distracted just long enough to label what you are being distracted by, then once you’ve labelled what your being distracted by, bring your entire cognitive process back to your breathing. Oh, and it’s much easier to do the less hard you strive to do it. Think of it as ‘letting go’ rather than ‘trying’.

9) Katie: How do you practice mindfulness daily? What do you do in your own life?

Alexis: Everyone has different ways of practicing mindfulness, but mine involves meditation followed by yoga followed by meditation and its usually early in the morning. Everyone is different. Everyone will find a practice and even a time of day that resonates with them to start with; and then everyone will adapt that practice and change it over time as they continue their journey.

10) Katie: How does mindfulness fit into the larger picture of a healthy lifestyle?

Alexis: I think mindfulness underpins everything. If you start to practice you find your lifestyle changes slowly, organically and naturally. We do a workshop on diet which involves looking at the concept of food, understanding what the opposite of food is and then retraining your holistic self to literally redefine what you ‘like’ eating and what you ‘don’t like’ eating. This has extraordinary results.
a-simple-path-to-letting-go
11) Katie: If there’s one thing about mindfulness you want the audience to embrace or understand, what would that be?

Alexis: Let go.

12) Katie: What keeps you grounded?

Alexis: My sisters. No matter how successful I become (as a filmmaker for example), they always tell me, “Yeh, but you’re still a prat.” What are family for if not for bringing you crashing back down to earth with a bump?! But seriously, life keeps you grounded. Think about it. Look around you. Stomp your feet on the ground. Suck fresh air into your lungs. Watch, smell, listen, taste, touch, smell. Open yourself up. Where are you? Are you here? I hope so.

13) Katie: What’s the hardest part about practicing mindfulness?

Alexis: For me, there is no ‘difficulty’ I associate with practice. I’ve organised my schedule and if I miss a practice that’s absolutely okay. For many, I believe they associate the difficulty with ‘finding time’. Well, I would say this. Remember when you hated cooking? Remember when cooking was a chore? Now remember when cooking became an aspect of the quality of your life. Holding the raw fresh food in your hands. Thinking about where it came from. Combining it with something. All aspects of cooking. That analogy won’t work for everyone, but I hope you can see what I’m getting at. Practice is something you will eventually look forward to. You may start with discipline, but eventually it is my belief that you will look forward to it and honour the time and the space it creates in your day-to-day life. Frankly, it gives back much more time than it takes.

Note about the author:
Alexis Bicât designed the Mindfulness in a Day course run by Calmworks in London to great success and demand. Please check it out if you’re interested. 

Our mission is to provide peak performance and happiness in the workplace.
— Calmworks Mission

10 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About The Brain And Mindfulness


KJC

  1. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
  2. Reframing negative events in a positive light literally rewires your brain and can make you a happier person, as can regular meditation.
  3. The average number of thoughts that humans are believed to experience each day is 70,000.
  4. You have a finite amount of will power each day because to exercise will power you need energy in the form of oxygen and glucose, that’s why it’s harder to say ‘no’ when you are tired or not feeling yourself.
  5. Until relatively recently scientists thought that…

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Mindfully Eating


This article is about how mindfulness can help you in your health, diet and fitness goals. It is more about how you eat than what you eat,” says Susan Albers, psychologist and New York Times best-selling author.

KJC

This article is about how mindfulness can help you in your health, diet and fitness goals. Each day I find myself trying to eat the right things, trying to fit in exercise and trying to think about what I can do to better my health. These are some of the toughest and most important goals for me, that sometimes I find myself wanting a quick fix or wondering what shortcuts I can take to get there. Well, if you’ve ever tried cutting the corners with health, eating and fitness, goals you already know that it just doesn’t work.

Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. It’s about being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience when you eat, and the thoughts and emotions that you have about food. It is more about how you eat than what you eat,” says Susan Albers

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Cause & Effect


“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

KJC

A cause is WHY something happens. An effect is WHAT happens. I’d hate to break it to you, but luck isn’t always going to be on your side. So, do you believe in luck or do you believe in cause and effect? Which motto do you live by? What seeds are you planting in your life? Intention and determination are overlooked far too much when reflecting about life and why we might be feeling unhappy.

You’re free to make any choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice. Mindfulness helps you slow down and learn to make decisions and take action based off of deep thought and consideration. Doing this helps minimize surprises and questions about why something happened the way it did.

boat jetty sunset lake windermere lake district cumbria england uk europe
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthy and you continue to make unhealthy choices and not exercise…

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Ego. Take Off The E And Let It Go.


KJC

Not My Problem. Not My Responsibility. The mindset of most of us when we’re tired, stressed out, overwhelmed and disconnected from the present moment. How many times have you heard these words in your life? Unfortunately, probably one too many. We think that because something doesn’t really have a direct impact on us that we shouldn’t try to help solve the problem. But this way of thinking causes teams, businesses, relationships and communities to fall apart. We’re seeing it now in the news. We see too many people not taking responsibility and allowing unacceptable events to happen.

