Singing in Choir—Including Some Unexpected Places to Sing

Have you always wanted to join the choir but have been too scared to actually do it? While in the shower, do you secretly belt out the tunes to your favorite Broadway show stoppers? If so, you may want to begin seriously considering singing in the choir as one of your next hobbies.

It isn’t hard to do. In fact, there are all sorts of unexpected places that offer opportunities to join choir. Try some of the following:

Church

If you already attend church, you’ve got a head start on singing in the choir. Most churches have choirs that perform during regular service. If not, they may have a special choir for Christmas or Easter services. Check with your local church to find out whether or not you need to audition.

School

If you’re a student, spend a semester or quarter singing in the choir. Most high schools have choir programs, and even colleges offer credited classes. Some schools even have choirs for the teachers! If there isn’t one already, ask around to see if others are interested. You may be able to start a new trend among teachers.

Your Job

Okay, please don’t start singing during work. Surprisingly enough, some workplaces actually have after-work choirs. If there isn’t one already, ask your coworkers if they’d be interested in starting something up. If you can’t gather enough people for a choir, at the very least you’ll have a snazzy duet or barbershop quartet!

Community

Local organizations sometimes have auditions for choir. Check your local theater or other community programs.

If you’re involved with a nonprofit, see if you could raise money for charity by putting on a show!

Friends & Neighbors

Ask around your neighborhood. You might be surprised to find that the couple next door can belt it out like the best of them. Hobbies that involve friends and neighbors really are the best. You’ll bring the community together while doing something different and enjoyable.

Remember: you don’t have to be afraid to join a choir. A good attitude and a desire to sing are enough for some choirs. If you prefer, you can take individual lessons from a private instructor before joining a choir. Whatever you do, approach it with a positive attitude and you’re sure to have a great experience!

10 Journal Keeping Ideas that Will Enhance Your Life


What should I write about? Will it sound dumb? Will I run out of ideas before I even get started?

Keeping a journal can be a rewarding experience, but lots of people don’t know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to decide what kind of journaling you want to do, though this isn’t always easy. There are all kinds of different strategies, ideas, and purposes behind journaling.

My personal favorites are reflection and goal journals, but everyone has a different favorite.

And that’s okay!

1. Visit Dream Land

There was a green robot. It had three fingers and twenty toes, and it was eating a peanut butter sandwich, and…

Dream journals are a lot of fun. Most people write in their dream journals immediately upon waking, which allows them to “get down” every aspect of the dream they had while sleeping. Furthermore, dreams often tell us things about ourselves we didn’t know, and many people have found “dream journaling” to be a rather insightful experience.

2. Record-Keeping

A “record-keeping” journal is nothing but the facts. Whether you’re on a diet or keeping track of the various birds you see, a record-keeping journal let’s you record and store information. These kinds of journals are also great to look back on in attempt to find patterns in the information.

3. Be Grateful

Gratitude journals are extremely rewarding. Write a list of 5-10 things you’re grateful for every single day. If you can’t think of 5-10, write down 1 or 2 things you’re grateful for. Your list is sure to grow as you begin noticing new great things about your life. If you already have more than 10, consider yourself an extremely lucky and grateful person!

4. Online journal/Blog

Online journaling, or blogging, has gained popularity in recent years. Whether you’re using Livejournal, or hosting your own blog through WordPress, online journaling allows you to connect with an audience. This separates it from traditional journaling, which is typically an isolated experience.

5. Collage/Art

If words aren’t your thing, consider a collage or art journal. Cut pictures out of magazines or draw your own–it doesn’t matter! Expressing yourself through art can be just as rewarding as writing down your emotions.

6. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas,

Are you the brilliant thinker? The entrepreneur in the crowd? Use a journal to write down those wacky ideas your friends are always making fun of you for. Don’t hold back. This is the place to express yourself. If an idea sounds crazy, write it down anyway. It may develop into something more over time!

7. Academic

Scholars regularly publish in academic journals, but what about keeping your own personal academic journal? Whether you’re reading Proust for the 3rd time or observing butterflies in your backyard, write down your insights and hypotheses. You never know what brilliant phenomenon you might discover.

8. Journaling as A Gift

A gift journal is unlike every other journal because *gasp* it’s not meant for you. A good example is a parent who keeps a journal for his/her small child before giving it to them when they turn 18. But it doesn’t have to be a child, of course. Record memories, insights, and loving thoughts for any special person in your life.

9. Personal Reflection/Therapy

Therapy and personal reflection journals can be difficult. You might not want to delve into certain aspects of your past or remember the bad things that happened to you.

But it can be extremely helpful in allowing you to move on from those things. Many psychologists even recommend journaling to their patients as a way to work through their feelings.

10. Goal-Oriented

A goal-oriented journal is probably my very very favorite. The premise is simple: Just record your goals–both long-term and short-term–and track your progress. You’ll be amazed (and proud!) when a month, a year, or a decade goes by and you can look back and see all that you’ve accomplished.

Many people like to incorporate several journal ideas into one–and that’s fine! Just pick your favorite ideas and begin journaling.

Do you keep a journal? Has it has enhanced your life in any way?

Stuck in a Music Rut? 5 Ways to Discover New Music

Are you stuck in a music rut, still listening to the same 80’s hair band you listened to in, well, the 80’s?

Oh c’mon–acceptance is the first step to healing. If you love music but haven’t been able to move on from the 80’s, it’s time for a music makeover, so listen up.

5 Ways to Discover New Music (And Leave Behind the 80’s Hair Bands)

Listening to music is one of our most popular hobbies. No duh. You love music. I love music. Pretty much everyone in the world loves music.

And hey, there’s nothing wrong with 80’s hair bands! But there’s a time and a place for it, which means there’s also a time to discover new music.

