My First Circle Journal!

On Monday afternoon, a lovely surprise came in the mail! My first circle journal made it back to me!

The pen pal group I belong to on has been running the Circle of Friends Project since 2014. When I first participated in 2014-2015’s my circle journal was lost somewhere in translation and across not only the Atlantic waves, but the Pacific and Indian Ocean waves. I missed 2016-2018’s and after a rough start to 2019-2021’s (first journal was lost), my first completed circle journal made it home to me in King of Prussia, PA.

Thankful Thursday 15 October 2020

It feels so good to be back at the library. Even though it’s 4 hours per week, 2 hours on Tuesdays and 2 hours on Thursdays, I’m so grateful to be back. When I went back on Tuesday, everyone was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see everyone too. It felt odd that Mrs. Davenport was gone, but her spirit is alive and well.

I feel thankful for friends, family and life in general. What are you thankful for?

Philadelphia Museum of Art | 10 October 2020

On Saturday, I ventured to Philadelphia to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I haven’t been there for close to nine months and since I am a member, I wanted to pay the museum a visit.

My entrance time was 11:30 am. I went to the Italian Market beforehand to go to Taffet’s gluten-free bakery to pick up some Challah bread. I ended up getting GF biscotti and a GF Philly pretzel (I haven’t had one since the diagnosis), then some fresh vegetables from across the street. I hope the Art Museum would let me in with all of the groceries.

Before I hopped on the bus, I stopped at Starbucks for my favourite PSL, and loved the sticky notes that the employees posted for customers to take. I took the pumpkin notes:

As I began to walk to the bus, an elderly man down on his luck was asking for money. I stopped and said, “I don’t have money, but I have an abundance of produce. Would you care for some of the produce?” He didn’t need anything, he thanked me for my kindness, he could tell I have a good heart, then proceeded to tell me: “I’m not homeless. I’m retired and what I get in retirement money, goes to rent and living expenses. I don’t have much. While some produce sounds nice, I don’t really like peppers.” (I had an over abundance of peppers.) I believed him, he thanked me again, and I continued on my way to the bus.

I just made it and they dropped me off at the front of the museum. I climbed the Rocky steps and as I made it to the top, since it was 11:30 at that point, I realized the front of the museum was closed. I had to walk down the ramp and walk to the side. I made it in at 11:35. My temperature was checked, the guards looked through my bag, and despite the produce, I was good to go.

As I walked through the long hallway to the stairs, I saw my favourite security guard! We were so happy to see one another and we caught up for a few minutes. I’m finding some people are like me: the mask muffles communication and conversations are limited. That’s okay, I haven’t seen her in almost 9 months and it was great to see her and that she was doing well.

While most of the exhibits were opened, there were limits to how many people could be in a gallery. I took quick photos and had some guests take photos too. Most of the visitors were from the tri-state area, and from other parts of the US. It felt odd not seeing all of the international guests that usually visit, pre-COVID.

At around 1:45, the Art Museum started to get really crowded. My personal rule since I am considered high risk: avoid large crowds, and wash my hands like crazy. I probably won’t be going back to the Art Museum for a while; since Friday night performances are on hold (as are Wednesday after-hour events), I probably will only go for new exhibits. I became a member for the entertainment and activities. They’re online, so I can still do them from the comfort of my own home! The Philadelphia Museum of Art was more crowded than the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute. However, I went to those two museums in August. I’m taking dad to the FI on Saturday for a belated birthday gift, I’ll see if autumn draws more people to museums.

I climbed the Rocky stairs again and had someone take my photo of the beautiful autumn scene behind me, for my Happiness Box.

After, I took the bus to Old City and went to the Independence Hall Park. There was this one maple, full red and orange. It was gorgeous and I had to take some photos. A family visiting from California took my picture underneath the tree.

I still have to print the photo, but I want to use the photo of me underneath the tree for Saturday’s Happiness Box photo. I already wrote the note and stuck the sticky notes on the front, I just have to print a photo. I might also print the other tree photos (without me).

I had a lovely day and I absolutely love autumn. I can’t wait to spend more time outside and enjoy nature’s beauty of letting go.

The Joy in “It Really Is a Small World” Stories

Before Sukkot, I went to a different Super Cuts and had my hair cut and the undercut done. I’m glad that the salons have opened, even though they take our temperatures and ask us many questions. Dana, my stylist, was friendly and chatty. We were chatting about family, piercings, tattoos, our Bubbes (Ah, Nan), the warm memories, and different holidays.

By the end, after Dana styled my hair and was about to put it into a bun, he asked if I was familiar with Tribe12. I said I participated in a Zoom event at the end of Yom Kippur, then I thought and said, “you were the one with the one eyed cat!” He replied, “Yes, Beaker!” The other stylist laughed, apparently his cat is famous.

It truly is a small world and I’m going to keep going back to Dana. Here’s to many more laughs.

