Thankful Thursday 14 November 2019

Happy National Teddy Bear Day, dear readers! This special day falls on a very thankful day, which I find as no coincidence! I am thankful for Wesley and all of my teddy bears. They’ve made the years cuddly and fun.

Yesterday, I showed one of my co-workers at my full-time job the layout I did for my self-care day last Thursday. She works in the IT department and I was telling her what I was making for my Happiness Box last Friday. She also scrapbooks and wanted to see it, if I was comfortable sharing (I told her it was a difficult anniversary and I was taking the day to take care of myself). I told her I would love to share it before I put it into my Box.

She was working from home on Monday and Tuesday, so I kept the page on my desk. She was in yesterday. At lunch she came over to my desk and I shared my scrapbook page with her. She LOVED the pages, and I gave her some ideas in regards to her scrapbooks. Her son is a writer, artist, and traveler, and is tattooed as well, we chatted tattoos too (she works in IT, so she isn’t). She told me she was sorry about what happened to me 6 years ago, but she admires my attitude and how I chose to “celebrate” the day instead of mourn. She thought that was brave, and strong. You know, I am grateful and I am grateful that I work with some awesome and thoughtful people at my full-time job. Sometimes I get so ashamed of sharing my story, but I am beginning to own my story because I am finding that it is inspiring to others.

There are some days where I feel self-conscious about my weight. I have lost 40 lbs already, but I am finding the love handles as hard to get rid of. I know a lot of it is related to stress and I’ve been reading that yoga helps. One of my library co-workers swears by it and I was chatting with her yesterday. I told her about the love handle dilemma and I was thinking of joining a yoga meetup to lose it. She said to me, “Jess, you’ve trimmed down tremendously and you look great! Don’t go into a program with the mindset of a quick weight loss regiment, think of it as something you’re committing to for the rest of your life and your overall health.” She is right and I’m also beautiful. I am doing well with hypothyroidism and I have actually lost on the gluten-free diet. I am also healthy and honestly, my overall health is the most important. I am beautiful inside and outside. I am thankful for my library co-workers too.

Terry also gave me a pair of gloves tonight! She overheard me tell Mrs. Davenport yesterday that Walgreens didn’t sell them and I would have to buy them in the city when I go on Friday night. Tonight Terry surprised me with the beautiful gloves.

I’m also thankful for dad. He takes me to Starbucks and the train in the morning; I’m thankful for all that he does for me, to make life somewhat easier. I found my cat hat this morning and everyone at Starbucks loved it. I received a lot of compliments when I walked through the door this morning.


My tattoo is healing nicely. I am going to write a thank you note for Doug and mail it to the shop. I am going to thank him for making the day and experience so special, and also thank him for taking photos. I’m still over the moon and thankful for the kindness Olde City Tattoo showed me last week.

What are you thankful for?

Winter is Coming! Rothman’s Ice Rink Now Open!

I always assumed that the Rothman Rink at City Hall always opened the same time the Blue Cross River Rink at Penn’s Landing opened, Black Friday. Last Friday when I was walking near Center City, I noticed Rothman Rink opened that night, on the 8th. I didn’t have my skates, since I didn’t know, and I vowed to come back on Sunday.

I went back on Sunday! After I had breakfast with the Jewish group at Kfar (I didn’t get any pictures), I went to the Rothman Rink. I always go to the River Rink since I can go free, but if that rink is closed, I’ll pay the $5 entrance fee for Rothman. I paid the $5 and I was ready to ice skate!

I did well! I only fell once, towards the end. It was 50 degrees that day and the ice showed. I didn’t let the cracks deter me and I remembered what Erin taught me in NYC back in March. I was chatting with two figure skaters and they said I was rocking it. That made me feel good. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dilworth Park and the Philadelphia Flower Society has their annual holiday/winter display up. I took a photo with one of the apiaries on Friday and I wanted to take more, especially with tattoo #2. I ran into two teenaged girls and asked them if they wanted to play photographer. They agreed, I handed them my camera, and they had fun taking photos of me and my tattoo. They absolutely adored the tattoo and it made me feel good. The beautiful photos made me feel good too and I was grateful that they were willing to take photos. I returned the favour and took fun photos of them as well. We all had fun!

