So that whole Mayan Apocalypse thing didn't quite work out a few weeks back. I bet you're regretting those holiday binges and end-of-the-year spending excesses even more than usual.
But put that all behind you. We're alive, and we have a brand new year in front of us. For 2013 City is bringing back its Resolutions feature, in which we encourage you to take advantage of all those new-year promises you make to improve yourself. And it's not all hooey! You really can carve out a better life in the next 365 days, no matter if you want to lose weight, learn something new, or get involved. The Greater Rochester area is packed with opportunities for self improvement, and four of our writers have given you some ideas on where to start.
Note, however, that this is in no way meant to be a comprehensive list. Think of this is a conversation starter so that you can start to think about what experiences you might want to embark on in the next year. Do you have a particular resolution you're excited about? Post a comment about it at the bottom of this article (or clicking the "Comment" link to the right).
Learn something new
If you're looking to upgrade your skills or pick up a new hobby, the Greater Rochester area offers numerous opportunities for continuing your education. Below you'll find a list that is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of local educational resources, but more of a starting point for anyone that's interested in life-long learning.
SUNY Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning (esc.edu/distance-learning) offers more than 500 online courses, covering everything from sales management to creative writing to advanced Spanish for health-care workers. Distance learning via the internet can be more convenient and flexible on schedules compared to commuting to a traditional classroom. Students can take one course or complete an entire degree online. The Center for Distance Learning's curriculum includes a degree program in science, mathematics, and technology.
A non-credit alternative is Brighton Central School District's Continuing Education program (bcsd.org/district.cfm?subpage=171). It features affordable year-round courses that are taught by members of the community. Courses scheduled for 2013 include American Sign Language and "Illustrations for Children's Books." This program is among several continuing-education programs offered by school districts throughout Monroe County; check your own town's school district to see what adult education opportunities it has to offer.
The Creative Workshop at Memorial Art Gallery (mag.rochester.edu/creativeworkshop) provides hands-on art classes for all ages taught by museum-affiliated instructors. Adult students can learn something new and develop creativity by learning technical skills including drawing, painting, ceramics, and jewelry. Advanced courses for adults who want to enhance their existing talents and classes for children and teens are also available.
In a similar artistic vein, photography workshops at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film (eastmanhouse.org/events/classes.php) provide world-class instruction in historic or alternative process photography. These courses in early photographic techniques have drawn students from all over the world. A new course, "Spirit Photography," is scheduled for 2013. No prior experience is required for most of the workshops.
Are you looking for a wide range of visual-arts instruction under one roof? Genesee Center for the Arts & Education (geneseearts.org) is located in a historic firehouse on Monroe Avenue and houses Community Darkroom, Genesee Pottery, and the Printing and Book Arts Center. The center offers studio and facility rentals, galleries, and a variety of courses for all ages and skill levels.
Anyone interested in the literary arts should check out programs at Writers & Books (wab.org). The community literary center offers classes and workshops for adults in poetry, creative writing, and fiction writing, among other subjects. Reading seminars, individual tutorials, and courses on the business side of writing are also available for adults, while classes in comedy improvisation, creative journaling, and fantasy writing are offered for children and teens.
If you're age 50 or older, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology (rit.edu/osher) provides a college-like experience without exams or homework. Courses are taught by its members during the academic year and span disciplines including literature, science, history, and government. Yearly membership fees apply. Second-year members with a regular membership have an opportunity to audit a selected amount of liberal-arts courses at RIT.
Likewise, OASIS (oasisnet.org/Cities/East/RochesterNY.aspx) is open to anyone age 50 and up in Rochester and surrounding counties. Members receive a catalog that features a broad range of affordable courses taught by educators at its Monroe Square or South Winton Road locations, among other benefits. Membership is free. — BY ROMAN DIVEZUR
During winter months — particularly the seemingly endless Rochester variety — it's always easier to curl up on the sofa, wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, and hibernate until warm weather returns than it is to work up the motivation to go to the gym. But in the post-holiday season, when you've no doubt spent the last few weeks gorging on a smorgasbord of celebratory food and drink, it's more important than ever to fight your instinct for sloth. Besides, sticking to your resolution to exercise more doesn't have to mean boring slogs to an pricy gym just to get barked at by overzealous personal trainers. It can actually be fun. The key is to find activities that you'll actually enjoy doing. Rochester has more than enough going on at any given time that finding the right recreational team, class, club, or activity for you is just a Google search away.
