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5 Clubs for Grown-Ups

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This week's post is inspired by the "back to school" theme. If you're a parent, you've probably just finished purchasing (or dusting off and sharpening) all the backpacks, pens, pencils and athletic equipment that your kids will need for the upcoming school year. Now you're grappling with after-school activities: which ones your kid should join, which ones to drop, and how to coordinate schedules across different members of the household.

Even if you're not a parent, Autumn invariably brings a spirit of renewal. Just out of habit -- from all of those years of going to school yourself -- you're probably thinking about what activities you'll be participating in this coming academic year: which book groups, health clubs or religious social organizations you'll be frequenting on a weekly or monthly basis.

As you do that, I want to encourage all of you to join a new club. And I want you to reach outside the box. In other words, feel free to carry on with the clubs you're already a member of. But push yourself to try something different -- really different -- on a whim that speaks to one of your secret interests. (By way of example, here's a club in New York City that was inspired by members' love of kidlit.)

Why do this? Because pursuing hobbies in adulthood is loads of fun.

To get you started on your brainstorming process, I'm going to propose some out-of-the-box suggestions I got by soliciting ideas on Linked In. Here are five "clubs for grown-ups" that sound absolutely fabulous to me:

1. Language Clubs - I was struck by the number of people who wrote to me about clubs that were organized around speaking another language. Sometimes, these took place around a meal (e.g. French or Italian Cuisine) or a wine from a particular region. Others coalesced around a film or book by a foreign auteur. But in all cases, you were required to participate in said activity while speaking a language that wasn't your native tongue. Fun!

2. House Exchange Clubs - We've all heard of house swaps. Usually, someone who lives in, say, Tokyo exchanges houses with someone who lives in New York City. It's an affordable way to have a holiday abroad. But some friends of mine are about to join a house exchange club in their own city. The idea is to meet up monthly at one member's home while everyone else browses around to see what kinds of art, music and decor are on display. Then, over the holidays, you arrange to swap homes with that friend. I love this idea -- a way to explore your own city but from a different vantage point. So clever!

3. Fix-it Clubs. One of my friends who lives in Brooklyn, New York wrote to me about a fixers collective that's sprung up in her neighborhood. Here's the website. Every Thursday, a group of people get together and place broken objects on a large, common fixing table. They then share ideas and techniques for repairing, mending, enhancing or re-purposing the objects with "Master Fixers" there to offer support and guidance. The larger social message behind this club is to encourage people to value more things in their environment. If I had even a hint of a DIY bone in my body (and lived in Brooklyn!) I'd be all over this.

4. Admin Club. Another gem. This comes from a friend of mine in Washington, D.C. who gets together once a month with friends to tackle all those dreaded tasks that would otherwise languish on their to do lists ad infinitum. It might be tax returns. Or a gazillion phone calls to the insurance company for a reimbursement. (Gosh, I don't miss American health insurance.) Or writing out 25 party invitations for your cousin's bridal shower. Whatever onerous task is dragging you down, you go deal with it...among friends, who offer both support and company. This club has my name written all over it. (Ironing name tags, anyone?)

5. Procrastinators Club. Finally, let me end with my hands down favorite, which is a sort of gambler's version of the Admin Club. Here's how it works: Upon joining, you kick in $20 and declare a project that you are working on and how much progress you commit to making on it by the next meeting. If, by the next meeting, you haven't hit that goal, you lose your stake to whoever has completed their task and you have to ante up again. (In actual practice, the friend who wrote to me about this club subsequently volunteered that everyone in it continued to be unproductive and -- not surprisingly -- eventually lost all energy to keep the club going...) But hey, they get an "A" for invention. What a great idea!

How about you? What sorts of zany clubs have you been tempted to join or create? Do tell...

I'm told that a great place to find and join clubs of all different sorts is at

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