Oh, friends, what wild and weird times we're living in lately. As uncertain and challenging as this all feels to me and maybe to you, too, the truth is - if you're reading this - you're among the most fortunate, as it means you have internet access, a working technological device of some sort at your fingertips, and time to read for pleasure, and I keep thinking that, for so many, these are luxuries. I'd never advocate guilt (that emotion certainly never helped anyone) but I am a fan of gratitude, and remembering to notice what I do have and what I am able to appreciate helps to alleviate any frustration or difficulty I experience now or may in these weeks ahead.
On that note, how 'bout a list of things to bring a smile, offer perspective, or to be of service to you during this time? If nothing else, I'm seeing how connected we all really are and the beauty of humanity when we keep our focus on kindness, patience, and respect for every one of us, and if I can contribute to that energy, I'm in!
For bookworms and music-lovers:
1. Local libraries may be closed, but their online resources are going strong, including access to eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, eMagazines, and streaming movies online. (Louisville peeps: lfpl.org for info and access.)
2. Some bookstores are remaining open while they can, but I have heard many of them are offering alternative shopping options online AND providing local delivery. (Our beloved Carmichael's in Louisville will deliver to customers in the Louisville area if you call or order online.)
3. Audiobooks are a great option for listening to some amazing literature - I'm a fan of dish duty or even necklace-designing while listening to Audible. (And they offer a free 30-day trial for new listeners.)
4. Some of my favorite authors (of kids books, specifically) are reading their beloved books on video - sort of a virtual story time, which is so fun. Oliver Jeffers, who has written so many of the greatest books, kicks off the fun today!
5. Want some suggestions on what to read? I share some of my favorites (audio or actual) books on the Elva Fields blog. Check out the full collection of our Reading Lists here.
6. No concerts for a while, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a great dance party at home - check out our Elva Fields playlists on Spotify or tune in to your local radio stations who continue to support their communities with information and entertainment. (Love to Louisville Public Media!)
For art appreciation and/or making (all ages!):
1. While there's nothing quite like a museum visit - truly, maybe one of my most favorite things to do ever - so many wonderful places are opening up their collections with virtual tours and behind-the-scenes fun, including:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City - a series of virtual tour videos AND tours just for kiddos by kiddos!
Musée d'Orsay, Paris - virtual tour
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence - virtual tour
British Museum, London - virtual tour
National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian), Washington, D.C. - virtual tours
And many smaller museums are offering ways to interact on social media, including local favorite Historic Locust Grove, where staff and volunteers will answer your questions and give you the dish on everything from the 18th-century house to the people who once lived in it!
2. My daughters and I, on a whim a few nights ago, found Bob Ross on Netflix and I have to admit it was incredibly (and very unexpectedly) soothing to watch paint brushed on canvas, creating "happy little trees" and even a tree named Clyde. It felt like art therapy in a way, really.
3. Prefer to make art or create something yourself? I'm working on an Elva Fields option for this, so stay tuned...but, in the meantime, a handful of artists, makers, or just all-around interesting humans I enjoy are offering print-outs to color, projects to do, and fun activities to share with kids at home.
- Raising Wonder (free daily print-outs and easy activities via email)
- Donald Drawbertson (quirky and fun print-out)
- beautifully talented artist Dorothy Shain is teaching art history lessons each week, along with fun projects and print-outs for at-home activities
- another wonderful artist, Sally King Benedict, has created some whimsical coloring sheets to print out and color on your own as well
- Painted Flower Challenge (for you at-home artists or bored-out-of-your-mind peeps looking to create with community)
- A sweet friend shares her homeschooling activities and ideas - complete with free print-outs and free trials to certain learning sites.
1. Even though my sanity-saving, uplifting, high-fiving Barre 3 studio has closed for the time being, I still plan to enjoy classes from my very own spot at home via online access. There are HUNDREDS of classes of all lengths, skill levels, and styles, and a quick 30-minute mindful workout this weekend turned my whole day around. (A free 15-day trial is available now, too!)
2. Therapy (or health care) from your own couch: I've heard really good things about Maven, Talkspace, and BetterHelp, and we even received an email from one of the editors at e-counseling.com, the leading resource online for digital therapy, and its site is full of helpful information. Full disclosure - I've never tried these. I can, however, vouch for the necessity and benefit of sharing my thoughts and feelings with a trusted listener, and these times have led me to do so more than ever. We are not alone, nor do we have to be, and I don't know where I'd be without the support of others who listen without judgment.
3. So many 12-step recovery programs meet in churches and other spaces that are temporarily closed, and I keep thinking about how necessary these meetings are for those seeking various forms of wellness in their lives. While an online app is always available (specifically this one for Al-Anon, with speakers, slogans, and reminders, and most 12-step official websites offer online options) I've also seen several phone and online groups for sobriety support and recovery.
4. Grocery stores are still open and serving their customers (thank you!) and most local restaurants are still able to offer carry-out options and/or delivery for their patrons, which is amazing. Here in Louisville, I know that Rainbow Blossom has had shelves stocked, Blue Dog and Red Hog are offering delicious carry-out options, Wiltshire Pantry (in addition to take-away orders) will take phone orders and walk them out to your car if you'd rather not come inside, and Mayan Cafe is preparing delicious boxed meals for pick-up to keep staff supported and diners happy!
5. Want to help those who can't afford these options for health or monetary reasons? Consider donating to local food banks (Dare to Care here in Louisville for those in critical need, including students who depend on school cafeterias for most meals) local Ronald McDonald Houses (who depend on volunteers to provide meals for their guests and are now having to close doors to outside help in order to keep everyone healthy) or Meals on Wheels to offer food to home-bound elderly populations. Our financial contribution makes a significant difference when we aren't able to offer our in-person efforts.
For fun and cheer:
1. Upworthy is my go-to for feel-good stories that prove how great this world can really be.
2. This guy is my new favorite Italian. Cannot stop laughing at the fun he makes at his own stove.
3. Two gals (Jennifer and Kristen) who are awesomely bringing joy to the world with each of their respective followings one post at a time.
4. This will never not be funny to me.
* Note: This list reflects my initial thoughts and personal opinions - I'd be happy for you to share some feedback, whether additional suggestions for ways to help and connect or perhaps corrections I may need to make to my current information. As always (and as with most of life) take what you like and leave the rest!