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We provide fun, educational, and dynamic informal classes including photography, dancing, art, fitness and more! Try a variety of classes with us without an intimidating time commitment.

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Improve your cursive and learn the etiquette of letter-writing, starting October 14. Register online.

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Antoinette Griffin is a certified coach, teacher, and speaker with the John Maxwell Team, helping people discover their strengths and reach their highest potential.  A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Antoinette, used to be extremely shy, which gives her a great understanding of where her students are emotionally when they attend her class, Getting Past Shy. Antoinette’s professional background includes sales, customer service, marketing, speaking, training and more. Read on for more information about Antoinette and her upcoming class.

Informal Classes: What can students expect out of your class?
Antoinette Griffin: Participants will learn tools and actions to get past their shyness in social and business situations.  We’ll discuss and practice eye contact, initiating conversation, small talk, networking, and even how to gracefully end a conversation.

IC: What are you most excited about sharing with your students?
AG: Shyness is a choice.  Although it can seem like a prison, there are specific actions you can take that will help you get past your shyness.  These actions don’t change your personality, they just help you feel less awkward and more confident.

IC: What do you as the instructor learn from working with your students?
AG: I learn that often people from other cultures have questions about what is socially acceptable in the U.S., and what actions one can take to advance in the area of feeling socially confident.

Antoinette’s class starts October 14. Register here on our website.

Our next Kickboxing class starts October 14. Register here!

Don’t miss our new class this fall all about mysterious phenomena in southeastern Texas! Class starts on October 13. Register on our website.

Don’t miss our new class this fall all about mysterious phenomena in southeastern Texas! Class starts on October 13. Register on our website.

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Make a commitment to finish your novel this fall! Join other like-minded writers in our Writer’s Workshop - Intensive, meeting for ten Sundays this fall to discuss and critique each others’ writings. Don’t miss your chance to enroll before the class fills. Register online.

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Are you aching to tell a great story? Take your first steps to becoming an indie filmmaker in our class So, You Wanna Produce a Film or Documentary? Get tips on everything from writing your script to shooting it with your iPhone to interviewing techniques. This class, from Fran Harris, takes place on October 6 - register on the course page!

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Donna Woodwell is a new instructor with us this fall, teaching a class on astrology and another later this fall on tarot. This post is taken from her blog, Four Moons Astrology:

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The latest research in positive psychology is finally catching up with what astrology has known for thousands of years — the keys to living a happy and meaningful life. This is astrology beyond the 12 Sign variety you’re familiar with, the ancients found cosmic inspiration for life in the whole sky.

Here are five ways they used astrology to live life more fully, and how you can too.

know thyselfKnow Thyself

Ancient wisdom teaches that the moment of your birth is imprinted with your soul’s code. It is a map of your character strengths and talents that you need to express to live a happy and fulfilled life. An astrology chart is the ancient’s version of positive psychology used to help you find and follow your own bliss.

MeditationCultivate Serenity

Sometimes difficulty feels never ending. Astrology can validate your experience, as well as tell you when there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The ancient Stoics used astrology as a Serenity prayer — to accept the things you can’t change, courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

storytellingTell Your Story

Astrology is a tool for narrating your own story. Archetypal characters and plots move through our lives at different times. Understanding this “language of the soul” can help you find the words to tell your own story in a profoundly meaningful way. This personal storytelling is a key factor in living a deeply fulfilling life.

flowExperience Flow

Nature is made of cycles of growth and release. Astrology illuminates these cycles at all levels of your life. Working in harmony with these natural rhythms, you can choose the best times for action or inaction to achieve greater success in all your endeavors. Astrology helps you experience this cosmic Flow.

make lemonadeMake Lemonade

Built into astrology are ancient practices for turning even difficult times to your advantage. By harnessing the power of these time-tested rituals, as well as your active imagination, you too can make lemonade out of the lemons of life. Astrology inspires creative, out-of-this-world thinking.

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Donna’s Informal Classes course, Astrology for Beginners, starts on October 15. Register online!

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Use your digital camera in manual mode with confidence and learn to take great pictures when you take our class Digital Photography for Beginners. You’ll be taking pictures in class to try out the suggestions given to you by instructor Carlos Austin, so you’ll get hands-on experience taking photographs with your instructor right there to answer your questions.

Former student Rickey Hall told us, “Carlos is very good about going to around to each student to make sure they understand the material he was covering.”

Another student, Wally Brooks wrote, “Carlos is inspirational when guiding students to create great images!”

Come find out for yourself why Carlos’s student rave about him! The next session of his class starts on October 6.

