Friday Night Ice Skating

After a month away from the ice, I returned to the rink last night! I rented the ice walker because the ice looked melty and I don’t really play around with ice injuries. Regardless, I had a lot of fun! Before I started skating, I met a friendly pitbull named Jameson and had fun playing with him. He was such a good boy and agreed to a selfie with me. I love pits. I skated for an hour and a half and met a group of friends that I skated with for a bit. They were a joy to chat with.

I babysat a three year old on Monday and she dropped my camera. I had it fixed and I guess last night when I was taking photos with my newly repaired camera, I was feeling shaky. Ah, well, next Friday I will capture better night photos!

 

I decided to have dinner at Barra Rossa because they have the best GF pizza. I sat next to a couple from Baltimore and since I was wearing my Ravens shirt, we had fun chatting about the Ravens and Baltimore! Nice couple.

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I posted this selfie on the Happiness Box Instagram and a follower commented:

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@thehappinessboxproject I admire u always finding new friends wherever u go haha

Thankful Thursday 3 January 2019

Happy First Thursday of the New Year! Happy First Thankful Thursday of 2019! I’m pooped – I haven’t been feeling myself all week, so much so that I didn’t open the little gifts I kept separate of my Happiness Box 2018 (to save space), but I’ll open them up this weekend. I’ll read my notes more carefully too when I’m feeling better; I also hope to get a scrapbook this weekend too. Hopefully inventory sales start soon!

Anyway, the first Thankful Thursday in 2019 brings a lot of gratitude. Someone gave me a bottle of water at my full-time job today and she said I can help myself anytime. At lunch, I ran into a friend that I haven’t seen in six months and we walked together for 15 minutes. We caught up and it was so nice seeing Billy! He agreed to a selfie for my Happiness Box and we made a walk date for when it gets nicer.

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When I arrived at my part-time library job, I was informed that I won the Booksmas Tree “Guess How Many Books” contest and won a free entree from Choolah. It looks like they have GF options and I can’t wait to use it. It’ll be my first time dining there since going GF. I’m grateful.

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When I arrived home, I also received a surprise package from a friend in the UK. Katie sent me a stationary set with a nice note. I am thankful for Katie’s friendship and I am grateful for the thoughtful gift.

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What are you thankful for today?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY 2019!

I opened my Happiness Box 2018 today and oh man, what a year! Although, it wasn’t massive as last year’s (goal was a success – I didn’t want a massive box because that was overwhelming to scrapbook), it still took me an hour and forty minutes to record and I didn’t even record me opening December’s notes. That’s okay because I did have a good year.

While 2018 had it’s ups and downs, especially when meeting creeps, I am thankful for caring people and friends that helped. Yes, I recorded when someone I just met at the Art Museum gave me a hug and a few days later called me bad news because I was honest with him (he was creeping me out), my friends came through and said he was the one that was wrong. I’m a loving person. Lyft came through when a rider harassed me. I am thankful I was safe, the other passenger took no for an answer, and Lyft took my complaint seriously. If I am out late, I don’t select shared rides anymore.

I had two cute Lyft drivers! One in March, one in September! The one in September agreed to a selfie with me. *Bigsmile* In February, I had a Lyft driver I went to grade school with and we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years… it was great catching up. I had known him through elementary, middle, and high schools – it was crazy we lost touch after we graduated. I keep in touch with him now. 

Also, some death that I recorded this year. Mostly, Marsha’s dad and a library co-worker’s son. I went to both funerals to be there for my friends and although it wasn’t a happy moment, I recorded the moments because both were grateful that I was there for them. Being with others in their times of need is just as important. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, we should lift others up and be there without judgment.

I had a lot of adventures filled with food, the ease of going gluten-free, friends, and family. My health improved and while I gained more debt, I wouldn’t trade my adventures for the world. I loved seeing friends and family in 2018. I’m truly a travel bug and foodie. I also enjoyed staying home to scrapbook, read for the book discussion groups, see the book discussion group people, see people in the philosophy club, and watching the stars.

I only filled one bag compared to three last year and I hope it won’t take as long to scrapbook. I will get a scrapbook this weekend and I started Happiness Box 2019 earlier. I can’t wait to fill Happiness Box 2019!


I hope 2019 will be a joyful year too! I plan on paying debt off, while still enjoying my life and working on continued good health. I hope that you all have a joyful new year too!

