Stress/Anxiety & Resources for 3/30/2020

Hello library friends,

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling an uptick in stress and anxiety about the virus. Maybe you have, too. For me, two things seem to help more than any others: Mindfulness and… (you guessed it) reading. Focusing on the salad in front of me or the song spilling out of my stereo or the cat purring in my lap allows me to, not only forget about everything else, but to remember that what’s truly important is what’s happening right here, right now. That’s where my life is: Right here, right now. This moment is all that there is, and I’d better not miss it. For me, Thich Nhat Hanh’s guidance has been invaluable. If you’re looking for something a little less Zenny, though, you might check out the website of the magazine Mindful. It’s a beautifully organized site, and it even has a page dedicated to COVID resources.

Of course, the idea of a stressed-out librarian reading to calm herself down probably comes as no surprise. Right now, I’m in the middle of several books, different ones for different times of the day and different reading nooks. What am I gravitating to during this stressful time? At the moment:

Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry (I don’t know that a character has ever been created that outshines Aurora Greenway.)
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (I’m only a fourth of the way through, but I can already recommend it VERY highly.)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Who doesn’t love revisiting a childhood favorite during times of stress?)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (My all-time favorite book. I’ve instructed my loved ones that, when I die, I want to be buried with a copy. I’m always reading it. It lives in my purse.)

Reading does so much for calming the mind. There’s a wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times by Margaret Renkl that celebrates reading during the coronavirus (and implores people to continue to patronize independent booksellers), Here are my favorite bits:

What a book offers that I most need myself is a way to slow down. A book doesn’t drag me along at the speed of life — or the speed of breaking news — the way television shows and movies do. A book lets me linger, slowing down or speeding up as I wish, backtracking with the turn of a page. When I pause to ponder the words I’ve just read, my hands and eyes fall still, and the story stops, too.

In talking about books, we habitually use the present tense to describe the story’s action. The novel’s protagonist is happy or afraid. The memoir’s antagonist is furious or deranged. The poem’s speaker is alight with love. Isisis, as though the act of reading itself suspends us in an endless present, removed from the consequences of time. As though we ourselves are timeless creatures: young or old or in-between, as the tale requires, no matter how many actual years we carry in our cells.

I think that says it all.

I have only one other resource for you today, but it’s an important one:

Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters – The outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has created many changes in the way Vermont courts are operating, changes to public benefits, and more. This page is filled with fantastic information from evictions and foreclosures to federal student loans to child custody arrangements during the pandemic.

Be well, friends.
Shana

Resources for 3/28/2020

Happy Saturday, everyone! Here are today’s resources – and three of them are local! You can find all the resources I post at the Resource Center.

Ancestry K12 – With school closures in effect across the U.S., Ancestry has made its AncestryK12 lesson plans available for free for anyone to download while they are educating children at home. The lesson plans target a number of core subjects, with educational topics ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the suffrage movement to haunted houses! They have been written by teachers according to the History Standards administered by the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of the National Council for History Standards.

Ancestry.com – The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has teamed up with its long-term digitization partner Ancestry to provide FREE access to search nearly 500 million records and images on Ancestry. Exploring the records is completely free – just create an account by entering your email to start your search.  The almost half a billion digitized and searchable records being made available are comprised of nearly 300 different collections, including ship passenger and crew lists, naturalization and citizenship records, immigration records, and key military collections such as WWI and WWII draft cards. 

Cornell Lab’s All About Birds Live WebCams – Want to bird watch without ever leaving your home? You’re in luck! Cornell Lab offers live footage of owls, hawks, songbirds and more – 15 in all!

LOCAL Offerings

Shaker Bridge Theatre 10-Minute Play Contest – All plays should be received by May 15. When plays are received, they will be placed on the theatre’s web site so they will all be available for reading by everyone, but the playwright will remain anonymous. SBT will pick the best plays to be presented in public staged readings at the theatre over one weekend next fall. You’ll get to see your play performed in front of an audience by professional actors!
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Shakespeare Reading Group – Organized by Strafford resident and former Sharon Library Director Jared Jenisch, the Shakespeare Reading Group meets weekly, and all are welcome to join in!  No prior experience or attendance is required. The next meeting will be this coming Thursday evening, April 2, at 6:30 pm.  If interested, email Jared, and he’ll send you an invitation to join by Zoom.  
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Second Wind Recovery Meetings and Coaching Although The Upper Valley Turning Point peer recovery center is closed and all onsite activities temporarily suspended, we are here for you! The isolation created by OVID-19 is difficult for many people. Those in recovery from substance use disorder and their families rely on a close knit and accessible community for support.  During this time the Turning Point is providing online alternatives. Please, consider the following:  

