Thankful Thursday 30 August 2018

Wow! The last Thursday in August – this year is really flying by! I’m looking forward to autumn, however. This blog entry is going to be a bit different today and you will see why in a bit.

Last Friday, the director of my part-time library job e-mailed us all that the son of one of our co-workers had died. I was at my full-time job and saw the e-mail at lunch; shock was an understatement because he was only 34 years old. I sent my co-worker a fruit basket and a sympathy card.

I’m not Catholic; I was raised Catholic but began my faith journey finding the right faith when I was 12. I settled on Islam and for a few years, I was uncomfortable about participating in family events in fear of people on Facebook accusing me of not being serious in my faith. Well, I deleted Facebook and I thought to myself, “who cares? When I was a child, I participated in events with friends of a different religion and it didn’t matter.” I went to the funeral today; I paid my respects, I prayed in my own way, and no one really cared that I didn’t participate in the sacraments, as they shouldn’t because the funeral was for everyone that was grieving.

At the end of the day, it does not matter because we each have our own paths to God and it does not matter. I believe in being there for my loved one; yes, I consider friends and co-workers “loved ones” because they are like my family too. I was there for my co-worker and I wanted to offer my empathy. I didn’t know her son, although I let him borrow my textbooks, but I wanted to be there for my co-worker. I gave her, and her husband a big hug. I gave my co-worker an even bigger hug and said, “please do not hesitate in reaching out to me. If you need anything, please call me.” Her elderly mother was there; most didn’t give her a hug (she was in a wheelchair), I offered my condolences, she grabbed my hands, but I gave her a hug instead. I think hugs are more powerful than words.

After the service, I went back to my full-time job. I took two hours off from that job and I am grateful my manager let me. When I got to the library later in the day, my other co-worker was chatting with the one that lost her son; she told me that co-worker was surprised that I showed up, but she was extremely grateful that I was there. My presence helped and I was glad I could be there for her.

I believe, as I was raised, that while our exteriors are different, our interiors are all the same. We all bleed, have the same bodily functions, and we all feel; we should treat others with kindness. As I’m seeing this year, as this was my goal for the year, as I’m spending time with different groups of people, I am learning a lot and growing in the process. I don’t really care what others have to say about it because I feel that exposing ourselves to different people, makes us empathize with others and we see that while we are different, we are similar too. By being more open, you can overcome many prejudices and fears. I refuse to close myself off because I changed faiths; I never closed myself off as a child and I refuse to close myself off as an adult.

I’m thankful for the people I work with. When I got back to my full-time job, we threw a party for the one girl that is switching departments. From sadness to happiness, but that is life and I am glad I could be there for people at both of my jobs.

What are you thankful for?

Walking the Schuylkill River Trail

I started my full-time job at the end of November in 2015 and in the fall of 2016 I realized that my company was located on the Schuylkill River Trail – I could walk to Philadelphia if I wanted to. I thought about doing that either in the spring or autumn, but between getting invited to apply for residency in Canada, saving money, and then getting refuse from Canada, I forgot about it. I walk the trail at lunch, but with the hot and humid summer, I only stayed out for 15 minutes.

Yesterday, I decided that I would walk to at least Manayunk and then catch the train from there to Philadelphia. I was done work early, I didn’t feel like waiting for the train from my job, the weather was beautiful and I thought it would be the perfect time to explore.

I set out on the trail in Miquon at 3 PM. When I was exiting the building, I saw two people I knew from IT. They exclaimed, “there’s the shutter bug!” We chatted for a bit about photography before they had to go back to work and before I started on my journey. It was a five minute conversation, but it was lovely chatting.

I made my way up the trail, I saw the cafe owner run past me, he stopped and I told him about my plan. He smiled, said it’s about 4 miles (which the markers indicated), and ran off. I had my skating gear, which one of my co-workers thought would be too much for me to handle, but I alternated the bag. I also took photos of my walk.

Here are photos from familiar parts of the trail, near work. It’s nice to see that they are fixing up the Schuylkill Nature Center.


After I made it past where my usual stopping point is before I have to go to work, I kept going. I always wondered what it was like past this point and let me tell you, it was gorgeous! The Schuylkill River is beautiful and the scenery surrounding it is just as breathtaking. At Ivy Ridge, I saw the train tracks and heard the train approaching. When I saw the train zip by, I knew I wasn’t going to make a train. That was at about 3:35.


