Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Learn your rights, Appreciate Jane Austen, Take an improv class, and Join a chorus.

While you're resolving to lose 10 pounds, learn Spanish, or spend less in the new year -- oh wait, that's me -- I'd like to encourage something different. Here are four ideas that should stir your interest:

Learn your rights
Nearly every issue debated in daily headlines is related to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Are you really clear on what is guaranteed us in these documents and what is smoke and mirrors proffered by someone trying to win an argument?

While our Founding Fathers' guidelines can be an intimidating or even sluggish read, you can take a fun, crash course by checking out, Created by Pat Shiplett, of Evanston, the hip, fun, accessible, and interactive site is ideal for older teens, newcomers to this country, frustrated teachers, and others who want to learn more but were too embarrassed to ask. To make it easier, tune into Bill Moller's WGN radio show Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, noon, when Pat will be Bill's guest.

Appreciate Jane Austen
Wondering what the fuss is all about for an author who was born more than 200 years ago, and has hundreds of thousands of fans around the world and on Facebook? Do you wish you could dip your toe into Austen’s world with a guide who can introduce you to timeless characters and Regency gentility, but with a contemporary twist?

Consider Karen Doornebos’ debut novel, “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy.” Doornebos will be interviewed by Rick Kogan, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, 7 a.m., on his WGN-AM "Sunday Papers" radio show. Then at 4 pm. on the same day, Doornebos appears at Women and Children First Bookstore in Andersonville. "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" is a fun, romantic romp that Austen would have likely approved.

Take an improv class
Are you envious watching Chicago-bred actors on "Saturday Night Live" or other comedy stages? Or, do you simply want to lose your shyness and be quicker on your feet?

Perhaps you’re in business and realize improv lessons could improve sales and presentation skills. Maybe you just want more fun in your life. No matter the reason, you might find what you’re looking for at Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre. On Thursday, January 12, 2012, 3:30 pm, Beginner Improv classes start at their satellite site, the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave. in Logan Square. Check out Annoyance's class list and current shows at 2012 could be the year you’re finally going to fulfill this resolution.

Join a chorus
Ready to move your vocalizing out of the shower and onto a stage shared by other music lovers? Community choruses are the perfect pick-me-up for winter blues and building self esteem. In some cases, like the 80-member Sing To Live® Community Chorus, where every singer is either a breast cancer survivor, or has a friend or relative with the illness, the gatherings also form an unspoken support group.

Melinda Pollack-Harris, a breast cancer survivor who created Sing To Live, suggests you check out their website,, and mark your calendars for their March 3 & 4, 2012 concerts, "Sing For The Cure™ A Proclamation of Hope."

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