AFTER READING THIS POST, YOU WON’T BE BORED ANYMORE!
I just spent the week ferreting out some of the incredibly inspired ways to stretch yourself during isolation. And I’m happy to say, that you won’t even be able to find the time to check out all of these fabulous and creative resources. There is literally, something for everyone!
I’ve collected some great podcasts, online courses to stretch you mind, incredible “virtual experiences” from around the world, and even a few hobby-type options too.
Even a Broadway show… (this pic is from the night before the 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade – here’s the link to the Traveling Wolves Journal Entry: An Historic Thanksgiving Vacation – Plymouth, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Mt. Vernon)
Let’s get started with all the fabulous “stuff” you can do while you’re stuck at home.
SO WE CAN’T ACTUALLY “GO” ANYWHERE, BUT WE CAN “GO VIRTUAL”!
Many Americans have cancelled their vacation plans. Some hadn’t even had a chance to plan their Summer getaways yet, and were still “reading the brochures”. It really stinks, I know, but I’ve found a very cool way for you to start traveling… like today. No bags to pack, no aggravating airport delays. Just wait till you see all the inspired ways to stretch yourself, like on a tropical beach!
Just mix yourself a Margarita and hit the beach! Or perhaps a chilled cucumber-infused water as you tour the Uffizy in Florence. Or grab a beer and pretzels and watch a Formula One race! Let me show you some of the fabulous places you can visit from your deck chair!
LET’S HIT A FEW BEACHES, ZOOS & AQUARIUMS FIRST, SHALL WE?
The Palm Beaches
One of the United States’ top stretches of sand resides among mansions on Long Island’s south shore. Tune in to see placid waters on their live beach cams.
Pick your preferred beach among Greater Fort Lauderdale’s live cameras, whether it’s the scenic surf of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea or the airboat-lined Everglades.
NOW FOR A FEW ZOOS and AQUARIUM TOURS…
San Diego Zoo
Get an up-close look the more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals with the zoo’s live cams. Peek at the African penguins, giraffes, tigers and more 24 hours a day. There’s something calming about watching a leopard hanging up on a branch sleeping. Even though the panda mom-and-son pair Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu returned to China, the zoo offers archival footage of the bears.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The zoo hosts Home Safari Facebook Lives daily at 3 p.m. EDT that introduce you to residents like darling little Fiona, who was born in 2017 six weeks premature — she was the smallest hippo ever to survive. But don’t worry if you miss it, the videos get posted on the zoo’s YouTube channel too.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
While the playful sea otters undoubtedly are stars among the live feeds at this oceanfront facility, the neon jellyfish undulating against the electric-blue background come a close second.
Take a break from working at home and pop over to this Chattanooga aquarium’s site to coo over sea otters bobbing around in the water and penguins waddling around rocks. It’s loads of fun and can be really hysterical.
CAN’T BOOGIE? FABULOUS MUSIC IS JUST A CLICK AWAY
Is this really one of the inspired ways to stretch yourself? Of course!
D-Nice’s Homeschool at Club Quarantine
The hottest dance party takes place on DJ Derrick Jones’ Instagram Live. The marathon spin sessions from his L.A. home draw in upwards of 100,000 viewers, including Jennifer Lopez, Bradley Cooper, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders. You can’t help but get up and boogie with his blend of feel-good R&B (The Jets’ “Crush on You”), hip-hop (Drake’s “Passionfruit”), electronic (Black Coffee and Bucie’s “Superman”) and more. The whole vibe is actually really cool, although it’s not my kind of music.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Opera
Channel your inner calm with Mindful Music Moments, guided meditation set to pieces from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera. You can Sign up for 10 free weeks of daily sessions. It’s a little too calm for me, but…
Together at Home
Follow the Global Citizen Instagram account for casual livestream concerts from top musicians hanging out at home. It makes for genuine moments: Ziggy Marley’s adorable kids accompany him on “One Love,” and John Legend in a robe and wife Chrissy Teigen in a towel sing “Beauty and the Beast” with their daughter Luna.
In stressful times, the symphony provides solace and hope with broadcasts and live streams Thursdays and Saturdays. Check here for upcoming performances.
