A Different Approach to Scrapping Happiness Jar 2016

Since I ran out of space in March 2016, I managed to write blog entries and keep some calendar pages. I also kept some mementos from trips, as well as photos.

When I posted a video of my finished Happiness Box 2019 scrapbook to Writing.com last month, Elle, one of my pen pals from New Zealand shared one of her jumbo albums she made from 2001. She created it through Blurb books, and the nice thing about that company is you can add your own things after the book arrives. She printed out blog entries and attached them to the album. I thought, “why not do that for Happiness Jar 2016?”

It’s amazing to look at how this project started. While the Jar wasn’t successful in holding a whole year, it was successful in helping me find something bigger to hold a whole year and once I found the Box, the Box was successful. This project has helped me change my thinking, which I wasn’t expecting when I started this at the end of 2015.

Here are the print outs:

In March 2016, my dear friend Shady nominated me for a blog award on Blogger. It was Music and Words Award. It was a special day and I wanted to include it in my Happiness Jar 2016 scrapbook:


Thank you so much Shady for awarding my blog its very first award! I was so excited to receive this comment this morning and it really brightened up my morning. I feel honored, especially since a lot of my travels and writing involves music.

The Music & Words Award was created by music fan Andrea aka Miss Andi for the purpose of acknowledging and bringing together music loving bloggers from all over the world and sharing info

about artists and music of all genres.

No one is obligated to accept the MWA, but those who do are asked to follow these five steps:

1.) Link back to the person who nominated you.

2.) Answer the questions with words AND music.

3.) Pass the award on to 5 bloggers who inspire

     you with their posts about music. Be sure to

     notify them about the award.

4.) Tag your post with #MWA for Music & Words

     Award so we can all find you down the line.

5.) Quote these 5 steps and display the award icon

     in your post and also on your sidebar if you wish. 

The Q & A
  1. What Does Music Mean to You?
I love music. Music defines who I am and it's nothing short of magical. Music has brought me closer to a lot of people, has been comforting in tough times, and celebratory in wonderful times. As I've been working on my travel books, I've come to realize that music defines all of my travels. Music defines my life, but I think music defines everyone's lives. I believe music is powerful and healing. When I was learning how to play the guitar and organ, I experienced so much joy writing and playing my own songs. I loved learning chords, frets, tabs, and how to read music. It felt so magical at 22 years of age learning how to read music notes for the first time before I began my organ lessons (I was 19 years of age when I learned how to read tabs for the guitar). Here are some videos of me playing music:

I can associate music with different events in my life. I have an eclectic taste in music and I guess those different tastes go along with my different interests. Today I wrote a poem about the first time I went to a mosque service. Well, when my friend took me to the service and the anticipation for my first service. I will post the poem about the service too (I wrote the poem last year). Whenever I listen to Omar Souleyman (I tend to listen to a lot of foreign music too), it reminds me of those memories of new experiences. It also reminds me of when I studied Arabic in school and first experienced dining in Arabic restaurants. I love Omar Souleyman's voice and style.

I am thankful my friend agreed to drive me

today—a beautiful sunny day without snow,

a Friday no less, their Holy Day; it was clear.

I decided to go for the noon service,

then the Imam and I would talk shortly after;

but there was no bus that went by the little house—

I am thankful my friend agreed to drive me,

you can tell he’s a little nervous as he jokes;

yet they calm me down too—I’m always so nervous

with new experiences, yet I’m excited;

there is no traffic on the road, from the snowy week

and as soon as he spots the house on the small hill

he turns into the steep light gray gravel driveway,

the evergreen pines block the sunshine from our faces

and breaks; wishing me luck as I hop out of the car.

I thank him again and wave goodbye; a new journey awaits

and I walk over to a group of Muslim women and introduce myself,

they are all so welcoming and the Imam’s wife helps me get ready.

(Still looking for a title for this poem.)

Terzanelle of Spirituality

In our corner of the world, where veiled women gather
on our Persian rugs, we face East--
this is the center of our spirituality.

As the prayers are read, our tears released;
when wind whistles and birds chirp a new Spring:
on our Persian rugs, we face East--

the Imam's voice has a soothing and comforting ring;
a change in weather, of the long snowy winter
when wind whistles and birds chirp a new Spring

into our lungs as the water makes my hair splinter,
a new beginning, almost like being reborn;
a change in weather, of the long snowy winter

that illuminate my awakening, no longer torn,
I find my center, I feel for the first time: at peace--
a new beginning, almost like being reborn,

things I cannot say, cannot ignore, curiosity increased.
As prayers are read, our tears released;
I find my center, I feel the first time: at peace--
this is the center of our spirituality.