Look at all that joy! I actually made a holiday card for myself, for my Happiness Box of the tattoo images. I used the one of my back and me not looking, the one of me looking over my shoulder, and the phrase outlined with the evergreen. I can’t wait to get it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I ended the day on South Street, at Bahn Mi and Bottles. GF bao buns with brisket and enoki pho. I took half of the pho home and had it on Monday.

Oh, walking back to Center City, I passed a pet store and they were selling Humptee Trumptee dog toys. I had to get a photo for dad and created my own poem:

Humptee Trumptee sat on a wall,

Humptee Trumptee had a great fall.

All of the Republicans' horses and all of the Republican men

tried to put Humptee Trumptee together again.


I had a great day!

Jessica’s Day of Self-Care | 7 November 2019

I had dad drop me off at the train at the normal time and on the way to Philadelphia, I was amazed by the sunrise. The sky was a deep red and the beauty brought me to tears. It felt awesome to be alive, to view such intensity. I was too engrossed in it to take a photo, but since the window was farther away from me, I don’t think a picture would have done the sunrise any justice.

As soon as I blinked, the train arrived at Jefferson Station, my stop. As I was exiting the train, I ran into one of my other train friends who is a teacher for the city. He said, “you missed your spot!”

We were exiting the train and I said, “nah, today is my special day.” He smiled and said, “I know. I am praying for you and I hope that your special day is indeed very special. I will be thinking about you today.” I was surprised that he was thinking about me and that he was praying for my day. It made me verklempt.

As we were heading to the surface of the city, I told him I needed to charge my phone and he suggested Starbucks. We parted and I decided to get a selfie with the sunrise. Like I said, photos didn’t do the sunrise justice.


I sat in Starbucks for an hour and a half and I wrote a few pieces. It felt good to concentrate on writing. By 8:30, I figured it was time to head to Staples and go to Rittenhouse Square. I wanted to buy biodegradable paper for the special project I was doing for the day. As I was walking to Staples, Kathleen e-mailed me, told me she was thinking of me and that she hoped I enjoyed my special day. Again, that made me verklempt.

I bought the biodegradable paper at Staples, then walked to Barnes and Noblem, where I wrote two notes on the paper. The first note I wrote about what Brandon told me after he raped me. He told me, “I thought that you were beautiful, but in fact you are very ugly and it’s no wonder why you have no lover. You are lame, you are a horrible person, you are a horrible lover and no one loves you.” I remember this vividly and I remember I threw up after he said that to me, I threw up on his white couch and he scolded me like an animal before dragging me down the hall and shoving me into a sink.

On the other note, I wrote, “Six years ago today, he was wrong. I am beautiful. I am a wonderful friend, daughter, and young woman. I am loved. I am enough.”

When I was done, I walked across the street to Rittenhouse Square Park. I met one group of tourists and they took my photos near the bench and colourful tree. A few seconds passed and this young woman asked me to take her photo on the bench with the tree in the background. I took them at different angles and I asked her to get some photos of me holding the leaves, since I was going to play in them. We both loved the photos we took of one another. It was fun taking photos for the tourists, just like it was fun to sit outside, people watch, and enjoy the autumn colours.

I walked near the fountain and was dismayed to see the fountain was empty. I was going to rip up the note of what Brandon said to me and throw it into the water. Instead, I asked a young woman who was sitting there if she wouldn’t mind taking photos of me holding the letter, then tearing it apart. She took a few, then she took a photo of me holding the loving note. I stuffed the teared paper into my hand, took a photo of the ripped notes on a ledge. Once I got the photo, I stuffed it into my pocket, I would stop at Penn’s Landing later on and dispose of the note. I also took a seasonal photo of the loving note.

I looked down at my watch, 9:50 AM, it was time to walk to the bus stop to get to the Art Museum. As I arrived at the bus stop, it was 10 AM and no 38 bus was in sight. I decided to forgo the museum because last week the 38 never arrived and I had to walk 45 minutes to Center City at 8 PM. I didn’t want to chance that happening because I was going to eat at Red Hook Cafe on South Street before my tattoo appointment. I decided to catch a bus to Independence Hall. I could see those sites for free and enjoy the parks there.

And that’s what I did! I went to the Philosophical Society and enjoyed the exhibit there. I met two young women from Scotland and had fun chatting with them for 10 minutes. I didn’t ask for a selfie with them, but I wish I had. Then, I went to Independence Hall and enjoyed the park. I took some more photos for tourists, then they took photos of me. Again, it was nice enjoying the nice autumn weather.

