Upper Merion Township Library’s Diwali Night | 5 November 2018

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Light and prosperity and is often associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity. Somewhat similar to Halloween, especially since it usually falls around the same time, diya lamps light the darkness into the new year and fireworks announce the festivities. Diwali fell on 7 November this year, however, the Upper Merion Township Library decided to celebrate on Monday, 5 November 2018. It was a rainy Monday evening, but the diya lamps, story telling, and dancing lighted the bleak evening.

I enjoy helping out with the event. The library staff read a Diwali story to the toddlers, I led the songs about the diya lamps and other traditional activities. I also guided the children when it came to playing with beanbags as we sang about what Diwali meant. Later in the evening, a sculptor came in and taught the older children how to make diyas. I loved guiding the children who were unfamiliar with clay sculpting and I was teaching them different techniques as we built the turtle diya. I took ceramics for two years and I enjoyed instructing. I could do that all day long.

Between story time for the toddlers and the activities for the older children, I had an hour break to watch the dancing. They had five different performances with different age groups performing different types of dances. How lovely and it was awesome to watch!

 

There was even a bizarre going on outside. Tables filled with food, some of it gluten-free, drinks, and information booths advertising ESL classes, Indian history, or other cultural facts. I tried some of the gluten-free treats and wasn’t disappointed.

Before I left for the evening, I asked Ms. Rina for a selfie. I’m very close to her and I am thinking of printing it out and framing it for her. I’m giving my library co-workers pictures from the New Year party last year for the holidays, I may frame this for Ms. Rina.

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Diwali Night was a success! Everyone had so much fun, and I did as well. I kept thinking throughout the night, “this is what makes America great! This is what makes any country great! Diversity is beautiful and it makes the world a lively place. Love and tolerance lights the world too!” I can’t wait until next year’s.

Thankful Thursday 8 November 2018

The fifth anniversary of my assault came and went. Surprisingly, yesterday I felt at peace and while I was surprised with how at peace I felt, I was grateful for it. As I said leading up to 7 November, I am accepting every feeling as they come and I am sure there will be up and down days, like there have been for the past five years. I also know that while time heals wounds, there will always be a scar. Feelings aren’t wrong, but acting in anger/vengeance is never the answer. Even at my lowest point, I try to treat others with kindness and try to help others as best as I can.

I know I haven’t updated since Sunday, but between the Diwali Event at the library on Monday and working on a special project to mark the 5th anniversary, I’ve been focusing on the project. I wrote about what happened to me in 2013, which thinking about, I have told many people about my story but I’ve never really written it for myself. I wrote the facts, but you know what else I wrote about? I received some blow back after it happened (as we see when others come forward, always the blame), but for this page I decided to focus on my friends, co-workers from both my internship and library job, and family come together to be there for me. One of my co-workers from my internship came to some appointments with me, so I wouldn’t be alone. I am grateful for those that helped and I wanted to focus on that.

On the flip side, I wrote “2018” and how far I’ve come in five years. The guy died in 2015 and I remember when I read about it in 2016. He moved back to his hometown on the West Coast and he died there. I found his Facebook one day in January 2016 and was surprised to read “RIP, buddy!” I Googled it and found the obituary, he died at the end of March in 2015. While what he did was wrong, I felt for his family. He was 32 years old and no parent should ever have to bury their child. My heart went out to his loved ones instantly. One friend said, “Serves him right! Karma!” and the shock on her face when I said, “What he did to me was wrong and he hurt me, but I really feel for his family. While I know he most likely didn’t feel that way about me, of course he didn’t, I am not that kind of person. It’s a complicated feeling.” I have chosen to forgive, not only him, but myself. I have grown and I continue to grow, I can’t go back and change something that was so unavoidable. He also can’t hurt anyone else anymore.

I think by completing this project, which I put into my Happiness Box and I will scrapbook when I open the Box in 2019, that put me into a peaceful calm. Who would have thought? Maybe the fact that I could finally scrapbook this year has helped the healing process. Most of my close friends loved the idea and thought this was a productive way of coming to terms with grief. I am thankful to be alive and I am thankful for those that have helped me become 5 years strong.

Anyway, I am thankful for the friends that reached out yesterday. I am thankful for dad picking me up from work and dropping me off at public transit from time to time. I am also grateful that mom printed out my newsletters in colour on her industrial printer. It helped me save money and now I only have to buy postage and some other things. I am grateful for the generosity that will help me keep a budget this holiday season.

I’m also grateful for the community garden that the library has.

What are you thankful for?

Thankful Sunday 4 November 2018

I didn’t take pictures of the book discussion today, but I am always grateful for the book discussion group. It is small and I think that is what makes it so welcoming, especially since I am the youngest one in the group. I joined when I was a senior in high school and while I took a few year break during college, it’s refreshing. Two of my former profs lead the discussion and it was so nice seeing the one today. She always gives me a hug and since Wednesday is the five year anniversary, I needed the peace today. I was surrounded by long time friends and it cheered me up.

