Thankful Thursday 21 March 2019

I’m feeling better! Although, I still have a cough, but the doctor did say that will last a few weeks even after I’m feeling better. I’m grateful for the better health.

I went back to the library tonight and I had a gift waiting for me. A patron that always comes into the library has some nice bags. I always loved her Grinch bags because I am a Grinch fan, and she always gets a kick out of my comments. Well, she must have had an extra bag because I have my very own Grinch bag now! Next time I see her at the library, I’ll have to thank her. I am very grateful.

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What are you grateful for?

New York City Adventures on the Last Day of Winter

Exploring the Big Apple is always an adventure and the last day of winter brought some beautiful weather.
 
I began my morning with ice skating. I decided to pay for a lesson and I am glad I did because I learned how to skate in circles, change direction, how to prevent myself from falling, and how to stop. Erin was a great instructor and very patient with me. It was a 45 minute lesson, then I had an hour of free-skating. I was really moving on the ice and it was so much fun. I want to share two videos with you:
 
 
I did fall once and a nice young lady helped me up, then gave me some other pointers too. I met quite a few nice people on the rink and we all had fun skating. I liked the music they played – oldies and the classics, I found 60s pop and 70s rock was nicer to skate to. It felt more serious than kiddie pop. I felt like the next Nancy Kerrigan. Okay, maybe not, but hopefully one day!  I also loved looking at Prometheus as I glided and spun around. The sun was shining brightly, yet the ice wasn’t melting. The pigeons were also around and I enjoyed feeding them. I love pigeons and always find joy with them.
 
The session ended at noon and while my stomach was grumbling, I decided that I wanted to explore Rockafeller Plaza some more and take photos. The gardens right near Kate Spade and the other high end stores were gorgeous and fun to explore. There were a lot of photo ops here, but even more photo ops when I walked to 30 Rock, the Rainbow Room, and Radio City Music Hall. I saw a couple of photographers capturing action shots of their friends crossing the street in front of Radio City Music Hall; I asked one of the photographers if she would mind capturing a few photos for me and she did. The action shots were fun and I think in November or December, I might have to catch a show at Radio City… maybe I’ll plan to see the Rockettes. 
 
Over the winter, I discovered a magazine called Gluten-Free Living at Wegmans and in their spring issue, they published an article about GF eating in NYC. They suggested a place called the Little Beet, which has several restaurants throughout the city. There was a Little Beet restaurant a few blocks away from The Rainbow Row/30 Rock and I decided that I would try it. On my walk, there was a section on the Avenue of America that housed food trucks, and it smelled tempting. However, I know most trucks can’t guarantee GF and I opted to take photos of all the people congregated waiting for their food. 
 
Apparently, city, restaurant, and subway photography is my specialty! Some call them random shots and maybe they are, but I find these subjects interesting; especially the New York subway system. New York’s MTA and Toronto’s TTC are my favourites. 
 
Anyway, I found the Little Beet and it was crowded. It took me about twenty minutes to get my food, and the sweet potato chicken bowl I ordered was well worth the wait. It was delicious and 100% guiltin’ free. I love that trademark of their’s (100% guiltin’ free). It also wasn’t expensive, which I appreciated even more. 
 
After I ate, I walked to the subway and took the B to Brighton Beach. I could have taken the D to Coney Island, but I missed that and Brighton Beach was close to Coney Island. It was an hour ride and I loved looking at the scenery. However, when I arrived to Brighton Beach and waited for the Q to Coney Island, I was amazed with how beautiful Brighton Beach was. The sun shining, the beach in the distance, and the nice homes. My cousin lives in Brooklyn now, so I texted my aunt for his number as I waited for the Q. She replied as I was riding on the Q, but unfortunately, my cousin was at work and couldn’t meet up. We are going to plan for the summer, hopefully.
 
Coney Island was neat and it looks like a lot of fun. The amusement park was closed and I was tempted to visit the aquarium, but I didn’t want to pay $25 for only a 45 minute tour (I arrived at 2:45, the aquarium closes at 3:30 in the off season, I could easily spend a few hours in an aquarium) and went to the beach. I set up my towel, kicked off my shoes, rolled up my pants, and walked down to the water. I was going to do a polar plunge, but since I am recovered from my acute bronchitis, I only dipped my feet instead. I walked in the water, watched the seagulls, and the few ships sailing. I spent about an hour and a half on the beach, and I loved sitting from the distance to watch people walk their dogs. It was quiet and peaceful.
 
 
I also walked the boardwalk and sadly, most things were closed. Nathan’s was also closed, but I was able to take photos. There was a souvenir shop and I found this little glass. I don’t drink anymore, but this was too cute to pass up – I’m going to use it as decoration.
 
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When I spend a few days in Asbury Park over the summer, I want to go back to Coney Island and experience the beach when everything is opened.
 
I ended my evening at Friedman’s, a deli with many GF options. I love their GF Reuben and ordered that since I don’t eat them often anymore. My mouth was watering and it was well worth the wait. Friedman’s was the perfect way to wrap up my day in NYC.
 
 
I added a few photos to my Happiness Box and I am planning on making a scrapbook of the day. I did find a few shells on the beach and unfortunately only one did not break in my purse (that went into my Happiness Box). The two that broke, I’m researching whether or not I can place the broken pieces in a scrapbook. I also found some feathers and might include them too.
 
I had a great time and it was a great way to say goodbye to Winter 2018-2019. Thank you for reading my stories; I hope that you enjoyed the photos.

Final Sunday of Winterfest 2019 on Film (3 March 2019)

On Thursday, I picked up the film from the final day of the 25th season of Winterfest at the Blue Cross River Rink. You could tell a storm was a brewing on 3 March 2019, a snow storm that didn’t live up it’s hype, however, it did make for some good ice skating!