2018: A Year of Adventure, Exploration, and Joy

I can’t believe today is the last day of 2018! It feels like I was just welcoming in the year and felt lost. Between a health scare, feeling ugh about being refused from Canada, and a whole lot of other emotions, I wasn’t quite sure how the year would pan out. Fortunately, 2018 was a great year, although it had its ups and downs. As I worked on my health and healed, the year flew!

As you know, I mostly make slide show videos of my year, but I decided not to this year. Last year I ran into problems with PowerPoint because I had way too many photos for the program to handle and purchased a subscription to SmileBox to share the photo memories. I couldn’t justify the cost of Smilebox, I had too many photos for PowerPoint again, and decided to make an album of the year on Shutterfly. It took two hours to upload the 400 photos and I was logged out of my account! Shutterfly canceled the uploading! I took a deep breath and walked away from the computer. I had a different idea instead.

I want to share photo albums I compiled throughout the year. I decided that would be the easiest way to share photos and I can tell some stories about the albums. I couldn’t include every photo and story for my newsletter, and I wanted to share them with you today. I will also include the stories on My Happiness Box Project blog toward the end of the year.

 

Chinese New Year 2018: Year of the Dog

Day Out With Claire

First time seeing Claire since 2015 and it was a lovely late winter day filled with tea and pho.

Cradle of Filth at the TLA

I can’t resist a black metal show and I’m glad I didn’t miss Cradle of Filth when they were in town on 5 April 2018. I was near-deaf the next day, but the show was worth it. I also made a new friend while waiting in line – Natalie.

Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival

Father-Daughter Day Out at the NMAJH

Dad loved this, and we both enjoyed the Bernstein exhibit.

Mom’s First Orchestra

On 21 April, I took my mom to see Peter and the Wolf. I thought the family day orchestra performance would be a nice introduction and it was! Mom enjoyed the performance and I bought her a ticket to see Cirque du Symphonie in June 2019! We also went to the Famous 4th Street Deli, where I had my last gluten-containing meal: a Reuben, the President Obama special. It was a delicious meal, the perfect send off to the end of eating wheat. I’m a foodie, I incorporate food into my travels, and make it a point to blog about my gluten-free journey now. I hope it helps others in the process!

Carmen

My first opera in Philadelphia! I decided to get my hair curled and treat myself to one of my favourite restaurants, the Hungry Pigeons. Pigeons are one of my favourite birds and absolutely love the pigeon wallpaper they have in the bathroom. Local produce, cooked to order, and they often have delicious gluten-free options. This was in April, when I first had to go gluten-free, and the chicken was amazing.

The Academy of Music was gorgeous, I sat next to a family from France. They were a joy to chat with before the show and agreed to a selfie. I loved Carmen and Opera Philadelphia put on a wonderful show!

Elaine Baer Memorial

A long-time member of our book discussion group died in March and before the last spring book discussion, we held a memorial for Ms. Elaine. Her relatives came in, shared stories, and we shared our fond memories too.

June Morning Visiting Mill Grove

Mill Grove is one of my favourite spots in Montgomery County. I love spending time with Odin and the other birds.

Warped Tour 2018

36th Annual Turks Head Festival in West Chester

Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC 2018

Sunflowers and Sunny Days

When the sunflowers peaked at the end of July, mom and I ventured to Please Wash Me Car Wash in Elverson to take photos.

The Irish Come to Visit

Bug Fest 2018

Hip City Veg with Candice and Dani

I used to work with Candice and Dani at RTI and it was nice catching up for lunch.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos | 23 September 2018

Dad loved his Father’s Day gift. Next year I want to bring him back to Baltimore for a division game against the Steelers. They also just made the playoffs last night and I hope they will win the Super Bowl!

Members’ Night at the Academy of Natural Sciences

UM Township Library’s Diwali Night

MewithoutYou

Another favourite of mine and I was so happy to finally see MewithoutYou live!

Holidays with Marsha

For the month of December, I took off from the library on Saturdays to meet up with friends, bake, and other odds and ends. On 8 December, I spent the day with Marsha.

Sunday Ice Skating and Pho

Holidays at the Philadelphia Art Museum and Pho

A Snowgirl and Her Booksmas Tree

Holidays at Aunt Kathy’s

I have a lot of other photos that didn’t make it into albums. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I take a lot of photos, many of which went into my Happiness Box project. I open the box tomorrow and I look forward to sharing the process with you! 😊 I’m excited.