I continued on, and as I continued on I saw a young man fishing. It was cool to see; I have never seen anyone fish before and took some photos. He saw me, we chatted for a bit, and walked together for about 10 minutes. Before he found a decent spot on the river bank, I asked him for a selfie. I introduced myself, and Ben introduced himself. Ben has been fishing for 10 years and he travels a lot too.

I continued on and arrived in Manayunk at 4:30. It took an hour and a half, but I think between my heaving skating gear I was carrying and stopping for photographs, it added on the time. I’m not skating next Friday, I am going to do this again. It was a nice walk, it felt great getting out and moving, I want to do this until winter.


I ordered Lyft into Philadelphia and went roller skating.


Let me tell you about that adventure too. I saw a mother standing on the side taking a photo of her daughter and friends. I had my Polaroid mini for Happiness Box purposes and asked the mother if I could get a photo of the girls for her to have. She loved the idea, but by that time the girls skated off. I skated to them and they loved the idea too. I took one of them skating and as I was holding the photo between my palms to develop it, her friends thought it was the coolest thing ever. They had never seen a Polaroid before and they wanted to try. I took a photo of the two Muslim girls, then handed them the Polaroid. They took turns developing the photo and were ecstatic about the end result. Such a simple picture made them happy.

I saw the other little girl skate over to her mother, handed her the photo, and I saw her mother crying tears of joy. I skated back over and the Muslim girls asked for another photo. The mother said, “it was nice that she took one photo for you. Don’t pester her.” I responded, “I only have two left and I need them for a project.” They understood, thanked me, and skated off. The mother said to me, “thank you for doing this. I am visiting for a few months, I haven’t seen my daughter in a few years, she didn’t want me to go back home. I missed seeing her grow and have been taking tons of pictures. I am glad to have this. Where did you get the camera from?” I told her and she had to get going. I am glad I could bring happiness to others, I like sharing happiness.


Yesterday was such an adventure and I am thankful that I could experience it. It’s hard to believe the rink will close next week and in three months it’ll be an ice skating rink. I also look forward to walking the trail again.

Thankful Thursday 23 August 2018

My heart is overflowing with gratitude again! I really should call it “Verklempt Thursday”, just as I should rename my “Happiness Box” the “Verklempt Box.”

Today at my full-time job, I joined the photography group. A few months ago, in May, I saw one of the guys in IT talking about photographic techniques, I stood and listened, then I inquired about his group. He smiled and said he would remember me for next time and sure enough, he did! On Monday, he e-mailed the group and included me in the e-mail, detailing the photography group meetup for today at lunch.

I was the only one who could make it and let me tell you, I learned a lot about my camera! I have had my DSLR for five years and it had features I didn’t even know it had! Bob was a wonderful teacher, I thanked him for including me and keep me posted about next time. He sent me an e-mail about different internal flashes I could get for my camera. I am grateful.

Today was also gorgeous, the temperature was 76 without humidity and I took a few walks today. It felt nice that I could enjoy the weather.

The children’s librarian also gave me a t-shirt tonight. She had extras and thought of me. I’m grateful for all of my library coworkers too.

What are you thankful for?


Teaching the Happiness Box Initiative

Since making my Happiness Box Project Initiative public in May 2018, I’ve received a few e-mails asking me questions about how I came up with the project, and some ask me if I could teach them. Some have been teachers in foreign, war-torn countries inquiring, about ways to help their trouble students overcome PTSD.  My project began in response to PTSD, and I was happy that after a few years working on this project privately it was reaching others who had a need; the stories tore at my heartstrings, of course, I would work with them via e-mail or Skype.

Happiness Box 2018 (So Far) and Scrapbook of Happiness Box 2017 (So Far)

I’m making good progress so far with Happiness Box 2018! My goal was to make it not as overwhelming as 2017’s box and so far I’m keeping that goal. Where the box is now is where the box was at in April 2017. I’m thinking if I keep to a note and/or photo each day, I will be able to hold out until December without using the boxtop like last year!


19 August 2018



12 June 2017. I sadly didn’t take photos of the Happiness Box each month last year, but you can see June last year was bursting. I didn’t fill the bottom half until 9 August 2017.

