Social isolation is exactly as tough as we thought it would be. But human beings are a resourceful lot — especially Columbian readers!
We asked you to share how you’re keeping your spirits up. There are the usual suspects: board games, binge-watching shows, exercising, reading, cooking and baking, gardening, knitting, quilting, cleaning out closets and garages and junk drawers, organizing virtual get-togethers around movies, games or even cocktails (virtual happy hour, anyone?). But those are just the tip of the cheer-up iceberg; you’ve really pulled out the stops with suggestions for humdinger happiness-boosting activities. We’ve combined your ideas with a few of our own to make this inspiring list:
Light it up. Join others around the country and around the world who are putting up Christmas lights — or Halloween lights, or anything that twinkles after dark — for solidarity and plain old good cheer. (Reader Pachi Rains suggests a full-on Second Christmas.)
Dress to the nines. Put on your fanciest outfit, if only for a couple hours. Put on a family fashion show to entertain each other, or organize an online fashion show with friends. Then get back in your pajamas for the next 10 days.
Set the scene. Use your best china and table linens for everyday meals. Grandma would be proud. If you break something, not to worry; repurpose it for a creative project. (Shhh … don’t tell Grandma.)
Go on a picnic. If it’s too rainy to go out, fill a picnic basket with traditional picnic food (or whatever’s in your pantry), then lay out a blanket in your living room and put on some nature sounds. Pretend it isn’t a little weird.
Wear a mask (the fun kind). Take your Halloween costumes out for a springtime spin. Explore your neighborhood as Batman, Peter Pan or a T-rex — or make it more freewheeling with a costume bike parade, like Vancouver art teacher Jennifer Patton.
Go hunting. Christine Dickinsen of Vancouver’s Carter Park neighborhood is joining other residents in putting teddy bears in their windows so that kids can enjoy a bear-themed scavenger hunt. Don’t have a bear? Use another plush species (Susan Hergesheimer used a perky giraffe).
Learn new tricks. Jaynie Roberts, owner of Magenta Theater, is learning to tap dance with a DVD. Learn a new language, or start online music lessons . Roberts is also using her spare time to make fabric masks for health care workers, as are many other Clark County residents.
Make it stick: Columbian copy editor Carly Dubois, working from her Vancouver apartment, has a Post-It note on the window by her desk. A Twitter friend told her what to put on it — “Hi, beautiful!” — as a daily greeting and affirmation. They hope it becomes a trend. If you live in an apartment building, post your own cheerful messages on your neighbors’ windows.
Visit an “art gallery.” Organize your own First Friday art walk by putting your favorite painting in the window for passersby. Angie Thompson’s neighborhood has weekly themes for “window walks.” Residents draw or color pictures related to the theme and place them in their windows.
Be up front. The Carter Park neighborhood hosted a Front Porch/Front Lawn Party, when neighbors dined outside on their front porches or in their front yards. Friends visited each other from a safe 6 feet (or more) away.
Rock on. Diane Stevens, a volunteer with Furry Friends cat rescue, is painting and decorating elaborate rock creatures and creating painted rock displays in her yard, adding interest to neighborhood strolls.
Put it in a letter. Write letters to the people you love. Use pretty stationery, colored ink, gel pens, stickers — or use none of those things, just speak from the heart. Get some exercise by walking to your mailbox.
Pay it forward. If you over-shopped and can’t find space for all your canned goods and hoarded toilet paper, drop some of it off at the Clark County Food Bank, North County Food Bank or Martha’s Pantry.
Chalk it up. Residents of the Philbrook Farms neighborhood near Salmon Creek are talking with chalk, decorating each other’s driveways with cheery messages and designs.
For the record. Interview your parents or grandparents on the phone and either take notes or record the conversation (with their permission). Save the recording digitally or use the notes to create an audio story or book. Anita Kukax Vogt has started her own family “genealogical society,” adding names, dates and places to family pictures.
Go camping. Set up a tent in your backyard and spend the night. If you’ve got a fire pit, roast hot dogs and make s’mores. Alternatively, go camping in your living room in a blanket fort with sleeping bags and pillows. Pro tip: you don’t need kids to do this!
Have a drive-by celebration. When a kid in Angie Thompson’s neighborhood has a birthday, friends and neighbors drive by in decorated cars, waving signs. (Can we keep doing this after quarantine? And also for adults?)
Break into song. Tiffani Shupe’s daughter and Vancouver native Kaleigh Carnahan wrote the parody “When Will This Virus End?” inspired by Disney’s “Tangled.” Help it go “viral” at youtu.be/dwUe4QEO_pY. There are many more COVID-19 parody songs out there, but we could use more — Couvies, do us proud!
Shop local. Can’t go to your favorite hangout? It will come to you. Clark County brewers, vintners and roasters are open for online orders. You can also order locally made chocolates (www.whimsychocolates.com), candles (www.vancefamilysoycandles.com) and — perhaps most importantly — soap (soapchest.com).
Join the glitterati. When all else fails, apply a generous coat of glitter glue, as Chandra Chase, Clark College’s Guided Pathways framework and communications project manager, has done with her daughter, Pavao Joy Raymond.
Our clever Columbian readers contributed to this story.