I met a lot of kind people this year and also spent time not only with friends, but family as well. I’m an introvert, but I believe we all need a village of people that prop us up. On 23 December, dad and I visited the Connors. They are Nan’s old neighbours and close friends of ours. We spent an hour chatting and they were happy to see us. I plan on visiting a lot more in 2019. I also plan on attending more interfaith events too.

 

I hope that you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration and an amazing 2019 filled with much joy!

~Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening of Celebration | Hungry Pigeon | Basia Bulat at the Philadelphia Museum of Art | 28 December 2018

On Friday evening, I decided to celebrate myself. Since being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity and early celiac, going gluten-free has helped not only my liver, but my body as a whole. I wanted to celebrate my health and happiness, I had dinner at the Hungry Pigeon. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a foodie and different restaurants bring me joy as well. The Hungry Pigeon is one of those places – I love the locally sourced food and the staff. The waiter agreed to a selfie! The chicken and rice were also delicious.

I’m also a member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (I have to renew my membership too) and after dinner, I enjoyed a performance by Basia Bulat, a folk singer from Canada. She was awesome and I stayed for the entire performance. After, I bought her CD and we chatted for a good ten minutes about Canada and music. Down to Earth and sweet, we shared a hug before I left. She also said I could take the set list for my Happiness Box/scrapbook. I also bought an Indian bear.

 

What an amazing evening and a great way to celebrate the last Friday of 2018! Every day is a celebration. 🙂

Reflections

I’ve been doing some reflection today before I write my Year In Review tomorrow. I started reading “Happiness Is a Choice You Make” by John Leland and it’s making me think. Leland spends a year with the oldest old, learning what happiness means to the elderly. Their definitions are all different, but staying happy in the present moment is a shared belief among all. Apparently, the elderly experience joy in the moment instead of the future because there may be no future, unlike a young person.

I remember hearing about the book last year in the New York Times and thought that would be a perfect read for my project. I noticed the library had it a few weeks ago, but I was reading another book. I noticed the book was still there in Wednesday and I pounced on it. I’ve been savoring “Happiness Is a Choice You Make” and I’ve been thinking as well.

Since bringing the Happiness Box Project initiative public, I’ve gone into more debt. I wanted to get healthy again as serious liver issues were looming, and sharing my money with others brought cheer. Travelling and seeing friends brought cheer; and while changing my diet since going gluten-free has helped tremendously, it’s expensive. I don’t regret the debt because this has been the most joyful year in a long time. I know when I pay it off, I’m not going to stress and not enjoy – I’ll still enjoy even while paying it back.

“Happiness Is a Choice” is following one elderly man that survived the Holocaust. Surviving one terror really shaped his outlook of happiness and for him, sharing with others brings him the most joy. He told Leland that in his perfect life, it isn’t money, fame, or material things that make him happy, it’s sharing a bowl of grapes with others.

I’m nowhere near finished the book, but it has me thinking. Maybe that is the definition of joy for all of us – sharing with others. While I do believe going gluten-free has helped (85%), I also believe spending time with loved ones and sharing myself with others also helped too. I’m an introvert, but I do believe spending some time with loved ones and sharing with them is best for us all.

As we inch into 2019, I am taking notes to apply not only to 2019, but the rest of my life.

Thankful Thursday 27 December 2018

The last Thankful Thursday in 2018! I can’t believe it! I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by, although I say that every year. I have a lot to be grateful for this year and I totally feel blessed. 2018 has been a great year overall.

Today I met up with Ronald for lunch. Ronald is a friend I met while riding on the Rambler, the community bus, for a few years before I found full-time employment. When I’m not working at my full-time job, we try to meet up for coffee or lunch. We met up for Starbucks and caught up. I’m thankful for his friendship.

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The Rambler driver also gave me a holiday card today. I feel grateful and it was such a kind gesture.

I’m also thankful for my family and other friends. Since I’ve only been working the library this week, for the past two nights I’ve been cooking my parents dinner. Yesterday we had Cornish game hens and tonight we had gluten-free Singapore noodles. I’m grateful for these moments we spend together.

(I had to make my own curry powder for the Singapore noodles since I forgot to buy it)

What are you thankful for?