Tonight I am going to scrapbook for the first time in a month. I’ll be honest with you, I’m over scrapbooking 2017’s because it’s overwhelming. I’m hoping I can expand the scrapbook and I joined the forum to get advice. If worse comes to worse, I’ll create volume 1 and 2. Volume 1 will be the scrapbook, then volume 2 will be whatever couldn’t fit into the album, held together with metal rings. The goal is to get it done by 31 December 2018. I might just throw the notes in.

Thankful Thursday 16 August 2018

We are half way through another month – it’ll be 2019 before we know It!  However, I’m savouring each day as they come.

This thankful Thursday I’m thankful for both jobs I have. While they aren’t my absolute favourite, they not only provide income, but I have many amazing coworkers at both. I am thankful for their friendships and honestly ,I feel blessed to have earned it.

What are you thankful for?

Academy of Natural Science’s Bug Fest 2018

All I can say is that I’m thankful that this year they had gluten-free options for the bug treats. I could still eat most insects – they had nacho chips made with ground cricket flour and it was amazing with the mealworm salsa. Instead of Chef Zach from Louisiana, the Academy had local candy makers make us bug desserts, that were naturally gluten-free as well.

Bug Fest was super fun and I am glad I am a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Kittydelphia 2018 in Photos

On Saturday, 28 July, after I returned home from Asbury Park and Long Branch, I went to Kittydelphia. Kittydelphia was a fundraising event for Philadelphia’s PAWS, an organization that saves animals in the city. I heard of the event through one of my Celibricat friends, Sophie the Model Cat, since she was in attendance. I had the chance to meet her and George, another Celibricat.



I had a lot of fun and I was so happy to finally meet Sophie. I love her Instagram page and her antics always put a smile on my face. I added the Polaroid with her (and the Polaroid I had taken with George) to my Happiness Box.

Jessica’s Asbury Park, Long Branch, NYC Trip 2018 | Day 3: Asbury Park | 27 July 2018

On Friday, 27 July, I decided to spend the entire day in Asbury Park. I hopped on the train and again noticed the Little Free Library when I hopped off. I really wish I remembered the books I wanted to give – especially since that Free Library was empty. I took a few photos and ordered Lyft to take me to Toast. Toast had gluten-free breakfast options and I wanted to check it out.

Toast was amazing. I sat at the counter and started chatting with the middle-aged man sitting next to me. He was friendly and kind; I enjoyed chatting about the area. After he was done reading the New York Times, he handed me the paper since I was reading the sports section. We chatted about the Blue Jays; NYT wrote an article about the trades that took place and I fretted about their season this year. We commiserated together about sports. Anyway, Toast had almond milk and I could enjoy coffee! The gluten-free waffles I had were delicious but heavy. I ate 3/4 of the plate, but since it was hot and I was going to the beach later, I didn’t want to overeat. Toast was also reasonably priced and I would recommend the restaurant.


I made reservations for Catsbury Park Cat Café for noon; I had an hour-and-a-half to kill. The beach was a fifteen-minute walk and since Toast was close to Catsbury Park, it was logical to stay in the area and go to the beach after the appointment. I walked into some stores and went to this one thrift store. I’m surprised I didn’t buy anything, but the decor and selection they had were interesting. I ended up taking some photos.


I then walked to the mall and visited the mom and pop stores they had inside the mall. I went to this one hippie store and took a photo with the Grateful Dead bear. The shop’s owner took the photo for me and she was a joy to chat with. I told her where I was from, she exclaimed that the shop’s headquarters are in New Hope; I should visit some time. We also chatted about art, photography, and writing – she is an illustrator, she showed me the children’s book she wrote and illustrated, then handed me her card. Professional Hippie, what a cool business card. I bought tie-dye shirts for my co-worker’s daughters (which they loved, according to my co-worker). I went to another shop for the postcards and again, had a friendly experience. The shop’s owner asked where I was visiting from, I told her, she exclaimed and told me her ex-husband used to own this one restaurant on the Main Line. The restaurant was my parents’ favourite back in the 70s. I swear it’s such a small world.

By the time I was finished at the mall, it was time for my appointment at Catsbury Park, which was across the street from the mall. I loved Catsbury Park! I played with the cats. A few took a liking to me and one cuddled on my lap.

I went to the beach after and I prefer Asbury Park’s beach to Long Branch’s beach because Asbury Park’s sands do not have pebbles mixed in – just smooth sand. My feet were happy and the waves were not rough; Friday was a beautiful day and it made a great day for swimming in the ocean.