A lot of people pick on the younger generations, but I see their potential. I see them caring, showing passion, standing up for what they believe in and being open to new people, cultures and experiences. We’re so divided in everything we do that it makes it hard to stand together when we…

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Zoning


KJC

During any given moment, do you choose to zone in or zone out? Zoning out is easy and doesn’t take much thinking or presence. Too much zoning out and you might just realize (or not realize) that you’re going through life on auto-pilot. You might think this is a way to relax, rest your mind, or get through stressful times, but zoning out actually doesn’t accomplish much.

 

Instead, challenge yourself to zone in the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or wanting to rest your mind. Zoning in on thoughts, feelings, and acknowledging emotions causes you to become present in the moment and not see “everything” as one big problem. Being present allows a person to see and experience life’s situations and moments as smaller pieces, which are part of a bigger picture. It gives humans the opportunity to manage thoughts and feelings, acknowledge them, let them pass, and…

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Don’t Fall For It


KJC

Don’t listen to people who tell you you’re not good enough, don’t let society put unrealistic demands on you and stop letting other people make you think you’re not worth it. We get so caught up trying to be the best and idream-picture-500x210impress others that we forget to be happy in the moment and practice gratitude for another day here on Earth. Don’t let other people kill your dreams, tell you that you’ll never make it or make you feel small. When you let this stuff get to you you allow other people to steal your joy, and essentially you end up in a constant state of self-doubt.

Life isn’t about how much stuff you have, about how many people like you or how much power and wealth you have. It’s about human connections, making a footprint that’s going to help your kids and future generations and making a…

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Less IS More


11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”

Author: KELLYJ1111 http://fillingmymap.com/author/kjday11/ (http://fillingmymap.com/)

When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we gauge our success as a human being by how busy we are and how burnt out we feel at the end of the day.  We measure our worth with completed lists and we criminalize down time.  We teach this “work till you drop” mentality to our students who either simply give up somewhere along the way or become as burnt out as we find ourselves.

When I arrived in Finland I did not find big flashy innovative thought provoking math lessons.  I did not find students who were better at mathematics or knew more math content.  In fact the Jr. High and High school math classrooms have been rather typical of what I have experienced in Indiana.  And most of the struggles (like students not remembering their basic math facts) were the same.  The instruction and classroom structure of a math classroom in Finland follows the basic formula that has been performed by math teachers for centuries: The teachers go over homework, they present a lesson (some of the kids listen and some don’t), and then they assign homework.  While some lectures have been wonderful and I have gotten to observe some fantastic teachers, I would say that on the whole I have seen more engaging and interactive secondary math instruction from teachers in the United States.  It is rare to see a math lesson that is measurably better than those found in my district and I have seen several that were actually far worse.

So, what is the difference?  If the instruction in secondary mathematics is the same or sometimes worse than those found in the US,  why are Finnish students succeeding and ours are failing?  The difference is not the instruction. Good teaching is good teaching and it can be found in both Finland and in the US.   (The same can be said for bad teaching.)  The difference is less tangible and more fundamental.  Finland truly believes “Less is More.”  This national mantra is deeply engrained into the Finnish mindset and is the guiding principal to Finland’s educational philosophy.

Less IS more. 

They believe it.  They live by it. Their houses are not larger than what they need in which to comfortably live.  They do not buy or over consume.  They live simply and humbly.  They don’t feel the need to have 300 types of cereal to choose from when 10 will do.  The women wear less make-up.  The men don’t have giant trucks (or any vehicles at all, really).  Instead of buying hundreds of cheap articles of clothing the Finns buy a few expensive items of high quality that will last for decades rather than months.  They truly believe and live by the mentality of less is more.

Conversely in the US we truly believe “more is more” and we constantly desire and pursue more in all areas of our lives.  We are obsessed with all things new, shiny and exciting and are constantly wanting to upgrade our lives.  Out with the old in with the new!  This mentality of “more is more”  creeps into all areas of our lives and it confuses and stifles our education system.

We can’t even stick to ONE philosophy of education long enough to see if it actually works.  We are constantly trying new methods, ideas and initiatives.  We keep adding more and more to our plates without removing any of the past ideas.  Currently we believe “more” is the answer to all of our education problems— everything can be solved with MORE classes, longer days, MORE homework, MORE assignments, MORE pressure, MORE content, MORE meetings,  MORE after school tutoring, and of course MORE testing!   All this is doing is creating MORE burnt out teachers, MORE stressed out students and MORE frustration.

Finland on the other hand believes less is more.  This is exemplified in several ways for both teachers and students.

Less = More

Click to see full article and examples