Roger Ebert Home

Finding Your Happy Place During the Pandemic: Part II

Joe Biden's photo shared on Twitter of him and his newly announced Vice Presidential pick Kamala Harris.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”—Dr. Seuss

I care a whole awful lot. And I'm hoping to make things better in ways big and small. In the first installment of my Happy Place column, I encouraged readers to share the places they go to find joy during this pandemic quarantine, and to tell us what gets them there. In addition to work on practical solutions to our problems we have to find a place of peace and joy in our daily lives to shore up our reserves of hope.

I encouraged you to e-mail us at and tell us about a movie, TV show, book, play, song; or even a recipe, remembrance, person, dream or life’s experience that takes you to your Happy Place. I received some great submissions and today I am publishing a few of them. One submission was about a book, one was about a pivot a reader took from her career that gave her time to learn to cook and to lose weight, another spoke about her dogs, and we also found a very perceptive article about a movie that took the journalist to her Happy Place. 

But in the interim something happened that is so extraordinary and historic that it filled me with me absolute untamed joy. Vice President Joe Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential pick for the 2020 elections coming up in November. So I will lead off Part II of my Happy Place article with this...


Vice-Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris' selection gives me untamed joy

Senator Kamala Harris becomes the first African-American/Asian-American woman to be selected by a major political party to be the Vice Presidential nominee. Vice President Joe Biden announces his selection for the Democratic Party Tuesday, August 11, 2020. This fills me with untamed joy. I couldn't contain the tears of happiness and hope I cried when I heard the announcement. Kamala Harris is a wise pick--brilliant, strong, experienced from her roles as District Attorney (read Niki Solis' article on why Harris is a progressive pioneer here) and Attorney General of California running the largest justice department in the country outside of the  U.S. Justice Department, as well as her roles in the Senate serving on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. She also has the background to help intercede in public health issues which will help establish much needed national leadership during this pandemic.

She will hit the ground running when she is in the White House as Vice President and she has the empathy and compassion to help heal the nation during this crucial time in history. She is fair and will represent all the people, not just a select few. In the video linked here, Joy Reid explains why Biden's picking Harris is the greatest affirmation of Black women's power since Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in 1972. And Nicolle Wallace gave Joe Biden his props as a man who was not afraid to pick a running mate who was tough on him during the presidential debate. She says that Harris represents a seismic advantage.


Marian Tompson, co-founder of the La Leche League tells which book gives her hope

One of the seven founding members of the La Leche League International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the world about breastfeeding, Marian Tompson has been tireless in her advocacy efforts. Ever since she began her 24 years of service as the league's president in 1956, Tompson has traveled the world and met an extraordinary array of people, including her friend Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. On July 16th, 1971, she introduced Kelly at a La Leche conference held at Chicago's La Salle hotel (you can find the video of it above). 

When asked where she currently finds joy in her spare time, Tompson says, "Rereading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho always settles me down with hope for the future."

The men of the Manley Career Academy High School rowing team reunite in Oakland, 20 years after their introduction to the sport. Photo courtesy of 50 Eggs Films.


Mary Mitchell's Sun-Times article on "A Most Beautiful Thing" and why the movie touches her soul

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mary Mitchells recently published article about the film "A Most Beautiful Thing" beautifully and joyfully articulates why the documentary is so important (you can read it in full here). The movie, which follows the story of the first all-Black rowing team from Manley High School on Chicago's West Side, "shows the power of empathy," according to Mitchell.

“Many of us cannot relate to the pain that these young men experienced just trying to get from home to school,” she writes. “For instance, I grew up poor, but I don’t know what it is to have nothing to eat because my mother was strung out on crack and my father was nowhere to be found. I grew up in public housing where crime was a fact of life, but that was before the gangs and guns took over and young Black men were being shot dead on the street. The fact that these young men are alive to tell their own stories is itself a true triumph of the human spirit.”

A mouthwatering meal cooked up by Beth Miller.


Learning to Cook brings Beth Miller joy after pivoting away from a career in jewelry

"Silver linings has been my mantra over the last few months," writes Miller. "I closed my jewelry business in early March after a highly successful 11 year run. From a life of travel, excitement and connection to one of isolation, deafening quiet and the unknown. I knew it was up to me to move to a place of peace and connection and I wanted to do something outside my comfort zone. I decided that cooking lessons via FaceTime with dear friends would be a perfect way to push myself towards learning a new skill while interacting with those I love in a beautiful way." 

Beth Miller

"My friends were at first so surprised that the woman who eats out or does take out most nights and doesn’t really know how to use her oven would want to learn to cook," she continues. "These FaceTime cooking lessons have been my #untamed joy over the past few months. I love the feeling of accomplishment and connection. There’s plenty of laughter and along with these FaceTime cooking lessons I’ve built an amazing vegetable garden and lost close to 20 pounds, wonderful silver linings that bring me to my #happyplace in these unprecedented times." 


Dogs bring Maura Clare to her Happy Place every time

"I loved the blog post about happy places—and was especially moved by the beautiful companion dreams story at the end," says Clare. "My happy place is enjoying my dogs. Whether they’re curled up sleeping nearby, galloping through the yard after a tennis ball, or grinning expectantly up at me in the kitchen, they remind me to be exuberantly in the moment."

Video of the Day

It gives me joy to see a portrait of leadership in the making, Naomi Wadler, who delivered an impassioned speech at the 2018 March For Our Lives rally when she was only 11 years old. As Toni Morrison said: "If there's a book you want to read but it hasn't been written, then you must write it." Let's write a world full of equality and joy.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

Latest blog posts

Latest reviews

Under the Bridge
Irena's Vow
Sweet Dreams
Disappear Completely


comments powered by Disqus