Taking a good class can offer the benefits of both a workout and a community. Some classes, like Pilates, step aerobics, or kick boxing, offer mostly physical workouts. Others, like Natural Gardening, Personal Finances, or Beating Diabetes, may involve mostly mental effort. And some, like Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates, Flower Arranging, Woodworking, and Beginning Guitar, stress coordination of our physical and mental efforts.

Teaching a class is a great way to share your talents with others, and taking a class offers an opportunity to enrich your life by developing new skills and meeting new people, who just may turn into good friends. Every class is also a learning community that features both teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction.

Interesting classes are offered by most senior centers and also by the community education programs of many school systems and community colleges, as well as by many living communities. If you work out at a gym or health club, it will almost certainly offer classes that will help motivate you and make your exercise more effective.

Activity

List three different places where you might find a class you could take or teach. List three classes you would enjoy teaching or taking. Investigate and see if any classes are available in your areas of interest.

A community, as we are using the term, is a group of people with common characteristics or interests who interact on an ongoing basis. Such communities come in many forms, and most people belong to several of them, some formal, some informal. This Web site, for instance, is an online community. A church is another type of community to which you may belong, as is a workplace, a school, a community center, or a retirement community.

Belonging to and participating in such groups offers a vital chance to express yourself and relate to others in productive and mutually rewarding ways. As you plan, share, discuss, debate, and make collective decisions, you reach beyond yourself to learn, grow, and do with others.

But unfortunately not all communities are so fulfilling. Some may have values and practices that conflict with what you value and believe. Some may be tightly controlled by a small group who put their own interests before the group as a whole. If you find yourself in such a community, and you can't see how to change things, you might consider limiting your involvement, even withdrawing so as to spend your efforts in more worthwhile pursuits.

Try to think more consciously about the various communities to which you belong and to consider the ways in which you could participate in them more fully. Which communities are most important and satisfying to you? How could you get more deeply involved? What talents or abilities could you share in this group? If you aren't sure, ask another person in this group how you could get more involved.

Activity

Make a list of every formal or informal community you belong to and rate those communities in terms of their importance to you on a scale of 1-10, with ten being highest. Then take the two or three communities that score highest and write a short paragraph about each telling how you might be able to participate more fully.

 

 

 

  

It\'s often said that we each have some special gift or talent to share with the world. Sometimes, of course, this gift is obvious. The Olympic athlete, the scuptor, the great composer all come to mind. But you don\'t have to be Wilma Rudolph, Michaelangelo, or Mozart to inspire and enrich the lives of others with your talents.

Maybe you have an infectious laugh, a knack for telling stories, for gardening, for teaching, or simply for listening and caring. Chances are good that you know what that gift is. Maybe others have told you--teachers, parents, friends. Maybe you\'ve seen how others can be moved and enriched by your efforts. Attend to that gift. Nourish and practice it. Develop and share it--your gift to the world.

Activity:

1. In no more than two sentences describe a gift that you can share.

2. Tell how, where, and when you can share your gift with others.

 

It's tough to function in an inhospitable place. If your living environment is cluttered or noisy or toxic, if it lacks privacy or essential creature comforts, it's time to take action.

If you find yourself surrounded by stacks of old magazines or newspapers, start now to recycle them. If you have loud neighbors, ask them to quiet down, and if that doesn't help, speak to your landlord, even file a complaint with the police if it comes to that. Wash those dishes. Get out the broom and the vacuum. Rearrange the furniture. Improve the lighting. Hang a picture. Empty the trash.

Start now, bit by bit, one item at a time, begin to remake your living environment into a place where you can feel comfortable, secure, and productive. Make a place that reflects your values and tastes. A place to live, not just to exist. If you can't do it alone, ask a buddy for help. Offer to return the favor.

Activity

Make a short to-do list of improvements you can make to your living environment. Prioritize the items on the list and take some action every day for at least a week. Check off the items as you get them done.

 

Reclaim your past. Don't let it just slip away. Your life is like a novel or motion picture in which you are the main character. Why not write it down, or if you'd rather, get a voice recorder and and simply speak into it. Such a project may seem daunting at first (what to say? how to begin?) but don't be put off. You can start anywhere and just write down the facts in a clear and straightforward manner.

If you don't feel comfortable writing about yourself, write about someone else, maybe a parent or child or another person who had an impact on your life. Or begin writing about a place, maybe a neighborhood you once lived in or a place you once worked.

Another sort of project could be a family history, not about you but about your ancestors, as far back as you can go. In the process of gathering details, you could contact family members for their recollections and memorabilia.

A great place to do this writing would be your Blog on this Website. If you want to include a photo gallery, you can do that here also. By using the blog and the Gallery together, you could produce a digital scrapbook for your friends and family.

Activity

Begin telling your life story in words and pictures. Make a blog that tells about a person, place, or event that influenced you. Use the gallery to include pictures that help to illustrate. Share this with friends and family. Invite them to comment.