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A Brief Look by Informal Classes’ instructor Mo Pair

The history of analyzing Native music, and specifically pow wow music, shows a denigration of this art form, an art form that is truly and uniquely American. Here is an example from John Comfort Fillmore’s “Report on the Structural Peculiarities of the Music,” from Alice Fletcher’s A Study of Omaha Indian Music, 1893, in which Mr. Fillmore, a musician in the Western tradition, gives a summary:

The results of the foregoing investigation may be summed up thus: The deficiencies and defects of Indian music are, first, lack of sensuous beauty of tone quality; second, uncertainty of intonation (p. 74).

“Indian” music did not fit Mr. Fillmore’s criteria for music, in terms of timbre and structure. Yet, Mr. Fillmore did laud the Omaha in regard to their rhythmical prowess:

It seems to be as natural and easy for them to beat two and sing three, and that too in all sorts of syncopation and complex combinations as though they had received the most thorough rhythmical training to be had in any conservatory in the world (p. 68).

Mr. Fillmore’s opinions depict the weaknesses in Western theory rather than attenuation of “Indian” music. In music, Western theory focuses more on melody and sound quality and less on rhythmic qualities; yet, rhythm is a powerful force in music, not to be derided. It is now time to investigate further Mr. Fillmore’s findings about rhythm in Omaha music and other Native musics, and to leave behind his thoughts in regard to what he deems “deficiencies.”  For, truly, what is music and who is to judge what is and what is not musical?

Explore these ideas further in Mo’s class, Native American Pow Wow Song & Dance, which starts on October 14. Register on our website.

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Catherine Jewell has been an instructor with Informal Classes for years now, bringing her expertise about finding the right job to our students with enthusiasm. Read on for some of her advice on how to find allies among the people you already know to help get your job search on the right track. Find more on Catherine’s blog.

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After some time of wallowing in the grief of a job loss, it’s time to pull on your big girl/big boy pants and move on. It’s time to reach out to people you already know and ask for help. How you do this makes all the difference.

You don’t want to approach this too directly. People really want to help, but they don’t believe they can. So, when you reach out to people it’s to “catch up,” “reconnect,” and “ask for advice.” Literally anyone can be the key resource in your job hunt. In my job hunt, it took just 2 coffees and 3 lunches to find the perfect job lead.

The point of this reaching out is to get friends, family and new acquaintances thinking about you and watching for signs in the marketplace that jobs are about to open up. The goal is to apply for an unadvertised job—a job in the so-called Hidden Market. Why?

Because employers, like everyone else, want to do things the easy way. If they have a handful of candidates referred by employees and friends of the company, that’s way easier than advertising a job and having to deal with hundreds—and  sometimes thousands—of job applicants.

Your chances of getting an interview are 10 to 100 times higher if your resume is hand carried or forwarded by email with even the slightest recommendation. The person delivering the resume need only say, “Here’s a sharp guy I met at a party Saturday night.” Suddenly, you’re in. You are being considered for a position because you were recommended to someone you don’t know by someone you just met. Crazy.  And crazy effective.

Where do you start to network? If you’re like most American workers, you’ve been keeping your head down, working like a dog the last few years. You haven’t made time to go to association meetings. Your LinkedIn profile is lame. You have had no contact with former coworkers and supervisors. Heck, you don’t even have time for relatives!

Here’s how you start. Make a list of five people you know quite well—one from high school, one former coworker, one fellow soccer or PTA parent, one neighbor, and one cousin. No kidding. All these people know that you are a person of your word, that you keep promises and don’t have two heads. That’s all it takes to start.

Invite each one to lunch or coffee. While you are talking, each of these people is going to give you ideas and names of other people to talk to. If each one only mentions three ideas (and they will likely give you 7-10) you will now have 15 more people to contact! That’s how easy networking is!

The huge side benefit: all this socializing is fun. You are meeting new people, sharing ideas and helping others.  You’re rekindling old friendships and enjoying yourself. Isn’t that more appealing than staring at a computer screen with the same old job offerings day after day?

You might say, “How do I know which leads to follow?” That’s the magic. You have no idea where these conversations will lead, but each one takes you closer to a job that’s right for you. Of course, if you go into these conversations with purpose, you’re going to get to the goal faster.  More about that later.

Try out your first few coffees and lunches on people you know best. After you get the process down, go for people who are well-connected and who are even more likely to help you. But do it.

My clients resist this idea like crazy. I beg them to get out and talk to people. When they do, they always get fired up. Try it this week. Meet with just two people you know and see how it lifts your spirits. So, what’s the most powerful question you can ask yourself to get motivated?

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Catherine’s upcoming classes include New Resume, New Career (October 9), Find Your Passion, Find Your Perfect Work (November 13), and LinkedIn for Job Seekers (starts December 4).