AN INSPIRED WAY TO STRETCH YOURSELF – THEATER ANYONE?
The Metropolitan Opera
Watch some of the best performances (including Wagner’s “Ring” cycle) from New York’s revered company as it streams encores from its Live in HD series nightly. Every show will be available from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day.
Although Broadway went dark, you can still see shows that lit up the stage. Stream favorites on Broadway HD (Kinky Boots, Miss Saigon) and Amazon Prime (Falsettos, Newsies). The former also is offering a complimentary seven-week trial.
HOW ABOUT A LITTLE ART APPRECIATION?
One of the very best inspired ways to stretch yourself is a visit to a museum! Here’s just a few that have “virtual experiences” available.
The British Museum
Take an interactive online tour of The British Museum in London, whose collection spans more than 2 million years of history. Start by selecting a genre like Art and Design or Power and Identity. Then click one of the objects for a written summary and expert audio insights.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
This gallery houses the art collection of the Medicis inside a 16th-century building. Online, there are four exhibitions that take viewers through various works, explaining their significance and showing close-ups of important details within the paintings. See such works as Piero di Cosimo’s Perseus Freeing Andromeda like never before. H.H. and I spent all day wandering these incredible halls! artsandculture.google.com/partner/uffizi-gallery
Art Institute of Chicago
Peruse thousands of world-class works on the museum’s website. TIP: Clicking the “Multimedia” tab for additional resources allows you to zoom in. Imagine marveling at Monet’s Water Lilies brushstrokes. Or finding out that Grand Wood’s dentist and sister posed for American Gothic. Who knew?
Museum of Modern Art
For something more in depth, take a complimentary online class with NYC’s MoMA. Courses like “Fashion as Design,” “What Is Contemporary Art?” and “Seeing Through Photographs” are open for enrollment. These are some seriously cool classes to check out.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (one of my all time fav museums and cities!)
Filled with masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, the Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. It’s closed until 1 June, but has just launched a new interactive experience, Rijksmuseum From Home, that allows you to virtually visit the home of Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.
TRAVEL TO FOREIGN & NOT SO FOREIGN PLACES
Now this is one of my absolutely favorite inspired ways to stretch yourself.
If you’re lamenting over not seeing the Cherry Blossom in Washington, D.C., don’t despair.
Or if the Northern Lights are on your “bucket list”, you’re going to be a very happy camper!
Chase the northern lights
The upper reaches of Manitoba might be a place where social isolation is the norm, but it’s also a prime viewing spot for the Northern Lights. And thanks to the folks at Polar Bears International and Explore.org, you can stream the spectacular natural fireworks show without trudging through the snow.
Delight in the annual cherry blossom “show” in Washington, DC
Reports of the beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival being canceled have been slightly exaggerated, as the organizers have rallied by making this year’s festival a virtual one. Through April 12, you can take a virtual tour of the blossoms with a park ranger as your guide, watch videos of what the artists booked for the festival had intended to perform live, and, of course, calm your nerves via a 24/7 cherry blossom cam. And no sniffly noses from hayfever either!
Take a hike of the Great Wall of China
This is an inspired way to stretch yourself, if I’ve ever seen one!
Walking along the Great Wall has been a “bucket list” item for many for centuries before hashtags were ever invented. Now, you can take a virtual hike instead of actually walking across China. This virtual tour spans six and a half miles of the wall between Jinshanling and Simatai, a stretch known for having some of the most beautiful views in China.
Icehotel, Swedish Lapland
Aurora photography company Lights over Lapland has created experiences for those suffering wanderlust to virtually travel to the Icehotel in Swedish Lapland. The 360-degree videos allow viewers to visit the local Arctic wilderness, meet local huskies and reindeer, go dogsledding and reindeer sledding and even join a Northern Lights hunt. THIS IS A REALLY FUN VIRTUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCE!
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Fancy watching the sun set over incredible picturesque peaks? You can take a virtual tour of the famous Irish geological landmark, which captures 360-degree views and even has virtual reality headset capability for a fully immersive experience. cliffsofmoher.ie/virtual-visit-tour
This is one inspired way to stretch yourself that can be even better than real life!
