Thankful Thursday & Debating

On Sunday when mom had her Pampered Chef, I was chatting with Marsha about The Happiness Box Project Instagram and if I should post personal photos that I fill my happiness box with. The personal things that make me happy. She responded, “it’s your page and you can do whatever you want.” I ended up posting a poll and many wanted to see the personal photos.

Like Instagram, I’m going to post personal things that make me happy and grateful. I haven’t scrapbooked in a month; I’ve been busy with NaPoWriMo and reading for book discussion groups. I plan on going gung-ho with scrapbooking in May. I still fill my happiness box daily.

Without further ado, I’d like to mention what I am thankful for today.

Hooray for kind people! It’s been a month since I’ve last ice skated and I will admit that I hug the sides a bit. I was skating along last Friday, 20 April, and this young lady stopped to tell me I was doing great and that she loved my jacket. She wanted a picture with me, so she took a photo with her phone, then took a photo with my phone. She gave me a big hug. It was so sweet.

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As I mentioned above, I saw Marsha on Sunday. It had been two years since I last saw her and it was great catching up. We will get together soon and I can’t wait. This year I want to spend more time with friends because I forgot all about them when trying to move to Canada. I am so thankful for my friends and family.

 

 

Today, someone from my full-time job sent me a nice little positive e-mail. I needed that this morning and I was thankful for that co-worker. I’m also thankful for the library.

What are you thankful for?

Treating My Parents to Days Out in the City

I don’t celebrate the same holidays as my folks since I switched my religion, but I do participate out of respect. I always try to get creative with gifts and last year I thought treating them to their own day in the city would be fun. I decided to take dad to the Jewish Museum, then lunch. I decided to take mom to the Philadelphia Orchestra and lunch on 21 April 2018.

Last Sunday, 15 April, I took dad to the Jewish Museum. It was a rainy day; we were early and had a half an hour until the museum opened and I suggested we hang out at the Red Owl Cafe. I didn’t realize the Red Owl Cafe had a sitting room where we could enjoy tea and water. We sat in front of the fire, sipped our drinks (I had tea, he had water), and caught up. It was nice.

Dad enjoyed the Jewish Museum and lunch at the Famous 4th Street Deli. He really loved his day out and gloated to his co-workers about what a fantastic day he had. His one co-worker might check out the museum. I’m glad dad enjoyed. I also took photos and I might scrapbook them for his birthday. (For Father’s Day, I’m going to get him tickets to a Baltimore Ravens game that we can enjoy together.)

Yesterday, 21 April, I took mom to the orchestra to see Peter and the Wolf. She had never seen the orchestra before, and I thought it’d be a fitting piece for her first show. I was right; the performance was lively, and mom loved not only the narration by Michael Boudewyns, but she loved the Philadelphia Orchestra as well. She was amazed by their showmanship. We will see another performance soon.

Mom also wanted to eat the Famous 4th Street Deli; the weather yesterday was sunny and warm, we walked to South Street, enjoyed lunch and even partook in Record Store Day. Like dad, mom enjoyed her day out. I took photos and will scrapbook them for Mother’s Day.

I enjoyed both days; I always love spending time with others, and I believe that is the best gift we can give to others: spending time wholly with one another.

Putting my Traveling Shoes On | Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival | 14 April 2018

On 14 April 2018, I put on my travelling shoes and ventured down to Washington, D.C. Travelling tends to make me happy, seeing new sites, meeting some new people, and adventure puts pep into my step and a smile on my face. I had never seen Washington’s D.C.’s famous cherry blossom trees before and wanted to this year.

I took off from the library; I’m trying to take more “me” time this year. I left the house at 6 AM, took Lyft to the Amtrak station and boarded the train at 7:30 AM. This was my first time travelling on Amtrak to D.C., I usually go by bus, but found that the bus was unreliable. The train was much faster!

While I met friendly people on the Mega Bus, I met more hospitable people on Amtrak. From Philadelphia to BWI Airport (Baltimore-Washington International; right between Baltimore and Washington, it’s about a 40-minute ride to D.C.), I had my iPod on and was enjoying the views. I love sitting by the window and watching the scenery go by; it felt odd not getting off at Baltimore (I usually take Amtrak to Baltimore), but loved seeing Baltimore by the train window. However, a family hopped on at BWI Airport, they were going to Charleston for a family reunion and for 40-minutes, we talked and laughed. They were sweet, and it felt great to share a moment with the family.

It only took two hours to get to D.C. from Philadelphia; when I arrived at Union Station, I couldn’t get over how beautiful the station was. I had to take photos, though, with the early morning sun, lighting was difficult. I ended up taking a few photos before I made way outside.

When I stepped outside and oriented myself with bustling D.C., I made my way to the National Mall and couldn’t get over the beauty of the cherry blossoms. My breath was taken away when I saw the Cherry Blossoms line the Capitol, the view was gorgeous! I had to walk over to the grove of trees and take photos. I laid down on the grass, looked up, and took photos as the cherry blossoms were swirling around me. Laying on the cool grass with the cherry blossom wind around me was true happiness.

 

As I made my way to other parts of the Capitol, I met a middle-aged woman, we walked and talked, she showed me around as where to get the best images of not only cherry blossoms, but tulips. I am grateful for her because she did lead me to perfect spots. Before she headed back home to Maryland, she dropped me off at the Tidal Basin.

