Yoga fans bowled over by new class

If Streeterville resident Idong Ebong hadn’t already known about Pinstripes, he might have considered doing yoga in a bowling venue something of a stretch.

“I’d never been downstairs [at Pinstripes] until I showed up for yoga, so it was nice to discover a space suitable for a large yoga class,” says Ebong.

Since September, Pinstripes and CorePower Yoga (CPY) Streeterville have teamed up to give the community a chance to meditate and sweat, mingle and dine in their monthly “Bends and Blends” event pairing yoga — and brunch.

You read that right… our neighborhood bowling alley and yoga studio have come together to give us a reason to feel great about crawling out of bed early on Sunday morning.

So far, the class is bowling over neighbors. About 30–45 people attend each class, says Marketing Coordinator Angelina Gradilla.

“We are working with CorePower to expand on this idea and, hopefully, grow to two or three times a month,” she continues. “We hope that once more community members get wind of this, we will see our class size skyrocket.”

If you’ve been to Pinstripes, you might be wondering where in that busy space you could find the peace and quiet required to focus on your poses. The class is downstairs, in a river-level ballroom, complete with mirrors in front to check your form, and windows in back to let in morning light.

For newbies, another pleasant surprise will be the bottomless brunch, featuring waffle stations, salmon and wood-fired pizza — proving Pinstripes is indeed a bistro first, then a bowling alley and bocce hall (and yoga studio).

So how did the idea for adding yoga come about? It originated with the Pinstripes team as a way to make the space available for the good of the community.

The Vinyasa flow–type class is led by Loryn Nigro, assistant general man- ager of CPY Streeterville. The $5 class welcomes yogis of all levels, including those who will take their first class
on January 22nd. (The fee also nets you $5 off the $28 brunch and a free mimosa.) Come for the yoga bends and stay for the champagne blends.

To register for the Jan. 22nd class, click here. Mats required; brunch reservations recommended.

AquaMermaid to offer discounted class in New Eastside

Enjoy a workout and turn life into a fairytale!

Join Nora Kaitis, founder of AquaMermaid Chicago, for a unique and fun filled opportunity to learn a variety of swim techniques — while donning a sparkly mermaid tail.

You’ll glide and swirl through the pool, dive down underwater, buddy up with a partner and maybe even learn some tricks to show off. “Expect smiles, splashes and games!” says Kaitis.

The class is recommended for ages seven and up — girls and boys of all ability levels are welcome, as are adults. Lessons can be modified to accommo- date swimmers younger than seven. Students should bring a swimsuit and a towel. Goggles may be helpful, but are not required.

“The movements are just stunning underwater. It’s a lot of fun,” says Kaitis. “This is your chance to live out your dream of being Ariel.”

The lesson will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, in the pool
at Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, 211 N. Stetson Ave., and will cost $20 per person (instead of the regular $60).

Sign up here.

Start the New Year with a little self-care

After the hubbub of Christmas has faded to a fond memory, most of us begin to think about how we want to live the next 12 months. Should we lose a few (or more) pounds? Should we focus more on our kids? Should we get more education or a new job? Budget better or earn more? The list of possibilities is endless. But often it seems much easier to start than to continue with these good intentions. The same is true of self-care.

Consistent self-caretaking can be a mixed experience. We are born with natural motives to survive and thrive.

However, over the years, many of us have negative and disruptive life experiences that can cause us to become discouraged or to actively disrupt our own carefully laid plans — and then be annoyed with ourselves for giving up.

A great book for the general reader on this topic — Addicted to Unhappiness by Drs. William and Martha Heineman Pieper — offers a user-friendly understanding of this very common problem in life, while providing useful and enjoyable ways to better match your ideals for the New Year.