All Recovery Group: These facilitated groups are open to people in recovery from any addiction, and are supportive of all paths to recovery. Come find common ground with peers and discuss the challenges and joys of a life in recovery. We usually meet Wednesdays at 5:30pm. Due to COVID-19 we have created an online alternative and meet Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 5:30.  The meeting can be easily accessed through our website www.secondwindfound.org

Wit’s End is a support group for parents of adolescent or adult children who are having problems related to alcohol or other drug use.  Join others who can identify with your situation in this open, candid and confidential support group. The group meets every Monday from 6-7:30 pm.  Due to COVID-19 we are using an alternative online format and for extra support we have added a second meeting Thursday from  6-7:30.  You may easily access these meetings by visiting www.secondwindfound.org

Many other meetings have been made available online, as well. Just check the weekly calendar.

REGARDING ZOOM ONLINE MEETINGS:  Please “arrive” a few minutes early to become familiar with the ZOOM format.  Meetings will be open 15 minutes prior to start.

All of our services are FREE and there is NO need to register for groups.

Recovery Coaches are also available to assist people in creating a plan for recovery,  identifying and removing barriers, accessing community resources and connecting with recovery services. Learn more by calling (802) 295-5206 (leave a clear message which will be returned) or by emailing syoung@secondwindfound.org

In addition, our website provides information about other recovery groups and resources that are available in the Upper Valley and beyond.  

About us:  The Upper Valley Turning Point located in White River Junction, VT  is a program of the Second Wind Foundation whose mission is to advance recovery from addiction and addictive behavior. We offer recovery support services, education and advocacy for social, cultural and health care parity with other illnesses.

Our focus is on peer support, because of its effectiveness, affordability and sustainability. Our efforts are inclusive. We support a variety of recovery services by filling the gaps among existing programs as well as providing our own.

We seek to foster an environment in which people with addictive illness are accepted, treated and supported as any other patient, whether in a hospital, workplace, neighborhood or home. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and are supported by the State of VT, Granite United Way, The Byrne Foundation, The Hope Foundation and other generous supporters. Contributions to support our work are greatly appreciated.

A Letter from West Fairlee

Dearest library friends,

I am sitting at my home in West Fairlee, VT, a sweet aging cat on my lap, far away from all of you.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to see you again, but I’m so grateful for the ability to stay in touch, to read your notes, and to talk virtually.  

I’ve been searching the Internet for things that can enrich our lives while so many of us are staying close to home, and I’ve found some lovely resources.  In addition to things like free online recovery meetings and information on low-cost Internet and cell service, I’ve collected piles of links to activities and digital books and a hundred other things to surprise, delight, entertain and inform you.  For example, did you know, in addition to the books available through ListenUpVermont (which you can access any time with your library card number – email if you don’t know yours) that children get free access to much of Audible’s collection of children’s books?  Or that TumbleBooks’ ebooks and audiobooks are also now free?  Did you know that you can watch James Earl Jones and Betty White read children’s stories on StoryLine Online?  Or maybe peeking in on adorable puppies chewing squeaky toys is just what you need for stress relief.  Want to join a virtual book club – for adults?  Or make giant puppets?  Or identify insect species in your backyard?  Or participate in a virtual poetry reading?  Or create your own mandala?  Or, or, or…?  There’s so much to explore – virtually!  Just check out the library’s Resource Center at https://sharonvtlibrary.com/resource-center/

I’ll update this blog with new resources I stumble upon.  What else am I doing while I’m tucked away in West Fairlee?  Well, I’m watching webinars to learn more about some of my patrons’ favorite literary genres, like historical fiction and thrillers.  I’m talking with other Vermont librarians about how they’re continuing their missions despite the pandemic, and gleaning ideas for virtual programming. I’m also working on a redesign of the library’s website.  It’s been a little while since I’ve had my design hat on, and it feels good!  If there’s anything at all I can do for you or help you with, please let me know.  Helping each other is what it’s all about right now.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,
Shana