There are plenty of pictures of the famed canyon online, but get a little deeper with a Virtual Reality archaeological tour. This allows armchair travelers to explore and learn more about the history behind the canyon’s formation by clicking on different geological features. nps.gov/features/grca/001/archeology
ANY RACE FANS NEEDING A “FIX”?
Fill your need for speed with the new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix. Scheduled weekend races will be replaced with virtual competitions that pit professional drivers like Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi and Liam Payne against one another in the F1 2019 PC video game. During non-race weekends, there will be online exhibition races where fans can challenge F1 drivers (watch F1’s social media channels for details).
THERE’S A PODCAST FOR EVERYONE – What’s your thing?
I’ve culled a few incredible podcasts from the multitude out there for you to check out during your “self-isolation”. There truly is a podcast with your name on it. From finances, comedy, business advice, and scary stuff, you can find more than one podcast that will be fun, educational or motivational to hear. Let’s check a few of them out:
CALL YOUR GIRLFRIEND – Fun, funny and fantastic!
This is a podcast for long-distance BFF’s everywhere. It brings together Ann Freidman and Aminatou Sow for smart talk mingled with quick-fire one-liners that really entertain. It’s run completely by women, with lots of fun chatter and stylish talk.
You might want to start with Episode 35: The Saddest Hello Since Lionel Richie, where the duo come out as Bieber sympathizers, discuss Drake’s penis muscles and wonder how Adele can be so sad when she’s dating a “hot bear”.
You’ll wonder why you haven’t been listening already! https://www.callyourgirlfriend.com/
CASH CHATS WITH ANDY WEBB – He’s the $$$ man
Andy Webb, the money advice guru with the popular website, Be Clever With Your Cash, is the brains behind this podcast. He offers down-to-earth, judgement-free advice on how to manage your finances, whether you’re saving or planning a splurge. His episodes are approximately 7 minutes to 45 minutes long. Nice small bites into your financial picture that aren’t too painful! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cash-chats/
I MISS THE OPRAH SHOW…
THE TIM FERRISS SHOW – the “Oprah of Audio”
Tim Ferriss, the author of The Four Hour Work Week, has been named one of Fast Company’s “most innovative business people”. In his podcast, Tim speaks to successful individuals about their habits and routines, from favorite books and TV shows. He continually probes for their solid advice too, so you can apply it to your own life. From a Navy Seal and burlesque star, to Seth Godin and therapist Esther Perel, Tim gets them to spill. (Esther has her own podcast too!) There’s no telling what subject will pop up on the next episode. https://tim.blog/podcast/
DO YOU LIKE TO BE “SCARED SILLY”? – Try these two fun “sister” podcasts!
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events. Turn on your radio and hide. http://www.welcometonightvale.com/
ALICE ISN’T DEAD – The makers of the gloriously weird Welcome To Night Vale are behind this eerie podcast too. Those concerned that they might have to get up to speed with that series’ labyrinthine backstory, fear not: this is not a spin-off or tie-in, but a completely new serialized drama. Alice Isn’t Dead is the story of a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed was dead. In the course of her search, she will encounter not-quite-human serial murderers, towns literally lost in time, and a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.
The bad news is that you can’t just jump in; you have to go back and listen from the beginning. The good news is that the episodes are only 20 minutes long, so you’ll catch up in no time. And you really should, each episode is a “page-turner”! http://feeds.nightvalepresents.com/aliceisntdeadpodcast
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE – In a really unique format!
When you’re looking for one of the inspired ways to stretch yourself, I’m thinking this could be it. This is one of the cooler ways I’ve ever heard of learning a new language!
The Duolingo podcasts are real-life stories in either French or Spanish that are told at an easy-to-follow pace. Occasionally, they will be interspersed with English commentary to ensure you can keep up with the storyline, even if not all the details. The full transcripts of the episode’s stories can be found on the Duolingo website.
What an innovative way to learn a new language! Let me know in the comment section if you try this one out. I’m curious to see how if works!
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN – And there’s lots of FREE options to choose from!
If you’ve never done a Google search for online learning courses, you’ll be amazed at the educational institutions that have jumped into the game in recent years.
