Thankful Thursday 28 January 2021

It’s the last Thursday of January, can you believe it?! One month down, eleven more to go. This first month was merry-go-sorry, a continuation of 2020, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes. I’m remaining hopeful.

Happy Tu B’Shevat! It’s the Jewish New Year of the Trees! What’s the significance of this? It has to do with the rainy season in Israel, which commences with the festival of Sukkot. It takes four months for the rains to saturate the soil, nurture the trees and coax them into producing fruit. This is important to know if you are planning to give your tithes of fruits, as is done in the Land of Israel, because the required tithes vary from year to year. It’s also important if you are a tree and looking for something to celebrate.

We humans can also celebrate along with the trees. After all, the Torah says, “Man is a tree of the field.” We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce fruits that benefit the world—namely, our good deeds.

I’m thankful for my Jewish groups. Last Friday I met up with Mallory and she gave me a box to celebrate. I was also given a succulent to grow. After I met up with Mallory, I walked down to the OCJAC and they left my Shabbox for me. Since I work, I couldn’t make the meet-up before sundown. The Rabbi would have dropped it off for me, but I told him I’d pick it up later. He left it on the door for me and I was verklempt with his kindness.

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

In Memory of Nan | 4 May 1923 – 25 January 2013

On this day, 8 years ago, the world lost a diamond. Nan was one of the most kind, compassionate, adventurous woman I knew. Some day, I hope to be just like her. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

I threw away a bunch of cards last night, but kept all of the cards of relatives who have died. In the last few years of Nan’s life, I noticed a trend when it came to X-mas. Even though I was in transition and just spiritual from 2010 until her death, she knew I didn’t celebrate Christmas. Instead, she gave me holiday cards that didn’t say “Merry Christmas.” She gave me “Happy Holiday” cards that spelled out her love for me. I never noticed it until last night. Nan always accepted me for who I was and she didn’t have any expectations of who she wanted me to be, she loved me for who I am. I know she would be so proud of me now.

I’m verklempt and I really miss Nan. 8 years and it still feels like yesterday. Time hasn’t healed me, I still feel lost without her.

Here are some songs that remind me of Nan:

Nan had this on vinyl.
Nan also had this on vinyl.
Nan loved Gloria Estefan. She had this song on cassette.
Nan also had this on cassette.

Love and miss you, Nan! Until we meet again…

Thankful Thursday 21 January 2021

It’s Thursday already?! It’s almost the end of January?! Time sure is flying!

I’m grateful that there was a peaceful transition of power yesterday. I’m grateful that Donald and Melania vacated without a stir. I’m grateful that VP Harris and President Biden were safe during the inauguration. Here’s hope that the next four years will be peaceful.

Some great news! Alex just reached out to me and he heard from one of his Rabbis. He told the Rabbi my story and the Rabbi can’t wait to work with me. (I have to send him a text after “An Evening with B.J. Novak” is over.) I can’t wait to finalize my journey and I’m super excited!

What are you grateful for today?

World Kindness Day | How I Marked Inauguration Day 2017 ‘World Kindness Day’ and How Trump’s Impact Shaped 2017

One more day until the Trump Presidency comes to an end, although I believe we will feel its impacts for many years to come.

On 19 January 2017, I marked my work calendar as “World Kindness Day” for 20 January 2017. Although it was my cousin Matthew’s 21st birthday (and he celebrated with my cousin Kaitlyn in Washington, D.C., where she lives, which prompted her to post, “Happy birthday to my brother, even though the Orange is getting sworn in right now.”), 20 January 2017 was Inauguration Day. I, like millions of others, were dreading this day and I decided to make it “World Kindness Day.”

I’m only going to focus on 2017 for this entry because the Trump Presidency was exhausting. Yet, I can be grateful in a way because 2017 was the first year I used a Happiness Box and his utter chaos and absurdity sort of helped build this project. I won’t claim that too much because he might sue me for royalties and I wish I could say that was a joke, but that petty man would probably find ways to milk something and clean it dry. I made my project successful and it really helped during these four long years.

Let’s begin on World Kindness Day, 20 January 2017.

After Trump was inaugurated, our local Metro paper posted an article about a new species of moth that was named after him. Ironically, this moth was named because it was becoming endangered and the scientist hoped that by calling the moth Donaldtrumpi would educate the public about the real threats of climate change.