 

The Tidal Basin was absolutely gorgeous! Words can’t describe the view, but photos can.

 

I ended my day at a halal, gluten-free pho shop in Georgetown. It took an hour and a half to get to by public transit, but it was worth the trip. I love pho and I was happy to see D.C. had a pho shop that matched my dietary needs. I would recommend Simply Banh Mi. The owners were also friendly and talkative. It wasn’t expensive either.

All in all, the day in D.C. was inexpensive – $50 between food, water, and postcards for friends. I’m on a tight budget, and the fact that there are a lot of free events in Washington, D.C. makes me happy. I had a wonderful day, met some new people, and chatted with a financier I was sitting next to on my way home. The photos and experiences made it into my Happiness Box.

Giving Thanks and Feeling Grateful

Sorry that I haven’t updated in nine days; I’ve been travelling, reflecting, writing poetry (NaPoWriMo!), and keeping up with Happiness Box 2018. I’m looking forward to May so I can start scrapbooking Happiness Box 2017 again! It’s been a month. Though, I’ve also been cutting back on internet time because I tend to believe now that too much screen time leads to depression. I have been cutting back on time spent on the internet.

With that said, I believe in giving thanks and feeling some gratitude daily. I will admit there are some days where those are the hardest concepts to handle, but feeling both tend to make horrible days seem not so bad.

Last week was challenging, but a supervisor at my full-time job crocheted me a beautiful purple blanket. It was such a surprise and his kindness made cry tears of joy, especially after receiving some potentially devastating news. That gift showed me that people still do care and wish the best for me, even when some days it does not feel like it. When I saw him later in the day, I thanked him and gave him a big hug. It made him feel good too, which shows that giving can be beneficial. I was thankful and grateful.

Of course, I am always thankful for friends and family. Since starting the Happiness Box project, I’ve started to notice I do have a lot to be thankful/grateful for.

2018 Box So Far

This year I decided to keep the box small since it was overwhelming to open last year and it’s a bit overwhelming to scrapbook (I haven’t worked on the scrapbook for Happiness Box 2017 in a few weeks). I think I’m doing a good job keeping my promise of photo or slip each day.

 

 

Happiness Is…

Happiness is attending a book discussion. Haven’t participated in two years since my focus was on moving to Canada last year. While in time it’ll become a focus again, it won’t be the primary focus. Happiness is surrounding yourself with friends, family, and people who love you. The group was happy to see me again.

Opening Happiness Box 2017

On the morning of 1 January 2018, I signed onto one of my social media accounts. I wanted to read articles before I marched up to my room to open my box. A British woman I befriended earlier in 2017 had been having a difficult time since the sudden (and shocking) death of her partner in August. I noticed that she made a post about creating a smile box. I responded rather quickly, “great idea! I would recommend a happiness box to collect these happy moments throughout the year.” I loved my project and couldn’t help but recommend.

However, I decided to scroll up and read all of the comments she received. Someone mentioned a happiness jar and my friend responded, “I am still really depressed, and right now it is very difficult to look at the positives of every day.” Someone responded that she should take her time. I decided to respond as well – “Please, please, please take your time. It took me many years to work through grief and depression to even get to the point of making a happiness jar/box.”

She responded that I was “rocking it” and I told her she was “rocking it as well” and that I was proud of the progress she was making. As I was opening my happiness box, I was thinking of this back and forth. After my grandma died in 2013 and after the trauma I experienced toward the end of 2013; I was very depressed. Very depressed doesn’t quite accurately describe how I felt. It was not until mid-2015 that I started working on those feelings and started to cheer up a little. Toward the end of 2015, I saw the idea for a “happiness jar.” I thought I would give it a try. I was looking to add positivity to my life and thought I was at the point where I could start looking positively at life.

I ran out of room in the jar in 2016. I did keep mementos (that I still have) that sparked joy from that year. However, I knew a box would work better with the project, though at one point I thought my box would overflow too. I felt proud that I completed the project, this marked the first time I finished a long-term project since 2013. I began to open my box with that proud moment on my mind.

However, I saw what my friend was talking about in her feed. While I had many happy moments in 2017 and loved reading about those moments, I also had some disappointing moments in 2017 as well. I wrote about the disappointments, but also added why I was grateful. I added gratitude to those disappointments, as well as trying again and how I would proceed. It was bittersweet reading those slips. I know it took me some time to work on not breaking down into deep despair and four years ago I would have. While I still feel sad about some of those disappointments, that is life. I wanted to move to Canada, but right now is not the time. Maybe I’ll do it again, but maybe I’ll end up somewhere else. Happiness is not only about the good times but also having the gratitude that if something does not quite work out, at least you were given a chance, you have a support network, and you might do it again. If not, gratitude tends to create resilience to try other things.

As I finished opening the box, I thought that maybe this should not be called just the happiness box, but the happiness, gratitude, and resilience box. Happiness is a continuum, but I believe it is more important to be grateful since gratitude is linked to resilience and helps people to bounce back after defeats (and after adequate mourning).

It took me a few years to complete this project, and I hope that my friend will be able to when she is ready. I bought a scrapbook album for the slips and pictures; I want to look back on 2017 and remember. I cannot wait to complete 2018’s box.

Opening Happiness Box 2017 – Instagram live feed