I’m also thankful that the playground at my old elementary school reopened two months ago. My old school was 50 years old and they rebuilt it last year, finally finishing in September. I missed the playground and the new playground makes up for the year-long closure. I’m a bit scared to go down the twisty, closed slide because I am afraid I’ll get stuck, but the kiddy slide is fun enough. Though, if I don’t get stuck on the opened slide, I might not get stuck in the closed. Being in closed areas makes me claustrophobic now. It’s okay, I mostly swing and play on the monkey bars. I may be 29, but I think play at every age is healthy. It gets me moving and grooving, there is no age limit to that!

Thankful Friday and Saturday (2 November & 3 November)

Last night I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and saw The Colour Theory perform. I am not a big jazz fan, but I do like watching the local performers at the Art Museum and this group did not disappoint! I am thankful for the programming The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers and I am glad to be a member.

As I was waiting for the bus, I met someone named Jose and he was interesting (in a good way) guy to chat with. He was all kindness and we chatted for a good 15 minutes. Of course, selfie time! I have to print this for my Happiness Box since I have quite the collection of selfies with kind individuals I meet. I am thankful for everyone I encounter and befriend along the way.

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Autumn has finally arrived and according to our weather station here, this is the best colour of the season in a good 10 years since we had a wet and humid summer. It has been windy, but I’ve been taking advantage of the time I have to get pictures!

 

Thankful Thursday 1 November 2018

Happy dia de los Muertos, All Saint’s Day, and the First of November! I can’t believe it’s already November, although it feels like 1 September in Pennsylvania since it was 72 degrees today. Cool weather will be here again soon enough…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween! Co-workers from both jobs loved their treat bags and felt grateful for them. We also had a few trick-or-treaters last night and a group of teenaged girls stopped by. They were dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They loved the emoji pumpkins I created and asked me if I was the one who created to Trumpkin last year. I said, “I did, two years ago!” (I was in Baltimore for the day and my parents arrived home from their cruise on Halloween last year and we didn’t open the door.) They replied, “we come here every year and love the pumpkins you come up with. We loved the Trumpkin and we love the decorations.” They let me take a photo and they agreed to a selfie! I’m thankful for their kindness.

I’m thankful for my friends, my family, and that I have a roof over my head. I am also thankful that I have food in my stomach and while money can be a struggle at times (especially lately), I’m especially thankful for the roof over my head and a loving home. I’m thankful for what my parents do for me.

I’m thankful for my job, especially the library job. The children’s department set up a “Month of Thankfulness” table and for November, I am going to try to post daily for “Thankful November.” I know I did that for the past few years on my former blog, I’m going to do it this year too! It is Thankful November!

What are you thankful for today?

Halloween Celebrations that Will Spook Your Socks Off… or maybe squee

This will mostly be an image blog post. On Friday, my full-time job held the annual pumpkin contest. My department’s theme was Unicorn Land; I made gluten-free cupcakes and wrote the story. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but people loved our theme. HR also loved my story.

On Saturday, I bought a really cute Halloween style shirt at Urban Outfitters. I wore it yesterday–don’t worry, I’ll wear this neat shirt long after Halloween.

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Yesterday, I went to the Academy of Natural Sciences for their Halloween themed enrichment. Luna the Great Horned Owl and the creepy crawlers crept their way into my heart, they added a much-needed touch.

 

I love Halloween.

Jessica Attends Her First Shabbat 26 October 2018

Last night I attended my first Shabbat, which was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia’s Next Gen program. What a beautiful experience! First, they blessed the bread, then the wine, and said a prayer. Afterwards, we broke bread and comingled with one another. I had the chance to meet Will, Joel, Jackie, Stacey, Yoni, Heather, Carol, and a few others. I ate dinner with Will, Jackie and her friend; they were a blast to chat with, especially since Will is starting a business. Before we all parted ways, we exchanged contact numbers and I will be keeping in touch with Will and Yoni. I had a blast and it was a great opportunity to expand my interfaith communities.

I’m sad to report about the massacre at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh today. It breaks my heart that there is still so much hatred out there. I am angry and on Twitter I’ve said some colourful things. I believe in justice and I believe in “do unto others as you would want to be treated.” I can be unkind about criminality and I just wish that every child had the opportunity to comingle with people that are different from them. I believe if every child had that opportunity, it would kill racism and bigotry since they would learn that at the end of the day we are all human beings. We all bleed, we all have the same basic needs, we are not radically different from others. However, I don’t think it’s ever too late to learn and I still believe teens and adults should comingle with people from different backgrounds.