I have planned to post this for a couple of months. With all the uncertainty of where and when it’s safe to travel, and what places are open, this seems a good time to compile my posts of some opportunities for enrichment and inspiration.
Please note: I have not revisited most of the links, and some things have undoubtedly changed. Also, I hope people are able to find ways to get outside that are safe and healthy for themselves and those around them.
Click here for virtual travel to:
Fantastic worlds and their soundscapes
Click here for ways to experience:
Old Time Radio
Audiobooks and storytelling
Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Sessions of world music
More arts and music
Click here for mostly off-screen adventures, like:
Coloring pages for adults and kids
Several areas are loosening stay-at-home restrictions, but for many of us, staying home is still the safest thing to do. And traveling far away for fun and adventure may seem a long way off. So how about some virtual journeys? This is just a sampling of sites I’ve encountered which caught my eye. Some feature videos, some still photos, some simply ambient sounds.
For some armchair traveling to unusual and little-known places, try Atlas Obscura.
There are a tremendous number of museums and historical sites generously offering virtual tours.
Many of these sites I found through my local library’s amazing efforts to keep our community connected, informed, and inspired during this time. Don’t forget to check what your local library offers online.
*Update for April 23rd, celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday:
*Stratford, Ontario’s Stratford Festival is starting StratFest at Home, a series of twelve Shakespeare plays to watch at home for free. It starts on the Bard’s Birthday, April 23rd, with King Lear, and continues a week at a time with Coriolanus and Macbeth, with more to follow.
This deeply generous offering is joined by the UK’s National Theater. They have been streaming performances a week at a time starting April 2nd. I watched both Jane Eyre (now over) and Treasure Island which ran until this afternoon (2 pm EDT, if my conversion is right). Both were excellent, with great filming and powerful performances. Jane Eyre was the great drama you would expect; Treasure Island was a wonderful adventure. And I’m particularly looking forward to Twelfth Night, streaming 4/23 til 4/30. More will follow. Do keep in mind the difference between UK time and your local time.
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare like me, see below.
There’s a wealth of more plays highlighted on Playbill. The plays stream on a variety of platforms, some on more than one.
For drama of a different sort, try out some Old Time Radio productions. I have very fond memories of listening to some rebroadcasts as a kid with my family. VT Dorchester has made an excellent post featuring ten golden-age radio shows. Personally, I can’t wait to listen.
For a different sort of audio storytelling, Audible is offering free stories, “for as long as schools are closed.” There are different age levels from very young to adult, fiction and nonfiction, from classic to very modern – e.g. Pooh through Harry Potter to Pride and Prejudice.
A neat thing about both of the above is once you get started, they’re screen-free. But there’s something special about seeing the reader when you’re being read to. Of course, you can read aloud at home. And for youngsters, Barnes & Noble is hosting online storytimes. Also check your local library and even indie bookstores for story times.
Viking TV (not about Vikings, actually) is hosting “Arts and Music Wednesdays,” along with all kinds of cultural offerings on different days.
That’s all for now. Great thanks to all the artists and institutions making these uplifting and mind-expanding opportunities available to all of us, and to the friends who alerted me to these wonderful offerings.
Check back soon for an interview with VT Dorchester.
*Update July 17th, 2020: the free tour has expired (and so, apparently, have the discount vouchers), but the video tour is still available for a small fee to rent. I took the tour when it was free and quite enjoyed it. There is also an immersive 360 degree tour for a slightly larger fee that sounds intriguing, but which I haven’t tried. And there’s a good deal you can learn about the fascinating place simply by visiting the website.
Have you ever wanted to tour a haunted house? Now’s your chance for a virtual tour, but it won’t last long – it expires tomorrow April 7th!
The Winchester House is a huge, sprawling labyrinth of a place. It was the home and vision of Sarah Winchester, widow and heiress of William Wirt Winchester. Find out more about it here. The place sounds fascinating, and they’d like you to visit in person so much that they’re offering discount vouchers for when they re-open.
News about Covid-19 is everywhere. It spans from the global to the local. Even if we are fortunate enough not to be sick with it in the present, worry about it can seem to be everywhere we look.
As a counterbalance to this worry, I have been gathering wisdom from several sources – some sent to me by kind friends and family. A good friend connected me with an article written March 17th by Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and contributor to The Atlantic. This resonated with me:
“Of course, it’s normal to feel anxiety right now, and while we need to allow ourselves the space to feel these feelings, we also need to give ourselves the space to let them go.”
I found an echo of this from one of my favorite writers: Maggie Stiefvater. Her modern fantasies are lyrical, and her Twitter and blog are often wryly funny while making trenchant observations. She’s been frank about having OCD and how she deals with it, for instance. On March 12th, she wrote about dealing with the news about Cov-d-19, and though her audience has lots of teens, I find a lot of wisdom for myself in her words:
Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater ·Mar 12
I know a lot of my readers are Freaking the Hell Out™ today, so some internet advice from this OCD author:
set a time for WHEN you allow yourself to read news (i.e. every 6 hours)
set a time limit for HOW LONG to read (i.e. 15 minutes)
be mindful of negative coping behaviors that feel logical, but are not
remember that perceived disaster doesn’t give you permission to perform negative behaviors
remind yourself of specific times, if necessary, that giving in to them have made the situation worse overall
set up a daily goal unrelated to the news: i.e., finishing that novel you were reading, cleaning your closet
set up hopeful long-term plans for much later in the year and when anxious, focus on that minutia instead
do all that you can to help the situation personally, and then allow yourself to step out of the information loop until your next scheduled time
if necessary, completely opt out and recruit a friend to disseminate necessary news to you
sometimes this means putting your phone someplace you cannot get it, or sitting outside with the cat looking wistfully over all the land that will one day be Simba’s
Finally: This list isn’t just relevant to this week; it’s relevant to our entire high-paced, high stakes news cycle. Be informed as you need. Be able to step away for perspective and health.
Establish psychological protocols for yourself now and you’ll use them again later.
P.S. teens, I know it’s especially psychologically difficult because you’re shifting from an understanding that adults are supposed to be informed & want to take care of you.
The news, as a complete animal, doesn’t want to take care of you. It just wants you to engage.
And here is more from Lori Gottlieb: “In being confined to our homes as much as possible, whether alone or together, we have an opportunity to embrace the ordinary—to play board games, cook meals, watch entire TV seasons, read books, take walks, do puzzles, get those art supplies out of the back of the closet, catch up with people we “meant to call” weeks or months ago and make one another laugh—precisely because our busy routines have been disrupted.”
This lovely graphic was sent to me by a dear friend, Danila Székely, who is also a life-coach:
Another good friend just today told me about Yo-Yo Ma’s mission to share Songs of Comfort — beautiful music from him and other musicians shared from their homes to ours. Among other places, you can find out more about this on Silkroad Home Sessions. This is a wonderful way to spend some time freed up by moving away from the news.
If you live in the northern hemisphere in a temperate zone, Spring is here. This is true even if you’re in the middle of a blizzard (which I hope you’re not). Where I grew up, March snow is common, and so was the sight of crocuses blooming in the snow, bravely and beautifully. They not only blossomed – they survived. We can be like the crocuses – or at least we can see and be heartened by their beautiful resilience.
Spring is every bit a real and true as Covid-19. And Spring is the triumph of Earth and Life over an adversary far more ancient than this virus. That is worth being mindful of, and worth celebrating.
Wishing you all light and comfort in these uncharted times.