Staying Socially Connected While Physically Distancing

In this crazy time of lockdowns and social distancing rules, it is vital to do our best to stay connected socially. Not being able to interact with friends, family, and co-workers, as usual, is hard for everyone. The silver lining in this situation is that many of us have a lot more time on our hands. Let’s use this time to ensure we all stay connected socially despite the distance between us. We have a few ideas for how we can all stay connected and feel linked to others through this time.

Video calls: Having a morning coffee date with your mother or best friend via skype/messenger or other video platforms is a great way to spend time with your favourite people. Set up a virtual happy hour in the evening and catch up with a friend over a glass of wine via video call. Whatever you can do to keep a connection with others will help bring a sense of normalcy to your days.

Help Out: At this time, the most important thing we can do is protect our most vulnerable from this disease. That means the elderly and immune-compromised must stay safely in their homes. We can help them do this by offering to collect their groceries for them, dropping a card in their letterbox, and also giving them a daily call to check in on them. By helping others and contributing to their wellbeing, we feel more useful and connected to our society in this challenging period.

Online forums: Many of us have forgotten these online forums still exist. But, the need to feel connected has reignited many online discussions based around interest groups. Find a forum or two where like-minded people are gathering and join in the banter. Our only caveat is to be wary of any groups sharing inaccurate or harmful information about the pandemic situation. If the group descends into the realms of weird or uncomfortable or offensive, simply leave the discussion and find another group

Connect with nature: While some of us may be limited to staying close to home, we all can take a step outside for some fresh air. Take some time each day to get outside, feel the sun on your face, listen to the birds, and perhaps feel the grass under your bare feet (for the lucky ones who still can).

Write To Someone: Now is the perfect time to reach out and reconnect with people you have lost contact with over the years. Send an email or letter to an elderly aunt or an old high school friend. Write an email to someone you know in the healthcare services, thanking them for their hard work.

Even connecting virtually can change our mood for the better. Connecting with others lets them know they are important to us, and we want them to be safe and feel supported. We all have enough time to make an effort to reach out, so let’s do it.

I get by with a little help from my friends

– The Beatles

We Are Waves Of The Same Sea; We Are In This Pandemic Together

Last week the Chinese electronics company, Xiaomi, donated tens of thousands of facemasks to the Italian government. And, in the most touching display of solidarity from one country suffering the impact of the coronavirus to another, the boxes were labeled with the words of the ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca:

We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden.

Siamo onde dello stesso mare, foglie dello stesso albero, fiori dello stesso giardino 

Someone involved in this donation decided to add these perfect words to every box of masks, and the ripples of kindness spread across the world. 

In this time of global panic, it is too easy to isolate ourselves and pursue a purely selfish attitude of putting ourselves and our needs first. This is not the time to try to hoard essentials or procure vaccines exclusively for one country. This is not the time to place blame on other nations’ citizens and accuse them of ‘seeding this virus in our land’.

Now, more than ever, is the time for the world to be together in solidarity, facing a common foe. It is time to work on defeating this virus together. 

It is the time to offer support, kindness and patience to others. 

It is the time to stubbornly refuse to give in to the worst of human nature. 

It is the time to stand together, resilient, and with a determination that we will get through this – together.

Take a breath, take care of yourself and your family. Then look out your door to others in your circle who need help. Check on your friends, family, and neighbours.

We know there is a need to keep a physical distance, but this should not mean that anyone is left socially isolated. We all live in a community, and this is the time when the most vulnerable in society need the most community support; the elderly, the sick, the young mother with a newborn baby, the newly arrived immigrant, the worried teenager, the laid-off hospitality worker, and the exhausted nurse. 

We urge you to look for the little ways you can help those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how you can help them. We must remember that it is a basic human need to be connected, and therefore, it is essential that no one feels disconnected or on their own in this pandemic. We are in this together, as a world, as a human race. Seneca, the philosopher, had another quote that seems particularly fitting for this difficult time: 

“There is no great credit in behaving bravely in times of prosperity when life glides easily with a favoring current, neither does a calm sea and fair wind display the art of the pilot. Some foul weather is wanted to prove his courage.”