If you can’t find the time to add an en- tire book to your busy schedule, here are some recommendations you can tackle right now:

  • First, keep in mind that if you stick to your goals, you will feel better and enjoy life more. People actually do better if they are working for their own enjoyment — not just because they “should.” Why not take pleasure in knowing that you really do care about yourself and want to improve?
  • Confide in a trusted friend or relative who shares your specific goals, is a reliable partner in the process and supports you no matter what. Very few people are inspired to change because of criticism — from outside or from within.
  • Pick specific tasks and goals that are realistically possible for you in your current physical and social condition and don’t overdo it (which could cause an injury that might slow your good progress).
  • If you backslide and miss your goal one day, try not to yell at your- self. Rather, just say, “I can try again tomorrow.” (Coach yourself as you would your best friend!)
  • Keep a diary of your progress and look at it every week or two to get a real picture of how you’re doing, instead of basing your progress on one day. You can enjoy the overall progress this way.
  • Don’t give up or back away from your goals. Your goals are good and come from the very best human and innate part of your mind.

Here’s to a very Happy New Year to you and your family, however you define that. I wish you the very best in the next 12 months. And, with that in mind, please feel free to let me know if you would like me to address a specific concern in future articles — let’s make 2017 a good year, together!

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in New Eastside who specializes in children, adolescents and adults. He may be contacted at (312) 856-0230.

Time to battle the winter blues

Every good coach has to keep his team motivated, even in the toughest of times, like January in Chicago. In this week’s column we attempt to do just that — with an emphasis on attempt — as I realize we are indeed fighting a pretty stiff opponent here.

I call it the “Jan Slam,” the post-holiday comedown, and boy it can hit hard — pow! — like a smack in the face. The thrill, excitement and general revelry of the holiday season is long gone. New Eastsiders are left wondering what we are to do to keep away the doldrums of early darkness and extended cold.

But how to fight it?

The key is not “holing up” in your home. Ya gotta get out and about. It’s hard. The temptation to stay in and hunker down with the cold and wind outside is great indeed.

But finding a way to be around people and activity is key.

Try afterwork socializing, exercising at the gym, going shopping or out for a simple walk. Being out and about can lift the spirits. Visiting museums, people watching in the park or while sitting in your apartment lobby can also be effective. Basically, you should do anything, as long as you are around other people.

It’s a battle no doubt. The “Jan Slam” can hit quickly and decisively — often when you least expect it.

So, remember Coach’s remedy — get out there and stay active and involved, and fight the blues by looking the month squarely in the face and saying, “Hey, January, that all you got?”

Native Chicagoan Jon Cohn has worked as a high school coach, youth coach, recre- ational director, sports official and radio and TV sports announcer.

Besides the New Eastside News, Cohn writes a weekly sports column for a sub- urban paper and has completed his first book, Stuff People Might Want To Know (From Someone Who Really Shouldn’t Be Writing A Book).

— Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

New streetlights in New Eastside

The Chicago Smart Lighting Project, an initiative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT), aims to replace nearly all the city’s 290,000 “amber” streetlights with “white” energy-efficient LED lights over the next four years. The change will affect all “orange” streetlights in the New Eastside and will be one of the largest installations in the world.

“It’s going to change the dynamics of Chicago,” said Lakeshore East resident Todd Guynn. “The LED lighting can be very harsh.”


The GE Ecolux® Sodium (HPS) bulb, similar to streetlights that mimick the spectrum of natural light, according to Dr. Stuart Richer, an optometrist at the James Lovell Healthcare Facility in North Chicago.

The city began “test” installations of streetlights last year. Several people in the impacted neighborhoods have voiced concerns about the light they give off, which reminds them of “strip malls” and a “Greyhound bus station.” The city declined to comment on when or where the “test lights” are, only saying about 1 percent of the 270,000 light fixtures have been replaced. (In total, currently 4,100 of the city’s 317,900 light fixtures use LEDs.)

Research from the American Medical Association indicates that large amounts of blue light can cause “discomfort” and insomnia, finding that “white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps.” The research also says that “blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that…adversely suppresses melatonin during night.”

“When you return to your apartment after being exposed to all this high-energy blue, you’re likely to have trouble sleeping,” says Dr. Stuart Richer, OD, a practicing 35-year optometrist and human physiologist at the James Lovell Healthcare Facility in North Chicago. “This is a very, very important public health issue. We’re potentially putting in streetlights disruptive to the retina and human physiology.”

