Happiness in Every Day Life

Since COVID-19 hit the US and Canada, people have been taking to social media and saying that this virus is a reset. A reset of the economy, a reset of travel, a reset of how we treat one another, and a reset of pretty much everything.

Last week I was feeling pretty depressed. Since starting the Happiness Box Project in 2016, day trips on weekends and a few trips became the norm. I was worried that without being able to travel anymore, my Happiness Box would suffer.  Only time will tell if that’s the case, but so far I think I was being too dramatic.

Since we had a Leap Day last month, starting on 1 March 2020, we now have the same days as 2015. I’m a calendar person and I remember dates well (I guess that’s why I love history so much and started as a history major – fun fact: 2015 had the same dates as 2009). With the downtime, I’ve been looking at old pictures, especially ones from 2015.

2015 was an interesting year. I was already one year out of school and had my 10 hour a week library job. I needed a full-time job badly. Up until I went to the Senior Center on 16 April 2015, I was floundering. I used to go with Nan all the time and the Senior Center remembered me. I saw Harlese six months earlier and told her my struggles of finding work. I was shopping at Wegmans in October 2014, I ran into her and she asked me how I was. After our conversation, she told me to stop by the senior center some time and visit.

I decided to go on that day and visit. I don’t know why I decided to go on that day, it was a Thursday and BINGO day. Nan used to love BINGO, as did my great grandma. I figured, most of the people I know would be there and I wanted to visit. I hadn’t been to the Senior Center since 2011 and I wanted to visit.

Harlese and Mary, the President at the time, were shocked to see me when I walked in. They were shocked and elated; it had been way too long. Harlese asked me how I was, asked how the job hunt was going and I told her. Harlese and Mary went into the back, discussed some things, came out and said, “since so and so is having to care for her ill mother, how would you like to work here?” I agreed and I became a contract worker for the UM Senior Center on 20 April 2015.

That was the best four months of my life. I helped with the newsletter, helped with the activities, took photos of the activities for the newsletter, made new friends with the seniors, and it felt great to have a job. I helped recruit a member. She was unsure if she wanted to join, but her son wanted her to get out of the house. Mary knew I have the penchant of making friends out of strangers, so I was partnered with Mrs. Maskomovitch (I graduated high school with her grandson) and we became friends. She loved hanging out with me during events, but not only that, she loved how friendly and welcoming I was. She felt more comfortable with joining and joined with an open heart.

My contract ended on 24 August 2015. I got a two week job at the county that October, but it was an election year and I think it was a case of sour grapes, they let me go because I was “too creative.” I started my current full-time job on 30 November 2015 and here I am, almost five years later.

I only took a day trip to NYC in 2015. I went on 3 July 2015, to celebrate my 26th birthday a day early. Even though I didn’t take any overnight trips in 2015, I savoured that day in NYC. That was the best way to welcome in 26, even if it was a day early.

I did a lot in Philadelphia and became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Selfies with Strangers started in May 2015. I had fun meeting people around the city and have many pictures to prove it. I met two gay guys in Rittenhouse Square and they agreed to a photoshoot with me; we used my DSLR camera. I remember the laughter that day.

I also spent a lot of time with friends. Marsha, Liz visited from Alaska on 23 March 2015 and that was my first time seeing her since 2010. I also spent time with Claire, Dave visited from Staten Island and we saw the Phillies/Mets, but I mostly spent time with Marsha and Claire. Not much has changed on that front. Claire also took me to my first Orchestra in October 2015.

Oh yeah, this was the year I made my foray into ice skating. I went to the Rothman Rink on 13 November 2015. I didn’t do too well, was too nervous and didn’t go back for another year. In 2016, I learned about the RiverRink and that I could get free admission since I have their insurance. These are fun photos from 13 November 2015. Look how far I’ve come since then!

Looking back, that was one of the best years of my life. This was before I started the Happiness Box, but maybe I’ll make an album, as the precursor to the Happiness Jar, which was the precursor of the Happiness Box.

We make our own happiness and anything can bring us joy. We don’t have to be fancy or a globetrotter to be happy or joyful, in fact, if we do that all the time… that’s exhausting. I’m an introvert and being on the move 24/7 is draining. Joy can be found in simple moments shared with family, friends, and others. Kindness and community are some examples too.

Although, COVID-19 is scary, we will get through this and in this time, we will build our gratitude, joy, and socializing with others in new ways. We are one community and we will get through this crisis.

Thankful Thursday 19 March 2020

This is going to be a happier post than the past few weeks. While the COVID-19 conditions aren’t cheerful or awe inspiring, I am finding gratitude in these moments.