As we’ve all seen on television, you can get an online degree from the University of Southern New Hampshire. But, did you know that you can attend MIT? Or how about Boston University or Harvard? Yep! I earned my Master’s Degree from Michigan State early last year, entirely online.
You can take The Science of Happiness at Work at Berkeley. Or how about Question Everything: Scientific Thinking in Real Life from the University of Queensland, Australia?
Or maybe you’re into the business mode and would like Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?, offered by MIT. You really should take some time to check them out.
I’ve culled a few avenues from which you can also find some great courses to take, some paid, but most are free for the taking!
Every course on Coursera is taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies, so you can learn something new anytime, anywhere. Hundreds of free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. Paid courses provide additional quizzes and projects as well as a shareable Course Certificate upon completion. https://www.coursera.org/ Here’s a few courses that are available to enroll in right now:
- The Science of Well-Being
- Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specilization
- Guitar for Beginners
- Song Writing: Writing the Lyrics
- Creative Writing
- Foundation of Positive Psychology
- Meditation: A way to achieve your goals in your life
THE GREAT COURSES PLUS
The extensive course category listing is astounding in it’s array of course choices. While their courses are not free, they do have a Free Trial, with quarterly plans starting at $10/month. And, of course, you can cancel your plan at any time.
The online courses offered by Harvard are more extensive, and cannot really be classified as “leisure” classes. Despite some of the topics being offered, the classes are quite extensive and can give you some deep insight into the chosen subject matter. Here’s a sampling of some really interesting ones:
- 18th Century Opera: Handel & Mozart
- Judaism Through its Scriptures (this class is offered in a number of different faiths)
- Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Egyptian Art & Archeology
- Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather (I picked this one out for H.H. since he’s a weather nut)
While Kadenze has different options to learn, both paid and free, what really intrigued me about their program is they offer Micro-Courses. For $25., you can take a “micro-course” that doesn’t require the same time or monetary commitment as their full blown courses. Here’s a few that I thought looked interesting:
- Music Theory for Beginners
- Easy Watercolor – Sweets & Treats OR Florals, Leaves & Butterflies (step-by-step beginner level)
- Pen & Ink Illustrations: Basics of Creating Magical Drawings (3 hours)
Duolingo is an American platform that includes a language-learning website and mobile app, as well as a digital language-proficiency assessment exam. The company uses the freemium model; the app and the website are accessible without charge, although Duolingo also offers a premium service for a fee. https://www.duolingo.com/
LET’S GET COOKIN’
Has there ever been a better time to learn new kitchen skills? Cooking will allow you to maximize the ingredients you’ve stocked up in your kitchen for the “long haul”. It also really helps you get a little creative too, so you’re not just eating the same meals every night.
Plus, cooking can be a relaxing activity whether you’re alone or sharing that time with your family.
Recently, a lot of online cooking classes have begun offering their classes for discounted rates, they’ve extended their free trials and some are even completely free! Whether you’re trying to learn how to master a complex dish or are looking to pick up a few fundamental cooking skills, here are a few online courses for all levels of home chef.
MASSIMO BOTTURA – I love him!
This Michelin-starred chef has always risen to the occasion during any challenge. He personally developed a recipe that saved 360,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano that were damaged by earthquakes in 2012, Bottura always seems to have a creative solution.
In the face of a global pandemic, when most of us have to stay in our homes, Bottura is graciously offering free cooking classes, cleverly named “Kitchen Quarantine,” on his Instagram. Join Massimo Bottura live on Kitchen Quarantine »
THE KITCHN COOKING SCHOOL – Like the television show
Not your cup of tea, and you don’t think this could be one of the inspired ways to stretch yourself? You’ll change your mind once you check these classes out!
I just love this cooking show, and now it’s teaching you to cook online too!. The Kitchn Cooking School: 20 days, 20 lessons to help you on the journey of becoming the cook you’ve always wanted to be.
The 20 lessons are hosted by two of their editors — Grace and Meghan — who give crash courses that you can absorb and practice on a weeknight. You’re busy, but cooking can’t wait.