The new lights, which will be funded by outside investors, will slash the city’s electricity bills by at least half, and will provide “more reliable and improved nighttime visibility, giving communities a greater sense of safety,” according to the mayor’s office. Stretches of orange lights currently ring the New Eastside, radiating out from Lakeshore East Park, which uses low-intensity LED lights, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Mike Claffey.

A spectrum of LED lights are available on the market, including 4000 Kelvin (K) lights, whose high levels of short-wavelength blue light can possibly cause retinal damage. “In my opinion, the best thing to do would be to put in a streetlight that mimicked the spectrum of natural candlelight but was energy efficient, such as sodium vapor 2700K or tungsten-halogen 3200K,” says Richer.

In advance of the Dec. 14 deadline for final vendor proposals from the CIT’s nine short-listed candidates, community members are voicing concerns about what is happening in their neighborhoods.

In an April 17 press release, CIT chairman Kurt Summers said that replacing the lights would be “complex,” and that “community participation in this process is critical.”

Even so, only one official meeting has been held regarding the lights (a May 3 industry “networking conference” at Malcolm X College) and no further public hearing is scheduled for the lights, which could last upwards of twenty years — leaving some residents feeling left in the dark.

In a statement issued following the May meeting, the CIT’s one-paragraph response about the new lights did not directly address health or wildlife concerns, and failed to explain where the public could find further information. The CIT simply said it will provide “light where needed” and “light when needed,” and that it is committed to “shielding light and directing it downward,” as well as selecting lighting with “warmer colors.”

Similar installations around the country have garnered mixed reviews. In Brooklyn, public outcry over 250,000 new LEDs led to the city replacing about 29,000 lights with lower-intensity fixtures. Other cities, like Santa Rosa, Calif., enjoyed smoother installations, thanks to an involved process of responding to public feedback as the lights were put in.

Involvement is what residents here are looking for as well. “If I could see what they were, I’d like to have a ballot,” said Guynn.

“In a perfect world, Chicago would ask, ‘What are the parameters of the community lighting we’re providing?’” says Drew Carhill, board member of the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, a nonprofit advocacy group.

— Tricia Parker

How to deal with holiday stress

miller02-01The holiday season can be stressful because of the pressure we feel from multiple sources.

These pressures can be as varied as financial stress, relations with siblings or in-laws, time pressures or simply the complex experience of increased family intimacy – however your family is defined. Most of us have longstanding cultural expectations for this time of year; we long for happiness and fulfillment.

As we spend more time with those we are closest to, we think we “should” be happy. That expectation can sometimes leave us feeling disappointment and frustration. And if you are a caregiver, there may be a disparity between your personal goals and your caregiving responsibilities and commitments.

These relationship-based concerns can be exposed at the dinner table or some other event where family members come together.

How can we make the most of the opportunities the holidays present? Here are a few suggestions:

• Even if your primary commitment is to fulfill your caregiving responsibilities, try to save at least a little time each day to take care of yourself. Consider a little private time with your significant other, an hour at the gym, a good holiday book or movie, or a soak in the tub by candlelight.

• If you can, de-focus on spending a lot on gifts and re-focus on having fun together. Take a walk in the woods or along the lake – something that costs little or nothing and provides time to talk, love and be loved.

• Give some of your personal time to those less fortunate. Doing so can be satisfying and may help you appreciate your own less-than-perfect life. After all, who has a perfect life?

• If the holidays remind you of times past with someone who is now gone from your life, let yourself mourn that loss. Think about how much you miss him or her, then do everything you can to make your life better right now.

• Finally, let yourself ponder the fact that you are alive right now, at this moment in the history of this ancient world, and that you and your life are unique. You matter, and even if things are not what you might wish today, you are alive and can make good choices for yourself. No one knows where that act of self-caretaking can lead.

For those who just don’t feel up to any of the possibilities listed above, get help from a compassionate and skilled helper — a professional counselor or religious guide, a neighbor, a friend, or a mental health hotline such as the Warm Line at 1-866-359-7953.

My very best wishes to each of you for this upcoming holiday.

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in New Eastside who specializes in children, adolescents and adults. He may be contacted at 312-856-0230.

