Staying Apart, Together: Why ‘Paddington,’ dancing and meditation bring joy amid COVID-19

Editor's Note: This is a preview of USA TODAY's newsletter Staying Apart, Together, a guide to help us all cope with a world changed by coronavirus. If you would like it in your inbox on Tuesdays and Saturdays, subscribe here.

"If you're kind and polite, the world will be right.”

So says Aunt Lucy, the famed furry aunt from the Paddington Bear stories. It is exactly the kind of missive we all need right now, and it is part of why my husband and I were inspired to buy the two "Paddington" films on DVD in quarantine. I was filled with unfiltered joy when "Paddington 2" arrived on Thursday. I started making orange marmalade on Friday and today begins the double feature bound to make anyone smile.

Lest you think I am a child writing you about silly kids' movies, allow me to sing the praises of the "Paddington" franchise for all ages. It is the embodiment of hope, kindness and sensitivity. The second film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a distinction it shares with films such as "Citizen Kane" and "Before Sunrise." If you want to feel good, watch either "Paddington" movie (neither is streaming for free but you can rent and buy them digitally, or order a DVD, we bought through Barnes & Noble and the delivery was fairly quick).

The beloved Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) goes on a new adventure in London in

I am finding joy in lots of little things of late, beyond the wonderful Peruvian bear: Baking cookies for a local food bank, sending a food gift basket to my cousin who just gave birth, finally cutting my husband's much-too-long hair, waking up before my alarm goes off and watching videos of my 3-year-old niece. I'm not saying I am used to the new normal, but the days when I can find some positivity are increasing, even if there are more sad and difficult days overall.

Wherever your joy is coming from these days, no matter how fleeting or small, is worth celebrating. I wrote a list of 60 comedy series that I hope will bring you some joy, if you decide to stream them.

Send me your joys and I'll include them in a list in Tuesday's edition.

Subscribe to Staying Apart, Together here

Today's self care

I have long had generalized anxiety disorder and bouts of depression, so therapy has been an important part of my mental health care. Since March I've been attending sessions virtually, which has its pros and cons but is definitely better than nothing. Much of our conversations are about coronavirus, but we are able to get into other aspects of my treatment. Continuing to work on my existing mental health problems has given me a deep sense of accomplishment, even as the circumstances of the greater world make it hard.

If you are looking for support right now, my coworker Hannah Yasharoff did a deep dive on how virtual therapy works right now. And if you aren't looking for therapy but want some self-driven mental health practice, music reporter Patrick Ryan broke down how to meditate at home.

Meditation

Today's entertainment

OK, so if I haven't convinced you about the "Paddington" films, here's another suggestion if you want something more adult-oriented and action-packed: "Extraction." Streaming on Netflix, it's one of our film critic Brian Truitt's picks for new streaming movies this weekend. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Brian says, "Hemsworth trades Thor’s magic hammer for a machine gun and a tragic backstory for this action thriller, which rates with some of his other decent non-Marvel works ('In the Heart of the Sea,' '12 Strong')." A semi-mindless action thriller is just the right kind of comfort viewing for some of us right now (I myself consumed more than one Liam Neeson movie recently).

Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is hired to rescue a crime lord's kidnapped son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) in

Today's workout

Celebrities and influencers may have more intense workouts than you (Halle Berrydeadlifts her son, Lindsay Vonn has a home gym) but there is one thing I want to do this weekend: Dance. A friend stopping by our pop culture podcast The Mothership this week recommended dancing video games, which inspired me. But if you don't have a Wii, that's fine – you only need music and your feet to have a little party in your home. If you don't have room, move the furniture up against the walls for just 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be a Peloton-level sweat-fest, but just getting some movement into your muscles feels good, physically and mentally.

Today's reads

Sports is back! Sort of? The NFL draft is going on virtually, finishing up today. I don't like football but the normalcy of it is alluring for me and deprived sports fans everywhere. USA TODAY Sports has been following every development, and you can read their analysis here. Thursday night marked the beginning of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month. It's the third major religious holiday to occur since the outbreak became serious, and USA TODAY Audience Editor Fatima-Tul Farha wrote about how Muslim families are celebrating virtually this year. A quote from the story I found very poignant: "There's something special about people gathering around food, that's across cultures and across religions," she said. "I think a lot of times people convey love through food. And so I think that's a big part of why we're going to be missing it so much."If you are ordering takeout, some chefs in Florida recommend meals that will taste better (and be healthier) than others after a trip in a cardboard box. If any of you are small business owners who have been confused by the Paycheck Protection Program, you are not alone. Our Money reporters break down the ins and outs of the program and the recent developments in congress that affect you.

Today's non-Paddington furry friend

I have received so many pet photos I have to preemptively apologize for not getting to everyone, but I am going to try my darndest.

Here's another Apollo, this time of the feline variety.

His human grandpa says, "This is my son, TJ’s cat, also named Apollo. I use to take him for walks on a leash almost every day, most of the time to the park. He loved to chase squirrels and birds but I would never let him catch them."

Don't stop trying, Apollo. You will get a squirrel or a bird one day.

Today's advice from a reader

"Reach out to one person each day. Send a text, leave a voice mail, send a funny photo – just a little something to remind yourself to treasure the relationship and get beyond yourself." -Barb in Middlebury, Indiana

That’s it for this Saturday. Stay safe, stay well, and I will returned rejuvenated by Paddington Bear on Tuesday.

All my very best,

Kelly Lawler

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2020/04/25/staying-apart-together-paddington-dance-bring-joy-amid-covid-19/3020554001/

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