April 9, 2020 – Observations and Thoughts…
Connection is There if I Am Willing to Seek It
I’ve been feeling fairly isolated and blue the past few days, as I am sure many people are. There appears to be no end in site to our quarantine and according to the news the expected impacts of COVID-19 are massive. A large series of unknows lies ahead. Life as we once knew it is gone, at least for now. We’re all adjusting to a new normal, which includes staying in our near our homes for most of the time. I haven’t been in a car for three weeks. I do my best to get out every day and walk beyond my neighborhood to try to keep my mind and body active. Unfortunately, and especially when I have a migraine like I’ve had the last few days, there is still ample time for my mind to take a deep dive into the pit of despair.
Yet, as I read articles on LinkedIn and news outlets this morning, I saw great ingeniuty in the way companies and people are working to keep us connected. This led me on a search for things we could do from home to feel more like we’re living. Here are a few ideas I found that help us interact with the world around us…from home:
Adult Social Connection? Yes, Please! As reported in this NPR article, “Virtual Beer Pong Becomes An Emotional Lifeline for Workers,“by Yuki Noguchi, a number of companies are using virutal party games to connect employees, like Beer Pong in this article. This could easily be adapted for family and friends at home as well, using Zoom, Facetime, Facebook, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Skype, or any other video chat service.
- Virtual Happy Hour. My husband and I have kicked around the idea of hosting a virtual happy hour using some of the the same tools (Facetime or Zoom, etc). Marilyn Ong provides suggestions for “How to Host a Virtual Game Night,” in her article on WireCutter. She suggests making it somewhat formal in that you should send out a virtual “Save the Date,” include snack selections and even include virtual party games.
- Online game night: Marilyn Ong also provides suggestions for hosting a great online game night in her article “How to Host a Virtual Game Night.” She recommends trying Jackbox Party Games for a wide selection of online games you can play remotely. Game nights can be for adults only or bring in family-favorites for fun for all ages.
- From our experience, Uno, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples, Battle Ship, Connect Four, and Charades are also games that can be played in multiple locations, so long as each location has its own version of the game.
- Trivial Pursuit can be played virtually and would only require one version of the game. You could probably also find a way to play Catchphrase or Heads Up in multiple locations.
Connecting with Family and Friends: I’m discovering there are also many things you can do as a family with friends or relatives who are in other locations.
- For the Kids: Virtual Sleepover. A few weeks ago, our kids tried virtual sleepovers with friends. They used Facetime and Google Duo to make it feel like their friends were right next to them. They popped popcorn and got set up to watch a movie. Our youngest daughter tried to set up a Netflix Party so that she and her friend could watch the same movie at exactly the same pace. The Netflix Party extension (available only on computers) was a little glitchy and we ultimately abandoned it. They ended up doing their best to watch the same movie and start it at the same time, while using Facetime to talk.
- Online movie night with friends or family. Although we didn’t have much success with Netflix Party, Tim Barribeau, also from Wirecutter, suggests some other alterntatives in his article, “How to Be Social While Social Distancing During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” He recommends using Discord, which is a messaging app like Slack, to host an online movie night. According to Barribeau, “On Discord, you can set up a screen share for up to 50 people, so one person can play a movie on their screen, and everyone else can watch it…” As an alternative, he also suggests doing what we tried, which is starting a streaming movie at the same time in each location and using some other app to video chat or text.
Exercise and Sports Training. If any of you know me, you are keenly aware that I have a passion for tennis and that I am absolutely lost without it. Over the past month, neighbors have seen me hopelessly banging a ball against our garage door, only to have to chase it down the street when the ball hits the corner of a stone on the face of our house or a break in the garage. They’ve also seen me attempt and fail to set up a mock tennis court in our street. That didn’t work well either. But, through research, videos sent from my family, and trial and error, I’ve found a few things that might work.
General Sports Training. My latest attempt at keeping a tennis connection is to watch and follow along with various YouTube training videos each week. I’ve found a video series by Essential Tennis, which provides free and quick drills on footwork, technique, fitness, coordination, and strategy. Here’s a link to the first in the six video series: How to Improve Your Tennis at Home – Video 1.
In doing a brief search on YouTube, it appears there are countless training videos for individuals to stay caught up on any sport they are involved in, not just tennis.
Sports Training Tools. I’ve also been suckered into buying a solo tennis trainer, which I just received in the mail. If you haven’t seen it, the trainer consists of a weighted base, with a bungy string attached to a tennis ball (seen in the picture to the right). This allows a player to hit the ball in the street or grass or basement (if it’s big enough) and have it come back to them–much like hitting a ball against a backboard. I had one of these when I was younger and hope this proves to satisfy my tennis cravings.
I have also seen other types of tools for other sports advertised. There are “smart” soccer balls; nets for softball, baseball, and soccer; wiffle balls for golf, softball, and baseball, etc. And, for basketball, a person can throw the ball up against an outside wall to practice shooting technique or practice dribbling in the street or basement. I’ve tried to get our son to try my husband’s old hacky-sack, to keep his footwork up…but he’s not much intterested.
My son’s soccer club and my daughter’s jumprope team have also posted weekly training plans and videos to help keep the kids interested, in shape, and busy from home.
Bottom line, if you are looking to train at home, you may not like the options but there are plenty out there.
Work out For Free – Online. Finally, I found countless YouTube videos, many of them free, that provide in-home workouts and conditioning.
- Dodgers Live Workout Series: My latest obsession is a live-streaming video put on by the LA Dodgers Director of Strength and Conditioning, Brandon McDaniel. It’s called the Dodgers Live Workout Series and is broadcast every Monday and Friday from 8:00 – 8:30 am PT. This is a full body workout, consisting of cardio, flexibility, and strength and can be done without any major equipment. McDaniel offers suggestions for alternatives if individuals do not have free weights, bands, or jumpropes, etc.
- BRIT+CO – If you subscribe to BRIT+CO, each week they push out wellness tips and access to various workout and art classes. Last week, they offered a discount on at-home yoga videos from one of their favorite LA Yoga Studios. Check out their website, BRIT+CO. It contains many classess, suggestions, and links to promote overall health and wellbeing. They also have an extensive library of at-home art classes, which may still be discounted as well.
After reviewing what I collected above, I am struck by how enormous the list of things to do at home is. Wow! I now am realizing that there are so many things I can do from home, and most of them are free…and I didn’t even touch on the plaethera of online art exhibits, museum classes, and the like.
Today, life is very different for all of us. Some may be facing serious illnesses and are afraid to seek treatment in the hospital. Some of us may be infected by COVID-19 or know someone who is. Some of us may have lost people close to us. Some may be braving the scary risks to provide us healthcare, safety and food. Others are dealing with disabilities or chronic conditions and the anxiety that brings. And many others of us are either experiencing job loss or the imminent fear of loss of wages or employment. We have anxious children, spouses, parents. Everywhere fear exists and the unknown is great.
Yet, in the midst of our suffering–and I’m writing this mostly to remind myself–we have opportunity for enjoyment, to improve our health, and to connect. When I’m sad or scared or unwell, I find I withdraw and don’t want to engage in the world around me.
I am slowly learning that I need connection, physical & mental exercise, variety, and hope to navigate this uncertainty. All of the tools above can offer me (and hopefully you) that…if I choose to allow them.
#connection #hometogether #thisiscoronalife #hopeinsuffering