If you’d like to learn more about the Donaldtrumpi moth, please read this article. Moths scare me (I’ve had a lifelong fear of moths), but this is interesting: The Metaphorical Meaning of a Moth Named After Trump

Right away, Trump set to work on the Muslim Ban, anti-Semitism and hate crimes sky-rocketed. Then his staff scrubbed the White House’s LGBTQIA page clean, our Asian, Black, Brown, and handycapped friends all became targets under this administration. I held my friends tightly and close; I hung out with Danielle and her boyfriend, Lee, a week after “World Kindness Day” and we danced to her father’s band. I also sent my dentist a Lunar New Year card and celebrated the Year of the Rooster in Philadelphia’s China Town.

A Jewish cemetery was defaced and I read about it in the Metro. I reached out to one of the coordinators of the Jewish Federation and donated some money. Thus, began my relationship with the Jewish Federation. I took a DNA test in July 2017 and that helped on the journey too. 2017 began my spiritual journey.

Around February, this flyer popped up in the library, near the young adult section. I know children, teens, and young adults were feeling especially afraid.

I was so happy to see this. It was so wonderful seeing others try to spread kindness around as well. In the first few months, random acts of kindness mattered.

On 1 March 2017, I was issued my invitation to apply for residency in Canada. I’m thankful for those who helped me reach my financial goals and while I was refused residency in October (my full-time job didn’t write the letter), I’m thankful for those who let me use those funds for the liver crisis that popped up and led to the Celiac diagnosis. Although I didn’t make it in 2017, things happen for a reason and I can try again when things are more settled. I can also try again when there are better relations between the foreign countries and the US. Donald Trump destroyed all of those relationships and built better ones with dictators.

Ah, back when I still had Facebook. I deleted it in 2018 and don’t miss it at all.

Science was placed by “alternative facts.” We pulled out of the Paris Accord and the dumb-dumb in chief said windmills can cause cancer. “Alternative facts” are lies and the scientific communities came together on Earth Day and marched. I had the pleasure of being present for the march in Philadelphia on 22 April 2017.

Even the Juggalos marched on 17 September 2017. The Browns invited me on a trip to Washington, DC, so I was able to go for a little bit. Juggalos are so kind and I felt safe. Ironically, Juggalos are better behaved than the White Supremacists that met on 6 January 2021. We were peaceful and kept it peaceful, and the fact that we’re labeled a gang is so wrong.

I am grateful that the Browns invited me and that the Browns welcomed me into their family. We may be neighbours, but they treat me as family. All of my communities and I came together for celebration and that love countered the hate.

Even travelling brought kindness. When I went to Atlantic City on 26 August 2017, someone gave me their rented beach chair. They were leaving and saw me sitting on the sand, so they offered me their chair. That was so beautiful.

I went to Baltimore a week later and the Air BnB I stayed in was awesome too. Max, the owner, invited me to watch college football with his friends. I watched the games with them for a few hours and sadly, I didn’t get photos of this, but I did of the accommodation. Max was friendly and his friends were courteous, they weren’t loud, and it was a good experience. That was my first time using Air BnB.

Yet, there was more absurdity in the summer. In August, Townsends, a Colonial cooking YouTube, showed a video about making an Orange Fool. A fool is custard dessert and has nothing to do with Trump. Yet, the Trumpflakes saw this and trolled the heck out of Townsends, which prompted Townsends to create a YouTube video condemning this trolling. I made an orange fool and it was good.

This is only the tip of the ice berg, but I think I’ve done a good job documenting life during this presidency through this blog. While the Trump Presidency is coming to an end, let’s dub 20 January 2021 as “World Kindness Day” again. Let’s Make America Kind Again and let us build back empathy.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Friday would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 92nd birthday and today the US celebrated his holiday. The Happiness Box Project lives by Dr. King’s philosophy that I do not judge the person by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. The Happiness Box Project also believes in Dr. King’s following quote as well:

This year my full-time job gave us this Federal holiday off. In the past, we never did, but they are doing away with floating holidays. However, the wellness meeting was still held today and I presented my Happiness Box Project. Only me, Tasha, Dr. Jen, and someone else was in attendance.

Needless to say, Zoom bloopers! Yesterday I was chatting with Claire and Christina and Christina suggested I take photos of the contents of the Happiness Box, so I did. I talked about the Happiness Box and when I tried to share the pictures, the audience could only see the thumbnails. Unfortunately, with Zoom, I think I could only share one thing and I shared that document. I had no idea how to change it.

Oh well, we laughed it off and I explained the photos and the project. I suggested to start, they could always write week by week or month by month. The Jar was my practice, and since I like to write, I like writing every day. I also journal reflections at the end of the month, and then I write articles at the end of the year.