Neighborhood yoga, music classes

Parents, you won’t have to go far this winter to find fantastic, life-enhancing enrichment classes for your children. The North Harbor Tower fitness room hosts two classes that allow kids to sing, dance, move and pose as they learn and explore the world around them.



When you first meet Yoga Instructor Keyla Ortiz, her positive energy and excitement for life, kids and yoga is palpable. A typical class starts with breathing, stretching and introductions, and always ends on a calming note. But what happens during the hour between is refreshing and delightful.

“The kids flow with their energy,” says Ortiz, who has worked with youngsters for more than a decade.


“Feather blowing” (Gagnon)

Ortiz tailors each class to meet the needs of her young students and helps them connect with the world they live in. Through singing, dancing, stories and more, the little yogis enjoy learning and exploring together with their parents or caregivers. An extensive background in pediatric psychology helps Ortiz create and sculpt the program.

“I incorporate everything I learned from my therapeutic years and gear things toward their needs,” she says.

New Eastside resident Natalie Heitmann and her 16-month-old son have been attending Ortiz’s yoga classes for several months. “Keyla’s a fantastic instructor! It’s tons of fun and my son is always happy to be here,” she says. “Everything is age appropriate and is helping his development.”

One age-appropriate activity that Ortiz frequently incorporates during sessions is feather blowing. Kids practice their breathing skills by blowing a brightly colored feather up in the air. Not only does this produce smiles and giggles, but it also helps kids connect their breathing with movement and purpose, which is a big part of yoga.

Ortiz’s classes for ages five and under are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m.  at North Harbor Tower. She also teaches ages six to twelve on Thursday evenings from 5 to 6 p.m.  More information, including prices and packages, is available on her website,



Musician and teacher Nina Marder seeks to “promote learning through music” during her Early Childhood Music and Movement classes, which are also held at North Harbor Tower. Though songs, stories, dancing and the use of various props, Marder inspires her young students to develop a love of learning through music.

Her program is based on an early childhood curriculum, so she emphasizes development of academic and lifetime skills through music. “Through music, they can learn anything,” Marder says.


A future composer (Gagnon)

Early learning skills such as identifying the letters of the alphabet, days of the week, colors and shapes can be mastered through song or interpreted through dance to solidify this critical knowledge. Dancing can also help improve coordination and rhythm.

“Children learn more with movement or through play,” explains Marder.

Her sessions are always interactive and engaging. Using shakers, maracas, parachutes, musical instruments and more, musical exploration becomes vibrantly alive during Marder’s classes.

“I’m passionate about working with children, watching them grow with music and seeing how excited they are,” she says.

Marder’s music classes for babies through preschoolers are held on Wednesdays, beginning at 10 a.m. She is also exploring the possibility of evening and weekend classes for school-age kids. Contact Nina at (847)791-0994 or for more information.

— Angela Gagnon

Resolving Marital Conflict

miller02-01This very touching question is perhaps the single biggest motivator to people seeking couples’ therapy.  No two people can live together for an extended time without periodic disagreements and upset.  But for too many of us, the disagreements lead to alienation that can cause a marriage to falter and crumble. That does not have to be the outcome.

As with raising children, most of us just wing it as we try to love and be loved by our partners.  We have no education or preparation for this most important relationship and often simply count on what we heard as children, which may not have been a very good model for a successful marriage.

So if their relationship is slipping or deteriorating, the wise couple will seek help to enhance their mutual intimacy.  In couples’ therapy there is one precept that is particularly helpful.  It can also be helpful before the relationship becomes so stressed that professional help is necessary.

If you and/or your partner are feeling distant and dissatisfied with your conflict resolution, agreeing on this precept can help you at home as you address your concerns.  Begin your discussion with a version of this statement: “I love you and when we are done talking today, my primary goal is to feel closer and more loving toward you.”

Then the content of the conflict becomes secondary, and both parties can know their primary goal is to treat each other with respect and kindness, even if the problem is quite annoying and difficult.

Should things begin to heat up again as the conversation continues, it helps to agree in advance to reiterate the primary goal, perhaps take a break and return to the problem after giving each other time to think about it.