Music is healing as well. I remember finding comfort in songs like "Outside" by Staind and "LDLHA-IBCSYWA" after a life changing experience in 2013. Yes, those songs vary widely in genre, but they helped me come to grips with what happened and how life will be changing. Those songs put me in tears, but they were healing.

Outside In

Gray clouds in front of me,
cold air chill my cheeks
to a bright reddish pink.
Staind blasts through my earbuds,
I keep my 2003 Sony walkman between my legs—
despite the pumping
as I soar into the air,
the cold, bitter December staleness
without children's laughter,
running around Everhart Park.
It's just me and my music;
the calm before I go back to work,
before I trek back to campus
down the winding streets
avoiding the store on a street I want to forget,
as I miss the crowds heading for treats;
yet I hear the laughter,
friends chattering, gossiping
miles and miles away:
I turn the music up, damn them all to hell,
this is the only place I'm not scared of,
I don't want to leave this swing
of my favorite park,
despite it being the dead of winter,
ten days before graduation.
I don't want to leave,
I just want to swing and forget
the nightmares, the anger, the emptiness,
I love the chill in the air,
even if it freezes the tears
of me looking from the outside in
to an old life that seemed ages ago—
swing high and let the music numb.

I had the chance to meet Twiztid in 2014 when I saw my first Twiztid concert. I was awestruck when I met Monoxide and Madrox; it was one of the many greatest experiences of my life. I also witnessed at the concert when Twiztid ended with "LDLHA-IBCSYWA" that it left everyone in tears. Before the concert, I heard a few stories of the people I met that night and how that song transformed their lives. It was amazing to hear how one song can effect so many people. I think music is amazing like that.
  1. What is your first music related memory?
Growing up Nan housed a foreign exchange student from Slovakia. Daniel lived with Nan from 1991 until 1996 when he moved to New York City after he graduated college. He would drive down every weekend from New York City and spend time with us. Every Saturday morning we would drive around King of Prussia and Bridgeport to get donuts from Suzy Jo's in Bridgeport and then to Starbucks to get coffee before going back to Nan's house. I looked forward to this every weekend because this was our ritual. Daniel loved grunge and 90s music. We would listen to the radio in Nan's 1987 Buick. These were the songs I remember because I love these songs now.

I also remember when my parents bought me my first CD player on my 9th birthday on July 4, 1998. I was so surprised to see a big black boombox along with a Barenaked Ladie's CD. I loved that band and would listen to that CD for hours on that boombox. My parents then bought me an oldies CD and a Hanson CD to go along with Barenaked Ladies. I still use that boombox and mom and I will be seeing the Barenaked Ladies in June.
  1. What was the first album you purchased yourself?
I remember mom saying to me after I was gifted the boombox in 1998, "there will be no rap in this house!" That changed two years later when I fell in love with Eminem. It took a year before I was actually able to buy one of his CDs, but the first CD I purchased myself (because mom refused to buy an Eminem CD for me) was the edited version of The Marshall Mathers LP. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was August 11, 2001 and I was home from my last week of camp that week. Nan brought me to the King of Prussia Mall and we went into FYE. I walked over to the rap section, picked out the CD, then put my hard earned babysitting money onto the counter and purchased the CD for $17.99. I still have that CD, but I bought the unedited version at the FYE in Philadelphia three years ago. I still love that album.

It's funny because that year for the holidays my parents did get me the edited version of The Slim Shady LP. I listened to edited music until 2003, four months shy of turning 14. The first unedited album I bought myself (with babysitting money and money I made while helping mom at work) was Korn's Follow The Leader. I love that Korn album.
  1. What was the latest music you purchased?(No online streaming or free downloads,
I’m talking about cash here!)

I only purchase my songs - even in the days of Napster and Limewire, I always paid for my services and bought CDs (I still buy CDs). I love supporting artists. Anyway, the latest music I purchased both on iTunes and CD purchases have been the following:

I love Otep and I really loved these songs when I was in middle school. I could relate to them and they made me feel less alone. I have to thank Anna for introducing me to this group - Otep is amazing. I love the raw energy. I was participating in a Soundtrackers challenge and thought about Blood Pigs. I hadn't listened to that song in a while and had to buy it, along with "Possession" and "My Confession." So glad I did.