Keep in mind that this is obviously just a sampling of what's out there, and nowhere close to being a definitive list. Rocwiki.org is always a good place to start for information about what's happening in the city and surrounding areas, as is the city of Rochester's (or your specific town's) parks and recreation department website.
Ice skating is always a popular winter activity, and there are a number of venues locally that offer hours for public skating. There's an indoor rink in Genesee Valley Park as well as a great outdoor rink right in the heart of downtown, at Manhattan Square Park. Check the City of Rochester's website for hours (cityofrochester.gov/skating). In Henrietta, The Sports Center at MCC (tscmcc.com) has designated open-skate hours, and in addition offers basic skating and hockey classes for a variety of age ranges, from 3 through adult.
Cross-country skiing is great for outdoorsy people who love being in nature, no matter what the weather is like. If you've got the necessary equipment, Rochester's many parks (especially Mendon Ponds) provide trails that make for great skiing courses. There are also local groups, like the Rochester Nordic Ski Club (RochesterNordic.org), who offer free mini-lessons and tutorials on how to care for your equipment, if you want a bit of instruction before heading out into the elements.
If the camaraderie of team sports is something you're after, there are a plethora of local recreational leagues to choose from. Athletic ladies with a burning desire to get out a bit of post-holiday aggression should consider joining up with Roc City Roller Derby, Rochester's all-women, flat-track roller derby league. The group is holding an informational meeting February 6 at the Brighton Memorial Library, and the preseason training camp (which is also open to men who'd like to volunteer as officials) also starts in February. See RocDerby.com for more details.
Spend some time in the pool with Rochester Water Polo, a men's club team (though women are welcome to join up) that meets regularly and competes in tournaments throughout the year. Practices are held every Tuesday and Thursday at a rotating selection of public pools, and you can check the website (RochesterWaterPolo.com) for the complete schedule and contact information.
Finally, in case organized sports aren't your thing, dance classes are another fun way to get active and stay fit. Tango Cafe Dance Studio (TangoCafeDance.com) offers classes from beginner to advanced in a variety of styles, including salsa, ballroom, and swing. Many of the classes don't even require that you bring a partner with you, so there's no excuse not to join in. — BY ADAM LUBITOW
Every new day brings with it the opportunity for self-improvement, but there's just something about a brand-new year that seems to wipe the slate clean and set the stage for a full-on reinvention. Honestly, though, that sounds exhausting. So how about a culinary class? You can save money by preparing restaurant-quality meals at home, and you can take better care of your health by monitoring more closely the food that goes into your body. Plus you're acquiring some handy skills; that's three potential resolutions in one! Here we serve up a peek at the cooking classes kicking off 2013 around town...
They call it a "living showroom" at The Culinary Center at Vella (237 Pittsford-Palmyra Road, Macedon), where local restaurant chefs help their students prepare a unique five-course feast. Instructors for 2013 include Chef John Strakal from the new tBones Steakhouse on Monday, January 21, 6-8:30 p.m.; Chef Isaac Borgstrom from Pomodoro Grill & Wine Bar on Monday, January 28, 6-8:30 p.m.; and Chef Art Rogers from Lento on Thursday, February 21, 6-8:30 p.m. Class prices range from $65 to $89; call 421-9362 or visit vellaculinarycenter.com for more information.
At the bar-setting chain's Pittsford flagship is where you'll find Wegmans Menu Cooking School (3195 Monroe Ave.), which offers a battery of classes designed to get you comfortable in the kitchen. (After some hardcore grocery shopping, of course.) Students learn how to handle crustaceans in "Lovin' Lobster & Rockin' Risotto" on Thursday, January 10, 6-8:30 p.m., while "Sushi 101," on Wednesday, January 15, 6-8:30 p.m., makes the popular Japanese staple accessible to the home cook. Class prices range from $59 to $65; call 249-0278 or visit wegmans.com.