I’m still grateful that the VP at my full-time job gave me access to the WiFi network to work from home. This week has been going smoothly, and it’s nice that the office still e-mails me to see how I’m doing. Next week others will have their Ethernet systems to work from home, but I will still keep in touch. When I reach out to others, others reach out to me. Two of my co-workers called me Monday morning when I wasn’t in the office to see if I was okay. I’m grateful and once things return to normal, I think I’m going to make the VP a thank you card (or would that be too much?).

This afternoon I took a break from walking and decided to sit with dad in the living room while I ate. Since he only works two days a week (until retirement, then he’ll get another job), he was home. It was nice being able to chat and it has been nice eating lunch at home. Thankful for my family.

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I’m thankful for Anna. Since I’ve felt blessed about my job situations, I’ve wanted to help others who are less fortunate. I was thinking of helping Jac. I asked Anna for her opinion and she said, “Jess, you mean well, but think of yourself.” I’m going to pay off more debt, so I do want some savings. I did ask Jac if he needed any help and he simply said, “just keep listening and supporting my music.” I’m thankful for Anna’s reminder and I’m thankful that Jac doesn’t take advantage. I’ve been trying to pal around more with people who don’t abuse my kindness. I also thought about it too, Jac used to work full-time and I’m sure he’s fine. I’m sure most self-employed people are fine, even if they have to be lean. I think we all have to be lean during these times.

I’m grateful for an early spring. Today is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere (first day of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere) and everything is in bloom. I’ve been taking photos of the blooming trees and flowers while on my walks.

I’ve sent around photos to co-workers from both jobs and friends; they’ve loved the beauty and love the inspirational e-mails. I’ve been trying to uplift people as much as I can. I am grateful for the internet and how it allows us to keep touch in trying times.

I’d like to share a few songs that have brought me some joy the past few days:

 

 

Please, say some prayers for us. One of our elderly friends went to the hospital in the ambulance. We don’t even know what’s wrong. I was on my walk and saw it, so I walked over. They’re in their 90s, so my anxiety was spiked. I’m an introvert, but this is why social distancing is hard. I miss my small communities.

What are you thankful for?

Instagram Update | Solidarity in Music

Since I am sheltering in place, I’m paying more attention to celebrity news. Yesterday Google sent me a notification about Presley Gerber. I didn’t know who he was, but a month ago a co-worker told me about him while we were discussing Savage (he had just gotten a face tattoo).

So, I went to Presley’s Instagram page and there he was with a new face tattoo. So much hate and I defended him. At the end of the day, I believe if it isn’t affecting me, I don’t care. Your life, your terms; just like it’s my life, my terms. Well, Instagram got funky last night and blocked me from liking AND commenting on posts. I thought Instagram was throwing shade over tattoo comments.

This morning, news broke that Presley used a filter and Instagram returned to normal. Leprechauns were up to their shenanigans last night. The joke’s on us! So, I found the filter that was used, which was created by the Game and I did my own “colourblind” post and did a fun one.

Maybe I’ll write a poem about this, as part of my COVID-19 series. I can only laugh at myself.

Jac performed on Instagram Live this evening. Since all the bar closures cancelled all of his gigs, I watched and supported him.  I feel blessed that I am working and getting paid during this and I’m thinking of small ways I can invest during this time.

 

 

During this difficult time, please, please, please show kindness to others! Kindness can’t eradicate COVID-19, but kindness does heal. Please be empathetic and also, we all have something to be grateful for each day. Never forget that!

Kvetching about Instagram (Again) | Joy in Music Pt. II

I’m having Instagram problems again. I received “breaking news” (not really, but since getting my new phone, Google sends me news about celebrity matters that are treated like breaking news) about Presley Gurber’s new face tattoo. Besides looking like someone who shall not be named (shudder), whatever. Is it really news?

Well, I went to his Instagram page and wow, way too many people judge. I have always believed that if something makes you happy and you’re not harming others, whatever. It is your life, your terms, it’s not my body or decision, so I tend to not meddle in others’ business. Unless it involves me, I don’t care. However, I felt bad for all the hate he has received and I responded.

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About 20 minutes after that comment, I can’t like or comment on posts anymore without getting this error:

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I guess Instagram gets salty about defending his rights for face tats. But, I hope I don’t get disabled again like I did at the beginning of the year because who knows why. Marsha doubts it, but I don’t know. The truth is, I don’t know what happened at the beginning of the year and I don’t know what’s going on now. I uninstalled it for a bit and reported the problem. We’ll see what happens in a few days. Namaste until the virus goes away.