Sukkot 2020

Shabbat Shalom! Chag Sameach! Sukkat has commenced and Friday night was a lot of fun. It was great catching up with Jonathan and Sasha. It was also nice meeting new people, especially one aspiring Opera singer named Sarah. It was a windy day and Jonathan, along with Sasha, Ben, and Alex had trouble pitching the Sukkah. For Sukkah, you’re supposed to sit in a shelter outside. Earlier that day, the Sukkah blew away. Eventually, they realized they can’t pitch a tent in cement, so the guys held the Sukkah and Sasha asked if I would take a photo of him in it. I did.

As they were setting up the Sukkah, we were hungry. We said the Hamtozi, they cut the Challah and I had my gluten-free bread. After the guys gave up on the Sukkah, there was a lot of laughter over Uzbeki food, red wine, grape juice, and s’mores. A chilly October evening to remember.

Learning Through Error | Halloween Treat Edition

Most things translate well into gluten-free, but some things don’t. Two years ago I bought a Halloween recipe magazine and while they’re gluten-full recipes, many I can make gluten-free. Here is what I was going to make tonight:

 The GF cornbread didn’t quite work because it fell apart when I tried hallowing it. The chili I bought had gluten in it, so I used chipped beef that I flavoured like chili.

Wasn’t bad, but next time I’m going to make just a cornbread coffin that I won’t fill and the content will be outside. The ghosts can float over a GF chili bog to the coffin. Hey, I’m learning and we all learn through error, that’s how we grow. Ghosts didn’t quite turn out, but they were delicious.

You Walk, Girl! | Prevention’s Fall Walk | 3 October 2020

You walk, girl! Yesterday, I completed Prevention magazine’s Virtual Fall Walk in two hours. 4.8 miles, 11,600 steps. I walked all through Upper Merion.

Can’t wait to go back to the library on 13 October!

Here are some gems I was listening to while I was walking:

I haven’t heard this song in six years or so; it was a welcomed surprise.

I can’t wait for the next walk, which will be next May. Prevention holds two walks per year: in May, in the beauty of spring; and in October, in the beauty of the newness of autumn.

I’m glad that when I went food shopping in April, I saw their May issue of “Walk Anxiety Away” and learned about the walk. I look forward to doing these for years to come.

Thankful Thursday 1 October 2020

Happy 1st October! It’s officially spooky season!

Since it’s officially Spooky Season, Philadelphia is holding socially distant Halloween parties. On Sunday before Yom Kippur, Moishe House sent around an e-mail about Shabbat events in October. They all had RSVP’s on Facebook. I haven’t had Facebook for a few years, so I e-mailed them.

I heard nothing, so I attempted to bring back Wesley’s profile, nothing. It was deleted and I could only get it back if friends verified. My friends couldn’t. I tried creating my own profile just to RSVP to Moishe House events, and I got a message saying Facebook couldn’t verify my identity. I didn’t want to rejoin anyway, so I let it go and I e-mailed my friend instead. He helps with the events and unfortunately, the Halloween party sold out on the 16th, but I am scheduled to go to the Sukkot (end) dinner on the 9th. I am grateful Jonathon reached out to me and set me up for one of the events. Even though I am disappointed about the Halloween party, at least I am going to one and that’s better than nothing.

I am going to two other Halloween parties in Philadelphia at the end of the month instead. I ordered my Halloween costume last night, I’m going to be Harley Quinn. Mom recommended and I found the costume there. I’m thankful mom suggested that website.

I’m thankful for Ms. Ernestine, she made me this lovely gift – she had it at her desk since last week, since her office day is on Friday and mine is on Thursday, so today I picked it up. She knows I love the Peyton Heart Project and I’m just very verklempt.

I forgot to post the photo of the gift from the Jewish Federation, so here it is. I’m still very thankful.

I’m also thankful for the changing leaves and it’s getting cooler too. I love this time of year.

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

May you be sealed in the book of life | Yom Kippur 2020

*StarDavid* May you be sealed in the book of life. *StarDavid*

I love Holiday Zooms with Tribe12! Last night I participated in the Zoom version of breaking our fasts. Not everyone could fast on food (like me), but we all fasted from other things we love. Others were new to this as well, and we all agreed, we found our new home (our sense of belonging).

We talked about our Taschlik. Mine for this year is letting go of anxiety and building stronger boundaries. Sometimes I pause when I talk because sometimes I really think about what I say. I shared what I wrote on my blog on Sunday evening. I’m also working on deep breathing exercises.

While I’m only human and forgiveness won’t ever stop, I think having a strong sense of who you are, it would bring less hurt to others. Mallory, and Doreena loved my answer, at least from what I could see. I love my Shabbat and holiday groups because I can be vulnerable. Vulnerability, so beautiful.

I also received a lovely gift from the Jewish Federation today, thanking me for attending their Zoom Rosh Hashana event last week. I feel verklempt. The High Holidays have come to an end. Now it’s time to get ready for Sukkot, Hanukkah and family co-existence for Christmas.

Zoom, so typical of 2020. At least it’s a way to connect with others and have a great time.