This is a cooking school that fits into your life, teaching you no more (and no less) than you need to know to become a great and confident cook. https://www.thekitchn.com/collection/cooking-school
BBC’S – “Cook the perfect…” podcast and online lessons
If you head over to the BBC’s website, you’ll be astounded at how much of it is dedicated to FOOD! They really take their cooking and eating serious at the BBC!
The simple-to-understand lessons in elementary kitchen skills are fabulous. They also have lots of topics with individual, short lessons like, HOW TO CUT A PINEAPPLE or HOW TO CHOP AN ONION.
Great stuff, especially for those of you wanting to “sharpen” your knife skills. (Forgive me, I couldn’t resist!) I think that for any beginner in the kitchen, this is one of your inspired ways to stretch yourself while hiding out at home. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques
LEARN A NEW SKILL OR SHARPEN YOUR MIND
As soon as I heard we’d eventually have to “self-isolate”, I knew exactly how I’d be spending my “spare time”.
I purchased a Calligraphy Set well over a year ago, but haven’t even torn open the plastic packaging. It came with full instructions, but I just never seemed to have the time or inclination to get started.
One reservation I have is that the instructions are for right-handed people, and I’m a lefty. Yes, I’ve been procrastinating… but no more, I swear I’m going to dig it out this weekend! Probably. If Monday’s post is done. And if I’ve finished the ironing…
Here’s some great ideas for new skills or hobbies to learn, and cool ways to sharpen your mind while vegging out at home.
AMAZON FINDS FOR YOUR CREATIVE SIDE
The Art of Stone Painting: 30 Designs to Spark Your Creativity $11.99
Origami Extravaganza! Folding Paper, a Book, and a Box: Origami Kit Includes Origami Book, 38 Fun Projects and 162 High-Quality Origami Papers: Great for Both Kids and Adults $16.99
Pretty Simple Lettering: Modern Calligraphy & Hand Lettering for Beginners: A Step by Step Guide to Beautiful Hand Lettering & rush Pen Calligraphy Design $23.99
The Ultimate Guide to Modern Calligraphy & Hand Lettering for Beginners: Learn to Letter: A Hand Lettering Workbook with Tips, Techniques, Practice Pages, and Projects $6.99
First Time Knitting: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide: Learn By Doing – Step-by-Step Basics + 9 Projects $17.99
Designer Stitch Happy Knitting Starter Kit: 20 Piece Knitting Kit for Beginners & 7 Pocket Yarn Bag, Signature Yarn Storage – Tan $39.99
Cut and Create Paper Mosaics: Craft Mosaic-by-Number Artworks with Paper Tiles, Scissors, and Glue Paperback $8.99
INSPIRED WAYS TO STRETCH YOURSELF? Try one of these great personal growth, self-help or “fun” websites
- THE CREATIVE MIND – provides information and inspiration for exploring our creativity and personal development
- LIFE HACK – offers “life potential assessment” quiz with a custom report based on your results for free
- RANDOM FACTS – find random facts that are true and relevant to the modern world
- LUMOSITY – Improve memory, increase focus, and feel sharper
- I SPY DIY – Jenni Yolo writes a column in InStyle magazine that I love. Her website is a fabulously inspired way to stretch yourself when styling your home and life
- SELF CREATION – it describes itself as a site for smart women and men and concentrates on self-awareness, self-esteem and self-empowerment. Now that’s a lot of “self”! Perhaps one of the most inspired ways to stretch yourself.
- LIFE HACKER – this site is really a mishmash of interesting topics about how to do everything better. I personally check it out on a fairly regular basis. Always something interesting to read.
SO, HAVE YOU FOUND A FEW INSPIRED WAYS TO STRETCH YOURSELF DURING ISOLATION?
If you’ve made it this far in this article, I applaud you! This was one long post, wasn’t it?
I really wanted to give you a comprehensive look at what’s out there for you while being stuck at home. Maybe you didn’t find your “exact” fit in this article. But you now know that you can check out more podcasts, online courses, hobby/crafts or virtual experiences and locate what’s perfect for you.
Now that I’ve got you all inspired and stuff, make sure you let us know exactly what you’re doing to relieve your “stuck at home blues”! Leave a comment below this post or come on over to THE FAB LIFE FACEBOOK GROUP and tell us what you’re up to!
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