Seneca reminds us that it is through the hardest times that the best of our human nature can shine. Let us, therefore, shine with kindness, compassion, and community as we set the path together through these unsettling times.

There is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.  

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Nine Armchair Travel Books To Indulge Your Inner Wanderlust Without Leaving Your Sofa

Unfortunately, this current pandemic has brought future travel plans to an abrupt halt. And, it goes without saying that cruise ships are most definitely off the bucket list for now. But, what is the option when you still have itchy feet and an insatiable form of wanderlust? Our solution to this problem is to dive into the world of armchair travel. We have rounded up our pick of travel books that are guaranteed to transport you to another world right from the comfort of your living room chair – no travel insurance or face masks needed. 

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places 

Published by National Geographic, this beautiful book that allows you to travel vicariously around the world, transported by incredible photography tour of the world’s most magnificent locations. Put your feet up and discover the joys of armchair travel as you escape into vivid images and get lost in enlightening stories that will transport you to another world. And, when the travel world gets back to normal, you will have more than enough ideas and inspirations to feed your wanderlust for real.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time – Mark Adams

This adventure travel story carries us along the journey retracing the footsteps of explorer Haram Bingham’s expedition through the Andes Mountains when he discovered Machu Picchu. The author recreates the trip with an Australian trekking guide as his companion. The result is a book filled with humorous anecdotes, misadventures, and stories of cultural quirkiness mixed with tourist idiocy. 

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones – Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain was the expert at turning travel into a delectable feast. With stories arranged by taste: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami – this book is an adventurous journey of Michelin rated venues and off-the-beaten-path jewels. A fantastic armchair travel book from a man who was passionate about the pleasures of life and food and loved to share them. 

The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coehlo

Follow Coehlo along his pilgrimage to Santiago, written as a parable to finding one’s own path; this book is part travel-log and part guide to self-discovery. The Pilgrimage is a reminder that life is brilliant and that we are capable of more than we think we are. 

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World – Eric Weiner

Discover with a surprise which places are the happiest on Earth as Weiner sets out on a discovery tour of joy around the world. A part travel memoir, part comedy, and part twisted self-help guide this book is a unique mix of well-researched stories and humor. Learn something about both the world and about happiness right from the comfort of your living room. 

Travel as a Political Act – How To Leave Your Baggage Behind – Rick Steves

Rick Steves, in his unique way, shares how travel has given him new perspectives on the political and social challenges of our time. Taking us off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps, he opens up the everyday world of each of the places in his book. In these uncertain times, this book will certainly give you food for thought until we can travel easily again!

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs – Elaine Sciolino

This unusual travel book written by the NYTimes Paris bureau chief is written from her perspective as an American journalist living long-term in Paris. Through her pointed observations, she shares the history and culture of her neighborhood in the heart of Paris. This book is a must for any Francophile, history buff, or food-lover wanting to escape for a few hours into the heart of the French capital.  

La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World – Dianne Hales

An excellent travel novel can not only transport you to another world, but also teach you more about the culture, traditions, and people. Hales’ La Passione does precisely this by taking you by the hand and leading you on an adventure through Italy. Along the way, she shows us how Italians have been one of the biggest influences on our world in terms of culture, art, and beauty. This book is filled with fun facts, racy and scandalous stories, and many laugh-out-loud tales, and is a must-read on your armchair travel list. 

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders – Joshua Foer

Atlas Obscura is the perfect book for reminding us that the world is a weird and wonderful place full of obscure, bizarre, and unusual things. Take a trip via this book to some of the most extraordinary places, objects, and monuments that you didn’t know you wanted to find, but that you definitely need to know about. Atlas Obscura is, oddly, the perfect travel book/blog for these times of restricted travel; filled with sites that fit that odd category of good to know they exist somewhere, but don’t feel the need to see them in person. 

We wish you safe armchair travel adventures and hope you will find many inspiring stories on the list we have put together.

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.

― Anna Quindlen