Tasha and Dr. Jen loved my project and Tasha recorded our session for other employees to watch. My Happiness Box Project is becoming famous!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, dear readers! Let me end this post on this note:

Thankful Thursday 14 January 2021

Happy Thursday, dear readers! We’re half-way through the first month of 2021, and I think we’ll keep the current year. It’s up to us to make lemonade out of lemons and finding the tune in the rain to dance to.

I survived almost a week in my new role! I had some anxiety about timing issues and tech issues, so first thing is first, I want to thank all of you that listened. Both issues have been smoothed out, and it truly was first week grumbling. I’ve had another newbie e-mail me some questions and we’re both in the same boat.

I’m learning the reigns, but once I get used to the analytics and get the programming I need to learn, it’ll be all good. With some practice and patience, I will be there in no time (okay, I am giving myself a good six months to learn, which is a good rule of thumb). I’m thankful for my new co-workers, they’ve been very helpful.

I officially joined OCJAC! Rabbi Zash was extremely helpful in signing me up. I can’t wait to join weekly Shabbat Zooms and I can’t wait to tour the galleries, by appointment only. I’m hoping that I can awaken my artistic spirit and maybe I’ll share some of my scrapbooks with the community. I am grateful for this opportunity. Here is their site: https://www.ocjac.org/

I’m thankful that there is less than a week left of the Trump Presidency and he was impeached for the second time. I’m praying for peace on the 20th and that we can usher a wave of kindness in. Stay tuned, I am going to do a special post (or two) leading up the inauguration.

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

Making Pelmeni with Jonathan of RSJ Philadelphia (9 January 2021)

After Shabbat ended on Saturday evening, Jonathan of RSJ Philadelphia hosted a Zoom cooking class. I was excited about learning something new and was happy to see that six others were in attendence.

Pelmeni are Russian dumplings that are similar to Piergis. This was Jonathan’s first time making them too, but his grandmother used to make them. I enjoyed hearing his beautiful memories – of how mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough brought them closer together. It reminded me of when I used to help Nan make spaghetti (same process).

I made my Pelmeni gluten free of course. As I was mixing the dough and meat, listening to Jonathan and the others laugh, I began to laugh. Not only did I remember Nan through Jonathan’s memories of his grandmother, I was making new memories with one friend and new people. Such a beautiful hour!

I decided to cook them the next day and have them for dinner. I boiled the dumplings in chicken broth. I let them cook for 20 minutes and topped it with fennel.

Mom and dad had a few of the dumplings. They thought they were very good, but the dough was a bit too thick. The dough kept sticking to the rolling pin and mom said next time I make them, she will help me roll the dough.

Not perfect, but delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again. Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS FOR PELMENI FILLING

2 lb ground meat (chicken, turkey and mixing in ground beef)

1 large onion grated

1/2 tbsp salt to taste

1 tsp pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR PELMENI DOUGH

3 cup flour (depending on brand, you may need to add more)

2/3 cup luke warm water

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

I used beef and veal for the mixture. I also used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure GF all purpose flour.

L’Chaim!

When Friendships End

I know that this is a Happiness Box Project, but loss and sadness are all parts of life. I don’t believe in toxic positivity and think that expression of all feelings leads to a healthy life. A healthy individual experiences all emotions and works through them.

We all need a support system and friends are a healthy part of life. Unfortunately, some friendships don’t last. Some enter for a season, but there is a reason for the season, and some seasons are longer than others. We all grow and change, it’s an inevitable part of life and sometimes good friends don’t follow us. It happens and while it is sad, one really can’t place blame. One reflects and moves on.

Marsha and I aren’t friends anymore. She cited I have too many personal and anxiety issues, which I should get professional help for. I disagree, I was getting professional help and while it helped during the sessions and I can apply to most things in life, with the advent of COVID-19 and being in most of the time, the triggers are unavoidable. Therapy over the phone is not private and I’ve done therapeutic chat rooms that help. However, I don’t believe that was the main reason. I am of a different religion and to some Christians, if they can’t “save” you, you’re a lost cause.

I was actually reevaluating the friendship a few weeks ago when I saw some cards from her that emphasized Jesus and the Christian holidays. She knows how I feel about it all and disregarded. I never really noticed, but since I am cleaning out for new carpets, I saw and I saw it for what it was. I come from a diverse background and I love diversity. We were growing apart and that is okay.

I cut ties and for my sanity, I will not be reevaluating the friendship. She was in my life for a season, the season had a reason, but I am on a different path and I don’t want to be judged harshly for it. That is okay. No blame placed, just a mutual agreement that things weren’t working out.