I loved seeing the Hegazy sisters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art two weeks ago. I loved their songs, especially how they incorporated both English and Arabic. Anyone who covers Amr Diab's"Habibi" is awesome in my book. Just so many great memories of Arabic class and traveling with my class to different events. I had to purchase their CDs - I am so glad I did, I've been listening non-stop. I also sent some CDs to Christina and Andrew (yes, I purchased CDs for my friends as well).

Another act I loved seeing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I had to purchase Arooj Aftab's CD and this has been an album that relaxes me. She has such a soothing voice.

I love Caskey and although I could have downloaded this album for free, I wanted to buy Black Sheep III. I'm glad he was selling CDs because like I said, I like supporting artists. Back in 2014, Caskey sent me Black Sheep I for free and I loved the first album so much I wanted the third one. He even signed Black Sheep III for me. I love Caskey's style and the way he writes his lyrics. The imagery is just so raw and everything he raps about is heartfelt. 

Drake - Hotline Bling. Yes, this is a guilty pleasure song of mine. I've actually started really getting into Drake. I also bought If You're Reading This, You're Too Late... such a great album.

In This Moment- Adrenalize: I have to thank my dear friend Shady for introducing me to this song. I love it and I love working out to this song. I can't wait to listen to more of this band!

P.O.D.'s Alive and Youth of the Nation. These two were my favorite songs from when I was 12-14. I still love these songs very much.
  1. Which song did you listen to last? (No cheating, come out with the dirty pleasures!)
I have a lot of guilty pleasures, but the last song I listened to was Rainey Quailey's Me & Johnny Cash. I LOVE this song and I will admit that I do like country music. I'm not sure if I shared this back in January, but my aunt and uncle put Daphne to sleep. When I watched her for Thanksgiving, I had to leave the TV on for her to calm her. She hated being left alone - when I wasn't sleeping or with my parents, Daphne and I would watch TV together. One morning after Cooking with Julie Taboolie (awesome Arabic cooking show!) was over, I flipped on MTV U and they were playing Rainey Quailey's song. Daphne and I watched it and I will admit that I was dancing with her (lightly of course, she had hip displasia) with that song. Daphne and I enjoyed watching TV together - it was a very special moment. I think I might write a poem about that. :)

Now my nominations:

Charlie's Life's Needle Drop. One of my Writing.com friends and his blog is awesome. I love the music he posts and the vignettes he writes to the songs he posts. Charlie has many wonderful stories.

Andrew's Air Nice-to-Livelands. I love Andrew's blog posts and the music he posts. He has introduced me to some wonderful music over the years! He tells some wonderful stories and posts some great pictures along with his music.

Janie's Righting and Editing. I love the music battles she holds every week - like Andrew, she has introduced me to some great music. I just love Janie's blog in general.

Norb's Soundtracked. This was his blog for Soundtrackers - he has a lot of great music and stories to go along with the music. I love the way Norb writes.

Kitti's Soundtrack to a Feline's Life. Another Soundtracker blog, but amazing!


Back then I blogged on Blogger and while it’s private now, I still have the blog. I printed my Toronto and Asbury Park travels, I’ll print later in the year at a later time.

I scrapped some of the big events and photos already. There are still others I will have to create.


2016 was a good year. While I didn’t get to Canada in 2017, I am going to try again and next time I try again, I know what to do. I feel like even though there are some hard and uncomfortable moments in my life, there are also some beautiful and grateful moments too.

Published by


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 “A Different Approach to Scrapping Happiness Jar 2016”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    I was on the road nine hours yesterday, taking my stepson to a medical facility across the state for shoulder surgery. We arrived home late and I went straight to bed.

    It was exciting to flash back to March of 2016 when I shared that blogging award with you when we were both still using Blogger. I enjoyed reviewing your answers to the music questions and reading your poems again. I see that you nominated Janie Junebug for the award back then. It was nice to recall that your parents bought you your first CD player for your 9th birthday on July 4, 1998, and that it came with a Barenaked Ladies CD soon followed by an oldies collection and a Hanson CD. I’d love to know which oldies were on that first disc you played. I am reminded of my 15th birthday when my folks surprised me with a stereo which was a step up from the old record player I had been using. They included with it a Roger Miller album. It was their not so subtle way of letting me know they didn’t approved of the rock music I listened to and an effort to steer me toward “good music.” 🙂 To my surprise I actually enjoyed that Roger Miller album. it helped expand my musical horizons and develop my eclectic taste.

    Thanks for mentioning me in your post and for all these years of great friendship, dear JM. Have a safe and happy weekend!


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