I ate lunch at Red Hook Cafe, one of my favourite places. I had a GF tuna melt and it was huge. I ate 3/4 of it and unfortunately, I couldn’t wrap it to bring with me because of the appointment and once I got back to King of Prussia, I was going to the library. The GF tuna melt filled me and the atmosphere of Red Hook Cafe was relaxing.

After my appointment, I walked to Penn’s Landing and disposed of the note in the Delaware River. His words have no bearing on me anymore and he was very wrong. I am loved and 7 November 2019 was filled with so much love, as well as gratitude. It was one of the best days ever.


To Write Love on Her Skin

Yesterday I took a self-care day because I wanted to create a loving memory on the sixth anniversary. I did a lot yesterday, which I’ll post tomorrow, but I want to write about my new tattoo first.

I hope you enjoyed my motley introduction. ๐Ÿ™‚ I planned for tattoo #2 back in September and I shared the idea with my counselor. He thought it was a great idea, to create a loving memory in place of a painful memory; since a tattoo can be painful, I thought it was symbolic. It’s a pain I wanted and it’s erasing the pain that I didn’t want. Tattoos aren’t painful for me, but I thought it would be an act of love. Mitch thought that was resilient and sounded like such a great idea.

I made the appointment on 4 October and the receptionist was so nice. I explained to her that 7 November was a special day and if someone wouldn’t mind taking photos for a scrapbook. She was sweet and said, “that’s not a problem at all. We would love to take photos for you.” She booked me for Doug and Doug was in studio, so we talked about the design I wanted.

Iโ€™ve been listening to a lot of TED talks lately and one talk struck me; Andrew Solomon gave a talk called How Painful Moments Create Our Identities. He said that through our trials and tribulations, we forge meaning and quoted from 2 Corinthians, โ€œfor when I am weak, then I am strong.โ€ I fell in love with the phrase and thought it was fitting. Doug and I picked a font, and the receptionist gave me an appointment card “for your [my] scrapbook.” I walked out of the shop feeling great and super excited for 7 November.

On 7 November before I was scheduled to get tattooed, I stopped at a convenience store across the street from Olde City Tattoo and fortunately they sold apple juice. Apple juice is good for the skin and as I was paying for the juice, I told the clerk I was getting a tattoo. She was tatted up and we chatted about ink and how addictive it is. She hoped I would come back after my appointment so she could see it.

On 7 November, at 12:30 in the afternoon, I met Doug and I was tattooed. When I walked in, the receptionist wasn’t there and I asked him about photos. He said that the other guy here might not be willing to do it, but later on he would ask. Doug brought me back, placed the temporary tattoo on my back and I looked in the mirror to see if I liked the placement. I did and we got started. Doug asked me what brought me in today and I told him, “today is a hard anniversary. I was assaulted six years ago and today I am creating a loving memory.” He thought that was a good idea and he asked his colleague to take pictures. Doug did add, “anytime you need a break, just let me know.” I know the spot where I got it can be painful and I guess that is why he suggested it. We did take breaks, not for the pain, but to get pictures. Jason, another artist in the studio, took the photos.

I liked Doug; not only was he a great artist, but he was friendly and was chatty as he tattooed me. We were listening to black metal, and we chatted about Mayhem, Watain, Cradle of Filth and then talked about travel. Tattoo #2, like Wraith, didnโ€™t hurt and only took 30 minutes. I created a loving memory for the 7th and now I will look back on the day with loving kindness. I am super grateful for their kind gestures and I’m thinking about writing a thank you note to the studio for creating such a special day.

After, I went back to the convenience mart and the clerk was so happy that I came back. The store was empty and I lifted my shirt. It was covered and she asked if she could uncover it. I said, “sure, if you wouldn’t mind getting photos.” She handled everything with care and absolutely loved my tattoo. She wrapped me back up and gave me extra tape. We spent another 15 minutes chatting about her tattoos. The mailman that I saw while I was getting tattooed, walked in to deliver her mail. I said, “fancy seeing you again!” He smiled and exclaimed, “you were the one getting tattooed! It looked great!” He was a kind older gentleman and that made my afternoon. Talking to the clerk also made my afternoon. I wished her well and I just felt so joyful. It felt great sharing my art with others and in turn, they shared their art with me.


