Extraordinary Times Call for Simple, but Effective, Efforts

30 Oct
Eleanor Hardy relieves stress by arranging flowers and painting them.

For the first time in 37 years — since we started The Society of International Railway Travelers (IRT) in August, 1983 — we will NOT talk about the joys of luxury train travel worldwide.


The U.S. presidential election is Tuesday. New Covid-19 cases are coming at us literally every second. Travel is shutting down again all over the world.

We are confident the joys of exceptional rail travel remain in our future, but for the moment — especially if you’re over the age of 60 — you’re pretty much stuck inside.

What to do?

Flowers arranged — and painted by — Eleanor Hardy, IRT President

Here at IRT, we believe that job one is keeping our mental health.

To do that, we promote neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to learn new things, focus on the positive, to avoid depression and anxiety and increase creativity and problem-solving.

By focusing on self-care, we’re better able to withstand stress. And that means we’re better able to take care of you, our guests.

How do we do that?

Keep moving. We walk or run — socially distanced and masked, of course — whenever we can: in our neighborhoods, in our many local parks and botanical gardens and at area nature preserves.

Play with pets: Rachel and Nate have a dog and cat, Nora has two cats and Angela her loyal dog Lucy.

Admire babies: Owen, Rachel and I make frequent WhatsApp video/audio calls to our new grandson/nephew Mahdu, who lives in Delhi, India with our daughter Katy and son-in-law/brother-in-law Roshan. Angela admires her new nephew. Nothing like a baby to focus on the present — and future.

Household projects: Nora, Rachel and Nate spend time completing long-overdue jobs such as replacing car headlamps or building planting beds and shelves and putting up a new greenhouse. 

Gardening: Rachel has an extensive vegetable garden — ask her about her gigantic pumpkin, her amazing okra, plus myriad indoor plants.

Jigsaw puzzles: Using IRT Art Director Steve Sebree’s gorgeous designs, Owen has turned our World’s Top 25 Trains travel posters into jigsaw puzzles. (Check out our collection here.) He also enjoys working them.

Growing and Arranging Flowers, Then Painting Water Colors of Them: I could do it all day! I have loved gardening since I was tiny and have never stopped. And I adore arranging flowers.

My Covid sanity plan calls for ordering a weekly delivery of flowers from the farmer’s market and a bunch of art supplies.

Then, I draw and paint these bouquets just about daily. I am no great artist nor do I pretend to be. But the joy of pushing around wet color on paper has a calming, grounding effect. Don’t be surprised if I send you one!

Daily Gratitudes: Since May 24, I’ve made a habit of listing my five “daily gratitudes” in a beautiful journal from NYC’s “Neue Gallerie.” It’s amazing how just writing down what I’m thankful for improves my mood. And plenty of times, I paint in the journal, just for added thankfulness.

Other ideas? I’d love to know what you’re doing for your mental health, as you play it safe at home. Drop me an email at [email protected].

And about those luxury trains…They’re ready and waiting, as magnificent as ever. We’ll be back on track before you know it!

Our team and I, sometimes working at the office, sometimes at home, will be ready when you are — with amazing knowledge and training and sharp mental health — to serve you.

Eleanor Flagler Hardy is President and Co-Owner of The Society of International Railway Travelers. She was honored this year to be named Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s World’s Top Travel Specialist — for luxury trains, of course!

Check out our website at www.irtsociety.com; email us at [email protected]. And if you want to call us; 800-478-4881.

8 Responses to “Extraordinary Times Call for Simple, but Effective, Efforts”

  1. Don Skiba October 30, 2020 at 10:39 PM #

    Really thought provoking. We liked that you put things in perspective. We are trying to do the same but its nice to see other ideas…thanks…don Skiba

    • Eleanor Hardy October 31, 2020 at 1:59 PM #

      Dear Don, thank you so much for your lovely reply. I think battling the isolation and loneliness calls forth the most of our inner strength. Our little darling grandson, our first, was born in India on March 25, the first day of their lockdown. Our daughter and her husband have of course been religious about safety. It also means that we can’t go there and for the time being they can’t come here. I’ve had several people say how tragic it is that we can’t see our grandson. But the real tragedy is with all the people who
      been so sick or who have died. We send our very best wishes to you. And please let me know what you’re doing to stay upbeat and positive. Sincerely, Eleanor

  2. Esther Müller-Meyre October 31, 2020 at 6:54 AM #

    Thank you so much for your uprising letter, dear Eleanor. We also do things that help to keep in good health (physically and psychologically). I do not paint, but I enjoy playing my very special barrel organ. From time to time I perform for the inhabitants of the Seniors’ Residence where we are living. Of course these concerts are by far not as professional as they used to be when I “owned my own Jazzband”, but nevertheless I enjoy each performance very much. It is absolutely touching to realise how much my performances are appreciated by our fellow inhabitants!

    • Owen C. Hardy October 31, 2020 at 1:56 PM #

      Dear Esther, it is so great to hear from you! I can just imagine you playing your beautiful organ. It’s time like these that draw out the very best in us, and also show us that the arts are basic to our humanity. Sending lots of love, Eleanor

  3. Sherry Weckenbrock October 31, 2020 at 9:43 AM #

    Eleanor, we join you in doing all manner of projects that have been ignored too long but one of the most pleasurable is going through and updating all of our photo albums for the past 40 years. Of course you know what brings such smiles for us – reliving with such excitement the wonderful train trips we have taken with you! Since we are seeing you and thinking of you so often, we truly are in this together! Stay safe and healthy, and have a Happy HALLOWEEN!
    Sherry Weckenbrock

    • Owen C. Hardy October 31, 2020 at 2:02 PM #

      Hi Sherry! Thanks for your cheerful reply! I can just imagine the beautiful photographs you are pouring over. That is a project that is almost too daunting for me. I’m sure we have over 3 million photographs! We send our very best wishes to you and all the Weckenbrocks large and small. I remember fondly meeting some of your tiny generation and how excited they were over your amazing train layout.

  4. Ron Fisher October 31, 2020 at 10:43 AM #

    Lovely lady, lovely paintings, lovely memories of all the great trips. Thank you Eleanor!

    • Owen C. Hardy October 31, 2020 at 2:03 PM #

      Oh, I haven’t we had so much fun on our trips!? It won’t be too much time now before we’ll get to travel again. Sending our very best wishes! And when I think of all the mini millions of photographs we’ve taken, many of the best ones have featured you, Ron! Sincerely, Eleanor

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