That night I was supposed to meet up with Jared, but plans changed since he overplanned. He was hoping to have a great big party for Wayne, who was moving to Chicago for a year. I met Wayne at Jams on the Sand and he was pretty cool. However, when I mentioned Jared’s plan, Joe and Wayne said they weren’t aware of them and I knew things were going to change. However, he was all over the place with them. Wayne’s family planned a dinner and we were going to meet up after dinner. Jared said the dinner was at 6 and when I received a text from him at 8 that he was sitting down, I thought he meant where we planned to go later. I went to Asbury Park, realized he was sitting down to eat, it was later than he thought. I had to leave early and by 10:30, I just said next time. Sometimes when I’m hungry, I don’t comprehend, but I sent the conversation to Christina and she said it didn’t make sense in general, she said she was confused too. I guess it wasn’t me, but maybe someone who wanted to do it all and couldn’t. The dinner I had at the Anchor’s Bend also made me feel queasy, it was rainy, and I went back to the air bnb.

Before I headed back, I saw some tattoo artists standing outside of the Convention Hall. Asbury Park was having a tattoo convention that weekend and I asked one of the artists if he could take a photo with me. He agreed, he asked if I wanted a tattoo tomorrow, I said I had to go home tomorrow, I asked him where he was located and he is based in the Philadelphia Area. I said I was from there and I would check him out. He handed me his card. Mom’s rule is no tattoos while I’m living here, but I’m not sure. I’m pierced, but I can remove my piercings if I tire of them; a tattoo I can’t easily remove. I find getting pierced to be relaxing, I know getting a tattoo is painful.


(Yep, these went into my Happiness Box)

At least it wasn’t a totally bad experience. When I arrived at the Wonder Bar, I sat with two young women and their male friend, we had drinks (they had alcohol, I had water) and we chatted. I am glad they let me sit with them; I asked if I could sit with them before I did, and they were friendly enough to let me join. It was raining by this point, but we just sat under an umbrella and laughed about the absurdities of the business world. Although I couldn’t meet up with Jared, I met others and had a blast. I also heard some of the Bob Marley cover-band and they were awesome. I couldn’t eat at the Wonder Bar and that’s how I ended up at the Anchor’s Bend.


I had a great trip and I love Asbury Park. I’m going to plan a trip for next year, but I am going to book earlier so I can get an air bnb in Asbury Park or at least closer. Long Branch was nice, but it’s more of a business-oriented town. There is much more to do in Asbury Park and there are more food options. The people I stayed with were wonderful and their dog, Mary, was friendly. She loved hanging out with me and in between the beach and travelling, she helped me wind down.

Thankful Thursday 9 August 2018

The weeks seem to be flying and I can’t believe next Wednesday we will be half way through August! I hope time slows down a bit, however, it’s Thankful Thursday!

On Monday when I came home, I had a small package waiting for me. As I ripped the cardboard envelope opened, to my pleasant surprise there was a signed CD from Juice waiting inside! Juice is one of the band’s I saw during Jams on the Sand, I loved them so much that I decided to order their CD. I love supporting young artists and they signed a CD for me. I was gushing a bit (a few coworkers I told the next day said I was glowing too) and extremely thankful for the nice gesture.


Yesterday, someone from my full time job came back from Miami and Brijae gave me three dresses, two blouses that she couldn’t fit into. I am thankful for both young women, as with some other coworkers, and my library coworkers.



My Irish relatives visited last night and it was so much fun. We actually have a lot in common and there is no denying I am related to them. Many of my cousins are also writers, so we chatted about writing projects and current events. It was great seeing them after 10 years. I was telling them about Andrew and they said if I ever visit Andrew in the UK, I should stop by to visit them. I definitely will.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was feeling strange in a good way. I woke up positive and thought, “you know, my parents and I may not always see eye to eye, but they are accepting of me and they have not thrown me out of the house because of choices I’ve made.” For the most part, my family (beyond mom and dad) have been accepting of me and have tried to accommodate my food restrictions.

Aunt Kathy brought a gluten-free snack for me  and mom made me gluten-free brownies. Aunt Kathy also said, “I brought scones, and next time I will bring almond flour ones for you to eat.” While I may not be where I want to be yet, I am grateful for what I have.


What are you thankful for today?