2018: A Year of Adventure, Exploration, and Joy

I can’t believe today is the last day of 2018! It feels like I was just welcoming in the year and felt lost. Between a health scare, feeling ugh about being refused from Canada, and a whole lot of other emotions, I wasn’t quite sure how the year would pan out. Fortunately, 2018 was a great year, although it had its ups and downs. As I worked on my health and healed, the year flew!

As you know, I mostly make slide show videos of my year, but I decided not to this year. Last year I ran into problems with PowerPoint because I had way too many photos for the program to handle and purchased a subscription to SmileBox to share the photo memories. I couldn’t justify the cost of Smilebox, I had too many photos for PowerPoint again, and decided to make an album of the year on Shutterfly. It took two hours to upload the 400 photos and I was logged out of my account! Shutterfly canceled the uploading! I took a deep breath and walked away from the computer. I had a different idea instead.

I want to share photo albums I compiled throughout the year. I decided that would be the easiest way to share photos and I can tell some stories about the albums. I couldn’t include every photo and story for my newsletter, and I wanted to share them with you today. I will also include the stories on My Happiness Box Project blog toward the end of the year.


Chinese New Year 2018: Year of the Dog

Day Out With Claire

First time seeing Claire since 2015 and it was a lovely late winter day filled with tea and pho.

Cradle of Filth at the TLA

I can’t resist a black metal show and I’m glad I didn’t miss Cradle of Filth when they were in town on 5 April 2018. I was near-deaf the next day, but the show was worth it. I also made a new friend while waiting in line – Natalie.

Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival

Father-Daughter Day Out at the NMAJH

Dad loved this, and we both enjoyed the Bernstein exhibit.

Mom’s First Orchestra

On 21 April, I took my mom to see Peter and the Wolf. I thought the family day orchestra performance would be a nice introduction and it was! Mom enjoyed the performance and I bought her a ticket to see Cirque du Symphonie in June 2019! We also went to the Famous 4th Street Deli, where I had my last gluten-containing meal: a Reuben, the President Obama special. It was a delicious meal, the perfect send off to the end of eating wheat. I’m a foodie, I incorporate food into my travels, and make it a point to blog about my gluten-free journey now. I hope it helps others in the process!


My first opera in Philadelphia! I decided to get my hair curled and treat myself to one of my favourite restaurants, the Hungry Pigeons. Pigeons are one of my favourite birds and absolutely love the pigeon wallpaper they have in the bathroom. Local produce, cooked to order, and they often have delicious gluten-free options. This was in April, when I first had to go gluten-free, and the chicken was amazing.

The Academy of Music was gorgeous, I sat next to a family from France. They were a joy to chat with before the show and agreed to a selfie. I loved Carmen and Opera Philadelphia put on a wonderful show!

Elaine Baer Memorial

A long-time member of our book discussion group died in March and before the last spring book discussion, we held a memorial for Ms. Elaine. Her relatives came in, shared stories, and we shared our fond memories too.

June Morning Visiting Mill Grove

Mill Grove is one of my favourite spots in Montgomery County. I love spending time with Odin and the other birds.

Warped Tour 2018

36th Annual Turks Head Festival in West Chester

Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC 2018

Sunflowers and Sunny Days

When the sunflowers peaked at the end of July, mom and I ventured to Please Wash Me Car Wash in Elverson to take photos.

The Irish Come to Visit

Bug Fest 2018

Hip City Veg with Candice and Dani

I used to work with Candice and Dani at RTI and it was nice catching up for lunch.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos | 23 September 2018

Dad loved his Father’s Day gift. Next year I want to bring him back to Baltimore for a division game against the Steelers. They also just made the playoffs last night and I hope they will win the Super Bowl!

Members’ Night at the Academy of Natural Sciences

UM Township Library’s Diwali Night


Another favourite of mine and I was so happy to finally see MewithoutYou live!

Holidays with Marsha

For the month of December, I took off from the library on Saturdays to meet up with friends, bake, and other odds and ends. On 8 December, I spent the day with Marsha.

Sunday Ice Skating and Pho

Holidays at the Philadelphia Art Museum and Pho

A Snowgirl and Her Booksmas Tree

Holidays at Aunt Kathy’s

I have a lot of other photos that didn’t make it into albums. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I take a lot of photos, many of which went into my Happiness Box project. I open the box tomorrow and I look forward to sharing the process with you! 😊 I’m excited.

I met a lot of kind people this year and also spent time not only with friends, but family as well. I’m an introvert, but I believe we all need a village of people that prop us up. On 23 December, dad and I visited the Connors. They are Nan’s old neighbours and close friends of ours. We spent an hour chatting and they were happy to see us. I plan on visiting a lot more in 2019. I also plan on attending more interfaith events too.


I hope that you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration and an amazing 2019 filled with much joy!








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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “2018: A Year of Adventure, Exploration, and Joy”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    Wow, what a wonderful year you had, dear friend! As I noted in my previous comment, no one I ever met gets around to more different places and has more interesting and exciting experiences in a single year. I remember studying the opera Carmen in 7th grade music class. I always enjoy tagging along on your adventures, especially when animals are involved such as when you visit Mill Grove. Your visits to the museum always fascinate me and the music shows you attended in 2018 make me envious. Great food, education, cultural enrichment, making friends out of complete strangers, and selfies with big smiles – that’s what 2018 was all about. Your Happiness Box is filled with memories and I am very happy for you.

    I hope 2019 offers more great experiences and many blessings to you and your family. Happy new year, dear friend JM!


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