The beautiful instruction space that anchors Rosario Pino's Artisan Foods (349 W. Commercial St., Suite 1620, E. Rochester) will host "Healthy Chinese Cooking" with Chloe Kung on Monday, January 21, 6-8 p.m.; a winter soups program with Chef Joel Kraft on Friday, January 25, 6-8 p.m.; and a Valentine's Day dinner class with Chef Brian Antinore and his wife, D&C food writer Amanda Antinore. Class prices range from $55 to $100; call 267-7405 or visit rosariopinos.com to sign up.
Now, if you can't find something interesting to learn about at The Cooking School at Tops (3507 Mt. Read Blvd.), then presumably you just don't like food. The roster of subjects is totally impressive and even includes classes especially for preschoolers, kids ages 4-7, and young people ages 8-15, like a Chinese New Year class and an Italian-inspired class where the students make fresh gnocchi. Class prices range from $12 to $35; call 663-5449 or visit topsmarkets.com.
For more than three decades Dick and Ginger Howell have been hosting their Seasonal Kitchen (610 W. Bloomfield Road, Pittsford), combining culinary instruction with a homey setting. The 2013 schedule begins with the Super Bowl-themed "Game Plan" January 14-16, then daughter/sommelier Holly Howell pitches in for "Vineyard 610," a food-and-wine class inspired by the Howells' journey up the Rhine River. Class prices range from $45 to $55; call 624-3242 or visit seasonal-kitchen.com.
The New York Wine & Culinary Center, a nonprofit venture among Wegmans, Constellation Brands, and Rochester Institute of Technology, furthers its "educate. engage. excite." motto this year with diverse classes like "Great Grains" on Wednesday, January 9, 6-8:30 p.m.; the three-session "Techniques of Healthy Light Cuisine," beginning Thursday, January 10, 6-8:30 p.m.; or "Pasta Making Workshop" on Sunday, January 13, 1-3:30 p.m. Class prices range from $10 to $400; call 394-7070 or visit nywcc.com. — BY DAYNA PAPALEO
According to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, "Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product." So if your resolution for 2013 is to find happiness, then set your feet down the path of becoming an active volunteer. I know of no greater way to find your inner strength, live with humility and gratitude, and leave an activity with a guaranteed smile upon your face.
Whether you are new to volunteering or consider yourself an expert, you can begin your journey as a volunteer at VolunteerMatch.org. This website is a vast database of more than 200 volunteer opportunities in Rochester that you can access as a list, view by cause areas, or otherwise search with specific criteria for Rochester and a larger geographic radius.
If you're a classical music aficionado, why not volunteer at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (454-7311, RPO.org). The RPO website has a listing of its various programs, including ushers at concerts at Eastman Theatre, docents for musician concerts in schools, and office work from data entry to building maintenance. Having spoken with several ushers at concerts, I have found that there is a marvelous esprit des corps.
A rather special opportunity for volunteers of the string persuasion is with "Strings for Success" at Rochester City School District School #19 (328-7454, rcsdk12.org). Robert Faulknor, the school's band teacher, works with Dr. Patty Yarmel at this extracurricular program currently teaching 105 students on strings. Donate your violin, viola, cello, or bass, or get over to the school to either help out with instruction or with field trips, including an upcoming concert in Albany.
One idea you might also consider is having a 2013 party for your musician friends and ask them to help you collect instruments to be donated. Additional schools accepting instrument donations include Hochstein School of Music (454-4596, Hochstein.org) and Eastman School of Music (instrument office at 274-1151, ESM.Rochester.edu).
Not a musician, but want to help kids? For photographers and writers, in particular, Children Awaiting Parents (232-5110, capbook.org) is a great example of where to share your talents. Associate Director Patricia Burks can use help raising the profile of the organization and of the children looking for their forever family. The Rochester office of this national organization covers the whole of Upstate and Western New York, and seeks volunteers to help photograph and write about children throughout the region. Also among their many programs is a mentoring program for children in foster care and otherwise at risk.
And, if I still haven't sparked your interest, perhaps I can recommend getting involved with children at the Crisis Nursery of Greater Rochester (235-5750, CNGR.org). CNGR provides temporary shelter for children at risk of abuse or neglect, and referrals to families to help them resolve difficult situations. Open 24/7, you can assist any time with storytelling, singing, games, meals, office work, and house maintenance. — BY PALOMA CAPANNA