The Happiness Box Project Initiative
And like the cold white waves crashed onto the shores, winter 2019 disappeared into the sand.
I decided to explore New York City—the Big Apple—on the last day of winter. After a difficult winter, filled with much darkness and sadness after my beloved cat, Mimi, died after a short battle with squamous cell carcinoma, I decided to shoo out the season by getting lost in the Big Apple and Coney Island, and welcome in good tidings for spring.
New York City is always an adventure and the last day of winter brought some beautiful weather. I also found laughter and light throughout my journey. Whenever I travel, I try to visit somewhere I have never been to before and I try new activities. New York City wouldn’t be any different and I planned to visit one place I have never ventured to and I decided to ice skate at Rockefeller Plaza, a dream I’ve had since I taught myself how to ice skate in 2017. I’ve always wanted to glide next to Prometheus and say, “I’ve skated at the Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink!”
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 to skate not only in circles but keep up with and skate with others. I was also living one of my dreams and felt proud of myself that I felt confident again and could glide past Prometheus. Confidence is such a beautiful thing. I love ice skating and can’t wait to skate indoors this spring. I can’t wait to confidently take the ice and skate in the center.
After a delicious gluten-free lunch, my next stop was Coney Island. I’ve never been to Coney Island and I’ve never been to a beach in the winter before; the last day of winter was the perfect time to experience both. Coney Island was neat, and it looks like a lot of fun in the summer. 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 jeans, and walked down to the water. I was going to do a polar plunge, but since I was just recovering from 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 spent another hour walking the boardwalk. Most of the shops were closed and my phone was about to die; I needed a portable charger. There were many people walking the boardwalk and I decided to ask. Coney Island and Brighton Beach have a large Russian community and unfortunately, most of the people I ran into spoke only Russian. When I was a senior in high school, I was planning to learn Russian in college to pair with my German skills, but never followed through when Arabic classes became available in college. However, with me being a polite person, I learned how to say, “thank you” and “please” in Russian (along with “yes” and “no”). “Spasibo,” I replied to each one until I finally found someone who could speak English and pointed me to a shop that was opened.
The Brooklyn Beach Shop didn’t sell chargers, but I ended up buying a few souvenirs and they pointed me to a shop that was a five-minute walk away from the beach. Fortunately, that shop did sell the portable phone charger and I went back to Manhattan for a gluten-free dinner at Friedman’s before heading home. As I was walking from Friedman’s to Penn Station, I ran into a few Rangers fans. I said to a young man, “I love your jersey!” He thanked me, and I stopped to ask him if I could get a selfie with him. His father and another gentleman they were with also decided to join the selfie. I explained that I grew up a Rangers fan since an exchange student that was living with my grandma in the early 90s loved the Rangers and we always watched the games. The men were very friendly, and I wish I had looked at the schedule before I left for the day because I would have stayed for the game. Ah well, I had a full day in New York City and created many memories that will not only fill my Happiness Box, but a scrapbook as well.
For the month of March, my Happiness Box Project has been on display at the Upper Merion Township Library. I have the box, the scrapbooks, and various books about mindfulness, gratitude, and happiness on display. My project has garnered a lot of positive attention and people have expressed not only interest, but awe in the dedication I’ve put into this project. When I created my happiness jar at the end of 2015, I never imagined the project would make it this far. I’m quite happy that it has, and I am glad I continued working on a happiness box when I found the jar too small.
On 1 April, the Happiness Box Project blog on WordPress will celebrate its first year. On 7 April, the Instagram profile I created will celebrate its first year, and the Initiative will celebrate its first year at the end of April. The project really grew in 2018 and I can’t wait to see how it’ll grow in 2019. There will be some changes, with more of an emphasis on self-care and mindfulness, but I still want to build community with others.
I hope that you all have a wonderful Spring and that your season will be filled with many joyful moments that will not only fill your year ahead but will fill your life for years to come. I look forward to reporting back in the summer. Enjoy the upcoming warm weather.