Happy Friday, all! Today, Dr. Hinson is coming at you from my post-Thanksgiving food coma, hoping whatever this week looked like for you, there was something to be thankful and grateful for and that you found some joy a long the way. As today is the Friday after Thanksgiving, known around the world as Black Friday, I thought I would veer away from the mass consumerism that drives our conversations today, and focus on my five favorite low-cost(free)/high return 'deals'!
1. Music is always how I experience joy, I listen to wordless (usually classical) while I work and have found so much good music through the Spotify application. Joining is free (though it does require internet and computer access, which I realize many people do not have) and this is by far my most favorite song I found this year - it is lyrical and romantic and inspiring:
2. Reading is my other joy (aside from Netflix), and there is nothing that beats turning the pages of a physical book. Whether delving into a new romance, discovering another world altogether, or learning about the history of a small town, books allow us to hear others' stories, and are a profound form of listening. We can all access this wealth of knowledge through our public library system, which is free! By far, my favorite book I've read this year is Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World and Me. It is poetic, heart-wrenching, and essential.
3. Moving from abroad back to America, I had to readjust to not being able to walk everywhere. One of the activities I undertook was regular walks, and I rediscovered the beautiful public parks in my home city. For me, that meant meandering through Frick Park, Pittsburgh's largest regional park (at 644 acres), enjoying the beauty of nature. Walking is healthy, as is fresh air, and it's all free!
4, Though it's not free, one of my favorite visits this year was to the Philadelphia History Museum and their exhibit The Extraordinary, the Ordinary, and the Unknown: The Power of Objects. It was by far one of the most inclusive and engaging museum exhibits, reflecting the significance of objects we keep, and how they tell stories about the people who kept them, and who gets to tell those stories (and what stories are excluded). The museum is reasonably priced and they do offer some pretty decent discounts!
5. For my final favorite this week, I'd like to change tracks away from things I am thankful I have (or have found), and talk about the joy I find from the gift of giving back. If you are in a position where you are more thankful for what you have than worried about what you don't, I encourage to think about how you can give to those who are not in that position. It's been a rough year, for tens of millions of people around the world, and so many people go without even the most basic necessities. So whether it's your local food bank, or a charity in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, consider what you can give to alleviate some of that hurt. There is a profound joy to be had in giving -- it is the other half of 'Thanksgiving' after all.
What are some of your favorite free finds this year? Comment below and join the conversation -- we'd love to hear from you!