7 November 2019 was the best day ever!

Thankful Thursday 7 November 2019

Today’s the day – today is the sixth anniversary. 7 November 2013 was a Thursday, just like today, and as I write this, some tears are falling.

Thursday, 7 November 2013 was the only day I missed a Thankful Thursday post because I thought I’d write it when I got home from school and work. Obviously, it didn’t happen, and I’ve never missed a post since then. I’m a little superstitious and I’m too afraid of missing a post, fearing it’ll lead to something else happening.

However, on Thursday, 7 November 2019, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m still alive, he didn’t take the physical, mental, or spiritual lights from my life. Although I live with PTSD, I’m more kind and compassionate than I was before I was raped.

I am ashamed to admit this, but I used to judge people harshly, mostly when I was a teenager and when it came to high publicity cases of celebrities assaulting a young woman. I know this was coming from fear – if she would have stayed home, she would have been okay – because as I look back on the feelings I had as a 13, 14, 15 year old, I remember thinking to myself, “if someone raped me, I would kill myself. That would be shameful because that person ruined my honour.” At 24, after it happened, I felt very ashamed of myself and all of the the blame that was placed on me, I felt even worse. I will admit that for a while I was feeling ashamed and suicidal. Well, I am still here and I’m letting go of that shame and now that I am part of the community, I don’t place shame on others either. We did nothing wrong, we couldn’t have prevented what happened to us and the onus belongs to the rapist, the person shouldn’t have violated our boundaries to begin with. Now, I meet people where they are without judgement.

While I wish I was never raped and it’s a horrible thing to go through, I am thankful for what it taught me. In my 20s, I let go of listening to myself because in my teenage years, people thought my intuition was weird and paranoid. I wanted to let go of it in college, I wanted to be liked. Well, silly idea because I let some bad people in. After 7 November 2013, hindsight is always 20/20 and I thought some things leading up to the day were odd, but I chose to ignore it. I don’t ignore my gut feelings now; I listen to my intuition and observations.

I think therapy and talking about the the lead up, with my counselor validating most of my feelings (Brandon would have had to plan it; this was unavoidable and you didn’t have the insight at the time), helped prevent an ugly situation with Savage. Because of Brandon, I’m hyper aware and I really listen to people; if I get a bad vibe, I don’t care how mean I look, I’m walking away. I’m actually really thankful for this insight now. I guess at 30, unlike my teens and 20s, I don’t care what anyone thinks, my safety comes first.

Brandon died on 31 March 2015. I’m not sure what the cause of death was, but he donated organs and I’m surmising that it was some sort of accident. This is a very wild feeling. I could have died six years ago, at 24, but through a miracle I got out alive. The person who tried to kill me, the person who humiliated and bullied me is now dust, while I’m still standing and thriving. He didn’t get Earthly justice, but karma is real.

I’m glad he can’t hurt anyone else anymore, but I do feel for his family. People told me that I shouldn’t, he obviously didn’t care about me, but Brandon did not break my spirit or compassion. In the six years, I’ve chosen to forgive him and myself.

I’m grateful for the people who did support me in 2013; I’m thankful for Darlene coming to appointments so I wouldn’t be so alone; I’m thankful for the coworkers from the library and the internship for giving me the shoulders, hearts, and hands at the time. I’m thankful for all of the support over the years and the people I worked with this year.

Because of this life altering event, I started the Happiness Box Project two years into the healing process and now, four years later, I’ve inspired others. My pain, the work I’ve done and continue to do to reach joy, healing, and community, has lifted so many others. I don’t know if this project would have come to life if I wasn’t raped. I’m thankful for my meaningful life.

Thankful Thursday 31 October 2019

Happy Halloween!

I’m headed to the Academy of Natural Sciences tonight for their spooktacular. I’m thankful that the library still had a pass left and I can enjoy the festivities for free tonight!

I’m still glowing from the Juggalo Prom. I shared my photos with friends and co-workers and they all complimented me. A few even called me prom queen, the glowing prom queen who enjoys life and the memories she makes. I’m grateful for the kind words and I’m still grateful for everyone I met at the prom.

I’m also thankful for friends and family. What are you thankful for?