If you do the above work before you are hopelessly angry and discouraged, it can make it much easier to resolve problems.  It is also helpful to ask your partner in advance “if now is a good time to talk.”  If not, find a time that works for both of you.  You may find that after  you have eaten a meal together conflict can be more easily resolved.

If after many tries that do not lead to more closeness you cannot find a common motive to work toward a resolution, don’t give up.  That is the time to seek marital or relationship counseling.  Three minds are very often better than two.  It takes work, but couples who learn to deal with conflict by becoming closer have discovered the secret of true intimacy.

— Walter Miller, Community Contributor

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker on the New Eastside who specializes in work with children, adolescents and their parents. He may be contacted at 312-856-0230.

How to engage children in conversation

When children have conversations with us on their own terms, it can help make them feel more comfortable talking.

From the perspective of clinical social workers, when we see children or teenagers in therapy we try very hard to help them experience being with us on their terms. We let them regulate the intimacy and trust rather than our being intrusive. This approach can be very helpful in getting to know the children in your life.

art-center-activitiesa-copyLet’s take, for example, a grandfather who does not see his grandson frequently. Understandably, the child, let’s call him Johnny, may be a bit shy.  Ideally, Grandpa will be unobtrusive and respectful of the child’s experience; he would not ask questions that require a direct answer from Johnny. Grandpa might begin by saying, “It’s really good to see you, Johnny.  Maybe we could hang out here a little while.  Would you like to look around the house?  I have a bunch of toys in the living room that your dad had when he was little, and some new ones, too.   And if you are hungry we could take a look in the kitchen and see what we could find together.”

Then Grandpa would take his time, go slowly, and not rush Johnny.

The point is to stay a step behind Johnny and follow his motives.  Grandpa would not introduce his own motives, and he would try to give Johnny whatever he might ask for even if he is a little surprised by the request — unless it might be harmful to Johnny.

For instance, if there was fruit on the table but Johnny asked for ice cream, Grandpa would happily give ice cream.  If there was no ice cream, it might give them a chance to go to the market and get some together.

The point is, if you want to have a comfortable and easy relationship with a child, it is essential for the child to develop trust in you. The more trust there is, the easier it is for children to talk about what is important and, perhaps, troubling to them.

It is best to say yes as often as possible.  And if you have to say no, it helps first to recognize the child’s motives before declining the request. For example, say, “I can understand why you might want that,” and, if possible, offer the child a positive alternative such as granting the request at another time when it works better for both and is safe.  As the relationship of respect develops, trust awakens and the child’s natural human motive to communicate his or her feelings will emerge.

The ideas above are informed by the theory in “The Smart Love Parent” by Drs. William J. and Martha Heineman Pieper. These ideas have been tested over and over and definitely help increase the trust and communication between children and their caregivers.

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker on the New Eastside who specializes in work with children, adolescents and their parents. He may be contacted at 312-856-0230.

Service dogs vs. emotional support animals

Getting to know the specific breeds of dogs that our neighbors own can help us to understand the neighborhood we live in. Urban Real Estate managing partner Matt Farrell — a New Eastside resident and loyal dog owner — places a high priority on befriending both the two- and four-legged members of the community.

seeing-eye-dog-clipart-1“While each building has its own criteria for general pets, many of the community’s dogs offer a service far greater than you may know,” he says.

Under the American Disabilities Act, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

According to the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR), an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), is NOT regarded as a “working service dog,” but rather as an emotional support animal. “Guide” dogs are classified as working service dogs, and are helpful for those who experience vision problems. “Hearing Alert” dogs are certified if trained to alert you to sounds such as alarms, doorbells, automobile sounds, etc.  They are considered working service dogs, as well.

Medical Assist dogs are certified as working service dogs if the dog is trained to assist when experiencing a physical crisis in which you can’t perform a major life task yourself. Mobility dogs are granted status if the dogs are trained or able to provide stability and support for substantial physical balance problems to you.  Other certifications also exist and are worth researching further to understand the service they provide.

Learn more by visiting the NSAR web site at and referring to the American Disabilities Act.

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