Namaste until the COVID-19 virus goes away. WRTI, the Philadelphia classical and jazz station, has been providing us with programming to ease our minds. Last night they played free Philadelphia Orchestra performances (that Philadelphia Orchestra also posted on their site) and it was heavenly to listen to. Today, the programming was St. Patrick’s Day music.

Ah, the joy of music in dark times like these. I’ve been looking for the silver lines and I’ve kept finding them.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Music, A Silver Lining during a Dark Time | Day #1 YungBlud’s Live Show

The only silver line is that a lot of musicians are performing for us for free. Many artists don’t want the isolation, especially YungBlud. Isolation creates depression and for those that suffer, social distancing can be a death sentence. YungBlud is trying to ease the loneliness; but like all musicians, writers, and artists, we believe that our art can brighten dark times. Music has brightened my life for the past few days.

 

Earlier, I was listening to YungBlud’s The YungBlud Show. Machine Gun Kelly and Bella Thorne also stopped by and added to the laughs. I would like to share the show with you because The YungBlud Show put a smile on my face.

I am thankful for YungBlud and I’m thankful for musicians who are performing for us, to ease anxiety and everything that goes along with panic. It’s Man Crush Monday (#MCM) and YungBlud is one of my mine. Gosh, I just love him.

Gratitude In Cleanliness

I thought about disappearing for the Coronavirus pandemic, but then I rethought that. People have told me that they find my content as uplifting and refreshing. Why would I stop producing content that provides comfort in a time where people are most in need of it? I decided I would start posting helpful material as well.

On LinkedIn, Thrive posted a simple hack for washing your hands. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” or counting, why not say three things you’re grateful for? Counting our blessings relieves stress and brightens our mood.

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We’re in a moment of uncertainty, but that is also life. The other day I was trying to remain in my bubble, but instead I’m choosing to accept that we just don’t know what will happen. There’s a lot of uncertainty and I am grateful that I’ve found some kindness along the way. I won’t be able to work at the library during our quarantine, but I will get paid. I also reached out at work and I was given clearance to work from home via WiFi instead of Ethernet (I explained the situation too). I don’t know what the days and weeks will bring, but I accept what will come. That’s the only thing I can do. A therapist I follow on LinkedIn shared this article and I want to share it too: Coping in the Garden of Uncertainty

Thankful Thursday 12 March 2020

COVID-19, aka the Novel Coronavirus, has hit Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. COVID-19 is around the whole state of Pennsylvania, but we have the highest concentration – 13 tested, 2 are positive, the other 11 are presumptive. We are under quarantine for 14 days, only essential personnel are to report to work; grocery stores and Starbucks will be opened. I’ll be going to my full-time job like normal, and it’s case by case for the library. The library is closed to the public until 30 March.

I believe the media is blowing it out of proportion. SARS, Anthrax, MERS, Swine ’09, Ebola, etc. were all blown out of proportion; not that we shouldn’t worry, but this isn’t the end of the world as we know it. I’m anxious not about the virus itself, but the possibility of if my FT job has to close, I don’t have the capability to work from home since mom does, and they want us to use our paid time off (PTO). I don’t want to use my PTO and I would request unpaid. If the library closes for evening staff, I’m not sure if I would get paid because I’m part-time. There’s a possibility that I would be unpaid with both jobs during this time. While I know I’m not alone with this worry, it has been a lot this week.

Terry and my mom said that Congress is pushing and that Trump is pushing for everyone who can’t work (and isn’t sick) will get paid during this period. It relieved my fears a little bit and for that, I am grateful. I’m grateful for all the kindness shown to others during this time and from every organization calling for kindness in these trying times. Many places who will remain open are carefully sanitizing. I am washing my hands and taking steps to remain healthy. No stress! I am trying my hardest not to stress as stress weakens my immune system. I’m trying to live as normally as possible.

Yet, in all this doom and gloom, I’m thankful for friends and family as we weather this storm. I’m also thankful for co-workers at both jobs who have checked in with me, and I’ve checked in with them.

Also, the Peyton Heart Project left some crocheted hearts in the library and I took a few pictures to show on Instagram. I took two for my Happiness Box. Mom thought they were a lovely idea and so did others. These hearts cheered my soul, I’m so glad they were left in the library, especially on a week like this.

I did some research about the Peyton Heart Project and found their site: http://www.thepeytonheartproject.org/

What a lovely cause and it mirrors to my Happiness Box Project. I too was bullied and can relate to these feelings. I’m thankful for all those who were there for me in my darkest times.

Oh! This morning I also woke up to a lovely surprise from Sonali on Writing.com. I ordered the merit badge for my Happiness Box. I’m verklempt.

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What are you grateful for?