 

I absolutely love the River Rink, I always have such a great time and the staff members from Blue Cross are amazing too. I can’t wait to scrapbook these photos. Only two more months until Summerfest!

My Mosque Adventures | In Memory of Christchurch, NZ

Words can’t capture the grief I feel about the 49 innocent people who were murdered yesterday, while worshipping, in New Zealand. The barbarity is astounding and I can’t wrap my head around what makes anyone want to kill.

When I first converted in 2010, Nan was terrified of this happening to me. She had no problem with the fact I changed my religion because she (and my father) taught me that people are people, do no harm to others and treat them with love and kindness. She was more afraid of other people killing me because of the religion I chose to follow. I stopped following for five years and picked it back up two years after she died and sadly, to Nan’s fears that nowadays it doesn’t seem to matter which faith you follow, it’s open season.

I am really afraid now. I do not belong to a mosque, but sometimes when I travel, I visit and attend services. They have all been welcoming, I have met with the imam beforehand, introduced myself, and all was fine. Since men and women pray separately, often the women take me under their wings and include me. I have only experienced love and kindness from mosques and the Muslim communities I’ve met. I really hope I can still experience this.

The last time I went to mosque was when I was in Toronto. The night after I arrived, I decided to visit Danforth Avenue and meet with the imam of that mosque. I met with him after the evening prayer, we talked for a bit, and he showed me around, then showed me where the women enter. He was very friendly. I thanked him for his time.

Ironically, as I was waiting for the TTC to go to Danforth Avenue, I ran into a Muslim young woman. I said hello, introduced myself, she introduced herself, and I asked her for some help with my hijab. She said she was going to a service at another mosque and I was welcomed to join her. I did and I made a new friend: Aisha. She helped me with my hijab and she agreed to a selfie.

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I have this photo tucked into a photo album. ❤

After we washed up (wudu), she showed me around and led me to the prayer room. I met with the other women and since I am still learning, they helped me along. They were very kind and afterward, the women included me in their afternoon tea and lunch. This was Friday, the Muslim day of worship. The lunch was simple: a date sandwich and cardamom tea. They gave me some books and welcomed me to their mosque and couldn’t wait to see me again. I wish I took more pictures, but I will remember the day for the rest of my life.

I know I didn’t have to share my story, but I find joy in this experience, I find joy and happiness in my spiritual journey. I can’t wait to return to Toronto and add more to my story.

I just hope that I can continue to visit, I’m not looked on with suspicion and I really hope that after this tragedy that we can all come together, as human beings, and light this very dark world with love.

A Night of Ice Skating | 8 March 2019

Now that the season for outdoor ice skating has come to an end, I transition to indoor ice skating (when money allows) until roller skating in May, for the summer.

Despite the incident I had two years ago where a teenage boy harassed me, I decided to keep going back in 2018 and now this year. I didn’t see him in 2018 and everyone I met through skating have been kind to me.

Well, last night was no different! The photo below is from April 2018, but I ran into this kind young lady last night and she remembered me! She was happy to see me because she hasn’t seen me in a year. She gave me a big hug and said I’m doing great with ice skating! ❤⛸

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There are days where I feel like I’m not a great ice skater, but her compliment cheered me up. I said, “Thank you. I still have that photo from last year.” She smiled back and said, “so do I!” I know she’s only a young teenager, but I try to be kind to everyone regardless of their stage in life. Besides, I remember when I was her age, I loved being around adults and was always happy when one of the adults stopped doing what they were doing and paid attention to me. I like to return the favour now that I’m an adult. I hope that doesn’t sound creepy.

Dylan, we chatted for half of the session, he had to leave at 8:30. He was pretty friendly and seemed kind. He was interesting to chat with and we exchanged Instragram usernames to keep in touch. I rather keep in touch that way.

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I skated without using the wall as much! I did well and I am proud of myself. I flew and glided, I had so much fun.

 

Thankful Thursday 7 March 2019

Today is Anna’s 31st birthday! Happy birthday, Anna! I haven’t visited you since your 21st birthday in 2009, and it’s due time for another visit (and I love Greenville, SC). I hope 31 brings you everything you have wished for and more. Thank you for being a friend for the past nineteen years. 🙂

2009 seems like it was so long ago – I’m 19 (4 months shy of 20) in these photos – I look like a baby! Ah, good times! I still keep in touch with Lindsey, the other girl in the photo.

Oh, Anna used to be a professional piercer and worked in a piercing shop. She pierced my cartilage and started my love for piercings. Wow! My ears looked so naked back then!

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On Monday, one of my co-workers at my full-time job came back from her two week trip to Mexico. She is first generation American and her grandmother died last year; in Mexican tradition, each year for the first five years after death, living relatives have to travel back to Mexico and spend time with the deceased for a few weeks. It’s almost like Day of the Dead. She surprised me with a beautiful gift, to thank me for my kindness. I was shocked and I placed the beautiful treasure, which both were handmade by local craftsmen, in the makeshift Happiness Box.

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Tonight I took photos of my Happiness Box Project display with my DSLR camera; much better photos! For the past week, everyone I work with has complimented my display, my artistic vision, and the project is such a great idea. Even the public has liked it and I am thankful that I have the opportunity to not only display my projects year after year, but I am allowed to showcase my vision. This is the first year for the Happiness Box Project and I do hope it inspires others.

 

Last night I heard from my Irish cousin and we have shared what’s been happening in our worlds. I am grateful she still keeps in touch and I’m grateful that I’m getting to know my Irish family more. It was wonderful hearing from her last night!

Yesterday, mom dropped me off at the train and dad continues to drop me off in the morning. I am grateful for my parents and all that they do for me. Mom also bought me a GF cake from the flower show on Monday. It was delicious!

What are you grateful for?