If you’re one of the millions stuck in a music rut, don’t worry! Here are 5 ways to discover new music.

1. On the Street

Street corner musicians have a bad reputation. And not without reason–some of them really suck. I once heard a man singing an out-of-key song about a skunk. Let’s just say it was not pleasant.

But I also once heard a young man playing his acoustic guitar while singing a hauntingly beautiful melody. I was happy to stop and listen for nearly 30 minutes. And of course there’s the story of the acclaimed violinist, Joshua Bell, who stood in a D.C. Metro station playing his violin–while crowds of people passed him by. Story here.

Moral of the story? Pay attention to your musical surroundings. You never know what you might miss.

2. On the Internet

The internet is a great place to discover new music. My personal favorite website is www.aurgasm.us, a site which boasts of bringing “an eclectic menagerie of aural pleasures.” I’m digging it. There are also some artists putting themselves out there on YouTube, if that’s more your style.

Do you have a favorite internet site for discovering new music? If so, let us know in the comments.

3. At a Book or Music store

Okay, so a music store might be a tad obvious. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for new music, pick up a random c.d. and listen to it in the store. Most music stores allow you to do this. If not, find a different music store.

A bookstore is less obvious. But it’s actually a great place to find music. There are magazines like Paste that bring you new music updates every month.

4. At a Concert

Now I wouldn’t pay $50 to see some random band I’ve never heard of, but most cities have dozens of small-time concerts going on every night for relatively cheap, or even free.

Scope these concerts out. You may be surprised to find some impressive local talent.

5. The Answer is Within You

Tried the other 4 options and still haven’t found anything you like listening to? The answer may be within.

If you’re not liking any of the music out nowadays, then you must do as your forefathers have done and create your own.Learn an instrument. Sing. Bang on pots and pans like a toddler. It doesn’t matter! Whatever you do, first and foremost create music you love listening to.

Is there anything I missed? Are there other great ways to discover new music? Let us know in the comments!

Building a House for Habitat for Humanity


If you’ve already read our article 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Volunteering, you may have decided that building houses for low-income communities is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.

…and hey, I don’t blame you! Habitat for Humanity is a well-established nonprofit organization, and the experience of working with them is more than just a hobby. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in your own life as well as in the lives of families in need.

History of Habitat for Humanity

According to the Habitat for Humanity website, approximately 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless. Linda and Millard Fuller began Habitat for Humanity in 1976. Since that time…

Habitat has built more than 250,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1 million people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter.

Pretty impressive, right? Here’s how to volunteer:

How to Volunteer

Locally

One of the great things about Habitat for Humanity is that it’s, well, everywhere!

With branches in every U.S. state as well as several international branches, it’s extremely easy to find a local organization. Just use the Habitat for Humanity local search to find a branch near you.

Nationally

If you don’t mind relocating for a short (or long) period of time, Habitat is accepting volunteers at their headquarters in Americus, Georgia. On average, volunteers work 8-5. If you’re not a local resident, you may even be eligible for a small weekly stipend.

For more information, see their website.

Internationally

If you prefer traveling abroad, you might be interested in Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program. The program offers an opportunity to build houses globally while connecting with local residents.

For example: the trip to Comanesti, Romania. Volunteers leave September 26 and stay until early October. While in Romania, volunteers will work on a variety of tasks, including renovation and constructing new houses.

Other Programs

Just when you think the opportunities are over…there’s more! Habitat for Humanity also offers the following programs:

Youth Program

Women Build

Gulf Recovery Effort

Americorps Vista: Habitat for Humanity

RV Travel with a Purpose

Beading: What Beads to Use

Let me guess: you love jewelry and would love nothing more than to make your own necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Maybe you’ve even wandered into a bead store only to find yourself completely overwhelmed by the rows and rows of beads, clasps, needles, and glue.

If this sounds like you, pay attention! Our beading supply guide will cover everything from beading materials to glue to beading clasps.

Up first, beading materials!

So, What Kind of Beads Should I Use?

Well, it depends. There are dozens of styles to choose from and you’ll most likely know when you find a bead that sparks your interest. That said, beginners might want to consider larger beads for easier beading. As an alternative, more experienced or daring “beaders” might want to consider smaller beads. For example:

Seed Beads

Seed beads look like—you guessed it—small seeds. They come in a variety of colors and textures. Some seed beads have larger holes than others, so pay attention to differences between individual beads.

Bone

Bone beads are natural and come in a variety of shapes. They’re perfect for creating an “earthy” look. In addition, they’re lightweight so if you’re looking for a light and natural necklace bone beads are the way to go.

Plastic

Plastic beads are cheap and typically come in bright colors. They’re not exactly fancy—not something you’d wear with an evening gown—but they are great for practice. Children usually enjoy working with plastic beads.

Shell

Shell beads can come in a variety of shapes. Personally, I like small whole-shell beads. A hole is drilled into a small shell in order to create an interesting, shell bead.

Semi-Precious Gemstones

Gemstone beads are beautiful and glossy looking. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. They’re more expensive but great if you want a nicer look than, say, plastic beads.

Bugle

I love bugle beads. They’re the long thin beads. You can use just a few of the long bugle beads to create an elegant look.

Wood

Another natural and lightweight bead. They come in all kinds of shapes and colors and are great paired with bone beads to create a natural look.

Artisan

Artisan beads are some of the most beautiful beads available. Why? They’re handmade one at a time by artisans to create an individually beautiful bead. Naturally, they’re more expensive, but you can’t beat the quality and look of an artisan bead.

These are, of course, just a few of the options out there. Beads come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, so have a look around and try to coordinate colors and size of your beads.

Hope you enjoyed this introduction to beads. Stay tuned for our article on beading supplies, which will cover everything from clasps to needles!